A Riverside Ramble on Christmas Eve

Weather: Sunny and 40°F (4°C)
Road Conditions: Mostly dry, with patches of ice in the shadows.

Christmas Eve on the beach, in Minnesota. Global Warming anyone?

Christmas Eve Day is normally a time to spend with family. But when you are a Rider, and the weather is sunny and warm, it would be a crime not to go out for a little ramble, wouldn’t it? Especially in Minnesota! That was my thinking, anyway, as I sat there on the couch, flipping through the hackneyed holiday specials on the tube.

The girls were doing their own thing anyway, sorting through Emily’s vast wardrobe to pick just the right fashion for her to wear over to Grandpa’s house for Christmas Day.

I was completely irrelevant, and bored out of my skull.

It was time for me to get off the couch and on the road. I shouted my intentions at Emily’s closed bedroom door. The girls muttered some distracted reply, which I took to be affirmative in nature. Suiting up in record time, I dashed out to the garage.

Scarlet was certainly a willing accomplice. She started right up at the touch of a button, and was ready to go by the time I had the camera packed, and my heated vest plugged-in. We turned left out of the driveway, away from our normal Ride to Work, and headed unerringly for The River. I wanted to see what the Mississippi was doing on Christmas Eve.

Driftwood on the Upper Mississippi. Art? Or not?

We rode past the Mississippi Pub, where we can usually find some of my friends, whom I call “The Riverside Eccentrics”. Today, however, they weren’t anywhere to be found, and the Pub itself was closed. So we meandered further south, turning towards the water at every opportunity.

While the main roads were salted and dry, these little side streets along the river had huge patches of ice and slush on them, which we negotiated with some trepidation. I had both feet ready to hit the deck at the first hint of slip or slide. But since I wasn’t on the throttle at all, we negotiated it with no drama. Thanks again, Kenda.

We rode past a sign that posted Park Hours, and I saw this driftwood on the beach. I couldn’t find anything with a name for the park on it, so that remains a mystery. There was no road down to the water’s edge, but there was a discernable trail in the grass. This was a perfect photo-op, and I wasn’t going to let a little thing like regulations stop me.

A brown Christmas, with splashes of red.

We went offroad, and made our way through the sand to the place you see here. Scarlet handled all of this with grace, and my confidence in her took a turn for the better.

I’ve just got to remember to be easy on her throttle, that’s all.

After the photo shoot was over, I sat on the driftwood with my helmet off, and watched the river for awhile. Nothing was moving out there but the water, and it was a very soothing interlude.

Tomorrow is the big family gathering at my Dad’s place, and that will be filled with it’s own kind of stress, but for now I was totally at peace. Finally, I suited up again, and rode Scarlet home… the long way.

13 Responses to “A Riverside Ramble on Christmas Eve”

  1. combatscoot Says:

    I spent 9 months on a river bouy tender in the Coast Guard. We worked small parts of the Tennessee, Cumberland, Ohio, and Mississippi river. Sometimes, I miss the river!

  2. dru_ Says:

    It’s nice to see I wasn’t the only scooter commuter that just had to find an excuse to get out for a ride today. For me, it was some last minute shopping yesterday, and today, a quick grocery run by way of hither *and* yon, and any other roads that happened to fall into the ‘looks interesting wonder where it goes’ category. As my wife asked when I got back, ‘did it really take 3 hours just to get a bag of flat brad, a dozen eggs, bacon and gallon of milk?’ I just smiled and said yes.

    Your river ride looks much more interesting, but I think it solved the same basic need. Merry xmas!.


  3. Steve Williams Says:

    I didn’t get to ride yesterday—spent most of the day cleaning and baking and getting ready for our annual Christmas Eve party. You description and photos of the river ramble, especially sitting and watching the water, took me back to my childhood. I grew up on an island in the Ohio River and even as a kid I would sit on the bank and watch the water. Big quiet water. The trout streams around here are like noisy kids in comparison.

    Warm Christmas greetings to you and your family Gary!

  4. Buster Brown Says:

    Siddhartha Gautama is said to have sat a long time by the river on his way to enlightenment.

