The Value of Good Karma

One thing that we’ve learned in our short time traveling the world is that Karma is responsible for more good or bad events during a trip than weather, reservations and organized itineraries combined. Seriously, don’t underestimate the value of Karma while you’re traveling. While bouncing around the UK and Ireland we tried to be adamant about being friendly, courteous people that went out of our way to help someone if we could… and banking good Karma. This good Karma resulted in a free ride to the train station despite being covered in mud after the Spartan Race and ridiculously lucky train connections. Most importantly though I firmly believe it was the direct cause of two Scotchmen getting us absolutely hammered on free whiskey (Scotch) and beer before we ate dinner in a small pub in Inverness, Scotland.

Bad Karma is a MOFO. To this day I swear that the only reason we went on an ALL night adventure from London to Heathrow Airport, back to London, literally running (on foot) halfway across the eastern part of the city, chasing umpteen buses and then going to some stupid airport on the opposite side of the city that our plane actually flew out of (which wasn’t Heathrow) resulting in us making a flight with 10 minutes to spare was because of bad Karma. Oh yeah, and let’s not forget that it rained on us all night and I left a $300 Gore-Tex rain jacket on the last bus we rode on and that I never could get it  back. I wish even 10% of the last two sentences could be called an exaggeration, but alas, it is all true. I don’t know why we had to get our butts kicked with an exorbitant amount of bus fees and a lost jacket that wonderful night but I know the culprit; bad karma. We were jerks to someone that day and the man in the sky had to teach us a lesson… Lesson learned.

So with this trip and over the next 16 months we are going to try to bank as much good Karma as we possibly can by doing one random act of kindness per day. This is a popular thread on some websites where people take pictures of their random act of kindness and send it into a website… well that kind of defeats the purpose don’t you think? It’s not a RANDOM act of kindness if you’re publicizing it to show everyone how generous you are.

Well with that said we aren’t recording what we do, but if we can find a time to be good people and brighten someone’s day then we will. These acts likely won’t be monetary simply because we are on a shoestring budget for the foreseeable future but will consist of taking a picture for a group, picking up trash from a park or carrying someone’s groceries to their car. We aren’t trying to be holier than thou and appear lofty or pompous but rather we’re just trying to share a little part of our journey.

If nothing else, learn from my misfortune and look at the tickets for the correct airport or pick up your jacket off a bus seat at 4am…


Road Trip Leg 1 – Chugiak, AK to Calgary, AB

On August 2nd, 2013 the Jetta, freighted down to the maximum recommended amount, started turning it’s wheels north from Chugiak to the Alaskan/Canadian border. We had 6 full days to cover the 2,500mi trek to Calgary so that Lindsay could meet up with her oldest sister Breanna and carpool to their middle sister Chelsea’s bachelorette/stagette party while Hunter and I (Clay) would hang out it Calgary for a few days. The first day we made it past Tok, AK and ended up sleeping in a gravel pit about 50 miles into the “Top of the World Highway”. As if it were a good omen on our future endeavors, the late summer sky blessed us with possible the most beautiful sunset we had ever seen. All seven colors of the spectrum were visible (and I could even see 6 of them… I’m slightly “color deficient” for those who do not know) in either the sky, reflection off the clouds or off the mountains. Of course, we didn’t end up with a picture of the sky, we just sat on our camp stools admiring it.

Literally, we carried our house on our back for 10,000 miles.
Literally, we carried our house on our back for 10,000 miles.

Day two held some bad luck and a little adventure. We had to cross about 150mi of rough gravel road to make it to the Yukon River Crossing and the awesomely unique little frontier/gold rush town of Dawson City. Well as fate would have it, in the most abandoned, rural part of the dirt road we popped a tire; nonetheless, with a can of fix-a-flat and a little bit of cussing we were headed toward civilization. We had 3 flats on the drive up to Alaska three years ago so at least this was an improvement…

A historic Yukon gold dredge from the 1900s
A historic Yukon gold dredge from the 1900s

After a stop in Whitehorse, YT for a pair of brand new front tires and a workout, we headed south along the Cassiar Highway taking us from the Yukon Territories down to civilization in British Columbia. We took the complete ALCAN (Alaska-Canadian) Highway north when we moved to Alaska and the Cassiar became a welcome alternate route and a bit of a gem in hiding. We spent the day driving past working gold mining operations, the worlds largest wholesale jade dealer and saw only 7 black bears and 1 brown bear next to the road… and of course Hunter thought he should play with them all.

