Thursday, April 29, 2010

An odd turn of events

I came home one day last week to discover my yard had been invaded by a flock of flamingos. They had just made theirselves at home right in my front yard, as if they had lived here for years. They really showed no fear, and in fact, I had to step over them to even get in my front door.They seemed to be pretty intent on feeding, and I wondered if grubworms were a part of their diet, and if so, I was in luck because I have a lot of them.

It turned out that we had not been to the grocery store for a while and Dana's diet consists of mainly chicken and salad. Since we needed chicken, and I had all these birds in the yard........and as soon as I stepped back out in the yard with a hatchet, the peaceful birds ambled away, and did not really let me get close.I did manaage to grab one by the leg and put his neck on a stump and lopped it off.Plucking a chicken is a difficult thing to do, and I think a flamingo may be even more difficult. But soon enough, I had it cleaned and ready to slap on the grille.The meat was white meat, and seemed to be really lean....a good diet food! I brushed on a little barbeque sauce, and the aroma drifted all over the outside air. MMMMMM!!!!Soon enough, it was ready to take off the grill.Gotta say, it was one of the best meals I have ever had....and it did in fact taste a lot like chicken.

Seriously, Jessica Gulley is a young lady in the RunnersWorld group, and is taking a mission trip to Peru this summer. To raise money for this endeavor, she has accumulated a flock of flamingos, and has them transported to various "friend's" houses. I am honored to be one of those friends. The flock is delivered with a letter that offers their services to relocate the flock for a designated fee. Quite a racket, don't ya think? The cool thing is, "I" got to designate "where" the flock would be relocated to. (Which got me to wondering WHO had the flock delivered to MY house!) Another interesting clause in the agreement was that I had the opportunity to buy flock infestation insurance for another modest fee. This insurance policy guaranteed that the flock would not come back to my house. Very clever, if you ask me! I was happy to have the flock relocated, and glad to pay the relocation fee. Still thinking about flock tasty as that flamingo was, I wouldn't mind eating another!!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Trip Down Memory Lane (or The Road That Never Ends)

Those running the OKC Marathon will attest to the joys of running down Classen Blvd. Even the halfers got their fair share of the never-ending road.But finally, it ended, and we got OFF of Classen!!

Monday, April 26, 2010

OKC Marathon

Last Saturday, I made the annual trek down the turnpike to OKC to run the OKC Memorial marathon. This was the 10th running of the race, and it was a certainty that it would be the biggest and the best so far. This was my first marathon (2003) and at 43 years of age and at a lean trim 155 lbs, I ran a 3:57:06. Now I am fatter, older, and uglier. "Slower" just seems to fit all too well in that list of adjectives.

Maybe 200 friends or so from RunnersWorld made the trip, with 39 riding in a chartered Party Bus. The closest I got to the PB was following it down I-44. Rumor has is that wine and song were flowing, but what happened on the Party Bus stays on the Party Bus. This pic was put up on Facebook--Tom with a brewsky looking back as is he were TAUNTING ME!!! Poor little me all by myself in the car behind the bus. I posted a pic of MY party "bus".A very low alcohol content in my drink.

The riders of the Party Bus all stayed at the same motel, and the good times just kept rolling.
We were treated to a catered pasta buffet, and it was actually good...not bland at all, and it hit the spot.
Dessert was carrot cake and chocolate cake.
Brian wasted no time, treating dessert like an appetizer.

