Monday, July 29, 2013

Life At A Cross Road!

I think most people would consider what I have been thinking about as a form of mid-life crisis, however 30 is not even close to my mid-life because I plan on living much longer than 60! I also don't really consider it a crisis either it is more of a cross road meaning I don't really know which direction to go because I want to go all directions!!

So I have been stuck in this thought that I started my life too late. Because of everything I have been through in the past few years I have made all these amazing discoveries about what I can actually do. I started making a list of everything I would like to at least try if not do on a regular basis. Here is the list:

Kayaking (both whitewater and sea/lake)
sky diving
Water Skiing
Backing packing through the mountains (No decisions on which mountain/s)
half/full marathon
variety of road races

I am sure the list will just continue to get longer. But here is why I am at a cross road. First off I would really like to be able to have kayaking and skiing/snowboarding as a regular activity. However just thinking about how long it would take me to slowly buy all of the equipment for one or both is enough to make me turn and run away. Second learning both to begin with means I need lessons. I am ok with taking lessons for these as an adult. I can even begin to wrap my brain around the amount of money this has the potential to cost.

The reason I am at a cross road is time. Here I am 30 years old, which is by no means old but I feel like most of the things I want to start doing most people start doing when they are teenagers. Especially taking to people that do these things regularly or even as profession they started when they were very young.

So even though I am 30 I also know you are never too old to learn something new and do what you want. The reason I am so concerned with time or rather the timing is because at this point in my life I should be focusing more on "starting" my life in the sense of family. Someone recently asked if having children was even on my redar because I seemed to be having so much fun traveling, doing races, trying new adventures, etc. I know they meant it as an observation or even more as a positive comment but some how it made me feel like I was missing something or making the wrong desicion at this point in my life.

This would be the reason I am at a cross road. I am ultimately going to continue to try and do everything but I know I will have to make a choice for one eventually at least for some time and then these two world will eventually be able to co-exist agin.

I will gladly accept suggestions from anyone who has them about how to do everything haha!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

OMG I did an Olympic Triathlon!

Since my trial of Max Performances Title 9 Sprint Triathlon was fairly successful, when it was time to look at the line up this season I wanted something more challenging. I some how decided doing the Massachusetts State Triathlon was just what I need for a new challenge. I finally made it a reality when I registered on February 8th...and it begins!

I trained for 6 months for this (well really maybe 5 months cause I slacked off some). I felt like I was fairly well prepared, but still anxious about it anyway. The few weeks leading up to the triathlon were crazy busy, music festivals, whitewater kayaking, life. So I really wasn't focusing on the triathlon as much as I should have been, but I still knew I would do it and finish!

The morning of the race I was surprisingly enough calm and felt ready. I was lucky enough to have my husband, mom and best friend there to root for me. But even better I had another good friend of mine actually doing the race with me, well she did the aqua-bike portion. but even that is a huge event! I gathered all the my stuff and headed toward the giant arch!

After getting marked with my bib number on my upper arms and hands, as well as having my age written on my right calf it was time to go into the transition area to set up. Oh how I hoped I had remembered everything! It was fairly easy to setup because I was early and not many people were there already. But the best part was that not only was my spot marked on the bike rack with my bib number but it had my name on it too!
Once I figured out how to rack my bike without it falling off I was able to setup the rest of my "space". Which as it turns out was quite a bit because the stickers were not properly spaced out so everyone after me was squished together!

 At about 8:45am there was the opening ceremony, which included the singing of the national anthem, and letting us all know how the waves were going to be heading to the water. I swear just from standing on the beach I got a sunburn. But on the upside it was so hot I couldn't wait for my wave to get to the water!

We were up after the red wave, we all walked across the timing mats and got to our spots in the water. I tried to make sure that I was more towards the outside and the back but some how I ended up outside and up front. My first thought was, 'well this should be interesting'. They did a count down the horn blew and we were off. I think it's funny because the start was exactly as if we were on land the horn blew and we all had to walk past the buoys and then start swimming. It was your typical crossing the start back-up!

I did very well throughout the swim remembering to sight every few strokes to make sure I wasn't too far off course. For the most part I did well keeping my own space. I made the last turn and all of sudden there was this girl who my only guess could be was that she was not trying to sight where she was going because every couple strokes she was hitting me with either her hand or foot. Every time I tried to reposition myself she would be right back where I was. I finally lost her by going slightly off course but I got myself back. The greatest feeling is when the last buoy is within reach. I swam all the way in until my fingers could touch the ground. I stood up and tried to walk onto shore. For the first few seconds walking was the oddest feeling, I felt almost swirly. But I made it up the beach and crossed the timing mats!
As I was walking over to my transition spot I took a look at my garmin and was surprised to see how much faster I swam it then in my training more than a 5 minute difference! I was thrilled!!

