Road To Wellness – An Update

Well, it’s been 15 months since I woke up to my right leg blown up like a balloon, unable to walk, constant level 10 pain, eventually discovering a short list of big issues that would prevent me from making a living, or doing just about anything I love to do.

But today I’m doing much better.

I’ve gone from a frustrating and painful hour of micro-mini exercises in bed in order to get out of bed every single day, to a simple “hello morning!” stretch, then off to a “real” workout routine on my yoga mat or at the gym.

That means yes, I can now get down on the floor and back up without it being an act of congress. And I can take a flight of stairs in a few seconds instead of 4 dreadfully painful minutes.

I can sit cross legged for the first time in a year!

I can wash dishes or prepare a meal without having to sit or lay down every 5 minutes to alleviate the pain and numbness in my hands, arms, shoulders, back, right hip and leg.

I can walk from the parking lot to the store, or most any distance, without a limp and without holding my right hip in place.

I have even been known to get out on the dance floor, or take the hula hoop out for a short spin…..

These changes are almost surreal to me. I do believe in miracles.

My health situation forced me to make changes that I initially fought like mad, but now I’m learning to work and play well with them. They say everything happens for a reason. Perhaps my body decided I needed this down time.  Perhaps I needed to slow down, and re-assess everything about my life. This little “bump in the road” has brought me back to the basics of what’s most meaningful to me—things that I somehow let drift away in the midst of running myself ragged with “doing”.

It’s been a long, painful haul, and the journey is certainly not over. Admittedly, I may have an occasional set back but it does not last long. 

I’m bouncing back. I’m on the road to wellness.  I continue on with bold determination.

Imagine that November 1st, one year ago today I sat on an exam table in excruciating pain, being told by an orthopedic surgeon that besides all sorts of problems that are NOT his specialty, I would need a hip replacement within one year. Well.  Good thing I didn’t take that awful conversation to heart.  He was wrong.  Here I am today, showing virtually no signs of needing anything replaced, and getting better every day.  And no thanks to that guy!

I sought many alternative methodologies over the past 15 months. Some of them are bringing me surprisingly fantastic results.  Along the way I’ve had dozens upon dozens of “ah-ha” moments, and sad realizations. Life lessons have unfolded before me that have helped me cope with far more than just the frustration of my body not performing at 100%.

While I’m still not completely “fixed”, at least I’m not down for the count. And I’m hopeful that I will eventually be back to 100%, whatever that ends up meaning for me.  I’ll be sharing some of the amazing things I’ve returned to, discovered, and incorporated into my new “wellness program” during this journey over the upcoming months.  For now, I leave you with these simple bits of hope and truth:

  • No matter how bad you think things are for you, they are absolutely worse for someone else.
  • There are more examples of a person’s value and worth than you could ever come up with on your own, so stop judging yourself.
  • Constant complaining about the same old shit does nothing positive or helpful or useful for you or anyone else who has to politely try to hear it.
  • As frustrating as it is to listen to countless do-gooder’s “self-proclaimed medical expert diagnosis” of your problems, take a breath and be patient—remember they are only trying to help.
  • Just because it was a certain way twenty, or ten, two years ago, doesn’t mean it’s that way now. Everything changes over time.
  • The more idle time you have on your hands, the more room there is for unnecessary worrying and negativity.
  • Whatever you aren’t able to get done now, will still be there waiting for you later…unless some kind soul decides to give you a hand and helps you with it.
  • Every time you choose not to at least consider an unorthodox alternative, you’ve lost a potential opportunity for positive change.
  • Lower your expectations and raise awareness of your accomplishments. Little things can also be big.
  • Sometimes it’s best to just let your body rest. And rest.  And rest.
  • Thirty minutes of intentional meditation is far more productive than hours of simply sitting around overthinking stuff on the couch.
  • Animals have super-powers we will never come to understand.
  • WE, too, have powers that most of us will never understand.
  • Positive thinking can be every bit as impactful as traditional medical treatments.
  • Manifest destiny is real.
  • Stubbornness and fortitude are sometimes confusing in-the-moment. Pick and choose your battles.
  • It’s okay to ask for help.
  • Never assume people understand the pain you are in or know how you feel. Never assume they don’t, either.
  • Believe and trust that you are not alone. Your higher power is always on call and ready to assist.
  • Pain is an energy drain so severe, it can cloud your reasoning, change your personality, and slow you down to a dead stop. Smart choices will keep your mind fully charged, which will help your body persevere as well.
  • The people who truly care will still be there no matter what. As for the rest, consider how much of your very limited energy you want to spend trying to figure them out.
  • You are not a powerless victim. Everything about what you do next is a choice you have the power to make.
  • Not making a decision IS, in fact, making a decision. And it is yours alone to make.
  • You won’t know if you don’t try.
  • Never settle. Never give in.  Never give up.
  • Today is always replaced by tomorrow. Move forward, and leave the past behind.

Thank you for reading my post. Was it inspiring?  Scary?  Funny?  Unbelievable? Just plain weird?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!  All comments are greatly appreciated.  Life is an adventure—good or bad, and it begins today!  There are lots of inspirational stories under my blog category, “PRs Amazing Outdoor Adventure Update”.  If you like what you see, please let me know by “liking” my website. You can even join my tribe to automatically receive new postings ‘hot off the press’.  There’s a place to do that right on my home page.  As always, please feel free to share with others who may find meaning and value in exploring limitless possibilities with PR Brady AdVentures. Thanks again!

 

Plans, Advocates, and Injections

As the years end approaches, a force much greater than I continues to hold me to a new adventure. One I haven’t wanted to hear.

One I haven’t wanted to believe.

One I haven’t wanted to participate in.

I have my own ideas, my own plans.

But,

Apparently I’ve been usurped.

Ohhh my plan was amazing. It started with re-connecting and indulging in a passion of mine that has been left dormant for over 20 years.  I wanted to step back into that joy—even if only as a part time experience—to prove to myself that I could still do it, and do plansadvocatesinjectionssomething that I loved to do.  What a perfect set up—to combine part of my time focused on my business (my main passion) with the resurrection of unused skills from a lifetime ago.

Sadly, after a very short time of stepping back into it…..BAM!

Without warning, for no apparent reason, straight out of the blue, my whole plan came crashing down around me. Without my input or consent, my amazing plan was “re-written” for me.  Now, I did not go down without a fight mind you!  I tried to hang in there….act as if I was okay…..I would push and push to keep going each day, and try, try try to convince myself it wasn’t happening.  But eventually resistance was futile.

And now, here I am, finally sharing my unwanted adventure after months of being on it.

Yes, apparently I’m to embark on a new adventure, struggling with hip, low back and upper back and neck pain that has brought me to my knees and forced me to stop doing pretty much everything I live for. No hunting.  No travel.  No dancing.  No working out.  No flitting about town. No nothing.

Instead of living my life with joy and passion, I’ve spent months held hostage by massive physical pain, and all of the debilitating symptoms that go with it. How can this be happening? After all, I’m only 23 (wink wink)!  This can’t be happening to me!

You’d never know it to look at me.

There is no blood, no cuts or bruises, no missing limbs or casts or anything to give you the idea something’s wrong. At first glance I appear to look just fine.

Unless you look into my eyes, to see the tension, the tiredness, the exhaustion, the sadness of not being able to get up and go the way I get up and go. Or watch me try to do just about anything.

“What’s your pain level?”

On a scale of 1 – 10, I’d give it a strong 11.5 most of the time.

Waking up fearful and with screaming pain each morning—will I be able to get myself out of bed? Or is this the day I will have to call 911? Is my low back going to snap in half and leave me in a heap on the floor before I make it across the room?  Not being able to feel my hands most of the day.  It’s a monumental effort to sit down, stand up, bend over, and on, and on.  This pain has been draining.  It has drained me of energy.  Drained me of caring.  Drained me of “fight”.  Entirely depressing.

Then there’s the slew of Doctor and Chiropractor visits, alternative medicine, meditation, the X-rays and MRI’s and finally, physical therapy at Courage Kenny. The thing about being stricken with pain issues in multiple locations is, each can be independent, yet compounding each other, making diagnosis and treatment very difficult.   “You’ve got some narrowing of the nerve endings and arthritis….you ARE getting older you know….”  But how does that explain this sharp horrific pain? Tears, spasms, inflammation, degeneration. No, no, no I can’t accept this!  I’m 23, remember?  Every time I move I could scream!  So physical therapy seemed pretty useless.  And being so drained, it’s hard to have the wear-with-all to accurately or specifically describe exactly what you feel and where to the right person at the right time to get results. Keep trying, until you just can’t anymore.  I definitely reached that point of “I. Just. Can’t. Any. More.”

