Training Runs: The Regenerative Power of Motorcycling Back Roads

THE IMPACT OF WAR LINGERS . . .

In Fall 1982 I took my first motorcycling journey with two of my older brothers, Steve and Harry, and Harry’s father-in-law, Chuck. We rode to the Davis Mountains, in which I enjoyed the companionship and fell in love with The Ride. Subsequently I undertook solo journeys throughout North America, Europe, and Norway, covering approximately 120,000 miles over 25 years. I didn’t know it at the time, but in retrospect those were healing rides, driven from within to deal with an as-then undefined PTSD.  What follows are two excerpts from the titled e-Book above. Fifteen years apart, the visitations occurred in different regions of New Mexico, a spiritual land.

Wednesday, September 30, 1987 – Carrizozo, NM/Midnight

“There is one room left in town. It has a broken window and a door that won’t open, so I crawl through the window to get in. I sleep with my 9mm by my side and dream of Thanh, my interpreter in Vietnam. He was seriously wounded in a booby trap explosion but was recovering in the amputee ward of the Saigon hospital when I left country. In my dream (or was it a visitation?) he’s whole and smiling, says he’s OK. (In 1996 I returned to my operating area in South Vietnam in hopes of locating him and one other soldier I served with. No luck.)”

September 12, 2002 – Mogollon, NM

“Dawn breaks cool and cloudy. As I ready the motorcycle, an old man who performs maintenance and cleaning for the motel sits in a chair tilted against a wall. He’s watching me … but not watching me. It’s like he’s done with life, stuck in each day, a scary thought. I start to speak but don’t because this morning I’m stuck in a dream similar to the one I had in 1987 when in Carrizozo for the night and I dreamed about Sergeant Thanh.

As I was drifting in slumber during this early morning, Lieutenant Hot, my favorite South Vietnamese Regional Force officer, visited me. The last time I saw him he had been standing on the bow of a river patrol boat while we cruised up the Vam Co  Dong  River before  disembarking  on  our  last  operation together. And even though I’ve written and talked about Hot—a man who with 17 years fighting experience possessed far more combat expertise than I did— I’d never dreamed about him.

The apparition is short.

“I’ve been looking for you over twenty-five years,” I say.

Hot  doesn’t  say  anything,  just  stares  at  me.  Then, uncontrollably, it seems as if my whole body erupts in tears. Silently, he leans forward, puts his cheek against mine, then cradles my neck.”

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