Tag Archives: Travel

Why 2016 is shaping up to be the best year yet!

When one door closes…

Has anyone ever said to you, “everything happens for a reason”? Sometimes you want to immediately throat punch those people, well because at times that is the worst thing to hear, ever! I feel like my life has been “Reason” after another.  Sometimes the reason becomes crystal clear, granted it may not show itself for an unknown time, but when it does, you thank your lucky stars for that fork in the road.

Well it’s March 2016 and already this year been a twisting, winding road. I went from making a grand gesture to get something I thought was what I wanted, to realizing that everything I have ever wanted was right here in front of my nose the whole time.  Once I realized that everything I have ever truly wanted was in front of my face, I grabbed it with my hands and put it in a vice grip.

From Hot Chocolate runs, Valentines Day undie runs, to traveling to Arizona to run a Spartan Race, the adventures alone so far could fill a jar of lifetime worth of memories. Everyday I fall more and more for this woman and strangely enough, she feels the same way. Our wanderlusting has begun and the next chapter is just starting!

So, as I am preparing to embark on our next great adventure, Spring break in another country (okay so Puerto Rico is technically a US territory) I don’t think I have ever been this excited. I get to travel with someone who has totally captivated my heart and my spirit.

Why is this going to be the best year ever? Well, I have finally found someone who actually wants to be with me, shares just about every interest with me and actually wants to run with me, race with me, and adventure with me!

Stay tuned for our crazy adventures!

Blydawg Travels – Arizona Adventure

Out with the old, in with the new…

Every year we make these new year resolutions, sometimes we set goals that are totally unattainable, unrealistic, or that are just plain mainstream ideas. In 2015, I said I wanted to “Love Harder” and I feel like to an extent I did, I gave my heart away a couple of times and let myself get the feels.  Well that year ended with a dud, but fortune favors the bold, and fortune favored me when I was asked to get out of town and go on an adventure to Arizona. The main purpose of this adventure was to go on a Spartan Race, but we ended up creating an epic adventure, creating memories to last  lifetime.

symbolsSo our adventure begins with a flight into Phoenix, AZ.  Once we landed, we were starving so we called my old college buddy and good friend Kevin and we had breakfast at The Original Breakfast House.  OMG! All I can say is that this is a must stop! I had this French Toast/Chicken Fried Chicken dish and WOW!! Not to mention the cinnamon danish it was pretty awesome too!

After stuffing our faces, it was time to explore, we had a rental car and we did get to town rather early in the day, so we thought…what the heck, let’s go see London Bridge in Lake Havasu, AZ.  So off we went.

circle-lightbulbBut First! We had this bright idea…since we are so close to  the border of California and Arizona, why not go see Blythe, CA? Why not indeed!

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With a full tank of gas, cooler in hand, we headed that way. As you can see we found it, and we were also able to start our state sign collection together! It is with a huge sigh and disappointment I must admit that the metropolis of Blythe, CA is pretty disappointing.  If you blink you might miss the entire town.  I stopped at the PD station and they were closed. I couldn’t even show them my drivers license and try an get a PD patch. Oh well, maybe next time.

After our brief stop in Blythe, CA and our state sign pics, we took off for the London Bridge!

London Bridges falling down…

For years I have thought this would be a cool place to visit. Never really having the time or having been in that area, I was not sure this was ever going to happen.  However, with my new co-pilot in tow, we said “Let’s do it!” and off we went!

What a cool place! The bridge is a cool piece of history and it is unbelievable that someone took it apart half way across the world and reassembled here in the USA.  This bridge has been a part of Lake Havasu since October 10, 1971.

Lake Havasu was fun, we arrived to the bridge just in time to watch the sunset and get some awesome pictures. From there we were going to hit up the LH Harley Davidson store, but they closed before we got there…bummer, I guess I will have to get my poker chip another time.

After the sunset we ended up getting our carbs on over at Angelina’s Italian Restaurant.  Not a bad place to grab some grub. We had just spaghetti and meatballs but it sure hit the spot! After our meal we hot the trail back to Phoenix for the race the next day.

We are SPARTA!

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Sedona!

After Running the Spartan Race, we had a whole day to kill since our flight was not until late Sunday night. So why not head up to Sedona, AZ and hike! So we took off and headed up to Cathedral Rock. Hiked to the top and watched the sunset!

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We were told about this awesome burger place called the Haunted Hamburger in Jerome, AZ. So we headed up into the mountains in search of this place.

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So the rumor is that the restaurant is haunted from before it was a restaurant. Apparently the ghosts like “hammers” and some patron photos have captured a female ghost lurking in the background.  Did we see a ghost? No we did not, but I did have a great big bacon burger. The location was awesome and this is definitely worthy of a burger review!

Another adventure in the books, the first one with my new co-pilot Mother & Poet and I have to say this was one of the best times I have had. We were silly, goofy, and saw some really cool sights. By far one of the best race weekends I have ever had!

Motorcycle Diaries – ROT 2015

The ROTten Truth

One of the most enjoyable things about being a motorcycle enthusiast is going to rally’s. I have been to rally’s practically all over the countryState---Texas and I have been to this Republic of Texas (ROT) rally four previous times and this makes number five.  Over the years my tribe has dwindled down and the rally has been more of a been there done that type of thing. But since this was the 20th year I got a last-minute wild hair and decided to ride down and see what I have been missing. I mean my last time there was 2009, so it seemed time to check it out.

