Last night as we rowed up the canal there were several large plastic drums floating or resting in the water. As we rowed back, there were police officers there investigating, who told us to row slowly past that point. (Not too upsetting to me! We had already done a 2000 meter race piece, and that shortened our second race piece from 1500 m to around 1200 m.) Today I just heard that they have closed the canal to all boats and are invesitgating further, as the drums contained chemicals that can be hazardous. I do hope whoever dumped them in the canal, of all places, gets a very severe sentence. (Since I began writing this, they’ve removed the chemicals and reopened the canal. I still hope for a severe sentence; risking damage to the water supply is dangerous, irresponsible, and generally Evil.

This adds one more story to the list of reasons I have been unable to row. Of course the most frequent reason has been thunderstorms (we canceled a practice just last week because of them, in fact). There have been a few times I didn’t row because I got sick, naturally and a few times when it was just plain too cold (below 32, hypothermia danger) or too hot (like the time it was 98F at 5AM in Tempe). But there have been a lot more bizarre reasons. There was the time in Houston when a race had to be canceled due to lack of water. Our lake was actually tidal, part of an estuary system and one day extreme tides and strong winds just drained it so that there was only a little pond of water in the middle, starting 30′ or more out from shore. There was the time an accident occurred on a bridge over the lake in Tempe and they kept us off the water while the lake was dragged for a severed armthat was thought to have fallen in. (There were also a couple bodies found in that lake due to accident or suicide.)

My favorite, though, is still the time Tempe Town Lake was closed because someone caught a strange fish and they thought there were piranha in the lake. It turned out someone had released a pet fish of a related (but vegetarian) species into the water. Also irresponsible (releasing pets into the wild, I mean) but at least any rowers who fell in weren’t going to end up with missing body parts.