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Click here to see a La Crosse Tribune article about the mission in Uganda.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Serious Heat

Jonny Venters and Craig Kimbrel, relief pitchers for the Atlanta Braves, can deliver a baseball to opposing batters at speeds on the far side of 95 mph. In baseball parlance, this is considered serious heat. While baseball is, for me, strictly a spectator sport, I have had some run-ins recently with serious heat, these in the "It is hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk" sense.

Upon landing in Palm Springs for a visit with my mother on her 90th birthday, we received a southern California desert welcome, delivered in the form of a 115°F breeze. I had not experienced anything like that since the last time I opened an oven to take out my pizza. But it was, of course, a dry heat. Like that mattered. It was serious heat! And in a move I think was just showing off, the humidity soared to over 50% on the morning of our departure, simply moving the sensation from oven to sauna.

Speaking of saunas, can you imagine how this practice could have started? I mean, were there a bunch of cavemen sitting around in northern Finland, wondering what they were going to do until the sun came up - in six months? And after pondering this issue, one of them says, "I know, let's light a fire in that hut. We'll build it on a pile of rocks and when they get REALLY hot, we'll douse everything with water and sit around in the steam until we can't stand it anymore. Then, we'll run outside and roll around in the snow." And, instead of thinking that was just nuts, another of the group adds, a bit too enthusiastically I'm guessing, "Wow! Great idea. And after rolling around in the snow until we are blue with cold, we'll beat on each other with birch branches to get the circulation going again!" Seriously!

Sunday's bike ride was cut short due to some serious weather. About 10 miles away from home it started to rain with a vengence that convinced us to head back. There was a bit of a problem in that we were at the top of County K and all choices involved a descent. After deciding to start down to the west towards home, it really started to rain. As in, "I can only see my front wheel with the white line on the side of the road stretching out ahead until getting swallowed up in the swirling tempest about three feet ahead." Taking it slowly seemed the right thing to do, but wet brakes and the steep hill did not cooperate. It was an exciting ride.

Now that last bit may not seem to have much to do with the subject of serious heat. But I can get there. Trust me. Today's weather was different. Hot and humid to the point of pulling heat advisories out of the National Weather Service. You know what I mean. The ones where they say, "Limit your outdoor activity and confine those you must do to the early morning or evening hours." So of course, I set out on my bike at about 1 p.m. to get some of the miles the rain had denied me. And I can tell you, it was seriously hot. My plan was to simply ride to Stoddard and back, an easy 22 miles with no climbing required. As I got onto the open highway that runs along the river, I was riding into an 18 mph breeze. This helped a bit, in spite of the extra work required. But it was a hot breeze. My thermometer rose to 102°F, so I decided to turn around at the 7 mile mark. Returning with the wind at my back allowed riding with considerably less effort, but, there was a downside. Moving along at about 20 mph with an 18 mph tailwind means you are pretty much stuck in still air. Some serious heat.

Upon returning from Uganda in early June, I was greeted with La Crosse's first attempt of the year to simulate southern Louisiana weather. I thought then, "I'll simply go back to Equatorial Africa where it is cool." That thought has returned in the latest heat snap. Now you can forget going to Google. You can have a cold snap, so I'm sticking with "heat snap."

And WHAT A COINCIDENCE! I have tickets for a trip to Kenya this Saturday. The occasion is a visit to the village of Ola Nagele, about 4 hours north of Nairobi. I am one of 100 sponsors who are supporting Global Hope Network International's program for Transformational Community Development. GHNI brings some serious heat with these projects. And I am looking forward a really cool experience. Seriously!


Anonymous said...

Birch branches in cold weather sounds better than papyrus reeds in heat! Seriously! Have an exciting trip. Seriously!

Spiffer said...

Northern California seems to be the only sensible place left on earth, weather-wise.
That trip and mission sounds amazing. I am very inspired! Safe travels.