Thursday, November 29, 2012

Oh the Shame: Part One

      I can honestly say that I am a person who is rarely ashamed at the things I have done, because I usually try to do the right thing. Lately though there have been several things that I am ashamed of. First and foremost is the fact that my last posting was months ago. Turns out there are a few people who read and enjoy this thing and to you all I am sorry. There was that whole wedding thing I had going on. But in all earnestness I am sorry that I have been absent for quite some time. The good news is that I am back and have a few things to post here.
Charlie's pre-wedding paddle. 
            The second thing that I am ashamed of is the state of my craft room/office. And I should be ashamed. It’s awful. Or well it was. But more on that later let’s get caught up on what has been happening. Ok so work has been ok, I am still plugging along with school (almost done yay!) and oh yeah I got married!
            Be forewarned I will probably get a little sappy here…
My favorite picture.
I can't believe that I make him smile like this
I don't usually like pictures of myself
especially when I am making funny faces
but this one kinda rocks
One of the highlights of the reception. Canoe full of beer
            I will admit it planning your own wedding is tough and sometimes a down right pain in the ass, but so am I. I won’t lie it was hard at times, but you know what I got it done and had a lot of help getting there. So first off is thanks to all of my friends and family who helped with our big day. I have to say it was pretty perfect. I had more than one person say to me “the ceremony was perfect. It was so you guys.” And that is exactly what I wanted a ceremony that reflected both of us, and I have to say I NAILED IT! We couldn’t have asked for a better day. The weather was perfect not too cool but not too warm. This made the hanging by the fire pit at the end of the night perfect. The ceremony was short and sweet, which was good because we were almost upstaged by a bunch of geese and a bald eagle. Down by the river you never know what you are going to get. There are a few things that will always stand out in my mind about the ceremony: first is when Dad handed me the flask before the walk down the isle. He may not have known it then, well who am I kidding, he knew that was exactly what I needed and it totally put me at ease. The second thing was that I didn’t cry. At all! And Charlie was the one who got a little choked up which was sweet. I was sure that I was going to be a mess. Turns out I am pretty good under pressure. I have to say though while I was standing there I was afraid that both Charlie and I were going to just burst out laughing. We have been known to have giggling fits and especially when we get nervous. And the fact that he couldn’t stand still to save his life was pretty entertaining. The last thing that I will always remember was the Big Blue Bus! My bosses at River City Rafting, Travis, and Travis were kind enough to let us borrow the rafting bus as well as Mary (the driver) to get all of our guests where they needed to be. I have to say it was pretty cool. I don’t know why the bus stands out so much maybe because it was just so big and so blue. I have to say though (and this will sound weird) that is the most clothing I have worn while riding that bus. Usually I am in rafting gear in the middle of the summer.
Saying our vows
            The reception was great. Everyone couldn’t stop talking about the food, and with good reason. It was amazing. I had my best friend Lyndsey’s mom cater for us. I have to say she went above and beyond and we had plenty of leftovers to take with us to the beach! (yummmm) Like most of our day it was very laid back. We got to mingle a little with everyone and all around just had a great time. Charlie’s sister got some great pictures of us down at one of our favorite spots on the river- third drop of pipeline. I will post them as soon as I get them I promise.
            We had a great time at the beach thanks to some amazing friends Rob and Rotha who let us crash at their beach house. And I say crash because that is just about what we did. We were so lazy. It was kinda nice. Then they made a much-needed appearance at the end of the week, which was perfect because we were at that point of almost being bored. Because of that trip Charlie is now professional kite flier. Jury is still out on the professional part. And I managed to get sunburn.
            The hard part about all of this is to get back into a normal routine. For some reason it still feels a little unsettled but we are getting there. I think that we have settled nicely into married life, and I am still giddy about the fact that I have a husband. They tell me that will wear off, but I can’t see how.
            So I am going to get back to, cooking and crafting and keeping up with my blog. I promise.

