BLOG Update- Monday, 12/2/13 Leaving Costa Rica

CLICK here for Andy’s Video Update Leaving Costa Rica on Monday, 12/2/13.

 

BLOG Update- Wednesday, 11/27/13 Leaving Nicaragua

CLICK here for Andy’s Video Recap of JTOG’s visit to Nicaragua!

 

 

BLOG Update- Saturday, 11/23/13 Leaving Honduras

CLICK here for Andy’s Video Recap of JTOG’s visit to Honduras.

BLOG Update- Monday, 11/18/13 Leaving El Salvador

CLICK here for Andy’s Video Update of JTOG’s visit to El Salvador.

BLOG Update- Saturday, 11/16/13 Leaving Guatemala

CLICK here for Andy’s Video Recap of JTOG’s visit to Guatemala.

BLOG Update- Sunday, 11/10/13 Leaving Mexico

CLICK here for Andy’s Video update “Capturing the Spirit of Golf in Mexico City.”

CLICK here for Andy’s Video update “Capturing the Spirit of the Olympics in Mexico City.”

BLOG Update- Thursday, 11/7/13 Leaving Mexico City

When I first noticed something was wrong with Torch, my 1992 Infiniti M30 baby. If I was not so concerned with the tilt of the wheel I might have seen the bubble too!

When I first noticed something was wrong with Torch, my 1992 Infiniti M30 baby. If I was not so concerned with the tilt of the wheel I might have seen the bubble too!

I am happy to report Torch is back on her wheels and expecting a full recovery after spending the last six nights in the automobile hospital. As I mentioned last update, a second low point (first being a speeding ticket in Oklahoma and being trapped on a highway going the wrong direction for 30 miles) occurred on the way from Victoria in the state of Tamaulipas to Mineral Del Monte, just outside the Federal District of Mexico near Pachuca. When I pulled over for gas I noticed Torch’s back right tire was noticeably tilted. With not a lot of options and thinking (really hoping) she was still mechanically sound, hopefully just an “alignment” issue, I continued on to Mexico City.

On Friday morning I took her into a Bridgestone service center. I had seen a rather rundown Continental place and that is where I was headed just before I got turned around (lost) and the bright and promising Bridgestone place appeared. Then using Google Translate with the store manager Fernando and after a lot of going back-and-forth it was determined they could not get the parts (the “boot” which connects the wheel to the axle) and they did not have the skill or equipment to do the repair. Right then I knew I was looking a very expensive repair and probably a two-week delay.

With Fernando Perez C.. the 'C' means he is the Captain or Manager of the store!

With Fernando Perez C.. the ‘C’ means he is the Captain or Manager of the store!

And here is where luck and fate intervened. A man walks in speaking English and intervenes between the manager and I. Somehow we had miscommunicated and the reality is that he had an idea on how to fix Torch and thought he could do it by bending and welding both the left (less tilted but still tilted) and right feet. Plus I noticed the back right tire had a bubble in it and needed to be replaced. While not the textbook sort of repair, Fernando assures me Torch is safe and reliable and we will be able to make it to Rio. I still hope to ship her home and restore her to her 1992 storeroom condition.

I believe we will make it to Rio too and I will be much more cautious and vigilant in my driving, selecting toll road routes for the best road conditions (where available) and matching my speed to road conditions. The next Infiniti dealer is in Panama City. That’s in Panama, not the Florida Panhandle! Even though the connectors are called “feet,” I am looking at it as though Torch had two hip replacements.

CLICK here to see Torch back up on her wheels and squealing for joy like me!

I was excited to see her up on her wheels and out of the automobile hospital bay when I arrived to see her last night. She should be released at 3 pm this afternoon. Then, it is another tank of gas and back on the road again and we are heading to Guatemala.

The week here in Mexico City, in terms of capturing the Spirit of the 1968 Summer Olympic Games and the Spirit of Golf in Mexico, has been beyond my wildest dreams. In fact, so many of the connections I made weren’t along the lines of what I was thinking.

In Olympic Stadium where the Opening & Closing Ceremonies of the 1968 Summer Olympics were held.

