All 50 States

Sticking with the travel theme, one of the goals I’ve set for myself is to visit all 50 states.  That may sound like a no-brainer, but of course there is a lot of travel involved, some long distances (Alaska, Hawaii) and some states that don’t have a whole lot to see.

I traveled quite a bit as a kid.. family vacations, band trips, church trips, visiting out of state friends. I’ve already racked up some pretty impressive miles up and down the east coast.  When I was in college I took several out of state trips to visit friends.

I’ve currently visited North Carolina (where I’ve lived all my life and traveled coast to mountains), South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, Florida, Tennessee, California and Washington DC. 15 States + DC.

I’ve had a few flybys in some states that don’t really count, I’ve been to the Chicago airport, New York Airport, Denver airport and a job interview in Mass.  I’d like to go back and visit these places and make it count.

Some states I can’t wait to visit.  My parents went on an Alaska cruise and it looked awesome.  I loved New Orleans and can’t wait to take my wife there.  Florida I’ve been to a million times and can’t wait to go back.  Savannah GA and Charleston SC are mainstays that we visit almost every year.

Some states I wonder why you would go there at all.  What is in North Dakota besides snow?  Is there anything in Kansas besides corn? I’ve heard not.  What about Idaho? Just potatoes or is there more?

Some places I want to visit but the wife doesn’t.  She doesn’t care about Las Vegas, and has no desire to go to Hawaii.  She’s much rather go to Europe on a 12 hour plane flight then Hawaii.  I would like to go to Europe too, but if we make it to 48-49 states visited we better be going to Hawaii! Neither one of us wants to go to New York City, but maybe we can visit somewhere else in New York State.  Albany? West Point? I’m not too keen on New Jersey either, but maybe we could spend a day in Atlantic City while we are visiting Philly and knock that one out.

Where is your must visit state or location? I love to travel and I can’t wait to hit them all!

Food and Travel

Our local cable provider just switched around their channel lineup, and surprisingly it makes sense.  Channels of similar themes are grouped together.  Local, Sports, Lifestyle etc.  Lumped together in the 300’s are Food Network, the new Cooking Channel and Travel Channel.  Now instead of scrolling through hundreds of channels I can find what I like in 3 back to back channels.  Awesome! This reminded me of how much food plays a part in our travels.

My wife and I love to travel, and we love to find new restaurants and new food styles.  Most cities we visit we have a favorite restaurant.  Here’s a few of our favorites, in no particular order.

Lady and Sons – Savannah, GA:  This is Paula Deen’s place so you know what to expect.  Traditional Southern cuisine and leave your diet at the door.  Fried chicken, mac and cheese, veggies of all descriptions, fried fish, shrimp and grits, mashed potatoes, hoecakes and of course amazing desserts, including her signature Gooey Butter Cake.

Bubba Gump’s – Charleston, SC, Orlando, FL, New Orleans, LA, Anaheim, CA: My wife has been to the one in Orlando, I’ve been to the one in New Orleans, and we’ve both been to the ones in Anaheim and Charleston.  Based on the Forrest Gump movie, you know what’s on the menu.  Shrimp.  The Shrimp New Orleans and Shrimp and Grits are good.  Mama’s Southern Fried Chicken is also good for the non seafood lovers. Fun atmosphere and lots of movie memorabilia.

Biergarten Restaurant – EPCOT, Walt Disney World, Orlando, FL:  This restaurant at the German Pavilion at EPCOT is a great way to get a taste of International cuisine.  Sausages, potatoes, speatzle, schnitzel and much more.  Expect a line, but it’s worth the wait.  Also, one of the few places in Disney that serves alcohol.

Hard Rock Cafe – New Orleans, LA, Myrtle Beach, SC, Washington DC, Baltimore, MD, Orlando, FL: Another mega chain, but a fun place to go and great food.  The rock memorabilia is awesome and the food doesn’t disappoint.  My wife’s favorite is the Twisted Mac and Cheese.  I like the big burgers and chicken sandwiches.  Like Bubba Gump’s, half the fun is the different locations and seeing how many of the different one’s you can go to.

