Monday, January 25, 2010

Greetings from the Road

You know love is better than a song
Love is where all of us belong
So don't be shy just let your feelings roll on by
Don't wear fear or nobody will know you're there
Cat Stevens
Some observations from my 30+ hour journey from Wisconsin to Utah, or I guess I should say two hours south of Utah in some non descript Nevada town where I plan to relax and get my mind ready for Sunday. Nothing major planned except watching some scholar athletes bounce an orange orb, some four legged animals run in circles, and holding onto some small paper rectangles with numbers and some members of the family on them.

First off want to give a big thanks to the red Nissan that went the whole way with nary a hiccup. And of course all the great music and some excellent games that shared the airwaves in my car. Congrats to Indy and the Saints on reaching the super bowl. Will be my first jello shot free super bowl in nearly a decade. No quiz this year either :( But still looking forward to an excellent game and rooting for the boys from the crescent city.

Amarillo: This place is the steak eating capital of the world as far as I can tell. There must be a steak restaurant every two blocks and the king of them is a place called The Big Texan. This place serves a free 72 oz steak the catch being that you have to eat in one hour. They happily advertise this deal starting about four hundred miles in either direction on billboards that show up every two miles or so the whole way into town. It must be working because at 1:30 the parking lot was packed with easily 150 cars buses, semis, rv's, and since it is Texas about another 100 pick ups. Didn't make it in having consumed 8 oz. of filet a few nights earlier and the thought of knocking back 9 of those plates was unappealing.

Flagstaff, AZ Want to give a tip of the hat to the good people of the Flagstaff road crews. This place was ass-deep in snow when I drove through it. Almost made me homesick for Wisconsin because it looked just like Madison. The roads were perfect, clear as could be, the roofs that hadn't collapsed were buried under the biggest snow they had seen in 4 decades.

Billboards: They don't bother me, in fact I would say they make the drive a little more interesting. Some of my favorites were the one that said Bookends this exit. If bookends are you're top draw you may want to think about saving those advertising dollars. Scripture seems to be a big favorite with the Southern people. I hope God is getting a percentage of the ad revenue his words are generating. Apparently Feral Pigs are a problem in Texas as the scary picture said I should report any I see. Didn't see any, my guess is they were all at the Big Texan chowing free steak.

Gas Stations Gas prices ranged from a low of $2.35 in Missouri to a high of $3.05 just past the Hoover Dam. The new fad of jamming as much as possible to into your mini-mart gas plaza continues to grow. My favorite being the full service Indian restaurant and Gun shop attached to one. Let's see I'll take tin of Skoll, some Chicken Tandori, a copy of Juggs, a six pack of Old Milwaukee and that shiny .357 magnum.

Next time you hear from me I should have made my first attack at the mountain in Snow Canyon park. My nemesis awaits and I have no doubt it intends to kick my ass as it has done so many time before. The bike awaits me as well, along with 65 or so new campers all with swelled expectations from watching The Biggest Loser on TV. With 50 or so new campers each week I should only have to learn 400 or so new names. Can't wait to get back in the Ridge hot tub, those newbie are advised that the corner spot by the jet is reserved for me. I hope everyone has a great week, no snow for me for a good long time and not much makes me happier than that. Peace, Jim

Thursday, January 14, 2010

You’ve got to get up every morning with a smile on your face
And show the world all the love in your heart
Then people gonna treat you better
You’re gonna find, yes you will
That you're beautiful as you feel

Carole King

Spent the better part of last week in Florida visiting my parents. And, of course, brought Wisconsin weather with me as Florida experienced its coldest temperatures in over a decade. Flew and experienced no problems with new security. Experienced the same problems with wedging myself into the plane. Drew the last row on both flights and while the ass fits better the legs just have nowhere to properly go. Thankfully, the person in front of me thought it would help if they reclined into my lap for their comfort. Speaking of flying after getting good news from the mechanic ( their fault) I am back to driving out to Utah. Should get on the road next Sunday and heading the southern route west going through Oklahoma City, Amarillo, Albuquerque, Flagstaff and Vegas. I may spend a few days in that last city prior to reporting to the ridge on Sunday the 31st.

My father had to spend some time in hospital but has been released and is doing much much better. Here's a shot of my brother Jay, who flew down from St Louis, and I wearing the plastic scrubs, masks and gloves that we had to put on each time we went into my dad's room. I seriously thought about taking a box of these gowns with me to Utah for extra sweating as they were hot as could be. I should have worn that thing every second I was in the hospital and on the plane because I brought home some sickness with me that has kept me coughing all weekend. It had been way way too long since I had seen my parents and my brother so even though the circumstances of the trip were far from ideal it was wonderful to spend time with my family. And I promise them it will not be 15 months until I see them again.

I did get some outside work in while I was in Florida and it sure felt great to walk outside for the first time since mid-November. It was nowhere near the challenge of the stop sign, and the Florida residents, who were bundled like they were in Alaska, seemed bewildered that I was out in shorts, but it was warm to me. Here's a shot of me sporting the new Sunshine Daydream sweatshirt on the Venice Beach pier. We had lunch on the beach there and it was nice to have some seafood that wasn't frozen prior to making it to my plate. I have a feeling the next picture of me you see in that sweatshirt it is going to be a whole lot sweatier.

I picked up some concert tickets this week for a show in May. First off tickets have just gotten ridiculously expensive. The two tickets cost me a total of $290. That was the bad news. The good news is that thanks to the Internet and artists using it to identify their best fans the best tickets are ending up in fans hands and not ticket brokers. Thanks to my fandom of James Taylor I now have tickets in the first ten rows for James and Carole King. Now I have seen James in concert easily 20 times but this will be my first ever Carole King concert. Can't wait to see the Tapestry creating songstress live in person.

