Saturdays

This is the first Saturday in about 35 years that has felt like the Saturdays I used to know. Maybe it’s because we always went out of town on Saturdays to visit my great-grandmother. It was rare to be in Decatur on a Saturday when I was growing up. We usually visited my great-grandmother in Taylorville, and then drove down to the family cabin near Effingham to spend the night. We’d come home late Sunday afternoon, and fall back into the Decatur routine.

So, I didn’t spend too many Saturdays in Decatur when I was growing up. Maybe that’s why Saturdays have felt so strange to me since then. They just haven’t felt right, until today.

This morning, I went to Lake of the Woods in Mohamet for some bike riding. I’d never been there before, and used it as a practice run for future longer trips. I’m glad I did, because I learned a lot about myself. My sense of direction is as bad as my dad’s. We used to joke that he’s the only one who could get lost in a parking garage, because he did in St Louis.

Our road trips were like low budget movies, where the same scenery is looped in the background of a moving car or stagecoach. On one particular trip, we drove over the same bridge four times while lost and driving in circles. It was a toll bridge. It became really embarrassing by the third time we came up to the same toll booth. By the fourth time, all we could do was laugh. Us, the toll booth attendant, and the attendant’s family, who I’m sure heard the story over dinner that night.

My mom, riding shotgun on the family road trips, would eventually give up, sit back and watch the same cow go by for the tenth time. We’d eventually get to our destination, but it was never without the subplot of inadvertently visiting one horse towns and grain silos.

And I have the benefit of GPS and modern technology, so I should do better. Nope. In my defense, the GPS wasn’t doing much better than I was. As I drove through Mohamet, I saw a nice park and lake and thought, “That would be nice to visit after the bike ride.” Then I realized that was the park I was going too. The GPS was leading me out to a corn field.

I didn’t display much more navigational skills on my bike. It took quite a while just to find the bike path, and when I did find it, I immediately took a wrong turn and wound up riding to someone’s garage.

I almost fell off the bike too. I landed on the crossbar rather harshly, and if I wasn’t already female, I would have been after that.

Then my shorts got caught on the seat, and I couldn’t lift myself off of it without pulling them down. For a moment, I paused and reflected on how ridiculous this was, but then realized it was par for the course for me and my family. Everyone else was smiling and waving, and having a good time. I was like Sandra Bullock in the movie Speed. I couldn’t stop because, well, I’d lose my shorts in the process.

I was stressing trying to think of ways I could dismount the bike without hanging from my seat upside down suspended by my shorts. Do I just fall over with the bike when I stop? I took a scenic route through the woods, blazing my own trail, where I could hide behind the trees and think. Only the squirrels and I know the rest of that story, and we’re not talking.

Now I know why serious cyclists wear those skin tight shorts. They can’t get caught on anything.

Driving home, without the aid of the GPS I might add, the road brought back a lot of memories. Those Saturdays spent with my family, away from home, were a big part of my childhood. I hadn’t felt that way in decades. It felt good. Maybe it also felt a little bit ridiculous, but then that’s probably why it felt so familiar.

By the way, the Lake of the Woods is a nice place to visit, if you’re in the area. I don’t think I’ll take the bike back since I have such a great trail here in Decatur, but I will be taking a new kayak. It folds. What could go wrong?