Sunday, December 30, 2007
Saturday, December 29, 2007
After our Rock City/Ruby Falls adventure we drove to the park and asked at the visitor center for maps and distances and found there are numerous possibilities for running and hiking. The park is full of trails and narrow roads, including a well-marked tour of the battlefield monuments and features. The tour is about 7 miles, so we used the truckster's odometer to measure along the route and continued another 4 on our own. It worked splendidly. Wifeunit had her map with my water stops marked and approximate times and distances.
Early the next morning the weather was great - 35 degrees and clear - and I started my run. Wifeunit listened to a book on the car CD player and drove off through the park, lying in ambush to snap pictures of me and the other creatures. The deer in the park are remarkably tame, surely aware of their relative safety from hunters. We sometimes saw herds of 20 or more in the open areas of the park, grazing calmly like cattle on a farm.
I found this to be my most satisfying run so far. There was almost no traffic to deal with, while the curves of the roads, the deer and historic monuments took my mind off the work of running. I don't use an Ipod, so any distraction from the grind is great. The park has only one bothersome short steep climb, a beautiful spot known as Snodgrass Hill, but the rest of the road is mostly flat and easy.
After the run we retreated to the hotel, ate a quick lunch and took nice nap. The remainder of the day we spent at the Chattanooga Aquariums. That night we ate at a fabulous restaurant near the hotel called Niko's Southside Grill. If you're staying in downtown Chattanooga, give it a try.
Friday, December 28, 2007
The Chattanoogan Hotel is a nice place in the middle of downtown. Since it was a holiday, there was hardly any traffic, and nobody at the bar. What a great end to a long day - chatting with the bartender while sampling microbrewery draft beer and appetizers.
The next day was spent doing what tourists do, seeing the cheesy attractions. Unless you're like us, children of the 50's and 60's with more curiosity and spending money than good sense, you will avoid Ruby Falls and Rock City. In the South during the 1960's, a traveler on the old highways could count on finding "See Rock City" painted on the side or roof of a barn along the way. (Follow this link if you'd like to know more http://www.two-lane.com/seerock.html ).
Neither of us had ever seen these legendary wonders, but we both had vivid memories of the roadside advertising. Now that mission is behind us, and we have a "See Rock City" birdhouse on the basketball goal post in the front of our home.
We had a great time, though. I was surprised at the number of Asian tourists, particularly Japanese. They seemed to be enjoying themselves. Pictured below is Wifeunit capturing a rare moment - a Rock City Gnome, carelessly vulnerable to keen-eyed tourist photographers.
Here's a look at one of the breath-taking dioramas depicting one of the industrious "3 Little Pigs". There were lots of these Mother Goose/Fairy Tale characters around. It took us minutes to appreciate the beauty of it all.
Friday, December 21, 2007
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Sunday, November 18, 2007
My half-marathon training is still on schedule. November 9th I ran 9.6 miles without too much difficulty. I did get pretty hot - the old "Pink Barney" look - and was chafed at all the usual spots. I had to go to work for a while after my run, and I felt pretty worn out for the day. I'm scheduled for 11 miles next Friday, but we'll be on Thanksgiving vacation in Chattanooga and Knoxville. I guess I'll take my running stuff just in case there's an opportunity, but I may have to take the next Monday morning off work to get the run accomplished.
A swim meet in New Orleans and a business trip to New York are on the December calendar, along with visits from family for the holidays. Time marches on...quickly.
Sunday, October 28, 2007
There were about 30 riders, some from Jackson Metro Cyclists and from Greenville and other Delta towns. I fell in behind the main group to see if I was able to hang with them. We were out in the flat countyrside, no hills and light traffic, turned south at Grace, cruising at a 20-22 mph pace. I was keeping up well until we made a turn onto Hwy 1 and the pack strung out into 3 or 4 smaller groups, including my group of 1 in the rear. I guess the strongest riders in front decided to test the rest of us on that stretch of highway through Mayersville. I caught up at the rest stop, which was also the turn-off for those doing the 30-mile leg. The 60 mile riders continued ahead to Fitler and Onward, then back north through Cary and back to Rolling Fork. I was the lone rider to choose the 30-mile, or at least any others were still far behind.
It was a new experience riding completely alone on a narrow road in Issaquena County. I had directions and a map, so there was no danger of getting lost, but I had no idea what the road ahead of me would be like. Well, if you're from that area you would guess what was ahead - cotton fields and an occasional farm house. Fortunately, I was able to sneak past a few large sleeping dogs, my only real concern. When I got to Hwy 14 to turn east back to Rolling Fork, a Sharkey County Sheriff's deputy was waiting at the intersection and asked if I was the last rider. I told him I was actually the first of the 30 mile group, but maybe last, too. I guess he couldn't decide what that meant, but he escorted me in his patrol car the remaining 4-5 miles into town. That was great not having to worry about the traffic blasting by from behind.
By the time I arrived back at the car, Wifeunit had already become bored with the festivities and had been reading at the nearby library. So we loaded up and were back home before 1 pm, napping the afternoon away.
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Last weekend at the PPP, I struggled in the 80+ degree heat to do 5 miles. Yesterday morning at 8:30 the weather was 49 degrees and clear, no wind. I mapped an out and back course of 8 miles that started at my driveway and conveniently made the turn at the tip of the boat ramp parking lot 4 miles later. I thought I could do it, but decided if I struggled badly I would give up on the long distance running.
