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Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Left Coast........Road Stories Pt I.


Datil,New Mexico,the Very Large Array,a series of 27 Antennae on the plains of San Augustin.


I spent 2 days there in February this year photographing the 82ft wide dishes,the second day being pretty much of a wash out weather wise,clouds rolling in ahead of 55mph wind gusts coming up from the SW.Cold,cloudy and windy.It made for a challenging shoot and a cold night of camping.



Out in the middle of New Mexico I stumbled upon Tommy Padilla's Rito Quemado Convenience Store in Quemado NM,just west of Datil on Hwy 60.
Tommy's convenience store is a neat little gas stop with motorcycle parking out front.Most of these small town stores can be pretty shoddy at best,but Tommy's was immaculate,especially the bathrooms,hence the reason I write of it here.Tommy even offered me the use of Wi-Fi if I needed to do some work.
When I come across a great spot like this I like to spread the word.


Don and Murph,Quemado NM,2012. 
Photo courtesy Nick Steever.com

This is Don from Alaska whom I met as I rode past him on the way to Quemado.I saw his Alaska plate as I overtook him,so I pulled over ahead of him,we stopped and chatted but it was cold,so we said we'd meet up ahead at Tommy's gas station.While there,Nick Steever,a photographer from NY happened to be gassing up his vehicle and asked if he could take some shots of Don and I.
I remember I was putting something I had just bought at the store into one of the panniers at the same time Nick asked to take a shot of us,and hurriedly closed the lid of the pannier,but forgot to pull over the cargo net(which holds my H-D mess kit bag on).




Heading west on Hwy 60 and riding 10 or so miles I took a look in my mirrors and saw this really great straightaway behind me,so I pulled over to grab a camera and run off a couple of shots.


As I threw my leg over to dismount I noticed something was missing from the back of the bike,a soft bag,my mess kit bag where I keep my my coffee and kitchen items,a black Harley Davidson cool bag that was a gift,given to me by my friend and Bonneville brother "TR".


Bugger it,the cargo net,I forgot to tie it down.


I looked around,back,sideways,no sign of the bag anywhere,so without taking the straightaway picture I had stopped for to begin with,I hopped back on the bike to ride back east the way I came from Tommy's gas station to try to see if I could spot it on the side of the road somewhere.The 10 mile ride back to Tommy's store yielded nothing.
"Bugger it twice" I mumbled,I have to find the bag,this bag HAS to be found,it has sentimental value to me,and my next port of call was Quartzite AZ.And guess who I was going to visit in Quartzite?.
Yep,my buddy TR.


Needless to say that the bag needed to be found,one way or another.I had made up my mind that I wasn't going to show up at TR's place without the bag,end of story.
So after reaching Tommy's convenience store with no bag in hand,I turned around and went back again to check the other side of the road.


Nothing,not a sign of the bag anywhere.


So I ride back again to Tommy's store,go inside to ask if anyone found it and dropped it off,but alas,no luck.At this point,I was starting to get a bit dejected.Bugger.
After a cup of coffee I head back out again for the 4th time along the same stretch of road,40 miles of back and forth all told,looking for the bag.


As I rode back the way I came,I kept checking the roadside anyway just in case,but as I had run this route already with no sign of the bag,I started to resign myself to the fact that it was lost,another casualty of my negligence.


So here's the part where this story get's interesting.
Now,I'm not a religious person,agnostic bordering on atheism if you want to pigeonhole me,years of catholic double standards,being taught in my youth by sadistic Nuns and Christian Brothers in Ireland had shaped my beliefs,or lack thereof,and disdain for the Catholic Church.
My old man was spiritual himself,not religious,even though his two brothers were both priests.Go figure.
Back last year when I was camping in Sedona,I lost my iPhone up in a remote area of brush on the top of a mountain.No way to find it,I tried,walked around for an hour,no joy.
I rode down to the bottom with my laptop and logged on to FindMyPhone,got an approximate location on the top of the mountain where I thought I lost it,rode back up there,searched,but still no luck.
So for whatever reason that I don't understand I said to myself,Hey Dad,how about a little help here,I could use it.I just figured it was worth a shot,right?.
10 paces later I walked right on top of the phone,there it was on the ground in front of me.


Ok,so fast-forward to  today and here I am riding to the same spot on the bike in New Mexico where I was going to take the long straightway shot before I realized I lost my mess bag,and a couple of miles before I get there,I decide to ask my old man for help a second time,just a straight "Hey Dad,I could use your help again,how about it",that was it. 
I get to the part where I had stopped to take the picture and was going to keep going,keep riding because I was a little miffed at myself,but something made me stop and say,"Oh well,may as well get the shot while i'm here".
So as I come to a stop on the side of the road,there on the top of the 1/8th mile marker post I see:






Thanks Dad.




Murph.



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