Life is what happens…

…to you when you’re busy making other plans. John Lennon said that in the song ¨Beautiful Boy¨.

He wasn’t the first to say it. Cartoonist Allen Saunders (Steve  Roper and Mike Nomad, Mary Worth, Kerry Drake)  said it in 1957. I don’t know any other writer who had three comic strips in syndication at the same time. Saunders’ strips were soap operas before TV came along, though they continued into the TV era.

Comic strips are the thinking person’s Twitter. Squeezing something pithy into one or four panels is a pretty good trick. A weeklong (or longer) story arc is like a tweet storm. When I say ¨the thinking person’s Twitter¨, I’m thinking less of Saunders and more of Watterston (Calvin and Hobbes), Mallet (Frazz), Wiley – last name Miller, but he signs “Wiley” –  (Non Sequitur), and Trudeau (Doonesbury).

Back to Lennon; I can’t help thinking of our president whenever I hear Lennon’s “Happiness is a Warm Gun” – “Lying with his eyes while his hands are busy working overtime.”

Today’s plan was for the annual Fall Colors Bike Ride – the famous Blue Spoon to Little Village festival of fine foods.  Tim, the instigator, announced that he’d be out of the area after we set a date. I found out only the night before that “area” meant “continent”. Tenny was the next to bail – a bad cold. When we were down to two, Rosebud begged off, saying he could do this week or next, but not both.

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Sugar Maple

I decided to do it as a solo ride. Since I’m used to following Tim, I thought it would be safer to scout the route ahead of time via map and make myself a cue sheet. That’s what I did but, when going to bed last night, the bathroom faucet wouldn’t turn off. When getting up this morning, the kitchen light wouldn’t turn on. I also realized that the point of this ride is mostly getting in one last ride with my friends and I would miss that doing it alone, even if we do it next week.

So it was off to the hardware store for parts to do some home repairs. On the walk back I ran into a couple standing at a bus stop and asking where to find the Capital City Trail – “the one that goes to Milwaukee”. I pointed out the trail, which they were standing next to (a bit confusing, as it is a sidewalk for the short stretch in their view).

I mentioned that Milwaukee is a long walk. She replied, “Seven hours. It’s a nature walk, plus we’re trying to get home.” She told me how their plans had been derailed and this was their contingency plan. I pointed out that the trail is not continuous to Milwaukee and how to get to the actual trail to Milwaukee after the Cap City trail ends. If they make it in seven hours, I’ll be mightily impressed.

By early afternoon the temperature had climbed to >40 degrees. Time for a ride! Instead of the Blue Spoon and Little Village, I settled for Farm and Fleet and the library. But the cafes wouldn’t have had the replacement water filter cartridge I needed, nor the library book that was on hold. So much for plans. Now life, on the other hand…

Idaho

Here we are, in Idaho.

I can’t think of Idaho (or U. Utah Phillips) without thinking of Rosalie Sorrels. Rosalie was a folksinger from Boise. My favorite song of hers is actually a cover of a Shel Silverstein song.

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Rosalie Sorrels. Rick Ardinger/Courtesy of Red House Records (from the NPR link below)

Rosalie’s dark humor extends beyond Shel Silverstein’s songs. She also recorded a set of “Hostile Baby Rocking Songs”, the songs she sang to her children when she was at her wits end. She is not well-represented on YouTube, and the album “be careful, there’s a baby in the house” appears to be out of print. (I found it on Amazon for $182.27. It is available for loan from my local public library.)  For those who find these songs offensive, remember that singing hostile songs and abusing children are very different. I work with children who are victims of what the medical field refers to as “non-accidental trauma”. I do not consider that funny.

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As an aside, I want to put in a plug for public libraries. The library is one of the greatest public services government provides. I am happy to pay taxes to support libraries. I find it ironic that the “Little Free Library” movement has caught on so heavily in my hometown, as we have a phenomenal public library system. (Guess what? It’s free! And it’s not so little.) My kids got library cards when they were very young and we made weekly trips to the library – on Monday – early release day from school and my day off. We got to know the staff, some of whom are still there 20+ years later. I still go almost every Monday, even without the kids. When my daughter (now a college graduate and newly-minted Social Worker) visited from college, we always went to the library on Monday.

If money is burning a hole in your pocket and  you can’t think of who to donate to, think about your local public library foundation.

The good news about today’s ride is that the forecast, which was an 85% chance of thunderstorms last night, was amended to a 35% chance of showers by this morning. The bad news is that the rain beat those new odds.

As we left Spokane, it was getting darker. Figuring on safety in numbers I headed out with a group – the folks who usually finish near the same time I do, so I thought they’d ride a comfortable pace.

By the outskirts it was raining hard enough that I was getting chilly. I stopped to don raingear and lost the group. I started to work my way back toward them until the headwind convinced me of my folly. I slowed down and waited for some other folks to catch me to help with the wind.

My flat tire brought the end of my time with that group. As luck would have it, the sag wagon showed up within a minute, so I had company while I changed tubes, and someone to hold my bike so I didn’t have to lay it down. They convinced me to take another spare tube (I still had one left, plus a patch kit), as about 50 miles of today’s route would be inaccessible to the sag wagon.

I started out again and caught on with another small group. When I stopped for a bathroom break and to change out of my raingear, I lost them. I figured I’d be riding alone for the day, thinking no one was behind me anymore.

33219AE1-73F9-46EC-9E45-669FB70B40CF.jpegAt the Idaho state line I caught someone. at the lunch break I caught up with the folks I’d started with. By that time we were on the most  incredible bike path I’ve ever seen – a paved path which skirted the shore of lake Couer d’Alene, then followed along its backwaters and the river that feeds it. We had a tailwind for the last 20 flat miles.

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Bike bridge over Lake Couer d’ Alene. (It rises and falls in steps, not a smooth incline.)

Along the path we saw a moose and her calf, then about a half dozen Great Blue Herons. All were camera shy, so no photos.

It’s hard to call 94 miles a rest day but, compared to the two before and the one to follow, it was.

There were two crashes today. One rider came to dinner in a shoulder immobilizer after a crash on the path. A shout out to Steve from Rochester for staying with him until help came.

Tomorrow we cross Thompson Pass into Montana. 10% grade near the summit. Time for sleep.

Battening down the hatches – a thunderstorm is coming any minute now. (8:30 PM my time.)