Friday, February 29, 2008

Leap Day

"What's so amazing

That keeps us star gazing

What do we think we might see

Someday we'll find it

That Rainbow Connection

The lovers the dreamers and me"

Kermit the Frog

We are going to start of today's blog by honoring a true genius and the greatest graduate to ever attend the University of Maryland, Mr. Jim Henson. This man has single handidly brought so much joy to young children and adults through his Muppets and sesame street. He was the greatest puppeteer to ever live and his cast of characters household names, Elmo, Big Bird, Kermit, Ms Piggy,Bert and Ernie and of course The Cookie Monster. So today we salute the legacy that Jim Henson, who sadly died in 1990 at the age of 53, left behind and honor him with a simple Fear the Turtle.

Okay so I am now upto 3.2 miles up the hill, and your homework for tonite is to drive out your front door and see where 3.2 miles takes you. I was pretty suprised when I clocked it myself today, it's some distance. Today was a big pool day for me and happily for many of the other campers here. I'll start by saying that temps hit the mid-70's today( I apologize to those reading in Madison or places north). I took my volleyball into the pool to try and work on my serve I figured swim a lap serve a ball. I did this for about an hour 40 or so laps. Then about 5 ladies joined me in the pool and we played some makeshift volleyball. Now it's not treadmill but it's fun and you burn some calories. Exercise you enjoy is always good. I am still feeling good, clothes are looser, I know you want numbers next week I promise.

This week is Nascar week in Vegas and when I went to watch the Terps in Mesquite the town was swarming with the fans. You know the ones, wearing a jacket with 20 sponsors on it that they paid $125 to freely advertise for them. I have no problem with Nascar fans but don't wear the silly jackets everywhere and new this year Dale Jr. is no longer #8 so that stuff has to go sorry.

Food the last few days has been pretty good. I could not begin to guess the number of hamburgers I have eaten in my life. That number would have to be in the thousands but tonite was a first. A boca burger. Certainly no cow died for my dinner which is good but if I never eat another boca burger it will be too soon. That thing was nasty and even with lettuce. tomatoe, pickles, salt, pepper, mustard. and ketchup it tasted a little like the inside of my shoe. Certain things should not be toiled with and the hamburger is one for sure.
A couple other quick notes: I assembled some people tonite for a Scattegories game, glad to see some people buck up and stay awake past nine. Old lady of the path tried to be nice today and say something to me but I was having none of that. A special thanks to Aimee who knitted me a hat and Cal who bought me some goggles when I lost my first pair. How do you lose goggles? I have no idea. Also my mom has sent a couple care packages which make all the other people jealous when I get them. Tomorrow will mark my 12th trip up the hill or atleast 32 miles of walking. It will be my 15th pool aerobics class and 13th day on 1200 calories or less. No major food craving but I got a whiff of popcorn in Target tonite that had me contemplating grabbing the whole popper and making a run for it. And one final piece of advice. Never watch something on the Travel channel called pizza wars when eating 1200 calories, it was sadder than watching Brian's Song. I hope everyone has a nice weekend. Spring is coming I swear and I know I owe a few people emails. This weekend I swear. Peace, Jim

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

I'm sunburned

"Maybe if we think and wish and hope and pray it might come true"
Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys
So here is what you say to an old lady, nothing, you just shake your head and realize that being old and bitter and ready to die stinks, and you laugh and accept that mean people suck and you move on. I have seen her twice since then both times I have just ignored her.
Eggs for breakfast with an english muffin that had raisins in it. Come on, no one wants raisins in their muffin. It is funny to watch the people try to spice up there meals with strange sauces, and salsas. Lunch was the pizza again, and when you are hungry it is amazing how good food you would have turned your nose up to 10 days ago now tastes. Dinner was a chicken and rice stir fry bowl. It was served with chopsticks and most of the people gave them a shot, as for me, I welcomed the invention of the fork and use it proudly. Although I am sure dinner would have lasted a few extra hours if I tried the chopsticks. I have been amazed at how many foods I would never have thought of eating I have tried and accepted this week. There's alot of tofu but I can't really taste it. Sprouts, zucchinni, eggplant, cauliflower, when its 1200 calories nothing goes to waste.
There was a new personal best going up the mountain today but it hurt. The people that jog this thing amaze me. I'm pretty sure I can take them if we were to race at equal weights but they are a different breed. I have picked up some sunburn the last couple days in the pool. Now my wife packed 4 different sunscreens and I swear I have been slathering that stuff on all week but my face and back are a little fried.
Todays true genius is the album Pet Sounds, created by Brian Wilson and recorded by The Beach Boys in 1966. The instrumentation, arrangement, and layering of voices and sounds was 20 years ahead of its time. It inspired so many artists to reach higher with their music. The Beatles claim Sgt Pepper's was their attempt to replicate Pet Sounds. It's a stunning, beautiful, sorrowful and joyous piece of music. If you have never sat down and listened to this album start to finish you are missing out. I salute you Mr Wilson and realize the toll this album took on your psyche but there has been no finer piece of music recorded in the last 50 years. Tomorrow is day 11 same old same old in the morning treading in the afternoon and then the Terps in a must win game a Wake Forest. Let's hope for the best Peace, Jim

