Thursday, August 04, 2005

Gold Washes Ashore

Park Circle 4.25

It took me a little while to get out the door after I got home from work. I knew that it was going to be hot out, and I wanted to pick the route with the most possible shade. One thing that I have noticed about using aerials to lay out routes is that I tend to pick routes in the direct sun because they are easier to see in the photos. The street grids on mapcard don’t always register very well at the higher resolutions so sometimes you have to guess at the location of the street when it is under tree cover. This is even more difficult when the route is on a trail or alley that is not marked on the map. I think that I need to start toggling between google maps and mapcard because the street maps on google are much more accurate and the aerial photos are more current. I have been looking at ways to use google maps on the blog site, but what I have found so far makes it seem pretty technically involved. I would like to be able to imbed photos, routes, and text into the maps, but I think right now this is beyond my capabilities.
I ran the “Shelley’s” route from a few days ago until I reached Patterson and 12th St. Here I took Park Circle and continued to follow the river as it winds to the north. This is a somewhat newer neighborhood made up mostly of 60’s ranch style houses. There is a thick canopy of oaks along most of the route, which helped some to mediate the ninety-plus degree weather.
These river corridors are such strange, insular communities. The only access to these houses sometimes is through crack addled, decaying streets in the more neglected parts of town. Where these streets dead end at the river road, it’s as if you’ve stumbled into a sort of oasis. The foliage is lush and well manicured, the gated driveways have intercom talk boxes for security, and the only pickup trucks on the street are pulling trailers full of lawn equipment. I wonder how these people give directions to their houses. It must be embarrassing for them to think that their dinner party guests could be propositioned by a prostitute while waiting for a light to change. Or to think that they might stop at Alpine Liquor for a last –minute house warming gift and find themselves perusing the aisles of Boone’s Farm and Thunderbird while listening to the cashiers answer the phone by giving out the days lotto numbers before saying hello.
Maybe these people are above that. Maybe they don’t care what the cultural elite thinks about their choice of neighborhoods. There is not a single house in Avila or Cheval that sits on a site as beautiful as any of these houses on the river, but as with anything, there are compromises to be made.
I have worked on houses in Avila where you first have to go through security at the front gate. Here the guard calls the residence to make sure that you are expected. Upon reaching the residence, you have to call them on the intercom to have them let you through their own private gate. Then when you get up to the house you have to ring the doorbell so that they can come down and unlock the front door for you. In the middle of the day.
After this kind of production, you would expect to find large, unguarded piles of gold lying around inside, but all I ever found were tiny dogs peeing on the carpet. Some things just don’t change much.
I guess all of this security must provide some peace of mind though. I read an article in the paper the other day that said something like sixty percent of people surveyed in the Palm River area of Tampa viewed the possibility of their own murder as the number one threat to their well being. By contrast, of the respondents in Avila and Cheval, not a single one ranked murder as being among their primary concerns. (Addendum: so my figures were a little off, but you get the gist. Read the survey results for yourself here.)
Any type of waterfront property commands a higher price, but there is apparently a difference between living on a lake in Lutz, and living on a NAVIGABLE waterway in the center of town. Just imagine the possibilities for a naval assault!
I reach the northern end of Park Circle and head east to 22nd Street. North of me is a large piece of vacant land along the river that I have explored once or twice before. This property is crossed by several footpaths with small wooden bridges across creeks that flow down to the river. The paths are cluttered with old carnival equipment and the detritus from an ongoing series of homeless encampments. This is where the majority of Joel Brown’s Heart of Darkness was filmed. I’ll have to save this exploration for another day and a longer run.
I head south on 22nd in the full sun, glad that I only have another half mile to go before Jan picks me up at the finish.


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