Thursday, July 31, 2008

Olympic Moments

More Olympic blogging:

These are, in no particular order, my favorite Summer Olympic moments. They are only from what I can remember and do not include Jesse Owens in Berlin, Dick Fosbury or the clinched fists in Mexico City.

Derek Redmond (Barcelona, 1992) – See post below

Carl Lewis (Los Angeles, 1984) – Lewis went on to win 9 gold medals across 3 Olympiads, but it was in 1984 he became the face of US Track and Field and immortalized himself as the greatest American Track athlete of all time (though Jesse Owens will make a good argument for the title). I was only six years old, but I can remember what a big deal he was. The boycott by the Soviets made this sort of a down Olympics, but Lewis shined (no Soviet athlete could have competed with Lewis). 4 Golds in Los Angeles and he is also the only athlete to win 4 golds in the Long Jump and Gold medals in 4 Olympiads. Just don't listen to him sing the National Anthem.

Michael Johnson’s Gold Shoes (Atlanta, 1996) – Oh man, he was fast. Set world records in the 400 and won the 200 and 4x400 (his relay medals were returned after Antonia Pettigrew’s admittance of doping). Johnson ran sick times that were made even sicker by those bright, golden Nikes he was sporting. Between the shoes and that million dollar smile, you could tell he had done something special. He'll go on to set a world record in 1999 and then, in 2000, win the 400 again in Sydney.

Rulon Gardner (Sydney, 2000) – Defeating the almost mythical Alexander Karelin for the Greco-Roman gold in Sydney was such a great story of a underdog from Wyoming going up against a bear of a man from Siberia. It was a true Vision Quest moment and a great victory for USA Wrestling and an all-around nice guy.

Dream Team (Barcelona, 1992) – They were larger than life, still the greatest collection of basketball talent in history (yet, somehow Christian Laettner made the team). Larry Bird possessed one of the sweetest shots and best all around game in history, the charisma and playmaking ability of Magic Johnson, John Stockton is the NBA’s all time assist leader, the “Admiral” David Robinson down low, along with the greatest of all-time, Michael Jordan. Their games were jokes, as many teams never gave themselves a chance against this line-up.

Mohammed Ali (Atlanta, 1996) - Just watch the video, enough said...

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

In Bend

Sitting at Townshend's Teahouse. Drinking Kashmiri Chai... yum. This is my fourth day in the Pacific Northwest. Arrived three days ago, where Kate picked me up at the Portland airport. The flight from Seattle to Portland was short, but very cool. The pilot made a fly around of Mt St Helens. Not just a flyby, "Hey look out the window", but he actually circled the caldera and you could look down into the volcano from several different angles.

Kate lives in Northwest Portland in a great neighborhood. Her apartment is less than a block from a great park where we read and napped. On the recommendations of my friends, Lindsay and James, I am reading Jon Krakauer's "Under the Banner of Heaven". The book is really enlightening me to a lot of things I never considered regarding not just Mormonism, but faith in general. No matter what religion you are, fanaticism has a lot of the same characteristics.

I have had some good grub. I love food when I travel. We ate at Sushiville, near Kate's place where the sushi comes around on conveyers. I haven't been to one of those in years. Someone needs to open one in Asheville. Breakfast Tuesday was also near Kate's where Kate was being imparted Vulcan wisdom by a dangling Mr. Spock. This teahouse rocks. Another thing I need in Asheville. Breakfast at the Victorian in west Bend was delicious. Get the Warsaw, it has eggs, potatoes, sauerkraut, Polish sausage and is loads of yummy. Had an elk burger at the Deschutes Brewery last night. Parilla's across the street from Victorian's has funky burritos. It's like the Lucky Otter with more tatoos and one dollar PBRs.
Bend is a very good town. Mountain biking is first class and close to town. I rode Tumelo Falls Trail yesterday, about 16 miles round trip. The uphill took me pass no fewer than seven waterfalls and the downhill was fast and fun. The city is very bike friendly and has good restaurants and shopping. You are close to all sorts of things: volcanic stuff (Newberry National Volcanic Monument), skiing and snowboarding at Mt Bachelor, rafting on the Deschutes River, hiking and camping and, of course, endless miles of mountain and road biking. Portland is only 3 hours away and Eugene is about 2. And there are great towns nearby like Sisters, Redmond and Sunriver.
Last night, I was walking downtown looking for dinner and a girl walks by and says "Hi." I say "Hi" back and then we both turn and look at each other. It was obvious that we both knew each other. Turns out Kathy and I played Ultimate together in the Asheville League and she had moved to Bend last winter. It's funny how 2,500 miles away, in a city of nearly 80,000 people, I can randomly run into someone I know. We ended up going to meet some of her friends for dinner. Small world...

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Game On!

