I have fond memories of boating from my childhood. As a grade schooler I spent several summer vacations down in the hills of southern Kentucky’s Laurel Lake camping and boating with my cousins on their family boat. Dad bought a used boat for our family when I was in middle school – the Galaxy. It was generally just my dad and us two girls out on the water, and neither she nor I could drive a truck or a boat. So, Dad taught us how to be real good at holding on very tightly to the dock from aboard our vessel! We made it work as a family-of-three, and it was something we all three looked forward to on the weekends. Our trips along the Ohio River or on local lakes were good family time, despite the distress our household would be under. A few hours on the water took us away from reality for a bit. I discovered at a young age that “out there,” we could all just breathe.
I’d be remised to leave out those captivating sunsets we witness on a regular basis “out there.” They seem to set the water on fire from our vantage point – be it on the lake or the Great Ohio. There’s no better way to end a long day in the sun than to observe its rendezvous with the horizon, until the earth wins and the sun bows to its power with a beautiful wave of color. The reflection on the water can take your breath away. The view from the Good Time’ing never grows old. It’s like “eye candy” that feeds the soul.
Surrounded by a plethora of festive fall colors that October day out on Eastfork Lake, I realized that being able to remove myself from reality for just a bit of time on a regular basis allows my mind’s eye to view my vast world from a different perspective than most get the opportunity to partake. What my eyes take in brings a subtle peace-of-mind that being on land just can’t provide me. It’s my perspective, and it’s beautiful.
I love adventure. But, I'll be honest, I'm not a huge fan of amusement parks. Even for those with a season pass, they drain your wallet dry, completely exhaust you, and inevitably leave this mother-of-two with a lingering headache that never fades until I lay my head down on my soft pillow that night.
Cincinnati is home to one of the Midwest's most popular amusement parks - Paramount's Kings Island. The park is home to The Beast - the longest wooden coaster in the world, and the longest roller coaster in the continental United States. There have been plenty of new coasters and other rides for adventure-seekers in recent years; however, my boys don't have any lasting memories from this local landmark yet, because I can think of far more lasting ways to spend a buck! I could pack them up in the car and drive down to Tennessee for a day or two and be in the heart of The Great Smoky Mountains for less money than it costs for a family-of-four to visit Kings Island for the day.
Granted, the amusement park was a fantastic place to spend the day as a kid. I recall many summers spent there in my "tween" years, gallivanting around the park with my seventh and eighth grade friends all day long. We would ride coaster-after-coaster, and then venture over to the water park side to beat the heat during the afternoons. But, now that I'm nearing 40, I would much rather spend my off days and weekends during the summer on the bow of my boat floating on the water somewhere in the sun than standing in a two our line in the blazing heat. I promised my boys I'd take them to Kings Island next summer. Sufficed to say, Daddy's gonna need to take that day off - mama doesn't do rides that spin!
Now, Disney has the amusement park gig down to a science, or more like an art. And, no matter your age, one can appreciate the "magic" a vacation to meet Mickey brings the entire family. We took the boys there on a seven-night family vacation with their Keeta and Gram in tow in 2013. We did it all - Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, MGM Studios...and each night all four adults lathered our aching joints with Bengay! Disney was beautifully-exhausting. And, I'd be a liar if I said I'm glad we don't have to go back and get sprinkled with magic pixie dust anytime soon, for as impressive as this iconic place truly is, Chris and I would rather be beyond the noise and chaos these parks bring. And at the end of the day, we are raising two boys that would rather be partaking in God's great natural wonders as well.
We rented a cabin right outside of Gatlinburg in the town called Pigeon Forge, complete with a third floor gaming room and a theatre room in the basement. The six kids had eyes the size of quarters when we first arrived at our mountain retreat - complete with pop-a-shot, a pool table, several full-size arcade games, a hot tub and bunk beds made out of solid wood to match the interior design of the multi-story cabin. Those kids would have been content just staying there at the cabin for the four-day getaway! However, once they took in that crisp mountain air during our first hike along a mountain stream, they got a sense of what it's like to be in God's Country.
We spent one afternoon meandering along The Strip in downtown Gatlinburg, and settled into lunch at the infamous Dick's Last Resort. Those were the first and only few hours we visited The Strip that entire getaway. The weather was mild and allowed us several days of outdoor activities that cost us next to nothing - just pure, natural fun. The streams were full with the winter's melted snow, and the kids enjoyed the natural bridges they could cross over these, and rock-after-rock they could cast as far as the eye could see. During the winter, the absence of leaves opens new vistas along trails and reveals stone walls, chimneys, foundations, and other reminders of past residents. The kids learned so much just by exploring.
