Monterey, CA (AP)
A seemingly benign family outing turned horrid this past summer. The small family of four began their Sunday jaunt from the small seaside village of Marina, California. Clear skies and a mild breeze accompanied the foursome as they happily departed on their old school relics -- a pair of 1970's era Schwinn Twinn Delux 5-speed tandem cruisers. The foursome journeyed south along a smooth paved bike path, oblivious as to what the day ahead would bring. (Everyone oblivious – with the exception of the evil father who apparently hatched this wicked plan to lure the unwitting subjects into a torturous adventure that no one would soon forget.)
Over the rolling dunes and past the hamlets of Sand City and Seaside they cruised. After one hour and forty-five minutes and nearly ten miles of pedaling, the foursome wheeled into the Monterey Bay Fisherman's Wharf. The victim’s worried blank stares and diminishing smiles were rejuvenated by the sights, sounds, and smells that the wharf had to offer. Bowls of clam chowder, barking harbor seals, playful otters, and saltwater taffy seemed to momentarily distract the naive little group.
Temporarily sedated, the small group continued to meander south through the throngs of tourists along Cannery Row. The family pedaled on, past historic sights made famous through the pen of Steinbeck. Past the Monterey Bay Aquarium, past the house of Bubba
Gump Shrimp, past the Green Gables they rolled.
Concern once again began to take hold. A realization that every pedal stroke south meant an additional pedal stroke north. The fear that a seemly endless, slow, and torturous death by bicycle may soon be their fate began to overwhelm them. Panic struck the group as they lie recovering on the beach of the ominously named "Lovers Point."
"How far have we gone?", "How will we make it back?", "Will we live through this?" , "Is there any ice cream?" -- These and many other thoughts raced through their little heads as they frolicked in the icy waves of the protected sanctuary.
The sun continued its westward arc and the afternoon breeze began to pick up. The realization that this torture must continue if the group is to survive became evident. The fear of nightfall setting on the dunes and a blind crawl back to Marina motivated the young group. They longed for the safety of the family vehicle where warm blankets and soft pillows beckoned.
With renewed vigor and a will to survive, the subjects rallied northward. A strong sense of pride and a dose of what we call, "back to the barn syndrome" stoked their fires. Miles rolled by much faster than before. Favorable winds guided the group as they hurdled dune after dune.
With fuel stores depleted, they managed a weary shout of joy as the last rise was conquered and squealing brakes brought the wheels to a stop. Nearly 24 miles had rolled under their tired souls since they were here last -- many, many hours ago. Helmets discarded, the sufferers wandered in separate circles -- much like the champion marathon runner gasping for air, hands on hips, head down, searching for the answer to the question, "Why did we do this?"
After clothing exchanges and the tending of saddle sores, the stage was set for the final act. The grill was primed and hot dogs were grilled. Root beer flowed and chips were consumed as the victims managed a few more weary smiles before bowing their heads and slipping off to "La La Land." Wearing an evil grin amidst a symphony of snoring cherubs, the disturbed father figure guided the family vehicle back to the homestead -- one more evil plan carried through to completion.
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