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July 22, 2017 Day 18 Greenville, SC

July 22, 2017 in 2017 Florida

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Our bed and breakfast host took us out canoeing and kayaking on the Saluda River that runs right along their property. Scott and David went to drop his truck off at the take out and we left right from where we were staying.  We were on the river less than two hours, but the time went by way too quickly.

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The river has a way of bringing on a cool calm.

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David had a kid kayak so Brooke and Cody took turns riding in it.  We took a quick break at a little beach.

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Not long before the trip was over Brooke gave Cody a chance to kayak independently.

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The take-out was designed to be handicap accessible, so we were able to row right into the dock, which made getting the boats up much easier.  The boys spent a little bit of time trying to figure out the best method to secure the boats.

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We had a leftover avocado in the cooler from our Florida adventures.  Scott didn’t want it to go to waste so he ate it as we toured Greenville.  The first stop in Greenville was an army surplus store. I chose to stay outside and soak in a few rays of sunshine instead.

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Our next stop was much more up my alley.  We stopped at Pedal Chic – a biking store.  One of the women in the store spoke with us at length about areas we could move to, triathlons, and the women bike club they had that met several times a week.  If we move to Greenville, this will become one of my favorite places to go.

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We wound up following the famous rabbit bike trail to the Reedy Falls.

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Scott found a construction cone.  He sent Cody flying down the sidewalk away from his super embarrassing dad when Scott started shouting, “Paging Coder-hosen to the front office.”

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Scott and Cody have this thing where instead of just straight up hugging each other, my preferred method of affection, they will kick, smack, or knock into each other in a loving-rough housing kind of way.  Usually I’m not fast enough to catch it on camera, so I had them reenact a warm and fuzzy moment.

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We grabbed some steak tacos outside of a water play area.  We were able to cool off on this 97 degree day and fill our bellies.  At the pavilion across the Reedy River there were dance lessons taking place.  Scott and I took dance lessons twenty years ago at our community college.  We did okay, not stellar, but okay up until the Polka.  Once the Polka came on Scott and I decided to Polka right on out of the lesson and ran to our car.  I’ve always wanted to get him back into dance lessons.  Scott’s dad is a phenomenal dancer.  One of my favorite memories is Scott’s dad dancing with his sister at her wedding.  Maybe someday I’ll get Scott to dance again, but I have a feeling as the years go on that Scott’s dancing shoes will become more and more invisible.

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When we were up on the bridge overlooking the Reedy River Cody was eagerly planning his path to get to play in the river. At first Brooke and Scott stayed near the top and I followed Cody down, but eventually he got us all down to the river.

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We walked around Greenville a little longer, but the heat was making us all tired so we headed back towards the van.

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We drove around the area a little bit to areas people had recommended and then we decided to head back to our Air BNB and enjoy the cool calm of the Saluda River.  The kids were pros on the rope swing.  We have some amazing videos.  My personal favorite/scariest moment was Cody’s first swing out.  Brooke was directing him and we were not close enough to stop or help.  She helped Cody push off and as Cody’s smile soaked in the free fall his face suddenly registered a fear, “What do I do now?”  Brooke read it and shouted, “Let go!”  He looked at the water and it took him a moment to register that he did need to let go.  He finally let go and when his little head popped up he shouted, “I can’t touch!”  Brooke was very calm and said, “Just swim.”  He was still very panicked, but he did and I was proud of her when I saw her skillfully slide down the slope and help him the last little bit.  Cody has been in swim lessons on and off for years, but his confidence in swimming has never quite taken the leap we hoped it would. With each jump Cody did gain more and more confidence swimming back.  Not long before he got out of the water he was purposely putting himself in places he couldn’t touch, just because he could.

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Peter, the dog that lived at our Air BNB was a mater swimmer and waterfall rock hopper.

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Time down by the river was an excellent way to finish out our trip.

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Shortly before we turned in for the night we were able to meet the rest of our host’s family.  There was a girl a year younger than Brooke and a boy a year older than Cody.  We wish the kids would have had more time together.  They really enjoyed the time they had though.  Incredible first experience with an Air BNB.  We couldn’t have asked for a better stay.