It never ceases to amaze me how one's mindset changes just as the great earth around us takes a different shape as we hike - it's literally transforming. We start along the mountain's small rivers and streams, but soon hike up and away from them - the sound of their gushing water disappearing further and further into the distance like the sun as it sets. The hiker begins to forget what's going on in his life as the mystic of the mountain pulls him in. He ascends further up the crackly path, and the fog pulls him in and out of its grasp, almost as if the earth has swallowed him for just a brief moment. All life's worries fade away with that fog as the hiker continues a little higher and back up and out of the cloudy haze a few more times.
Then, the vegetation begins to take on a new shape as well. The plants and trees become more sparse and thinner, the berries look different, and the greenery becomes less abundant...that is until you may happen to come upon an evergreen forest like the one along the Alum Cave Trail about a mile from the summit of Mt. LeConte. The beauty of the scent stops you in your tracks - unlike anything Yankee could ever capture in a glass jar. If I could bottle the scent of that part of the trail, I could make millions!
The breathtaking beauty of mountain hiking brings a cleansing of the body, mind and soul. There's nothing more amazing than standing at the peak of a mountain after hours of ascending it as a large cumulous cloud comes towards you. As it gets closer, your heart begins to pound, and you get a bit anxious. Yet as it overtakes you, it's very surreal. And for a moment, you are literally engulfed by a moist, hazy blanket. It's misty, and clean, and more refreshing than you could ever imagine...exactly what you need after a long, strenuous hike up several thousand feet of mountain terrain. It passes through you and you feel energized in a way you never knew existed. It's invigorating.
Rocky Mountain National Park, CO
In 2012 we had the chance to visit Rocky Mountain National Park to partake in some hiking and sightseeing for a few days after one of my business trips. We were already down in Colorado Springs for work, so our first stop would be Pike's Peak. We would then venture to the Garden of the Gods, Winter Park, Grand Lake and partake in the stunning Rocky Mountain National Park Scenic Highway.
When we arrived at the station of the Broadmor Pikes Peak Cog Railway in Manitou Springs, CO we weren't sure what to expect. We couldn't see the top of the mountain from the ground level, as it was engulfed by black clouds. The ticket taker at the station said there was a pretty good storm up there and the temperature was dropping drastically. We could literally see the lightening up on the mountain, and were a bit leery of boarding the mountain train that would take us to the peak. The cog rail train would scour the side of this 14,100-foot tall mountain with us onboard, and I would by lying if I said I wasn't a tad bit apprehensive. What the heck was a "cog rail", anyway? We soon learned conventional railroads use the friction of wheels upon the rails, called "adhesion," to provide locomotive power. A cog, or rack, railroad uses a gear, or cog wheel, to mesh into a special center rack rail to climb much steeper grades than those possible with a standard adhesion railroad.
The trip up the mountain spans nearly nine miles of track, carrying its passengers through a vast transition of vegetation, landscape and wildlife. The last 3 miles of the trip are all above the timberline. To the east are the Great Plains out beyond the border of Colorado and Kansas. To the south, the Sangre de Cristo (Blood of Christ) Range stretches south to New Mexico. On the western horizon, just slightly to the southwest, lies the Collegiate Range. To the southwest, at the base of Pikes Peak, sit the old mining towns of Cripple Creek and Victor. Once upon the summit, if the weather is clear (and there is not much Denver smog), you can see the skyscrapers of downtown Denver. The clouds were pretty thick the day of our trip, so we missed the skyline view, but it was still stunning - almost as if we had arrived on another planet when we reached the top. We were only allowed about 40 minutes on the top of Pikes Peak, as most people begin to feel the effects of high altitude (slight nausea, headache) after about 30 minutes. The air was certainly far thinner and the temperature was amazingly cold up there at more than 14,000 feet above sea level - talk about a breath of fresh air!
It's said The Garden of the Gods' formations were created during a geological upheaval along a natural fault line millions of years ago. Archaeological evidence shows that prehistoric people visited Garden of the Gods about 1330 BC. At about 250 BC, Native American people camped in the park, and it's believed they were attracted to wildlife and plant life in the area and used the park's many overhangs created by the rocks for shelter. The park's many trails welcome tourists, rock climbers and hikers alike. We had the pleasure of visiting this breathtaking attraction in between our days of mountain hiking. It was pretty amazing, and somewhat surreal being in a place like this...almost as if those Native American souls were still lingering among the rock formations, tantalizing visitors with an inner sense of peace.
