Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Rico - The Wonder Athlete

From Left: Rico, Kole, Me, Andrea and Kerry

Remember those old vampire movies starring actors like Bela Lugosi or Vincent Price?  When the movie started they seemed normal - well, kinda - then as the movie progressed, you discovered that the character enjoyed eternal life, lived in a casket, drank blood and preyed on other humans for sustenance.  Meet my favorite training partner, Rico.

I met Rico over fifteen years ago through running friends.  He seemed upbeat, positive, easy to get along with and was a great running partner.  Then you looked a little closer.  That was when you noticed that he didn't eat much, never carried water, seemed to be able to run hundreds of miles without tiring, never slept and finally, when you discovered his age and how many grand kids he had, you couldn't believe it was true.  What was this guy doing?  Watching late night TV infomercials and ordering longevity tonics that the rest of us have never heard of?

"Rico, what time are you getting up to work out tomorrow morning?" I asked.

"2:30 to head out to the gym, then I get my wheat grass shot, then I go to work driving a truck for twelve hours, then I get my run in."


Like most vampires and those with eternal life, they outlast everyone around them.  When the older folks either die, or get injured, they start preying on the younger generation.  Oh, say your grand kids.

My innocent step-grand kids. From (L) Liam age 12, Justice age 15

One year when Justice and Liam came to visit for the summer, Rico decided it would be a great idea to take them out on a "short hike" in Casper's park.  This is an area of frequent Mountain Lion sightings and attacks.  The way I look at it, if the Mountain Lion doesn't get you, Rico will, so why bother to play it safe?

Halfway through this hot, summer hike with temperatures reaching the high 90s, we reached a fork in the trail.  Rico, who is very familiar with the area said, "Do you guys wanna take a shortcut up a hill or do you wanna go on a flat, longer trail?"  Welcome to Badger Pass, a long, steep uphill.  Yes, it was a bit shorter.  But what you gained in shortcut, you lost in every other way including difficulty, elevation and steep incline.  Halfway up the trail, we ran out of water.  Then we ran out of food.  Then we ran out of sunscreen.  It was hot.  I was starting to get a little worried about the kids.  But they kept putting one foot in front of the other.  They made it up Badger Pass and all the way to the end of what turned out to be a fifteen mile hike.

Rico - Be prepared to end up in some rugged terrain.

Rico always remembers that day with Justice and Liam.  "I was so impressed with how they got out there with no training and they did it!"

"Yeah, but they never came back," I reminded him.

One time Rico talked his wife, Andrea into hiking with him while they were on vacation.  This is how she ended up:

Another time Rico asked me, during a routine ten mile hike at Black Star canyon, "Do you want to check out the waterfall I read about in the paper?  It's only a mile further."

"Sure, why not?  Sounds fun."

Six hours later, after rock jumping, boulder climbing, traversing both sides of a raging stream and attempting to avoid the poison oak, we made it to the waterfall, and mercifully, back to our parked car.  The next day, I was covered in such an extreme case of poison oak rash, that I ended up at the Urgent Care. "We can give you a cortisone shot.  Poison oak is a systemic affliction.  It's the only way for a case this severe," said the Doctor as he stood over me with his hypodermic needle poised.

Every time an unsuspecting family member comes into town, you can bet Rico will be there with his water bottle, whistle, sleigh bells tied to his home made trail suspenders (this is meant to scare off animals), ice pick, knife and a huge smile, welcoming them to "a short hike on the trail".

Rico doing what he loves.
His latest victims are my daughter Angela, and her boyfriend Kole.  They showed the merest hint of enthusiasm for hiking - in fact I think they are genuinely interested - and Rico is having a field day.  The first weekend was six miles on Saturday, eight miles on Sunday.  But not just any hike.  Nope.  This hike had us climbing, scratching, clawing, sliding, begging for our mothers.  We loved every second of it.

Will she make it down the mountainside?

If this is the key to eternal life, I have only one thing to say: "Pass the wheat grass shot please."

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