road trip

From San Diego to Chicago (and into the Polar Vortex....)

My time in San Diego was not only amazing, but exactly what I needed to do for myself. I have no regrets about leaving my job in Tampa and spending 6 months in San Diego working as a personal trainer, helping launch a business, and making some amazing friends. What I did realize, however, was that a part of me felt like I was treading water--not making progress down my life path. Granted, while every single thing that I  did was, in fact, making progress with my self, internally and externally, I knew that it couldn't last forever. After getting confirmation on Christmas eve, I have taken a new job and moved back across the country, this time to Chicago!

This called for another epic road trip, only this time my dad flew out, helped me pack, and made the trip with me. Literally, everything I own fit in (and on top) of my car. My first reaction to this was "wow, everything I own can fit in my car!" Followed closely by my second reaction "why do I have so much shit??"

Loaded up

After an awesome surprise going-away-get-together with some friends and saying goodbye to my awesome roommate, my dad got everything packed in one day and shoved off: First stop, Vegas!

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We spent the next 3 days basically just hanging out in Henderson, NV, right outside Las Vegas, with my dad's best friend and my Godfather, Scott, whom I've gone and hung out with man times over the past year. It was really nice to just relax, ride some bikes, and enjoy my last moments of warm weather. Scott and I got an epic ride in, riding 43 miles all the way to Boulder City, with 2,300 feet of climbing and getting to see some gorgeous desert scenery.

Rockin the W

It seems that, indeed, my Dad and Scott are actually old dudes. The highlight of the weekend for me was watching them just glued to the TV screen for 3 hours watching Downton Abbey. It was hysterical. I, instead, went down to the strip and tried my luck and some roulette.

After Vegas, we got back on the road and headed for our next stop, which was Grand Junction, Colorado. One of my goals on the trip was to stop at as many random places as possible to commemorate the journey.  The first of those: The giant soda cans in Utah!

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I don't know why they exist, but they're awesome

At the same stop as the cans, we figured it was a good place to get some lunch. Little did we know what some good Utahan cooking consisted of! We checked out a place called "Mom's Diner", a sure classic, right? We lasted about 5 minutes in there... My dad, a guy who just can't be rude, decided to order a scone so that we didn't have to order a meal. It turns out a "scone" means something else in Utah...

It was so. bad.

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He tried to eat it but couldn't stomach it. I hid it some napkins and we snuck out of the restaurant.

Besides it's scones, Utah is absolutely gorgeous!! You almost feel like you're on another planet.  Here are some gratuitous landscape shots:

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That night we arrived in Grand Junction, Colorado. We had left warm weather sometime long ago in Nevada... but we managed to find a great local brewery and get a great dinner. The Ale House had some really nice local brews and great collection of old cans.

Pictures of taking pictures... super meta

Great collection on vintage cans

After our quick sojourn in Grand Junction, we grabbed a great workout and headed on to Denver. This drive was, again, gorgeous. But also incredibly frightening. We hit some bad snow going over Vail Pass, at about 10,000 feet elevation, and were driving on, or in, snow for most of the time.

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My dad, being from upstate New York, did a lot of the snow driving (and also so I could read out loud to him from different training websites about dead-lifting, glute activation, and shoulder rehab...) My favorite moment though was when we hit some bad snow and ice coming down the mountain. Traffic stopped pretty quick and my dad started pumping the brakes but it looked like we might hit the car in front of us. He yells at me "Chuck, I can't stop!" I guess I just don't get that excited, but my, very calm, response was "what the hell do you want me to do about it? Here, turn left." Luckily we got out unscathed.

We finally got into Denver where we spent 2 nights so that I could see a ton of friends I have there. You might recall, but I spent most of summer there a year and half ago and that city and the people had an incredible, life-changing, impact on my life.

The first thing I got to in Denver was meet up with an awesome girl whom I met last year and who still lives in Denver where she is going to school. We met up for dinner... and not only was it amazing to see her  maintaining the personality and liveliness that she had when I saw her last, but at our meal there was no guilt, no shame, no anxiety, nor any destructive thinking. I loved it.

The next day was literally one of the best days I've had in a long time. The first thing I did was head over to the Eating Recovery Center, where I spent the better part of 4 months, and got to sit down with my entire treatment team that I worked with during my time there. They were all doing great and it was fantastic to be able to speak with them all like friends and to let them know that, yes, I of course still have some struggles, but that everything they did for me was amazing and that I am doing great.

After that meeting, I headed up a bit north of Denver and met another, more recent friend of mine, Jeremey, for lunch. Jeremey is a trainer as well, but has recently made the switch to a more digital-publishing based role, although he still writes for sites like Menshealth.com and Greatist.com. We caught up and talked about life, fitness, writing, life goals... all that good stuff.