Winter Park is bustling with skiers in the fall and winter months, yet is very serene in the summer.
Rocky Mountain National Park’s 415 square miles encompass and protect stunning mountain environments. It was hard to believe that most trailheads in this park begin at an altitude of 7,800 feet (which was higher than the highest mountain peak we were used to climbing in The Smokies!). Trail Ridge Road, also know as Highway 34, is 48 miles long, and connects Grand Lake on the western slope to Estes Park on the east side. It's the highest continuous paved road in the United States, reaching an elevation of 12,183. As we meandered along this stretch of two-lane road, that's said to follow the path that the Ute and other Native American peoples used for thousands of years, and up through the mountain ridge that included many expansive overlooks, my otherwise fearless chauffeur was transformed into a white-knuckled nervous wreck as tour busses came past us at the road's highest peaks!
Trail Ridge Road travels through forests, above the tree line, over the alpine tundra, and crosses the Continental Divide before winding its way down to the town of Grand Lake. There are numerous trails, short hikes and scenic pull-off spots. The entire trip crosses about 50 miles of Rocky Mountain scenery and can take anywhere from 2 hours of non-stop driving to an all day trip. Just west of the high point is Fall River Pass, at an elevation of 11,796 feet, and the Alpine Visitor Center. It's here that we saw many elk, deer and bighorn sheep down along the high country ridge from the deck of the Visitor Center.
Gone to Carolina in My Mind
Hundreds of miles of white sandy beaches – some home to wild roaming corolla horses, others to quaint beachside rental homes connected to one another by boardwalk trails through protected sea oats and sand dunes. Historic lighthouses with stories just as mysterious as the occupants that once called them home. Piers that have been battered with torrential east coast hurricanes yet captivate visitors with some of the most memorable views of their entire vacation. A state park right across the street from the Atlantic Ocean accommodating enormous white dunes stretching as far as the eye can see some so large visitors can hang glide off their peaks. Each summer, families flock from all over the country to experience North Carolina’s Outer Banks, better known to regulars as OBX. And the most prized souvenir each carry back home with them is not the t-shirt from Super WINGS® or the 16 ounce pint glass from Barefoot Bernie’s Tropical Bar & Grill, but rather the unique memories this breathtaking Carolina coastline offers .
It may have taken us a little while to get back on our feet after our little Jacksonville hiatus, but now life was taking shape just as I had always hoped. I had the husband. I had the career. I had the house. I had the extensive list of fantastic destinations Chris and I had experienced in the recent five years. But, nothing would have been able to prepare me for what God had in store.
I’m a planner, and 2005 would be no exception. After settling into the new home we built in 2004, we would start working on that family my mother so longed for me to commence, and we would celebrate our five-year wedding anniversary. I began planning our celebratory getaway in the fall of 2004 shortly after we not only purchased our timeshare, but moved into our new home. We were set to make our way to the beautiful Dreams Resort in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico - our first all-inclusive vacation.
Just as one life passes form this earth, another comes to be. And, so it was in our family that year with the passing of my mother, and the conception of my son just a few weeks later in Las Vegas, Nevada. Being pregnant while morning the loss of a parent is nothing short of an emotional train wreck. During the first few months of my pregnancy, we kept the news to ourselves, but it was tough to do. My emotions were all over the board. I was ecstatic one moment, and sobbing profusely the next. Every time thoughts of my mother entered my mind I would do my best to shelve them, as I knew being an emotional hot mess during pregnancy would not be healthy for the baby.
All the penned up emotion and memories manifested themselves in my dreams. I would wake up on a drenched pillow of tears. Mom was so real in my dreams that I could smell her – the scent of her White Diamonds perfume, mixed with the scents of the deli she ran at our local Bigg’s grocer. In one dream, she lie on the ground in the middle of Bigg’s dying. I couldn’t help her…just like I couldn’t in the hospital those four agonizing days. And, all I could hear was Alan Jackson’s “Remember When” blaring loudly from the grocery store's loud speaker.
