Nogales.. again

Jan 4th :

I am in hunting camp just outside Nogales, Arizona. I found this spot with the help of a gal from a bike shop 15 miles away. I didn’t want to stay at the Motel 6. It’s too depressing. The whole town is depressing actually.IMG_0173
This is perhaps not camping perfection, but it is pretty nice deal for being so close to the border.. I imagine it being my last camping for awhile.

I’ve got my hammock slung up in a tree and I’m set up 75 yards from hunting camp. Two of the groups are hunting and the other family here to fish in the lake a mile or so away. It is stocked with trout.
Ron, (here to fish) decked out in his best RealTree and open-carry .45 said so.


I asked him about bears
“They’re all up in them hills back there. I’ve been coming here for thirty years and never saw one.”IMG_0191

The campground has no less than one bear-proof trash bin for each of the campers here right now.

We’re in a perfect acoustic bowl.
All conversations, coughs.. belches are clearly audible. I can hear each beer can pop.

Other than that, it’s silent.. One coyote earlier but he’s finished now… He probably saw Ron.

In planning to cross the border in the morning. I feel like I forgot something.. Well, I kind of did. I left my leatherman at Oatman and the small point and shoot camera I bought for the trip is MIA too.

I’m a little nervous and can’t talk to my ESAG because I’m out of cell range but it’s better than the Motel 6, and even with next door recounting their near miss hunting day, I can think clearly in my little blue and green people cocoon. …
Until I hear a bear.  It sounds far off…. I stop breathing.
The hunters have all gone to bed. It is silent except for the noise. I am frozen.
I wait.. It is grumbling… Growling…  Very… Oh Hell. It’s my damn stomach. I’m starving because I ate at three and I don’t want to get up in the cold and cook. I can hear the hunters snoring. I’m sure that was contributing to my audio-hallucination.
I’ll get up in the morning and eat something.

 

Hot Damn!

I’ve posted the details of my movement across country at livetoflytoride.com It’s been three weeks, almost a month now since I left Maryland in a flurry of snow and ice. My ESAG (Exotic Species Almost Girlfriend) and I are working out the horrible four month absence we are facing right now. We havent assigned a title to our relationship yet, so this is what is sufficing for the present.

I was hoping to be crossing the Border around the 21st of December, But there has been a bit of a disagreement from KLaRa.

I made it to San Diego and planned to cross at Tijuana (TJ) and take the Baja Peninsula to La Paz and ferry to the mainland from there, but there werent any tickets until the 26th..

In a flash of brilliance, I decided to ride back through California on I-8, I-10 and cross in Arizona… Maybe Nogales. Had I gone in at TJ and rode the same distance, it would have been slower and more dangerous. A great deal of the ride would be very close to the border.

As I rode the interstate, I kept smelling antifreeze, and finally, parked, with the bike running, looked at my waterpump.. which was spitting bright green liquid from a tiny hole in the bottom. Both exasperated and glad to have discovered the problem on this side of the border, I decided to fix the bike here. I can still overnight the part to Phoenix and be able to fix it on Christmas eve.

I ordered the part while camping at Oatman but wanted to be nearby when the part arrived.

IMG_6524So I shook the Facebook tree.. and an old paragliding acquaintence fell out! I was invited for the holiday at her mothers house in Phoenix. It was a lovely time and Mahi Tacos on Taco Tuesday is my new favorite Christmas Eve dinner!

The part didn’t show up until the 26th. Late. I was hoping it would be a bit early so I could have it finished by dark. At 4:30 I was nearly in tears with frustration and delays. I asked the shop if they could do the work and they said yes. Three hours later, new clutch installed and water seal repaired, I rolled out on my almost-new bike.

I stayed at a motel 6. The next morning I rose, did a few errands and I rode three hours to Nogales. I would cross the border at first light.

In Nogales, I wanted to look at my rear brakes that were feeling a little soft. What I saw was shocking.

They were covered with fresh oil. So were the back of my bags from the tires kicking it up. So was the entire underside of the bike from the waterpump back. The shop had damaged the oil seal when they removed the mechanical seal next to it. I’d lost half a quart of oil between here and Phoenix. The bike only takes two and a half. I would have to repair this before leaving.

After overnighting a whole new set of parts to a dealership in Tucson, I booked a room with a local girl from a house-sharing app.

