Idaho+ Beer + Hitchhiking = Very Good Times

So, Rhonda chills most of the winter and when the weather warms up she is usually chomping at the bit to stretch her legs. What better place to take her than the Mountain Brewers Beer Fest in Idaho Falls, Idaho?
The first weekend in June brings over 80 breweries and more than 600 different beers to pretty little Idaho Falls. And, by drinking all day we are doing a good deed as all proceeds from the event go to local charities.
We are selfless heroes!

So, we packed up Rhonda, added our friends Erica and Adam, and headed north.

DSC01252 DSC01262

We figured a beer festival would bring about good times but we couldn’t have imagined how many we could fit in to a 48 hour period.

It started with an overnight stay on Friday at a random park 15 minutes from where the festival would be held. Our parking spot had a view of the Snake River. So, we cooked fajitas, began drinking Bud Light and then the Meth-heads came out. We had read in a review online that there were some shady characters in this park at night, and so when numerous cars and an RV began rolling in at around 11pm we prepared for some Meth-head action.

We peeked through Rhonda’s blinds, but all we could make out were a couple families probably doing the same thing we were doing.  No meth-head action on this trip.  Oh well, maybe next time.

The next day we headed to the beer festival and it certainly did not disappoint.
There were plenty of pretzel necklaces around the necks of old perverts, tons of dancing, and of course, all the beer you could drink.

IMG_2494 IMG_2528 DSC01197 DSC01202
IMG_2504

When the day ended we realized we had no way of getting back to where Rhonda was parked.  So we did what any sane person would do.  Hop in the back of a moving pickup truck and hope it was heading the correct direction.

What a great call.  This dude not only took us back to our parking spot, but he actually gave us a little tour of downtown Idaho Falls along the way.

DSC01227 IMG_2558 DSC01243 DSC01228

After some tailgating in the local motel parking lot, we called it a night and headed home the next day.  Hoping there’s some more Beer Festivals in our future.

IMG_2563

Advertisements

Your Lives Can Continue

I know you all have just been waiting anxiously wondering why it has been FIFTEEN days since you have seen a new post…sort of like this guy.

Anxious Guy

You may have even gotten mad as hell, like this guy.

Mad as Hell

Well traveling through the mountains of Canada means limited access to WIFI, which means no dumb Traveling Rhonda posts or crazy Bert videos.

Well, we are now back in the good old USA. We are back to annoy you.

Annoy

Your lives can continue.

South Dakota: A Battle Between Good Beatles and Bad Beetles

We put a lot of miles on Rhonda and saw some amazing things as we drove through the Black Hills National Forest.

Where's Barack?
Where’s Barack?
Jewel Cave
Jewel Cave
Jewel Cave
Jewel Cave
Jewel Cave
Jewel Cave

While the scenery was amazing, we noticed large sections of discoloration in the mountains. From afar it was actually sort of pretty, but as we drove closer we realized something sinister was going down.

A beetle infestation is killing all the trees. The Pine Beetle is responsible for destroying 384,000 of the 1.2 million acres in the Black Hills. That’s one third!!!! Al the red trees were awesome looking, but they were also dead!

Pretty from a distance.
Pretty from a distance.
Something is not right...
Something is not right…

With the power of Penny Lane, South Dakota counter-punched with a Beatle infestation of their own. A Beatle’s cover band in downtown Rapid City seemed to make it all better (at least for the evening). The entire town came out. The weather was perfect. Brett made sure we had proper provisions….

Always thinking ahead!
Always thinking ahead!

…and children were dancing through the rhythmic water fountains as it followed the beat of the music.

Beatle-Mania in Rapid City.
Beatle-Mania in Rapid City.

The heart and spirit of Crazy Horse was everywhere. Bottom line, don’t count South Dakota out!

Moore Strong

It is very sad anytime we see the devastation after a tornado barrels through a populated area. This past May an F5 hit Moore, Oklahoma. As we drove through the town, actually seeing the damage was overwhelming.

IMG_0462

IMG_0486

IMG_0465
IMG_0489

The saddest story came out of Plaza Towers Elementary School. Not only was the school completely destroyed, seven students were killed. The memorial set up in their honor would bring anyone to tears.
IMG_0484

IMG_0480
IMG_0479

IMG_0478

With only four days until the start of the new school year, we thought we would lend a hand to get Plaza Towers Elementary’s temporary location set up. We helped move furniture, organize text books, and deliver donated supplies to each classroom. The tasks were simple but they were eye opening.

helping at school

helping school 3
We couldn’t believe how many supplies were donated from all over the country. We read note after heart felt note from so many kids, teachers-complete strangers.
hope sign 2

The sheer resolve of the community was astounding. A tornado just ripped through their town and flattened so many homes,  yet there was no doubt they would rebuild even stronger than before.

