Monday, March 28, 2005

4 lb. Burger Slayer

This is an article written for The Altitude, a published Americorps*NCCC Newsletter.

Nate Kabat of E5 Knighted 4 lb. Burger Slayer
By: David Edelman

During Earth 5's trip to Miami, Nate Kabat of Earth 5 successfully ate a four-pound hamburger in under an hour at Grandma Max's Truck Stop in Salina, Kansas. The massive hamburger weighs in at a whopping four pounds of cow after being cooked. A waitress on staff revealed that less than 30% of the patrons that attempt the challenge end up finishing the burger. Nate polished off 3/4th of the burger in less than half an hour. With cheers of encouragement, he trudged on and managed to finish the burger with a little help from his no so full teammates.

After the meal Nate received the coveted Hamburger t-shirt and his picture was placed on the wall next to fellow Americorps NCCC member Robert Olsen, of Earth 4 who also finished the burger last year.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Bienvenidos A Miami

* Warning: This is long. I wrote it in the car. Feel free to skip around.

I am writing this message in tight quarters. I am currently sitting in a 12-passenger van on its way to Miami, the site of my first community service project. We are currently in Georgia, on I-75 S, the only reason why I know this is because I was just driving; otherwise I'd be asleep. We switched a couple of minutes ago after we ate lunch at Waffle House. I love that place. I had never seen one before I drove out to LA, but I never forgot how common they are in the south and how incredibly tasty they are. There are so many of them. I learned from their menu today that they serve over 1 billion eggs a year and they also purchase 2% of the eggs in the food service industry.

When I was driving through Atlanta I counted 12 of them off the side of the road. I've been doing a lot of counting when I drive. The first day I counted the number of people that passed me on the highway, 32 in 2 hours (I counted a pass as any vehicle that passed me in the left lane and then cut back into the right lane in front of me). I don't blame them; we are not allowed to drive over 65 MPA regardless of the speed limit. I think I've already described some of the painful driving rules we have to abide by in Americorps. A couple are worth mentioning again, like the fact that we cannot eat or drink anything when driving or that we cannot change any of the console controls, we need to ask the ATD (assistant to the driver, who is also not allowed to eat, sleep or anything that would impede their view of the road) to change the radio station or air conditioning. So back to the counting, first day I counted how many times I was passed, second day; road kill, I decided on this after I saw a peace of road kill that I could have sworn was ostrich. I counted 7 pieces in that 2-hour cycle of driving. Today was Waffle House day, 12 Waffle Houses in the vicinity of Atlanta.

So overall I would describe our trip as quit pleasant, although their seems to be many aggressive drivers, the roads appear quite clean and their are many great Waffle Houses to stop at. Unfortunately, we only drove through Atlanta and didn't get the opportunity to stop. The drive was slightly painful since there was alot of traffic and I was so tempted to pull off at every tourist attraction. Lucky many of the cool things I want to see are often right off the highways. I got a picture of the 1996 Olympic village site, a pic of Georgia Tech, the Coca-Cola factory and a sign for the MLK Jr. National Monument. I even got a picture of a Jack Daniels delivery truck (the Jack Daniel's distillery is not far away, somewhere in northeast Tennessee).

Ok, now that you are aware of my present location and road conditions, let me backtrack a little, I am getting ahead of myself. My last week in Denver was awesome. We were off on President's Day, which was really nice. That weekend I had to make up CPR
Training which sucked because I was planning on going to the hot springs in Glen Wood, 3 hours west of Denver with a bunch of my friends. But instead, I had to wake up at 6 A.M. and go to the Denver Red Cross with 3 other people. The class was actually somewhat fun and informative. I am certified in adult CPR for the next year and am certified in basic first aid for the next 3 years. I know all about snakebites and I learned how to make a bandage or sling with just about anything. Sunday we went back to Boulder to walk around and at night we went to the Mercury Cafe, my favorite hangout for free swing dancing lessons. It was really nice to swing dance again, since I took swing dancing in college. I wowed all the girls with my dancing skills and they all wanted to be my partner, hehe.

