Feeling content with our workout and dose of sunshine we hit the Interstate Highway 15 south to Temecula. We booked a hotel in this town since it wasn’t too long a journey but about half way to our next stop – San Diego. Knowing nothing about the town we rocked up with little expectation. We were pleasantly surprised to find a quaint Old Western looking town! The buildings were full of character with pretty fairy lights for embellishment. The streets were so clean in comparison to the big cities we have been visiting. American flags were proudly flying in the streets and the smell of American food wafted towards us. We instantly loved the place. We were also very pleased to find a hotel swimming pool!
After a comfortable nights sleep we woke early to get to work. I devised a short WOD consisting of 2 rounds: 4 laps, 10 push ups (these felt challenging as we were suffering from major chest DOMs) and 20 squats. It was a short but very effective workout! We could both feel the strain on our muscles from the previous day at Muscle Beach.
Our plan for the morning was to relax, walk around this pretty town and pick up some souvenirs for family. Then of course, drive to San Diego in the afternoon.
We found a really lovely Cuban cafe for brunch. This filled us with some good healthy carbs and protein. On to our next stop…
Following an incredible day exploring Death Valley we continued our journey south west back towards the coast. We stopped over in a town called Ridgecrest – it was an interesting stay to say the least! The town looked like something out of the Hills Have Eyes.. It was so spooky. A total Ghost town. Abandoned houses with boarded up windows and doors.. Old mining facilities closed down.. It was very eerie. We didn’t hang around!
Another early start for us and back in our trusty little Mirage. After much map flipping and negotiating aggressive traffic we finally made it to LA! No guessing our first port of call… Yep. Venice Beach AKA Muscle Beach. Body building’s equivalent to Mecca. It really did not disappoint! The place was buzzing with busy Cafes, street performers, sidewalks bursting at the seems with skateboarders and rollerbladers. It was just how I imagined and better! The beach itself was quite something – stretching for miles with its golden sand and surf friendly rip curls. Much like Santa Cruz, the beach was alive with family BBQs and sports.
After we managed to weave our way around a protest, groups of break dancers and street artists, we eventually set eyes on the main attraction. Muscle Beach outdoor gym. We showed our military ID and got into the caged area half price (thanks Her Maj).
The gym was fairly quiet. There were a couple of guys training quietly on the machines, taking in the sunshine and posing for the walkers by. Then there were the two performers! Two guys hired by muscle beach gym, who’s sole job is to flex for cameras and practice their moves. They were pretty impressive to be fair! In the hour and a half we were there, I’d say approximately 100 selfies were taken by these guys! Hilarious!
Sam and I decided to use whatever equipment was free. We ended up on the bench press (our fave!). It was really difficult in the heat and with the sun directly in the eyes whilst lying flat on the bench. Especially using bars and plates in Lbs which we are not used to. However! We both lifted heavier than we normally manage in training. After a couple of sets of 5-3-2 reps we decided to get more weight on the bar. Maybe it was the onlookers, or all of the naughty carbs we have been eating, but I managed to bench 84kg! Sam normally hits about 90kg in training, but he also managed a much hire number for one rep at 97kg! After bench press we hit our normal 3 x max effort dips and also pull ups. After a sweet upper body pump sesh we spotted a space to do some deadlifts. Using the kit available we ended up doing 3 sets of 5 reps fairly light for us. The heat began to take its toll and food was calling us! We had a great session and got chatting to some really nice guys from Chicago who were also on a similar trip to us. It was a fun day all round!
We reluctantly pulled ourselves away from the gym and sat down on the beach with a mini picnic we picked up on route. We had an awesome raw broccoli salad and a sandwhich! It felt good to get some greens in.
Refuelled we headed back to Mecca and finished up our session with some gymnastics. Rope climbs, muscles ups and skin the cats! Feeling suitably pumped we called it a day. We left the bright lights of LA and hit the freeway to our next hotel in a little town called Temecula.
Setting off from Las Vegas, we felt a little deflated. We really enjoyed our time there, lazing by the pool and hitting Freestyle CrossFit in the evenings. Now back on the road we knew that ‘living the dream’ had come to an end. We headed west toward the Grand Canyon and it was truly spectacular. For those of you who haven’t seen it we would highly recommend it! There are lots of different trails and walks to do here, so if you have time its well worth spending a couple of days to really appreciate the magnificence of it!
From here we headed back to Vegas and used another Air BnB to get up and set off north and through Death Valley. For me this has to be the highlight of the trip. Its probably the strangest place I’ve experienced, there are so many different rock formations, altitudes and landscapes all in one area. We headed up to more than 5000ft to ‘Dante’s View’ for an incredible sight of the Death Valley floor. It was relatively cool at this height but as we descended and drove further into the furnace the temperature rose greatly. This has to be the hottest place I have ever been as we recorded a temperature of 46.6°C.
We next came across Zabriskie Point which is surrounded by a maze of wildly coloured badlands. Here we really began to feel the heat and was relieved of the comforts of the air conditioned car.
