Hot Springs, Arkansas

Hot Springs, Arkansas

ARRIVAL
This place is so cute! We are staying in Hot Springs Village, a 26,000 square mile master planned community about 15 miles north of Hot Springs, Arkansas. Basically it’s a retirement community but it’s awesome! There are 9 golf courses, 13 tennis courts (real clay courts) and 11 lakes. Our condo is a great little 2 bedroom / 2 bath and it was only $90 a night. We found it on VBRO and are super pleased with it.


For dinner we checked out a cute little Italian restaurant called Italian House & Grille. Nathan got the Sausage Carbonara and I got the Eggplant Parmesan. Both were so good, I’d definitely recommend this spot for anyone staying in the area.


DAY 1

We woke up early for our tee time at the Cortez Golf Course. For this round we were teamed up with a nice guy named Craig. He had a suped up custom golf cart that was complete with arm rests and massive tires. He said it could top speeds of 35 mph.



Lunch after was great, we both got the meatball sub. After taking the dogs on a good walk, we ventured over to the tennis courts. As usual, Nathan creamed me, but it was so fun for us to both play on clay courts for the first time.

DAY 2

This morning we made breakfast burritos at the house before venturing off to the town of Hot Springs. The first stop was Buckstaff Bathhouse. I’ve never been to a bath house but figured “when in Rome… or… when in Hot Springs…”

Y’all. I love massages so figured it’d be just another day at the spa. It was, but it wasn’t. I checked in and was taken up an old timey elevator and literally felt like I was walking onto the set of an episode of American Horror Story, but in a good way!

I entered into the locker room and an attendant showed me to the changing room. I took everything off and stored it into my locker. The attendant asked if I was ready and I said “yes ma’am”. She told me to turn around and lift my arms up and she proceeded to wrap a white bed sheet around my body and we are off to the baths!


We walked into another room (all the walls are beautiful marble). Each old timey bathtub was in it’s own little nook. Think of little stalls the size of a women’s handicap restroom. Mattie, the sweet lady who helped me, followed me in the stall and said “go ahead ma’am, hop in the tub.” (I knew I’d be naked, but I guess I wasn’t sure exactly how this worked.) I dropped the sheet and hopped in the tub. The water was hot, about 105 degrees, and Mattie then took a loofa and scrubbed my arms and back. She then filled the rest of the tub with hot water and started the old timey jacuzzi bubbles. She then gave me a little cup of super hot spring water and I sipped on that while soaking in the tub. Mattie left and I couldn’t help but get the silent giggles. After about 20 minutes, Mattie came in and dried me off.

Next up was the hot towel station. Mattie put several hot towels on a little padded table that I laid on top of. Once lying down, she put several more hot towels on my stomach and legs. Then I was given an ice cold towel for my face. Every so often I was given cold spring water to sip on. I was here for about 15 minutes.
Next up was the funniest station. Mattie directed me to step inside this metal box (shown below). Once I was in there, my sheet was taken again and I sat down. She then closed the top on me and literally just my head was poking out of the top. It’s hilarious, you are literally sitting in this metal box completely naked, with just your head poking out.


Then came the Sitz Bath. Once I was wrapped up in the sheet again, I was directed to sit in this mini bathtub. It kinda looked like a hybrid between a bathtub and a toilet. The water inside was super hot and you just sit in there, with your fanny in the water. Your legs and feet are just hanging out. I suppose this really helps your lower back. After about 10 minutes, we moved to the next station.

Mattie showed me to this really cool old shower (shown above). The shower heads completely surrounded me and I just stood there for about 5 minutes. Mattie dried me off and took me to the massage therapist.
The massage was pretty quick but felt wonderful. If I could get a massage everyday, I would. After the massage I had a lavender paraffin treatment on my hand and that brought my time at Buckstaff to an end. The entire experience lasted about 2 hours and only cost $80. This was the funniest/most interesting experience and I’d highly recommend it to anyone visiting Hot Springs.

After that Nathan and I went to the Gangster Museum. We couldn’t believe how many gangsters (Al Capone, Bonnie & Clyde, Machine Gun Kelly, Charles “Lucky” Luciano, Owney Madden, John Dillinger to name just a few) vacationed in Hot Springs. The unwritten rule was if you were a gangster here on vacation, you couldn’t kill another gangster.


Lunch was delicious, we went to The Ohio Club, it’s known for it’s burgers and Al Capone used to frequent the restaurant.

