Colorado Pickleball

You may or may not have heard of a sport called Pickleball. A combination of tennis, ping-pong and badminton, pickleball started in the 1960′s in a US Congressman’s backyard. Legend has it that after they broke all of their badminton shuttlecocks, they improvised by substituting a wiffle-ball. They soon discovered the inadequacy of a badminton racquet and switched to a wooden paddle. Their dog, Pickles, kept stealing the ball and modern-day pickleball was born.

People who play pickleball claim it’s the fastest-growing sport in America. Since there is no way to verify that fact, I’m going with it. You know that 70% of all statistics are made up on the spot right? :) Regardless, it is gaining momentum, especially among the retired community and articles have been written about it in CNN, NBC and various other local media outlets. It’s a great way to stay in shape, socialize, have some fun, and try a new sport that you can quickly improve at.

Playing with my friend Hiro

Playing with my friend Hiro

One of my jobs now is to actually make it the fastest growing sport in America. My dad (who got me into it and is somewhat obsessed) and I are playing a couple of national tournaments this Autumn, even one that includes prize money! The goal is global domination. Not really, but we want to win the national tournament, which would probably make us the best players in the world. The current world’s best player, a guy who calls himself “The Puppet Master” stands in our way.

We also work with a company called Paddletek by finding distributors and selling paddles in Colorado, Utah, Texas, and hopefully Japan. We travel around Colorado doing clinics and demonstrations (where we consistently get 50-60 people) and something called the Paddletek Challenge… If anyone beats us in doubles or singles we give them free Paddletek paddles. Pretty cool right? No one has risen to the challenge and beaten us yet though. We’ve also gotten to meet cool people like Pickleball Ken from Denver and Joe Rink from Vail who love the sport, work tirelessly to promote it and by the way, sell Paddletek Paddles. If you are interested in pickleball or want to find out more information about becoming a distributor, contact me at dmoore07@apu.edu or (719) 339-5722. Pickleball is a great sport, you should try it – I have to warn you though, you might get addicted :)

Paddletek's High-Performance Paddle

Paddletek’s High-Performance Paddle, Made in the USA!

 

 

What is Your Travel Philosophy?

Last week I began my first of several Japanese tour guiding trips this summer. I love working outside, speaking Japanese, seeing beautiful scenery and hanging out with people. The first day I took 15 Japanese guests to Pikes Peak, Garden of the Gods and the outlet mall in Castle Rock. They loved Pikes Peak, but to my chagrin, we only did a drive by of Garden of the Gods… to allow more time for the outlet mall. It’s not what I would choose, but I suppose the customer is always right and there really is nowhere like America for cheap brand name omiyage (gifts).

Riding up the Cog Railway

Riding up the Cog Railway

The second day, one of the guests asked me to translate, as an American family who had stayed in his house in Japan wanted to show him around Denver. Since his English and their Japanese were basic at best, he hired me! It was a great experience, although I stumbled my way through the Denver Museum of Natural History. Somehow in all of my years of living in Japan, I failed to learn sciency terms like cyclocilicates, stalagmites and carbon dating of dinosaur fossils. I’m learning that as a translator, knowing where you’re going is crucial and google translate is a lifesaver.

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In traveling around the world and working as a tour guide, you learn what you want from travel, and realize that people have different ideas about what travel should entail. Many Americans, for example, go to Mexico or Hawaii or Florida for the sole purpose of doing absolutely nothing except getting a tan while sipping margaritas by the pool. That’s nice for a time, but I can’t imaging going somewhere and only seeing the inside of a resort. Japanese, on the other hand, cram in as many famous sites as possible, taking thousands of pictures in the process. They see a lot of things in a short time, but for me it’s a little fast-paced and touristy. I would comment on Kenyan travelers but since most Kenyans can’t afford it, their travels involve riding a crammed bus “up-country” to see their relatives for Christmas.

So what is my travel philosophy? Cliche, but I think it’s all about the people. Whenever I go somewhere, I make sure I know someone. Not only is it cheaper, you also experience the real place with a little adventure, local cuisine and fascinating conversations thrown in. In Mexico, I remember partying with couples in their 40s until 3:00 AM as this old dude explained proper tequila drinking etiquette to my dad and I. In Damascus, I went to a Turkish bathhouse where a huge Syrian guy  “massages” you by karate chopping your back, cracking your neck and rubbing uncomfortably far up your thigh – sort of a martial arts chiropractor masseur. While studying abroad in Cairo, Egypt won the Africa cup of Nations. Breaking the rules, a friend and I participated in the celebrations, where people danced on cars, spun machetes, pointed flamethrowers in the air, and circled around the Americans to watch us dance. Yes, I’ve experienced some crazy things that probably weren’t the safest, but I wouldn’t trade those memories for the world.

So what is your travel philosophy? Ask yourself what you want from travel and do it. Maybe that is lounging at an all-inclusive resort. But maybe it’s just a little bit more :)

What America Means to Me

“You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place”

- Miriam Adeney

When I reflect on the major holidays over the past few years, I have to first recall in which country I lived at the time. Over the past year alone I spent Thanksgiving in Kenya, Christmas in Mexico, New Years in Japan, and July 4th in America. Each so different, yet I spent quality time with amazing people in each. Sometimes it’s difficult to keep things straight, but I suppose I wouldn’t have it any other way.

July 4th always makes me think about what America means to me. Growing up, it was my unrivaled promise land. I spent two months here every summer free from school, going to camp and hanging out with grandparents and relatives who spoiled me. Returning to Japan at the end of summer meant going back to classrooms and homework and real life. Under those conditions, who wouldn’t love America?

In Kenya, I got to learn about what America meant to Africans. When I chose to tell the short version of my story, simply saying I was American, people responded in one of two ways. Like clockwork, wealthier Kenyans would respond by saying I should find a nice girl, marry her and stay forever. Others (generally poorer) were more perplexed at my living in Kenya, asking why I would leave the place they could only dream about living in to come to Kenya. Why would I give that up for this? I often wondered the same thing, especially when the power went out for 24 hours or someone showed up 2 hours late to a meeting. Yet I thought the response was revealing. Africa is a really nice place if you have money. Like the European masses, it’s only the poor that dream about building a better life in a new world. Though it has its flaws, America has remained the symbol of opportunity and a better life for people across the world. Other countries are achieving the same level of prosperity, but haven’t attained America’s unique status as a symbol of hope.

This brings me to what America means to me. I actually enjoy hearing the blanket statement “America is the best country in the world” because I don’t think it makes much sense. First, I think about how subjective that statement is: it really depends on who you ask. Second, I wonder how you can judge the best country in the world without having visited them all. There are some pretty cool places out there. Finally, I think, “The best country for what?” For food? Again, subjective but I’d go with Thailand. Highest standard of living? Norway. Most hot dog eating contest wins? America.

What a place means to you is totally personal. Do I think America is the best country in the world across all factors we could ever study? I don’t know, it’s possible. I’m not sure why we need to label it the best in the world though. I love certain aspects of this country, like its natural beauty, freedom, opportunities, people. I love certain things about other places too though and that doesn’t need to take away from the fact that I love this country. Like anywhere else, there’s good and bad and it’s full of broken people who ultimately need God. That’s my perspective on America this July 4th. Happy Birthday :)

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