For half as much as a Motel 6, I have a private room and bath, use of a large kitchen, washer/dreyer and super fast internet. My host is younger than me, is clearly in incredible shape and very bubbly. We talk for a couple hours… I made an inaccurate first assessment based immediately on an east coast-ish Valley Girl lilt that colors her dialogue. What she says is well thought out and describes some good breeding.

She’s bright.. was a middle school teacher for a while, she runs marathons, and loves to do cross-country bicycle trips. She’s shrewd with her money and creative about making it.

She’s a stripper.

She’s danced in other countries.. Australia, Spain and all over the US. She loves to travel and says it’s easy to fill pockets with travel cash after a night or two at the club.

Her house is a comfortable and bright, tiled one story with a Xeriscaped front yard. Its a great place for me to land… She’s got an extra bike to lend out and I take advantage of the wheels to roll around the city’s bike paths and coffee shops. Its a nice way to see Tucson.

Her very attractive hairdesser friend came by early Tuesday and gave us both haircuts.. I was thrilled to not have to find one in town and she was great company..  I found a message on my phone from Kawasaki after she left. The part was not in fact, overnighted. It will arrive on Thursday.

I’m depressed as hell until Janice comes out of the shower to tell me something in just a towel… this.. only a few minutes after she dashed back in the house wearing a micro-running outfit. It’s a day-saver. Can’t lie. Maybe she’s just trying to cheer me up. Either way, it is delightful.

I stayed two more nights in Tucson at another place I rustled up on the internet.. photo 3Finally, my bike parts came in and I put the oil and mechanical seals back in the water pump.        I was able to complete the work myself at the Davis Monthan AFB.. they are usually militant (no pun) about getting people out on time but there was an older fellow who stayed open so I could finish the work that evening.1487247_10202235564843345_1597459065_n

In the morning, I ran a few errands and left for the border… It is January 3rd.

Did I Do That Right?

I ate a bunch of Cheetos and Cool Ranch Doritos. I almost never eat them… and if I do its one of those little bags that come with your soup and sandwich… But not this time. I ate a whole mid-size bag of the crunchy-puffy-cheese-worm things…. and several large handfuls of the Cool Ranches. Later, I went to the bar by myself and had a couple beers and hot wings. When ordering, I knew it was going to be a mistake but I wanted something for the beer to fall on so I did it anyway. They were quite good and contributed to a delightful conversation with my bar-neighbors about which side of the wing was the better. I’ve always held that the drumstick side was the good side, but my new friend disagreed and said the flat part was the best.. This was an eye-opener, because I often suspected that the flattish part was just filler chicken to add to the plate, rather than an actual part of the wing.IMG_6265

Fortunately, this was not the entirety of our conversation and I found my two newly-engaged friends to be delightful companions for the evening out.

I think the Cheeto/Dorito thing was a moment of self destruction.. I’ve been thinking about a cigarette or even a chew lately and instead chose junk food, which I’m not convinced is any better but I know my indulgence would not cascade into a week of self loathing and regret.. Just a day or two with an entire night of short-story nightmares and restless sweaty palpitations due to the overwhelming amount of salt and fat I’d just foisted on my unsuspecting system.

Why did I do this?

Well, there’s never a good reason, but if I had to muster one, I would blame it on the hours and company I’ve been keeping at work.

My entire job is basically sitting in a truck for 11-12 hours a day for 6 days a week next to a gentleman old enough to be my father.

He might actually know me better than my own family.

Minus a couple key details.

He’s a conservative Republican Baptist, doesn’t like the drivers here and normally drives 5-10 miles under the speed limit, is fundamentally opposed to wearing a seatbelt, and is furious with all the tailgaters. He has guns. Lots of them.

I can’t convince him that Obama has uttered one intelligent word since he was elected.

“He’s an idiot. The worst thing that’s happened to our country. We’re going to Hell in a handbasket.”

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He sneaky found out it was my Birthday and showed up that morning with a little birthday carrot-cupcake. He loves deer, sunsets and Canada geese.

“Look! There’s my girls!” He’ll sneak out of the truck and watch them pecking the ground. He wants some at his house because he heard they’re good warning alarms. He rents us Pixar movies and sounds like a little boy when he’s talking to his wife of twenty years. He’s still in love with her. Every minute.

…Just like family.

We don’t talk to anyone else here at the site. It’s just us. Him and Me.

Bar company and my new love-interest have been my link to the natural world.

I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed with getting the bike and my life ready.. I’ve had some fantastic support with donated gear and advice.