Campo’s Deli – Philadelphia, PA: The official cheesesteak of Wachovia Center (home of the Philadelphia Flyers) and my first taste of an authentic Philly Cheesesteak.  I got mine traditional, with onions and Cheez-Whiz, the wife got her’s with Provolone.  Very good, and worth braving the 14 degree temperatures of Philly in March.

Lincoln Diner – Gettysburg, PA: This is a great classic diner, across the street from the Lincoln Train station and just a few blocks off the main square in Gettysburg.  The food is awesome and the prices are fantastic.  Old school diner prices.  Breakfast plates (2 eggs, meat, hashbrowns etc) for 3 dollars.  Blue plate specials for 4-5 dollars.  10 cent coffee.  Very affordable.  We stop here every time we visit Gettysburg.

I can’t wait to travel some more and add more places to this list.  Obviously a lot of this food (Deen, Gump, HRC) is not very healthy, but enjoyed in moderation and on vacation is fine.  I wouldn’t suggest eating at the Lady and Son’s daily, no matter how good it is!

Spring Breakout Challenge

Today starts the second Wellness challenge through my work’s wellness program.  This one is called Spring Breakout and the idea is to increase your physical activity (Don’t ask me why it’s called Spring Breakout when it runs from June 14 to July 15th and its already 95 degrees here in NC).  The goal is to reach 500 minutes of physical activity in 4 weeks.  That averages out to 125 minutes per week, or just over two hours.

I started with a run today, so that’s 30 minutes.  Tomorrow I may go for a walk or do something else.  I’m not sure.

I don’t really have a training program to follow right now, I kinda quit following the couch to 5K and starting doing my own intervals.  I suppose it’s still the same thing, but I’m stuck forever on “week 3”.  Oh well.  As long as I don’t actually stop running.  My next race is July 17th, but there is one July 3rd that I may sign up for.  After that I don’t have another one in my sights until Sept 11th (I’ve seen nothing on the schedule at all for August.. too hot probably). But that will be a busy time if I do all three I have penciled in.  A 5K on Sept 11th, a trail 10K on Oct 25th and then another 5K on October 2nd.  I will probably not do all three, but those are three I saw on the schedule that I was interested in.

Active Ambassadors Update: I was not selected for the 2010 Omron Team GoSmart.  I’m not surprised but a little disappointed.  If I had made the team I would have started a new training program and then either the September or October 5K would have been my “official” race at the end of the program.  Oh well, there will be more things to apply for.

Challenge: 30/500 minutes.

TastyBite Peas Paneer

This caught my eye at the grocery store and I figured I would give it a try.  I love Indian food.  Indian food would be one of the ways I would be able to eat vegetarian since it has so much flavor rather than just plain lettuce.  (Yes, I know there are a lot more ways to eat vegetarian then just salads, but that’s a blog for later.)

The rice is from a plantation near Charleston, SC.  The Paneer comes in a neat metal pouch that you can either put in a pot of hot water, or pour into a bowl and cook in the microwave.  I chose to cook mine in the microwave just for ease and quickness.

When I looked up online tips for cooking perfect rice.. they mentioned rinsing the rice to get some of the starch off. I almost skipped this step, but while I was doing it I found a rock that wasn’t supposed to be in there.. so don’t skip this step! I undercooked my rice and it was crunchy, but that’s my own fault.

Looks good doesn’t it? Unfortunately it was not nearly as good as it looked.  In fact, it was nearly flavorless.  I have never had bland Indian food.  What happened to the “spicy tomato sauce”? Very disappointed in what had all the hallmarks of being awesome. Quick heat and eat Indian food that’s vegetarian, gluten free, no MSG etc etc. and only 150 calories per serving? (BTW, what’s on the plate is the whole pouch which is two “servings” but still only 300 calories).  I was super excited about trying this, and as soon as I bought it I knew I was going to write a blog about it.  This was to be my first serious “food blog”. I wasn’t even going to write about it, but I took the effort to take pictures.  Very bummed.. I hoped this was going to be something really awesome.

