The dark streets were full of drunks as he walked home. Some were singing. Some were alone and staggering, holding the fences of the areaways to stay erect. None of them were with women. A hard wind was now blowing off the North river, and he heard a foghorn blowing and some muted Irish music from an unseen place. The song was called "Never Take the Horseshoe from the Door." Harrigan and Hart. Every door in the neighborhood needs a horseshoe, he thought, starting with mine.--Pete Hamill, North River
I have a feeling that St Patrick's Day was another pagan festival that was co opted by the British in the name of Christ Jesus to appease the locals. Feed them all beer so their heads won't swell. After all, winter is almost officially over and everything has turned green. St Patrick was British. Hamill continues "...the way the British refused to give them power of any kind, except to get drunk and assault their women. Drunks were no threat to power." Then again, do they celebrate this on the other side of the pond? Probably not like we do in Iowa.
Despite this Roman/Basque appearance there is quite a bit of Irish in me. Why stop there, Dad's mother was a Hungarian of German descent. Add the Spanish lineage when my ancestors left the Pyrenees and I wound up with a high capacity for alcohol but a extreme allergy for it. So I feel the need to celebrate this ritual albeit not at the level of Depression era NYC or the stupidity that happens in DSM. Fights in front of the Locust Tap or getting my name on Current Inmates Polk County, Iowa
The days leading into this holiday were a bit of a roller coaster, extreme ups and downs. Beautiful weather but ugly realities. My chef decided to trash her knee and I had to contend with substitutes and then a change in routine. I found myself with an extra hour to sleep in and a large truck to drive but my commuting miles dropped drastically as the new commute was shorter. I did discover something called "max a/c" and a radio that did not require AA batteries or the plugging in of an iPod. I could dress for work and not have to lug around a change of clothing. And when I got to work the coffee was already brewed. that is a plus. I lost 8 miles a day for a week and a half. No bueno.
Then it got worse. Although my chef eventually healed and work returned to normal, my sole remaining living grandparent passed away on Thursday. Big changes in my peaceful life beginning. The bicycle will remain my fortress of solitude giving me ample time to meditate on the shit storm. Thursday dwell on the news and make phone calls. Friday go to Ottumwa and help my mother. I got the disctinct unpleasure of picking out a casket and burial vault and the other funeral arrangements that one should never have to make. Kinda of surreal listening to to the songs I picked out when my grandmother lay in a coffin 6 feet away. But I got ahead of myself. Thinking about building a bicycle hearse. Twin tandems and a Surly Bill trailer or a Quad style arrangement. One day in Ottumwa and back that night. Back to Ottumwa on Sunday to stay at my in-laws and bury Granny on Monday. The fact that my stretch of 100+ miles per week ended did not bother me at all. It was the least of my troubles.
|O Carlo, o no no no. This is all that remained.|
Not long after getting home that evening the phone went off again. Cigar Bitch wants me over to drink beer, eat grilled meat, smoke cigars and enjoy life. He called and texted something like 7 times before Mary and arrived, 520 burdened with the large jug of Carlo Rossi sangria and 8 lb of ice. Jay said that Sam requested wine. This was beginning to feel like the past few weeks. They keep dragging me in. The usual suspects too. This time we did not stay out til 3 am. I would be productive on Saturday. However, it is always good to see old friends especially those that I have spent alot of time with away from the world. Some of these guys ride bikes. Jay offered a fifth of BV and some $$ to get his son's bike shifting again. I should do that but I have a ton of my own to repair.
Cigar Bitch, World's Greatest ISU Fan
But I had plans. Rather, there were things I needed to do. House to clean. Bikes to fix and build. A broken hitch on the Burley to repair and mountains of cans and bottles to redeem. Saturday morning was full of promise. It would actually be a nice day. Weekends were usually colder than the week days. Not this one. Thank you Jesus that I was not hung over. My illusion of productivity was shattered when the phone rang.
"Hey there Large Penis Man, are you home?" Joe Hildreth salutated across the invisible electronic waves. He reported that his brother Donny and him were heading my way via Neal Smith Trail and asked if I would like a beer. Joe lives in Norwalk, Donny south of Cumming. They were enjoying a nice ride of length and desired an excuse for a break. We had not seen each other for quite some time. "Yes I would" I replied. Mary and Dora were prepping for the parade. Dora has learned that there are mass quantities of loot to be had while watching parades. Mullets was on the way. We had time for a beer.
|These people were forced to eat outside at Mullets.|
Mullets was packed. The winter was good for them. Spring and summer promise to be outstanding. Who says the economy is dead. We were lucky and seized a table inside. One beer turned into 3 or 4 pitchers. Dora had a Cherry Coke. Joe and Donny invited us to join them for Tour de Kota They have room in their vehicle. Fully supported ride of 464 miles in 6 days. Chance to use fast bikes. Only need to carry tire repair equipment, water bottle, camera/phone and cash. How could we say no?? I have been lamenting my Ragbrai experiences lately. The bagging out thing does wear a bit thin after a long run of it. Tour de Kota would fulfill the need for easy speed on bikes that we do not get to enjoy properly.
