Packed Out

Snow removal is funny here. In Pittsburgh, even before it snows, PennDot’s fleet of tri-axles are out dumping load after load of salt on the roads. Then they keep running, plowing and melting and turning everything into brown slush. And inevitably, people still bitch that they don’t work fast enough.

Here, they run a plow down the street after a snow, then let the rest pack out. All the roads and highways turn to snow:


And nobody seems to mind. The Rio Grande Trail that Colleen and I commute to Carbondale on is eventually plowed, but it seems like it’s the last priority. Which means that sometimes we have to break trail through a significant amount of snow for 12 miles:


After we stayed in Carbondale Friday night for a party, Colleen rode home the next morning after it snowed all night. She was not happy. The easy spin that usually takes an hour took her twice that long, and she was all over the place on her 29er. She’s decided not to that again unless she’s on a bike with bigger tires.

Pigsley track on the left, 29er on the right

Not that riding my Pigsley exactly made it easy. Breaking trail through snow for an hour and a half when you’re trying to get to work is still a real ball buster.


But back to that party- I should say something about that, because this is an interesting town. Maybe even more interesting than looking at comparative pictures of bicycle tire tracks.

When we walked into the house party, it looked like the entire town was there. Everybody wearing red, red curtains draped all around the house, a DJ that played electro-swing. A wine room, with chocolate pretzels in a bowl, and apples hanging from red ribbon pinned to the ceiling, where a broad-shouldered hippy cornered us.

“So, who are you and how did you find out about this?” he asked.

I thought that was an odd question, since I’d heard at least four separate groups in the coffee shop talking about this thing earlier in the day. It’d be hard to be in town for a day and not know about it. But I explained that I worked over at the bike shop, and we’d come with our friends from there.

“Very good. My wife’s bike is over there,” he said. “My wife and I are both Sagittariuses, and this,” he stretched his arms out, “is the Sagittarian Ball. When were you born?”

“January,” I said.

“Ah, Aquarius. Well welcome, there’s tequila in the basement, wine here, and a Viper room upstairs. Be careful. And if you’re undercover, go easy on us.”

I assured him that I wasn’t undercover, then we pushed through the dance floor to the stone basement. The hole was overflowing with people, covered in red fabric. 30 or 40 good bottles of tequila on the table. I squeezed through the horde, into a little tunnel in the corner. Kept walking back the tunnel, till it ended at a steep staircase to the bottom of a 15 foot deep cistern, hung with curtains, full of people thumping on drums.

A platinum blonde with feathers in her hair was standing next to me at the top of the stairs.

“Oh, this is just so my scene,” she lied.

Somebody handed me an egg, which I completely failed to shake with any sort of rhythm. Which affirmed what I already knew- this was not so my scene.

I handed the egg to the blonde girl and ran back upstairs, where burlesque girls danced on the staircase, twirled and flicked feathered fans to the music, while the packed room yelled and whistled. Better.

A few hours later when Colleen and I left, it was below zero. There was a girl outside, with almost nothing on, spinning around in the snow with a flaming hula hoop.

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