Scouting an event, especially when it is one that covers mile of territory, can be one of the most challenging chores. That is, if you have the luxury of time, access, and in best case, same time of day conditions.  I have the CityTail Loppet coming up tomorrow morning, and having shot this event for several past years, I knew much of what to expect. But to be honest with myself, I don’t get much satisfaction of just “mailing it in.” Yes, there would be some cool skyline shots possible in this 10k or 10 mile course where runners start in a nearby suburb and follow off-road trails all the way to the Walker Art Center’s Minneapolis Sculpture Garden adjacent to the city’s downtown. Some cool shots in the woods, maybe a shot with the downtown skyline in the background, and of course plenty of happy smiling faces at the finish line.

But come on. These runners are going to face some special challenges this year. Flooding along the banks of the Basset Creek that they will follow for much of the route, enhanced by today’s daylong deluge of rainfall will make conditions along this route a pretty tough event. They are going to be able to mail it in. Why should I?

So I hopped on my trusty fat bike converted to mountain bike to scout the trail, riding from the finish line upstream, looking for points of interest. This was the bike that just two weeks ago I flipped and separated my shoulder. Still in recovery, I was scouting the course, plus my dexterity and endurance. i brought two lenses, a 14mm f/2.8 and a 100mm macro. I doubt that I bring the macro on Sunday but expected it would be a fun toy for this preview tour.

The first stop was at Jar Hill. “What is that?” I questioned myself. I wonder this area all the time and wondered how something in such a tight area between a parkway and a lake’s trail could be anything. I think I’ve passed by it about 100 times. It was time to stop and look. Wow, did that give me a moment to pause and smell the scrooms. I couldn’t help but start some storytelling online, posting online, on my personal Facebook. In hindsight, I should have used f/go Facebook and Twitter. Next time.

I think this one must be called the pillow mushroom. I ate just a small bit and now I’m feeellliiing sssssssllllllllleeeeeeeeppppppyyyyyy

After a few other shots with the macro, and realizing the opportunity of this location on Sunday, it was time to move on. I needed to find the contrasting side of the story.

And after awhile, I woke up. Under a bridge. And I was surrounded by beautiful colors all around me.

Bingo. Posted this and friends on social media started commenting and encouraging me to go on. I needed little encouragement to wheel forward along the course of the trail and my storyline.

But knew I was safe. Because wherever I wondered through the woods, my two wheels followed closely.
And tree said, “You’re fine. Just don’t go barking up the wrong tree.”
And the dandelion said, “Its okay. What’s dandy won’t always appear as dandy.”
So I got back on track.
Even when the earth below said, “Muck you . . . and . . . the bike you rode in on.”

By now I was getting dozens of likes and comments and jokes back. I knew I was on this trip with some friends living with me in real time, biking friends, photo friends, and friends not otherwise classified, whom I’ve been fortunate enough to brained on my own life’s journey! And we were all out on an urban trail together — alongside a parkway, under a highway, feet from a raging creek. I think I saw two people in real life.

The journey continues. We can all expect to keep getting stumped along the way.
It’s probably best to stay away from places clearly marked saying it’s not going to get better past this point.
We keep looking to the skies and through yet to be opened windows. (And heck if there’s a brewery on the first floor, that’s okay too!).

So today, reflecting upon this experience, I wanted to share it beyond the pool of my personal Facebook friends. After all, I have been told repeatedly that I should write my blog more often, so here it is as a reflection.

Life is a journey. It’s based on the past. There’s a vision of the future. But cheers to the treasure of being in the ever so flowing present, especially when joined by precious others.

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