Thank goodness for June, Randy, Susie, Joy and Paula, Caring friends who stepped up as my advocates when I could not. How easily I could have just gave up and melted into the world of everlasting chronic pain without them.  But no, they heard me.  They saw me.  They knew this suffocating pain was not me, and held me up, guiding me to push for better answers from the Doctors when I was so overwhelmed with pain I couldn’t think straight.  Between them, and the amazing Physical Therapists at Courage Kenny, I finally had the strength to question my situation further to get to the bottom of what’s wrong.

After one more MRI and an Orthopedic Surgeon visit, it was determined I needed a hip injection.  A simple procedure of injecting a dose of steroids with a mile long needle stuck into my right hip.  Sounds awful, but hey, I suppose as long as you don’t LOOK at it being done….

I secured the first available appointment-thankfully only a couple days later. On Friday November 4th I was in and out with my steroid filled right hip in about an hour.

Feeling groovy.

Feeling like brand new—except for the residual fuzzy nova Cain buzzing in my right leg.

For the next week I was pretty much entirely PAIN free!

Everywhere!

I mean, EVERYWHERE!

Hey—I’m 23 again!

Who knew one simple hip injection would cure ALL of my woes! No more burning pain in my neck and shoulders.  I could feel my hands and arms.  No more stabbing pain in my low back.  My hip felt GREAT!  I could walk without limping.  No more holding pressure on my groin to take a step without screaming pain. Physical therapy seemed helpful!  What a miracle!  I started working on my plan again, with renewed energy and enthusiasm.

The removal of pain after being completely pummeled with it for months can cause a person to not think completely rationally….

I tried to revisit my plan to get back to pursuing my long lost passion that next week; you know, just ease back in slowly.  In all my excitement and naivety I thought I could just jump back in, only to be strongly advised to wait until the injection had a chance to reach its full effect.  Wait to ensure the results are long lasting.  Just slow down and give this some time.  Just 10 days.

Okay, fine. I’ll wait.

This adventure has forced me to address a great personal challenge. Waiting.  When it comes to living, and celebrating life with passion and intention, the idea of holding back is completely foreign to me.  To have to re-access my plan yet again, and agree to just “hold off” for a while? Wait 10 days, and work on rebuilding my core to support a better head to toe structure?

UGH!

Waiting was agonizing. I continued to feel great for the next 6 days.  Physical therapy seemed to have a point now.  But then, slowly, little haunting twangs of discomfort started to re-appear.  Working in the kitchen making a meal occasionally became uncomfortable.  More than 10 minutes on the computer…uncomfortable.  Admittedly, dancing around the backyard bonfire hula-hooping wasn’t the smartest thing to do just days after–but it was only for a couple minutes.   After 10 days I was feeling no pain but, it was clear that as time went on, there were more tiny signs of discomfort in my low back, upper back and neck.

Then that damn universe stepped in again with a big black magic marker, messing up my draft of a great winter plan. While my hip is still doing great, slowly, pain is returning to my low back, upper back and neck. I have increasing muscle spasms, growing numbness in my arms and hands, and I’m trying so very hard not to let it bring me down yet again.

Being the person that I am, I will not go down without a fight. But I also better understand the need to listen to all of the signs being presented.   First and foremost, I need to rebuild my core and not engage in anything to deter that effort.  Clearly I need to take baby steps in fixing my “foundation” to better support my structure and reduce the opportunity for pain to take over.

So am I able to pursue my passion? Nope, not right now.  I’ve received numerous inquiries about my business plans, as well.  My ETA to return to my normal life is unknown at this time.  My calendar is blank.  I got no plan.  Apparently I’m on an adventure of personal health and wellness.  An adventure of waiting and seeing.  An adventure focused on re-cooperating.

Apparently I’m on an adventure of not having a plan, other than taking care of me. And  I’m finally starting to be okay with that—sort of.  Wow, imagine that!

 

Thank you for reading my post. Was it inspiring?  Scary?  Funny?  Unbelievable? Just plain weird?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!  All comments are greatly appreciated.  Life is an adventure—good or bad, and it begins today!  There are lots of inspirational stories under my blog category, “PRs Amazing Outdoor Adventure Update”.  If you like what you see, please let me know by “liking” my website. You can even join my tribe to automatically receive new postings ‘hot off the press’.  There’s a place to do that right on my home page.  As always, please feel free to share with others who may find meaning and value in exploring limitless possibilities with PR Brady AdVentures. Thanks again!

 

PR’s 2016 Adventure Brief

August is my “Fiscal and New Year’s” review. It’s my time to reflect and plan.  It has now been 4 years since I left the hardcore, corporate whirlwind of black suits and briefcases, to pursue my passion for people, business and the outdoors, via PR Brady AdVentures.

Whewww!

“They say” it takes 5 years for a new business to succeed. According to my projections, if I don’t take some very deliberate steps the rest of the journey, I may not be able to continue.  So I am in the final steps of building my 2016-2017 structure and schedule.  The last year has been extremely challenging.  A few things will be changing, including me, and some fun, exciting new things are already in place; the results will hopefully be shared soon, and be worth the work.

Virtually everyone is a candidate for some part of PR Brady AdVentures’ services. This means more opportunity than I could ever fulfill in a lifetime.  On the other hand, quality versus quantity is more important to me in order to provide the most rewarding experience for those I work with, and why I continue to be conservative with marketing.

To my past clients I am so grateful for your trust and business. I know there are many options available for help with business strategy, marketing, advertising, personal and professional coaching, and event development.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart for choosing to work with me.  Thank you for recognizing value in what I bring to the table. Thank you also for your referrals, they are golden!

To my business associates and collaborators; you have no idea how much I appreciate your faith in my ability to find exciting and creative ways for us to work together. Sharing your time, facilities, and expertise to make a positive impact on individuals and groups continues to be the best part of what I do.  I look forward to our ongoing business adventures.

To my network of supporters, thank you so much for actively engaging in my efforts as I try to build up my business.  Your personal and professional referrals and social media support have been and continue to be absolutely critical to my success.  Thank you also for your patience, and the occasional “ear”. They say the most important aspect of surviving a small business is for family and friends to be your biggest champions.

And finally,

To those individuals, my “guides”, especially back in those final corporate days: Thank you so much for challenging me to be true to myself!  You have been my biggest cheerleaders, encouraging me to “leap” with the hope that a net would appear, recognizing in me what I couldn’t see myself back then.  Initially I may have caught a foot in the web here and there, but now I’m becoming a better climber, and maintain a burning desire to succeed.  Just knowing you are still out there and available to me is a huge, ongoing comfort.

In closing, thank you all. I’m where I am because of you.  Whether you’re near or far from me, have a fantastic rest of your year; a happy, healthy life filled with inspiration and adventure.  Watch for exciting updates coming soon, and again, thank you for your continued support of PR Brady AdVentures.

 

Thank you for reading my post. If you find yourself spending your time not doing what you love, I invite you to contact me to help you change that.  If you like what you see, please let me know by “liking” my website. You can even join my tribe to automatically receive new postings ‘hot off the press’. There’s a place to do that right on my home page.  As always, please feel free to share with others who may find meaning and value in exploring limitless possibilities with PR Brady AdVentures. Thanks again!

 

My Elephant

Elephant2

All this in the back of the truck?

It’s been exactly two weeks since I got back home to Minnesota. Two weeks.  Pretty sure I slept for over one whole week of it.  The rest of the time, I’ve been on yet another adventure—I’ve been tackling the elephant on my property.

What?

You know the saying— “How do you eat an elephant: One bite at a time”?

Elephant1

Um, anyone see my tooth brush?

Well I came home with an elephant of a “to-do” list, with some things that just couldn’t wait. And I came home TO an elephant of a “to-do” list that also included things that couldn’t wait.  Packing last fall took about a week.  Packing to come back home, took three.  Just getting the vehicle packed took a week!  I couldn’t have squeezed another box in the trailer.  In other words, I had plenty to get done in a big hurry, and I was still not over being sick.

Lucky for me I’m a “list master” and can detail out and prioritize pretty much anything needing to get done, calculating time, cost, and materials needed; and do it in a very short time. On my way home I carved out this quick starter list:

 

What to do when I get home:

Set up screen tent for temporary coop

Get birds set up in tent

Vet

Set up Holly and the girls in the house

Clean fridge in house

Bring food in

Prospect for work/projects

Florida follow ups

Salvage any remaining house plants

Plant/re-pot new flowers, herbs and tomatoes

Get coop supplies

Clean fridge in camper

Unpack trailer

Clean trailer

Trailer repairs: 2 wheels, awning, 2 gutters, upper back right side, waste piping, fridge wall, fridge electronics

Sweep helicopter seeds

Take out patio stuff and set up

Repair/replace patio lights

Set up fountain

Build the coop

Take down screen tent

Sort through mail

Register truck

Register @ Hy-vee

Financials/evaluate biz plan

Budget

Organize projects and paperwork

Mow front

Mow back

Weed gardens

Laundry

Install air conditioner

Repair porch door

Repair guest room balcony door

Put clothes away

Brush out dogs

Dog baths

Do my hair

Sort and put stuff away: PR Brady Biz, Florida biz, hunting, fishing, recreational

Sort and organize for Garage Sale

Test/turn on water for outside—possibly repair

Repair bathtub faucet

Catch up on email correspondence

Draft and initiate new website schedule

Clean and reorganize office

Clean guest room

Clean master bedroom

Clean basement

Clean living room

Clean dining room

Clean kitchen

Clean bathrooms

Clean and set up sun porch

Build Hollys cage

Get well

Go on a bike ride

Get over stuff

Reconnect

Throw a party

Elephant5

Come on in and have a seat?

