Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Last Ride of 2008 - A Pilgrimage

Although I wound my way all over SE Arizona today, for my last ride of the year I did have one specific destination in mind - the "Our Lady of Sierras Shrine" south of Sierra Vista. I had no idea there was a shrine tucked away in the Huachuca Mountains above Sierra Vista, until I read about it in the paper a few weeks ago. I'm hardly a "churchy" type, but something about a shrine attracts the latent Catholic in me, I guess. It's a New Age Vortex from the old age! Plus, the last day of the year isn't a bad day to reflect upon one's life. I certainly don't need a special day OR special place for this sort of mental exercise, but something about a making a specific journey for the purpose, gives more intention to it. I suppose that is why people have been doing it for as long as they have.

The shrine is, well, a shrine. The wooden cross is huge - 75 feet high and weighs 40 tons, and there is a stone chapel nearby.

There is quiet music playing in the chapel, which, admittedly, drove me out of there in minutes. Being a musician, I'm pretty picky, and a poor choice of music in this situation really just seems sacrilegious. Here was my peaceful retreat from the distressing chapel music.

There a statue of Our Lady, almost as tall as the cross. I especially liked her toes, the smallest being larger than my entire foot, riding boot included:

If you want to relive the violence of the crucifixion, you can visit the stations of the cross, and suffer a bit yourself along the way by climbing the steep hillside that houses the entire shrine. I had a few crosses of my own to bear, along my journey. My trusty heated vest wasn't so trusty today. I still can't seem to find one little intriguing road shown on my map. Getting a pass to ride through Ft. Huachuca requires close inspection of several documents (license, registration, insurance, proof of successful completion of a motorcycle safety course) as well as appropriate safety gear in contrasting colors (I wear that anyway, so no big deal on that point. Ditto for the safety class.) There's also always at least one Border Patrol Checkpoint to negotiate in that area of my state. I've been the recipient of a number of miracles this week, including managing to exit the narrow, tightly turning, oddly and steeply canted parking lot without an embarrassing spill. It's odd how, during moments of real danger, I am cool as can be, but put me in an awkward spot where my short legs won't be able to save me and my whole body trembles with fear, and not just a little bit. That just goes to show you that fear is not always rational. My sporadically functioning cheap second hand iPod, which lasted only until my first gas stop today, must have benefited from the positive energy of the shrine. It fired right up when I departed. A miracle indeed!

Lunch was, well, less miraculous. Fried chicken from a gas station restaurant. Go figure.