Wednesday Morning

"God only knows what I'd be without you"

Brian Wilson, The Beach Boys

It's starting to feel a little like the movie Groundhog Day around here as each day begins the same as the day before but today is day 10 and I am up a little early, I guess falling asleep at 8pm will do that for you. Tuesday began with the dreaded buckwheat pancakes but I was ready for them and begged for just some toast. One of my favorite times of the day and I don't know why is the van ride out to the canyon each morning. It's only 5 minutes long but I find some bit of serenity in that time and that of course is followed by my least favorite time of the day the second step up the mountain.

But I did atleast get one hearty chuckle today about halfway up the mountain. There is and old lady that I cross paths with virtually everyday. Imagine the wicked witch in the Wizard of Oz but not that attractive or young looking. Now I have seen this lady almost everyday and said hello and smiled with barely an occassional grunt in return. Today she stops the guide I am walking with and says loud enough so I can hear. "Can you please tell him(me) to stay on the right side of the path, he doesn't look very agile and I don't want him to crash into me." I have to get my day started so I will finish this story later but I'll give you chance to guess my response. Also we will be discussing the greatest piece of American music composed in the last 50 years, a tiny piece of it is todays song quote. Peace, Jim

Monday, February 25, 2008

Monday day 8

"Rainy Days and Mondays Always Get Me Down"
The Carpenter's
Week two began as did week one minus the anxiety. 17 new campers into the group and 17 stay overs. It was suprisingly hard to say goodbye to the people who left yesterday. It was an amazing group of people and their departure has lessened a bit the atmosphere around here. Up the hill at 8 am after a breakfast of toast, egg whites and turkey bacon. In as much as the quantity of those three things can equal 300 calories. I spent most of todays walk with Larry one of the fitness ridge guides who happened to play basketball with Rick Barry at the University of Miami. Very cool and he confirmed what was widely reported. Rick Barry was a ball hog, egotistical jerk. I set a new personal best on the mountain and will be sniffing the top by next week( I hope).
We came back for pool class which is my favorite hour of the day. I don't want to sound like too big a weenie but I am always happier when I can score the one orange noodle. I failed that made me sound like a weenie. I got to do a half hour of laps before class.
Lunch was a "burrito" made up of mostly some beans. potato, and boca burger. It wasn't exactly the chicken fajita burrito from Chipolte but then it had about 1000 less calories. I kinda liked it and with my new found love of green tobasco it was pretty tasty. I also had what I have at most meals a big plate of carrots and a naval orange. Lots of the wonderful color orange in my life today.
Afternoon started with Circuit traing at 2:45 it ran just over an hour and a half. Now I don't like to do many things for an hour and a half that don't involve sitting, a remote and some salty snacks but I sucked it up and tried to go a little faster and a little harder then last week. At 4:15 I could not wait to get in the pool. And while the plan was to bang out another half hour of laps it was a little more floating and a talking than actual swimming. I spent a half hour in the hot tub. Dinner as always was at 5:30 a chicken breast and and some cous-cous. I'm not sure where the chickens come from that supply us these morsels but they sure don't grow them big wherever it is.
It's now 7:45 and they really need some nighttime activities because these people have no idea how good a trivial pursuit player I am :) It seems as if everyone is in their bedroom and ready to turn out the lights. Alot of the people use the early evening to get massages, facials, pedicures etc. but I'm not that guy nor do I want my exit bill looking like a week on a cruise ship.
Just a quick word about Ms Karen Carpenter, can't put her in the true genius category but her contribution to music was pretty big. You still don't see many drum playing teenage girls with the voice of an angel but she paved a path for many of the girls soft rockers of the 70's and her brother Richard was an exceptional composer and music arranger and there songs have lived on and will live on forever. And eventhough it was a monday I wasn't down and it wasn't rainy at all, in fact sunny and mid-60's. In fact I'd say I felt more like a Superstar and on Top Of The World then down and For All We Know it will just keep getting better til I'm Close To You guys again. PEACE, Jim

