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Optimizing Your Immune System

I feel that with the current events, this is a good opportunity to talk about ways to boost our immune system. This past winter, our house was sick almost continuously. I know there are many reasons for that, but it caused me to dig deep and explore ways to boost our immune system.

 

Experts do not know much about COVID-19 at this time, but we do know some steps we can take to boost our immune system. Contrary to what we would all like to do, this is actually not the time to sit and veg out on sugar and treats. Now is the time to pay attention to what you are eating, decrease your sugar intake, and “eat the rainbow”.

 

The best way to get all your vitamins and minerals in is to eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, but supplementation can also be helpful. Listed below are some key vitamins to include in your diet. I will be working on a follow up article with foods high in these vitamins and minerals.

 

 

Vitamin D

Vitamin D decreases inflammation and optimizes immune function. Most Americans are vitamin D deficient. Many experts believe it is impossible to get adequate vitamin D from food sources alone. The best way to get the recommended daily amount of vitamin D is through the sun. By standing in the sun during the brightest time of the day (10am-3pm) without sunscreen, with arms, legs, and face exposed for 5-30 minutes an individual should get sufficient vitamin D. If an individual is unable to be out in the sun, supplementation is necessary. Now is a great time to tell your elderly family members- those isolated in their nursing homes or assisted living centers to OPEN THE BLINDS, stand on their balcony or porch if they are able. These individuals are really suffering when it comes to vitamin D. For everyone else, go outside. You can easily be outside and maintain the recommended 6 ft distance from anyone else under these mandated conditions.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C can help prevent infection and shorten the duration of a cold. Individuals should ingest vitamin C regularly, but should also increase their vitamin C intake at the onset of an illness.

Follow this link to receive $50 a purchase of $75 or more on vitamin C and other products to help boost immunity:

Vitamin A and Zinc

Vitamin A is helpful in fighting respiratory infections. Zinc can reduce the length of some viral infections. Current studies show that Zinc may prevent the coronavirus from entering the cells.

 

Decrease Sugar Intake

Sugar decreases the body’s ability to rid itself of infection, increases inflammation, and increases oxidative stress- all scenarios you do not want when seeking to support your immune system. Put down the candy and pop, but don’t forget, sugar can hide in many processed foods. Be sure to check your food labels for any words that end in “-ose” (dextrose, fructose, sucrose, etc.).

 

 

Warm beverages

Warm beverages can help soothe pain in the back of the throat associated with the common cold. It can also help keep you hydrated which is highly important during an illness. Furthermore, warm beverages have been shown to moisten the nasal passages which helps with nasal congestion. If you choose to ingest a warm beverage, make sure it is not loaded with sugar or contains dehydrating ingredients (i.e. coffee). A sugary hot latte will not help your COVID-19 situation.

 

Stress reduction

Stress increases inflammatory cytokines which are increased in COVID-19. One should use previous stress reduction techniques that work for the individual. For some this can be exercise, a walk outside, listening to music, guided meditation, reading a book, or yoga.

 

Quality sleep

Your body repairs during sleep. Sleep also increases the body’s production of melatonin which may reduce the severity of the coronavirus. Aim to get 7-9 hours of quality sleep a night. No more, no less. Some things to boost sleep quality include avoiding alcohol close to bedtime; Avoid ALL forms of caffeine after 2 pm, participate in some form of physical activity during the day, and leave electronics outside of the bedroom.

 

What about Elderberry?

Elderberry use has been greatly increased in recent years because of the evidence of warding off the common cold and influenza. Once an individual contracts COVID-19, it has been shown that Elderberry can increase inflammatory cytokines and should therefore be discontinued with a positive COVID-19 test result or with the first signs of sickness.

The CDC currently recommends that individuals should wear masks when leaving the house. While this may not keep one from contracting the virus, it has been shown to help decrease the spread among asymptomatic carriers.

For greater details of anything discussed in this post, please refer to the links at the bottom. Information in this article is meant to inform and should not replace medical advice from your primary care physician.