So the trip down there was one of unusual circumstances. Late start means you have to take the highway to get there…one of the things I loathe the most is running down I-35 at 80 mph. Talk about one of the more boring rides, ugh it was dreadful. With temps in the 90’s I also was getting cooked during the midday ride, but at least I was getting tan! If you have ever been on a ride with me, you know I am a back roads cruising, seeing the cool ass shit America has to offer.

Arriving at the rally I was pretty excited to see how much bigger this has become over the last 6 years. Unfortunately, I have to report that this has become the biggest waste of time and money I have ever gone to. This is one of the few rallies that charge to get into rally itself, but it is definitely not worth $75.  What used to be a pretty full area of vendors was really only two rows and the ones that were outside were just as bad. I guess if you want to camp, set up pools and run around naked and drunk then this is definitely worth going to. But otherwise, I recommend you just stay away, this was lame and the only fun part was going out on 6th street, but you know what? I can do that pretty much anytime of the year and I don’t need a ROT rally to bring me to Austin.

So the rally is bad and since it was a short trip, I didn’t go explore around the hill country like I usually do. But I managed to get off the highway and get lost on some awesome Texas back roads dodging the rain and chasing the sun on the way back.

ROT2All in all it was two days, 500 miles, got the patch and T-shirt. Until next time, keep the rubber side down!

My name is Travis and I talk to strangers.

Things I think – Thursday AWOL Edition

Floods, Road Trips, and Funny Ass Sh!T

Oops I did it again! I know, I know I went AWOL for three solid weeks again, but I do have an excuse, I have been traveling and just too busy to write. Granted I have been writing down thoughts but I was just making a list in order to write this. So lets catch you up over the last three weeks.

Week One – Spent time traveling to Ohio in a car with one of the funniest people I have met lately. We went through Arkansas, Tennessee and Ohio. Then I raced a Spartan Race on Saturday and Sunday!

Week Two – Spent a week in Pennsylvania and had such an awesome time. I painted coffee mugs, watched a killer sunset over Lake Erie, attempted some acro-yoga and failed but haven’t laughed that hard in a long time and went to Cedar Point and rode roller coasters!

Week Three – after finally getting back, I kicked off my 9-days until my birthday do EPIC stuff week, so I missed the deadline there too…but the good news is, there is a part two today and it is all about my birthday!

Floods

Right before I left on my road trip, Texas under went a record amount of rainfall and it brought about some of the worst flooding we have had in years. One place in particular which is special to me was affected is a huge way. Luckily the two people who I hold dear in my heart were not hurt and are doing okay.  But it does make you think about the big picture of things and how quickly everything can change and totally change your life forever.

It was also great to see Texas communities coming together for those in need and help people who were affected by the flooding. Also watching my OCR friends volunteer to head down there for a weekend and help out a family in need was outstanding!

Road Trippin’

As you may know by now, I love going on roadtrips and traveling all over the place. My travels to date have mostly consisted of just places across the united states, but they are fun none the less. So when I was giving the chance to actually drive to a race, of course I took it. I had the most fun in a car I have had in a long time, lucky for me my partner in crime loves to sing and I think we sang every song on the radio. Oh yeah, and you can never here the song “Footloose” too many times!

Along with making several videos, we also did this during our road trip:

  • Arkansas Road Sign
  • Tennessee Road Sign
  • Graceland in Memphis
  • Karaoke in Nashville
  • Spartan Race in Ohio

IMG_3191After Ohio I traveled to Pennsylvania and stayed 5-days there visiting the great town of Erie. Sandwiched between a couple of work days I got to do more awesome things. I already mentioned them above but definitely going to Cedar Point was the most fun. I am glad I had the company I was with, I love roller coasters and having a super awesome partner in crime makes it even better!

 Funny ass Sh!t

So here are some random thoughts I just thought were funny over the course of the past few weeks.

  • People in PA think line dancing is country dancing! Yes I knew this was the way northern people thought when I first moved to Texas over 20 years ago, but I was asked if we could country line dance in Texas. Then I heard a country radio station advertise that they were going to be doing that…I just shook my head and laughed. No, we don’t line dance in Texas. (unless that is we are doing the electric slide or something)

circle-questionDid you know? In Salt Fork State Park in Ohio, this is the home of bigfoot? While in the gift shop at the lodge, I asked why they sold all this bigfoot stuff and why the statue in the lobby. Well, they have had “sightings” for over 100 years and even as recent as 2015…

  • Laura not knowing what Graceland was! At least she did know who Elvis was!
  • I know I touched on this before regarding athlete pages, but I also think if you have the word “Spartan” as a part of your name on any social media platform, I think you are just kinda lame. I mean think about it, that is the name of a race and a company. I know you are going to argue that you think it means you are a real spartan kinda like a warrior or something, but no, no you are not. It would be like someone putting their name to be “Dopey Sam” or maybe “Triathlon Steve” or why not one of the other races? I’d love to see someone be “Savage Joe” or “GladiatorRR Bob” or even “Battlefrog Tony”…no, no one else does it for any other of their hobbies, we don’t have “Marathon Jane” or “Scubadiver Sally” or “Motorcross Ken” so just stop it already. I am sure if your profile pic is a picture of you doing a run and you labeled it correctly in your profile, we all know already.

