Column: "The Sports Trail": New Orleans heat no problem -- then we came back home!

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Hot. Sweltering hot. Scorching hot. Darn hot. Yeah, it's the annual weather warmup for football practices, but it's also the weather that vacationers have to deal with as they try to take that last get-away from work before school starts in August.

And showing that native wisdom that has served me so well over the years, I hit the road last week on Wednesday, avoiding the triple digit temperatures that blasted the Ozarks over the weekend.

Not gonna sit around in my house, watching movies I've already seen just so I could lay under the airconditioner. Nope, it was the open road for me -- the road to New Orleans.

Well, okay, it was a little warm there also, but at least the humidity filters out some of the sting from the sun as you make your way from restaurant to restaurant.

The shock of going from the intense, humid outdoor air in the New Orleans area to refrigerated indoor air is more intense if your clothes are soaking wet -- which they usually were.

I drove 11 hours to Mandeville where my daughter, Amy, her husband Bobby, and our two grandboys, Connor and Will live, arriving late at night.

As I stepped from the car, my head was ringing with sports facts and oldies tunes picked up from the radio. Lance was still winning the Tour de France, Tiger was still winning at golf, and the BeeGees could still sing.

Then the heat hit.

"Man," I thought. "I had forgotten what a sauna this place becomes in the summertime."

But all that was forgotten over the joy of seeing the boys, who went wild the next morning when granddad amazingly appeared at the breakfast table.

I was about to say something to the effect that no human could possibly survive outside in the heat when I heard a lawn mower crank up. It was Steve, the next door neighbor who is originally from Toronto, Canada.

Steve played quarterback back home, and didn't seem to mind the deep South heat. I heard another machine crank up and another neighbor was out edging his sidewalk. Then a four-wheeler whirred by with two youngsters on board.

When we went to lunch in Madisonville at the famous Morton's restaurant on the Tchefuncte river, a group of senior citizens from a local nursing home were enjoying the seafood before their return trip, all oblivious to the heat.

Kids played in their yards when daddy got home from work, moms walked briskly down sunny sidewalks for exercise, and bikers were everywhere on their motorcycles.

By the time I had mowed the yard and hauled tree limbs and flower bed cuttings away in preparation for Will's first birthday party, I was dealing with the heat, no problem. Then our oldest daughter, Kerrie, arrived with her car windows down.

"A/C fan isn't working," she said with a smile as she breezed past after an hour on the road.

So Saturday we headed for home, to Vicksburg, then north to Pine Bluff and finally to Conway, where we stopped for the night.

"Good grief!" I gasped as I stepped into furnace-like heat. "How hot is it here?"

Sweltering hot. Scorching hot. Darn hot.

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