I’m An Official Polar Plunger!

What an incredible experience!!!!  Friday night I did my first ever polar bear plunge and I think I might be hooked!  The event raised over $41K for Special Olympics Montana.

I checked in about an hour before the event, so I could have plenty of time to warm up and get changed into my costume.  If you’re crazy enough to plunge, you should dress the part.  There were so many cute costumes…Duck Dynasty, Cindy Lou Who, pirates, Santa, the list goes on and on.  The winner of the costume contest, however, was a team of nursing students called Public Enema #1.

My team (The Copsickles) were up first.  I left the warm building to wait in a heated tent.  My plunging partner kicked off the event by giving a short speech (too cold for a long one) and some introductions.  I had planned to wait in the tent until the speech was over, but was rushed onto the platform in that -26°F air. They didn’t want any lag time between the speech and the jump.  If my costume was a little silly on its own, it looked outright ridiculous standing on a platform with a bunch of cops in uniform!

Waiting To Take The Plunge

Waiting To Take The Plunge (Photo by Jennifer Gooldy)

The first two sets of Copsickles made the plunge.  Then it was our turn.  We stepped onto the ledge of the pool.  Three, Two, One.  I flung my hands in the air and kicked my feet up as I plunged into that ice-cold water.  I will never forget that sound or the feel of that icy water completely swallowing me.  I quickly swam to the surface losing a shoe along the way and made my way to the other end to exit.  I grabbed the ladder and immediately let go.  A thick layer of ice had completely coated the ladder.  I lost my other shoe.  A man on the platform reached out his hand for me.  The next thing I remember I was standing next to a hot tub frantically looking for stairs that weren’t there.  I contemplated just diving in head first, my head was already wet after all.  I decided against that and just put aside all lady-likeness for a moment and kind of rolled into the hot tub.  You can see a video of a few of the jumps here.  I am in the second to last set of jumpers on the video.  Oh, and I’m totally creeping in the background at the beginning.

Jump!

Jump! (Photo by Jennifer Gooldy)

The only thing I can compare the rush of a polar bear plunge to is my first time sky diving, jumping from safety into the unknown with life threatening consequences if something went wrong.  It was exciting.  It was exhilarating.  It was something I definitely want to do again.

I made so many great friends at the event, but some of my favorites have to be athlete John and his adorable girlfriend Katie.  John earned the Golden Plunger award for raising the most money.  He raised over $7K all by himself!  Katie just gushed over him.  She leaned in close as if to share a secret with me and told me she was the luckiest girl in the whole world.  How can you not love people like her, so full of joy!

Post Plunge with Katie and John

Post Plunge with Katie and John

Freezin For A Reason

It’s official! I’m taking the plunge tonight, the polar bear plunge! I’m so thankful for all my friends & family who have supported me! We’ve raised almost $300 in 24hrs for Special Olympics Montana! I’m super excited to be making the jump, but equally excited to be supporting such a great cause. I’ve been involved with Special Olympics for most of my life & it’s always held a special place in my heart.

So let’s get to the logistics of the jump. They are expecting temperatures to drop down to -26 tonight! Don’t worry though! There will be rescue divers in the water and EMTs on site. Immediately after the jump we get into a hot tub to warm up.

I’m on the local law enforcement team, The Copsickles. Since they are one of the major sponsors of the event we will be some of the first to jump. I love that, because it just means more time in the hot tub for me!

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Should I Take The Plunge?

Just when I thought the adventure on this trip was winding down, tonight I was presented with the opportunity to do a polar bear plunge this weekend! Why on earth would this Florida girl jump into freezing cold water when it’s -20 out? The event is to raise money for the Special Olympics, but also why not! I’ll keep you posted if I raise enough money tomorrow to jump!  If you are interested in donating, you can do so here.

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Parade of Lights

Oh how I love small town events!  I was recently in Chinook, MT for their parade of lights.  First thing in the morning I met some new friends at the old sugar beet factory to work on one of the floats.  Christmas music was playing, people were giggling, and power tools were buzzing.  The framework was completed earlier by the same guys who made the homestead float for the wild west parade.  Three hours and two warm up in the car sessions later (I may be a Montana girl at heart, but my body quickly reminded me I live in Florida now), we stood back to admire the twinkling lights of the float.

Now that the float was done, it was time to wonder Main Street and mingle with all the wonderful vendors.  They were selling everything from local food to handmade jewelry to Christmas wreaths.  Of course there were several guns being raffled as well.  It is Montana after all!

Chinook Christmas Stroll

Chinook Christmas Stroll

Waiting for the parade to start, I checked out the festival of trees.  My mom and aunt donated a decorated “chicken” tree including several dozen fresh eggs from their chickens.  All proceeds from the event went to the local volunteer fire department and PAWS.

The Chicken Tree

The Chicken Tree

The main event of the day was the parade.  The floats included everything from local business promotions to teasing a local for turning 50.  I patiently waited for the float I helped with to come by.  It was almost the very last in the parade.  The theme of the float was “join the church crowd” so it stopped at each corner where people would jump on the float or walk alongside it handing out glow bracelets to the kids.  I loved that this church used the parade as an outreach opportunity!