This is the reality I was faced with on June 4th. It took all of 10 minutes to visualize, and another 10 to commit it to print. My working copy is far more detailed as to what’s involved, including estimated time to complete things and what’s needed to do it. In the last two weeks I’ve managed to accomplish the items in bold. At one bite at a time and frequent naps, it will eventually all get done. Trouble is, things will keep getting added to the list.

Thank the Gods for my dear neighbors who have been so very helpful, and hospitable. I’d still be trying to back my trailer into the driveway if not for Randy! The first week home, June woke me up and fed me dinner almost every day—as I was crashed out exhausted from full days of “elephantitus”!

Elephant3

And I wore every single thing…..not!

The goal for next week is to get everything unloaded and put in its proper place. Right now, there’s no getting through the living room with the stacks of boxes and gear everywhere.  and you KNOW you’re in trouble if you’ve converted your Toy Hauler bathroom into your closet…..

With a constant eye on Sunny Girl’s cyst, I’m hoping our routine Betadine cleanings of the area will keep her stabilized until I can scrape up the money for a vet visit.

Of course, one can’t ignore the fact that the weather is simply BEAUTIFUL here, and it’s the perfect time to go fishing, bowfishing, or tooling around the woods. I am eager to cook some awesome grub and get chillin’ on my patio, or out to some of the free music in the parks, and art fairs and festivals around the Twin Cities. It’s almost fireworks season, too!

Ohhh so much to do!

One bite at a time.

One bite at a time.

That’s the way to get through my elephant adventure.

 

Thank you for reading my post. Was it inspiring?  Scary?  Funny?  Unbelievable?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!  All comments are greatly appreciated.  Life is an adventure—and it begins today!  Why wait for an invitation to live an amazing life full of great experiences? There are lots of inspirational stories under my blog category, “PRs Amazing Outdoor Adventure Update”.  If you like what you see, please let me know by “liking” my website. You can even join my tribe to automatically receive new postings ‘hot off the press’. 

 

 

Barefoot

It’s been twenty-some hours since “take off”. Twenty some hours since the end of my latest winter adventure.

What an adventure.

A six month adventure.

A busy, hard-working adventure.

A turbulent, dizzying, adventure.

An adventure and then some.

A quagmire of mixed emotions are poking at me; an irritating reminder of what I’ve just left behind. An ominous realization of what I’m heading back to.  Trying to balance between the two and find peace seems impossible.

Just keep driving.

I try to think about past years adventures, and how excited I was to share my experiences. Those memories keep me alert for a few miles, but I still feel unsettled.  The long journey home is flying by compared to past years.  I’ve no idea why my mind keeps clouding up with a strange emotional angst.  I know I need to take a break.

After a five hour rest I’m refreshed, and on the last leg; I’ve just passed exits for Madison Wisconsin. There’s an absence of city life as far as the eye can see.  Rolling green hills, farms and open country.  I missed spring.  As my wheels hum along the dark highway, thoughts drift back to the past six months.  Sure, there was good.  And there was bad.  Then, there was the really bad.

I focus on remembering the good times. Friends.  Fun outings.  Whistling ducks.  Sunsets on the beach.  Sunrise on the boardwalk.  Accomplishments.  Kinship and kindness.  Caring for sweet animals.  The laughter of children.  Greetings and conversations with strangers.  Making new friends.  Enjoying great meals.  Treasured moments with special people.  Yes it was a good winter.

Suddenly my thoughts start to derail—feeling dread for the insurmountable “to do” list waiting for me at home. Who knows what I’m returning to?  Then, instantly, thoughts shift to tremendous feelings of sadness, loss, heartbreak, hurt, disappointment, failure, frustration, futility, confusion and regret.  Terrible feelings stack up in my mind that I cannot push away; pressing on my chest hard and deliberate.  I begin envisioning pieces of conversations I’d rather forget, rerunning scenes from situations that should not have occurred.  I relive bits of the past 6 months that brought me to my knees more than once in sheer aggravation.

The dark sky unleashes a downpour of rain that forces me to pull over. Thunder, lightning, and whipping wind rocks the truck and trailer for half an hour.

In the privacy of my vehicle I realize this string of negative recollections is choking me breathless. It’s wrapping around my soul, squeezing me tight, stopping me from celebrating any of the good.

How can this be? This is not me! My thoughts slam into the single, most prevalent question….

What the hell did I just do with my life?

For someone who strives to see the glass as half full, it’s been pretty hard to accomplish it this time. I’m finding this last adventure is one I don’t want to share.  I don’t want to talk about it.  I don’t even want to think about much of it.

Perhaps I’m just going through a phase.

Perhaps I just need to decompress.

Perhaps it’s just from being stuck in the wee hours of the morning in a thunderstorm.

I don’t even feel like me.

The rain subsides, and we’re back on the road. I continue racing northwest on the wet highway with a powerful feeling of wanting to recluse.  Of wanting to curl up in a ball and disappear.  Somehow, I just don’t feel like reaching out to my people .  Feeling  worn out and broken I realize I’m developing a kind of resolve, and craving quiet, drama free space.  I’m still not healthy. I do feel like sleeping for a week—maybe two.  Oh I can see my bed.  Pillows and blankets and cool 60 degree nights.  I imagine my bathroom—my retro, yellow and red bathroom.  I miss that bathroom.  I picture my patio. There I am, gently rocking back and forth on the swing, listening to the traffic out front. I imagine shuffling about in my kitchen, cooking something amazing.  I miss Jack.

With a heavy sigh I revert back to that epic question……..

What the hell did I just do with my life?

Just keep driving.

The landscape is beginning to look familiar now. The sun has sprung up over the horizon behind me. A new day is here, and I am almost home.  “Welcome To Minnesota” is a sight for sore eyes as I cross the St. Croix river.  Street lights are flicking off as the city wakes up to a beautiful morning.

This road warrior is pounding down the highway–closing the gap on the last 20 minutes of the drive. There are no cars on the road. Everyone must still be asleep.  It’s a cool 63 degrees, halleluiah.

I need to figure out what the hell I just did with my life. And what’s next.

I have so very much to do.

There is so much to do.

So much.

I carefully make that last curve in the road. My house is just up ahead.

So much to do, indeed.

What’s that? Is that my place?

OH, WOW!barefoot

I pull over and park in the street, pushing the quagmire of mixed emotions I’ve been burdened with out of my mind. I jump out of the truck and run across the road to my house, excited and amazed.

Everything is simply going to have to wait until I do one simple thing—I just need to do one thing:

Off come the shoes, and with joyful abandon, I proceed to dance barefoot across my beautiful green lawn and brand new driveway!

Now I’m home!

 

Thank you for reading my post. Did it invoke anything in you? Was it inspiring?  Scary?  Funny?  Unbelievable?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!  All comments are greatly appreciated.  Life is an adventure—and it begins today!  Why wait for an invitation to live an amazing life full of great experiences? There are lots of inspirational stories under my blog category, “PRs Amazing Outdoor Adventure Update”.  If you like what you see, please let me know by “liking” my website. You can even join my tribe to automatically receive new postings ‘hot off the press’. 

 If you find yourself spending your time not doing what you love, I invite you to contact me to create your own, amazing adventure.  As always, please feel free to share with others who may find meaning and value in exploring limitless possibilities with PR Brady AdVentures. Thanks again!

 

 

 

Holy Smokes!

Do you go to bed at night, anxious about what might go wrong while you are sleeping? Do you wake from a nights sleep, anticipating what awful thing you might discover as you rise and shine to start the day? Some people do. But I’m not one of those people. I’m one of those positive people who goes through life, thinking that whatever up beat, wonderful day that I plan, is going to happen as planned.

Damn, I hate unpleasant surprises!

Guess I was thrown off from the very beginning. I was trying to get to Southern Minnesota to finalize my preparations for bow hunting. I only had a few days to spare. Boy, I got off to a bad start. It was one thing going wrong after another all morning, and into the afternoon. My hope for a noon departure soon became 4:00, then 4:30. Then after just a few miles down the road, I gave up on leaving completely—the highway was a parking lot—clearly I was better off sitting out the rush hour somewhere other than in bumper to bumper traffic. Instantly I veered onto the next available off ramp, pulled into a shopping center and made plans to visit with a friend. While it was a great decision, our visit put me at an 8:30 departure time from the cities.

