75 Hard

On May 20th, 2019 I set out to complete a challenge called 75 Hard. The challenge consisted of following a group of tasks related to health and wellness for 75 Days straight. This is the tale of my journey.

What is 75 Hard?

The program was created by Andy Frisella (@andyfrisella) who is a CEO, runs several businesses and hosts a podcast called the MFCEO Project. Mr. Frisella documented his own journey through 75 Hard on Instagram, and it was motivating to see someone come up with a program, and also live it. I always loved how Mr. Frisella described the program “It doesn’t cost anything, but it isn’t free.”

The program is quite simple. There are a group of tasks to follow, and you must complete them each day, no exceptions, no shortcuts, and no deviations. The five tasks are:

1 - Follow a Diet. The diet can be chosen by you and could be whatever fits your lifestyle. There are no cheat meals allowed any time during the 75 days and you cannot consume alcohol.

2 - Workout twice a day for a minimum of 45 minutes each workout. One of the workouts must take place outdoors. This can be any form of exercising (weights, walking, running, etc.) as long as the above criteria is met.

3 - Drink a Gallon of water a day.

4 - Read 10 Pages in a Non-Fiction, Entrepreneurial, Self-Help Book each day. Audio books do not count.

5 - Take a progress pic each day.

Why Would I Do This?

I was at a point where I had let myself slip. I was not taking care of my body. I was not eating well. I was not exercising. I felt like crap. I was having chest pains. My stomach was bothering me constantly. It was clear that what I was putting into my body and the lack of physical movement was taking its toll not only physically but mentally as well. I needed a change, and this was going to be a program that would help me take back control of how I was treating myself.

My Diet

I love food. When deciding what diet I was going to follow during this program, I knew I had to go extreme in order to truly have it make an impact on my life. How do you truly test your relationship with food? You remove the things you indulge in the most. So that is what I did. My diet on this program would be pretty simple: cut out the things that I love that aren’t really good for me. My diet was: No potatoes, No rice, No pasta, No tortillas (in any form), No bread, No Fast Food, No fried foods, No sugar drinks, and most importantly No desserts. If you know me, you know that last one is the toughest of all.

The Weekend Before Starting

The weekend before I started the program was my last hurrah. It was an annual trip that I make with my family to play golf for a weekend in the midwest. It is a weekend of eating, drinking, and playing golf. I went into the weekend knowing on Monday I will be starting this challenge, so I drank beer, ate all the desserts, breads, and things I knew I would not be able to have once 75 hard started. It was a great weekend, but when that Monday morning came around, my body was ready for a change, and that was what it was going to get.

Expectations

I was not sure what to expect from this challenge upon starting. Sticking to any sort of diet or physical challenge has always been tough for me. I have set out on diets before, but usually after a couple weeks, the excuses would kick in, and I would let myself slide, and before I knew it, I was off track. I knew this wasn’t going to be possible on this challenge. I started out with my head in the right place. I was not doing this so I could impress people, or look good. I was doing this for me. I needed to feel better. I needed to respect how I was treating my body. when that first day started, NOT seeing this all the way through, was not an option.

Day 1

The first day arrived. I was tired from the weekend, and had kept the day clear to make sure I got myself started on the right foot. I needed to go to the grocery store, and wanted to see what a day in the life of this would look like. I completed all the tasks and Day 1 was complete. I weighed myself and came in at 200 lbs.

Day 1 - 200 lbs.

Day 1 - 200 lbs.

The Journal

When doing something like this, I need to have something to check off. There is something about tracking progress and putting that final checkmark on a day when you have completed something. I did this by starting a journal. This journal was going to be my way of keeping myself in check and documenting this journey. The first page consisted of writing out the challenge and all the tasks. I then wrote out the numbers 1-75. These would be what I check off when I have completed all of my tasks for the day. It was a really helpful way to double check that I did everything. Each daily entry consisted of listing each of the tasks for the challenge and what I did to complete them. It was my way of double checking myself to make sure I didn’t miss anything. As it turns out there were a few times where I forgot to take my daily progress pic and this journal entry served as my reminder to do so. I also added a thoughts section. This was my way to reflect on how I felt about the day, note anything that stood out, and put down on paper how I was feeling. Once this was all done, it was my personal reminder that I accomplished all the tasks and that day could get its checkmark. Some entries were short, some were long. On some I was so tired that I could barely keep my eyes open and just scribbled everything down. 

A Few Examples of Journal Entries:

Day 2 - “Workout is tough, body is tired, water is tough too, peeing a lot”

Day 4 - “Tough Day. Super Tired. Sore. Struggled to do anything. Not good only 4 days in.”

Day 8 - “Got through Holiday Weekend (Memorial Day). Turned down dinner at my parents. Nance was making quesadillas.”

Day 9 - “I know it takes time, but I somehow created an impression I’d feel different by now. I need to shake that belief, Rome wasn’t built in a day, let alone 9.”

Day 16 - “I feel mentally weak. Depressed. Tired. Unconnected. Fight continues..”

Day 20 - “Long hike today. Felt Good. Didn’t bring enough water. 20,000 steps. Onward.”

Day 28 - “Today was tough. I wanted to eat a bunch of stuff at Andy’s but refrained.”

Day 30 - “Hard Day. Almost cut a corner. Told myself that hike outside counted for both workouts. It was a hair short, so at 9:45PM went into gym and did 45 min workout. Also didn’t drink water as good as normal throughout the day, had to chug some later in the evening.” 

Day 34 - “Tough challenge going out to dinner and concert tonight, but discipline was in control.”

