Sunday, February 27, 2011

A Tale of Two Debs

Radio operator to the tower
Debbie's comin' in for a landing
Oh put your head between your knees
Caused by the vibrations of love
They're about to shake me to pieces


I wanted to talk about two of the most inspirational people I know and they both happened to be named Deb. One is from Indianapolis and walks with the assistance of two canes and the other just completed her 200th marathon and is in training for her first ironman triathlon. The thing I struggled to do in 30 days? she is going to knock out in a day.

Deb, the marathone,r leads a hiking group every day at the ridge. She is smiling, funny, respectful and caring. A retired teacher and principal she knows when to treat us like kids and she knows when to treat us like adults. She has been there when I sweated, she has been there when I have scaled things I only dreamed of, and she has watched my throw a supreme hissy fit when we turned away from the vans one hike. I believe my exact quote was " Deb, WTF are we doing, the vans are that way and we are walking the other way? She smiled and said I'm not leading the hike. Besides having completed marathons all over the states and all over the world, she has done it while receiving doses of chemotherapy. She has raised a beautiful family and has taught and inspired so many ridgers. She likes to say she cusses me every afternoon when she gets on her bike to train. She likes to tell me a story about watching me do a sprint-tri and being inspired to sign up for the ironman. It's a wonderful story that makes me smile. I don't really believe it but it sure feels good that she tells me it. Here is a picture after she hiked 2.5 hours with a group that morning. Know where she is headed? Out to do a 100 mile training ride. Next time you're tired and don't want to think about giving it your all, think of this little lady and what she is doing.

I was really happily surprised to see my friend Deb Ewing back this year after meeting her for the first time one year ago. She used a walker last year to move around and would head out on the stop sign hike or walk the neighborhoods using her walker. This year she was back for two weeks. There was no walker in sight. She had just spent many weeks on the road travelling by herself and exploring the best this country has to offer. Much like the other Deb she spent her entire life passing on the wisdom of a teacher to her students. And she continues to teach.
She wanted to do so much more than she did last year, and she did. She got on the van every morning, rode it out the park. If the terrain was unfriendly she would walk the roads or paths of the area. She went to classes, kick-boxed, walked the treadmill at a 12% incline and just reminded everyone that there is no excuse not to get up and challenge life to give you more.

On her last day we made a special date to do some things she had never done. We went out to Snow Canyon and with two canes, and two tons of perseverance she walked up a mountain. I wanted to weep. It shows there is nothing we can't do if we want to. As my hometown continues to struggle with a political impasse, that at the heart of it threatens to severely limit benefits, salaries and bargaining power of teachers, I thought it was important to remind people that inside every teacher entrusted to teach and nurture a child, is a person that will continue to teach and inspire even when they leave the class room. These two Deb's will always motivate, teach, and inspire me. Peace, Love and Education, Jim

P.S. Congrats to a 3rd Deb, Miss Deb Lee, ... I met her at the Ridge in November and yesterday she became Mrs. Deb Tew.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

One more hump day

So, sure, I could just close my eyes.
Yeah, sure, trace and memorize,
But can you go back once you know

(You don't know me)
You don't know me at all
Ben Folds

So on to week 2, day 2 and 3. Let's talk about food for a second. One thing that has changed in the last few months and is really cool is the additional choices available at meals. There are always alternatives to the main meal that is being served. And the person to the left of me had one of these breakfast choices, the person to right another, and me a third. It's good to start such a long day with something you like. Feel free to guess which one I had.

My hiking group and I went to Temple Quarry on Tuesday. It was a new hike for me. Not really any climbing which I really like, but straight path hiking out and back, which I really don't like. The view was majestic and the thought of the 1800's era Mormons dragging these huge boulders miles to build their temple daunting to say the least. It was very near the site of the old airport in town which was very recently replaced by a brand new airport that I have yet to see. Not that I can imagine that any of you give a crap about St George's ability to land airplanes.

Very Happy to report that my table won the calorie challenge this week. It certainly helped that the slides were food from Outback. Not that I am an expert on Outback food or the calories of said food. It does help that I have a really good memory and I saw the same slides on my last trip to the ridge. Don't fear other than holding the trophy for a few seconds there is no prize for winning, well except the admiration of my tablemates :)

Wednesday's hike was my favorite hike, hidden pinyon/piano rock. It is a serious climb up slickrock. Piano Rock is the tiny dot on the top of this picture. Nothing brings me more joy than taking new campers on this hike, showing them where we are going, having them stare in disbelief and then having them conquer their fears. Most aren't afraid of the heights, they are afraid to try something they have never done or even imagined doing before.