In Olympic Stadium where the Opening & Closing Ceremonies of the 1968 Summer Olympics were held.

It all started on Thursday afternoon as I was on my way to finding the Hotel Inn Sur in the Coyoacan district of Mexico D.F. (a.k.a Mexico City) with my trusting Garmin. I was listening to her but not watching her map and made an early turn. The exit ramp dumped me onto the campus of Mexico’s National University with the Olympic Stadium in full view. I sweet talked (men can do that too) a nice lady into letting me park next to the Stadium in a lot for faculty supposedly for ten minutes so I could take a few pictures.

Four hours later I basically had my fill of the 1968 Olympics via a tour guide named Sergio who happened to pull up while I was standing there looking at the Stadium, a campus Visitors Center guide named Adriana, a tour of the Olympic Stadium by Marcela, and an interview with a campus newspaper reporter named Cristobal. I learned about how Mexico staged the first “Cultural Olympics” alongside the sports competitions in 1968. Each country created a statue expressing their culture and yearning to be a part of the world community.

Flowers and students fill the reflecting pool during the Dia de Muertes celebration on the campus of Mexico's National University.

Flowers and students fill the reflecting pool during the Dia de Muertes celebration on the campus of Mexico’s National University.

In between I met a professor from Rio and managed to participate a bit in a campus and city-wide celebration- Dia de Muertes, which is a two-day holiday celebration, something like our Halloween and All Saints Day combined. Interestingly, I was assured I could not get into the Stadium but got a nice break from a local film crew who pointed me in the direction of Guadalupe Diaz, the Director of Communications for the University, who graciously made it happen for me. Great tour, thanks Marcela!

On the golf side I played the two most historic courses in Mexico—the oldest, dating back to 1904, Club Campestre de la Ciudad de Mexico (CC of Mexico City) and the one built by President Miguel Aleman in 1949 which hosted the 2013 Mexico Open. More importantly I met some great people who shared the history, spirit and experience of their club with me.

In addition I met Ian Gardner and Federico Valdez. Ian is a  Scotsman turned Mexican (dual citizenship), who is the foremost authority on the Rules of Golf here in Mexico having worked with the USGA for four years revising the recently published Rules of Golf. Federico is the Executive Director of the Mexico Golf Federation. Both gave me tremendous insight into how golfers will become Olympians and what it means to be an Olympic Golfer. Check out their video interviews!

Andy riding on the top deck of the Turibus in Mexico City!

Andy riding on the top deck of the Turibus in Mexico City!

On Saturday I did a double header taking two Turibus tours—the first on the south side of the city (Sur) and the other downtown (Centro). Admittedly I was unaware of how beautiful, artistic and friendly Mexico City is. It is definitely a top-tier World-class city and probably the best tourist destination for the value in the world. My week long stay at the Hotel Inn Sur in Tlalpan was comfortable and safe with a spacious room. They changed the sheets and turned down my bed every day even though I left the “Do Not Disturb” on the door. It is a convenient location for golfers and those with university ties. It is right on the main Avenue Insurgentes. You can cab it anywhere for $5 or $10US and it is on the metro red bus line.

No they did not give me a deal but do give a deal to everyone that stays there!

By the way, when I got off the Turibus on Saturday afternoon I saw a film crew by the Fuente De La Cibeles. Turns out the producer Paulina is the niece of Lenin Molin who created the Cultural Olympics in 1968! She gave me an amazing insight into their meaning and a great interview. Life is circles, never ending, and is all about our inherent ability to create with friendliness and respect for each other.

A "working" breakfast, pick up Torch, and we are on our way to Guatemala!

A “working” breakfast, pick up Torch, and we are on our way to Guatemala!

It is Thursday morning, I am hopeful Torch and I will be back on the road in a few hours. A week in Mexico City is not enough time but time enough to get a sense of its golfing and Olympic history. I leave with fond memories of time spent at the Club Campestre de la Ciudad de Mexico, Club de Golf de Mexico, Olympic Stadium, National University and Hotel Inn Sur. So long Mexico City, I loved being here! Have a TROML Day today!

