Friday, July 13, 2012

Twit on a Road Trip [Finale]

As the sun rose on Thursday, my TwitOnARoadTrip2012 time was winding down following the events of  GORUCK DC. Though we were drained from the previous day's efforts, we were able to make our way to Dupont Circle to throw back drinks with Brent, Lou, Jason, and assorted GORUCK family at James Hoban's Irish Bar. Fatigue and alcohol quickly took their toll on our ragged group, though, and we slowly broke apart to our homes, hotels, and squares of carpeted floor. July 4th, 2012 was in the books.

Very few people would be able to function after the day we had, but we awoke and made our way to the National Mall and Smithsonian Museum of American History - an impressive home to war artifacts, the fabled Star-Spangled Banner from Fort McHenry, and the Gunboat Philadelphia. Any grand plans we had to further investigate our nation's capitol disappeared at the first mention of finding a bar. This is not an uncommon occurrence when GRTs congregate in large numbers. Hell, it's usually true when we are wandering the streets alone, too.

Elephant & Castle. The sign across the road called to us, so we opted for an afternoon of rejuvenation and cellular repair, drinking up a storm and causing a general uproar. We were loud and slightly obnoxious. I say 'slightly' in reference to our own scale. When compared to societal norms, we were off the chart.

Relaxing together offered the chance to experience the best aspect of GRCs and the GRT family. Sharing stories and drinks, we talked the afternoon away. It's impressive how quickly people that you've just met can become like old friends. Sweating together during a challenge - any of life's challenges - has the strange ability to add depth and respect in any relationship. Friends, both new and old, bonded to bring the conversation to hilarious and felonious levels.

As a starter, I told the story of my epic 1988 National Spelling Bee victory and ensuing controversy.

Going back to the night before, Chris repeated the hilarious and extremely disturbing way Cadre Lou hoped to create a "T-1000 baby."

Your argument is invalid
Eventually, we started discussing when we'd get together again and talked upcoming GRCs to choose from. Kevin erupted in annoyance. "We don't have to do a GORUCK every time we hang out!"
Recounting the horrors and heroes from the day before, we enjoyed the A/C while the sun marched across the sky. Drunken discussions were had on the acceptability of hand-holding during a GRC. The topic of disease-infested ponds was touched upon. I blame the previous day's GORUCK and dehydration for the disaster that followed.

A fuzzy fifteen minutes later, we had women exchange an orange peel from mouth to mouth... followed by two guys doing the same thing. We then requisitioned a shopping cart and proceeded to roll all over Pentagon City. One of us did handstands on the bike rack outside a Costco.

Crazy. At 3PM... on a Thursday. We are not well in the head.

Ending up at one of the bars near the mall, we waited as one of our number attempted to get a new phone. [NOTE: Don't trust a pelican case in your ruck to protect an iPhone during GRCs. Just in case you were considering it...] Doing so, we ran into some GRTs from another July 4th class (remember.. there were five) and chatted up the differences in our experiences. At least, I think that's what we did. We were getting smashed.

To bring it all together, we headed out to GORUCK HQ in DC and threw back some beers with cadre. It was nice seeing some of them in their native habitat, and since none of my past cadre were in
GRHQ: Behind the Curtain
attendance I had a unique relationship. No one in the room had yelled at me to do divebomber push-ups or pick up an effing log. We all hit a couple Georgetown bars and closed out the night as friends.

It was a great bookend to my road trip, so after breakfast with my GRT family, I jumped in the car and made the executive decision to push on toward home for the night. It made for a long drive and I didn't get to the house until after 1AM, but it was worth it. I was going to need the entire weekend to relax and get myself in some semblance of order for Monday.

Monday... Work... I did it up hard for over two weeks and came out of it with a ton of new memories and more than a few new friends. I came up with ideas for future vacations and found new people that shared my passion for stupid crap that would be willing to do them with me. That's the best you can ask for, and I can't wait until the next one. It's only been five days, but I'm having GORUCK withdrawal. I'm having GRT withdrawal. And, I can't wait for the next trip.

Eagerness is one thing... but where to? I heard Jason Aldean's "Fly Over States" several times over those many miles, and it really hit home with me how little people in our big cities know of our country and how much we take for granted. When I drove to Florida from San Francisco, I was struck by how far apart people were. Hundreds of miles separated cities and homes. The west-east trip showed me how big our country is, but this trip showed me how close together we are. I visited Civil War sites and realized how near everything was - even 150 years ago. Louisville, considered by most to be in a culturally 'southern' state, was a Union bastion. The two capitol cities, Richmond and DC, were 90 miles apart. I left Washington, DC at nearly 1:00 PM and was in my Florida bed that night. We are so much closer than we think. We think in terms of 'here' and 'there,' but we share the same land and air. I could have spent days in some of the cities I blitzkrieged through on my drive - Louisville, Nashville, Chattanooga, Lafayette, Cleveland. This country is full of amazing places and fascinating people. My trip gave my dozens of ideas for future travels. If I do half of them, I'll see more of this country than 95% of Americans, and that's too bad. Go check out your country - not in pictures or television... GO - and let me know what you think.


Twit On A Road Trip: By The Numbers

Miles Covered: 5309
Days on the Road: 15
States Visited: 16 (plus Washington, DC)
New states checked off the list: 3 (Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota)
Countries Visisted: 2 (Canada is a country... for now...)
Half Marathons Completed: 2
Bricks purchased: 16
GORUCKs completed: 1
Patches earned/received: 4
ToaRT2012-Related Facebook Updates: 181 (I'm not joking. I counted. Irony... or destiny?)
ToaRT2012-Related Tweets: 94
Blog Updates (including this one): 11
"Halls of Fame" visited: 3
 Oil changes: 1
Highest Mileage Day: Day 15 - 852 miles from DC to Florida
Most Expensive Gas: $3.67/gal (New York)
Least Expensive Gas: $3.04/gal (Georgia)
Gallons Purchased: 134
Average mpg: 39.6
Baseball Games attended: 7 (4 MiLB/ 3 MLB)
Active MLB Parks left to see: 7 (down from 10 pre-trip)
Most nights spent in one city: 3 (tie; Buffalo and DC)
College Campuses Visited: 9
People Convinced I was David Boreanaz: 4 1/2*
Beers drank: Countless. And priceless. And now I'm even more senseless.

*One woman asked if I was the actor  on 'that show.'
Knowing my Boreanaz history, I asked, "Bones?"
She said, "No... that's not it."

? - For those of you still following along, the prize is up for grabs.
Both the question and answer are out there somewhere.

 I'd like to give to thanks to my 2007 Honda Civic for making all of this possible. She was a champ.

5309 Miles of the eastern United States
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