It is extremely rewarding to watch these people. They truly inspire me and remind me why I keep coming back. I did take blood for the team. I would like to say there is some great story behind this but I just got scraped by a bush. And please don't worry Jacky I used some of that triple anti-biotic you sent along

Here is our group intersecting with the group of fast hikers. These people are truly like gazelles bounding across the rocks and sands. I don't think I will ever be a "fast" hiker, but I'm happy I am a steady hiker.

I will leave you with a before and after of my alternative lunch today. The tuna is really yummy. I am also leaving you with a joke about my favorite sport. It seems my Mom was really concerned because my blogs haven't been very funny lately so I want to assure her and anyone who reads it that indeed all is well. Hope it makes you laugh. I am shockingly headed to sleep. I mean it is almost 9:30. Peace and love, Jim

A group of 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders, accompanied by two female
teachers, went on a field trip to the local racetrack, (Churchill
Downs ) to learn about thoroughbred horses and its supporting
industry (bourbon), but mostly to see the horses.

When it was time to take the children to the restrooms, it was decided that
the girls would go with one teacher and the boys would go with the
other. The teacher assigned to the boys was waiting outside the
men's room when one of the boys came out and told her that none of
them could reach the high urinals.

Having no choice, she went inside, helped the boys with their pants, and
began hoisting the little boys up one by one, holding on to their
'wee-wees' to direct the flow away from their clothes.

As she lifted one, she couldn't help but notice that he was unusually
well-endowed. Trying not to show that she was staring the
teacher said, 'You must be in the 5th grade.'

'No, ma'am', he replied. 'I'm riding Silver Arrow in the seventh
race, but I appreciate your help.'

Monday, February 21, 2011

Week 2

I don't know what I've done
Or if I like what I've begun
But something told me to run
And honey you know me it's all or none

Missy Higgins

Week 2 began today after a weekend of welcoming lots of ex-ridgers back to Utah. Lots of snow fell yesterday in the St George area so all of today's hikes got modified to keep us off of higher elevations. I ended up on the stop sign path starting at West Canyon and did around 3.5 or 4 miles of intervals staying mostly on the flatter terrain.
I wish I had something new and exciting to report but not a whole lot changes from week to week here. The only thing that really changes is the faces. It's a little cooler in the pool this week,
but the pool classes are still pretty full on Mondays before people start to opt out and substitute classes.
Monday is always circuit day. Two minutes of cardio followed by two minutes weight training repeat multiple times in a 45 minute time frame.
Cardio is done on a treadmill, bike or elliptical. and there are 30 different weight stations.

We had a fabulous lunch today of turkey chunks with salsa verde over rice. Just the right amount of spice The good news is that it was very tasty, the bad news is it has replaced the shrimp bowls which was one of my favorite meals they served.

I will leave you with lots of pictures of happy campers doing circuit today and me with another hot filly. This one's named Trixie and she is 16.5 hands tall. I am tired as can be which is normally the case on Monday, and am headed to bed at the late hour of 8 pm. Hope everyone has an awesome week. Peace and sweet dreams, Jim

Friday, February 18, 2011

Swing like a pendulum
Rules you know I'm bending 'em
All the cool kids on the back of the bus
High like Mt. Everest looking for some leverage
Floating like some vapors coolin like a beverage
I cherish the moment when I get the lucky chance
To sing my song and let the funky people dance

G. Love
Thursday started slightly different for me as I climbed to the back of the bus for the morning hike. I finally abandoned my hiking group which was scheduled to be 2 people on Thursday and hopped the van with the group going to do stop sign. I am confident I have never climbed to the last row of the van before and it was just another of those stupid little ridge victories that make us smile. Not something anyone normal really thinks of but to me I consider it an advancement :)
The weather which has been perfect all week was slated to turn on Thursday with forecasts of wind and rain. Someone forgot to include mother nature in their weather plans. We got plenty of wind Wednesday night but by Thursday morning it was sunny and calm and fairly warm. I headed to the dunes. I have done the hills in the dunes quite a few times in the past. Today was the deepest I have ever seen the sand. I was taking two steps forward one step back up every hill. I was wondering what would happen if this stuff just flowed on down the hill with me. But thankfully it hung in there and I hung in there.
The sky was literally as blue as I have ever seen it. I got back in time for Gretchen's 11:15 pool class for which she borrowed my ipod. It's hard to make Jimmy happier than when he gets sunny skies, time in a pool, and great music. That's my dream combo, and that dream was a reality Thursday. Apparently I totally forgot to take any food pictures but I will tell you it was bacon egg muffins for breakfast, greek pitas for lunch, and stuffed chicken breast for dinner. I'm sure if you look back you'll find some pictures. The Thursday afternoon schedule has been the same since the day I arrived treading, ball werks, and pool.
I am ready for the weekend. My body began recovering from it's early week soreness. 2nd week is almost always my favorite week of each visit. Some new campers, some old friends and some challenges. Should be fun. Have a great weekend. Peace and Love, Jim

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Day 3

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

There is never a question in my mind which day I like least when I am at Fitness Ridge. It is always day 3 of week one. Your body is at max soreness. You have lost the adrenaline that carried you through the first day. And you really start to question what the hell you are doing here again. They call it Weepy Wednesday here. I didn't actually weep mind you, but I sure grunted every time I tried to stand up and I quivered every time I broke a sweat, and I ached with every step I took. But I know in my head that it never gets worse than today.

