Saturday, December 21, 2013

August in Canada

One of the Best Trips Ever - we had a great time - spent almost 2 weeks at mom and dad's house.  We got to spend some of the time with Libby and Sean who were spending the summer in Canada after finishing his fellowship - He was doing a month of surgery with dad as he prepared to go back to Dallas and start his private practice.

Calaway park is always a part of our visit.  Carleigh is hanging with the girls below - Taylor and Charlotte chillin on the dune buggy ride.

And of course Dairy Queen is a must - especially if you just had fun at the amusement park!

The first of a couple of hiking trips was spent at the Heart Creek trails - we have done this one before and it is particularly appealing to our family because it is a gentle hike, it is in the Rockies away from people but the kids can make the whole mile and a half trail both ways without any complaining.  Unfortunately we didn't take Carleigh - though retrospectively she missed out and would have had a great time as well.

Something about the smell of the Canadian Pine trees is so different from the NC pine trees and forests - It is intoxicating.  

This kids had their moments and as usually they would jockey for position of who was leading the group up the mountain - usually it was bri fighting for this spot with Drew - but they were able to end up sharing the lead and exploring up the mountain.  On the way down there was a constant contest of who could splash the other people by dropping large rocks and small boulders into the stream that ran down the valley floor.  Every time we would cross over a bridge, we had to look around to see if one of the rug rats was going to heave a rock into the stream to get you wet!

This water was so cold, it actually hurts your feet to be in it.  It is a burning cold pain.

Fun Fourth Fireworks!

July 4th this year was a day off for me - we took the kids out to Hanging Rock where there is a lake and a dock with a diving board.  We had been one time the year before but we had gone just after I had thrown my back out so I was virtually useless and could barely lay down.  This year was different - I was feeling good, the kids were excited and evidently every Central American in the Piedmont Triad new about this place as well.  There were 6 white people there and they all shared my DNA!  Robin joked that it would be funny if we saw Nelly, and several minutes later who do we see walk by?  Too Funny!

The girls got all did up for the fourth

As was the case with previous years, we had spent a good amount of money on fireworks at the beach this year - I think I dropped 200$ on them this year and we had some of the big ones - the professional ones that shoot up high and umbrella - In fact we had so many different fireworks that we didn't know how all of the worked - or how they presented that it.  At one point we had a huge roman candle that would shoot fire balls up into the air and then the balls would explode - see Lizzy below - but it was so big it recommended anchoring it to the ground - will we didn't have a way to do that so instead I dug a small hole, placed a gatorade bottle in the hold and then placed the roman candle in the bottle.  I lit it and the first 2 of the 5 shots went perfectly…

Then the next 3 shot in another direction - the bottle had tipped over from the force of the first 2 shots - Robin, Cathy and others were sitting on park chairs at the edge of the garage on the driveway when the candle flipped back and shot the next 2 shots directly at them - the first shot went underneath cathy's chair directly through her legs and into the garage where it exploded, the shock sent the girls into a panic and as they scattered the second shot split between robin and her mother and hit the garage door and exploded - Close one.  We worked on anchoring it a bit better!

Sun, Sand, and Oyster Beds

So this is a typical beach trip - I have lots of picture and very little to say - the pictures kind of explain themselves. Firstly, we always go out onto the pier for walk and to enjoy the salty warm air.  As is the case, Bri is usually teasing everyone, Caty ends up being super cranky and then pouts.  as you can seen from the first picture, Caty is in true form.  Lizzy and Carleigh can't help but smile.  Lizzy is sporting one of the shirts that we made.  We used puffy paint and made shirts and aprons.

Cathy found out this year that she had recurrence of breast cancer.  Actually it was a whole new cancer - this was not just recurrence of the first one.  This was very sobering, scary and has required that she have another mastectomy - It was scheduled for just after the beach trip so that she could enjoy the vacation.  Thankfully she didn't have to do chemo and radiation for this one, just surgery.

 As we fished off the pier, we caught a couple of fish - Mike and I caught a couple of sand sharks and Michael hooked a small Ray - he was really nervous and wouldn't touch it - I was able to help throw the thing back in the water once it was off the hook - but as is the case with most fish - I was scared to death to be around it.  

The Beach trip took a new turn when we rented the pontoon boat.  this has been a source of fun for us every year.  We have also rented jet skis in the past as well, this year we did both.  unfortunately as you can see above there was a bit of a weather problem this year.  We had wind and storm clouds right from the start of our 4 hours.

Grumpy with a fruit roll-up.

Mike and I took turns driving the boat - it was a 12 seater, very easy to drive and thankfully it was relatively new and well taken care of.  I don't have any pictures of the jet ski's, so my description will just have to suffice.  As we got up to the rental dock, they had run out of the jet ski's so the young man that was running the rental counter actually rented me his own jet ski.  This was new, beautiful and in MINT condition.  So we set out on our 3 hour tour - It really ended up feeling like Gilligan's island. 

