Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Going Camping

I am going to try to update this on Monday's from now on...I know today is Tuesday though. I have been able to do a lot of cycling this past break which has given me a lot of time to think, to slow down and just think. It has been an experience, definitely a pivotal time for me.

I am able to do one more trip this break with friends this coming Friday and Saturday. We are going hiking and camping. It is chilly outside but some of the best memories I have with people that I love have been in some sort of outdoors activity. Do not get me wrong, I have many memories while doing a variety of other things not in the outdoors that are equally as vivid, it is just that there is no time I can remember spending at the beach, biking, hiking, reading, etc...that I do not remember fondly.

I am excited to be with friends and will post pictures when we get back.

Cheers!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas is here!


Hello Friends

I am back from my bike trip and feel totally refreshed. I am surprised that I feel such a rejuvenation even though my days were filled with cycling and soreness the past week. I was happy to come back to work and peaceful about the coming holiday and all that I have to finish.

I am planning on taking another trip this weekend. I think that I will leave in the evening on Friday and then go cycling on Saturday, maybe find a nice trail and then head back on Sunday for church.

Any suggestions for an outdoor trip this weekend in the state of Florida? I am open.

On New Years Weekend I am going to be leaving with some friends to go hiking in the Ocala portion of the Florida Trail. We will leave in the evening on Thursday, camp and then hike Friday and Saturday and then head back for church on Sunday. Fun Fun!!!

Bridgette

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Things Dreams Are Made Of



You are going to get two entries today as I did not have internet yesterday. Yesterday (Wednesday the 16th of December) Rachel and I had a great time!!! We are both very optimistic about our cycling days, as far as how far we will be able to get in a certain amount of time…So funny. So Rachel and I wanted to cycle from The Little River Spring Park near the Suwanee River and then head 25 miles south and then east, past Ichetucknee Springs and through Fort White to Oleno State Park and back.

That is fine but we got started at 12 noon and it gets completely black by 6pm. We cycle an average of 10 miles an hour so we figured we would cycle there and back and be done by 5:30pm. What we did not take into account was the COLD or the fact that we would be taking breaks or the possibility of a serious head wind. All of these factors meant that we were in Fort White at 4pm, having gone about 22 miles. We knew the smart thing to do would be to head back but we both wanted to complete our day’s goal. We kept on for the remaining 8 miles to Olena State Park and on the way the dark crept up on us and the cold got worse. We laughed about our stupidity and then told each other that it was fun to bike at dusk….

We got to Olena State Park and ate dinner at which point it was around 5:30 and as we were eating we decided that we could get back to Fort White, about 9 miles away in hour and then try to get a ride back to our car about 12 miles away…We said a prayer that we would be able find a nice and non-scary person to give us a ride. By the time we started back to Fort White it was dark, I had reading light I wore…which as you can imagine did not help much and people blinded us with their brights. You guys, at the point we got back to Fort White it was cold and dark. This is a little “town” of 700 people, where they seem to roll up the sidewalks at 8pm. We stopped in a well lit gas station and then tried to figure out who we would ask to give us a ride. We are looking busted after the 41 miles we cycled and trying to straiten ourselves out so we do not look like psycho killers. Right at that point a fire truck pulls up and I tell Rachel that we should ask them if they know someone that might be able to give us a ride back to Branford.

They were two guys, late-30’s it looked like. Their names were David and Greg and they said yes ma'me in response to everything we said in a super sweet, respectful way with a southern accent. David said that he would call a friend to see if he could give us a ride, He walked around the corner on the phone with this friend and this is a direct quote “could you give them a ride because they are scared to death” We giggled because he was ad libbing; we were very nonchalant about asking for a ride…so sweet. His friend said he could come in thirty minutes and Dave told him he could borrow is truck to take us. They told us we could go right down the road and wait in the fire station for Hugh to come and give us a ride. It was great to have our prayer answered by two great guys. As we waited they fed us cookies that were dropped by from a family who were grateful for the house fire they put out the day before and the dog they revived in the process. We got our ride by Hugh who was equally as nice.

Things Rachel and I learned yesterday:

· It really does get dark at 6pm (who knew the weather channel was right)

· It makes it very difficult to see in the dark without lights

· Men who say “yes ma’ma” are so sweet.

· We love cookies after cycling for a long time

I am having a great time, the best in a while. Do not worry we are staying safe and seeing great parts of Florida.

Captains Log 12-17-09

We stayed the night at Rachel’s sister’s house in Jacksonville. She is great! She is an engineer for the government and she and her husband are leaving in two weeks to travel around the world for a year. They were super nice and Rachel and I thoroughly appreciated the shower.