Further we drove into the abyss and out of nowhere we came across the Mesquite Sand Dunes, as many as 13 people die here each year. People venture out to the dunes thinking they are closer than they are and loose track and site of their way back.
We spent Sunday night in Bakersfield with the lovely Helen and Terry, an absolutely lovely American couple who took great care of us. Terry who is actually ex US Navy gave us great advice and tips for our upcoming trip to Las Vegas and LA. Helen was such a sweetheart, she kept us well fed and watered and was such a caring woman! We also got to have dinner in the garden with their two cute dogs. All in all – a lovely little stop over for us.
Feeling well rested and fuelled up, Sam drove the four hours to Las Vegas. We left nice and early to avoid the crazy tourist traffic! We reached our hotel – The Stratosphere in good time and squeezed in a little sunbathing session followed by some HIIT training in the hotel gym. (See previous blog for the HIIT video).
We chose to stay in one place for four nights so that Sam could have a break from the driving and so that we could get some decent training in. Freestyle Crossfit was just a 30min walk away which was great for us and meant that we could train each evening. The walk itself was a bit cheeky in the 35+ degree heat! We also used the hotel gym occasionally for some fasted cardio and free weights.
Freestyle Crossfit deserves a big shout out on the blog. We visited the box website to see what it looked like and what times they offered wods. Honestly, the website doesn’t do it justice. It is one of the best boxes we have visited. We really loved the programming. Nothing was missed – all of the Olympic lifts were covered and also all of the powerlifting lifts.
Coach Jake kicked off the wod with a really decent warm up. I have a real pet peeve for poor warm ups. I think it’s hugely important, especially since I tend to suffer from shoulder pain and elbow tendinitis.
The warm up consisted of using a pvc pipe for snatch style jump and jacks. I’ve never seen this before but it was perfect! A great little pulse raiser and it really opened up the shoulders prior to our Snatch session. The warm up continued with a number of great little mobilisation and pulse raising exercises.
Jake then guided us through a 3 position snatch skills and strength session. Sam is still learning the Olympic lifts and he found this session extremely helpful and felt he really turned a corner in terms of technique. Coach Jake’s teaching style was spot on, he was authoritative yet approachable. He also gave each individual athlete the attention and tips they needed. We were really impressed and satisfied.
We also had a wod with Coach Shelton. We were pretty excited to find out the strength element was bench press! The warm up again was absolutely spot on and then we did a good old fashioned 5×5 bench sesh.
Shelton was a really animated coach and he kept the attention of his athletes at all times. He was super upbeat and really motivating! He continually fed in tips during the strength and the wod.
5*rating for Freestyle Crossfit!!
In order to maintain a little holiday balance we indulged in the odd milkshake or two at Roxy’s diner!! I would say that this is the best diner we’ve been to yet. The waitors / waitresses are all entertainers and randomly burst into song! …
Apart from daily sunbathing sessions by the pool and Crossfit workouts we also did a fair bit of walking around town. We took the obligatory stroll downtown to see the sights. Walking along Vegas Boulevard we had to walk through the casinos of Ceasars Palace and the Bellagio. We also have a confession.. We stopped by the Cheesecake Factory at Planet Hollywood and had the most awesome burgers and a Reeses Pieces cheesecake – unbelievable!!!! I feel no guilt…
Naturally we had to pop into the factory outlet and spend our pennies in the Crossfit Reebok, Nike, Oakley and Adidas stores! After all, you can never own too much workout gear right?
Sadly Friday morning came around too fast and we once again packed up early morning. This time taking a drive North East to the Grand Canyon…
Having spent a great few days on the west coast we packed up the car again and travelled 300 miles to Las Vegas!
I’m going to put it out there – sitting in the car for hours and a lack of weight lifting has been getting to me. I find it very hard psychologically when I don’t get to fulfill my usual workout routine. But, I do also realise that this is a holiday. It’s that one time of the year where you have a couple of weeks to re-charge the batteries. To fix broken muscles and niggling injuries. It’s the only time of year we can fully switch off. So I guess I should try and relax.
In order to exercise some damage control (ie. Keep the engine running and try to fend off some unwanted body fat!) I took a B line to the hotel gym for a little workout. Being a crossfitter, I’m not used to using these types of gyms. I was alarmed at the lack of squat rack for a start! So, I made do with what I had and came up with a mini body weight wod…
3 rounds of:
800m treadmill run
5 strict pull-ups
For this workout I wore my Bear Strength leggings and (californian style) orange crop top! Which I have to say, is my favourite top in their range. If you like what you see, you can have a look at their clothing line by clicking *here*
This evening Sam and I will be in search of a Crossfit gym!
Another 700miles on the Mitsubishi mirage.. we have spent a lot of time in the car travelling!! Wow, this place is huge. We managed to escape the car for a short exploration of Santa Cruz. We took a walk along a nice breezy beach as the refreshing air smashed waves over the rocks. We noticed how sociable American/ Californian families are. They set up huge picnics and bbqs, play sports on the beach and spend time with family and friends. I love this lifestyle!