  5. Rivergirl Says:

    We were down at the river but not at the pub, we were at the other hangout. The owner served free omlets on Christmas eve. It was a beautiful day to be outside and down by the river. That park is a part of a larger tract of land that extends up into the Mobile Home park on top of the hill, the land was donated to the city. On any given summer day there are folks sitting on that driftwood taking in the scenary or or fishing.

  6. Gary Charpentier Says:

    John: That sounds like a nice gig, roaming the rivers and tending the bouys. Was there much in the way of military B.S. in the Coast Guard, or were you more mission oriented?

    Dru: Exactly. That’s why we call it Rambling.

    Steve: Water gives humans a sense of peace and security. After all, we are made up of more than 90% of the stuff. It’s no wonder that waterfront property, be it ocean, river, or lake, goes for at least double the cost of dry property.

    Buster: Siddhartha Gautama, and the original legend of Buddha, is a hole in my philosophical studies. Thanks for reminding me… Though I have a shallow understanding of Zen, I have never gone for the full immersion.

    Rivergirl: It’s probably a good thing I didn’t go over there and check it out. I would probably have stayed too long… ;^) Tell me, do they allow campfires on that particular strip of beach? I could carry a small bundle of firewood on the floorboards of the scooter!

    Ride well,

  7. combatscoot Says:

    As a naval service, the Coast Guard prides itself on being both mission-oriented AND full of military BS. Had the other sailors been a little nicer to this ex-airman, I might have stayed on that river tender instead of going aviation. Would’ve been a lower-stress job. What is it about NCO’s that make them think they can force a new recruit to have enthusiasm for his job?

  8. Biker Betty Says:

    Gary, that sounded like such a nice Christmas eve ride. You were lucky you could get away. I’m usually too busy on Christmas eve day to get out. If it had been nice, we could have gone to our church’s Christmas Eve service, but the roads are too dangerous at the moment, with all the loose rock, some snow and ice, for our cruisers. Maybe if we had scooters, hmm…..

  9. Gary Charpentier Says:

    John: Yeah, that’s too bad. I’d like to think that attitude has mitigated somewhat, in the modern military. The heavy op-tempo should leave little room for B.S. games.

    Betty: I could have written several more paragraphs about the images and thoughts that went through my mind down by the water. But this is a subject-focused blog, and I have to try to stay on-message.

    Yes, with the right tires, scooters definitely handle dodgy conditions better than most full-size motorcycles. But then, I still haven’t tested that TW200.

    Ride well,

  10. dru_ Says:

    I think tires are part of the equation (the Kenda’s on my Kymco don’t inspire massive amounts of confidence though), but the other part, IMO, is the lower center of gravity. With all of the weight so low in the bike, a scooter has a more ‘balanced’ feel. There is a fallacy within that though. Most scooters have a weight balance that is biased towards the rear wheel, and because of that, front tire traction is at a premium.

    I suspect this is the largest contributor to the number of lowside accidents on a scooter. The combination of a lack of weight on the front wheel, allowing it to slip out earlier than an on a motorcycle, and the lack of torque to inadvertantly break the rear wheel loose turning most scooter incidents into lowside falls. I know for a fact that my own fall came from placing too much faith in the grip of the front tire in a turn, at a speed that a more traditionaly bike design would have handled.

  11. Buster Brown Says:

    “Though I have a shallow understanding of Zen, I have never gone for the full immersion.”

    The full immersion is for Baptists.

  12. Gary Charpentier Says:

    dru: Which Kendas are you running. The 761s I’ve been using on both Frogwing and the Baron scooters have worked very well. You have to mind your pressure, though.

    I definitely feel the extra weight in the back, especially on 250cc Scarlet. She is a tail-happy wench! Whenever traction is sub-optimal, I can get her to spin the rear tire with full throttle. The only place I’ve had a low-side was last Winter, on ice, with the Red Baron.

    Buster: You have a point there…

    Ride well,

  13. Wooleyb Says:

    That is a great shot you did there with black and white driftwood photo. If it were done in color it wouldn’t be as awsome a shot.
    Nice job.