Camping

Ccccchanges… think that is a song…

Well, the fun part about this road trip for a lifetime is that we are fluid. Like the blades of glass in the wind, we know when to bend with the wind, and let go that of being as a tree that can often be broken in the gale force of a storm.

Lynda has taken on a masters degree in complimentary and alternative medicine. She and I have spent the last, what, 8 years researching alternative methods for treating cancer, as the standard therapies just didn’t sound all that good. And truth be told we will never truly know what was the better of two choices, alternative or standard, except that against all odds, she is still alive and very very healthy.

I am quoting statistics here, and for those fighting this disease, please PLEASE skip this paragraph, you do NOT need the following information rattling around in your noodle. Based on standard medicine’s therapies, once a cancer metastasizes to another place, it is referred to as stage IV. and that is considered to be terminal. Just a matter of time. The best they can do is just that, maybe, is buy you time.

There are, however, many people that have gone on to survive and for whatever reason, live on quite well, with no signs of cancer. Everyone that has survived has a different story. Some claim it was God, while others claim science, and still others claim a mixture of all of it. Lynda and I feel that what works for one person, may or may not work for another. We remain of the same opinion that while cancer is a devastating word to hear in the same sentence with your own name, it is seldom a health emergency.

Your doctor, depending on who that person is, may feel differently, and that for their own reasons. Our opinion is this, try the alternative therapies first. Those that promote healing, a healthy environment that cancer has a hard time growing in, and boosting your immune system as well as you can. Become your own advocate, research, listen, ask questions on EVERYTHING… and at the end of the day if these less invasive procedures don’t work?

Go give the western medicine a roll of dice and see what you get. If nothing else you may be in better shape to deal with chemo and radiation. It may fix you if the other did not… but remember, it is toxic, it is physically devastating, and may or may not work, that is something that you, unfortunately (or fortunately) have to find out on your own. But long and the short of it, you are on a path that is scary, full of trials and tribulations and will rock your world forever, regardless of outcome.

Yet, in that, for the first time in years, Lynda and I are truly planning on a future. I mean that. This road trip? It was the result of having a conversation with my younger sister, Daonne, while I was dealing with Lynda’s cancer having resurfaced. Lynda had some blockage, her intestine swelled shut. No reason why, just did. They finally agreed on surgery after a few days in the hospital. Turns out she had a single cell of cancer called a “strand” in the lining of her intestine.  Not on the outside, not on the inside but actually inside the wall of the intestine, just a single cell, but enough to piss off her intestine to the point of closing.

The surgeon that did the work said he had never seen anything like that before. And Lynda has heard that statement more times than we care to admit. So while I was home pretty much freaking out about all this as I had true flashbacks of watching my first wife, Connie die from cancer, my younger sister asked me what I was going to do if I lost Lynda.

Stopped me in my tracks. Cold. Never once, even during my freaking out did I truly think that was possible. I never let my mind go down that path. Ever. But, there I was, finally having to face my absolute worst fear. I spit out something to the effect of “Disappear” “Vanish” go on a permanent walkabout, travel the US, go skiing, go backpacking, but leave people alone for awhile…

I knew that if that happened, my world would be gone.. Just as it had done when Connie died. That was the day my world ended. and it started back up again when Lynda walked back into my life. and to be honest, if that happened, that would be it.. There is no other “Lynda” in my life..

Little sister processed that… not sure how or when, but later on, Lynda approached me and asked me if that is what I said. I told her “Yes, without you, I have no world to be in”. She said, “Well, if you would do that without me, why not do it WITH me”? and so our road trip for a lifetime began. Short spurts, buying the rig, living in it while we figured out what we could do or not do, and it came together. At the same time, we went for another PET scan to see what more damage had been done. The last time we ran one, we found four spots total. the original on her shoulder, two spots on her spine and one in her hips.

We were prepared for the worst. Lynda and I had finally tried out last shot, Lynda did a regimen of baking soda and black strap molasses for 3 weeks or so. She started off with one tsp of baking soda mixed with 1tsp of black strap molasses once a day, then three times a day, then 2tsp three times a day until she was up to something like 8 tsp of each a day… she started getting a bit loopy, so she came back down to 1tsp a day and started taking milk thistle as well as the baking soda made her liver feel “weird”…

We went into the PET scan with the expectations of “holy shit batman” it is worse. Dr. Sinclair gave us the results. two spots were dead. two were seriously fading and no signs anywhere else… Whatever you are doing? Keep doing it. Lynda took him up on that and began adding other items in. Raw Veganism, supplements that fight cancer without being toxic, boosting the immune system and removing every possible toxin she can from her system and from what she is exposed to.

So, for the first time in over two years? We are truly planning a future beyond next month. She is pursuing her degree. We are trying to buy a house in Grand Junction. I am interviewing for a position with Mesa county. We are looking at a timeline beyond next month. The road trip? I think for both of us, maybe subconsciously, was to avoid thinking too hard about next month or next year. Instead, focus on the now, the present, the journey, and that is still our focus, but for the first time in a while?

It looks like the journey might just be a bit longer than we imagined. Will see.

Thank you all for sharing our trip with us, as it will continue. We may settle in Grand Junction, we may not. It truly depends on a myriad of “things” coming together. We may not be able to get a loan for the home, and in that case, we will keep doing what we do.. The name of the game? Stay fluid, and enjoy the ride.

Hippiness

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Categories: Adventure, Adventure Travel, Backpacking, Camping, Cancer, Downhill Skiing, Family, Hiking, Hot Tubbing!, Living Passionately, Love, Reconnection, Religious, RV Travel, Scuba, Ski, Spiritual, Thanksgiving, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Exploration and New Experiences

“Dr. Sinclair has a really cool energy” my wife stated after our meeting with him. I agreed. There was a sense of peace, a sense of calmness, in the face of absolute chaos. Let me explain that a bit. We have to go back a few years. My first wife, Connie and I were at her Oncologists office. Her regular doctor was out of town, but the other doctor would be happy to see her. While we were sitting at his desk and I somehow brought up the success rate for cancer with him, he asked me to go over to his office door and look out at his office and tell him what I saw.

