Things are a little harder here at Torrey Pines.  The bathroom is in the Hilton Hotel next door, meaning you have to meander through the throngs of people each day, who are all going to a different convention.  The traffic around San Diego is like Mussorgsky’s “Night On Bald Mountain,” and you’d think a civil engineer drop-out built the roads.  They rival the “giddy-up” State of Oklahoma as far as I’m concerned.  There’s an opening on one side of the media center—my side—so by the time darkness falls the cold encourages you to leave.  And, the tables are high and the chairs are low, so it’s a daily posture battle with my tendinitis for typing. 

But, on the positive side, the weather is great and I love the courses.  The only bad part about the views is that they won’t let me take any photos.  I can already feel myself getting into better shape with all of the walking, and a lot of “big name” golf writers are here: Rex Hoggard, Jeff Rude, and Ron Sirak to name a few.  It was weird to look at one of the flat-screen television sets yesterday and see Tim Rosaforte doing a report for the Orlando studio, and then walk outside the hole in the media tent and watch him do it live.

Surprisingly, I have only walked the South course once.  I guess I’m saving it for the last two days—the fewer times I have to walk a 7,600+ yard golf course the better.

I’m staying with a friend of a friend, and it sure beats staying in my car or the tent.  I’m still trying to work on where I’m staying in LA for Riviera next week, and so far I’m having no luck.  I looked at every “State park” around there, and the only one that was open is only open Friday’s and Saturday’s, they have no showers, and it’s a mile hike into the woods before you can set up a tent.  So we’ll see.  Maybe I’ll sleep in the parking garage at LAX.  That should be interesting.  I could be that bum that never leaves the airport.  Or, perhaps I will leave, because I’ll be getting arrested.

But take care all.  It’s been a fun week so far, and I haven’t even experienced Saturday and Sunday at Torrey Pines yet.
 
 
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The Hope finishing on Monday is really screwing me up.  I think as long as the tournaments finish on Sunday, I should have the new e-books available Tuesday mornings at the latest.  But the Monday finish and subsequent travel to San Diego has made today pretty difficult.

That being said, I truly had a lot of fun last week, even with sleeping in a tent and staying in the media center until 9 pm each day. 

Highlights include:

1.       Meeting Matt Kuchar and Alex Prugh

2.       Getting drunk in the media center with a Scotsman who has been writing about golf since 1961

3.       Analysis of all four courses

4.       Rock-slides, pimped-out golf carts, and a tent underwater.

The Bob Hope Classic is unique in that it spans over 5 days and 4 golf courses—so excess writing is almost inevitable when compared to a normal week.  E-books in the future will most definitely be shorter.  And as always, your feedback is always appreciated, as I am still trying to nail down just exactly how I can consistently improve to make each week more enjoyable for all.

Have a great week, and I look forward to talking about Torrey Pines.

Cheers,

Tom Collins

 
 
So here we are, on my fifth day in La Quinta, and I still can’t figure out how water is getting into the tent.  I’ve dug trenches around it to subvert the water, and I’ve checked every inch of the tarp covering the top.  I still have no idea how it’s getting in.  What I do know, however, is that for some strange reason, the weather people in this area predicted the weather perfectly—non-stop rain all last night and all day today.  So YAY for them.

Every time I woke up last night, I was paranoid that I was soaking wet, and instinctively brushed off my sleeping bag.  Sometimes there would be some water on it, sometimes not.  But it was the times where I found water that kept me paranoid, and kept waking me up every hour on the hour.  At around 5:30 am, I had had enough, and decided to try and conclude this wonderful evening by resting in my car.

So, I got just about the best night of sleep you can imagine.  The icing on the cake, however, was when I realized this morning that I would need to dress in the rain.  Well, I suppose I didn’t HAVE to, but I don’t trust the tent anymore with all the leaks and the bathroom is just far enough away to annoy me.  So, I deduced that performing a balancing act around miniature lakes while I pulled on my pants was the best way to get things done.

I never imagined that just getting dressed in the morning might occasionally present a challenge.

I was really surprised at how well I was able to balance and bear with the cold, Chinese-water-torture rain, and wind.  I was also surprised at how much I had to prepare mentally for the act itself.  Before I stepped out of the car, I ran through all of the steps in my head: take off this, first leg, second leg, change out of that…I imagine it rivaled the Blue Angel pilots before they take flight for one of their July 4th spectaculars.

And now that I’m at the course, there’s a good chance today will be rained out and we will have a Monday finish.  I sat in an interview with Slugger White, the tournament chairman, and he said that starting around noon today, the rain will intensify until midnight—and that we will have to deal with scattered showers tomorrow.  I suppose a Monday finish makes sense, but I was looking forward to using Monday as a day to get situated at Torrey Pines.  Oh well.  I guess that’s the beauty about what I’m doing—no set schedule.  Not yet anyway.

 
 
 
I wanted to post something last night—I really did.  But it turns out that somebody upstairs had different plans for me.

