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San Juan River Trip

Friday, July 04, 2014

I know this is late, but the last eight days have been non-stop and so much fun. I'll get to it all eventually, but for now I'll start where I left off.

On June 23rd, we arrived at the Recapture Lodge in Bluff, Utah to prepare for our launch the next morning. We rearranged our gear and put everything in dry bags before attempting to get a good night sleep. The next morning, we all met (six of us) at the Sand Island launch site where a ranger inspected our boats and gear to insure we had all the required items and were fully prepared for our trip. When she was satisfied, she signed my permit and we were on our way. I launched my boat with my waterproof Tommy flag flying on the back.

My son, his best friend Mike, and our friend Debbie preparing to launch.

It was a beautiful day and the beginning of the San Juan River was calm and easy paddling (that would not be the case later). The water level had dropped lower than we had hoped for actually making some of the rapids more difficult to maneuver, but we were determined to make the trip no matter what.

Shortly after launching our boats.

My son Cliff and his best friend Mike.

We stopped on a little sandy bank for some lunch.

At one point we were accompanied by a lot of geese.

This was an awesome cave and we could actually see some ruins inside of it.

We took a break and hiked up a short trail. My son Cliff is on the left and his friend Mike is on the right pointing out some bighorn sheep on the other side of the river.

We were originally planning to camp two nights on the river, but even though it was low the water was moving fast and we completed ten miles much faster than we expected. We knew we had three major named rapids to take on and we were all in agreement that we wanted to stop and camp and face the rapids the next morning. We found a beautiful beach in a big bend just past a set of smaller, fun rapids.

Having dinner at our campsite

Our beautiful campsite

The next morning we were up pretty early, packed and ready to get back on the water. Our first challenge just around the next bend would be four foot rapids.

Scouting four foot rapids from the shore. The pictures really don't do them justice. The water was moving so fast and the lower water level meant there were a lot more rocks and boulders to maneuver around. Still, all six of us made it through four foot rapids. They were FUN!

The next set of rapids would prove to be a lot more challenging. These are called eight foot rapids and are the most difficult on this section of the river. We stopped to scout them and I must admit that I had serious doubts because there was a small area you had to get through, between two rocks, and then face a serious wave train on the other side. I considered portaging my boat around, but in the end it was so rocky I decided to go for it. I made it between the rocks and was actually starting to laugh going through the wave train, then I celebrated my victory too early. Hah! That river taught me a lesson and in an instant I was upside down. The water was rushing so fast that it actually ripped my hydration pack loose and that was lost, but I made it safely to shore and Mike caught my boat for me. Those rapids flipped three of our boats and sent us swimming.

When I got to my boat, I realized that the river had also claimed my Tommy flag. At first I was heartbroken that it was gone, but then I started to think about this differently. Maybe this was as it should have been. He loved Utah so, so much and maybe his flag should stay here. My hope is that someone will find that waterproof flag one day and google his name, come across his Facebook page, and realize just how special this person was.

Looking back up at eight foot rapid. I just wish the picture could show what the waves actually looked like.

Next we would face the final named rapid, Ledge Rapid. The trick here was to get to the right of the rock garden and the boulder sitting in the middle of the river and then back quickly to the left to avoid being pushed into a ledge. After the last rapid, there was a lot of nerves going in. Unfortunately, two members of our party was flipped in this rapid, but I'm thankful I made it through without incident. Unfortunately I got no pictures of this rapid.

After getting through this rapid, the rest of the trip was easy paddling with just some minor, fun rapids along the way. We had made it through the canyon so quickly that we ended up finishing the trip that evening.

Picture my BIL took of me nearing the end of our trip.

A bighorn sheep drinking from the river.

Paddling through the Raplee Anticline only a couple miles from the take out.

Another picture of the Raplee Anticline near Mexican Hat, Utah.

At the Mexican Hat take out. We had a few bruises, we were tired and hungry, but what an amazing trip down the river. The scenery along that stretch was incredible. I wouldn't trade any part of it for anything.

We're now in Moab, Utah waiting for dark to watch some fireworks.

Happy Independence Day Everyone!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SHESMITH1 7/9/2014 9:46AM

    You are quite the impressive lady! Attitude. Spirit. Adventure. You've got it all! Thank you for sharing your trip with us. Makes me want to add kayaking to my (already way too lengthy) bucket list. Glad you're safe and sound and - hopefully - rested.

