Is there a word for the emotion of being simultaneously ecstatic and sad at the same time? Today I almost bought the farm but ended up with a small bit of gator rash instead. I'm fine, although I don't think the reality of what happened has hit me yet. The bike is mostly okay, with a little bit of expensive damage. It was only last year when I had my last adventure resulting in body damage. This time it's less interesting, but I wanted to break it down in here to try to figure out how to avoid today's mishap. It always starts with the omens. The last time my friend and I did a trip like this was spring break a year or two ago. After a day of cold and wet riding, it ended with his KLR's head and valves self destructing near Kent, TX. That was from Houston to El Paso. This time we were heading from Dallas/Fort Worth to El Paso. I had driven up to DFW on an uneventful trip from El Paso to see a graduation. My friend drove up from Houston to meet me and head back to El Paso. It was a fun little trip until we left for the the ride to EP. Of course, it started exactly the same; with the rain. We left probably around 8-9am CDT, we took Davis to 121, to I-30, to I-20, head towards El Paso. Despite the fact that DFW is gutted with massive construction it was a pretty uneventful ride through the Sunday morning rain. Weather cleared somewhere between Weatherford and Midland. Started taking rain gear off, found out my TNF Base Camp, wrapped in black trashbags still managed to be full of water. In Odessa. Somewhere around Midland/Odessa I got the 2nd oman. Two unsecured heavy metal chairs, stacked on top of each other, tumbled out of the back of a pickup truck, and into my lane while the road was doing ~75mpm. Funny thing is, they landed upright and continued onward as a reasonable pace about 50 mph or so down I-20. I could have changed lanes, but they were far enough over, I split lanes with them and gunned it. My friend made it around too. He's in his Mazda 3 this trip, not risking another KLRtastrophy again. He's mazda makes an excellent place to store rain gear and extra cargo. 3rd event that happened; after Midland/Odessa it started getting hot. We stopped every ~160 miles, about the same distance as half way from Houston to DFW. A good point to stretch your ass. I was of course also partaking from a large hydration bladder on the back of the bike. While I was stretching I accidently knocked the bite valve off, and the hose floated off and hemorrhaged 10 liters of water. This was annoying be no big deal, I check the hose and made sure it wasn't hanging down too far. Of course I guess it's not just about my judgement. While I was dicking with a rear vent zipper, a trooper pulled along side me, and looked at me. Then he slammed on his brakes, got behind me, and flipped his lights on... Oh shit... Was it the one hand on the handlebars? Was it the earbuds I was jamming to? Were my tags out? Was I speeding? No. He just wanted to tell me about that damn hose. It was a quick encounter. He pulled along side me, I was flustered a dicking with the bike. Bluetooth off, hazards on, bike in neutral, stand down, prepare for cavity search. I didn't even lift my visor when we talked and he told me about the hose. "Y--yes-sir, bite valve flew off. *I make a motion like I was sucking cock* No, it should be good, here let me secure it. Sorry sir, thank you, have a good day." I was just happy not to get a performance award, not that I was speed while dicking with my jacket. He flew off at mach 1 to a fender bender up the road. The rest of the trip was quiet for a while... At the I-20/I-10 interchange the traffic got a bit heavier nothing serious. Speed limit was 80 mph at this point. The trucks never do that though, I think to save gas, or some other unposted law on speed. Trucks are doing 70, everyone else is doing 85. Occasionally, you get a person trying to pass a 70 mph truck at 71mph. It backs up a bit while we all filter pass. There was an 18-wheeler in the right lane with an RV behind it. A white expedition was slowly passing it, restricted by someone in front of him. I was behind the expedition, the better part of an 18-wheeler length, my friend was somewhere behind me. The expedition is about to clear the cab of the flat bed trailer, I move beside the back tires of the 18-wheeler to pass. The expedition drifts into the shoulder; crap. The white expedition scopes up one of the most intact recaps I've ever seen. You could have probably installed it on another tire. It wraps around the tire of the expedition and then shoots backwards towards my head. I move to the right slightly, towards imminent death in the form of a tandem axle trailer. The road gator misses my center of mass but smacks the left side of the bike. The does it's damage and leaves, also leaving me with a death wobble. I wobble a bit, and I look at the 18-wheeler's trail again, "Okay, the goal is to not end up under that." I apply power and stabilize it. I look for a place to pull over, and somehow manage to keep it upright as I pulled into the center gravel median. Whew. People are stopping. The RV behind the 18-wheeler stops. He's more horrified than I am. "Oh man, you are so lucky, there was nothing you could do, blah blah." Nice guy, really, he and his wife risked life and limb running across the highway to check on me. I'm fine. My left hand has the feeling of a hard impact, but no breaks or wounds. My buddy stops too, he hurries over to me. I explain to the RV couple that I'm traveling with someone, and I'll be okay. "No, I don't need an emergency help". That would be a 2-3 hour wait, even if you had cell service. I thank them, they head off. My buddy "damn, I wish my GoPro was running" while he and I survey the damage. Nothing major, safety guards seemed to hold out. Right pannier bracket is toast. All the rivets that held the aluminum mounting piece on the back have sheared. Pannier was literally dangling from the red bag it was supposed to be holding on. That explains some of the death wobble. Explains the rest of the death wobble, direct hit on the controls. Hand guard has been converted into broke shards of plastic. Last 'adventure' it was the other hand guard that was smashed, it was this one's turn. It protected my hand well. Actually skewed the lid a bit too, I was able to fix the lid on site, this it went into the Mazda right, and I continued with one pannier left to help hold the big red bag. This thing is stronger than it looks. The lower mount actually bent the factory GSA rack before it came off, the upper bit was a champ. Somehow this slightly dented the exhaust too. The tire hit the crash bar too, knock that cover plate down a quarter of an inch, I would like to think the cover plate assisted a bit, by helping deflect the beast. This injury to me was a slight scratch on the wrist. I know this seems like a minor thing, but I'm pretty sure I bumped into the reaper, and we said hello. Not a near miss, but a deflected impact. The GSA is a tough son of a bitch, that was probably 40 pounds of steel belted hatred, coming at it at 100 mph. I didn't go back to find that bastard, because at the speed we were going ~80mph, it was a good 1/4 mile before I stopped. It was also 101 degrees according to the bike. If anyone finds that pannier backplate out there, I need it. Haha, it's between Kent and Van Horn. My opening statement. I'm absolutely thrilled to be alive, but I'm sad I've injured the big pig again. I've gotten about 13000 miles on it in about a year. No record to be sure, but more than most. I love this bike, and I'm pretty sure it saved me today.