Torch is full recovered and was released at 4 pm. We drove (well I steered and she provided the power) about tow hours and spent the night in Puebla. We are on our way to Guatemala City!

 

 

 

 

 

 

BLOG Update- Thursday, 10/31/13 Arriving Mexico City, Mexico

Dinner in Mexico City Thursday night with my new friends!

Dinner in Mexico City Thursday night with my new friends!

I arrived in Mexico City on Thursday evening, taking three days since crossing the border in Neuvo Laredo on Tuesday morning.

The border crossing went well with no lines or any issues at the border. In fact I did not even realize I went through it as I was waved ahead without any questions and thought I was headed to the next immigration check point. It did take two hours though as I stopped to register me (personal visa) and Torch (car registration). There was an issue with Torch as she appeared as “unclassified” in their computer system, likely because of her age.

I took a nice tollway to Monterrey deciding not to stop there as it wasn’t that far inside the border. I missed the turn to the tollway to go south towards Mexico City by way of San Luis Potosi. Instead I chose the scenic route down 85 to Ciudad Victoria. It was a beautiful ride with the flat plains turning to rolling hills turning to mountains. I pulled into an Applebees to use the internet and found the Viva Inn which turned out very nice. After traveling 2,763 miles in 17 days in the States I drove  only 327 miles on Day 1 of the International segment of JTOG!

With Mother Sophia and daughter Martha at the quaint Posada Santa Elana.

With Mother Sophia and daughter Martha at the quaint Posada Santa Elana.

On Wednesday I again chose the scenic route heading to Tampico on the Gulf Coast and towards Tuxpam to approach Mexico City from the east. I planned ahead to stay at the Posada Santa Elena in Minerals Del Monte near Pachuca, about 100 miles outside of Mexico City. The roads were rough, travel slow and darkness came while I was traveling through the mountains. This was a new low point of the journey, lower than the Oklahoma speeding ticket and wrong way on a highway in the opposite direction for 30 miles. I did end up finding my bed but just barely as I almost gave up and went to Plan B (get another hotel where I was) but persevered through and I am happy I did.

After a good nights rest I woke up to a beautiful sunlit peaceful village with only a 100 miles or so to my hotel in the south part of Mexico City. It was a beautiful drive down from Minerals Del Monte, which the  Garmin had at 9,277 feet above sea level, down through Parchuca into Mexico City. The drive through the city was okay as my Long Island, New York City, Chicago, L.A. driving experience came in handy.

With Visitors Guide Adriana at the National University who gave me a great interview.

With Visitors Guide Adriana at the National University who gave me a great interview.

As fate and luck would have it I was listening to the Garmin but not looking at the display map and took a wrong exit. Low and behold it took me to the Olympic Stadium at the National University. I stopped to take a few pictures but ended up on a mini-odyssey interviewing a tour guide, a Visitors Center guide, a school newspaper reporter and best of all getting a tour of the Olympic Stadium! It was a festive college campus scene as they were celebrating Dia de Muertos, our Halloween and All Saints Day. I felt like I was back at UB and welcomed a sense of the 1968 Olympics and the young people at the University.

I learned more about the tragedy just before the Olympics were staged here where hundreds of students were killed. Like The Spirit International, whose debut in 2001 was only weeks after September 11th, there is a sense of international tragedy and joy occurring simultaneously. Sort of like a wedding celebration in the midst and aftermath of a tragic death in the family. Both over time need to be given there due and respect and in time both factor into our life that goes forward.

In Olympic Stadium which hosted the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City.

In Olympic Stadium which hosted the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City.

So I am safe and sound, yes I am of sound mind, on a “Journey to Olympic Golf.” Only three weeks into it I would say it is going well! Of course, there is golf along with the Olympics here in Mexico City as I am visiting the Golf Club of Mexico later this afternoon and playing the oldest course in the country, the Country Club of Mexico City on Sunday.

More on that low point in the next update. Planning to leave here on Monday and head towards Nicaragua bypassing Belize to minimize the mileage and wear and tear on my beloved Torch. Keep her in your thoughts, we are a team on this journey!