 

 

 

REFERENCES:

Alschuler, L., Weil, A., Horwitz, R., Stamets, P., Chiasson, A. M., Crocker, R., & Maizes, V. (2020). Integrative considerations during the COVID-19 pandemic. Explore. doi: 10.1016/j.explore.2020.03.007

 

Calder, P., & Kew, S. (2002). The immune system: A target for functional foods? British Journal of Nutrition, 88(S2), S165-S176. doi:10.1079/BJN2002682

 

Kafeshani, M. (2014). Diet and immune system. Immunopathologia Persa1(1), e04.

 

U.S Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Nutrient Data Laboratory. 2014. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 27. Available at: http://www.ars.usda.gov/nutrientdata.

 

Office of Dietary Supplements – Vitamin D. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/

 

Vitamin D. (2020, March 27). Retrieved from https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/vitamin-d/

 

Boosting Immunity: Functional Medicine Tips on Prevention & Optimizing Immune Function During the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Outbreak. (2020). Retrieved from https://www.ifm.org/news-insights/boosting-immunity-functional-medicine-tips-prevention-immunity-boosting-covid-19-coronavirus-outbreak/

 

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Everything is Different

Everything is different.

Last night I was in bed thinking of how different my life is now compared to a year ago. Even how different it was 2 ½ months ago. I was trying to explain how I felt to Tony and the only thing I could say that made sense to me was, “everything is different, the way it feels to breathe is different”. What I meant by that was that everything in my soul feels different after having a baby.

 

My daily routine is different, the choices I make are different, the things I day dream about are different, the clothes I wear are different, the songs that have meaning to me are different, the conversations I have with my friends are different. The first thing I think about in the morning to the last thing I think at night is different. The way I feel inside is different.

 

I love it. I know everyone experiences motherhood differently, but the changes I’ve felt have been amazing. I don’t think I expected it to feel like this, to be honest.

 

Tony and I danced to the first verse of a song for our first dance at our wedding. The song was about not knowing what you wanted until you married the person you married. I actually never listened to the second verse of that song because I knew we weren’t going to use the whole song. I recently heard the second verse of the song:

 

Never pictured myself singing lullabies
Sitting in a rocking chair in the middle of the night
In the quiet, in the dark
You’re stealing every bit of my heart with your daddy’s eyes
What a sweet surprise

And now I’m holdin’ what I never knew I always wanted
I couldn’t see, I was blind ’til my eyes were opened
I didn’t know there was a hole
Something missing in my soul
‘Til you filled it up, oh, with your love

Life has a way of showing you just what you need
And who you were made to be.

Adeline’s First Week

My baby is less than one week old, and I’ve never wanted time to slow down more than I do right now. Ya, it’s been hard not sleeping for a week straight, but I know I’m going to blink and it’s going to be over.20181122_111311

I actually feel guilty for doing that to my own parents. I know they blinked and I wasn’t a baby anymore, and when you’re holding your one week old, that’s such a scary thought

I’ve had probably less than 20 hours of sleep since last Saturday night and somehow I’m not tired yet. Adeline’s least favorite thing to do is sleep for longer than 30 minutes at a time.

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I am so proud of Owen. He was terrified of Adeline at first. He was shaking and howling and crying and cowering when he first came home and heard her crying. I was so nervous that was not going to change. It took him less than 24 hours to warm up to her. I feel like I have a new dog overnight. People said this might happen, but I totally didn’t believe them. He is calmer and less needy than he’s EVER been and he is already running to her every time she cries to make sure she is okay. I think they are going to be best friends.

20181121_174903Lastly, I don’t know what I would do without Tony. This is all easy because of him. He doesn’t have milk, but he has arms that take her more than they need to so that I can get sleep even though he’s the one that has to get up in the morning for work. I never doubted he’d be the perfect dad but when you see it in action you fall in love all over again.

Adeline’s First Week

My baby is less than one week old, and I’ve never wanted time to slow down more than I do right now. Ya, it’s been hard not sleeping for a week straight, but I know I’m going to blink and it’s going to be over.20181122_111311

I actually feel guilty for doing that to my own parents. I know they blinked and I wasn’t a baby anymore, and when you’re holding your one week old, that’s such a scary thought

I’ve had probably less than 20 hours of sleep since last Saturday night and somehow I’m not tired yet. Adeline’s least favorite thing to do is sleep for longer than 30 minutes at a time.

