Category Archives: It’s The Weekend

The weekend starts on Thursday…

YOG tours – Zion National Park

Spontaneous trips are often the most rewarding experiences. One of the reasons for this is that you don’t allow yourself to build unrealistic expectations the way you would with a planned trip, which almost always leads to disappointment.

Living in Los Angeles lends itself to exploring a myriad of wonders. Within a 7 hour road trip, you can venture to some of the most exciting, and most beautiful destinations in America.

My most recent YOG tour was a quick 3 day jaunt to Zion National Park in Utah. A buddy of mine was invited by his work colleague, who had managed to secure permits to hike the Narrows from top to bottom. These permits are hard to come by, particular this time of year, so when I was asked on Tuesday if I wanted to tag along on the Thursday, I simply couldn’t refuse.

After some gnarly traffic leaving LA and a few pit stops including In & Out burger in Vegas, we reached the small town of Hurricane just outside Zion around midnight and bunked down for the night in a cheap roadside motel.

The plan was to get to the park early on Friday morning, get our permits and take the shuttle for an hour up to Chamberlain’s Ranch. From there the hike is 16 miles down into the canyon along the Virgin River and through the Narrows, stopping halfway and camping overnight.

Before we even arrived at the park however, the shuttle bus company called us to say that it would not be possible to take the shuttle up because heavy rains the previous night had made the road impassable.

The next best option was to hike the Narrows from the bottom up. As much of the hike requires walking through the river riddled with bowling ball sized rocks, we rented special shoes, wetsuit socks and walking stick from the Zion Adventure Company.

We then jumped on the free shuttle bus, enjoyed the spectacular views of the surrounding red rock formations, and jumped off at the 7th and final stop – Temple of Sinawava, then set off on our exciting journey

After a mile walk along the river, we entered the famous Narrows, and it was nothing short of magical. The sheer vertical walls on either side rose 300 – 400ft high. Sections of the Narrows were a symphony of darker shaded sections mingled with bright gold and red blocks lit up by slivers on sunshine sneaking their way into openings of the gorge.

Traversing through the river, with some sections as deep as chest height, added to the overwhelming connection to the surrounding raw and natural beauty. It was blatantly evident why this hike was recently rated by National Geographic as #5 top adventures in the United States.

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Hiking the Narrows does not come without potential peril. Hikers and tourists are extensively warned by park authorities about the prospect of flash floods. Rain showers from storms upriver can cause flash floods in the canyon without it raining over the canyon itself. There are segments of the Narrows, including one called Wall Street, where there is no high ground and extremely dangerous should a flash flood strike.

We considered this when deciding whether we should camp in the Narrows or not that night, but the weather was sunny and the forecast said no rain until possibly the next day in the afternoon, so we continued on past the heavily populated bottom section and up into the serenity where small campsites began occupying the river banks.

After 5 hours of hiking, we set up camp at site No.8 of 12 and crashed about 9pm in anticipation of a 4:45am rise to get back down to the Narrows. At around 1am, there was an unexpected flash of lightning and a crack of thunder overhead. Soon, the star riddled sky was replaced with angry thunder clouds, resulting in 4 hours of heavy rain, and consequently a very uneasy feeling which led to very little sleep.

All those flash flood warnings had now become very real in my head. I imagined getting up in the morning and seeing a raging river, rendering the path back to civilization unhikeable. This would mean possibly having to stay another night waiting for the river to calm down and we were very light on food as it were.

Scenes of the movie “Into the Wild” kept playing over in my head where the main character is forced to eat poisonous berries after being trapped by a rise in water levels. All of a sudden, shit got real!

When the rain cleared, we went down to the river to check it out and were immediately comforted by a relatively tranquil scene, similar to yesterday. The river didn’t seem to have risen much at all, and flowing at a normal rate, making my “Into the Wild” visions rather silly and obsolete.

We didn’t want to take any chances however, packing up and leaving promptly having learned that weather forecasts weren’t entirely accurate in Zion National Park.

The hike down was not as user friendly as the day before, with the water having turned a murky color due to the rain, making it much harder to navigate the uneven bottom of the river.

Nonetheless, we reached the bottom unscathed to find a drastic reduction in the normal number of tourists thanks to a sign indicating that the Narrows had been closed due to heavy rain and imminent flash floods.