Sunday, February 24, 2008

And on Sunday he rested

"Somewhere over the rainbow
Way up high
There’s a land that I heard of
Once in a lullaby"
Arlen and Harburg
Sunday is a day off here in Utah, unlesss you are a practicing member of the LDS and then you get assigned to a 9, 11, or 1 oclock church time. There must not be many who pray at the same sunday altar as me 'cause there would be too many conflicts with my favorite sunday worship. The great NFL.
Tonite is Oscar night and one way you can tell a guy has too much time on his hands is he has seen all 5 movies nominated for best picture. That would be me. So for all of you that have not seen all 5 flicks here are some mini-reviews from worst to first. There Will Be Blood is an overwrought steaming pile of poop. Pointless, tedious, and just plain terrible. Atonement is a slightly smaller steaming pile but terrible none the less. Boring, slow, silly and a huge waste of time. No Country for Old Men, (your likely winner) was entertaining at times, disappointing at other times, and just a bit of a letdown. Juno is exceedingly clever. I liked it alot. The dialogue, pop references, and fun banter makes for a very fun movie. Michael Clayton is a strong legal thriller, amazingly well acted, a fun quick story that keeps you guessing and delivers the way you want it too at the end. Unfortunately, the best movie of the year was not nominated for best picture. Without a doubt my favorite movie this year was GONE BABY GONE. The Afflecks do an outstanding job of telling a twisting whodunit involving a kidnapping in Boston. Go see this flick and thank me later.
Tomorrow we are back on the 6 am train, heading back up the mountain, getting back on the circuit training wagon, back in the pool, and back to feeling exhausted. The truth is I can't wait.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Buffet Night

"Does anybody really know what time it is?"
by Chicago

Saturday at Fitness Ridge is slightly less structured than the rest of the week. But not the morning, so off we vanned the 3 miles to the state park to begin our ascent up the mountain. By the way guess how manyMormon churches a person passes on that 3 mile drive? I'll tell you at the end. I decided today to have the van drop me at the top of the path and walk down . I figured that would be a new adventure and I would get to see the part of the trail I had not hiked yet.

About halfway down I encountered the owner, his pregnant wife, and three kids aged 2,4, and 6 jogging up the trail. The two youngest were being pushed up in the stroller by dad. I had to confess to them that I had started up and was coming down. He said that's a "fun" thing to do on saturday but the rest of the week is uphill. Now, I think I know what is fun and believe me my idea of fun is not in the same zip code, not in the same area code, hell it's not even in the same solar system as going downhill instead of uphill.

Got back in time for pool class. Nothing says I am a macho man like holding hands with your fellow campers and going around in a circle and singing along to Gwen Stefani and some of disco's finest. It's like synchronized swimming for the mentally challenged but again fun and an enjoyable way to burn calories.

I spent the afternoon at the laundromat doing two weeks of dirty clothes. And while St George may be the whitest city in the world the laundromat was not so much. It's really expensive too. $1.75 per load to wash and I had 5 loads. And the dryers blow about as much hot air as my freezer. An hour for mostly dry and I was done. I listened to the Terps-Miami game on the XM radio to help pass the time there, and well that sucked.

We had a four pm slide show of the weeks' events and everyone gave a tiny speech about their week. It was like graduation day for those leaving and I can not stress this enough everyone here, for whatever reason they are here has been wonderful to me. Supportive, Encouraging and just happy and interesting to talk to.

