Black smoke billowed in the distance. We hoped it would not be in our path. As we approached the fiery wreck, we saw Chuck’s & Mick’s bikes parked our side of a jack knifed transport truck crunched into the front of a coal truck. Mick, our second Globebusters guide, understood the motions of the frantic, injured man, running around the scene. Another man was in the burning truck! Then Mick saw an arm dangling from the cab and went into action. He and Chuck opened the truck door and pulled the unconscious, diesel fuel covered driver to safety.
As Mick dug out his first aid kit, truck components began exploding. For the safety of the victim and those tending to him, he needed to be moved farther from the blazing trucks. By this time, Larry & I were off our bikes and were able to help the guys move the man. Mick, with Chuck as his aid, positioned him to ease his breathing and administered first aid to wounds including a skull-deep gash in his head. Larry, a Reiki practitioner, channeled healing energy to his injuries. When Jeff, Globebusters support driver, and John, our Chinese guide arrived with the van, Jeff brought out additional supplies for both victims. John was able to translate what had been done when the police arrived.
Mick and Chuck had not been the first ones on the scene. The three locals who were already stopped, watched the rescue and treatment and did nothing. As droves of people stopped due to the road closure, not one produced a first aid kit. The only offer of help to the two Chinese victims was that one man came with a blanket.
As the inferno engulfed the cab, all knew that Mick & Chuck gave that young man a chance at life. Thank you, heroes Mick & Chuck.
Chinese emergency response at this scene was scary. When two police cars arrived, they produced no emergency supplies and did nothing to tend to the victims. A fire truck and a wrecker to clear the road arrived before the ambulance. The wait for the ambulance was so long that the police had decided to take the man in their small VW Santana squad car. They were stuffing the still unconscious man, who was bleeding from the mouth from internal injuries, into the back seat when the ambulance arrived. The ambulance was a van with not much to differentiate it from a cargo carrier. Since their were two victims, they abandoned the metal stretcher on the side of the road and loaded the men onto the floor of the van and drove off. We hope and pray that these men make it. Our condolences go to the family of the driver of the coal truck, whose cab was engulfed with fire before we arrived.
The fire fighters were another sight. The truck looked respectable. The fireman, in contrast, looked as though they were dressed for a day in the office instead of dealing with a fire, especially one involving fuel and explosions. They wore no helmets, coats, or gloves. Their wardrobes included dress shirts and dress hats. Unbelievable.
A fire fighter thanked us foreigners for our help. The police allowed our four motorcycles to pass the still flaming wreck on the grass left of the left shoulder. Off we rode to happier experiences.
We are far enough north that wheat is a major crop. Hundredss of these farm implements that look like miniature combines have been on and in fields along the roads. I don’t know how these machines can work in the fields since many of the wheat fields have had trees planted throughout the crop. Corn is also popular here.
Our route notes said that we would be on an agricultural road and have some “bad sections” in our final stretch of the day. Little did we know that the road would be non-existent for half a mile. Thick mud with ruts up to our knees from farm trucks made the going extremely difficult. Normally, one rides with feet on the foot pegs, even in tough sections. This was one time I was going for survival rather than style points. I “paddled” my bike through ¾ of the impossible ruts, being extremely conscious to not let my ankles get pinned between the dirt and the bike’s panniers. We didn’t know we had an audience: Kevin, Ernst, Frajo, Juergen, and Werner had already gotten through and were waiting at the end of the abyss. I chided them at seeking cheap entertainment. Larry chose a superior path through the goo and was able to make a graceful exit.
Ordeals such as this “road” cause me to think a lot about life and to want to reach out to the younger people reading this blog. If you have any aspirations for extensive, expensive, and/or exhausting travel, get your financial and life plans in order – NOW!
Larry & I thought that we had planned things pretty well. We thought that each of us retiring in our mid to late 50s would allow us to live our dreams, including adventure travel. This trip is fantastic but at times it’s beating the snot out of us, and that’s not even counting our health crises. We’re so grateful to go to sleep that we’ve passed on all the late night karaoke and whiskey drinking sessions. Adventure travel would be a lot easier if we were younger. If climbing Mt. Everest, hiking the Appalachian trail, or riding your motorcycle around the world is your dream, we recommend that you begin preparing today.
20-Jun Xi’an to Pingliang 186 miles
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