I’m doing as much work as I can on it by myself. I’ve got the thing registered here in Maryland, changed the brakes, rotors, sprockets, and chain.IMG_6301

I almost destroyed my new brakes because I forgot to tighten the caliper bolts.. I couldn’t figure out why there was a terrible noise coming from the rear until I parked it and saw the thing loose with a wide scratch in the steel where the actual caliper was grinding away my new rotor. It wasn’t catastrophic.. I got lucky.IMG_0013

 

I don’t have any more free time though. I’m going to have to steal some from somewhere else to get ready. My new bags need to be mounted, and I’m saving $250 on the custom racks. I’m building them myself.
Rather than buy a low seat, I’m going to shave the one I have and hope to get it low enough that I can get two toes on the ground without putting lowering links on it. My friend gave me a wooly sheepskin for it… he knows better than me about how an enduro seat feels after hours in the saddle. My BMW has given me a false sense of long distance comfort.

I haven’t flown since Summer. Every day I watch the vultures circling. I note their altitude, rate of ascent, glide ratio and where they are finding thermal triggers.

Every day, all day, we park on a grassy ridge about forty feet high and five hundred feet long. On days the wind is just right, I’ll spend hours wondering how much trouble I’d get in if I put up the wing and just flew around a little bit. IMG_6191

There’s only two days left of work after today… well, two and a half. I feel a little like a crazy lady.

Doctor, Doctor!

The failure of the Kickstarter campaign has hit me pretty hard. I had not anticipated failure.

I’ve been reading some quotes “Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor.”~ Truman Capote.. I’m not so sure, but it helps.

My summary of failure.. There’s always something to be gained by failure.. in all cases, it has either made me smarter, tougher, or more willing to take another chance… 

Since that, I’ve made it to the other side and am looking forward to making a new push next year.. with new tools, new friends and more energy.

I’m not going to kill you with the emotional roller coaster this thing has been… I will tell you that all kinds of stuff is happening… along with the preparations for my solo trip.

I met a girl…. actually, I met a couple. One was fun but fizzled, the other and only one that I spend time with now was/is a totally unplanned surprise. I met her at a Jazz club in DC over a month ago.Screen Shot 2013-10-28 at 10.48.29 AM

Cathy, who I met on Match.com invited me to the club… we had been there one time before. There weren’t any sparks, but she was strangely interesting and liked good food and music. She wondered if I would mind if she brought another friend from the dating site with her… I thought it sounded awkward, but in lieu of a better plan for the evening, I agreed to go.

I was late but the band hadn’t started playing yet. I found them at a tiny table near the stage. I smiled at Cathy, and turned to her friend…

I introduced myself but had to look away quickly.. I could feel my face flush. I was afraid to look at her… to make a scene of looking. Robin is handsomely beautiful, short salt and pepper hair… something strongly feminine about it though. She excused herself for a minute.

I leaned over the table and hissed.. “WHO the Hell is THAT??” Cathy laughs, shushes me and says she’ll talk about it after the show.

I spent the next hour and a half studiously avoiding Robins eyes.. actually, that general direction of the room. I knew trouble lurked there. I’d been looking for something casual and fun… not heart stopping desire. I could feel her smiling at me.

Show over, we exchange numbers and plan to meet the very next day. We all say goodnight.

Monday evening, we meet for a walk. Her house is large and airy and the estate has miles of walking paths carved through old second growth forest. It is elegant and comforting.

IMG_3198We stroll and talk. We don’t know a thing about each other and make the usual inquiries, politics, religion, smoking, hobbies, exercise. Polyamory… wait. Huh?

This tall, dignified, family doctor has multiple open relationships. It is her lifestyle… has been for over two decades.

I remember trying this out on a couple people I dated but there was something.. missing. It didn’t work. Actually, it was a disastrous jealousy fest that had at times made me fear for my personal safety.

Our conversation lasted hours through her collection of books, women, dogs, activity, and kindness.. I still struggle with details of her lifestyle.

I can’t imagine having the energy to bring meaning to more than one person.. To me, a relationship is more than sex and dinner and bank accounts. It is a pledge we make to each other.. and it is simple.. I’ll help you if you help me.. and it seems important in our “fend for yourself” culture… How many heart attacks and broken bones, birthdays, anniversarys, weddings, promotions and tears can one possibly be present for? How many lives can you hold in your hands.. your heart?

I feel like I have enough love for more, but not the time.. To be sure, I barely have the time for one.

So I ask myself questions..

