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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.  There 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.  Stroke 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!

Sometimes I fly like an eagle!

Sometimes I fly like an eagle!

Bicycling is cool cross-training. I can pedal hard for a couple of hours without feeling sore or overly tired. It’s fun, scenic, invigorating and healthy. What a win!

Weight-lifting leaves me sore, most often. It suggests a hint of masochism, mixed with egotism. Sometimes it feels great, sometimes it’s really hard. It always keeps me more fit, more youthful and better prepared.

Standup paddle boarding is a new addition to my life. It fits in beautifully with a self-propelled lifestyle, delivering great abdominal, back, arm and leg endurance training. It always feels adventurous to me.  Yay!

Nordic skiing has a very special place in my heart. I’ve skied into heaven on earth. The risk of cold, remote places is enhanced by beauty, adventure, invigoration, inspiration and wonderful endurance training. I love it!

Running is in my spirit, woven into my soul. It offers endurance or speed. Self-propulsion feeds self-confidence and a willingness to tackle new pursuits. Running opens doors to greater adventures, like awe-inspiring backcountry hikes!

Hiking with a heavy backpack, for many hours, feels like a marathon to me. I like that it makes me stronger. The process gets really tough. I learn mental discipline. I learn that “can do” trumps “can’t do” almost every time I really want it to.  The views are painted on the front page of the newspaper of my soul. Treasures!

Golf is the best game I’ve ever found. It challenges my mind in every way imaginable. It offers physical challenges in beautiful locations. It can not be mastered. I’m lured by the feeling of balls struck well. It’s been a busy couple of decades, but golf teases my spirit with a sense of impending reunion.

Volleyball is one of my favorite team games. It tests quickness, creativity, coordination and spirit. It’s fun to learn teamwork. Basketball and football are other favored team sports. The excitement makes these almost as much fun to watch as to play.

When I was a kid, riding my motorcycle was part of my daily routine. My bike gave me freedom and wild adventures. It got me high! I’m sticking with non-motorized bikes now, because I want to extend life if I can. But I still love to get high.

One way is water-skiing. Cold water slaps my face and everywhere else. Bam! The boat jerks hard, testing strength, balance and mental toughness. I rise above the fish and skim across the water, as free, wild and crazy as a teenager. Yeah! Hit it!

My life is sometimes a bit scary!  See what I mean? That’s me between Annie’s legs.

Jurassic Park 4 - it's a good thing she's nice. Maybe she'll carry me and my board back to the car.  But then crush it.....

Jurassic Park 4 – it’s a good thing she’s nice. Maybe she’ll carry me and my board back to the car. But then crush it…..

We tried the Go Pro Hero 3 surf mount today.  We also tried paddling while kneeling, sit-down paddling, lying down paddling and crossing over logs.  We saw two beavers, various large birds and a whitetail doe, very close by. We played in windy rough water, refining our skills, interspersed with calm water. It was more fun than ever!

Fun in the sun!

Fun in the sun!

Ahhhh, summer. Long days, outdoor play and lots of fun. New toys make it even better!

Enjoying the good life!

Enjoying the good life!

The Amundson TR-2 is a nice board; seemingly quite comparable in performance to the Tahoe Rubicon we tested earlier. We added a Go Pro Hero 3 for fun. Silly mistake! Annie set the damn thing on rapid fire and caught the sequence of my first ever capsizing of a paddle board. Freaking technology!

Abandon ship!

Abandon ship!

Today we paddled two laps of Bennington Lake. We’re learning to relax the muscles in our feet. In other words, we’re getting relaxed in our minds. So the early dunking did not dampen my enthusiasm, despite temperatures around 70 with evening coming on. We wanted adventure!

Paddling uphill with a jet stream? Go Annie!

Paddling uphill with a jet stream? Go Annie!

We got our wish!  It was so fun to be able to paddle together. We’re plotting races against kayaks, long paddle adventures, nature photography, etc. Life just keeps getting better! I think we’ll run the Portland marathon. If my foot takes longer to heal, maybe I’ll walk it. It sounds so fun. I hope I find some time to golf, plant the garden, clean, etc. Or play more! Yay! Let’s get our fun on!

Shake it baby!

Shake it baby!

Where to stand-up paddle board?  I’m starting a list!

