...After some time of determined looking my savior Ray finally found what appeared to be the problem. He stood up from next to the bike and in my direction extended his hand which was holding a small, red, expired fuse. This had been the main fuse on which practically every electrical system on the motorcycle depends, and embarrassingly enough, the one fuse I had managed to completely miss in my "diagnostic" attempt.
I stood there silent with the burned fuse in my face, completely embarrassed that I had missed such an obvious thing, albeit too happy at the prospect of a resolved problem to let the shame keep me quiet. A big smile overtook my cheeks; Ray's usual jolly face turned even more so.
The ordeal seemed concluded; the bike was running again and I was richer for the new friends and the experience, all of which put me in high spirits and ready to hit the road again. But many hours had passed already and without an instant of hesitation the wonderful Ray and Karen not only invited me to dinner but also to be their guest until the morning instead of riding so late in the day. It was incredibly generous of them and I absolutely loved the idea, so a accepted and suggested that the lovely back yard would more than suffice for a nice night's sleep in the tent, to which they absolutely did not agree, insisting instead that I use the now empty room of their older son who was away for school.
Think about that for a second; how amazing is it that a family not only spends their free day to help a stranded traveler, but invites him to their home as a guest and treats him like they would a member of the family. Whenever I remember this wonderful experience I can't help but feel optimistic and excited about the world; optimistic for knowing with certainty that there are so many incredible people who are in their deepest essence generally good and giving, and will go out of their way to help and spread their positive energy to others, with nothing to gain personally but the pleasure of feeling and knowing that they have positively influenced somebody's life that particular day. This is exactly what the Wooldridge family is like, and I am exceptionally fortunate to have had the opportunity to meet them.
Ray and his son fired up the barbeque and asked me to test ride the bike just to make sure it runs properly, so I rode down to the market to get some dessert and a bottle of red, which the four of us enjoyed late into the night over the amazing feast that Karen had prepared.
The next morning I woke up early as Ray was getting ready to go to work, and after breakfast we said our goodbyes and I was off to continue my journey. The destination for the day was toward the famed Lake Tahoe and on to wherever after that, depending on the weather. However, I did not make it more than a mile when the motorcycle died again. Ray did in fact voice his suspicions the day before that there must be a deeper reason why the fuse was blowing, but my ride to the market for the wine put that suspicion to rest. So I pushed the bike back to the hotel again and went to the pool, hoping that Ray would hear the voice-mail I left on the home phone when he returned from work.
And of course, sometime in the early afternoon my loyal friend returned with his white pickup truck, and we loaded the bike with ease this time being that by now we were pros at it, and returned to the garage where Ray thoroughly and laboriously traced every wire until he found the one that was causing the circuit to short. It was a small brown wire that lights up the "neutral" indicator light on my dash, and it had been made bare after rubbing on a sharp metal headlight bracket for so many miles. Ray repaired it like a true master, and made sure the same problem could not happen again. A simple thing in essence, however it would have taken me an eternity to locate the problem; I get nauseous just looking at the dizzying wiring diagram at the back of the repair manual with all its intersections of who knows how many hundreds of meters of wires of all colors. For Ray it was a simple process of elimination, a puzzle of sorts which he took as a welcome and satisfying challenge, but for me it would undoubtedly have been a pathetic and miserable thing to have to go through, the though of which reminds me of my college accounting classes, or witnessing my father's attempt at dancing (bless his heart, as they say down in the South).
So for one more great evening I was a guest at the Wooldridge home, leaving early in the morning for Lake Tahoe. They would not even accept a small monetary gift, just as my way of thanking them for their generosity. Ray and Karen are wonderful individuals and it is exactly for these types of experiences that the Project has value. I am forever grateful to my friends in Jackson California, and will never forget this first time the Project was saved from ruin by incredibly wonderful people who have nothing but good to pass along. Thank you friends and till we meet again.