I gave him an “OK what is this about stare” and got up, went over to the door, opened it, looked around, and came back and sat down. Connie was not present, I think she was in the infusion room. He asked “What did you see”? I replied that “I saw a LOT of people in your office”. He smiled and nodded his head. Then gave me probably the most honest and grim answer I had ever heard from an oncologist. “I am going to lose 80 to 85% of those people out there”, he calmly stated. “And the 15-20% that survive I cannot tell you if it is my therapies that help, or just their tenacity for survival”.

I was stunned. I had no idea just how rough it was to be an oncologist. Then I really sat and thought about that statement. I became angry, “How could you possible put people through these often brutal therapies with those statistics and sleep at night”? And I followed that up with a single thought. “If I could just help one….” and that was the answer. Help who you can, grieve for those you cannot. I spent many years grieving over losing my Connie to pancreatic cancer. The survival rate for that cancer is just about zero.

When we met Dr. Sinclair we made it pretty obvious that we were not the average patient, and that Lynda was looking more for someone who could help us with tools to track the disease rather than treat it. Dr. Sinclair accepted the offer. We were both very pleasantly surprised, and he engaged Lynda, did not challenge rather gave her suggestions for a better outcome. He never pressed, and was always quite pleasant when we visited. I would like to say that since then he has become more than a physician but a fast friend.

During our visits, I discovered the reason behind Dr. Sinclairs’ energy, as we found that he is a practicing Buddhist. (I hope that he does not mind me sharing this on my web page). But his energy, his guidance has been of great peace when we came in, often frantic over a blood test or devastated over a PET scan. Somehow, he managed to calm us down and send us out for round 3 or 4. Eventually I became interested in what Buddhism is or is not.

I am at a point in my life where the path to life is open, but getting shorter by the day. I have unlimited options to speak of, and have determined that my spiritual world has been lacking. I have found peace and tranquility in nature, and do not get out as often as I like, but feel as though something is waiting for me to discover. So I spoke to Dr Sinclair a bit about his experience with his spiritual quest, and have begun one of my own. I like what I have read about Buddhism, as the Dali Lama puts it, “My religion is compassion”. That pretty much states what it is.. Buddhism does not believe in a god, just that souls are essentially recycled, over and over, and not just here, other planets, other stars, other dimensions. We are just souls looking for physical planes to learn from. And that the highest form of spirituality is compassion for one another. I like that thought.

So plans are churning, Lynda is tied into her Masters for two years, but I am free to do what I will. In that, finding work that suits me spiritually as well as monetarily sounds good. I hope to save up for two trips. One that will probably be just me going to Tibet, the other taking Lynda to Africa for a photo safari… Will see how those two work out.

For now? Reading and listening to various books, my sister recommended one called Radical Forgiveness. Changed her life, think it may shift mine a notch or two, very worthwhile read. Other books include Meditation for Beginners, Tibetan Dream Yoga, How to Sit, and others.. all of these leading to a new fun path in life.. The part I like is that there is no telling where the journey goes, and enjoying the journey is what it is all about.

Namaste

Categories: Adventure, Adventure Travel, Backpacking, Camping, Hiking, Living Passionately, Love, Reconnection, RV Travel, Scuba | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Warrior.. A person defined

I have seen that word used a million different ways. I spent six years of my life being one of those crazy bastards otherwise known as the US Marines. Always thought that would be the toughest training of my life. I find it amazing in how something can simply be a stepping stone to challenges that are above and beyond what you thought was hard.

My wife and I trained for a marathon. 26.2 miles of running… Up until the day of the marathon, we had only run 18 miles max. But we figured if we could get that far we could do 26.2. So on the marathon course, about mile 21 Lynda was getting ready to pull it over and call it good. Then her brother “stepped out” of the crowd to help her along.

Elvis in the bldg

David is in a wheelchair, he has no movement below his shoulders. He is a quadriplegic due to a three wheeler accident. That lifted Lynda up and inspired her to finish the entire marathon, having him wheel beside us for a mile or so. Inspired me as well. When we finished, Lynda was proud, but told me she would NEVER run that far again, she had never in her life ever put herself through that much pain. A stepping stone that we were unaware of.

Teaching at San Diego State

Teaching at San Diego State

I had watched my first wife, Connie, die from pancreatic cancer, in one hundred and sixty three days from diagnosis to death, I watched the woman I love go from a vibrant woman to a whisper. If you have ever had to live through that particular nightmare, it is the cruelest, meanest thing that life can hand you, but also the time in your life when you realize that you had better put all you have into your time left. Make it worth the show.

In 2008 a spot showed up on Lynda’s shoulder. and we freaked. We went to Arizona to try a naturopath there that had some pretty good results with cancer that had spread. Lynda’s brother just happened to have bought a small condo there in the same area. He fixed it up beautifully and she stayed there while I worked in California for 4 days then drove back and forth to Arizona. Somewhere in the process Lynda was infused with a bag of sterile water. The medicine didn’t make it into the bag, and so she got a bag of sterile water. Guess what that does?

It causes acute hemolytic anemia. She couldn’t take 3 steps without almost falling down. They infused here with 6 pints of blood to get her back. I damn near lost her that day. At the time, none of the physicians had any idea what had happened. They suspected that the cancer had somehow gone wild and got into her bones. They did a bone marrow check and nope, she was fine. It wasn’t until years later when we were discussing what had happened with my doctor that he went “Hey! yeah, sterile water, the doctor didn’t infuse the bag with meds”.

Remember that stepping stone? If Lynda had not been in such phenomenal shape, chances are she wouldn’t have made it. In the meantime, I get to be the watchful guardian, and I missed that. I realize that is nothing I normally would have seen, but now? Paranoia runs supreme in my household… I check everything, but fortunately I haven’t had to since then.

Dealing with cancer, regardless of how you treat it, naturopathically or standard western medicine, you need to understand from the moment that they use the word “cancer” and your name in the same sentence, your life as you know it is over. Every tweak, every twinge, every little “wtf”, is scary. It is a lot like going through combat. I have a friend, Michael Palfrey, who did some time in Iraq going from house to house… He commented that he hated TV with a passion, movies too. Cause right before someone gets killed you hear the music change or go up in volume then “BANG” someone dies. He said in reality? The guy’s head just explodes and he drops. No music, no nothing, he is just gone.