Made my packing list for the trip to Utah. It's long!! One good thing about driving is I get to bring a lot more stuff. More sweatshirts, more shorts, and a few t-shirts I want to fit into before I leave. One thing for sure is the weather will be much different at the end of my trip than it will be at the start of my trip. Have some new music and lots of old friends for the drive west. Have a couple personal training sessions this week, some swimming sessions and treadmill work planned but no hiking up mountains in high altitude, that comes in two weeks :) And I haven't told my rear end yet but there's a lot of bike seat time in its future. Hope all's well wherever you are reading this and I hope to see some of you in Utah. Peace, Jim

Friday, January 8, 2010

Lottery winnings

Alabama, you got
the weight on your shoulders
That's breaking your back.
Your Cadillac
has got a wheel in the ditch
And a wheel on the track
Neil Young
Just wanted to report the monster lottery winnings we will be sharing from this week's powerball tickets. $3 which works out to, I'm going to call it, 15 cents for each person. You may pick up your share of the winnings anytime you are in Madison. :)

I am flying into Tampa Sunday morning and driving to Venice Beach slightly unexpectedly to see my parents. It has been too long, nearly 15 months and I really wanted to get down there prior to heading to Utah and returning to a jam packed volleyball schedule. So the flight was ridiculously cheap..$170 round trip and I booked it. I would love to say I am excited for a couple days of Florida sunshine but like much of the rest of the country they are much colder there than they are used to. But it will be warmer than Wisconsin for sure. When I get back it will be less than two weeks until I head to Utah.

I am now seriously considering flying out west and being without a car for the first 6 weeks of my stay. I have never been there without access to a vehicle. I would like to say that I am doing this to remove temptation but the real reason is twofold, the thought of the 29 hour drive in crappy weather scares me to death and my car is just acting like crap right now and was towed into the mechanic yesterday. Anyway it will certainly remove the likelihood of me "sneaking down" to Vegas or Mesquite.

I only lost one day of working out this week to snow. I had two personal training sessions and two trips to swimwest. I was swinging a sledgehammer into a tractor tire, squatting and throwing medicine balls, of course my sit ups and running up the stairs, and treadmill time as well. Do I feel like I am closer to being able to complete the triathlon? Do I feel like I will not struggle up the stop sign? No to both of those questions. I do however feel like if I need to sledgehammer something I am better prepared for that.

I hope everyone has a great week. If you have a rooting interest left in the NFL Playoffs good luck with that, I can't really remember what that feels like. Maryland begins ACC hoops play this week. I'm not all that optimistic but the great thing about this point is I can still dream and dreams certainly do come true every once in awhile. Congrats to Alabama, for winning that ridiculous, unfair, made up title the NCAA has for football. Neil Young got it right. Peace and Sunshine, Jim

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Let's Win

Oh, you're the best friend
That I ever had
I've been with you such a long time
You're my sunshine
And I want you to know
That my feelings are true
I really love you
(Ooh) Oh, you're my best friend

Happy 2010 to everyone. I thought I would share my party winning sweater vest with you. Thank you to the Bobbie Brooks for Women collection. I think I am starting to prove to you guys that there is little I won't do to win a competition, and even less I won't do for a laugh. And not only did I win the sweater competition my trivia team of Jacky, Shannon, Allison, Jake and I took down the holiday trivia challenge as well. And I had my last bit of alcohol for quite some time as I start to ratchet up the prep for the upcoming sprint triathlon.
Here's what I know so far. The swimming is not going to be an issue. I did the full swim twice last week in the pool. I need to work on my turns and I don't think they will be flip turns and I need to work on my breathing rhythm for sure as I can't get past breathing every stroke. That's all the good news.
I sat on a bike at the gym, didn't actually pedal or anything drastic like that, but realized my butt is not going to be happy with me for this little escapade. I got some treadmill work in as well and I just am not going to be able to prepare on a treadmill that much I know. So basically I will have two months to get into a reasonable biking comfort zone and try to get some semblance of a pace I can maintain for the 5K. I hoping that's not a walk :) Also was not happy getting on the scale this week as the holidays, the weather, watching all 39 episodes of Mad Men and some of all 34 bowl games has left its mark on me. December will go down as my worst month since I started this change almost two years ago. But the good news is all that is over and I am already making my packing list for Utah and through it all I was able to keep going to the gym and working out regularly. So I am still hopeful that this will be the best year ever and I still think I am going to hang a good number on my birthday.
One thing that bothers about this time of the year has to do with new people coming into the gym for the new year. What bothers me is the attitude of the regulars. I know that people love to complain about these people, but you know what, screw that, embrace them, welcome them and offer to help. So you have to wait an extra minute on a machine, or not spend as long as you would like on the treadmill. Every person in the gym had a first day, some of these people will be in your shoes next year, so let them know everyone is welcome.
Let's get to the lottery tickets that we are all going to use to not have to worry about going to the gym anymore because we will all be able to afford state of the art workout rooms in our houses and personal trainers at our beck and call. There's twenty different combinations. I will split the winnings with everyone who has left a comment on any of the last two blogs or anyone leaving one on this one prior to the drawing time on Wednesday. Best of luck to everyone, especially me because I would be a really awesome rich dude :)

I hope everyone has a great week and you wake up a little richer on Thursday, even if it's not money, just knowing that you are one day closer to where you want to be. As Always Peace, Love, and Lucky Numbers, Jim