The alarm rang all too soon. 4:30 seemed an insane hour to wake up, although sometimes I am still UP that late. But to get to the start line in time, and to have time for a few pre-race photos, we had to get an early start.Festivity was in the air...the chilly air. It was a nippy 52 degrees at the start.
Good friends, good times. Although Ed was unaware, I had just put a sticker on the back of his singlet.And just to be fair, I was wearing stickers too!
I was running with a relay team. The Nutty Sole mates.Sandra was our captain, and she ran the 1st 10K. Susan took over from there, running 5K. Then, I took the chip and ran 12K before turning the reign over to Linda who ran 5K and handed off to Bobby who finished the last 12K. My actual plan was to run from the start and hang with my teamies the whole way. Sandra and I made our way to the back of the corral. The gun went off, and because of the long delay, we had time to visit the vacated porta-potties and still make the back of the crowd. Chip timing in a race like this is a good thing--we crossed the starting mat 15 minutes after the gun went off.Sandra had a timer, and we planned on running 2 minutes and walking one. We did this for the duration of the first leg, and averaged about 11 minute miles. I am now thinking seriously about using a timer and regimented walk breaks in the Mother Road III.
I snapped a pic of this shirt. The lady was a good sport....maybe it was because we WERE behind her.
One mile into the race we turned east, and were it not overcast, we would have had a good sunrise.Just a little later, the clouds seemed to disperse, and we ended up with a day of spectacular weather!Mile 4 I think....and Oklahoma's capitol building.
We caught up with friends Deon and Karen. Sandra tries her hand at photo-bombing.
Our transition time could have been a little better, but we really did not think we were gonna be in the money anyway. Sandra turns the chip over to Susan and leg 2 was underway.Susan abandoned the run/walk system, and chose to run by feel. We ran about 80% of the way, and only walked the hills.This was TRUTH in ADVERTISING.
We ran into a few clowns along the way.Actually, Jason and Lisa shouldn't be mentioned with the clowns. They had ran Free State the day before--Jason running 40 miles, and Lisa running a marathon, in ankle deep mud for most of the way. After a few hours of bathing, and a few hours of sleep, they left Kansas at 3:30 am and drove to OKC to cheer us on. Thanks, Jason and Lisa!!

And just to assure you I was not being critical of my teammates--I was no faster with the chip exchange.

I took off, and ran as fast as my middle-aged body would go. I thought I surely could reel off some 9 minute miles, but I struggled to keep a 10 m/m pace. Might have done a minute better had I not taken 3 or 4 pics and slowed to chat with a few RW friends. I did hit it hard near the end to look good at the transition. Linda took my chip and was off in no time. Give her an A for a quick exchange.Just a quick snap of Linda, and she was off before I could get a better shot.

I posed for a semi-group pic with Sandra and Susan........and then I continued my run at a more relaxed pace. I had passed Roman a few miles back, and he was having some hip flexor issues, and I thought I might wait up for him. About a mile in to this slower pace, I came to Candice, who had drove over to watch all of us run. (I think she really missed being out with us.) We chatted for a while while I waited for Roman. Conveniently, she was right in front of a Starbucks, but unconveniently, I did not have any $$$ with me. Awesome girl that she is, Candice hooked me up, and my usual TripleGrandeSoyLatte really hit the spot. Roman showed up right about then, and I resumed my pacer duty (actually, it was more like pacer privileges.)
I spent a little more time taking pictures from here on in.The finish line was not as lively a place at 6 hours as it might have been an hour or so earlier. I might have been under 6 hours for my actual time, although it was unofficial. Our relay team finished in 5:20 and change by the chip, which was better than our goal. I got a good training run. And, I was not really all that beat up as is usually the case after that much road running.

The Party Bus crowd had a late checkout at the motel, and I did manage to get all the salt washed off of me before heading home. All in all, it was a fun weekend!

Check back in a day or so--I may have a few more pictures posted. Also, read the post below for a stroll down Classen blvd.

PS I borrowed a couple of pics from the photography studio of Terrie Broomhall.

Needed to give her props.

Thanx, TB!

Trip Down Memory Lane (or The Road That Never Ends)

Those running the OKC Marathon will attest to the joys of running down Classen Blvd. Even the halfers got their fair share of the never-ending road.But finally, it ended, and we got OFF of Classen!!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

I am laying in a bed in a motel in a strange town. I normally go to bed around 1:00 am or so, and the hour is 9:00 pm. I have a full belly of pasta and a huge bottle of SmartWater. I should sleep but it ain't happenin. Tomorrow at 4:15 I'll roll out and board a bus and ride 5 miles and lose myself in a crowd of 10000 kindred souls and run for 26.2 miles and call it fun. It IS fun!!!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Saturday, and Part 3

Another eventful Saturday....a day for the ages. <~~~a bit of a cliche I know, but after I get through telling this, maybe you'll agree. Today was the last "long run" in our marathon training group, and being in taper mode, we were only running 6-8 miles. I had thoughts about sleeping in, or going with some friends to Keystone to run trails there, but instead decided to run with my group one last time before the OKC marathon which is next weekend. Most in our group will run the 26.2, have fun, and decide to do it all again, so of course, I'll still see them. I also had a 10:00 sales call which was a sure sale, so running trails and driving to Keystone was out of the question, and with a short jaunt at the river on paved trails, I'd even have time for breakfast afterward and still have time to shower and make it to my 10:00. It all worked out as planned, and I wrapped up a nice sale. Life is good. But then it got better. Upon returning home from my sales call, Dana was decked out in her mud shoes and had our water bottles full and wanted to run on the trails at Turkey Mountain. You betcha!! It was a little muddy, and quite slick in places. We took turns shaking wet tree branches to douse each other as we ran, and that turned into kicking mud on each other. We were a muddy mess in no time. We ended up with about 5 miles by the time we made it back to the Jeep.

