Yesterday, Deena and her David drove to Portland to visit us. I got a bit of an airing.
Note the Dollar General sign that seems to be sprouting from my head. When you see that sign, you know you’re in the Heartland.
This morning, in pouring rain, we made our way by car to Nashville. At our new friend Susan’s house, we rendezvoused with Movie Director David, a NYC friend who spent the past academic year teaching filmmaking at a branch of the University of Alabama. This David plans to make a documentary about our annual Ride.
David and Jeffrey made tenative plans for the coming days. The nature of the Rides makes it hard to stick to a schedule, and part of the adventure is dealing with the unexpected, so you—and we—will learn the details after they happen.
Because David will accompany us by car, Jeffrey gave David some of our gear to carry. (I am not “gear”. I travel with Jeffrey.) Transfers effected, Jeffrey took back his helmet . . .
. . . put on his rain garb . . .
. . . and off we went.
The road to Smyrna, Tennessee, led us thorough parklike Nashville neighborhoods, and along busy roads with long stretches of bike lanes.
There were some dicey stretches . . .
. . . and signs of a more cosmopolitan Tennessee than we remember from our second Ride in 2012, when Spanish seemed a little exotic.
Overall, it was a pleasant enough 32 mile trip. Pleasant, that is, until we arrived in Smyrna. Then we learned that all motels in the region were booked (it’s Middle Tennessee State graduation weekend, with a Cast of Many Thousands). We have excellent bike lights but the roads are too busy, the construction areas too potholed, and accommodations too distant for safe biking after dark.
But we roll with the punches. We stopped at a 24-hour McDonald’s. We were prepared to spend the night here, out of the rain.
David to the rescue! At the writing, he is driving out from Nashville. There is room in his car for us, our bike, and all our gear. We will find a place to stay out of the area, and be better poised for tomorrow’s planned small-town-Southern-Sunday adventures.
The day was not without its happy encounters. Friend Susan, of course.
Amy, whose great-grandparents fled persecution in Italy and after doing what that had to do (involving burlesque on Coney Island) to get established, became great Americans, her grandfather a Seabee (Navy engineer) who later worked with Howard Hughes on aviation projects.
And Chris, a pastor, whose church followed the lead of an activist member and offers regular financial and personal help to refugee families in Nashville. Chris showed Jeffrey a photo of some of the refugee children. The kids truly are a happy rainbow, with faces suggesting origins around the world.
Susan, Amy, Chris: the good side of Nashville. Sunshine on a rainy day.
David has arrived. Now we’ll decide what makes sense to do in the circumstances. Then we’ll do it.
What great photos, Jeffrey. Thank you for meeting everyday with compassion and an adventurous spirit!