Good thing we didn’t hang around too long to take photos in the sketchy sections…although I WAS wearing my Budgy Smugglers, which I’m sure would have kicked me into Baywatch mode should the need have arisen.


Overall it was an amazing experience, and one I recommend everybody add to their bucket list, regardless of where they live.

Here are my tips for anybody keen to hike the Narrows based on my trip:

1. Don’t leave L.A. after 2pm.

A no brainer for Angelenos, but if you’re on vacation and deciding to take a road trip from LA, try to leave between the hours of 10am and 2pm, or better yet at sparrow’s fart in the morning (6am) to avoid spending a fifth of your trip crawling in bumper to bumper. Another alternative is to fly to Vegas and rent a car from there, which should only take you another 2 – 2 1/2 hours.

2. Apply early for a permit well in advance

If you decide to hike the Narrows from the top down, you will require a permit, which is possible to book two months in advance. You’ll want to jump on it immediately as they get snapped up pretty quickly, especially in the warmer months. You’ll also want to reserve one of 12 camp sites located along the upper portion of the hike. Visit Zion’s online Wilderness Reservation System for more info and reservations. I recommend snapping up Campsite #8, which is set further back from the river next to a cool cave for extra shelter.

3. Don’t always believe the weather forecast

It’s very important to check the weather, especially for any rain which may increase the risk of flash floods. Even if no rain is forecast, be prepared for some anyway, as passing storms can whip up out of nowhere in the region.

4. Bring/Rent the appropriate gear

You’ll get wet often, sometimes up to chest height, so be sure to wear quick drying material instead of cotton. You won’t regret paying $37 to pay for a day & a half worth of river walking shoes, socks and walking stick. Be sure to get snug fitting shoe and sock sizes though, otherwise lots of annoying pebbles and other debris will make their way in. The stick is also essential in providing extra stability as you negotiate the rocky river bottom, while also providing a good way of checking water depth. The good people at Zion Adventure Company sorted us right out!

5. Take more provisions than usual

If planning on camping overnight, like it or not, there is a chance of flash floods spoiling the party and requiring you to wait it out another night for the river to die down. Don’t make the same mistake as us and leave a whole bag of snacks in the car accidentally! Also, take plenty of water and drink it often. Hiking in a river can trick you into thinking that you are not becoming as dehydrated as you actually are! If you don’t fancy the weight of extra H2O, REI has a great selection of water filters you can use in the river.

6. Empty yourself before the hike

Just a heads up that this excursion demands a “leave it how you found it” policy, which means you must bring everything back out of the Narrows you took in, including your solid excrement. I recommend a quick coffee at the cafe next to the park visitor center and a visit to the restroom shortly after for your best chance of avoiding having to carry your poop in the special bags provided by the permitting office.

7. Don’t watch Into The Wild’ beforehand

Watching this movie before going into the Narrows is like watching Jaws before scuba diving. I haven’t seen it for a couple of years and visions of the film even kept me awake in my tent for hours. Okay, maybe I’m being a little dramatic, but then again, I’m certainly no Bear Grylls

 

Tell Her

Have you ever met your buddies out for a social drink or two and the vibe just wasn’t happening? The crowd is a little stuffy, the mood is a bit low and you’re running out of things to say to each other (probably because you’ve already hung out most of the day together).

Well it’s up to us YOGs to bring the vibe, and a sure fire way to add some spice to the occasion and fire things up is by starting up a game of ‘Tell her’.

Rules of the game

The first thing that must be established are the participants.  Players are invited to play, and upon a verbal agreement with a handshake that each person will honor the rules and not back out of challenges, it’s game on!

So here’s how the game works…

Let’s say a player makes a comment, positive or negative, about a female who is visually present. If another player hears this, and immediately says “tell her”, then the player who made the comment must go and tell the woman what he said about her…VERBATIM! (obviously re-wording the phrase to direct it at her).

Men Checking out woman at bar

He must open the conversation with those comments.

He must talk loud and clear enough so she hears it.

He can either walk away, or stay and try and avoid being slapped. However, he is not allowed at any stage to mention the game to her  (similar to rules 1 & 2 of Fight Club).

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Immunity

There is a way players can avoid having to “tell her”. It’s simple, they have to follow their own comments about a woman by saying “tell her”before anybody else can say it and this makes them immune.