With cancer? you never know what is around the next corner, you are always on alert, always in some form of “combat mode”, blood tests, markers, urine tests, PET scans, MRI’s always probing for the enemy… and that changes who you are and how you present yourself to the world. It is a lifetime of tap dancing through landmines, just waiting for one to go off. I have watched Lynda over the years. She has gone from a confident woman to a confident warrior in the truest meaning of the word. She changed her lifestyle, her diet, and has researched everything from nutrition to supplements to medicine. She has fought hard for every day she has with me. And while I may be a squad leader, the real fighter is Lynda. I am just support.

For all you nurses, doctors, friends and family that have supported us? Especially Dr. James Sinclair of Pacific Oncology, you and your staff just ROCK.

Thank you, the fight has been a good one and continues on.. This gal here: “Warriors” was another inspiration, in fact, this gal inspired this post via a Facebook post that made me remember just what a warrior my own wife is.

Me and my wife

Me and my wife

Honey, I got yer back for the next 40 years.

 

Categories: Adventure, Adventure Travel, Backpacking, Camping, Downhill Skiing, Family, Hiking, Hot Tubbing!, Living Passionately, Love, Reconnection, Religious, RV Travel, Scuba, Ski, Spiritual, Thanksgiving | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Legends

A friend of mine today, placed a post on FaceBook that I found amusing as hell. It was about how Batman was no superhero, and how when they made his costume, inside it says essentially, you can’t fly in this outfit.

But Cointreau Mon Cherie! You can indeed! I am living proof that anyone can be a super hero. My mother hand sewed a Robin outfit from the characters of Batman and Robin from the 60’s. I could FLY! Well, maybe not. I saw my older brother come into our bedroom and I decided that I could fly. I launched into the void and used my face as a weapon against his shoulder. Broke my nose blacked both my eyes. But provided my brother with a laugh that he still has today.

I was a die hard fan of Batman. Even had a dance that went along with the song of  BATMAN! I was mesmerized for life. The idea that the average schmoe (well not so average) could change the world for better by fighting bad guys in a costume that gave him extraordinary power or at least tools that allowed him to be courageous in any situation? This was for me.

The WHAM and BAM and SOCK EM was in my veins.. Later, my parents let me buy comic books where I learned to truly read. I could tie visuals to the words and in turn lit my imagination on fire. I could now see Superman flying through the air, fighting Lex Luthor with his heat vision and super strength. I could see Flash running so fast no one could see him until it was too late. The Green Lantern was another who could create shapes from his ring with his mind.

Each of the characters had flaws, weaknesses to overcome. They had their powers, but each could be brought down in a multitude of ways. It was always so cool to see how they over came them for the better good. Time and again they vanquished the villains. and as the years went by the comic books matured. On again off again, I will stop in a comic shop to browse, and yes, as an adult sometimes purchase a good graphic novel. It propels me back to my childhood when a book and some imagination was all you needed.

Later, as I grew into this rather insane world, I realized that we had super heroes.. they wore costumes and changed the world for the better. Gandhi, Lincoln, Roosevelt, Mother Teresa… These super heroes all wore costumes of a kind and made huge changes in this world for the better. They had their weaknesses to overcome, and their challenges to stand up to. These were the true hero’s of their time.

I look around to day and we seem to be lacking this basic leadership. Role models that kids can look up to and say “Wow”, “when I grow up this is who I want to be like”.  Those are few and far between. Our leaders today seem to be more interested in the 15 second sound bite of how they can run down someone else. The days of true hero’s, I look around and wonder where they may be… Then I realize something.

Today, it is the parent, the father, the wife, the brother, the uncle, the sister, the aunt, those that inspire us to be more than who we are… Those are todays heros. The firefighters that died trying to rescue people from the 9/11 attacks. The teacher that put her life first so that the kids might survive in school shootings. Our veterans who put their lives on the line for our country.

These are today’s hero’s not the world shaking kind, but those that make a small difference in the local neighborhoods.. In our homes. When you look at your child today, remember that he or she looks to you as the new age Hero… It is a tough order to follow, but you must become more than who you are in order to lead these new kids to a better place.

Welcome to the world of super hero’s… Let me hand you your cape.

superman

 

 

Categories: Adventure, Adventure Travel, Backpacking, Camping, Downhill Skiing, Family, Hiking, Hot Tubbing!, Living Passionately, Love, Reconnection, Religious, RV Travel, Scuba, Ski, Spiritual, Thanksgiving | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

The Dash

I once heard from a guy or read in a book, I don’t remember which, that a guy was standing at a grave site and looking at the headstone. On that headstone was two dates. And he was staring very intently at those two dates. Someone standing next to him made a comment about the end date.. and how final it was. The guy looked over and said that those two dates had no significance, instead it was the “dash”. The point in between the two dates. “We are all born, and we all die, but the dash is the important part, how you live your life”. Then he turned and walked away from the stone.

That, among many things I have heard or read over the years had an impact on how we live. Lines that I often quote are some from “The Shawshank Redemption”…

Get busy living or get busy dying.

Lynda and I chose the former. When faced with some really shitty news, or given a dire diagnosis, everyone gets to make a choice. Sometimes that choice is to do nothing and let life take its course. One is to fight tooth and nail for every moment, and use every tool available to scratch out what is hopefully another minute of life. Another still is to choose a different path. Let the diagnosis do whatever it may, but instead of focusing on treating the disease, make the best educated choices you can, and then?

Get busy living.

So since Lynda’s dire diagnosis, Lynda chose to educate herself as well as she could, use the tools, but instead of just focusing on survival, to get busy living a life that is as packed full of stories that we could load into a lifetime, be it just a day away or fifty years away. We focus on the here and now, and keep an eye on the future. What people don’t seem to understand is…… that we get it.

Yesterday is a cashed check, tomorrow is a promissory note, today is ready cash… Spend it wisely.

