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After watching Penn State lose to Georgia in the TaxSlayer Bowl, I decided to go out for a late afternoon run to burn off some frustration and holiday sweets.  I am usually a morning runner, but I slept in.  I planned on running 6-7 miles, and surely I could get it in before dark.

Please don’t call me Shirley.

I was visiting this weekend and running in unfamiliar territory.  Being not far from Valley Forge National Park, and having run part of it a few days ago, I thought this would be a good place to run.  There appeared to be a nice loop on the map which looked about 6-7 miles.  What could go wrong?

This same question was asked by James Franklin and the Redcoats.  Neither fared well, and neither did I for that matter.  The plan looked great on paper.

Everything went well for the first five miles, until I reached a point which on the map below, corresponds to a covered bridge.

The bridge was closed for repairs, and so was the nice little blue path I had been following.

I was at the red circle.  I was parked at the green square.  I was as far from my car as I could get, and I could not go any further.

Valley-Forge-1

At this point, I had three choices.  One, I could turn around and head back the way I had come.  This would have put me in the 8-10 mile range which was a little longer than I really wanted to do.  The advantage, though, was that I would be traversing known ground.

The second option was to take a trail which ran along the same river as the blue paved path.  I hadn’t bothered to bring a map, but this same map was posted alongside the road before entering the trail.

The third option was to curl up in a fetal position and suck my thumb, waiting for a park ranger to come and rescue me.

Valley-Forge-2

Alas, I opted for the dotted line trail.  It didn’t look too bad.  Besides, it was getting dark and my mind was still numb from Penn State’s loss.

I made a mistake.

The trail climbed a mountain.  I was weaving in and out of trees, roots and rocks as the sun was disappearing and the already dimly lit woods was getting darker.  Each step brought me closer to a difficult choice:  turn around and go back, an ever longer alternative as I continued forward to what I hoped was the warmth and comfort of my jeep.  But I could sense lions, tigers and bears rustling in the underbrush around me, waiting for me to collapse into an asthma attack with the elevation, or in the fetal position sucking my thumb and waiting for a park ranger to rescue me.

Either way, I was wondering if I would ever get home.  I wasn’t even sure this stupid dotted trail would cross the water or if I was even going in the right direction anymore.

Just as the westering sun was setting, the trail headed back down Mount Krumpet and eventually deposited me on Route 23.  A welcome sight came into focus.  A bridge!  And on the other side–a paved trail that headed back to Washington’s Chapel.

I was saved!  I lived to get lost another day!  I wonder if Washington ever considered collapsing into the fetal position, sucking his thumb?

Probably not.

How many times have you been at a bowling alley, ready to throw your next shot, perhaps a strike or two away from a perfect game (or just hoping not to throw ANOTHER gutter ball,) and suddenly it hits you?

“This ball stinks!”

I mean seriously.  When was the last time it bathed?  I have a bowling towel to wipe the excess oil from the lane, but that hardly counts as a good cleaning.

Somewhere, at some time, someone had too much time on their hands.  Or too much to drink.  And they thought to themselves, “why don’t we make scented bowling balls?”

I.  Kid.  You.  Not.

My kids bought me a Storm bowling ball for Christmas.  The box said fragrance: Caramel Pecan.  WTF?

NewBowlingBall

 

It really does have a scent.  It was making me hungry–like a huge piece of caramel candy.  I think I gained 15 pounds!  But who needs (or wants) a fragrant bowling ball?  And just what was wrong with the way my balls smelled before?

I promptly Googled this shit to see if it was real.

Aromatic Bowling.

Competitors dismiss Bill Chrisman’s scented bowling balls as a “novelty,” but he believes there’s more to his success than that, reports Jonathan Eig in The Wall Street Journal. Bill’s balls — marketed by Storm Products, Inc., stormbowling.com, of Brigham City, Utah — smell of peppermint, spearmint, orange, blueberry, amaretto, banana, cinnamon-apple, and pina colada, for instance. Bill’s been making the aromatic balls for about four years now, to a point where his brand is to the market leader in high-end bowling balls, ahead of Brunswick. (You might think Brunswick and the other ball-makers would be rushing scented balls to market. Storm does not officially claim that its aromas affect performance, but the company’s technical director, Steve Koempken, “says the aromatic liquid chemicals added to the vats of urethane had the unintended effect of increasing the tackiness or friction of the surface area, which resulted in a tiny bit of extra hook.” Not only that, but some customers report that the fragrances have the dual effect of relaxing them while distracting their opponents.

I am stunned.  Speechless (but I can still type.)  How does the chemical selectively relax one person but annoy another?  Technology is simply fantastic.

Do the chemicals act like pheromones?  Will my ball be attracting other balls?  What do the pins think about this?  So many questions; so little interest in answering them.

I wonder if they will start adding fragrances to running shoes.  Now that would be a great idea!

SniffingBall

I smell a 300 game in my future!

I was travelling to New York with my mom to see my sister.  I had been to her house once before, but I had printed MapQuest directions that took me through a roller coaster of back roads that made no sense.

This time, I was going to use my Garmin GPS.

