Lucky and Humbled

This Memorial Day will be remembered as Memory Day.  From the moment I woke up until the moment I'm about to fall asleep, today has been about action, adventure, romance, relaxation and family. It started by cycling nearly two loops of the Amgen Tour of California eighth stage with my buddy Frank.  This photo was taken atop the Rock Store climb the second time around.  Smile, Frank, smile.

As you can surmise, it was hot.  And as Frank observed after our ride, which featured nearly 5,000 feet of climbing in just over three hours, I'm going to need to learn to drink more fluids even if I'm not thirsty.  Duly noted.

Following the ride, Stephanie met us for lunch.  I got to enjoy a brick of a different kind today -- a bike and hike.  Steph and I went to a place called Escondido Falls in Malibu, just off PCH and Winding Way.  The hike is about a 2.5 hour out-and-back to two sets of waterfalls. The photo here is at the upper Escondido Falls, about 150-200 feet straight up from the lower falls.

While the lower trails are a moderate walking hike, if you're feeling adventurous like we were, you'll want to go to the extra level for the better view.  Of course, it'll cost you clean clothes, or anything clean, and it may cost you your body as it almost did with Steph.

While the rock climbing and scramping around was filled with laughter going up, things got a little tense on the way to the base as Steph lost her footing and slid down some loose dirt (that I triggered, doh!) into the creek bed.  Fortunately, she landed just right, on some twigs, that prevented her from hitting any rocks or bouncing into the lake.  In fact, she ended up laughing hysterically about the whole thing immediately after it happened.  That was a huge relief!  Especially since I was still atop several boulders, wondering what the heck just happened.

These are the kind of boulders you can expect to encounter in that intense little climb, just stacked on top of each other.  There's even one part where you need a rope to propel yourself forward to the next stretch of terrain.

After our brush with adventure, Steph and I met my parents for dinner after visiting my grandmother.  I'm having a really great time watching my folks and Steph bond. This is exactly the kind of family dynamic I had always hoped for and it's slowly but surely unfolding before my eyes.  I marvel at it and bask in it all at the same time.

Now as I wrap up this blog post I just am lucky enough to have a quiet moment once again to realize how lucky I am. I'm lucky to have my health to enjoy a gorgeous bike ride with a good friend. I'm lucky to have the time to be able to plan a leisurely day of fun that suits my personality and my lifestyle.  I'm lucky to be with a fantastic lady when there were so many hurdles placed in our path (some by me!). I'm lucky she wasn't hurt today (and so is she!).  I'm lucky to have such a fantastic, warm and wise family that makes me a better person.

And I feel lucky to have my freedom and to never have seen war.  I thought about that today seeing the contingent of war planes and bombers flying in formation overhead.  I thought about that when my hands and body were covered in dirt and grime.  I got to go home and shower and clean myself off.  There are many men and women out there all over the world tonight who are toughing it out on our behalf.  I am in awe of them and humbled at the same time.

Despite my incredibly good fortune, I will be thinking about them when I drift off to sleep tonight.

170 days and counting.