With that frame of mind, we are packing as much as we possibly can into this life, hoping for a future, but not willing to bet our lives on it. Instead bet on here and now, as that is our “dash” our important part. Our plans or our “bucket list” grows daily. And what shakes out is what shakes out. But that current list goes something like this:

  • Tibet – Being on part of a medical team to help the folks there, backpacking from town to town
  • Africa – A photo safari of the migrations there
  • British Virgin Islands – An island hopping trip for 10-14 days with close friends
  • Alaska – Road trip in our RV so Lynda can see all the majesty that I have seen
  • Europe – Greece, Italy, backpacking through Europe on a European Tran Pass and see Europe first hand
  • Diving in Palau
  • Diving in Australia
  • Visit New Zealand
  • Backpack on the Appalachian Trail
  • Backpack through the Black Hills
  • More backpacking in Alaska

Just a start, with Lynda doing her Masters, it may be a bit before the major push on this list. The Masters in complimentary and alternative medicine is another bucket list item for Lynda, and that is underway. However, while she works on this bucket list item, I can work on mine. What I will ask from each of you that follows this blog, take some time and make a bucket list. Day dream, play fantasy, and write down the things in life you would truly like to do… Then pick the top three.

Then make plans to do that bucket list item. What will that item take? How will you do that adventure? and plan your goal out. plan for the time off from work. plan for the expenses. Make that adventure your goal. Tell your friends about what that “bucket list item” is. Everyone lives in the thought of “I have time”. and I am sure that those people who went to work on 9/11 in New York thought the exact same thing. And it truly sucks to have your life cut short with no warning. And folks? That is usually the way it works. You are there one minute. And gone in the next.

So do Lynda and myself a favor. Let us inspire your “dash”. Let our adventures inspire you to reach yours. Use your passion, your imagination and your dreams to be your guide. Time is no ones friend. It is the one thing you cannot get more of nor can you get it back once it is spent. But you can make the most of what you have. Do that for us. Do that for you.

Make your dash count…

 

erick and Lynda bristlecones  2013 NOLS ELLE B

E&L IMG_2274

Erick Lynda Garrett -2 Table Rock Jungle Erick and Lynda

20131107_103749  IMG_3965

Namaste

 

 

Categories: Adventure, Adventure Travel, Backpacking, Camping, Downhill Skiing, Family, Hiking, Hot Tubbing!, Living Passionately, Love, Reconnection, Religious, RV Travel, Scuba, Ski, Spiritual, Thanksgiving, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

I am shamed

I have been incredibly remiss in my writing on our blog. My uncle, the kind and generous (and ORIGINAL) JC has let me know that he is quite entertained with our sordid trips and adventures, so, with some prodding from my dear uncle Jack, here is our latest in adventures…

My wife recently ventured forth into the wilds of Connecticut and went to what she thought was a Vegan non-cooking class. Much to her surprise, and enjoyment, the course was much more than that. It was about healthy living, how to cleanse your body, and a chance meeting with some very interesting people. (And being a blooming Buddhist, I don’t believe in chance meetings, life hands us opportunities, and what we do with them? Well, we do with them). So with that, she met some really nice people and found a new niche that truly fits her passions. Health coaching while she pursues her Masters degree in complimentary and alternative medicine. She found that she had educated herself and helping people became second nature. In her mind, it was the next logical step.. pursuing education, and traveling to find new front yards.

Lynda found that the Masters in that specialty would give her more credibility, as well as better researching skills that are more credible versus “finding stuff” on the internet. This has me congratulating her as I know she has a true passion for this modality, this helping people to help themselves. Lynda spent the week with soon to be colleagues, and companions, and by the time she left the class she already had her first client. This is outstanding says I! Woot Woot! says I. Soon my wife is coming home for some serious Snugglebunnies! woot woot says I!… Of course all this in emails as my wife dropped her iPhone and much to everyone’s amazement, the voice side of the iPhone no longer functions. The data side does, so we are now limited to emails to one another. Woot Woot! says I! we can still communicate! I am a happy man.

Now, I get a phone call, from a number that I do not recognize. It is my lovely wife, and I go from “HEY Baby!” to… “Uh, what’s wrong”? Turns out she missed her flight. The hotel told her what time to be ready, and that she would be perfectly fine and on time. The cab showed up on time, she hopped in and off she went! Flying high and low through the exciting town of Simsbury to Hartford… She arrived at the airport, all smiles, going home! And the plane was boarding as she arrived at the ticketing counter. They lined her up for the next flight, number 2 in standby. Oh, and guess what else was happening at the same time? Come on, guess! Nope, nope and nope. It was Spring Break! and guess what was over sold? Yep, every flight Lynda tried to get on for standby. But m’lady was not to be deterred, with laptop in hands, she goes to Expedia and gets the last seat on the last flight that evening out of Hartford to Denver! woot woot!

Eight hundred dollars later and she is in the air! And we are still communicating through emails as the iPhone has not magically fixed itself. (I will have Steve Jobs look into this in his next life). But I have the time and arrival at Denver, and being in Breckenridge on a good day, is about a 2 hour drive. I decide to get a hotel near the airport and I will leave early as I have absolutely nothing else to do, might as well enjoy a few hours in Denver, and off I go! The snow is falling heavily, and I, being the safe guy, decide as I enter I-70, that slowing down a bit would be a good idea, and I gear down to 45mph. The guy ahead of me in a “dually” Ford (you know the kind that has four tires in the back of a BIG pickup truck) keeping speeds similar, neither of us wanting to test the great snow gods and their penchant for playing slippery games on ice and snow. We rounded a corner and to both our surprise, the traffic is at a complete stop.

The local gendarmes made the intelligent choice of stopping traffic on a curve so that to our amazement, you don’t see it until you are right on top of it. Guess what doesn’t work too well on snow and ice? Yes, brakes! The snow gods begin to giggle… snicker even, as they want to see just how fast the two of us can shut down our trucks before we plow into the waiting audience sitting in the non-moving traffic. Now? The eyes of Denver are upon us, wide and fearful the trucks both begin to slide.. this way, then that way. I am trying to judge which one is better, the sitting traffic, the guy in the truck or the meridian that is not but snow, grass and mud. The guy in the truck ahead of me manages to miss the sitting traffic where the people are in wide wonder with the “O” look on their face.. You know the kind.. the kind that right before a really nasty accident, all the spectators make that OOOOOOO sound as the victim gets creamed.