Day 36 - “I can’t believe it is Day 36, still a long way to go, but I am proud to be in this spot. The work continues..”

Day 46 - “4th of July. Got through it. Was really tough at my parents house, full of tortilla chips, candy, etc. Took a lot of willpower. Got through it all, Day 46 done, Onward!”

Day 51 - “Today was the day. The day I wanted to just quit and take a day off from a workout. My body is sore. I have blisters, and I am unmotivated. But I did it. It was not my best workout day by far, but I at least did it.”

Day 56 - “I can’t just get by these last 18 days, they are the most important. Finish strong, and keep moving the only way I know, onward!”

Day 58 - “Today is one of those days where things could have gotten messed up simply due to bad planning. I have to learn from it. Tomorrow is that chance. Onward!”

Day 73 - “I am so close, but it has been a thing to remind myself not to go on Auto Pilot and mess anything up”

Day 75 - “Done. Wow, I can’t believe it is here. I feel good. I am proud. I stuck with this and got it done. I’ve officially lost 25 pounds. I tried to end the challenge with a record breaking hike of Piestiewa, but fell short by a minute. I will keep it going. I will do the next phase. Doing this, I can do anything. Well, to the next step I move that one and only direction I know...Onward!”

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The Books

I read three books during this challenge. The requirement was to read 10 pages each day. I found myself doing that early on, but as time progressed, I found myself going from 10 pages to 1 chapter each day. As I was going through these books, it helped me understand more about the way I read, and why I read. I want to read to get better. I want to learn. I want to not go through the motions of reading lines, but also take the knowledge of those lines and apply them to my life. The three books I read were:

The Dichotomy of Leadership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin 

Principles by Ray Dalio

Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss

My Favorite Outdoor Workout

One of my favorite ways to get my outdoor workout done was to go for a hike. I live about 10 minutes from two really great hiking areas so it was a no-brainer to do those as my outdoor workout. When I was following Mr. Frisella during his challenge, he was always showing himself doing his outdoor workouts in crazy weather (cold, rain, snow, etc.) I was always impressed by that. So I always strived to do my outdoor workouts in the peak heat of the day. Which in Arizona, can be extreme. My hottest hike was an afternoon where it was 113 degrees. My favorite hike is Piestewa Peak. It is a short hike, 1.15 miles, it has an elevation gain of 1,000ish feet, and is a great leg workout. When I started this challenge, my time to get to the top was about 39 minutes, but my last week of the 75 hard challenge I was able to get up in just under 26 minutes. That was a big indicator that I was improving physically.

The Playlist

Music is a must in my life. I need a soundtrack. I especially needed something that was going to help me get through this challenge that wasn’t one of my regular workout playlists. So I spent one day early on putting together this playlist. It is hardcore. It is heavy. It covers all sorts of genres. Parental Advisory is definitely advised.

Bulletproof Coffee

One thing I was introduced to during this challenge was Bulletproof Coffee. This would become my go to drink in the morning with breakfast 4-5 days a week. Later in the challenge, I started adding Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Powder to the coffee and then having it over ice. It is delicious and is now a drink of choice for me. The recipe is simple. Brew 12 ounces of coffee. Then add 1 Tablespoon of Grass Fed Unsalted Butter (Kerrygold is the best in my opinion). Add 1 Tablespoon of MCT Oil. Then add a teaspoon of Vanilla Extract and a teaspoon of cinnamon and then blend it together for about 45-60 seconds. It is a delicious treat. When I started adding the Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Powder, I stopped adding cinnamon, and then would pour that all over ice.

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What I Learned

Manage Expectations - I went into this having seen results from others on social media. From what they posted, they felt mentally clear, inspired, energized. I expected the same thing and when I was hit with bouts of feeling down during this challenge, I wondered why I didn’t feel like the other people who have done it. Each person’s circumstances are different, I am not them. My experience is unique to me, and I can’t let that be shaped by what others have done.

Time Management - It is easy to waste time and put things off. When I got things done earlier in the day, it helped me when a wrench was thrown in a days plans.

Give Credit - I pointed out a lot of negative things to myself during this challenge. I also forgot to give myself credit where credit is due. This is a hard challenge. It takes a lot to do something of this scale. I didn’t want to bask in my accomplishments, but I needed to give myself the proper recognition and that didn’t happen very much until the end.

Exercise Helps - There were more times than I am proud to admit that I wanted to skip exercise. Obviously, I never did, and there was never a time where I regretted it. BUT IT CAN BE HARD WHEN EVERYTHING INSIDE YOU IS TELLING YOU TO JUST SKIP IT, OR CUT IT SHORT. Learning to fight that battle and win it is important. I always felt better both physically and mentally after doing exercise when I didn’t feel like it.

Get Creative With Food - A Diet can become monotonous. It is easy to stick with familiar things, but changing it up is the key to making sure to not slip simply from being bored.

Understand Intentions - I have to admit there were a few times during this challenge that I forgot my intentions for doing this challenge. Forgetting that put me in a place where I was going through the motions and not being aware of why it was important to do so. This improved as I went along, but is also something I need to get better at. This applies to all aspects of this challenge. It took a podcast with Mr. Frisella and Dr. Nicola LaPera (@the.holistic.psychologist) to drive that message home for me.