Swim time: 39:03

Transition was easier than I thought it would be so I guess I either planned well or I was as stressed about it as the first time. I was able to get everything I needed for the bike portion and headed out

Transition 1: 5:01

The bike was more than I bargained for. It wasn't so bad starting out but by about mile 7 I was feeling it in my legs. The best part was that at every major turn there were volunteers at about mile 8 there was a turn and everyone said to me as I passed, "You're doing great, keep going, you're almost there." At that point I promptly looked down at my Garmin and realized I was only at mile 8. Not only was I not "almost done." but I wasn't even halfway there. That is probably my biggest pet peeve, don't tell people they are almost done unless it is the truth! I will admit I did stop a few times on those lovely hills but I never got off my bike! The course wasn't over the top with hills, honestly it was the fact that there were a lot of flat road. Which meant it was not difficult but constant work. I was at mile 20 and could tell how much the ride had effected me. My pace was much slower, I was tired! Once I hit the entrance to the park I knew I was home free and almost done with the bike!
Then I saw the beloved Dismount sign! I couldn't wait to get off that bike!

Bike: 1:43:34

My second transition was faster probably because it involved mostly taking gear off rather than putting it on. I will say I learned from last year when I forgot to untie my sneakers, so this year I got elastic shoelaces so it was so much smoother. I was all set and ready head out on my run. I was walking over to the run because if you have never tried getting your legs to run after riding a bike for that long takes some adjustment. Just as I got to the run out one of the volunteers asked me if I could go out the swim out instead. I thought that was odd but figured maybe something had changed. I turned around headed towards the swim out until I realized there were no timing mats there. Then I realized why he sent me that way he thought I was done and just leaving the transition area, haha if only! I turned myself right back around and when I got closer I said, "I'm doing the run." He replied, "Oh no I'm so sorry I didn't know cause you were walking." Seriously I highly doubt every single person ran out of the transition area. But thanks for adding time to my transition for our assumptions!

Transition 2: 3:38

I was thrilled to be on my way for the last leg of this race. Except for one minor problem I had apparently been doing a very good job of hydrating because I had to pee in the worst way. Luckily shortly onto the run course there was a port-a-potty, so I made a short pit stop. Then I headed out. My legs still felt like jello but I knew the more I went along I was just going to tireder so for the first mile I did do running intervals. But After that I just couldn't do it, my legs were beyond running. I kept track of pace thought and was still doing well walking. It was at this point I realized I had forgotten to bring any kind of fuel with me to eat...this was going to be fun! by about mile 2 I realized that I was the last person on the course. I actually even asked one of the volunteers on a bike. She said she was waiting to find out. A few minutes later she came back to tell me there were other people that had started the course. Part of me felt like she was saying that just to keep me motivated. But not long after she said they had been picked up and I was the last person on the course. This was very depressing for a while. At this point I decided well I'm last no need to hurry so I will just walk. I guess you could say I kind threw in the towel without actually throwing in the towel. I got to the turn around point and there was a fantastic volunteer who started yelling motivational comments at me when I was more than 8-10 yards away! Boy do I wish there were more people like that. However I will say my mood quickly turned around you see the same volunteer on the bike that had told me I was the last one on the course ended up being like my own personal race companion. She stayed with me for last three miles. We chatted quite a bit, about why I was doing this, how I got into it, about her and what she did. I really can't thank Tina Marie enough! It was quite refreshing. Honestly if my experience for every race was like the last 3 miles of this it would be great. I had a bike liaison, there was one volunteer that was driving in a cart up and down the course. Every few minutes he was stopping to give me a cold wet towel, water, etc! It was fantastic! Talk about feeling special hahahaha. I was so happy when I could finally see the finish line arch, in fact that was the only time in the last 5 miles I felt the urge to run! I ran across that finish line and was thrilled to be done!
They put my medal around my neck and I of course had to have a photo session. I did this triathlon as my First Descents Challenge so I wanted to make sure everyone knew that. I even had a special poster waiting for me at the finish line!
I Swim, Bike and Run so young adult cancer survivors can Surf, Kayak and climb with First Descents!

