View from the West End of Herring Run Park

Picture of a stream with lush greenery on both sides, a cloud-streaked sky in the background.

I haven’t ridden my bike in almost a month. I can’t remember the last time I went so long without a ride–probably during chemotherapy. Even then, though, I would occasionally trust my body enough to ride a mile to the new age fitness place to do sound baths and expressive dance. I haven’t been on my bike because I was in Alaska, on a two and a half week vacation. That was the longest vacation of my life, and I can see why people want to be rich and have lots of free time to travel. It was amazing.

I won’t belabor the amazing-ness, but let me just say that Alaska is just an entirely different scale of things. Denali made me weep. A solo hike straight up a mountain to breathtaking views was so overwhelming I didn’t even notice the 50 mosquito bites I got on the way until I was back at the Visitor Center. Glacier Bay was the most beautiful day of my life. Floating down the Tsirku River and then having the outside of the ferry back to Skagway to myself because no on else was interested in the wind/rain combo–I have no words. There was so much more, each day more grand than the last. Trip of a lifetime.

And now I’m back in Baltimore, isolating from my wife because the other part of the trip was watching one tourist after another come down with COVID. If you don’t want to get COVID, don’t travel right now, and definitely don’t take a cruise. That tension ran underneath every moment of the trip, and I’m still glad I went. But it’s complicated, and I hope my negative tests keep coming up negative.

After Day 5 of testing negative, though, I felt ready to take my bike out for a solo ride to check out the bike lane they put in on Harford Road and the new asphalt that leads down to Herring Run from Lake Montebello. I loved being away, but being home has been a hard landing. I miss my boo, and knowing she’s in the house but I can’t see her is challenging. I don’t feel at home. Or, I didn’t. It took maybe three spins on the pedals for my soul to feel fed all over again. I remember how to ride a bike.

I headed over to Waverly, waved to a friend on a scooter headed the other way, said my how-you-doin’s, smile on my face. I’m home! I love it here! It’s hot and wet, so I went slowly. You can’t rush in this kind of heat and humidity–thanks for teaching me that lesson over and over again, New Orleans. I went up and around the YMCA, down Lakeside, took the lil bike lane to the reservoir, and did half a spin around it. I rode across Harford, down the steep path to the level and car-free glory that is Herring Run. I did the loop, so many hellos, “hi puppy!”s, grateful for neighbors, for my bike, for my body that is still up for this after several weeks of eating at buffets with coughing people, and for Baltimore. I love it here.

I snapped this picture near the end of my ride. Can you believe this view is right here in the city? Druid Hill Park is the Best Park, but Herring Run Park is the Best Park, too. I’m so happy the easy access to the trail is back. And then I went up the hill, around the lake, and back the way I came. Bikes aren’t therapy–therapy is therapy–but dang, a bike ride is good for my heart and soul. Gratitude, gratitude.

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