Initially we cruised down to the end of Holden beach - the southernmost end of the island is where we went to explore, and swim around - it is just next to an inlet between Ocean Isle and Holden Beach and is a fun stop.  This is where we created our hub so that when we took turns on the jet ski, we would return to this site to take turns.  Michael had a fun time and would go out with either Mike or I and with Bri on as well.  He was so cautions with the throttle or turning that he would frequently cause the machine to tip over - it was very funny.  

Then Caty and I took our turn together.  At this point, the darkening of the skies was becoming daunting but the water was stool relatively calm and flat.  Caty and I took off up one of the inlets where the homes are built with their own dock's.  We cruised in and out of the inlet grasses on the flat waters that were sheltered from the wind and choppy water.  then it happened.  We noticed that the tides were going out and unfortunately we didn't pay attention to this until we were too far out of the main channel.  I started to feel the bottom of the jet ski touching the bottom, some sandbars and some oyster beds.  I immediately felt a chill of fear come across me and realized that we could very easily get stuck. At this point however I had strayed far enough off the main course that I was lost and couldn't easily find my way back.  

Then it hit - I bottomed out on a very shallow oyster bed causing the jet ski to be so high in the water that it wouldn't move at all and in fact the jet engine was sucking in the oyster bed and not enough water.  I stepped out of the jet ski keeping Caty on the back and tried to push the jet ski into deeper waters but it is a very heavy machine and I could barely move it at all, I tried to gun the engine a couple of times and had no success.  I had no ideas that oysters have sharp edges.  Not just sharp, but razor sharp!  I had some pain in my foot at this point but I had no idea what was happening until I changed feet and pushed with my other foot on the oyster bed - much more intense pain.  I immediately got back in the jet ski and looked at my feet - both feet were bleeding and one of the big toes was hemorrhaging.  

I was so scared at this point that I immediately had Caty Lynne say a prayer with me - we had no idea what to do or how to get out of this situation - I couldn't get out of the jet ski to go for help and the tides were going out meaning that we would stranded for 6 hours or so waiting for the tides to come up.  The winds are howling, the skies are now grey to black and we can't see a way off.  Then it hit me - I took off my life jacked and used it for a platform to push off the bottom.  With all my strength, I pushed and pulled and finally after 2 minutes of straining every muscle i was able to get the jet ski to a slightly deeper area!  I looked down into the foot bay on the L side of the jet ski as we floated and saw that I was resting my foot in ankle deep blood which was starting to clot.  I was bleeding heavily and had not way to stop it!

The engine fired up but I was unable to get it to go any faster than 5 mph.  I was determined that I had broken the machine - of course this was not the company's machine, this was the young man's personal Jet Ski - We had been out for about 45 minutes at this point and we didn't know where everyone else was.  As I maneuvered down this side channel, I found my way to a large dock on the edge of the main channel and at this point, the engine completely died just close enough to the dock that I was able to reach out and grab the dock pulling us to the edge. 

I anchored the jet ski to the dock with a rope and had Caty get out and go up to the main land for help - she found a man walking around who essentially looked at us and turned around and drove off.  So helpful!  I took the life jacket off and almost immediately, the life jacket flew into the channel when the gale force winds blew it away.  Between the winds and the strong tide current, I wrote the life jacket off and went up for help.  There was a passing vessel that picked it up and returned it to us but were unable to help us with the jet ski.  I finally found someone who had a phone with capability to call for help - we were able to touch base with the marina - The family had become worried and went back to the marina looking for us.  The marina sent out another jet ski to trade with us and took a look at the defective one.  Of course the engine had been resting for the last 45 minutes as we flailed on the dock trying to stop my toe from bleeding.  The engine fired right back up and ran just fine - I guess the engine had just become overheated while we were on the oyster bar.  No harm, No foul.

On the way back to the main marina, we passed a motor boat that was caught on a sandbar as well,  I felt bad given what we had just gone through and asking people to come help us that we stopped - Michael, Bri and I jumped out and helped pull the people off the sandbar.  It took about 10 minutes and was not easy with my toes hurting and bleeding but it felt somewhat redeeming.

That night I asked Robin to go to the store and pick up some Super Glue to fix my toes.  The lacerations were deep and were located on both the great toes as well as on the arch of one of my feet - I applied layer after layer of superglue and was finally able to walk on them with some discomfort.  Honestly I felt like this was the last time I was every going to rent a jet ski - I think everyone else had fun though - Caty and I bonded in a new way being in a scary situation!  It was 2 years ago when Caty and I were getting off the jet ski on the beach and saw a large orange colored shark swim after a fish under the jet ski immediately after Caty got out of the jet ski!  We don't have very good luck on that thing!