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I am so proud of Owen. He was terrified of Adeline at first. He was shaking and howling and crying and cowering when he first came home and heard her crying. I was so nervous that was not going to change. It took him less than 24 hours to warm up to her. I feel like I have a new dog overnight. People said this might happen, but I totally didn’t believe them. He is calmer and less needy than he’s EVER been and he is already running to her every time she cries to make sure she is okay. I think they are going to be best friends.

20181121_174903Lastly, I don’t know what I would do without Tony. This is all easy because of him. He doesn’t have milk, but he has arms that take her more than they need to so that I can get sleep even though he’s the one that has to get up in the morning for work. I never doubted he’d be the perfect dad but when you see it in action you fall in love all over again.

Kingman Part II

Kingman Part II

Long overdue

This post is so long overdue. But before I pick blogging back up, I think it is important for me to do this post.

Tony and I were assigned a location months ago to a tiny little town in Arizona called Kingman.

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When we arrived, we had no idea what we were getting into, what we were going to do for fun, where we were going to go out to eat.

I was so thankful there was a Starbucks.  We joined a crossfit gym before we even had a place to live (We were living out of different hotels), primarily so we could get into shape, but also so that we had something to do.

Fast forward six months. Kingman totally stole our hearts.

During our time in Kingman we made some great friends that I truly believe I will stay in touch with.

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The vision for our future clinic developed during our time learning what crossfit was all about.

We learned how great of a hub Kingman is! We were able to go away almost every weekend to a new location: The Grand Canyon, Oatman, California, Las Vegas, Flagstaff, and multiple random hiking adventures.

I learned what a really well functioning ICU looks like.

We found a great church.

We joined a volleyball league.

We learned how fun a small town can be.

We learned that the people really make or break a town.

This post is short and does not do our experience justice, but hopefully some of the pictures will. We will definitely pick up travel health professionals again in the future.

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Dr. Ritter

I met Dr. Ritter when I was 21 years old right out of college, working on getting into nursing school.

I finished my first degree and was unsure exactly what the next step was. I knew I wanted to be a nurse, but I did not exactly know what that meant. While I was working on getting into nursing school I got a job as an in-home caregiver.

Mrs. Ritter was my first “patient”. I remember being introduced to Dr. and Mrs. Ritter and thinking how amazing Dr. Ritter was, being almost 90 at the time, able to do pretty much anything he wanted physically, and able to communicate on any level. You would have thought he was in his 70s, and doing well.

He was smart and wise, kind and realistic. Over the years taking care of Mrs. Ritter, Dr. Ritter taught me so many fundamental nursing skills like how to transfer a patient or change a bed. He taught me what was going on with Mrs. Ritter medically as her health was declining and we talked a lot about the progression of dementia since I had gone through it with my grandpa. Mrs. Ritter napped a lot while I was working, so it gave me a lot of time to talk to Dr. Ritter about nursing school, my future plans, and life in general. Once she passed away I was sad that our talks would end and I was so thankful for the wisdom I felt I had gained from him over those few years I spend with them.

But I decided I wasn’t ready to let the relationship go. I felt like I still had a lot to learn from him and I really cherished our talks. I decided after Mrs. Ritter passed away that I would try to keep in touch with him.

And I did.

He was one of those people that never gave you the answer to a problem. He asked you questions until YOU reached the answer.

A week before I was going to be starting nursing school one of the patients I took care of in home was dying and at that point I had never experienced that. I did not handle it well. Some very unexpected things happened to me in the short time I was with that individual. When I left the house I had this overwhelming desire to talk to Dr. Ritter about my experience. I was going to be starting nursing school in one week and I suddenly didn’t know if this was supposed to be my life course.

I’ll never forget our talk that day as I was on the verge of tears sitting in his kitchen. He asked me, “Who determined who lives and dies?”

I said “well, God, but what happens if I make a mistake?”

He told me that many health care professionals get very cocky or very discouraged when they start to believe they are the determinant of life and death. And then he asked me again, “who determines who lives and who dies?”

