Monday, June 24, 2013

Out and about on the bike

It was a nice day today. so I put the Iron Pony on the back of the SUV and carted it up to Harpers Ferry for a ride.

There's a little place in Brunswick, Maryland that does burritos just the way that I like them. The catch is, I only allow myself to have one if I make the six-mile ride there from Harpers Ferry on the bike. (And naturally, six more back. Calories? Ha!) I stopped by 7-11 and filled my Camelbak with icy cold water, then unlimbered the bike and rode through town to the bridge over the Potomac.
On the far side of this bridge is the C&O Canal towpath. It runs from Cumberland, MD 164 miles down to Washington, DC. One day, I'll do the whole thing, but today it's just my route to Brunswick and my burrito place.

I also has an iPhone now, so I can listen to my music while I ride. A bike and an iPhone--I'm all hip n' cool n' stuff now. I set the music selection to "random play" and ride off singing along with Sgt. Peppers.

It was twenty years ago today,
Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play
They've been going in and out of style
But they're guaranteed to raise a smile...

Along the way, I stopped to see some turtles on the logs in the canal.
It's a little-known fact, but the C&O Canal is actually one of America's Strategic Turtle Reserve repositories. There's a ka-jillion of them in there.

The night was clear and the moon was yellow
And the leaves came tumbling down
I was standing on the corner
When I heard my bulldog bark
He was barkin' at the two men
Who were gamblin' in the dark
It was Stagger Lee and Billy
Two men who gambled late
Stagger Lee threw seven
Billy swore that he threw eight...

The day was hot, but the trail is shady, and the icy cool water in the Camelbak was always a delicious pick-me up. And the music kept playing, giving me a beat to keep pedaling to.

I'm sittin' in the railway station
Got a ticket for my destination
On a tour of one night stands
My suitcase and guitar in hand
And every stop is neatly planned
For a poet and a one man band...

Oh, and there were deer, too. Like this one.
She must have liked my singing.

Long as I remember the rain been comin' down
Clouds of mystery pourin' confusion on the ground.
Good men through the ages tryin' to find the sun.
And I wonder still I wonder who'll stop the rain...

There were more tunes, and then I got to Brunswick and rode up to El Sloppy Taco, a South American BBQ sort of joint. Great food, but the customer service is pretty much non-existent from the woman who work there. I've gotten kind of used to their indifferent service up until now, but when I went up to the register and asked the woman for change for a dollar AFTER I ORDERED A WHOLE MEAL and she acted like I was from ICE or something...

Me: "Can I have change for a dollar, please?"

Her (with a skeptical look): "You want me to give you change?"

Me: Yeah. For the newspaper box outside."

Her: "No, I can't."

Me (incredulous): "You can't make change for a dollar bill? Seriously?"

Her: "I only have like three dollars in quarters here, and I'm saving it for people who might want to play the video games."

I stepped back. I took a breath. I counted to ten and reminded myself that I'd just ridden six miles to get here and that it was about the only place in town worth eating at. I got to ten and I was still mad. But just before I could tell her what I thought, a woman sitting at a table by the window averted the crisis by piping up that she had change.

I was nice, and took the change from her and got my paper. And as I did so, in walked a couple more women with a pack of little kids. Great, this day just keeps getting better. And as I sat down, in walked another woman with yet another litter of kids. The women obviously knew each other, as they put all of the kids at a long table next to me (Gee, thanks!) and sat at another table by themselves.

Then my food came.

"Uh, excuse me," I said, before the lady could take off. "I asked for some ice water with this."

"We don't give free water," she said. "We sell it. You have to buy it."

OK. Scratch this place off my list of places ever to eat again. Ever. Piss on El Sloppy Taco.

Pity, because they do make fairly good food. But paying money and getting this kind of treatment? Screw 'em.

And making it even better, as I ate, the little kids started noticing my leg, staring and nudging each other to point it out, not being discrete in the least. (Hey, they're kids. I'm used to it from kids.) But then I noticed that the Single Moms' Club was aware of it and not doing a thing to check their little charges. I don't get offended, but now the gloves are off if one of the kids says something. And sure enough, just as I was getting up to leave, one precocious little boy finally asked the question that I'm sure was burning in all of their little minds: "Are you a robot?"

Eight or ten little faces all turned to listen, and I know that the SM's caught it, too. But I like kids, so I just smiled.
"No, little fella. I'm not a robot. I'm a super hero."

"You're a super hero?" a little girl asked.

"Yep. I fight the monsters that live under beds and in the back of closets around here and only come out at night when the lights are off. A few years ago, one of them snuck up behind me and bit my leg off."

You should have seen all those wide little eyes. Forecast for tonight: Nightmare city and not much sleep for a few moms, either. Hee. I'm so going to Hell for stuff like this.

"Gee, thanks!" one of the moms said.

"No problem," I said, giving her a big smile as I walked out. "It's the least that a monster-fighting super-hero can do."

Truth be told, I've done this with little kids before, but I stopped when I realized that a lot of them actually believed it. Today I just had to play that card again though. And it felt good.

As I mounted my bike for the ride back, two other people on bikes rode past. One asked me: "Was that you on the towpath singing "Aqualung" a while ago?"

"No," I replied with my best deadpan look. "That was probably the other one-legged guy in an orange shirt. There's a couple of us out here today."

"Oh, ok.." the woman said, as they rode on. I think that she was actually struggling with that idea. I'm guessing that her blonde hair was natural.

Back on the tow path.

Well, I used to wake the mornin' before the rooster crowed
Searchin' for soda bottles to get myself some dough
Brought 'em down to the corner, down to the country store
Cash 'em in and give my money to a man named Curtis Lowe...

I burned up the six miles back to and through Harpers Ferry in little time, and got home just before the day's thunderstorms hit. And naturally, I was greeted on the stairs by my faithful, loyal dog:

Yeah, whatever. Get the hell out of my way, Gandalf. I need a shower and I'm tired.


  1. That's the longest sustained series of laughs today - thanks!

  2. Yup, got a chuckle or two out of that! Totally agree on your assessment of the restaurant, though...mind-boggling food is only able to forgive so much. As for the kids? Moms should teach them a bit of tact, a modicum of respect at the very least. They earned every last nightmare. Well played, sir, well played.

  3. You're the most evil super hero I know :)

  4. Hahahahah! You are EVIL!

    Someone told me recently that a nice tavern has opened up down the street from there somewhere.

  5. Anonymous12:37 PM

    Great pictures.
    The super hero story is very funny.
    Thanks for the laugh

  6. Best. Story. Ever. making you my favorite blogger

  7. @ WildChildT: Honored, I am. Mmmmm.