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                                                                                                  I’ll be your top thrill                                                   (quote as seen on a shirt at Cedar Point)

  • I absolutely love the women’s world cup! Pretty much the only time I watch women’s soccer is when the cup is on! USA won the pool and now the march to the cup starts!
  • So after my recent trip to ROT (blog coming soon) I have decided to add a new event to my list of goals for this year. I am going to try to complete the Iron Butt ride before the end of summer.
  • I know this is very random, but how many people have you said “I love you” to? I was thinking of this on my ride recently, while reflecting as I usually do while I am riding and it occurred to me that I have posted a lot recently about being in love or I was in love or had been in love and my feeling on love and yeah…pretty much a lot of love stuff.  Well that tends to happen when you wear your heart on your sleeve and you give yourself over to someone with reckless abandon. But contrary to belief, I have not actually told that many people that I love them. Sure I have had feelings for someone and I may have said I was falling or whatever, but at the end of the day, after 44 years, I have only told 9 (nine) women that I loved them. That is pretty much since I was 16 and I have to say some of the love I threw out there then, isn’t anything like how I think love is now (3 before 20YOA, is that even really possible?) So now I am wondering if that is a high number or a low number? I first thought it was pretty low, but now I am not so sure. What is your number?
  • So I discovered the key to making our kids in this country smarter! It is bribing them with Pizza and Movies! Okay this was pretty funny when I saw it, so I am just going to leave this here…IMG_3043 IMG_2499
  • I also discovered a new thing…while in Erie, PA, I decided to go walking and I found that they have pizza joints on like every corner! So if I ever go to visit again, I am going on a walkabout, a pizza walking tour and I am going to try a slice at each place!

circle-lightbulbFun Fact! If you need your house cleaned, dishes washed, light bulbs replaced, trash taken out…apparently all you need to do is invite me over and my OCD takes over and things seem to get done…flaw or great quality?

Music

So this week in honor or one of my favorite bands Lifehouse releasing a new album, I am going to list my top songs I love off the new album.

Lifehouse – Hurricane

Lifehouse – Firing Squad

Lifehouse – Wish

Lifehouse – Hourglass

Lifehouse – Hindsight

I know 5 songs is a lot, but these are my favorite so far, but there are a couple more that I like as well.

The Vegas Chronicles

By: Travis E. Blythe

Viva Las Vegas!

Believe it or not, Vegas has to be one of the places I dread going to the most.  I have only been probably three times in my entire life and granted it was for work and conferences, but still I was never a big fan. You see I am not much of a gambler, in fact I really hate to lose my money. However, last year I met a fellow OCR guy and over the course of the six months we have become friends.  So when he said I should come out to Vegas and race the Spartan Super, it sounded like a good thing. I was able to get a free race and a dirt cheap plane ticket, so off I went.

Unfortunately this is not going to be my blog about the Spartan Super, I’ll save that for another time. What I will do though is tell you about my adventures that may have just changed my mind about Vegas. I started the trip by getting in real early in the week, I mean like Tuesday early.  But it was late Tuesday so I basically got in and went right to sleep.

Wednesday

One of the things I dislike the most is being sick. I started to get sick on Monday and now when I woke up on Wednesday, I was full blown in my yearly bronchitis. Dreadful day, but I ended up going and getting some drugs, and I worked most of the day after that. The highlight of the day was going to Camp Rhino after my buddy got off work and get to play for a few hours. I have heard about this place on Facebook and have been waiting to get there and play.  This is basically am adult jungle gym for OCR and ninja warrior type people. Sure they also do boot camps and crossfit there, but the obstacles are the fun part. With my hands still pretty tore up from Battlefrog, I wasn’t able to do the complete WOD, as a matter of fact, we did one round and had to quit because the classes get first priority.  So I spent the majority of my time learning one of the things that slowed me down, the rope climb. I learned the technique and now was rocking up the rope using my feet! Pretty stoked about that! I was even able to meet and talk a little with the owner Julie and she is a really nice and sweet person and way cool.

Thursday

Not much happening on Thursday, I was still feeling really sick and just worked and slept most of the day.  My buddy Jesse wanted to go on a trail run after work, but I wasn’t feeling it and I talked him into tapering his workout some just two day before the race, so we just went hiking where he usually runs. Went on about a 2 mile hike, up and down the hills and park. Got to watch the sun set behind the mountains and I didn’t have to run.

Friday

Up at the buttcrack of dawn to take Jesse to work, I was able to meet up with some of my Facebook friends with who I have never really met. So we had breakfast and talked about what we were going to be doing all day. That is when this EPIC day started taking shape. What started with a conversation around one reality TV show, turned into a full blown trek around town seeing every show we could think of. So in the end, here is what was on our list:

  • Tank’d
  • Pawn Stars
  • Bad Ink
  • Counts Kustoms
  • Stratosphere – do the rides
  • Las Vegas Sign

So of course my mind starts going 100 miles an hour and I thought it would be funny to make a video giving one of the most known Spartan Athletes some grief and try to pawn his spear at the pawn Stars location. So off we go!

Las Vegas Sign

First stop to take some pics in front of the famous welcome to Vegas sign. Luckily we are fast, because as we were pulling in to the parking lot a tour bus arrived and I said we had to move faster and sure enough about 40-50 people got off the bus. But we got there first and took a few pics goofing off and being silly. (I know Shocker) Plus we posed with Spartan Spears just for the hell of it!

