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My North Carolina Desert

Monday, March 05, 2012

I just love this time of year when I can get out and work in my flower beds. Itís a great way to make your yard pretty and get in a little healthy exercise also. Of course at my house, gardening can also be somewhat hazardous, or at least painful.

Loving the southwest as I do, the flora from that area has always appealed to me. Thatís why I decided to attempt to bring a little bit of the desert home with me several years ago. We had driven our van out to New Mexico that particular summer. The day before we were to head home I was sitting on my sisterís back patio looking at the landscape and feeling a little sad that vacation was coming to an end much to quickly. Thatís when I got the brilliant idea of bringing some cacti home with me so I could have my own little piece of the desert in North Carolina. Now, I must tell you that my sister has twenty-five acres of land in New Mexico containing an over abundance and uncontrolled growth of various forms of cacti. Many are like the ones we pay outrageous prices for in our local nurseries, and I was sitting here looking at an unlimited supply of these succulents. Thatís when I asked Terrie if I could dig up some plants. Without hesitation, she flew into her house and quickly returned with a variety of small containers and a shovel telling me to ďgo for it.Ē I was delighted, and a bit naive, and dug up two barrels, a cholla, a prickly pear, a claret cup and a yucca. They were all tiny plants that I knew would be easy to carry home in the van.

When I got home, many of my friends and family felt the need to remind me that this is North Carolina and those plants would never survive the cold winters here. Obviously they donít know how harsh the winters can be in northern New Mexico. Ignoring them, I dug up a small area beside my front sidewalk where I would nurture my little piece of the New Mexico desert. The area was only about 2 Ĺ feet by 1 Ĺ feet, but because the plants were so small it still looked empty. Nevertheless, I watered and tended to my tiny plants determined to keep them alive.

As it turns out, I didnít need to worry about my cacti surviving. Not only did they survive, they flourished! Actually, they went crazy! My critics were amazed at how these little desert plants were loving North Carolina. They quickly outgrew the tiny plot of earth I had set aside as their home, and the cholla began to take on a life of itís own growing arms that quickly began to extend out over my sidewalk. Iím pretty sure there were a couple of times that it intentionally poked me with its thorns as I walked by. This was becoming a problem. My beloved cacti was now threatening to grab and devour visitors if they attempted to make it to my front door. I had to do something, and soon.

I began digging up a larger (much larger) area in the corner of my front yard to make a new home for my piece of the desert. Wearing leather gloves, I carefully moved the now larger cacti to their new home. Problem solved! I was pleased because this area had more than enough room for my plants.

My desert garden a few months after moving the cacti to a new and larger area.

Well, that was about five years ago. The garden is now FULL of cacti. Apparently, these little specimens from the New Mexico desert love North Carolina. I sometimes look at them and think about Kudzu and I shudder. I refuse to be beaten and havenít given up the fight. I will not give in to their demands for yet more of my yard. Instead, Iím keeping them contained by pruning them a few times each year (this is where the pain part comes in). I hack off portions of the prickly pear before it grows over the barrel cactus and moves into my grass, I remove any dried up arms from the cholla that is now almost as tall as me, and with much care, gloves and a special tool, I attempt to remove all the leaves and debris that has found its way into the spines of the (now two) large yuccas and the low growing claret cups. And when Iím finished, I spend hours removing the tiny and irritating quills that have managed to find their way into my gloves and then into my hands and fingers. Yes, thereís a battle taking place in the corner of my yard, but I will not be beaten.

My same desert garden last spring.

So why donít I just pull them all up, sow grass and be done with it? Because each spring my prickly pears produce beautifully fluffy yellow blooms, the claret cups show off their vivid red flowers, the barrels produce tiny pink and chartreuse flowers and the cholla explode with spectacular fuchsia blooms.

Prickly Pear


Claret Cup

Barrel Cactus

The show is beautiful and I look forward to it every spring. And, knowing that I still have my own little piece of the New Mexico desert with me all year makes the extra effort worth it.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DEBBIEDAY 3/23/2012 2:42PM

    Beautiful! Have you tried eating the prickly pears? See them on sale in our produce departments around here but have never tried them....might keep your catus in line and provide an interesting side dish!

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PENNYAN45 3/23/2012 11:45AM

    What a successful transplant!

