On May 10, 2016, El Galeon Andalucia maneuvered her majestic mast beneath the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge and returned to Port City Marina, what last summer’s crew called the tall ship’s “most successful port visit.”
Indeed, record numbers of wannabe pirates, history buffs, and tall ship enthusiasts flocked to Pier 33 to tour the 170-foot replica of the 16th century Spanish galleon.
“Looking for a new exercise opportunity?” read Marybeth’s message. I sipped my morning coffee and scrolled through the link she’d posted on my facbook wall.
“DILIFit,” said the link, a free community exercise program with the crew of the USCG Diligence. “Work out with the Coast Guard!” read the very catchy headline.
Marybeth is my former boss, and she knows I like to exercise. Mondays around the office, she always asked about my weekend adventures: boxing classes; sunrise surf sessions, powered by two separate wake-up alarms; a rock climbing trip to West Virginia with an old friend from Colorado. Of course she knew DILIFit would interest me.
“Tuesdays at noon, bring a water bottle and a positive attitude. Meet at the grassy area beside the ship.”
I glanced at the clock. Blame it on Daylight Savings, but morning coffee had spilled over to quarter of noon. I threw on my running shoes, grabbed my water bottle, and biked the few blocks to the Cape Fear River.
“If you don’t snapchat it, did you really exercise?” queried one of the Coast Guard officers, with a smile. Following a hearty hello from our cast of Coasties–energetic, and happy to see us—the captain of the ship gave us the low-down: mile and a half run to Port City Marina and back, with fitness stations along the way, including pushups, jump squats, bear crawls, lunges, plank, more pushups…and my least favorite exercise in the world.
* * *
The last time I did a pull-up was in 2002, and the ESPN Winter X-Games were in my then-hometown of Aspen, Colorado. The Navy Seals had an info booth adjacent to the Snowboard Superpipe and about ever 5 minutes, a deep male voice bellowed from the tent: “Navy Seals Pull-up Challenge! Ladies and gentlemen, test your fitness with the Navy Seals Pull-up Chal-lenggge…”
The announcer droned on and on, the word ‘Chal-lengge’ infiltrating the atmosphere like the latest pop song. Finally, I buckled—or rather, I unbuckled my ski boots, pulled up my ski socks, and hoisted myself into the air.
I only did eight pull-ups, with the announcer aiding and abetting my wiggly ascents, but the bruiser gal who’d done a whopping 13 had left the Games early. By default, I was declared ‘Winner, Female Civilian’ category, and they handed me brand new Burton snowboard.
Unfortunately, I was a skier, not a snowboarder. I considered mounting the trophy on the wall, like a prize Marlin caught, but never eaten, a constant reminder of the time I somehow rigged the Navy Seals Pull-up Chal-lengge.
* * *
And now, 15 years later, my second-ever military fitness challenge, the nice Coast Guard Captain was telling us that Station 8 was the pull-up station.
Ugh. Don’t worry, I self-soothed. Maybe you’ll pass out before then!
Satisfied the handful of participants felt comfortable, safe, and ready to challenge ourselves at beginner, intermediate, or advanced levels, Captain Carter asked if there were any questions.
“You’ll have a rescue squad, correct?” asked one participant, kind of sort of joking.
Everyone laughed; and then, following a toot toot from the ship’s horn, we started on our self-paced jog toward Port City Marina.
It was an unseasonably warm March day, and Riverwalk was a busy place. I nodded to couples on benches, families meandering along wooden walkway, dogs and owners chasing each other around. A woman glanced up from her book, our collective draft ruffling her pages.
The first fitness stop sat adjacent to Cape Fear Community College’s boat-making workshop. Several students set aside their wood, paint, sanding and sawing, to watch us do jump-squats.
I’d opted for the advanced level of each exercise, aside from the accursed pull-ups, but my legs started to burn after about seven squats—only 22 more to go. I got through it, but the leg burn remained. Recommencing my jog took a hot minute or two.
Next station: 90 seconds of forearm plank. Plank was an old friend of mine, and today, I relished the opportunity to rest my legs. Feeling slightly refreshed after a couple minutes of no movement whatsoever, I cringed at the next command.
It involved the straightaway near the Wilmington Convention Center, what makes for a beautiful stroll past boats, slips, and the outskirts of Port City Marina, if you’re not told to “sprint this stretch!”
I’m a lot of things, but a fast runner, I’m not: think snapping turtle, not Easter Bunny.
I took off as fast as those turtle feet would go, and then, my face on fire, I slowed to a near halt near Port City Marina’s scenic stretch of riverfront.
A beautiful metal statue of a sea bird sat hovered on its fixed axis, bearing silent witness to my waning energy. I jogged in place for a moment, then resumed a comfortable, forward-moving pace.
I plodded past True North, my nautical crush, a sweet little pink and green sailboat that lives in one of the marina slips. I waved at the empty craft, then pulled my trucker hat a little lower, hoping my face might morph from purple to a more comely, energized pink.