Have I fallen into complacency with general acceptance of social norms? Is what is expected of us correct and healthy? How many other people engage in… and are happy with this lifestyle?.. What personality craves this behavior?

I wander to my own odd history, of why I do what I do. Why I’ve exempted myself from my culture, why I choose a nomadic life, why my address means little, because it changes from month to month.

I find myself lonely quite often… my mouth spends more time on the rim of a wine glass than touching a lovers lips… until now… Which is .. to be sure.. confusing and distracting… and delightful..

Instead of planning, I find myself searching for ways to build a stable life, to make a place for myself to meet friends and create community…

I scour the real estate pages late at night, usually after the second or third glass of Malbec.

But it is with the knowledge that I am leaving on my moto in just over a month that I feel this search is futile.

I know with each molecule in my bloodstream, I must explore, connect and record at least one extraordinary journey. I will find my tribe, the people that speak my language.. that of speed and wind and air and freedom. Those of us either running away or to. The ones that seek to wrestle fear and complacency, to replace rules and walls with wonder… experience. In a way, it is childish… In a way, I’m glad it is.

I hope she will still want to see me when I return… but I don’t hope in the way I did when I was 19. I hope in the way of a woman with 40 years of relationship wreckage.. of a woman that has grown too hard in a mans world, who has made a strange and interesting life for herself.. full with the knowledge of my tenuous hold on even that… but still, it is hope.

Maryland

I dreaded coming to the East Coast. I grew up here. I’ve always felt like more of a West Coast personality, but now, having chosen a contract that allows me to work on my new project without interruption, and being able to immerse myself in the culture and personalities of the DC/Baltimore area, I find myself enjoying my time here.

The local BMW motorcycle shop is ten minutes from the camper, I get to see live Jazz as often as I’m willing to drive into the city, I’m dating again and am meeting some brilliant personalities.. connected to wide smiles and big laughs.. I am so grateful for this, it is like gulping sunshine. Gallup, NM IMG_4784Gila Bend, AZ and Wendover, NV don’t have the concentration of quality lesbians that urban Maryland provides. Alas, the vistas of  I-95 are nowhere near the arid splendor of the Four Corners region, but I think that is the beauty of living a Nomadic life. I carry them around in my heart.. inside me all the time, waiting for the opportuntiy to be told about over a plate of Vodka Rigatoni or Marylad Crabcakes.IMG_3720

I’ve even flown here… well, in PA at Blue Mountain with Pennsylvania Paragliding. No big flights, but still, it’s something. What has been even better is meeting the crowd that flies and lives here. They are warm and bright. I forget too, how much I miss the people that “speak my language” I can talk freely about bubbly air and LZ’s, windspeed, house thermals, clouds and “switchy” wind with abandon! Ahhhh. delight. Even if the conditions are not right, my community is here. and sometimes that’s enough.

Today I am wrangling support for “Women Wheels and Wings”, its a big push so far, but the networking is leading me to meet with some people that are making a difference in our world every day. Educators, filmmakers, writers, and even adventurers. Reaching out has been a reward that I would have never guessed.. even if the campaign is a failure, (which is a constant terror) my experience has thus far been magical. I’ve been feeling like the luckiest girl in the world lately.

 

Continuing to post

I’m sorry this has been such a long wait, I have been developing the Live to Fly to Ride idea for a long time now.. it has really been an evolution! Livetoflytoride.com is where I will be posting Rated G and PG-13 material, I will post the same places here, but this is the unrated site. If you are hoping for steamy details and want to know a little more than I should be saying, HAH! this is the place.

I love it here and hope this will remain my underground confessional 🙂

Thank you for your loyalty.

Not So Secret Secrets New Journey

I am reposting from Livetoflytoride.com

If you’ve already seen this post, then it’s the same.. If not, carry on! i think it’s fabulous and I hope you love it as much as I do!!

I am ridiculousty proud to announce that we have launched the Kickstarter campaign!

We’ve got TWO backers already (in addition to the people that have privately given their support) I’m hoping you will share with your friends and riding/flying buddies about this Campaign!

heres the link to make a contribution or SHARE!!!

http://kck.st/1eD8KFZ

Here’s the text and photos for a quick, no-click read…

THANK YOU!!

A story of extraordinary female adventure spirit as we fly and ride our way from from New Mexico to Santiago, Chile.