Conclusion

I am not proud that I let myself get to the point that I did with my weight and overall well-being, but I give myself credit for recognizing that I needed to make a change and this challenge helped me do that. The tasks are easy to do, but they are just as easy not to do. It is hard. It takes discipline, but in the end it is worth it. I am really grateful that Mr. Frisella documented this the way he did. We hear the word influencer a lot, but I don’t feel a ton of people who are labeled influencer can back their words up with action. Mr. Frisella did that and was an inspiration for me. Not only did his influence inspire me, it made me realize the value of staying true to my word, seeing things through, and not cutting corners. I WILL continue this lifestyle and apply the things I learned to many aspects of my life. If you have any questions or want to chat about what I did, let me know, I am happy to help any way I can. Thanks for reading!

Euro Trip 2018: The Conclusion

The first two months of my trip in Europe were nothing short of amazing. It was time spent with special people in my life, but mostly people who I’ve only known a short time. August would spent with people who have been a big part of my life for many years. We made some great memories along the way, and I would like to share that with everyone in this post.

The Road Trip

It started with a road trip with one of my best buddies Dan. Dan and I met sophomore year of college at Arizona State. We would go on to become neighbors, and great friends in college. As life progressed, we went through everything together, and he is always someone I can count on to be there for me. Dan flew into Zagreb, Croatia and met me there. We then took a train from Zagreb to Ljubljana, Slovenia. We rented a car in Slovenia, and would take our car from Slovenia, all the way to Paris over the course of 7 Days. One of the funniest moments from the trip was when we got to the rental car place and met the gentleman at the counter who would get us set up. He was a super happy, and helpful guy and provided one of the best rental car experiences I have ever had. When I was handing over my driver’s license and credit card, I asked him if he needed to see my International Driver’s Permit, that I obtained at AAA before I left? He laughed out loud, and he said “Hahaha, international driver’s permit, that is an American Fairy Tale.” This cracked both Dan and I up and would serve as a great inside joke the rest of the trip. Dan and I got in the car, and headed out to Lake Bled for our first stop on the 7 Day Road Trip.

Road Trip Statistics

I could talk in length about the road trip. It was a blast and full of great sites, great food, and most importantly, great company. We didn’t really have a plan in place. We knew we had to be in Paris by a certain date, and we knew the direction we needed to go to get there, so we just headed that way and picked our stopping points as the days unfolded. It was a great trip full of beautiful sites, and spending time with one of my best friends. Instead of laying out the details in writing, I will lay down some stats and pictures that sum up the trip.

The Route

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Miles Traveled: 1,067

Countries Visited: 5

Funicular Rides: 1

Johnny Cash Cover Band Concerts: 1

$40 Burger: 1 (Switzerland of course)

Laughs: Too many to count

An American In Paris

Dan and I arrived in Paris. Dan’s wife was there with her sister and nieces, and we met up with them. We spent the next couple days exploring Paris. We hit all the spots you go to when it is your first time in Paris. We saw the Eiffel Tower, The Louvre, Arc De Triomphe, The Sacre Coeur, and took a sunset river cruise. It was great to spend time with them all. The time came and we all went our separate ways. I stayed in Paris a couple more days before I would be making my way to the south of France. On my first day on my own in Paris, I met up with my friend Drew, and the groom for the wedding I would be going to the following week. We had dinner and a few drinks and then in true Parisian style hit up a Cabaret Show. I was not sure what to expect, but it was actually well done, classy, had good music and funny all at the same time. The next day I would take a day trip to a place I have always wanted to visit.

A Day in Normandy

I woke up the next day and joined a tour from Paris, that would take me to Normandy to explore the area of the D-Day Invasion. I have always loved history and this area has always been high on my list to visit. I spent the day exploring Normandy, Omaha Beach, Pointe Du Hoc, and the Normandy American Cemetery. To see this area, and reflect on all that went on here, was a humbling experience.

One Last Day In Paris

I headed back to Paris from Normandy and the next day would be my last in Paris. Another one of my really good friends Adam was getting into town that day. I was stoked to meet up with him and spend some time together. We met up in the Luxembourg Gardens, and then walked around, had lunch, went by the Cathedral at Notre Dame, and ended the day by having dinner. All and all, my time in Paris was great. I found the city to be beautiful and would definitely go back to there again someday.

Aix Marks the Spot

The next day I would hop on a train from Paris to Aix-Provence where I would spend the next 6 days. The main reason for heading to Aix-Provence was for the wedding of my good friend Melissa. Melissa and I have been friends since middle school. The train ride was very pretty. I had a window seat, and watched the French countryside pass me by, as I worked on editing photos from trip. The 3.5 hour train ride went by fast and I was now in Aix-Provence. I checked into my hotel and met up with some friends that were already there. We had a few drinks and then headed back to our hotel to get ready to head to dinner

Francis Mallmann Dinner

The dinner was going to be at one of Francis Mallmann’s restaurants. Mallmann is a famous chef who has been featured on Chef’s Table on Netflix. He is known for cooking by fire and his elaborate BBQ displays. A large group of people that were in town for the wedding were at the dinner. The food was great, but the company was even greater. We had a blast and called it a night by having one last drink in Aix.

Day Excursion in French Countryside

The next day Melissa planned a great day trip for us all. The trip would start in Les Baux de Provence which is a medieval fortified town. The town was full of cobblestone streets and stone buildings. It had a beautiful view of the French countryside. We walked around and explored all the village had to offer. We then headed to Mausole St. Paul. This was an area where Van Gogh spent some time and is said to have painted over 200 paintings here. After that we headed to lunch at a gentleman named Lolo’s home. This was not an ordinary lunch or an ordinary home. Lolo is 93 years old, and hosts lunches at his home for guests. He cooks food, and allows people to explore his property. The property has been in his family since the mid 1600’s. The home was cut out of a rock quarry, and was full of beautiful old tables, pictures and artifacts from his family's history. We enjoyed a lunch made by Lolo, drank wine, and soaked in all the history we could. It was a beautiful place and was an honor to have been able to eat a meal at Lolo’s home. The next stop was at a museum which was in a quarry. Inside they use projectors to display famous artwork set to music on the rocks. We saw a cool tribute to Picasso during our time there. We then headed back to Aix-Provence. Alas, everyone was finally in town for the wedding and we met up, hung out and danced like it was college all over again.

