the north face hoody Adventures just beginning for Ettelson
Ettelson isn’t sure where he will be when he turns 32, but at a base camp at Mount Everest in Nepal or on a safari in South Africa are still on his bucket list.
For the former four time Iowa high state wrestling champion from Hudson, March 15, 2016 is an adventure more than 365 days away, and there is too much life to live tomorrow.
“I have found I need to take less from everything in the world and just live in the moment and be happy that way,” said Ettelson, who was inducted into the Iowa High School Wrestling Hall of Fame during the state tournament in February along with fellow four time champs Mack Reiter, Dan LeClere and Jay Borschel.
After completing a four year stint at Northern Iowa where Ettelson was a four time NCAA qualifier, he embarked on a career in corporate sales in New York City. First for an elevator company and then with T Mobile where he dealt with C Level executives in penthouse sky rise meeting rooms.
Within five years and with a nice nest egg built up, Ettelson was done with that rat race and ready for a new adventure . literally.
The plan was to move to Denver, Colo., but somewhere between NYC and the Rocky mountains, Ettelson got sidetracked to Thailand, then to Vietnam, then back to Thailand, then to Indonesia, then to Australia, and now to Honduras.
“I consider myself an Iowan and a New Yorker,” Ettelson said. “I will cherish and love the time I spent there, but like a bad relationship, I had to break up with the city and move on. I wasn’t living the lifestyle I wanted.
“I was working a job that didn’t have any purpose other than to make money . it was soul sucking.”
So in August in 2013, Ettelson hit the road on an epic adventure, and he hasn’t looked back.
Ettelson had taken a couple of backpacking trips to Europe in college, but had always heard about how great Thailand was to visit.
“I didn’t have any plans, I just flew into Bangkok, went to a hostel and flipped a coin as to where I was going to go,” Ettleson said. “I ended up meeting some English guys and I traveled with them for two weeks.”
After two weeks in Thailand, Ettleson decided to visit a friend who was in Vietnam, and during that adventure he met a girl who was going to India to do a yoga retreat.
“I had practiced yoga in NYC,” Ettelson said. “When I was done with wrestling, it was hard to find that practice type thing. I hated running and hated going to the gym so I found yoga and of course I wanted to be the best at it and I was horrible. But, slowly, I fell in love with yoga.”
Ettelson spent six weeks studying to become a yoga teacher in Rishikesh, most famous for the time in 1968 when the Beatles spent time there studying transcendental meditation at the ashram of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
“It was a really great experience,
” Ettleson said. “I was there with 20 people from all around the world Argentina, Chile, Vietnam, Italy, England people from all different backgrounds, different ages and different worlds.
“We practiced yoga four hours a day and then had two hours of meditation and sometimes three hours of philosophy.”
It was during his six weeks in India that Ettelson decided he wanted to take up surfing, and why not do it in Australia?
That decision landed Ettelson on a one year visa at Bondi Beach in New South Wales, Sydney, where Ettleson lived two blocks from the beach. nearly every day, but that didn’t matter to him because it didn’t waste daylight hours. “I go back to my room, suit up, grab my board and surf for 1 2 hours, go home and do yoga for 1 2 hours and then back to work. I did that for 60 straight days and when you do something for 60 straight days you get good at it and I got pretty good at surfing.”
Ettelson’s Australian visa wrapped up in January and he’s been traveling with his girlfriend, Dasha, a native of Moscow whom he met in Thailand on his original excursion after breaking his nose in a Muay Thai fight.
“It’s funny how we met,” Ettleson laughed. “There is this Island Phi Phi and they have this tourist bar called “Reggae Bar” and you can challenge other people or friends to Muay Thai fights. They give you those heavy ounce gloves, Olympic headgear and shin guards and basically the rules of the fight is don’t hurt anybody.
“I was like, I want to do this. I thought it was closer to wrestling than what it was, and when I got into the ring I figured out it wasn’t.
“Anyway, when I got into the ring, I challenged anybody in the crowd to the fight and a big Russian steps in. He hits me with a straight heel kick had it been higher would’ve probably shattered my collarbone.
“So I go beserk and start throwing punches with everything I’ve got. At some point, he grabs my head and he knees me in the face. It just shattered my nose and I heard it crack. I basically bear hugged him and slammed him to the mat and said, ‘You broke my nose.’
“The ref raised my hand and I won the fight, but I got my nose broken and I was furious because you weren’t supposed to get hurt.”
Dasha thought he was cute with his nose taped up and his two black eyes.
Since Jan. 22, Ettelson and Dasha, with their Australian visas set to expire, have experienced the Australian Open, attended a wedding in Chicago, skied in Vail, Colo., and visited Iowa for the hall of fame induction ceremonies in Des Moines.
The couple left for Utila Island on Feb. 25 so Ettelson, who became a certified scuba diver in Koh Tao, Thailand, could partake in an eight week master diver’s program.