During this first trimester of pregnancy, I would initially wake up from dreams that into a semi-conscious haze where I would sware she was with me. But, upon awaking into reality, I would be so unbearably grief-stricken and lonely that I could barely get out of bed and go to work some mornings. I lived such a dichotomous whirlwind during those few months - my heart felt so full of life for the child who was developing inside my womb, yet so empty all at the same time for the life that had just left me - the very life whose womb I once existed.
By the time the spring came that year, my heart and soul longed for the warmth of the sun. Cabo was only a few months away, and I thought about it often. I couldn't wait to get away from the new world I lived in - the world without a mom. I was pregnant, and about to become a mom, and yet I had no mom to share these experiences with. She would have received a little baby bonnet that Easter Sunday of 2005 like the rest of the new "grandparents" did when we announced my pregnancy to the family. I would called her when my morning sickness was in full swing to pick her brain about how the first few months of her pregnancies were, because that's something a daughter never really thinks to ask her mother until she's going through it herself. And, I would have asked her "was that my baby finally moving inside me" that early summer night when I was nearly five months pregnant and was lying on my couch watching TV when Connor inflicted his first recognizeable kick inside my womb.
We stayed along the “The Resort Corridor” - the 20-mile stretch that connects Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo. It would be our first all-inclusive getaway, complete with a swim-up bar, fully-stocked villa that overlooked the ocean, and plenty of exploration. But, there would be no Banana Monkeys at the swim-up bar for me…only lots of bottled water! I'm very proud to say I snorkeled several sites off the coast of Cabo with a child nearly six months in utero! We visited the arch of Cabo San Lucas, also known to locals as El Arco - a distinctive rock formation at the southern tip of Cabo San Lucas, which is itself the extreme southern end of Mexico's Baja California Peninsula. It is here that the Pacific Ocean becomes the Gulf of California.
We ventured to downtown Cabo several times to visit the authentic Mexican village, its markets and The Marina, which is actually more the heart of it all than the town square. The Marina at Puerto Los Cabos is known as "the getaway to the Sea of Cortez" and the world's finest sportfishing grounds. I tried to talk Chris into booking himself a day trip out to the deep blue sea to wet some lines, but he opted instead for a half-day quad trip out into the dessert, while I enjoyed some quiet time at our beautiful resort.
The next few months came and went, and I grew a whopping 50 pounds heavier during my pregnancy. I was put on bedrest a few weeks before Connor’s birth, because I began to exhibit signs of pre-eclampsia. Despite being very active during my pregnancy, I was still my mother’s daughter, and I carried my firstborn in the same manner she carried me - retaining water and enduring an elevated blood pressure, both of which I believe led to a more difficult labor.
Connor entered the world on November 13, 2005 after 23 hours of labor that ended in a c-section, and a very scary delivery. I was finally able to hold my new, strong-willed baby about 12 hours after his birth. And, he was beautiful. But, I would be lying if I said the next few months were a joyous first encounter with motherhood. In fact, the often seemed to be everything but that...for our entire household. My new baby's tummy was very sensitive from the meconium he ingested during labor, leading to colic. He didn’t sleep, nor did I. And, he wasn’t happy, nor was I. Before long, exhaustion led to depression. Couple these two with the grief that I warded off during pregnancy, and you have a recipe for disaster. My spirit quickly faded, as did my peace of mind.
But, it wasn’t supposed to be like this I used to repeat to myself as I would tirelessly bounce with him on my exercise ball in the middle of the night for hours-on-end. I was supposed to be full of joy and in endless love with my baby. Instead, I was anxiety-ridden, and full of tears on any given day. Don’t get me wrong, I savored my time with Connor. He was healthy, and smart, and strong, and was nearly the only thing that made me smile and laugh during that time in my life, but it was a far cry from what I had longed for as a new mom. My joy was all but stolen during a time I had looked forward to experiencing for many, many years. I was a new mom…who was grieving the loss of her own mother… …and, it was a struggle…each and every day was a struggle.
The devil had managed to steal my happiness and replace my heart with lies telling me I had been denied so much – from my mother dying, to my baby’s scary delivery, to the struggles my marriage was enduring. Instead of being thankful for what I DID have, my heart and soul were fueled with lies. My prayers became fewer, my Bible reading obsolete, and we spent very little time in church as a family…everything seemed like a hassle in life. I didn’t recognize the devil’s hold for what is was…for I couldn’t get out of my own way long enough to realize he had me just where he wanted me. I felt sad and alone and stopped calling out to the Lord for help. But…he was always right there. Psalm 139:7-10 “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or, where can I flee from your presence? If I ascend into heaven you are there. If I make my bed in hell, behold, you are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.”