After lunch we were walking along the promenade by the main drag, it’s so cool in that area. We were overlooking the main street and Nathan said “this looks like a nice spot” and I said “yeah, this is really pretty” and I looked over there he was on one knee! He was so sweet and of course I said “yes”! I’m really excited to get to do life with him. We then called both of our parents and everyone is just so happy for us! P.S. I love my ring. 🙌🏼



Afterwards we went hiking on this awesome trail in Hot Springs National Park. The hike was just over 2 miles long and we worked up a sweat. The views were really cool and it’s convenient that the National Park is right by town. (Please note the sweat on my shirt…like, really?!)


For dinner we checked out a little Hibachi place that was delicious. I was happy to see that they had Terry Ho’s Yum Yum Sauce on the menu. Literally that’s the best.

DAY 3

We woke up and played 9 holes at Coronado, the short course. It was fun, but not much to it. It’s just par 3’s and par 4’s with no water and no bunkers. We both should have played better than we did.


It’s pretty hot here, so after we grabbed lunch, we just hung out until it was time to head back to Hot Springs for dinner. Nathan found a great little pizza place, Brick City Pizza, which ended up being a great hole-in-the-wall. Nathan got the Supreme and I got the Six Cheese with stuffed crust. Can you tell I love cheese?

After dinner we stopped at Fat Bottomed Girl Cupcakes, which was apparently featured on the Food Network’s Cupcake Wars. We got the strawberry cheesecake, vanilla bean and buttermilk cupcake. They were all delicious! Following that was the Maxwell Blade Magic Show. Honestly, he was fantastic! For $20 he performed about an hour and a half and was great. Very entertaining!

DAY 4

We woke up super early this morning to make our 7:45 am tee time at Magellan Golf Course. We really enjoyed this course, several beautiful holes and it was also in great shape!



For lunch we had a hot dog at the little restaurant at the course and I treated myself to a good ole’ root beer float.

After we napped and rested (it’s a hard life, I know) we played another friendly game of tennis. I lost 9 games to 5 but am definitely getting better.

DAY 5

We woke up at 4 am to do our guided fishing trip. We’ve both been looking forward to this and were ready to go! We met our guide at 5 am at a local McDonald’s and followed him to Lake Ouachita. This lake is massive and really pretty. Actually, parts of it reminded me of Chub Lake.


Y’all. We went all around the lake and nothing. I mean nothing. Not even one nibble. It was kinda’ insane.



After over 4 hours we decided to call it a day. I just couldn’t believe it, not one single bite, even with a radar. That’s just pitiful. Everything else on our trip has been amazing but this was definitely a huge bust. Oh well, at least I got some nice pics out of it. What really surprised me was at the end of the trip, our guide still wanted the full $400. I completely understand that we used his gas and his time, but to not even get ONE fish… give me a break. We just gave him $200, which honestly, I think was more than generous. If anything, just put a minnow on a hook and let us catch some bait fish, we’d have been happy with just that. (I’m curious what everyone else thinks – comment at the bottom of the blog and let me know how you’d handle that.)

On our way back we stopped for a picnic and hike in Hot Springs National Park.



Again, after napping, we headed back to Hot Springs for a Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre. Neither of us had any idea what to expect but it ended up being a blast! The dinner was a pretty good all-you-can-eat buffet (yes, we did eat all we could eat) and the show was really funny. It was called Murder at the Howard Johnson’s!

DAY 6

Our last day in Hot Springs Village – I can’t believe how fast this week went. This morning we played the Nina Course at Isabella. Originally we were going to play all 18 but it was so hot, 9 was all we could do.




One of the other cool amenities in “The Village” are its beaches. There are three beaches and we spent an hour or so at the Balboa Beach. We laid out, swam and jumped off the pier several times.


For dinner we had steaks at The Porterhouse and then went on a walking haunted tour in downtown. Not only was it fascinating to learn about the gangsters in Hot Springs, but we also learned about all the scary events that have led to all sorts of hauntings in the city.

FINAL THOUGHTS

What a trip! We didn’t have any idea what this week would bring us but it proved to be full of four things – Love, Laughter, Learning and Adventure. These are things that we’ll continue to experience together and that makes me really happy. We’d both highly recommend everything that we experienced above to anyone looking to go on a fun vacation. 😀

Peace out✌🏼 and we’d love to see some comments below if you’ve been to Hot Springs!

