Weather: Rainy morning followed by a damp, cloudy day.
Thereâ€™s a big storm headed our way, coming up from the Gulf of Mexico. At least thatâ€™s what the Windsock and Crystal Ball Guild says. What a racket meteorology is! Itâ€™s the only profession I know of where you can be wrong so often and still keep your job.
I drove the cage to work today, because I didnâ€™t want to soak the Black Baron in corrosive road brine for fifty-three miles. It was raining hard when I left home this morning, but then it tapered off to nothing throughout the day. I drove through a couple of sprinkles on the way home, but you know what I was thinking… I should have ridden.
My wife had a doctorâ€™s appointment when I got home, (nothing serious), so I hung out with my daughter while she was gone. When she returned, the streets were fairly dry, and I was itchinâ€™ to ride. With Amyâ€™s blessing, I donned my Darien, helmet and gloves, and practically sprinted out to the garage. I would have to get this one in quickly, because the green blob on the weather radar was already approaching the 494 side of the freeway loop around the Twin Cities. With the helmet and gear on, I felt like a fighter pilot scrambling on an intercept mission.
BB and I rolled out of the driveway and headed south. He is such a smooth-running, comfy character. We stayed off the rush-hour highways and headed for Concord Street. This runs through the stockyards in South Saint Paul, all the way out to the ever-sprawling suburb of Inver Grove Heights. I cherish the old buildings and the few independent businesses still operating there, because I know that eventually they will be replaced by the clone-stores found in every strip mall across the country. Progress, huh? And this is a good thing for whom? (Oh, but itâ€™s so conveeeeenient!)
Hey, who put that soapbox there? Sorry…
Speed limits on Concord are right in BBâ€™s sweet spot. Thirty-five mph zones roll into forties, then fifty as you get farther away from the business center. We rode Concord Street all the way to the end, and turned right on something called Courthouse Road.
I had never been here before, and it was a fascinating ride. We had just passed one of the suburban strip malls I mentioned, but here, only a half mile down the road, we were riding past old red barns and pastures. I know for a fact that only a few more miles south lies the prosperous modern community of Eagan. But right here in the middle, caught between the big city and the big-time `burbs, was this bucolic interlude of charming rural character.
Please donâ€™t tell me these are what they call â€œHobby Farmsâ€. But of course, thatâ€™s exactly what they are… Well, they make for much better scenery than Starbucks-Blockbuster-McDonalds. We rolled past some marvellous homes, tastefully hidden amongst the trees, across many acres of rustic lawn.
Eventually, we came upon a Dead End sign. A lady was walking her two dogs, off-the-leash, right down the middle of the road. I pulled up cautiously, lifted the visor on my helmet, and played the lost traveller.
â€œPardon me, but I think Iâ€™m lost. What neighborhood is this?â€
She smiled and said, â€œThis is OLD Inver Groveâ€. She really emphasized that â€œoldâ€ part.
â€œAre there any other roads like this around here?â€
She thought for a moment, and then shook her head. â€œNo, we are very fortunate to have this one, so close to the city. Where were you trying to go?â€
â€œWell, to be honest, I was just sort of wandering around. I thought I would steal a ride in between rainstorms. I live in West Saint Paul, and I guess I should be heading back now.â€
Again, the gracious smile… â€œWell, the only way to get there is back the way you came.â€
I thanked her, and then the Black Baron and I turned around. We rode away slowly from that little pocket of the American Dream, and made our way back to Concord Street, and the cheap side of town.
It started raining lightly along the way, and the wind was starting to pick up. We pulled into the driveway as the storm gathered strength. I tucked BB in for the night and headed into the house.
The rain is beating down hard on my roof as I type this. Iâ€™m sitting up here in my attic, in the dark, listening to the drip-drip-drip of the leak around our skylight. Iâ€™ve placed a large bowl under that, and it has never filled up even during the worst storms of the past two years.
Yes, I am a bad homeowner. The trouble is, whenever itâ€™s nice enough outside to tackle a job like fixing that leak, it is also perfect riding weather. Iâ€™ve never been able to resolve that conflict in favor of the house. Thatâ€™s also why I usually have the longest grass in the neighborhood.
Hey, a man has to have his priorities, right?