After that, I headed back to the other site for the ERC and met with a another member of my treatment team. This guy is someone that I can always count on to be there for when I need an ear and also knows how to help. And, usually, that "help" is just being able to say to me, "hey, I don't know what you're going through, I've never been through it myself, but know that I am here for you and I know that you're struggling." I'm hoping to collaborate a bit with in the future on some resources for males dealing with eating disorders.

Finally, I spent some time just walking around Denver before meeting a last set of friends for dinner. This couple recently just had an amazing little boy, and, no joke, he's a cutie.

Baby!

The next morning, after grabbing a workout, we shoved of across the great plains to make our way to Lincoln, Nebraska, where we planned to stay the night. This was the most difficult driving I've ever done! I've never been in wind that strong, and was petrified that the rooftop carrier was going to be blown off the car and that my bikes were going to go flying off the back! Luckily, this didn't happen, but we literally saw 18-wheeler trucks that had been blown over onto their sides from the force of the wind.

Basically a hurricane

This day was full of goofy stops. While I wanted to stop at "Pawnee Park and Recreation Center" and pay homage to one of my favorite shows, it was too dark and out of the way when we got there. However, we did stop and see the biggest ball of stamps in the world!!

Stamps!

After a thrilling morning of stamps, we decided to stop at the one and only Volkswagen Beetle Spider! When we stopped to ask for directions, the guy we talked to asked if I'd seen Cadillac Ranch, to which I was able to say "why yes I have!" (Thank you road trip to San Diego!)

It's poisonous

Once we finally got to Lincoln, we met up with a family friend whom we hadn't seen since we moved from Texas about 14 years ago

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Finally, it was a straight shot into Chicago and another full day of driving. Nothing super exciting happened that day, that I remember, except finding random British and Irish candy in a gas station in Iowa and then driving under this bridge:

Some Bridge

That night we stayed with my... Great aunt(?), my dad's aunt, I believe, who lives a bit outside Chicago and sort of gave us a home-base as we prepared to move me in, plus gave my dad a place to stay. The next morning, of course, it started to snow, to make my move-in experience perfectly "wonderful". As you may not know, I hate being cold and get cold incredibly quickly, so I'm learning the art of "bundling up"! Thank God my mom found my old snow boots from high school and sent them with my dad so that I would have them.

My new place is in a cool neighborhood right outside downtown. The move-in wasn't too hard... just cold

Brr....

But you know cures coldness? Deep Dish pizza!

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We went to Lou Malnati's and it was awesome--although, according to my roommate, and which I whole heartedly agree and wish he'd told us before we ate, the best way to order it is with the sausage crumbled and fully cooked.  Point noted for next time.

And that was it! My walk to work is less than a mile which is great, but bundling up takes me a lot longer in the morning... but it's worth it to be here!

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Making this trip with dad was amazing and makes realize that I need to spend more time with him and my whole family. It will be great to just a quick, direct flight back to DC to hang out with them.

Thanks for reading!

2,822 Miles to San Diego!

I made it! After a long adventure across the country (with my brother for half the trip) I've finally made it to San Diego. This post is just going to be a lot of pictures and quick blurbs about what we did along the way! Screen shot 2013-06-10 at 9.58.05 PM

My brother flew into Tampa and we spent a couple days just clearing everything out of my apartment, mailing boxes to San Diego, and packing my car to the brim--to the point where if you opened a door or window, it would spell disaster.  Of course, this was the first thing my mom decided to do when we met her in Tulsa....

The plan was to drive from Tampa to Tulsa, where my cousin was getting married, attend the wedding, then continue on San Diego. My brother was going to go with me from Tampa to Tulsa, before he flew back to Virginia Tech to start work for the summer.  We rolled out of Tampa on Tuesday morning and made our first stop in Atlanta.

We got there unloaded our stuff, and met up with one of my best friends, Matt, and his Kristina. Matt and I met when I spent a summer in college living outside of New York City, in Hoboken, and I lived in the Beta Theta Pi house at Stevens Institute of Technology where Matt lived and went to school. Since then, we've done a number of fun races together, like the Men's Health Urbanathlon, which we hope to do again this year! We went to an awesome, local, hidden treasure style bar with great food and a beer list that was literally a novel.

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The next day, we grabbed a workout, packed up and headed out, en route to Nashville by the evening. Along the way though, we stopped at Ruby Falls, and amazing underground cave that ends with an incredible waterfall.  Apparently, we had stopped here years ago when my family took a road trip from Houston to upstate New York (don't ask me why my parents wanted to make that drive...) Anyways, the falls cave was amazing and so worth going a but off the beaten path to make the stop!