One of the 7 black bears. If we had stopped for a clear picture it would've been another buffalo incident.
One of the 7 black bears. If we had stopped for a clear picture it would’ve been another buffalo incident.

The last day of Leg 1 brought us from Jasper, Alberta to Banff, Alberta via the Icefields Parkway. A 3 hour drive turned into 6 just because of the beauty of the land around us… and the unbearably slow driving of some tourists on a windy road. We stopped for a few pictures, but a drive through the park just wouldn’t do it justice and we both agreed to return for a week or two of backpacking from Banff to Jasper when time would allow.

2% of the awesome scenery in the Icefields Parkway
2% of the awesome scenery in the Icefields Parkway

We ended up making it to Calgary just as time ran out, leaving Hunter and I to enjoy a “guys’ weekend” which he spent barking at all the homeless guys that walked by while the girls went and played at a vineyard. Hey, can’t complain too much about sleeping in and eating a 1/2 gallon of ice cream with the puppy.

Congrats Mr and Mrs Fidler!

Just wanted to say congratulation to Chelsea and Jakub, the new Mr. and Mrs. Fidler. There is a 98% chance that Lindsay is going to be crying during her speech and Clay is going to be a little more than tipsy and dancing with old Polish ladies. It’s all in day’s work… all in a day’s work.

Chelsea and Jakub Fidler
Chelsea and Jakub Fidler

Shitty photographers…

Look, this is more of an announcement than an actual blog posting and as we go forward with telling the story of our last couple weeks and attaching photos with them just be warned that we suck at taking pictures, if we even remember to take them. We realized right from the start when we made it all the way from Chugiak, AK to Whitehorse, YT and only took three pictures; two of which were of a stupid metal chicken stature in Chicken, Alaska. (Yes, I took the pictures. Yes, I know I’m retarded)

Chicken statue in Chicken, Alaska
Chicken statue in Chicken, Alaska

We’ve attempted to be better at taking pictures in quantity to document our experience but I assure you, we are not better at taking them in quality. We have a Nikon D5100 camera that is substantially better at taking a proper photo than the people pressing the buttons. Seriously, I manipulate the exposure settings with the precision of a chimpanzee slamming down on a piano’s keys and calling it Mozart.

Despite the shortcomings I am attempting to improve my skill. I’m reading a book called Understanding Exposure that Matt Schlesinger gave me several months ago and I’m at least starting to understand how an exposure is taken.

There is an ice field in there... somewhere...
There is an ice field in there… somewhere…

At this point I should apologize to Matt S, Christina H, Mike H, Beth M and any of our other photographer friends that might read this. I’m speaking blasphemy and conducting sacrilege on your art… sorry guys. I’m good at picking things up and putting them down not taking pictures; if you ever need a refrigerator moved I’m your man!

Regina Strongman

Around  July 1st, 2013, Lindsay’s parents Graham and Cathy Dorn came up to visit us in Alaska before we moved away. Between family coming to visit, “quitting” both of our jobs and moving our house to Maine it quickly became apparent that we would not be working out or “training” with any consistency for the next several weeks, and in reality, the 16 months. Lindsay decided not to compete at USAPL Raw Nationals for this reason and after a full spring competition season with Lindsay setting a state record in a powerlifting meet, both of us doing well in our first strongman competition and I (Clay) won the Amateur ‘C’ division of the Eagle River Highland Games we decided to call it quits as we hit the road. Nonetheless, throughout our drive we tried to stop at a gym here and there in an effort to halt the inevitable decline of our physical prowess and get some much needed stress relief to keep us from killing each other. On one such occasion we showed up to a hole in the wall strongman gym at 7pm on a Friday night in Regina and we were promptly recruited for a competition they were having… at noon on Sunday.

