Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Hobnobbing With The Goobersmoochers

Ft. Brooke 6.3mi

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Today’s run seemed like it was destined to fail at every turn. When I woke up about 6:30 it was raining and I decided to wait a little while before going out. By the time I decided that I would just run in the rain, it was too late to have Jan pick me up at the finish. I wanted to run about six miles along the river, and these routes don’t seem to lend themselves to loops with even numbered mileage. The bridges are spaced about a mile apart and my house is about a half mile from the river, so any loop route ends up being an odd number of miles. Besides, I had spent the time on Monday to lay out the maps on both mapcard and the Gmaps pedometer. I decided to wait until the evening, hoping that Jan would want to go to the gym and could pick me up there.
Jan came home a little earlier than I expected and wanted to go to the gym before the five o’clock crowd got there, so I ended up running in the heat again. It was fairly overcast though and I made sure to take my time.
On the path below the Hillsborough Avenue bridge I find a briefcase broken open, its contents strewn about the rocks and in the water, obviously stolen from a neighborhood car or home. This sidewalk underpass has only been here a few years, since the completion of the new bridge, but the city has done its best to return it to its former wild state. The guardrails are all broken, the weeds have grown up as tall as me, and the sidewalk is covered in thick green algae from the constant bridge runoff. The little nooks below the overpass make a pretty decent bed, and they are often pressed into service in this capacity. This is the one and only place where I have witnessed hobo sex. I think the riverfront view lends itself to romance.
Again I’m trying to follow the river as closely as possible, but I remember that the river road comes out right at the foot of the MLK bridge. This is a dangerous crossing to make in a car and I don’t think I want to try it on foot. Instead I head south on North Boulevard, cross at the light, and go west to the river. When I make it to the bridge I see what looks like a footpath underneath it, this could solve my street-crossing problem in the future.
Heading south I pass the Franciscan monastery and convent. I’m amused at the number of “No Trespassing” signs posted on their grounds. They might forgive those that trespass against them, but they certainly don’t encourage it. I’m starting to wonder why it’s important for me to stay close to this river. Most of my time is spent craning my neck over the fences and between the houses trying to get a glimpse of it. One house actually has a sign that says the premises are patrolled by trained attack dogs. Man, that’s harsh.
A few years ago, one of the homeowners next to Rivercrest Park put a privacy fence around their backyard, blocking the river view from the street. One of the neighbors across the street put a sign up in his lawn that said, “A six foot fence destroyed my happiness.” I’ll bet those two guys didn’t go out to mow their lawns at the same time anymore.
As the river heads back to the east, I follow its curve and cross North Boulevard at the foot of the bridge. Here I pass the old docks and Tampa Armature Works at the western terminus of Seventh Avenue. The streets and architecture here show their obvious connection to Ybor City. At Tampa Street I head south again, past the Oceanic market and under the interstate. Again I take Franklin Street past the succession of boarded up storefronts. Is Soul Train Shoes still in business?


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