We loaded into the van and headed to the Chuck-o-rama for dinner. The chuck is really just the Utah version of old country buffet. We were given 500 calories to "spend" in anyway we chose. First thing I did was fill half the plate with salad. Topped with a hard boiled egg I had been craving. Added one 3oz slice of turkey, some baked beans, and I split a baked potato with one of the other campers. Total calories 340. Went back and got a chicken breats for dessert. Most of the other people were focussed on dessert and I saw alot of frozen yogurt and a few brownies making there way to our table. I also downed 2 french fries but I ate them while still in line so I am pretty sure they had no calories :) I think 26 of 42 people made the trip. I wish we were going somewhere else in the following weeks because frankly the food pretty much sucked.

Sunday is a day for family and church here in Utah and a day of rest for us fitness ridgers. They like their churches here and each morning I pass 4 LDS churches on our 3 mile drive. I am not sure why 1 big church wouldn't be better than 4 normal sized churches but it is apparent that the mega church phenomena in the south is not taking root in southern utah. Week one is done. I feel energized, not very sore, and excited about going forward. I really didn't think on day one I would feel this good on saturday but the body is a great machine. I hope everyone is having a fun weekend and it's now 8:30 here in the mountain time zone. I don't understand either why two hours away in Vegas it's one hour different, and 25 hours away in Madison it is one hour different as well. And the TV schedule is screwed up as too, because Survivor was over when I thought it should have been starting. By the way those guys on the island got it easy compared to us. :) Oh well I hope everyone has a nice weekend see you next week for week two and of course some more true genius. Peace, Jim

Friday, February 22, 2008


"Raindrops keep falling on my head, but that doesn't mean my eyes will soon be turning red"
By Burt Bacharach and Hal David
Friday and it is raining here in Utah and it's a very cold rain but that does not deter your happy campers as at 8 am, after a breakfast of french toast, we are back out on the trail and heading up the hill. Now I owe my knees much props, they have held up well, my lower back and I need to reach an agreement that we are still working on.
Last night for dinner we had salmon burgers with green beans, if you closed your eyes real tight and worked your imagination it was just like a crab cake sandwich back in Maryland. The highlight for me was the pickles on the salad bar. Lunch today was bean tostados, which got dressed up with tobasco and salsa but again way edible.
The afternoon classes today are hip-hop dancing and living drums and while I am certain the thought/picture you have in your head of me hip hop dancing is keeping you entertained, I am opting instead for the pool for some lap swimming. Maybe next week for hip hop. Yesterday afternoon I took a treading class. I thought treading, excellent back in the water. I was mistaken. Treadmill interval sprinting, starting with 5 minutes sprinting and then 5 minutes walking all the way down 4-3-2-1-.30-.15. I felt really sorry for the girl on the recumbant bike behind me cause she got a lot of repeated views of my ass as after each interval I was bent over in your basic barf position. However no barfing but lots of sweating.
Night time here is very short. Dinner is at 5:30 is followed each night by a lecture on food prep or calories or exercise. When that ends at 7pm I spend a few minutes on the computer but by 8 o'clock I am in bed. I can not remember a week where I have watched less TV, known less about what is going on, knew who won fewer games . It's like 1970 and I get the news the following morning and not at the speed of today.
The rain today gave me a chance to break out the theme song from the second greatest movie of all time, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. It falls a small step behind the greatest movie of all time The Sting. If you are going to build a resume of fantastic movies starting with these two is remarkable, add on The World According to Garp and SlapShot and you have reached true genius status and that is where the director of all 4 of these films belongs. Today we salute True Genius, George Roy Hill, the director of all of these timeless masterpieces. Do yourself a favor and rent these movies and enjoy. And enjoy your weekend too. Tomorrow is more hills, some circuit training and a trip to a buffet. And we get to eat 500 calories at the buffet, I'm pretty sure I pick up 400 calories just from sniffing the fried foods on most buffets. Should be interesting. Peace, Jim

