Our spring green-up is really under way. Even the oaks have begun showing tiny green leaves along with the tassels that mark their awakening this time of year. I headed out a while before the lunch traffic so it was pretty quiet. Once I got north of NE 23rd, the songs of nature started crowding into my awareness. This is the time of year when you can capture images of the brief seasonal flowers, so despite my determination to stay focused on riding with a steady pace, my eyes were constantly scanning places where I know the blossoms congregate. There was only two visible scarlet paintbrush flowers out on the old former airstrip in Spencer; maybe next time.
Farther north I dallied just a moment on the bridge across the North Canadian River. On the upstream side where it turns sharply against the bank, there is a very large sandbar running all the way across, so it’s usually pretty wide at that spot and I wished I had the time to go wading. Still, I know the water probably stinks from the mild pollution that washes into it from the streets of the Metro upstream.
From there it was two miles of steady stroking on the flat river plain. Farther north I turned west and climbed up out of the valley on Wilshire. This put me into several miles of brutal hills. At least four times I had to shift onto the smallest chainring to make the climb. Today I decided to take a detour. Once across I-35, I turned onto the service road that runs behind a truck wash and motel. These service roads along the I-35 corridor are all marked as official bike routes. On top of that, today I spotted temporary signs asking drivers to be cautious due to a bicycling event. I never saw any other bikes, though. I passed a trucker’s hooker as rode I up the hill, heading south past some heavy industry shops. She must have been dropped nearby; she was changing part of her wardrobe from a large duffle bag and avoiding eye contact. Her manner of dress made her profession obvious, that close to a truck stop.
There was nothing exciting about this route that swung around from I-35 to follow our Northeast Expressway. The bike route markings brought me past what we used to call the Cowboy Hall of Fame (first image above) around NE 63rd and and Grand Boulevard. It’s an art museum, not much on history. There’s even a section dedicated to TV and movie celebrities who played in a lot of Westerns. It has changed over the past decade or so into more of a tourist trap and I wouldn’t waste the time or money on it now.
From there it was just a short hop to the northern terminus of the Katy Trail. Since this is high bug season, I couldn’t stop much anywhere and enjoy a sit while I ate my snack, so I just stood in the shade of a fragrant pine tree a short way before crossing ML King. On the other side the bike path is torn up in places while crews change the entrances to the huge parking lot north of the Science Museum and Zoo. It wasn’t fun hopping up and down the curb, but I have experienced worse things for less noble purposes. Once I got down past the lake and up the hill into the golf course, I stopped three different times to retrieve golf balls from the street gutter. Someone told me the street was out of bounds unless it lands on the grass on the other side, because the course is on both sides. So it does no harm if I stop and pitch them back up on the fairway. I am amused at the range of colors they use on golfballs these days: baby blue, pale orange and only one that was plain white.
On down the Katy Trail I spotted a tired old dog lying in the grass adjacent to the trail and greeted it. Out the ditch below came a much younger dog ready to chase. I gave her a good workout, encouraging her to stay with me until she ran out of gas. Farther south near the other golf course out by Douglas High School I was watching for the hobo campsite. It was abandoned and the place had been ransacked. Part of the frame still stood, but the tarp had been shredded and trash strewn everywhere. That’s what happens to everything in that neighborhood. Just up and around I left the trail and turned up the overpass ramp on NE 4th at I-35. That’s where I spotted those lovely pink cups clinging to the south face of the berm (second image). The rest of the way home was pretty quiet and uneventful.
I’m so grateful for such beauty in my life.