Thursday, September 18, 2008

Portage the Recorder

Recorder PortageNote to Self: The next time a man in a Smokey Bear hat tells you the field trip kids are j-u-s-t down that trail, ask to see his credentials. Then remember park rangers don’t measure distances like normal people. Apparently, they estimate acreage by the number of woodchucks gestating in hollowed out oak stumps. That, or Ranger Rick wanted to watch the news crew suffer, because a half mile into schlepping my sticks, lens and self through the Piedmont’s newest state park, I’m pretty sure I felt binocular spots burning on my lower back. Soon after that, I lost consciousness altogether - a little trick I use whenever my camera strap tattoos the word ‘Porta-brace’ into my sternum while an aging tripod makes mincemeat out of what used to be my right shoulder. It’s a defensive mechanism I picked up during the great golf cart shortage of ’98 - when I was forced to traverse the entire North Carolina Zoo without so much as one of those six dollar Cokes they sell at the Pavilion. Today there were no great caged beasts to hurry me along my way, only spider webs waiting to wrap around my face once I began trudging uphill.

Cindy FarmerNot that I was alone. In fact, a local icon brought up the rear. Cindy Farmer, known to scores of viewers as Brad Jones' tee-vee wife, has anchored our morning news ever since I first branded myself with the El OCho logo. Before that she emoted on cue over at The Deuce, a protracted stint which more than established her as one of the Piedmont's primary sweethearts. These days, Cindy's a Southern fried Soccer Mom - not to mention the veteran of a thousand newsroom wars. She's also the kind of on-air talent that could host a telethon in her bathrobe and still engorge the toteboard with her goofy charm. If it sounds like we're particularly tight, we're not. But I've worked with her often enough over the years to establish an easy rapport. Yes, whether we're fighting our way through a mob of juiced-up third graders or tracking middle schoolers ever deeper into the Carolina jungle, Mrs. Loo-Hoo and I can usually do so without drawing too much blood.

Just don't ask her about her Alma Mater. There ain't enough trees in the forest...

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