Abby’s Diary: Live Life…. Riding the Bull!

I recently had the thrill and privilege of sharing an eight day Pacific North West vacation with my husband, children, and son-in-law. After my mother passed away seven years ago, our family decided to make a new Christmas tradition of not giving gifts but taking trips together to make memories that last so much longer than the pj’s or latest perfume. We initially started small before Lexi got married and hit Charleston, South Carolina, New York City, and then Orange County, California. After Travis joined the Vega clan we’ve done Hawaii, Italy, and now Seattle and Oregon.

Tied to the trip since Travis joined us and the three siblings are all so competitive, Mrs. Summa Cum Laude, Mr. Eagle Scout, and Mr. Back to Back Championships enjoy the trivia game put in place three to six months in advance to earn Hula dollars, Yearning for Euros, and this Year’s Going for Klondike Gold which earns them spending money but more importantly bragging rights until the next trip. Only Travis has not won yet but he has the distinct disadvantage or perhaps advantage of not being my maternal son and knowing the tricks I pull playing the game.

Juan is typically the idea guy since he does most of the traveling and comes back and says “this place I went to is so beautiful I’d like to share it with my family” and then that’s where I take over, unless it’s Italy, then he takes care of that.

The trip was dubbed “Rough and Rugged”! Anyone that knows us understands that for Juan and me the extent of rough and rugged means taking a table outside at our favorite restaurant Andiamo’s rather than in the AC inside. So I asked our son-in-law Travis to assist me in making the trip live up to the billing within reason. Some on the trip were more adventurous than others. Our trip included lots of walking, sight-seeing, whale watching by boat, a sea-plane ride to Victoria Canada, hiking, bridge jumping and white-water rafting. At 58 Juan and I opted out of both the bridge jumping and hiking but everyone was in for the white water rafting where we “Rode the bull”!

The White Salmon River has class 3-4 rapids. Our guide in the preliminary safety chat said Niagara Falls was considered a class 6 maybe just to yank our chain a bit and make us take our safety seriously, so 3-4 sounded pretty scary to me. Once we embarked and started floating we were soaked head to toe in the first minute! Thank God for the wetsuits as the water was 42 degrees! Damn chilly for us Florida folk. The scenery was so beautiful and it was very special to share this experience with our kids. At the deepest part of the river we pulled over and she asked if anyone cared to jump off a perfectly good bridge 25 ft. in the air, Travis and Justin immediately got out of the raft, as did the entire family in the other raft traveling with us. So a 10 year old went first and then the whole family. Next up was Travis and last but not least was Justin. His landing literally sent water up 25 ft. or more soaking the bridge and making the biggest splash. Pulling them back into the raft was no easy task either but they both claimed it was exhilarating!

Next came the biggest rapid on that part of the river called “The Bull” Since Travis and Justin were up front they climbed out and sat as far out on the raft as possible with paddle in hands and feet extended. Alexis and I were behind those two thankfully as they got a wall of water smack in the face that drenched everyone and filled the raft with water. When we emerged they were screaming and laughing with complete and utter joy. I was too mostly because I was still alive, (I can’t swim) they because they took what life offered, let it smack them in the face, and came up the victors!

So…… this is what I want everyone to take away from my vacation trip!

  1. Family is and always will be the most important and valuable blessing you’ve been given.

  2. Take time to make memories! They last longer and mean more than any gift you could ever buy.

  3. If “The toll on the road to happiness is courage, then courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway.” Yeeha!!!

  4. Don’t count the seconds make every second count.

  5. Life is like a daily bull ride. The sole purpose of the bull is to throw you off. The sole purpose of you the rider is to hang on. You were given the life you have because you are strong enough to live it. The spirit. The will to win and the will to excel and learn from your experiences are the things that endure. These qualities are so much more important than the event that’s trying to take you out today. Don’t worry about the strength of the bull it’s about battling the weaknesses within you.

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