100٪ True story:
John Brown Canyon is a 9000′ pass in Colorado that leads from the incredible town of Gateway west towards Moab, Utah. As a matter of fact, the very first words that I ever wrote just for the sake of writing were tapped into my phone after my first trip down Hwy 141: “Gateway is a fortress so impregnable that even negative thoughts can’t enter”. The views are incredible, but the chance encounters I’ve had on this road are the truly stunning features that draw Charlie and I back year after year.
It was on this pass that we encountered a couple of guys on a tandem mountain bike; kind of noteworthy, two men on the same bicycle, but hey, this is Colorado. Only after hanging out with them for a while did we find out that the stoker, the muscle on the back of the bike, was Erik Weihenmayer. So, who is Erik Weihenmayer, you ask? Well, so did I. Erik just so happens to be the first blind man to summit Mt Everest. To kayak the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, and so on. He now has a foundation “No Barriers” a nonprofit organization with the tagline, “What’s Within You is Stronger Than What’s in Your Way.” The organization helps people of diverse backgrounds and abilities develop a No Barriers Mindset – to attack challenges head on, problem solve, build winning teams, and serve others.
The pair of riders had left Denver a few days prior and had ridden across the Rockies enroute to Utah, and here we were, just hanging out with a legend. Just another day in the life of the inmates of the Casa del Whackos
But stranger things happen on the pass as well.
At the summit of the pass, there is a rocky slab that rises hundreds of feet above the valley below. Impressed on that slab are a series of dinosaur footprints, the last being just before the edge. I like to imagine whatever was chasing that particular dinosaur that would convince him/her/she/shim to take the flight rather than turn and fight.
Yeah, yeah, yeah; I’m aware that those tracks were probably left in the primordial ooze far below before some cataclysmic geological event boosted the petrified (as in scared) footprints high above, but what fun is imagining that?
Anyway, one day Charlie and I had the place totally to ourselves. I was trying to get some good pictures of the tracks, but they had filled up with sand and gravel. I just happened to have a paint brush with me, (don’t ask why, because I genuinely don’t remember), so I played at being an archeologist by brushing the debris from three of the best tracks.
This is where it gets weird.
Even cleaned out, the contrast wasn’t what I was looking for; what to do, what to do… wait a minute; I remembered that I had a bottle of blue Powerade on the bike. I carefully filled two of the footprints before I realized that I wasn’t going to have enough to take care of the third and best track, the one closest to the edge.
But I then I remembered that I did have a bit more Powerade, albeit it a different type of bottle. This was Powerade that I was carrying on my person, as it was Powerade that I had consumed some time earlier. If there has ever been a time to prove that I believe in recycling, this was it.
I had just began the process of personally painting the third track when I was horrified to hear a car come grinding up the gravel road. Yikes; now there are two blue footprints and one all bubbly yellow and there wasn’t a thing that I could do to cover my tracks, so to speak.
As doG is my witness, it was a passel of Ukranian tourists in search of the footprints as well. They all piled out and began taking pictures, totally oblivious the fact that the tracks were unintentionally festooned in their national colors. I was in total cringe mode as they continued to indulge in photo documentation of my archeological faux pas.
But deep down, I felt a tiny inkling of smug satisfaction in the realization that some pictures of my urine would soon be circulating around European social media, hopefully shared and liked into immortality.
The strangest part of the whole story is how a motorcycle continues to bring us into improbable contact with the people of Ukraine when there was a time that I didn’t even know there was a Ukraine. First it was Vasyl and Ian, then the beauty working the front desk in Taos, just recently a guy on a bicycle pounding out miles on the River Trail; they just keep coming. I’ve recently gotten some blow back from some holier-than-thou types who take issue with my support of Ukraine; “don’t I know that (fill in the blanks with the political crap du jour)?”
My response? No, I don’t know, and I don’t care to know. What I do know is that I have friends on the ground over there who, regardless of what spin someone has put on the news that day, are facing the reality of bullets and missles from Putin’s army. And it’s those guys I support; one of my favorite quotes is from John Steinbeck: “I find out of long experience that I admire all nations and hate all governments”.
We be of one blood, they and I.