I’m Wendy. I’ve had a few lives. First as an artist in Denver, then as an Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician and now, as a writer and filmmaker. I want to show you what extreme adventure travel looks like from a womens perspective.. but not just mine. In this film, we will capture our real life moments of a two-woman journey from Gallup, New Mexico to Santiago, Chile as we fly our paragliders and ride motorcycle through each country, finding other female adventurers along the way.

I’ve been riding motorcycle for ten years and have more than 100,000 miles on and off the road. Kari will be learning enroute. She rides a Piaggio now… so, she’s not a total newb! Kari will be helping me film and open doors with her paragliding community contacts.

Kari Castle: From Bishop, CA, Age 50,  3 time Hang Gliding World Champion, multiple National Paragliding Champion, Red Bull X-Alps Veteran, free flight Instructor and Guide. Ambassador to our beautiful sport, she is unwaveringly good natured with a ready smile and large laugh every time you meet her.

Check out Kari at Karicastle.com

The women I am interested including in the film are ones we meet on the road, quietly exploring the world. I have met them before and find their stories to be often more extroadinary than well established women who are sponsored and have public profiles that limit candid conversation. I have a goal of featuring five amazing gals in the film. (Besides us) I am hoping for many more than that.

Where are they? Noone knows unless you do… this. We speak their language, and love their ginormous souls. We are living it and tracking them down for you.

We will document a cutaway view of the trip, showing you step by step preparations, training, our stops and the incredible women we meet when we get there! We will interview other women by calculated chance as we Fly and Ride South through the Americas. We hope to find women by meeting them at the flying sites, hostels, campsites, interviewing the local pilots, and researching rider resources like Women on Wheels, Womens Coalition of Motorcyclists, Horizons Unlimited and ADVrider. Also, through Kari’s network.

Currently I know of only one woman that I specifically want to meet with. Camila Antonorsi in Colombia. She is one of the very few women doing paragliding tours. She’s also a skydiver and a dentist.

You will see footage from (among other places) Valle De Bravo, Mexico – Lake Aitlan, Guatemala – Lake Ilopango, El Salvador – Caballito, Costa Rica –  Roldanillo, Colombia – Lima, Peru – Canoa, Ecuador and The Atacama Desert in Chile.  We will be blogging our movement daily (if internet access is available) and give you a front seat to this 10,000 mile search as we travel South at livetoflytoride.com

We are not including specific times and dates for personal safety reasons.

Why do you have to be so extreme?

Well, we love it. For a raft of reasons. But first, I think that this kind of adventure is not really so extreme after all. We as a culture are buried in misconceptions and misguided judgement of what this kind of travel is really about. Those of us that gather information from television and radio programming which are driven by ratings are not getting an honest firsthand perspective. What you get is shock, hilarity and horror. Perhaps there will be all three in this documentary, but we are shooting for an honest and candid view of our own and other womens experience.

In preparing for this project, I’ve been given a lot of alarmist advice.. including instructions to watch “Taken” 1 and 2. and even had a coworker threatening to make a “football pool” of what country I would be raped/killed/kidnapped in first.

If anything, it has hardened my resolve in creating an honest perspective of what a motorbiking/flying South American adventure is really like. For a woman.

Here is the short story of what flying and riding means to me.

After a return from Iraq, I felt disconnected and anxious. I needed to find something to shake off the gloom that had settled on my heart. I found that something flying. It created a Zen-like focus that allowed me to leave that weight on the ground. The community, the focus and the wild freedom of flying through the air is unmatched by anything… except perhaps by a twist of the throttle, accelerating into the canvas of a brilliant new landscape. I can’t imagine not riding.

In spirit, we have a third woman with us. We lost her earlier this year in Golden, Colorado at Lookout Mountain. She would have loved this Adventure as much as we do. Pilot, world traveler and moto rider, Meg VanSciver’s name will be on my bike as a reminder of her wit, bravery and beauty.

How did you get this idea?

When I was in Colombia a couple years ago, I was healing from a broken rib and badly sprained ankle at a little Irish bar that had some cheap rooms above it. While I was having a beer at a table outside, a tall blonde woman rolled up on her motorcycle. My eyes almost popped out! Who was this? I had seen many other male riders, but their presence wasn’t remarkable to me. I hadn’t seen any women. I immediately introduced myself and wanted to know every bit of her story… so she told me.

My mind wandered and I thought.. well why can’t I do this with a paraglider? Also, I wondered.. where are all the women? Here’s Sherri, having an amazing time. Here Iam, recovering from an amazing time, (broke my rib in a paragliding accident) where are the rest of us?

