Friday, July 22, 2011

Shedding A Tear For All To See

When I agreed to do Expedition Impossible with Erik I knew I was going to be exposing myself on national TV for better or for worse. I knew that the "redneck" that hides inside of me would surely make an appearance along the way (and it has). I also knew that my foul mouth would probably surface at some point as well (and it has).
What I didn't expect or count on was having a good solid cryfest in front of millions of people. But just to keep my pride in check, there it was... Jeff, Erik and Ike all crying like a bunch of housewives watching Oprah together.

I had been dreading this episode ever since we returned from Morocco as I knew that showing 3 tough, mountain climbing, salty guys unabashedly sobbing with the cameras rolling would make for TV gold. That being said, if I'm going to cry about anything it will only be over my beloved son, Jace. Crying over fatigue, frustration or illness is for folks that haven't spent 20 years suffering in mountain ranges all over the world...not me. But when it comes to being a father... I am a helpless little puppy and capable of welling up at the slightest thought of Jace.

So when we heard there was going to be a "reward" for the team that came 1st into the overnight camp we all knew it was going to be some sort of contact with our families and that was enough of a catalyst for No Limits to push even harder to get a chance to speak to our loved ones. At the start line I told Erik I was going to push him harder than I had up to that point and in typical Erik style, he agreed with me completely and was game to charge hard. Little did we know that the days terrain would be the absolute worst possible bit of course that could have been laid in front of us. Countless miles of rocky, bumbly riverbeds punctuated by a few more miles of rocky, bumbly riverbeds. I can get Erik across essentially any stretch of ground on the planet...but when it comes to long sections of ankle to waist high rocks...we just can't move that fast. It was what it was.

Now why did we leave the fish fossil behind and not bring it with us to trade for the fish? Because the instructions did not clearly say to do so. I was reading each of those instructions in a very literal interpretation. Only good thing that came out of that whole screw up was my consideration of just "grabbin a fish and start runnin...but that was the redneck in me". Classy.

The fact that our boys the Gypsies gifted us the reward was an absolute huge move. At the halfway point in the Expedition, we had already spent 2 weeks together suffering separately during the day and then rehashing it at camp every night. We were feeling close to several of the teams (although not all)...but primarily we were developing a strong affinity for the young Gypsy dudes as we saw a bit of ourselves in them and knew that their hearts where in the right place with regards to this crazy adventure. They weren't reality TV mongers. They weren't whining or complaining. They were just out there having fun and getting it done. We liked their style. And by giving us the chance to talk to our families it just cemented their character and as a result we will always be fans of John Post, Erik Bach and Taylor Filasky. Good guys.

Another touching moment that deserves comment is my man Akbar throwing all sorts of high praise over to Erik regarding his athleticism. Ak has played football at the highest level with some of the most extraordinary athletes in the world, so for him to say that Erik is superior to all of them is just a remarkably inspiring thing to hear. Another class act, Akbar Gbaja-Biamila.

Sorry to see our friends the Firemen go home. When you look up "real American dude" in the dictionary...these are the guys you find. They have a service approach mentality. They care for people... which was illustrated in the help they provided the Cali girls in last weeks episode. And beyond that...they are just straight up funny guys with a razor sharp, Yankee style of humor that had me belly laughing on many a Moroccan sunset. I will drink beers with them at their firehouse at some point in the future.

We are halfway now with this thing. Only 8 teams remain. Next week we will be paddling some real rapids. The last paddle section was tame...somewhat boring. Next week is real. Class 4...hard...scary. The only time over the entire expedition that I was nervous was just prior to putting in...about to guide Erik down this river section. Should be fun to watch.