Your southwest garden looks beautiful - and you are the only one around with those blooms each year!

Happy Springtime!

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JAMGIRL8 3/8/2012 4:21PM

    Beautiful!! I love it! Thank you for sharing!

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LYNNE_08 3/7/2012 8:27AM

    Beautiful photos!

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GOLFGMA 3/6/2012 6:58PM

    This is just beautiful. Your pictures are such art work and you certainly have a talent for writing. Did you get special sand for your garden? It looks so much like desert sand or,do I know what desert sand looks like? Can't wait for the next blog! emoticon emoticon

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CHUEYSMOM 3/6/2012 9:51AM

    The cacti has always been my favorite...the flowers are beautiful. I know they would never survive the northern weather of Michigan but I do love them. emoticon thanks for sharing your pictures.


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ELLENEAL 3/6/2012 9:18AM


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ANDYLIN90 3/5/2012 11:54PM

    Great photos and I'm not surprised at the growth secondary to your tender loving care. I live in Scottsdale, AZ. and I love the springtime too because of all the beautiful cacti blooms as well as our wildflowers.

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    Oh, thank you for the amazing blog and pictures! Who knew? They are just amazing! I could never get rid of them either, I would be so thrilled to see those beautiful blooms on those thorny plants! Amazing!
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MARTYLYNN1 3/5/2012 7:57PM

    Love your little piece of desert in North Carolina!
When we moved to Washington from Missouri in the fall of 2010 I dug up a piece of my prickly pear and moved it with me. As far as I know it is the only cactus that is native to Missouri and they are not wide spread at that. I hope to see those lovely yellow blooms on my cactus here soon!

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RONDARC 3/5/2012 7:49PM

    So beautiful!! I have a small cacti garden also with my beavertail being my prized possession but I do love the barrel with the beautiful pink trumpet flowers. I'm still yet to get a prickly pear but I will. My DH laughs when I make him stop so I can take pictures of cactus plants in bloom on our hikes.

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LIBBYG7 3/5/2012 7:08PM

    Gorgeous....just gorgeous!

I can tell you find a lot of joy tending to these beauties!!


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DOODIE59 3/5/2012 7:02PM

    Your tiny little piece of the southwest is AMAZING!! It was killing me to read the first half of your blog because I just knew some great photos were coming -- and you did not disappoint!! Wow -- what a delightful testimony to Just Doing It. It is absolutely lovely, not to mention unique. Thank you for sharing this ... it's almost enough to make a gardener of me:)
Thank you again--

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Made it to March

Sunday, March 04, 2012

One of my blooming daffodils

Iím so happy to see March arrive. I just wish it had come in a little quieter instead of announcing itís arrival with all of the violent storms. I hope everyone that was in the path of these storms came through them okay. Keeping all those who were affected by the devastation in my prayers.

My daffodils are blooming and they are calling for a chance of snow here tonight! Itís warm one day and cold the next, but thatís not unusual for March. Now that things are calming down a little here, Iím looking forward to getting outside and doing some more hiking.

Tommy continues to do pretty well all things considered. He is still on his combination of four chemotherapy drugs, however there may be some changes to his treatments this month. He has been having a problem with numbness in his fingers and toes (caused by one of the drugs), something they say can get worse and become permanent. His doctor has been concerned about this and put him on Neurontin to try to stop the progression after his last treatment, but two weeks later the numbness in his fingers has increased. Iím afraid at his next appointment (on March 12th) they are going to change his chemo treatments. His doctor is also concerned because he is now having a problem maintaining his weight. Even though he eats constantly, his weight is creeping down a couple of pounds each week. He also will be having another scan the end of March, so we are hoping and praying for a good report from that. For now, I am just thankful that he still feels pretty good and is enjoying taking Thor on golf cart rides and visiting with his grandchildren and the rest of his family.

Thor also had a check-up this week and got a good report from his doctor. They said his bloodwork looks very good and heís still getting around pretty good. The only negative report he got was that heís gained five pounds and needs to lose it (I know how he feels). The doctor said that extra five pounds is much harder on his joints because of his missing leg. I guess I need a nutrition tracker for him also :-) Weíve cut back on his treats and his meals a little bit. And as much as he loves peanut butter, no more licking out the almost empty jars for him.