I hardly use it.  I am a man.  I KNOW where I am going.  I also don’t travel much.  I can find my office, the surgical center, and McDonald’s without the help of 21st century technology.

righthere

Now my mom has made this trip multiple times–even having driven it herself for years before ministrokes and poor reflexes led to her losing her license.

As we passed Tyrone, she points.

“Isn’t that where you should have turned off to go to Philipsburg?”

First of all, even if it was, pointing to it after we have passed the exit isn’t helpful.  And secondly, it was not the exit we wanted.  She was off by one.  Close but no cigar.

Now because I don’t use my GPS very often, I actually had to spend a fair amount of time to find it.  The charge was dead so I recharged it.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the car charger that plugs into the lighter so I would have to depend on a fully charged unit lasting me 3 hours.  I didn’t look all that hard figuring it would last a three hour tour with Gilligan, mom and the doctor too, and I had more important things to do before I left like watching Penn State lose to Temple for the first time in 74 years.

If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.

The GPS died just as we entered Bradford, PA.  My sister lives across the border.  We are probably twenty minutes or less from her house.  But this is the most critical 20 minutes of the whole trip–it is the final set of turns and roads that I am not familiar with.

If I had known the battery wouldn’t last, I would have waited till I got here to turn it on.

If I knew Penn State was going to play like crap, I would have left three hours earlier.  The damned GPS would still have died, but at least it wouldn’t be dark out.

I pulled off to the side of the road.  I was going to throw a Hail Mary.  I was hoping the cord to connect it to the cigarette lighter was in the glove box.  I was pretty sure it wasn’t but I was desperate.  I didn’t even have the bad directions from MapQuest.

“I know how to get there,” my mom insists.

This from the woman who would have had me get off the wrong exit two and a half hours ago if she had pointed sooner and I was an idiot that didn’t know where I was going.

I don’t know where I am going right now, and I can’t find the car charger.  Kettle meet pot.  I am an idiot.

So at 10:30 at night, on a remote stretch of highway, I am going to let my 78 year old mom guide me.

What’s below idiot?

So I cautiously get back on the road thinking we are never going to get there.  Maybe I should just call my sister and have her give directions.  With my luck, the phone would die.  And that option would entail me having to give her meaningful landmarks of where we were (um, it’s a dark road, with some dark trees, does that help?) and hoping that she could guide us in for a safe landing.  She’s had benign brain tumors–three craniotomies, two gamma knives and a radiation treatment in a pear tree.

I should have taken that left turn at Albuquerque.

So down the road of perdition I go.  As I come up to an exit, marked with a flashing light, I stop.  I have the yellow flashes; I don’t need to stop.  Fortunately there is no traffic behind me.  I am pretty sure this was the next target destination according to the GPS before it died.  It’s final words so to speak.

Rosebud.  Or I-86/Rte. 17.  Something like that.

I look at my mom.

She looks at me.

Abbot and Costello have nothing on us.  I almost want to ask her “Who’s on first?”

Instead I ask, “Are we supposed to turn here?”

She looks around.  This is quite an ordeal, because of arthritis in her neck.

“Yes,” she finally replies.

“And when were you going to tell me that?  If I didn’t stop here, we’d be past it before you told me.”

So this is how it went.  Every intersection, I had to come to a stop and ask if we were supposed to turn here or not.

At one point, we come to an intersection with only three roads.  You can go straight or right.

“Go left,” she says.

There isn’t a road to the left.  There is someone’s house.  I’m sure they don’t want me to drive through their lawn.

“You mean right?”  I am so optimistic she will correct herself.  I also thought Penn State would win.

“No left,” she insists.  (She knows where she is going!  She has insisted this to me several times now, probably because I am questioning her choices and my sanity. I am beginning to have my doubts.)

I point out that I can’t turn left.  She looks.  Another ordeal.  It looks painful.

Then, she looks the other way and points (to the right,) “go left.”

otherleft

We did eventually make it to my sister’s house.  God only knows how this was accomplished.  But score a victory for the Geriatric Pointing System.

Blues Shoes

My new shoes came yesterday!  Can’t wait for the first HOME GAME!

I’m glad I ordered them when I did–I think they are sold out already!

PSUshoes

They can’t possibly lose if I wear these!

Of course, that’s what I thought when I bought the PSU thong!😉

At least these are comfortable!

Stop and Run Traffic

The past week I had the opportunity to go running on Hilton Head Island, in the Sea Pines area mainly.  The weather was fantastic, although perhaps a bit more humid than one would choose for running.  After the winter we had in central PA, I will not complain about heat or humidity!

This was a typical view while running:

HiltonHead

The Sea Pines Resort area had an elaborate maze of biking/running trails that wound along the roadway system and golf courses.

Trails

This made running really enjoyable until . . . .

STOP

Thou shalt not pass! (DO NOT collect $200)

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  A STOP sign for pedestrians?

STOPcloseup

Well!  Isn’t that special?!  Let’s give the benefit of the doubt and the right of way to the two ton death machine instead of the helpless pedestrian or biker.  Who came up with this idea?