     Mrs, Holland

Thursday, June 28, 2012

What is a girl to do?

 This is what happens when I am left to my own devises while being sick...

            My latest obsession… Pinterest. It is the new form of heroin l I swear. It is amazing how quickly I get sucked in and before you know it it’s two hours later. I lose time when I get on there. So much so that I set the alarm on my phone so that at some point I tear my eyes from the computer screen and maybe actually do some of the stuff that I have pinned.
Let the games begin
            So what is a girl to do when her soon to be husband is out doing a raft trip and I was at home with a runny nose, sore throat and fever? Well you start cooking up homemade cleaning solutions and beauty products. Duh. I had pinned a bunch a recipes on sugar scrubs and cleaning solutions that promised to whiten the tub better than anything else. So today I figured while I had the kitchen and the house to myself for a bit that I would given them a try. This way I could at least clean up the mess before Charlie got home if things went badly.
            The first do it yourself project I tried was one that sounded rather strange but I was willing to give it a try. Over the years I have spent a lot of money trying to make my skin look a little less like a 14-year-old prepubescent boy. It’s sad that I am almost 30 and I worry about pimples, and this trick seemed almost too hooky to work. But I am up for almost anything and it seemed harmless. So what you do is take half a lemon and drop a few drops of honey on it and rub it on your problem areas. My nose and chin tend to be the worst places for blackheads so I hit those two spots pretty hard. I also washed my face first. You’re supposed to let this sit on your face for 5 minutes then rinse. I recommend doing this right before you get in the shower because it makes it easier to get it all off your face in the shower. It tingled a little, but never burned and I have to say tasted nice when it dripped on my lips. Now the website said that you would see immediate results, and I can’t say that I did, but later that day I noticed especially on my nose that my skin looked better. I am willing to try it again just to see if there will be anymore noticeable improvements.
            The first thing that I wanted to try making was the sugar scrub. I love a good sugar scrub, but the ones that you find at the store are rather expensive. Now I did splurge a little on this. While running a few errands Charlie humored me and we stopped into a very cool organic grocery store near us and I got some essential oils for this project. Most of the oils were reasonably priced but of course the one I wanted was about $15. I have this thing for grapefruit. Now here is where it gets weird. I don’t actually like eating them, and I add way too much sugar to them to make it worth it when I do try to eat them. But I love the smell of them. Clean, fresh and invigorating. So I splurged. I also got some lemon essential oil as well, because well I like the smell of that too. But other than the oils everything else is pretty cheap and more than likely you have it on hand. Here is the recipe that I used:
                                   2 ½ cups of granulated sugar
                                  1 cup of oil (I used coconut, but you can use whatever 
                                                       kind you want)
                                  A few tablespoons of fresh squeezed citrus juice (again                                                                                                                                         whatever kind you want to use, but I used lemon)
                                  Several drops of essential oil (optional)

Hmmm sugar
That’s it. I know right?! Crazy simple. I did make a few modifications though. I decided that there needed to be some essential oils so I added both the grapefruit and lemon (a great combo if you ask me). I also added some lemon zest to the mix as well. It gave it a very nice pale yellow color and a nice homemade feel. It smells awesome, and feels awesome after you get out of the shower. The only problem I had was when the coconut oil cooled it did get a little hard in the jar, but once you get it scooped out it almost melts in your hand.
Facial Toner

Next on the list was a facial toner and again a very simple recipe.

                           ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
                             1 cup water
                           2/3-cup witch hazel
                         And a few drops of essential oil (adlibbed by me)

            I frequently use witch hazel on my face and on insect bites, but adding the lemon and oils takes it to another level. Again I was surprised with the gentle tingle but never a burn and the smell, to die for. I have to say that I am enjoying these organic homemade remedies much more than I have ever enjoyed anything else I have put on my face.

