The Palmetto tree with a crescent moon, which are depicted on Charleston's city flag
I spent past week in Charleston, South Carolina scouting out a place to live for the next year while in school. Rachel was able to come along and we had a great time with our friends Erica and Micah who were generous enough to put us up at their place. Between trying the local cuisine (much of it comes fried), checking out the beaches, and walking through historic downtown Charleston I did actually manage to find a great apartment that is only a few miles from school.
Downtown Charleston is an amazing piece of living history with several buildings surviving from the 1700s and mansions from the Antebellum era (1776-1785) that make for a great walking experience. Market Street is home to an old covered market that remains today primarily to sell tourist-oriented goods and refreshments. Several blocks of nearby Queen Street act as an open-air mall with modern clothing brands and several antique and import shops catering to the wealthy. Rachel, Erica, and I took most of a day to walk around these areas as well as Battery Park, a Civil War era artillery earthworks, while staying as close as possible to the horse-drawn carriage tours to listen in on what the guides were saying on the cheap. Later in the week we attended a Charleston RiverDogs (Yankees Class A affiliate) baseball game at the beautiful Joseph P. Riley, Jr ball park.
For me the purpose of the trip was to find a place to live while I’m going to school in Goose Creek, SC about a 20 minute drive north of Charleston’s city limits. Rachel and I checked into the school housing office where they told us the safest places to live and the easiest routes to class before we toured apartments. Many of the apartments in the area are resort style with a pool, workout facilities, cafe areas, and other amenities that appeal to younger professionals like free outdoor grills and game rooms or media centers. I decided on the Woodfield St. James apartments because they had all of the amenities, the buildings were only two years old, and the quality of the structure (carpeting, kitchen fixtures, doors, etc) seemed to be much better than the competition.
Charleston is not going to be a difficult place to adapt to, either. The culture is very proper and comfortable and the weather is even better; 90 degrees in the summer and 40 in the winter is perfect compared to Milwaukee’s where snowfall is measured in feet.
- That is not me on the tricycle
This past Saturday the Second Annual Milwaukee Brewfest was held on the McKinley Park grounds in Milwaukee and so I was left with no choice but to attend. It didn’t take much convincing to pursuade my friend Luke to make the trip in from Madison to join me as we are both pretty serious fans of quality beer, especially microbrews. Milwaukee Brewfest is an event showcasing the wares of microbreweries in Wisconsin and Chicago which makes Milwaukee the obvious choice in location; the city that has been home to several breweries including Schlitz, Blatz, Pabst, Lakefront, MillerCoors, Sprecher, and a small Leinenkugels location. The $40 ticket paid for unlimited samples of the 120 beers offered by 29 breweries.
Most of the breweries’ representatives had set up at 8 ft collapsable tables underneath 60 ft tents with enough samples to last from the 3pm start time to close at 7pm. Other breweries with larger marketing budgets had sent their own mini tents, beer stands, or even, in one case, a bus with self-serve keg taps extending out of its shell. Weather-wise it was a perfect day with temperatures in the 80′s and not a cloud to be seen, perfect beer weather, although one could argue that any weather is perfect beer weather. The demographic was primarily white but extremely diverse as far as background or profession but one thing was true about everyone there: they were ready to be friends with anyone after a few samples. We played bags with a group of strangers, made friends with a group of roughneck guys from Appleton, rode tricycles, and tried to sweet talk the brewery representatives into giving us a full pint rather than the standard 6 oz sample until last call.
The before picture
This past weekend myself and several members of Marquette’s NROTC unit took on the Tough Mudder, one of the newest and greatest teamwork challenges of camaraderie and endurance. Members of the military, many of us enjoy competition whether it is in teams (some of us play basketball or football) or as individuals (marathons, triathlons, etc…) so the concept of the Tough Mudder certainly fit the bill and it came with the added bonus that all profits from the race go to the Wounded Warrior Project and enables more good than most people know.
The Tough Mudder is a challenge that was modeled after the obstacle courses used by the British Special Forces and scaled so that a reasonably athletic person can tackle it in three or four hours. Along the 10 mile course there are 21 obstacles meant to be both fun and engage the whole team during their completion; some of the obstacles include:
- Climb two sets of two 10 ft high walls
- Crawl through pipes running downhill and underwater
- Greased monkey bars spanning about 30 ft
- Military crawl through the mud under barbed wire
- 15 ft jump into water
- Crawling over and under cargo nets
- Ice cold bath underwater
- Run through wires charged with up to 10,000 volts
- Run through zig-zagged hay bales lit on fire
Where the Tough Mudder is at its toughest is on uphill climbs of the ski slopes where the course is located. Many of the obstacles were not grueling although most did present a risk of injury to even the most fit of those competing. There have been deaths during the Tough Mudder in other states and we were told the most serious injury from the race the day before was a broken pelvis so we considered ourselves warned and proceeded with caution.
Our team of 10 ended up dividing into a two groups after the first few obstacles and stayed split up for the rest of the race. Everyone appreciated the overcast weather and consistent breeze that negated the heat advisory issued that morning. As fatigue set in there was a noticeable difference in the difficulty of the obstacles. For example, The early set of 10 ft walls had been a challenge but not nearly as difficult as the second set five miles later.
We finished the course in about three hours and, besides a few cuts, scrapes, and cramps, we were just as healthy as before the start. Dos Equis, a main sponsor of the Tough Mudder, provided every racer (of drinking age) with a free beer at the finish line and the Dos Equis girls awarded every finisher with an orange headband and t-shirt. One day later I am definitely feeling the effects of the race on my body and my teammates have expressed the same. The Tough Mudder is a great competition especially with a team of good friends as ours was and anyone who completes it will surely recommend it with pride.