Oppressive

What a day.

I’m writing this without an internet connection with the hope that I can post it up sometime tomorrow (Tuesday the 29th). I need to put my thoughts into writing before I forget or the feelings change.

As I’d posted earlier, I had an amazing start. I even had a decent roll out after that and a good lunch. My spirits were high and I thought I was ready for what was coming.

What was coming? I’d been warned that the next part of my journey was pretty desolate and temperatures would be high. That’s ok. I’ve dealt with high temperatures.

Damn.

110 degrees for the last 6 hours on the bike. The low was 109, the high 112. That just beats on you. I drank a lot and then drank some more. I stopped more often just to enjoy the shade and ac of a gas station.

That gets in your head. It was a constant mental battle to not get KO’d. The area I was in was spectacular. Especially after the miserable little town of Presidio. Proudly claiming its founding in 1683, it’s officially the oldest town I’ve ever been in other than Plymouth. They really haven’t tried to improve the place. The lady at the gas station counter kept speaking Spanish to me. Like the bundle of joy that I am, I pointed to the American flag on my vest and proceeded to welcome her to America.

Anyway, the canyon and river road from then on was amazing. A real roller coaster of a ride. Some serious rising and falling in the road with tight, blind corners.

…I just had to take a quick break to get a picture of a Javelina (wild pig) and a road runner in the same shot. My wife is going to lose her mind.

The road went through some small towns and it was beautiful but damn it was so hard to not just want to pull over and melt somewhere. I was ready to call it a day as long as I could find shade.

I entered Big Bend National Park and meandered along at the posted 45mph, plus or minus. After a quick, deliriously made decision, I went 20 miles out of my way. To the Rio Grande Village. Like an oasis, it appeared suddenly out of nowhere. Seriously. You’re riding along, in vast open desert and tall canyons and then there is a tunnel. Go through the tunnel and there are trees and grass everywhere. This camp ground looks like it could have a couple hundred tents. There are maybe three. Including me, and I can’t see anyone from where I am. Birds are everywhere, as are the buzzing insects they are after. A few roadrunners are scavenging the camp sites and as mentioned, one Javelina, so far.

I’m not really sure how to take today. Once the pain is over, we seem to forget how bad it was. Today was bad. I guess I shouldn’t really say that. Not all of today was bad. Some of it was really good. I just hate ending on a bad note.

I can’t help but think a bit deeper on that one. This is for me. Not you.

I’ve had a good life. I’ve done some good things. Bad experiences don’t need to define my life. Nor should I let them. That is so easy to write and so hard to put into practice. I really can’t do it. If I could, well. Things would be very different.

Keep trying. I’ll get this.

An edit:

I found a nature trail that took me to the top of a knoll that overlooks the Rio Grande (still not that grand). I watched the sun set over the U.S. and the full moon rise over Mexico. It was amazing. Really hard to take it all in and appreciate the beauty of it. I took a panoramic shot. Not sure if they turn out in this format. I think I was able to put my head in a good place for tomorrow.

Wow. Just wow.

Needed to stop on my trip to do a quick update. I just completed the entire walk through of the Carlsbad Caverns. I am SO glad that I did it. It is easily the most amazing natural wonder that I have ever seen. Jaw dropping. I couldn’t stop saying wow everywhere I looked. My pictures just don’t do it justice. If you ever get a chance to come by this way, I highly recommend it.

Decisions

Starting the day off right with good coffee at Starbucks. They gave me my drink for free today. I assume for Memorial day. I didn’t ask and they didn’t advertise, the girl at the counter just did it. So thanks Starbucks. Sometimes it’s the little things that can make your day.

I’m in Carlsbad New Mexico. I camped at Brantley Lake State Park. Threw on my shorts and went swimming for a bit. I’m glad I have sleeping pills because there was a large outdoor concert on the other side of the lake that was extremely loud. I did 423.2 miles yesterday. It was extremely windy up to and through Roswell. The Harley dealer there wasn’t open and I wasn’t thinking. I left Roswell with less than 1/4 tank of fuel and wouldn’t you know it, no more stations for awhile. I was on fumes when I pulled into Artesia. Not how I like to ride. It’s undue stress that I don’t need. One nice thing, gas around here is cheap. Well, cheaper.

I’m trying to decide how much time I want to spend in Carlsbad Caverns NP. I figure I should walk through at least one. No point hurrying through when I have no agenda. I guess writing that just answered my own question.

I hope everyone has a reflective Memorial day.

See you on the other side.

Things are heating up

I left camp in Silver City NM at about 7:30am. Stopped in for some coffee and pancakes at the Adobe Springs cafĂ©. Easily the worst pancakes I’ve ever had. How exactly do you screw up pancakes?

Choked down what I could and took off. This part of the world is an interesting place. Vast expanses of flat land with sharp mountain ranges on the edges. The roads go straight forever which can lull you into just staring ahead and not thinking or seeing what’s around you. I’ve had to snap myself out of the haze a few times and each time, I see something I shouldn’t miss.

I made it to the Rio Grande and it wasn’t as grand as I was expecting. I’ve seen bigger…That’s what…oh never mind.

In Las Cruces I stopped in at the Harley dealership to cool down and to pick up a poker chip. They are stupid and easily collectable and so I try to pick them up. I’ll grab one in Roswell if I can.