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Join The Church Crowd

Join The Church Crowd

On The Float

On The Float

Home For The Wild West Holidays

I got a call from my mom and my aunt and adventure is in the air!  The three of us feed off each other and you never know what might happen (remember our silliness in Glacier Park this summer?).  It started out a somewhat normal conversation…we’re listening to Christmas music on our road trip, so of course we thought of you.  Somehow that turned into the three of us planning a flash mob during their small town parade of lights next month!

Let’s backup a minute and figure out how we got here.  Last month they helped organize the Wild West Days in Chinook, MT.  They helped with the stick horse parade, the can-can contest, and even got involved in the Miss Kitty look alike event.  We are not sit on the sidelines kind of people!

Chinook, MT Wild West Days

Chinook, MT Wild West Days

Bandits taking over the Wild West parade

Bandits taking over the Wild West parade

Guess which Miss Kitties are my mom and aunt!

Guess which Miss Kitties are my mom and my aunt!

In addition to running different events, they also entered the 1st place float!  My uncle and family friend built the float to honor the centennial of our family homestead.  My grandma played beauty queen and waved to crowd.  A couple of the dogs and chickens even rode the float for authenticity!

The guys and their prize winning float!

The guys and their prize winning float!

My grandma playing beauty queen on her family homestead float

My grandma playing beauty queen on her family homestead float and yes that’s Sponge Bob in the window!

The chickens even made it on the float!

The chickens even made it on the float!

Since they now have a reputation as master float builders, their church asked them to be in charge of the float for the annual parade of lights.  I remember going to the parade as a little girl all bundled up, mesmerized by the lights. We talked about different ideas for the float including a surprise flash mob.  I LOVE Christmas and music and lights and flash mobs, so I don’t think I’ll be able to sit this one out!  I’m already listening to Christmas music looking at plane tickets!  Hopefully I’ll be able to scratch off a few items on my Montana bucket list while I’m there!

A Dreamy Afternoon

I had a blast last weekend with my sweet friend from www.diaryofafrancophone.com!  I played DJ as we took the scenic drive along 30A between Destin and Panama City Beach, FL.  We sang along to The Beach Boys and Taylor Swift and everything in between.  There is just something about road tripping with your girls that can turn any grown woman into an goofy teenager full of hope and excitement.

There are so many little treasures to be found on the back roads and this one did not disappoint!  There are several adorable beach communities that dot the road, each with their own charm and personality.

Entrance to Alys Beach

Entrance to Alys Beach

Inside one of the towers at Alys Beach

Inside one of the towers at Alys Beach

All that singing on the drive made us hungry, so we were on the hunt for a great lunch spot.  We had heard of this place called Grayt Grounds of Monet Monet and decided to check it out.  I searched for it in my GPS and burst out giggling when the results came in.  One day and 19 hours!  What!!! I don’t think we are going to make it back to work in time!

We did find Grayt Grounds to be only about 15 minutes from where we were.  We both fell in love with it and can’t wait to go back!  The food was phenomenal and the garden was magical.  There were hidden surprises everywhere you looked and it just begged to be explored.  The property is inspired by Claude Monet’s property in France.

Garden at Monet Monet

Garden at Monet Monet

I don't why I thought the face this lion was making was hilarious, but I did

I don’t why I thought the face this lion was making was hilarious, but I did

We made our way back to Seaside and stumbled upon the Seaside Plein Air Artists Colony Invitational (www.pleinairseaside.com).  It was so fun strolling through the peaceful grounds watching artists capture the moment so gracefully!  My favorite artist participating is JJ Zanetta.  Go check out his work at www.zanettaillustration.com!  His paintings of Pittsburg are my favorite, so full of passion and life.

For me, the best part of the day was connecting with some incredible people.  I don’t know how often this happens to you, but we had three people randomly open up to us and share their dreams and aspirations.  It was so fun getting excited with them and encouraging them in any way we could.

I think sometimes we forget that our dreams aren’t just about us.  We have gifts and talents so that we can bless others, not to make us feel better about our shortcomings.  Using your gifts is a responsibility, not just an opportunity.  And, I’m not just saying that because our first new friend plans to open a restaurant featuring local ingredients. 😉   Our other new friends shared with us their artistic aspirations!  I can’t wait to see all of their dreams come to life!  What’s that dream you’ve been afraid of pursuing?

What The Hay!

Montana

Yesterday after church, some family members and I piled into a couple cars and took the scenic drive from Great Falls to the Utica/Hobson area for the annual What The Hay contest (see www.montanabaletrail.com  for additional info). Contestants used a lot of straw, spray paint, and imagination to come up with some very creative sculptures.  As we drove the 22 mile loop from Windham to Utica to Hobson, there was much chatter in the car about which display was our favorite.  Below are a few of my favorites.  Which one is your favorite?

Wizard of Straws

Wizard of Straws

Year Of The Farmer

So God Made a Farmer

Hay 1 Steak Sauce

Hay 1 Steak Sauce

Mike and Sulhay

Mike and Sul-hay

Despic-hay-ble Me 2

Despic-hay-ble Me 2 – I about jumped out of the car when I saw these guys!

Rudolph and Friends

Yukon Corn-hay-lious, Herm-hay the elf and friends

Smart Hay Pants

Smart-hay Pants

Snoop-hay

Snoop-hay

Tow M-hay-tor

Tow M-hay-tor