Slowly, but surely life got a little easier as Connor grew past that first year mark. I began re-connecting with my husband little-by-little, and slowly got a little bit of me back each day. I began to truly have that special time with my son that I longed so much to experience. During this time, I became a stay-at-home mom. For how long we could sustain on one income, we weren’t sure…finances would only tell. All I knew was that I didn’t want anyone else raising my baby. I didn’t want to miss any more than I’d already missed out on. Then, about six months later I was pregnant again.
This time would be different, I promised myself. I knew what to expect, the c-section would be scheduled and my husband and I would get to have “that moment” with our new baby this time. Not to add, I had done a lot of soul searching, reconciling with the past, and some heavy grieving. I was getting right with myself for the first time in a long time, and was finally enjoying being a mom.
And then…it hit me again. And this time, it was a truck that literally blindsided me and ran me over.
My precious Owen Christopher, born June 15, 2008, although not colicky, had bad acid reflux that eventually had to be medically treated, and was another inconsistent sleeper. The juggling act of two young boys, coupled with very little sleep, several back-to-back infections, and a husband that seemed to “need” more from me than he’d ever needed before, threw me right back into a post-partum tailspin I wasn’t prepared to experience. I missed my mom desperately.
The devil had moved back in and planted himself right in my living room, where he would make himself quite at home for several years. During those years I did my best to fight the monotony that every day seemed to bring. I missed adult interaction. I missed my husband and our little getaways together. But more than anything, I missed my mom. I missed what we never had. I missed what we could have been. I called out for her through my tears day-after-day just wishing she’d walk through my front door, give me a huge hug, and take these two boys off my hands so I could sleep!
After quite some time of post-partum struggle, I began recognizing that although this balancing act of caring for two young boys was tougher than I imagined it could be, the Lord’s strength was is even stronger. I began to nurture my heart and soul by way of scripture and prayer more than I had in quite some time. I began to outwardly denounce the devil in my life, and for the first time, recognize how strong his power can truly be. I prayed for forgiveness on a daily basis, and it was freeing. Eventually, I slowly began to feel the dark clouds permanently lift for the first time in the years after mom’s passing. I was finally getting it together. It may have taken several years, but I was getting there.
Our first vacation as a family of four was to Hilton Head, SC in July of 2009. Chris and I had taken Connor to the Outer Banks in 2007, and fell in love with the tranquil coastline The Carolinas are known. I'm not sure what we were expecting Hilton Head to be, but we both were pleasantly surprised by the non-commercialized state of the island. Our boys had expansive beaches to run and play. There was no commercialized "strip" or rows of restaurants and souvenir shops. It was a quiet beach community...it was just what we needed after the last eighteen months of family-of-four living.
Our close neighbor friends happened to have their annual trip to HHI scheduled for the same week as us in 2009, so we were able to get to know the island even better, thanks to their guidance. "The Head" is a second home for The Kash Family, who visits sometimes two or three times a year. It was comforting having one of my best "mom" friends there during our vacation. We visited one another's condos, hung out at the beach together, and they even volunteered to watch the boys the night of our nine-year anniversary so we could venture out to the South Beach area of the island alone for a waterside dinner and a stop at The Salty Dog.
It was fantastic to be back on the coast, and this time not just with my husband, but our two boys. In between the births of Connor and Owen, we had ventured to St. Martin and the Outer Banks with just Connor in tow. It initially took us some adjusting to get used to traveling with just one extra body. In fact, our journey to St. Martin ended after just a few days, because mommy wasn’t happy with the construction-worn accommodations. And, when mama-bear feels in the least bit threatened, she will do all she can to get her baby home safe and sound! And, that’s just what we did. In retrospect, we probably could have stayed and been perfectly fine, but I don’t think I was prepared for just how vulnerable I felt to be in another country where not many people spoke my language and a baby who was only six months old. St. Martin was when I first realized my sense of security had changed drastically with the birth of my first.
Traveling was certainly a little more strenuous with the addition of a second. There was the strollers, and the Pack ‘n Play, and the bins of toys we hauled to occupy them in the condo during the day and evenings when we would be in for some rest. But, I wouldn’t trade those vacations with my young boys for anything in this world, albeit I missed my vacations with just my sweetie.