Run (Well really a walk for me): 1:54:27

When I was done one of the volunteers actually said to me, "now that you're done with your photo shoot you should come over here we have ice baths for your feet." I was thrilled because my feet were killing me and I knew I had blisters. While I was sitting there with my feet in the kid pools of ice and water he also brought me a water bottle.

So I felt bad about being last and I felt bad about everyone having to wait for me. But even though I was last they were all really nice, and took good care of me. I even got to have a burger from the BBQ because they kept them going until I was done. Even though I wasn't happy about being last everyone made me feel just as important as every other racer that crossed the finish line.

I am not sure I would do another Olympic Triathlon or if I do I know I really need to be a lot more serious about it and train harder. Let's just say I am looking forward to doing the Title 9 in September for half the distances!

I want to thank everyone at Max Performance and of course all the fantastic volunteers. You all really do make each and every race a success!

As I mentioned before I did this triathlon for First Descents which is a foundation that is near and dear to my heart. I will say that going to my very first whitewater kayaking camp really helped me realize that there are so many things out there that I thought I couldn't do and it was only because I never tried. Cancer changed my life and I will never be the person I was before but First Descents plays a huge role in helping me embrace the new me and really enjoy life. Please take a look at my other blog posts about first descents...
Stay Calm Under The Water - FD1
FD2 Day 1-3
FD2 Day 4-5
FD2 Day 6-7

I have until the end of August to reach my fundraising goal. Please take a moment to read about my experience and of course about First Descents. Then if you are inspired to please make a donation so I can help another young adult cancer survivor have an adventure of their new lifetime!

Monday, July 8, 2013

FD2 Whitewater Kayaking Montana Days 6 & 7

Day 6: Today is the day, graduation day!! I was so excited to be back on the water and hit those rapids in my own kayak. But just to giver you a little heads up I started the morning out telling everyone that I was fully prepared to flip/swim while kayaking, so you can imagine what I set myself up for.

We needed to leave at 9am sharp, which in true FD fashion meant we left about 9:20am. We headed over to Great Northern Rafting...
This is their little coffee shop inside the train!
We got to do a little shopping before getting ready to head out. We rallied back to our vans and we were off. I have to say one my favorite things about getting to the different put in locations was the conversation that occurred in the van. Now make no mistake, it was by no means always appropriate but still a great way to get to pass the time and in most cases learn more than you ever expected about each other!

We arrived at our put in off the middle fork river and got ready to go. We celebrated graduation day with an impromptu dance party!

We had a brief run down of how the river usually works and what to look for when you're figuring out what route to take in the water. This was going on as our camp directors and volunteers ran shuttle so we could have transportation at the end. Then it was time to break up into our groups or pods as they called it. I decided I wanted to shake it up a little and change pods. I went with Sexy Love Beast (who will from here on out be referred to as Sexy LB because it's easier to type). He was pretty much in charge so I was confident that he knew what he was doing and that meant we would most likely be going first!

We all started to get into the water. Our group launched our kayaks from the shore. Meaning we got in them while still on the shore and basically used it as a slide for our kayaks into the water. Pedro was waiting at the bottom to stop us and probably make sure we didn't flip as well.

The best part about all this and not far from there was our first rapid. We needed to stay to left and then turn right. I started paddling following Sexy LB but I did something drastically wrong cause I ended up going right which put me right into a shallow rocky area where you bet I promptly got stuck. Luckily Cast Away (a guide who had just joined us for the day) came and pulled me out. Fantastic right, or so I thought until I got myself right into the middle of the rapid and flipped over. Luckily Cast Away was right there so I knew I could T-rescue. However I came up at an odd angle and then with the current the river going against my kayak by the time I got in the right position to right myself my skirt came off filling my kayak with water...I was swimming. I was the first swimmer of the day hurray for me! Sexy LB came over and got me to ferry me over to an eddy, cast away got my boat to me where I climbed onto the beach and emptied my kayak. I will inform you although I was the first to flip I was not the only one so I felt a little less incompetent. It felt off being back in the kayak after having been out it for two days I needed more time acclimate back to it.