Eventually we left for the parade. 4th and Locust on the south side of the road. The crowd was thick and the parade was long. Stand there and chant for free stuff to be tossed at us. "BEADS BEADS GIVE US BEADS!!!!" I waited for what seemed like hours to see the bicycling community in the parade. Stretch, Craig, Tammy and Joe, Liz and Brad, Amy, and others. The Quad, Humesy and Sally. All the dogs were barking. And other Iowish bikers on parade. Best of all was the bacon. Iowa Pork producers or Bacon Cartel had a float and gave out cooked bacon!! That almost ties Fat Cat Roadhouse on Ragbrai many years ago in strange but good category.
The parade never seemed to end and after the bacon Joe, Donny and I stepped back and looked at each other and almost in unison said "I gots ta pee." We wandered back to the Beechwood where they thoughtfully placed 3 kybos for the drunken Iowish. We stayed for a beer and then my phone rang. Davis. it was loud. I don't know what she said. I heard the word "bridge" and concluded that she was in town and wanted to see me. But we needed food and when Mary arrived it was decided that we continue south to Capital Dog and Pub. After all, they gave us free beer tickets during the parade. I texted Davis about our move. Hopefully it would be quiet there and I could use the phone as a phone not a texter.
|Mary and Davis|
|Joe talking to a young mother. Her shirt read "Let's Get Ready to Stumble"|
Capital Dog was just as loud as the Beechwood. There was a band set up and a parade float with a musician on it pimping his show later that night. This was a kid friendly place as it was packed with children as well as drunkards. If you wanted to find a MILF on St Paddy's Day this was ground zero. Hell, I was guilty too, bringing my wife and child. Davis brought her kid too.
|A cool Sting Ray clone at Capital Dog|
We stayed quite sometime. I felt sorry for Joe and Donny since they had to ride up to 20 more miles than I had to when we split. But they drug me into this and they will pay for it. Those Irish looking Buds were $3 per can. They cleaned our table several times. Later Craig and Kelly B arrived. More beer. I think I ended with a Guinness, after all it was Drunken Iowish Day.
|Dora with our bikes|
Eventually we went home. I took a nap and missed dinner. I woke up after dark. Time for round two. We had to pick up a van from friends. Living carless only sucks when one needs a vehicle to travel out of town with family for a funeral. I will not give the name of the people who we borrowed the van from. they were quite drunk. I called both of their phones. No answer and then they called back immediately. They were at the Japanese pagoda on Robert Ray Dr near the Botanical Center. We would have to ride home with them. Off on bikes again. Safety vests and lights.
|36" wheels. This bike was in a previous video here|
The scene at the pagoda left me with the impression that these people were wasted. I missed a good one during my nap. The Quad was there inside the building. Humes red thing was on the trail. The white bike with 36" wheels was there lit up with blue lights. I think a shroom bomb may have gone off. Great photos before a long ride.
There are two ways to our next destination. We took the dangerous one. But this route included a QT (smokes) and Gusto Pizza (Scooby snacks). I would have preferred to take the indirect route by taking the NST and Inter Urban Trail.
But Ingersoll was the direct route. One person had trouble getting on and keeping the bike upright. Bags were probably heavy and after filling ones veins up with cement (beer and booze) biking is difficult. i know the feeling. The other bike was slow because of design. At least we were properly lit. And I was sober and had a job to do. At one point I told him to stare at Mary's ass as a way to keep him on the bike lane. That gave me freedom to wait for the other bike and hit the ATM. We made it to their house and shared some PBRs. Hip to the end. I left my bike there and drove the van home. Interesting to move without effort and to see pairs of bikes with lights and safety vests. Drunken Iowish Bikers rarely go in stealth mode.
Monday evening I returned the van. It was fun ride home. The rain held off til then. That was a good thing. I was grateful that we could get through the funeral and burial without a storm. But the storm waited for me. 20+ mph winds driving the rain into my face like a sandblaster. Willow Creek lost a bunch of limbs and trees. PFG Call Center at 6200 Park lost a large tree and that was talk of Tuesday. More chatter than when the turkey flew into the window and died. Yeah, is that the best you can do?? Let me absorb it all so that others were spared. Fair enough. I wish we could bargain with the weather like that. Often I ask for that to spare Mary. I can take it. After all, I am Iowish.
"I oney hit her one shot, Doc, I swear."
"That's all you needed, Brick. She's dead."
..."I'll be right back," he said. "Don't do anything, Brick. Don't do anything at all."
Brick was still weeping twenty minutes later when two sour, chubby dectectives arrive, dressed in plain clothes. They also smelled vaguely of whiskey. Delaney thought: It's a great day for the Irish.--Pet Hamill, North River