 

 

 

 

BLOG Update- Tuesday, 10/29/13 Leaving the United States of America

With Jeff Blume and his father Jay.

With Jeff Blume and his father Jay.

BLOG Update- Monday, 10/28/13   Houston/Laredo, Texas

After an amazing 6-night stay in Houston, I am in Laredo, Texas and ready to venture south into Mexico early tomorrow morning.

Well, what I thought would happen, did, during the last leg of “Journey to Olympic Golf” in America—I got lost and absorbed in the “Texas Triangle” of Dallas, San Antonio and Houston and it was hard to leave. The USA is so familiar and comfortable with a lot of friends and connections but I am all set to be a RoadTripper on the Pan American Highway on the way to Rio De Janeiro!

Wish me well, I will need it! The journey will transition from a golf trip to more of an adventure trip trying to navigate through borders and countries. I am sure I will still find golf and Olympic connections along the way!

Andy Reistetter interviewing Charlie Epps at Redstone Golf Club.

Andy Reistetter interviewing Charlie Epps at Redstone Golf Club.

Highlights in Houston included meeting Charlie Epps, the Golf Doctor and Houston’s preeminent golf professional who is also two-time major champion Angel Cabrera’s coach. I attended the Grand Opening of the Campus Course at Texas A&M and played the course with Mike Bailey, GolfChannel.com’s Senior Travel Writer. I avenged my loss to him in Puerto Rico at Royal Isabela back in 2011 where we first met. The Opening Ceremony of The Spirit International was all that I dreamed it would be with 80 young golfers from around the world.

ClICK here for the video interview with Charlie Epps.

CLICK here for the video interview with Jeff Blume who designed the Campus Course at Texas A&M

 

Andy Reistetter with U.S. Team Captain Paige MacKenzie

Andy Reistetter with U.S. Team Captain Paige MacKenzie

CLICK here for the Opening Ceremony of The Spirit International.

It was a real treat to stay at The Woodlands Resort & Spa the last three nights and play Panther Trail on Saturday. I also played the Shell Houston Open Tournament Course at Redstone on Thursday so that was three golf days in a row, eight days golfing of the first 16 of the journey. I do not think I will be golfing that much south of the border during the next 2-1/2 months but who knows?

 

No birdie on No. 18 at Panther Trail but I chased a few ducks!

No birdie on No. 18 at Panther Trail but I chased a few ducks!

Time for bed, sweet dreams and an early rise to head south!

 

 

BLOG Update- Tuesday, 10/22/13 San Antonio, Texas

Tuesday Morning, October 22th, 6:34 am Woke up at the JW Marriott Hill Country at TPC San Antonio!

Andy Reistetter with Tom Horan on 17th Tee, TPC Las Colinas at Four Seasons Resort & Club Dallas

Andy Reistetter with Tom Horan on 17th Tee, TPC Las Colinas at Four Seasons Resort & Club Dallas

I am definitely in golf and great hotel mode! The round Saturday at Four Seasons Resort & Club Dallas in the TPC Las Colinas Course was a beautiful experience! I played with Tom Horan, the host of Speaking of Golf who is a great guy! We were joined by Steve, a member at Cherry Hills in Denver and his son Joey who is quite a proficient player as he birdied Nos. 5&6 back-to-back! Joey is a sophomore in high school and it was good playing with him though the saying “C’mon, hit it while we are young, did not apply because well he is young! The par-3 17th is a great hole along with No. 18, both framed by the Four Seasons Resort!

Sunrise along I35 heading to San Antonio... just me and Torch, my Infiniti M30 Baby!

Sunrise along I35 heading to San Antonio… just me and Torch, my Infiniti M30 Baby!

