… in your photos, I mean. I assume that there can be way too many nuclear power plants in reality, you know? Besides, this one doesn’t work anyway. It’s an office park.
Wait, you say… what am I talking about?
Readers, I’m talkin’ bout a ride. Yes, you read that correctly. A RIDE. ON A BIKE! My bike! No really!
This weekend, we packed up two of the three kids (the third has reached Level: Teenager and had Things To Do, as teenagers suddenly do) and headed out to Elma to utilize the Giant Moldering Electric-Powered Tent With a TV Inside, known as the RV. Elma is our go-to RV destination in this economy, since the kids like it there, the RV park is safe, there are grocery stores and a bowling alley within walking distance, and there is the Elma Variety Store, which is so good it gets its own entry on the highway exit “tourist attractions” sign. Remember the old five-and-dimes of times past? Well, this is one (but with fewer “fives” and more dimes required). So rather than drive the RV anywhere anymore, we park it in Elma and drive it the one mile to the RV park once a month, or we take it to the beach, which is less than an hour’s drive further on. Makes sense, right?
Well, sort of. Anyway, I checked the weather on Saturday and saw that it wasn’t going to rain on Sunday, so the bike went on the back of the car and rode with us to Elma. I have done this many times before, and sometimes it’s meant the bike sits neglected and shivering, chained to the rear ladder for the duration of the stay (rather like the dog used to do… kidding, kidding). Sometimes, when the bike was The Panasonic, it spent the whole weekend inside out of the rain, wedged between the captain’s chairs. And sometimes, very rarely, it means I take a ride around Elma. Today was such a day.
The skies were overcast, but in that low, monotonously gray way that doesn’t really forecast rain so much as blah. I went out before lunch, thinking: “I’ll go for an hour or so.”
An hour and a half later I texted The Babysitting Man and said: “If they’re hungry, feed ’em. I may be here a while.” The skies were slowly brightening and the scenery was glorious.
First, I headed through town, puffing up hills like a pathetic fat wiener dog on a stroll. Boy, am I out of shape! I stopped mid-way in to take the first photo of my ride.
As soon as I was through town, I crossed the highway overpass, and cruised past the local lake-front park to head out into the countryside. But first…
A nuclear power plant photo. For those who don’t remember the last time I rode out here, that’s the abandoned power project known as “Whoops” for the Washington Public Power Supply System. It isn’t actually a working power plant.
I’ve ridden a bit on this road before, but never been able to stay out very long. The day was perfect for riding: a bit cool, with a breeze, though it wasn’t ideal for photography due to that flat, gray sky. I cruised past the local small airport…
Is that my space-age cruiser you’re referring to? No?
The back road runs alongside a local river, with farms and a nature preserve on the other side. The tarmac is pretty raggedy, and I felt at moments like I was in one of those videos of people riding around on Raleighs and such in the 1940’s backroads in Britain: I was vibrating, but smiling.
My only problem was a vicious, neglected cocker spaniel at one of the poorer farms. So matted he was more like a ball of teeth and fur than a dog, he flew at the bike when I passed, snapping wildly at me and frothing like Old Yeller near the end of the film. Now, I like dogs well enough, but I can firmly state that had he gotten too close (perhaps his epic filth slowed him down), I wouldn’t have hesitated to kick him in his bitey mouth. Someone really ought to turn him in to animal control, for both the welfare of the occasional passer-by and for his own good. He needs to be shaved bald at this point. To be honest, I’m normally a bit of a do-gooder on stuff like this, but I didn’t even know the address of the house, and I wasn’t about to stop and find out. Since he was there the last time I rode by, two years-ago, and was just as disgusting and foul-tempered at the time, he’ll probably outlive me, snarling and biting Satan as he’s taken away to where he belongs.
Otherwise, the local dogs were curious, but passive. Horses and cattle looked interested as I cruised past. I find cows are particularly excited by folks on the road nearby. When I used to go for long country walks (god forbid I meet that damned spaniel on foot), cows would often follow me the length of their fields, and I had a few English ones attempt to climb over the hedgerow to reach me. This should make me feel bad about eating them later, but it doesn’t. The only animals that didn’t seem to want to get closer to me and my bike were the local goats, who ran wildly around their pens and gave me particularly terrified goaty eye-rolling looks of fear. Perhaps The Raleigh and I resembled an enormous, angry He-Goat of Destruction. Who knows what goes through the minds of goats, really. They’re enigmatic.
Having never ridden this area before, I had no sense of how far I was going in terms of actual miles, but in terms of butt-miles, I think I’m getting pretty good with my predictions.
“Hmm…” Shifting around. “Starting to get a bit sore back there. Think I’m hitting the 10 mile mark.”
Sitting up and feeling a stabbing pain in the tailbone. “Feels like we’ve hit about 15-18!”
“Oh no, it’s numb. I’ve passed 25.”
In terms of butt-miles, I’d guess I rode about 22 miles. My legs were absolutely fried by the effort. On the way back, I tried to stand up to pump over the overpass, and my thighs cramped so badly I had to sit back down or fall over. Clearly, I need to ride more. That was a pretty routine distance Back in the Day (six months ago) for me, and with a lot more hills.
On the way back, I sped way up to pass the damnable barking monster and zoomed past him so fast he really never had a chance to catch me. I did have my kickin’ foot ready, but there was no need. As I left him in the dust, I turned back and gave him a delighted raspberry. Little asshole. I know, I know, if my hair was that matted, I’d be crabby too. But trust me, this was well beyond mere matting issues. This was into soul-deep paranoid delusions of doggy grandeur.
I arrived back at the RV two and a half hours after I started, having hit a bit of a headwind on the way home. The kids had built forts in the woods behind the motor home and The Patient Guy had taken a nap in the briefly-appearing sunshine. No one had eaten, so we all had chili and I regaled them with tales about the dog.
My last shot is a mural in Elma. It’s not the same dog, but the implication is clear… Just look at the horses’ faces. He’s one kick away from oblivion!
Ps: I’m not really advocating kicking any dogs, people. Unless they are actively biting you at the time.