Little place: (physical, the bike, the trailer, the country)
Big place: (culture, family, etc.; my head)
Everything has its place: food, water, extra clothes. It is Christmas Day 1997, and I am packing my bike for a 5-day bicycle tour in the backcountry of Big Bend National Park. The weather is cold for Big Bend, near freezing. The sky is overcast.
The previous night I have a great Christmas Eve dinner with Mike, his partner Jim, Jim’s wife, and Mike’s full-time RVer parents. All of us were crammed into a 5th wheel travel trailer. It was tight quarters, but it was the best meal I enjoyed that whole year.
What am I doing in Big Bend? I am escaping. I am running away from the cold weather of the Navajo Indian Reservation, I am running away from my immediate family. I am running away from my father’s death. I am running away from my own failure. I decided I’ve had enough! Enough moping and depression! Enough weirdness! It is time to get on with my life and I have decided to start it by doing my favorite thing at my favorite place.
To get to Big Bend, takes commitment. It is remote and isolated, some 8 hours southeast of El Paso, TX. Big Bend is named for the northward bend the Rio Grande takes on its journey south and east to the Gulf of Mexico. Within the park are the Chisos Mountains, the southernmost mountain range in the U.S. It is big country in the heart of the Chihuahuan desert. It is a spectacular contrast: green mountains, brown desert. It is a place where I find peace.
Zoom ahead to Day 2:
So much for escaping the weather…On the second day of my trip, I am dealing with snow flurries. I have every bit of clothing on that I packed. The desert is beautiful with the blowing snow.
At camp 2, I unload my bike, do a quick hike to Ernst’s Tinaja, return to my camp to get my bike and ride 10 unloaded miles down the Jeep road to the hot springs. I push my bike along the trail until I get to the edge of the hot spring pool. I am alone. I strip naked in the blowing snow and hop into the steaming water. The Rio Grande rushes past the wall that contains the hot water. Mexico is just a stone’s throw away, and I have the whole place to myself!
I am healing.
About this practice, mimbresman says: It’s about coming to terms with two big life changes. First, my dad’s death. My dad and I were close. He was a pharmacist and owned the local drugstore in our small town of Silver City, NM. Family time was important. He worked 7a to 7p most days. The store had a soda fountain, so as a family we spent a lot of time at the drugstore. Then he expected us to be home and ready for dinner when he got home around 7:30. He wanted to sit with the family and listen to what happened in our lives that day. On his few days off, he liked to explore the area around Silver City. I guess that’s where I got my appreciation of nature and of the natural history of where I was living.
The other loss in my life was the closure of my business. In 1993, after eight years of teaching, I had started a mountain bike clothing company called Mimbres Man. There was no such thing as mountain bike clothing then. Mimbres Man was a pioneer company and received positive press as being original. But unfortunately, I was not a great businessman and Mimbres Man folded in 1997.
As it often does, my mountain bike pulled me through. I’ve enjoyed bicycling since I was seven years old. I tried motorcycling but found them too noisy and felt like I was cheating. Bicycles are quiet and have been a great way of exploring, traveling, and getting out in nature around the Gila and beyond. I’ve been to amazing places because of mountain bikes.
I eventually went back to teaching, and I’m glad I did. Teaching is my main creative outlet, plus teaching brought me to Venezuela and my wife Tania. She is funny, and I enjoy being with her. (I read her my practice, btw.) We are so different yet we are connected. We sometimes don’t even need to speak to each other because we are thinking the same thing. Two cultures, two languages, two skin colors, but one love. Corny but true.
-from Topic post, WRITING TOPIC – A PLACE TO STAND
Read Full Post »