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UNder Your Spell

Les is more

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Les is more

Jamie and I LOVE Unrallies. I know that there are other regional rides but to us there is something special about the yearly gathering that calls for members and their friends and families to come together and meet their cyber kin face to face. Making and taking an opportunity to ride from all over the continent to gab, break bread and celebrate this motorcycling clan has become a wonderful annual pilgrimage for us . When we see sights like Paul Mihalka and Peter and Jane Algover sitting together it represents the spirit of the gathering. Peter and Paul are both out of Hungary, live on opposite coasts, know each other from the board and have taken the ride to be able to shake hands and spend a few moments together, eye to eye, in community.





Our trip to the Un this year included a little side trip to Fayetteville Arkansas. This was not due to a rogue GPS or map graemlins or a desperate lack of navigational skill. Rather, it was the call of family that drew us 900 miles farther east than our ultimate goal of Gunnison. Allow me a brief detour here.


My oldest brother is 14 years my senior. As a child I worshipped him. He was tall and handsome, athletic and sensitive, artistic and filled with humor and basic goodness. At that age it was a sort of hero worship. He was an island of normalcy in the tumultuous sea that was my family. He moved away to College while I was still fairly young. We had a big brother little sister relationship and as he's mostly lived away from San Diego, we've only had brief visits since then to grow into the idea of being adults together. We have a great deal in common and so have become close, in a long distance sort of way. You might say that we're joined at the heart.


So it was that when he called on May Day, with a somber tone that is usually not present, I yelled in shock and pain as he told me that his wife and workmate of 50 years was suddenly dead. We spoke and I listened carefully to his hollow, desolate voice as he recounted the details. We wept freely together. I remember a passing thought about both the wonder and the cruelty which is the telephone. I wanted nothing more than to let my big brother curl up in my arms and take all the comfort and healing that my heart had to offer. Jamie and I knew then that Arkansas was to be part of our Unrally.


We spent three wonderful days with my brother Denny, exploring the full range of our emotions. We laughed until we cried and cried until there was room for the laughter again. We watched the photo montage of my sister-in-law Karen that was shown at the memorial service and listened to the evocative lyrics and music of Norah Jones which they had played there. We rented movies and played tourist and talked and sometimes just sat silently together. The shattering intrusion of an unwanted perspective into his life, served a kinder purpose for the three of us. It put me in the role of nurturer to him and gave clarity to the idea that he and I are peers now. "Where have you been all my life?" was the question he asked. It told me that he understood me as an equal. His multiple daily reminders for Jamie and I to cherish one another told me that he saw Jamie's goodness and his value in my life. The depth of sharing and complete absence of pretense made this visit a very sweet and perfect platform from which to launch as we left to see our Unfamily.





Our Un actually started right at my brother's house. Mike RC, in the course of his own grand journey, joined us at Denny's place. The four of us went to dinner and Mike spent the night. In the morning we said our goodbyes and four or five, extra tight hugs later, we were on our way.





The next leg of the journey was singularly uneventful. Aside from the very pleasant addition of Mike's company, the ride from Fayetteville to Amarillo along the 40 was warm, windy and straight. We took two laned Hwy 71, rolling through the Ozarks , through small towns and up over a ridge with eye-soothing greens punctuated by dark rock outcroppings. That was about the last eye-soothing we were to have until we climbed into the mountains of Colorado.


We had a coupon for a hotel in Amarillo. The ads for the hotel proudly announced their new remodel and trumpeted about the beautiful atrium rooms and hi-speed internet. There was hi speed internet, depending of course on your definition of "hi." And strangely, our mega discount coupons didn't quite get us into the "atrium rooms." We were in the through the atrium, down a hall, through the old ripped up carpet storage, down another hall rooms. I like to think of them as "The rooms time forgot." To take advantage of the internet we had to go back through the hall, past the ripped up carpet storage, up the other hall and back into the atrium before we could drop packets and wait and try and retry to post or send. On the other hand, they offered a free full breakfast, prepared before our very eyes. Well, okay, the eggs did come from a carton but there was a semi-live person cooking them up. Not bad for $35.00/night. The high point of our stay here was meeting up with Kirsten (KT's Ridin') --then we were four.