The words of my eternal-optimist-of-a-mother kept echoing in my mind as I watched her fade further and further from us over those four days. I knew she had become frustrated with my rigid style of living – that everything in my life had a plan. She had been begging us for a grandchild for nearly four years. But, I wasn’t ready. The mistakes her and my father made had left an indelible print on my mind of the life I would NOT live. Chris and I would get married and establish our lives first. We would travel to some of God’s great landscapes, and grow in our faith together, as we prepared a “perfect” life for our someday child. And, then she was gone. My 48-year-old mother, who was a bill of health on the outside, left this great earth to be with Jesus. She would never get to meet my babies. She would never get to see me be a mom. We would never be moms together.
But, what about Vegas? I kept asking myself amongst all the pain and grief. I think I was using it as a way to take my mind off how bad my heart ached – if even for just a short while. The surprise trip was something Chris didn’t know about – a little getaway I had planned with some friends of ours to celebrate his 30th birthday in a big way. Mom knew about the trip, as did all our family. We were set to leave not even 10 days after her passing, and I was so frustrated with how life had taken this pain-staking twist.
Our family and friends were right – she would have wanted us to go. And, travel after all, was our great escape from the troubles of our lives. Although, Vegas seemed to be the last place one would go to find a peace-of-mind, there was the spa at Mandalay Bay, and Hoover Dam, and Lake Mead where I’d find a little slice of fresh air beyond the intensity of The Strip. I was thankful we followed the advice of our family and friends, and inevitably the wishes of my mother – not to worry, but to just go.
On the flight home I remember thinking about what a sense of humor our God has, and that HE is inevitably the only one in control. This was supposed to be a fun little getaway to celebrate my husband’s unofficial passing into “adulthood.” It would be much different than most our quiet seaside vacations or mountain getaways. We were, after all, headed to Sin City. I didn’t know what to expect, and that brought me a bit of anxiety, but the trip had ended up being exactly what we needed…exhausting, but exactly what we needed – a few days away from reality.
Chris and I marveled over the Hoover Dam, and the roller coaster at the top of The Stratosphere! The sights and sounds of The Vegas Strip are certainly a sight to behold, and something everyone should experience in their lifetime, even if you aren’t a “gambler.” We would take a few hundred bucks to gamble away on Black Jack and the slots, and made a pact that once the gambling money was gone, it was gone! We were content just people watching up and down The Strip...there was so much to see. From the beautiful fountains of The Bellagio to the adventure of New York, New York, and Paris. Every corner brought something new and spectacular to take in. It was exciting, and intense, and exhausting all at the same time!
We hit some shows, including our first Cirque de Soleil performance, and we ate A LOT! While the guys headed out to the dessert for a daylong quad trip, my friend and I would hit the spa at Mandalay Bay one day during our getaway - my body, heart and soul were completely depleted and this would be just what the doctor ordered. The eucalyptus of the sauna brought me the first breath of fresh air in weeks.
Those four days went by quickly. And, although I was ready to go home after those four lengthy days, I was dreadful of the reality that would meet us back home – my new life without mom. Little did I realize mom got up to heaven and got busy making her own plans for me. She had a plan in mind for me in Vegas that would help take my mind off of my grief of losing her upon my return. Her plan was exactly what she had wanted for me, and now she had the chance to do something about it! Just three weeks after our return (and six weeks after her passing), I discovered I was pregnant with our first child. Connor would be our permanent Vegas souvenir, and a lasting gift from my mother, for I am confident their souls passed in heaven. He will always know his “MeeMa” had a plan for him, just as his God does. Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Home to One of the Seven Wonders of the World
We ventured to the Florida Keys in July of 2001 to celebrate our first year of wedded bliss. We sought sun, sand and surf, not expecting to come home with stories of snorkeling with a shark!
Iguess it should have occurred to me that the climate may be a bit nippy when every hotel and bed & breakfast I booked along our tour route housed a gas fireplace in the suite. Then again, I was a young, naïve 23-year-old traveler and just mistook it for a romantic addition to our stay. Little did I realize we would utilize our fireplaces on more than one occasion on our West Coast vacation. Who would have thought? It’s early August in sun-kissed California, for crying out loud!
We unintentionally spent two days basking in the approximate three hours of sun this gorgeous beach received each day before getting swallowed by Father Fog. Apparently even the sea life liked that beach, because one of the days we were there, a seal beached itself for an hour or so of sun and sand. It appeared he needed some Vitamin D just as much as we did!