0

CLINE: Longtime friends back for another summer adventure

Special Photo. Cliff Ramos, left, and Steve West pose in front of Mount Rushmore. The Gwinnett residents recently completed a nine-day trip that spanned 14 states and 3,800 miles.

Special Photo. Cliff Ramos, left, and Steve West pose in front of Mount Rushmore. The Gwinnett residents recently completed a nine-day trip that spanned 14 states and 3,800 miles.

I've been accused of repeating myself, but in this case I think a tradition started by a pair familiar to the local wrestling community deserves to be told again. It's time for the annual summer sojourn called "Coach and Pee Wee's Great Adventure" -- a trip taken by Cliff Ramos (Coach) and Steve West (Pee Wee) where the two randomly explore the country in pursuit of seeing new things and performing good deeds.

This is the fourth year the two men -- both former wrestling coaches at Gwinnett County Public Schools -- have taken the summer trip, which began with the premise of old friends taking off with no plans other than to see where the roads took them.

"We enjoy the uncertainty of it; We never know where we'll end up each day, or what places we'll visit, or where we will stay for the night," Ramos said. "This is not a trip for our wives. Some of the places where we've stayed would never be frequented by Mrs. Ramos or Mrs. West, but they're just fine for us.

"We've learned that we have a beautiful country and we want to see more."

They've already seen quite a bit. In their previous trips, the men have visited the Grand Canyon in Arizona, Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota, the Columbine Memorial in Colorado, and the Field of Dreams in Iowa. They've walked through a wheat field in Nebraska, made their own chocolate bars at the Hershey's museum in Pennsylvania, stood atop Cadillac Mountain on the coast of Maine and even used Hitler's toilet from one of his boats that is now housed in an auto repair shop in New Jersey.

So they've had plenty of postcard moments, except maybe for that last one.

After the first journey, the two decided it would be neat to perform good deeds and try to raise money for the Lawrencevile Co-op in the process. Ramos, formerly the head coach at Collins Hill High and now wrestling director at Greater Atlanta Christian, volunteers on Fridays at the co-op and wanted to find another way to give back.

The first year he and West raised $1,500 through pledges for each good deed they performed. Last year's trip raised a little more than $2,400 as well as some awareness of the importance of all the local co-ops. If you'd like to make a donation ,CLICK HERE; and look for a box in the lower left-hand corner.

"The co-op performs a very important service in our community," Ramos said. "Five years ago the co-op served 50 to 100 families per month who were in need of food or help with utilities. Now the number is close to 1,000 families per month -- and that's 1,000 different families because families can only come one time per month. So the need is great."

Ramos said he and West, who was a longtime coach at both Shiloh and Grayson, have received a lot of positive feedback about their trips, mostly from people wishing they had the time or inclination to do something so spontaneous. Friends and others who want to live vicariously through the two can keep up with Ramos' travel journal at good-deed-doers.blogspot.com.

This year's trip is a little different, however, with the duo flying for the first time. On Monday they flew to Los Angeles where they rented a car and began this year's random journey in California.

They don't know where they'll end up or what they might see, only that they need to be back in L.A. by July 12 to catch their return flight home.

Email Todd Cline at todd.cline@gwinnettdailypost.com. His column appears on Wednesdays.