High on Bong Road, to the best of our knowledge

A silver lining in this pandemic is rediscovering the joy of wandering alone. Group rides are fun, but start with the irony of driving to a meeting point; and continue with a rigid route. Today I started from my own driveway, with a half-formed plan and two possible routes in mind. I took the third one.

Being farm country, I rode past the American Breeders Service HQ on ABS Bullevard. I rode through the University Experimental Agricultural Station near Arlington (home of Yellow Jersey, possibly the only bike shop with a drive-thru teller’s window; it being in an old bank. If you’re looking for parts for old bikes, this is the place to go – Andy scours the globe for new old stock parts and sells them via the internet. The website looks like it hasn’t been updated since 1990, but it has. He also keeps a nice stock of bikes on hand if you are in the neighborhood.

I was accompanied several times by redwing blackbirds. Were they shooing me from their nesting areas, or just along for the ride? A pheasant crossed the road just in front of me. I slowed for it but it didn’t stop to pose. It reminded me of a vocal warmup my son taught me and his theatre group about a pleasant mother pheasant plucker.

Bong Road is named for Richard Bong, a WWII flying ace from Superior, WI. He earned the Congressional Medal of Honor and shot down more enemy planes than anyone. It has nothing to do with the smoking device whose name is derived from Thai and has existed much longer than Bong Road. It is, however, the highest hill in the area.

By the way – was it two weeks ago that it snowed? Today it was 85 degrees (30 Celsius). Headwind for the last 30 miles home.

To the best of our knowledge

I remember the first time I heard “Fresh Air”, the Terry Gross interview program from Philadelphia. I was in the car for the first time since moving back from Nicaragua. I heard a fascinating interview and sat in a strip mall parking lot to listen to the end.

Terry has a way of asking the right question and actually listening to the answer. Her guests open up in a way I was not used to in the world of canned interviews. The guests in the early days were an engrossing group from all over, not the usual cast of actors pushing their new movie and writers pushing their new book. It seems to have devolved to that somewhat over the years.

But there is a newer program called “To the best of our knowledge” (or “TT Book”). It seems to have the energy of the early Terry Gross years. I heard an interview with one of the people (Larry Brilliant) most responsible for the end of smallpox; yet they barely got to that topic because he was such an interesting person in other ways. They interviewed a mortician in New Jersey, who normally deals with the victims of gang violence, but talked about the stockpiling of COVID-19 bodies. One morning they just talked of the joys of going for a walk down by the lake, as a way to get out of the house during the pandemic. Simple but powerful.