July 21, 2017 Day 17 Delray Beach, FL to Greenville, SC

July 21, 2017 in 2017 Florida

We said goodbye to Casa Delray shortly before 8. The alarm went off at 5:30. The target time to leave was 7. I called that a success being only an hour off.  Scott said, “Not so much.”

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We had a quick breakfast of French Toast while we loaded up the van and did some last minute cleaning, like emptying the garbage. Turns out someone was sneaking Minion fruit snacks and hiding the evidence in the bathroom garbage.  Too funny.  The sunrise was beautiful, even if it was only barely visible through the trees instead of off of the ocean.  The shocks on the van went out at some point between Louisiana and Florida, so now we get to have a memories of an ocean adventure while still in the van.

2:45 – South Carolina!  A new state for the kids!

We stopped at a rest stop and it was quite beautiful and brand new.  After checking out a tourist magazine and the five minute rest stop Brooke declared, “I love this place!”  We all had to laugh.

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Dueling cameras

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Too bad I didn’t take a video fast enough.  Scott just sang his version of “Despacito.” It basically amounted to a high-pitched restaurant menu being recited while he danced quite the moves.  This could be the avenue to his extra income in retirement.  He might need some more time to perfect his moves though… Cody couldn’t help but dance along too.  The dancing tired him out though and he was snuggle in his blanket less than an hour later.

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5:30 – Close to Columbia, SC -  We had been craving fried chicken for a while on this trip and we finally had some at Bojangles. The restaurant was a suggestion from someone at the local gas station.  Lunch had been snacking on cookies and pistachios, so when we sat down to eat we were a little more hungry than we had realized.  We were all one piece of fried chicken in when we looked down at the carnage we had created on our table.  Turns out the chicken was incredible.  Either that or we were incredibly hungry and anything would have tasted good.  I suspect it was a little of both.

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Back on the road again.  We left at 8am and finally arrived at 8pm.  It was only 691 miles, but we had at least a handful of gas station and restroom stops. Not far from Greenville we encountered a toll booth.  We all knew this place felt like Chicago once we encountered the tolls!

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So this is it! Our first Air BNB.  We read the instructions, checked the place out, met our host and his chickens and goats, and set up a time to go boating down the Saluda River in the morning.

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There are three bed options, but the kids decided they all wanted to sleep together.  You can’t see him, but Cody is tucked to the left of our bed. Honestly, I wish we did this more often.  Sometimes I wish we could slow down the world and spend more time together without distractions, but I am thankful for all that we have been given.

July 20, 2017 Day 16 Delray Beach, FL

July 20, 2017 in 2017 Florida

We were actually up and ready to leave for the beach with sunscreen on and everything, but then we checked on the sheets we were washing and realized they didn’t quite get through the spin cycle.  So we are sitting in the dark, ready to go waiting on the washer to finish. All the laundry needs to be done today in preparation for leaving early tomorrow morning.  Scott was up early sweeping the roof while I cooked some chocolate chip pancakes.  We started and ended the day with chocolate.

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Last day on the beach.  Thankfully we did get an early start, well, early for us at least.  We arrived at the beach at 10:30 and by 12:30 most of the beach had cleared out due to a heavy thunderstorm.  When Scott went to the lifeguard to ask about camping on the the beach in Florida, the lifeguard mentioned to Scott, “You know the beach is closed, right?”  Scott pointed to the sign and asked, “As long as we are beyond the point where you lifeguard, we are fine, right?”  We stayed about another twenty minutes, but the storms kept rolling in despite lulls in the thunder and downpour.

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Cody set right to creating a “mud” wall and swimming pool that he could look for shells in.  Scott and Brooke hung back and read.

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Brooke started a book last night. Once she starts a book it is hard to get her to stop.

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Once Cody tired of digging in the water he headed to the dry part of the beach to look for shells.  It was hot though, so hot the sand would burn your feet as you walked.  After a few minutes of looking for shells we headed out into the ocean.  We stayed out there swaying with the waves until the clouds almost covered the sun.  I was hoping to dry a little before the sun disappeared.  That was the last we would be in the ocean.  Not long after the thunder rolled in and the lifeguard pulled everyone out and off the beach.

