We all got up slowly this morning. On the elevator ride down to breakfast, Nate said, “Mom, everything hurts.”
My sentiments exactly. Our hike yesterday in the Narrows of Zion National Park was a highlight of our trip but also one of the most exhausting activities we’ve done thus far. If my 12 year-old son was hurting all over, how do you think this 40-something woman’s legs were feeling?
At breakfast, we had a Sasquatch sighting…an NC State one…
He looks how I felt. I just brushed my hair.
Our next destination – the Hoover Dam near Las Vegas. We would drive through Las Vegas (quickly) to get there and then head on to Los Angeles. That was the plan at least.
On the two hour drive from Hurricane, Utah to Las Vegas, the clock changed again – we gained an hour. So in reality, it was only a one hour trip. We discussed as a family what it would be like if you lived on the border of a time zone. What time would you have to leave for work or school? All of our bodies and brains were too tired from the day before to explore that thought too long.
My husband was brainstorming other things to do with the kids. He wasn’t sure the kids would enjoy the Hoover Dam and we didn’t want to pay the money for an official tour. As I drove, he looked on his phone for Ninja Warrior gyms in and around Las Vegas. We love to watch NBC’s American Ninja Warrior as a family. It just came back on TV at the end of May and we’ve been missing it on our trip.
As Jimmy searched, one gym kept coming up – Camp Rhino. He called and tried to talk quietly so it’d be a surprise for the kids if it worked out. The lady that answered the phone said that the gym is only for adults but she might be able to work something out with a trainer. About 15 minutes later, she called us back to confirm the details. For $200, we’d get a one hour private session with a Camp Rhino trainer. The normal price is $100 per person. Wowzer! The kids are going to love this!
We had about two hours to kill before our Ninja Warrior session so we went on the lookout for a Costco for a cheap lunch. It turned out that the Costco we found had no food court and it happened to be right next to the strip. Whoops!
The other interesting thing we saw as we neared the Costco was a homeless village. There was tent after tent erected under the freeway. Each resident pushed or sat next to their shopping cart full of all of their earthly belongings. It was sobering.
Instead of Costco, we went to a nearby Chick-fil-A. It was nice to eat at a familiar place. The only different thing – motion-sensored trash cans. I couldn’t figure out how to throw away my trash. Finally, I put my hand in front of the trash can and the door opened.
When we got to Camp Rhino, we met our trainer – David Funk. He was a lean man of about 5’11” – the perfect size for an American Ninja Warrior. He said that he’d tried out for the show three times but never got picked. He said that his story wasn’t tragic enough and that he had all of his limbs. The show is looking for a compelling story. Interesting.
Jimmy and the kids warmed up for the Ninja training with a fun obstacle tic-toe game.
Notice I didn’t say I warmed up. I was going to sit this out and be the official historian. My lower body was so sore from our hike the day before – and I never fashioned myself as a Ninja Warrior.
I only admire them – I don’t try to be one.
The rest of the family (mainly the male people) entertains dreams of being the next American Ninja Warrior.
First, David had them try an obstacle course that mimicked some of the Ninja Warrior obstacles. They all said that it was harder than they thought it would be – especially keeping your balance. Each one was able to better their time after a few tries. The old man (dad) actually had the fastest time.
Next, they tried the Lache – swinging from one bar to another. David had a lot of helpful techniques for this – act like you’re throwing the first bar behind your head as you swing and grab the next bar with your arms in an “L” shape. He explained that success on many of the obstacles in Ninja Warrior is about technique – not strength.
Jimmy had great technique – even if he had a wardrobe malfunction.
Although our trainer, David, never made it on the show, he told us that he is a tester on the obstacles. They call him in to try out the obstacles to see if they are too easy or too hard. Sounds like a fun job!
Next, they tried the hanging balls that appear in the show’s Canonball Alley as well as the pipe slider. They kept saying how much easier these obstacles look on the show.
The final obstacle to test – the warped wall. Camp Rhino had four warped walls. The one they practiced on was 12 feet tall. Starting with Season 8 of American Ninja Warrior, the warped wall was raised to 14 1/2 feet tall.
Everyone spent a lot of time on the warped wall. Everyone wanted to get to the top. Again, it’s a lot harder than you think.
Each one tried their best to get to the top – some succeeded and some barely missed.
Nate would not give up. His brothers had gotten to the top and he wanted to get there too. He must have tried 20-25 times before he finally got up. He was absolutely exhausted but he did it.
At the end of our hour training session, we were free to try out the obstacles as long as we wanted. Everyone scattered to try out different things. While they played, I just took more pictures. Surprise, surprise!
At one point, Jimmy called me over to introduce me to a real American Ninja Warrior. His name is Chris Workman. He was on season 8 of ANW.
Chris made it all the way to the Vegas Finals. Chris showed us (on his phone) the footage from his episode. At the finals, he fell off the Propeller Bar into the water to end his chance at being the next American Ninja Warrior.
He had a lot of interesting insider information to share with us. In his City Finals run as a rookie, Chris got up the warped wall first, before the usual veterans. The show’s producers had him dry off so he could pretend that he hadn’t run the course yet and interview as if he had yet to conquer the warped wall. They didn’t like that a rookie made it up before the other stars.
Chris also said that several of his qualifying runs were performed in the middle of the night – 3 and 4 a.m. He said that the crew just keeps the cameras rolling until all the contestants are done. For his run at the Vegas Finals, it was around 3:30 a.m. His family that came to support him was asleep on the sidelines.
He reminded us that American Ninja Warrior is a show. It’s all about the entertainment. In Chris’ opinion, our trainer, David Funk, could win the whole competition if he was able to get on the show. We love you David!
Overall, the family had blast at Camp Rhino. We never made it to the Hoover Dam.
It was time to get on the road to L.A. We had about a 4 ½ hour drive from Las Vegas to L.A. We traveled through the Mojave Desert – seeing 106 degrees on a roadside thermometer. As we got nearer to L.A., we were able to find Game 4 of the NBA championship on the radio. We listened to the Warriors sweep the Cleveland Cavaliers as we drove by a huge yellow and purple billboard that read: #LABron. 😊
The temperature cooled down as we got closer to Burbank, our final destination just north of Los Angelos. A friend of mine from college was allowing our family to stay in their apartment while they were away on vacation. What a sweet gift to us! How many of us would be willing to make such a sacrifice? It reminds me of the gospel. Thank you Lord for another amazing day and the gift of godly friends.