Both of my kids have those incredible phones loaded with technology and GPS and access to the world wide web. For most of the trip we instantly found what we needed to know. There were so many thousands of people participating in the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI) that almost no one's cell phone worked. When we most needed to be able to communicate with each other, we could not. All was not lost because the Iowa bike event was an experience unlike anything else. Thousands of people ride and party and enjoy themselves. Many groups arrive in old school buses refitted for hauling people and equipment. Most have named their buses, my favorite being "The Wasted Potential".
Once it was clear that neither of my kids could continue the ride, an emergency alternate plan was formed. We decided to visit the Omaha zoo and aquarium. Though it was a great idea, the zoo held a major life disappointment and milestone for me. My right knee is in such bad shape that I can no longer walk more than about a hundred yards without excruciating pain. I have ignored this problem for as long as I can possibly ignore it. Even a stubborn ass like myself must sometimes face reality. Walking through the zoo would be physically impossible. I either stayed at the motel or I rented a scooter. So, the old Harley rider, the girl who could run 100 yards faster than any other girl on her high school track team, the woman who could dance all night, rented an electric scooter and joined the ranks of the partially disabled impairing America's general progress and interfering with the national chi.
In a word, it was terrible. At first. I was humiliated and ashamed to be riding a wimpy scooter like an old woman - like a lazy person - like a fool. But after about ten minutes, it was fun because I was comfortable. I had to be careful not to run into anyone, especially children who surged around the scooter, innocently oblivious to the possibility of being run over by a crazy woman. My daughter hitched a ride on the arm several times even though the zoo official warned no one else was allowed to ride. The zoo was worth the humiliation of the scooter. We truly enjoyed the whole day.
My kids were great. The path to the rhinoceros pens was very steep and I had been warned to not attempt riding the scooter into that area. I was going to walk, leaving the scooter at the bottom of the hill but my kids insisted they could get the scooter up the hill. One on either side, using the scooter's own power, they pushed it up the hill. I limped along behind, hoping the battery did not fail, causing the heavy scooter to roll down the hill over me. The care and concern my children showed to me that entire day was unprecedented and greatly appreciated. It took the terrible sting out of renting the scooter... and paid me back for all of their teenaged years. It was that wonderful.
On the final leg of the trip home, we stopped to eat at the Potawatomi casino - until we saw those prices on the menu! We decided to play the penny slots instead. I put $5 in my slot machine and promptly won $39.00! Seated at the machine next to me, my son won almost $70. My daughter won .90. Not bad for twenty minutes work and a $15 investment. It will help finance my knee replacement.
|Rolling Out at Dawn Full of Hope|
|One of the Party Buses|
|The Agony of Defeat|