The year started off with a whimper and bad news in Deming, NM. Melanie started having issues with her right eye. She has a history of macular degeneration in her family. As there is not a cure for this, we made an appointment with an eye doctor. Good news and bad news. The good? It’s not macular degeneration. The bad? She has a hole in her macula that will require surgery, as soon as possible, or she will be blind in that eye. OK! Surgery is scheduled for the next week and our Mexico plans will be cancelled. We end up heading across the border for a celebration anyway, although only for a few hours.
Surgery is scheduled for the following week in Albuquerque, NM. The surgery goes well, and we have an appointment the following day for a follow-up. The closure of the hole was successful, and they inserted a gaseous/gel bubble behind the retina as a temporary “band aid” that will dissipate in about 8-12 weeks.
As the date to fly to London, March 4th, closes in, Melanie’s bubble in her eye is still there. Unfortunately, the doctors at the Macula Center in Albuquerque were right, up to twelve weeks for the bubble to finally dissolve. As we feared from mid-January, Melanie would not be able to travel with me and would have to join me somewhere later.
February is cold and dreary. There end up being a few nice enough days to be able to get out for a ride. This will be our last time in Deming as we sold our house the day after listing it. We are home free once again. My first time out I ride up to Alamogordo, NM to see a good friend, Ara Gureghian. On the way up I stop at the White Sands Missile Range in White Sands. The missile range is best known as the place where the first atomic bomb was detonated on the northern boundary of the range on July 16, 1945, seven days after the White Sands proving Grounds were established. Heading up to Alamogordo, Ara and I meet to have lunch at a small Mexican restaurant with excellent food.
The other place I visited was Bisbee and Tombstone, AZ. I always love the ride over here, deserted roads as far as you can see. I see a friend, E.H. Alberts on the streets of Tombstone. He does mine tours and is one of the permanent characters of the infamous town.
As she cannot travel with any elevation changes, I must leave early to drive to Chattanooga, TN. Our pup, Gypsy will be staying with my son and his fiancé, then I will drive to Florida to see my Mom, my other son and family and fly out of Orlando. We estimate, with the doctor’s input, as to when Melanie will be able to travel. I will fly to London on Norwegian Airlines to pick up the Yellow Donkey that has been safely stored with my friend Nigel and wife Debbie. They take great care of me, even celebrating my birthday on the 5th, while I stay with them for a few days and await the ferry I will take to Spain.
Today is March 8th and my ferry will leave from Portsmouth, UK at 10:30 PM. It’s been dreary and raining most of the day but Nigel jumps on his African Twin 750 and leads me to the port before dark. Getting in the queue I wait within sight of a couple other motorcycles. The ferry is an overnighter and will arrive in Balboa, Spain at 07:30 on March 10th. Cabins are mandatory on this trip and included with the cost of transit. We wait in line for a couple hours then follow the crew’s directions into the cavernous 2nd level hold in the belly of the ship. It’s a beautiful ship and I end up with a cabin on the 9th floor. I am just feet away from the open deck at the back of the ship.
There Is an outbreak in Wuhan, China of a Corona virus. They are calling it the novel CoVID-19, and it’s seems to be highly contagious and spreading. It has recently spread to Italy. I am worried about it and will keep my distance from people and practice good hygiene, which is normal for me anyway when I’m flying or around large concentrations of people.
After a couple days on the ferry we arrive, and I ride the motorcycle into Spain. I have a couple days to get into Porto where I will pick up Melanie. It will have been about 3 weeks since I’ve seen her. But first, I will take some time and explore the Picos de Europa in northern Spain. We rode through this area a couple years ago but certainly didn’t spend enough time exploring.
The Picos de Europa are a mountain range in northern Spain. The highest peak is Torre de Cerredo, at an elevation of 2650 m (8,690 ft). A widely accepted origin for the name is that they were the first sight of Europe for ships arriving from the Americas
I ride the Yellow Donkey on many beautiful small deserted roads with excellent tarmac. The Trans European Trail (TET) runs through this area so I try and find a few dirt tracks to ride. The whole area is so fantastic with snow topped mountains, brilliant blue sky and spring in the air as colorful flowers pop out of the ground.
After two days of riding the Picos I point the front tire toward Portugal. The virus is spreading across Europe, so I want to get Melanie and catch the ferry to Morroco for a month. Melanie is leaving on the evening of March 12th to fly from El Paso, Tx to Porto, Portugal with stops in Dallas, Miami and Madrid. That night I am camping in a campground with WiFi. Season hasn’t started yet and there are very few campers. I have a delicious meal at the small restaurant of local roasted Boar and all the trimmings, including wine.
The owner speaks good English and a TV is on. We chat about the virus and the rapid spread. It happened so fast I had not kept up with the current news. It has already spread to Spain and there is talk of Morocco closing the ports. We must hurry. Melanie calls me at 3 AM from Miami with the news that since she doesn’t have a return ticket see cannot travel to Spain because of the virus spread. I quickly get on the web and purchase return ticket from Madrid, already a compromise since we were to travel to Italy, but they have now closed the northern half of the country to stop the spread of the virus.
By the time I arrive in Porto, Portugal to get Melanie, Morocco has closed its borders to all ferry, rail and air traffic. Spain is talking about doing the same. We have been very careful limiting all contact with people and the virus. The talk is getting very concerning to us. People are dying as it marches toward us. People are concerned and staying put. Gas stations are closing except for petrol. Restaurants and coffee shops are closed or being very careful.
Do we just stay on the Iberian Peninsula? What if Spain closes? What if Portugal closes? What if campgrounds and all lodging closes? What if we can’t find food?
Melanie will arrive soon, we will talk…