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Thistle Me Lucky

Last Friday we went on another bike ride to the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge. Practice makes near-perfect. I’m becoming more comfortable riding bikes which is a good thing since my knees and feet no longer want to walk the miles we used to at the Refuge.

I rode bikes when I was growing up in New York, but I’m wasn’t then and am not now mechanically inclined. Cue my husband who patiently provides guidance on how to adjust the front and back derailleurs so I don’t fatigue my legs to the point of exhaustion … which is what I was doing on this latest bike ride.

The wind was against us … literally … until we got off the bayous trails and turned right toward the Pinhook River. The bayou trails can be grassy and soft. At one point I was riding slow, got distracted and felt my bike come to a stop. Now, for me, if my bike comes to a stop when I’m not ready, that can only mean one thing: I’m going to fall. Luckily, I was able to get my right toes on the ground. Unluckily, I was stuck on my seat. If I moved my right foot, I would fall. So I yelled to my husband and he came to the rescue, holding my bike handles until I could ease myself off the seat.

Luckily, no one but my husband was around to witness my humiliation.

The second time, I wasn’t so lucky and, more unluckily, I fell while on a small concrete bridge where we had stopped to take a break. I’m not sure what happened, only that I had gotten on my bike, the front tire turned when I didn’t want it to, and I couldn’t press the pedals hard enough to put the bike back in motion. I knew I was going to fall, and I did. Pretty hard on my right knee and elbow. Luckily, it was a cool day so I had layers on, although my knee still got some serious road rash (it’s been over a week and the scrape is still healing while the area below my knee displays a changing palette of yellows, blues, and purples).

After these two episodes of near- and definite falling, I adjusted my derailleurs per my husband’s suggestions.

I took fewer photos on this trip. I was too busy enjoying the views. The thistles were still in glorious abundance, alligators were here and there (but mostly there, thankfully), and the day was just lovely.

These photos were taken early on our ride, where the thistles were plentiful. You all know I’ve got a jones for close-ups, especially when insects are about.

See how industrious and tenacious this little busy bee was.

Here’s a panoramic at the intersection of a couple of trails. You can see why we keep coming back.

A view of the other side of the trail to the left.

On our way back to the car, we stopped for a moment and I took this photo. The light seemed particularly lovely right there.

And now for a Raji update!

Your eyes do not lie. That’s Raji and Junior “spooning.” Now, Junior really wasn’t thrilled that Raji wanted to snuggle, but we thought it was adorable! Every day we say how lucky we are that Raji is Raji: a lover, not a fighter. He’s also getting used to being petted, brushed and picked up. When he lived in the garage, he loved to be petted and brushed. When he came into the house, he shied away from both activities for a long while, but we’re wearing him down with love and patience.

Hope you all are well, happy, and healthy. Stay safe!

Categories: Cats Nature

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Marie A Bailey

Writer, blogger, knitter, cat lover, and introvert.

21 replies

    1. The only way I can see so much of the Refuge in one day is by bike, so I’ll have to be better prepared … like wear knee pads ๐Ÿ˜‰ Thank you for your oooooos and ahhhhhs. I’m really pleased with how the photos came out ๐Ÿ™‚

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  1. You are ahead of me–you know what derailleurs are! I’ve ridden a couple of times in our new NOLA neighborhood, slowly widening my circle. My goal is to eventually make it to Audubon Park. It’s not the distance that daunts me, but the cars. And potholes. And garbage trucks. And pretty much life going on all around me. TY for the beautiful photos–I did something to my “view” and they have been to my left the entire time I’ve been typing.

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    1. Thank you, Ellen! That would be impressive if you managed to ride all the way to Audubon Park … and scary! I don’t ride any place but the Refuge or designated bike trails. We know people who have been hit while riding in the city. Florida is not a safe place to ride one’s bike ๐Ÿ˜ฆ


  2. Lovely photos! How great to be near the wildlife refuge so that you can ride through it and take photos. Sorry about the fall! I ride my bicycle (just around the block in our neighborhood), and I do fear falling sometimes when I seem to lose control of it! Glad you are all right!

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    1. Thank you, Carla! Yes, I really enjoy riding around the Refuge and I’m grateful that it is bike-able. I do fear falling especially when my bike is in motion, which is why I don’t like going fast or going downhill or going downhill fast. I really lay on the brakes then ๐Ÿ˜‰

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  3. Keep on biking – but take care!
    The photos of the thistles and bees are gorgeous – the thistle captured in the midst of its unfurling is exquisite.
    The spooning kitties has Raji’s personality written all over it – I even sense a bit of protectiveness in his body language.

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