Ouch.

Driving almost three hours on barren country roads in the dark is precarious at best. It also lends itself well as a time to practice for becoming the next “The Voice” contestant. I’ve often wondered why, when I’m driving long distances on country roads I don’t see more deer. Well, me singing at the top of my lungs with the windows down to stay awake may have something to do with it. Not only did I stay awake, but I’m pretty sure everything within 2 country miles of my vehicle did, too.

My sweet dogs, my captive audience, were actually trying to bury themselves under their dog blankets to escape my serenade. Finally, I turned left one last time, and slowly coasted down the long gravel driveway to where my toy hauler sat waiting for us. I made it to my friends farm by 11:30 pm.

How lucky, and grateful I am to have this wonderful opportunity to spend time down in farm country on this beautiful acreage! Although there are lights on inside the farm house, I know we are the only ones here. Tired, and ready to crash for the night, I pulled up next to my toy hauler, grabbed up the dogs and we piled into the trailer, ready to call it a long day and night. I was asleep before my head hit the pillow.

Next thing I knew, mother nature woke me up with quite a sense of urgency…..catapulting me out of my bed, groggy and scrambling for keys to the farm house.

The sun was up.  It was somewhere around 7:30ish. Oh no, I forgot to set my alarm. Now my plan for today is off to a bad start too!

With head down, and arms folded across my chest I staggered out the trailer—gotta go, gotta go, oh my I gotta go–and made a bee line across the yard to the back door of the farm house. I detected the faint smell of bonfire in the breeze. I got to the door, put the key in the key hole, turned the knob, pressed the door open, ripping into the kitchen to get to that bathroom just around the corner before I pee my pants and:

HOLY SMOKES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I felt like I’d been hit in the face with a burning cloud. I was instantly disoriented, confused, and gasping for air, choking. The kitchen was a solid mass of thick grey smoke and super-hot heat that started billowing out of the back door! I froze dead in my tracks, hot burning smoke filling my nostrils, searing my eyes, and covering me like a dark, deathly blanket. I stepped back, then forward, confused and hesitating for a second, before I snapped to real time attention:

OH SHIT! SHIT! OMG-OH SHIT! GET OUT ! I MUST GET OUT!

Hyper Speed would describe how fast I bolted back out of that house and across the yard.

I gotta call Ron—no, 911—no Ron, I gotta call Ron, no—OH SHIT THE HOUSE IS GOING TO BURN DOWN!

I dial my friend, Ron. Barely getting a connection, the phone rings and rings. OH SHIT he’s probably still sleeping, I can’t leave him a message……

I dial 911.

“Please help me, my friends farm house is on fire! Please send someone, please hurry. Address? OH MY GAWD I DON’T KNOW!!”

I run up to the road, and look at the mailbox but now they have a coordinate from my phone and have located me.

“Can you see where it’s coming from?”

“No!”

“Is anyone inside?”

“No.”

More questions that I can’t even begin to remember in my frantic panic.

“We’ve got someone on the way they will be there soon.”

“Oh please hurry!”

Now Ron is calling me back.

“Sorry, doll, I couldn’t get to the phone.” He sounds like he is still sleeping.

“Ron, um, I don’t know how to tell you this but your house is on fire.”

He’s definitely awake now.

“What do you mean it’s on fire?”

“I can’t see into the house, the kitchen is full of smoke—the house is hot, really hot and so full of smoke I can’t see!”

“Are you in there??

“No, I opened the door and there it was!”

“Is the stove on?”

“What? Why would the stove be on?”

I am now inching closer to the house, still unable to see anything inside, only smoke billowing out the door I left swinging open. I could maybe just get in there and look….real quick….

“Ron, I’m going in, I’ll see what I can see.” We get disconnected.

I gingerly step up onto the deck, then over to the open door. The heat and smoke blasting me in the face stings like a superhot sauna. With squinted eyes, and holding my breath, I step back inside the fog and two more steps toward the stove. I can barely see it—but there are heavy black streaks on the face of it, yet all the dials are turned off. I try to look deeper into the house to see if there are flames anywhere.  It’s too hot. Too smoky. I’m scared. I’ve got to get out! I start coughing and choking again, and run out the door and back across the yard.

Ron calls again. I try to tell him it seems like the stove is on, but it’s not turned on. I don’t know what I’m trying to say. I feel so dreadfully helpless and afraid.

Here comes a pick-up truck with flashing lights barreling down the road. I run across the yard, flailing arms to wave him in. He’s big and tall and is the first responder to the fire call. I already feel safe, just seeing him get out of the truck.

“Oh thank you for coming so fast! I don’t know but I think it’s the kitchen–maybe the stove?”

And so it begins. Three more trucks show up, all of the community fire guys, including Gary, the farmer that keeps his cows on Ron’s place. Then three huge fire trucks pull into the driveway, the Sherriff, the local newspaper, and several hours of questions, descriptions, several more conversations with Ron, and investigating where the smoke is coming from and where the fire is.  I am convinced that the wiring in the walls is bad and there is fire everywhere up and down the walls of that old farm house.

HlySmokes3By 10:00 a.m. the experts determine that the stove malfunctioned and “turned itself on” causing a box of Cheerios and whatever else was in the oven to burn. Huh?  It seemed so unbelievable. I didn’t understand how that could happen. It shook my faith in technology altogether. HolySmokes3Three firefighters carried the unit out of the house and hosed it down. They speculated that it probably wasn’t burning long, but if I wouldn’t have discovered it, the whole house would have gone down. It was a very somber moment.

Ron had just left the farm the day before. If he would have stayed one more night, he would have been subjected to major smoke inhalation. If I wouldn’t have had my toy hauler there, I would have brought the dogs into the house that night. We discovered while there are smoke detectors throughout the house, none of them had working batteries.

Another very somber moment.

By 10:30, the firefighters gave the ‘all clear’ to enter the house. They opened all of the windows and doors to get some fresh air circulating, checked the walls, the plugs, the breakers and turned off the breaker to the stove. HolySmokes2It was safe, but stinky in the house. They did a walk through with me to make sure I felt comfortable, and then one by one they make their exit.   By 10:40 I finally got to go pee.

I stayed on the farm all day, watching the house, resting, and organizing hunting gear. Gary was kind enough to take my number and check on me throughout the day. It wasn’t until everyone left that I realized how exhausted I was from the morning. I felt like I had an elephant on my chest from the brief smoke inhalation. I couldn’t stop thinking about how lucky I was that neither Ron, nor I were in that house last night.

But as the day wore on, I felt more and more vulnerable, fearful of things that I hadn’t ever given a thought to before. Is my toy hauler wiring safe? What if a mouse chewed into something and I don’t know? I wonder how reliable my stove is at home? What if? I wonder if? I about made myself sick with senseless worry the entire day. I needed an explanation that was believable, but didn’t get one. The stove turned itself on?  Ron’s friend Glen stopped by to see how I was doing. Gary came over just before dark to help me get all of the windows shut before the rain came. Hard as I tried, I couldn’t stop the feelings. That night, I woke up almost hourly, afraid. I would get up and go look out my window to see if the house was still there. Then I’d look at my little gas range, checking the knobs. Good grief, I don’t even have the propane turned on.

The next morning I packed up the family, closed up the toy hauler, and headed home. I broke down crying twice, called Ron once, and cried one more time before I pulled into my driveway, feeling vulnerable, alone, and fearful. It’s taking an enormous amount of effort to remind myself that I’m one of those positive people, and there’s no reason to be afraid. Things happen for a reason. Maybe it was a test. Maybe I was supposed to be there to save the farm. Maybe I was supposed to meet new friends. Maybe I wasn’t supposed to go to the woods that day.  As I try to pull myself out of this funk, I try to focus on the good. I am filled with gratitude, on so many levels. Life is a cherished gift. Every breath we take is a gift. We owe it to ourselves, and to each other, to respect, and nurture our gifts, never taking them for granted.  When I come back down next time, I’m checking those smoke detectors and bringing batteries.

Holy Smokes!

Thank you for reading my post. Was it inspiring? Scary? Funny? Unbelievable? I’d love to hear your thoughts! All comments are greatly appreciated. Life is an adventure—and it begins today! Why wait for an invitation to live an amazing life full of great experiences? There are lots of inspirational stories under my blog category, “PRs Amazing Outdoor Adventure Update”. If you like what you see, please let me know by “liking” my website. You can even join my tribe to automatically receive new postings ‘hot off the press’.

If you find yourself spending your time not doing what you love, I invite you to contact me to create your own, amazing adventure. As always, please feel free to share with others who may find meaning and value in exploring limitless possibilities with PR Brady AdVentures. Thanks again!