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Day 4 quickie

"How far do I have to go to get to you? Many the miles, many the miles"
Sara Bareilles
I have to be in the pool in 10 minutes so it's short and sweet for the now. No real genius today but tomorrow we will celebrate the real genius that is George Roy Hill. You're homework is to find out who he is if you don't know. A quick shout out to those lucky enough to be seeeing Sara Bareilles tonite in Madison a very talented young singer songwriter and a UCLA grad. Enjoy it waqs easily the event I will miss most while being here.
Today's walk was almost twice as long as yesterday some progress :) Breakfast was oatmeal but the chef threw me a bone and gave me a big bowl of fruit and an english muffin. I had subway last night watching the Terps gag hard. 6 inch turkey on honey oat and some pretzels 500 total calories and a sweet sweet diet pepsi. My best to Jared and all the rest of you....Peace, Jim

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Day 2.3

"If it takes all night that'll be all right, if I can get you to smile before I leave"
By Jackson Browne
Today is Wednesday morning and today we begin our recognizing true genius series and today we celebrate the true genius that is for my money the greatest songwriter of my lifetime. You can have Dylan, The Boss, Paul and John, Pooh's fav Neil Young, and for goodness sakes we all know I love JT, but give me the words and music of Jackson Browne as the single greatest works of music and lyrics of the last 40 years. So today I salute you Mr Browne.
Day 2 began as did day one except there were a few more creaks and pains getting out of bed I managed to be up at 5:45 and in the gym at 6 am on the treadmill for two 15 minute sets with stretching and some ab work in between. Breakfast was at 7 am and it sucked two buckwheat pancakes that were the heaviest things imaginable. I choked down half of one and grabbed some extra fruit. Get in the van at 8 am and head out to the Canyon. The class is broken down into 3 groups advanced headed out on some mountain cclimbing, intermediates headed to Jenny Canyon and although I was tempted to honor my friend Jenny by exploring her canyon I passed and headed with the newbies to the same path as yesterday. I'd like to say I saw improvement or felt better that day one but no dice. It still beats me up like nothing else.
After the walk I spent some time in the hot tub which feels really good, took in the morning pool aerobics class and got ready for lunch which was really good. A turkey sandwhich on whole grain bread with a side salad, right in my wheelhouse lotsa of mustard no complaints.
After lunch we had the choice of a second pool aerobics class or a kickboxing class. I chose the pool again. It's a good workout without the taxing pain on my knees. I followed that up doing solo laps for an hour while some people did a yoga class and others crashed in their rooms.
Dinner was a salad, some steamed brocolli and some sort of mexican lasagna. Now I can assure you that no animals were harmed in the creation of my dinner, and I never asked and don't really want to know what was in it but it worked for me. There was a apple cake rasberry glaze cake for dessert 160 calories the girl sitting next to me and I split one piece. Dinner was followed by a lecture regarding portion size.
I had now been at the ranch for about 13 hours I went to the room watched a half hour of uk-georgia in hoops and crashed. I found out this morn that obama was a winner in Wisconsin congrats to him. I have met people who live on Maui and people that live on Bermuda. There is quite a diversity of people here on both the social-economic scale and the fitness scale. Fitness Ridge will be a small part of the March 24th Biggest Loser TV show but I'll give you more details on that later. It has already been filmed so no face time for me. After dinner I am making the 30 minute drive to Mesquite Nevada to watch the Terps, no decent sports bars in St George, hard to imagine not many bars in this hard drinking town, now if you sneeze you hit a LDS church but a beer and a satellite dish not on the radar.
This morning was a little more stiffness but not too bad. Up and on the treadmill at 6 am. Further and quicker today, Breakfast was an english muffin egg whites and peach puree. edible. Back to the canyon and today hurt the worst. The hamstrings are singing out with each step and the back wants no more, but I took a few extra steps then the day before. My hat could hold no more sweat and was leaking like a faucet off the front brim. Just got a ride back and headed into the computer room to type this out. Hope all's well with everyone and thanks for your kind words and emails. Someone asked for the address and it would be a good idea to hide any contraband inside a statue of Brigham Young.
Fitness Ridge
760 South 200 West
Ivins, Utah 84738

