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June 16, 2009
Navigating the Slippery Slope
Every Monday evening I meet two friends of mine and we head to the hills with our mountain bikes. We normally ride for and hour to an hour and a half, then head to a watering hole for dinner and a beer.

Last night we rode a trail on the east side of Lake Coeur d' Alene called Caribou Ridge. The sun was shining, the temperature a pleasant 79 degrees, and the trail was well maintained without anything too terribly steep. It was turning out to be one of the best rides we'd done so far this summer.

Just as we approached the summit of our ride, we saw a bruised sky (that's my term for a sky that is deep purple) straight ahead of us. We saw movement to our right and not 20 feet from us stood a huge cow moose. Initially, she was startled, but once she evaluated the situation, she almost seemed to be laughing at us. Then the rain came.

Boy, did the rain come. In a matter of minutes, we were drenched. Our trail down the mountain turned into a streambed for wayward raindrops. We were able to navigate fairly well for the first 2.5 miles of the 4.6 mile trek downward, although we and our bikes were now covered in mud.

The last two miles were impassable on bikes. Several times our tires slipped out from under us on corners. Twice I went down; once in slow motion into a big bush that cushioned my fall quite well, once on a rain-slickened tree root that just caused me to get muddier, but no injuries.

My buddies weren't faring any better. Both took at least one tumble, but again no injuries. Finally, the trail got so treacherous that we were forced to walk our bikes down the rest of the way. Our 1.5 hour bike ride turned into a grueling 2 hour, 45 minute mud slog.

As I was walking my bike, I realized I hadn't written my blog that day, which I almost always do on Monday morning. "Maybe I'm supposed to take something from this adventure and write about it tomorrow" I thought to myself. OK, maybe I wasn't, but I did and I am.

Around the middle of 2006, a lot of things were peaking. The sun was shining on real estate markets nationwide, the stock market marched steadily upward, and unemployment numbers were looking good.

Then the storm hit. The onslaught of bad news made the downhill ride from peak to valley dangerously calamitous. Matter of fact, we're still riding that slippery slope downward three years later. We've seen real estate markets crash, the stock market crash, and unemployment has affected all sectors. In the process, we've all gotten pretty muddy.

As with our ride last night, we as a nation will eventually get to the valley, clean ourselves off, and get back on that bike and ride again.

I just have one favor to ask: Next time we approach the top of the mountain, let's not piss off the moose.

Make it a great week.

Clint


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