Beware The Ides Of March.
Thursday, was the 15th day of March, which should have told me something. Something should have gone "BOING", or "DANG", or even 'AWHOOOOHAAA".
Thursday, was the Ides of March, a day when one of my piasanos killed another of my piasanos and forever cursed every high school student into performing, for passionate moms and dads, a long, long play, the eternal memory of which, burned into their brains, are the immortal words "et tu Brutus?"
Thursday was supposed to be nice, with temperatures in the mid to upper 40's. Not quite Spring, but not Winter either.
Based upon the weatherman's prediction (What? are you crazy?), Tom Keene, of Scooter by the Sea fame, and I plotted out a long ride - a kind of "Spring is here and we are ready to go", kind of ride. Seventy-eight miles, round trip - Portland to Bath with a stop in Topsham to check-out some scooters.
All of which should have sent massive warnings to my idle brain - but that never happened, and so we moved forward.
Thursday, was a day like any other day. A day that illuminates your existence, moves in and alters your plans - as well as your life – and totally screws everything up. Almost. So listen while I relate to you the fate-filled day of March 15th.
To be fair to the weatherman, it wasn't Winter out, with a capital W, but at 29 degrees, it wasn't Spring either - with or without a capital. By departure time, it had warmed up to about 38-degrees, inching to 40. Tom, having really bought into this Spring-is-here thing, had removed, from his jacket, his nice, warm liner. He had also changed over to his lighter gloves. I too, had made what was supposed to be appropriate clothing changes. Nevertheless, we met, greeted each other warmly (the only warmth for the next hour), and started North.
We followed Route 9. The sign reads 9 East. East? The road never turns east. North-northeast perhaps, but East? Never. Of course, this happens a lot in Maine and may be behind the old saying, "You can't get there from here."
We started off with slight, if worrisome smiles. We arrived at the scooter shop in Topsham with deep grimaces - and a slight, uncontrollable tremor. (Okay, not tremor. Shaking is the word you're looking for).
We spent a nice hour ogling all the "I really would like this" scooters (and getting warm), then mounted up and drove exactly one and one-quarter city blocks to a Tim Horten's, where we settled in with a large cupa joe, and a big muffin, to plan the next segment. One thing was unanimously agreed upon. We were not going to go to Bath today. Neither one of us had enough reserve to continue. Thus we sat, illuminated and altered.
We finally settled on a nice ride south on Rt. 24 to Cundy's Harbor. Nice road, nice ride, beautiful place. The road kind of dead ends at the harbor, and during "season" there's place to eat and even buy some mementos. Tom took some great shots and I'm sure he'll post them, so you should scoot over to his blog and check it out.
By now, the sun was getting low, the temperature was starting to dive, and we were tired. It was time to scoot home. Tom leading, I behind, we zoomed up Rt. 24 and jumped onto Rt. 1 South, and rode through Brunswick. Thus far, while the day had most assuredly illuminated and altered our life, no real problems had reared their ugly heads.
Route 1 does something real weird just outside of Brunswick. In order to continue south on the road, you must make a left U-turn from Route 1 South onto Rt. 1 North, cross over all three lanes of traffic and then, about 50-ft. ahead, make a right U-turn onto Rt. 1 South. Don't ask me why this torture. My guess is the engineers were firm believers in population control – getting across the roadway means rapid acceleration, followed by hard braking as you enter the right U-turn. And it was here that everything almost came to a crashing crescendo.
Tom, in the lead, curved into the left turn and disappeared from sight. I followed – about 50 yards behind; leaned into the curve and looked right to scan for traffic, found none and faced forward – and there was Tom, 10-feet dead ahead, stopped dead by the traffic, big as life and getting bigger. I stared fixedly at what was soon to be a very nasty meeting of machines. And it would have happened had I not remembered the PRIME rule of scootering: Look where you want to go and bring the machine with you.
I looked hard right, and the scooter looked hard right and squeak! Tom flashed right by me going backwards at about Mach 2. I braked hard, forced my heart back into my chest and walked over to where Tom was sitting on his Vesper, total disbelief spilling out of his eyes. My father always said, "Live and learn", what I want to know is how do you stay alive to learn?