September 18, 2015

Ye Annual Bike Ride


SPRING VALLEY, OH--It's always a joy to break out of the joint early for a half-day jaunt on our annual bike ride. The weather was supremely good, perfection personified - not too hot, not too cool, constant sun, and skies the color of Sinatra's eyes. We met as usual at the idyllic small town of Spring Valley and immediately noted a big change around these parts - they knocked down a wall in the antique shop. Heresy! How dare they change something in changeless Mayberry?

After the requisite bathroom breaks we lit out for the territories on our steeds only to get a half-mile down the road before discovering two flaws: my water bottle was AWOL (just purchased at the antique shop) and Mom had reconsidered her decision not to wear a jacket. So on the strength of this dual purpose (“it still counts!” we said, concerning bike-riding mileage purposes) we headed back whence we came and uncle Mark said this was the shortest ride we'd ever taken.

I found my water bottle nearly at ground zero: it had fallen out within two yards of the starting line. I secured it better this time while Mark retrieved Mom's jacket and so we were off again on this, our 16th annual bike ride (give or take).

We started slow and then tapered off. No land speed records were set during this trip so please do try this at home. We went down the beautiful valley towards Corwin and then beyond.

Along the way we would experience many hardships. A slithering snake was passed. Mom's leg began bleeding due to the bike ride equivalent of a paper cut. Mark and I talked politics until Mom said she could take no more political talk lest her head explode. And most of all our butts hurt. Badly.

Along the way we saw marshlands and tree lines, streams and waterfalls, remote farm houses and outhouses. We saw great civilizations (Corwin, Ohio) and we saw raw nature tooth and claw (a spider landed on my back).

Four hours and 18 miles later - a pace joggers laugh at - we arrived back at the valley where it is eternally Spring, and enjoyed the pleasant atmosphere of Slim's or whatever the name of the joint is where they have good food, no patrons except those pleasantly tucked out of sight in a bar around the corner, waitresses bandying band-aids, and most importantly cold beer.

We had a picture taken, a bit too dark which when you get to be my age you count as a blessing. Good lighting for an overweight middle-aged man is very dark lighting.

We had a little snafu at the end when I gave Mom's tip and my signed receipt to another waitress (or pretend waitress?) who promised to give (or pretend to give) the money and receipt to our Florence Nightingale. But to error is human, to ride on a day like yesterday divine.

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Twelve Hours in Hocking County

Ingeniously blue skies on this sad anniversary; the skies the same preternatural blue as on that other 9/11. Right now enjoying a surprisingly ribald sun here in “the mountains” of Tar Hollow just shy of 10am. We fringe a forest of trees but are separated from, not quite “of” the trees like we were at Camp Creek. There we lived among the splendor and beside a lovely creek (at the cost, of course, of sun - can't have it all). Still, we're enveloped by nature and remote from civilization. Camping as it ought to be, not camping in tent cities with cars going by, music playing, and dogs yapping.

No cell reception though. Nuthin', nodda. No 3G even. So we're awol from civilization in more than one way.

Just beyond us stands a birch, with a sizable oval hole in it. Home for owls? Pecked out by 'peckers? Mysteries in the wood. Straight outta Hollar.

Rough sleep night; cold as the dickens; woke up to 52 degrees. Had multiple blankets though so not too bad, although there's ever a dampness seemingly present even though the tent wouldn't seem to let in dew, which was heavy this morning.

Pleasant morning reading a Shakespeare bio. One report has the young boy killing a calf and making it theatrical. You can take the boy out of Hollywood but you can't take the Hollywood out of the boy. Also came upon the riveting part of Shakespeare's use and affection for the Bible (Geneva version, not the more staid “Bishop's Bible”). Man but Ackroyd can write. This is the biography I was sore wanting to read. Others just leave me cold by comparison.

Walked up trail to the North Ridge primitive campsite. Three plus miles. Buggy as the day is long, which wasn't ideal, and slim, sketchy trail combined with corralling doggie Maris distracted from the gorgeous scenery: lichens, ferns, old trees. No timber rattlers fortunately. Every five steps got spider web in my face, so I picked up a tall walking stick and used it as a papal staff, blessing and breaking the webs by swinging it left to right.

Back to the campsite where it would it was work time. Heave ho, gotta go. Rain coming, cool coming. We got it done and I felt satisfaction in seeing a campsite with a structure (a tent) and a thousand and one items scattered here and there and by 5:04 we were on the road, everything back in pristine order.

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