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EMPTYNESTER60 7/8/2014 9:32PM

    I'm a little late catching up on your trip but it sounds like it was wonderful for you. I'm glad you shared the pictures & the blog with all of us who would never have the nerve to try this. It is too bad that you lost your Tommy flag, but it is kind of special that it is there in Utah. So glad that you were able to make this trip & that it turned out as great as it did for you & your family. Also very glad that you're back in NC safe & sound!

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WORLDSERIES11 7/7/2014 4:12PM

    What a great experience!! And beautiful pictures as always!! Love your attitude about the Tommy flag and can't wait to hear about it being found:) Stay safe.

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REMEMBER2BME 7/7/2014 9:43AM

    Waterproof Tommy flag? Too cool! Outstanding :)
Love the geese!
Yikes, you brought a flood of tears to my eyes suddenly, reading about the flag but ... I agree with you 100%. It sounds like your Tommy is an awful lot like my DH. It is definitely what he would have wanted.
Love the sheep too. Great shots!!!
Moab for the 4th. Amazing!

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KAYOTIC 7/6/2014 1:25PM

    Love your attitude about the flag, the rapids, and the trip, what a great sense of adventure you have! Pushing boundaries, trying new things, and making it work are the best reasons for living!

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    OMG, I am just so impressed! What an amazing time! Thank you for the great pictures! I really think Tommy's flag was meant to stay! Don't feel bad, I think it was the way it was meant to be :-)
Enjoy the rest of your wonderful trip...looking forward to hearing more!
Love & Hugs,

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LINDAKAY228 7/5/2014 11:21AM

    The pictures are so amazing! Pictures never do capture though what we see in real life, like the breathtaking beauty and the rapids and things. But they help a lot. Glad you made it through with only being dunked in one set of rapids. You're probably right about Tommy's flag. Even if the flag stayed in a place he loved, his spirit is still with you I believe. Glad there is so much laughter and fun too! Hope you enjoyed watching the fireworks in Moab!

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HOLLYM48 7/5/2014 10:20AM

    WOW, what an awesome trip. You must be so proud that you were able to do something like this. That is beyond awesome. The strength that it must have taken to get through all those rapids is amazing. Congrats and thanks for sharing the beauty with us. Way to go!!!!

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ODAT1117 7/5/2014 9:35AM

    Absolutely FABULOUS!!!!! I, too, would choose to think about your Tommy flag as the way it was meant to be. He's there now, resting.

And holy moly that must have gotten your adrenalin going when you guys flipped!! Scary and glad you all made it okay. That would be hard to do the next set of rapids, for sure. WAY TO GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I'm SO happy for you that you got to go and that it was so incredibly successful AND that you got to end it with fireworks in Moab!! HOW AWESOME!!

Thanks for taking the time to share! :-)

- fellow yakker...... :-)

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GOLFGMA 7/5/2014 7:00AM

    Sounds glorious and I'm so glad you shared the experience with us! emoticon

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RASPBERRY56 7/5/2014 4:40AM

    Glad you had a great experience!

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LIVINGFREE19 7/5/2014 1:42AM

    I love your pics and how you tell the story, you are very good at it!

That looks like such a fun trip!

I hope you had a super 4th!

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NELLIEC 7/5/2014 12:16AM

    Beautiful pictures.

But I have to say that I am glad it was you making this trip and not me. emoticon

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Vacation Fun

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Hope everyone is doing well. I'm having a great time on vacation. We're in Moab, Utah right now and staying busy, but wanted to take a few minutes to try to start catching up here with blogs.

I'll start with the first few days we were here. We arrived in New Mexico over a week ago and we camped the first two nights at Abiquiu Lake. The weather was gorgeous and it was great seeing my nieces while we were there.

Abiquiu Lake

Sunset at Abiquiu Lake

Chama River near Abiquiu Lake

My son Cliff and his best friend Mike near Abiquiu, New Mexico

Me at Ghost Ranch near Abiquiu. Yes, that is three kayaks on top of my little car and we brought them all the way from North Carolina!

After leaving Abiquiu, we headed for Bluff, Utah where we spent the night at the Recapture Lodge preparing for our San Juan River kayaking/camping trip the next day. That was a wild time. I'll try to post pics from that tomorrow night.

