{Fist Pump Friday!}

Friday, July 29, 2011

To kick off this week's FPF hammock challenge photos we have Greg McEvilly, the inventor of KAMMOK, a low cost bedding solution for orphans in developing countries. Greg threw double fist pumps for the overwhelming support him and his team have received on Kickstarter.

Next meet Cassie, her daughter Alaire, and Cassie's very own twinner, Emmy. Bonus points for being  wombmates and for participating in this week's FPF challenge!

In carrying on with our twinner and hammock theme I bet most of you will recognize this cutie. Meet my very own twin sister, Sarah, aka "Sarah Eloise Latoya Rainbow Richmond." She's kind of the shiz.

Next meet Elizabeth from Kirkwood, MO who threw fist pumps in her hammock last night in honor of this week's challenge. Bonus points for night slinging underneath the stars!

Next meet Rebecca and her mom who took a recent trip to Tanzania. They threw fist pumps and leg kicks in the middle of the Serengeti in honor of being in Africa and the incredible wildlife they saw.

Our next photo is of Bianca, Rachel, Amanda, and Becca from Dallas who got to watch the sunrise at the top of the Halekala volcano in Maui. Fist pumps and leg kicks for dear friends with Marriot rewards points that allow you to stay FREE for a week in one of the most beautiful places on Earth!

Next meet Chelle and 50 of her students from Toluca, Mexico who recently stayed at UNT while participating in a project-based English learning program. Hope you enjoyed your stay in Texas!

Our next photo is of Kasa (Southern Nazarene grad) and Jessica (senior at Auburn) who threw fist pumps and leg kicks while working at Pine Cove Woods this summer. Bonus points for rockin that McKeaigg shirt.



Next meet my sweet friends Merritt and Todd who threw fist pumps after moving to Boulder last weekend. Below are a group of friends who showed up with dinner and muscles to help unload their U-Haul!

(Pretty sure these Homies sweated through the 80's with Richard Simmons).



Next meet Mary-Elizabeth (Junior at Auburn), Sarah (Senior at Texas Tech), Rachel (Junior at Texas A&M), and Lisa Callie (Senior at Texas A&M) who threw fist pumps and leg kicks after hiking in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. They've been spending their summer working with Buckner International Missions.



Our next photo is of Kelsey (Belmont University), Rachel (California State University), Elise (Winthrop University), and Camille (Auburn) who threw fist pumps and leg kicks on the last day of their internship in Greece. Talk about an incredible opportunity to see the world!



Next meet Megan and her family from Pensacola, FL who threw fist pumps for rainy days with friends.  Can't think of a better way to spend the afternoon than playing in the rain.

Lastly, meet my sweet friend Madeline (UVA grad) and her team of 6 students from Students of the World who spent time in teaching refugee kids in the West Bank. Way to get your Master's degree, Little!

This week's FPF mission: take a photo of you and your homies throwing fist pumps and leg kicks while riding your bici's. Bonus points for baskets and bells! (Of course all other entries will be accepted). Email photos to em{at}todaysletters{dot}com ... it's just that simple.

{One Day on Earth Movie Trailer}

Thursday, July 28, 2011



This film is going to be amazing. Mark. my. words.

{Today's Letters}

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Today's Letters: Dear Mr. Loerke, sometimes when you get out of bed in the morning you shout, "I did it!" Thanks for reminding me that even some of the smallest accomplishments are worth celebrating. Dear Weekend, this Friday will be my first day off since March that I don't have "paddling" written down on my calendar. (Insert major kayaking withdrawal here). Dear Coava Coffee, whenever Husband gets to the bottom of your bag he lets out a little whimper. True story. Dear Husband, love you more than sleeping in, achy shoulders after paddling at the lake, and morning coffee in the French press. Over and out.

What are your favorite beans? Tim could drink his weight in Sightglass, Coava, and Verve Coffee.

{Today's Letters}

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Today's Letters: Dear Mr. Loerke, last night you washed the dishes in exchange for one of my Magnum Bars. The things men will do for food ... Dear Gandhi, you once said, "Satisfaction does not come with achievement, but with effort. Full effort is full victory." Thank you for reminding me of this truth as I reflect on the KAW100. Dear Thanksgiving Feast, you are only 121 days away. That's all. Dear Husband, while driving home from Kansas City you helped rescue a 2 yr old girl out of a car that had flipped upside down in the median. Your bravery, selflessness, and courage constantly amazes me. Over and out.

What is one of your favorite quotes?

{Videos You Could Eat}

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

I didn't know food videos could be so sexy.



Beet cake by Tiger in a Jar.



Ribboned Asparagus Salad by Kinfolk.

{KAW100 Race Recap}

Monday, July 25, 2011

Hey Homies! Thank you so much for your patience these past few days as we've been adjusting to being back in Dallas from our race. The KAW100 was quite an adventure to say the least! 