Pawn Stars

I am sure you have heard of this show right? Pawn Stars is actually a place called gold and silver.  Sometimes I crack even myself up with the wacky ideas that come into my head. Our morning brainstorming started with me thinking of this place. Then it hit me, why not act like they do on the show, do an interview outside and talk about going in and pawning something.  But it had to be something good, something that they would say no, maybe have an expert look at and tell me it wasn’t authentic or just not worth the crazy amount of money I wanted. Then it hit me, I need to tie it into the Spartan Race we were doing, then it really hit me and the creative juices started flowing.  My friend had his spears in the car from the day before so I called him got the okay and set my plan in motion. Some of you may know, okay who are we kidding, most of you know Matt “The Bear” Novakovich  and that he sells his own autographed spears for like $80 or $100 or something.

So there it was just staring us down, I signed a spear based on his logo and off we went to Pawn Stars.  So we get there and we make the video outside prepping the whole thing.  Here you go:

11159509_10153311297097962_5283471119770058671_nUnfortunately they would not allow us to video inside so the rest of the joke could not take place.  We were able to get some still photos and they played along. The rest of the joke was played out on social media and I have to say, Matt was awesome and played along with it. I can’t wait to finally meet the guy in person. In case you are wondering, we said they told us it was a forgery and not worth a dollar!

Counts Kustoms

IMG_9811So our next stop was Counts Kustoms.  If you have not seen this TV show, you don’t know what you are missing. For the most part they build custom cars. They drive around Vegas and buy peoples old cars and restore them or give them the “Counts” personal touch. No tricks here, we just went in and visited.  They have a ton of cool cars in there, so if you are in the neighborhood, totally check it out, hey its free.

Bad Ink

IMG_9837Another TV show Bad Ink was next on the list. If you don’t know, these guys walk around Vegas and look at peoples tattoos and then they fix them. Most of the time they are cover ups, but all of the time the work is freaking awesome. The name of the shop is PussyKat Tattoo, yes I Taught I Taw a Putty Tat! Unfortunately Dirk and Ruckus were not in, but I was validated! Screenshot 2015-04-28 21.33.52

Tank’d

IMG_9881I have only watched this show once, but it was pretty cool.  These guys build fish tanks and nothing is too big or too small. You can see a lot of their work all over town and in the casinos.  It was cool, the main characters of the show were there and came outside to pose for pics with people.  That was really cool of them and shows they are still down to earth.

So there you have it, that was our epic morning.  We hit all of those place and yet we still had a ton of time left in our day. We actually did go by Stratosphere and we were going to ride the rides but it was way pricy and we all decided it was not worth it.  Maybe next time.

But our day was not done, because you see like any great day of adventure, there is always more. We looked the watch, looked at the map and off to Hoover Dam we went.

Hoover Dam

I had never been here so the 40 minute or so it took to get there was not that bad. What a beautiful place! It was obvious the water lever was down, but none the less, pretty cool.IMG_9937 I got in my gratuitous hardstand pics on both sides of the bridge, however I did have trouble landing on the side facing the bridge. Someone got in my head that I might flip over and I was rushed because we were blocking the sidewalk and I wanted my photographer to get further out in the street and she wouldn’t because of the cars…good grief taking pictures should not be this stressful!

During the car ride we found out we had scored some tickets to get up in the Eiffel Tower, so offer went chasing more adventure.

Eiffel Tower at Paris

IMG_9939I have to say this was a little disappointing. We went up to the top and yes you can see the strip, yes there are some ooh and ahh moments, but if I would have had to actually pay for this…I would have been pissed.  You are stuck inside a cage and it just wasn’t all that…Kinda felt like jail to me…

The only cool thing was watching the fountains.

IMG_9946

So the day is winding down ad we did get the munchies, you know all this tourist stuff is exhausting so we went to Cabo Wabo Cantina and we actually sat on the railing watching the street. This was by far the most entertaining time yet. Watching the bachelor and bachelorette parties stumble up and down the strip was nothing short of hilarious. I mean seriously it was not even 5:00PM yet. Then you have the locals sitting on the sidewalks just pounding beers or margaritas or whatever, throwing their empty cans in the bushes. You also have the people dressed in costumes and you have to pay them to take pictures with them, dang it, they got me twice! (more on that later) Also if you ever want to know where to go clubbing, just stand in one spot and you will get 100 cards in no time from dudes wanting you to come to their club! I love people watching and this was funny, and the sun was still out, I can only imagine what this place turns into when the sun sets.

IMG_9955So off we go, one last stop, we are heading to the New York, New York hotel to ride the roller coaster! But first I got stopped by the storm troopers. I tried to fight it, but they were all like “Mr. Battlefrog this” and “Mr. Battlefrog that”. So I told one of them, I will take a picture with you but I have to be on your back piggy back style and I want your gun. Well, then next thing the guy says is, “you can’t do that, I think my costume will fall apart!” ha ha, that was hysterical. But in the end I had them pic me up, I think we took like 4 different poses and then they wanted to make me a video. So here is my Stormtrooper video!

New York, New York

If there is one thing you need to know about me, I love roller coasters. I love sitting in the very first seat and waving my hands in the air like I just don’t care! It is pretty sad that I live like 20 minutes away from Six Flags and I have not been in like 8 years. But none the less, I feel some summer adventures coming on some roller coasters! Well we went to NY, NY for one reason only, end the day on the roller coaster. It was not a long as I would have liked, but it was fun, it cost $14 per ride in case you are wondering and you can buy your pictures 3-$30, needless to say I do not have pictures. Fun times though!

So that concludes my Friday adventures, after this I went back to my buddies home, we had Tacos and called it a night!

Saturday

The race was run, we went home and took naps…oh the life of masters racing! After the mid-day snooze, I was lucky enough to be invited to the OCR Grinders team dinner. A very cool experience as they honored a boy named Austin. They ran for him at this race and made him a spartan! Very cool.