Skiing in Ruidoso, NM

Skiing in Ruidoso, NM

For this year’s second annual ski trip to Ruidoso, New Mexico, we stayed at Andrea’s house (a friend to Nathan’s parents). She has a wonderful home in the mountains that has a beautiful view. Below is the view from her back porch after a light snow. How gorgeous!

We couldn’t have asked for better weather. For our drive from Fort Worth to Ruidoso it was sunny and in the high 60s/low 70s, yet during our first night, it snowed.  Everywhere you go in this area, there are deer, wild turkeys and elk. Here is a herd of elk we saw one morning by the local elementary school.


We arrived on Saturday evening and had a late dinner at Rio Grande Bar & Grille. I had a loaded baked potato.

On Sunday we took it easy and ate lunch at the Inn of the Mountain Gods and then had dinner at the Texas Club.

Monday was our first day of skiing at Ski Apache and it was gorgeous driving up the mountain.


Wow – why am I so pale? I guess I need more sun in my life. The views driving up were so pretty, we were literally driving in and out of the clouds.


The drive up to Ski Apache is 12 miles long.


Tuesday was our second day skiing and it was awesome! The visibility was literally next to none. I think I’ll definitely frame the picture below on the ski lift.


This is only the second time I’ve gone skiing as an adult so I’m definitely a beginner. However, I think I’m doing pretty good. I stuck mostly with the greens but did end up going on two blues.


Nathan has about as much skiing experience as I do and he’s also doing awesome! We both think if we can come up here once a year and ski for a few days, that we’ll end up being really good.



After a morning on the slopes, we went with Nathan’s parents to the bowling alley. It was really fun because I have always had great memories at good ole’ Huntsville Lanes growing up.


Since Tuesday was also Valentine’s Day, Nathan and I ate dinner at The Ranchers Steak & Seafood. Nathan had the prime rib and I had the Alaskan king crab dish – which is my favorite meal! He helped me pick out some really beautiful opal earrings and necklace and I helped him pick out some new sunglasses.


On Wednesday morning we ate at The Log Cabin and I had the pecan waffle with a side of bacon. I’m on a big bacon kick right now. 🙂


After breakfast (we’ve eaten so well on this trip) we decided to go and play a little disc golf. Nathan is really good… while Gary and I are… well, we are still working on our game. Suzanne joined us for what ended up being quite the hike. The fact that none of us lost a single disc is pretty remarkable.




Thursday was our last day on the slopes and I went down two blue slopes, which means I’m definitely improving.




We got lucky again with the clouds on our way home, look below at how gorgeous the view was driving down the mountain. We were literally in the clouds.


Our last day was spent with Nathan’s parents while they house hunted for a vacation home and.. fingers crossed… they may have found one. I don’t want to say too much and jinx it, but it could be really awesome and the location is great!

On our drive home, we stopped at Aunt Shirley‘s house for an awesome breakfast – green chili quiche, cinnamon rolls, fruit and asparagus with a dill dipping sauce. Everything tasted so good and it’s always so wonderful when we get to stop and visit with her. She lives in Roswell, NM, home of the aliens. 


We had a wonderful vacation and I’m so thankful that Nathan’s parents let me tag along – such wonderful memories were created. Now back to reality!

Skiing in Ruidoso

Skiing in Ruidoso

Last week Nathan and I went on a week-long ski trip to Ruidoso, New Mexico with his parents. They rented a great 3-story cabin that had an awesome deck.

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Our first winter adventure was to Ruidoso Winter Park to go tubing.

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Nathan and Gary were brave and went on the fast runs while Suzanne and I stuck to the beginner ones. Needless to say, we were still scared.

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It was so much fun and a good ‘warm up’ to hitting the slopes.

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For our first real ski day (at Ski Apache) Nathan, Gary and I took a group ski lesson. We all decided that we didn’t know anything about skiing and would let a professional help us.

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After learning all of the tricks of the trade, we were ready to hit the slopes!

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Total, we skiied for 3 days. I’m hooked!

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Here I am zooming down the mountain… I wonder if I’ll be ready for the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.

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We also stopped at Lake Bonito one day.

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The weather was incredible. During the day it ranged from the 50ºs to high 60ºs. Nathan’s parents brought two of their dogs with them and we took Buster and Scout on several long walks.

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We had such a blast last week and I’m really looking forward to the next time I can hit the slopes!