Sadly I rose at 3:30 am on Sunday to drive to TPC San Antonio and the JW Marriott Hill Country for the 10 am Bloggers, Breakfast & Birdies media event (Twitter #BBBatTPC)  which was associated with the Champions’ Tour AT&T Championship this week on the AT&T Canyons Course. It was well worth it for two reasons. There is something about seeing the sun rise, especially when you are on a journey. Every day is a new day and the key is to not have any old expectations or think you know exactly what will happen that day. The second reason was that it was a great event! I met so many cool people and learned so much about social media, especially Twitter. My handle there is GolfJourneyRio and use the hashtag #JoueneyToOlympicGolf when you want to communicate with me via Twitter.

_Bruch Fun 3 Plate (640x480)After a scrumptuous breakfast we played the first nine (Masters lingo) of the AT&T Oaks Course. I was tweeting and somewhat distracted but managed a half way decent shot on the par-3 7th and surprisingly won the Closest-to-the-Pin contest! The gift was a signed TPC San Antonio flag by 2010 Valero Open champion  and Masters champions Adam Scott. I am using it for a raffle this week so please donate to The First Tee to get in! This trip is all about raising $100,000 for The First Tee. Please be one of my 1,000 friends that donate $100 or one of 10,000 that donate $10, the amount does not matter, do what you can and we will get there. Please join me on this trip by doing so!

Andy Reistetter with the BBB organizers- Sara Johnstone (social media consultant), Emily Kelly (PGA TOUR), GM Matt Flory and Lauren Harrison (Zimmerman PR).

Andy Reistetter with the BBB organizers- Sara Johnstone (social media consultant), Emily Kelly (PGA TOUR), GM Matt Flory and Lauren Harrison (Zimmerman PR).

Of course after a little time at High Velocity where we ate, drank and watched football I snuck back out on the course to take some beauty shots and played the last five holes. The par-3 16th with the bunker in the middle of the green and the mammoth JW Marriott behind (1,002 rooms) is spectacular! I rejoined the group at the firepit and had a great time personally connecting with the fun people to connect with on Twitter. Bloggers and Golfers, all are we!

The Bloggers in High Velocity at JW Marriott San Antonio with cell phones down at rest for a moment!

The Bloggers in High Velocity at JW Marriott San Antonio with cell phones down at rest for a moment!

Yesterday was a great day today as it feels like I am on a golf trip these days! Four of us, an A-List guy, a golf spy and a well-shirted minister played in the morning. Then in the afternoon I headed out to the AT&T Canyons Course and interviewed ten Champions players during a pro-am. I asked them for their reaction to golf being in the Olympics after an absence of 112 years, what they thought defined the “Olympic Spirit of Golfers” and what they thought of this fellow Andy Reistetter and this “Journey to Olympic Golf.” Some really good material! What a blast! Thanks to my recruited volunteer-turned-videographer Tom May!

Andy Reistetter with Mike Hulbert at the Champions Tour's AT&T Championship at TPC San Antonio.

Andy Reistetter with Mike Hulbert at the Champions Tour’s AT&T Championship at TPC San Antonio.

Here is my first interview with Mike Hulbert gauging professional golfers’ reaction to golf in the Olympics and the “Journey to Olympic Golf.” I played against Mike and Joey Sindelar in one memorable Section IV High School Championship at En-Joie Golf Club, home of the former BC Open and now Champions Tour Dick’s Sporting Goods Open. Memorable in the sense that I did not whiff on the first tee like my teammate and friend Chuck and only got beat by these Elmira/Horseheads boys by a handful of strokes. Okay so it was only a one day tournament!

I forgot that his first win on tour in 1986 was by one stroke over his childhood friend and high school golf rival  Joey Sindelar. Mike was insightful sharing words like “whole different thing, unique and challenging,” but it was his gesture to his heart that spoke to me. Somehow that gesture says it all when it comes to the “Olympic Spirit of Golf.” He had my “yardage” right too, about 13,000 miles to Rio from here!

CLICK here for the video interview with Mike Hulbert.

Today I head to Houston with the intent of interviewing Jack Burke, Jr. at the Champions Golf Club and attending the Opening Ceremony for The Spirit International, an amateur, Olympic-like golfing competition. After that I head into Mexico next Monday, October 28th! Wish me well, I need it! Good living and golfing until the next blog update!