Now weíre ready for some warmer days so we can enjoy being outdoors again. Hope the weather clears for everyone soon so we can all get out and enjoy some sunshine and be thankful for each day!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ELLENEAL 3/5/2012 9:43AM

    Lovely flower...have a beautiful week.

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CHUEYSMOM 3/5/2012 8:52AM

    beautiful flower.....I love the beginning of spring.....My prayers are with you and your family! emoticon

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SHEILA234 3/5/2012 3:24AM

    Hi Cindy, I was glad to read from your update that things are going fairly well under the circumstances. I, too, hope that the doctors can find a different chemo combination for Tommy that will get rid of the numbness problem. Glad to hear about Thor's good test results also.

Your photos are just gorgeous.

Take care, and keep up that great positive outlook you have. emoticon


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DOODIE59 3/4/2012 10:05PM

    I'm glad to hear the men in your life are doing well, and I do hope the professionals can figure out how to handle Tommy's numbness.

Were all the photos on your page taken by you? I recognize some of them -- they're all gorgeous:)
Take care

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_JODI404 3/4/2012 9:53PM

    So glad to hear that your guys are doing well... all things considered. I do hope that the tweaking of the meds will bring better results for Tommy.

You are always in my prayers, and frequently in my thoughts too! Sending prayers, and positive, healing thoughts the way of your loving family!

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GOLFGMA 3/4/2012 7:14PM

    Cindy, thank you for the update. I was wondering how Tommy and Thor were doing. Praying that the doctor can find a better treatment for Tommy and good luck with putting Thor on a diet. I love the picture of the daffodil and sure hope they aren't snow covered tomorrow morning! One of these days we are all gonna have you plan a hike for us. I go to church with one of the rangers at Hanging Rock State Park and he says to come see him and he would help us map out a hike that any of us could physically handle. Any interest? Hugs to you, Tommy and Thor. emoticon

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    Thank you for sharing all the beauty and joy you're finding. I continue to keep all the best thoughts and send long distance hugs for you, Tommy, and Thor.

emoticon Sending some southwest sunshine,

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    Thank you for your Spring update! The daffodil is just beautiful! I know weeks ago my husband came in to announce that our day lilies were starring to come up on the side of our house...it was mid FEB!!! Poor plants are as confused as the rest of us!
I want you to know you, Tommy and Thor remain in my thoughts and prayers!
Have a great week!
Thanks for your comment on my blog...it means so much!
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RONDARC 3/4/2012 3:15PM

    Hugs & prayers to you, Tommy & Thor. I'm glad to hear they are doing well. I agree, cold one day and hot the next. Right now it's 86 but by Tuesday it's suppose to get back down to the mid 60's. One of my Daffodil bloomed, makes me happy to know Spring is almost here!! and my Tulips are getting ready!!
Love & Hugs,

BTW, we put Oreo on a "diet", (she didn't get much activity last winter and I kept feeding her normally so she gained a few pounds). I cut back on her food some and started mixing pumpkin in to replace the food I cut back on. It's filling & good for them. So far it's been helping. Just a thought.... emoticon

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LIBBYG7 3/4/2012 2:06PM

So glad to hear that Tommy uses his golfcart to get him where he needs to go and that Thor is well enough to accompany him.
It isn't unusual for neuropathy to set in with chemo drugs. It hit my hands 14 years ago when I went thru' it....and lasted for a long while (months...). Eventually, it slowly went away. Weight loss is a toughie...... Lots of energy shakes and nutritious high protein foods should help...if Tommy wants it.....

G-d bless you all for your spirit, your tenacity, your love for each other.
Keep on making those beautiful memories.......

Best love,
Libby emoticon

...and oh yes.....that photo of the daffodil is just PERFECT! How joyful...

Comment edited on: 3/4/2012 2:07:23 PM

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MARTYLYNN1 3/4/2012 12:56PM

    I hope they are able to find a solution for Tommy's weight loss & numbness. But glad he is doing well otherwise. I can relate to Thor. I have been in therapy for an injured knee & they told me the same thing about extra weight putting more stress on the joints! Thanks for sharing your daffodil with us! I am so ready for spring!

Comment edited on: 3/4/2012 12:57:33 PM

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Spark People 28 Day BootCamp DVD

Thursday, February 02, 2012

I started using the Spark People 28 Day Boot Camp DVD just after Christmas and I absolutely love it. That's saying a lot for me because I've never been especially fond of exercising inside. Instead, I prefer to get outdoors whenever I get the chance.

