Anniversaries are something to be cherished and celebrated although for some reason Holly and I seem to have something scheduled on top of our anniversary every year. So each year we promise to take a little time away specific to the celebration but many times, if not most times, it never quite happens and another year slips away.
This year would be different we said. Although we missed again celebrating on April 25 we had plans to do something special that was just for us. Deanna Naddie, a friend of ours through dōTERRA (how we earn our living) reached out prior stating she had a cabin for rent that had openings during the six week blueberry season. I love blueberries and love staying in a quaint cabin where internet and even cell phone service can't pierce the tranquility. However, this time we would find that lack of communications was not freeing at all on this trip. Regardless, we were in. Although it was a couple months after our actual date, Holly and I were excited to be actually celebrating 17 years of marriage, and although not a "special number" 17 is a lot of years together.
We made all the necessary arrangements to have our son stay with his cousin, get the cats taken care of, and all the typical running around you do prior to leaving even for a few days. I'm reminded how complex life can be even when you fill it with good things. Things still require attention. A thought to ponder at another time perhaps.
We successfully dropped off Nicholas and were off on our Anniversary adventure. A note about adventures, they are never guaranteed to be what you want, only they are guaranteed to be...an adventure. We were hungry and decided to head to Pandora's Motorsports on the way out of town as they had a hotdog stand there for the day and I thought it would be fun to see everyone before we left town. After all, this was our first voyage on the new replacement BMW from the total not long ago. We limit our intake of Hotdogs as you might imagine given our healthy lifestyle but as we tell those we consult with, live the 90/10 rule where 90% of what you do is healthy and the other 10% is what keeps you human.
From there we were checking the weather as there was a line of storms coming through and it was pretty nasty so we decided to make haste and attempt to reach downtown Chattanooga where we could enjoy the downtown while waiting for the storm to pass. We were so close.. But didn't make it before the bottom fell out and we had to seek shelter under an overpass. Met a fellow bicyclist while waiting. The storm passed quickly and we were on our way.
We said our goodbyes to Bill and headed west toward our secluded cabin. Outside of the hotdog we ate hours ago, we hadn't had anything to eat that day and were finding ourselves very prepared to eat. It is about that point when the thought of hunger hit me that everything started to go a bit wrong. While only 30 minutes away from our cabin traveling west bound on Hwy 50 nearing an intersection to the on/off ramp for I65 an east bound pickup truck decided to turn left in front of us. I slammed on the brakes and truly thought I would be able to stop up until about 15 ft away where I said through my coms to Holly, "we are going to hit". It was at that point where my brand new 2018 BMW GSA with around 516 miles on the ODO struck the right rear quarter panel of a blue GMS Sierra pick up truck. Luckily most speed had been bled off and the strike likely was around 20-25mph but enough to cause significant damage to the bike and to find us separated from it. Some recall is a bit blurry and we have had to stitch the memory back together based on bruises and other memories that came in pieces.
What we did know, is our trip had significantly changed. So many things goes through your mind prior to an accident assuming you have time to calculate it and this time was no different. Denial I have to admit was the first thing that hit my head. Surely, this isn't about to happen again, to me, on this bike. You see, this bike was a replacement bike that I had just got loaded up with my extras and lights and top case etc. The vinyl wrap was scheduled to occur the week after we got back home. This replacement bike was due to an identical bike that was totaled in New Mexico as a result of traveling on an open county road where a rancher, whose land the country road traversed, wasn't keen on travelers being on the road and decided to solve the "problem" by placing a taunt thin/yet strong steel cable (like you see as guide wires for telephone poles) across the cattle gate without signs warnings or otherwise. I hit it and luckily it caught the bike under the fender and yanked the bike much like the bit does to a horse except without releasing. The result landed me on the ground and my bike suffering like an animal that had been put down. Luckily I walked away from that incident unscathed and rode the bike home only to find due to the damages the cable and the result "landing" had caused the bike to be totaled. And so here I was again, finding myself once again without a bike, but alive. More than I can say for many who have totaled bikes. The gear you were CAN save your life and at the minimum minimize your injuries.
This time was different. This time, my wife was with me. It is one thing for me to have an accident and feel as though I am in control (although if one thing I have learned we are never in control) and realize that if an accident occurs I'm willing to deal with those decisions and the resulting pain and suffering that can come with it. But when my wife, who trusts me to protect her and take care of her as I promised to do 17 years ago, is part of the accident and resulting chaos I feel the responsibility on a far different plane. She would of course have a different opinion as she would say she knows the risks and happily accepted them. Regrettably that doesn't lighten the emotional load.
