..."Alright", the muffled voice from inside the helmet replied. "Wait here".
So that is what I did. I sat back on the curb and threw all of my hopes into seeing this stranger return with his magic wand and wave it once or twice until I was on the road again. Not even 10 minutes had passed when a small white pick-up truck with an aluminum loading rail in the back pulled up next to me. Out climbed Ray Wooldridge - a middle aged man, fuller around the belt line, with a thick white beard - his demeanor gentle and welcoming. He wore a gray shirt from some past Honda Goldwing owners meet-up, khaki shorts, black tennis shoes, and a red baseball cap with an American flag printed on the rim. We introduced ourselves and without any further questions I gladly accepted the invitation to take the bike back to the man's place up the road where we could figure out what can be done. He set up the rail and waited from inside the truck bed to receive the bike, while I took a running start from a few meters away. I had forgotten how light the bike felt without all the gear, nonetheless it was not an easy job pushing the thing up the steep rail, but we managed albeit Ray's hand was slightly cut and bleeding from wrestling with the machine.
"During the short ride back we continued our introductions where I learned that Ray was a certified, professional mechanic; not a car mechanic mind you but a - I was stunned; that in a town that has no motorcycle shops the one person that came to my aid is a life-long motorcycle mechanic with a dream garage full of tools neatly ordered in large, red, metal tool cases completely filling one side of his garage, while the other side had a motorcycle lift, a workbench and various mufflers, tanks and tires hanging from the ceiling above"
The emotions I was feeling were incredibly great; not only the sense of victory from having calmly overcome the initial negative emotions on my own, but also the sense of satisfaction from the hope of soon again being on the open road. A helping hand is sometimes all that is needed, and that day in Jackson California I was the most grateful recipient of this precious gift.
We unloaded the bike and pushed it up the driveway, into the garage and onto the motorcycle lift. Within a few minutes I met Ray's wonderful wife Karen who without asking brought us ice tea, and we talked a little about the Project and how amazing of a coincidence it was that, considering my predicament, her husband the mechanic would be the first to stop and offer help. Her quiet smile revealed to me that I was probably not the first broken-down biker her husband had picked up off the side of the road and brought home.
Ray continued to systematically and confidently disassemble the bike looking for clues, while my curiosity kept us talking. His orderly method of working on the bike was so pleasant to watch, and I will admit very foreign to me. Everything in that garage had a purpose, and any mechanical need could have been satisfied. From all the necessary oils and liquids a motorcycle could be thirsty for, to various bolts, wires and brackets that at some point, under some circumstance come in handy; Ray's garage had it all. Every tool was exactly where it was supposed to be, cleaned and returned to its place in the sliding metal tool cases. It was pure enjoyment for the both of us; for Ray to do what he loves to do, and for me to observe the master perform his art.