I think one of the reasons I've always hated it is because I've bought a lot of VHS tapes and DVD's in the past only to find they are far beyond my fitness level. I would quickly get frustrated, put them on the shelf and let them collect dust.

I've found this DVD to be different because it gives you more options for working out. You can follow their 28-day plan or you can choose from all the different workouts to create your own plan for cardio and strength training. You also have options within each workout to take the exercises to a more difficult level or to stay at an easier level until you're ready for a more challenging workout. (I have to admit that many times in the beginning I was staying at a lower intensity with Jewel, but as time passes I'm getting stronger and can more often step it up to the higher intensity.)

The best part is that I'm already starting to feel results. I love to hike for exercise, and in the month I've been using it I am already becoming a stronger hiker. It is definitely helping to strengthen my quads and hamstrings allowing me to sail uphill and downhill with greater ease than I have in many years. I went hiking with my 28 year old son today and he was impressed with how much stronger I've become.

Thank you Spark People and Coach Nicole for a wonderful DVD!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

GOLFGMA 2/6/2012 8:56AM

    You are giving me ideas! I haven't tried it , but, sounds good! emoticon emoticon

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SHFELKEY 2/3/2012 2:52PM

    Way to go!

Thanks for posting your review of the DVD! Keep on Sparking!

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CANDOK1260 2/3/2012 1:56PM

    thanks for ther review

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    Keeping an exercise streak is all about finding what you love,... emoticon

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CHUEYSMOM 2/3/2012 11:04AM

    Awesome news....I don't mind working out indoors...it just gives me something different to do in bad weather. =) emoticon

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MEWHENRYSMAMA 2/3/2012 11:01AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon
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DOODIE59 2/3/2012 9:50AM

    Great news, and thank you for sharing:)

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HICKOK-HALEY 2/3/2012 1:09AM

    Glad to hear you are enjoying it, and that it helps for your outdoor fun!

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_JODI404 2/2/2012 11:12PM

Great review, and AWEsome results!!!! Way to Go!!!!!!

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MJ7DM33 2/2/2012 11:08PM

  I'm glad the DVD is working for you!

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A Great Day at a Wildlife Preserve

Sunday, January 29, 2012

We got up this morning and headed south for Huntington Beach State Park, a wildlife preserve. What fun we had. The park has several boardwalks that take you out over the saltwater marshes and a couple of nature trails that also lead past a marsh. There is also beach access to a more remote area of beach. The weather was beautiful again and we needed only a light jacket outside.

Sandpiper at Huntington Beach

This Cormorant really seemed to be showing off for the camera.

Tommy on one of the boardwalks over the saltwater marsh.

Blue Heron


Brown Pelican

After leaving the park, we had a nice seafood dinner and then stopped back by Broadway at the Beach to walk around the lake.

Broadway at the Beach

Broadway at the Beach

What a fun day. Now it's off to sleep so we can head home tomorrow.

I hope everyone is having a great weekend!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

HICKOK-HALEY 1/31/2012 3:19PM

    Oh, I'm jealous. What a beautiful area. I'm so glad you went. I have to get down there someday. Wonderful pictures. Especially the birds in flight. That isn't always easy to capture. The Heron is gorgeous!

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CARLA-216 1/31/2012 1:18PM

    Sounds like you two had a great weekend away. I love wildlife preserves, and you got some nice pics there.

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TXGRANDMA 1/30/2012 7:12PM

    What beautiful pictures! You captured the birds perfectly! So glad that you are having such a good time! emoticon

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    Just gorgeous - what a day!

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DOODIE59 1/29/2012 2:46PM

    Wow! Your always wonderful photos have taken us on your day trip to the park! How very beautiful:) Thank you so much for sharing your holiday with us.

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LIBBYG7 1/29/2012 9:27AM

    Hi there.....
You are making beautiful memories!!!

and.....you're a great photographer!