I use my driving skills from Alaska that would have made Mario Andretti proud. I swing between the still sliding truck and the traffic and launch down the steep embankment of the meridian that only snow, ice and mud, with some sprinkling of frozen grass. The crowd cheers on with that “OOOOOOOO” noise as I fly down the embankment and twist back and forth keeping it from doing a three sixty and tossing me into places that I really don’t want to explore. As the speed diminishes, my heart begins beating again. I look up and the crowd goes wild! I wave them a “Aw shucks I knew what I was doing” look and put the truck in gear and go forward.. Nothing. hmmm backwards. I have traction. Forward. slow, side to side, then nothing. Reverse! woot woot says I, and off we go for a city block, but not UP the way I want to go. Forward, and I find that I cannot climb the bank to the I-70 going West.  Solution? straight down the middle in low four, and to the road where the cops usually sit and up and over I go! woot woot says I, and back to the rig we go.

I return to the rig, no worse for the wear, but wanting a triple shot of tequila, and, knowing I can’t, I settle for just sitting in the comfie chair and relaxing. I will try again in a few hours. Time goes by and my heart slows, and my hands begin to return to their normal state. I can no longer bend steel with them… (or steering wheels). I get back in the truck and off we go to Denver. This time? a little slower and wary of those sneaky assed Snow Gods that damn near scored a home run.

I arrive at the hotel, and to my enjoyment, it is a very nice hotel, staffed by wonderful people. I lay low for an hour then head to the airport and pick up my wife. woot woot! Happiness and Snugglebunnies! We laugh about the day, and head back to the hotel. It is cold and slick but I am wary of those Snow Gods and I drive “vewy vewy cawfuwwy” as Elmer Fudd would say. We arrive at the hotel without any further incidents. The past is behind us. Plan to drive about a mile and a half to a Verizon store, pick up a new phone and head to Breckenridge. and in the distance I hear the Snow Gods chuckling again.

Next morning we jump up, we are invigorated we are going HOME! woot woot! so we pack our bags, say goodbye to the hotel and jump in the truck.. Start her up and guess what? Nope.. not that… Nope.. nope, steering doesn’t work! Seems my steering fluid is gone. but HEY! being the wrenchy kinda guy, I have some spare fluid in the truck no problem. Pour some in it works for about 30 feet, and back to almost impossible to steer. We decide to drive to the Verizon store where I try to figure out what happened. In the meantime, Lynda goes in to look at a new phone. “Mrs. Carpenter, how are you today” is how it started.. Then it went to, “Wellllll let’s see….” “No insurance on your iPhone”, and not time to upgrade, and well, looks like yer little “oopsy daisy” is going to run about 500.00. Not sure if Lynda’s jaw is still on the floor there or not. In the meantime the very nice gal at the store tried putting in a new SIM chip to see if that might work and the iPhone Gods and Steven Jobs were not looking out for her that day.

The gal at the store said, hey, we have options. and this is what they are. We traded in her half working iPhone and spread the cost out over a year. The new and improved iPhone 5? Came to an additional 27.00 a month on our bill. woot woot! (I think) and in the meantime, Mr “I can fixit” decides that this problem is past his skill set, and sets forth to find a solution. Together we decide to do another night at the hotel so Lynda can make her coaching appointments and so I can find a local repair shop. I call what I later discover is a local Subaru dealer who does not work on Toyota’s but, knows someone close by who does. I drive about 5 miles with steering wheel that truly hates to function at this point. I manage to make it to the shop and they proceed to order one hose and replace 3 others. They show me the hoses… cracked from years of use… and the pressure hose? Not sure, but my “Ride of the Snow Gods” may very well have knocked it loose, but they weren’t sure.

Regardless for 225.00 they had me out the door in a couple of hours. I was very impressed. I drove back to the hotel where Lynda had kept all her appointments and at the end of the day? All was good. We enjoyed the evening in the hotel, got up the next morning and played “Ground Hog Day” with no repeats. We returned to our home on wheels, thumbed my nose at the great Snow Gods, and retired to our living room, deciding at the end of the day, it was all good.

However, I had some errands to get done prior to leaving the next day to Kansas. I lept into my repaired truck and drove up to the office of Tiger Run RV Resort. As I stepped out of my truck, once again, I heard the chuckle of the Snow Gods… I brushed it aside, as I am done with you! Nyah! to you I fly the middle finger! Yes! See my poor opinion of you as it flies PROUDLY!.. and in to the office I go. I speak to the ladies at the desk, flirting a bit if you will, as I have overcome the trials and adversities that have beset and destroyed lesser men! We banter, we chortle, enjoying the last day at Breckenridge ready for NEW lusty adventures on the road.

I leave the office with a dance in my step and a smile on my lips. Once again, I hear laughter in the winds.. I pay them no heed. Leaping into my newly repaired and trusty steed, I fire her up and back out.. and the laughter in the wind? Yeah, it turns into one of those damn belly laughs. My steering wheel doesn’t work again. I go from happy as a lark to “I am gonna kill somebody” and head back to the rig. I pop the hood and discover that the mechanic that had worked on my truck (I know he was frustrated) didn’t put the clamp on one of the hoses, and it popped off. I found the clamp, put the hose back on, and clamped the hose down. No problem, “Mr Fixit” to the rescue! However, I was out of power steering fluid and the closest place was 2 miles away.

“No problem!” says I! woot woot! Let’s go for a jog says I! woot woot! So I go inside, dress warmly and head on down the road. Mind you I have NEVER run at altitude and we are at 9500 feet. I make it to the building center where I find two jugs of steering fluid as I blindly grope for them.. Running at altitude does wonderful things to your body.. your lungs, eyes, legs, yeah, pretty much all of it. But I am a tougher man than most! So out the door I go with steering fluid in pack and find the local jogging trail next to the road. (One I had not seen on my way to the center). I am a happy runner! woot woot says I

I return to the rig and realize that I just put every ounce of energy into that run that I had. I poured a jug and a half of power steering fluid into the truck, went inside and passed out. Woke up two hours later with my lovely wife gazing at me with sparkles in her eye and laughter on her lips.. and her loving words?

Over did it, didn’t ya?

and in the distance I hear that damn laughter again.

Categories: Adventure, Adventure Travel, Backpacking, Camping, Downhill Skiing, Family, Hiking, Hot Tubbing!, Living Passionately, Love, Reconnection, Religious, RV Travel, Scuba, Ski, Spiritual | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

A quote got me

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

That is supposed to be a quote from Mark Twain, I cannot validate that, but I choose to believe that he did indeed write it. And with that, my post.