There was a lot more conversation that day, and he spoke much more eloquently than I can write, but that simple talk with him that day really helped me in my development as a nurse.

He told me I could do anything I wanted with my life as long as it was honest and I enjoyed it.

If I made dinner, he never let anyone eat until I was sitting down.

Once I became a nurse I would come to him with questions when I would experience things as a nurse that they didn’t teach you about in text books.

I was always so excited to tell him about new things that were happening in my life. He was a great listener. Whenever I would ask him about his life and he would say “Oh I’m fine, just fine”, and ask me more about what was happening in my life.

I tried really hard to teach him facebook, but unfortunately I was never very successful.

He would ask me about new developments and the hospital and in the ICU and would love it when I would tell him what I was learning and what new technologies they were coming out with.

I never told him when I was dating anyone, but as soon as Tony and I were engaged I couldn’t wait to introduce them. I knew he would be proud of my decisions. And I’m so happy he was able to make it to my wedding.

I presume he had an effect on many people. I know I was not the only person’s life he had an impact on. But he was important to me. I believe I am a different person and I look at the world differently because of his friendship and mentoring.

I heard of his passing last Saturday and although he just reached his 96th birthday, it came as a shock to me. I am broken hearted I will not be able to make the funeral. It’s an interesting phenomenon because we did not really know anyone mutually, so I feel as though I am sad alone, as if our relationship didn’t exist.

In 6 years we never took a picture. It wasn’t our focus, our focus was talking and learning. I found this picture when I was digging through wedding photos and am really thankful for it.

I am so thankful I got to know Dr. Ritter.Dr. Ritter

Camping trip #1

Coyotes ARE afraid of humans, starting a campfire is harder than it looks, make sure you read the tent set-up instructions, and more lessons from our first camping trip.

Tony and I decided to engage in a new adventure-Camping!

Here is a short story about how it went:

We figured it wouldn’t be hard to find a campsite in the wild wild west, so we decided not to look ahead and just adventurously find one when we were tired of driving. This wasn’t a bad idea. We luckily did find a free campsite at Walker Lake.1280px-Walker_Lake_Nevada

We got to our campsite around 5 pm so we had time to set up and go into town for marshmallows, sticks, and firewood (obviously).

I will admit that I have never set up a tent, but since Tony has set up a tent before he proclaimed himself as an expert and “Mr. Camper”. While the tent went up relatively smoothly, there was a moment where the tent was completely set up and we had a piece that we didn’t know what to do with. I found this hilarious and figured we would just pray that the tent stayed up.

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Fast forward to our fire experience. All I wanted was a fire because 1) whats the point of camping if you cant roast marshmallows? and 2) I was cold.

So we set out to gather wood, marshmallows and sticks. What I didn’t think about was the fact that the wind was blowing at 4382890 miles per hour. We couldn’t even get the match lit long enough to touch the wood, let alone keep the wood burning.

But we kept trying. After probably 30 matches and a lot of grass and sticks, we kind of had a fire. I didn’t care, we had enough of a fire to burn my marshmallow black and I was happy. :))

Once we realized it was way to cold and windy to sit out by the fire we climbed into the tent.

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THEN we realized how loud the wind is when your camping.

And wondered just how close the coyotes were that we could hear howling. One of us (I won’t mention who) said “coyotes are afraid of humans right?” Suddenly all I pictured was Tony getting malled by coyotes and me watching. I figured I could call the police, but we were literally in a ghost town, and I pictured the police asking me what I wanted them to do about it.

Needless to say coyotes ARE afraid of humans and we are both in one piece.

I’m kind of amazed the tent stayed standing because I’m telling you, I’ve never felt wind blow that hard before.

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All in all it was a hilarious and fun adventure and I would totally do it again. Next time though, I might check the weather!

#lessonslearned

Tell us some of your fun camping stories!

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TOP TEN!

The top ten necessities when traveling as a couple.

