Monday, June 20, 2011

The Floating Trailer Park

Have you ever heard the song, "Redneck Yacht Club"? I always thought it was a funny song but I never expected to find myself experiencing it. I'm pretty sure we stumbled across the redneck float club this weekend. We decided to go on a float trip down the Elk River. We were expecting a quite, peaceful day on the water, but as you will soon see, we could not have been more wrong!

Saturday morning we packed our cooler, drove up to Missouri, rented a canoe and set off down the river. It wasn't long before we came across what looked like the Jersey Shore rowing crew. A group of rowdy, tattooed coeds in their twenties, drinking beer, smoking, and making out. We laughed to ourselves at how trashy they looked as we quickly paddled past them. We passed several more similar rafts and began to feel that we were in the middle of a spring break-type gathering. We were in for a surprise (and not a pleasant one) as we rounded the next bend and there it was: the floating trailer park! Hundreds of canoes, rafts, kayaks and tubes we're berthed in the widest part of the river, of which 99% of the occupants were intoxicated. We saw all ages of people from teenagers on up to grandpas who could be described as anything but classy. It took us a good fifteen minutes just to maneuver through the mass. I won't go into great detail of what we beheld because this is a family-friendly blog and it wasn't a family-friendly sight! The best description I could come up with is Mardi Gras meets Vegas, meets MTV Spring Break redneck edition. I will say the one positive note was the wonders it did for my body image issues: seeing enough middle-aged women with beer bellies clad in very skimpy bikinis made me look at my body in a whole new light! 

We saw many of these floating beer coolers along the way

Once we got through that area, we hoped we'd passed the worst of it. Unfortunately, it didn't get better from there. We kept paddling faster and faster in search of a white trash-free zone, but somehow never came upon it. I was hoping to find a spot to get out and swim for a while, but was deterred by watching people throw their beer cans and cigarette butts overboard and spit their chewing tobacco in the water. When I saw a father throw up in the river from being so wasted, that was the nail in the coffin. I didn't even want to put my feet in the water after that.

It was a LONG 8 mile journey. I'm sure we were the fastest ones on the river but that wasn't difficult considering many were too inebriated to even find their paddles. In the beginning, all I could think about was all the great material I would have for my next blog post, but the more we saw, the worse I felt. I mean can you imagine if that was your father throwing up in the river or your mother exposing herself for a string of Mardi Gras beads? What kind of message does that send to your kids? It’s no wonder that we are seeing the moral degradation of our society when parents are teaching their children that it is acceptable to exercise no self control as long as you are having “fun.” I am so grateful that I was raised in a home with high moral standards and taught from a young age to reject the “fun” the world has to offer. The world can only offer temporary happiness. And calling it happiness is even a stretch. I can’t imagine drinking yourself silly, giving yourself lung cancer, or contracting an STD can make you very happy.  No thank you for me! I think I’ll pass on those and choose the eternal things that will provide lasting happiness: family, friends, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Herdin' the Sheep

It all started with that dam run! Last summer Nate, Bryson, and I decided to run a race together (the Dam Night Run), and Kaley decided she wanted in on the fun (or rather "fun" as some would say). She told us she was going to get in shape and come run a 5k with us next summer. Well, it's next summer and................we all ran a 5k on Memorial Day!

Brady and Kaley (Nate's brother and sister) came to Arkansas for a whole week. They win the prize for the longest visit. We'd love for someone to try and top that. (hint, hint: come visit us!) The paramount event for the week was the First Annual - or not so annual- Shepherd 5k.

There weren't any races around so we created our own. We had grandiose ideas for making shirts, bibs, a fancy finish line, the works. And while none of those ideas actually emerged into reality, the important thing was the running part of the race did!There was a lot of trash talk beforehand, but when all was said and done, Brady came forth to wear the victor's crown of laurel leaves, or rather just a crown of sweat. Nate insists he would have won had he not been forced to answer the call of Nature along the way! Some of us we're just glad to be able to finish. I've been resting my leg since our half back in April, and let me tell you, seven weeks sedentary makes for seven days soreness for Laurel! Ok, not really seven days, but I sure felt pretty out of shape, and I just liked the alliteration of that sentence.

Kaley deserves a paragraph of recognition. Heck, she could write a whole book about her journey. Kaley is such an inspiration to me of where hard work can take you. Since last summer, she has lost 50 pounds! Not only does she look fantastic, but she is in such great shape too.  I was huffing and puffing keeping up with her during the race! She is amazing so I feel the need to toot her horn for her for all to hear. For those of you who know Kaley, let her know you agree with me that she is awesome, amazing, fantastic, and inspiring. And Kaley, I'm serious about that book thing; Paris Hilton wrote an autobiography and I'm not even sure she can read, yet people read it! I would read yours over hers any day!