First of all, it was 95 degrees in the middle of September when most of the foliage and grasses have dried to a papery straw color, so there was not a lot of greenery to absorb the heat so we absolutely baked in the sun. Plus, there is much less shade than I remembered - the areas that did have a canopy of trees overhead were few and far between, but quite welcome when they appeared. Because it was so hot, the river animals were hiding deep in the underbrush. We did see one grey squirrel who just barely avoided my front tire when he darted out in front of me (OK, it wasn't THAT close, but he did startle me). By the time we got home, I was torridly shaky and parched and had to go directly into a cold shower to cool off. I gulped water from the shower spray to ward off the heat stroke that was coming over me and could feel the heat pouring off me as the cold water was warmed by my body heat by the time it hit my feet.
And while we did see several cyclists and a few families along the trail, we also saw several groups of homeless people and druggies (doing drugs out in the open, so I'm not just labeling them randomly) and the skinny dogs that accompanied many of them. Across the river we could see homeless camps set up under an overpass. In a few places, the few green plants and bushes had been trampled flat by river people as they wore a path from the bike trail to the water's edge. It was both sobering and saddening to see so many destitute and hopeless people along one 6 mile stretch of road.
Ultimately, we had a fantastic time at the brew fest - I truly enjoyed having some "adult" time with my hubby and we tasted some great craft beers, saw some good friends, enjoyed awesome cheeseburgers from one of the local gourmet food trucks, and had some good laughs.
But that 12 mile ride along the trail will stick with me for some time. It made me thankful that I have a good job, a supportive family, and healthy living habits. It reminded me not to take my way of life for granted, and to count my blessings every day.
*linking to just write*