Scrub-a-dub-dub I need a clean tub!
            Next up the tub needed cleaning so of course I looked up the article I pinned on how to get rid of soap scum. Now we aren’t dirty people, but our tub does get a little abused during the summer since we are either getting off a raft trip or coming back from camping we can get pretty messy. The recipe for this awesome cleaner is so simple as well. It is just a 1:1 ratio of cleaning grade vinegar to dawn dish soap. And the recipe is pretty specific about it being the blue dawn dish soap. You heat up the vinegar then pour in the soap and shake it up in a spray bottle. Just don’t shake too hard like I did. There will be a pressure build up in the bottle. Then all you do is spray it on the tub let it sit for about an hour or longer then wipe down and rinse off. I spared you picture of blackhead-covered nose earlier and I spare you pictures of my tub as well. But trust me it works. I was really impressed. Best part is it’s safe and non-toxic, but I wouldn’t recommend eating this one. It’s also thicker than most spray cleaners, which is nice, because it stays where you spray it.
            The last thing that I made had some controversy to it. But I didn’t realize it until after I had it mixed. Oops. Mod Podge has always been one of those things that I would love to do but the stuff is not cheap. So of course I jumped at the chance to make my own. The recipe is just a 1:1 ratio of Elmer’s glue and water. Now when I went to the Mod Podge web site there was a whole section on how it is sacrilegious to make this homemade version of Mod Podge, and how all of my projects are going to look awful and turn yellow (eventually). Now I can’t decide if this is Mod Podge propaganda or truth. Besides by the time my podged projects start turning yellow I will probably already be trying to figure out how I can revamp it anyway. So I will give it a shot. I found a jewelry box that could use some new life, so we’ll see what I can do with a little paint, scrapbook paper and my sacrilegious bootleg Mod Podge. 

By the way the I got the mess cleaned up. 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

My Quest to a Wedding

Warning this does get a little lovey dovey...

            I know that it sounds stupid but this whole wedding thing has become a quest. A quest to prove that I can have a great wedding pieced together with some help from some really awesome people, and without the help of a wedding planner and some of the other pushy professionals who want to take my money. Yes once again I am being stubborn as all get out, but I refuse to pay the outrageous prices that some of these places are asking. I have however resigned myself to the fact that I am going to pay for a photographer, as this is probably one of the more important aspects (to me anyway) about this whole shindig. I mean really when am I ever going to wear a dress like this again? I can tell you when… never. So I want to have some evidence of the occasion.
            So in my quest I have decided that I would try to craft most of this wedding myself. And so far I have had a blast with it. My first project was one that may or may not really have anything to do with the wedding. I took one of the old paddles that we had lying around and decided it needed to have what will be my new last name on it. I’m thinking that it will have over our door on the porch. I did however quickly realize why someone would charge you several hundred dollars to do it. It was rather involved, but I am one of those who enjoy a project that can get intricate and involved.
The paddle. I was hoping that the crackle paint
would have turn out better than it did
            The centerpieces have been a little easier. I found some great little baskets and easels at Michael’s Crafts, and while there found invitations and matching thank you cards, some stain on sale for $1.00 and went to town. While I liked the dark look of the baskets and easels, I got to thinking and decided that I wanted them to look a little older, so a little dry brushing with paint I already had, and most of my centerpieces are done. I am also planning on using a lot of things we already have around the house. I a have a rather extensive river glass collection that is actually acting as the inspiration and color pallet for the rest of it. We have several really cool river rocks that will make an appearance and act as a deterrent to anyone who thinks they are going to misbehave. I was also able to score some various glass containers on sale to fit in the above-mentioned baskets. I am also saving any glass container that comes from the grocery store, as they will be used in the centerpieces as well. As you have probably picked up on I am going for a mix of eclectic, country, rustic, paddling, and nature theme. And yes that is a pretty accurate description of Charlie and I, and our style. The best part is that the whole theme is pretty easy going so nothing has to be perfect (or expensive). It’s really not that hard if you are willing to put the effort into it. The best part of this whole thing is that I feel totally inspired by all of this and much of what we use at the reception we can easily use again around the house.