Invader

The moment I swung the front door open I knew something was wrong. I could feel it. As I stepped into the entry way, a chill spread across my chest. My senses became super sharp. The hair on the back of my neck tingled—and not in a good way.

I’m not alone. I know it.

Frozen in place, still clutching the door knob, my eyes dart back and forth as I quickly scan the living room. Lamps and plants and decorations have been moved around. Strangely around.   My candle lamp is on the floor, the lovely crochet doily mom made is twisted up and dangling over the edge of the sitting table. Magazines, coasters, pictures, all “rearranged”. But the TV is still there. So is the stereo.

What?

I release my death grip on the door knob and take a big breath. Crap, I can’t find my phone. I reach into my purses “special compartment” and get a hand on my “backup”.

“Hello? Who’s there?” I call out as I slowly tip toe through the living room to the dining room. My curtains are moved around, but the windows are closed. I don’t hear anything above me upstairs. Nothing seems off kilter in the dining room. Then I turn the corner and look in the kitchen.

OH MY LORD!

The dogs food bag is ripped up and empty, cooking utensils, miscellaneous dishes, and appliances are scattered on the floor.Invader2 Honey is strewn from one end of the kitchen to the other from ripped up individual serving packages laying everywhere. On the counters, the window sills, the floor….and peanut butter, too. Several cupboard doors are open, and items have been knocked down onto the counters. Rice, spices, cups, drink mixes and more. Every inch of counter space is an absolute mess.

And…

There is a somewhat ‘fresh’ black bird wing on the floor in front of the fridge.

OH MY LORD WHAT IS IN MY HOUSE?

Then I spot something on the bakers rack. Black droppings. Not from a mouse, but much bigger, from something else. I’m not sure what it is. Safety on, I make a mad dash for upstairs.

OH MY LORD MY BATHROOM IS DESTROYED!

The hand-made, ceramic glass container that used to be on a shelf about 6 foot high is now busted into a million pieces on the floor. The tooth brushes and tooth paste it held, now scattered on the floor behind the toilet. Towels are pulled off of their shelfs, everything has been tossed about. Everything in the bathroom has been handled. I find a toothbrush in the guest room, by the balcony door. Clothes have been pulled off of their hangers. And oh, how about that? More honey! On the floor, next to the empty honey packs. And more droppings. But the balcony door is still closed tight.

Where is it?

I feel sick, and panicked. There’s a good chance the intruder is still inside. No doubt with the rest of that bird.

I race to the master bedroom. Nick-knacks are tipped over. More droppings. I look at my bed and feel pangs of grossed out-ness as I imagine what may have gone on, on top of my Newfoundland Caribou hide. And then there’s the guest room bed. Holy Hanna. I will have to strip down everything in my house and have it disinfected.

I rush down the stairs, through the house, and down to the basement. Another complete disaster. My super keen ears are listening hard for any sign of life besides me. As I creep through the family room back towards the stairs, thoughts race through my head. Thoughts like;

“I can’t bring the dogs into the house”.

“We can’t sleep here tonight.”

“Everything is ruined!”

And

“Where is it? What is it? How did it get in? How long has it been here?”

Suddenly loud, crashing, thrashing, scratching scrambling sounds boom out of the furnace room!

Yikes!

Instinctively I barrel up the stairs, through the house, and burst out the front door at breakneck speed, just in time to see my neighbors returning home with their RV, which I immediately chase after down the block crying out;

“Help! Help, there’s something in my house!”

They saw me.

Umm..so did a whole lot of other people…eh-hem….

Within minutes, along come the neighbors. Randy, decked out in his leather chaps, slinging a 22 long rifle over his shoulder, with June at his side.

“Let’s go see.”

We enter with caution. They are shocked at the kitchen disaster, confused at the bird wing, and relieved I still have my valuables. Rat? Raccoon? We can’t tell what would do all this damage!

We head to the basement, whispering back and forth, sneaking down the stairs. All is quiet in the furnace room. “But I know it’s down here. I just know it!” We walk through the basement, end to end, noticing things broken, knocked over and rearranged. It was even on top of my sewing machine, leaving droppings.

No sign of life.

We proceed to search the house, room by room, only to come up empty. Somehow we find humor in the midst of all the honey packets and droppings. I film the ‘walk-through’ for proof, and posterity. By now the dogs are pretty tired of sitting in the truck. It’s confirmed, we will spend the night in the toy hauler.

“You need to call the police! They’ll send someone.” June urges.

Great. Can’t wait to see sirens blaring and lights flashing.

Okay.

So I begrudgingly call 911 and sheepishly explain my situation. I beg the dispatcher to keep things quiet. No need to get the neighborhood in a bundle. Within minutes there are 2 squads in front of the house, and four Officers are at my door, ready to begin a search.   How awkward for them to see this creepy, gross mess amidst animal mounts, trophies, pictures and shooting paraphernalia displayed here and there. They were clearly entertained. I won’t go into details but,

Let’s just say it was a good tension reliever.

June, Randy, me and the four cops have finally made it to the kitchen. I get behind the biggest Officer, and we all started heading for the basement, then one of the Officers behind me stops me in my tracks.

“You should wait up here. We’ll let you know what we find.”

He steps around me, and closes the door to the basement behind him. Okay. The three of us stood at the top of the stairs and listened intently while the Officers banged on the walls, clanged the pipes, bumped and pushed and shook things throughout the basement and made enough noise and commotion to scare anything out of its wits or hiding place.

They returned up the stairs.

It was a fruitless search.

“Sorry, we can’t find anything.”

“But I KNOW it’s down there in the furnace room.”

“Look at all these trophies. You must be a good shot.”

“Please don’t leave me with this thing in my house.”

“Sorry.”

The four Officers made their way single file, past us and out the front door. We stood there, feeling abandoned and frustrated.

I looked at my friends. “I know it’s down there.”

“Of course it is. The cops made so much noise it probably went into deep hiding.” Randy replied.

“Let’s go look again.”

We crept down the stairs one more time. June and I quietly stepped into the family room, while Randy canvassed the furnace room with his heavy leather gloves on.

“June. Can you bring me something? Like a broom or something to poke in the corners with?” Randy calls out.

She was not about to get too close to that furnace room opening and I was right behind her. “Randy I’m not getting in there. Here.” She reaches out to hand him an ice pick I’d grabbed earlier.

Suddenly in an instant, all hell breaks loose—Randy cries out, June is falling backwards, screaming and I see—clearly–a great big bushy beast planted firmly on her chest, nose to nose with her, gripping her bosom tight as she screams bloody murder with arms flailing. I’m screaming, she’s screaming, and Randy is trying to gain his composure while screaming, and then it leaps off of her, onto his leather chap leg, then dives back into the depths of the furnace room!

ARGHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We three clamor up the stairs in a frantic hot mess, slamming the door behind us, and make our way through the house to the front door.

“You gotta call the cops back!”

“Yes, YES!”

“Did you see that? It was a giant squirrel!”

“It was on me! It was ON me!”

“Well it bounced off my chaps!”

“Oh my gawd! Oh!”

“Hi, I called a few minutes ago about an animal break in? Can you please send the Officers back? Please? We found it! It just attacked my neighbor.”

We burst out the front door to discover the cops had never left. Pretty sure they were doing some sort of coin flip to see who would have to go back in. The very young Animal Control Officer was already getting his cage out of his vehicle. I ran to him, telling him it was a giant squirrel in the furnace room and he should bring his lasso pole thing too. Maybe a tranquilizer gun, just in case. His eyes became quite large.

The four of us went back into the house. The young Officer led the way, followed by Randy, then me, then June. She had had enough close encounters.  The Officer admitted he was new with the force. This was going to be his first “animal extraction”. June and I looked at each other. Gulp. He proceeded down the stairs, and with the wide eyed look of unabashed determination he stepped into the furnace room. Randy closed the door behind him.

“Clang! Ufff! Crash! Whattthe…. Uhh…Crash….clink…..Slap! Slam! Oh! Almost! Dang…..uhhhh! Clang!” The battle went on behind the closed door for a good 10 minutes. We had high hopes that the Officer was getting the upper hand, but truthfully it didn’t sound too good.

 

Umph…. Uhh…Crash!….Clink!…silence…….silence…….Slam!…ugh…..

 

Then came the cry of victory; “Ahhhhh!   I got it! I got it!” Music to our ears.

June and I shot to the bottom of the stairs. Randy swung the furnace room door open. There stood the young Officer, a little untidy, cage in one hand, squirrel dangling from his lasso pole thing in the other, and one giant ear to ear smile on that Officers face.

“You did it! You did it!” I cried out with glee. We were all jumping for joy and hooting and commending the cop on his bravery and capture.

The squirrel, on the other hand, hung there by its neck, swinging punches in the air, and hissing and squealing out idle threats at us. That vile creature. Likely rabid. Filthy rodent. Destructive vermin.

