Monday, August 08, 2011

She Told Me To

Virtually the entire United States has been under some weird weather pattern which brought heat and humidity over us all.  For months.  In spades.  This same weather pattern also drenched the upper midwest in rain.  The upside to all this rain is it benfits the region's farmers.  While they've had a late start to their planting season, the strong growth portends high yields come this fall.  Although many farmers have suffered storm damage, those storms seem to have been somewhat localized.  Overall, most of Minnesota has had a good growing season thus far.

How does this matter to the Roadbum, you might wonder. 

A few years ago I bought a chunk of farmland which I rent out to a local farmer.  The property is about twenty odd miles from my house in town.  It's a favorite loop of mine for short scooter jaunts.  Lots of twisty roads to choose from to get there and back.  And a myriad of quiet midwest country roads going nowhere in particular that branch out from there. 

Because I'm sort of invested in how my own crops are doing, I'll notice certain fields on the way.  I'll take account of how well the beans and the corn are growing.    Passing by herds of cattle grazing in the sun and noticing how they and the fields they're in, look.

For the majority of the spring and on through the summer, I haven't been riding as I have in years past.  Family schedules and weather kept me off those rides. 

And about those rains...

It wouldn't be an issue if rain was just rain.  Even hard rain is a kind of challenge to me.  I once rode nearly five hundred miles straight in torrential downpours so hard that my buddy and I decided we would only stop to gas up.  Every overpass on the expressways had cars pulling under them.  Were we to be under one of those overpasses and a driver looking for safety pulled up, they could easily plough right over those bikes without seeing them.  We were on two black Harleys and riding in pitch black storms up I94 from Racine Wisconsin to Long Prairie Minnesota.  Fifty degrees.  My boots were full of water.  It was like putting your feet into two large and really cold mason jars and just keeping them there.  Water had soaked up the back of the inside of my helmet to the point the interior fabric absorbed it over the entire internal circumference.  I had ridden numb from somewhere just east of Madison to the rains letting up a few miles from my future inlaws' home.  So rains don't generally bother me.  And I've learned to prepare much better for them since then.

No, the rains which bear fifty mile an hour winds and sometimes hail were the norm here in the upper midwest this spring and summer.  Broken trees, damaged roofs, that sort of thing.    Always the weather channel warnings.  You get older, you start to take those things seriously.

Yesterday my wife and I talked about what we would be doing today.  She was going to pick up the kids from her parents and mentioned that I hadn't been riding in a long time.  That this would be a great opportunity to make that time.  You know, sometimes you just can't argue with your wife.  She left, I hit the road.  And I got myself a little lost too.

I headed out to see the land.  Then to Joe's to see how he's been.  We spoke of the fields, the yields, and his cattle.  His kids, my kids and our wives.  Then I left and rode up the west river road along the Mississippi.

I don't know how it is in most places, but here in central Minnesota, when you're this far up, the Mississippi is just the biggest local river.  Homes are sparse along this stretch.  A winding road lazily takes you to a small city called Little Falls.  Home of Charles Lindbergh and the state park named after him.  I rode past the park and took an interesting looking but unfamiliar road west.  Once in a while a sign would off some general indication where I was.  My heading from there was south.  More or less.

Somehow I manged to find Holdingford.  And then Avon.  I know a little route back from there which has some good winding roads so I took it.  The Vespa running as well as it ever has. 

It's good to listen to your wife.