Lynda and I decided to follow that advice, although we had not received it directly from Mark Twain, but after getting the living hell scared out of both of us, a conversation filtered from my loving sister, Daonne, to Lynda. The conversation that Daonne and I had was a very serious one that blew in like a wind, foretelling of coming disaster and dark times. We were chatting after Lynda’s diagnosis, and Daonne simply said, “What will you do if you lose her”?

An honest question, as Lynda’s diagnosis back then was dire. And it had both of us trying to figure out what to do. We had many recommendations, such as reduce stress. Lynda was working 60 hour work weeks, with periodic 80 or 90 hour work weeks during her companies training sessions, about once a quarter. And her pay had just been cut by 30K a year. She came home in tears more often than I could count, even though she truly loved her job. Her health was paying the price. My job was pretty stress free, and the hours were stable, and the pay was excellent. I had a great boss, Cathy Young. Later I would discover she was a god send.

That question brought my world to a screeching halt. It had never once truly entered my mind that I could lose her. In that instant the darkest of time went through my mind. I stammered, I balked, but I caught myself and said that “I really don’t know”. “My life would be over, guess I would just mark time until my body caught up”. “Probably go ski patrol in Colorado, hike trails to get away, travel the world or at least the US”. Daonne kind of nodded and we let that errant line of thought go on its way. Much to my surprise, Daonne had a conversation with Lynda and passed on what I would do. Lynda approached me the next day and said that “If that is what you would do without me, why don’t we do it together instead”?

So after a teary eyed moment or three, we decided, then and there, it was time to hang up the American Dream and go live our own dream. Since that time we have sold our belongings, moved into a nice RV that we call “Koko” short for Kokopelli, the “trickster” in Native American lore.

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We have been traveling since June of last year, and no intention of stopping. We have hiked the Wyoming mountains with good friends,

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hiked the Wenatchee Mountains in Washington,

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hiked with my nephew in the Grand Tetons,

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and in Yellowstone National Park. We have spent time with friends in Bend, Oregon, and ended up here in Breckenridge Colorado for the ski season.

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We spent a month in Belize with family.

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and got to spend Spring Break with my family in Durango, And we ain’t done yet

Our tentative plans are to travel from here in Colorado to Key Largo, Florida, via Bangor Maine. In there somewhere, do some hiking, scuba diving, then return to Colorado for a family reunions, and head to South Dakota’s Black Hills for more backpacking and visit some friends during Sturgis. Stress? none, non-existent and Lynda’s health? She is a picture of health in every sense of the word, so that reduces my stress to a whopping “zero”.

We haven’t made final plans for returning to Colorado as we may choose to go to Utah instead, but we will see. And next year? Well, 2015 is our 10th anniversary. I would honestly like to RV up to Alaska during June/July/August, then return to the US to fly out to Africa for a photo safari with my wife, and if we can really stretch it somehow? Stop by Greece on the way for a week or so… So that American Dream? meh, underrated, ours is much much better in our eyes.

Funny what happens when you decide to go get lost.

You might just find a slice of paradise. I am simply thrilled to be sharing it with my soul mate. So Mr. Twain?

You were so right…

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails.

Explore. Dream. Discover.

Categories: Adventure, Adventure Travel, Backpacking, Camping, Downhill Skiing, Family, Hiking, Hot Tubbing!, Living Passionately, Love, Reconnection, Religious, RV Travel, Scuba, Ski, Spiritual, Thanksgiving | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Flashback Saturday

My wife and I were laying on our couch, getting in some snuggling time after a day of cleaning the rig from stem to stern. Vacuuming, dusting, doing laundry, oiling the rather dry wood.. All the things that you tend to put off as life tends to get in the way. Ours might be somewhat of an exception to that rule, but, our “version” of life can get in the way.

Skiing, scuba diving, backpacking, and yes a couple of days of work. Roaming through Breckenridge or Dillon, Colorado. Mostly getting out and about to see what is local and fun. Such is our life. It is fun, exciting, relaxing, and to us, ideal.

I had this incredible flashback or “vision” of around 1980 or so. Lynda and I used to lay on my “poof” or bean bag at my house. (remember those bean bags?) Anyhow, I would lay there and wonder what our future held. I knew I saw a future for us, I could feel it, taste it, I could almost see it, but it always seemed to cloud over right when I saw that bright spark in Lynda’s eyes. It would flash, and for a moment, I could see… something.

When we broke up after I joined the Marines, I can remember standing on the 3rd deck of the Supply Company barracks in the twenty two area in Camp Pendleton, looking out at the helicopters coming in and out of the airfield, and kept wondering what happened to her. How she was doing, who she might be and of course a twenty something mind would go off into the void, and I would end up with a beer in front of myself, sitting in the 22 area E-Club and with a heavy sigh, on to whatever the Corps had to offer.

Years later I had returned to Roswell, New Mexico, (no alien jokes PLEASE) and used to run a 5.5 mile loop that went by Lynda’s parents home. I would look longingly at that home, wondering if by chance she might happen that day to be there. And of course, I never stopped, just kept running by. I left New Mexico again, and went to Alaska, and again, wondered what might have happened to Lynda. Eventually, I left that thought for a new love in my life, Connie Calhoun, and this was 1989.

In 2001 my world came to a halt. My wife, Connie, died after her diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. 163 days from diagnosis to death, that fast. Something neither of us ever saw coming. We had been together almost 12 years. Been married almost 4 of that. I left Alaska on a “walkabout” an Australian term for go travel until you find yourself again.

I returned to New Mexico, and this time, I stopped at Lynda’s house. I met her mom of whom I had not seen in twenty some odd years. The years had been very kind to her, and she was very kind to me. She told me that Lynda was married, and that JD (Lynda’s father) was still kicking. Mostly small talk, but I could tell something was a bit off.  I told her thank you, and left, with no intent of ever looking for Lynda again, as she was married, so that was that.