So off we go on our “Entourage” night out in Vegas. After a little bit of a delay, we finally were able to get to “Old Downtown” and the first stop was container park. IMG_0316

This was a cool place, they have a fire breathing praying mantis out front. Then we walked down the strip, by the Golden Nugget and a few others…pretty cool, they had zip lines overhead and these color things on the ceilings. Not to mention this hair band from hell playing live music at one end.  Again we were treated to all that Vegas has to offer, you know grown men in diapers taking pics with IMG_9992[1]people for money…and this guy================>

Only in Las Vegas can you see this stuff. There was so much more and I could have taken pictures all day.  Needless to say we laughed hard at the people and I for one am grateful I do not live in this or have to see this everyday because I am not sure if I could hold my tongue.

So we end up going to this food truck, more importantly a hamburger food truck called FUKU Burger! Knowing a chef has its rewards and they rewarded us with a little bit of heaven. Next time you are in Vegas, find this truck and get the #1, you will not be disappointed!

After stuffing our grills with these awesome burgers, we round the corner and low and behold a brick traverse wall appears out of nowhere in this back alleyway. So we do what all OCR peeps do, we climb that bitch! After a few minutes of horseplay, we decide to get on the wall and take a group picture. Now here is where that phrase “only in Vegas” has to come from. You have 7-grown ass men climbing a brick wall in an alley and as we all get up on the wall for a picture out of nowhere comes this dude who jumps in front of, one of our guys and I guess his goal was to prove he could climb also. But here is the thing…he couldn’t, that asshat kept falling off the wall and getting back on, I mean even after we all got off and started walking away in disgust that he ruined our glorious photo op, this tool kept trying.  I wish video had been captured, because here is what is going on, you have six guys on the wall, some barely holding on for dear life waiting for the picture to be taken, me in my flip flops up higher than anyone else (yes photographic evidence) and I am yelling at the tool to get off the wall, yelling at our buddy to pull his ass off by his shirt, just yelling. You know stuff like, “hey fucker, get off the wall!” “I will cut you! get off the wall!” “hey asshole, I will beat your face in, get off the wall!”, okay so maybe the last two were my inside voice, but I thought it!  In the end it was okay, we went around the corner and found another wall, this one all in black, no stupid Vegas drunk people trying to photo bomb us. We got the pic, memories forever!

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Sunday

So sunday we decided to attend the Camp Rhino post Spartan workout. Unfortunately my hamstring and foot issues prevented me from working out, so I did the next best thing…I took video of the poor souls getting their spirits crushed by miss Julie! Here is my video…

Monday

Monday Monday, Come Monday, Manic Monday, what ever song you equate with Monday or just having the case of the Monday’s, I am so ready to go home! At this point I just miss everything and everyone at home, I couldn’t wait to get back and tell everyone about my adventures, but when I actually did get home…no one wanted to know…story of my life.  But before I can go home, how about a workout first? Boy I give that idea two thumbs up! I can’t say no and look like a big puss, especially since I did nothing the day before and I am staying with all these freaking “elite”  workout monsters.  So I did the damn workout, didn’t die and I felt good, none of my injuries were harmed.

IMG_0319One last thing to do before I can blow this Popsicle stand is celebrate my awesome hosts anniversary with them. No complaints there! We went to the triple A affiliate for the NY Mets, the Las Vegas 51’s baseball game. They lost but $1 hotdogs (yes I had 5) were awesome! The picture is my little buddy Gio! Ever go to a baseball game with a 2-year old? Besides the fact that he is a parrot (repeats everything) he is also a barrel of laughs and never stops smiling! Okay one thing I don’t get, they are the Las Vegas 51’s and the logo is an alien on the hat, the mascot looks like a grey Jar Jar Binks from Star Wars and excuse me if I am wrong, but aren’t we in Vegas? I thought area 51 was in New Mexico? I distinctly remember going through Roswell, NM on my way home from my EPIC Ski trip (note to self…backlog that blog, that trip was freaking awesome!) and I thought that is where the aliens were? I’m so confused…

We left in the 8th inning as the visiting team just belted out another 3 run inning and they were up like 8-2. One my way to the airport I go! Exit stage left, Viva Las Vegas, leaving Las Vegas, whatever, I am outta here. Until we meet again sin city!

My name is Travis and I talk to strangers.

Things I Think – Thursday 7-1-2010 – 9 Things I learned on my Roadtrip

By: Travis Blythe

I recently took a road-trip which was close to 1100 miles and 16 hours one way. We went there and back in 5 days for a grand total of just over 2300 miles. During this trip, there were 9 things that I learned about myself and others and I thought I would share them with you.

Number 1: Driving 50-50 really means, 70-30.  I drove 11 hours there compared to Sparkle Chick driving a whopping 5 hours, I am so glad she was able to get all that sleep, while I could barely hear the radio because I was worried the sound would wake her up.

Number Dos: My cousin has turned into a hermit in my 18 year absence. This is very sad to me since we used to be close.  His world is simply this, work the 3rd shift at the factory making $10/HR, coming home from work and playing the Wii all day, then sleeping.  Rinse and repeat this.  On his days off, he goes to momma’s house to get his laundry done. 37 years old and is too shy to even go out and meet a significant other…what would have happened had I stayed and made him be social? Needless to say, my feelings were somewhat hurt that I get home but once a year and he would rather sleep then meet me out to catch up.