Monday, February 18, 2008

Day One

"You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you just might find you get what you need"
By The Rolling Stones
I apologize for not staying more up to date but i hadn't done anything too exciting in Vegas. I arrived last night in St George around 4 pm. I was ready to check in to my new 6 week home but there were a number of issues with over crowding and strange roommate assignments. If you really want the whole story email me and i'll pass it on but I am hopeful they will rectify the problems and I am not going to publish them unless it is not resolved to my satisfaction.
Today started at 5:30 am and in the gym at 6 am. First order of the day some stretching and weightlifting followed by a 30 minute warm up on the treadmill. I would call that my full workout last week, now its my warm up. We next had breakfast of wheat bagel, egg whites and turkey bacon. Not too Bad. The first big event of the day is the hike in Snow canyon. 4.5 miles straight uphill. Now I am no mountain climber and it showed. I was struggling at the 1.5 mile mark and out at the 2 mile mark. The reaction I got from most people that saw me was "Are you okay, dude?" Well not so much but it's a start.
I got back to the complex at 10:30. Spent a half hour in the hot tub, followed by a 75 minute water aerobics class. I have always been a water rat so this was not terribly hard and enjoyable.
We had lunch next which was a salad and a pita with a salad in it and some mushroom soup. Not so much, I grabbed an orange and some carrots and made the best of it. We had a one hour class dealing with budgeting calories most noteable was the fact that I had to get up twice to poop. High fiber and gallons of water make Jim not want to stray to far from the bathroom.
2:30 was the beginning of circuit training. Now this was a bitch and a half. 34 stations two minutes each with one being cardio bike, elliptical, treadmill, then two minutes on a weight machine as hard as you can go about 20 seconds in between each station and a little over an hour and a half of torture. After stumbling to my room I had about 45 minutes to lie down and seriously contemplated calling it a night but dragged myself into dinner. A very small chicken breast over a dollup of purple mashed potatoes and 4 asperagus. dessert was a lovely mango tofu whip. All and all a decent meal, I could have eaten 5 of them. I then spent 30 minutes discussing politics and creation and pro life with a couple of Christian sisters and Huckabee supporters. It's now 7:18 pm and i am heading to bed please excuse the grammar spelling etcetera I am way too tired to proofread. I can only imagine my level of soreness and just for good measure I picked up a nice little sunburn in the pool today. Tomorrow should be interesting goal number one make it further up the hill. I also am lacking the energy for wittiness or fun facts but I promise that will return :) Peace

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

65 degrees :)

"Well, I'm standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona and such a fine sight to see,"
by Jackson Browne and The Eagles
So I am finishing up my drive yesterday, most of the trip through the great state of Arizona when I come upon Winslow, Arizona. I figure I can stop here and get gas and go stand on a corner so..I do. Wasn't much to see and no girl in a flatbed ford slowed down to take a look at me. But hey I did it I was tempted to continue west and also take in the Hotel California but I figured enough Rock fun and games for one day.
Other cool things about the drive included seeing elk crossing and mountain goat crossing signs, none of which choose to cross at those times but I was vigilant for their safety and protection Also the elevation of Flagstaff made it such that it had snow piled up in the parking lots and snow coverage everywhere while 30 miles on each side of it had nothing. Speaking of Snow Congratulations to Madison for picking up the needed inches yesterday to set a new winter snow mark, and so early in the year. They must be proud of that accomplishment :)
I have officially reached old man status. Here's how I know. I can no longer beat the estimated time for travel on the mapquest . Yesterday was 560 miles mapquest said 8 hours I took 9 with no weather.
You finish your trip to Vegas from the south by passing directly over Hoover Dam, there's a checkpoint but they just wave you through and you procede with tourists everywhere and constuction on a new bridge that is massive going on. It's a strange visual experience at 5 miles an hour speed and being right on top the dam.
Well I get a few days here before making the 3 hour trip north to St George, Utah. I need a few days to relax and unlike most I'm not frenzied here in Vegas. I'll watch alot of basketball and some horses running in circles and spend very little time on the tables games. Math people just don't like the house edge.
Peace, Jim