Fast forward almost a year to October when I met Kari Castle at her all womens Paragliding clinic in the Owens Valley. There they were! Almost two dozen remarkable women with huge spirits and beautiful paraglider wings to match. Since then, I’ve been reading about and searching for other women who love the freedom of motor and flying sport. I am a current member of Women on Wheels, the Womens Coalition of Motorcyclists, and the United States Hanggliding and Paragliding Association.

The Documentary idea was born from a friend doing her own documentary about lady paraglider pilots! I loved her film and wished for more, but there aren’t any.

Please join us and be a part of our story. Pledge what you can and if you can’t, then come and visit, ride or fly with us. Remember, it’s all or nothing at Kickstarter, so even if you can only afford $5, it still counts!

Wendy’s first book, “Paragliding Confessions of a Lady Bomb Tech” is being published this year in time for Christmas.

Kari is sponsored by: Oakley, Flytec, Ozone, OR, and Pocket Fuel. She is regularly featured in HangGliding and Paragliding Magazines and online articles. She has a clientele that numbers in the hundreds and a fan base in the thousands as well as being an icon in the sports of Hang Gliding, Paragliding and Kite Surfing.

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Brand New Day

I have terror. I have a great job and I am forty years old. I have no children or partner. I have crazy ideas. I think the real problem is, I wasn’t built for an office.

As I sit in my cubicle, I can hear the white noise of the aircondititioning overhead. The air is almost exctly the right temperature. and still. Every once in a while someone walks by quietly. They can’t help it. Heels, loafers, sneakers, they all sound alike on the gray, installation-standard carpet that covers everything except in front of the elevators.

I stare at the screen in front of me. I just figured out how to make both of my monitors work at once. That was my major accomplishment for the day… at least it was tangible evidence that something actually happened.

The words of the document I am reviewing blur and then snap beck into focus.AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!! WHAT AM I DOING?????photo

I hate myself for not being “normal”.

I want to love this relative stability. I want to love having been hired for a career that is respectable and…. in many peoples eyes, exciting. I want to love the amount of things I am learning about government rules and standards and safety… accident reporting.

Maybe it is because since taking this position I have been painfully lonely.

I have no team… well, not a close, physical one… not one that owes beer for getting a truck stuck in the mud… or meets up after work to make dinner and cocktails..

I miss my old work…the wacky, argumentatitive, often lowbrow men (and sometimes women) that staff the bomb picking field…. (We call ourselves migrant bomb pickers) it’s pretty accurate. We go for a season or two and then we find new work. Some of us live on the road full time. There is nowhere for some of us to go back to…. we are a merry band of gypsies.

And then of course, my mind wanders to the sky… I have been cooking up a new plan. A new adventure. I am going to make a video and try to pimp myself on a couple crowd-sourcing sites to fund it.

Please be kind and give me a couple weeks to build it. and then I will present you first, my wonderful reader, the video edit before it goes out.. I will tell you my secret in your ear.

 

This is the end of Volume One. The next blog post will be at this same address, but up until this point, What I have now is going to print and will be soon available electronically through Amazon.

Dreams

When I was little, I had flying dreams. I had fantastic dreams that I could soar and I could see the Earth from a loooong way up, I could swoop and glide, and go wherever I wanted to in the air. It was absolutely magical. I was sad to wake up.. I would squeeze my eyes shut right away when I realized I had woken up. I could remember those dreams. Like it really happened… I still remember them today.

I was flying a site in San Bernadino, it is called Marshall. It’s an awesome SoCal flying destination. It has amazing thermal flying, XC opportunity, and a big, beautiful grassy LZ complete with friendly people, a BBQ…. AND a camping area.

I had a great flight and landed. After folding the wing, I wandered over to the sidelines where some people were talking to pilots on a Ham radio.

I asked curiously, “when are you going to fly?”

“Oh, I dont’t fly.”

“Really??” I squeaked… I always find it strange when people tell me they dont want to fly.

I looked at her…“Didn’t you have flying dreams when you were little?”

“No. never.”

I looked around the field, there were three or four others close by and I conducted a little impromptu survey of the ground handlers. Not a single one had the same flying experience that I had…. in their dreams… at any time in their life. Since that day, I have asked many non-pilots and pilots what their dreaming experience was.

