Sunday, May 02, 2010

2 MAY 10: Rugby Grounds

Some blog readers have deduced we've been on the road a bit in recent weeks. We had a short-term job which now has concluded -- a job we agreed with our employer NOT to discuss here. Before rumors start: no, we have NOT commuted to Biloxi to double our life savings at poker tables.

The work-related road trips took us to Albany several times, middle Georgia a few times -- and we even spent a couple of days in the Bainbridge area. Those stories about small-town prices sometimes are accurate. I found a convenience store which sells fountain drinks for one penny an ounce during the noon hour. If only that city had a Motel 6 thinking the same way....

We traveled to metro Atlanta to train for this job, and our employer graciously reserved a nice hotel for us near Hartsfield-Jackson Airport. A top-floor room gave us this view - with downtown skyscrapers in the distance. Hopefully no one in that hotel in the foreground thought we were spying on them.

(No, I didn't travel downtown during my free time. I spent years working in downtown Atlanta, so I didn't need to see it anymore. Besides, the odds of running into a beggar on a typical evening are about one in four.)

Turn the camera another direction, and this was the view from my hotel window. It's a look toward College Park, the city where I lived for 11 years. This past week marked 13 years since I moved from there to Columbus. I probably shouldn't admit this, but it's also 13 years since the last time I drained my waterbed.

Since I was so close to home, I couldn't resist returning to my old neighborhood one late afternoon to look around. My homes were duplexes in the area of Rugby Avenue - a wide tree-lined street extending from Woodward Academy west to Washington Road. Why Woodward Academy doesn't have a rugby club to challenge Columbus High School, I have no idea.

This is the neighborhood where I went jogging for years - and in the process trained for five Peachtree Road Races. (Yes, I have the T-shirts.) Sad to say, I am NOT in Peachtree shape these days. My anniversary run in downtown Columbus Friday evening stopped at around 1.5 miles - and even though I'm overweight, I'm thankful the wind was at my back.

I went to Rugby Avenue dressed for a nostalgic jog around the neighborhood. The ground was level as I approached Woodward Academy, noticing how many old homes had been bought for classrooms and other purposes -- and I doubt many people there still remember Amy Carter made the academy famous years ago.

The long cold harsh rainy winter showed in my neighborhood run, as I didn't make it one mile non-stop. But to be honest, I panted and puffed more back at the hotel. Walking up seven flights of stairs a few times can do that.

If you're looking for a review of the hotel restaurant - sorry, it didn't really have one. The free breakfast area was nice, but the only real late-afternoon "dining" came from fresh chocolate chip cookies being left in the lobby. Anything to keep up with the Doubletrees....

My first night of the road trip actually was spent in a different airport hotel. After staying in a Hyatt Place, I can understand why the Columbus version won the "Best All-Around" vote a few weeks ago - although I have to ask how many Columbus residents actually spend a night there.

The Hyatt Place near Virginia Avenue let me watch HDTV on a giant screen - and it offered toiletries which puzzled me a bit. It's one thing to have ginger extract in your "massage bar." But to have the bar match the shapes in the hotel logo took branding to a very different level.

It's a good thing I don't smoke, because this Hyatt Place hotel would have tacked $200 onto my bill if I had. But how would the staff know - especially if I discarded a cigarette or cigar somewhere else? Is this where airport "sniffer dogs" come for training?

The employer actually spoiled me at these airport hotels, and I'm grateful for the generosity. I was prepared to stay in a guest bedroom with fellow church members, a long way from the training site. Instead, I didn't have to share shower towels with anybody.

E-MAIL UPDATE: A reader wants to add to the buzz about how Columbus Police officers are supposed to do their jobs....

In Fri's blog you pointed out that Green Island Hills now has more neighborhood police patrol.. ..All citizens deserve protection for themselves and their property..I'm sure the chief of police did not know that as many as 5 patrol police were using radar at one time on River Rd...Using the radar was not the issue ,However, having 5 there at the same time was the issue..Keep up the good work..I enjoy your blog !!

WRBL heard from one police officer about this issue, who claimed he was ordered to stop enforcing traffic laws in the River Road area. Instead, officers were supposed to "just be visible." That saves money in the police budget, you know -- with fewer chases burning expensive gas in the squad cars.

Another reader noticed Friday's Instant Message aimed toward Louisiana:

Aren't raw oysters greased enough?

Don't ask me -- I've never eaten one. Sometimes it pays to follow the example of a picky-eating father.

There's concern that big oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico will ruin not only Louisiana oyster beds, but Alabama coastal beaches. So it's no wonder many people thought Saturday of a recent Kentucky Derby winner - Big Brown.

Let's head back to Columbus now, for some weekend headlines:

+ Qualifying week closed in Georgia for the major political parties. Two Democrats filed for State Senate, to challenge Republican Josh McKoon. I imagine this made McKoon's day - because otherwise, his accusational skills against opponents would have gone to waste.

(Unless someone files as an independent, all the other House and Senate members from the Columbus area will be unopposed in November. The Tea Party may talk about "throwing the bums out," but maybe members can't find any better bums around here.)

+ Roy Barnes aired his first TV campaign commercial, as he tries to become Georgia Governor again. But for some reason the ad says, "Paid for by Roy 2012, Inc." Either Barnes doesn't know what year this is, or he's already making plans to run for Congress two years from now.

+ Ruth Ann's Restaurant reopened downtown, four months after a devastating fire. I can't wait to see Teresa Tomlinson show up near the front door - with a campaign sign in one hand, and a sign pointing toward The Butler's Pantry in the other.

+ A new Holiday Inn Express hotel had its grand opening on Victory Drive. Are you a prostitute? No, but I slept last night at....

+ Census workers began door-to-door checks of homes where forms have not been returned. About 32 percent of Columbus residents never mailed back their forms -- and I sincerely hope the Census workers visit them with running shoes on, even if flak jackets aren't allowed.

+ The Columbus Lions ground up Greenville 60-39. Because of a quirk in the schedule, the Lions' next game also will be at Greenville in two weeks. It's this remarkable? An N.B.A. playoff series actually might be finished by then.

+ Phenix City native Tim Hudson gained his 150th major league baseball win as a pitcher, as Atlanta humbled Houston 10-1. It's hard to believe Hudson turns 35 this summer. The only way he'll get to 300 wins is by borrowing from Satchel Paige, and lying about his age.

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