The Pass

Obviously, some comments can be quite nasty and offensive when repeated to the subject they were directed towards.

However, YOGs are not about being cruel to others so the person who called the “tell her”needs to use their discretion on whether it will have overly negative consequences by making the offending player go through with it.

In this case, they can offer a ‘pass’and the offender no longer has to “tell her”.

The Benefits

The obvious benefit of the game is the entertainment value, particularly witnessing that awkward moment as your buddy sheepishly sidles over to a girl and drops the “tell her” bomb.

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Even just the initial moment when you catch your buddy out with a “tell her”on something he says can be a source of crying laughter.

Another benefit is that it forces you to engage with females and start a conversation. You never know where this may lead. It is particularly good practice for your conversation skills, especially if you have to get yourself out of a sticky situation

Finally, “Tell Her”serves as a reminder of how much shit we tend to talk about people. So this game provides consequences for speaking dishonorably (not just negatively but behind her back) toward a woman. Hopefully after playing a game of “Tell her”, you’ll learn that if you can’t say it to someone’s face, then don’t say it all.

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Does GOLF = YOG?

With the Golfing world in a frenzy this week  during the US Masters tournament, we examine just how yoggish the sport is.

The Game

For many, golf is just an activity where rich people hit a little ball around a park for 5+ hours. One can be forgiven for thinking that golf is not a YOG sport due its slow-paced nature, and whose participants, even Professionals, aren’t always the most athletic specimens.

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But when you look at it, golf is a very simple concept with extremely complex elements requiring precision and the constant application of the laws of physics.

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This requirement for precision can be extremely frustrating, particularly for the beginner, and a high level of patience and focus is needed. But it is the challenge of mastering this degree of difficulty which  makes it so Yoggish. It is quite normal that all it takes is one perfect shot out of a hundred shots and you’re hooked.

Rules and Traditions

Golf involves many strict rules which rival that of a catholic private school. The main problem with this is the constant cheating that occurs either through lack of knowledge or blatant disregard for the rules and limited enforcement of these rules, especially with so many trees and golfers going off in their own direction! (unless you’re playing in a professional tournament). This cheating, is obviously not the way of the YOG, neither is being bound by so many restrictions!

Tiger Woods of the United States gestures to a fan to be quiet from the fifth green during first round play at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational golf tournament in Akron

Their are also traditions and etiquette dating back hundreds of years, particularly in certain golf clubs, including dress codes. There are the non-yoggish types of tradition, such as the inequality between gender, social class and race (although these boundaries are being broken down little by little making golf more accessible).

But there are also some pretty cool traditions built around respect for others. Take the US Masters tournament for example…

– No running is allowed on the course to discourage patrons from hustling to get into better viewing positions, and distracting the players.

– Shouting is not allowed either even after a player has taken his shot as this could distract players.

– There is a tradition that if a spectator sets down their chair and leaves it for extended periods of time, it will not be moved or taken by anybody else, no matter how long it has been there.

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Fashion

Collared shirts, belted pants or ‘plus fours’ and two-tone shoes…Thanks to dress codes imposed by golf clubs, golf fashion for the most part is, NOT yoggish.

The WalrusBut there are increasing efforts to work within and even push the dress code boundaries to make the kind of gear that allows YOGs to wear comfortably while expressing themselves (demonstrated here by future YOG Ricky Fowler).

Banter

YOGs are always up for a laugh. One thing the game of golf doesn’t lack is good healthy banter, particularly when things get competitive. I can’t count how many times I’ve hit a putt too softly and heard “Oh, does your husband play golf too?”

Golf even has its own language. There are many words and expressions to describe the elements and results of shots. Some  of my favorites include:

Joe Pesci: A nasty little 5 footer (putt distance)

John Wayne Bobbit: A nasty slice and ended up short.

Moped scooter: A shot that gets you there, but you’re not very proud of it.

Rock Hudson: Looked straight but it wasn’t.

 

YOG role models

As mentioned earlier,  golf doesn’t necessarily demand superior athleticism as much as skill, focus and nerves of steel. This means there are many top professional players you wouldn’t consider YOGs from a physical aspect. Yet one thing is certain, and that is players are able to compete at the top level well into their YOG years, in some cases their 50s and 60s.

golden bear The ability of these pros to manipulate the flight of a golf ball as if on a string, combined with the mental toughness to maintain focus for each shot, on each hole for 4 – 5 hours, doing this consistently for 4 days straight is nothing short of pure YOGness.