Of course the beach trip was also a time for good old sunning and strutting as you can see below

Mandy and Cathy spend most of their time on the beach avoiding sunburn.

And last but not least - we can't finish a vacation at Ocean Isle without going to mini golf on the Friday before we leave along with everyone else on the island.  As always we start out having a great time but by the second hole, Brian becomes super competitive and can't tolerate anyone else winning -  Bri was at his baseline teasing form - knowing just how to get under the girls skin to cause fighting and crying.  But all in all we had a great time.  

Had to include this shot - this is my glamour shot - it has gotten this bad!  240 pounds!

And at the end of it all, we returned home and crashed - Carleigh was the poster child for how we felt at the end of the week - Great week, had fun, no ER bills, mild sunburn!  Can't wait for next year

Old School

I got a rough reminder this week of how fluffy my hair was - this was about the age of 16 I think.  Probably the longest my hair has ever been and is shown above I would never be able to pull off long hair - maybe a mullet…  Plus the LDS biathlon shirts - I wore these for years - another way of cost cutting - we had boxes of these things after the races and in different sizes and colors - they made for an awesome addition to the closet for me and they cost nothing.  I was wearing these in roughly half of all pictures for a 5 year span

Thank you Bri

I guess I shouldn't be too surprised - I remember as a 9 year old boy, we lived in Seattle and were renting a house for 6 months while dad was doing a fellowship for his job - we lived in a bad neighborhood, the house was on a tilt and we were pretty poor at the time.  We all used the same bathroom in the house and one day I thought it would be fun to take a razor blade that I found in the shower and cut up the shower curtain as I showered.  It didn't even enter my head that this would destroy this and require us to buy a replacement.  Mom was so mad - I mean we were poor and didn't have enough to buy another dollar plastic curtain.  Well Bri took it to a whole new level.  Of course we moved into the house in February.  It only took a couple of months for him to destroy something.  I had just finished placing a nice finish on the floor of the garage - it was a epoxy and urethane combination - I had some left over and unfortunately I didn't clean up my mess quick enough - I got distracted, had to work a bunch of shifts and this was the result - He thought it would be fun to pain the side of the house - the exterior brick, that is exposed to the whole neighborhood with the urethane material.  of course I didn't see it for a couple of day because I work nights and it was in an awkward place behind our trash cans on the side of the house.  It has become a permanent reminder that he needs persistent oversight and a reminder that you MUST clean up after yourself immediately or he will take advantage of the situation.  Having done my fair share of destroying things (innocently) in the past I can't be that mad can I?

Let the Games Begin

The pool has opened - Carleigh has acquired some good lookin goggles and some courage as well.  She has learned to swim very slowly - she generally has to use her floating swim suit but is able to maneuver around the pool with minimal difficulty - not to the point where you can take your eyes off her but close!  Caty has learned out to stack and float on multiple tubes.  She was able to take a running jump from the edge of the pool and land squarely in this contraption.  I have to personally wait until about end of July to get in the pool because it is too cold. 

Charleston and Kiawah

Our trip to Charleston was supposed to focus on the NCCEP - Emergency Physician conference, but to be honest this turned into a sigh seeing trip.  Robin had been to Charleston before but I had never been and it was a chance to see a part of the South that I have never seen before.  Absolutely beautiful.  Rainbow Row, the trade markets which is where the slaves used to be brought to be sold and Shark Fishing.  There was actually a huge storm the night before we arrived so that when we arrived at Kiawah island we were surprised to find that it was a mess.  This was influenced by the geography of the island - there is a forested appearance which is very unique to the beach in the south which is generally back to back sky rises and beach condos.  We had a chance to do some walking on the beach and at one point saw 2 deer that were jumping around the beach chasing each other.  They ran up and down the beach and eventually ran up into the forest and disappeared.  The beaches are much quieter than most beaches because the living villas and condos are not on the beach.  Anyway, the storm had such strong winds that this resulted in branches all over the ground and the cars.  Thankfully this had stopped when we got there and it cleared up.  Consequent to the winds, the waters were very choppy, and cloudy and we were unable to plan a deep sea fishing trip - we had organized it so that Mike Ghim, Brian Opitz, and I and Brian Opitz' son and friend were going to go deep sea fishing.  We ended up having to go up one of the rivers - the Kiawah river - which is a inlet of the ocean to go shark fishing - this was a riot - we each reeled in about 4 sharks - The guide would bait these giant hooks with one of several baits - either 2-3 hand sized fish, a de-shelled crab, or a large chunk of fish that he had cut up on the boat.  The sharks took the bait every time - it was a huge fight - surprisingly I was not scared at all to hold the sharks.  I think it was because they are larger, more predictable and don't make nearly as many quick wiggly movements.  

This one as particularly large - proof that I touched a shark!