Monday, August 31, 2009
Friday was Dad's 78th birthday. We did a birthday dinner that night, but yesterday was the real celebration.
Last Sunday we noticed that the bike shop in Rocheport rents a contraption with four wheels and chair-like seats--perfect for taking Mom and Dad on the trail. We knew Mom would love it and hoped Dad would agree on that basis. He agreed, but he didn't like the idea.
On Saturday, he drew me into a discussion of all the things that could go wrong. We had all those bases covered. He followed up with, "Our meals will get messed up. Your mother needs to eat every two hours."
"No problem. I'm making a picnic for the ride over and we'll eat again right after we ride."
That satisfied him for about five minutes.
"What about the dogs? We never leave Tuffie alone for more than a couple hours. She can't be alone all day."
"No problem. Evan's going to come play with the dogs and let them out."
He finally ran out of problems and, once again, reluctantly agreed to the plan.
On Sunday, he dragged his feet every step of getting ready but eventually got into the car. The first thing he had to do when we arrived was go to the bathroom. Inside, he dropped his hat. When Brendan went to retrieve the hat from the bathroom floor, someone had peed on it. Deb bought a new ballcap to solve the crisis.
After a great deal of commotion, we got all three bike/carts on the road--Brendan pedaling for Dad, Meghan for Mom, and me for Deb. Jim and Liz followed on regular bikes.
We clattered down the trail toward a 25-foot tunnel bored through the rocky cliff. When we made it through the tunnel, we turned to go back along the cliffs above the river. When Brendan and Dad passed us, I asked, "Are you having fun, Dad?"
"Not yet. I'll let you know if any fun happens." The look on his face was slightly less grumpy, but only slightly.
When we reached the cliffs, Dad's head was hanging back in amazement. When we reached broad vistas of the river, he nearly fell out, straining to see as much as possible. We stopped to see an old mine shack built into the cliff (the railroad once stored explosives in these shacks/caves) and he insisted on scrambling up the rocky trail to peer inside.
Brendan and Dad stayed at the mine shack longer than the rest of us. We pedaled on at a brisk clip for a bit, then turned to see Brendan pedaling furiously to not only catch but pass all of us. Sweat was flying off his red face and his legs were little more than a blur. Beside him, Dad looked like he was riding in the Popemobile. He gave each of us a huge, benevolent smile and a parade wave as he passed. We didn't catch them until we turned around a mile or so later.
"Now I'm having fun," Dad said.
Back in town, our first stop was the bathroom again. Someone waited for Dad while we took the bikes back. When we gathered at the cars, Dad held up one hand for silence. When everyone settled, he announced, "I was wrong. You guys were right. This was wonderful, and I'm glad you made me do it."
Dad wants us to take them again in a few weeks to see the fall colors. Apparently, leaves aren't the only things that can change.