Two years later, I was leaving Alaska permanently. My house had become a mausoleum, and if I didn’t do something I would end up joining Connie in that trip to the great beyond. I had just been contacted by John Wolf, a friend that owned a home in Girdwood, the local ski area in Alaska. It was about 45 minutes outside of Anchorage, and he needed someone to house sit for him. Shucks. While my house was up for sale, I had a place to stay.

In that time-frame, I started looking for places to go, to do that “walkabout”. I was on Classmates and as I was looking for old friends to go visit, I stumbled across Lynda’s email address. I sent her an email asking if this was indeed the same Lynda Smith I knew in high school. Time crawled until I got a response. It was. and we started up a conversation through emails. After some time, I asked her how she was REALLY doing. She replied with leaving a bad job and a bad relationship. I offered her a trip up to Alaska.

She took it.

We stayed at John’s house until March, and left Alaska in an 18 foot travel trailer, and my home was in the process of being sold for above what I asked for. We were happy, and on the road to an adventure.

Since then, we have been joined at the hip, and happily so. The past almost 11 years has been magical. There have been incredibly happy moments and incredibly scary moments. and quite the mix of the two. We are currently in Breckenridge Colorado, with the snow lightly falling outside our home on wheels. As I lay with Lynda on the couch, listening to her breathe, and watching the snow fall and blow outside, there was this flash, this sudden “flashback” of that vision.

It was that vision that I had almost managed to see in 1980. It was the future that I knew we had together, one I was completely convinced would happen. Just had no idea of how, when or where. I believe in quantum physics, the concept that time is not linear, it does not travel in one direction, we simply perceive it that way. Today, here and now, I have had the opportunity to believe that sometimes, just sometimes, life can be foreseen, imagined or not. And I have to admit…

That vision has been one of the best in my life, and I can safely say that it was not imagined.

The other vision? Seeing Lynda as an old woman puttering around in our kitchen, smiling, eyes shining, and happy. I look forward to seeing that again, in the next flashback down the road. When experiences like this happen?

It makes me relish the coming years.

Namaste

Categories: Adventure, Adventure Travel, Backpacking, Camping, Downhill Skiing, Family, Hiking, Hot Tubbing!, Living Passionately, Love, Reconnection, Religious, RV Travel, Scuba, Ski, Spiritual, Thanksgiving | Tags: | 2 Comments

A truly different post

This may bother my wife, but I am sure that she will forgive me at some point.

Not many people were aware of Lynda’s diagnosis back in 2010. Lynda had been diagnosed with what the oncologist called a metastasis of her breast cancer to her shoulder. That meant that the cancer that had originally been in her breast, was now in her shoulder, in her bone. It had been there for over a year, but Lynda had refused a biopsy, but eventually the radiologists agreed that what we were looking at was stage IV breast cancer.

We freaked. I researched all the doctors and treatments in the US and overseas that had a possibility of a cure. and if you follow western medicine, that is not possible. According to western medicine, a stage IV diagnosis is terminal they can only buy you time at best. For those of you that don’t know, I lost my first wife, Connie, to pancreatic cancer that too, was stage IV. I was horrified, not for me, but for Lynda. Her light is just too damn bright to be extinguished this early in life, and I was determined to find an answer. At any cost.

This is when we determined that a doctor in Arizona was our best chance for a cure. He had been diagnosed with stage IV cancer, which was VERY aggressive, and had managed to get himself treated naturopathically, and had succeeded in surviving. He then went to school to become an NMD, and is now treating cancer patients in Arizona.

We left for Arizona, with our life savings in hand. Almost ninety thousand dollars. Insurance doesn’t cover this kind of treatment, so it is all out of pocket. And to this day, I will tell you the same thing I said then, “I will spend every penny I have to keep her with me”. Money, stuff, means nothing without my girl by my side, that lesson I have learned and learned well.

Lynda proceeded with treatments, and let me tell you, just because they say “naturopathically or holistically” does NOT mean less painfully. Lynda endured some treatments that were very painful. I am not sure I could have done them and I have a high pain tolerance. But she endured.

I worked in San Diego, and my boss let me work 4 day work weeks which meant I could travel back and forth to Arizona until the treatments were over. I was a basket case, as long as I was not around Lynda. Around her? I sucked it up and provided the best support I could muster. She could NOT see me in any other way except fully supportive and positive. Nothing else was acceptable.

I was getting ready to leave Arizona on my way back to San Diego. I was terrified. I was hoping for the best, and expecting the worst. I had so many flash backs of being with Connie in the hospital watching her fade a little more every day until she was gone. It was beyond words. My gut was churning, I couldn’t stay focused on a single damn thing except that I was now going to lose Lynda.. and Goddamn it, hadn’t he taken enough already? I was livid at my version of god and the universe..

He had already done this once, wasn’t that enough? I even tried making a deal, take me, load me up and clear her, and I would be good with that. Tried that with Connie, and god didn’t take the deal. She died and I was left behind. Then Lynda came into my life again, and suddenly life was worth living again, and we lived full-tilt-boogie. Now? Now it was getting down to the nitty gritty. and it looked like he wasn’t going to take me up on the offer again. sonofa…. you could see where my mind was going.. all over the place.

I was at a gas station, counting the money I was spending, trying to figure out how we could squeeze out a few more bucks out to pay for a couple more treatments, and buy more time or even a cure. I turned to my left and one of the largest black men I had ever seen in my life was standing in front of me. This guys arms were as big as my legs, and when I say big, I mean muscular no fat, just muscle. His hair was longish, with dreadlocks included. He was incredibly stocky, large enough to tackle a horse and win. My first thought was “shit, I am about to get mugged”. But in the pico second that I thought that, I actually looked at the man. I mean really looked at him. He was clean, long hair, well dressed, but what got me, was his aura.

I believe that angels walk among us, even though I am not a Christian, I do believe in a higher power, and the emissary’s of that higher power, in whatever form they choose to manifest themselves. That may make me crazy or at least a couple cans short a six pack, but I do believe that the world is stranger than we can possibly imagine. and this guy seemed to be living proof of that insanity. He positively glowed in a light I will never be able to explain.

The man began to talk, and to my surprise, he spoke eloquently, and he had a gleam in his eye that was from what I would say is his spirit, his karma. I tried to shake this image loose from my brain but to no avail, his light was that pervasive. He explained that he was down on his luck, but not in those words. Instead, he spoke of a life that had simply had some unforeseen turns that put him in  a place of need. He had been successful, but due to the economy’s twists and turns, he was on the path he was on. And could I, would I, be willing to lend him a hand?