Traveling as a couple

The top ten necessities when traveling as a couple:

I am a nurse and my husband is a Physical Therapist. We got married last October, and decided to try out this travel health professional thing before we had a house and too many possessions. We did have a wedding shower, but were privileged to find a place to store our stuff while we live like gypsies.Travel-8

We set off in a Toyota Camry and could ONLY pack the essentials. Tony and I are committed to a few things that include staying healthy, sticking to a budget and saving, enjoying every location to the fullest, and experiencing new things.

 

Through the travels and temporary homes, I have compiled a list of the top ten things we have considered necessities while travelling as a couple, while still trying to stay committed to what is important to us. Some items on the list are tangible, some are not. These have helped make travelling healthier, more fun, and much easier. I’m sure this list is also useful if you are travelling alone! What are some of your necessities??

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In no particular order:

  1. Groupon app!

Tony and I have decided to live by a pretty strict budget, BUT we are also committed to taking in the culture and activities in each place we are in. I cannot tell you how many times we have payed half price on date night because of groupon! Stand up Paddle boards for $3/hr. Dinner half price. And It’s so simple, groupon uses your current location to find any deals in the area. If you haven’t used groupon, download the app now and try something out!

 

  1. Crockpot

This was the only cook-wear I was able to pack. I knew I wanted something and this was what I chose. Twelve hour shifts are a lot easier when you don’t have to make dinner when you get home. And crockpots make eating healthy so much easier.

 

  1. Tupperware

This was something we debated on our first rotation. We did not pull out the Tupperware until we had been unpacked for over a month, but I am SO GLAD WE DID. Portions are so important. And life is so much easier when I can reach into the fridge and grab a pre-made meal. And packing lunches? A breeze when everything is measured and ready to go. The only way to do that is to have adequate containers to divide up food.

  1. Clothing rack

This one was Tony’s idea. He took a shower rack and placed it across the back seat and we hang all of our clothes that require hanging on it while we travel. Packing up all those button-down shirts and dresses? Done in about 5 minutes. Furthermore, a dresser is a luxury when renting a home, and we usually have one small one or none. Therefore, most of our clothes are hung. So unpacking is done just as fast as packing!

  1. A fun calendar

This might not be a necessity to many, but for me it is. I can’t bring decorations when we are living out of a car, but I do like to have SOMETHING fun to hang on the wall of an empty rental. This kills two birds with one stone. We are able to write out our schedules and plan out the fun things we are going to do in the three months we are in a location. It’s light-weight, easy to pack, pretty to hang on the wall, and gives me something to look forward to every time I look at it.

 

  1. Spices

Obviously, we cannot travel with a lot of food. The last week of a travel assignment we get very creative with meals because we don’t want to eat out every meal, and we don’t want to buy new groceries that have to get thrown out. However, you don’t want to have to buy new spices at every location. We get our few staple spices (salt, pepper, garlic, cayenne) at Sam’s club, and store them in a plastic container. This helps with dedication to healthy living and saves some of the cost of having to buy all new groceries at every location.

 

  1. Shakes

Shakes have been important for a few reasons, specifically getting all the nutrition we need for the day while being on the road between assignments, at the airport, or at the beginning or end of a contract when our food supply is extremely limited. We could go out to eat for every meal, or eat at the cafeteria at work, but that is both expensive and ultimately unhealthy even if you are eating “healthy options”. The shakes we use have over 30 servings of fruits and vegetables in one shake AND they are all organic. There usually isn’t a whole foods at the rest stop, so this is perfect. While a shake can’t be a meal replacement for every meal, it is definitely a help.

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  1. An overnight bag

Between contracts, it is common to have to live out of a hotel or a friends house for a few nights. One thing I DO NOT want to do is lug our big suitcases in and out of hotels for one night. I have loved having an overnight/small duffel bag to use between contracts or on short weekend getaways.

 

  1. A side-hustle

Tony and I both have side hustles we can work on when we days off. When you do travel nursing/PT and you are alone, it is easy to plan things to do on your days off. But when you are travelling with someone, you don’t always want to do those fun things alone, I prefer to wait until we both have a day off. Because of that I would spend a lot of time twiddling my thumbs or watching Netflix. I am personally not good at twiddling my thumbs and neither is Tony, so we try to use our days off to network our side businesses. This is great for personal development and creates extra income we can use for exploring!