After the impact and once we came back to the accident mentally we started taking inventory of body parts, aches, pains, moving toes, legs etc. Amazing how little you feel directly after an accident, even the next day. It is as though your body shuts it off and says, not yet, deal with your surroundings and make sure you are safe, you can hurt later. The second interesting fact is the sheer amount of information that comes in during an accident and the processing limitation you have for that amount of information. The brain generally takes in 2000 bits of information per second and when things move really fast the issue of tunnel vision reduces the number of the 2000 bits recorded to be what the brain at that moment believes is the most important for that point in time. This is why eye witnesses can have drastically different recollections because in a traumatic event it is your focus that determines what you actually record. As a result, Holly and I didn't have clear memories of how we actually got off the bike. While we were at the accident neither of us thought we hit the ground or even left the bike. But neither of us could remember how we got off. From bruises and injuries it was later pieced together that Holly did in fact hit the ground although we are not sure how or where, and I don't think I hit the ground but rather hung onto the truck after impact. Our injuries seem to support that conclusion.
Moments after the accident I was found staring at my "dead horse" in both shock and anger and Holly was quickly on her feet with her helmet off so I knew she was ok to a level but unsure what injuries she may have had. While standing staring and likely yelling sweet nothings at anyone who would listen the driver of the truck was kind enough to request that I sit down. Come to find he was a paramedic, what are the chances. He was very apologetic and was very helpful in calming me to the point where I started feeling pain again. My shin took a hit and my knee was starting to hurt. On a side note, the paramedic, my accident dance partner, was wanting to take a look at my leg and the only option I had was take my riding pants off. Without hesitation I did only to realize I was left wearing nothing but my MotoSkiviz. Yes, likely would have been a great advertisement for them had anyone taken a picture. Considering I ended up limping around the accident for several minutes until the EMS finally told me to get on the stretcher it's likely I'm somewhere on someone's facebook in my undies. Oh well.. Ambulance finally arrived and I ultimately ended up for a ride of a different sort. Holly was also injured but she fell into the "take care of everyone else mode" and didn't realize how bad her ribs were till much later. If you have had cracked or even bruised ribs you know that every breath is a reminder of your injury. She had that to look forward to once the adrenaline as well as the pain patch they provided at the hospital wore off.
Both of us in gowns and placed in facing ER rooms we were realizing this would likely be an anniversary celebration we would never forget. The hospital verified what we had hoped that there were no broken bones but that I had a possible knee strain if not a tear. More testing would be required to know. Holly had bruised ribs although not broken but follow up would also be needed to be certain. Not how I intended to spend our time. But it is what it is.. The hospital provided a brace and crutches for my leg and they stated I needed to have it looked at further to determine if there was soft tissue damage. Having had tendon damage in my shoulder in the past I was not looking forward to any prognosis especially with my legs because that limits just about everything I like to do from hiking to photography to camping much less motorcycling. Hoping for the best on that one.
Now the reality of an accident while on the road away from home on a motorcycle sets in. Luckily Deanna was not far away and was kind enough to come get us and after a much needed dinner took us back to the cabin so we could figure out what we do next.
The cabin was exactly as described. Quaint, quite, and away from technology of all sorts. A place for introspection, reading, writing, and all in all recharging our natural batteries. Well, assuming you haven't just been in an accident. Since our plans had changed the recharging would once again have to wait as Insurance was calling our dead phones and emails were needing to be sent from non-internet and reality was we were going to have to get "life" back in order before relaxing any time soon.
We spent the majority of our time at Deanna's house where we did have internet and our cell phones were able to make calls through her wifi in order to get all the necessary calls and emails and pictures sent so Insurance could get moving on what had happened. I learned the hard way when I was in New Mexico that not taking care of a claim and all questions prior to leaving the area could leave you in a poor position to charge the appropriate party with the claim. Because I left New Mexico I was unable to get the local police to properly investigate the property where the steel cable was placed making it not possible or perhaps feasible for my insurance to go after the rancher for the violation of an improper gate. So the claim became a no fault rather than an at fault by other party. So I didn't want to make that same mistake again especially since this was another claim so close to the last one. Luckily in both cases we took lots of photos which told the story and backed us up in everything we were saying.
Day 1 1/2 of our 2 1/2 day adventure was now complete after spending a wonderful evening with Deanna and having an amazing lamb chop dinner late into the evening. Spending time with people is truly where I find the most adventure. Hearing stories by connecting with friends new or old and sharing our lives with each other is how we truly seat memories into our brain for later recall. Everything else, the travel, the adventure, the enriching of our experiences is just getting us to the point of either having a story to tell or listening to one being told. I find I relish in this sharing experience more and more the older I get.
The next day we were able to read a bit and even relax some. Since our original intention was to use the cabin as a base and go and ride around the area on the bike we actually weren't prepared to have our plans this altered. I also wanted to see the Blueberry farm and Deanna was kind enough to take us on a tour. There are 14 varieties of blueberries grown on this land and it is amazing just how different they can taste. From smoky to sweet the massive blueberries by all accounts did not disappoint in their flavor and fresh taste.
