Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Sunday Bike Outing

I didn't set my alarm clock Saturday evening and because I am the mom and wife of the family, it's my fault we overslept for church Sunday morning. I admit it, it's all my fault...that and a few other things. But don't worry, this week is definitely making me pay for it and justice is being served to me on a not so silver platter. But, we won't go there. So back to my alarm clock, oh yeah, I didn't set it, and didn't wake up until 10:30 am on Sunday morning which was much too late to try to get ready and make it to service which started thirty minutes before. So instead, I made some Sister Shubert's Sausage Wrapped Rolls for breakfast, which was a hit among the little people. When I say made them, I mean I thawed them out, unwrapped them from the plastic bag and put them in the oven....yes, I'm very domesticated, I know. After working on the computer for a few hours, and yes, I do mean work, as I have a second job in marketing that I do from home, my husband offered the suggestion of loading up our bikes and taking the girls for a bike ride. This is something we haven't done before and sounded like a great idea for a family outing. This summer we spent most of our free weekend time on the river and now that summer is over, my girls and I are having river withdrawals to the point that when they asked to wear their swimsuits at bath time a few nights ago, I let them in complete understanding. For us, it's going to be a very long winter and we are going to have to figure out somethings to do to keep us entertained until spring.

So the bikes are loaded up, tires aired up and we head to the wildlife preserve trail behind our local mall which lies at the Coosa River edge. While I spent countless hours of my childhood riding a bike on the Sac and Fox trails of Indian Creek, the off road trick bike trails and through the my Bertram Road neighborhood in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, I have to admit I was a little nervous to take a seat behind the handle bars.  It has been many, many years since I have rode a bike. I know my old red Gitaine 10 speed was packed on the moving truck when we moved here when I was 14, but I don't remember riding it much when we planted our new home in Rainbow City. I asked my dad what happened to my bike a few years ago and learned that it had been bartered away in a yard sale being that I never used it and had forgotten about it myself. Hearing its fate gave me a complete understanding to John Mayer's lyrics where he asks "whatever happened to my lunchbox,when came the day that it got thrown away and don't you think I should have had some say in that decision?" But being a parent myself, I completely understand the need to purge away forgotten items so as not to completely drown in all the toys a child goes through over the years; this is what happened to John's lunchbox and my 10 speed. In irony, I take a seat on what was once our older daughter's bike who has long ago moved out, but forgot about it, and so it's now become mine until she ever remembers to reclaim it.

The saying about never forgetting to ride a bike  
proved itself to be true and there were no falls for me, however this was not the case for our McKenna who fell numerously as she adjusts to riding without training wheels. It gives me no pleasure in admitting that we as parents failed in the training wheel department and only took them off her bike this past summer. This was her first venture away from the familiarity of our driveway and the crushed stone and boardwalk decking gave her some intimidation and frequent falls.    

I had always thought the wildlife trail was named so because of the obvious duck and bird visibility, but apparently we have an ever present beaver population that was completely unknown to me. We spotted various beaver dams along the way and tracks crisscrossing the mud bottom of the lowered riverbed. This gave me a chance to use our outing as an educational experience for the girls while I told them about beaver dams, nests, habitats and everything else I could recall from a middle school research report from 20+ years ago. We decided this would make a good family google subject for us later when we returned home. Three days later we have yet to look it up, but it hasn't escaped my memory, so beaver googling will definitely be in the near future.
While I have walked the boardwalk that makes up this walking trail, I have never went completely over it to the little island it leads to. I think the length of the boardwalk was a little overwhelming to the girls as they saw it curve around the river edge and head to the unknown. Pushing them forward, I told them to imagine that we were on the wooden go cart track that we like to visit on Gatlinburg vacations and we are on a journey to explore the secret island ahead. They liked this and the fact that I had never been to the "secret island" either so this was a first for all of us. That seemed to suffice and we peddled ahead.

The secret island had less traveled trails, cut through by foot rather than bike, with many fallen limbs along the root entangled paths. After passing by the last resting bench, the trail narrowed even more and I finally gave the lead to my husband out of pure selfishness of not wanting me to be the first to encounter a snake, beaver or anything else we might come upon. Luckily there were no first hand wildlife encounters, not even a mom-feared brush of poison ivy. We made the full trek which circled the island and then headed back over the boardwalk in time to witness a baby duck swimming alone. Just as I was pointing it out to the girls, it disappeared under the water's cloak only to re-emerge a few yards from where it had been. We watched in suspense each time it would disappear to see where it would reappear again until it was finally out of sight and then we headed back to the truck and reloaded the bikes.

It was good time for all of us, out in nature, disconnected from the world around us, creating what I hope will be a family memory my girls will keep locked in a file of their mind for years to come. While we had missed church that morning, we had our own service with bicycle seats instead of pews, fresh air instead of electronic heating and cooling, in a sanctuary created by God more beautiful than any decorated church walls. He spoke to me in subtle whispers all along the way through the beauty of nature and the inquisitive children He blessed me with.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a wonderful day.

    I know that island. Me and Charley call it mosquito island! We traveled it on the tricycle (the big girl trike) and we afraid the mosquitoes would never let us leave. They were HUGE!


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