Boat Trip and Rehearsal Dinner

The next day a small group of us headed to Marseille and hopped on a boat to spend an afternoon on the water. It was a beautiful day. After about an hour and a half in the boat we came to an area full of beautiful cliffs. Our captain mentioned that if we swim to the cliffs, there is a cave we can go into. He warned us that the water was cold, but the view in the cave was worth the swim. We put on some goggles and made the trek. Being a traveler I usually have some sort of camera with me, but in this particular case, I didn’t. We arrived to the cave and it was gorgeous. The sun reflected up from the water beautifully. The water was crystal clear and for several minutes it was just my buddies and I in there. As great as it would have been to get a picture of it, the moment of just being with some of your best friends in such a beautiful place will be a memory I will hold in my head forever and don’t need a picture to remind me. We got back on the boat, cruised around a little bit more, drank some Rose and Champagne and then headed back to Aix-Provence to get ready for the rehearsal dinner. The rehearsal dinner was at a Moroccan Restaurant called La Riad. Having spent 5 weeks in Morocco, I was excited to recognize the items on the menu. When I was in Morocco, we would eat Tajine’s a lot, and I hadn’t had one since leaving there. The Tajine came out and it was delicious. The meal was spent chatting with friends, soaking in the beautiful night, and making more memories. We went out for a little bit after, and then called it a night so we would be fresh for the wedding the next day.

The Wedding Day

The big day finally arrived. I spent the morning, walking around the city, exploring it a little bit, and taking some photos. A group of us then got together for lunch, and then went our separate ways to get suited up for the wedding. The wedding was about 30 minutes from Aix, so we would be shuttled there. We took the shuttle and were transported to a beautiful Chateau. The ceremony was outside, and the whole entire evening was beautiful. The ceremony, speeches, dinner, and dancing were all a blast. It was truly special to see one of your closest friends get married in such a wonderful place. The wedding went late, and the last shuttle was too full, so a few of us had to stay back and keep the party going. The next day was a little rough, but I made it to the brunch with all my luggage. I hung out for a little bit and then headed to the airport to make my way to Portugal for the next part of my visit.

Back to Portugal

After France, I headed to Lisbon to spend some time with my good buddy Sean. Sean and I were in Remote Year together, and friends for 10 years prior to that. Although I saw him in June at our reunion in Prague, we didn’t get to spend a ton of time together. He is now living in Lisbon and this was going to be our chance to catch up and spend some quality time together. We did just that, we met up, had dinner, caught up on life, talked about what we were doing. Sean has been such an inspiration for how he is living his life and taking his job on the road to live the lifestyle he wants to live. I am super proud of all he has accomplished. Sean recently launched a Podcast talking with people who are embracing the Nomadic Lifestyle. Sean is passionate about the topic and it comes across in the interviews. You can check it out HERE if you want to give it a listen.

One of the things that Sean and I did on our first night was revisit a place we found when we were there with Remote Year. The place was called Time Out Market, and the reason we loved it was due to a certain dessert shop there that serves the best Chocolate Cake I have ever tasted. This summer was full of returning to places I love to eat and now the Chocolate Cake that I loved so much. Sean and I had dinner and it was without question that after dinner we would make the walk to that dessert stand in Time Out Market to enjoy a slice of that infamous Chocolate Cake. It was almost like my body walked there itself. I knew exactly where to go, and walked by places that were full of memories from my first time there. We arrived at the stand. There it was. THE Chocolate Cake. There were three pieces left. We stood patiently in line. The smile on my face was so big. The next person moves up in line, and we were one person closer to having that chocolate cake once again. Then they placed their order, the hostess behind the counter grabbed her knife and moved toward the chocolate cake. She took the platter out of the case. Sean and I looked at each other with looks of hope, and confusion on our faces. What if she takes all three, or worse takes two and leaves just one? Time came to a stop and we starred as it all went down. The hostess cut a slice, and put it into a to go box. Then went back to the cake. We both watched with anticipation of what would happen next. It almost felt like it was moving in slow motion. She then put the knife down, and grabbed the platter to put it back with two slices still left. We both looked at each other and breathed a sigh of relief. It was then our time. We ordered our two slices, she cut them up and served them to us on a beautiful plate. We found a seat. Sean had eaten the chocolate cake since he lived in Lisbon, but for me this was the first time since the last time. I took that first bite, and it was like a little piece of heaven was lifted into my mouth. We laughed and joked as we sat and ate the chocolate cake that we had talked about so much since leaving Portugal. We finished it up and that was it. Our first night was under our belts. Nothing else was needed for the night. We caught up and had the dessert we both love so much.

Lisbon was one of my favorite places during my time on Remote Year. It was mainly my favorite place because during that month, I fell in love with a girl. That love translated to my love of the city. That love has since ended, but my love for the city is still there. It took walking through those streets reliving the memories of falling in love to realize that the city itself is quite magical. It is rough around the edges, gritty, hilly, challenging, and full of life. It has history, art, cuisine, architecture, and the ocean. Revisiting old memories was part of the process, but the important thing was making new ones. I did that, I did it several different ways. I went to places I never went while I was there. I spent time with Sean, who I know, no matter how many miles apart we may be, we are always just a phone call away if we need a quick laugh, a quick opinion, or a quick inside joke. Lisbon was beautiful and although those old memories popped back up, they didn’t impact like they had been known to in the past, and I was able to fall back in love with Lisbon a little different way this time.