At that moment, the world stood completely still. I mean still. No traffic noise, no airplane noise, no voices in the background. It was as if the universe was holding its breath, and how I was going to treat this man would have an impact that I would never begin to fathom. Normally? I would brush this kind of guy off, with the normal, “Nah, no extra change or bucks” and push on past him. I have done it more times that I can count. Once in awhile I will toss in a buck, but never much, and seldom give it thought. After all, most of these bums are using the money for booze or drugs, right?

This guy? I think that if I sat there long enough, I would have seen a visible light, or a halo around his head, indeed, I may have. It was not the normal “gimme” crap, this was the universe determining, no, demanding, that based on how I treated this one man, the universe would treat me. Karma was knocking and I was about to answer the door. There was an eternity in that split second of making my choice. One that for the rest of my life, I will never forget.

I looked at him and said, “Please, wait here”. I didn’t have a lot of money, and I needed every penny to try to save my wife’s life. But somehow, this guy was a test, a litmus test to determine what kind of person I really was and how I was willing to treat my fellow man.  My account had a hundred in it. I pulled sixty and went back, and handed it to him.

The response?

Beyond words. The aura that this black man put out expanded, it actually made me squint as I talked to him, and it felt as if the gears of the world suddenly spun into place, and put my life into exactly where it needed to be. It felt as though suddenly, everything that was going wrong, was now going right. My fears? my nightmares? Suddenly vanished. And as this man walked away, he looked back and smiled. It was as if the angel “Michael” himself was suddenly smiling at me and telling me that everything, and I do mean everything, is going to be all right.

Now, am I crazy? probably. More than likely. The guy was probably just a shyster, just a druggie with a habit, a drunk with a problem. But you know what?

Almost five years later, and my wife is the picture of health. And we truly are living the dreams of a lifetime. And that angel that I met?

I think he is still smiling at us, I know I certainly am smiling at him. and I am moved by a verse from a book I have read in passing many, many years ago, but I take what I find appropriate for the moment, regardless of where it comes from, and remember this verse, if nothing else, the next time you meet someone truly in need:

The Holy Bible:

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’

Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

Namaste

Categories: Adventure, Adventure Travel, Backpacking, Camping, Downhill Skiing, Family, Hiking, Hot Tubbing!, Living Passionately, Love, Reconnection, Religious, RV Travel, Scuba, Ski, Spiritual | Tags: , , , | 22 Comments

Belize and the US

Well, I have been finding other fun to get into lately, and have been remiss in posting our adventures in Belize and the US. We went to Placencia, Belize and spent a few days at the Paradise Resort and enjoyed the night life of Placencia which was better than anywhere else we had been in Belize. We agreed that if we ever were to call Belize home, it would be Placencia. However, unless things got really crazy here in the US, that is not likely to happen.

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We left Placencia and headed to Punta Gorda. What a change that was. Punta Gorda does not rely on tourists for income, so at the very best, we were tolerated. Never threatened, but not favored either. The Coral House Inn was a beautiful home, and place to stay.

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Very relaxing. Very enjoyable. The bar was on the honor system, you drink a beer? Write it down and they will catch up with you later. You want a high-end scotch? yep, write it down and they will catch you when you leave. Then, in Punta Gorda we met Gomier the healer, the cook and the story-teller.

Gomier had a small “shack” called Gomier’s that served some of the best vegetarian meals I have ever had. Truly fun and amazing. Gomier was a class act all on his own. He is a “Rasta” which is a form of a religion that I don’t fully understand, but the Rastas are a peaceful  people.. and very cool. He made us vegetarian burritos that were superb, and then told us stories about the food we were eating. Fascinating.

Cooking!

Cooking!

We left Punta Gorda and enjoyed the drive down the Hummingbird Highway. What beauty. We returned the car in Belize City and caught a water taxi to San Pedro where we finished our travels in San Pedro at the Holiday Hotel right on the beach. We walked around town, enjoyed another massage by Ocean Essence Massage and what a relaxing massage that was.

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We dined with Christine Cotten and her husband, Tom Cotten at a local ex-pat’s restaurant and wow. that was excellent food. Great company. Christine helped us plan our entire trip in Belize, I cannot say enough about her travel agency, Belize  Travel Adventures. She put together the trip of a lifetime.

Christine and Tom

Now we are back in Breckenridge, Colorado, where while we were gone, our fridge had shut down (we turned it off as we left) the door latch had come apart inside the door itself, and our water line going to our fridge water dispenser also burst. All of which I repaired. I disconnected the water line and capped it until warmer weather ensues, I fixed the door mechanisms, and had to “jump” the fridge to start it again. Seems a controller board can get too cold and reset itself. and I found the way to “jump it” to make it function again. and the snow piled up a bit.

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For a guy who can barely screw a light-bulb in without goofing it up, I am becoming damn handy with a wrench. Our home is back in shape, I am in the process of slowly upgrading our stereo system and want to put in a nice one. I have removed the last TV from “Koko” and am in the process of building a stereo cabinet and an electronics/book cabinet out of the area that housed the rather large heavy TV.

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Lynda and I are preparing for the next leg of our “road trip FOR a lifetime“. We will head to the east coast to visit friends and hike parts of the Appalachian Trail. Then down to Florida to dive Key Largo for a while. We also want to spend some time at Disney World. Then? Back to Colorado in June to go to Lynda’s family reunion, and if we have the time? Raft the Grand Canyon. Once we are done in Colorado, we will head to South Dakota to hike the Black Hills, as they are beautiful

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Then? maybe to Colorado, or Utah for the next ski season…

For those that are enjoying reading about our adventures? Please leave notes, LOVE to reply, and even invite you to join us if you have the time. and we cannot thank you enough for reading about our crazy lifestyle.

erick and Lynda bristlecones

Erick and Lynda

Categories: Adventure, Adventure Travel, Backpacking, Camping, Downhill Skiing, Family, Hiking, Hot Tubbing!, Living Passionately, Love, Reconnection, Religious, RV Travel, Scuba, Ski, Spiritual, Thanksgiving | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

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