While running over by the YMCA, I noticed a little ravine that ran down towards Mooser Creek that bended a little to the east and looked to get really deep. It was cloudy and raining and it looked to be as dark as night in this canyon of sorts. Perfect place to send the Barkley Book Fair night runners, so when we got back home, ate a little late lunch, I headed back to check things out. It was raining pretty steady by now. My camera was not charged up, and I have been taking pictures with my iPhone, but chose to leave it home since I did not want to get it wet. I ran the Snake Trail, and as I reached Rock City, I turned north and proceeded to cut down the to the lower trail near where I saw this ravine. As I past the last of the huge boulders I saw someone just ahead....eesh, hope it's not some homeless man. I thought I'd turn on the jets and run quickly by, but as I neared the man, I noticed the long scraggly gray hair, and stopped. Sure enough, it was Eldridge.
"Hey man. How ya doin?" I asked.
"Hmmph. Doin ok. Rain and sich." I had all the time I needed this time to get to know this guy. The times before, I had to cut our conversation brief, although the first time he seemed to just disappear. Something was unusual about Eldridge....not like he was deranged or a perv or anything--I thought he had a story to tell, and what little he divulged in our previous meetings pointed to just that.
"You that kid that runs up here all tha time, ain't ye?"
"Yeah." I always seemed at a loss for words around this guy, and I just walked with him for a while. If I am not mistaken, He was wearing the same clothes he was wearing a month or so ago when I saw him south of 61st street. His shoes were held together with strapping tape--several layers. His long gray hair was oily and no doubt dirty, but he certainly had a better head of it than I do. Either my sinuses were plugged up, the wind was blowing the right direction, or least likely, he did not reek of B.O.
He headed onto the lower trail that heads over to the YMCA, and turned off a very faint trail that no one uses any more. I had been on this trail years ago, and there are a lot of old ramps and bridges that the trick bikers built. That's another mystery in itself, as those ramps are like something out of a Dr. Seuss book and no biker in his right mind would ever go over them. I stopped to look again at the wacky elevated wood bridges and ramps and reached for my camera and of course I did not have it. Eldridge was just about to drop over the edge of this plateau and down towards Mooser Creek, and I ran a few steps to catch him. He turned to see me jogging up, and for a second, I thought maybe I was invading his space. But he motioned me to follow him down a very steep decline right down to the murky muddy creek.
"Come on, I wanna sha you something." He held on to a rope-like vine and dropped right down into the creek, or so it seemed. I followed, thinking the vine was most likely poison ivy. Fortunately, my feet hit dry ground, and there was just a little creek bank between the earthen bluff and the water's edge. Then, we edged along the water towards an opening just to the east. Here, a large gully, actually a small canyon dumped into the creek. This, I thought, was the very canyon I had seen earlier from the top side. I followed Eldridge right up the opening of this ravine. It became increasingly dark, and it seemed as though the temperature dropped 10 degrees. The walls were steep, with craggy black roots and vines littering the sides. Mucking through mire was like shuffling through moss and tar, and the smell was of rotted leaves and mildew. About 200 paces or so, Eldridge froze, with an ear to the sky. I looked up, and could hear a a mountain bike on a trail above us, and they sloshed on by. Then, Eldridge reached for a vine on the west wall of the face of the canyon, and pulled back a weave of small limbs and leaves, camouflaging an opening into a small dug-out. "Gotta be careful who naughs about this here." what are you hiding here???I thought. He stepped inside, and I followed. It was a fairly large cut-out area, and Eldridge reached for an old muddy oil lamp and with a quick strike of a match, illuminated the hand dug cavern. As he drug the makeshift door over the opening, I noticed a couple of rickety rusty lawn chairs, and he motioned me to sit down. Uncomfortably, I did so.
He took a seat and fumbled around in some pocket or compartment inside his jacket, and pulled out a wadded up foil pouch, and a pack of rolling papers. Oh great, we're gonna smoke some weed! How did I ever get into this mess??? However, as he rolled a cigarette, I noticed it was not marijuana but tobacco....maybe even pipe tobacco. He lit up, and the sweet smell of the smoke reminded me of my grandfather's pipe.
"Wanna smoke?" he asked.
"Nah, I don't really smoke." Stupid response.....either you do or you don't! That almost sounded like my momma would spank me if she found out I smoked! I needed to settle down. This guy still seemed like a passive man, not one at all intent on harming anyone. "What is this place?" I asked--breaking the ice.