The Officer stood there, soaking up his proud moment of achievement, with his hands full.  Invader3

“I…I……..I need help getting him into the cage?” Randy was quick to offer up assistance. Finally, that nasty little home invader was behind bars.

Ah, all is well now. We made our way back upstairs and took a few moments to praise the young Officer further. My hero. I wanted to shower him with sweets, and wild game to bring home to express my gratitude, but of course, that would not be appropriate. Instead, he simply took the squirrel.

I hope they threw the book at that damn creature.

Needless to say, I have been cleaning and sanitizing and throwing things for days, room by room.   Well to look at the bright side of it all, I guess that’s one way to get my spring cleaning done.

 

Thank you for reading my post. Was it inspiring? Scary? Funny? Unbelievable? I’d love to hear your thoughts! All comments are greatly appreciated. Life is an adventure—and it begins today! Why wait for an invitation to live an amazing life full of great experiences? There are lots of inspirational stories under my blog category, “PRs Amazing Outdoor Adventure Update”. If you like what you see, please let me know by “liking” my website. You can even join my tribe to automatically receive new postings ‘hot off the press’.

If you find yourself spending your time not doing what you love, I invite you to contact me to create your own, amazing adventure. As always, please feel free to share with others who may find meaning and value in exploring limitless possibilities with PR Brady AdVentures. Thanks again!

 

Wisconsin Whoops

Barely home, we’re not even unpacked, but already we are off on another adventure. We’re fortunate for the opportunity to join friends at their parents Wisconsin farm. They like the RV life as well and pull a heavy duty Fifth Wheel. We planned, packed and pushed off about dinner time on Friday, convoying down the highway, with me bringing up the rear. It was a slow go through rush hour. Getting to the Wisconsin border took forever.   When we stopped for gas, they announced we have to make a pit-stop to pick up the grandkids. It will take an hour out of our way and another hour to get back on track.

“Maybe us girls should go straight there and get set up?” June suggests.   What a grand idea. I never have a human in the passenger seat with me when I’m pulling the Toy Hauler. What a glorious treat that would be!

“And Randy can go get the kids.”

“Great idea, June, I’m game!” I reply.

Randy agrees. She jumps out of their truck and into mine. Off we go, parting ways at the next cloverleaf.

How do I describe having company on the road? Grateful, excited, comfortable, happy, entertaining, and so much more! As the sun set behind us, we talked and talked and laughed into the night.   Two hours flew by like ten minutes.  By 10:00 we arrived to the family farm exit.

June began articulating instructions about half a mile from our exit.

“Make sure you go slow. It’s the first driveway on the left. It’s really dark, and it’s tricky. There’s no light. You can look for the big sign, but it’s pretty dark. There’s the exit.”

I merged off the highway onto the simple county road and began to slow down.

“Well not that slow….” She laughed.

Within minutes I could see a large sign on the left side of the road. That must be it.

“It should be coming up….oh, there it is! Turn here!”

I slowly turned into the narrow, pitch dark, dirt driveway and inched along, noticing an open field to the left, an RV to the right, a building to the left, and one straight ahead. It was so dark!

“When you get around this building, just pull up along the garage and we’ll plug you in right there for tonight. Randy can move everything in the morning.” June had it all under control.

“Okay.” I swung wide right to avoid the building on the left. There was a huge open area between the house, and a cow barn.   It appeared to be gravel and mud. As I tried to straighten out into that open space, it became more difficult to move forward. I wasn’t sure if it was because of the dirt ground, or if I hit grass, mud, or what, but I just wasn’t going any farther forward.

“How does right here look? I asked with a weary smile.

“Perfect.” She chuckled. I shut off the engine. Dogs were anxious to get out and pee. June was anxious to get into the farm house. I was anxious to find what was keeping me from moving forward. We all bailed out of the truck.

When I reach a destination, the first thing I do is walk around the trailer and make sure everything looks good, and examine my surroundings. I did a quick check in the dark, found nothing. There was no indication of anything wrong, anything missing or concerning—as far as I could tell. I proceeded to hook up to the outlet June showed me, and took the dogs on short, adventurous, dark walks.

It was time for cocktails with June. We sat in the farm kitchen, talking, laughing and drinking wine, waiting for Randy to arrive with the grandkids. I stepped out to check on the dogs, and took another walk around the farm yard with them. Jack and I ventured up the driveway toward the road. On our way back, I noticed something strange about the Toy Hauler–something not quite right.

Oh my goodness, what the hell is that?

“June!   June!” I call out as Jack and I run up to the farm house. “June, I think we have a problem!”

She comes out and we walk to the back of my toy hauler. We stand side by side and stare blankly at the back of the trailer.

“Oh, yes. I forgot to tell you about that. We’ll have Randy help you in the morning.” She calmly says, holding back a laugh. I am speechless. It’s almost midnight. I’m feeling the effects of that glass of wine. There’s nothing I can do about anything right now. I can’t even cry. All I can think is…

Whoops.

I broke out the Wild Turkey Honey and poured myself a sipping glass, just as Randy arrived with sleepy kids. When June came back from tucking in the kids, I poured him a glass and debated if I should brake the news to him. We were all tired and tipsy. It was pointless to attempt anything in the dark, so we talked a few more minutes, then all turned in for the night.

 

Whoops1It’s the dawn of a new day, and a new challenge–namely my Toy Hauler. With coffee in hand, I walked Randy around to the back of my Toy Hauler and we stood side by side, staring blankly at it.

“Oh. Yeah. That doesn’t look good. Yeah, that’s wedged pretty tight. Didn’t June warn you about that thing?”

“Nope.”

A big round boulder was wedged under the back left corner of the Toy Hauler. I heaved a heavy sigh and looked at Randy. We both shook our heads.

I know.

Whoops.Woops2

Hard as he tried, he could not push the giant boulder out. Thank the gods Randy is a creative problem solver.

Whoops3

 

Within minutes he had the back end jacked up to free the boulder. Still, rolling that massive rock out from under my trailer was no small job. He managed to maneuver it back to its original resting spot.

 

“What? That’s where it goes? Why in the world would someone put a giant boulder THERE?” I cried out in shock.

“Well the idea was so that no one would accidentally clip the garage coming around the corner.”

“So, they clip the boulder instead?”

“Apparently so.”

He carefully examined the undercarriage of my trailer and inspected all wiring and hoses, to find no serious damage had been done, just a couple scratches on the paint underneath. It could have been so much worse!   Randy wasted no time using the situation as an opportunity to razz me about my driving. I maintained that it was dark, I had no idea there was a boulder there, couldn’t see it, and I did swing as wide as I could to come around the building, barely clipping that darn boulder. That’s no place to put that boulder!

Later that morning, Randy tried to mow the giant farm lawn, but his dad had accidently poured the wrong thing down the wrong place on the mower and it wouldn’t start.

Whoops.

So he had to push mow almost an acre of land.

With farms come farm equipment, and with that usually comes issues. Nothing ever seems to simply work right without some sort of tinkering and intervention. I watched Randy wrestle this phenomena several times over the weekend with various pieces of farm equipment. It was ‘whoops’ after ‘whoops’, and usually the result of some cocka-mamie brainstorm his dad had tried to implement. I gained a whole new appreciation for farmers. It still didn’t stop Randy from bringing up my giant boulder blunder, though.

Then came my break. Their future son in law had the perfect mud truck on site, and wasted no time getting out into the back 40 with it in the rain. He disappeared for hours, playing in the mud. Suddenly we spotted him walking up the back trail, dirty and disgusted.Whoops4

The truck was stuck.

Whoops.

Randy, in all his infinite problem solving wisdom, had the solution.   He fired up the tractor, and the two men road off somewhere behind the barn to go pull the truck out of the mud hole. It was a long time—perhaps an hour–before one of the kids cried out “Grandpa is walking back up!” So we jumped up to see what was going on.

 

Well now I may have caught a boulder under my trailer, but…….

At least……………

I didn’t do something like…….

This…………..Whoops5

Whoops!

Yes, friends, that would be the tractor, upside down in the middle of the field.  Oh, to have been a mouse in the field, watching the entire situation unfold…..these two guys bring “Whoops“ to a whole new level!Whoops6

 

So Eli stuck his truck.

Randy flipped the tractor that tried to pull the truck.

Eli drove the dozer that pulled out the truck and un-flipped the tractor.

And eventually, we all sat down for dinner.

Ahhhh, the farm life!

 

 

Thank you for reading my post. Was it inspiring? Scary? Funny? Unbelievable? I’d love to hear your thoughts! All comments are greatly appreciated. Life is an adventure—and it begins today! Why wait for an invitation to live an amazing life full of great experiences? There are lots of inspirational stories under my blog category, “PRs Amazing Outdoor Adventure Update”. If you like what you see, please let me know by “liking” my website. You can even join my tribe to automatically receive new postings ‘hot off the press’.