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While we were swimming Scott was hanging out in his hammock further away in the trees.  Someone shared a hermit crab with him.  We huddled under the umbrella for a while thinking the storm would blow over like they usually do.  While we were waiting it out, there was a mass exodus from the beach.

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There were couples on either side of us also waiting out the storm, at least for a little while. The one couple with the red umbrella played some Elvis and snuggled closer as the storm danced on.  Brooke drew in the sand with the shovel when the rain would let up a bit.  Cody snuggled with me since we were both shivering.

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We still weren’t ready to leave the beach, but everyone else had left, including the cute Elvis couple and another set of clouds and lightning strikes had rolled in.  We took some last minute pictures and thought about how thankful we were to have had all the time we had already had.  Our first beach vacation ever.

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The kids made a fort and kept themselves busy for hours. They wisely stayed out of sight so they didn’t accidentally get swept up into the cleaning and laundry. We made a bacon wrapped pork tenderloin and noodles for dinner.  Scott made chocolate chip cookies for dessert and plenty of extra for the drive home.

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Brooke had wanted to play chess every single day we were here. She reminded us it was our last chance to play and so we did.  The first game of Brooke and Scott against me was over in less than ten moves.  Brooke had asked us to teach her how to play chess, so the second game Scott offered advice, but let her take the reigns.  I wanted to keep the game light and fun because Brooke gets very serious about anything she does.  Right at this point in the game Brooke was stressing and over analyzing every move and concerned about my knight being nose to nose with hers.  I told her he was only so close because he wanted to nuzzle noses.  As you can see, she was incredibly focused.  She did well, won, and the house went to sleep happy.  I tucked the kids in, finished up some laundry, and caught a few minutes of a movie with Scott before we fell asleep for our last night in Casa Delray.

July 19, 2017 Day 15 Delray Beach, FL

July 19, 2017 in 2017 Florida

The alarm went off at 6, but we didn’t actually get out until 8:10.  The kids were actually snuggling when we woke up.  They quickly separated before we had a chance to get a picture and evidence of them being cute.

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Scott and I bike ride – 20 miles – 1.5 hours – South on A1A

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A quick water refill and time to admire the morning view at Red Reef Park

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In between our return from our bike trip and getting ready to go to the beach a thunderstorm rolled through.  It was stormy on one side of the house and sunny on the other.

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The kids would play tic-tac-toe on Scott’s back while Cody put suntan lotion on Scott’s back.  Scott isn’t much for paying for unnecessary luxuries, so he would drop us off at the beach and then drive the car back over the inter coastal bridge to a store parking lot and then bike ten minutes back to the beach.  He would then do the reverse when it was time for us to go back home each night.

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The Beach!  11:30 – 6

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Today Scott brought Cody down to play with a little guy who happened to have a big sis.  Then another dad, who was a life coach and originally from Brazil, brought his little girl, Kate down to play.  She had this way of surfing on her boogie board.  All the kids tried, but only Miss Kate could rock the waves standing.  She was so full of a hunger for life. She spoke so confidently and smoothly for a seven-year-old.  She told me about being out super far in the ocean with her dad earlier. I responded, “Yeah, dad’s are always fun and seeking adventure.”  She responded as if we had been having the same conversation for years, “Yeah! Not like moms!”  Looking at my face, “I mean not like you, you are obviously fun.  You’re out here with us.”  When it was time for her to go back with her dad none of us wanted her to go, including her.

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Kate’s mom and dad were training to play in a beach tennis tournament later in the year.  The dad had created paddles out of old shelves.  He brought his paddles over for Scott to see, so Scott could possibly make his own set for us to play on the beach.  The next picture is of an incredible find and loss.  After hours and days of combing the beach for shells Cody found a shark tooth.  He was so excited about it he asked us to call his cousin back at home.  We called home and had a fun conversation with Meme, Aunty Tiff, Taylor, and Alex who were at Santa’s Village.  And then Cody gave me the shark tooth so he wouldn’t lose it.  Sadly, the shark tooth didn’t make it home.  We combed the beach over and over the next day hoping it would be right where it was probably dropped, but no such luck.  Hopefully, it will make another kid’s day when it gets found again.

