Since it was so nice out today, I took another bike ride, this time going up along the Shenandoah River. The leaves are just starting to turn here, so it's nice and scenic...except for the "No Trespassing" and "Keep Out" signs which now adorn more trees than not between the roadway and the river. And many of them are printed in Spanish too, which has been made necessary by the large number of mostly-illegal latinos who turn up here every week-end from neighboring Maryland and Virginia.
And before anyone gets on me about race, let me be perfectly clear--it's about conduct, specifically the incredible quantity of trash that the latinos typically leave behind. Lots of people camp and picnic along the river here, but when groups of white or black picnickers are here, they don't leave behind the piles of trash that these latinos always seem to dump: Fish guts, empty food containers and beer bottles, dirty diapers...you name it, the latinos always seem to dump it by the truckload whenever they come out here. And every week, the landowners or county work crews clean it up, only to have more latinos (or the very same ones) come back again next week-end and leave more messes. Now you add this to the fact that they never bother to get fishing licenses or respect our fishing laws, and factor in the fact that they've been known to pull knives on locals who comfront them or otherwise try to document their behavior, and you can see why many of us here are calling out to ICE to save us.
Oh, and the signs don't work either. On my ride today I saw two separate groups of latinos having picnics on privately-owned riverside parcels that are clearly marked "Keep Out". They really just don't care.
OK, that rant aside, my ride was about a fourteen-mile round trip, but it was made quite a bit more challenging by numerous steep hills that really taxed me even in my bike's highest gear settings. I finally terminated the outbound leg at the flea market near Harpers Ferry. After years of coming here with Lagniappe pretty regularly, I'd sworn that I would not patronize this flea market again after they posted a HUGE sign announcing a new "No dogs" policy. That is, of course, their right, but if they don't want my buddy there, then they can do without my money as well.
This time though, I made an exception because it was hot and I needed water. So I went in just as far as the concession stand and bought a couple of bottles. It was as I was on the way back out through the parking lot that I saw them--the couple unloading the rifles from their car trunk, obviously about to take them into the market.
OK, this warranted a closer look, "no-dog" policies or not. "Hi! what'cha got there?" I asked.
It turned out that they had five long guns that they were trying to sell. Four were basic flea market fare--an old .22 rifle, two single-barrel shotguns, and a beat-up .270 without a bolt or sights. It was the fifth one that got my attention as soon as I saw that distinctive Ruger buttstock.
"Lemme take a look at that one," I said casually.
"It's a Sturm Ruger Company gun," the guy said.
Yeah, I knew what it was. It was obvious even with the confederate flag stickers that someone had plastered on the stock and on the receiver. It was a rifle that I'd wanted to add to my collection for about as long as I've been shooting.
"What do you want for it?" I asked, trying to sound only marginally interested.
"We're hoping to get three fifty for it," he replied.
I almost dropped my bike. That's about half what this thing's worth and they're darned hard to find at any price these days. Must...sound...disinterested...
"It's awful beat up," I pointed out.
Yes, yes it was, he agreed. But he was sure that one of the dealers in there would buy it from him.
"It's missing it's magazine," I added.
Yep. But someone'll have one for it somewhere.
I shook the operating rod. "Seems to have a bit of slop in here," I pretended.
"Well you know...it's used," he replied. "What do you want to give me for it?"
I offered him $275. He said that he'd try to shop it around inside first. I pretended to think about it for a minute, then offered him $300. He accepted, we shook on it and headed to the flea market's ATM so I could get the cash. (Yeah, I know...candy-bar lunches for the next few weeks...again.)
Cash turned over, I had to hunt around to find a case for my new acquisition. After all, I'd ridden here on a bike. No joy, though. I combed the show and there wasn't a single rifle case available. I had to settle for a sling, which I installed on the rifle back at the concession stand. Then I rode the seven miles back with the rifle slung across my back, just waiting to ride past the police car that I'd never see otherwise.
Forty minutes later, I got back home with it. I hadn't run across the police, but I had gotten a few funny looks. But this is Vest Virginia, after all. With hunting season coming, surely I couldn't be the only guy riding around on a mountain bike with a rifle.
So here's my new baby. The stickers have been removed, restoring it's dignity. The stock definitely needs some refinishing, but winter's coming and I'll have the time. What do you think? Did I do ok for three hundred bucks? According to Ruger's Serial Number table, it was made in 1995 and it's barrel has the faster 1-in-7 twist.
Hell, it was worth it, just for the bike ride back. But next time I go out riding, I'm leaving my wallet behind.