Saturday, August 21, 2010

Over Hill And Vale

A morning ride out in the countryside south of town offered a new combination of colors since the last time I was out this direction. The once vivid greens that were so overpowering in early summer have either become more muted, or have transformed altogether into pre-autumn golds and browns. Plants are huge and full; farms are bustling with activity right now, as the various crops that thrive in this region are well into the growing and harvesting time.  Lately we’ve been digging in on fresh local peaches...they are so tangy they zap your taste buds!
This was one of those unusual Saturdays with literally nothing on the calendar.  So, I went with that theme on my ride.  I had a general idea of what route to take, but mostly I was just making it up as I went.  Drivers didn’t seem all that interested in the roads I was on this morning, but lots of cyclists were out. There were more bikes than cars on some of these little two-lane roads that connect tiny towns outside of Salem.  More tandems and recumbents than you’d anticipate seeing (and yes, one recumbent tandem). 

I only stopped a couple times to snap pictures, mostly of the agriculture in the area. I still marvel at the work that goes into maintaining orchards and vineyards and such.  I have no interest in actually doing that work, mind you, but I do admire it!  Orchards, for example: have you ever noticed how these folks seem to take great pride in the “floors” under their trees? Remarkable.
Coming back through the West side of town, the Eola Hills seemed to be calling so I found a few to climb.  These hills that were once so dauntingly steep and long when I was a kid have mellowed quite a bit.  They are short, moderate climbs that get you out of the saddle momentarily, but they have enough height for some breathtaking views of the valley and of Salem below. And once you get your breath back, it’s time to get your “yee-haw” on and roll fast down the hill.  Lots of 35+ mph opportunities around West Salem!  
While I was wandering the hills, I wound up at ML’s place--he’s resided in West Salem pretty much his whole life and he and his lovely spouse have raised their kids there, too. We were inseparable as kids and teens, so something just felt right about pulling up a lawn chair and hanging out for a bit, before returning home for a few "to-do's." At the top of that list, a nap.
Ahhh, Saturdays.

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