Hope everyone is doing well and having a great week!

Cindy emoticon emoticon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SHESMITH1 7/9/2014 9:36AM

    So glad you're having a wonderful time. Much deserved!!!!
Love the pix - keep them coming!

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EMPTYNESTER60 7/8/2014 9:24PM

    Always love your pictures! Glad you had this chance to get away & do what you really like to do.

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REMEMBER2BME 7/7/2014 9:35AM

    Amazing picture. I think Moab is my DH's favorite place. How did not not register that you are in NC. I am just sound of the NC border in Rock Hill.

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ODAT1117 7/5/2014 9:39AM

    FANTASTIC!!!! SO glad you got to get away. :-)

And gorgeous pics, too!!

Thanks for sharing!

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LIVINGFREE19 7/4/2014 1:16AM

    Happy 4th of July!

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LIVINGFREE19 7/4/2014 1:16AM

    I'm glad that you are having such a great time!

I love your pics!

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LINDAKAY228 7/2/2014 11:19AM

    I've been through Abiquiu and seen the river and the lake but it's been quite a few years! Glad you are having such a great time!

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_JODI404 7/1/2014 9:41PM


Your pictures are stunning, as always!!! Just gorgeous! Thank you for sharing.

So happy to hear that you are having a wonderful time on your vacation!!



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CHEBBA 7/1/2014 7:06PM

    Wonderful. I can feel the fun and enjoyment all these thousands of miles away! I look forward to the next instalment!


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GOLFGMA 7/1/2014 8:13AM

    Can see that you are having fun and I can't wait for the kayaking pictures. The river photo lets us know you're gonna have fun on it! Keep the vacation fun going while we miss you here in Winston Salem! emoticon

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    That is great that you are having a good time Cindy. emoticon

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ALICIA214 7/1/2014 12:44AM

  Beautiful pics . Thank you for sharing them...


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SASSISPRING 7/1/2014 12:39AM

    Gorgeous scenery! What a great trip!!

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ZRIE014 7/1/2014 12:28AM

  have a great time

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WORLDSERIES11 7/1/2014 12:12AM

    Glad you're having a fun time!! Stay safe and enjoy!!
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I'm Out of Here!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Only temporarily of course. emoticon
My car is all packed and kayaks are loaded on top. I'm working tonight, but when I get home my son and his best friend will be waiting for me. I'll take a quick shower and then jump in the back seat of my car with my pillow and blanket and let them drive.

We'll be away for a couple of weeks, but I'll be checking in occasionally when we have a signal. Until I return, I hope you all keep pushing toward your goals and enjoy the new couple of weeks. New Mexico and Utah, here we come!

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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

NORWOODGIRL 6/21/2014 9:38PM

    My vacation will be imagining kayaking with you emoticon . I can hardly wait for the pictures that you'll post when you return!

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_JODI404 6/20/2014 10:39PM


I hope you have the MOST Amazing time!!!!



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SUSANNAH31 6/20/2014 2:55PM

    Have a WONDERFUL time! So happy for you.

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GOLFGMA 6/20/2014 7:13AM

    Thought about you yesterday and knew you were super excited! Praying for safe travel and that the vacation is all you dreamed it would be and even more! emoticon

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WORLDSERIES11 6/20/2014 12:57AM

    Have a wonderful time! Can't wait to hear all about it and see the pictures. Be safe and have fun!!

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STEVEN_D 6/19/2014 10:14PM

    Have a blast!

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LIVINGFREE19 6/19/2014 8:57PM

    Have fun, Cindy, I wish you the best, so much!!
Big (((HUGS)))

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LINDAKAY228 6/19/2014 8:12PM

    I know you are all going to have such an awesome time!

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RONDARC 6/19/2014 7:11PM

    Cindy, have a great time!! I'll be thinking about you and wishing I was there!!

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LUVS2BIKE101 6/19/2014 6:55PM

    Have a fun and active vacation!!!! And paddle to the song of the birds that surround you!

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CHEBBA 6/19/2014 6:54PM

    Missing you already!

Be careful, stay safe and come back and tell us all about it. xx


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ARNETTELEE 6/19/2014 6:48PM

  Have a great time away from home!