We all continued on down the river but all the guides we sure to give us space. As we approached another eddy after going through a rapid I managed to flip again however Sexy LB was right next to me and I did a successful T rescue. In fact it was so successful that when I snapped back up I managed to flip myself on the other side. But I again did a successful T rescue. At this time I am not going to lie I was starting to get frustrated and doubt myself. We came to a rather large rapid that was actually on a turn. So in order to get where we needed to be we had to go into the eddy that was right before it so we could ferry out and be in the right direction. I was so nervous that while everyone else was practicing I just sat there watching I was too afraid I was going to flip again. But then I had no choice but to go because we had to get out of the eddy. I bet you will never guess what happened, well if you said I made it you would be wrong. I flipped and ended up wet exiting which involved emptying my kayak, blah, blah, blah. Once back in I was faced again with the same problem of needing to get out of that eddy and down the rapid in the right direction. I took a deep breath and went for it. This time I was successful and managed to get myself down the rapid and paddle down more of the river.
We all got to hang out in some really cool eddy's surrounded by huge rock walls and most had waterfalls. At least if we were sitting around for a few minutes it certainly was beautiful.

There was some confusion about if we were doing the graduation rapid before or after lunch. It had gotten late and we all really wanted to eat first but we were then informed that was not going to be an option. As we all prepared for the graduation rapid we were told that we would be running it entirely on our own. The guides would be in place as safety boaters but we needed to read the water and get ourselves through it. As if that wasn't making us nervous enough I also had had to pee for about 2 hours and just wanted out of my kayak.

As each person went we made up a cheer/song that went along with their name as they set out on their journey. I am currently drawing a blank as to what mine was. but it did help a lot. By the time it was my turn I really think the driving force behind it was just wanting to be able to pee. I must say I did very well. I had good control and was able to stay on course. I made it all the way through the rapid and over to our lunch spot. I was thrilled!! I of course basically jumped out of my kayak, peed in the water (yes I admit it) and cheered on all those coming behind me. It was great to see everyone conquering whatever fears they may be having and put all their newly acquired skills to use.

Bomb greeted us on the beach with lunch and fully dressed in a graduation cap and gown. It was great!

After lunch we got back out to do what little was left of the river. The rapids were mild but still there. After my debacle with the eddy I think I got my kayak feet back because I did not flip anymore!

As we all got to the take out and climbed out of our kayaks it really was bitter sweet. This was the last time we would be on the river, in these kayaks, for tomorrow was time to go home. I guess similar to any graduation ceremony.

We headed back towards the cabins once all the vans were loaded. Our van was the lead so we decided to stop at the Glacier National Park sign for a group photo.
We really are a nice looking group. However we then wanted to play around and we rushed because we were running EXTREMELY late which Mama Mia and Ruby would not like cause we still needed to have dinner.

We got back to camp and a few of us once we were changed headed to the kitchen to help with dinner. Once most everything was done I went back to the cabin and grabbed my new FD shirt. I wanted everyone to sign it. Pedro offered his colored sharpies which was great because all I could find was a black one and that wouldn't make for a very fun shirt. Little did I know just how much free will they would take, but it turned out being great and I wouldn't change it for anything.
Even if it does now include a penis being drawn on it. Thank to my twin brother! (I'll explain to who ever would like to know) I love doing this because it is such a personalized memento and when I wear it it helps spread more FD awareness/love because people are constantly asking me about it. This should be an interesting one to talk about!!

Then we headed to campfire. It was fantastic, the nights topic of conversation was describe your week with FD only using three words. It started off more on the light hearted side. I believe at some point I might have referenced FD Rocks Hard which was returned with Shut Your Face from my twin. But then it got more serious and really did help us all reflect. Before we got to far into campfire we had a surprise for our volunteers and program directors. We got them little gifts and presented them. I think it took them all by surprise but they were really happy!

Pedro and Patch took out a box filled with candles. This is my favorite part of graduation campfire basically like a candle light ceremony where you remember all those who can no longer attend an FD camp and those who would just like to have thoughts and prayers sent out to. I honestly had so many people swimming through my head and I am sure they all got a little part of my candle but there was one in particular that really stuck with me all week and was who I was thinking of most my friend Mike Robinson. We actually got to walk down to the river and Bomb had made us a special little spot to float our candles. As we put our candles in the water I couldn't help but sing "Lean On Me" it seemed very appropriate, some even joined in. It was a beautiful moment and a beautiful sight.
We walked back up and all gathered around the campfire. Pedro and Patch had a surprise for us. I was expecting another Baci ceremony but they told us they were doing something different. It was a Khata ceremony which is when you present someone with a pure white scarf as a way to bring them good luck and fortune as well display that what you are offering comes from the purest of hearts. I got get mine from Pedro, and everything he said really did come from the heart. After everyone had received their scarves we decided to continue the love and talk to each other positively and share our new found connection and extended FD family. Then it was time to go check out our week in the form of slide show, how exciting!