An Austin Getaway

An Austin Getaway

While I worked for the Texas Golf Association/Legends Junior Tour, I was fortunate enough to meet some really special people and one of those was junior golfer James Ragan. James was a young man from Corpus Christi who played on our Junior Tour and when he was 13 was diagnosed with osteosarcoma. The five-year survival rate for this orphan of an orphan cancer is 20 percent. During his life James founded Triumph Over Kid Cancer and brought awareness to osteosarcoma, which it desperately needs. To date, TOKC has raised over $3 million for cancer research at MD Anderson. James’ family – his mom, dad and sister Mecklin – are unlike any family I’ve ever met. I don’t think I could ever write words to accurately describe this family. James lost his battle to cancer in February of 2014 but during his last year Geraldine Meadows and Jamila Rowell began filming a documentary about his life. It’s been several years in the making, but Until 20 had its world premiere at the Austin Film Festival. Mecklin was kind enough to invite me two of my old co-workers to the premiere. Since Nathan’s sister recently moved to Austin, we had been talking about going for a weekend anyway, so this ended up being a great time to take our trip to Austin.

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The premiere was full of a lot of emotions – for everyone. The Paramount Theater was packed and I’m sure everyone there had some special connection to James. Behind us in line was his 6th grade teacher and she pointed out several other of his teachers. Kellen and I also saw several other LJT golfers/alums who also grew close to James. Below is the trailer for Until 20. This film was incredibly well done and after the AFF, this will be showing at the Virginia Film Festival as well.

After dinner, Nathan and I walked next door to the Roaring Fork. OMG. Their food was amazing. The next day was our tourist day. Nathan went to the University of Texas so spent several years living in Austin and since I’ve only ever been to the city for work, I was really excited for him to show me around. We walked around campus…

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stumbled upon a small Halloween festival…

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And found a fun little food truck park.

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Nathan is a huge pasta man and more specifically he loves his beef stroganoff. We met his parents, Kate and Louis for dinner at Carmelo’s – which was ah-mazing! We had an awesome dinner and yes, I’m the weirdo that takes home everyone’s leftovers. So good!

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Sunday morning we had brunch by Kate’s place and then met her and Louis at the TMBBQ Fest. Y’all. You know I love to eat and even though I was already full from the previous couple of days, I powered through and ate several really good samples. We had a blast and couldn’t have asked for a nicer day.

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The past week was so busy for us – opening night of Kinky Boots in Fort Worth with my musical partner in crime Cat…

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a scary haunted house with his cousin Lee…

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a TCU game with Lee and his wife Blair…

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and a jam-packed weekend in Austin. Phew! I’m exhausted but can’t wait to go back!

Chub Lake, Northern Ontario, Canada

Chub Lake, Northern Ontario, Canada

We have a family cottage on Chub Lake in Northern Ontario, Canada. Nathan, Chloe and I took a trip to visit my grandma for a few days. Below are my favorite moments from the trip.

Our cottage started out as a one room fishing cottage and over the years the main cabin expanded to a kitchen, bathroom and two little bedrooms separated by curtains. About 13 years ago the guest cabin (which is Texas-themed) was built. Here you can see how thick the natural forest is surrounding our land. To the left you can see the guest cottage and it’s porch and to the right is the main cabin. Typically the Canadian flag is flown, but in honor of her guests, Grandma decided it would be appropriate to fly the Texas flag. Below that is a flag that has Michigan State on one side and the University of Michigan on the other. Our Michigan family is divided – half went to Michigan State and half to U of M.

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This is the living room in the main cottage. All across the top wall (only 9 are shown here) are masks that my grandparents collected over the years from their many travels. Grandma has been to over 100 different countries and this is just a small portion of her treasures. The comic strip to the right is probably my favorite decoration up here. My mom bought it many years on one of her trips abroad. A knight finds a naked woman tied up in a cave. He unties her, she thinks she’s being saved, he has his ‘way with her’ and then ties her back up and leaves. Hilarious.

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This is the guest cottage. Inside it there is a queen size bed, a small sitting area, closet and bathroom. In the bathroom is a special toilet called the Incinolet 5000. It’s great because it uses no water and basically burns your waste every day. At the end of the week you can dump out your ashes. They chose this type of toilet because the cottage was built on rocks and this made the most sense for plumbing.

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We have always loved The Peanuts Gang and when my mom was little, she painted the gang on the original woodshed. Every few years she would repaint them and then when I started going up there as a little girl, I would help touch up the images. When the old woodshed was torn down and this new one was built, my grandma mentioned to the builders how much she’d miss seeing these paintings. The builders surprised her by cutting them out and attaching them to the new wood shed. As silly as they may be, these paintings means so much to us.