I made it easily. My legs began to falter a little with less than a mile left to go. Now I'm even looking forward to next Friday's 9.5 miles!
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
The Mitchell-Pittman team was once again on the awards podium (the clearing by the dirt road at Wolf River Canoes) to receive their first place trophy for Men's Team - Open Division at the Paddle - Pant - Pedal Triathlon in Long Beach, MS. The Gulf Coast Running Club has put on the race now for 28 years. It's fun and tough, and attended by seemingly the same small crowd every year. I know I'm going back as long as I'm able. There should be some photos from this year's race posted on the GCRC site pretty soon. Who doesn't love a post-race snack of cold beer and boiled jumbo shrimp !?
As I wrote a year ago, this is a busy season for us. Every weekend is booked with some sort of activity.
(Vickie D. King/The Clarion-Ledger)
WellsFest was nice and brought family up from the Coast.
A fish fry the next weekend with some neighborhood friends included fried bream and catfish and grilled trout. I hope we get invited back again.
Our Fall canoe trip was wonderful again, and I added some spice by assuming the trip was for one overnight camp while everyone else was prepared for two nights. A huge stroke of luck and great family enabled me to get back in time for an important Monday meeting at work.
I wish I had photos of all the images in my mind of these wonderful things -scenes of my friends and family fly fishing on Black Creek, a glistening armada of kayaks slinging arcs of water in the early sunlight on the river at the PPP Triathlon, the fall wildflowers along the roads we travel on our weekend adventures.
Life is good.
Sunday, September 23, 2007
Monday, August 13, 2007
I finished the swim leg 1 second slower than last year. The bike leg was a minute and a few seconds faster. The run was awful. It was hot. I carried a water bottle to pour on my head and had to have it filled at the water stops. I've been training as usual, trying to push myself faster, but any gains I recognize on the home trail at 5:30 am temps are lost when I have to run in the sun after 8:00. My 5k time in a November race is nearly 5 minutes faster than in the heat.
Anyway, the Cotton States Tri is a fun race. The small town's Junior Auxiliary does a super job with what they have, and the local law enforcement is everywhere on the bike course. The turnout for the race was lower than usual, and I'm betting it was because of the heat forecast of 102 degrees for race day. I sure felt it.
Saturday, June 09, 2007
The 1st wave of swimmers in the 2007 Heatwave Tri is about to start their 1/2 mile swim in the picture above. I was soon to follow in the 3rd wave. This was my second appearance at this event, the hometown race I consider the high point of my triathlon season. I'll do a few more but this is the big deal for me.
This year's bike leg was a little strange, in that we were mixing with stopped traffic while the inbound and outbound racers from the bike and run intersected. My friend KayVee's blog describes her experience with her usual entertaining skill at Tri 3X Fun. She adds that there was a timing and distance problem with the course also.
I was able to finish in 2:50:04, a 3 minute
improvement over last year. With an adjustment for the bike leg maybe I did even better. It was much hotter than 2005, so my run training only earned me a few seconds improvement. Running is my weak link, but I will continue to work at it. I have so much fun doing this stuff... I can't quit now.
I consider ATVs, more commonly called 4-Wheelers, a scourge and a nuisance. Fun to ride, I'm sure, but the noise and damage they cause in the wild, peaceful outdoors is enough to make you wish they were never invented. They are an obnoxious vehicle whose primary purpose was to make the mighty deer hunter less inconvenienced by having to walk in and out of the woods with his equipment and kill. So what do you do with this expensive toy when deer season ends? Ride it for fun wherever you're allowed, and unfortunately for Red Creek canoeists, it is at an off-road park adjacent to one of the nicest scenic waterways in the South.
Monday, May 07, 2007
Saturday, March 24, 2007
The scene above is from what younger folk would consider a pathetic excuse for a New Year's Eve party. And they would be right, but age has its rewards and among them is the enjoyment of family and friends with a little food and beverage, stupid hats and party favors.
Speaking of age, Wifeunit's illustrious mother passed away in January. She was highly regarded in many circles and lived a full and colorful life of 89 years. On one occasion following her funeral I was the recipient of some sage observations by one of her surviving friends. He leaned toward me and grabbed my shoulder, "Being this old does have its compensations - there are no ugly women when you're 91." Wifeunit had just mentioned how well he looked, and he replied, "You are more kind than you are accurate. For me, it's more important to feel good than to look good."
Moving on to February and Mardi Gras fun...
It's been many years since I stood on Canal Street with the crowds of revelers at the New Orleans Mardi Gras parades. I remember some of those experiences fondly, but with some amazement that I was not killed, maimed or jailed at some point. On one occasion I caught a young man with his hand in my back pocket after my money, and on others, men expressing a different interest in the front of my pants.
The Pascagoula, Mississippi Mardi Gras Parade is a much different event. The fun is still there without the hassles. There is a sense of Gulf Coast community at this parade and the many others across the area. The parades are smaller in scale and less elaborate, but lots of fun.
...or be wild like these hell-raisers.
Pets are welcome, though they don't all seem to grasp the spirit of celebration.
Sunday, January 14, 2007
The weekend has been very warm and rain will arrive tonight or tomorrow, followed Tuesday by some colder weather. We may have temperatures below freezing, so I laid in enough wood for 2 or 3 evening fires to add to the cozy factor.