The Sky Explodes

“A screaming comes across the sky. It has happened before, but there is nothing to compare it to now.”
—-Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow

I had signed up (paid ahead of time online) for a bike ride at six this evening, starting and ending at the Four Corners Brewery in West Dallas. It was a guided ride with two beer tickets for well-earned refreshment at the end. My original idea was to ride to the DART station, take the train downtown, and then ride across the Continental Bridge Park to the brewery. But as I prepared to leave I noticed a sudden violence in the sky – a gathering of thunderstorms as the daily Texas humid head collided with some early cooler air floating down from up north.

I didn’t want to get caught in a sudden deluge without my car as refuge, so I folded my Xootr Swift and plopped it into the trunk – then drove down to the brewery.

Because of this, I arrived a bit early and was able to hop over to the bridge park and get some photographs of the evening clouds building behind the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge and the downtown Dallas skyline.

Downtown Dallas and the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge from the Continental Bridge Park (click to enlarge)

Downtown Dallas and the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge from the Continental Bridge Park
(click to enlarge)

A good group gathered for the ride. I didn’t know anybody – which was cool, there rides are always a fun way to find new folks. Everybody talked about the gathering storm – dark clouds were building to the West and to the North. We all agreed to risk the rain and took off. We rode across the Continental Bridge into downtown, through the infamous Triple Underpass and then back across the river on the Jefferson Viaduct Bridge.

At that point the group continued on to Bishop Arts, but I was a bit out of breath and the clouds were really threatening so I decided to turn off on my own. I rode back north and then hopped the levee down into the Trinity River Bottom trails. I stopped to drink some iced water from my bag, eat an orange, and catch my breath.

At that point the sky exploded. I sped off, took shelter under the Interstate 30 Bridge, and ate another orange. When the deluge cleared a bit I rode on to the Margaret Hunt Hill bridge (yes, the one in the photo above) and again took shelter from the storm. The relatively dry area under the bridge was populated with some families and a group of fishermen that had been caught by the rain.

As we waited, I heard a loud roar and suddenly a full-blown Airboat came careening up the
Trinity, going fast through the falling water – pilot and passenger hunched forward against the stinging rain. It was an odd sight – the first powered craft I’ve ever seen on that stretch of the river.

After a bit, I gave up waiting for the rain to end (once you are soaked, you can’t get any wetter) and headed out. The hardest part was getting through the Trinity Groves parking lot – the water was a foot deep there.

As luck would have it, I arrived back at the exact time as the rest of the riders that I had split away from a few miles to the south. The folks that had decided to stay behind and wait – through either a lack of courage or an excess of good sense (or both) – cheered everyone as they rode up, soaked to the skin.

The beer was very good, by the way, and well earned.