Porto

After a couple of days in Lisbon, it was time to head north to Porto. I always wanted to go to Porto when I was in Portugal last, but never was able to make it work. I had heard great things and so the tail end of my time in Portugal would be spent in Porto. We drove up from Lisbon and arrived at our AirBnB. Porto has a different feel to it than Lisbon. It still has some similarities, but all and all is different. The first night, we met up with some friends from Arizona. Two of them were at the wedding I was at, so it was great to see them again, the other two I hadn’t seen since leaving Arizona, so it was great to catch up with them as well. Our second day in Portugal was spent taking a drive to the Douro Valley. My friend Melissa who just got married and her now husband Stephen now joined our crew. We headed out in the morning to Douro Valley. The valley is about 2 hours outside of Porto and is home to all of the vineyards where Port Wine is made. We would drive through the valley and stop at a couple vineyards. We did a tasting at one of them, and had a blast cruising around and taking in all the sites the valley had to offer. We made it back to Porto just in time for Sunset, and caught a beautiful sunset. We watched it from a hill that overlooks the city. It was beautiful. We then had dinner our final dinner as a group. The next day I met up with all the crew who was leaving and said my see ya laters to them. I then took a few hours to explore Porto on my own and take some photos. I then met up with Sean and Tara who was also traveling with us. We found a nice cafe next to the water. Being the keen observers of society that we are, we noticed certain trends of the people who walked by. There were a lot of people wearing Levi’s shirts and there were a lot of people posing for Instagram photos. We made a little game of it, and it turned into a fun afternoon. We then headed to a rooftop bar that had a large grass field. We sat in the grass, and hung out. We then went and had one last dinner in Porto. On our way home, we noticed a large amount of people hanging out. Our interest was sparked and we decided to check it out. It ended up being a place where locals hang out and play music. We struck up a conversation with a couple of them. We grabbed a couple drinks, and next thing you know, we are singing songs with them. Sean being the amazing guitar player he is, picked up the guitar and started to jam. There was a little drum there, so I grabbed that, and we played a couple songs. It was a blast. We then passed the instruments back to their owners, and listened to them play for a couple songs. It was a really fun way to end the night and my time in Portugal. The next day came and I packed up my bag to make my way to Ireland for the last leg of my European trip.

The Return to the Emerald Isle

I started the summer in Ireland, and the way I arranged it was to make my return flight to the states from there. It was cheaper to book a round-trip ticket when I was planning. I love Ireland, so going back was no problem at all. I arrived back in Dublin, and headed to my hotel. It just so happened that one of my favorite bands from the states was playing in Dublin the night I arrived, so of course I got tickets. My same amazing tour guide from June would join me on this leg of the trip. We headed to the concert. It was at this really cool venue called Whelan’s. If you have ever seen the movie PS, I love you (I definitely didn’t accidently buy it one time) they filmed the scene where what’s his name sings Galway Girl to what’s her name. The venue was super intimate, and upon our arrival, we headed to as close to the stage as we could get, and we got super close. When I say close, I mean, I had to set my drink on the stage close. The concert was amazing, and one of the best shows I have seen the Lone Bellow put on. If you have never heard of them, check them out, they are so good. The next day, we packed up the car and took a weekend trip to Northern Ireland. The trip was a surprise to me, so I had no idea where we were going until we were out of Dublin and I could tell by the signs. We would be crossing into Northern Ireland. Our first stop was Londonderry, or Derry depending on which side of the border you are on. Derry is where the Bloody Sunday event happened. If you have ever heard the song Sunday Bloody Sunday by U2, this event is what they are singing about. On this day 14 people were killed by British Soldiers. It was an important event in Irish history and to see it from the perspective of the town where it happened was interesting. I learned a lot about the IRA and much about the history of this part of Ireland. We stayed a night in Derry, then headed out along the coast to The Giants Causeway. This is another beautiful section of the Ireland coast that I was so happy to see. We drove through coastlines, and made our way towards Belfast. Just outside of Belfast we stopped at a spot where apparently Game of Thrones was filmed. I have never seen the show, but the area was a really cool street with large trees on both sides of the road. It had been raining on and off the last day or so, and so there were large puddles on the side of the road, and I got a couple amazing shots of the trees reflecting in the puddles. We then arrived in Belfast. I was not sure what to expect of Belfast, but it was a beautiful city. We had dinner and then walked around a bit, found a pub, had a pint and called it a night. The next day we were supposed to do a tour of the city and visit the various street art. The tour company messed up, so we decided to try and do it ourselves. Similar to Derry, there was very interesting art on the walls depicting the history of Northern Ireland. We passed by the Harland and Wolff Shipyard where the Titanic was built. Belfast had a simple charm to it, and it is a city I would definitely like to spend more time in. We headed out of Belfast, to make our way back to Dublin. On our way back we stopped in a city called Carlingford. It was a seaside town and it had buzz to it that was just hard to explain. We went to a restaurant, had some amazing seafood, and watched people dance to live music. Then we made it back to Dublin, and went and watched some live Irish music. The next day was my last day there, and it was spent hanging out and cafe hopping. The next day I got up, and made my way to the airport to fly back to the states.