Sports! I love them. After the summer valley, sports are going to pick up again. Olympics are next month, college football starts in a few weeks and also the NFL. To get me pumped, here is my rankings of favorite sports venues. These are the places that I would most like to watch athletic competition:

10) McCormick Field- Asheville is a great city and Tourists baseball is lots of fun. If you go on Thursdays, not only do you get a great venue for baseball, but beer is cheap and the people watching is second to none. Only in Asheville, as we like to say.

9) Bobby Dodd Stadium at Grant Field - Yes, I am biased and I know there are a lot of great college football stadiums out there (Neyland, Camp Randall, Autzen, Falcon, Kinnick). I love the Jackets. I also love being with my friends and the GT Superfans make any Saturday on the Flats that much better. And honestly, there are not a whole lot of things that can compare to a Georgia Tech night game in the oldest continually used stadium in Division 1A. If you have seats in the west stands, you've got awesome views of the field and the Atlanta skyline behind.

8) Cameron Indoor Stadium - Not really a stadium, more like a shoebox. But the fans are loud and crazy and Duke definitely has a home court advantage when playing here. Atmosphere like Cameron makes college basketball great.

7) Augusta Natianal Golf Club - The Masters. Perfect in everyway. The Masters is spring incarnate. It's one of the things that let's me know winter is over. It's the only major that is played on the same course every year. You have Amen Corner and the Eisenhower Tree. The Par 3 tournament earlier in the week is fun, the Green Jacket is coveted and the experience of the Masters is like none other.

6) Lambeau Field - NFL Stadiums don't have the tradition and character of college stadiums. Except Lambeau, where the waiting list for season tickets is about 30 years and 70,000 names deep. It is the place to be in the NFL's smallest television market. This is the home of Lombardi, Rockne and Favre. Cheeseheads and fans that brave the frigid Green Bay winters make this an amazing place.

5) Hayward Field - home of Prefontaine and the mecca of US Track and Field. Hayward Field is where Nike was born and Olympic dreams made. It is the inspiration and goal for track and field athletes across the country. It is also located in Eugene, which dubbs itself as Track Town, USA.

4) Wrigley Field - Yankee Stadium was the house the Ruth built. Finway has the Monster. Wrigley itself is kinda dumpy, but there's still way too much to love. Homeruns onto Waveland, the bleachers, 7th Inning Stretch, ivy in the outfield, throwing back the opponent's homeruns. Plus I love that Wrigley is a neighborhood, a place where people live, eat and work. Wrigleyville before, during and after a game is truly a special place to be.

3) Notre Dame Stadium - I went there last year and it was one of the most enjoyable places to watch college football. The greeters around campus saying "welcome to Notre Dame", Touchdown Jesus overlooking the Stadium, the wooden benches inside made it all a neat place. The fans were friendly and knowledgable instead of being drunken colorblind jerks that you run into at many other places. (Note: Picture was taken on opening game last year, GT @ ND)

2) Old Course, St Andrews - Scotland is the birthplace of golf and St Andrews is the venerable sage of golf. Awesome hazards like Hell, Principal's Nose, Coffins and Road Bunker. Then there is the famed Scottish weather, a neat University nearby and the knowledge that golf was being played here for hundreds of years. This is another place that is steeped in history and tradition.

1) L'Alpe d'Huez - Again, the Tour de France is one of my favorite events of the year. I look forward to it as much as I look forward to a big Tech game or the Super Bowl. You have the pretty flowers of Brittany, the scenic views of the Basque Pyrenees, and ceremonial ride down the Champs-Elysee in the last stage. But nothing is as dramatic, testing and exciting to watch as a stage that includes L'Alp d'Huez. This is where legends were made and many hearts broken. Lance owned this climb, the 2004 Individual Time Trial being the most impressive run. Plus, you have the great French villages and the beauty of the Alps around you and, stay a few more weeks, you will get world class skiing.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Finishing the Race

The Olympics are coming! Opening ceremonies are August 8. I am a huge Olympics fan. I like the ideals of the Games (even if we've strayed some), the competition among nations and the amazing displays of athleticism.

Barcelona 1992, British 400m runner Derek Redmond is one of my favorite Olympics moments. Technically, he's going to be disqualified because track and field rules state that an athlete may not be assisted during a race. But this moment is not about technicalities. It's about the human spirit. It's one of those things that continues to move me, over and over again, no matter how often I see it.

As a Christian, I can't help but see the parallels between Derek's father and God, my Father. When I am fallen and broken, He is there. I cannot finish on my own, nor is there a need for me to. Sometimes, I will fall, but I am never alone. He will push his way pass the security and the marshalls by the track just to be by my side. He will tell the official guy in white to go away, "This is my son and we are going to finish." And when I cannot walk, He will carry me.