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GOLFGMA 1/29/2012 8:08AM

    As usual, your photographs are a work of art! I could not select a favorite although seeing the sand piper I immediately looked for the shadow of his other leg. They are so amazing. Do you think yoga or palates would enable me to stand on one leg like that? lol Thanks Cindy for sharing. Be safe on the way home. Mel

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MEWHENRYSMAMA 1/29/2012 7:47AM

    Oh, so beautiful...for a minute I thought they were pictures from a book...not something you took...amazing! So glad you had such a beautiful day together!
May you have a safe trip home with your lovely memories!
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CHANGE4THEBEST 1/29/2012 7:30AM

    A beautiful place to visit - thank you for sharing your photo's emoticon

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MARTYLYNN1 1/29/2012 2:12AM

    Great pictures. Glad you had good weather for you get away!

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PINKHOPE 1/29/2012 12:35AM

    I love waterfowl. Thank you for sharing your beautiful pictures!

Press On!

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Another Beautiful Day at the Beach

Friday, January 27, 2012

Wow, I thought yesterday was nice, but today was incredible. When I woke up this morning it was raining lightly outside. We got ready and went for breakfast (actually an early lunch since we slept late). By the time we finished eating the sun was popping out and it turned into a beautiful and warm, breezy day.

After lunch we drove down to Murrells Inlet to check out some of the marshy areas.

Murrells Inlet

Seagull at Murrells Inlet

After we left there, we drove back up to Myrtle Beach and went to Broadway at the Beach. We got in a lot of walking there, so I was happy about that.

Me and Tommy

Tommy at Broadway at the Beach

After that we came back to our hotel where a very nice man who works there offered to take me to the roof of the hotel so I could get some pictures (not sure I was supposed to be up there, but I really appreciate his kindness).

Looking north from the roof of our hotel.

Later I went out for a walk on the beach to get a little more exercise and some sunset pictures. It was one of the most beautiful sunsets I've seen.

Looking south from behind our hotel.

Tomorrow we're heading to Huntington Beach State Park (recommended by the nice man who took me on the roof). He says there are supposed to be lots of opportunities to photograph different birds and wildlife there. It should be fun.

I'm trying not to eat too much this weekend. We did have Coldstone Creamery ice cream today at Broadway at the Beach, but we split it so not as many calories.

Off to take a night walk along the boardwalk!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CARLA-216 1/31/2012 1:16PM

    Beautiful photos!

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MEWHENRYSMAMA 1/28/2012 11:03PM

    Loved the pictures! Beautiful! Thanks so much for sharing! Just think moderation with food...And ENJOY! Looking forward to more pictures!
Be safe!

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GOINGTOBEFIT 1/28/2012 8:39PM

    This place looks wonderfully relaxing! Enjoy your ice cream - its ok to have a treat now & then :)

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LIBBYG7 1/28/2012 12:05PM

You two must be happy and rested. What a beautiful place to get away to.
I love your photos.....what kind of camera and what setting did you use to get the night shots?

How's Thor? Well I hope. I'm sure he misses you.

You two are a true inspiration....
Luv, Libby emoticon

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GOLFGMA 1/28/2012 8:13AM

    Again, beautiful photographs. The close-up of the seagull is my favorite in this group, though they all make me want to be there! I love the beach, any part of it. Have stayed north, south and in the middle and so many beautiful golf courses are there! Keep having fun and enjoy your time there. We are loving it too. emoticon

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ANDYLIN90 1/28/2012 1:40AM

    Looks like you are having a great time and I loved the picture of the ferris wheel.

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WORLDSERIES11 1/28/2012 1:38AM

    So glad you're having a great time and what a beautiful place to spend time together!!

Thanks also for taking the time to write and be so supportive. I appreciate it more than you know.
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PENNYAN45 1/28/2012 12:17AM

    What a beautiful setting for a long getaway weekend! It looks so relaxing.
Thanks for sharing the photos with us.
You two look great together!

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DOODIE59 1/27/2012 11:31PM

    What a lovely trip! Extra special because it's not so crowded. Your photos really take us there -- thank you again:)

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CHUBRUB3 1/27/2012 11:21PM

    Your holiday sounds wonderful!
Beautiful pictures.
Love the one of you & Tommy.

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MARTYLYNN1 1/27/2012 9:21PM

    Thanks for sharing your get away with us. Beautiful!

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_JODI404 1/27/2012 8:55PM

    That is a stunning sunset!!

So glad you & Tommy are having a wonderful time!

Love the pictures. emoticon emoticon emoticon

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