However, there are definitely important physical traits necessary to be the best including flexibility, strength and power, and the new generation of players coming through are changing the physical appearance and typical shape of the pro golfer.

Golfers also make money, lots of money. It is not uncommon to see extremely generous acts of philanthropy and many foundations established by YOG golfers for great causes which are really making a difference.

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Top 5 YOGs of the 2014 Masters

There are a bunch of players competing in this year’s Masters tournament with more YOG qualities than you could poke a stick at, yet they just fall short of YOG age. With players like defending Champion Adam Scott, Sergio Garcia and Trevor Immelman all becoming of YOG age in the next couple of years, the future is looking bright for the YOGness of golf.

Adam Scott

But if we look at the +35s who are competing this weekend, for us, these are the yoggy cream of the crop:

5. MIGUEL ANGEL JIMINEZ

Yes, even gingers can be YOGs. While the often cigar toting Spaniard may not be the ultimate picture of health, 50 year old Senor Jiminez is a character who always looks like he’s having fun, and seems to lift the spirits of those around him.

Masters Wins: 0          *Odds to win 2014 Masters: 200/1

4. BEN CRENSHAW

At 62, ‘Gentle Ben’ is still mixing it with the best. He has a calm demeanor and one of the best putting games on tour. But Ben will probably be most remembered for his marriage to a hot swimsuit model!

Masters Wins: 2 (1984, 1995)        *Odds to win 2014 Masters: N/A – didn’t make cut for round 3

3. DARREN CLARKE

Another YOG who loves a pint and a laugh. That unmistakable Irish smile is a testiment to the 45 year olds outlook on life, despite losing his wife to breast cancer in 2006.

Masters Wins: 0        *Odds to win 2014 Masters: 500/1

2. BUBBA WATSON

At 35, Bubba just scrapes in as a YOG. It’s fitting too that Bubba, once hampered by anger issues, has now overcome them and settled down ready to excel in his YOG years. This doesn’t mean he takes himself too seriously, as demonstrated by this boy band music video he starred made for charity…

Masters Wins: 1 (2012)        *Odds to win 2014 Masters: 3/1

1. FREDDIE COUPLES

You’ll be hard pressed to find anybody who doesn’t like this YOG, particularly among the female population. If this guy was any more laid back he’d be in a coma. His yoggish persona can be demonstrated by his range of golf shoes which push the boundaries of the traditional.

The 54 year old American seems to always be in the hunt at the Masters, probably aided by the fact he is a crowd favorite year after year.  Heading into round 3 he is well placed for a top ten finish. And even if he doesn’t win the Green Jacket this year, he’ll have won the hearts of the Augusta faithfuls, and will have done us YOGs proud as always.

Masters Wins: 1 (1992)        *Odds to win 2014 Masters: 50/1

*Odds after Round 2 of competition

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It’s the weekend

We know what you’re thinking…“It’s not the weekend, it’s Thursday you dicks (that’s a shame…language)”. Conventionally, this may be true, but why should the weekend only consist of two days and two nights?

This TGIF mentality of cramming in two consecutive nights of partying, usually leads to spending those rare and precious free daytime hours recovering in darkness like a vampire.

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For us, we like to stretch out the weekend by kicking off on Thursday. Who cares if you’re a little hungover on Friday… suck it up and get paid while you recover.

This is often the best night to socialize anyway, especially in LA, as you tend to avoid the aggressive scene created by the flurry of ‘crammers’ or ‘weekend warriors’.

By all means head out for some post work sundowners on Friday also. See where the night takes you, but don’t compromise your amazing plans to make the most of your Saturday.

Saturday night is normally a relatively quiet one for us. Not only do we avoid the weekend warrior circus, but prepare for a great Sunday Funday involving a morning workout followed by day drinking till sunset. This means we finish the festivities early enough to wind down and get plenty of sleep in preparation for the exciting challenges of the week ahead.

So get used to saying “it’s the weekend” on Thursday, as we share with you our plans and some cool ideas on where to go and what to do in LA and beyond…