  1. Bennington Lake, Walla Walla, WA.  Done!
  2. Bateman Island, Columbia River, Richland, WA.
  3. Jubilee Lake, Oregon. Over 4,800 feet in elevation, so summer only!
  4. North & South Twin Lakes, Inchelium, WA.  Annually!
  5. Burbank Slough.
  6. Little Spokane River.
  7. Casey Pond, Columbia River.
  8. Flathead Lake, Montana.
  9. Curlew Pond, Columbia River.
  10. Lake Roosevelt, Coulee Dam, WA.
  11. Hutchinson-Shiner lakes, Othello, WA.
  12. Oahu South Shore, Hawaii.
  13. Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.
  14. Christina Lake, British Columbia.
  15. Aruba.
  16. Lake Tahoe.
  17. Hood River, Oregon.
  18. Florida Keys.
  19. Snake River, Clarkston, WA.

Where else should I go?

Bennington Lake

Bennington Lake on my second SUP outing.  Fun!

I love activities that blend fun people, natural beauty and enjoyable exercise together!

Little Miss Instigator! What will she think of next?

Little Miss Instigator! What will she think of next?

With my desk job, exercise is imperative for my health. Life is busy, so multi-tasking is naturally good for my soul. How else to get enough rest? The exercise gets me high and improves my chances for more time for more fun.

Mind expansion with core, balance, leg and arm work. Wellness adventure!

Mind expansion with core, balance, leg and arm work. Wellness adventure!

Mom, you were an amazing teacher of love, kindness, compassion, service and gratitude. I am lucky to have had you in my life for so many years. I hope to live your legacy and I believe that engaging in fun with my own kids is one good way to do so. I know you agree! Happy Mother’s Day! We love you!

Summer in early May?  Fun!

Summer in early May? Fun!

Yay! Yippee! Hooray! Woohoo!

What’s up with you? I mean, what SUP with you?

Today I took my maiden voyage on my 2013 Tahoe Rubicon 12′ standup paddle board. It was a blast! I paddled all around Bennington Lake and its inlet, as far as I could go, until fallen trees blocked the way. I was blessed with smooth water and glorious sunshine. The shade felt great too. I even suspect that standing in my Vibram Five Finger shoes served as therapy for my foot problem. Now I’ve had two evenings in a row that were so much fun, I almost didn’t notice that I got exercise!

I saw two herons and later jumped two ducks, as I paddled up the inlet. I even outran a fishing boat! I guess I should admit that they were trolling though.

As I launched, a man asked “are those fun?” I told him I didn’t know yet. But now I do! YES! They are great fun! I had apprehension about how it might go, heavily overshadowed by excitement, as I prepared to leave work. Sandy, a native of Hawaii, suggested that surfboards are tippy, and asked whether I’d ever been on them, or skateboards, or snowboards. Nope. Like that should stop me? Heck no! No risk, no reward!

So I shoved off into a kneeling position, laid the paddle perpendicular to the board, stood where my knees were, adjusted the paddle, and off I went! It felt a little tippy at first, as I got my sea legs. After an hour of circling the lake, I loaded the board and headed home, still dry, other than sweat. I’m glad I started on calm water with a stable board. I’m grateful for such a pleasant experience. The Naish Makano Vario RDS paddle worked beautifully; it has awesome ergonomics! My Nathan hydration belt offered extremely handy access to drinks. That’s pretty cool for a rookie trying to stay dry!

Rubicon on lawn, TR-X2 hiding, like a Stealth bomber.....

Rubicon on lawn, TR-X2 hiding, like a Stealth bomber…..

Lately, I have a higher class of problems. How to transport my cool new toys? The INNO 446 standup paddle board (SUP) rack that a supplier claimed would work on my 4Runner will not fit, because the factory crossbars are too close to the truck. Luckily for me, David at REI Kennewick is helpful, knowledgable and friendly. REI in Kennewick and Spokane are two of my very favorite stores. They have a lot of cool gear. But their defining greatness lies in their people; they have great people who make our lives more fun! Thanks!

So now I have a great way to transport one board, with the potential for more. Putting multiple boards on one rig complicates matters a bit. Unless I get a trailer, which suggests a larger garage, thereby a new house. Whoa!

But I have two cool boards that look like fun! Some problems just need to be solved! Two rigs? Trailer? Move to a lake? But again, I digress.

This is like one of those confusing flashback movies. I wanted to try SUP, since I’ve heard great things about how fun it is and about the great abdominal workouts it delivers. I sense that I will really like it. I was convinced enough to want to buy a couple of boards to take to the lake this summer. Living in the north and facing the busyness of marathon training, the recommended “try before you buy” approach was ditched. So I’m risking a shaky approach, but it just may work out, if we get them to the water!

