Nick and Zach

Nick and Zach

Life has been really good, in so many ways. Can it get any better than this?

Summer has blessed me with new experiences, which widen my smiles and broaden my perspective. I’ve delighted in new scenery on my street bicycle, feeling power grow in my legs. I promptly rebounded from a head-on collision on my mountain bicycle; thank God for pneumatic tires and pedal clips! Adjusting to the clips has involved two minor falls, but now I have a steady supply of power.

I’ve upgraded my fairway metals and a loft wedge and tried some new putters. So far this year I’ve played thirteen rounds and a couple of scrambles. Recently, that’s more than some five-year stretches! It is still frustrating, challenging, inspiring and befuddling. My first handicap in decades is 18.8, as the beautiful shots have been counterbalanced by the despicable, penalized and ridiculous. Trees, OB’s, traps, deep grass, lost balls, duck hooks and more. Golf is God’s direct line to my spirit. I think He plays too. Wine Valley Golf Course near Walla Walla made me beam like a kid on Christmas. By the seventh hole, I was delighted to realize that it felt like my favorite course ever! Treeless, rolling hills lead to smooth, fast and rolling greens. Putts roll perfectly and every shot pattern can work. Holes are well designed and maintenance is wonderful. I invite you to join me there soon! Friday’s fundraiser at Walla Walla Country Club for St. Mary Medical Center’s foundation was well-managed. ┬áThere are two ugly holes there, one with a blind approach and one with a blind tee shot. WWCC is also well cared for, but it reminds me, like so many things, that humans get smarter with time. The newer courses are often better, especially when space and site selection are not big limiters. Next weekend I’m scheduled to play Circling Raven in North Idaho (for the first time) and this fall I hope to return to Palouse Ridge in Pullman. That’s three of the best courses in the region, so I’m a very lucky guy! May the birdies be with me…..

Grand Luau at Honua'ula

Grand Luau at Honua’ula

In June Nick and Jaslyn and Annie and Zach and I all enjoyed our trip to Maui and agreed that it was a fun and memorable week, perhaps the best of our lives. For most of us it was our first trip to Hawaii. We loved the Maui Hill 3 bedroom/3 bath condo. It was the perfect way to enjoy paradise. Snorkeling with sea turtles was amazing. Boogie boarding each day on increasingly larger waves was so fun! Every morning I took coffee on the deck and savored the blessings of utopia. Our Luau was fun and entertaining, and Lahaina and Kihei offered interesting shopping. We also had fun in the pool and hot tub. We all hope to go back as soon as possible. The wood carvings of sea turtles and tikis remind us of our adventure!

Maui snorkeling

Maui snorkeling

At Rainbow Beach in July we were scorched by the weather. On Sunday morning, Annie and I turned our first paddle of the year into an epic experience. I thought it’d be a short outing and absent-mindedly forgot sunscreen, food, money and backup beverages. We remembered to bring some water and adventurous spirits. It was very fun, so we had paddled several miles, through the channel and well around the other lake before we decided to paddle the entire perimeter of both lakes. Like a marathon, the course seemed to get longer and longer! New bays appeared, each one bigger than we remembered. They are effortless in a power boat. On a paddle board, not so much. ┬áStroke or sit dead in the water. Luckily, I’ve done a lot strength training on my shoulders this year. With little recent paddle training, the standing became tiring to our feet, however, so we eventually alternated between standing, kneeling and sitting. As the temperatures rose, we had to jump into the water or douse ourselves more often. We were hot, tired and thirsty. Hey, we’ve been here before. We can do this! This is like a marathon! After completing the south lake and passing back through the channel, we faced a tough challenge. Our energy was spent and it was a lot longer path to complete circumnavigating, as compared to straight-lining to drinks, food and shade. Could we make it? Should we try? Are we in late-race delirium? In the end, we couldn’t envision doing it again later in the week. It needed to be done. Let’s do it! Ironically, as we neared completion of a large bay and turned back towards our cabin, the wind came up. In our face! I flashed back to marathon training runs. It was four letter word time! Somehow, we made it, over 4.5 hours after starting out. Spent, thirsty, hungry, sun-burned, hot and victorious. That was one tasty Coke Zero! A dip in the lake, some food and a long spell of shade: how sweet it is! The ensuing days brought water-skiing, which was as thrilling as ever and delightful huckleberry treats. Seeing loved ones in a vacation setting is sweet deja vu. It’s especially rewarding to see the good choices and growth in people’s lives.

Annie paddling North Twin Lake at sunset

Annie paddling North Twin Lake at sunset

I’m sitting in Nick and Jaslyn’s living room now as they slumber, along with Annie. I’m stoked that I got over eight hours of sleep and a bit curious how much they will get. We all lifted hard at the WSU Recreation Center yesterday evening, focusing on our chests and triceps. They are quite inspirational, and I needed it! Today we’re doing back and shoulders. Tomorrow? The world! Or try to intimidate Pat with some big drives. Maybe even in the fairway? Nick turned me on to inspirational videos and I’m stoked to better my core muscles, which will open more doors and make things easier and more fun. Fun! Yes! Bring on the fun!

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