We helped Janice Brim, a 6th grade teacher, move supplies into her new room. She then asked us to sit down so we could talk and get to know each other. She told us how her school felt like family and she was ready for the new year to begin despite the challenges.

Janice Brimm

We also got to meet Amy Simpson, the Principal of Plaza Towers. She had such a warm, easy-going nature yet you could tell she was also a strong leader. She, and the rest of the staff, were so appreciative of our help, but they were the real inspiration.
Principal Amy Simpson

It seems cliche to say, but it made us proud to be humans after meeting the people of Moore, Oklahoma. Kind of renews your faith in humanity. They will rebuild and they will bounce back because that is who they are. We are convinced no tornado could ever touch the spirit of these people.

Rebuilding Plaza Towers
http://news.yahoo.com/for-teachers-in-oklahoma–feelings-of-hope-and-anguish-as-kids-head-back-to-school-after-the-moore-tornado-135839118.html

Feeling the Love in Flint, MI

When we decided to run the Hoops and Hope Tour we were hoping to impact communities through the game of basketball. We were hoping to give back. When we left Flint, Michigan we felt like they had given everything to us, and we were the ones who had been given hope.

We partnered with The Dribble Stick Academy, a legit basketball facility that trains kids year round, including numerous Division I basketball players. The two partners were Luke Lloyd and Joe McElroy. Luke was born and raised in Flint and has seen first hand the collapse of the economy, including the shuttering of several factories that were the lifeblood of the community. After 8 years playing professional basketball overseas he decided to come home and help rebuild Flint his way. He partnered with his good friend Joe McElroy who grew up just outside of Flint.

Luke & Joe in the back
Luke & Joe in the back

Luke and Joe have turned The Dribble Stick Academy from a couple of courts into a world class facility where top level training occurs year round. They push their players to the limits, and they get the absolute best out of them. More importantly, they teach each and every player how to grow as a person. The discipline they instill in their players is a remarkable feat because they do not berate players with constant yelling. In fact, just the opposite. They are tough, yet they are teachers. They care deeply for each and every kid and all they want is for those kids to reach their potential.

The kids we met in Flint were the most respectful, caring, and hard-working kids we have seen. This is directly attributable to Luke and Joe. They have instilled a culture of hard work and respect throughout their facility, and the kids work hard to keep this culture in place. They encourage each other to pick up trash, cheer when another player is struggling. To sum it up, “They just get it.”

We were honored to run a camp with such a great group of people and learned so much during our three days in Flint. Luke even took us to a famous burger place in downtown Flint called The Torch. We highly recommend it. We also got to celebrate Vanessa’s 21st birthday there. The whole camp sang Happy Birthday.

Birthday Triple Threat
Birthday Triple Threat

In addition to molding the youth of Michigan, Luke and Joe hope to lure jobs back to Michigan with their invention, The Dribble Stick. It’s a tool to help players with their ball handling and it is clearly doing its job (http://dribblestick.com/). Maybe they can begin getting it produced in Flint and fill those dormant factories.

Whatever it is that happens in the future, One on One Basketball knows the community of Flint and the surrounding suburbs are in good hands with people like Luke Lloyd and Joe McElroy around to help.

IMG_0424

For further reading, here is a newspaper article written about the Hoops and Hope Tour: http://www.mlive.com/sports/flint/index.ssf/2013/08/stop_in_flint_an_easy_choice_f.html

Disney World In The Bronx

The Hoops and Hope Tour headed to NYC last week and we did two camps. Thursday, the 18th was in the Bronx, NY and Friday, the 19th was in Brooklyn.

The Bronx camp was at the Columbus Clubhouse of the Boys & Girls Club.
sign

Like in the other cities, the staff was ready to greet us upon arrival. We unloaded our stuff and prepared for the day.

Anthony Johnson is the club director there. What an inspirational leader they have in the Bronx. Anthony was born in Harlem, but moved to San Diego and grew up there. He played Division I football at Oregon State, but eventually made his way back to the east coast. The kids in the Bronx could not be luckier.

Anthony’s message to us was twofold. First, he was passionate about the role sports can play in the lives of youths. He said they have many kids at the club growing up in single parent homes. Anthony is convinced that no matter the circumstances sports is the great equalizer. Kids can learn the skills they need to succeed in life by getting on the court and playing. Secondly, he believed whole heartedly in making every day at the club seem like a day at Disney World. You see, Disney World is renowned for customer service and organization that refuses to allow anyone to have a bad day (as long as you don’t check your bank account statement while you’re there). He hired staff who saw the challenges of working with kids as fun. He wanted the kids and staff excited to come to the club every day, much like they would be if they were heading to Disney World.

bronx  2 kids

And trust me, for the day we were there that is how it felt. Their staff was on top of things, and helped out any way they could. The kids revered their athletic director, Marcus, who was instrumental in making the camp a success.