Via internet research, I decided on lake focused versions that could cut through chop nicely, tour well and deliver speed in our inevitable races. Remember how Annie and I are about competition. It even looks like my board could be a bit faster! My board appears to be slower, but I’m guessing I’ll still smoke Annie in races.

Since REI has my trust and their amazing satisfaction guarantee, as well as a large selection, I chose two boards at REI on-line, along with adjustable length paddles, personal flotation devices and leashes, if we tackle wild waters. As I continued researching, one of the boards sold out at REI.  So I ordered it from another source. Something prompted me to call them up, since their website hadn’t shown my board as shipped as soon as expected. It was because the normal shipping guy was away from work. So I talked with Jeff Morter from Paddle Surf Warehouse for a while. Why hadn’t I called around to talk with experts earlier? Anyway, Jeff sold me on a board that he was convinced was way better, more durable and considerably cheaper than the one I ordered. So I got the 12 foot 2013 Tahoe Rubicon, a board bag, an adjustable paddle, two dock/deck lock, plus a $52 refund, in the place of a Boardworks Raven 12.5 foot board.  I know there are many lessons here, so let’s hope I learned some of them.

The Tahoe showed up at my house last Friday. How exciting! Then came the “oh crap!” realization of the rack not fitting on my rig. Cool new toys that we can’t use? Just another spiritual growth opportunity! Have a little faith dude! On Saturday we picked up the Amundson 12 1/2 foot TR-X2. It’s carbon & bamboo design may be a hair faster slower than the Rubicon.  I guess we’ll see! David sold me two long Yakima straps with integrated cable and lockable padded cam buckles. They worked great, along with the Yakima tip and tail bra straps that I purchased earlier. I drove home through twenty-some mile per hour winds and the wing board rode beautifully. Later I found a website claiming that one guy transported up to five boards on one rig. So I’m searching for ideal padding to put between the boards.  I can either stagger the boards, due to the fins, or remove the fin from the bottom board. The weather is predicted to warm throughout this week, coinciding with my furlough day. What SUP?

What a day! Yesterday was a really big day for me. I’m not sure what was most important, but growth happened.

We anticipated our twenty-mile run, the pinnacle of our training for next month’s Coeur d’Alene marathon. To fuel up, Annie made green smoothies (Kale for breakfast; move over Popeye!), followed by coffee smoothies (over the top AMAZING!!!) and peanut butter and jelly toast. These accompanied hours of more research and then final selections of toys for our next big thing: standup paddle boarding. I ordered boards, paddles, racks, leashes and personal flotation devices. I’m so excited!

Throughout the day, I learned and re-learned about myself, noting impatience, apprehension, frustration, determination, perseverance and jubilation. When I recognize my motives, they can teach me valuable lessons. It’s even possible to grow from them!  Who knew? Serve, rest, recover, fuel, release, praise, accept, observe, enjoy, admire, bask, encourage and belly up! Food never tastes better than after a long-ass run. I don’t know it there are tougher “walls” yet to come, but we tackled some tough ones yesterday!

Perhaps we needed this mental challenge to round out our preparation. The eighteen-miler seemed almost easy to me; if it wasn’t, my mind has beautifully blocked out the tough parts. The half marathon up and down Badger mountain boosted our confidence further. Yesterday boosted it again, in a new way. We started with little spunk, and our bodies became tired, sore and weakened rather early in the run. Maybe that’s “the wall”? Did something inspire us to add those big hills early on, to help our growth? As we faced trepidation, around halfway done, a cool inspiration re-surfaced: “when your legs get tired, run with your heart.”  Yes! Now we know that even when we start partially tired and weakened by our training, we can still push through a long run.  Strong or weak, high or low, we can get it done!

You never know what you’ll feel like on race day. You never know about any day! But bringing our best, enjoying the process, loving the now, seeing the beauty, slowly blossoming and keeping the faith are paths to growth, joy and peace.  Sometimes they even end with curry! Yay!

John Denver’s “Colorado Rocky Mountain High”:

But the Colorado rocky mountain high
I’ve seen it rainin’ fire in the sky
The shadow from the starlight is softer than a lullabye
Rocky mountain high

A delirium recollection from yesterday:

On that Bennington twenty-mile high…I’ve seen a lot of country passing by…The rush of adrenaline is sweeter than chocolate pie….Bennington High…Walla Walla…

Twenty miles give a LOT of time to talk, think and trip out!  🙂


I love health, humor, adventure, exercise, romance and competition. Well, I just love life! ( :

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