It’s been a few days since we have been able to train. The best we have managed is to race each other up a steep rocky hill – much to my disappointment Sam beat me. I’ll get him in the Crossfit box when his long levers are no longer such an advantage!
Still, it’s been a great few days with some spectacular scenery.
After spending a night in Morganhill we set off bright and early to drive the west coast route through the Big Sur. Honestly, you would not believe the array of species of animals we saw! To list but a few: VULTURES, yes Vultures. Of whom were recently released from San Diego zoo. They seem to be doing very well in their new habitat since they have already produced some babies!!
We also heard and saw Sea Lions in the distance whilst we stood on a cliff top.
For lunch, we decided to abandon the car and walk down to a dark sanded beach. Much to my shock and terror I almost stood right on a snake!! Sam, of course, found this whole ordeal hilarious. He then began to chase said snake, whilst commentating in a Steve Irwin-esque voice.
Back in the car again heading south of Morro Bay towards Santa Maria we spotted a sign pointing to a nature observation point. Intrigued, we parked up again and boy were we glad we did! After walking a short beach side boardwalk we were stunned to see a huge group of Elephant Seals. These big guys were sunning themselves up on the beach completely oblivious to their dozens of spectators! Sam was rooting for them to fight (boys eh). He did manage to get some footage of the grumpy males having a heated confrontation!
What an epic two day journey. Now onto VEGAS BABY…
Another early start for us as we had a very long drive ahead. We left the beautiful Lake Tahoe and began heading back across to the west coast but taking the more scenic drive through Yosemite National park. Before we left Tahoe, we stopped briefly to have a look around the outlet shops, and who do we bump into but Ben Smith, former CrossFit games champion. After much nagging we agreed to have our photo taken with him…
Back on the road we really began to appreciate the size and scale of America and again the scenery just took our breath away.
As we proceeded through Yosemite we finally came across what Emma has been dreaming of for years and the same will go for any avid climber. We sat in awe at the infamous El Capitan, a climb that has taken the lives of so many in the past and will probably continue to do so.
What an amazing few days we have had in and around Lake Tahoe. Our stay started in Carson City, where we used Air B&B for the first time. We were pleasantly surprised with our accommodation and made full use of the kitchen to cook some healthy food!
We got up early and headed out to Sand Harbor, where we were hoping to bump in to a few bears. To my disappointment we didn’t, but there’s still time…
The highlight of our time here has been paddle boarding, the weather has been perfect and the scenery is just spectacular.
After spending the day relaxing in the sun, we headed to CrossFit South Tahoe. Lake Tahoe sits at an altitude of 6,200ft / 1,900m, which meant that we both found the WOD tough. Our muscles felt slow and heavy on the run and our shoulders seemed to burn out faster than usual on the HSPU. Coach Tom was there to encourage us along the way. He reassured us that most of his foreign visitors struggle with the altitude, so we don’t feel too down hearted!
Today’s WOD –
3 Rounds For Time:
15 x HSPU’s
2 x rope climbs
Emma 15mins, Sam 16mins
2 Rounds of:
Strict military press @ 43/30kg
Emma 12/10 reps, Sam 8/7 reps
Crossfit South Tahoe has an awesome set up, with a great outdoor space and even a bouldering wall inside! We enjoyed our workout and are contemplating a quick beach weights session in the morning.
Massive thanks to Coach Tom at South Tahoe for having us!
We left San Francisco early doors and headed north east towards Lake Tahoe in the state of Nevada. Our first point of call was to satisfy Emma’s craving for American pancakes and so we stopped at the first available IHOP (international house of pancakes)
feeling very fat and rather sick we hit the road again and rather than taking the freeway we took the more scenic route and cut through the Yosemite National Park. What an amazing drive and outstanding views!
This is definitely our kind of place and neither of us can wait to get out and start exploring this landscape!
What a great day and end to our San Francisco visit. We got up early and headed out to the Golden Gate Park, a hidden gem in such a busy, robust city. We walked about 5km, enjoying the lakes and peaceful atmosphere.
From here we headed out of town, across the Golden Gate Bridge and off the beaten track to a small place called Muir Wood. We managed to come across Muir Beach and discovered a path that lead way out into the hills and across the cliff tops. Naturally we followed it…
…another 5km later we discovered an amazing cove, quite cheeky to get to but well worth the climb down. We sat here, ate our lunch and watched the tide slowly creep in beneath our feet.
Feeling refueled and energised we headed back to the car to make our way back to the city and to the evening CrossFit class at CrossFit Alenia. Today’s workout consisted of…
Back squat 4×6 @80%
For time, 30,20,10
KB front squat (alternate. R/L arm) 24/16kg
Russian KB swings 24/16kg
I really felt this today with a poor time of 12:04, Emma on the other hand smashed it with a time of 08:02.
For anyone looking to visit San Francisco we highly recommend this CrossFit box. A friendly, welcoming atmosphere with quality coaching to go with it! A massive thanks to coach Savage for putting us through our paces!