The overwhelming majority of pilots I met have had flying dreams… the majority of non-pilots (not wanting to fly ever) have NOT had flying dreams. This is just an observation I have made that I find intensely interesting.. I am continuing my study and when I next meet with a large group of pilots, I will be sure to poll the audience.
Please! Tell me your dream-flight experience.. or Non

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Tecopa

The truck keeps feeling a little funny.. jerky a little. There are only seven more miles to go and as I think of a hot soak and smile happily, the engine suddenly quits…at sixty-five miles an hour. Towing a thirty-seven foot toyhauler. No trailer brakes, manual steering only, the truck rolls for at least three miles  on the downhill side of the long hill I just cranked up hoping there is a good place to pull the camper over without having to slam on my truck brakes…. there should be, anyway…

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Finally there is a large open area on the right, clearly used for large vehicles and perfectly flat. I evaluate a good place to crash into some bushes if the brakes don’t stop the heavy rig in time… and angle the slowing camper over to the side. The truck and trailer make a large arc into the gravel patch and the beast slows into a good position for a potential rescue.IMG_3995

I raise the hood and look around for anything untoward… there is nothing amiss. I’ve driven almost sixty miles, so I couldn’t possibly have put gas in the tank… again.. COULD I?

At any rate, it has to go to a repair shop and be taken care of…

I swing the back door down and roll the moto out…. and head back to the last place the phone was getting reception… about ten minutes away.
Forty minutes later, Triple A is towing the truck to the closest Dodge dealership 30 miles to Pahrump.
That done, I ride into nearby Shoshone and ask around about someone with a truck. Mary at the museum calls Susie at the resort who calls her friends the firemen who drive out an old beater pick up and tow my rig to a spot in town.

Finally, everything is settled.IMG_4032

Tecopa is where I sneakily find warm water bliss. I am in my happy place… a tiny town on the border of California and Nevada that I have been returning to for five years now.

It’s cold and my skin has been craving the hot soak I drove so far to enjoy.
I’m a fan of the deep pools on the other side of town, but also a bit curious about these springs.. It’s always a learning experience in new places and chances are, a good one.. Hot water is rarely a disappointment.

I grab my towel and shower kit.
The bathhouse is on the top of the property. It’s been redone on the outside.
Stucco with new tan paint… Here in the desert, it’s easy to tell when something has been neglected.. even for a short while. The sun, salt and the wind deliver harsh punishment to anything you might bring or build in this dry and varied climate.

I enter the squeaky, ill hung sliding glass doors. They stick and squeal and have to shove them a little. Inside there appear to be four tubs, only two of which are unlocked in separate rooms. I swish my hand in each of the two tubs.
I settle my things on a bench in the hotter of the two, click the thin metal door shut, strip down and slowly submerge my now goosebumped body  in the crystal water. It is all of heaven I was hoping for. I close my eyes and drift into nothing.

Almost an hour later, bones healed, mind soothed, I step out… skin steaming, and very warm, I towel off and pull my clothes back on.

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I settle into a chair on my camper patio, pull up a warm blanket and close my eyes in the cold, January night air… I listen to the coyotes yipping a hunt in the black, star speckled emptiness.. the only thing breaking the silence of the desert… that and some frogs. I drift off.

Sometime later in the dark, I wake to a dry wind swirling some leaves and knocking something metal. My mind takes a few minutes comimg alive enough to bundle into a thick jacket to go up the hill for another soak.IMG_4040

I finish my hot spring ritual and head back down to start my day… every time I return, there is a little camper that has its lights on. The yellow light inside the huge glass of the cab seems very warm and welcoming. There are lots of plants outside, a little porch area and sometimes I can hear a dog collar jingling..
Its a tiny, dusty town… Population 100. There’s only a bistro (open only on the weekends), a community center that makes a $5 lunch for whoever wants (it’s really the senior center), and a bunch of hot springs. Honestly, that’s pretty much it.IMG_0031

After breakfast, I rode my moto in the 36 degree air to the dealership. they are making progress. They have determined that it was not actually the lift pump, in fact, they say, it is the injection fuel pump but it will cost $2000 to fix. I ride home relieved that the truck will be fixed but upset that half of the money I saved for a new paraglider wing is gone to my truck.IMG_4003

Ah well, I will soak and have a nice dinner tonight at the restaurant in town and see my friend that works there.IMG_4008

 

The bistro is blue, has seven or eight tables, a mish-mash of furniture, stacks of books and CD’s and a handful of dim lights.. candles. It feels like an old friends home… especially when there are old friends here. It’s open only on the weekends and sometimes only for dinner. Depends if the chef/owner has something going on or how busy it seems. The waitress, Shelly, has been here for a couple years. She’s tall… well, her shoes make her tall-er. Chunky very high boots or sandals… depending on the season. She is fit, classically beautiful and sassy. There is something about her that is also a bit dark and delightfully sensual.. maybe it’s those boots. She’s a world traveler and speaks two languages but has landed here in Tecopa. She seemed somewhat out of place when I first met her here, but is an immovable fixture in my memory now.

