There's Nothing Better Than Family, Fun, and Adventure: Meet the Tougas Family

posted in: Miscellaneous | 6

One of the things I love most about the internet is connecting with people that have similar interests, life philosophies, and goals.  Although, while I do cherish the many relationships I’ve built over the net, there’s simply nothing like meeting somebody in person for the first time. It just doesn’t even compare to an online relationship. Plato was right…

You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. –Plato

Likewise, you can learn more about a person in one day of “real life” hanging out, than in one year of online communication. I experienced this first-hand just the other day when I met Damien and Renee Tougas and their three wonderful children, for a hike in Crawford Notch, NH. I had just recently become aware of the Tougas family as both Damien and Renee have blogs of their own:

Adventure in Progress: Encouraging Families to Get Outdoors and Experience Adventure

FIMBY: Fun in My Back Yard

Damien put together a very thorough Case For Minimalist Footwear, which drew me to his site.

My wife and I enjoyed meeting them for the first time, and I think we “hit it off” very quickly. We spent the day hiking through the woods while being continually pelted with heavier and heavier rain (Damien and I decided to go barefoot). I saw this as plain old “miserable” fun, but also as a test of our new relationship. We were immediately placed into a situation outside of our comfort zone with people we had literally just met, and our shared hardship only strengthened our initial bond.

Damien and I also got a chance to play around with some clubbells that I brought up for the day. He was waiting for his clubbells package to arrive in the mail any day, so I offered him a taste of what they would feel like – we used 10’s, 15’s and a 45 lb single. We practiced many exercises for about an hour and a half. It’s truly amazing how quickly one can learn a new exercise when applying the 7 Key Components of Structure. Damien picked up on the movements very quickly for a beginner.

Some other highlights were visiting the Weather Museum and learning about the most extreme weather on Earth atop Mt. Washington (recent trip report here), sipping coffee and smoothies at NH’s Best Small Coffee Shop in North Conway (according to NH Magazine), sampling a wide array of tasty vegetarian fare, having the Tougas children thank us for “bringing a delicious salad” (children who like salad – I love it!) and having Ronin perform tricks for the kids…

“Gah-huh, look at my goofy face…”

ronin waving

I brought my video camera with me, but it didn’t seem right to “spoil” the experience with a video. I just wanted to soak it all up, to forget about trying to “capture the moment” and just live in the moment all day long. If you want to know what our trip was really like, you’re just going to have to get out in the woods yourself! My writing talent just won’t do it justice :-)


One of the long-term goals for my site is to help people connect with each other in their local community. The internet is great and all, but nothing beats personal contact in every day life. It meant a world of difference to be able to share a full day with Damien and Renee. I don’t know how I’ll accomplish this with the site in the future – whether it is a forum or something else, but for now I do want to encourage you to get “out there” and enjoy physical living with others, in any way possible.

For those in the New England area, we’re planning a trip up Mt. Katahdin pretty soon. This will be a “difficult” level hike, and all of my readers are invited for the day. More details forthcoming.

I also want you to check out Damien and Renee’s sites about family, fun, and adventure:

Adventure in Progress: Encouraging Families to Get Outdoors and Experience Adventure

FIMBY: Fun in My Back Yard

We have so much to learn from each other!

To your health and success,

Fitness Professional

P.S. I know a lot of my readers are interested in the Circular Strength Training System. Damien has just recently decided to “do a cannonball” into the ocean of CST. He has sold all his traditional weight equipment and purchased a collection of CST materials to get him started. If you have a minute, stop by his blogpost about this transition and wish him well on his new journey:

6 Responses

  1. Well John I’m still processing that day. I feel like we really hit it off with you two & Ronin but I feel like you also met me on one of my worst days ever (I exaggerate). Friday was such a difficult physical day for me (not the intensity of the hike but the never-stopped-stinking-rain) and I felt rather low. Meeting you and Renee was the highlight. I LOVE meeting new people, especially ones we have so much in common with.

    One day we will hike together, camp or share more meals and hospitality in more genial environs, but maybe that won’t be as much fun!?

    And I have to say that quote of Plato’s kind of scared me… hum.. what exactly did you learn about me? That I love to nap?

    I too only took a few photos and none of Ronin – oops. Seemed more appropriate to just be in the moment but practically cameras in the rain are kind of tricky.

    Well.. I ramble. It was so great meeting you two for so many reasons. You encouraged us (as brothers and sisters should) and liked our food – why wouldn’t we enjoy our time together? Cheers to getting together again.

  2. Alan Mokbel

    I also love the outdoors, being Canadian and all.
    I live in Mexico City now where green areas are seriously lacking and therefore, the opportunity to go hike or just have a picnic is scare and a hassle. We need to drive out of the city, including traffic and all that, consider 2 hrs each way… for only maybe an hour or two…

    Sad to say but that prospect doesn’t help encourage my friends to get out there and experience “nature”.

    There are some parks here and there but the visual and sound pollution make the event not quite so enjoyable.

    Anyway, I am still looking for ways to get around this problem.

  3. We had a GREAT time meeting and getting to know you guys! I am very much looking forward to hangin’ out again… and accompanying you on the Katahdin trip for sure.

    When I got home from the weekend there was a 45lb bruiser sitting at my doorstep. The clubbell DVD and book just arrived today… still waiting for the 15lb pair to arrive. After our primer session on Friday (followed by sore muscles on Saturday and Sunday – especially the quads), I am very jazzed about getting things going.


    What our family does is plans one major hiking trip a weekend. We prepare Friday night, leave early Saturday, hike all day, and return home Saturday evening. Usually we travel about 1.5 to 1.75 hours one way for our weekend hikes. If you make a day of it, it is easier to justify making a longer trip… besides, an hour or two is really quite a short hike… make it 6 or 7 (or more depending on your stamina) and you can really see a lot of scenery and get a great workout in too.

  4. the feeling is mutual, we had a great time getting to know you both :-)

    Renee, we certainly did not get a “bad day for Renee” impression in the least. We really enjoyed your company! I learned mostly that you’re an excellent cook, teacher, and mom – and there’s no shame in taking a nap, my Renee took one too, remember?!

    Damien, you can’t lie to the Bruiser, my friend. I hope our practice session together was a good primer for you. You’re going to love the world of clubbells. I recommend you spend ample time with the 15’s before working regularly with the 45.

    Let me know about hiking Mt. Katahdin. If we can nail down a date for sure, I’ll make a “public” announcement.

  5. Well my thoughts for the day are “processed” and up on my blog.

    You’ll read a little more of the inner workings of Renee. I’m glad I didn’t seem too miserable – being with you two really helped my spirits.

  6. […] companions (9, including our dog), including the Tougas family, whom I introduced to you last year here. We spent the days lugging around our packs through the snowy hills and mountain in Camden – […]

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