Thursday, March 8, 2012

Off To The Left...

I'll begin with the only thing about this post that is uncomplicated. I saw my first "hummingbird MOTH" this week. I didn't even know there was such a thing- so that by itself is a bit of a marvel. The little swift flying critter buzzed around Michelle's petunias next door and she called me over to see it. Grabbed the camera and took off, then chased it round and round the plants until it stayed still barely long enough for the only shot I have that's worth a darn. As it is, it looks like the rascal only had one wing, but seriously both wings were going so fast it's a miracle that even the one came out in the photo. I couldn't believe the resemblance to an actual hummingbird either in body build or speed-ability. Guys like me who didn't know of their existence would simply think they were seeing a different kind of hummer. Very nifty!

Other than nifty bird-imitating moths, it was an interesting week as, coughs or no coughs, we joined the Brenda Blenda Riders on our first of the season 100plus mile ride on the quads. Good to get out and see the scenery we love so much, explore the many mysteries past and present of the desert....and suck some dust into our lungs. Let's say right up front- it was a good ride. It was a most enjoyable day. We wouldn't have missed it for the world.

But that's really not the whole story at all. It was an "off to the left" kinda day. Only five minutes into the ride, my left side rear view mirror fell off as we bounced over the rocky desert trail. You may not think rear view mirrors are important for trail riding, but actually they are. For starters, in Arizona we can ride on the roads, even the highways, so that mirror serves the same purpose as the one in your car. It also serves to keep track of the rider behind you in line especially on long or complicated or not previously traveled trails. Each rider has the obligation and the responsibility to make sure the riders that follow know where the rest of the group is, is going...and that there has not been a problem develop somewhere back in the line. Bottom line- without taking your eyes off the often treacherous trail before you, you need to know what is going on behind you. I count most heavily on my left rear view- although my bike is fitted with two others. Gundy redundancy! I can do without it, but didn't really want to. We stopped to put it back on, braced it with some electrical tape and took off again. I used my pinky finger on my left hand to help secure it in place, but by the time that little finger felt like it wanted to fall off, so did the mirror again, and so this time we went to the alternative mirrors.

The morning went well otherwise. That is, until we stopped to stretch a bit and when Marilyn took her helmet off, the left lens of her glasses was missing. Off to the left. Eventually, that showed up inside her dust bandana, in her helmet, and we popped it back in to her frame. That lasted considerable longer than the rear view mirror repair, but still not a good fix. I wrapped the entire left lens in electrical tape and gave it back to her to the amusement of the group. Aye, I mean, eye matey!

No serious problems from the above. Better repairs can be made when the ride is over. We stopped for lunch at one of the geocache sites we visited and then rode on to the Cinnabar Mine, a site where mercury was produced from the only known ore than contains it. It was a fascinating venue. We had poked around for quite a while before heading home and frankly we may have started back a bit late considering how far out we had traveled. The sun began to set as we traveled along the route home and we had yet to cross the mountains we needed to cross to reach home by a decent hour. We allocated some time to searching for a short cut, but to no avail. Ultimately we had to decide to take a difficult (by my standards for sure) trail called the Razorback that crossed the mountains by riding along the very sharp ridge of the pass itself. I swallowed hard when they pointed out what looked like a nearly vertical passage that crested over the highest peak. Surely this was a joke.


Twenty minutes or so later we were way the heck up there trying to make it over that peak and stay on the trail at the same time. Night was falling. The last vestiges of colored desert sunset light turned to blue, then purple, then black. This trail was a challenge in daylight. In darkness, it was a nail biter and worse. We reached the peak as the very last of the light departed. Only the moon was left to do what it could do. It was a help. A small one.

The trail up had terrorized me a mite, I don't mind telling you. Maybe more than I a mite, but I wasn't crying so I guess I felt like I was handling it. So far so good. Lynn was leader as he often is. We trust him. He keeps good tabs on us all to make sure the same number of us come home as start out for the day. I like that. Especially at this point- I liked that a lot!

"And now we go down," he said as we started to search for the brakes instead of the throttles in the dark.

"Is it any better than coming up?" I queried.

"What goes up, must come down."

And down we started.

Well the down made the up look like a cake walk. Some might call this a trail. I think I prefer to call it a dry waterfall- a bit more descriptive. At one point I made Marilyn jump off the back while I drove down a big rock step that would surely have created a torrent had it been a waterfall. I figured that even if I bounced when the bike landed and I went over the edge, she could hitch a ride back with someone that had actually stayed on the trail at this point. I don't know how deep the ravines were "off to the left" on the way up or the way down, but even if I had gone over the edge, I'm pretty sure I would have had time to count to ten like this: one thousand one, one thousand two, etc. before I even bounce off the wall, let along hit bottom.

I should probably tell this story like the brave bike warrior I have become, he said as he cleared his throat. But the truth is that somewhere on the way down the other side of the mountain, in the dark of night, I think I figured out that my left testicle had gone into hiding. It seems that fear does about the same thing to those little guys as ice water does. I didn't care so much that it was temporarily gone, but that starts to hurt after a while bouncing over those rocks if you get my drift. But before you could say "Hey where the hell is it," we were down at the bottom to relative safety. Marilyn gave me a little pat on the back for getting her back to where it no longer mattered whether she had a lens in her frames or not....and my left testicle dropped back into place which made the remaining hour or so of the ride home much more comfortable.

Wondering where they go when they disappear , aren't you? Well now I know. You see I thought I had developed a tumor in my left armpit while on the way over the mountain...but that simple pat on the back made everything better again. There must be a moral in there somewhere, huh?

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