"Oh, remember when ye asked where I lived? This is one of the places. I told you here, there, aroun. I guess you could call this 'aroun.' I dug this place out a few winters back when we had all that snow so bad and it sted cold so long. This place never gets to warm or too cold in the winter. Always a little wet, but a man can live here if he has ta."
"What do you eat?" WTG Ken--another dumb question!
"Well, I don't et all that much. I kill a squirrel or a rabbit ever now and then. I have a few potatas planted up the draw. Don't do much, don't need much food." I was thinking maybe I could bring him some decent food and lots of ideas were running through my mind. Then, I remembered what I really wanted to know about this man.
"Hey," I blurted, "Remember when we met about a year ago over on the bluffs by the railroad tracks. You showed me that cave, and we went in and came out somewhere else? Where was that? What happened there?" He was silent for what seemed like a long long time. He took several long draws on his cigarette, and a haze of smoke filled the cave. The nub of the cigarette was getting hot and he pinched it with the tip of his finger and thumb, just like stoners do with their reefer. He finally flicked it over to a dark corner of the cave, and took a long breath and let out a sigh.
" sim like someone who maught actually believe the story of that cave. There's a lot of things about this area and about me and people like me that no one would ever believe--nor would I think they could even if theyd seen it." Another long pause. He seemed to be thinking about what he was about to tell me--maybe weighing the pros and cons. Maybe he was schizophrenic. Maybe he was just full of crap. Maybe there was something about him that was indeed supernatural....
"See, people don't understand exactly how time works. People think of time as a long stret line. And for some folks, it is....and for them, it's all it'll ever be." I digested that a little, while he thought about what we was gonna say next. I wondered where he was going with this, and he had me on the edge of my rusty chair waiting in anticipation.
"See, if time was really just a long stret line, calenders would be a long ribbon a paper...but they ain't. People long ago when they started makin up calenders knew that--at least some of them did. But in a calender, each week is underneath the next. Monday is right underneath a Monday above it and so on. Time is more like that."What does that have to do with the cave, I thought.
"See, things in time maybe a week before, but often like weeks and months before, even years--that has connections to the actual day you is in."
"Wait a second," I jumped in, "You mean you're talking about time travel?"
"Not exactly. Things happening last week, last year....that has a lot to do with things happenin right now." Doh! I thought. Anyone would agree to that! I think he knew I was thinking that too, and he scrambled to clarify what he was trying to get across. "Sometimes certain people can make jumps in time when it overlaps like that. Now I know there's lots of stories and movies and such about time travel, and most all of em just got it all wrong. They try to make some sort of love story about it or someone figures he can get rich, win a bet on the world series, win the lottery or sumptin. It ain't all that glamrus. Folks that move around in time like that don't go for all that stuff."
"So you're saying you can move back and forth in time???"
"Well, most folks never believe it. You probably won't either. But a lot of you move around in time and don't even know it." I was all ears. He continued, "You ever go by someplace ever day, and then one day you notice something you ain't never seen?" Funny he should ask that--The ravine I had seen earlier was something similar to that. Also, noticed a huge hotel on 71st street that seemed to sprout up overnight.
"So you could be saying that if I drove to work every day, and than one day you notice a huge building there that you never notice being built just popping up?"
"Yeah! That's exactly what I am saying. That happened to you?"
"Well, yeah, but maybe I just didn't notice it being built..."
"Or maybe you experienced a time shift. You probably have things like that all the time. People just explain it away. Never think about it. Close it off." I needed some time to digest that, but he continued.
"You dream a lot at night?"
"Well, yes," I answered.
Now for a lot of folks, dreams are nothing but their minds wandering around a little while they sleep. But you ever have a recurring that you actually enjoy."
"Um, yeah. Some like when I go to work and forget to put my clothes on." Eldridge actually cracked a grin, and then laughed. I wondered if he was guilty of that dream a time or two....ooh! Not a good thought!
"No, like a dream when you have another life....maybe you're on an adventure, living somewhere completely different. A dream where it seems so real when you wake up and you wanna go back and pick up where it left off, and there seems to be no connection as to what in the hell you'd ever have that dream. That---is a sure sign of a time shift. You are living in a separate time line, and for a brief moment, you have a realization of it. And most folks just splain it away saying it's just a dream."

