September 21st, 2006


Because of Pluto

It all started because of Pluto.

No, really. You don't believe me? If Pluto hadn't been demoted, none of this would have ever happened.

I went up north last weekend with my friends R and S. As we were driving up on saturday, we discussed what to do. Canoeing? Bicycling? Hiking? Boating? We had lots of possibilities.... but the night before I had spent many frustrated minutes trying to force my hybrid bike into the back seat of my two-door Cavelier. "We are lugging our bikes all the way up here," I pointed out, "so we'd darn better ride them at some point this weekend."

Once we'd decided on biking, the question was where? I'm not a big fan of dirt biking, so I'd requested something without much sand. R remembered, "In Traverse City, there is a nice bike path that has some sort of solar system exhibit, and you can ride from planet to planet."

"Really.... do you think they still have Pluto?" Ah yes, poor Pluto, so recently kicked out of the Planet Club. It was probably still a part of the exhibit! Maybe we should visit, before it gets ripped down.

"I still believe in Pluto," I told the group, and so it was decided. We would find this bike path, and we would visit Pluto. We also decided we should leave flowers and tokens of the once-respected planet.

We arrived at the cabin, found some crayons, and composed our memorials. Once they were complete, we convinced an additional friend M to join us, and the four of us headed to Traverse City.

Of course, we didn't actually know where Pluto, nor any of the bike path, actually was. I convinced M to call a scientist friend of his and ask, but she put her whole scientist-hood into jeopardy by not knowing. Even though she'd grown up in Traverse City!

Finally I proved my geekiness by googling it on my Treo, and we had an intersection to aim for. R knew approximately where that was, but not exactly. We wanted to start at the Sun, then ride the 5 miles to Pluto, then back. When we arrived in town, we stopped at a gas station to ask about the Sun. The woman behind the counter helpfully told us where the path could be found, though she didn't know where the Sun was located. She also told us about a nearby soccer field in which we could park.

We parked the car, hopped onto our bikes, found the path, and started pedaling. We randomly selected a direction, and pretty quickly found ourselves looking at Uranus. Hooray, we'd found the planets! Even if we were already halfway along the path.

We decided to pay our homage to Pluto first, then head back to see the Sun. It wasn't until we were heading toward Neptune that I realized we'd forgotten both our signs and our cameras back in the car.

Oops. We still said a mournful goodbye and left some flowers at the Pluto exhibit. Vowing to come back with our signs later on, we started riding toward the Sun.
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