Monday was the best day. We went to the Coors factory in Golden, Colorado and The Redstone Meadery, yes I found a place that brews mead (aka the first alcoholic beverage made by man, the sweet sweet nectar of the gods, honey wine) in Bolder. Mead, its great, if it’s good enough for Zeus, its good enough for you! That line was on their coasters. We got free samples of the 20 different meads they make and we also conned our way into a free tour. Not as impressive as the Coors factory of course, but so much tastier. Well the Coors beer wasn't all that bad. Original Coors is tastier then most Budweiser products and Coors also owns Killians (yum) and Blue Moon (double yum), they also own Zima, haha remember Zima, well it seems that people are drinking it, laugh, but Zima was the first one into the malted beverage liquor market, before Mike's Hard Lemonade and Bacardi Silver were born. Then we went for sushi in downtown Denver, I had been going through sushi withdrawal. I hadn't had any raw fish in over a month.

A bunch of weird things happened to us while we were in Denver. First, we found a cell phone on the street, we called a bunch on numbers, figured out who's it was and gave it back to him. We were talking about how no one could find a bar with Guinness on tap, strange but true, none of the bar local bars have anything that good, and most of the good bars are either microbreweries that brew and sell their own or bars that sell mostly Denver microbrew. So right after our good deed for the day (we never cease the act of community service) we spot a bar across the street with a huge neon sign which reads: Guinness On Tap. We followed this beautiful beacon of light into a bar that also had Hacker-Pschor on tap. Good glory, what had we done to deserve this reward. Well we do, do community service for a living and make $12 a day (after taxes, this is the new, standard number we use in conversation) well it’s enough for more beer. It was a very beer involved day as you can see.

Now I am tying to remember what I did the rest of the week before we left. We had alot of administrative stuff, we picked our team positions, I am a Capper that means I help recruit new members and educate people about the program. I set up meeting and lectures at local high schools and colleges in the area we work. I am also my groups service learn coordinator. This means I am suppose to research the non profit that we are working with, study the neighborhood in which we are working and write a few small reports summarizing this info. I also get the opportunity to plan a few trips, like if we wanted we could probably go Salsa dancing or to a local museum. This past week, we also had to present our project to our unit leader Kevin. We had to fill out this Spike
Prep Packet, which includes a description of our project, goals and travel itinerary.

Are you asleep yet? No? Well good, here is a fun story. On Thursday our local bar Carroll’s through us a party before we left. They made us our own shot, the blue, red and white Americorps shot and there was also a wet t-shirt contest. I've seen many of these girls naked anyway, but it was a good time. These pictures are not up on the web (sorry), that doesn't mean I didn't take any. Friday was our commencement ceremony. This was actually really nice and quite moving. There were a bunch of speeches, the CEO of the Red Cross in Denver spoke in addition to the national director of Americorps*NCCC. The cafeteria made us steak and salmon for dinner. It was glorious.

This road trip has been amazing. In Kansas at the end of our first day of driving, one of my teammates Nate attempted to eat a 4 lb. hamburger (after being cooked) in an hour at this truck stop. This thing was massive, the width of a frisbee. He ate 3/4th of it in
20 minutes and was able to eat everything minus a bunch of small pieces. Although he was near vomiting, we cheered or more or less yelled at him to finish it. We couldn't bear to see him lose after eating so much so we split the last few pieces and Nate got the win, along with his picture on the wall (right next to the other Americorps kid that did it the prior year) and a sweet t-shirt.

We stopped the next day in St. Louis and we walked to the Gateway Arch at night. I never had any idea of how beautiful this was. I got some amazing pictures. Third day we drove through Tennessee, stopped in Nashville for lunch, which is really beautiful and spent the night in Manchester, Tenn. I fell asleep while getting a haircut that night. It came out really good though. Forth day was Georgia into Florida, that’s when I first started writing this crazy long message. We slept last night in Jennings, Florida. It was freaking cold and it was snowing a little in Tennessee, what’s up with that! Now it’s gorgeous, I was driving a little while earlier, we just stopped for lunch and we are driving to Princeton, Florida tonight. We will be spending the night in the community center, which we will call home for the next month. Tomorrow we start work with Habitat For Humanity in Liberty City, Miami. What a long strange trip it’s been.

E5 being eluminated by the lights at the Arch of St. Louis