The Wild Kingdom

Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Bike Commute

When I was a kid, I used to love watching Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. It was a nature show sponsored by an insurance company. The host was Marlin Perkins. I think he got the gig over Halibut Jones and Billy “Blowfish” Campito. Anyway, he was a skinny old guy with white hair and a white mustache.

In its early years Marlin would be out in the field with a guy named Jim Fowler. In later years Marlin was usually filmed in an office. He’d narrate some escapade involving a lethal wild animal that would sooner or later grab Jim by the throat and drag him underwater. Then, the camera would cut back to Marlin who would say something like, “Jim’s in trouble, but you don’t have to be because you can buy Mutual of Omaha life insurance.” Then a commercial would start.

When we came back from the commercial, Jim would extricate himself from harm. After a few years, Jim figured out that Marlin was never in harm’s way. Jim bailed on the show and a beefy Aussie named Stan Brock showed up. Poor Stan. What a dope.

Today’s ride to work was filled with wild creatures (and I am not talking about Bob Cannon or Nancy Duley, although a case could be made for them, I suppose). There was a big bald eagle in the tree above the Belle Haven nest. Bright sunlight was reflecting off its face and tail and made for an impressive pose.

In Jones Point Park, near the recently repaired wooden bridge on the trail, I spied a large fox trotting across the trail into the woods. The local fox population boomed in the last couple of years but seems to be in decline recently.

As I passed National Airport I spotted a hawk, probably an osprey, in a tree next to the trail. He was looking away from the river. Dude, turn around. The fish are that-a-way.

My final wildlife sighting came just north of the Memorial Bridge. The near side of the river was filled with Canada geese. I turned to look at them and saw a streak just barely above the water. It was a great blue heron all stretched out and flying impossibly low and fast. Its neck had a kink in it (which is normal), its feet and legs were stretched out behind it’s torso, and the sun was highlighting its coloring.  For such an ungainly looking bird, this heron was putting on an impressive display of flying skills.

On the ride home I spotted a vulture flying in circles over the area south of the 14th Street Bridge. It must have been looking for dead ninjas.

I am sure I was annoying to other trail riders because in each of these instances, I veered all over the trail as I was taking in the show. My apologies.

My new blog feature is my Danger of the Day Award. Today’s award goes to the driver of the sedan in Old Town that passed me on North Union Street within inches of my left arm. After the car passed, I stuck my left arm out and waved it up and down to indicate that I need some space. I could see the driver as he drove away. He was gesticulating as if he were carrying on a conversation with someone. An Alexandria Police Cruiser pulled in behind the car and, when the car went to parallel park, slowed. The officer looked in the car to see if the driver was up to something. By this point, the driver was off his phone or otherwise behaving himself. The cruiser continued without stopping.

Our runner up of the day is awarded to the Rosslyn driver who started to turn onto the I-66 ramp off of North Lynn Street. The driver was looking down at something in the middle of the front seat, oblivious to the fact that I was in the crosswalk in front of her. Lucky for me she looked up in time and braked.

That’s why I choose Mutual of Omaha for all my life insurance.

Back to you, Marlin,



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