Back in the USA

After an amazing 3 months in Europe and making a lifetime worth of memories, it was time to head back to the states. I flew from Dublin to New York. I didn’t have a plan as of my arrival in NYC. I wa either going to stay in NYC a couple days, or head to Chicago. After checking a few things out, I decided that Chicago would be a great place to visit and see some of my Chicago family. I flew that same day from NYC to Chicago, and stayed with my cousin Donna in downtown Chicago. We got to hang out, and I got to spend some quality time with her two daughters. The weekend was the kick-off of College Football and Notre Dame was playing Michigan at Notre Dame. My family does an amazing tailgate at Notre Dame games, so I got to spend time with them doing that, along with some other friends who were in town from AZ. It was a long day, but all and all a fun one as Notre Dame beat Michigan. It was labor day weekend, so we stayed at my Aunt and Uncle’s cottage until Monday. On the Tuesday after Labor Day, I got on a flight to Cleveland to spend some time with my Uncle Dave in Ohio. It was great to spend some quality time with him. We ate some amazing meals, talked about life, and enjoyed each other’s company. After a few days in Cleveland, it was time to head back to Arizona and see my family. I am now currently in Phoenix, and building my Crispy Pelican business.

An Ode To Summer

This summer was one of the best of my life. The experiences, relationships, and tribulations I went through this summer shaped me in a way that traveling in the past has not. I still have things to figure out, but spending this summer on the road, and making memories with those I care about most, has helped guide me as to what I want out of this thing we call life. I know my situation is unique and everyone can’t just up and travel for a summer, but if you can get any sort of travel in, even just a week, do it, and let the experience open your mind and realize how beautiful this world is. Thanks for reading, peace and love.

A Day In Normandy

D-DAy: Through My Lens

In August I visited Normandy, France and the site of the D-Day Invasion. I feel it is my duty as a citizen of the world to understand the history that we have experienced and share that with the world in any way I can. My means of sharing is through my camera and the pictures I take. I hope to honor all the lives lost and impacted by this historic event through pictures. I hope to give those who may not have the ability to visit this area a chance to see this location to appreciate and understand all that happened here in the summer of 1944.

Euro Trip 2018: Part Deux

The month of July was going to spent in Split, Croatia. I was excited for this month for multiple reasons. The month did not disappoint and was a month full of my new catch phrase “No Bad Days”.

Remote Year Darien Reunion - Part Two

Croatia would bring me back together with several of my friends from my Remote Year Darien group. It was great to spend time together again, especially since our reunion in June seemed to go by too fast. We had lunches, and dinners. We celebrated birthdays. We went rafting. We reunited with our Broatia Captain Bruno. It was great to spend time with them all and make more memories together.

Day Trip to Hvar

Hvar is an island near Split. It is about an hour ferry ride away. One Sunday a group of us made the trek over there to spend the day. We started by going to a restaurant to have Burritos. One thing I always miss when traveling is Mexican food. This burrito helped me fill that void. After Burritos we walked around Hvar, and ended up sitting by the ocean all day. We talked, swam, and just soaked up the sun. Hvar has some crazy signs on the sidewalks, and they are quite comical. To see what I am talking about, check out the pics below. On the ferry ride home, we sat at the front as the sun started going down. As the ride continued, I found myself looking at an amazing sunset as we moved across the Adriatic back to Split. It was the perfect ending to a great day.

World Cup 2018

When planning this trip, I was excited to know I would be in Europe for the World Cup. Europe takes its football (Soccer to us American folk) very seriously. People watch games in masses and it is quite a spectacle. When I arrived in Croatia, it was exciting that they were still in the World Cup and I had no inclination that they would go as far as they did. It started with one game, and they won that game. Then they won the next, and the next, and before you know it, they were playing in the World Cup final. To be in Croatia during all of this, was truly special. We would mostly watch the games at the Fan Zone in a park outside the Old Town of Split. One game we watched at a local restaurant with a bunch of Croatians. The people of Croatia were so excited. There were two Remote City managers who were both Croatian and it was so cool to see their excitement firsthand as they watched their country play in the most prestigious football tournament in the world and go as far as they did. In the end, they did not win, but you would not have known it. After the final game, the people celebrated as if they won. All of the major cities welcomed home the team with large parties. It was so cool to be there for, and will be a memory that I will always remember.

Remote Year Ohana

I was not sure what to expect when joining a Remote Year group. Would they be open to outsiders? I was excited to meet new people, and experience Remote Year a different way from how I did it. I definitely did that, and then some. It was a great month in their presence. The group was super friendly, very welcoming, and I made some great connections with the people of the group. They were inclusive, and I truly felt like a member of their group the whole month. Their were a couple of times we watched the sunrise after a night out. We did some night swimming in the Adriatic. We did acts of kindness for others in the Old Town. We celebrated birthdays, ate homemade meals, did Q&A’s, laughed, mini bowled, had deep conversations, and much more. Thank you to all of them for being so friendly and welcoming. We also had a great workspace, which was right on the water. It was great to take a break from doing things and walk by the sea and take it in. Split was one of my favorite Remote Year cities.