Number 3: Dear Illinois, your speed limit of 65 makes for a very long drive through your boring state, please change that!

Number 4: A car is just a car, no matter how expensive it is, if you have insurance, then let people drive it.  So for the first time EVER, my car which was 4 days old, I let everyone drive and I do mean everyone.  My sister-in-law, my niece, my father-in-law, Eddie the family friend from Ohio, and my Nephew. I even let my Niece take it by herself with 4 of her friends to go/do whatever…no I was not smoking any wacky tabacky, but hey, it’s just a car right?

Number 5: Family is Family and no matter how mad you are, life is too short to ignore them. I ran into a second cousin who has not spoken to her sister in years, lives in the same town and has no clue where.  Are they fighting? No, just decided they don’t have anything in common anymore and lost touch.  Confused? Yes I am, so I did my best Ann Landers and gave some simple advice, if you died tomorrow, or if she did, would either of you know that the other loved them? Life is too short to not to let the people in your life know what they mean to you.  I think the following day I saw some facebook posts back and forth…greatness.

Number 6: I grew up having to had very thick skin or you were road kill.  So I am sorry if I hurt your feelings, get over it, it was nothing personal, I am a jokester and that is how I am.  I am not picking on you, just striking first blood, so keep up or go and cry in your room.

Number 7: I am a very competitive person, while yes I do like to win and hate loosing, I hate cheaters even more. So, how can you be mad if I catch you cheating at UNO? I didn’t do it, all I said was that I caught you. But I do apologize if I hurt your feelings, I didn’t mean to.

Number 8: In regards to number 7, the worst possible thing to do once you are caught cheating and verified by others that I did have a valid point, is to try an lie about it.  Even worse than that is to after lying about it, admit you were wrong but say “oh well” and try to change the rules of the game in game 3 of a rubber match.  My only argument was that if you score it one way in game two, you can not score it another way in game three to benefit you when it means winning or losing the game.  So yes, I called you a cheater and a lier mixed with some very bad curse words.

Number 9: Motorcycles will always rule over a car on a road trip, even if you have a brand new Ford Mustang convertible 5.0 GT. Traveling thecountry on the open road, and the wind in your face is something I can never explain to anyone, but is a must do! Man I need a Vacation!

My name is Travis and I talk to strangers!

Things I Think – Thursday 6-24-2010

By: Travis “Blydawg” Blythe

Road Trips, you either love them or fear them.  For me I am in the middle, if it has to do with riding the Harley and seeing the country, I am all in! But when it comes to getting in the “cage” or car as you people call them, I am in the middle of the road.  Depending on if you are taking a scenic tour of the country, that is one thing.  If you are driving 16 hours straight through to get to a destination, then that is another all on its own.

Of course the latter is where I am today.  Pricing the flights to fly back home to Chicago/Michigan area was unbelievable, as the prices are double what we normally pay.  I started looking a good 2 months in advance and still nada.  So we decided it would be a good idea to just drive.  Like I said, I don’t mind it, I actually enjoy it some. But this style of “Cannonball Run” does not appeal to me the older I get. To follow along via Twitter, you can always follow us using the hashtag #BlydawgTravels.

On the plus side of this trip, is that I have a brand new car.  So we dubbed her the “bandit”!  I guess my lack of excitement comes from the fact that we are leaving at 5pm and our expected ETA is around 9am.  With that being said, driving in the dark through the middle of the night is not all that exciting.  Add in the fact that my co-pilot sleeps the majority of the time and I do all of the driving is not exciting!

I think the final split on driving time was me 10-11 hours and Sparkle Chick managed 5-6 hours.  I managed the first 8 hours, I got to sleep for 2 1/2 hours before I was thrown back into the cockpit again. We managed some checkin videos, only got off track one time near Tulsa, OK in some construction, but all in all, it did go by faster in the dark.

My last car roadtrip, I didn’t have DVD video player, RedBox did not exist and I didn’t have an iPOD or Sirius radio to jam out to.  It was nice to pack a cooler, pack snacks and hit the open road…now for the return trip!

Here are some along the way updates!

South Texas Tour – Day 3

By: Travis “Blydawg” Blythe

Enchanted RockWhen we last left you, I told you that day two ended with us arriving safely back into Kerrville.  Well that is true, but it was not the end of the day.  A couple of things happened throughout the evening I thought I would share. The first being how I almost rear ended an SUV, Bubba almost falling over, and the great Thirsty Murphy adventure.

On our way through Kerrville back to the hotel the “road snakes” just about got me.  Of course I was also day dreaming so that didn’t help the situation. I was thinking about how I needed to create a cool patch to commemorate the 3-sisters ride, at the same time thinking about how I still needed to get my wife a present and then it happened.  I didn’t realize there was a stop light, it tuned yellow and the SUV decided to stop.  Now while of course all of this is happening my brain didn’t quite process what was going on.  When I realized that I needed to stop, with my cat-like reflexes I applied the brakes in my non-locking up controlled stop, like we were taught at motorcycle school, unfortunately what they do not teach you is how to apply your controlled stop on road snakes.  Road snakes are those stupid rubber fillers they put on the road as a kind of patch.  These are different then the tar they use to fill in pot holes.  As I applied my breaks, my rear tire slid on the snake and caused my bike to start a sideways slide.  I did a quick pump of the breaks three different times and all three times I went sideways. While my brother and father were fearing I was going to rear end the SUV, I at no time thought that.  I was worried about going into the intersection! I finally got stopped, I had to weave into the turn lane at the light to do that though, no snakes in that lane!  Boy that gets the blood pumping and the heart racing.

