Gary Gardner (grgardner) wrote,
Gary Gardner

Me And My Shadow

I've been having a great time catching up with Dave and Elayne and the kids the past two days -- especially my little buddy Ben who has been like my shadow. This picture of the two of us was taken at his school's open house.  I posted it on Face Book and one of the comments I got was "looks like your son".  He and I are a lot alike, in stature, and in temperament, and he loves going riding.   Being the youngest of four he's often at the bottom of the food chain, but when he's with me he's at the top of the pyramid. 
I picked him up from school yesterday and we took a ride around his master planned community before he left for an overnight scout campout.   I got more than a few stares and concerned parents huddling and glancing my way as I waited for him outside the school and even when he came out and hopped on the bike -- waving at his friends and their parents who kinda stared in disbelief.  I don't think they get a lot of leather clad bikers on Harley's in this corner of suburbia.

Dave and Elayne live in a huge master planned community in one of the far East Bay suburb cities.  This thing is HUGE.  It apparently was a ranch at one time that was sold to a developer who put in I don't know how many homes, schools and stores.  It's all very nice and very well groomed -- with thousands of cookie-cutter million dollar homes (it is California after all -- even after the bust, Dave's home went down from $1.5 to $1.0 million) that would sell for $400K in Florida and $700K in Washington.    But to me it's a bit stale -- the homes are close together and don't vary in style all that much (easier to build that way).  I know in the suburb of Salt Lake where I grew up, some of the houses were somewhat similar, but there was only one other one that was exactly like ours.  Here you can't tell the difference except for maybe the exterior paint. Their community seems to have been settled by East Indians (ones with dots, not feathers -- or curry not casino), and Asians.  Dave and Elayne's kids are about the only blonds in their school.  The kids today also all have rolling backpacks!  Goodness -- (i'm gonna devolve into my Dad here) in my day we carried a couple of books and a binder.  As I watched them march across the crosswalk while I waited for Ben I thought "these kids all looked like Junior Executives about to board a flight!"

Today I slept in and woke to sunny skies -- although a tad cool.  I rode over to the local Jamba Juice for some oatmeal and a smoothie while I waited to hear when Ben got back from his campout, and to work on my route for tomorrow and the rest of the trip.  It was nice to sit out on a table in the sun.  Ben got home about 11 so I rode up and he was ready and waiting for me on the front steps.  His Dad was at a track meet with his brother, and Elayne had the girls in tow to other things (again, modern families -- every kid has to have a calendar and a Mom who needs an I-phone/Blackberry to keep track of things), so it was just Ben and me.  I had looked at the map and saw some nice country roads that meandered east of his community so off we went. 

We headed up over Mt. Diablo and into the Mt. Diablo State Park.  This was a fun road, however neither the map, nor the intersection where we turned, mentioned that five miles up the road we would run into a $10 park entrance fee.  Gee, thanks for the advanced warning.   We kept going, on a road that looked like a combination of a can full of worms and a malaria germ it had so many curves.  It was narrow, full of bikes (the pedal kind with folks in too tight bike pants), and had amazing drop-offs and views.   Ben wondered if the bike came equipped with a parachute!  We stopped at one overlook where Ben flashed the 1960s peace sign at me and we looked over the edge at the road curving around.
A few miles down the road Ben announced he was hungry -- and although he's got the biker genes already, he's not yet learned the nuances of the roadside dive/diner/bbq stand, so we ate at Subway.  At that point I plotted what appeared to be a fairly quick, but interesting ride back.  It was interesting for sure, but far from quick.  The road devolved into a single lane twisty that was a challenge for me as a driver and kept Ben holding on tight for most of it.  It went deep into some woods and we didn't pass a single car for about 8 miles -- I told Ben I think we might have drove into "The Shire" from Lord of the Rings, and to watch for Hobbits.   I don't think we got out of 2nd gear or faster than 30mph, so when we topped out of the canyon we were both ready to head for home -- which fortunately was only a few miles away.

We rode up and his sister Ariel ran out along with Mom to ask how things were.  Ben was grinning ear to ear, but ready to get off the bike -- as was I.  We'd had a fun afternoon, but it wore us both out.  Ariel was nice enough to give me the last two chocolate chip cookies from her secret stash, and insisted on climbing on the bike to pose.  How could I refuse.  Then Ben got into the act, and I'll tell you this kid has biker blood -- he reclines on his ride like the best of them!  As his Mom said, in ten years he'll have one and we'll both ride off to Sturgis.  In 10 years he'll be 19 and I'll be -- err... well old.  58.  I'll hope I'll be able to keep up with a 19 year old at Sturgis when I'm 58.  

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