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me... For when I am weak, then I am strong
II Corinthians 12:9-10

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Oregon Bound

I am heading to the Pacific Northwest for 3 weeks. Flying into Portland. No schedule yet. There's so much I want to do. Eugene, Bend, Pacific coast, Crater Lake and Olympic National Parks, San Juan Islands, Seattle and Vancouver there's just so much to do. I'm taking my backpack and tent! If you've visited and have suggestions, leave them in the comments or email me.

Sunday, July 20, 2008


Despite the scandals of doping, I love the Tour de France. As someone who rides, I can appreciate the ability of these riders to get up and down mountains. I love the colors of the peloton, the characters of the spectators that line the roads, and the pageantry and traditon of Le Tour.

To the casual observer, it's just grown men on bikes. But the tour is a series of attacks and counterattacks. You must protect your leader from the wind, road and other riders. Domestiques sacrifice. You work within your team and with rival teams. The peloton works together to close the gap on the breakaways. Strategy is paramount. If a rival takes off, you may not want your team leader expend unnecessary energy. So you send a teammate to "ride" your opponent's wheel and reign him in. It truly is a beautiful sport.

My friend Brent has had some good updates on The Tour de France on his blog.
I've been following Team Slipstream for about a year now. They got a late invitation to the Tour this year and are renowned for their comprehensive independent testing program. They are truly trying to field a clean team. They recently were able to pick up some big sponsors and are racing as Garmin-Chipotle. Not the strongest team in the tour, but they have really ridden well. Early in the race, they actually led the team standings. Their main rider, Christian Vande Velde, is 39 seconds off the lead going into today. If he can stay close, the Individual Time Trial could get him a podium position in Paris.

I am pulling for Vande Velde and Garmin-Chipotle. I am pulling for a race that will be free of doping a scandals. I am pulling for the Tour de France.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

My fantasty foursome

I read this funny piece by Rick Reilly today.

Made me think, if I were to create a celebrity foursome, who would it entail? I'm not a professional, so I want to play golf with people I like so that golf will be fun. Hitting three balls off the tee into the lake is not fun. In fact, it's terribly frustrating. But with the right foursome, a bad day on the course is still better than a day of work. These would be the other three members of my foursome:

1) Maria Sharapova because she's got a nice [tennis] swing, she's smart and I bet she's a pretty good golfer. Plus, she's not bad on the eyes.
2) Jennifer Love Hewitt seems fun, intelligent and interesting and doesn't have some of the baggage that comes with some other celebrities. Plus, she's not bad on the eyes.3) Charles Barkley is hilarious and not afraid to tell the honest truth. He would keep us laughing. Two things he has going is that I am going to be the more attractive man in the group and I will definitely beat Sir Charles. I may lose to Maria and Jennifer, but there's no way I can lose to Chuck.

Check out his swing (I love that he asks God to bless the ball in the first video):

Check out Tiger impersonating Charles Barkley's swing:

See Scott Blog

Scott Stewart, the teaching pastor at our church plant, Grace Foothills, has a blog going. Good stuff, read if you get the chance:

Saturday, July 12, 2008


The name means: Plated Lizard
Lived: 156-140 million years ago
Length: 26-30 feet
Height: 9 feet at hips
Weight: 6,800 lbs
Interesting fact: Despite weighing over a ton, it's brain was about the size of a walnut

Why am I blogging about a stegosaurus? Because it came up in conversation 3 times this week:

1) Monday, lunch with Kirkpatricks and Ryan's son, Carter and Scott's two boys all had Stegosaurus shirts that their grandparents (Ryan's parents) got for them in Eugene at the Olympic Trials.
2) Biking at Dupont on Thursday with Dylan and Matthew. It was wet from the previous night's rain and I said it was like Jurrasic Park because of the green and moisture. Then commented that it would be cool to see a Stegosaurus. Dylan was not as thrilled.
3) Game night at Jenny's and we're playing Taboo. I can't remember what the right answer was, but someone guessed Stegosaurus during the game. By the way, the boys totally ruled the girls in Taboo, winning twice in a row.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

A look back: Gas Prices

Took this picture on Feb 18, 2008, the day after my birthday. $2.92 seems like such a great bargain now. Be real interested to see what prices are on Feb 18, 2009.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

My Missouri River Journey

So it has been 5 days since I left Montana and all the new friends that I met in my journey of discovery down the Missouri River in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark. When you experience something truly amazing, the most difficult thing is trying to share that experience with others who cannot quite relate or understand. It is not their fault, but the experience is exactly what it is: the experience. I can tell you about the stunning vistas, the mass of mosquitoes, or the personalities of the individuals but unless you personally experienced, within context, the views from Eye of the Needle, the coatings of DEET or the humor of Norman and the talents of Jessica, you will not quite understand what the experience was like for those of us that were there.