Original finish
A little bit of stain
Dry brushed to look a little older

            One of the most helpful guides in this whole process is a book called Bargain Brides. It is like the cheap girls guide to a wedding. They list alternative ideas and tricks to get what you want at cheaper prices. For instance booking a space for the reception saying that it is a family reunion (technically it kinda is for most folks) and getting a cheaper rate on the venue, and like the bride who pulled this said what are they going to do once we are there and have paid for the place? Genius. The one thing that I am going to need help with is obviously the dress. Like I said earlier I hardly wear anything other than my work uniform, rafting clothes, or jeans. I have found a dress that I absolutely fell in love with from a little known resource, J. Crew. I had no idea that they had wedding dresses, but thanks to Bargain Brides I checked them out and I think that I have found the dress. Plus I plan on having it shortened later on so it is less formal and wear it for the larger party that we plan on having after the honeymoon. I won't post a picture of it here because I do want it to be a surprise. Probably much to my mother’s dismay I refuse to go to bridal stores. I think she was hoping that I would get a little more girlie about all of this, and for me I am. I’m just hoping she doesn’t mind bringing out her inner Martha Stewart. Thank goodness she was on board for skipping the bridal show. The more I researched the show the more I knew that it wasn’t going to be my scene. There seems to be a bunch of useless crap that I would never use after the wedding. At least by using mason jars I can reuse them later, and those that I turn into lanterns will be turned into citronella candles for the deck. I love repurposing.
The first official purchase for the wedding. Thanks Mom
these are going to look great in my hair.

             We are hoping to have our extremely small ceremony (we are talking maybe 20 people) along the river in the James River Park system. This place holds so much meaning for us, and is quite centrally located for all those in attendance. We’re hoping to borrow the bus from River City Rafting for transportation (you really can’t expect anything less from us) and we are using the backyard for the reception. For the reception I am planning on making furniture out of palates. That’s right palates. I have found a ton of plans on how to use palates for all kinds of stuff. I’m pretty excited about this project. Then afterwards we have backyard furniture for        around the fire pit. I will be sure to post more pictures of the wedding crafts as they are assembled.             
            One of the most amazing things that I am noticing about planning for this wedding is how excited that I am about becoming a wife. Since Charlie and I have been together I have always felt that we were a team and that this was the last relationship that I was going to be in. And thank goodness because we both agree that dating again would be the pits. When I think about it I am overcome with a mixture of excitement and calmness all at the same time. It is an amazing feeling that I get to come home to someone who completely understands me and is okay with the fact that I am not always the easiest person to get along with. He’s ok with me picking up thing from the side of the road to turn into art projects and he is even okay with the fact that I really hate folding laundry. It’s an amazing thing when you find someone who is willing and wanting to put up with you and all of your faults. We are going to have an amazing life together I know. It won’t always be easy, but I always know that he’s going to have my back and I will always have his. I love you Charlie Holland, always have and always will. 

Saturday, June 2, 2012

All that planning...

   So there has been a lot that has gone on over the past few weeks and I finally have a free moment to sit down and get caught up on it all.
            The biggest news first! Not only was one Charlie Holland busy planning our trip down the James he was also busy planning something else…

It could not be a more perfect ring for me. He did so well with this the sneak!

Yep it happened, I have found someone who wants to spend the rest of his life with me. It’s hard for me to believe but I could not possibly be happier.
            Oh yeah and that paddle we took. It was awesome, and did not go according to plan about 99% of the trip. But it all randomly worked out like it usually does. Here are the cliffs notes version and some of the photographic highlights of our trip.