There is a shriveled old woman sitting across from me and the books. I saw her at the senior center earlier.

Rose is in her seventies and short. I ask her about the weather. She looks at me in disgust.  “I can tell what the weather is going to be when I look out the window.” Pause…  thoughtful.    “If my cat comes in wet, I know its raining outside.” She glares as if challenging me to ask another stupid question… scoops a spoonful of soup in her mouth.

I try to make small talk but it is a real challenge. I must quickly agree with all opinions or she levels The Eye at me… every bit of her blue sweatered 4’8″frame ready for combat. During our short debate, I discover that she owns the warm little trailer that I’ve been admiring, and is the town tailor. She will mend any garment for free.. she won’t accept money, but a bag of groceries or some help with the propane seem to be a welcome substitute. She used to live in Northern California. Her husband hated Tecopa…

Rose: “Well, he died, and now I can get in the hot water.”

I am delighting over a simmering bowl of the beef stew that Shelly just delivered. It is really fabulous. John, the chef, is miraculous in the kitchen. He used to be a chef in New York but got tired of the rat race and moved his operation to…. Here!                                                                            Dinner is always fabulous…. middle of nowhere dining excellence.

There is some talk about a telescope outside. A local astronomer that stays here gives impromptu classes about everything in the sky…. which is a lot, because there is almost no light pollution. He’s happy manning a powerful telescope and feeding a very low fire in an old wash tub drum.

After some stargazing and a slice of raspberry cheesecake, I relax again on my camper porch and let the desert silence invade my busy mind.

IMG_0033I wake to my last day in town. It is surrounded by red, desert rainbow striped mountains, cliffs and a scattering of different sand and stone formations. Every hill in the area has a little rabbit trail to the top… I just walk around till I see it. They’re not marked. Cell service can sometimes be found at the top of one of these.. sometimes not. None in the town center. The locals can tell you the closest place to get a call. Most of them will let you use their phone.IMG_0034

The smallness makes it warm and comfortable. If something goes wrong, the entire town will rally to help out….

If you are skeptical of this utopia I describe, rest easy. I’m not under any impression that it is the perfect nest. There is plenty of small town drama and gossip… the hallmark of a condensed community. There is also a strange element here that I noticed the last time also, and it was even more pronounced this time. The town population is nearly doubled… with Asians. Koreans, Chinese, Japanese and Thai. The resort I like at the end of town is partly if not wholly owned by Koreans now that put up a lighted red and white sign above the original. It is in Korean. and big. There’s still some hippies running it, but there are ominous signs of change.

It has been frustrating all afternoon with the patronizing apathy of the Dodge dealership I had relied on to repair my stranded truck… three days later, it is at the same stage of broken as when it went in, but now cost me $2000 to get out of car jail.

There is a place in Las Vegas with great reviews, online.. Diesel Specialists.. so I have it towed there to be resuscitated. They’re closed on the weekend and I’m taking a gamble that they can help.

I spent the rest of the early evening having dinner with Shelly and John, chatting with the very nice local sheriff (ruggedly handsome body builder also) working out the details of my travel to Vegas. There is only one bus out of town every two weeks and it was here three days ago.IMG_0035

The gal that was manning the desk at the resort overheard the story and offered me a ride… an hour and a half each way.

There always seems to be kind people. Everywhere. Always, there is someone that wants to help. When the camper blew a tire in between Ely and Wendover, Nevada there was no means of changing it myself… the very first car that passed me saw my trouble and turned around to help. In Colombia, dozens of times. Hitch hiking rides in Brazil and Moab… new acquaintences opening their homes and kitchens to me. The number of kindnesses to me completely eclipses the amount of selfish or cruel behavior….

Now, as Suzie drives me into Vegas in her old two wheel drive pickup, we talk about Tecopa, and the trip to Omaha. I’ll be back in a fair bit and until then will be missing the silence, the warm people and some deep hot water.IMG_0027