Well, right as I was about to start writing a post, the wind gusts at the campsite had become so strong that my tent was ripped out of the ground.  I’m guessing the wind gusts topped out at about 40-50 mph.  I jumped out of my car and grabbed hold of the tent, which at this point had become a sail.  Well, no, that’s incorrect.  It still held its shape, and acted more like a kite.  Like I was flying some ridiculously large, stupid kite.

Anyway, when the wind finally subsided for a moment, I was able to stake it back in the ground and put the nearby picnic table over one of the stakes to try and keep it in place. 

It was at that point I had a choice to make.  Try sleeping in the tent, or sleep in my car.  Well, I didn’t want to lose the $30 tent—so of course I shoved my sleeping back inside and tried to get some shut-eye.  The damn thing wouldn’t blow away with me in it, right?

My plan worked for all of about 10 minutes.  Then the wind picked up again, and started warping my tent much like a 13-year-old girl warping a photo on her iPhone.  It wasn’t long until the freakin’ thing collapsed on me while I was inside it, and all of a sudden I had to fight just to untangle myself.

The picture you see below is the result of my wrestling match with this wonderfully constructed tent.  I yanked out two of the poles to flatten it, and executed it Terminator style under the picnic table, ultimately deciding to sleep in my car.
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And call me crazy, but just as I was trying to fall asleep, the wind gusts were so strong that I was even a little worried that my car would flip over.  Talk about insane.  

Talk about a great way to start the Hope.
 
 
Well, I made it.  The two main roads I used to cross the country were Interstate 40 and Interstate 10.  Little did I realize that Interstate 40 through New Mexico and Interstate 10 through the first part of California would end up being so desolate.  During the last section of my trip, I was wondering if I was ever going to find civilization again.  I just kept seeing mountains and desert.  But, as soon as I had that thought, I crested a hill and started seeing power lines to my right.  I was going downhill for some time, and knew the road had to be leading me somewhere. 

All of a sudden I started seeing green.  Instead of peaks being on either side of me--as they had been for the last few hours of my trip--they seemed to form a circle around this low level area.  Thank God I started seeing buildings.  And before I knew it, I was making a left towards PGA West.  Then it was just a matter of following the signs to the campground, which as it turns out is only five minutes away from the golf courses.

I'm staying at a campground called Lake Cahuilla.  As far as I can tell, "Cahuilla" is La Quintian for "rabid porcupine."  It's a quaint little campground, and I only have to walk about 100 yards to go to the bathroom at three in the morning.  Apparently there is WiFi there as well, but I've yet to find it.  I'm using my iPod touch as a divining rod as I walk around the camp trying to find this elusive Internet.

Setting up my tent was a lot of fun in the dark.  To make it to my destination in time, I estimated I would need to drive at least 650 miles a day.  I was getting a little cocky, because on day two and day three I drove over 750 miles each day, and felt I was making good time.  Turns out that extra driving was critical, because yesterday I pulled up to the campsite literally 10 minutes before they were closing down for the day.  Can you imagine that? I drive over 2500 miles and I almost missed my window by 10 minutes.  Anyway, what little sunlight was left I used effectively and was able to set up a tent by myself.  I'm actually quite proud of that, because that means my childhood was not completely wasted.

Below I've decided to include some random factoids from the road:

1.         Interstate 40 is so much fun to drive through Tennessee.  I had no idea that Tennessee was that hilly.  Not only that, but there is a campground every 10 miles, which makes me want to go back just to drive around and camp.  The campsite that I stayed at was absolutely beautiful.  And free.

2.         Arkansas: are they fields or swamps? 

3.         I'm going to nickname Oklahoma the "giddy-up" State, because when you drive on those roads, oftentimes you feel like you're riding a horse.  And I thought Pennsylvania was bad.

4.         Albuquerque, New Mexico is built on a freaking slant.  Nobody ever told me this in geography class.  If you're traveling east to west, it's all downhill and life is good.  But if your commute at the end of the day is west to east, just shoot yourself in the face.

5.         I really enjoyed Arizona, because it seems that the State offers a climate for every palate: whether it's Flagstaff for the mountainous winter-goers, or Phoenix if you want to sweat your nuts off.  My only beef with Arizona was that I couldn't find a campground to stay at in January.  Come on now people-- even Oklahoma had a campground I could stay at and it was 30 degrees outside.

6.         I drove up next to the meteor crater--you know, the site where that big rock destroyed all life on Earth for a while? I say "drove up next to" because it was $15 to get in and see the hole in the ground.  Those clever bastards fenced off the entire site, so you have no choice but to pay the $15 if you want to see it.  Now, for me, driving up towards the crater and standing next to it was enough.  That is one massive hole in the ground.  The earth is raised up all around it to the size of small mountains.  It really is a sight to see, but I just felt that in my current predicament, $15 could be put to better use.  Standing next to it was enough.