Raz (our photographer) put together a fantastic slide show that included not only pictures but lots of video as well.  It was nice to see everything all summed up and relive most of it.

At each campfire we also give out awards, one for most entertaining or humorous, one with the most kayaking spirit and one that was a kayak star. I was so excited because I hadn't won yet and my good friend CoPilot chose me as a kayak star because she had a slightly difficult time on the river and I managed to convince her to get back into her kayak to finish when she was ready to get on the raft. It was a very touching award!

Then it was time to go to bed, oh did I mention at this point it was about 1am? I told you we were running late when we stopped to get our picture taken at the sign. Even after all that happened today there was still one more thing that I was SUPER EXCITED about!
Pedro and Patch let me sleep in the TEEPEE!! Earlier that day I asked Pedro what the chances of me being able to kick them out of the teepee was so I could stay in there that night. Honestly I was just kidding around I never expected him to say yes that I could sleep in there. But he did say yes! They cleaned out all their stuff and let us move in. At first it was Flip Flop, Buo and I but then Buo and I were talking too much keeping Flip Flop awake so she went back to the cabin. Sorry Flip Flop. I know it sounds dumb but it really was fun to sleep out there. Pedro even let me borrow his therma pad to sleep on because the "floor" of the teepee was all gravel. How often would I get the chance to sleep in a legit teepee? I am so thankful to Pedro and Patch for giving up their "home" to let me have the experience. Although Patch did say that he was setting the ground rule that the teepee was for the camp directors and no one else could sleep in there for the next week.

Day 7: I didn't actually get much sleep because most people had to get up early to leave to head back to Spokane International Airport. I luckily got to sleep for another hour and a half after they left. It was just Bobo and I that were leaving from Kalispell airport. My flight was at 10:32am so we left about 8:45am to get there in time. It was nice to have sometime with just Patch, Pedro and Bobo before leaving. It was a shorter ride but still enough time to learn a little more about all of them. When we arrived Patch said his goodbyes at the van, Pedro came into the airport with us. He gave us both a hug at the door so in his words "he wouldn't cry".

Bobo and I checked in for our flights. Apon doing so I learned that they were looking for a volunteer to give up their seat on my flight because it was over sold. They would get me a flight through Delta that would have less stops and get me home 2 hours yes please. Oh yea and I would have gotten a $400 voucher for a future flight. I decided to do this and was waiting for them to give me my new boarding pass. The new flight wasn't leaving until 2:30pm so Bobo and I had already decided that we were going to call Pedro and Patch back to ask if we could go with them to breakfast cause that is where they were heading after they dropped us off. However at the last minute someone didn't show up so I had to get on my plane. That began my long journey home which involved a 4 hour layover in Chicago and finally landing at Logan at 12:33am.

Once again I sit here reliving every moment of the FD experience. I spent my entire first day back at work wanting nothing more than to be with everyone in Kalispell, kayaking down the river! There are absolutely no words to describe what the FD camp experience is like. The only thing I can do is say thank you! Thank you Mama Mia and Ruby for being the most Amazing Camp moms we could ask for, always greeting us as our own mothers would have and taking such good care of us. Thank you to Bomb for being a fantastic camp dad, sticking with us on the river carrying our lunch, snacks and water in the raft and of course offering a place a refuge when some of us were just done with kayaking for the day. Your stories and wonderful personality were something we all needed!

Thanks to The Dude who not only took care of all our bumps, bruises and injuries but also helped guide us on the river and was an extra safety boater. You definitely kept us going in more ways than one. Thank you to Raz for climbing rock walls to get some good shots of us, for always being one step ahead for some rapid footage. And for also guiding us along the river when needed too.

Braveheart where to begin, thank you for dealing with all my over exhaustedness in Washington, getting us food and entertainment. For making that long drive even after you had a long travel day as well. Then once there for general good nature, your lovely giggle, your fantastic rap style and of course for filling in and helping out where ever you were needed. You were a great fill in camp mom we stayed well hydrated and did not get sunburned!

Thank you to all our guides from Great Northern Rafting, Sexy LB, Korps, Fish, Maybe and Cast Away, without you we definitely would not have made it through all those rapids. I learned a ton and it was all thanks in part to you all. You listened to what we needed and adjusted accordingly!