We learned a lot that day in the Bronx. No matter where you live or what your circumstances are, good leadership and positive people will ensure kids of all backgrounds have a chance to reach their potential and live the lives they dream of.

I guess that is what the Hoops and Hope Tour is all about.

group pic

Hoops and Hope in the Hamptons, NY

In our previous post about the basketball camp in Camden, NJ we failed to mention why we were able to run the camp in the first place. I work for One on One Basketball in Maryland. I am the Regional Director. One on One Basketball has offices all throughout the USA, and I have decided to move to another city (probably Austin, TX) to start a new office. Instead of driving straight to Austin we came up with the idea for the Hoops and Hope Tour. We set up one day camps in different cities throughout the USA, all sponsored by One on One. We have partnered with Boys & Girls Clubs, YMCA’s, and other organizations to run these camps. Camden, NJ was our first stop.

Our second stop was East Hamptons, NY. We partnered with The Hampton Country Day Camp and were set to run things on Tuesday, July 16th. On the 15th we biked from our campsite over to the camp. Dave Skolnik is the Camp Director, and he was our main contact. Upon arriving Dave greeted us with open arms and gave us a tour of the facilities. It’s a beautiful camp and the first thing we noticed was how well staffed it was. Dave told us if you include all staff it’s about a 3:1 staff:camper ratio. This is unheard of.

The next day we came to do the camp and met the head basketball guy Jake. Jake was a high school player and worked during the summer because he loves hoops, but mostly because the kids are so great.

And let me tell you, I understand why Jake loves to coach these kids. The kids in the Hamptons blew us away. They were enthusiastic, appreciative, and absolutely loved the game of basketball. We had an awesome day running drills, doing shooting contests, games, and of course, knockout. Even though I knocked out every kid in front of me, nobody complained it was “unfair” like at a lot of other camps I’ve been to. These kids were just excited to be on the court.
image

Some people might think it’s odd that we went from Camden, NJ to the Hamptons. Why would kids in the Hamptons need anything from us? We aren’t worried about things like that. We just want to run these camps, have fun, and give back to kids wherever we can. And the kids in the Hamptons could not have been more deserving. With an awesome staff led by Dave, they have done an amazing job instilling important values in each and every one of them through a little acronym called STARFISH. STARFISH stands for: Sportsmanship, Tolerance, Appreciation, Respect, Friendship, Integrity, Sensitivity, Helpfulness.

image

All of these values were on hand in one way or another and we were so inspired to be a part of it.

Next stop on the Hoops and Hope Tour will be in the Bronx, NY Thursday July 18th.

image

Posted by Brett

Feeling at Home in Camden, New Jersey

Camden, New Jersey. What do you think about when you hear someone mention this city? Probably what I used to think. Guns. Drugs. Untapped potential. But that was the old me. The person who had never driven down Federal Ave. to the Boys & Girls Club of Camden County or cruised down 7th Street to the North Camden Community Center. I had never hung out with Jose Martinez, his brother Ray, or Guy Still. I had never hung out with over a hundred kids ages 6-13 who were the same as any other 6-13 year olds in the country. Nor had I been part of a one day basketball tournament for young men ages 16-24. Many of them in college studying to be businessmen or engineers or broadcasters.

This is the Camden that I know now. A city where those with opportunity are taking full advantage, and there is a pride for all things Camden. So what exactly did we do? We got to run a one day basketball camp at the Boys & Girls Club of Camden County and met some awesome men and women, including Guy Still, the Director of the Club. Guy was born and raised in Camden, left to work in the entertainment industry, but came back because he wanted to help his community. He is the director at what has quickly become a pillar of the Camden community.

image

Saturday was spent helping Ray and Jose Martinez run a one day basketball tournament for young men ages 16-24. The camp was in honor or Ray’s son, who was also named Ray. The younger Ray died tragically in 2009 from unnecessary violence. From the stories we heard, Ray Jr. was an amazing young man full of promise and talent, especially on the basketball court. Instead of blaming the world for such a tragedy, Ray and his brother Jose started a basketball league in his son’s honor. This basketball league helps keep kids off the streets, steers them away from a life of violence, and in a number of cases into college.

When asked about the sullen circumstances surrounding the creation of his league, Ray looked straight at me and said he believes his son Ray helped the lives of hundreds of kids as well. He said one died but 80 have lived because of their league.

image

The mayor of Camden, Miss Dana Redd, even came out to watch the games. This is the Camden I know now and I encourage anyone who is going near there to contact me so you can meet some of these amazing humans.

image

Posted by Brett