Friday, April 27, 2007

Two Sides of the Same Coin, Vespa's the Edge

Heads (Part two)

There are few situations in life that can't change in an instant. Its a matter of creativity and resolve not to accept defeat in order to make some things happen. Most of all its a matter of being prepared to change course in mid stream. One has to set in mind beforehand that there are more options than might seem apparent at first glance. Creative people persevere in order to succeed.

A bit of rest and good time with my family set my mind at ease after the trek to Minneapolis. A call the next day filled the cup of cheer to the brim.

I put the word out per our club's website that I was interested in a local ride. A jaunt into the hills surrounding St. Cloud. No sooner had I put up the post than a call came from a friend. A member of our local scooter club, St. Cloud Scoots. He mentioned taking a spin out to Rice.

Now Rice is your average nondescript country town. Its got all the local color one would expect, but its also got a few surprises. The first surprise was a new way to get there.

I'd always taken the west river road. A meandering path along the Mississippi with some calm switchbacks but nothing outstanding for the average rider. This is the route I thought my friend had planned for that evening. I was off by slightly more than the width of a river.

Chauncy was in the lead but he wasn't going where I thought he would. We crossed the river by the paper mill and turned left. I'd been down this road a long time ago. I still thought I knew what old Chaunc' had in mind.

Its good to be wrong sometimes.

Suddenly his left directional started blinking. Where was he going? We crossed the tracks and almost immediately leaned into a sweeping bend. The speed limit was thirty five miles per hour. Better yet, I couldn't see far ahead for all the twists this road was presenting me. This was already better than the west side river road. How long would this kind of fun last?

The road went on and on this way. I never looked at my odometer because one tends to forget about those sorts of things when one is having fun. The road drew us along with ancient trees hanging over it. There were classic river homes on either side, well cared for with deep yards and too many scenic views to take in all at once. Late afternoon sun shimmering on water's surface. You kept seeing the Old Man behind the homes to the left, his waters lazily sauntering south. No hurry.

These were the moments when I would risk a glance on a path I'd never been before. One eye on the scooter ahead and the other trying to capture the images around me.

The first time you travel such roads, your passage takes on a timeless effect. You're so deeply in the moment it could take minutes or an hour but it doesn't matter. You're here. Now.

We hit some straighter stretches where the speed limit opened up to fifty five. Perfect timing to uncoil the body and the bikes. Then around a sharp left ending in a sloping bridge back over the Mississippi. We climbed again and the turns took on the same pattern they had at the beginning of this adventure. One last long straightaway took us into the town of Rice. At the (only?) stop sign Chauncy said he wanted to show me something. All I could respond with was "Lead the way." We crossed the tracks which were now beside us and he pulled into a strange lot.

Have you ever seen a place where they restore old, wooden boats? I mean the types of boats which live their lives on a Great Lake? These were of ocean worthy size. Huge dark mammoths whose hulls were stripped of color. Only the long planks of wood were seen on all but a few. One especially long seafarer reminded me of Kipling's Captains Courageous. Who knows, it could have been there. The whole lot, several acres worth, was lined with landlocked travellers waiting their turn at the hands of master woodworkers. Rows of them.

After being awestruck by the eastern river road and then blown away by the boat restoration company, we stopped for coffee and a little break off the bikes. Then it was time to turn back for one more pass down that lane again.

Had to watch that speedometer a little more closely now. I guess you could say I got a little too enthusiastic at times, a little accelerbratory.

Roadbum