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 café. 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.

Appreciate where you are.

First, before I get started, I want to say thank you to everyone who has been commenting, emailing, sending private messages or texting. I cannot possibly get back to you all but I wanted to say how much I appreciate it. I am able to read them all, to be sure. Thanks a ton. Keep them coming.

Today started off exactly as planned. Topped off the tank and met my friend whom I haven’t spent more than 10 minutes of time with in 14 years. It’s odd but I can’t describe the feelings I had when we were back together. I spent some time thinking about it today and I decided that I just felt safe. I didn’t need to worry at all how he felt, what he thought of me or even if I could trust him. He knows me. Even 14 years later. It was nice. Thanks Sapper.

Regarding my title for the day.

I had quite a few moments today where I was anxious about all that I still had ahead of me. I found myself obsessing over cities and waypoints. Things I wanted to see. Then I’d snap myself back. Look where I am! It was an amazing day. Sure, there were some sections of road that I wouldn’t do again, but still, I was seeing new terrain. New places that I had never been. I just needed to relax and appreciate exactly where I was. Tomorrow will come. Tomorrow. I don’t need it here today. I want to be in today for all it’s worth. Otherwise I’ll get to the end and I’ll have missed it all.

I first taught myself this mantra when I was taking mountain bike too seriously. Meaning I was “training” and taking all of the fun out of it. The mantra is “Stop. Breathe. Look.” I just needed to enjoy what was around me and I couldn’t do that riding with an agenda. No agendas. At some point on the trail, maybe when it’s most inconvenient, just stop. Get your breathing in check. Look up. Look around. It’s an amazing world. Try to see it.

Anyway. I’ve been working on that today.

So far I’ve done 510 miles. I’m sitting in a little café in Alpine Arizona because they have internet. I’ll continue about another 23 miles because apparently there’s free camping ahead. I guess I’ll find out. Local time is 5:57 and that’s a good enough day.

The next section of road is called the Devils Highway. It used to be designated 666. Now people say it’s haunted. Quite a bit of lore about it. Lots of twists and turns and it should be fun. Then I’ll make it down to Tombstone where I’ll probably just stop for the day to explore.

Thanks for following along.

Pics are from the Petrified Forest National park.

Lee’s Ferry crossing, cool history.

Sapper J.

Quick update:

I did 528.2 miles yesterday. I found the most amazing campsite and it was free! If every night is like this, I’ll have it made.