The Charlie Bravo Story


It is said that “he who seeks to be understood must first seek to understand”; if you in any way expect to be able to wrap your head around even a fraction of of the insane events that marked Nama’s last day on earth, you need to be able to envision the place where the deal went down.

The actual town of Gateway, Colorado is a just a dot on the map, so close to the lunar landscape of Utah that it’s sometimes hard to tell the difference. But what I refer to as “Gateway” is actually the Unaweep canyons of Hwy 141, the stunning area that tracks south of town, following the massive fissures carved by the Delores river. This area might be described by some as “wasteland”, but I would in turn describe those people as “soulless” and/or “idiots”. But it’s all “Gateway” to me, all the way to the uranium mining towns of Naturita, Nucla, Uravan, Paradox and Bedrock, some 75 miles to the south.

The first time I rode through Gateway, I was at a crossroads in my own life; career coming to a close, church situations coming to head back home, the kids moving out, up, and onwards, the typical negativity that tends to become more “front and center” when you reach a certain age. You would think that riding a motorcycle across the southwest would be more than sufficient to crowd those thoughts from my brain, but if you did think that, you would be wrong. I carried those same emotions with me the entire trip, seemingly packed away on the bike with my sleeping bag and other camping gear.

Until I entered Gateway. As I railed through the immaculately curved road, I found that I couldn’t focus on negativity in the midst of such soaring, red rock beauty; it was if the vertical walls surrounding me were blocking out any microwaves of harsh self admonition. And yes, I totally get how this sounds to some of you reading this, like so much psuedo-hippie new age bullshit; all I can say is go check it out for yourself and get back to me with your findings. I find it an immensely healing place, your mileage may vary.

Approximately halfway between the towns of Gateway and Naturita is an unlikely roadside spring. Tucked back into a fold of a cliff, it produces the coldest, life-giving water I’ve ever experienced, so special that I have had a bottle of it stashed on my freezer for over ten years. Why in my freezer, and for that long, you ask? Well, since you asked, I’ll tell you: if the world ever turns to irreversible despair, nuclear war, pancreatic cancer, The View in perpetual rotation, cottage cheese becomes a forced part of my diet, whatever, that bottle of water from Gateway will be the last thing I drink; it’s that special. By the time I encountered this spring for the first time, the following words had formed unbidden in my head: “Gateway is a fortress so impregnable that even negative thoughts can’t enter”. Tapped into my phone from the back of my 1991 Honda Nighthawk 750 motorcycle, these were the first words that I had ever written that didn’t involve sales reports or some other form of corporate crap; little did I know that this would be the bedrock that formed the foundation for Charlie’s story many years later.

So, what does any of this have to do with Nama? This unnamed spring is where she and I camped the night before the day after… but soooo much happened on that day before.

And day started with breakfast at with Fina’s…

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