The Men's field at the end of the day
The Men’s field at the end of the day

After a little bit of contemplation and playing with the implements and the weights we would be facing we decided “what the hell!” At the very least, even if we bombed out, it would give Lindsay’s family a chance to see what we do with our spare time in Alaska and that we aren’t joking when we tell them that we “pick things up and put them down”. We each had 5 events and almost no time to prepare for them so we decided to just give it our best shot.

Men’s Events:

650lbs Tire Flip for 80′

185lbs Log Overhead Press for max reps, 75sec

220lbs/hand Farmer Carry for 160′

405lbs Deadlift for max reps, 75sec

230lbs or 270lbs Atlas Stone for max reps, 75sec

Women’s Events:

500lbs Tire Flip for 80′

Overhead Press Medley (100lbs Barbell, 70lbs Dumbbell, 125lbs Axle Bar, 100lbs Sandbag)

150lbs/hand Farmer Carry for 160′

Deadlift Medley (250lbs Barbell, 150lbs Farmer Carry, 300lbs Trap Bar, 325lbs Axle Bar)

130lbs or 160lbs Keg Over Bar for max reps, 75s

Lindsay and Clay talk through the next event
Lindsay and Clay talk through the next event

Lindsay ended up fighting through a day that wouldn’t necessarily be her fondest memory. She came in fifth and while she refuses to make excuses for herself it should be noted that she had  1) 40hrs notice of the competition. 2) Was in the middle of getting over an ass-kicking head cold/sinus infection that zapped any of her strength 3) After losing 5-10lbs of muscle on the drive out of Alaska she gave up about 20lbs of bodyweight to the next lightest female competitor (HUGE in a competition w/out weight classes) and finally 4) She is a powerlifter not a strongman competitor! Weights on a barbell she crushed, but the odd shaped implements beat her on an experience level not a strength level.

Lindsay gets her 130lbs keg over a 50" bar.
Lindsay gets her 130lbs keg over a 50″ bar.

Lindsay ended up fighting to the end to set two personal records, first with a 100lbs Clean and Jerk that looked effortless. She also managed to get the 130lbs keg over a 50″ bar on her third attempt, which had been her arch nemesis in practice.






Clay going head to head for the fastest time on the 220lbs Farmer Carry
Clay going head to head for the fastest time on the 220lbs Farmer Carry

I had a decent day for it being just my second ever strongman competition, placing 3rd of 11.Starting from behind with a 7th place finish in the tire flip, I let the jitters go and decided to just have fun for the rest of the day. Now that I didn’t put any more pressure on myself I pressed the log 8x times for a 2nd place in the press event. Because I placed 2nd in the log press it put me in the final “heat” for the farmer carry. They had the men go “head-to-head” meaning the 1st and 2nd place from the previous event would be racing each other and with about 25′ to the finish I was making my pass to get what would’ve been first. The weight in my left hand twisted slightly and I kicked the plate with my heel… dropping the weight. By the time I could get to the weight back up and cross the finish line I ended up with a 5th place time.

I had been waiting for the second to last event all day, the 405lbs Deadlift for reps. The deadlift is my strongest gym lift and I was ready to leave it all on the platform, despite the daunting 75s of continuous effort. One of the other competitors who the field regarded as the strongest deadlifter at the competition went before me, getting 15 total reps. With a motivational carrot dangling in front of me I planned on beating him or passing out trying; there was no compromise. Well with about 3 seconds left I raised the bar a 16th time, good enough for 2nd in the event. The Atlas Stone, the last event, was another where I placed 2nd, my third 2nd place of the competition which put me only 2 points shy of a second place in the overall standings.

Clay on his way to 16 reps in 75 seconds with a 405lbs deadlift.
Clay on his way to 16 reps in 75 seconds with a 405lbs deadlift.

All in all, a great day for us to represent Forged Fitness in another competition and show Lindsay’s family what we do up in Alaska. Special thank you again to all of the people that came out to spectate and cheer us on!