We went to dinner at Acapulco Mexican restaurant, which was voted the best Mexican restaurant 2009 by the Kerrville Daily Times.  I have to admit, it was good! They even had my favorite Mexican dish Carne Guisada!  Now after dinner is when the fun really began, starting with Bubba almost falling over in the parking lot.  As we are leaving, Bubba takes the lead and he politely lets two cars go by.  After he gives the head nod to go, he is barely moving and he just about falls over because he is moving so slow.  He had the proverbial tire jerks to the left at slow speeds and bike tips over causing you to throw out your foot in order to not tip over.  I guess it was just funnier to watch because he was acting so cool with his head nod to the cars.  Seriously, you just can not script this kind of stuff!

After dinner we then walked next door from out hotel and spent some time at Thirsty Murphy’s.  Colin Gunn is the owner and also works as a pilot during the day.   We proceeded to attempt to drink all of the Shiner Bock Beer in the fine establishment.  I know this may not be a milestone to some people, but I was able to hang with my father beer for beer all night long, while little Bubba was only 2 behind (he didn’t have anything at dinner).  As a matter of fact, we were ready for another round when the old man threw in the towel.  A shocking look came across the faces of my brother and I as we could not believe he was throwing in the towel.  We packed it in that evening and headed back to the hotel.  The next day we were shocked again as our father aka “Old Skool” was in the bathroom purging himself of the beer demons from the night before!

Day Three started out with a wee bit of a headache, dad tossing his cookies and top that off with the fact that it was raining, we anticipated a long day ahead.  We departed Kerrville, Texas and headed north on HWY 16.  Just outside of Fredericksburg, Texas we stopped at Enchanted Rock State Natural Area.  This is a great park to visit; the enchanted rock has mystical powers the native Indians believed in and many people come to hike, backpack, rock climb and camp.

We departed the area and headed on HWY 16 north.  Since the day was pretty crappy, we decided to haul butt and make it for home.  Finally the sun came out the closer we got to home and made the day somewhat more enjoyable.  We made our way up to Dublin, Texas the home of Dr. Pepper. In Dublin, they use the original recipe which makes the Dr. Pepper with Imperial Pure Cane Sugar.  You can take a tour of the bottling plant and take home all of the DP you can drink.  You cannot find this in stores, so it is well worth the trip if you are a DP drinker.

After we left the DP plant, we concluded our trip and headed on home. The three day adventure totaled just less than 830 miles. This little Texas trip will give you plenty of riding mixed in with great sites, history and Texas landmarks.  You can be your own judge on the restaurants we stopped at, tell me what you think.  Until the next adventure, keep the rubber side down!

South Texas Tour – Day 1

By: Travis “Blydawg” Blythe

It has only taken 18 years since my brother turned 16 and was old enough to legally drive, for us to take a trip together along with our dad. Don’t get me wrong, we have all done a ton of separate trips and met together in D.C. one year, but the three of us have never taken a trip together, just us guys.  Seems pretty odd, since we have been taking cross country trips since I turned 16, but living in different parts of the country does make it hard sometimes.
So here we are, taking a trip soon to become legendary, the Blythe boys, Travis “Blydawg” Blythe, Brett “Bubba” Blythe and Don “Old Skool” Blythe, two brothers and their father. We decided to take a south Texas tour and show my little brother what Texas has to offer.
Leaving Ft. Worth, we headed south towards the town of Hico, TX (pronounced Hi-Co) where our first stop was the Koffee Kup restaurant. I have been stopping here on my way to Austin for over 5 years and I love this place. They now have a banner from the Texas Monthly Magazine as one of the 50 Best Burgers in Texas for 2009. Unfortunately, we arrived early and had breakfast, which as always was pure awesomesauce! I am definitely suggesting to ThunderRoads Texas to add this place for the Points Across Texas Program!

We stayed in Hico, and went over the Billy the Kid’s Museum. Legend has it he actually was killed in New Mexico. You can Google that story; however, this town believes he actually moved here and lived to be an old man. They even tried to prove it, but didn’t convince the New Mexico government, so says Ms. Sue Land the Curator. So we have two places where tourism thrives on the dead outlaw. By the way here in Hico, they believe (according to the real Billy the Kid) he really only killed 9 people and not the reported 21, and one of those was self defense. This is a great little place and the curator is just Awesome to be around and full of great knowledge. She told me to bring at least 100 bikes to town next time and she will throw us an old west style party complete with Billy, saloon girls and cowboys. How can I turn that down?

We left town and headed south to our next destination. Along the way we encountered our first bit of bad weather. We had been chasing the rain all day and it finally caught us about 30 miles north of Burnett, TX. So we donned our rain gear and pushed on. Note to self, make sure you check your gear before you leave; I didn’t realize that I grabbed two right handed gloves for the rain gear (I have two sets). Ummm…yeah, wearing a glove upside down is a tad bit uncomfortable and makes it a wee bit difficult to pull the clutch lever.

We arrived to the Falkenstein Castle and the sun was actually starting to emerge. Just outside of Burnett, TX is the Falkenstein Castle. What an awesome site this is, a freaking castle in the middle of Texas. Although you can’t drive up to it, there are a few places to get some great pictures.