Monday, February 11, 2008

Vegas Bound

"Point Me in the Direction of Albuquerque"
The Partridge Family
"I've Been From Tucson to Tucumcari and I'll Be Willin"
Little Feat by Lowell George
Greetings From Albuquerque, It has been a very long two days of driving. I left Madison sunday morning at 9am. The temperature was -10 and the wind was blowing in the 20-30 mile range but there is no forecast for additional precipitation so I figured I am good to go. I was very wrong. Less than ten minutes into the trip there was a ton of blowing snow, which translated into ice on the road and lots of it. I was heading up a hill thinking damn this road sucks when I noticed 5 or 6 cars off the road at various angles, but the maxima trudged up the hill. I then noticed the people travelling down the road were having a worse go of it. I thought about turning around but that wasn't a real option. About three miles down the road there was a car upside down in the left lane of the divided four lane road heading south like me, problem was he had been heading north. Completely freaked out I crawled along at 20 miles an hour towards Dubuque, Iowa about 90 miles that ended up taking me 3 hours not a good start. But after Dubuque the roads cleared a bit as I headed south for I-8o. I got on I-80 travelling west towards Des Moines hopefully heading towards Denver. This road was good for a while then where the snow had blown onto the road there would be a handful of cars in the snow, off the road. Apparently with the wind blowing from the north the snow was causing big problems on east-west routes. I believe I saw around 100 cars off the road in the 120 miles I travelled towards Des Moines. That was enough for me so at Des Moines I started heading south.
I-35 towards Kansas City was in much better shape. I was a good 4 hours behind where I should have been but happy not to be waiting for a tow truck. 13 hours of driving and I called it a night in Wichita, Kansas, so much for the two day drive to Vegas. Around 3 am I thought I heard thunder but figured no way. It was thunder with the added bonus of freezing rain and sleet. I was hoping to hit the road by 7 am, but one look outside I knew that wasn't happening. Schools closed and delayed in Wichita. I stuck around until 10am saw a little sun and hit the road heading for Oklahoma City. Roads had been treated, not too bad a drive, It was still 15 or so degrees but the thermometer was heading up and I was hopeful. 12 hours later I began the descent into Albuquerque. And by descent I mean serious drop in altitude. I have never been to Albuquerque and was totally unprepared for the last 15 miles of today's driving. It was straight downhill at a pretty decent grade. The truckers were seriously moving. It was dark, windy and I pretty much expected to just be run over at any moment. I didn't pass a soul those last 15 minutes but everyone passed me. It is about 9 hours of driving left tomorrow. I had figured 26 hours from Madison to Vegas, it's going to be more like 34.
Things I learned today: Driving in winter sucks, in fact just plain winter sucks. Madison will break their all time Winter snowfall total tonite. We are approaching 7 feet of snow in the last 10 weeks. It doesn't snow in Vegas :) Oklahoma has a different definition of rest stop than the rest of the world. "Rest stop this exit" meant a small strip of road with a couple trash cans. No bathroom, no port-a-potty. One good thing about being a guy is that'll work for me, one bad thing about being a guy is we stop alot more often to pee. My wife can go 6-8 hours no problem. I'd have to be dead to make it that long. There is some truth to things are bigger in Texas. I saw the "biggest cross in the Western Hemisphere" It wasn't that big, maybe 100 feet tall. They were giving away free 72 oz steaks in Amarillo. I knew this because in the grand tradition of Pedro's South of the Border and Ronjon surf shop they had billboards 300 miles out and every 5 miles or so. You did have to consume the steak in one hour or pay full price. I'm not sure what full price was. Quick math said about 8000 calories or a week of eating at Fitness Ridge, I passed on the free steak.
Oh well congrats to Amy Winehouse - Rehab is for Quitters, Lets hope the good people of my home state and its neighbors keep the momentum going tomorrow in the Potomac Primaries. Terps vs Duke wednesday night Lets Go Terps. Peace and thanks again for all the well wishes. Jim

Friday, February 8, 2008

Who said "Go West Young Man"