Breakfast was the Almond butter, Fruit jelly and banana/strawberry sandwich. It's tasty and as always you get a plate of mixed fresh fruit with your breakfast. In the 1200 calories you eat is 2 fruit servings. The second is a piece of fruit that most people take to the hike and eat on the van ride home. Fruit never tastes better than when you eat it after a hike. My hike was "overlook."
It is about as boring as they get. I am happy to report that my group was up to 3 people today but we picked up a guide, so it was 1 person 1 guide. I walked on a paved path next to a highway for two hours. I listened to some music, got my ear talked off by someone who doesn't have the same political leanings as I. I didn't have the energy or desire to debate him so I just put my headphones on and trudged along.
Speaking of hiking guides and not the one I hiked with today. Here is Tom who looks about 50 but is in his 70's make Betsey smile. One of my favorite hiking guides Deb recently completed marathon 200 and since that is not enough she will be doing the St George Ironman in May. That little event that took me 30 days to complete, yeah...she will be doing it in a day.

Lunch was Greek "pizza." As always I'm not sure who should be more offended the Greeks or the pizza's. One really good change that has occurred at the ridge is they have quite a few alternatives now if you don't like a meal. One of which is Tuna on a bagel thin. I opted for that. I didn't take a picture of the dinner but it was a salmon filet on a bed of orzo pasta and mixed vegetables. The people who like salmon really like it, but I do believe I see more alternatives on this night than on any night

Afternoon classes included kick boxing, mountain, and of course pool. Pool was cut a little short as there was storms in the area. It seems the chamber of commerce weather we have had since I arrived is leaving town and it is turning colder, windier and rainier. This weeks group numbers 57 and I am happy to report that almost all of them have been here before. I believe that out of the 57 guests 51 had been here a previous week. Says good things about the program that people keep coming back.

I want to tip my hat to the people of Wisconsin who have turned out in thousands to protest the actions of the newly elected Governor. It saddens me to see the compassion leaving so many states. And like Neil said about Alabama certainly can be applied to many areas. Don't be afraid to smile at your fellow man even if he thinks that "idiot we elected" has cost him $30,000 in his portfolio. Oh for the days when ignorance was bliss instead of today when ignorance is vitriol. On to day 4 and 5 and 6 etc. Peace and love, Jim

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Hike Me

I don't need a parachute, baby if I've got you
Baby if I've got you, I don't need a parachute
You're gonna catch me, you're gonna catch if I fall

Ingrid Michaelson

Day two is always a hard day. Your body is in revolt from day one's activities, muscles you didn't know you had are sore, you didn't sleep all that well after the first night, and to top it off your pale pasty white wintery Wisconsin skin has a pink glow to it. But you don't have any choice but to drag your butt out of bed and onward into the week. Breakfast Tuesday morning consisted of a pineapple muffin and some mixed fruit. Pretty tasty.

Finally my "assessment hike" on Monday it didn't take an expert to know I was headed to the short bus for the special hikers. I was also headed to Johnson's Arch for my first hike. My van had 5 people assigned to it. 2 of whom didn't do any hike that morning and two of whom chose to walk on pavement. That left one hiker in my group doing the assigned hike. He went out with two guides. The hiking guides here are ridiculous. They never sweat, they never pant, and they never look like they are in any sort of discomfort. So we were quite the little group of 3. Two people in bright yellow hikewear calmly hiking while discussing their fabulous Valentine's dinners and one guy wheezing, sweating and bent over begging the Oxygen god to visit. But Hey, I was damn glad I went where I was assigned.

When we got back out to the parking lot there was a van unloading some horses. Me being me I never pass up a chance to ham a lucky picture with a horse. This guy was big, but friendly and very happy I was just standing next to him and not climbing aboard.

You never know what you'll run into out on the hikes. Glad I wasn't wearing my Redskin sweatshirt. I am really starting to find it hard to root for the team I grew up rooting for and their over the top racist nickname is one of the reasons why.

Something new for lunch today. Chicken coconut soup with chunks of avocado. Very, very good. I have eaten the soup two days in a row which maybe a record for me. Gave me the energy to do cardio sprint intervals on the treadmill, medicine ball sit-ups, and of course my end of the day deep water aerobics class.