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We got back on the road, got an hour back thanks to the time zone change, and got into Nashville.  We ended up at the wrong hotel--a much nicer Marriott that was downtown--but I talked our way into getting two discounts to get a cheaper room than the original hotel. Score.  We met up with another good friend of mine, a renowned player in the fitness and personal training industry, JC Deen.  JC is a trainer and writer and is frequently featured in Men's Health as well as other publications like Forbes. He suggested that we check out a really cool jazz/funk show that was only on Wednesday nights where some classic names in the jazz/funk genre, the Wooten brother, got together to play as the house band at a local bar.  This was totally my brothers scene and I had a great time a well. These guys were amazing  and I saw possibly the best drum solo and base solo that I'll ever see (according to Stewart--and he knows what's he's talking about, since he is a drummer in multiple bands).

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Thursday morning was Stewart's birthday! He turned 22.  As my present, I opted to not tickle his feet in the morning when I woke up and they were the only visible part of him sticking out of the blankets in the morning. From Nashville we drove to Memphis, but first we stopped in Graceland, the home of Elvis.  Come on, we had to! It was actually pretty cool--having not grown up in any of the Elvis eras, it's hard to comprehend just how big his influence was and how many fans he had. Like, 35 years after his first song, he was still selling out Vegas 7 nights a week. We'd been to Graceland before too (on the same trip as aforementioned) but it was cool to go as an adult.

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When we got to Memphis, our first stop was some barbecue! I had running Stewart into the ground with our morning workouts and so we were hungry and he was ready to celebrate his birthday with some grub! Thanks to a suggestion from my friend Beka, we went to Charles Vergos' Rendezvous! This place is known for ribs, so that's what we had! If you're gonna do it, do it big, right?

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We then went out on Beale St. and celebrated his birthday... we'll leave it at that...

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Oh yeah, and we saw this: the Memphis what??

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When we could finally get out of bed the next morning, we started the final leg to Tulsa.  We stopped in Little Rock, but then realized the only to do there in the daytime was to like go to the Clinton Library... so we passed on that.

The weekend wedding was a blast though! From the bachelor party golf outing to the rehearsal dinner at the Hard Rock followed by hitting the casino, we had a lot of fun.  My cousin Erin is only a couple months younger than me, so we were always close growing up--her dad just sent me this picture:

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Her new husband, Paul, is great guy as well, and their  wedding was beautiful. It was outside and held at a mountain cabin overlooking a valley. They did a cowboy theme and so we all wore our boots. It was fun and I danced alllll night--I mean, somebody had to get the party started right?

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It was amazing to spend a weekend with my entire family. My dad is flying back out here next month and we are going to go camping in the Grand Canyon for a week.  This was also one of the best trips I've ever taken. My brother and I are close, but we've never really done something like this before and it was long overdue.

From there, I venture our alone.  My first stop was en route to Albuquerque, and I of course stopped at the Big Texan Steak House. If I'd had an accomplice, perhaps I would have thought about the 72 oz. steak challenge... but it's on my bucket list, and I'll try someday! The "scenery: around there was wild though!

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That night, I got into Albuquerque and found out from my brother (who was back in Virginia by then) that one of his friends and a kid we grew up with lived there. So, what the hell, I gave him a call and hung out with him for an hour while he rolled silverware after his shift at Applebee's haha.

The next morning I grabbed a workout and when I got on the road, I got a text from my mom (who on a road trip back to Virginia with my little sister). They were at a Starbucks in Memphis, where the Spurs were playing the Grizzlies in the NBA conference championships, and just happened to run into Boris Diaw. Kind of awesome

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My adventure for the day was driving through the mountains of Arizona en route to Phoenix. I lifted in the morning, so I as I drove through canyons, I stopped in Sedona, which is a beautiful, small, mountain town. I found a small turnoff to stop, parked my car, stripped down, and went for an amazing trail run! It was some of the most beautiful scenery I'd seen in a long time and made me feel like a million dollars.

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There wasn't much to do (alone) in Phoenix, BUT I did take an amazing midnight adventure! Remember the scene in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure when Napoleon takes the Ziggie Piggy Ice Challenge at the Ziggy Pig Restaurant? This is the Chuck E. Cheese that the scene was filmed at! Check out the scene here to refresh your memory. Gotta love the iPhone app that pointed that out to me.

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The last stop on my journey, from Phoenix to Felicity, California, to The Official Center of the World.  I still honestly have no idea what the f**k this place was, but I was the only one there and it was creepy as hell.  It was like something straight out of the Da Vinci Code or some Illuminati stuff. Pretty awesome though--there was this small church at the top of this hill and weird triangular stone pillars that lined the land in front of it with the history of Arizona (yes, I was in California, so I have no explanation there), the history of the United States, and the history of the World:

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I basically visited the place at a full sprint before running back to my truck and getting out of there! The rest of the trip was driving through incredible mountains and seeing deserts that I didn't even know existed in America

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Finally, 2,822 miles and a ton of fun later, I arrived in San Diego at my new home! I'm living with one of my best friends Roddy who did all the leg work finding us a spot

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Now that San Diego is my home, let me know if you're nearby and want to meet up or train! Or just some visit!