"Never give up, never slow down, never grow old, never ever die young."
James Taylor
I am leaving Madison, Sunday afternoon, February 10th driving west, across the Rockies, south through Utah, and arriving in Las Vegas on Wednesday or so. I'll be in the big town for a few days before reporting to Fitness Ridge ( ) on Sunday February 17th. I will be at Fitness Ridge for four weeks thru March 16th, then off for one week and then back for two additional weeks March 23rd thru April 6th. My wife will be flying out to spend 4 days with me and I believe that week also coincides with the first week of some annual basketball event or so I am told :)
People have asked how did I find this place, why i am interested in going, what's it all about. Here is the abbreviated edition of all that. I was crammed in an airplane seat reading the USA Today when I came across an article dealing with affordable spas. ( ) I have been interested in finding a fitness/weight loss program that emphasized intense workouts and low calories. Most programs, of which there are very few, Duke being the most famous, don't really have a structured exercise program as part of their daily schedule. I know that sounds silly but that's the truth. I attacked the internet, doing research, reading reviews, looking at a few different places. I wasn't looking for pampering, massages, etc just low calories/structured workouts, a pool, and fairly warm weather.
I made the call to Fitness Ridge on November 7th I had budgeted and scraped to put together about 6 weeks worth of fees . I figured shared room @$1100 per week = $6600, however at the call the reservationist said we get mostly females and people not looking to share rooms. It'll be $1500 per week plus tax. $6600 was now about $10 grand and beyond what I had or wanted to pay. They offered $1300 per week plus tax, for the single room, I accepted. Total nut $8224. The reason I am telling you all this is I know you want to know, it's on the website, and should anyone want to come out for a week you can share a room with me and get some exercise. Also it gives me a chance to thank some members of my family who suprised me with some generous "donations" to the cause. So thanks again to to My Grandmother, Mom and Dad, and my brother Jay.
So I started working on assembling most of the things on the list of things they suggest you bring along. Here's the list:
Suggested Packing List
Light hiking shoes/Trail running shoes
Good athletic shoes/socks
Exercise wear
Hydration/water backpack
Water bottle
Beach towel
Swim suits/cover up
Pool shoes/Sandals
Casual clothes
Small first aid kit
Optional Items
Seat pad for cycling
Walkman/MP3 player
I had most of the things on the list I did get a pair of trail shoes which are running shoes with some stronger tread, a new pair of running shoes from Skechers, added a bunch of new tunes to the ipod (Jack Johnson, Sara Bareilles, Animal Liberation Orchestra along with the classics Stones, Beatles, JT, Jackson Browne, Chicago, Beach Boys, Eagles, etc) Now anyone that knows my musical taste knows laid back not exactly upbeat get it moving music, But screw you all I'm listening to what I like :) I need to make a couple other thank you's here. First off to the greatest Sports Administration teacher ever, who sadly I have not spent time with in 10 years, Andy Kreutzer and his wife Barb, kindly suprised me by sending a very nice Camelback. What the hell's a camelback you ask? It's kind of like a backpack but for liquids, I imagine I will fill it each morning from the Margarita Fountain. Oh wait did I mention that Fitness Ridge is run by members of the Mormon Faith. There will be no alcohol, no caffeine (bye,bye diet pepsi), and I am guessing no nightly poker game. Let me just say this about my good friends of the Mormon faith. Every practicing member I have ever met has been very friendly, white, and under the mistaken belief that Brigham Young University football belongs in a major bowl game. Alex Gibson of here in Madison was nice enough to buy me a copy of "Under the Banner of Heaven" by Jack Kerouac which deals with much of the history of the faith and is a fabulous read. I also want to thank Karen Kittelson owner of Swimwest for being a helpful workout partner, letting me use her facility, and helping me to prepare for the exercise coming my way.
Speaking of exercise here is the daily schedule:
Example of our daily schedule:
6:00 am - Open Gym / Weight-room
7:00am - Breakfast
8:00 am - Hike / Walk
11:30am - Water Aerobics
12:45pm - Lunch
1:15 pm - Cooking Demonstration
2:30 pm - Treading
3:30 pm - Yogalates
4:30 pm - Living Drums
5:30 pm - Dinner
6:15 pm - Evening Lecture
Well this is long enough. Let me just add that I am very excited to be going, a little nervous, I will without a doubt miss my wife and dogs. Jacky has been so supportive of this whole thing but it is starting to set in how long we will be apart and she is starting to freak a little. So anyone in Madison please invite her over for dinner or a concrt or a movie, she's going to be a little lonely.
So that you have it, I will try to update this a regularly as possible so you can share the journey, feel free to fire away any questions you have. By the way the answer to the question at the top of the page. Who said "Go west young man"??
Horace Greeley is often credited with a famous quote actually made by John B. L. Soule.
Thanks again to all of your for the spport and well wishes I have received and as always Go Terps and Peace Jim