The time right now is 7:18 a.m. PST.  I am going to start getting around to get over to the course where I pick up my media credentials by 8, to make sure I have enough time to get my freaking coffee and stretch before I try to see as much as possible and figure out how I'm going to handle this five-day tournament.  I mean are they kidding? Four courses in five days? Celebrities?  Amateurs? A star-studded field of PGA Tour professionals?

Oh my!


I bet it's going to be like going to Disney World and wanting to see and do everything at once.  It just ain't happening.
 
 
Well, this is it.

Instead of going on and on about whatever I'm thinking or feeling right now, I thought it would be appropriate to post some quotes I think I'll need to refer back to from time to time throughout my journey.  But first, here are a couple of pictures of the inside of my car, finally packed:
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"Write only what kicks you and keeps you overtime awake from sheer mad joy."
-Jack Kerouac

"From a certain point onward there is no longer any turning back.  That is the point that must be reached."
-Franz Kafka

"You must do the thing you think you cannot do." 
-Eleanor Roosevelt

There are more, I'm sure.  But these seem the most appropriate.  

Well, time to kick the tires and light the fires. 
 
 
 
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I always said that if I was ever placed in solitary confinement, I would be fine.  I always thought that I was just crazy enough to be entertained by the little voices in my head, even for some "indefinite" period of time.

All of a sudden, that time has come.  In two days, I will be leaving my home to make a short pit stop in Virginia before turning westward for the big journey: following the PGA Tour in 2010.  While I feel that just about everything is ready, I can't help but feel that I'm forgetting something. Perhaps I'm forgetting a lot of things.  But at the very least, I guess deep down I'm hoping that I'm still insane enough to pull this off.   

It's funny, but at this point I think I've created too many lists.  I have scrap pieces of paper, an entire notebook, Excel spreadsheets and Word documents full of words telling me what I should be doing on a daily basis throughout 2010.  But who the hell really knows what my schedule is going to be like? Every tournament is different, every city is different, and I have no doubt that every single day will be completely different than the one before it.  So what the hell am I doing? Why create lists at all if it's possible that none of them will even apply?

Another thing I can't help but notice is the weight I've put on since October.  Well, after Turning Stone anyway--I certainly burned calories that week.  But since then, I’ve been focused on developing the site, researching different aspects of the trip, and enjoying Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, and whatever other day I can stuff my face before I start eating out of cans.  I suppose it's ironic that I spent so much time sitting on my ass to research a proper diet.  But I think it will all pay off.  I also think that the first 2-3 weeks of this trip will be quite painful and exhausting, given my current state of fitness.  But how else am I going to whip myself back into caddie-esque shape?

As far as driving is concerned, I am amazed at how exponentially difficult following the PGA Tour becomes as you move through the season. Oh, sure, the beginning seems logical enough: four tournaments in California, and then we move to Arizona, then Florida, and then our first tournament in Texas prior to Augusta.  It's almost as if the PGA Tour rubs the belly of the United States like a grateful kid who's just been saved from the bottom of a well by Lassie.  

But after the Masters, the PGA Tour becomes Mr. Hyde as far as me and my car is concerned.  I'm sure I will feel a lot like a pinball machine: South Carolina, Louisiana, North Carolina, then back to Florida, then a few tournaments in Texas before the Hail Mary-- where I can expect over 90 hours of driving in four weeks.  First the Memorial in Ohio, then the St. Jude in Tennessee, then the U.S. Open at Pebble (back again after the AT&T), and then the Travelers Championship (I couldn't have said it better myself) in Cromwell, Connecticut.  I don’t care who wins that last tournament—they’re all coming in second next to me after THAT freakin’ voyage.  

The rest of the year is a little more manageable, with the exception of the PGA Championship, which will be tucked against Lake Michigan in Kohler, Wisconsin.  The tournament is the week of August 9th, and I'm sure everyone will still be freezing their respective asses off.  


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As a side note, my brother currently happens to be a contractor-- building anything from stone walkways, to porches, to new floors, to whatever else.  So a few nights ago, my brother began work on the storage bin for my car.  Although I probably could've built the necessary items for my car by myself, I knew my brother would be much faster and more efficient.  I was just grateful he agreed to help me out.  The photo's I've attached to this post are of the storage bin / bed as we were in the middle of drinking / making it.

The way I see it, I need a storage bin / bed where the front passenger seat used to be, so that when I fold down the back seat I have a bed to sleep on in case of a worst-case scenario.  I will also set up some smaller storage bins in the trunk for clothing so I won’t have to cram all of my items into a backpack.   Looking presentable is such a big part of “blending in” with the patrons at any tour event—and I need all the help I can get. 

At this point I think I have a place to stay at most of the tournament locations, and who knows, I may end up having a place to stay everywhere I go.  I found campsites or other similar locations along the way just in case, however, so I'm bringing a tent and a sleeping bag as well.  

Although it probably should’ve happened already, the weight of this journey is finally starting to sink in.  All the work I put into the website, the countless revisions to my writing, all the lists for food, shelter, daily tasks to get my writing done, etc.  Even the preparations for my car kind of scared me.  But I’m here, damn it, and I feel ready to get this thing underway.