Rachel and I learned from our folly yesterday and got on the road by 10:30. We went in this area that had tons of trees and farms etc… We went about 30 miles. It was probably the most beautiful scenery I have seen on a bike. It was a little windy but the sun cam out and shone on our faces, the leaves were falling and it had a smell of fall. We both said it did not feel like we were in Florida anymore. When we finished the rail trail in Baldwin we got on the road.

We are now in Flagler Beach FL. We drove here because we wanted to cycle A1A for about 50-60 miles tomorrow. We got into town around 4:30pm and were greeted by the rolling of oceans waves and blue as far as the eye could see. Flagler is a jewel of the coast. It has none of the huge development of New Smyrna, Clearwater, St.Augustine etc... there are still bungalows lining A1A, little shops and restaurants etc... We pulled into a little motel which was the cutest place ever right A1A. Si Casa? No is 4 bungalows in a row with plants and hammocks decorating their fronts and shaded by a trellis spanning the length of the bungalows roofs. You can hear the ocean from the door. I am so excited to be here and cycle tomorrow. We might get in some kayaking:)

If you had told me that I could have had a more perfect week and I would have said no. I mean everything up to now has not gone all right, but the feelings of peace and relaxation from being outside with my friend is indescribable. We have met great people and seen Florida in a way that is difficult in our fast moving cars. I feel like time has slowed down and although it has only been 4 days it feels like 2 weeks in a good way.

Bridgette

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Day 3...the unexpected..25 miles done today!


Hello All

Well I am done with day 3! Rachel and I met up last night and then after getting some last minute things done headed out by 2:30pm. We decided to leave our cars at her sisters house in Gainesville and then head west to the coast. We started out on a road/trail that took us 18 miles east to Hawthorn and then found our way to US 20 at around 4:30pm. When we got onto US 20 it was great, there was a great bike path which lasted like a mile and then it disappeared into a wide shoulder for another mile and then that shoulder completely disappeared.

Rachel and I stopped at this point and discussed what we were going to do. We both found cycling n this narrow two lane road with no shoulder and cars going 60mph was not going to happen. As we stood at this very dodgy road off of the hwy to talk a couple trucks went by us from the backwoods and sat there for a few minutes as we smelled marijuana smoke wafting towards us...we decided that we would have to change our plan for how we were going to do this trip because we would have no way of knowing if the rest of the roads we would be need to take would be equally dangerous.

We decided to cycle back a couple of miles and then have a friend f Rachel's pick us up and drive us back to her sisters house so we could find an alternative to our current course. Since we have gotten back we decided that we would just drive to another area we want to cycle in and then comeback to the car in a day or two and then drive somewhere else for a change of scenery. There are places we know we could go on the east coast, central Florida and the gulf coast that are good for cyclists.

I will keep you posted!!!

Sweet dreams,
Bridgette

Monday, December 14, 2009

Day 2. 45 miles completed!



Hello All,

For starters I went to bed too late...I was staying in a hotel because I was by myself and knew it was not safe to camp alone (you all should applaud my good judgement...smile). I do not have a TV in my apartment nor do I watch it ever so I got into my room last night near where I was going to ride at 6pm with little to do...so I flipped on the TV. 8 hours later I was still watching. I am not even sure what I watched:)

Because of this decision I did not get out riding until 12 noon. The West Orange Trail is 22 miles one way and I wanted to be done by around 4:30pm, but since I was getting such a late start I would be cycling the 44 miles at the sunniest part of the day. I thought "it's fine, its December, it will not be that big of a deal..." I am so dumb sometimes. The sun sucked all the energy from my body by the end of the trail. The last mile (mile 43) was the longest of my life. I had my bike geared to its lowest gear, where normally if you happen to accidentally go to the lowest gear your legs fly around so fast you loose your balance. For this last mile, the effort required by my body to pedal was comical. You would think I was biking at a 80% incline with the way my face was squinched. I did tell myself what I learned on the trail; that this too shall pass (the pain) and this trail has to end sometime:)

You think the adventure was over...no way. After I got off my bike and were able to bend my legs, I headed out to meet Rachel in Gainesville. Now I left the trail at 5:30pm, on route to the Florida Turnpike so I can get to I75 which is only 30 miles...3 hours later I finally got to I75. Did I mention that I was so tired at the beginning of the drive? Some imbecile decided to close a portion of the turnpike for construction during rush hour. The detour provided for the 1000's of drivers was a 2 lane road with a bazillion stop lights. Ahhhhh! It was funny. The blessing is that my car gave absolutely no sign that it was overheating. Those of you who are familiar with my car are sufficiently amazed I am sure

That is my day. I am sitting here with Rachel making our plans for the rest of the trail. We are going to do the Hawthorne Trail and ending in Ravine Garden State Park...Rachel says it is 46 miles...we will see.

