They don’t call this place Big Sky country for no reason – photos just can’t do it justice and we have completely lucked out with the weather and the time of year. It is quieter than just a few weeks earlier and the wide open roads are ours alone. Well, and the monster trucks cruising around..
A false start
This holiday couldn’t come soon enough; both Hannah and I have had crazy busy summers that culminated in the amazing, if intense, UTMB week. After a week of letting the dust settle, we packed our bags and headed over to the USA for Hannah to show me where she is from and for me to get a taste of the American outdoors.
The plan was very loose – we were flying into Seattle via Frankfurt, picking up a car and then heading East through to Montana and Wyoming to kick back, climb, run and just be. It didn’t quite get off to the right start, however.
Flying into Frankfurt, we knew almost immediately that something was wrong and, with a short stop in the enormous airport (don’t get lost!) we boarded the plane. And sat there. An hour into our wait and the pilot came on the radio saying that he felt the plane was unsafe to fly and we needed to disembark.
Hmm. Our 10 day holiday looked like it was getting a little shorter.
Schnitzel in Frankfurt
We quickly found out that we would not be flying until tomorrow and, rather than sit in a (albeit very nice) airport hotel, we decided that now was a good time to start our holiday so headed into Frankfurt for an evening of Schnitzel and real beer. It didn’t take us long to find what we were looking for and, while we talked about how this would change our plans, at least we were well fed and watered.
The EU is getting a lot of flack at the moment but there really are some great benefits. One being compensation for flight delays. The rules state that a delay of this length entitled us to 600€ compensation each. This would pretty much cover the cost of our flights. That being realised we suddenly found ourselves in an interesting situation.. If we’re getting this much money back, how much would it cost for an upgrade?
The high life
I was keen to find out and do it as early as possible so, the moment the ticket desk opened up, I headed over to the counter to see what was what. The poor staff had clearly had a tough time with angry passengers and so she seemed rather happy that I wasn’t coming to complain.
Checking what was available, my early morning plan of attack paid off – there was a 2 for 1 offer on Business Class upgrades and for just 225€ each (of which we were betting we would get back due to compensation) I was about to get my first taste of the high life!
Skipping back to the room; we packed up, went for breakfast, and headed back to the airport as our new tickets also entitled us to access to the business class lounge. Nice.
Well, for a 27 hour delay, as we settled into our fully reclining seats with champagne, I really didn’t feel like we could complain much.
The flight and service didn’t disappoint the only problem being one my dad highlighted – having done this once, I will never want to fly economy again. Sadly, I think this is rather true.
Landing in America, land of the free
After an exceptionally pleasant 10 hour flight, we landed in Seattle, Washington, and our real holiday could begin. A surprisingly simple and quick visa process and speedy bag collection landed us at the car collection point. A misplaced booking didn’t stop the very helpful girl behind the counter getting us set with a rather cute and awesome Jeep Renegade and we were heading down into Seattle.
For the first night we were planning on staying with a friend of Hannah’s mum who, by pure coincidence, is a kettlebell instructor there and, just a few months earlier, had completed the same Strength Matters SMK course that I did last year – a small world!
An evening of catching up, talking training, and enjoying some awesome beer somehow lead to the plan that Hannah and I should join Laurie for her morning workout at the amazing FUELhous gym with Jeff Sokol (Jeff is someone I follow on Instagram as he is an experienced and inspirational coach – check him out!).
An early night was in order then, especially as it was already 5am by our body clocks!
Training in Seattle at the FUELhouse Gym
I’m up, I’m up! My mind is a little boggled as the alarm shrieks by my head. What time is it? Wait, what day? Damn you, jet lag.
Dragging ourselves out of bed, on the one had I feel getting up to train seems like a great way to blow off the cobwebs and sort out my body clock. On the other, my bed is so warm and comfortable..
Well, we committed last night so up it is. And, in hindsight, it was most definitely worth it. Laurie is training with Jeff for the StrongFirst Tactical Strength Challenge, a competition of sorts where you are tested on your maximum weight deadlift, maximum kettlebell snatches in 5 minutes, and maximum reps of pull ups. No mean feat.
With this being the end goal, Jeff had programmed an awesome kettlebell workout that really shook off the 10 hour flight. All of this was under the watchful gaze of T-Bone is deaf pup who was a rescue he had recently housed. We swung, we lifted, pulled, and we carried and, by the end, I was well and truly done. The cobwebs were definitely blown off!
Getting on the road
Though incredibly short, it was time to get on the road, to venture out to the Wild West and leave the city behind. After an incredible, classic American breakfast put on by Laurie it was time to set off..
Bring on Montana!
Part 2, coming soon.