The Trestle Trail remained devoid of other users as we paralleled the river downstream to the Inter-Urban and took a left at the T. The Inter-Urban’s eastern terminus is demarcated by the Wakonsa Bridge’s twenty-feet wide expanse of steel and concrete which leads to a one-hundred-eighty degree switchback that brings trail users to the east bank of the Des Moines. Ahead of us two women strolled across the bridge accompanied by three baby-duckling-like small children who meandered in their wake, the least of whom was wandering down the center of the bridge span. I dinged the substantial bell that sat atop Otta’s handlebar and was rewarded by the hindmost mama duck scooting her baby to the bridge’s right side and hollering out, “Merry Christmas!” as our pedal-powered tractor-trailer meandered slowly by.
“Merry Christmas!” I called back, eliciting a Greek Chorus antiphon of holiday tidings between we two and they five which Jack and I punctuated with exaggerated waves as our travels along the anti-clockwise arc of pavement downward to the river put us in oblique eye contact with the Inter-Urban pilgrims as we circled back to the river in preparation of a right turn as we now traveled northward on our way to the Ding Darling, each of us smiling as we enjoyed our respective early afternoon jaunts.
I turned at the river, hollering out, “Derecha! Right turn!” as we headed north, backtracking toward US 6 but now on the east side of the river which flowed lazily toward us. My knees protested over the bike’s low seat and unenhanced, naked pedals, my old legs having grown used to the help of clip-in pedals over the last thirty-three-and-a-third years and my joints dependent upon proper leg extension. “Should have checked the seat height before you left,” I remonstrated, shaking my head even as I was lifted by a wave of joy as I basked in the pleasure of Jack’s company, realizing how small the irritant was in comparison to our sea of joy.
I pedaled onward, pointing out deer, rabbit, squirrel and birds as we encountered them to my meter tall bundle of unbridled joy and enthusiasm, his eager appreciation of life making its way into my soul and uplifting me. “I wish I could see you more often, chicito,” I said, feeling the melancholy of our too great a distance peek at me through my veil of happiness.
“Uh-oh!” I declared as we continued northward, “looks like the trail is closed ahead,” in response to a tall, orange sign on the side of the trail that declared, “Trail Closed Three Miles.” We chatted, we sang and every mile I repeated, “Uh-oh, trail closed ahead,” as we encountered the signs at two, one and one-half mile distances from the chain-link fence we found stretched across the Ding Darling trail just south of I 80/I 35.
“Okay, nieto, end of the line,” I said, making the front brake honk as I goosed it. Coming to a stop I hopped down from my seat and, twisting my torso to the left as I straddled the top-tube, asked, “Want to stretch your legs or head back home?”
“Uhm, stretch legs!” Jack declared, stretching his arms forward.
“Okay,” I replied, smiling broadly, “just let me get off this thing,” I added, leaning the bike far to the right. “I’m not so young as you think I am,” I said, pleased that I was able to throw my right leg gracelessly over my seat and land successfully on both feet. “Okay, let’s get you out of the trailer and we can do a little exploring,” I said, pulling the Burley’s rain fly out of the way, undoing Jack’s three point harness and offering him my hand to facilitate his clambering to the ground.