Saturday, May 19, 2007

Its Just a Wooden Boat

Gary and I had been thinking about riding together. Some way or another we were going to meet, ride and talk scooters. The thing that held us back was the fact Gar' was having trouble getting lined up with his Vespa. Then he pulled the trigger. If you haven't seen one of these bad boy GTS's in the vintage red, All I can say is the color works. The damn thing looks alive.

We set out on the east river road toward the shop which restores the larger wooden boats I wrote about in a previous blog.

You roll along beside the river. A row of homes between you and the slow moving waters. The two lane snakes under overhanging trees and past hobby farms. There's a stable of some wealth along the way. Some day I'm going to stop there and see what there is to see there. The place seems just right nestled in between homes lounging beside the Mississippi on their outstretched lots. In a few places they were closely knit, like small seaside towns. Little buildings jostling for a few more feet of space. Everyone likes to be on The River.

But we were here for the ride and a destination. The wooden boat restoration shop.

When we got there Gary was surprised. Just as I was the first time I'd seen it. A half moon of incredible pieces of floating history, beached for now, with restoration in their futures and a chance to sail again someday.

I was still taking in the view when Gary motioned me to guide my bike into a certain angle. From there it was all about looking for the framework to catch the big boats in their glory. To find glimpses of the ghosts still aboard these vessels.

You see, when you look at pieces of history, tools of another era, you sometimes tend to imagine the people of the time, around them. You can picture what someone might be doing, or the kinds of people who might have been sightseeing aboard these boats so long ago. You wonder about the people who built the boats and the ones who were on them.

The last set of pictures Gary snapped were of an almost overlooked fire engine from the thirties or forties. A beautiful original condition machine with an honest to goodness ragtop. A convertible fire truck!

It was time to move on. We rode back down the east river road from the boat restoration shop on the outskirts of the town of Rice to St. Joseph where we finally had a bit to eat. I'll let Gary cover that for you. Its his specialty.

But the ride. To me its what its all about. The weaving lanes beside the river or past Minnesota lakes. Through farmland and pastures and little towns whose church steeples break up the green skyline horizon. Its always been the ride.