Sunday, December 30, 2012

Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve

Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve
Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

December 2012

The Research Reserve's 73,000+ acres are within a half hour of our house. We visit the preserve at least once a year as part of the park borders the Atlantic Ocean and is the sight of our yearly Christmas pictures. The upland portion of the park contains many miles of trails. On this beautiful December afternoon (59F and mostly sunny), we would pushike approximately 6.5 miles.

We were pushiking a long loop trail and shortly after the picture below, we passed two men on the trail coming from the other direction. They stopped to warn us that the trail in front of us was impassable and they strongly recommended we turn around. They explained that the trail was flooded and that they had to detour through dense forest to get past the wet areas. I thanked them for the information and we all went on our way. 

I never thought about turning around. Not because we were already 5 miles into our loop hike or the possibility that the men were trying to lure us deeper into the forest for unknown reasons. I pushed ahead because I was hoping to cap the hike off with a little sludge. I was just hoping I would be able to push Kellisa through while keeping her dry and not dropping the camera or Ipod in the water.

The men were correct, the trail was flooded:

The dense foliage would make pushing Kellisa around the obstacle impossible:

Kellisa was giggling the entire way:

The Freedom Push Chair handled the challenge and we didn't even have our "off-road" modified tires:

One pair of boots stayed dry:

Friday, December 28, 2012

Francis and Mary Usina Bridge

Francis and Mary Usina Bridge
St. Johns County, FL

December 2012

The last thing we need is another list, but since this is the first large bridge I've pushed Kellisa's not really a list...yet! Truth be told, I've had the idea of walking across bridges for a few years and today while driving across the Usina bridge, I noticed a safe pedestrian lane and had to pull over.

65 feet above the Tolomato River:

Safety first- the Freedom Push Chair is tethered to my wrist:

Totals: 1.6 miles round trip

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Graham Swamp Conservation Area

Graham Swamp Conservation Area
Size: 3,084 acres in eastern Flagler County

December 2012

This was our first visit to Graham Swamp and we were quite surprised at the hills:

Trip Totals: 2.14 miles in 54 minutes 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Health Scare

Back in November, Kellisa had some routine blood work done. Not thinking too much about it, we lost track until the doctor called with some alarming news. A couple of Kellisa's hormones were off the charts, almost 5 times higher than her previous tests. The doctor suspected a tumor on her adrenal gland and recommended a CT Scan. When the doctor's office called back and told us the CT Scan was scheduled in only two days at Wolfson's Children's Hospital, we knew it wasn't good. Kellisa has had many CT Scans for her hydrocephalus and shunt. CT Scans scheduled that quickly can only mean that the doctor is very concerned and wants the results as soon as possible.

The CT Scan was scheduled for Tuesday, December 4, 2012. As always, Kellisa was a trooper and it went well. We were told to expect the results from the doctor in a week. Not that you would want any tumor, but a quick google search told us that a functioning tumor on the adrenal gland was definitely a tumor you DO NOT want! During this waiting period, I couldn't focus or sleep as my mind was constantly racing with horrible thoughts no matter how hard I tried to block those thoughts.

Kellisa has overcome many difficult medical issues over the years and I can say that it does not get any easier with all that we've been through as parents. If anything, it gets harder to deal with because you know that sooner or later...

Kellisa went to see Holiday Pops with The Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra on Friday, December 7, 2012. I can say with 100% certainty that Kellisa was the only attendee wearing a spider shirt:

A huge thank you: Glenn and Rick for the amazing seats!

On Sunday, we went to the beach with Kellisa's new Freedom Push Chair:

One week had finally passed and we were anxious to hear the results and start dealing with the diagnosis. The doctor called Lisa in the morning with the unbelievable news- the CT Scan was negative! No sign of a tumor! Kellisa had many people thinking about her and praying for her and we can't thank them enough! We were hoping for the best, but this was even better! The worst case was avoided! 

With the positive CT Scan and no other symptoms, the doctor doesn't want to do anything else at this time. It still hasn't really settled in yet, but it's going to be a great holiday season for Kellisa! 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Bayard Conservation Area

Bayard Conservation Area
Size: 10,320 acres along the western bank of the St. Johns River

November 2012

Kellisa and I finally had the time to try our new Freedom Push Chair on a trail. We drove just under 11 miles from our home to the Bayard Conservation Area, one of our favorite local hiking places. 

Because we had limited time, I decided to follow interior roads as much as possible to my goal of reaching Davis Landing. Our route in red:

Along the path: 

In the middle of the trail, we came across this cottonmouth basking in the sun: 

Kellisa at Davis Landing along the St. Johns River:

The grassy trail through a pine forest:

We pushiked 6.66 miles in 1 hour, 58 minutes and 52.78 seconds:

Saturday, November 3, 2012

2013 Bataan Memorial Death March

Kellisa and I will be there in 2013...will you?

Three videos from 2012:

Registration for the 24th Annual Bataan Memorial Death March will open in mid-November!  We look forward to seeing everyone on 17 March 2013!
On or Before 31 December 2012:
Individual - $75.00
Team (5) - $375.00
Between 1 January 2013 and 15 February 2013 
Individual - $85.00
Team - $425.00
Between 16 February 2013 and 13 March 2013Individual - $95.00
Team - $475.00

NO registrations will be accepted after 13 March 2013!  
No walk- in registration will be taken at MWR facilities. You must register online.  All marchers must pre-register!

Mail-in registrations will no longer be accepted for the 2013 march (exceptions will apply in cases where payment must be made with a purchase order).

Marchers are required to check in and get their packets on the Friday or Saturday before the March.

Freedom Push Chair

Freedom Push Chair
by: Advanced Mobility

Kellisa's new chair arrived about a week ago. Since we've been very busy, I wasn't able to assemble the chair until this afternoon. Kellisa watched with great excitement as I opened the box and got the chair ready for our first walk in our living room. The chair was easy to assemble and we were ready to go in a matter of a few minutes. You may notice that this chair looks like our modified "off-road" chair (Independence) we've been using for a couple of years. That's because the Freedom is made by the same company, Advanced Mobility. Kellisa had outgrown her Independence chair and the Freedom is the next size up.

We didn't have time to test the chair on a trail, but we did have time to walk 3.34 miles around our neighborhood. You can see Kellisa is excited in the picture above and she is actually signing "yes" because I asked her if she liked her new chair.

We are looking forward to many miles and countless adventures with our new Freedom Push Chair! We pushed the Independence chair to the limits and it survived without a single issue. I can already tell that the Freedom is built just as sturdy, perhaps even better, so I have zero doubts that this chair will be up for some serious trails.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Bandera Volcano and the Ice Cave

New Mexico's Land of Fire and Ice

June 2006

Along the Continental Divide in New Mexico, you can hike to a volcano crater followed by a descent into a nearby ice cave in a collapsed lava tube where the temperature never rises above 31 F.

The hike to view the crater:

The trail to the Ice Cave leads through old-growth Juniper, Fir and Ponderosa Pines:

The Ice Cave:

Leaving the Ice Cave (not exactly accessible):