Dinner was white bean chili with some tortilla strips on top. The weather was nice enough that we sat outside and ate

Dessert was one of my favorites. The chocolate vanilla fruit parfait. headed back to the room at 6 watched my Terps lose....again. what a disappointing year for them :( Listened to the new Ingrid song that graces today's blog and called it a night. Day two is done which leads me to my least favorite day of each trip the first Wednesday. Wish me luck. Peace and Native Americans, Jim

Monday, February 14, 2011


Everybody knows
It hurts to grow up
And everybody does
It's so weird to be back here
Let me tell you what
The years go on and
We're still fighting it, we're still fighting it
And you're so much like me
I'm sorry
Ben Folds
Well I am back in Utah. I am well aware I owe you guys a Super Bowl Party recap and and a Vegas recap but it is the night after my first hike, and first full day of classes and quite frankly I am exhausted. Mondays are very different than they used to be that's for sure. There are 7 different hikes and all new hikers arriving go on an assessment hike. Following the hike you are assigned a van for the week and assigned hikes for each day. The first day stop sign hike is a thing of the past. I will give a full assessment of the hike program in its current incarnation in a few weeks.
I did a hike today known as Chuckwalla. It is long and fairly flat although it starts downhill and finishes uphill. Like virtually any hike I would have done today it kicked my ass. I was carrying some leftover Vegas/airline sickness that made breathing a chore. I have to believe my assessment went something like this: Slow like a turtle, wheezy like a punctured set of bagpipes, and sweaty like....well me. I will be hiking this week with one of the slower groups :)
The weather here was simply amazing today, close to 70 degrees and sunny as could be. That's the good news, the bad news is it's going to get colder and wetter come this weekend with lows in the 20's and possible snow. That will not make slow, wheezy, and sweaty very happy. But the sun, the pool, the knee feeling good, the food and seeing everyone here did. We had sausage and egg sandwiches for breakfast, Turkey sandwiches for lunch, and grilled chicken breast with polenta and asparagus for dinner. And with today being Valentine's Day chocolate covered strawberries. All in all a pretty damn good first day back...27 more to go :) Peace and Hearts, Jim

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

February 1st

It's so easy from above
You can really see it all
People who belong together
Lost and sad and small
But there's nothing to be done for them
It doesn't work that way
Sure we all have soulmates but we walk past them every day
Maybe that's how books get written
Maybe that's why songs get sung
Ben Folds
I love the English language. It is a lovely language full of nuances and words that are both beautiful and meaningful. Words can make you smile, they can make you laugh, string them together and they make you sing. Unfortunately, they can also make you quiver with fear. One word that makes makes me cower is blizzard. There are blizzard warnings here in Madison for tonight, not as scary as the 24 inches of snow and 70 mile per hour winds they are predicting 120 miles southeast from here in Chicago, but bad enough. But better this week, then say next week when a certain someone is flying west.
My concert viewing schedule has been really tame this winter. I did make a trip to Madison's very beautiful, very expensive arts and musical Sate St. showplace not Sunshine Daydream... the Overture Center. I saw Ben Folds. He is not a household name, unless you watch The Sing Off on NBC where he is a judge. He is an extraordinarily talented songwriter and piano player. He is clever, witty and while I knew of him, I didn't really know his music that well. Thanks to a crash course on his music and some cd's from a good friend, I discovered he is really fun and topical as well. I wouldn't call it a great show, or one of my favorite concerts ever but it was nice to see live music again.
Well it's Super Bowl time here in Wisconsin. I am always excited around Super Bowl time. It is very bittersweet as we celebrate the end of football season, because I don't get to spend my Saturdays and Sundays and Mondays and Thursdays watching football. But we will celebrate here like we always do. And this year the entire state will be celebrating as well. So Go Packers!!
As I mentioned, I leave next week heading west. As always I take a few days in Las Vegas to prepare myself, you know.... get used to warmer temperatures, the altitude change, the different time zone, etc.... And if you buy that I have a bridge for sale :) I look forward to my alone time in Vegas. I spend my time in the sportsbook, no shock there. But I do want to get a little sun, a little more time in the hotel workout room, and more time walking around on my feet. Time on a treadmill and time on a exercise bike do not get me ready to climb mountains.
I don't remember many specific dates on the calendar. I do remember February 1st, at least I remember February 1st, 2010. I was making my first trip up Snow Canyon of the year, my last first trip up the mountain with all the campers along for the fun. I was deathly afraid that my next trip up, which was going to be filmed for national TV viewing the following Monday, would be as painful as this one was. Thanks to a wonderful group of campers, many of whom I met on February 1st, I was pushed all week, motivated to work hard and inspired to give everything I had on the next Monday. People want to know why I keep going back to the Ridge? It's because of February 1st. Every time I go I find that I can do more, and the people make sure I do. Look forward to doing it all again... Peace, Love and Cheeseheads, Jim