A real special thanks goes out to Patch and Pedro our fearless leaders.

Patch you always made me feel comfortable, you helped us all learn what we needed to know, you always were there for us when we needed a safety boater both in the water and out. Thanks for sharing your humor and most importantly sleeping outside so I could sleep in the Teepee, that was really cool! It was fantastic to learn about you! Please know that it really does take a special person to run an FD camp and you are definitely one of those people!

Oh Pedro where do I even begin, for the moment I met you; well once I had gotten some sleep; I knew there was just something about you. Thank you so much for your open personality and for not trying to be someone you're not. If there is one thing I appreciate is when people are who are and don't try to censure themselves. You seemed to always forget to filter which is why you ended up yelling at me to shut my face the first time. But I knew it was meant in a good way and of course continued throughout the week. You make one hell of a twin brother! Thanks so much for saving me on the river, for giving up the teepee so I could experience it and for just plain making the whole FD camp exactly what it should be! In your words we are all new friends forever!

I would also like to thank Brad for starting First Descents. It's funny at camp we were talking about if you had any idea what you were creating when you started FD? If you had any idea just where it would and the amazing impact it would have on so many people? There are no words to say how grateful I am to you for this phenomenal experience and well family that I have now. Forever apart of FD!

And last but certainly not least thanks to all my fellow participants, Bandcamp, Bobo, Bro Puppy, Bruce, Buo, CoPilot, Dak, DotCom, Flip Flop, Journey, Pasta, Road Rash and Tiger. You all made this week an experience I will never forget. We all had our ups and downs but you all supported not only me but each other and helped keep us motivated to get back in the kayak and do it again! We had one hell of a week, now it's time to remember that FD magic and carry it with us!

Now for those of you who have read this and agree with me about how fantastic First Descents please donate to my fundraising page! I am doing an Olympic Triathlon to as my challenge to raise money to send other young adult cancer survivors on an adventure of their new lifetime. Help me reach my goal but clicking here and donating!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

FD2 Whitewater Kayaking Montana Days 4 & 5

Day 4: So after the carnage that happened on the river during day 3 we voiced our concerns and got to have a sit down discussion with all the guides, camp staff, volunteers, etc. It was great to voice our concerns in a positive way. Everyone was completely open to what we all had to say and how we felt. It was just something that needed to be shared.

After we got past all that the day started. Today we got to pack for camping!! With all our stuff packed we headed to where we would put it. This time we left our kayaks at the cabins and instead we got to go on topo duos (two person kayaks, a guide sat in the back and a camper sat in the front) a ducky (basically an inflatable raft) and a raft.
We stopped in an eddy to have a little snack. While we were there we walked down to scout out the next rapid. While we were doing that we got a show as well as lesson. Pedro and Patch surfed the rapid while in a topo duo. It was amazing to watch!
As we were getting ready to get back onto the rivers. We decided to change boats around. I was moving from the raft to topo duo, or so I thought. I walked over to the raft where bandcamp and Fish (a guide) were talking. That was when I learned we could swim the rapid, as in they were trying to talk us into doing it. There wasn't much they had to do to convince us I was sold as soon as I found out. Bandcamp and I got on the raft, got a little lesson on how we should swim and which eddy to go to after. Then we set out. As we got closer to the rapid we got the jump signal and we were into the water.

It was one of the most amazing things I experienced. Your are the complete mercy of the river. I ended up hitting the right wave pattern and ended up exactly where I needed to be. However bandcamp got swept into a different eddy and Maybe (a guide) had her grab on to her topo duo and ferried her over to the raft. Fish successfully pulled us back into the raft and we were on our way! I would like to say we got to swim a rapid again but that was not the case. Well not entirely.

Then we got to our campsite for the night. Some of the guides were already there setting up the camp. We would literally be sleeping under the stars with nothing more than a small mat and a sleeping bag. while we were waiting for dinner we got a little surprise. They had packed a costume bag and we all got to dress up.

Patch got dressed up by Pedro..can you tell? When I get more pictures I will put them up cause the costumes were pretty great.

