When a Food Blogger Goes on The Wagon

02/13/2017 02:33 am ET

How is that New Year’s resolution of yours going? For most people the new year always begins with a commitment to get healthy or in better shape. I’m no different. I’m committed to working out but as a food and drink blogger weeknights can often consist of extravagant feasts to review or binge drinking to write about a bar. Sometimes going “dry” to cleanse is a good thing. So what happens when a blogger decides to go on the wagon?

And what exactly is this “wagon”? The term goes back to a time when on the water wagon or on the water cart referred to carts used to hose down dusty roads. So someone “on the wagon” was drinking water instead of booze. When I decided to go dry I didn’t know how I would fill the space. I already workout five to six time a week so what was I supposed to do, read more books? Turns out I like guns, puzzles and a good challenge.

I was able to last 30 days without a drink. Not a problem. There was the night a good friend of mine called and said he really wished I was drinking as he wanted to hangout and drink (rough day I guess). I offered to be designated driver or the sober voice of reason. He passed. As the song says, misery loves company.

Looking for good sober fun I gathered a group of friends and opted for a life size brainteaser in the form of an escape room challenge where players must solve complicated puzzles to escape from a locked room or rooms. Blindfolded and shackled is how our first adventure began at 60Out Escape Room.

The gang after surviving the Ghost Ship at 60Out Escape Room.
The gang after surviving the Ghost Ship at 60Out Escape Room.

What surprised me most is how individual personalities arise and come into play. As my good friend Chris Temple quickly became the dominant player on our first outing, he wasted no time growing impatient with people he hardly knew. “What’s wrong with your friend?” he barked at me. Um, my friend Bernie was stoned but I know Temple didn’t want to hear that. Yet we worked as a team and used all our individual skills to make our way out of two very challenging rooms.

“What I like most about escape room is it’s a team game,” said Temple, our unofficial team captain. “You’re only as good as the players you play with. There’s too many things for one person to work through within the time allotted. If you’re working with people you don’t like it’s probably annoying. Luckily I was with people that were awesome so that was fun.”

60Out Escape Rooms are located at 7270 Melrose Avenue; 1316 N. Western Avenue in Hollywood; 1560 Corinth Avenue in West L.A.; and 13336 Beach Avenue in Marina del Rey.

Looking for something different to do, I decided a trip to the gun range would be an adventure. I’ve been a few times before—the last time being six years ago celebrating my birthday in Las Vegas—and my trip to the Los Angeles Gun Club in downtown Los Angeles included firing a Beretta 92 9mm, an AR-15 rifle and a .357 Magnum. I’m hardly a gun nut but I got off on the concentration needed. And let me be honest, it was a blast. It’s loud and smoky in the range. Bullets are flying. And you feel the rush of adrenaline. You can’t help but appreciate the awesome power that’s your hands. Whether you want to take notice of the damage you can do or just test yourself to see how many times you can hit your target it’s up to you if you want to just have fun or walk away with sense of something greater than yourself.

The Los Angeles Gun Club is located at 1375 E. 6th Street #7. Call 213-612-0931.

Wanting to take the gun range experience up a notch, I decided to go clay shooting for the first time. At Triple B Clays in South El Monte we were shooting at moving targets. As a first-timer I had an instructor who thoroughly taught me all about the process. Shooting standard clays as well as “rabbits” the experience really tested my sense of aim and accuracy. I’m no marksman but I had a blast as I enjoyed testing myself and it is great fun watching the clays shatter whenever I hit them. With AC/DC’s “Gone Shootin’” as the soundtrack in my head, that was some serious fun.

Triple B Clays is located at 831 N. Rosemead Blvd in South El Monte. Call 626-579-5201.

High above the City of Los Angeles at QUE Skyspace nearly some 1,000 feet above ground I was excited and timid to ride ‘Skyslide’, a 45-foot long glass slide precariously attached to the side of the U.S. Bank tower. I was pretty sure I would chicken out but I’m proud to say I didn’t.

I’m no fan of heights and while the view is absolutely incredible I couldn’t help but think, do I really want to go through with this? The actual ride on the slide is quick and is over in a heartbeat. It’s the buildup in your mind that’s worse. What if the glass tube comes loose? Just my luck it falls apart on my turn. I decided to trust solid architecture and just go for it. Besides little kids were riding it. I made sure not to close my eyes and take in the awe-inspiring sight, even if it was lightening quick. Such a great rush!

Riding ‘Skyslide’ high above the streets of Los Angeles.
Riding ‘Skyslide’ high above the streets of Los Angeles.

QUE Skyspace LA is located at 633 W. 5th Street. Call 213-894-9000.

While shooting guns, riding death defying slides and escaping locked rooms is fun, sometimes when you’re on the wagon you seek moments of reflection and clarity. I’m not really the “one with nature” guy as I’m a definite city slicker but I love hiking and I love being inspired by stellar views. I’m lucky that in Los Angeles I can see the ocean and the mountains and snow at the same time.

My pal Roxy high above the Greek Theatre at Griffith Park.
Chris Temple
My pal Roxy high above the Greek Theatre at Griffith Park.

Hiking can be a great workout but I like to do it just to get away and chill. But then there are the hikes I take with Roxy my dog and I can’t ask for better company. Whether it’s hiking Runyon Canyon or Griffith Park, the roads are challenging and the views are inspiring. Where weapons made me aware of the might that we can hold in our hands and should do so with caution, hiking brings me as close to Zen as I can get.

Now I’ll drink to that!

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