Right now, I was processing all of this in my head. The guy made an interesting argument for his case....but what did this have to do with the cave on the east bluffs? And I asked him, "So where does that cave over there come into play?"
"Well, see....most people have these time shifts, where they realize or at least experience an overlapping of time. Then there's some folks who have the gift of being able to jump around whenever they want. That's what that cave is, or was."
Ok....I am waiting with baited breath for this!!!

"See, years and years ago, actually centuries ago, there were some early settlers in the area. Some folks say they were the vikings, but I ain't so sure bout that. They found this area over there on the river and kept camp for a while because the river had a good solid bottom and wasn't too deep, plus there were caves at the base of the bluffs right where we was a year back, remember? One day, one of the higher ups wife was in the cave and it was a pretty good size deep cave back then. She got lost, and never came out. Legend has it that several parties of the men went down into the cave looking for her, and they finally explained her loss by evil spirits taking her. The settlers then vacated the area, saying it was cursed, but her husband stayed, and carved her likeness in the side of the bluffs, along with several other marks and in the cave carved out some writings, mostly notes and directions of where he had looked, and messages for his beloved wife Gwen. That was several hundred years ago. If you know where to look, you can still see some of those carvings over there. But she never was taken by evil spirits, and never got lost. She wandered through to the other side through a time rift. She was so taken by the beauty of what was on the other side, that she never returned. Never wanted to."
I was speechless.
"So years and years past, and no one really knew the cave was there. But when Tulsa was growing out that way in the 20s and 30s, and when the railroad went through, people discovered the cave again. It was a popular place for some of the adventurous sorts, and a lot of people went way back into the cave. A few people even got lost but always found their way out. My brother Richard and his girlfriend Anabelle went back there. They found out about that time shift thing, and went back a few times. Truth be known, Annabelle was pregnant, and I still to this day think they wazza trying to undo what they did!" Eldridge started laughing, and the coughing. It sounded like he got choked up on a chunk of phlem, and he doubled over half coughing half laughing. OMG, is this guy gonna I need to do the Heimlich maneuver? But he regained control, and straightened up and tears were streaming down from his eyes.
Gard dangit, I loved both of em. See, somehow with that time rift, they would go in and come out, go back, come out, and they was thinking they was goin back in time. They was sure of it. Heck, they told one time, they was over there and they was maybe 10 years younger that they was. But there was a time when they was thinkin they was back, but in our eyes over here, they were not there at all. Folks thought they were lost in the cave and that's why they dynamited it off. I think I told you I digged my way through there and found them dead, cept they were like 80-90 years old, They musta died of old age, and I hope they lived a happy life. But the thing about it is, they were still right near the passageway, and it looked like they were tryin to find their way back. I buried them, and then got back out."
He seemed to be at a stopping place....maybe this was a lot harder story to tell than he was prepared for. And maybe I was the only one he had shared this with. I was wondering what he would say next, but he seemed to be through talking.
I finally broke the silence and asked' "So how long ago was this, and hold old are you now?"
"Well, that was back in 1934, I think. I was 15 or 16 then, so that's make me 90, maybe 91....hell, I don't know." This guy looked old, but no way he looked 90.
It was raining harder--I could faintly see the sheets of rain through the weave of tree limbs serving as the door. I looked back at Eldridge and he was rolling another cigarette. I did not wanna endure another 10 minutes of smoke, and edged towards the door.
"You don't believe all that I tole ya, do ye?"
Well,, Actually, I am an open minded person. Let's just say I ma fascinated and am still kinda going over all you told me in my head. A lot of it makes's just hard."
"There's somethin else ya gotta know. Don't go around trying to find yer way into that cave. There's still a passageway there. Ya gotta know how to git it opened up, and not many people have that knack anymore. Realizin that there's some time overlappin ever now and then is harmless enuff. Goin through and tryin to change things kin sometimes be a lotta trouble. See, sometimes when I goes through over there, I come back a hell of a lot younger that when I went in. Other times, I lose a lotta years. Jist never know. You keep away from that, you hear me?"
"Um, yeah, no problem." I pushed the branches and leaves away and took a step out of the earthen shelter, but turned around to Eldridge. "Hey, you ever need any food or anything....I'd be glad to help you out some way if you want."
"Aw thank ye son, but I don't need much. Ahm jist livin out my years. Don't worry about me none." And with that, I closed his makeshift door, and headed back down towards Mooser Creek.

Time shifts. Good material for science fiction, but a chilling possibility when the story is told in a carved out cave in a ravine above Mooser Creek.