Destination Races

I’m no where near ready to run a marathon or even a half marathon, but when I am ready I already have a few that are on my list.  Little did I know before I started running that there are races everywhere every weekend (just check Active.com).  North Carolina even has 3 big marathons, City of Oaks in Raleigh, Thunderroad in Charlotte and the North Carolina Marathon in High Point.  Some of the events I’ve found since I started looking for races just look so cool that half of the fun must be just the locations.  Here’s a few that I’m looking forward too.

Disney Marathon:

I grew up in a Disney family.  I’ve been to the parks 8 to 10 times growing up.  My wife and I honeymooned there.  We are already planning a trip for 5 years from now that will include all of her family (in laws, brother, aunt, kids etc).  I first saw this race as a video on someones blog and they recorded as they were running through Cinderella’s castle.  I can’t find that video, but here is a recap of the marathon from Caitlin over at Healthy Tipping Point that has some awesome pictures: Recap This is a must run race for me.  I can’t think of a more awesome race.  I plan on running in 2012.  Probably the Half, but maybe just maybe the full.

Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon:

I just learned about this race from my friend Amanda and it immediately jumped to the top of the list.  I won’t be ready for it this year (November) but hopefully in the next couple of years I’ll be able to do this one.  I am a huge Civil War buff and Reenactor.  Visiting battlefields is always a joy (my wife and I got married in Gettysburg) but Chickamauga has been on my list for a “must-visit” for a while.  My great great grandfather and his brother (my great great great uncle) fought at Chickamauga as members of Battery C of the 3rd South Carolina Palmetto Battery.    Ironically, I joined my current reenacting unit (1st North Carolina Artillery) before I learned my ancestors were Confederate Artillerymen.  I guess it’s in my blood.

New Orleans Rock and Roll Marathon:

Two summer’s ago I went to New Orleans for a food industry conference.  Even though I was there as a student for “work” (research presentation and job hunting) rather than “pleasure” I still managed to have a great time and I can’t wait to go back.  Food, music and intense pride.. New Orleans has it all.  Even as they still clean up and recover from Katrina, they know how to have a party.  Watch the video from the link above and tell me that doesn’t look fun? 2010 was the first year of this event but I’m sure it will be around for a good while.

Of course you always have the granddaddies of them all.  New York and Boston.

What’s your “must run” race?

To Brace or Not to Brace

Four years of marching band in high school destroyed my knees.  20+ years of hauling around 300+ pounds hasn’t helped either.  One doctor told me knee surgery was a “when” and not an “if”.  I have no cartilage left in my left knee.

When I started my walking/running I knew the exercise and weight loss would help strengthen my knees and put less weight on them, but I was worried about suffering an injury so I bought a knee brace.  I got one of the elastic wrap around braces with the metal springs in the side.  The top strap is almost not big enough to go around my thigh and I have to crank it on pretty tight.  I noticed something odd though after running with the brace on my left knee.. after my run it was my RIGHT knee that was sore.  I was confused, but I think the brace caused me to limp or over-compensate and put pressure on my right knee.  Now I’ve done my last couple of runs with no brace, and now I have no pain in either knee.  So was the brace actually screwing me up? If I’m going to wear the brace then do I need to wear one on both knees? All or nothing?

Thoughts? Opinions?

Two Gomers are running a marathon

In a little less than 12 hours, the Two Gomers, from Two Gomers Run a Marathon are actually running their marathon.  The Team Ortho Marathon in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

They both have twitter accounts that they will be updating during the race.  Anthony is Gomer 1 @Gomer1 and Steve is Gomer 2 @gomer2 .

Good Luck guys! GomerNation is counting on ya!

  • About Me

    I am a recent graduate in Food Science (NC State, 2009) and I work for a major food manufacturing company. I love food, but I can no longer eat anything that crosses my path. About 24 months ago I begin a serious struggle to get my obesity under control and reduce my chances of developing Type II diabetes. Since September of '09 I have lost 50 pounds and I still have a long ways to go. I've started eating better and exercising more, including taking up running.