Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Election Day View From My Bike and Treacherous Travel

Tammy and I got to the polls at 9:00 yesterday morning. We figured we'd let the crush of people trying to vote before work wind down before we got there. We were in and out in less than five minutes. So much for having to make a sacrifice to vote by waiting in line for hours as many people across the country had to.

Tammy had a lunch date with her friend Jonie in St Paul and Bryan and Sue were heading into Minneapolis to try and hook up with a friend of Sue's. That left me with no other choice than to get on my bike and take advantage of what will most likely be the last warm day of the year. And so I did.

I went south on Cedar and biked past Greenvale Township town hall north of Northfield with several cars out front. I circled back to take a photo. It looked to be an older crowd of people coming and going. I imagined small town halls similar to this one all across the country buzzing with people finally getting a chance to have their say.

I pressed on south into a 15-25 mph wind and considered turning back once I got to Northfield. The lure of the hills out on Cannon City Blvd was too strong to resist so I veered off hwy 3 and found a bit of shelter from the wind among the tall trees which line the road. I thought to myself that it had been a while since I'd taken this route and this would likely be my last chance until next spring so I continued on with Fairbault as my new goal for a turn-around point.

Just north of Fairbault is Cannon City, a small community of about 100 people. It too has its own little town hall which had its share of activity as I cycled past.

I descended into Fairbault and was looking forward to being able to turn out of the wind soon. I took a short break at the Qwik Trip to refuel and sat on the curb out front. My thoughts kept turning to the election and wondering if America would be able to elect a black man as president. I wanted to believe that we could but I was having doubts.

I got back on the road and went north out of Fairbault with a nice push from the wind making sustained speeds of 25-30 not too tough to manage. Going directly home would bring me in at just over 70 miles and that seemed fine but the road to Millersburg caught my eye and it was all the excuse I needed. I'd been by this road a hundred times but had never taken it before today.

Just west of Millersburg was the Forest Town Hall. In keeping with my theme of the day I pulled over to grab one last shot of small town America on election day, 2008.

My phone vibrated to life 12 miles from home. I pressed the button on my mp3 player to silence it and spoke into the phone to tell whoever it was to give me a few seconds because I was pulling over. It was Tammy telling me that I'd never guess whose hand she shook today. She was at Cafe Latte on Grand Avenue in St Paul with Jonie eating lunch when she felt a hand on her shoulder. She looked up and it was Al Franken. He asked her if she had voted yet. When she told him she had he then asked her if she'd voted for him. She didn't have the heart to tell him that she didn't so she lied. As I write this the vote is razor thin and still undecided. Following behind Al was one of his handlers passing out Al Franken buttons. It made the perfect gift for Bryan as he was hoping to leave for home today with some sort of Al Franken memorabilia from the election.

I got back from my ride at just over 90 miles and walked in the door to hear Tammy tell me that the results were coming in and it wasn't looking good for Obama. There was a conservative commentator on the TV who was saying that voter turnout was very high all across the country and that it was playing well toward McCain. My heart sank. It turns out that Tammy was only joking with me and the guy on the TV was editorializing his own wishful thinking.

A little later we headed over to Mom's house for dinner and to watch the election returns come in. It didn't take long to see which way the wind was really blowing on the results. We'd planned a late night in case it was close but it became apparent early on that that wasn't going to be necessary.

I admired John McCain's concession speech. I thought he showed all the poise that had been missing from his campaign.

Tammy and Sue put together a feast for breakfast this morning while Bryan and I went out to buy some dry ice and a cooler to preserve some pasties Mom made for them to take home. They weren't in a hurry to get on the road but they were a bit concerned with the weather out west. Mom came over and we enjoyed our last hour together eating a late breakfast and taking some photos outside after the car was loaded.

Not only was Mom's 80th birthday a fun celebration for us all but having Bryan and Sue here for a few days was such a bonus. What was odd was that I had scheduled this week off from work over a year ago not knowing that they would be in town and it would work out as well as it did. It was sad to see them go.

We texted each other throughout the day and I checked the weather radar for them a few times to give them updates. There's a strong low pressure spinning over western South Dakota and it doesn't appear to be going anywhere very quickly. I texted them back that it looked like they'd be fine until around Kadoka. Sure enough, Bryan called to tell me that they had to get off the freeway in Kadoka because of treacherous road conditions. Winds were gusting to 50 mph and snow was falling at the rate of 2" per hour. Nearly blizzard conditions. They were fortunate to make it safely to Kadoka and find a hotel room for tonight and possibly tomorrow night if necessary. The good news is they have a Wifi connection!

It's been a busy and satisfying few days around here. I went to bed content last night that Barack would be our next president. I listened to a bit of talk radio today and wasn't surprised by what I heard. People such as Rush and Hannity are becoming so irrelevant (at least to me) that I can't understand how they can keep an audience. I'm ready to move forward without them.

Edit...I spoke with Bryan on the phone this morning (Thursday) and he said there's two feet of snow in places with winds gusting over 60 mph. They aren't going anywhere soon. He said they can't even get out of the door of their motel room. The good news is that the pasties in the trunk of their car won't be thawing out. The bad news is that they can't get to them.

Bryan sent me this photo taken from inside their motel room.


John said...

I'm sure that Rush and Hannity will have plenty to say for the four (dare we hope eight) years!

Enjoyed the FB chat.

Kevin said...

I agree. A Democrat as president gives them plenty to work with. Maybe it's just me seeing them through a different lens these days. I used to think they brought honest discourse to the process but I think the 'honest' part is taking a back seat more and more to cheap shots which serve no useful purpose.

Saeedi said...

Just as had a lot to say about the Bush administration, I'm sure there will be organizations/people with opposing views about the Obama administration. It's everyone's hope that we will be able to act as one nation and stop the bickering and get on with the business of rebuilding the nation.

Around here, affluent black homes are being vandalized.

We'll see...

Kevin said...

"Around here, affluent black homes are being vandalized."

What's up with that?

The sad fact is that people such Rush and Hannity have a need for division among. They feed upon that division and what better way to create the division than to be purveyors of it.

photogopher said...

Just a tardy update on our trip back to Portland. We did finally make it OK. I-90 was closed for over two days and we had to drive fast to get Sue back to work on Monday.
The next day we had 2-3 inches of rain but we actually missed 13 days of steady rain while we were gone so it was nice to know that we suffered only 3 days of bad weather for almost two weeks of a very nice autumn
Thanks again Kevin and Tammy for a great time!