Two months and 8,000 miles later we somehow find ourselves halfway through the Good to Great motivational fitness tour and what an absolutely amazing ride that it has been. We’ve been fortunate enough to catch up with numerous old friends, to make countless new friends, to see this amazing country like never before and to ultimately spread our passion for the importance of leading a healthy and fit lifestyle. So rather than bore you with the endless stories that I could share, I’ll try to keep it short because as you can imagine, you collect quite a vast array of adventures in 8,000 miles on the road.
Last I checked in, George, Mike & I were getting ready to attempt the 75th Annual Memorial Bataan Death March on the White Sands Missile Range, NM. All we had to do was run a marathon through the desert, over a mountain while carrying a 35lb., nothing to it right. Needless to say, it was an amazing event and paid tribute to the brave soldiers that were part of the original horrific experience during WWII. Certainly a must do and extremely patriotic. All three of us completed the event with Mike & I walking/stumbling away with 2nd place medals both in our age divisions and George with a top 10 finish in his. Great work from the Gut Check team. Afterwards we headed to our remote campsite to share stories, beers and howl at the moon. My kinda night.
Next stop, Roswell, NM. I do now believe in Aliens as many of the people walking around the visitor center looked to be possible descendants of. Pretty interesting place and crowd with many speaking in languages from Star Wars and humming the theme to Close Encounters of the Third Kind but was able to walk away without any probing which was a good thing. From there, down to Carlsbad Caverns, NM and all we can say is WOW, what an absolutely mind blowing cave, and definitely a must see natural wonder of the world.
Texas here we come. Made a stop in San Antonio to see the Alamo and the Board Walk then over to our fave, Austin, TX that’s always keeping it weird. Had to partake in some of the killer Texas BBQ then check out a little music on 6th St. Hit up the amazing Barton Springs for a little dip after a run and Gut Check workout along the river. Over to Galveston to only be able to pull our JUCY Van up on the beach and crash for the night. Very cool experience sleeping next to the ocean just had to watch out for the tide.
Time for the Big Easy. Over to New Orleans or as the locals call it, N’awlins Darlin’. Was able to catch up with many old friends that I knew from my bartending days on Bourbon Street. So much fun. Even had Ryan Kovacs join us for a couple days with a couple outings on Bourbon St. and Nik’s first crawfish boil. Plus her first shrimp po-boy from Verti Marte and a famous burger and baked potato from Port-of-Call. So much great food and good times. Certainly a different city from twenty years ago but always a relaxing and enjoyable adventure. So much food and wine, we need a Gut Check.
Mind you, we’ve been spending the week days staying in remote campsites from San Diego over to New Orleans and after N’awlins, it’s time for the woods, some workouts in Mother Nature and enjoying the landscape. Camped everywhere from the bayou, through the mountains and the forests of southern Mississippi to Alabama with a stop in Birmingham, AL to see our friends Sean and Penny for some R & R, catching up and killer pizza.
Onwards to Atlanta, GA for a little more Good to Great with that Road Runner crew. Hosted two workouts in Atlanta, met some amazing people, plus an incredible organization called Back on My Feet. Check them out if you get a chance as it’s a great cause to get involved with.
Miami, FL here we come. This was a pleasure only stop to see our Great friends Linda and Greg Diamond that we’ve known for years and actually married us in Italy. Lots of laughs, countless good times and plans for future events then it’s time to get the Good to Great bus on the road to DC for our next stop.
We had four days to enjoy the beauty of the South from Savannah, GA, to Charleston, SC, Jekyll Island, up through North Carolina to Virginia. Was able to stop in Wilmington, NC to see our Great friends Courtney and Stanley, he’scurrently battling cancer for the 2nd time and kicking it’s butt. This is truly a beautiful part of the country from the cities to the countryside. In South Carolina we were able to eat catfish stew and snake for the first time, and yep, it tastes like chicken.
Virginia, where Nik and I took our first dates years ago to the many wineries and incredible trails like the Appalachian Trail. Had to do a little walk down memory lane and visit both the AT as well as the wineries like our first, Tarara Winery up by Leesburg, VA. With a pit stop to JMU where Nik went to Grad School. Nik’s dad, Rick, who just retired, actually came to join us outside of Charlottesville, VA for a couple days to see what JUCY van camping was all about. More hiking, campfires, wine drinking and memories we’re created. Time to go home Rick.
Our old stomping grounds, DC here we come. Nik and I both lived in the MD & VA area, Bethesda for about 10 years so as you can imagine, had numerous old friends that we were able to catch up with. A couple more killer workouts in Falls Church and Rockville. Plus, had a reunion like cookout at our friend’s, Brad and Carol Carter. Fantastic evening sharing stories of the past, cackling like hyenas, with plenty of great food, good wine and Cuban Cigars.
Next stop is Cherry Hill, NJ and King of Prussia, NJ. Had old friends from Cuba high school join us and even a couple of crazy guys that had completed the SUCK. Both groups were great to work with and certainly went for the Great. Stayed Sunday with our high school friends, Josh and Darcy Nelson to catch up about Cuba & Lewistown, IL school days which is always so much fun. Oh, but can’t forget the go for the great, as we had to check out an authentic Philly Cheesesteak at Jim’s place on South street. Not low cal but certainly pretty yummy.
Time to head to the Midwest for Nik’s 38th birthday and the next stop on the Good to Great tour, Chicago. Oh, but I’m forgetting a stop in Pittsburgh, PA for one of the famous Primanti Bros. sandwiches made up of, pastrami, coleslaw and French fries on two slices of Italian bread, and yes, it’s that darn tasty. Ok, now to Ft. Wayne, IN to see the family and for Nik to see her girlfriends. A great time was had by all and a wonderful birthday for the princess.
Chicago here we come. More catching up with old friends which never gets old, thank you George and Julie M for the hospitality and Rich for stopping by. Both Chicago workouts were absolutely incredible and the RRS crews did a truly Great job. So wonderful to see our old SD Gut Check members, George & Willow as well as Ang & Omar at the workout plus SUCK competitors Jessie & Jerry in attendance. We were lucky enough to have use of a killer apt downtown on the 44th floor of Eugenie Towers, thanks to Nancy as well as Nik’s sis, Kari that came to join us. Had an incredible 10k run along Lake Shore drive before we left to head back to Ft Wayne then Bloomington, IN to get ready for the Midwest SUCK this weekend.
So here we are, 2 months and 8,000 miles into this adventure with the SUCK in the woods of Brown County this weekend followed by a Gut Check Certification next weekend at my buddy Dorian’s CrossFit 309 in Peoria, IL.
There is so much more to share with all of you but I feel that is best done over a campfire with a glass of wine. I can say this, TRAVEL, it truly will change the way that you look at life, at the things that you hold to be valuable and will ultimately change you. In what way, you have to determine that for yourself but I know that I’m a better man for it. There’s so much out there to see and do but unfortunately with not that much time to do it. Start now. I’ll close this with a quote from Thoreau to give you something to think about, “most men lead lives of quiet desperation and many go to the grave with the song still in them.” #goforthegreat
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