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In Memory Of My Best Friend

Monday, June 09, 2014

Two weeks from today I, along with five others, will be driving from New Mexico to Bluff, Utah where well spend the night before beginning our three day kayak trip down the San Juan River. The plans are all complete, reservations are all made, permits are in hand, gear is packed, and new tires are on the car. Yes, everything is going exactly as we had hoped when we began making these plans over a year ago. Except one thing. Tommy will not be with us.

Although Tommy did not kayak, he was always supportive of me and my son. He often shuttled us to local rivers and would wait patiently for us at a take-out point to pick us up and deliver us safely home. He was excited about this vacation and he was excited for us. He planned to go along and shuttle us to the San Juan River in Bluff and then pick us up three days later in Mexican Hat, Utah. He loved that area and wanted to spend those three days sightseeing and relaxing, just doing whatever he wanted, and then spending the remainder of vacation with us in Moab, Utah. Unfortunately, his battle with cancer came to an abrupt end shortly after we began making our plans.

With preparations now complete, I find myself with much more time to think about Tommy and how much he wanted to go with us. It makes me sad that he isn't here, that we wont be hearing his laughter, or even listening to him complain about the traffic on I-40. However, when I launch my kayak from Sand Island in Bluff, Utah, I will be flying a two-sided flag on the back of it in memory of my best friend and soul mate. My hope is that he and Thor will be standing high on Muley Point, one of his favorite places, looking down over the San Juan River and smiling.

The pictures below are what will be on each side of the flag Im making. Ive already printed the pictures on cloth. The only thing left to do is to spray them with a water sealant and then sew everything together and attach it to the dowel.

Were going to have a great time, but there will also be an empty spot by our campfires at night. I know he will be with us in spirit, but God how I wish he could be with us in body also.


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LIVINGFREE19 6/13/2014 10:55PM

    So sorry about this Cindy. I think of you so often and the heartache you have had to endure.
That is a wonderful idea with the flag!

Big emoticon

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EMPTYNESTER60 6/11/2014 11:28PM

    I love the flag and the idea of having it with you while you are on the river. There will be an empty spot at the campfire but treasure the memories you have of earlier trips and begin to make new memories. I can't wait to see the beautiful pictures that you always take on your trips. Have a safe trip & enjoy the gorgeous scenery.

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SHESMITH1 6/11/2014 5:19PM

    I love the flag! I do believe Tommy will be making that trip, because I think you take him with you wherever you go. His memory is alive and well in your heart and soul. I am so sorry he will not be with you physically, but I'm so thankful you have so many wonderful memories of him.

God bless you, my friend. Have a great trip.

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HICKOK-HALEY 6/10/2014 8:28PM

    Oh wow, I have tears in my eyes, but they are good kind of tears. I LOVE your idea. A great way to honor your best friend. And you are so right, he will be there with you in spirit. So will Thor. I like the picture of Tommy, and the flag you put together!

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CHEBBA 6/10/2014 1:34PM

    I'm not sure what is beyond this life but I refuse to believe that there isn't something, that when 'the end' comes, that's it. There has to be a reason for us living as long or short as we do, for how we live our lives, for the relationships we make, the impact we have on others and the ambitions and achievements we all develop. It cannot stop, just like that.

I have not had a vast amount of tragedy in my life, mercifully, but because I believe that I WILL see my precious, departed dogs again one day, I thus believe that I will also see adored friends who have also gone 'next door'. That, therefore, means that they are 'hanging around us' still and watching our earthly lives and exploits. Thus it is that Tommy will be watching your expedition from some vantage point, willing you on to have a wonderful time, trying to transmit some sort of message that he is still with you but that you just can't see him in earthly form. I'm sure you will return having felt his presence.

Have a wonderful time, he will be whispering to you through the bankside reeds and over the breeze, and I really hope you will feel the bonus of that in what promises to be a most exciting and fulfilling journey.

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GOLFGMA 6/10/2014 6:56AM

    A beautiful and meaningful tribute and so like you to think of him. Will be praying that all goes well on the trip and that you will find peace and contentment while remembering Tommy and Thor. emoticon

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WORLDSERIES11 6/10/2014 12:13AM

    What a lovely tribute! I'm sure he is so proud of you for going forward with your plans and he'll certainly be watching over you, with Thor by his side:)
emoticon emoticon

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NORWOODGIRL 6/9/2014 11:01PM

    What a great idea!

Your trip will be special for many different reasons.