Then we all got to play a game. It is the moose game (don't worry I had never heard of it either) it is difficult to explain but basically you need three people to make the antlers of a moose and you have to pay attention to who is making the middle two. If you are too delayed in putting up your antler or put up the wrong hand for your antler you are out. It came down to me and Maybe. So of course my first question was how do you play with two people? That is when Pedro informed that it was sudden death cop, pimp, hoe which is basically a dirtier version of rock, paper, scissors. It was best of three. Maybe got the first point, but then we kept throwing out the same thing. I eventually became victorious by throwing out pimp to beat the hoe and cop to beat the pimp. It was actually a great a game night. I also learned how to play ladder toss which as I discovered I am not very good at. But then again Pedro was my partner and he wasn't very good either.

By the time we were done with all the games it was dinner time! I got to try a quinoa salad that had cucumbers and cherry tomatoes in it and I actually liked it. I know shocking right! For dessert we got to make ice cream in big balls that we shook...take that sentences however you want. Then of course we had campfire where we also got to make s'mores. As a special treat after the normal campfire Otis (a guide) played for us.
You can take a listen by clicking here
When we finally got to go to sleep it was very peaceful just staring at the stars. I however did not sleep very well, I kept waking up. I think it had something to do with a campfire conversation we had a few nights before where we learned bear safety. If we got attacked by a bear it would go something like this, lay on your stomach it would be chew chew chew, swat swat swat, chew chew chew, swat swat swat, flip. At this point you would flip yourself back over to protect your organs and it would repeat. You would just have to wait until the bear was done. Now after learning that how would you sleep outside??

Day 5: We woke to everyone making breakfast. I have to say this is one of the few times that Patch and Pedro were up before all us campers. Probably because they slept near where the campfire was. We ate and packed our gear. I called dibbs on the ducky especially because it was only a 2 mile river run that day so it would be short. The ducky was nice because you just floated down the river and you could head right for the rock instead of trying to avoid them like you would in a kayak. The scenery was just amazing on the way down.
We were at the take out fairly quickly. We packed up all our stuff and headed out to go to the visitors center at Glacier National Park for a little bit of hiking.

After a little bit of a drive (an hour+) we got there. I have to day it was very cool being able to walk on the boardwalk trails in the snow. We couldn't go very far due to the amount of snow but that was ok because we turned it into an epic snowball fight!
We also got to go into the visitors center and all got to be sworn in as junior rangers!

you can watch our oath here

Then we headed back down the mountain. We were still riding in the 12 person van however there were only 5 of us plus Pedro. I am sure he was thrilled to have a van full of women. Anyway the other vans were mini vans so as we were going back they had their side doors open. We didn't even have windows to open. Needless to say we kept telling Pedro how much his van sucked, HA! But we ended up opening the door because CoPilot wanted nothing more than to get a good picture of a water fall and we were coming up on what they refer to as the Weeping Wall where the whole wall is just running water. However I think I left out the part that when she was trying to get a picture she moved to front bench seat and was hanging out without a seat belt on. Pedro just about had a heart attack at that point. Needless to say her seat belt was put on quite quickly. But we got a cool picture.
Pedro was much happier once the door was closed and we were on our way back to the cabins. When we arrived Mama Mia came running out as usual to greet us, as if she was our real mom it was great! Some of us helped make dinner and then of course we ate and got ready for campfire! We were all really excited to hear about Graduation day but sad because it would be out last day on the river as well. Oh yea and we got to make S'mores again and Pasta tried a triple decker one which turned out to be a great idea!
Then it was time to head to bed. One the grounds where we were staying they have a really teepee. Since sleeping outside the night before and come one how often am I going to get the chance to sleep in a teepee I really wanted to. I asked Patch if we were allowed to sleep in there. The answer was yes except that he and Pedro were sleeping in there so no...awe :( We all went back to our respective beds but that turned out to be another slumber party night in my room so that was ok too. Who can sleep when you're thinking about graduation rapid?

To Be Continued...

FD2 Whitewater kayaking Montana days 1, 2 & 3

Well it is that time again, time for me to spread that fantastic First Descents LOVE! I just came home from another fantastic whitewater trip which has left me feeling that FD magic all over again! But it is really hard to cram all that happened into one blog post especially because who wants to read something that long. So I have decided to break it up into a few posts. So here goes I hope you're ready for the retelling of some awesome adventure time!