 

  1. A hobby

On our last assignment it was hiking, on this assignment it is Crossfit. I love that we are not only making sure we have a hobby in every location, but we are trying something new! I would not have hiked mountains in Michigan, and I can’t tell you it is something I will make a lifestyle out of, but I love all the places we have seen, and I loved every hike we went on. There is so much we would not have seen or experienced if we chose to stay in our comfort zone.

 

So those are our ten! What about you? What are some things you consider necessities while travelling? And where are all the travelling couples? What makes travelling more enjoyable to you?

 

Kingman, AZ. Our first week.

Kingman, AZ

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As many of you know, Tony and my plan was to go to Oregon for our second rotation. Unfortunately our recruiters were unable to find us jobs together in Oregon, but they were able to find us a job together in Kingman, AZ.fake excitement

When I first heard we were going to Kingman AZ here were just a few thoughts that went through my head:

  1. Its going to be absolutely sweltering.
  2. The town is going to be tiny, I actually pictured one road with our apartment complex on one side and the hospital on the other side.
  3. There will be literally nothing to do and they probably won’t even have a Starbucks.

I was trying to keep a positive attitude, but I really had no idea what to expect. I figured, no matter what, it would be some type of adventure like the last 8 months have been. We began our 3 hour drive to Kingman, and as soon as we were out of the city, there was nothing but brown for miles, and for a while I couldn’t even pick up a radio station. I really wondered what we had gotten ourselves into.

Fast forward to our arrival. I was shocked at how big the town actually was. The best way I can describe it in comparison to what I know in Michigan is a big up-north type town. It is small, and everything we plan to do is within three miles of each other. But they have everything you need. More about all that later.

Our goal for the first day was to find somewhere to live. When we arrived every apartment was either completely full, or required a full year lease. We drove around to multiple apartment complexes and came to a dead end at every one. Over the next few days we found a few houses for lease, some furnished, some not. If you remember, Tony and I came to Arizona with everything we owned in a Toyota Camry. In other words, we have nothing.

When we finally found something we thought would work, we were ready to sign the papers and move in, and the tenant completely stopped responding. We waited and waited and finally realized we would be spending another night in a hotel. Thankfully we had met a wonderful couple in our search that had a few rental properties still available. We called them up and they invited us over to their house to discuss some possibilities.

They lived just outside of the city, and it was while visiting them that I realized how beautiful Kingman was. We got to their house just as the sun was setting and from their house you could see the lights from the city and the sun setting behind it. The view was absolutely beautiful.

They were the nicest people, and they worked things out so we were able to move into our newest living space the next day. The house is small and cute and perfect.

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During our quest to find a home, Tony and I were able to explore the town a little. The closest gym we normally go to is almost an hour away, so we decided to join a crossfit gym to try something new!

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They have a yoga studio, a starbucks, and our hospital and house are less than two miles from each other. Directly behind our house is the fairgrounds, which I hear has different activities, rodeos being one of them :). There is a little downtown with a few restaurants and shops that we got to explore a few nights ago. And on Sunday we were able to visit a local church.

The town is very cute and has everything we need. And the people are extremely friendly. I think this is going to be a great rotation. Traveling has shown me that EVERY town has its own personality. Its so fun to discover what that personality is and enjoy all of its quirks.

Memorial Day in AZ

 

 

It has been a minute since I blogged, but I wanted to take some time to show some pictures of our latest adventure, tubing down salt river!

I have tubed before, and every experience is different, but never through the mountains.

Talk about beautiful. Once again, pictures never do God’s creation justice.

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We started the day lathering on the sunscreen, and all walked away from there, four hours later, burnt to a crisp. Thankfully we had a great time and it was all worth it.

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There were relaxing times where we laid back and took in all the sites.

 

There were fun times when we were bombarded with water guns, beach balls, and marshmallows (apparently marshmallow wars are a thing on salt river?)

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And there were surprising and breathtaking times when a wild horse crossed the river as we passed.

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But all the times were great times spent with friends and family. I will let the pictures speak for themselves.

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