Sunday, January 27, 2008
All you runners and cyclists will relate to this problem. I planned my recent 8-mile run as an out and back with a water stop and turnaround point at a nearby public park and boat launch here the Ross Barnett Reservoir. While running in the park a car passed me and stopped up ahead in a parking lot. I noticed it was a man and a huge black and white Harlequin Great Dane. I ran past them before they got out and proceeded to my water stop at the bottom of the hill by the boat launch. On my way back by, I see the man is bent over the back seat as if he's cleaning the carpet, and the huge dog is trotting around the park loose. I'm now thinking surely this dog is nice and friendly or he wouldn't be running free. Do I keep running past him and bet the skin of my arm or leg that he'll leave me alone? Just then a guy on a bicycle comes by and the dog pays little attention. Good. The dog must be well-trained. So here I go, walking, not running, past the dog and his master still buried in the back seat of his car. Now the dog thinks he's spotted something interesting - me - and I can barely hear a low growl. The guy gets out of his car and shouts at the dog "Rommel!". Rommel takes a few steps closer to me and growls again, so master yells at him and grabs him by the collar. I move on down the road, wishing the park patrol would come by so I could report this guy.
There is no reason anyone should have to feel intimidated by a dog of any size while using a public park or street. I am a dog owner and animal lover by nature but I am not so fond of people who allow their pets to run free. Everyone thinks their own dog won't bite anyone, but that view frequently changes to "he never attacked anyone before". A roommate and I once had a well behaved German Shepherd who welcomed everyone with a wagging tail and lick on the hand. Then one day he decided he didn't like a certain visitor and the lick became a bite. Not a serious bite, but enough to make us keep him restrained from then on.
I dislike people who let dogs run loose almost as much as those post-teen pre-adults with loud exhaust pipes. End of rant.
Sunday, January 13, 2008
Driving on a beautiful December afternoon through the flat expanse of northeast Louisiana and southeast Arkansas is a great chance to break the boredom by counting hawks. We counted 64 Red Tailed Hawks, along with several Kestrels and a few Northern Harriers.
We checked in at our hotel, the Embassy Suites in Hot Springs before dark. Not being certain what restaurants would be open during our stay, we were determined to experience some "fine dining" before Christmas Eve left us with just a room service menu. We even dressed for the occasion - including coat and tie for me - just to celebrate. We chose the Belle Arti Italian Ristorante on Central Avenue, the main drag through Hot Springs' Bathhouse Row and the National Park. The food was great, the service good and there was even a pianist sharing his versions of Christmas music. We could have skipped the fancy clothes, though. Soon after we ordered, a young couple was seated near us, he wearing a camo T-shirt and hunting cap and she with a gym jacket. She eventually made him take off his cap. Oh well, we still felt special and really enjoyed our meal.
For Monday, Wifeunit scheduled a spa visit for both of us. I would get the "Gentleman's Package", a hot tub bath, massage and pedicure, while she had the full menu including something involving seaweed. That was nice and a first for me. I might try it again sometime.
Sunday, January 06, 2008
Less than two weeks after returning from our Tennessee trip, we were back on the road, heading south to New Orleans. The occasion was the Southern Masters Short Course Meters Championships at Tulane University. This is the same event that has been held at Delta State in past years, but the new SMS board polled the membership and found most were in favor of changing to a rotation between Delta State and New Orleans.
We had originally planned to arrive in New Orleans early Friday afternoon since I entered the 1500 meter freestyle event scheduled for 7 pm. High priority issues at work kept me until 4 pm, so we didn't arrive at our hotel until after 8. We stayed at Le Richelieu, our honeymoon hotel. It's a small, very old building with few modern features on the edge of the French Quarter near the French Market and Esplanade. It's also very quiet and has a cozy atmosphere.
We met the rest of our group, my Flowood Fighting Flounders teammates, and enjoyed a late-night meal at Tony Moran's Restaurant. Kate and Paul, two of our four FFF team members had been at the swim meet for the 1500 meter event. Our fourth member, KB, was visiting family and would meet us at the pool on Saturday.
A good crowd of over 120 swimmers represented about 20 masters swim teams from as far as Dallas and Fort Myers. We were getting set to swim the mixed 200 relay when KB began to feel bad, complaining of numbness in his arm and weakness. KB had only been swimming with us a few times at practice. He is in his late 60's and seems quite fit, but back problems limited his participation. We quickly scratched from the relay event and Kate had KB take some aspirin she had in her gear. We returned to the hotel and later learned from KB's family that he had suffered a heart attack and underwent surgery at Tulane University Hospital that afternoon. The doctor credited Kate's aspirin with possibly saving his life and certainly lessening the damage.
Paul and Kate left New Orleans that afternoon but Wifeunit and I stayed another night since I was swimming two more events on Sunday. We ate again at Tony Moran's that evening since Irene's had what is their usual 90 minute wait for a table. We ate a nice breakfast Sunday morning at the hotel's tiny restaurant, I swam some more at the meet, and we headed home at 1 pm. A whirlwind weekend and great time with the FFF team.