Monday, July 21

Extreme White Water Rafting

Five fabulous couples went white water rafting this weekend down the Eccoe River.

It began on Friday afternoon when everyone met at our house to load up, girls in the Woodwards’ Envo and Guys in the Cosbys’ Pathfinder. Trip began with chatting and laughs and a half way stop at Arby’s for an early dinner. We got to our hotel, the River Suites, and separated into our two reserved rooms, 3 couples in one room and 2 couples in the other. We then all gathered in one room to play Mexican Train Dominos and Skipbo until midnightish… Jamie was the ultimate champion! Besides trying to block out the endless motorcycle noise outside our room, we got a decent nights sleep. We checked out of the hotel and had a late breakfast at the Cracker Barrel which was directly behind our hotel. Some had a much later breakfast then others. The Grizzles’ and our table got stuck with a waitress who must have forgotten to put in our order b/c the other table of 3 couples were finished and had their receipt in hand before we even got our food… Brett did give us some of their left over biscuits to hold us over. We then had about 45 minutes to waist rocking on the Cracker Barrel porch before heading to the OCC where we checked in, geared up, and were seated on a bus to head to our casting off spot on the Eccoe River.

At our cast off spot we meet Jody, he looked about 21 years old and came to the Eccoe in April from Georgia, after a 6 week training period he qualified to be a river rafting guide, and did a great job! The Hovaters were our fearless leaders and took their positions at the front of the raft. Jamie and I were protected in the middle section and the strong back seaters were Ben and Jared.

Around the 3rd rapid was where Ben flew off the back… Jody tried to grab him as soon as he hit the water but was unsuccessful. Ben had to bounce off a few rocks before we were able to bring him back in the raft. Wow, that was intense!

Jody was very entertaining as he told us the names of all the rapids and the stories behind them… I still think he made every one of them up. He also told us of the ravels between all the rafting companies around there and would make comments about how bad they are and how they always get stuck;) WE even purposely shoved one raft, from another rafting company, hard onto rocks so their guide had to get out of the raft to get his group back on course. Jody was a trip!

Half way through the rafting adventure we were able to “park” and jump off a big rock called “Jump Rock.” It was a fun breather. Jared and I jumped off three times and had to swim against the current to get back to the rock. :)

We had so much fun and I can’t wait until next year when we go for the all day rafting trip, camp in a tent and go on the five mile hike our guide was telling us about :)

Monday, July 14

A Family Beach Trip

The beach trip planning began when the Odom family invited the Bradfords to their condos in Gulf Shores. Jared wasn’t able to drive with us on Saturday so he left Saturday morning to head home to study, he had to work Monday and Tuesday. :(

Saturday morning we loaded up the cars and headed to the beach, I drove Nonnie in her car following my parents and 2 youngest brothers. We got to the Odom’s condo and found it super nice and in a great location. After unloaded the cars, Mom and I set out to stock up for a week supply of food, it took a good three hours and we still forgot stuff.

Our days at the beach were full of sun bathing and fun in the ocean, and each night I played a lot of cards (mostly STOP) with Mom, Nonnie, Colton, Clint, Jordan (Alex’s brother) and Emily (Alex’s sister). The cooking was superb; Papa and Nonnie made breakfast every morning and a mixture of all the adults would make dinner.

On an eventful Monday a baby shark swam between Clint and my legs as we awaited a wave to ride into shore. I thought it looked like a shark but didn’t want to say it out load then an older man who was standing near us saw it too… he said “did you see that shark.” Later on that day someone spotted a much larger shark and even later that day we heard of a shark attack that happened right down the beach from us, scary! -but I love the ocean so it's worth the risk:)
Jared arrived on Tuesday night, I was so happy to see him!! Wednesday Jared and I set out to the beach early, he road waves in with me and then we relaxed and just enjoyed being together. Poor Papa was laid up all week with a hurt knee so he came out to the beach and sat with us for a couple of hours but it was the only day he saw the ocean. :(

