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June 29, 2011

I'll Rochambeau you for it...OR-Over the river, and through the woods...

To sister's house, I go?  Yes, actually, that is exactly what happened this Saturday morning.  Like many Saturdays, I was up before the sun for a run.  Only, this June Saturday was just really overcast...with a refreshing light mist.  But what if I told you this run was different...

What if you could run from suburbia, to commercial developments, to rural farm country, back to commercial developments, in the footsteps of Revolutionary heroes (including George Washington), and then back to suburbia?  What if I told you that you could run into history?  What if I told you a run could take you into American folklore?  What if I told you I was attacked by a dog?  That all happened on my most recent run.  It's all true.  But (in the words of LeVar Burton), you don't have to take my word for it...

Since my sister moved into the next town, I've figured she lives close.  I've thought, that'd be a nice run.  I've said, I think this is the day/weekend/summer that I'm going to make that run.  But I have never done it...until this Saturday.

During the week, I made all the arrangements.  Making sure somebody could pick me up, and that somebody was going to be at my destination.  It seemed like the right week to be sure somebody would be home when I got there, and expecting me (my sister had just had a baby, quite an adventure was had, so she wasn't going anywhere).

At 7:30, I was on the road.  My iPod was pumping, and I went out my usual way to the main drag.  Usually, I turn left and go up the hill, past the correctional facility.  Instead, Saturday led me to the right.  This way is much faster.  When I reached the next intersection, by the duckpin bowling alley and the cartoon museum, I headed up a road I had only run once before.

Why, yes! Po, the Kung Fu Panda, lives
around the corner from me.
For the most part, over the next two miles or so, I was in a zone.  My pace was good, and the hills were steep but small.  The only thing of note was passing the giant bull statue at a local farm.  That was until I was passing by Kurtz Farms.

Normally, I notice the workers in the fields, tending to the thousands of plants, as the town's slogan is "The Bedding Plant Capital of Connecticut."  However, on this day, I noticed the owner of the farm house across the way was setting up for a party of some sorts, and her 3 dogs were off leash in the yard.

It's a good thing I had noticed this, because no sooner had a reached the edge of their property, when something shoved my left shoulder.  I wheeled around to spot a barking dog.  It had definitely just jumped me.  Calmly, I looked at it, and gave the dog a forceful "No!"  One of them preparing for the day's work shouted at the dog in Spanish.  The dog sat, turned, and listened.  After a few more curt sentences in Spanish, the dog took off back towards the house.  I noticed my heart rate had spiked, and took some deep breaths, offering a wave and a hearty "Gracias!" back to the man who literally got the dog off my back.  From there, I continued along slowly, crossing over (what I think was part of) the Quinnipiac River for the first time.

I would cross that river twice more, making it three times in all.  Along my journey, I also crossed over an interstate, a first for a solo-run.  Of course, nothing was crazier than passing Paul Bunyan

Wish the Brave was in town...
He's a landmark in town, and much better looking than the nearby bull (it is clearly NOT Babe, the blue ox, either).  Apparently by law, he's a flagpole.  But by roadside traditions, he's a "Bunyan"-style "Muffler Man."  Passing old Paul made me think about the unique town that I lived in.

When I entered my sister's town, about a mile later, I entered a nice suburban neighborhood.  One of the homes was from the Revolution, and several were from the 18th century.  In fact, I was running in the footsteps of the one and only Comte de Rochambeau, the commander of the French Expeditionary Force that aided the American cause after the Battle of Saratoga.  My final quarter mile actually took me along French Hill, where Rochambeau camped on his way to meet up with Washington.  In fact, that was the highest elevation of the whole journey.

When I reached my sister's house, I was greeted by my two-year-old niece (it was her birthday). All she wanted to know was where my daughter was.  My wife arrived a few minutes later, meaning I timed it perfectly.

Looking back on this run, it's kind of surreal.  First, I'm always fascinated when I cross running water on a run.  I'm not exactly sure why, but it probably has to do with the fact that my mother hated when I'd come home from the park, having always splashed in the brook there.  So, when I'm out on a run, and I'm crossing a brook or a river, I wonder where it starts, and how far I can follow it.  Though I never act on that instinct, it's still there.

Secondly, I was attacked by a freaking dog!  That has NEVER happened.  Dogs bark, but I've never been attacked by one.  What's more interesting is, after  I home, I looked up the dog (took a while to match the face and coloring), and it turned out to be a Rhodesian Ridgeback.  These dogs were used to hunt lions.  This dog was pissed I was near his yard, and he came at me.  Unfortunately, I am much, much slower than the average lion.  Luckily, with the help of a love of dogs, uncharacteristic calm, and a new Spanish-speaking friend, I won that showdown. 

Third, as a history teacher, this run really made me appreciate the area.  I knew that Rochambeau had been nearby on his way from Rhode Island to Yorktown.  I didn't realize he had camped around the corner from my sister's house.  After Yorktown and the fighting of the Revolution, George Washington and Rochambeau both camped there, on Washington's return to New England and Rochambeau's trip to Rhode Island.  How cool is that?  Finally, Washington went through the area in 1789, as well.  This is just really cool to me, and made me appreciate the run more.

Finally, it made me just appreciate all the really interesting things that are so close to my house.  It was kind of sad to find out that Paul Bunyan wasn't unique, but it was cool to find out how the town officially lists him as a flagpole due to zoning regulations.  I just saw so much...really.

So, how was your run?


S July 24, 2011 at 4:28 PM  

I never got a chance to read this last month (you know, new baby and all that). I didn't realize your run to my house was so eventful! (I also got nervous that the dog attack was by Blitzen.) Also, I absolutely love that the house around the corner has a monument in the yard. I often fight the urge to walk up the steps to it. I mean, I know the plaque about Rochambeau is there for a reason, but I always feel like I'd be intruding on their property in order to read it.

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