Love
Bridgette

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Day 1 of bike trip.




Hello Friends,

Per my last entry, my friend Rachel and I were going to start a bike trip today from St. Augustine to Savannah, GA but she got sick and so could not come:( I decided that I had two choices, I could just stay home or I could just adjust the plan. I chose the latter, so today I headed out after church to go to bike just East of Orlando, since I would be by myself I would not camp alone and then I was just going to hike in Ocala National Forest for a couple of days and then bike to the coast and head home. I got to Winter Garden, FL after getting lost a lot...smile...I got a little time in to read outside before it got dark.

On my way in Rachel called me and said she was feeling better and would meet up with me tomorrow night!!! Exciting. So we are meeting tomorrow. I am going to do this trail near where I am in Winter Garden that is about 44 miles round trip. I will take pictures. I took the attached ones on my drive today.

For all who know the temperament of my car...it overheated at least 10 times today:) That was an adventure in itself.

My motto for the day, "embrace change and never let fear dictate your decisions."

I will write and post pictures of tomorrow...well today...later:)

Bridgette

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Lets try this again.

I am going to try this again. I look at this blog that I have not touched this blog since I got off the trail...what an experience that was. Going on the Appalachian Trail was the single most eye opening and growth experience of my life. I am now figuring out what the next step is in my life...which is kink of exciting.

I am in graduate school now and feel like studying is a full time job. I like the challenge and I love learning. I have met some great people and am learning allot about my self in each new experience. I am excited for the term to be over and have some fun during the break.

My dear friend Rachel Davis and I are planning on bicycling from St. Augustine to Savanna Georgia in 2 weeks which will be such a great time. We will leave on the 12th and get back on the 20th of this month. It will be great to be outside again, meeting a new challenge head on with a great friend. I will keep you posted.

Know my friends that having you in my life makes life sweeter than it could ever be without you. Thank you for all of your support in the crazy adventures or new paths I want to go down. I think that if there is something that I want to do, that it might be hard but I will still try to make it happen and your support has encouraged me in times of doubt.

Until next time,
Bridgette

Friday, May 15, 2009

196 Miles at the close.




Hello All

Well this will be the last entry on the blog for now. A little over a week ago I got off the trail to go to the doctors. My foot continued to get more painful and swollen and so I knew I needed to see a doctor...I got an x-ray and found out that I had a fracture in my foot. I asked the doctor if I was willing to hike through the pain could I go on without doing more damage who said that my bone would continue to crack down the center if I did such a strenuous activity the 10 hours a day I was doing. OUCH!!! This felt like my worst nightmare when I heard it. My disappointment was overwhelming but I knew I could not stay and hike.

Moral of the story is that Heavenly Father knows me and it helped me that the diagnosis was so unquestionable. The doc said to rest it a month and then get it checked out again and maybe I could get back on the trail. We will see. I had my cry of disappointment and then said, "well this is the way it is so I need a new plan for my summer." I am taking suggestions...smile:)

I rented a car and drove to visit my grandmother in New Jersey. I have been here helping her with what I can and figuring out what I will do now. Being on the trail was my plan for the whole summer and now I have a month if not more to figure out what I will do. Lesson learned: have a contingency plan next time. I will be back in Tampa on Wednesday this coming week.

So I wanted to share with you all my feelings about being on the trail. It was the hardest thing I have ever done, including serving a mission. I did not think that anything could be more draining than serving a mission but there you have a companion and when you are having an off day you push through because you are part of a team and that is motivating enough.

I felt vulnerable out there, wondering if some wild animal was going to eat me (funny to say) and because I was a woman in the middle of the wilderness by myself. I had days when I had hiked 13 miles with 2 more to go, my feet being blocks of pain and so tired that each step took effort. I would tell myself that eventually I would get to camp. When I would get to camp and see some people I had grown to love and immediately felt at home. The beef jerky tasted like fillet mignon and slipping into a sleeping bag on the hard ground felt like a bed at a 5 star hotel. I learned the power of encouragement in these times is incalculable. I would not have gotten as far as I did without the encouragement of my friends on the trail. If I had not been hurt, I would have have finished the 1200 miles and it would have said "it was because of other hikers love."

I did not think that I would laugh as much as I have out here. For those of you who know me well you have seen what happens when something really hits my funny bone...a unrelenting laughter for 10 minutes...this happened to me often when I was with friends in camp and sometimes when I was all by myself. I am a better women for having gone. For now, 196 miles completed, 1/6 of the trail.

