While I originally had another title for this post, in retrospect, this one seems more accurate. Why? Well, after spending an hour yesterday evening crafting a beautiful, thought-provoking post where slugs slipped in splendidly-alliterated sentences through colorful descriptions of bucolic banality… WordPress ate my post as I tried to insert the final photo. And when I say ate, I mean it was as if some monstrous Jabba the Hutt of literary destruction slithered over and simply obliterated every word I had written. Wiped it clean and left behind a silver trail of the author’s tears and mucus mingled with cries of despair…
Okay, no, but I was really annoyed. Since WordPress normally autosaves every two minutes, I hoped there would be recourse by searching the post’s history. Nope, gone there too. Some strange digital burp had swallowed everything. Ah well. Life is transient, as are our thoughts and pleasures. Sure, that post was good. But this one will be better! I live in hope!
These long evenings have proved to be a boon to my ridebloggian life. After an elegant meal of polish sausages and fountain drinks at Costco (we live well), The Beloved headed off to Kung Fu to hit some folks on purpose, and I ran home for my bike. I had a full hour-and-a-half to ride around, which made me almost giddy. But where to go? Traffic in this area is prohibitive in terms of going anywhere other than my neighborhood, so I headed down to the back end of the Cedar River Trail.
I have rarely ridden this last bit, as I usually start from mile zero. So this time, I started at mile 7.5, and it felt a bit like I had been given a new trail to play with. There was just one problem… slugs. Call it Slugfest. Slugapalooza. Slugville. Sluggershoot. Slugtown. Other Insert-Slug+suffix combination. There were literally thousands of the slimy bastards sliding slowly across the pavement. Roadies breezed by me, squashing little slug-bombs and leaving slug-smears shimmering in the fading light like slug-slicks. At some point, I noticed that my front wheel had developed a suspicious dark patch that looked studded with grass clippings. Normally, these do not stick to my wheel. I became quite paranoid, certain that I was smooshing slug guts all over my wheels. The rear wheel began making this odd squish-squish-squish sound as something churned against my rear fender. I pulled over and confirmed my worst fears: I had eviscerated several slugs.
After that, I needed a distraction, any distraction, to keep me from focusing so closely on the pavement in front of me that my ride would become a giant game of Frogger, except instead of dodging cars on the highway, The Viva and I would be dodging mollusks.
This golden chain tree served as a brief subject of interest. I happen to like golden chain trees. They remind me of a cross between a wisteria and sunshine. So we stopped to take a picture, since one doesn’t generally expect to see golden chain trees along the river.
That only worked for a short time, of course. I became preoccupied again with the problem that lay before me. Slugs, like many animals, featured prominently in my childhood. My mother was an avid gardener.
So when faced with this omnipresent threat, she tried several creative approaches. First, she organized a posse of neighborhood kids to salt any slugs who dared to rear their horned heads in her roses, but after a while our obvious morbid glee and the slugs’ slow suffering caused her to have a change of heart. Then she tried stabbing them with the shovel, but that also struck her as too brutal.
Our cairn terrier, who came with the perfectly normal name of “Cricket,” but who was immediately rechristened by my mother as “Tooshy,” liked to stalk slugs through the tall grass, as they were probably the only prey she could actually catch. My mother swore she should have bred herself a whole little herd of slug-eating terriers to rent out like goats, but unfortunately, the dog was already fixed. In the end, my mother compromised by scooping up any wayward slugs with her shovel and flinging them over the fence into the long grass at the back of the neighbor’s yard, like a Crusader tossing the heads of her enemies back into the besieged castle.
At any rate, I had no method of superfluous slug disposal, so I had to continue with the grit-teeth, look-for-distractions method of dealing with my problem. First, I noticed the Red Dog Saloon, across the street from the trail.
I had probably driven by this establishment at least a dozen times, but until you have smelled the pungent stench of beer, grease and sweat wafting over from across the highway, you haven’t really experienced the Red Dog.
I never thought of beer pong as something one would actually schedule and then bother to advertise. I mean, at any college campus in the country on a given Thursday, one could almost certainly locate several exciting rounds of impromptu beer pong being played by half-naked co-eds. What’s the appeal of playing it in a seedy dive like this? Reliving one’s wasted glory days as Beer Pong Champion of McCaw Hall? And I sincerely hope that “Junk Yard Jane” is a band, not a person.
Further down the road, The Viva and I paused to photograph the glorious cacophony of colors and textures on this old railroad bridge.
At this point, the sky began hurling fat raindrops at us. I had initially worn my rain coat, just in case, but I wasn’t excited by the prospect of putting it back on at this point because it has a particularly annoying feature: it catches on the seat of both my upright bikes. Since there is not room in the coat for both my butt, and the saddle, the coat snags me and hangs me off the seat as I try to dismount. I’m stuck. When I take my students on their nine-day bike trip in Western Ireland this summer (won’t that be a rideblog extravaganza!), I’m getting a new raincoat. And I’m trying it out on the bike before I set off to tackle the fens. Because one of these days I’m either going to rip this one to shreds, or I’m going to fall over with my bike in a giant tangle of arms and legs and kickstands that will be neither dignified, nor painless.
So now I had two problems to deal with: rain and slugs. They go together like mac and cheese, though really that image is rather foul after my story about the mushy gunk all over my wheels. More distractions! More!
How about this samurai scarecrow, which, since it’s positioned too close to the road to actually be scaring any crows, must qualify instead as Totally Awesome Garden Art.
Next, The Viva and I took note of this truck parked across the highway, advertising a local business that is actually called: “God Bless My America.”
Now, as an English teacher, things like this bother me. God Bless Your America? Please define your America in relation to all the other Americas. And while I understand that this little business, which purports to do landscaping and such, is really trying to imply that if you utilize their services, they will improve your little patch of the good ol’ US of A, doesn’t that therefore also imply that they are, actually, God? Finally, I ask this: if God is only blessing your America, that must mean that he isn’t blessing my America (and I’m pretty sure they would consider these to be two totally different places, given my religious and political affiliations), right? And doesn’t that seem sort of… unAmerican? I’m just saying.
Can you imagine being one of my students? This is the hell they exist in daily! Today was “senior skip” day, and also time for the senior pranks. I found these pasted up all over school (I blacked out my name for internet privacy purposes):
Yes, that photo is from rideblog. That’s my helmet, underneath the improvised ninja mask.
I think this means they like me, actually.
At any rate, it was time to head home. The rain was more of a steady mist at this point, giving the empty trail and empty road a sort of pastoral, English countryside feel.
The Viva and I rode back to the car, loaded up and headed home, only to discover the blackened corpses of several slugs still clinging to my rear hub. Ew.