Let me tell you about Lake Moomaw…

May 21, 2004, 2:25 AM

What a wonderful day on Wednesday! I admittedly got a late start, not leaving for Covington until 1 PM. But I still had fun. Stopped at Wal-Mart in Covington to grab some cheap flip-flop sandals (palm tree print!) and some sunscreen, and then went off to the lake.

I found the swimming beach, and the little bath house next to it, and changed into my suit, and went to soak for a while. It was fun. Very cool and refreshing. Very quiet, with the Interstate and the city of Covington far away. It’s really a great place to let your mind just go. Way out in the mountains, where you can just let your mind relax. I do love Lake Moomaw. I need to go out there again some time.

Meanwhile, the Covington Wal-Mart is amusing. I think it’s perhaps the smallest Wal-Mart Supercenter I’ve ever seen. It’s also what I’d describe as a “transitional” store. On the outside, it looks like the older-style Supercenters, like Staunton. But on the inside, it’s just like the Dayton Wal-Mart, which is a newer-style Supercenter (the ones with “Always” over the entrances). But it’s painted gray inside like the older Supercenters. It’s also amusing about the signage. You know how practically every Wal-Mart says “Thank you for choosing your (city name) Wal-Mart”? Well, in Covington, over the Grocery entrance, it says, “Thank you for choosing your Covington Wal-Mart” (right over the doors, mind you, vs. over the cart area). Over the General Merchandise entrance, there’s nothing at all. My semi-humorous interpretation is, thanks for shopping at Wal-Mart if you’re buying groceries, but if you’re not, thanks for nothing. We realize that this is probably an omission rather than something done intentionally, but it’s amusing.

Of course, really interesting is that in the really early older-style Supercenters when they were new, like in Bentonville and Springdale, Arkansas, instead of having “Thank you for choosing your Bentonville Wal-Mart” or “Thank you for choosing your Springdale Wal-Mart” over the little cart room, it had the local high school’s mascot on it. In Springdale, it said “BULLDOGS” and had a picture of a giant bulldog’s head over it. In Bentonville, it said “PRIDE” and had a picture of a tiger’s head on it, as Bentonville’s mascot was a tiger. It seems that some time between 1992 when we left Arkansas and 1995 when the Supercenter in Staunton was built, that mascot concept was dropped, and the “Thank You” sign was put there instead. By the way, there were no Supercenters anywhere near Stuarts Draft until 1995 when Staunton Wal-Mart became a Supercenter.

See, living in Arkansas for the seven years that I did does have its benefits, since I got to experience a lot of Wal-Mart history right as it happened, right where it happened (Rogers is right next to Bentonville, where Wal-Mart’s home office is).

Yeah, I got off on a major tangent there. That’s what three in the morning will do to a person. Still, I did pretty well at Lake Moomaw. I had a good two and some hours on the lake, and got back into town before it got too dark. Then after swinging by Covington Wal-Mart, I was on my way back home, in torrential rains that had me going 45 (the speed limit is 65) on I-64. I figure it was either that or go careening down a mountainside, probably in a rolling motion. That would be unpleasant, needless to say. So I stayed slow, and made it in one piece. Since I’d hate to see those brand new brakes be attached to a totaled car. That would be unpleasant. I’d also hate to get hurt, too, which would happen if I went rolling down a mountainside.

And for those of you who think that Wal-Mart is an evil corporation (WARNING: GOING OFF ON ANOTHER TANGENT), let me introduce you to Memorial Park in Bentonville, Arkansas. Take a look. It was built when Wal-Mart needed the land that the original Bentonville Pool was on, which was part of “Melvin Ford Park”. Wal-Mart did buy the land, and demolished the (in my opinion) old and run-down pool, but not before building Memorial Park as a replacement, with the new “Melvin Ford Aquatic Center”, which is a huge new Bentonville Pool, with a separate diving pool, and a separate kiddie pool. See, an evil corporation would have just bought the land, demolished the building, and left the city in the cold. Instead, Wal-Mart built the city a brand new pool that was three times as big as the old one. Look at pictures of the pool to see for yourself. Note that the tube slide was not there when I used to go to this pool, and based on the picture, it looks like they demolished a couple of diving boards including the high-dive, to put it in. When I went there, they had four diving boards. One low one (barely above the water), two high ones (one was always closed to keep a safe distance between people, and they’d alternate which one would be in service), and a medium one. Now, based on the picture, it seems that they ripped out the low dive and both high dives for this monstrosity of a slide. We have a picture of my sister on the high dive somewhere – I’ll have to dig that up and show you some time.

Though I’ll bet I know why they took out the high dives. From my experience, you could really go deep down in that 14-feet-deep diving pool. And unless you touched bottom and could push off to go back up, you had a long ways to go to hit the surface. And that could be taxing on your breath-holding skills.

Plus you have to figure that a high dive is dangerous by its nature. You’re essentially walking on a narrow strip of whatever diving boards are made of (let’s just say you’re walking the plank), suspended ten or fifteen feet or so above the water surface, with no sides on it. Then you take a big bounce, and jump off. Still, lose your balance, and you’re falling off, landing in some god-awful position on the water. Plus the risk of hitting your head. Can we say lawsuit? A slide is much safer for getting people into the water from high up, since it’s got sides on it. Still, the diving boards were fun, though I always resented people enforcing a rule of only one bounce on the diving board. I resented it mainly because in order to get the proper leverage on a diving board to get some significant height going before making your descent (and a better overall jump or dive as a result), it usually took about three. More than three, you’re just stalling. Less than three is a weak attempt. And yes, I was aware of the other kids waiting in line to use the diving board. Screw ’em. Let them wait. Yeah, I was one of those kids, who took their time to do a quality job. Yeah, quality isn’t always popular when there are other kids around, but if I do something, I want to do it right. Otherwise, you might as well just forget it.

And I got this “Wind Tower” floor fan today at Wal-Mart. Nice fan. It’s not a fan like my old one (it’s in a photo about halfway down the page next to the couch if you click that link) that Mom commandeered against my will to let Sis take to Virginia Tech, where it subsequently burned out. Not one of those, where it’s got a cage with blades in it. Oh, no. This is one of those new style fans that looks more like a space heater than a fan. Take a look at this similar fan from Lasko’s Web site (Lasko is the manufacturer of the fan I bought). I have a feeling that it and I are going to have a wonderful relationship once I set it up (it’s still in the box). It even has a remote control, something that I consider to be entirely unnecessary, but is kind of cool nonetheless. I can foresee many cool nights up here in the futureā€¦

Web site: "Springs Time", about a bath house at Warm Springs that I'd like to go to one of these days. Seems like another great aquatic relaxer...

Song: It's from Spaceballs, the song that is playing in the background when we first see Barf on screen. He's eating dog biscuits at the time, and Lone Star is calling for him. You've got to love the way Lone Star does it. He's slumping back in his chair, and the way he says it, you'll think he's going to blow. "Barf... Barf... BARF!" And that's when we realize that "Barf" is a character in the movie, and not that Lone Star is going to puke. (Which is something else, with Pizza the Hut: "If it isn't Lone Star, and his sidekick, Puke." "That's Barf." "Barf, Puke, whatever!"