            Day 1
            We knew that it was going to rain, and rain, and rain. And it did. I have to say trying to pack the raft in the rain and keep two dogs occupied and semi dry was not easy. While they may not be children, having two dogs on this trip, especially Seven, seemed very close to what my parents had to go through with my brothers and I while on vacation. Sit down; stop doing that, please put that down, no really put that down! What are you eating now? These were the phrases minus a few choice words that were used repeatedly throughout the trip. But on the whole the pups were good. So back to day one. There was a lot of rain, which was a good and bad thing all at the same time. We decided that we would both sit in the raft since the weather sucked and the river was up we saw no reason to blow up the ducky and have me paddle separately. I would be thankful for this, trust me. Within 25 minutes of being on the river Angus fell in. His poor little face as he slipped off the nose of the raft. I have to say that I laughed really hard and he did not find the situation amusing at all. He has this habit of walking all around the boat and refuses to be anywhere but up front. We only went about 5 miles when we had planned about 15 on our day one itinerary, but we figured that we could make it up on day two since the river was on the rise. Camp was cozy and wet, but we made it work. The rain stopped long enough for us to get camp set up and eat dinner relatively dry. We called it an early night and were in bed at about 7:45, and probably both asleep at about 8:00. While a short paddle it was a long day.

Packing up in the rain not really a lot of fun

Paddling in the rain

            Day 2
            What a day it was. We not only made up the ground we didn’t cover the first day, we doubled it. Thirty-seven miles in one day is quite impressive. And we shaved a day off the trip on day 2. The fog was a little slow to lift, but once it did the weather was perfect, and obviously the water was good too. We stopped for a lovely lunch at Horseshoe Bend and a quick call to our friend James “Dude” to see if he could possibly meet us a day early in Lynchburg. The worrying set in shortly after of where we were going to camp. Every campsite that we had planned was underwater, and every other spot that we saw was posted. We managed to find an island that we are still not sure if it is private or not, but it was a great campsite.  After being fed the pups immediately passed out and Charlie and I enjoyed our Mac and Cheese and Kielbasa for dinner. There were a few rumbles of thunder but luckily we dodged the storm. So thanks to the owner if we were trespassing, you really helped us out, and we cleaned up after ourselves I promise.

A much better start to our day today.

They really are good pups. Told you they passed out immediately.

            Day 3
            Day 3 started with worrying again about a campsite. All this planning we did was just out the window at this point. Everything was underwater. Then it happened. The beginning of the end of Seven’s PFD. She fell out well I think she jumped because she saw Charlie throw his apple core in the river, and why not jump in after it right? Then we had to get her back in the boat. If you haven’t met the Big Brown Dog, she is rather barrel shaped and heavy. This makes her very hard to get back in the boat, and by the end of the trip almost impossible to get back in. There was a handle on the backside of the PFD for this exact purpose, or so I thought. The first pull on it, and the handle came off in my hand. Luckily the rest of the thing stayed mostly intact. Well we will just have to make it work. After the struggle to get Seven back in the boat, worry started to set in again. Where in the heck were we going to camp? Luckily there was a campground that was perfect for us. Wilderness Canoe Campground. I highly recommend them. Not only were they nice but they didn’t charge us to stay since it was kind of an emergency. I was happy to be at a campsite that we didn’t have to worry if we were going to get run off or the river was going to come up and wash us out. The best part of this campsite was that we were able to get everything out hung up and dried out. While our stuff wasn’t really clean it gave the illusion of clean. Also at camp the repairs to Seven’s PFD could begin. Thank goodness for waterproof duct tape. Though I wasn’t pinning my hopes on this actually working for more than an hour.

Angus is very happy that we have a campsite
Notice the Perfect condition of the PFD she is wearing.