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Chloe loves being at the cottage but she can be sneaky and fast, so when she is outside, she’s always on a string attached to a tree. I love her but can’t trust her.

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Several years ago my cousin Chris balanced these rocks and amazingly enough, they have lasted through the extreme temperature changes that Canada experiences.

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Our first night Nathan cooked steaks on the grill. He claims to not be much of a chef but these turned out great. I’m mostly meat-free but if I’m eating with others, it’s easier to go with the flow. I must say, it was fun to have a week filled with steak, bacon and sausage!

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Chloe is used to sleeping all day while I’m at work. When she’s at the cabin, she goes hiking, kayaking and fishing… so each evening she passed out. It was really quite cute. Her eyes would just get so heavy and she couldn’t stay awake to save her life. Plus, how cute are her little jammies?

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On our second day, it was a little rainy but we managed to make our way to Tom and Rita’s. Tom opens and closes the cabin for Grandma and does any and all of the maintenance needed when she is back in the States. Rita is his lovely wife and has the most amazing garden I’ve ever seen. They are so awesome and let us come pick vegetables. I’ve never met anyone as resourceful as them. They even make their own maple syrup and wine.

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We have 4 kayaks – two ocean kayaks and two kiwis (which are wider and shorter). Kayaking is one of my all-time favorite things to do, so we try to do as much as we can up here.

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Chub Lake apparently has quite a lot of fishing potential (Smallmouth Bass, Lake Trout, Walleye and Northern Pike), we didn’t have much luck this year.

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Across from our bay is a beautiful cottage owned by some of our cousins. Luckily, while we were up there we got to see T and two of his three sons Ryan and Zach. It has been years since I’ve seen them and probably 20 years since we’ve been in Canada at the same time. We had an awesome little family reunion!

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After some unsuccessful fishing on our dock, Nathan decided to try fishing more in the middle of the lake in a kayak. I love this picture, he’s so determined here.

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Chloe is my little co-captain and loves being on the edge of the kayak. She always wears a little life jacket and so she doesn’t swim in the wrong direction, I attach a string to her jacket so when she falls in, I can reel her back to me.

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Our third day was absolutely gorgeous so we hiked up to Rock Candy Mountain. It’s located on Cummings Lake.

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Here’s our view from the top of Rock Candy Mountain.

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More kayaking. When we kayaked with the Woods boys we went down to Little Chub. If you go to the other end of Chub Lake you can go through a small tunnel to Jobamageeshig – Jobam for short.

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We don’t have cable up there so really rely on old cassette tapes and the Canadian NPR station. Aside from nights listening to Burl Ives and You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown, we always loved listening to Roy Clarks’ Greatest Hits. It’s hard to choose a favorite Roy Clark song, because they are all so good, but my vote goes to “I Never Picked Cotton”.

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In 1960, Barbie’s Queen of the Prom board game came out and my mom had to have it. Somehow it ended up at the cabin and it’s been a staple ever since. We always play it once while we are up there and while Nathan may have been hesitant at first, I think he really enjoyed it. It’s a race to see who can get Prom Queen first, but before you can go to the Prom, you have to get a boyfriend, buy a dress and become the president of a school club. Nathan actually ended up winning and becoming the Prom Queen. He was the President of the Athletic Club, bought the $40 “Let’s Dance” dress and took Tom as his date!

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The sunsets are quite beautiful from our property. Every evening is filled with listening to the loons call on the lake. If you’ve never heard a loon, here’s an example.

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Mornings are typically filled with coffee and the Canadian NPR station. My grandma’s love for NPR was passed down to me – it’s about all I listen to now. The lighting this morning was really beautiful, so I figured it’d be okay to snap a picture of myself… yes.. a selfie.

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After breakfast on our last day there, grandma and I took Nathan to the rocks on the Little White River. I have a lot of fond memories of playing on the rocks when I was little.

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I was pretty excited to come here and test out my new ND3 filter. This was shot with my Canon 5D Mark II at an f22, 100ISO and for 30 seconds.

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We ended our final day with another loop around the lake. I can’t think of a better and more relaxing way to end this quick trip.

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I love this shot of Grandma. She’s incredible. 87 years young and still gets in a kayak (on her own) and cruises to the middle of the lake. She’s my hero and I’m blessed to have her in my life.

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Just in case you want even more, here’s a more in-depth look into our trip. Enjoy.

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