Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Miracle

Quin and I on are way to Midnight Mass, Christmas Eve 2011 AD

First of all I have to thank the Good Lord for this wonderful weather we have been experiencing in Iowa this autumn and now winter.  Sure, it has officially been winter now for less than a week but at times it felt like spring.  yesterday was one of them.  It was nearly 50F!  I did not have to dress like an astronaut to ride my bicycle.

It has snowed maybe 3 times thus far.  The snow does not stick around for a day.  Iowa is in a drought.  Sure, the other day it rain all day long but 1 day out of many months.  Nice for cycling.  Crap for farmers but they will get screwed whether it rains or not.  Farming is the only business where the person gets fooked for doing a good job.

Drought, unseasonably warm weather, global warming, climate change, La Nina, El Nino, Dodge City and Omaha deflecting shit weather from Iowa or perhaps my prayers for a protective bubble around Mary as she commutes to work, something is not right but that something is paying off dividends quite well for me.

Quin, #2 son, #3 child and #5 in the family rode with me to my sister's house in Beaverdale.  It was Christmas Eve and my mother and grandmother were awaiting to be graced by my presence.  If I was to die on this day it would not be in a can.  Sure, I could have been pulverized by a car while on my bike but as Harry Dean Stanton said in Repo Man, "Better to die on your feet than live on your knees."

Since quitting the driving world I rarely ride inside automobiles.  There are few drivers I trust.  The feeling of exceeding 20 mph gives me motion sickness unless the driver is skilled.  My choices tonight were a young Asian man or my sister, both with suspect driving records i.e. crashes and fuck ups.  No thank you, I'd rather ride.  Besides it's damn near 50F!

Quin rode his West German built "Executive" English style 3-speed.  I rode the my beloved Red Phoenix, Trek FX 7.5 700C urban blitz bicycle.  Had I been thinking I would have grabbed the  Raleigh LTD, but it is in the shed for the winter and the FX has all the required lighting plus Christmas lights.  We did consider road bikes, and the weather and conditions were perfect for it, but the lights issue came up.  Too lazy to swap lights.  We really could use about 50 red flashers and 50 front lights that run on AAs.

One of these days I will get a decent photo of the BikeGlow lights and Christmas lights.  Last night was not it.

Patty lives about 7 miles north of our home in Little Italy.  East River John Pat Dorian Neal Smith Trail to the InterUrban Trail.  Cross the Des Moines River via the "trestle" and cross MLK and take the first right to ride up a steep hill below the VA hospital.  Nice ride.  Always enjoy the DSM skyline, from Principal Park, Bob Ray's Japanese building, Botanical Center, and the river. 

Quin had not been this way for quite sometime.  He was amazed that the landslide that took out part of the trail behind Lutheran Hospital was corrected.  And, as well, the trail on the new levy was done.  Been a long time in the works, too long.  Had this crap happened to I-235 people with pitch forks and torches would be at Terrace Hill.  But bikes put up with great amount of shit before action occurs.

We had a simple Christmas Eve Dinner of soup and sandwiches.  Me, I enjoyed some real Coke, not the Diet formaldehyde formula.  I drink the high fructose sugar model on holidays.  Drank diet soda for years.  It did not help.

Afterwards it was time for the Unwrapping of the Gifts.  During this time, while enjoying 1 of 2 glasses of Barefoot's Shiraz, my Christmas Miracle occurred.  I received a text from a non-contact.  Since we were not quite in shark mode in re gift unwrapping, I read it.  "Merry Christmas, long time no see" was all it said.  Recognizing the area code I reply with the same.  This person texted back, "Do you know who this is?"  I did not but had a few clues, wrong but a few.

I thought it might have been my cousin Troy Morgan who lives in the same area code.  Wrong was my reply.  I asked Quin to get on the Google and search my texter's number since his phone is smarter than mine.  I'd have to fire up Mini-Opera and then shut it down to text again.  Quin, on the other hand, merely needs to stroke the Droid a few times to get the answer.  Someone near Charles City.

Robert Prunty!  The bastard that started me down the path of biking.  The one that taught me never to take a screw driver to a derailleur unless I knew what I was doing.  The one that showed me how to ride at night in the middle of winter without lights and with a piece of paper in my mouth to keep me warm.  I learned most of my now seldom used off road skills from him.  On a tandem we destroyed a wheel that the Trek Rep gave him and I watched him bash said wheel against a tree until it was round enough to get us home.  The one who gave me a stripped unpainted frame that became my first road bike.  That Rob.  My mentor.

Now Robert disappeared from the face of the earth nearly a decade ago.  After leaving Cedar Falls we would meet occasionally and ride bikes.  We'd meet at Camp Igawnis and hit the single track along the Shell Rock River long before it became an established mtb mecca of Northern Iowa.  We also hit Brush Creek State Park when it was brand spanking new.  Of course long road rides near Chucktown.

He did 18 months in Iraq driving a large 20 or so wheeled ammo carrier.  He called me when he got back safe and said he'd never do that again because of the stress his family endured.  Then the strain of family existence and some tough times hit him.  He was able to ditch the bigfoot he married for someone that made him happy.  Soon his phone number no longer worked.  Not being computer literate at the turn of the century, he never did have an email that I knew of.  Searches online for him lacked any joy.  Another friend vanished from my life.  what a drag it is getting old.

Then that series of texting.  Best present I ever received.  Got that number now.  Said he still had his fleet of bicycles and some that I'd never seen.  Good sign!  I sent him a photo of The Bridge, you know, The High Trestle.  When this winter is over, and we do not need to wear so many layers just to maintain life out of doors, when we WILL NEED ICE for the brews, I'd like Mary and I to meet Rob and his wife under the blue lights above the DSM River.

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