The handle you apparently aren't supposed to pull.
Duct tape repairs.
This is called Busted! I can't believe that it made it through the trip
            Day 4
            No real issues today and our campsite at Balcony Falls was perfect and out of the water. We got there at about lunchtime so we hung out for the day. I think we needed that. It was nice to slow things down a little. For the most part we had not really seen any other people except at Wilderness and when we stopped in Buchanan for a coke and some drinking water. Today though we were entertained. During the summer months Balcony Falls is a pretty happening spot so we were surprised to see anyone there with the water as cold as it was. There was a group of probably high school aged kids in tubes, and the girls had on rather small bathing suits that went by. I give them credit I would not have been out there in that water in a tube and a bikini in the first place, not to mention would I go through a pretty big class 3 rapid in a tube. But they did. I think the beers they were trying to save might have helped their endeavor. Then later that evening we saw two kayakers paddle through. It was a nice relaxing day.
Crazy tubers

Angus as holding the beer  

            Day 5
             So up until Day 4 Charlie had been doing all the paddling. Well I told him that I wanted a turn, and quite honest I needed to be doing more work on this trip. So after we got through Balcony and made it to the flat water I took the helm, and almost killed Angus. Getting used to paddling an oar rig is not easy or a quick process. I think I hit every rock within 4 miles of us. At one point Angus fell out and ended up under the raft. So the “worst mommy in the world” guilt set in immediately. He’s ok and no worse for the wear but I was getting the eye from him the rest of the day. Luckily no other issues or incidents and James met us at the Snowden boat ramp to pick us up to take us to the other side of Lynchburg. There are like 7 dams there so we decided to forgo the portaging and in fact you can’t even portage some of them so we caught a ride. James was kind enough to entertain a trip to the grocery store so that we could get the second half of the trip’s food and then he took us back to his house where we had a great lunch and visited with his family for a bit. Such an amazing group of people those Bourdons. After much anxiety about getting repacked and making sure we had everything we were off again. At this point Charlie had blown up the ducky and the pups and me were cozy in the raft. It was about an hour into the trip when I spotted something that didn’t look right on the side of the river. Well turns out there was a kayak stuck in a root ball on the bank. Needless to say we have a new kayak. And all I can think is how the heck are we getting this back to Richmond? We managed to find a gravel bar that was a great spot for me to collect river glass. In fact it had been the first place that I could really look for any. While I don’t condone throwing anything in the river, especially glass; I still like to collect it. The land wasn’t posted so we stayed and hoped for the best. I of course was paranoid the whole time. Nothing happened of course until breakfast the next morning when the cows that inhabited the field wanted to come down to the water. Dogs went nuts and I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.

Me in charge. Look out!
He didn't want to get out of the tent
The cows that invaded the campsite
River glass I collected along the way
River jewelry! It started off as a joke but I ended up wearing it for the rest of the trip. Charlie's comment was he could have just found that for my engagement ring instead. I told him I would consider keeping the one he already got me.
            Day 6
            It was bound to catch up with us. If anything was going to go wrong it did on day 6. Once we got near Feagan’s Island the water go deep and slow. It was the hardest day of paddling so far, and of course no campsites. The saving grace of this was that this section of river we have done many times before. So we had a pretty good idea of where we would need to go if we found no campsites. Since we were a day early we decided to call my brother who was supposed to meet us on day 7 and see if he could come pick us up from Bent Creek and then we would all stay at the state park for the night and get back on the water first thing the next morning. Thankfully he could but he didn’t get there until 9pm. So we were a little grumpy and slightly snippy at each other. Not how I wanted Charlie’s birthday to go, but by the time that we settled down in the tent all was well again. We both knew we really weren’t mad at each other just frustrated. All this planning, and nothing had gone according to plan since day 1.

It's really hard on both of them being raft dogs

            Day 7
            It was a long day, but only because we made it long. We had the luxury of knowing that our next campsite on Cunningham’s Island was out of water so we took the day to enjoy the river. We stopped on a gravel bar for a long time to just sit and have lunch. Seven enjoyed splashing around in the water and barking at any other paddlers that came by. Angus napped in the boat for the most part. We made it to Cunningham’s at about 5 and I was able to wash clothes (that is a relative term mind you) and we had a great dinner of pita pocket pizzas. The highlight had to have been when my brother rolled the “found kayak” over in an eddy line right in front of the campsite. I swear it was the slowest roll ever, and of course I didn’t have my camera at the ready to capture it.