Grown without pesticides or toxic sprays it was comforting to pick the berries straight from the bush and eat them immediately to taste the different flavors as Deanna took us through the different rows on the golf cart. I've never had a blueberry with more taste or juice as these did. Amazing. If you are around this area during blueberry season it's worth the drive to purchase these beautiful berries where you can have them picked or pick them yourself. Unlike blackberries, blueberries are almost a pleasure to pick as the bushes are quite tall and there are literally clusters of them easily within grasp. Had we not just been in an accident it would have been fun to pick our own. We ended our evening exhausted from dealing with a peg leg or the inability to breathe deep but still managed to open a bottle of champagne I brought from Chattanooga in order to make mimosas that we shared that evening bringing back memories of the same we had on our wedding day years ago. We watched a movie which I had downloaded prior to losing internet and finished the evening exhausted but happy to be together.
The next day it was back to the issue at hand. We still had insurance issues to deal with, had to figure out a way to get home and still needed to deal with the bike. So we took Deanna's car to the body shop that hosted the bike to give it a look one more time and take a ton of pictures and take things from the bike like a garage door opener, phone charger etc. We had been instructed to leave anything that was part of the bike on the bike. I was careful to take pictures of all the add-ons I had done to the bike in hopes that I will once again get all that stuff for yet another new bike. Sadly we left the bike and went back to determine the fate of a rental car.
Rental cars in that area were not exactly dropping from trees. Enterprise was out of cars, U-Save had no one-way rentals so we went to a Hertz in town. Crutches and leg brace installed and hoping for some pity we came to the counter and explained we had been in an accident and needed a vehicle to travel back home. Regrettably, he stated they had no vehicles available at this time. Apparently a neck brace would have been required for true sympathy. Disappointed but not without resolve we thanked him and left to eat and figure out plan...D? During lunch we went to Expedia and discovered we could rent a car from Hertz and they had 6 cars available. Recognizing how little the attendant seemed to really care of our demise I questioned when we left if what he was telling us was accurate so we pushed the button and secured the car. Voila, email came and with reservation in hand we went back to the same attendant and with a chip in his step he was all but happy to help us and explained he would have a car right out to us. It was as if we were a different couple than who we were merely 30 minutes prior. I looked at Holly with likely blades piercing from my eyes and hoping she would bring sanity to my next move. In full self control and with key in hand (in order for him to not change his mind) I simply had to ask the obvious question. "So, when we came in 30 minutes ago asking for a car and none were available, how did that actually work since we were able to get one of 6 listed online. He gave a lame answer about not having real time inventory and that you could actually rent a car that they don't even have etc.. Um.... Ok... And we left. I didn't share that I counted the cars in his lot and miraculously the total came to six counting the one we drove off in. Regardless, I simply didn't have the energy to explain just how little that made sense and wrote it off as just another paragraph in a story.
Right leg in brace, I'm unable to drive so Holly takes the controls of our fashionable Nissan Versa and we are back at the cabin loading up our things now in grocery bags since the hard bags we originally packed in are still mounted on the downed bike. So we are off, feeling somewhat accomplished to having survived a collision and it would seem we will be back to normal within a few hours. We stop by once again to see Deanna and her beautiful blueberry farm and thank her once again for all the help she gave during our unique trip away.
It wasn't long before rain started and became quite fierce in different stages. This is when it would have been incredible to have a camera at the ready. Around 5pm, we had made it back to i24 from 840, the most direct route home, meaning we were on the road with mostly people who were tired from a long days work and were already mentally sitting at home ready to enjoy their evening. About that time I looked left and saw a vehicle who had been traveling to close to the car in front of him slam on the brakes and enter into a full on skid due to the lead car having to mash the brakes. The skidding vehicle stayed calm however still encroaching on the slowing vehicle to the point where I thought he would clip the vehicle in the left rear. This of course would have sent the nose of the vehicle into our lane and once again I would be making a call to our embattled insurance company. Luckily the car, while continuing to skid, gently moved to the left and into the median and came to a safe although "wrecker required" stop. Holly and I looked at each other and decided if we can just get home we might just stay there for a while.
We made it home without further incident and spent the better part of the day working to insure everything is being handled as it is supposed to with regard to our vehicles and medical etc.. That process we would find is not anywhere close to being over. I have discovered there is never a winner in an accident no matter whose fault it is. So much time required to deal with all the factors.
Even though this adventure did not go as planned we still made the best of it and above all did it together and we were able to come home together, for the most part, in good health all considering. To that we are both blessed and grateful.
Until our next adventure!!
Adventurist at heart, David Mays looks to inspire others to live their life with focus and purpose. Experience and expansion is why we are here.