This is where I am going to start my story Spokane International Airport! I flew out of Logan International Airport at 6am on Sunday June 30th, which as you have guessed that means I was up at about 3am. After a stop in Minneapolis I arrived in Washington at 10:32am, where I would be waiting until 12pm for everyone elses flights to arrive. I met one other camper while waiting, Dak who happened to be on the same flight as me. So we hung out til everyone else got there. Once it hit 12 everyone started coming in and we found one and other. There was Road Rash, Flip Flop, Bro Puppy, Pasta, CoPilot, Tiger and of course me. Braveheart who was our volunteer and incharge of all our lovely beings was also there. She informed us that two other campers were stuck because their flight had been cancelled. They were able to get a flight but it wouldn't be arriving until 6pm. That is what started the Washington adventure. Oh yea and incase you are completely confused about all the names I will let you know that everyone that is involved with or goes to a first descents camp gets a nickname. Mine is Aly Cat!

Our first stop was to...
which was not only a market but also had a deli section. So we all gathered for some lunch. After about an hour we set off on our next adventure. We were heading to the movies!! It took us a little while to find a place to park for two reasons. 1.) we were traveling in a 12 person van and 2.) the Spokane Hoopfest was going on.
But we did finally find a place to park that wasn't too far away and got to AMC theatre. We got to see...
This movie was so funny! It kept us thoroughly entertained and most importantly awake! It was just the right amount of time. When it was done it was time to return to the airport where our last two campers were ready and waiting for us. Now that Buo and DotCom had joined our caravan it was time to head to Kalispell!!

It was LONG ride about 5 1/2 hours. We stopped twice but quickly got back on the road. It wasn't until about 11:30pm that I was finally able to sleep in the van which was mainly because that is about when it started to get dark. We hit the dirt road part Glacier National Park about 12:30am and everyone in the van was awake. We got to the cabins around 1am where we all quickly got our bags and headed to our respective beds. I did meet some people that night but I couldn't tell you who!

After some much needed sleep I woke up to one of our lovely camp moms Mama Mia telling us it was time to get up because breakfast was ready and we needed to get fitted with all our gear this morning. I rolled out of bed and proceeded to spend the next couple of hours meeting the new people (Bandcamp, Journey, Bruce, Mama Mia, Ruby, Bomb, The Dude, Raz, Patch and Pedro), having breakfast, of course really getting a chance to check out where we were staying and getting all our gear fitted.

Then came the part I had been waiting for since last year, it was time to hit the water!!!

After some beginner time of learning how to wet exit and just getting comfortable in our kayaks it was lunch time. Then we got to hit the river! I will admit that I did in fact flip once that day however it was because I hit the Eddy line wrong and just went over. I just kept my hand up and waved at Pedro (One of the camp directors) to come get me. I successfully did a T rescue with a little help from Patch (our other camp director) because he helped tilt my kayak back down. Then a little later down the river Pedro was there again just as I was about to flip he grabbed my kayak and kept me up. But then his kayak went under mine and I saved him so it was a win win!

When we got back to the cabins we got to have our first dinner together!
The camp moms and camp dad really took good care of us and made a fantastic meal. Then we had our very first campfire.
Besides kayaking campfire is my next favorite thing about going to an FD camp! It just gives you a chance to unwind, share your thoughts about the day or in our case whatever Pedro decides we should talk about. Then we also get a run down of how the next day will go and what time we have to get up. Just so great to sit around the campfire. Then we all headed to bed!

Day 3: We launched right from the creek where we were staying. It was very overwhelming to look at and so some of us needed a little extra reassurance before we headed down the creek. At about 11:30am we got started, Bandcamp and I went first. Our friend Journey flipped on her way down the river and got stuck in some strainer trees. Pedro was able to save her and get her out of all that. But the best part is that she immediately said she wanted to go back to beginning and start down the creek in her kayak all over again!! Woohoo Journey you are amazing!

We were split up into pods with each pod having a guide assigned to them. We were with Korps! As we made our way down the river everything just seemed to be going wrong. There was too much congession on the river, we were all staying together instead of stay separated into our pods. We had one particular rapid that had massive carnage because all of went through together, more than 6 people flipped over and wet exited and all needed help getting to shore and emptying their boats. It took us seven hours to get down the river because of all of us flipping and spending more time in eddy's recovering then on the river. When we finally got back to the cabins we got to celebrate a fellow campers birthday, Journey! We had a great time dancing around, watching journey smash the pinata and of course playing with all the stuff we got.
Left to right: Patch, Journey and Pedro

Then when we had dinner it was late. We forfeited campfire because it was so late and we were all tired. However I certainly learned why campfire is such a part of the nightly routine. Everyone in my room was certainly wired, we were up until 12:30am talking. Mama Mia actually came in and told us to go to sleep, haha. But we finally did!

To Be Continued...