Even on the ducky he doesn't want to be anywhere but up front.
This got to be tricky to say the least.
His River Runs Through It shot

Seven lounging

            Day 8
            The theme of today was slow flat water. I had a hard day of paddling, but I love being in the oar rig. It does get tricky when the pups get fussy. It’s hard for then to sit in the boat for that long. At times I felt like I was driving a minivan of misbehaved children. Again campsites were a problem (noticing a theme here too?) We ended up staying at the Howardsville boat landing, which the owner is apparently trying to turn into a campground, but was not willing to let us stay there unless we paid $12 a head. Not sure if that meant the dogs too or not, but either way ridiculous. At this point it was about 7pm and all we had was a $20. It’s not like we had been anywhere near an ATM in the past 36 hours. The guy finally said ok to the $20 and we begrudgingly handed it over. Sad when someone takes advantage of someone else’s misfortune. That $20 bucks wasn’t going to make or break his business, and he will never get our business or anyone else’s I know. Yuck I don’t even want to go further into the whole situation. The bottom line was we had a place to stay and then we would be gone first thing in the morning. Then the drunk guys got there. While entertaining as drunken adolescents can be they were also annoying. We were tired and they were loud. Thankfully they were not there long.

She's trying to be good. And she was for about 5 minutes
Deep in thought or pouting not sure which
Last minute decision to break out the ducky.
All my Canada buddies will recognize the bungee; but this is how you
 keep your Jack and Coke at the ready on the oar rig

            Day 9
            We are way ahead of schedule by about 2 days almost. We were expecting to take 10-11 days for this trip and we only used 9 of them. While part of me was sad we would be getting off the water today part of me missed my bed and shower and not to get too gross but toilet too. The paddle from Howardsville to Scottsville was delightful. We had plenty of time so Charlie fly-fished a lot. The pups and I stopped where we could collected glass and just ran around. Charlie’s step mom Debbie was kind enough to meet us at the boat landing, and she got there with perfect timing. Just as we had finished packing up all the gear and pulled off the skies opened. I was so happy not to be spending the night in those thunderstorms and spending it in my bed (eventually). Once back in his truck Charlie noticed it not acting right and getting worse. There were moments that we didn’t think that we were going to make it back to Richmond. I had my fingers crossed the whole time.

Her spot on the boat most of the trip
My favorite shot of the boys

Fly fishing from the ducky. He makes it look easy.
I think she looks like a brown bear more than a dog.
One of my favorite spots on the river

            Day 10
            I include a day 10 only because the trip lingers and probably will for a few days as we clean up all this stuff. Luckily there wasn’t anything major wrong with the truck, it was just spark plugs and wires that needed replacing. So a big sighs of relief there. Then the clean up begins. The laundry is gross to say the least, and there is a lot of it. The worst part is that much of it has to be washed twice to really get the smoke and stink out of it. Slowly but surely it’s getting done. Most of the gear is cleaned up, and our porch looks like a livery since we had some rain here and had to move it all off the clothesline. The pups have refused to be outside for most of the day. We have had to force them out at times. They almost refuse to move off of their beds really. They have both decided that air conditioning is the way to go. We have a few more days off that we are filling with clean up and some jobs around the house.
            All in all it was a great trip despite some of the things that happened. I think we both appreciate being home, but we are already planning what we are going to do for our next trip. Oh yeah and a wedding.
Being a slacker and sleeping while we clean up