Thursday Jared went golfing with Alex while I took Colton and Clint to Waterville, a water park about 15 minutes away from our condo. The boys and I had a lot of fun. While I was checking our stuff in at the Waterville entrance Colton and Clint went ahead to the slides. When they got back I was ready to join them. I asked if they went down the blue one which of course was the one that shot straight down like a bullet. Clint avoided eye contact and an aggravated Colton said, “NO, Clint wouldn’t let me, we went down the pink one.” Defensively, Clint proceeded to tell me that Mom would not let him go down the bullet the last time they went to a water park and he didn’t know if they were “allowed to”. So we went back up the line, Clint went down the pink one again and Colton and I went down the blue one… it was SO FUN! Our next time up the stairs to get to the slides we met a nice man and his five year old son. I asked the little boy which slide he was going down and he confidently said the blue one. Colton and I looked at Clint who had turned a dark pink shade and we giggled a little, I said, “no pressure Clint you can keep going down the pink one.” At the top he gathered up the courage and went down the blue one and had a BLAST! :) He got me back on the ride home for laughing at him- Being 15 years old Clint is now an “expert” driver and purposefully got on my ever lovin’ nerves by warning me about red lights coming up half a mile away, told me what the speed limit was over and over, and acted like he was going to die the entire trip back to the condo whenever a car would change lanes in front of us… I should have made him WALK… I’m getting a little red faced just thinking about that awful drive.

Jared and I went out to eat that night to celebrate our anniversary then Friday morning we headed home to Trussville, AL. What a fun relaxing trip!

Jessica and Alex
Quick pose from the boys after playing tennis
(L to R) Jared, Jordan, Colton and Clint

Me and Jared taking a time out from the sun, it was beautiful but HOT!

Papa sitting with Clint, Papa's one look at the ocean

Emily, Jess, Jerry and Nonnie

Jess watching Jerry as she plays in the sand.

The boys and me riding the waves although it looks calm in this pic there was an undertow:)

Jared's all smiles:)

Picking up Nonnie and the boys for the Family Beach Trip

The trip began Thursday night when Jared and I offered to help Mom out by picking up Nonnie and the boys from North Alabama in order for us to leave for the beach on Satuday.

Jared and I got to Nonnie’s house in Muscle Shoals, AL around 10 pm on Thursday and spent the night with her. The next morning Nonnie had a delicious breakfast ready for us when we got up then we packed up her stuff and headed to Russellville, AL to visit my Mom’s side of the family before picking up my brothers at Rustic Youth Camp.

During our visit with my Grandparents I get 4 urgent calls from Colton, my youngest brother, within an hour asking “When are you going to be here?” “I’m ready to go?” “Where are you?” “Are you here yet, it’s raining?” So, Jared and I rushed our visit with my Grandmother, Granddaddy and Great Grandmother to come pick up the boys who we thought were dying to leave. We pull up to Rustic Youth Camp and Colton runs down the hill and said Clint, my second youngest brother, isn’t ready to leave yet… my face gets a little heated… then Colton proceeds to tell me that Clint is in the final championship game for their camp ping pong tournament. So, Clint comes down to the car (it’s still raining) and says “I’m sorry I’m in the final game I can’t leave.” So, I look over at Colton with steam blowing out my ears and asked him why on earth he rushed us to get here when Clint wasn’t ready to leave and hasn’t even started the game he has to play in. So, Jared stayed in the car with Nonnie and Miami, our dog, b/c it was raining really hard and you either had to go up or down a hill to get to where the tournament was being held. It turned out ok, I am glad I got to see Clint play he did really well but ended up coming in second place.

Colton also placed second in his ages' ping pong tournament. This picture is of Colton and his friend who was the winner:)

Below are pictures of Clint and his friends from Rustic Youth Camp

A picture of Clint's mad skills in the final ping pong match

Friday, July 4

Happy Independence Day!

Amidst all the fireworks and hot dogs, I hope you’ll take a few minutes to remember why we celebrate this day. Independence Day, the 4th of July, celebrates the day in 1776 when the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence. As part of your celebration, please take a moment to remember all the men and women who are serving our country around the world to preserve our founding principles of freedom and equality.

Have a Happy and Safe July 4th!