A little over a month ago, a raven appeared on the desert willow in back of the house. He appeared agitated. He was screeching our a warning… it sounded like he was saying “Nevermore!”
I paid little heed.
On my way to work that week, I had a bit of a delay. In Arizona, as in most states, I assume, school buses have little stop signs that pop out,and flashing red lights when students are embarking and disembarking. The buses generally stop and wait for oncoming traffic to pass before engaging the stop signs and lights.
This particular bus driver on this particular morning did not wait for traffic to pass. She stopped and immediately engaged the lights and sign. I locked my brakes on a section of University Rd. known for an excess of sand and gravel on the highway.
Oh, did I mention I was on two wheels? I was on my Harley 1200L, and I went from 45mph to ground in less than 2 seconds. The back end of the bike slid out from under me, and I kissed pavement. My leather riding gloves were shredded. My jeans were shredded. My face was shredded. I suffered road rash on both arms and my left leg. The crash bar saved my leg from further trauma. (The pictures were taken a week after the slide.)
A good Samaritan helped pick the bike up, as I wandered around in a daze, ascertaining the damages to my body. All of my biker friends asked how the bike was! The bike suffered a few cosmetic scratches, but was otherwise unfazed. Me, on the other hand… I was covered with blood. Head wounds like to bleed and look worse than they really are. Scrambled brains, on the other hand, are invisible.
A woman who witnessed my slide stopped and assisted, Her husband also rode. Another woman who lived in a house in front of the incident came out. She told me to park the bike in her yard,and brought out washcloths soaked in warm water to clean up with. The first woman called her husband, who rode out to the scene to help. After cleaning the blood off of my face and repairing my eyeglasses so that I could see, I followed him to his house, where they allowed me in their bathroom to further clean, and she bandaged up the wounds that would not stop bleeding. This is Arizona, and we have some damned decent folk here.
He lent me some tools so that I could tighten my mirrors. We gave the bike a once over, and ascertained that it was fine. I then continued to work, where we cleaned out the medicine cabinet of bandages with the help of Karen, a co-worker who has nursing experience.
A month later now, and I am fairly healed up. I took the skin off of my right thumb down to the cartilage, and still cannot grip, but all of the holes in my flesh have healed.
So three weeks later, Liz and I decide to go kayaking on the Salt River. I had to wait for all of the wounds to heal, because the Salt River is not necessarily the cleanest water in town. I know of people that have had fresh tattoos get infected in the Salt River.
We decided to do a ten mile trek from Saguaro Lake to Granite Reef. Bad decision.
The Salt River is shallow. There are some rapids, but not really bad rapids. Except for one stretch. The river forks and there are two choices – the relatively somber stretch, or the one that we took.
The current drove our kayaks into the bank with low overhanging trees. My kayak did a nice 180 turn, top to bottom. My camera and my eyeglasses are now on the bottom of the salt river. The current swept me about 100 yards over rocks until I was able to gain a foot hold.
Other kayakers, with much more experience than we, were able to give me a lift to smoother waters. The only things lost were my camera, my glasses, my cellphone, and my dignity.
Maricopa County sheriffs arrived , truck, helicopter and boat. And a Tonto National Forest park ranger, also. The sheriff’s deputy loaded our kayaks on his truck and drove Liz and I to Water Users park and haled load the kayaks onto my truck. We then drove to Granite Reef where Liz’s car was parked, only to discover that her key fob for her car was wet and did not work to unlock her Subaru.
A twenty mile drive back to Apache Junction to pick up her spare fob, and to pick up my spare glasses, then back to Granite reef to pick up her car and than back to AJ. My left leg had just about healed from the bike accident, buy now my right leg was fucked. And, being old, I wear bifocals. My spare glasses are distance only.
I checked my prescription – just over a year old. Therein lies the crunch. The prescription was good for one year. If I went to the America’s Best to replace my glasses, I would have to pay for another exam. That would be a half day ordeal. So I ordered glasses online. I am still waiting for my new glasses. Until then I cannot see up close. They should arrive this week.
So what did I learn from all of this? First, do not get too cocky. Don’t get too cocky on a motorcycle (I have 35 years of riding experience). Don’t get too cocky in a kayak (I have 6-months experience). And listen to the damned Raven when he speaks!