On Monday, after our semi-fresh breakfast cooked up with such elan by the semi-live person, the four of us headed west on the 40 and had a little contest to see whose head would be the first to get ripped off by the Herculean gusts of wind coming from one side. We were looking with great hope for the road that would angle us off toward Taos. We rolled into Taos with nary a headless horseman among us and settled into the serious business of staying alive on the tourist filled streets while simultaneously hunting down something interesting for lunch.


Jamie spotted an interesting sign and we continued on into Taos Pueblo to a small Native American restaurant for a tasty lunch of frybread tostadas, sandwiches and traditional stews accompanied by bread baked in the outdoor clay oven.






From there it was onward and upward as we crossed into Colorado and wound our way toward Slumgullion Pass on the 149. Winding through the cool mountain air and breathing in the freshness was a real treat. We dipped and rose and turned in that special dance that a small group riding together can indulge in. As we climbed out of one turn, there on our right in a big pull out, were two riders madly waving. As we pulled closer, we realized that it was Russell and Howard. We pulled over for a quick hello only to find that we had rolled up on the aftermath of Russell's get off. Russell's bike had its good side toward the road and we didn't realize that anything was amiss until the story began to unfold. We stayed for a bit, commiserating and making sure things were okay. Then we headed down the hill to Lake City where Lisa was waiting. She was glad for the company and then we were five. We rolled into Gunnison in the early evening and set up camp at the KOA.


It's such a great feeling to roll into camp or hotel and see the smiling faces of our community as they look up and come over to see who the newest arrival is. It's a funny thing about this group. An internet acquaintance can seem very distant but as soon as we're together and helmets are off, it's old home week and the hugs and friendly greetings are plentiful.


Jamie and I and a few others opted to take Tuesday and just lie about like lazy slugs, chat with friends and take advantage of the actual hi speed internet at the KOA. Sitting at the benches, under the trees, next to the stream made for a refreshing first day in. That evening we had arranged to meet up with Fernando, Philly and Mystery Moderator Mike whom none of the rest of us had ever met in person. We shared in the warmth of that meeting and downed some darned good Mexican Food at La Fiesta.






Continuing our lazy streak, Jamie and I arose at the crack of noon--actually around 9:00 AM on Wednesday. We emerged from our tent to find most all of the bikes gone--no surprise there. Turning Maynard from a pack mule/ice cream truck back into a bike, we set off on a ride to Saguache on the 114. We stopped at the only restaurant in evidence after taking a brief tour of this little ranching town. In the CA State Parks, when there's an old town that has become a park, they keep it in what they call a state of arrested decay. The decay in Saguache seemed to be running free. Some things appeared to be up and going but there was and equal number of closed and abandoned buildings. We spoke with one of the ranchers who told us of the continuing drought in the area. Times are hard for these folks. Without water they can't grow what they need to feed the herds. They then sell the beeves off in great numbers. Most of those go for hamburger to export and the price they get continues to be driven down. Taking the time to speak with the locals always opens my eyes to something of which I'd been unaware. Travel is surely the key to learning the country through the diverse experiences of its people.


Our get together on Wednesday night was a joy! It's this coming together of the whole group that IS the Unrally. The excited talk and the laughter said it all. The generosity of spirit in this group is truly remarkable. The gathering of friends from all points of the compass is, to us, a precious thing.




The fun continued on Thursday when three bikes, carrying Jamie, Chris Olson and me made short work of the 50, and then headed out of Ridgeway toward Naturita and Gateway on the 141. What a fun ride. It was Jamie in the lead with Chris putting the LT through it's paces as we zipped between the narrowing, red canyon walls. We stopped to marvel at the Hanging Flume on the Redrock Cliffs above the Dolores River. Continuing to Gateway, I was taking in the river bank dotted with clusters of cottonwoods and greenery. Suddenly, on my left, a burgeoning resort intruded abrubtly into the otherwise bucolic scene. As much as they attempted to make it the color of its surroundings and keep it in the pueblo style, its scale in this world of small cabins and clapboard buildings undid any attempt to fit in. In its favor, the Paradox Restaurant was cool, the food was good and the lunch prices were remarkably reasonable. They also provided motorcycle parking with steel kickstand plates placed at appropriate intervals in the asphalt. Besides, it was the only game in town. We flew back into Gunnison on the 50 to share in the Thursday night meatfest--groan--with a smaller but no less jovial group of friends. Good times!!







