16 October, 06:00
Daybreak comes. Though the rest of the writers are asleep, my room is filled with light and music and movement. As I walked thirty-six holes over the two days, my morning routine was focused on fitness. A long jog, a swim, a quick horseback ride and a dip in the Jacuzzi will ready me for the crucible; from first tee to eighteenth green Black Mesa is no less than a six mile walk up, down and around the hurly-burly pink-colored hills.
Bishop’s Lodge played its part admirably. The king-sized bed with six thick pillows was far more restful than most resort beds. On the LG flat-panel TV the “SportsCenter” anchors screamed at me as I dressed in my Adidas jogging suit: cobalt blue, long-sleeve top with black stripes, long black running pants with cobalt stripes. I turned down Neil Everett’s screeching tenor and cranked Bowling For Soup’s A Hangover You Don’t Deserve as I downed my coffee and bolted out the door. Dawn was breaking gloriously over the Sangre De Christo Mountains.
My path led me eventually to the horse corral where I chatted with the two paints and two black horses – it was a one sided conversation, but there were grateful for the attention as they chewed their hay. There are usually upwards of forty-five horses on property, but as shoulder season came, they reduced the number to ten. The run continued up the ridge where the sun was climbing out of bed, yawning, rubbing the sleep from her eyes and stretching her rays over the mountains in a full palette of color lighting up the vale below in the first pale light.
Originally a missionary, the lodge’s pink adobe and wooden chapel are easy on the eyes and on the landscape, blending unobtrusively with their surroundings. Even such additions as the tennis courts, basketball court and pool feel natural, not forced. The Jacuzzis jets were a little weak, but not so much as their New York City football counterparts – they can’t stink enough this year – but the small pool was well over 104 degrees and my sore muscles instantly relaxed. Mind and body were readied.
Breakfast brought me the frst opportunity to chat with the rest of the group, so lets meet our dramatis personae, our castaways for this episode of Gilligan’s Island:
Gilligan – a.k.a. Tony Korologos of Hooked on Golf Blog. Dressed in black golf shirt, black shorts, black cap and black vest, Tony could have passed for me. The only true “blogger” of the bunch, Tony, like Gilligan is young, easy going, fun to be around and lives for the simple things in life, good golf and good friends. A 1.7 handicap at his local munis, this Toto who’s not in Kansas anymore will have as many zany adventures over the week as, well, Gilligan.
The Skipper – Black Mesa Owner Eddie Peck. Eddie’s running the ship and provides as many laughs as his jovial TV character counterpart, although he’s much more svelte than Alan Hale and much smarter. Plus he smokes great cigars. Friendly in the extreme, Eddie could play with a Velociraptor and at the end of the round they’d shake hands/talons and exchange addresses/nesting sites so they could hook up again for another round.
The Professor – Who Else? Me: dorky, talking over people’s heads and yammering on and waving his arms all the time.
Thurston and Lovie Howell – Redanman and Mrs. Redanman. Redanman runs a website called Redanman. A golf course architecture expert and course critic, if the real Thurston was more well-traveled than him, I’ll eat my gap wedge. A tough critic and a drop high maintenance, he’s balanced nicely by his equally affable wife. They make a great team.
Ginger and Mary Ann – Another husband and wife team. The hubby is a famous sportswriter, broadcaster and film/music executive. He’s definitely as “Hollywood” colorful as Ginger and has as interesting stories to tell about starlets and athletes as the real Ginger. His lovely wife is as sweet, friendly as Mary Ann.
We’ll also meet some other offbeat characters along the way – Skelly the sportswriter, John Frew and Kevin Sniffen the PR team, Joe and Andrea – another hubby and wife team who were a joy to be around, and Andri the perfectly-permed, curly-haired, platinum blond, who could – as the saying says – make a bishop kick a stained glass window. They’ll all get some camera time this week, but now to breakfast.
And what a breakfast it was. Bishop’s Lodge pulled out all the stops for us breakfast: huge burrito-sized omelettes, fat, long strips of crispy bacon with almost no fat on them, tall wide goblets of juice, five different flavors of jam for four different types of toast served in racks (the only way to serve toast), we were fattened up and ready for the kill.