While my coworkers are out looking for Happy Hours and great restaurants on the road, I am usually out looking for dirt. Every city in this country that I’ve visited has natural places tucked away in some corridor or park. Even Memphis has great trails within the city limits. So, when I go out of town, I usually hunt them down.
Running is a great hobby for exploring. I usually ask my training class participants to identify the runners in the office. Then, I seek them out. “I hear you are a runner. Where should I run?” I ask. They always have a great trail or park to share. When I was in Dallas, a fellow runner pointed me to the Trinity River Trail in Irving. It was not 10 minutes from where I was staying. If I hadn’t asked, I know I would have never known it was there. It was a developed paved Greenway that followed the Trinity River. The jewel, though, was a nature trail on the banks of the river. From the Greenway, you could only catch glimpses of the river. From the nature trail, you saw the whole thing. I put on my running shoes and hit the trail. I found a great skinny-dipping spot, but since I was in the middle of town, decided to pass. Oh, well…..
Phoenix took a little more digging. Everybody knew about the hiking trails at Camelback Mountain, but, I didn’t have enough time in the evenings to go on a full scale hike, and I knew I’d probably run in the mornings. Mountain running might be a little dangerous for the wee morning hours. I’m thinking about rattlesnakes that bite and rocks that might twist my ankle. The local runner in the class told me about Papago Park which is connected to the Phoenix Zoo. He said it would be more lush. Lush is relative. I wouldn’t call it lush. It was red dirt, rocks and sand with a few brushy bushes scattered along the side of the open trail. It was beautiful desert scenery.
I went to Papago Park last evening and watched the sunset over the red buttes at the park. It was beautiful. There was a covey of quail running about. I tried to get a photo because they were so cute, but the light was not good enough, and they were too far away. I’ll just have to remember it in my mind. I think they were Gambel’s Quail. Since I scoped out the park last night, I decided to get up early this morning before sunrise and go for a run there. I arrived about 15 minutes before the sun rose over the desert, but it was plenty light out. I spotted what I think was a Roadrunner first off, but it skittered off, and I’m not sure of its true identity. I saw a white tailed bunny hopping about. Numerous people were out mountain biking and running. I would like to have climbed to the top of the buttes, but I was afraid I’d be late for work. I did see the sun come up, and saw the city of Phoenix glistening in the morning light. It was quite breathtaking. You just can’t capture those things on camera. I tried.
In my business travel, I’ve discovered lots of natural areas running in different cities. New Orleans has a fabulous, beautiful city park. Cleveland has a great canal trail called the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail that is wooded and peaceful. I traveled to New Hampshire with Accredo and found a lovely wooded trail in the fall that blew me away. It was part of Mine Falls Park. I went there running every night. One night, I even ran into one of the women from the office on the trail. That was fun. Next week I go to Colorado Springs, and I know already where I’m going to run. There is an incline there that was featured in Runner’s World this past year. The Manitou Incline provides a stair climbing workout up the side of a mountain. You can bet I’ll be on it.
I am a Capricorn, a Mountain Goat. I love the woods, and I love the mountains. If I’m out of town, you can bet I’m looking for dirt. I love a good restaurant, but if I’ve got daylight time, I have to find a place to play. Life is so short. I just want to see as much of God’s Country as I can. Besides, my company should love my expense reports. I’m definitely a cheap date!