1. Team Hike! A few years ago I wrote about "Team Hike", a group of friends from college who started a hiking/camping group that I met through my buddy Matt about four years ago. The Team Hike crew also did what they called "Team Extreme", which was hiking and camping during the winter, and I decided to do this with them over the Presidents Day weekend.
This had been planned for weeks, and we had no idea what weather to expect aside from it being winter. Snow? Wind? Cold Snap? Whatever was going to happen over the weekend, unless it was a blizzard, the team was going.
The hike itself took place near Tuxedo Park, NY, a bit over an hour's drive from Hoboken. We drove to the parking site, and hiked along the Appalachian trail, which was covered in snow, up to 8 inches deep in some places. The hike itself wasn't too bad, but the snow definitely made it harder. We hiked about two miles, found the site, which had a lean-to, and immediately started a campfire.
We had about thirteen guys on the hike, or "The Baker's Dozen" as "Gramps" (there are a lot of nicknames amongst Team Hike members) coined it. Our plan was to hike Saturday, camp Saturday night, and hike out Sunday morning. The only issue with the whole day wasn't the cold weather, but the wind. The wind itself wasn't the issue, but the campfire was swirling and blowing in all directions, which made it hard to stay warm when the smoke would blow directly in our faces, also sending ash & embers at us. As the night progressed the wind died down, but the temperature plummeted. We had lots of beer and liquor, and like any team hike we had a ton of people showing off their culinary skills and eating well wasn't an issue. I was stuffed before I turned it at 1am.
Some may ask - "How can you be in a tent when it's so cold?!"
Sure, it was cold, but actually I was in my sleeping bag, wearing a wool sweater with a few hand warmers lining the interior of the bag. By the time Matt woke me up at 7:30am, I was still happy to sleep for a few more hours. But, as we learned in the past, it's best to make an early exit and get back to Hoboken to beat any Sunday traffic.
2. Open Letter! In July 2010, I wrote an open letter to City Hall about creating an online ticket system. Imagine my surprise when I read Dawn Zimmer's State of the City speech on NJ.com and she wrote:
"Within the next several months we are implementing an online service request and complaint system. Through our web site residents will be able to submit and track all kinds of service requests, whether it's to report a pothole, graffiti, or a street that needs plowing.
This system will provide a performance measurement for my Administration, so that we can continue to increase accountability and better understand where our resources need to be directed. Residents should not need to figure out whether to email me, their council people or our directors to get a response. You should have one place to go, and you should be able to depend on a timely response.
This new system will be only the latest in our efforts to use technology to be more efficient and make services available online. As you may know, last fall our Recreation Division began accepting online registrations for recreation programs. People love this system, and it's helping us work more efficiently."
I'm not going to hold my breath to get a "Thank You" from City Hall for my suggestion. Still waiting for someone to take my next open letter ideas. From what I was told online registration for dog tags is in the works.
3. Crossfit! I'm entering week three. I can understand why they force everyone to do the fundamentals class first - no matter what your fitness level. I'm learning now that what I thought I was doing right was about 70% correct. My form was way off, and my endurance levels are low. Plus, my flexibility is in pretty bad shape, especially with my shoulders. Each class we are learning something new, and i'm also learning how weak I am. The one good thing about the classes is that they go really fast, and just at the moment you are hating the workout - it is time to leave. On an interesting side note, i'm kind of surprised about how many girls are into Crossfit. I was expecting this to be mostly guys - but in my training class alone we have 5 guys and 4 girls.
Here's the exercises we have learned in the last week:
Wall Ball Shots
Medicine Ball Cleans:
4. Rocco! What? I haven't written about Rocco enough? Look, he's great. One funny thing about him is that when i'm watching TV, he will sit in front of me and just....stare. Here's a picture of him in action. That's it. That's what he does. Sits there and doesn't move and tries his best to catch my eye. If I try to block him from seeing my eyes with my foot, he shifts slightly to the left or right to keep looking at me. As if to be using telepathy to say "YOU....MUST....PET....ME..."
Otherwise, Rocco is a great dog. Completely housebroken. Doesn't bark. Doesn't eat the furniture or my shoes. When he's unhappy, he snorts. His only downside is that he gets sick easily. If I expose him to the dog park too many days in a row, he will somehow find a way to get sick (respiratory infection & throwing up or bad diarrhea that goes on for days). Usually that means a trip to the vet and a $150 doctor's bill to fix him. This is the curse of the pure breeds.
Also everywhere I go, I still get stopped by complete strangers who fawn over him. Did I mention before buying a carabiner? I take Rocco with me anytime I need to run an errand, like going to CVS or Taco Truck or whatever. The only time I latch Rocco outside a store is when I can see him through the glass window or the door. I know there are some dog owners who completely refuse to do this - and that's their choice. At CVS, there are no windows to see Rocco, so what I do is talk to the homeless guys standing outside. I ask them if they can watch my dog, and I will pay them $1. I know most of the guys, and they are all really nice and know me by now. I go in, shop, and come outside and hand the guy $1 for watching Rocco. Everyone wins. Also, if there's no one outside CVS to watch Rocco, I wouldn't go into the store.
Plus, with Rocco I try to go to places that let dogs into their store. Hoboken Vine, for example, has always been dog-friendly, and even have treats behind the counter for dogs. Dames Coffee is also another dog-friendly business. I think I want to make a list of dog-friendly businesses in Hoboken.
Anyhow, that's all for now!