I need to interrupt this regularly-scheduled programming to let you know that tonight I was voted Mother of the Year.
Well, that’s Mother of the Year of CRAZYTown where psycho moms endanger the lives of their children because they refuse to accept the reality of simple truths, such as the fact that the sun does go DOWN at night!
It all started early this afternoon on the most gorgeous first day of October I could imagine. I promised the boys we would take our bikes to a bike trail to celebrate the fact they both now have mountain bikes with real GEARS and HANDBRAKES.
Their dad had promised to come home early from work, so we just needed to wait for him to arrive so he could take care of the girls.
He got home around 4 p.m., and all we had to do was put the bike rack on the car. And fill the water bottles, change our clothes, pack a snack, put the three bikes on the bike rack. Oh yeah, and find our shoes, find our helmets, use the bathroom, feed the baby, say good-bye, make a few minor adjustments to the bikes and find the van keys.
So, it was about 5 p.m. when we left. Heading north. Toward the city. At the peak of rush hour.
No problem. We finally got to the trailhead at 5:45, which still seemed early on a beautiful fall day when we haven’t quite adjusted to the fact the sun no longer stays up until 8:30. We were ready to roll.
We headed into the woods, on a 10-mile bike trail, with only 45 minutes until sunset. And look at what a beautiful evening it was!
We were having so much fun and enjoying the scenery that I continued to ignore the nagging reminders in my head that the sun was setting. And then I stopped for a moment and looked behind us at this.
I had three thoughts: 1. Whoa! That is the most gorgeous sunset I have seen in a while. 2. I wish I had my real camera. 3. Crud. We are only halfway through, and we better ride faster.
But I kept telling myself, “What could possibly happen to us? As long as we all stay together and we stay on our bikes, we will be fine.”
And it would have been no big deal if we were riding on the SIDEWALK, next to a STREETLAMP, with the light of an occasional passing CAR! But, unfortunately, we were in the woods on a bike trail.
By the time the sun had gone completely down, we were in the most dense part of the woods. I yelled at my youngest son to catch up to me and ride right next to me. The sound of my loud voice set off a cacophony of cries from every bird, toad, cricket, rodent and screaming creature on all sides of us.
I started to imagine what exactly would be the right thing to do if, for example, a coyote or bobcat starting charging toward us. At that moment, several large deer went leaping through the woods, jumping over a large log. The three of us were already tense enough that when we saw the deer running in our peripheral vision, it made us jump.
“It’s nothing. It’s nothing. We’re fine. We’re fine.” I tried to reassure. But our hearts were pounding so hard we could hear each other’s beating.
Finally, we made it to a road and according to my iPhone I discovered that we could take a shortcut. We only needed to push our bikes through tall weeds along the side of a very narrow two-lane road in the pitch black darkness. I had to convince the boys that this was an awesome idea and away we went.
Soon, we made it to the very busy four-lane road. At least there was a small shoulder on the side of the road and I convinced the boys it was a bike path and it was perfectly safe to ride our bikes there as long as they DID NOT CROSS THAT WHITE LINE!
It was so dark that I couldn’t exactly see where we were supposed to turn to get back to the parking lot. So, we kind of meandered back and forth for a bit before timing the traffic just right to dodge across the street. I noticed that two cars had pulled off the road and realized later they were actually trying to shine their lights so we could see where we were going. (Thank you.)
Once we had made it to the parking lot, I actually did not feel much safer than I did in the woods. We were the only car left in what had been a busy parking lot an hour earlier. I started throwing bikes into the back of the minivan and onto the bike rack.
The three of us chatted nonstop all the way home about all that had happened. When we got back, I told the boys how sorry I was for such a scary adventure.
“Are you KIDDING?!?!” they said. “THAT WAS THE BEST. NIGHT. EVER.”