4.22.2010

no photos to tell the tale...

no photos to tell the tale... just words... lots of words
seldom do I have a shortage of words


yesterday I thought I would try something...
yesterday when I dropped the boys off at school along with the other kid in our miniature carpool I brought my boys' bikes
Dean and Grant were stoked to ride the three blocks from the car to school
Dean and Grant were even more stoked about the notion of riding their bikes home from school

out of the car without instruction and each of the boys put on their helmets and mounted their bikes
I sent the boys pedaling ahead as I walked with our carpooling partner Dillon and another father who was walking with his kindergarten age son Max
when I got to the front of the school building the boys had the bikes in place and were pulling off their helmets
I asked that they bring the helmets inside with them then sent them along
as the boys raced into the building to get to their classes on time I locked up the bikes
in front of the school as I locked up the bikes it began to rain

maybe it was already raining and began to rain harder

there was rain and mist nearly all day
when pick up time approached I noticed the rain had not stopped
in my head I thought about the appropriate course of action
BIKES! we would stick with the bike plan
I gathered my gear making sure to bring the key to the lock that was protecting my kids' bikes from sticky fingers
I also brought along the kids' rain jackets and a couple of donuts for a post school afternoon snack

rather than muscle things up Porter Street to Connecticut Avenue and then Macomb Street I took a less steep route though the closed off stretch of road that is known as Klingle Valley
this road has had all sorts of attention in the debate GREEN SPACE VERSUS ANOTHER ROAD
it is a beautiful little swath of land that goes under a bridge under Connecticut Avenue at Cleveland Park
coming out just a few blocks from my kid's elementary school
a perfect pedestrian-cyclist option to the freeway that is Porter Street
not only because of its beauty but also because of its slightly less steep grade out of the valley that is Rock Creek Park

at school Grant ate his donuts before we even left his classroom
then outside Grant was on his bike and doing circles in the quad while Dean enjoyed his post school snack
it was rainy and wet...
I mingled with other parents before moving towards home

Dean stood under an awning while Grant had no worries about the falling rain
I tried to coach Grant not to run anyone down as he zigged and zagged around the quad

people were in disbelief that we were going to ride our bikes
I shared with inquisitive parents of how this was a test run for occasional efforts and not our daily routine

given that Dean's afternoon soccer practice was canceled we had a little extra time on the bikes before heading home
I had considered taking the sidewalks down along side Connecticut Avenue and then climbing back up through the neighborhood of Adams Morgan and then Mount Pleasant
then decided to stick with the plan of the cut through Klingle Valley

on the bikes we rode...
young Grant made it clear he preferred the sidewalk to the street
Dean and I slowed or stopped every couple blocks so that Grant could keep pace
at six Grant is a trooper... but there is a significant difference between Grant at six and Dean at almost nine
just as there is also a different gearing for their bikes

into Klingle Valley the rain had slowed but the mist remained
we dipped into the woods adjacent to the shambles of asphalt that once acted as road
on a natural surface path I asked the boys if they wanted to take off their heavily weighted backpacks while we did a few short loops in the woods
they declined

I wished I had brought a camera
they looked so cool on their bikes in their rain jackets with their heavily loaded backpacks on their backs

we worked several short non-technical dirt paths each being no more than 100 or 200 yards
repeating the short loops gave the boys a chance to understand the obstacles and be better prepared for them
dodging slick roots that caused them to crash previously
getting momentum for slight grades that had to previously walk

it was fun... it was simple... it was short...
just a taste not much more
the kids were grooving pretty good
it was awesome to have the kids on natural surface trails away from cars
it was amazing to make this happen without having to load the bikes onto the car and drive sixty plus minutes to make this happen

we finished up another little loop on the other side of the dilapidated road
then Grant waited as Dean and I repeated the first loop one last time
ready to head home we rolled down the post apocalyptic road down into the Park
just as I had on the road I barked instructions for them to follow me and stay close
for them to avoid the various hazards around us

out of Klingle Valley the boys were amazed at where the road fed out
both realizing that they had been there before with the dog
on the sidewalk we all worked our one gear bikes
each of us out of the saddle
all of us making it up the steep road that starts as Porter Street in Cleveland Park but becomes Klingle Road as it feeds into Mount Pleasant

a block from out house and Grant wanted to take a break
I allowed for him to catch his breath then made him push on for home
to aid in the process I got off my bike and gave Grant a TURBO BOOST
once in the alley I put the bikes in the garage
inside the house I had the boys strip out of their wet clothes and get suited up in dry clothes
wet clothes got tossed downstairs to be washed
then on with our afternoon routine

Dean worked on his homework while Grant grabbed a neighbor to come over and join him for some fun with Legos

some time passed and I tried to rally the boys for a short trek into the woods
the dog had to be walked and I love to get the boys out of the house and active as much as I can
they were tempted but they would not rally
the promise of salamanders was not enough to break their focus on Legos
I gave them some more space
more friends showed up
more fun with Legos

then all at once the friends left
it must have been approaching dinner time
without the fun of their peers the boys were easier to sway into the woods adventure
again with the promise of salamanders
I had already scoped out an old rotten log that is the home to an assortment of critters
gross white grubs... clusters of active ants and equally energetic termites... black beetles with a sheen and a shine that make them look plastic... and of course... one or two soft moist salamanders

into the woods the boys took off running
the dog immediately dropped a load and I loafed along behind everyone
not changing pace I ended up passing everyone as the boys and the dog always get distracted

in the woods we ran into Grant's pre-K teacher from last year
people talked as our dogs tried to figure each other out
our dog is old and alluf while his dog is young and looking to fight for position in the pack
Brutus ignored Taz and his barks, his lunges, and the showing of his teeth...
a younger Brutus would have taken the teacher's dog to school
but Brutus has mellowed with age

after a pleasant exchange we were back on task
an offer was made to bring the teacher on our quest for salamanders but he was pointed forward and further in the opposite direction
the boys moved briskly ahead knowing where we expected to find the salamander family
I rolled back the old logs as the boys peered in
Grant was far more enthusiastic about catching the salamanders than Dean
Dean was pleased to get a chance to handle one of the salamanders that Grant caught

we were gentle and kind
always respectful of the animals and their home
putting everyone back just as we found them

when we got home momma Lisa was home from work and had dinner on the table
we ate and went on with our standard evening routine

it was not Earth Day... it was just another day
a good day on this earth just the same

we will try to repeat the bicycle drop off and the bicycle ride home
it worked famously

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