Last Wednesday Tim and I packed up the car and drove to Wichita to spend the evening with my oldest sister, Jen, and her family. Breaking up our 9 hour drive was such a blessing, especially since we got to spend time at the pool.

Tim tried to teach my nephew Jack how to hold his breath under water.  This was as close as he got.

Remember when I told you that Mr. Loerke likes to perform tricks before leaving the pool? Well, I wasn't kidding. Reason #327 why you can never take the boy out of the man.

The next morning we drove to Lawrence to meet up with my Papa and youngest brother Campbell. Pretty sure we filled up the Exploder 7 times on this trip.

For lunch we decided to stop at Yello Sub. I had been craving their creamy turkey for a month!

Afterwards we drove the race route in reverse to Manhattan so we could be familiar with all of the checkpoints. This is the Topeka Coffer Dam.

My Papa showed me how to successfully portage the dam to avoid all possibilities of paddling too close to the power plant. 



After checking out the boat ramps in Wamego, Maple Hill, Topeka, and Lecompton we decided to stop at Kreem Kup for some shakes.

Have you ever eaten here before? Holy 50's AWESOMENESS, Batman. 


Once in Manhattan we decided it was time to pimp the Exploder with some shoe polish. After all, Branch Burress McKeaigg is kind of a big deal.

After attending our race safety meeting on Friday we unloaded the boat at the starting ramp.


My dad and Tim went over our check list. I couldn't have asked for a better ground crew!

They set up my bow lights.

And rigged my GoPro's, GPS, and prepared my food / water.

While waiting at the start we got to meet Tim's 5th cousins who paddled 61mi of the KAW100 in their homemade wooden pirough. Talk about a tough group of men!

I also got the chance to meet my paddling hero Kaity Pfefferkorn. She paddled with Di McHenry and ended up coming in first for women's tandem. So proud of you, Little!

Then guess who showed up?! TEAM McKEAIGG!


Everyone was so excited to meet and hold Branch. Seeing him made everything about the last 6 months seem worth it.



Eventually it was time to get in the water and wait for the start.



I knew when I left the ramp that even if I didn't finish I had already won.




So much about the last six months has been a growing experience filled with unexpected turns and obstacles. Seeing my friends and family at the start was something I'll always remember.



Finally, they blew the canon and we were off!

I felt strong and was determined to make it to Wamego before dark.



Pictured here is Karen Exon, age 58, who ended up placing first in women's solo. Talk about a machine.



The first 20 miles were filled with sunshine and lots of friendly bantering back and forth between paddlers.

I sipped water every 5-10 minutes and felt surprisingly cool in the 102° heat.



I also drank a mixture of Spiz every 3-4 hours which was packed with 1,400 calories to keep me going. When you paddle you burn about 625 calories per hour, so it's imperative to keep your belly full.

At 8:47pm I made it to Wamego where Tim and my dad switched out my water, Spiz, and food bag.

By 8:55pm I was headed out to paddle the next 20 mi stretch to Maple Hill. Physically I felt great but mentally I was anxious about being on the river at night. I had never paddled in the dark before, let alone on a river that was 1 ft deep in some places and filled with sandbars, concrete, and rebar.

If it weren't for Kent & Kevin I'm convinced I'd still be stuck out on a sandbar somewhere. We paddled together for close to 5 hours and Kent pulled me out of at least 20 or more sandbars. They were the wind beneath my wings.


Around 2:30am we finally made it to Maple Hill. This was where I decided to bow out of the race. I was in 2nd place, but I didn't think it was worth pushing myself for another 5 hours at the risk of ruining the borrowed boat I was paddling, or even injuring myself. Sometimes you just have to know when to fold.



The next morning Kent, Em, Tim and I went to welcome in all the finishers. Out of 114 boats only 79 finished. The KAW100 has since been appropriately named the "Devil's Waterpark" after all of the people (and boats) it destroyed. Some estimate $20,000 worth of ripped hulls and gashed yaks.


After paddling 42 miles I have so much respect for anyone who attempted this race. My buddy West came in 1st place finishing the entire race in just 15 hrs and 4 minutes. It almost ate him alive, but he did it and we couldn't be more proud of him!


Tim's mom and youngest sister Becka drove all the way from Tulsa to be there for the finish. I couldn't have felt more loved.



It's crazy to think this adventure all began with an idea to enter a kayak race to help raise money for our friend's adoption. Six months ago Em and I couldn't even tell you the difference between a single and double blade paddle. Now Kent & Em now have their adoption fees paid in full and a baby to boot. What an incredible gift.

Some of you have asked if I will continue paddling now that the race is over. The answer is YES! I have grown to love it and plan on participating in more races once I get my own boat.

Thanks again to our many wonderful sponsors. Without you none of this would have been possible. And fist pumps and leg kicks to the paddling community who made this "DNF novice" feel like she had crossed the finish line. Ya'll are top notch.

Over and out,
Em
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