I had no intention of stopping at the White Sands Missle Range but I’m glad I did. The civilian guard at the gate (it is a current Army base) on a whim began talking to me about my VA experience (I’d had to show two id’s). I turned off my bike and we talked for awhile. I can’t do much to help other vets but I can definitely talk. He was a great guy and I wish him the best. Having PTSD and getting the VA and DOD to take you seriously is an uphill battle. Vets with mental health issues aren’t missing a limb or have heinous scars to prove our wounds. It’s tough. His concerns revolved around whether or not they’d bar him from owning a gun. It’s a valid problem. He’s a cop so it’s very pertinent for him. All it takes for the VA to remove your second amendment right is for some bureaucrat to arbitrarily decide on whether they deem you competent. I experienced this myself. Not fun. Or cool. Sorry Curtis. Good luck.

I explored the outdoor park of missiles, the indoor museum was closed. It was actually really interesting and I geeked out for about an hour. I even found Roswell’s UFO. When I stop in there later, I’ll show them the picture and put this whole UFO nonsense to rest. You can thank me later.

I even stopped in at White Sands National Monument. I didn’t want to buy a sled in the gift shop so my options there were limited. Seriously. A sled. Yep.

I’m currently splurging on lunch at Carl’s Jr. in Alamogordo.

A quick aside, the Carl’s Jr. is doing a promotion where people can donate 1$ to help military families. I’ve heard them do their spiel a hundred times at the drive through. I think two people have taken them up on it.

I don’t care what your politics are or your feelings towards donating at a drive through. Do something to help military families. My family was in dire need for four months after I medically retired and we had zero income all of a sudden. If it wasn’t for military charities, we wouldn’t have eaten. The military doesn’t take as good of care of their vets as they’d like you to believe.

Have a great day. I am so far and that’s a good thing.

Day three route

Real quick, 426 miles for the day. I’m currently camped at an RV park in the middle of Silver City New Mexico. A good headache again and I’m beat. I got a shower and I’m looking forward to a good nights sleep.

I plan to get all the way through New Mexico tomorrow unless something interesting pops up. Who knows. If I do, I included the first part of Texas as well.

Thanks again for all of the encouraging messages I received throughout the day. Please keep them coming.

Getting out of my head.

I’m sitting here eating lunch at Big Nose Kate’s saloon in Tombstone.

A lot of thoughts and feelings today. I need to write them down before it gets too crowded in here or I’ll forget.

I woke up with a headache this morning. Not too uncommon but if I don’t nip it quick, it’ll blossom into a migraine and then I wouldn’t be able to ride at all. The joys of TBI’s thanks to tours 1 and 2.

Fortunately I brought a lot of meds. I’m like a rolling pharmacy. No, I don’t have any oxycodone. Don’t rob me.

Today started off with cool temps and a beautiful ride through the trees at high elevation on a twisty road. I’ve dodged turkeys, elk and quite a few deer who wanted to wipe me out. It helped keep my speeds in check.

You’d think that’d make for a perfect day. Unfortunately with PTSD, it doesn’t always work out that way. I was immediately inundated with memories and doubts. Feelings of shame and inadequacy. I can fight it all I want but they are there. I feel like I hate myself and everything that I am.

I’ve spent so much time sitting in single and group therapy. The therapist focuses on you and has you list all of your bad traits and failures. It’s easy to make this list. It just flows out of me. I hate myself and it’s easy to find faults. Then they ask you to list good traits. I can’t. I stutter. I stare off into space. I might capitulate and list a few easy ones. Then the therapist asks the group to say all of the good things they know about me. They quickly chime in with a dozen or so. I hate those guys. That’s the point of group though. To prove that other people don’t see you the way that you do. That’s a hard pill to swallow. The therapist then goes through your negatives list and discounts them all and crosses them off as not true. They then go through the positives and make you feel like an ass for not seeing them. Easy for the therapist to say. They aren’t living it. The PTSD mind focuses on negatives and it’s sooo hard to get past that.

I used to have a “traumatic event” that I couldn’t get past. I would think about it many times a day. Whenever it got quiet or slow, it was in my mind. I could relive every detail. I still can. Fortunately I had one therapist who suggested EMDR. I can’t remember what it stands for. Google it. Basically though it looks like the doc is waving his hand in front of your face saying stupid things and you’re trying not to laugh at him. Crazy enough though, it works. While I can still see that event and I know all of the details, it doesn’t dominate my life. That’s a good thing. So why can’t I just do that for everything, I don’t know. EMDR made me feel numb. I dont want to always feel numb.

I had times today that I was dwelling on so many negatives. I think I was feeling overwhelmed. A headache, only day two and so far to go, I’m a little sore…all good reasons for me to turn to negative thoughts. If only I can remember the things I tried to harp on yesterday. If only. Each day is a new struggle. I need to get out of my head.

I’ve had a good ride today. It was 96 degrees when I pulled into Tombstone. This place is an absolute tourist trap. I need to get out before I do something I’ll regret. Crowds and me don’t mix.

I’ll ride ahead to Bisbee. Other than gas, I’m out of funds for the day. Time to be cheap. The BLM and Forest service say not to camp on open land near here, as we’re too close to the border. Infer what you will.