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Roadblocks to Vacation

            When most people plan their vacation they think of things like the beach, the mountains, visiting family, or even Disney World. When Charlie and I plan a vacation we try to see how far from civilization we can get and for how long. And for those of you who know me (those of you who don’t will quickly figure this out) most of our vacations involve paddling in some form. Last year our big trip was to the boundary waters of Canada with a few of our fellow firefighters. Ten days in the middle of nowhere, and at least a two-day paddle for help at our farthest point. It was awesome.
            This year we decided to stay a little closer to home. The two-day drive to Canada was just not appealing this year. So naturally we turned to the river that we love the most, the James. The James has two other rivers; the Cow pasture and the Jackson River, and several streams that come together to then form the headwaters of the James. We figured that we had two options; the Jackson or the Cow pasture. So we did what any good paddler and steward of the river does and we started doing our research. We started with our home library of paddling books and searched some trip reports. It was looking like either river was going to be a great trip. Then we ran into our first roadblock. It turns out that much of the Cow pasture as been deemed un-navigable and that the land owners have ownership of the river. Now I thought how is this possible? Or even legal. But with some more research turns out it’s true. We would have to cross the Cow pasture off our list. So next was the Jackson River. It is supposed to be one of the most beautiful paddles in Va. Now I was really excited. Well again we researched (Ok mostly Charlie researched I was still bummed about the Cow pasture). Well there was the next roadblock. So the Jackson is going through a similar situation that the Cow pasture has been through. There is currently a lawsuit pending with the landowners and the fishermen. The landowners want the same thing to be done for the Jackson as the Cow pasture, and have it deemed un-navigable. Sigh… This whole thing got a lot more complicated then we had ever imagined it would. Well in doing some more searching we figured out that we could still potentially paddle the Jackson, but we would have nowhere to camp. While there is a lot of national forest land, just not where we needed it to be. Back to square one. Iron Gate became our next viable option. There is still limited camping, and we have had to plan this to a rather tight schedule to make it to the campsites that we won’t get run off from. The funny thing about the whole thing is once we get to Lynchburg the rest of the trip is a breeze. Well as far as knowing where we can and can’t be, and everyone that we have ever met on this stretch of river has been nothing but nice to us. One man even let us camp in his driveway when we were unexpectedly flooded out of a campsite several years back.
            Now I would just like to say that I can see where the landowners are coming from. If I was lucky enough to have land on the river I wouldn’t want anyone messing it up, but I would also never want to deny someone the pleasure of being able to paddle or fish the river. How is it that someone can own the water? I feel like there could be a compromise somewhere in all of this. It is just very hard for me to not get a little bit angry about the whole thing. I guess it’s just a case of a few bad apples ruining the bunch, and knowing that I am not one of the bad apples. The most disturbing part of this whole situation is that this could potentially place all of the rivers in Va. at risk.
            Now that we had all that figured out the next discussion became what boats do we take. We have a variety to choose from. The first thought was that we would take our smaller raft with the oar rig attached. Charlie and the pups in the raft then I would take a ducky (inflatable kayak). Like much of the east coast our weather lately has been freakishly warm and dry. The dry part is what worries me. On a trip to Balcony falls in the small raft to get Seven used to the boat, it was decided that all the gear and the dogs just weren’t going to fit in the small raft. So the 16ft raft with the oar rig it is, but the river levels have been on the bubble of us being able to take a raft at all. So canoes may be our mode of transportation, which should be pretty interesting with Seven. Her love of chasing geese might become a problem. Luckily we have had several days of rain, and we are keeping our fingers crossed.
            Despite all of this, I think that Charlie, the pups and any other of the rag tag group that may join us along the way and I, will still have a wonderful time. I can’t think of a better way to spend two weeks off.

Some pictures of our trip to Balcony Falls with our friend "Dude" (James) who by the way runs a really amazing organization called Urban Mountain Adventures   You should check it out!
Angus is an old pro at this

James and a hitchhiker 
Seven is not sure about this at all

She got the hang of it by the end

Should you want to help the cause of the Jackson River here is the link to the defense fund