Never ones to leave a good party willingly, we took off Friday after lots of hugs and fond farewell's. We headed up over the Grand Mesa where it was high and cool and curvey. We soaked up as much of that as possible before descending into the Grand Junction inferno and onto I-70. Were we finished with our Unrally? Oh No! Not we! On to Torrey to Killers place we rode where we had a mini Un with Fernando, Paul Mihalka, Laney, Dennis Andress, Boney and Gaby, Christiane and Tank and the infamous spendthrift himself, Killer 'Bob' Palin. We continued the party at the Rimrock with pizza and beer and lots of good cheer. Jamie brought back bagels and pastries from the Chuckwagon the next morning and then it seemed that our two week long party was really going to break up. Two by two, like getting off the ark, the riders left for home. We had two days to get back and were in no hurry to get out into the heat. Jamie and I delayed our departure until afternoon and finally rode off into the sunset. We climbed up over Cedar Brakes eking out every last bit of coolness before dropping into Cedar City and 100 degrees. From there it was I-15 and watching the mercury ascend--St. George, 110 degrees and coming out of the magnificent Virgin River Gorge sweepers into Mesquite, NV it hit 117.5 degrees. "That's it !" I cried, "I'm not riding another foot in this blast furnace!" I cast my vote for stopping in Mesquite. There was a huge registration line at the Virgin River Hotel but at least it was air conditioned. We had been standing there for about 10 minutes when my delicate California ears picked up the fact that there were no non smoking rooms left. Call us spoiled rotten but having cooled down to normal operating temperature again, I was ready to climb back on Arianrhod and do the 90 or so miles through Las Vegas to get to Jean, near the CA , NV state line. We picked up our non smoking room and got a good night's sleep to prepare ourselves for the grind home on I-15. A relatively early departure made for temperatures just off the broil setting and it wasn't long before we came to the end of the trail and the end of this tale.


Thanks to everyone who made the Un happen this time. It was great!









A special thanks to each and every one of you in our BMWST.com family. You add more to our lives than you'll ever be aware of.

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I am claiming the emotion of the world cup is what caused me to tear up a little reading this. Great read!


Kaisr thumbsup.gif

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Excellent write-up Jamie and thanks for letting 'us' over here sort of 'be there' too through your story thumbsup.gif.


It would be so nice to join in, and although the world has really become a small pace over the Internet, it is still prohibitive at times as for physical presence.


PLEASE forward our regards and well wishes to your brother... I hope he'll be okay in spite of the obvious pain frown.gif He's lucky having a sister like you !


Warmest regards,


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the infamous spendthrift himself, Killer 'Bob' Palin
Hey, wait a minute, it's been 4 years since I bought my last new bike, I'm cheaper than a Scotsman's underwear!


Nice write up Leslie, I'm happy to be part of your Big family.

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Thanks Leslie


Just about the time I'm starting to think and plan my next trip you remind me of the last....and I'll have to finish that planning later...cause I'm back to smilin about the UN...



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Your writing is a gift Leslie, thank you. Whenever i feel the desire to post, my 36 pages of thoughts are crammed into one paragraf. tongue.gif. Tis a honor to be apart of this outfit, Can't wait for '07

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Wow! Thanks for such a warm, inviting tale of what this life is about.


I can't wait to meet without the electrons in the middle so that someday I too can, in some way, have the privilege of calling you sister!


Thanks for sharing and being so open. thumbsup.gif

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Wow Les - THANKS!


But, I disagree with one thing,

The high point of our stay here was meeting up with Kirsten (KT's Ridin') --then we were four.
Meeting up with you all was more of a treat for me than you. It was not only fun, but got me on roads I would not have known to take, a fantastic lunch, great conversations, and the opportunity to learn more about all that I don't know yet thumbsup.gif


Thanks Again grin.gif


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