Now off to life's next learning opportunity. Hopefully no matter what I do with the rest of the summer, I will be starting graduate school in the fall.

Thank you for all your love and prayers.

Bridgette

Friday, April 24, 2009

Mile 164 conquered!






My Dears

Well I am in Fontana Dam, NC. I covered the 11 miles into town in about 5 hrs which was exciting, I really wanted to get here. Fontana Dam is the beginning of the 70 mile hike through the Smoky Mountains. I have hiked 164 miles to date...I am going an average of 15 miles a day now. I have to push myself a little more each day so that I get stronger. There are some days when I am hiking and the mountains feel like it does not have a summit, I will get a leaf punched onto the end of my hiking pole and I will pull it off just to not carry anything else up that mountain...smile. It is a mental thing, ha ha, but whatever gets you up the mountain.

I really hurt my foot 5 days ago and have been hiking on it, willing to hike though the pain, but it is getting worse:( Your feet hurt all the time out here but the searing pain in my toe is getting too bad now. I am going to stay in the Fontana Lodge tonight, maybe tomorrow, and then will figure out what I will do. Any suggestions? Smile.

I have felt lonely the past day even though I meet up with lots of hikers. It is part of it I guess, you all seem millions of miles away but know that you are in my heart and I draw on your love in those times when I think it is too hard. I will keep hiking until I know it is time to come home. We say out here that you have to hike your own hike, that is the key.

I feel like I have been months and not just 17 days. Does it feel like that to you? Time is definitely lost out here. I forget what day of the week it is sometimes and do not forget what time it is only because I know that I hike from about 8am to 6pm.

I will post more tomorrow since I think I am going to need to take a day off because of my toe.



Love you.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Off To The Mountains Tomorrow


Hello My Dears


Well I am off to the mountains tomorrow. I took what is called a zero day today, where stay in town and physically recoup. It was great but I was a little bored and itchy to get back on the trail...my body did need it though.


I am loving being out here. I have learned more about myself in the past 13 days than I have in a long time. I learned that I am stronger than I thought I was and that if I dig deep I can accomplish what I set out to do no matter how hard. I have gained a greater testimony of God The Father and His Son Jesus Christ. I walk past gnarled Beech tress with their trunks pouring over a near by boulder on the trail or hear a partridge in the distance or have a ray of sunshine "pour over me like butterscotch and stick to all my senses" and I think what an amazing world was given us. I have had too many prayers answered to deny the reality of a living God.


Thank you for your support. I love you and will keep you posted.


Love

Bridgette

Sunday, April 19, 2009

104 Miles Down



Hello All,

Well, it is the close of my 12th day today of hiking the Appalachian Trail...and I just past my first 100 miles (104 miles to be exact)...YAY.

I have met so many good people already. I cannot post all the pictures I have but people are so awesome here. It is an adventure. It is definitly the hardest thing mentally I have ever done, but at the close of each day I feel thankful for each mountain I made it over. I am so thankful for all the prayers you all sent out to me that I will be sucessful and have felt them answered as I make it over each mountain.

I have laughed a lot out here, many smiles and know that I well.

I cannot write much more today. I will try in a couple days.

Love

Bridgette

Friday, April 10, 2009

Hello

Well this is the end of day four. Can I say the past four days have been the longest four days of my life...I am saying this while smiling as I am typing.

The first night was the most horrible night of my life. It was 20 degree's outside and windy. I was so cold that I shivered all night long and did not sleep a wink. As I laid there scared for my life, I thought "what the heck am I doing?"and felt very desperate in between my shivers. As I was laying there I thought, this too shall pass and it might look brighter in the morning. It did. I figured the first couple weeks were going to miserable and I would just endure. I am happy I did. I feel excited in the morning when I start hiking, like I can conquer the world, and by the time I roll into camp somewhere I know that I should not make any rash decisions because I am tired and sore:)

I have met so many amazing people, all on the trail for different reasons. There is a lot of support from fellow hikers and I feel all of your prayers. I will keep going knowing that everyday will be a little better. Also my trail name is Brier Rose...smile

Love you.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Night Before...

I am so excited! I can hardly believe I am beginning this journey tomorrow. I am sitting here finishing up all of my last minute packing and spending the last night with three girls that I love dearly. We left at 4 P.M. and arrived in Atlanta at 1 A.M….I love road trips!! The nine hour drive was such a good time!

As I contemplate the goals I have for this adventure, I think of the great opportunities I have before me to grow, to meet new people and to continue to learn to laugh at life. There are some things that may be hard or unorthodox but they are still the best things to do…This is one for me.

I am not one to be na├»ve, I have been practicing karate kicks for the weirdo’s and I have my bear spray at hand. NO PROBLEM!