Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Looking Back on February

February was an amazing month, it started off wonderful and ended the same. It's been such a long time since I have been able to say something such as that. Sure, there were plenty of bumps in the road and difficult times, but so much was learned and many unexpected experiences were lived. I wrote about the WWP Caregiver Retreat that I was blessed to attend and the impact it made in my life, but I have not yet shared the latest trip I was on - I was simply blessed to attend the USO Caregivers Conference in San Diego, CA on February 25. This was an unexpected trip for me and it was one that I am still trying to process and that will play a part in my life from here on out.

Early on February 24th, I "fearfully" headed to Hartsfield International Airport in Atlanta to start by short, but amazing journey. Fearfully because I HATED flying, especially being that the only time I had flown before this was from Atlanta to Frankfurt, Germany; which is a bit crazy as first flights. This time, however, I was flying solo - no husband and no kids. To my surprise my flights were actually pretty good and a bit relaxing for the most part! There was a bit of turbulence on the way to San Diego as we flew over El Paso and then on the return flight home from Vegas we hit quite a bit of turbulence that had me uneasy for a few minutes. On the way to San Diego, I had a connecting flight in Houston, TX then on the home we connected in Vegas. All in all, the flying and connections were actually kind of fun!

I arrived to the Atlanta airport a few hours before my boarding time and being that I had free time I was able to meet up with a long time friend of ours, Jason. It was so good to see him and made me miss hanging out with him and his wife, Heather even more. It's so good to still have friends after so many years and experiences in life.

After hours of flying, I arrived in San Diego a little after 4pm. I met up with someone from the USO and another fellow caregiver at the airport and together we headed to Camp Pendleton. San Diego is a beautiful city - well, from what I could see between landing and our drive. It is definitely a city that I would love to return to and actually spend time sight seeing. We arrived and checked into our rooms right as the sun was beginning to set. To those of you who don't know me real well, one of the things on my Bucket List was to see the sun set on the west coast...this trip enabled me to complete this. The sunset was beautiful, a bit magical. My room faced the Pacific Ocean and was an amazing view. Following the sunset and some downtime to collect ourselves, we all met in the lobby to go out for dinner. Once dinner was over, we made it back to the hotel around 9 and I believe most of us headed to our rooms and crashed for the night.

Early Monday morning, February 25, 2013 we all headed to the opposite side of Camp Pendleton to begin our day with the USO Caregivers Conference, which was above and beyond outstanding. I highly recommend all caregivers to attend a conference if given the opportunity. I won't go into a ton of details on this post since I already posted a pretty detailed post a couple weeks ago. Honestly, I started this post last month and thought that I completed and published it. Obviously, my thought process was not accurate and I am now trying to catch back up! To read more about the actual conference, click HERE. I still feel incredibly blessed that I was fortunate enough to attend this conference and to meet the people I met! Absolutely amazing experience with fantastic bonds that were formed! Connecting with people is the key to so many things in life, especially when connecting with individuals that get us and our lives!

Following our day, we all headed back to the hotel for some downtime...or in mine and Monique's case, a walk to the Exchange, which was down hill from the hotel. How neither of us slid down this hill is a bit of a mystery. We enjoyed our afternoon and the warm, sunny California weather. We did take some time to ourselves after our trip out before dinner. Dinner was spent with a nice group of people, and many conversations at our table of seven. I thoroughly enjoyed the people I sat with and chatted with.

Once we were back to the hotel, Monique and I talked to Kristen who happily took us to Oceanside Beach for a few minutes! This trip was for me to dip my toes in the icy cold Pacific Ocean and walk on sand that literally felt like ice! It was so cold, yet such an awesome experience for me! This was the first time I had ever been able to step foot in the Pacific Ocean! The furthest west I have been is the eastern side of New Mexico!
Beautiful way to start my morning!!!

Monique and I with Elmo at the Conference

Oceanside Beach, CA - My FIRST time ever at the Pacific Ocean!

Following an exciting evening, Monique and I said our goodbyes in the lobby and each headed back to our rooms. It was time to pack and get ready for bed. The following morning I met a group in the lobby at 5am so we could head to the airport in San Diego. Our few days there had sadly come to an end.

This trip is one that will stick with me from here on out for so many reasons. I was able to mark things off of my bucket list; flying from the east to the west coast, seeing the sun set on the Pacific (beautiful), see San Diego (even if it was to land and take off), visit California, walk on the Pacific beach and dip my toes in the cold water, see the Grand Canyon (okay, so we flew over it. I was still able to see it, which is what counts!), and to make more connections that I will always carry with me in life. February changed so many things about me and my life that I am still trying to process it and take it all in. I feel as though a weight has been lifted off and that I can breathe again.

Thank you to all in Tampa, FL and San Diego, CA for making such a positive impact in my life! I can only hope and pray that I can leave people with a better outlook in life and a reason to never give up in life!
Until next time, San Diego...
Flying over the Grand Canyon was a picture perfect site
Leaving Vegas, flying over states, and landing in Atlanta... Home for this southern girl!

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