Another road trip 14: a fist fight on the road, and a fox out at mid day


If you happen to come on a fox

Check the time on you clocks

For that bad rabies virus

Might sometimes require us

To bury the thing in a box.

Synopsis: I’m a Family Practitioner from Sioux City, Iowa. In 2010 I danced back from the brink of burnout, and honoring a 1 year non-compete clause, travelled and worked in out-of-the-way places in Alaska, Nebraska, Iowa, and New Zealand. After three years working with a Community Health Center, I am back having adventures in temporary positions until they have an Electronic Medical Record System (EMR) I can get along with. I spent the winter in Nome, Alaska, and I just finished assignments in rural Iowa and suburban Pennsylvania. After my brother-in-law’s funeral, my wife and I are doing a bicycle tour of northern Michigan.

After a substantial breakfast at the hotel restaurant, we again gathered in the parking lot to review the day’s route.

We exited from Traverse City on the TART (Traverse Area Recreational Trail), a really nice, smooth, well-paved bike path with really lousy signage.

Tandem riding resembles flying in that the hard parts are the take offs and landings, and we faced one of each with every intersection.

At the Mawby vineyard and winery, the only US facility dedicated exclusively to sparkling wines, we learned more about viticulture.  At the end I asked about the deer and the marc (the leftover grape skins and seeds).  Deer eat the new growth in the spring and are dealt with summarily; the marc is composted.

At lunch in Sutton’s Bay we studied the map , and our tour guide gave us a choice of taking secondary roads with very light traffic but a slightly longer total mileage, or facing the gradual grades and heavy traffic of a main route.  We took the back road, leaving ahead of the group.

Sutton’s Bay High School’s Driver’s Education car passed us.   We settled into a rhythm.  The sun shone and the breeze blew and the only sounds were the birds and the hum of the tires on the asphalt.

We came up a gradual incline to find a real fight had spilled from driveway to road.

Two shirtless young men punched at each other with vicious intent and little training   A young woman watched, distressed.  As we passed, I announced, loudly, that I would call 911.  The young woman yelled at me to mind my own business, using more words than she had to.  The Driver’s Education car had pulled over, and the young woman in the driver’s seat bore a facial expression between smirk and embarrassment watching the action in the rear view mirror.  We started up the hill and I shifted down.

I commented to Bethany that neither young man had a weapon, the fight appeared fair, and thus I had no interest in seeing the fight stopped.  The two combatants had something to settle, and knowing the dynamics of the age, would probably become fast friends afterwards.

From the other side of the ridge we heard sirens.  As we toiled up steeper and steeper grades in lower and lower gears, a police car came rocketing down the road, followed by another, and then another.  I observed that law enforcement was having a slow day.

We bottomed out on the gears, and, breathing hard, toiled to the summit without having to get off and walk.  Then we rocketed downhill, the speedometer climbed to a thrilling 32 MPH.

Bad signage prevented us spotting the turnoff in Lake Leelanau, asking directions got us back on the right path, and we started up a gentle but persistent slope.

We made good time going uphill, sheltered by pines, and overlooking a lake.  Then I saw the fox running ahead of us.

I enjoy seeing foxes; it should mean I’ve been clever or stealthy.  But a fox is a nocturnal animal, and seeing one at midday means something has gone very wrong.

We knew the fox could be rabid.  Turning around, marginally possible because of the conflict between turning radius and road width, risked putting us over.  Continuing at speed to pass the fox would bring us closer; I slowed.

The fox glanced back at us, ran on another 10 yards, and disappeared into the roadside cover.

Had I a firearm, I would have shot the fox presumptively.

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3 Responses to “Another road trip 14: a fist fight on the road, and a fox out at mid day”

  1. Tim Potter Says:

    Great stories Steve. I had no idea how exciting your day’s ride was that day! I had nothing so exciting to report. Was great riding with you and Bethany this past week. Looking fwd to riding with you both again and reading more blogs in the coming days.

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