I cannot share with you all my experiences, nor will you necessarily be as excited about them as I am. But you do need to know some of the things I got to experience, so here is an encapsulated summary of my week:

Day 1, Mon 23 Jun: Travel Day. Met at RDU at 6:00AM. Flew in airplane. Met the rest of the team. Norman Askew and I, with our wrestling connection, hit it off. Arrive at Great Falls International where they have stuffed animals (not teddy bears) in the lobby. Check in at Holiday Inn- Great Falls where they have stuffed animals in the lobby. Learn what an espontoon is. Take a walk around Great Falls where I am introduced to the mosquitoes of Montana. Meredith H. and I go on a futile search for ice cream and settle for Wendy's frosty.

Day 2, Tues 24 Jun: Breakfast is tasty. We meet Carol T. Place! We see waterfalls: Rainbow, Crooked and Black Eagle. Learned that Lewis expected one waterfall and a one day portage. He finds 5 and the portage takes a month. They push and pull canoes across the prairie with prickly pear (a cactus) sticking them in the feet. Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center lets us experience the Corps. Yummy sandwiches at Giant Springs. Avoided the guided tour at the Charles Russell Museum. Am introduced to Scheel's Sports. Pack for River. Next door, Armando and Justin sick.
Day 3, Wed 25 Jun: Breakfast was sparce. Meet Wes, driver from MRO. Ulm Pishkin is where buffalo jumped and we saw snake, marmot and prairie dog colony. Stunned, just like Lewis, by the mighty Great Falls of the Missouri. Learn new word: precipate (as in "precipate off the precipice"). More yummy sandwiches. Wes takes luggage and non-river essentials to Ft. Benton. Meet canoe partner, Jessica. Go back to Scheel's. Dinner at Bert and Ernie's where I enjoy good company, bison burgers and Fat Tire and am introduced to Pig's Ass.

Day 4, Thurs 26 Jun: Breakfast better. Look at Decision Point, the confluence of Missouri and Marias Rivers. Wes drives us to Coal Banks to put in the river. Meet MRO Crew. Jessica has queen chair and new nickname: Cleopatra. I am Diesel. Paddle through cliffs, touch cliffs, admire cliffs. Watergun fight. Get to campsite. Happy Hour. Food and service amazing. Peter rescues runaway kayak. Campfire includes camp songs and "Frosty the Snowman" (sung in June, sung in French), and a not so scary scary story about a toe.

Day 5, Fri 27 Jun: Up before 5:00 and there's coffee! Watch sunrise hit cliffs. Blueberry Pancakes and Canadian Bacon for breakfast! Climb to Eye of the Needle. Look down at camp. Boys pee off cliff. Eat again. Hike into Neat Coulee. Narrow canyon and gorgeous bluffs. Definitely worth the effort. Canoe with Jamie. Camp at Hole-in-the-wall. Mike and Meredith hike in with ice! Pasta for dinner. Stay up really late to watch stars under clear and perfect "Big Sky".

Day 6, Sat 28 Jun: French Toast! We hustle to help break down camp. Hike up to Hole-in-the-Wall. Pretty views and no one falls. Matt, the Sheik, is my canoe partner. Slaughter River is where we camp and one of the places that the Corps camped on both the away and return journey. Leisurely stoll after dinner. I am pooped, fall asleep at the campfire.
Day 7, Sun 29 Jun: Karli is my paddle partner today. I have too much coffee. Need to stop and pee. Flotilla with Loren, Meredith, Renee and Adam. We are the last ones back to Judith Landing. Bridge makes us sad. Wish we could stay on river. Bison burgers for lunch! Cheer the MRO crew. Shower at Grand Union is perfect. Walk along levee. See Carol T. Place again. Dinner at Grand Union where there are toasts and Peter makes us sad. Hang out with Mike, Meredith and Mr. Scottie! Scottie reveals that this year's Summer Celebration was the first one he's missed in 25 years. He could not do both the Summer Celebration and the NCCAT trip and he chose us!
Day 8, Mon 30 Jun: Closing circle, lots of touching testimonies. We are a family. Norm and I walk to Ft. Benton High School, talk with some administrators there. Say goodbye to Keith and Mr. Scottie. Back to Great Falls. Ride plane. Minneapolis-St Paul. Ride plane. RDU. Get concerts from Meredith and Jessica. Hugs and farewells. Fond memories.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

When in Montana

Just got back from Montana. Spent 4 days on the Missouri River on a near perfect trip. I highly recommend Missouri River Outfitters if you want to experience the Missouri River the way that Lewis and Clark did. If you are in the area, look up Mike and Meredith, they are amazing and will take good care of you. Great hospitality, friendly service, and amazing food all within the pristine setting of the scenic Misouri River. Five stars!

Missouri River Outfitters website

If you are lucky, you'll also run into one of my favorite people, Mr. Scottie Peters. We call him Mr. Scottie and he took care of the NCCAT crew (with the help of Renee, John, Whitney, Lona and Neal).