Thursday, June 24, 2010

Talcum Crotch Rode

After the pious finally reach mecca -- dollars to doughnuts -- a few among them feel more than a tinge let down. Despite tiring of the institution, I can still appreciate handiwork and odd relics. When the opportunity to visit the local poetry mecca afforded itself to me yesterday, I succumbed.

Not long after the Sunken Garden Poetry & Music Festival debuted in 1992 was I informed by nearly everyone I knew that I should make the pilgrimage. Not only should I journey through the woods, across the river, and up hills, I was told to submit my poetry so that I might read there. Methinks my poetry was too fresh for their Fresh Voices Competition, and then I had no idea how to get in there as an adult writer, so I sort of allowed the Hill-Stead Museum fall off my radar after several years of obsessing over the place. Yesterday, after eighteen years of curiosity, I visited.

I remembered that the price of parking was reasonable. The amount of two dollars was in my head. Some last minute research showed how very wrong I was. While admission was free, it would cost ten dollars to park in their lot. I don't spend over two dollars to park anywhere, and given the suburban setting, trying to park on street seemed pregnant with the promise of returning later in the evening to find that my Honda had been towed. I recently read that the neighbors of the Hill-Stead have their boxers all bunched up over the traffic created by the museum's farmers' market. Because of time constraints that would not allow for us to just ride there, Interstatement proposed that we load our bikes on the bus and then ride home from the event. I cringed at the thought of my Jenny flailing around on the front of the bus, but knew that of my bicycles, she would have to be the one as the others lacked appropriate number of functioning gears.

We loaded our bikes in Asylum Hill on a bus which had the final destination of Unionville. Our addition of bikes to the front of the bus apparently shook up passengers. They could not understand what we would do this. A bit later, the bus allowed for a man using a wheelchair to board, which was also a controversy amongst these passengers, as I learned they already had one person in a wheelchair ride earlier. Seems like people along Route 4 have a very low threshold for changes in their routines.

Speaking of routine, the bus driver was asking potential passengers what bus stops for them next. At an intersection, she wanted to know if she should turn right. I get that this was not her normal route, but the bus full of loons lacking indoor voices, plus a seemingly confused driver does not exactly inspire confidence. Meanwhile, I was cringing at every pothole we hit, waiting for the Jenny to come crashing down from her docking station and fall under the wheels of the bus. For $1.25 each, we arrived at the museum. Zooming past the parking attendant was fun. There did not appear to be any designated bike racks, so we tied up to a light post which we later came to learn was an unofficial mosquito breeding ground.

The grounds of the museum are picturesque, bucolic even. We could hear Common Ground playing already, so did not want to dawdle exploring the site. The band did some kind of gospel number that did not jive with me, but then they switched back to Afro Cuban jazz while we snacked on crackers and honey chevre. Besides the music, lovely garden, and ambient sounds of livestock, what was most notable was the formidable silence otherwise.

The poetry segment began with what reminded me of (one of the reasons) why I lost interest with spoken poetry -- the air of pretension. Later, poet Bessy Reyna read in English and Spanish. Her style was more enjoyable to me, though I wish I had seen her perform more locally, where I would not have felt the sense of embarrassment listening to an audience not knowing when to applaud due to lack of understanding one of the languages.

As we headed back to gather our bikes, we encountered the Overloaded Bike that Brendan Hates. The willingness to pay ten dollars to park somewhere must be the norm because we were treated with awe in the parking lot. A concerned woman informed us that it "is not exactly flat" on our way back to Hartford. Interstatement thought she was being nice, but I think this sort of observation is silly. Even if she knew we had taken the bus there, would she not have figured out that along the route we would have observed the hilliness of the region?

While the cars created a traffic jam getting out of the lot, we rode down a dark drive that offered an unprecedented-for-the-day cool breeze. This section was gated off from the street, so it was just us and the fireflies. When we reached Mountain Spring Road and Talcott Notch Road, I began to really miss Hartford. There were no street lights on these windy, often shoulderless roads. The darkness would have been a nice change had it been a clear night without cars bombing up and down the road. I was reminded of why I never rode a bike in my hometown-- people drive far too fast for the roads, are not looking for bicyclists, and quite often have a few drinks in them. It was hilly, as expected, and probably would have been less awful if the humidity were not what it was. When not getting ready to vomit, I was preoccupied with not flying off the bike as I hit an uncountable number of potholes which were impossible to see. My gears starting doing funny things. It was a suckfest.

Around the crossing with Route 4, we pulled into some massive parking lot to tinker with gears. Rather, Interstatement tinkered. I guzzled my lemonade and tried to find my zen place. The rest of the ride was beautiful. The roads became more predictable, or at least were well-lit so that I could anticipate potential problems. An actual shoulder appeared. Before I knew it we were passing the Reservoir, which, by the way, looks excessively simple to ride into during the late evening. We cruised downhill most of the rest of the way home, even getting to see a bunny scamper across Boulevard.

I am pretty certain that I would skip those two windy roads in the future, and possibly also, the bus.


Brendan said...

So, why would you take Talcott Notch to get to the Hill Stead? Next time:

Schleppi Longstocking said...

I did not choose the route. Thanks for the input. Does this route go any closer to 50 Cent's house?

Brendan said...

Yeah, he lives off of reservoir rd.

Anonymous said...

You could ride Route 44 over the mountain. With the ongoing construction/widening project, the traffic has been funnelled off to one side or the other, leaving a large expanse of under-construction-but-still-bikeable road. Normally, to ride 44 is to take one's life into one's hands, but this is a golden opportunity before the project is completed and 44 lapses back into its usual malestrom of noise and hate. Get while the gettin's good!


bessy reyna said...

Hola, just now found your Blog. Sorry you had such a hard time getting to Hill-Stead. If you are interested in finding out about my readings please visit my web Glad you liked my poems. Saludos and keep riding.
Great web by the way