Remote Year Track Events

One of the amazing things that come with being a Remote Year participant are the local events they put on in each city. These are called Tracks. They are events that are geared towards blending the Remotes with locals. I had some amazing experiences during my Remote Year, so I was excited to experience tracks again when in Croatia and of course they didn’t disappoint. My first track was going to a local shipyard in Croatia. This shipyard is the largest in Croatia and we got an insider tour into all that goes on with building some of the big boats you see out on the water. It was awesome to see first hand and our guide was super passionate about sharing it all with us. My second event was going to a local brewery. This brewery was the first craft brewery in Split. It was a super fascinating story to see how they started, and how they continue to grow and compete with all the big name beers in Croatia. We also got to have a few samples directly from the source. My next track event was a trip to a fish farm on the island of Solta. This was another awesome experience. We were met by our host Igor, who showed every aspect of his fish farm, and cooked us a homemade meal that consisted of fresh fish, of course. The fish were cooked whole, and we ate them that way. After the meal, we then swam out to the fish farm, and swam with the fish. The particular part we were in had 18,000 or so fish in it. Also, during this event, we were visited by a guest who is working to help locals battle the tourism industry and explained the damage tourism can have on the country. It was a fascinating day all around. The track events in Croatia did not disappoint at all.

Vis

The last time I was in Croatia, I spent a day in Vis and loved it. When I was there I saw my favorite sunset of all time. I made a vow that if I ever returned to Croatia, I would go back to Vis. Well, I did it. A couple of my friends had planned a trip there. I had some work to do, so I could only join for the tail end of the trip, and it was still awesome. They met me at the ferry station with their scooters. I hopped on and we cruised around the island. We stopped at a beach, had a beer, and then got back the scooters and headed to the town we were staying in. We hung by the beach and killed some time. We had a special dinner reservation that evening. The restaurant we were going to was the same restaurant I went to when I was last there and the place where I tried Octopus for the first time. It made me fall in love with Octopus and I have rarely had Octopus after that without thinking of this place. I was worried, was it going to be the same? It was perfect the first time. I worried if I was ruining that experience by going again? These were the questions that popped in my head. Our ride picked us up right on time. We hopped in, the driver did not speak english, and just smiled at us. He pointed to a blank CD he had, and gave us a look asking if we wanted to listen to it. We said yes with excitement, full of anticipation, and wondering what the blank CD had on it. It was full of classic rock, and we rocked out as we made our way to restaurant. We arrived, got our table, and ironically, had the same waiter from when I was there before. You have to place your order ahead of time at this place, as they need several hours to prep what they call Peka. Peka is meat and vegetables cooked in a bell shaped pot on a grill. It slow cooks for several hours. We ordered an Octopus and Lamb Peka. They arrived at our table, they removed the covers, and revealed them to us. They smelled amazing, and looked just like I remembered. It then came time to take that first bite. I moved the fork towards my mouth, and when I took that first taste, a rush of memories came back and it was just like I remembered it. We took our time. We enjoyed the meal, some Croatian wine, dessert, and ended the meal with a Turkish coffee. It was perfect. We then spent the rest of the night at a beach side bar, watching the moon set on the Adriatic. The next day we got up and headed back to Split. It was another successful trip to Vis. I hope to go back again someday.

A Month Comes to An End

As they say, all good things must come to an end. As time ticked on, this was the case for my time in Croatia. Remote Year does a farewell event at the end of each month. It is a nice way to reflect on the month, and celebrate being in a place for a month. I always liked them, but they were particularly bittersweet in places that I loved as you knew it would be time to move on. Those same feelings were present this time, but it was different because I would not be moving on with this group. The farewell event was on a rooftop with a beautiful view of the city. It was great to chat with the group and spend a little bit more time with them. We would then move the party to a place called Fabrique which was a place I frequented during my time in Split and made some really great memories there. The last night was spent having dinner with my roommate. The next day I got on a train, and headed to Zagreb, Croatia. I was feeling a little under the weather, and it progressively got worse. My second day in Zagreb, I had a fever, and my throat was painfully sore. I stayed in bed all day, hoping it was just my body telling me to slow it down. I wasn’t getting any better, and noticed some large white spots on my tonsils, which is usually an indicator of an infection or strep, and I knew I needed to go to a doctor. I have travel insurance and they recommended a place near me that spoke English. I tried to call them to make an appointment but could not get through. It was only a 15 minute walk away, so I decided to just go there in person and see if they could get me in. They were booked up and I had to wait until the next day to see a doctor. This was the day my friend Dan was getting into Zagreb, and the next day we were set to get on a train in the afternoon to head to Slovenia. I made an appointment for the next day, got some antibiotics, and was feeling better by the first night in Slovenia. It is a weird feeling being sick and alone in a foreign country. It makes you appreciate having people in your life that look over you when you don’t feel well, but it also teaches you that you just have to fight through things on your own sometimes. The month ended on that note, and the next part of my journey would begin on a train from Croatia to Slovenia. The rest of the summer was a hell of an adventure, and I look forward to sharing that in my next post.

Thank you so much for reading!

Euro Trip 2018: Part One

In the Spring of 2018 I decided I was going to spend my summer in Europe. The reason was mainly due to two events, a reunion with my Remote Year group in Prague, and my friend’s wedding in France in August. On June 1st, I left Phoenix and headed to NYC to spend the weekend in the Big Apple and see a good friend before heading off to Europe for the summer. My Europe itinerary that I had planned consisted of Ireland for 10 days, Prague for a week, then I was going to kill 10 days in a couple places before heading to Split for the month of July to use my Remote Year citizen perks. I ended up choosing Malta and Rome for those 10 days. The month of June took me to 4 different countries, and was an amazing adventure on a lot of different levels.

