Welcome to sunny (and hot) California!
I'm happy to report that I arrived in lovely (and hot) Pasadena around 5 p.m. Eastern time on Wednesday .... 48 hours later than planned, but in mostly one piece, for this weekend's Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships.
It seems I tore some ligaments in my left ankle jogging a few hours before my original flight was scheduled to leave on Monday afternoon, but with an air cast, metal crutches and sunscreen (it's hot), I have reported for duty.
Unfortunately, it means missing two River Rats home games (I guess Wednesday's was pretty painful for the home team), but it's the Breeders' Cup and it's in Pasadena (where it's hot), so as long as my ankle isn't hanging off, I wanted to come.
I was given the royal treatment by Southwest Airlines, even being one of the first to board with one of those fancy special blue boarding pass sleeves, and sat close enough to the front to fly the darn plane. That's a departure from my typical flying strategy which is to sit in the rear of the aircraft. Most pictures of plane crashes show the entire tail section intact, so that's where I want to be.
Anyway, we made stops in Chicago and Las Vegas before landing in Burbank (did I mention how hot it is here?). Leaving Albany at 7:15 a.m. Eastern, I was seated near a pair of buddies heading to Vegas to hit the casinos and bet the Breeders' Cup, among other things. It seems they do this every year. Must be nice. They had each downed their first drink before the plane even left the ground. At 7:15. In the morning.
Right behind me was a gentleman who was on his way to Vegas to play poker. It's hard to imagine anyone could talk about a card game for 6 hours, but he managed to find a way. After he deplaned, the flight attendant handed me his poker-playing magazine, Bluff, which advertises sex as much as it does poker. Hey, what happens in Vegas .....
Among the assorted snacks handed out during the trip was a tiny bag of peanuts, all dressed up in Southwest orange and celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month. Got a kick out of the disclaimer on the back: "Produced in a facility that processes peanuts and other nuts." Well, you don't say.
Had a chance to talk to Mechanicville native Chad Brown, a former assistant to Hall of Fame trainers Bobby Frankel and Shug McGaughey who will saddle Maram in the Juvenile Turf Sprint on Friday. Also in that race is Freedom Rings from Michael and Lyn Shanley of Albany. But that's a story for another day.
The forecast calls for temperatures in the high 80s and low 90s this weekend, so like my colleague Jeff Wilkin, I'll be keeping the heat turned off. Didn't bring a wool cap, though, although my scalp may wish I did.