We drove down the road to Marble Falls, TX where we were in search of one of the great Hamburgers in Texas. Well, a disclaimer should be said here if you follow Ride Texas Magazine, it appears the 10 Best Burgers which are voted on. Plain and simply don’t go anywhere this magazine recommends when it comes to food. I should have known when they listed Whataburger in the top ten, something was up. I am not knocking Whataburger, I believe out of all of the fast food burgers this is my favorite. However, we searched out #4 on the list, Storms restaurant and were greatly disappointed when it turned out to be a copy of Sonic but with a hamburger theme. Hoping to sit inside and relax, we left and moved on to another “Must Eat” place in Marble Falls.

We arrived to the Bluebonnet Café. Another “Must” eat at place according Ride Texas magazine, they even had all of the hoopla and awards since 2003 from the said magazine all over the walls. Being hungry (Bubba gets grouchy when he is hungry) we were stoked to try this place. We all concurred and we do not recommend you get the burgers here. Although the pies looked awesome and huge, it appears those are the claim to fame at this place, they have a pie happy hour. Unfortunately we didn’t have any pie; we choked down our burgers and took off.

Back on the road, we headed further south, things are looking up, as we can see the sun off to the west and we know we are heading that way. Our next pit stop was the famous Luckenbach, TX. Upon arriving to Luckenbach, it was everything we know and love about the place. Friday evening and there was a good gathering and random musicians playing. We sat and listened as one guy grabbed his sister and a guitar and played the famous Luckenbach song as we sang along. I gave my brother the total Luchenbach experience and I think he actually liked the place a little.

We finished the day and headed to Kerrville, TX and settled into our hotel, the Bestwestern. I am glad they have on the sign, “New beds to rest your head”. Yes thanks for that, we need the rest.

Of course our day was filled full of humor and good times. Some of the funny moments have to be watching Bubba shift to neutral then proceed to stomp on the shifter to get the very high revving engine back in to gear and out of the middle of the road, while curing profanities the whole time. Then there was me, missing my eye with the eye drops and squirting them right on to my shirt instead. I also had the two right gloves and Bubba’s rain suit was a tad bit too small, the big banana coming at you down the road. It was only fitting his pants were flooding as we rode in the rain!

Starting tomorrow, we tackle the 3-sisters loop!

Trade Show Marketing 1.1

By: Travis E. Blythe

In an earlier post, I outlined what I thought were the three main steps or stages involved in a trade show conference.  In this section, I am going to talk about the first step.  This is normally called the “Planning Stage”, and hopefully you don’t wait until the last-minute to schedule your conference or trade show.  With that being said, the planning stage is one of the most important stages.  It is here, you create the awareness of your company being in attendance and where people can find you at the conference.

Okay, you signed up to be an exhibitor at the best trade show of the year.  You sold the powers that be, this conference is the “be all to end all” conferences your company needs to be at and needs to have an exhibitor/booth space.  Everyone is usually skeptical (I mean the CEO/President/Owners) because they think they are throwing money away and no one really works a booth or they can’t measure the ROI.  Well, you haven’t met me or my tactics for trade show marketing yet and I can usually always bring home some business.  One of the first items of business is to make sure you post on your website exactly what conferences you plan on attending for the year.  This is important, especially if you have a strong client interaction with your website, some clients may see you going to a particular event they didn’t know about and will thank you.  The second step is to get the attendee list once you pay your money for the exhibit space.

Now that you have the attendee list, item number one is to send out the “Email Blast” to all the attendee’s telling them exactly where they can find you and what prizes you have to offer to get them to stop by.  Make sure you entice with a big-ticket item (something they think they can win) and an awesome give away item (like a cool, hip t-shirt).  Just don’t SPAM the email though, address them individually and don’t let them know you mass emailed it.  There are several programs out there that do this. If not, then send them all separately if you have the resources.  With today’s Social Media taking off the way that it is, you should try to look up all the people you want to target, or all the attendee’s you want business from on Linkedin and Twitter.  Send them invites to connect or follow them.  I would also include in the email ways they can find your company on social media. Engage them to connect with you.

When you have the proper time to plan for the conference, study the schedule and whether you will have time to entertain clients.  Find out what current clients or potential clients are going and set up dinners.  There is nothing worse than to arrive to a conference and have nothing lined up or trying to do it the same day.  Most everyone will have plans and you will end up waiting for everyone to return before you can engage and entertain them.

The next part of the planning stage, which is important is packing up all the materials you will need to be successful.  The number one item is obviously the business card.  Make sure you have all of your company’s literature, a nice 1-page graphic of the prize you are giving away, a bowl for business cards, business card holders, pens, and what I like to call the contact sheet (for those who forget or run out of business cards).  Because I never trusted the other sales reps who attended the trade shows with me to be as responsible as I am, I usually brought all the stuff with me even though some of it is packed inside the booth already.  Somehow the trade show booth fiery always lost or broke something.  Also, don’t forget to have all the “swag” shipped to your conference so you actually have stuff to give away.

One last food for thought is to make sure you have booked your travel.  Scout ahead of time to see if you need transportation from the airport (if flying) or if there is a shuttle to conference site. Show the boss you saved money by booking 2-3 weeks out. Same for the hotels, most conferences offer a conference rate to stay at the hotel where the conference is located or one relatively close.  I understand there maybe cheaper places to stay just down the road, but remember you have to be traveling back and forth sometimes and it can be a pain if you are 5 miles away.  Especially when you are lugging around supplies, laptops or want to change your clothes when the exhibit hall closes for the day.

If you follow these steps, you should be very prepared for your conference or trade show and ready to conquer!

Enjoy your conference and safe travels!

Next up Trade Show Marketing 1.2 – The Show