Crew members ran ahead, behind, keeping stride with everyone’s steps. These heroes in dark blue waved and encouraged we troops, high fiving the air whenever we passed
My feet hit the bright new asphalt of Pier 33, Port City Marina’s floating concert venue, where a visiting yacht was extending her stay. Her friendly crew wandered onto the deck, watching today’s steady stream of fitness seekers stop and drop beneath the open-aired band shell.
Staggered push-ups, said this station’s leader. I gave him a small nod, nothing too enthusiastic (best to conserve my energy, I decided), and placed my left hand slightly ahead of my right. It was cooler beneath the band shell, its big iron limbs casting lengthy, artistic shadows, and as I executed my first staggered pushup, my nose dipped into a long slice of shade.
Kind of awesome, I realized.
I smiled up at my Coast Guard guru, sparing no enthusiasm this time. “Beautiful place to do staggered push-ups,” I huffed, gazing at the USS North Carolina, our resident battleship, floating in the distance.
“Maybe I’ll do just a couple more.”
Postscript: I survived the unsightly Bear Crawl and managed 5 fully-assisted pull-ups. Will I ever do one legitimate pull-up, without more than a little help from my friends? Probably not. But it’s always fun to try.
Listen right here, right now. Scroll through your episodes, press play, and let the revelry take you away.
Sonic Byways: music, interviews and insights from interesting people making good music. And in lieu of commercial breaks, featuring plentiful antics between songs.
On the air, on the road: Join Sonic Byways, Saturdays at 8 p.m. streaming on aspenpublicradio.org. That’s Mountain Standard Time; so if you’re 4-wheelin’ in the Serengeti or listening on your Ipad, 10,000 Leagues under the Red Sea— check your local timetable.
Having been on-air in FM radio for over 15 years, Jamie Lynn’s enthusiastic about the people behind live music-making. Sonic Byways combines a love of a good lyric with an appreciation for the singer-songwriter, exploring connections between musical genres and musical regions across the country, and over an international border or two.
It’s a hot, steamy session of Sonic Byways, featuring Jesse Stockton and Philip Stokes as Moonlight Co. We’re in Jamie Lynn’s new recording studio/sweatlodge/warehouse digs at Wilmington’s Art Factory, and it’s positively dripping mojo. This week’s guests dole out candid conversation, an impromptu jam session, and why you should never sell a dryer on Craig’s List. But first--they take their shirts off.
The Topless Episode: Jesse Stockton and Philip StokesPlay NowDownloads 27
Not that there’s anything wrong with skydiving, so far as I can tell (there’s that sunny disposition again), but as I take a sip of my beer, the guy next to me continues. He sees I’m not sold on skydiving within the next 12 hours, so he effuses about his other three favorite pastimes: riding his Chopper; driving on the beach with his Rottweiler, Cujo, whose never-ending string of drool is captured in an iPhone album through various Instagram settings—look! Here he is with a beer cozy!; and perpetually working on his Scout while fashioning a sidecar for Cujo so he, too, can experience the glory of the Chopper as it revs down Front Street in Wilmington. Read more…
Every now and then, it feels good to cue up, wind down and get lost in the lyrics. The band Dawes is deep and has an established sound, that nostalgic, sunshine-infused Southern California folk-kind of rock and roll. From Joni Mitchell to CSN, Laurel Canyon has long been a creative enclave, and Dawes – hailing from greater Los Angeles – brings some new energy to the neighborhood. Throw in jam partner Conor Oberst and tour-mate Jackson Browne, and we’ve got ourselves an episode. It’s a feel good hour of Sonic Byways, now playing around the electronic campfire.
Dawes, and the Legacy of the Laurel Canyon SoundPlay NowDownloads 26
The world did not end on December 22, 2012. Hopefully you’re not too disappointed.
While this cultural milestone did not mark the end of the world as we’ve known it, I like to think it ushered in an era of more organic, face-to-face interaction.
The world as we know it involves technological escalation at the speed of light and sound—rates too fast for me to quantify. The more add-ons and updates, the more technophobic I become. It’s hereditary, I’ve decided: My mom never could figure out how to work the VCR.Read more…
This week on Sonic Byways, Jamie detains her favorite traveling band of friends in the back room of Reggie’s 42nd St. Tavern, for some hearty guffaws, the good word on the new album and to get a closer look at Bailey’s finely-coiffed moustache.
It must’ve been both sides and all the groovy liner notes on my Johnny Cash “Live at Folsom Prison” LP…cuz I finally got a tax refund. Thanks Johnny! Tune in to a just-for-fun-and-refund episode of Sonic Byways, and join Jamie as she wades through receipts just long enough to flip to Side 2.
Like a chorus of cicadas rising from behind a fence on the corner of Second and Orange streets, or the renegade splashes of unseen fish in Masonboro Sound, a gourmet food truck simply materializes.
From Austin, Texas to New Orleans, Louisiana and Portland, Oregon to Miami, Florida, mobile menus and gastronomic excellence are meeting on the street corners of hungry metropolitan America. In Wilmington, four (sometimes more) signature food trucks roam the roads, curbing those hunger pangs, whenever and wherever they might strike.