Montana Wolf

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Angels Packing Heat

I had lived in Salida in the 1980's. The same picturesque historic district still graced the Arkansas River, albeit with larger price tags. Bike trails and "home-grown" markets and restaurants dotted the streets. Salida had morphed into quite the beautiful little community. One of those "I wish I'd bought a lot of real estate back then" stories.

Book Haven was a dynamic reading event. An enthusiastic crowd of 50 folks showed up for readings and a fine spread of food. I met Kent Haruf, who congratulated me on the CO Book Award Finals. He and Susan Tweit (my girlfriend and parking spot host), Salida's local author stars.

Photo: Pointing south overall, but today it's West over Monarch Pass. Excited to see it again.
Hobo's Good to Go!

I headed out the next morning; decided on the Rocky Mountain route to Mancos. My reasoning went like this: if I was going to land in Arizona for several months, I wanted one more healthy whiff of mountain passes. I got it: Monarch, Red Mountain, Molas. Through the picturesque villages of Ouray and Silverton, up and over myriad smaller passes in between. Towing the trailer. It was an exhilarating, exhausting day; I was glad to glide into Durango and make my way down the home stretch (and over two more smaller passes) for Mancos.

Molas Pass
I was a few miles from Mancos when I heard a POP. Yikes. Had to be a blow out, I thought, although I didn't feel a huge difference since (thank the Goddess) I have a double axle. Mancos Pass is small but dangerous. People race over the hump and don't pay attention to a lane convergence. I pulled over at the last possible place where 2 lanes merge, took a deep breath (as opposed to letting out a wail) and carefully got out of the truck to inspect.

Sure enuf... one shredded tire. I climbed into the truck and fingered through my billfold for the Good Sam's Roadside Service Card I'd never used. I called, only to be told they were experiencing a wait in service due to the heavy call volume. The sun was going down on the dark of the moon as I was asked to wait for them to call me back.

That's when a stocky guy with short hair, dressed in jeans and a t-shirt appeared at my window. Do you need help, he asked? I just called roadside service, I said in my best I've-got-it-under- control-voice. Then from the passenger side window: we can take care of it for you, said another man. I quickly evaluated my options, checked into my intuition, and said SURE.

Photo: . POP. Flat tire on Mancos Pass last night. 2 off duty officers in 2 decked out pickups and packing heat changed it out in no time. 5th pass of the long day. Just a few miles from my landing spot in Mancos. I highly recommend the angel app.
Angels Packing Heat

These guys knew what they were doing. They ordered their young sons to stand in the ditch. They had parked their pick-ups behind my trailer with blinkers on. They collected the jack and tire iron from their tools when we couldn't figure out if the trailer had one. Some do, some don't, they said. As they bent over and went to work I saw Glocks holstered on their waists next to badges. Turned out they were off-duty officers. They'd been parked on the pass and had heard the blow-out. One had jurisdiction on the Cortez side and the other on the Hesperus side; one was going to work, one was just off his shift.

They wanted nothing for their time and effort. I was on my way within 30 minutes and still hadn't heard from Good Sam to even tell them where to dispatch a truck. I gingerly made my way down the pass and into Mancos. Kate and Todd handed me some wine and we sat on their front porch as she served up impromptu pesto and chicken pasta. Todd had gone to college in Prescott and assured me I would love it.

I was in a daze... exhausted with travel and adrenaline but conscious enough to acknowledge that  the angel app I'd recently downloaded was worth its weight in gold.