As if that wasn’t bad enough, there were still thoughtful drivers who would come to a stop to allow bikes, runners and walkers to pass.  The problem was, the cars behind said Good Samaritan weren’t always ready to stop–they weren’t expecting it, especially if they were local and used to this cockamamie hierarchy of right-of-way privileges.  Worse yet, one lane of traffic would stop, which they didn’t have to, but the other lane wouldn’t.  This was problematic when a small child on a bike started forward  because the nearest lane stopped, not realizing the other lane wasn’t stopping.  I saw this happen numerous times.

I have to be honest.  I ran many of these STOP signs.  Literally.  Forgive me Father, for I have sinned.  A Hilton Head cop finally pulled me over.

I tried to explain.  “I slowed down officer.”

He wasn’t impressed.  “You were supposed to STOP.”

“But I slowed down, ” I protested.

He then pulled out his nightstick and started beating me.

As I’m writhing in pain, he asks, “So!  Do you want me to slow down, or do you want me to STOP?”

Lone Appétit!

As circumstances in my life have evolved, I have had the opportunity to dine alone several times recently.  If you have never experienced this wonderful situation, I highly recommend you give it a try.

There are several advantages to dining alone.

You almost always get a table.  Party of one–come on down!  Often, it is in a remote corner of the establishment where you will feel comfortable with your dining experience knowing no one else can see you.  This is often called Loser’s Corner in the restaurant business.  But for those of us that like privacy when we eat, you can’t beat the ambiance.  We are winners!

They should have put a TV on this wall!

They should have put a TV on this wall!

Sometimes, though, you might have to sit outside.  perhaps in the alley.

Table4One

And if things are really tight, you might end up here.  On the bright side, if you need extra napkins, the roll is right there.

ToiletDining

Another advantage is that the meal goes faster.  It takes the chef less time to prepare one meal.  He has fewer burgers to flip so the food arrives quickly.  Also, there is no annoying dinner conversation to slow one down.  It’s hard to talk and chew at the same time, and quite frankly, if you do that, then that’s probably another reason why you are dining alone right now anyway.  You can still carry on those remarkably entertaining conversations in your head, without spewing croutons across the table.

You don’t have to worry about that awkward moment when the waitress asks if this will be separate checks, or if she doesn’t ask, sets the bill down between you and your dinner date leaving the two of you to glance between the check, each other, and pretty much any other point in the restaurant which would be less uncomfortable.

The bill is lower since you’re only paying for one.  The tip is lower as well.  Have I convinced you this is the way to go, yet?

But it’s not all fun and games.  It can still be awkward if you order the lobster.  Especially if you are at Burger King–have it your way apparently does not include surf and turf.  And if you order the most expensive meal, will you get lucky tonight?  Your hand starts to tremble in anticipation.  You drop your lobster in the butter.  There’s a lot of pressure there if you order the lobster.  If your wrist is sore, or you have a headache, you might want to stick with the salad.

But if you are prepared and dine modestly, the evening can be delightful.  Prepare some jokes in your head to entertain yourself.  Other patrons in the restaurant will be envious of you laughing to yourself and making them wish they were dining with you.  At the cool table!  Don’t be rude and ignore yourself while texting on the phone.  After all, if you had someone to text, you wouldn’t be sitting there alone anyway.

And if your restaurant has televisions, you have the choice of seats around the table to have the view of whatever TV you want!

Lone Appétit!

The Whoville Marathon

Scrolling down Facebook, I came across an add for compression socks for runners.

SeussRunners

I see this, and immediately, my mind isn’t thinking running socks, it’s thinking Dr. Seuss.

WhoVille

Every Who down in Whoville liked Running a lot, but the Grinch, who lived just north of Whoville – did not. The Grinch hated Running – the whole Running season. Now, please don’t ask why; no one quite knows the reason. It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were laced tight. Or it could be his shorts chafed and didn’t fit him quite right. But I think that the most likely reason of all… may have been that his Asics were two sizes too small. But, whatever the reason, his shorts or his shoes, he stood there on Race Day hating the Whos. 

I certainly don’t hate running, but why on God’s earth  would I wear something that looks like it was designed by Dr. Seuss or trendy in Munchkin Land?

I fully understand visibility, particularly if you run in the dark.  But seriously?  These things are visible from space!  They hurt your eyes!  I’m an eye doctor.  I should know.  And drivers might be laughing so hard they still run you over like the Wicked Witch of the East.

You have no running power here.  Be gone!  Before someone runs a car over you too!

I tried the whole clown shoe thing–you know what I’m talking about–those shoes that try to use every color in a Crayola set of 64 and were probably designed by the owner’s 3-year-old daughter in preschool.  The experiment failed primarily because they weren’t comfortable.  But the gaudy color thing is just not me.  It is actually getting harder and harder to find shoes that only have one or two colors, and don’t glow in the dark as if they were manufactured in Chernobyl.

In running, function and comfort should trump everything.  But do we have to sacrifice good taste?

Do we want our sport to end up like this?

AlCzervik

Nice thing about these clothes? I can play 18 holes and then jog 13 miles without changing!

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