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ODAT1117 6/9/2014 6:43PM

    Big hugs..............

I cannot imagine.........

This might be an emotional trip down the river of life AND it will be well worth it. Listen for Tommy and Thor. I know you'll hear them and you'll see them. Paddle Paddle Paddle for the love of your life. :-)


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NELLIEC 6/9/2014 4:15PM

    Yes, he and Thor will be watching over you!

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LINDAKAY228 6/9/2014 11:10AM

    The flag is so beautiful! What a wonderful tribute to him! I believe he's going to be there in spirit, along with Thor, sending you all off and waiting for you when you get where he would pick you up. Life does such weird things to us sometimes and what we expected at one point in our journey ends up being different, or even a different journey. I've never lost a best friend/soul mate so I'm not going to tell you I know what it feels like. Even for every one who has the experience can be a little different for each one. But my thoughts and prayers are with you for a journey that will carry the memory of them and at the same time be a lot of fun for everyone involved!

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More than just kayaking

Friday, May 30, 2014

We had another great day yesterday on the Dan River. My son, his friend Mike, my daughter-in-law Rosa and I were all off work and decided to get back on the river. The forecast a few days ago had been for storms, but the weather improved and it turned out to be a great day for paddling.

A nice sandy beach for taking a break

We later stopped on these rocks to take another break. There is a thin narrow area that the water channels through that creates some small rapids. Cliff and Mike decided it would be fun to put on their vests and body surf through it.

Mike in the front and my son in the back trying to hold up my GoPro camera while they went through the rapids. Of course they were able to talk me into it also!

Me doing some body surfing.

Even Rosa (who can't swim) just couldn't resist. She put her vest back on and jumped in while Cliff and Mike waited on the other side to catch her. Apparently that wasn't enough for her because we later caught her rock climbing down river.

Rosa climbing the rocks. My son Jeremy (her husband who was at work) would have choked me if she'd fallen and got injured.

It was a great day and everyone had so much fun. Looking forward to our next trip out.

This is my weekend to work, but hope you all have a wonderful weekend and get some time to enjoys the outdoors!

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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

HICKOK-HALEY 6/2/2014 11:17PM

    The water looks divine. I used to climb rocks to. It was fun in my younger days lol
Sure is a pretty area.

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MOTIVATED@LAST 5/31/2014 9:18PM

    Looks like an awesome trip.

Great photos!

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KAYOTIC 5/31/2014 7:27PM

    Sounds like a great outing, glad the weather improved, and you could take advantage!

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CHEEKYGEEK 5/31/2014 4:38PM

    Great pictures! Thanks for sharing. The whole outing looked like a great deal of fun! That river looks just my speed. I like fairly placid water so that I can stop whenever I want and take pictures. I hope you get many more days like that.

Kudos to you for going outside your comfort zone with the body surfing. emoticon

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GOLFGMA 5/31/2014 6:39AM

    The paddling pictures look more my speed. Looks so serene. Ahh............ Just know you are going to enjoy that vacation coming up. Thanks for sharing as always. emoticon

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NORWOODGIRL 5/30/2014 11:33PM

    Great blog! As usual I love the pics. emoticon

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_JODI404 5/30/2014 9:46PM

    That looks like so much fun!! Way to go trying new things! I trust your sons wouldn't have you doing anything too crazy-dangerous. (I hope).

So good to see you having a good time! I know how much you love to be active and out in nature.

Hope you have a lovely weekend ahead!

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LIVINGFREE19 5/30/2014 9:05PM

    Love the pics! It looks like a really fun time!

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WORLDSERIES11 5/30/2014 1:48PM

    Looks like a great time!! So glad you are out having fun!!
Still no kayaking icon...lol
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NKING1982 5/30/2014 1:45PM

    Looks like so much fun, i love kayaking!

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LINDAKAY228 5/30/2014 12:23PM

    Glad Rosa didn't get hurt and your son didn't have to choke you! Just joking but glad she didn't get hurt. The whole thing looks like it was so much fun though! And after all you've been through you deserve some fun! Hope there is a ton more to come!

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ODAT1117 5/30/2014 11:15AM

    Okay, that's it. I am making us get out on the water in the yaks this weekend!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! NO excuses!!! :-)

Looks like you had a great time!

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GERIKRAGH 5/30/2014 10:55AM

    Sounds wonderful.

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