If you find yourself spending your time not doing what you love, I invite you to contact me for help to create your own, amazing adventure. As always, please feel free to share with others who may find meaning and value in exploring limitless possibilities with PR Brady AdVentures. Thanks again!

 

 

Suwannee Solace Part 2 of 2

Sunday provided us yet another beautiful start to our day. I woke with the sunrise and spent time outside with the dogs, wandering the campgrounds, pondering the emotional Saturday Paula and I shared.   Perhaps one of the most difficult things a person can do is try to hold back insurmountable grief. Loss is never easy. Words are never enough. I’ve been there more than once.

But to get a call on a Monday that your husband keeled over and died during his routine Doc appointment—well, what are you supposed to do with that?! Struggle through a million questions in your mind? Feel devastated, lost, alone, robbed, deserted, helpless, confused, enraged or all of the above? Or perhaps just block it out, believing it simply isn’t true; he’ll be home any time now? My heart breaks for Paula! I am just glad she decided to make this trip. Indeed, I cannot imagine going through what she just has.

We are more than ready to have some fun.   I am anxious to get this party started!

Paula’s head pops out the trailer door. “Good morning!”

Yes it is!

Today we will embark on a grand canoe adventure on the Suwannee River. We delved into an area map, plotting a reasonably do-able route that, by our estimation, should be completed in about 6 hours. Both being highly experienced paddlers, we agreed we can do it. If we ‘put in’ at Blue Springs, we can stop right here at Convict Springs, then bike back to Blue Springs to get the truck, and drive home with the bikes. We grabbed our food, water, and gear for the day. After a hug goodbye to the pups, we were rolling out of the campground, ready for a day on the river!

SuwanSolaceP26Rural forest and farmland, tall green pines and live oaks, the drive to Blue Springs was so beautiful! So similar to home, and not at all what you would expect from Florida! We passed by miles of horse pastures, amazing colorful fields of native flowers, farmsteads, and grazing farm animals. A perfect country drive!

We arrived to Blue Spring Park by 9 am, and prepared to launch our canoe. Paula volunteered to start our journey in the back of the boat, and we will switch half way. Decisions come easy for us. We work together well. We laughed and made light of our ‘extreme packing’ situation . Since both of us had backgrounds of being in charge and carrying the responsibility to guide a trip, it appeared we had about a month’s worth of stuff between the two of us for our 6 hour trip. Truth be told, we probably didn’t need a flashlight along, let alone two. Extra clothes and rain gear? It’s not even a full day trip! A GPS? Not needed. Compass? We’re floating downstream, probably not needed. Cameras? Well I’m not going to take one this trip. 16 granola bars? I will surely barf if I consume half of them in one afternoon….we carefully examined our pile of gear, and downsized our ton of stuff to some food and water, life vests, and paddles into the boat. By the time we got onto the water, we were both tired from laughing so much.

Gliding onto the Suwannee was borderline magical. There’s something about the waters that pulls you into a state of reflection, or a state of self-realization. My thoughts drifted to memories of sad things, and those sad things then lead me into a sort of solitude that almost echoed from bank to bank, rolling downstream. I felt comforted in my sadness, and honored those sad memories. I hoped Paula felt something similar. The river was absolutely motionless, and looked like glass. I cast my eyes far ahead of us, and studied every branch jutting out of the dark water, expecting it to rise up with huge snapping jaws like the alligators in the movies! Alas, there were many alligator stumps, and alligator rocks, but thankfully, no actual alligators.

“It’s really not warm enough for them up here, you rarely see them up here.” Paula reassured me. Yeah well, there’s always going to be a rogue gator, defying the norm, looking for cool weather food source….

“Ohhh! There’s one! Is that one?”

“No, that would be another alligator stump.”

SwuanSolaceP27One would think that it would be pretty easy to float down a river, but the Suwannee was moving so slowly, we did actually have to paddle. That is, when we felt like moving. It was fantastic to just float along, gazing into the banks, or up at the blue sky, nibbling on treats, reflecting on lives well lived. We were the only ones on the water. This was our river. Our time. All ours. Until the water patrol buzzed around the corner, and blew past us, sending our canoe into a less than gentle rocking motion.

Yup that same water patrol buzzed up and down the river past us at least 5 times throughout the afternoon.

Amazingly, he was about the only other boat on the water. We stopped at Peacock Spring and explored the little channel that brought you to the actual spring. It was surreal, with gangly trees sprouting out of the waters, and strange alien-like plant life I’d never seen before, and the waters were an earie blueish green. Not a soul in sight besides us. We grounded the canoe, got out and took a good stretch, and checked out the primitive campground. It was exactly like the one we saw yesterday! We pulled off to the shore several more times to explore the wilderness settings we floated by. The Suwannee doesn’t boast much development in this area at all. Except for the occasional cabin type dwelling, it was pretty remote feeling, uninhabited, and wild. We saw cranes, eagles, ducks and many jumping fish on our journey down river.

And about those fish……

A splash over here, a splash over there, here a splash, there a splash, everywhere a splash splash; giant tarpon ‘round the boat, e-i-oh-my-oh! They were everywhere! I had a hankering to drop a line in the water but didn’t have my pole. Then we floated around a corner and there was the sign:

DANGER, TARPON WATERS

BEWARE OF AGGRESSIVE FISH

Okay then! We looked at each other. Apparently the tarpon are aggressive enough to tip a canoe or kayak over, and kill you. My curiosity and hankering to fish disappeared instantly, replaced with searching for tarpon stumps and tarpon rocks along with the alligators. Some of the dark swirls were very near the canoe. Some rose up and showed some body, others simply flicked a heavy tail and dove deep. And no, they absolutely were not manatees. Paula tried to calm my fears with a crazy story of how she was the only person – ever – to be bitten by an alligator at Myakka State Park. Yeah, that really made me feel better. Not. But somehow, her story didn’t surprise me, either. Of course the next thing would be; “Two Canoeing Women, Killed by Tarpon.” Or “Two Women, Capsized By Tarpon, Eaten By Alligators.” The rest of our journey we made jokes, laughed at everything and nothing, and got downright serious in solving all of the world’s problems for a few minutes, to boot.   What we didn’t do was keep track of our time and distance.

SuwanSolaceP28We were lagging behind schedule. That meant power paddle. We switched seats. Because I am a strong paddler, it took some time before we got into sync again. By the time we hit Convict Springs our upper bodies were spent. Spent but we were still laughing and enjoying the day. We dragged the canoe up to the lawn and rested. The idea of a 90 minute bike ride sounded a little too ambitious, so we decided to drive my truck back to get her truck. It was somewhere between pulling the canoe up and deciding on driving that I made a major, horrible discovery. OH CRAP! I left my keys in her truck. We can’t drive back to Blue Springs. And we’re too tired to bike. But we are very smart outdoors-women with answers to all of life’s problems, so, in a moment of brazen creativity, we opted for a shuttle ride to Blue Springs.

I’m not gonna lie, I about fell asleep in the back seat of the shuttle ride while Paula and the driver chatted up a storm. But we got to the truck and back to camp in time to pick up the canoe from the launch and get back to start dinner right before dark. We shared some wine, toasted to new beginnings, good times, good friends, and more adventures together.

Friday morning as she prepared to head back south, Paula made the bold decision to “take the scenic route” and stop along the way. My friend chalked up a few “firsts” this weekend. Just a taste of what can be a whole new chapter of firsts for her. And as for me? I feel blessed to have shared time with this wonderful person. She has become a cherished friend, indeed.  Now I will continue my journey north to Minnesota, making my own scenic stops along the way.  I’m already planning our next adventure!

Thank you for reading my post. Was it inspiring? Scary? Funny? Unbelievable? I’d love to hear your thoughts! All comments are greatly appreciated. Life is an adventure—and it begins today! Why wait for an invitation to live an amazing life full of great experiences? There are lots of inspirational stories under my blog category, “PRs Amazing Outdoor Adventure Update”. If you like what you see, please let me know by “liking” my website. You can even join my tribe to automatically receive new postings ‘hot off the press’.

If you find yourself spending your time not doing what you love, I invite you to contact me for help to create your own, amazing adventure. As always, please feel free to share with others who may find meaning and value in exploring limitless possibilities with PR Brady AdVentures. Thanks again!

 

 

 

Suwannee Solace Part 1 of 2

The prospect of leaving sunny Florida for chilly Minnesota is much more palatable knowing stops are being planned along the way; especially when stops include some warm weather adventure.

So when the opportunity arose to spend time in the Panhandle with a native Floridian, how could I resist?

My colleague and new friend Paula had just experienced a devastating loss, and was more than ready for a distraction from her world. She invited me on an excursion to visit her property “up north”, and it quickly turned into a full blown adventure!