IRELAND

I went to Ireland in November of 2016, and fell in love with it in only the 4 days I spent there. I knew it was a place that I would have to go back to and spend more time. When I was in Iceland in 2017, I met an Irish girl in a restaurant, and she would end up serving as my tour guide for this trip and she did an amazing job. The trip would take us to a lot of different places in Ireland. And once again, Ireland did not disappoint. It is such a beautiful country, and the people are some of the most friendly I have met in all of my travels. I got some amazing pictures, and drone footage. If you haven’t been to Ireland, please try to get there. It is such a beautiful place. Some of the highlights of my trip to Ireland WERE: THE Wild Atlantic Way, Baltimore Beacon, Guinness Storehouse, Cape Clear Island, Howth, Wicklow, Mizen Head, a Haim concert at Olympia Theater, and all places in between!

PRAGUE

After Ireland I headed to Prague to reunite with my Remote Year group. We ended just over a year ago, and Prague was where we started our amazing journey about two years ago. We had a great turnout, and it was great to see everyone. It was a lot of fun, and definitely helped me come to some personal realizations about a few different topics I had been dealing with. I was able to get Steak Tartare again, which I had for the first time in Prague and it was so good. I am not sure if Steak Tartare anywhere else will live up to Prague Tartare. The last night consisted of having dinner with a group of people who I really love spending time with. We laughed a ton, and it was the perfect way to end the reunion. After my time in Prague, I was exhausted, and ready to get some alone time in.

MALTA

I am not really sure how I ended up in Malta. It was never on my radar when this trip started, but I knew that with my alone time, and I wanted to be somewhere near water. Malta came up in conversation in Ireland, and I decided that would be the place. I was not sure what to expect,  and it ended up being a great week. I walked a lot, and by a lot, I mean I took 103,810 steps, and walked 53.89 miles during my time in Malta. I found myself taking pictures, and sometimes I would go by the water, and lay down. One afternoon, after a lot of walking around, I laid down my backpack, used it as a pillow and just took a quick nap with the sound of the Mediterranean serving as my soundtrack. I did a day trip to the Blue Lagoon. I was on a big boat, and we went out to the Blue Lagoon. We dropped anchor and swam in the beautiful blue water. We then took the boat over to Gozo which is another island in Malta. I walked around there for a little bit, then found myself at a coffee shop, sipping a coffee while I wrote in my journal. One day, I took the city bus to the city of Mdina. This is an old city, which was the capital of the island during the medieval era. The city is a walled city. It was beautiful to walk around. I then took a cab to Golden Bay, a popular beach in the North East part of Malta. I hung out on the beach, had lunch, took pictures, walked around, and just soaked in the sun. I then hopped on the city bus and took that back to Valletta where I was staying. I really enjoyed my time in Malta. It is an old city, and the architecture is very unique. It was the perfect place to spend alone time, and clear my head a bit.

ROME

My next stop after Malta was Rome. I have always wanted to go to Rome for as long as I can remember. I have heard so many good things, and it did not disappoint. I took an Uber from the airport, and had a very friendly driver who gave me the in’s and out’s of Rome. I then arrived at my place. I stayed in a small studio apartment near the Vatican. It was a perfect location and close to all the places I wanted to see. The first afternoon, I just walked around to get a feel for the city. If you are ever in Rome, be careful when walking through the streets, as cars do NOT stop for pedestrians at all. After walking around for a while, I was tired, and hungry. I was wandering through my neighborhood, and came across a burrito place. I know this is probably sacrilegious, but I was just craving something other than pizza or pasta. This burrito hit the spot and gave me my Mexican food fix. My second day in Rome, I took a tour of the Colosseum. I have wanted to visit it since I was a kid, and it was great to check that one off. The tour took us through the Colosseum and the areas around it. It was an awesome tour and a great way to see the 2000ish year old building. The next day I woke up and did a tour of the Vatican. This was really cool. Vatican City is its own country, and there are some cool little tidbits that I learned about during the tour. For as long as I can remember I have wanted to see the Sistine Chapel.  Hearing the stories about how Michelangelo went about it were unique, and fascinating. After the Sistine Chapel we headed to St. Peter’s Basilica. I had only seen it from the outside at this point, but once you go inside, it such an amazing site, and it is much bigger than it look from the outside. The only disappointing part of the tour was that I didn’t see the Pope. For my last night in Rome, I scheduled a night photography tour. This tour was put on by a local filmmaker. He picked me up at midnight and for the next three and a half hours, we would drive around to all the popular sites of Rome, and take pictures. At this time of day, no one is around, so it was so cool to see these places empty when they are usually full of people during the day. I got some great pictures and had some great chats with my tour guide. The next day, I packed up and made my way to Split, Croatia.

Thanks for reading, peace and love!

The Road Trip

In April of 2018 two buddies, and I embarked on a month long journey in an RV. We didn’t have an exact itinerary planned out, but we had an idea of where we wanted to go and we would figure it out along the way. We completed the trip and us three men survived a month of living in the close confines of a 30 foot long RV. If you ever want to rent an RV, I highly recommend Cruise America. They have a ton of options and a nice selection of RV’s that can help you take the journey of a lifetime. They did not pay me to say that, I promise.

The Stats

States = 4 (Arizona, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico)

Miles Driven = 3,017. The equivalent of driving from San Diego, California to Salem, Massachusetts and a tad further.

Miles Hiked = 118.6

National Parks Visited = 9 (Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Grand Canyon, Great Sand Dunes, Mesa Verde, Petrified Forest, Zion)

RV Parks Stayed In = 12

Laughs = Too many to count

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The Places

Driving 3017 miles, we covered a lot of ground. We had a lot to see, and we did exactly that. I could go into a lot of detail about the journey, but I will just let the pictures below tell the story of the amazing things we saw.