Sunday, July 25, 2010

We Always Get Back

"Go out to the main road, turn left, and just over the bridge turn left."

The directions loop round and round in my brain as Allen and I head out on our bikes for an afternoon of riding a rail trail here in Whitehouse, Ohio. A rail trail is a paved (usually) bike path that follows where old railroad tracks used to be. A lady who lives here and has been there gave me the directions.

At the main road, Allen turns right.

Wait. I listen to the directions replaying in my head. "The lady said to turn left," I yell. Allen keeps on pedaling. "Allen," I crank up the volume. "You are going the wrong way."

He stops. And counters the long-time resident's advice. "I know we passed the trail when we came in yesterday. It's this way."

We continue on his way and, of course, come to no bridge or rail trail. We cruise, instead, through pretty little neighborhoods, where we see the homes and gardens of the people who live here. One house looks like ours, with pretty skylights smiling up to God. At another, a family labors to put up stone siding. Along the way, a couple powerwalks, nearly overtaking us.

And, of course, we have no map so we get lost. But we do know how to backtrack. So we do, past the pretty windows, the stones and the walkers.

Eventually we come to a sign for the park the lady mentioned. Yeah! Only this park has no rail trails. Awwww.

It has several dirt trails, though, so we chose one, a 1.5 mile loop. It takes us into the woods past an impossibly green lake, through a garrison of skinny pines (above ... look closely and you'll see Allen on his bike) and up, down and around meadows of neck-high Queen Anne's Lace, Black Eyed Susans and an impressive array of prairie grasses.

And, of course, we have no map, So after three miles on the 1.5-mile loop, we know we're lost. But we know how to backtrack, so we do, back past the meadows, the pines and the green, green lake.

As we pedal this last stretch back to the campground, I think about how we journey around, often without maps or plans, basically clueless about what's to come. What's up ahead is often exhilarating. Sometimes novel. Sometimes blase.

And, if we get lost, we always know how to get back.

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