Friday we left Sarasota with my three hairy kids riding shotgun, my trailer in tow and her following behind in a truck loaded with kayaks and bikes, and headed north to Mayo, Florida. The weather was perfect and the drive pulling the Toy Hauler was a breeze. The Suwannee River winds all through the area, and a quiet little place at Convict Springs is where we planned to set up camp for the duration. We arrived around dinner time. We had had a rocky departure from Sarasota that morning, so after getting the Toy Hauler situated and everyone fed, we turned in for the night.

The next morning we woke to another beautiful day. There’s something very freeing about being away from ‘the routine’. We found ourselves decompressing at the picnic table, soaking up the morning sun; she with her tea, me with my coffee, smiling and enjoying honey drizzled zucchini bread, letting the stress of last week melt away. The plan was to quickly walk the dogs, then head out early to Holton Creek Wildlife Management Area, to see her little slice of private heaven. From there, she had a couple other places she wanted to show me. If we didn’t go soon, we wouldn’t make them all.

The dogs got their walks, we prepared for our day trip and headed out of camp. Our hour drive was scenic, rustic, and suddenly a 4 wheel drive challenge. I was simply a passenger (wow, that’s a first!) and I trusted my friend completely, but I admit I was becoming a little nervous.

“Paula, are you sure we are going the right way?” I finally peeped as we joggled down the unmaintained excuse for a road.

“Well I’m pretty sure this is right. That doesn’t look familiar, though.” She replied.

There wasn’t anything to GPS, so the guessing game went on for another 30 minutes before she somehow identified a tree off to the left or something like that and announced “there it is, we are here!” and she pulled off to the edge of a thick woods.

I looked back at the road we came in on. It wasn’t much of a road. I have no idea where we are.

She leaped out of her truck bursting with energy, and dove into the woods. I jumped out, and followed close behind as she forged through thick brush, along over grown trails, and hiked up and down several hills (Oh my! Florida has some hills!). The terrain is much different than down south around the Gulf. More oak trees, pine trees, and virtually no palm trees or palmettos. It almost looks like Minnesota. Especially with those deer tracks…

She was a woman on a mission. Determined to find and face her land on her own terms. She chattered excitedly about plans she had for the land, new ideas, and old dreams. We walked the land for an hour, through the woods, and along the edge of the high river bluff, as she tried to recall where the property lines were. Finally she uncovered the evidence she was looking for. A giant game feeder, hidden in the brush.

There were deer tracks everywhere, and spent shells. Wow, this was the ideal hunting haven.

She touched the feeder, then followed an invisible trail over to another, and then another, recognizing each in its own right, as though she expected them not to be there.

My heart broke for her as she stood by the last feeder. “He was more concerned about feeding the deer half the time than shooting them.” She sighed.

The woods became very quiet. Our eyes met. She had never been to this land without him. It was good that we were here. She looked around with misty eyes, then quickly turned and headed back on another trail as I raced to catch up, giving her plenty of space to feel what she needed to feel.

SweetSuwan4Once we found the truck, we continued down the “beyond rustic” road that eventually lead to a campground. The road was there for emergencies and the camp host to have access. The campground is designed to only be accessed from the water, hosting a dozen or so primitive camp sites for paddlers to rest at while working their way down the Suwannee River. Florida sure has a strange perception of what “primitive” campsites are. There were modern bathrooms with flush toilets, showers and heat and air conditioning, and the campsites were actually screen houses raised off the ground, with electricity, lights, and grills. WHAAAAT?  Apparently this was one of many such campgrounds along the Suwannee.

We explored the entire property, marveling at how pristine of a campground it was, and how empty it was. They even provided heavy duty carts to haul gear up from the elaborate canoe launch, stairway and ramp. This Minnesotan was highly impressed!

We made our way back to the truck and back down that minimal road, on to our next stop of the day: Big Schoals State Park.

There weren’t any attendants on duty. We breezed through the entrance and drove straight to the parking area. Only a couple cars were there. We got out and wandered around the picnic area, looking for the hiking trail. Her mood was improved, she had a little spring in her step, and she was determined to take me to a special place. We found the hiking trail, and began our journey.

SweetSuwan5Within 20 minutes I was in a state of shock. WHO’D A THUNK there were actual rapids in Florida!? Paula brought me to a park that boasts the largest white water rapids in the state, an impressive Class III Rapids with 80 foot high Limestone bluffs along the river. Simply amazing. We snapped pictures of breath taking views, and marveled at the powerful Suwannee River waters surging downstream. SweetSuwan3The hiking trail could have brought us through another 25 or more miles of wooded wilderness, quite a different scene than the Gulf area. But we opted to head back and on to our next destination—the hunting camp.

Once again we were on the road, this time following coordinates she obtained from somewhere that would hopefully bring us to the hunting camp. We drove at least an hour on paved roads, but then it was back to the Florida back roads. We drove at least another hour down what she swore was a road, (but I think it was an oversized animal trail) that at times we had to keep the windows up or we’d be whipped in the face by branches. We pummeled through mud and water, over deadfalls and squeezed through some very narrow areas of the “road”.

“Paula, are you sure we are going the right way?” I finally peeped as we joggled down the unmaintained, animal trail excuse for a road.   We could barely drive 15 miles per hour safely.

“Well I’m pretty sure this is right. That doesn’t look familiar, though.” She replied. “And neither does that.“

The GPS didn’t seem to be reading correctly, so the guessing game went on for another 45 minutes. Finally she somehow identified a tree off to the right or something like that and announced “there it is, we are here!” and she pulled off to the left of a Y in the road.

I looked back at the road we came in on. It wasn’t much of a road. In fact, where the hell is the road? It had evaporated into the bushes. I have no idea where we are.

She slowly pulled up to an old steel gate across an overgrown fire road.

“Are you sure about this?”

“Yes, this is it! But just wait here, and I’ll go check.” And with that she bailed out of the truck, sprinted over the gate and down the fire road.

I sat waiting at the truck. My mind starts to wander.

Dang, is this where they shot Deliverance?

We’ve got about 2 hours of daylight left, tops.

Dang, my phone isn’t picking up a signal.

What if she is wrong?

Dang mosquitos! Good Grief!

What if she doesn’t come back?

Dang we slid through a whole lot of mud back there.

Suddenly she was back, and digging around in the foliage looking for a hidden key for the gate.

“I don’t understand, it’s always here.” She mumbled. We decided to leave the truck there and hike in.

Yes this is it. Look, a BATHROOM! I made fast tracks to the can.

So this is the hunting camp. Paula was engrossed with searching for something. I did not ask her what for. Perhaps it isn’t anything in particular. Her searching became more determined.

“Are you looking for something specific? Can I help?”

“Richards stuff. Where is his stuff?” she seemed anxious.

Everything in the hunting shack was beyond neat. Unbelievable neat. No way could this be a place where men hung out. It was just too neat. Or, maybe her late husbands’ buddy has already been there and gone.

Again, my heart broke for her. She canvassed the entire inside of the cabin, looking more and more distraught. Then she picked up an object.

The cabin became very quiet. Our eyes met. She had never been here without him. It was good that we were here. She just wanted something of his to hang on to. She stood in the middle of the main room with the object, looked around with misty eyes, then quickly turned and headed out the door as I raced to catch up, giving her plenty of space to feel what she needed to feel.

SweetSwuan2We walked the property in silence as the sun began to set. Where ever the heck we are this certainly is a great hunting camp! There were feeders and treestands and carefully trimmed trails for close shots with the bow. She talked about how much time he spent managing the two properties, and how they would come up together and fill the feeders, look for sign of wild game, and just relax.

We had to head out, or we’d never get out in the dark. Racing the sun at a snails pace, we made our way down that rough and tumble animal trail road–through the water and mud and deadfalls and brush and eventually hit pavement. We drove back to our camp in quiet resolve, sharing just enough small talk to keep us both awake. I sat silently in the passenger seat, realizing something epic took place today, and I was honored to have been a part of it.

Oh dear friend, I can’t imagine your pain! Losing your best friend, your childhood sweetheart, your husband of 40 something years….oh, I am so sorry for your loss!

Tomorrow will be a new day with a new adventure.

Thank you for reading my post. Was it inspiring? Scary? Funny? Unbelievable? I’d love to hear your thoughts! All comments are greatly appreciated. Life is an adventure—and it begins today! Why wait for an invitation to live an amazing life full of great experiences? There are lots of inspirational stories under my blog category, “PRs Amazing Outdoor Adventure Update”. If you like what you see, please let me know by “liking” my website. You can even join my tribe to automatically receive new postings ‘hot off the press’.

If you find yourself spending your time not doing what you love, I invite you to contact me for help to create your own, amazing adventure. As always, please feel free to share with others who may find meaning and value in exploring limitless possibilities with PR Brady AdVentures. Thanks again!