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Brooke found a mostly intact crab on the beach.  Scott watched videos on some topics he was addressing at work.  Cody kept working tirelessly collecting shells.

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Scott suggested to Brooke that she collect shells to create an art project out of shells when we get back home.  She went for it.  The kids collected hundreds of shells.

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If you look closely you can see sled like marks the kids made from dragging their bums across the beach in search of any and every shell.

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We headed back home for a dinner of reheated lasagna which was almost better the second night than it was the first.  Cody counted each and every “unicorn horn” shell he had collected.  At first he tried straight out counting and by the third time when he lost count he was willing to try Brooke’s idea to put the shells in groups of ten before he started counting.  Brooke started a new book tonight.  Once she starts a book it is hard to get her to put it down. We snuggled and had a relaxed evening.

July 18, 2017 Day 14 Delray Beach, FL– Paddle Boarding Adventure

July 18, 2017 in 2017 Florida

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After a breakfast of French Toast we slathered on some sunscreen and headed south on A1A to Gumbo Limbo Park.

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The park employees gave the kids a scavenger hunt that they thoroughly enjoyed and kept them engaged throughout the park.

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We learned Gumbo Limbo Park was named after the Gumbo Limbo Tree which they also call the Tourist Tree because its red bark peels at times much like tourists who come to Florida, get red sunburnt skin, and then peel a few days later. This puffer fish seemed to enjoy getting his picture taken, we have several angles in multiple directions.  The volunteers and staff at the park were very friendly and willing to share information.

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They were growing baby Mangrove Trees in this area.  The Mangroves are disappearing due to homeowners preferring beach front property versus trees.  However, they have discovered that the trees are pivotal in protecting the shoreline from erosion and hurricanes.

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There is a green Morey Eel hiding in the tank and he came out to say hello for a few seconds.  Scott worked for a while to get the perfect shot of the kids and I across the tank in another window.  Cody was refusing to participate so he’s sort of in the next picture.

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The turtle in the last picture was harmed by the propeller of a boat and his buoyancy suffered.  The park put a lead weight on his shell to help with his buoyancy.

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Scott was busy taking a picture of the complex and didn’t realize there was a bird standing tall on the fence behind him, watching him.  The park had a turtle rehabilitation center.  They picked up injured turtles and nursed them back to health.  They also took care of turtles that didn’t quite make it into the ocean after they had hatched.  The park would give them a few weeks to get bigger and then release them into an area that would help increase their chance of survival.

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After finishing the scavenger hunt the kids were given the chance to choose a shell.  The challenge: how to choose just one shell when you are used to spending hours gathering hundreds.  We went for a hike on their boardwalk next.

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The boardwalk has views of some incredible spiders and their webs.  It was hard to capture their intricacy and beauty with the camera.

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The boardwalk took us to a view of the water and some elegant homes.  Cody found some leaves and told me about them.  He does a great job of recognizing plants.

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So I may have been busted eating a frozen chocolate chip cookie.  They were good, and I needed the extra calories for keeping up with the kids on our next outing.

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Boynton Beach – paddle boarding!

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It was hard to catch him in action, but Cody was a “Hose-Pedo” all afternoon.  He kept launching himself off the paddleboard and trying to crash into our board and us.

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At one point the boys took our board and paddle and then we were on a mission to get ours back, but the hose-pedo kept sneaking on our board and tipping us.

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Cody couldn’t flip us at one point so he resorted to trying to pull my foot off.  In between both kids having their own agendas while on the paddle boards, the waves kept carrying us into a pier and every now and then swallowing the salt water or getting some in your eyes set you back a bit.  One minute the kids would want to paddle and the next they would just want to jump off and be silly sending the board and paddle in opposite directions.

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Scott had originally investigated having the boards for half a day.  We were both glad he decided to only go with two hours. We had a ton of fun in two hours and were well worn out.

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The two hours were up and the kids were still going at 110% and decided to go check out another beach next door to the park we were at.  I took the moment to appreciate the quiet and lack of movement.  I probably could have napped there had no one been looking for the board.  This was a perfect outing for the kids.  I look forward to our next hose-pedo adventures.