I have come to realize that everyone has it in them to be a magician. No training necessary. No hats, rabbits or wands required. All that is needed is something that everyone on the planet possesses. Perspective. With it we can change a vacant lot into a park. Tables and chairs can be transformed into fortresses and obstacle courses. Knowing no-body at a party can suddenly create the possibility for making a new friend. Or, that vacant lot can remain an eye sore, the tables and chairs can stay furniture and you can linger around the party alone. It all depends on how you use the magic with which you were born.
And it was nothing less than the magic of perspective (plus a few angels on our shoulders) that got my brother, a friend of ours and I out of Moab, Utah in the summer of ’95.
The story begins back in Cornwall, Ontario. Three amigos, three hogs, six saddlebags, a map and a route — Cornwall, Denver, The Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Vancouver, Calgary and back to Cornwall. Quite the trip considering the fact that we had only gotten our motorcycle licenses that summer. However, we were young, energetic and had perspective on our side. What could go wrong?
Our trip was first brought to a sudden halt when my brother’s bike lost its chain in Davenport, Iowa. $360+ to repair and a minimum of a day in the shop. As we sat on the windowsill outside of the garage and contemplated our next move, we were greeted by a fellow biker. He simply introduced himself and offered to take us out to lunch at the local Hooters. After a hearty meal of burgers, wings and beer, he graciously flipped the bill, returned us to the shop and said farewell, asking only that we repay the favor to the next stranded traveler we happened upon. We were floored with his generosity and of course said yes.
Our evening and night were then spent in the basement of one of the clerks at the bike shop. He fed us, entertained us (He had the most amazing electric car set!) and asked for nothing more than our willingness to pay it forward.
These two kindhearted souls could have seen us as nothing more than three sorry bastards and left it at that. Instead they looked at us through compassionate eyes and gave us the sense and understanding of pure altruistic kindness.
The next day we took advantage of our unexpected delay and explored the beauty of Davenport and the grand Mississippi. I stepped into my first Casino on a riverboat and watched my buddy make a quick buck. (Or maybe he lost it. I’ll keep my memory positive. It was a win!) We left Davenport that afternoon during a ‘mild’ storm. Although the stop left my brother’s wallet a bit lighter, we gained a few memories, insights and a fortune in perspective.
The next bit of trouble arose with our friend’s bike. Faulty wiring in his engine prevented his battery from maintaining its charge. After stopping for the umpteenth time with little to no hope of resolution, our friend decided to call it quits and head home. It was with heavy heart that my brother and I said farewell to him. Looking back on the situation now, I don’t know if we made the right choice leaving him to fend for himself in Middle America. He insisted that we go on and complete our journey but we could have just as easily headed back with him. Was it our selfish pursuit of our end goal that gave way to the final mishap, or was it destined to happen either way? I guess the point is moot now.
That night, after a long day of riding through endless miles of road my brother and I found ourselves just outside of Moab, Utah. Midnight had come and gone and we still hadn’t arrived at our campsite. The uncomfortable numbness that had settled into our legs and butt cheeks was eased by the opulent beauty of the surrounding nature. There seemed to be a purity about the moonlit sky that I hadn’t ever seen before. The stars shone with health and vigor. Life was good. For a stretch.
I was in the lead with my brother far in the distance behind me. Or so I thought. I was surprised when the campsites which I had booked for the night suddenly appeared about a hundred meters to my left. I braked suddenly. A little too suddenly. The next sound I heard was a shrill scream beside my right ear. I felt the slightest tap to the side of my bike and the next thing I knew I was upside down in the air.
My brother was a tad closer than I had thought and was caught off guard when my brake lights reflected off of his visor. Unable to completely swerve in time, he had clipped my passenger foot peg and ended our journey for good.
I don’t remember hitting the pavement. All I remember is sitting in front of my bike engulfed in the bright beam of light from its head lamp. I stared into the darkness for few moments trying desperately to understand what had just happened. The surreal silence of solitude was broken every few seconds by the ticking of my left turn indicator. And suddenly I was aware. Aware of my bike lying on its side behind me. Aware of the dull ache settling into my joints. Aware of the mummer of voices that were coming from the campsites. And aware that my brother and his bike were nowhere to be seen.
I scrambled to my feet, threw off my helmet and screamed for my brother.
I slowly walked down the country road away from the steady stream of light and further into the blackness. I once again yelled my brother’s name.
My eyes slowly began to adjust to the darkness of the still night. I once again yelled, pleaded for a response from my brother.
The faint sound of a dying engine called me forward at a quickened pace. As I plodded on into the darkness I could finally make out the shape of my brother’s bike. I ran to its ruined remains and began searching the road side for any signs of my brother. Finally, a few paces up the highway I saw a human outline lying motionless at the bottom of the ditch. My brother!
I jumped down into the gully and cautiously approached his body. As my night vision improved, I noticed the moonlight glistening off of blood on his chaps. (We had decked ourselves out in full leathers and full faced helmets). I could only imagine the shattered bones and torn flesh that were the cause of the slick pool covering his limbs. I stood over him petrified in horror. And then a flicker of movement from his hand. Without saying a word he waved me down. I slowly knelt beside his broken body. He was trying to say something, but his words were too faint for me to make out clearly. I carefully leaned in further almost pressing my ear to his helmet. He whispered.
“Can you turn off my radio? I can’t hear a thing.”
Two sentences brought air back into my lungs and a beat back into may heart. We talked feverishly as people from the campsites cleaned up the debris from our wreckage. It turned out that the blood on his leg was really oil from his fractured engine. From what he could feel, everything was ok. However, we decided that he should sit tight until the paramedics arrived.
It seemed like no time had passed before we were in the back of an ambulance racing away from the scene of our accident, towards the hospital in Moab. The doctors awaiting our arrival were relieved to see us alive and well. All they knew was that two individuals had been involved in a motorcycle accident. There were no helmet laws in Utah at the time so they were expecting a couple of human carcasses when the ambulance pulled up. The visible damage done to his helmet and jacket revealed that he was lucky to be alive. His slide across the asphalt actually burned a hole through his jacket and left him with a nasty abrasion, the scar from which he still carries today. Other than that he suffered some minor bruising and a broken toe. All things considered, the night ended well.
We ended up camping in Moab for about a week while we waited for our insurance to sort things out. Our friend, with whom we had been in constant contact, managed to fix his bike and came to see us in Moab. We camped together for seven days enjoying the national parks, white water rafting and each other’s company.
Scott and I both ended up getting a fair amount of money from our insurance as well as a free flight home. I ended up using my settlement as a down payment on my first car. All in all, things ended well. Although we didn’t end up doing the full tour, (Our friend did though!) I remember our journey as one of the best I have been on. At least it was from my perspective.
Dreams, by the Cranberries, was the song that was playing on my walkman as we drove through the ‘little’ storm just outside of Davenport. I might have neglected to mention that the high winds and rain that pelted us as we drove out of the city were being caused by the three tornadoes that pummeled the farmland on either side of the highway. To my brother, friend and I they were another adventure that we wanted to meet head on. We didn’t see the stupidity in our actions as we tangled with mother nature. That was a time where angels were on our side, not perspective.
Everyone has the power to turn things around. All that is needed is a little perspective.
Dreams youtube link