This week of Awesome- March 2nd

I can’t believe it’s already March! The weather in sunny Southern California is absolutely beautiful, 70s light and breezy. It’s been a week for me to get outside, celebrate the weather, and shake off the winter blues.

Charity Event: Tough Mudder 10 Mile Run for the Wounded Warrior Project

Where did I find it? Through Michael’s friend Andrew, who regularly runs 5ks, half marathons and marathons

Accolades: The course is designed by the British Special Forces– how much more street cred do you need? Tough Mudder runs take place across the US and all around the world. It’s been featured on just about every TV news outlet you can think of, plus the National Geographic Channel, and, in the words of my husband, “It’s totally hardcore!!”

Cost: $80-$170 per person depending on how early you sign up for the race, $20 for spectators (although you can totally see most of the obstacles without going into the spectator area), $10 for parking per car

You’ll probably like Tough Mudder if you geek out about: Mud runs, fitness, charity run/walks. Not for the faint of heart (or pregnant, or epileptic)

Why its Awesome: It has always seemed strange to me that people in modern society like to subject themselves to adversity. Why we like to get up at 6am on a Saturday morning to be drenched in ice cold water, leap off high-dives, get mildly electrocuted, and slog through ten miles of mud for the privilege of donating $150 dollars to charity is totally illogical, but apparently hard wired into our brains–so why not enjoy it? And enjoy it we did! 10 miles, 21 obstacles, and a free beer at the end. Definitely one of my favorite charity events I’ve gone to, although the map could use some work and the spectator options weren’t that great. Michael, Andrew, and Steve did it this year while the girls cheered them on but next year I’m in! And maybe next year the boys will actually run–this year Michael’s left ankle and right knee were both in braces and Andrew was having sciatic nerve trouble. It took them four and a half hours to complete the course, but finish they did! Here’s a few highlights (pictures courtesy of Christine Lawdis):

The boys all painted up and ready for the race!
The cheerleaders ready to, well, cheer.
Obstacle 6 'Funky Monkey' monkey bars. One slip and into the dirty lake water you go!
The inverted wall-- apparently not as hard as it looks as long as you have strong-armed teammates.
Recipe for an 'Arctic Enema': Roll-off + water + ice= FROZEN SURPRISE!!
LMFAO likes charity too, apparently...
Best Slip-n-Slide ever- the army guy with the hose, however, was evil! My shoes are still drying.
This may look a little silly until I tell you that those sissy-looking yellow strings are electrified with 10,000 volts!

LA Exclusive Activity: Long Beach/Naples Gondola Getaway

Where did I find it? The trip was booked by Amy Fram for her sister and one of my best friends Sara’s 25th Birthday. Check out their website here.

Accolades: 4 out of 5 stars on Yelp

Cost: $250 minimum, $25 per person of parties of 10 or more (check their website for smaller gondola rates). The company allows you to bring your own food, so we did an Italian potluck. The ride lasts about an hour, which sounds short but is actually just about right.

You’ll probably like Gondola Getaways if you geek out about: Gondolas, romantic evenings, Los Angeles beach houses

Why It’s Awesome: I’ve lived in Los Angeles all my life and never knew there was a part of Long Beach called Naples, let alone a gondola service that takes you around the canals. Boy, have I been missing out! Naples, a tiny set of three islands in the Long Beach Harbor have some of the most beautiful (and most expensive) little beach houses I’ve seen in Los Angeles. Apparently during the holiday the residents go all out on the Christmas decorations and in the summer the canals are a party hot spot. Each house, it seems, has its own dock with a magnificent boat parked in it. One near the edge on the district even had a yacht that was nearly bigger than the house it belonged to. Our gondolier said that it probably cost around $2,000 in gas for each fishing trip it goes on–talk about an expensive fish fry!

The evening was a little cold, but clear and not too windy. We arrived a little early, checked in, and jumped on the boat. There were ten of us, but the gondola could have easily fit 15-20. Unlike the traditional front-facing seats, this one had benches around the sides facing a carpeted center space. Still, it didn’t seem clunky. More like a gondola Limousin than a tour bus.

The evening was clear and quiet. It was a Sunday night, so most people were in bed– we didn’t see one other boat on the water as we went through the canals. I half expected our gondolier to be an inexperienced college kid but no, this place has real gondoliers who actually steer the boat! Awesome! Because of the size of our gondola, we required two gondoliers. In the back we had gondolier Eric, who was older and clearly in charge; he kept giving directions to the young gondolier in front. When we went to Italy Michael and I decided that there was a secret gondola guild, an underground society of gondoliers who take on apprentices and show their rank by the style and color of ribbon on their hats. We have now decided this secret guild has a Long Beach annex. Eric was everything you could ask for in a gondolier save for an Italian accent. He joked with us, pointed out the sights, and sang to us in Italian. Awesome!

Our gondosine, wait, limolda, wait, gondo-limo! However you want to say it, it was huge! (And they gave us blankets too.)
Michael, Sara, and I on our lovely gondola ride. Photos courtesy of Stephanie Fram, Sara’s Awesome mom.

See you next week!



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