Monday, July 9, 2012

Spencer's High Adventure in the Florida Keys

The first few moments after telling Spencer that he had leukemia were among the most horrible of our lives.  We had no idea what his reaction to the news would be and so we just sat there, with prayers in our hearts, waiting as Spencer digested the news that life as he knew it would never be quite the same.    In our naivete on carrying out these types of conversations, we had braced ourselves for dramatics on Spencer's end.   Truer to his personality though,  instead we were met with several minutes of stunned, yet restless silence as he processed what we'd just told him.

He laid on our bed.  Got up again.  Paced.  Laid back down.  Paced some more.  All without saying a word.   

When he finally spoke, he immediately started grilling us with questions.   How long will I be in the hospital?  When do we leave?  What should I pack?  What about school?  Shortly after these practical questions, he  started asking about his summer plans, particularly about whether he'd still be able to participate with his boy scout troop's scheduled trip to the Florida Keys for a high adventure scuba diving at Sea Base. 

Our answer to almost all of his questions was that we had no idea. 

 He continued asking about the Sea Base trip frequently during his treatment, but even once we knew more information about his  expected course of treatment, we still had no idea about whether he'd be well enough to go.   It wasn't really until we had decided not to proceed with the bone marrow transplant that going on the trip became a very likely possibility and from that point forward I believe that his desire to go on this trip became one of the lights at the end of the tunnel that he clung to during his darkest days.  

When we got to the end of his treatment a mere three weeks before they were going to leave we were a tad nervous that he might not be strong enough to go.  We were thrilled, however, when his doctors gave him the go-ahead for the trip, albeit with the caveats to stay away from sick people, use tons of sunblock, and absolutely no scuba diving.   (They were worried about how the pressure changes of scuba diving would affect his possibly chemo-weakened heart).  Even with the caveats though, there was no lack of enthusiasm on Spencer's part as they departed early in the morning on June 26th.    There were 23 scouts and leaders that went along for the adventure, most of whom did a whole lot of snoozing for most of the trip (not Glen though, since he was driving).    They drove right through the torrents of rain that accompanied Tropical Storm Debbie on their way down, but luckily it had already passed through the Keys before they'd arrived. 

Here is Spence with Glen and his best friend, Ryan, in  Homestead, Florida where they'd stopped for lunch at a Golden Corral.  Apparently he was a tad hungry when he got there, because he  bragged about he and his friends were going to put this Golden Corral out of business.    (In case you're wondering, he's been gaining weight at a steady pace ever since he's been home). 

After arriving at their final destination, a condo in Islamorada in the Keys, it didn't take long before the boys were busy with their activities.  Since Spence couldn't scuba dive, he and Glen usually ended up fishing while the other boys were scubaing.  Here is Spencer with his one and only fish from their first day of fishing. It was a redfish, which Glen proclaims to be a very beautiful fish, personally I think it just looks a little slimy.  The guide said that the fishing was very poor that day because of Tropical Storm Debbie which had just passed there shortly before the boys' arrival. 

One of their nightly rituals during their 10-day trip was watching the sun set over the Islamorada. 

They spent one afternoon in Key West (about 70 miles from Sea Base), where they saw some street performers (an acrobat using hula hoops).  Despite their unimpressed demeanors, Glen said that they were actually pretty entertaining. 

One of the days while the other boys were scuba diving, Spence and Glen rented some jet skis for the day.  They jet skied out to 3 different reefs, where they snorkeled and saw some awesome sea life, including sting rays, coral, sea conchs, urchins, and tons of different fishes.   Spencer proclaimed jet skiing to be "the single most fun thing he'd ever done in his entire life."

On Sunday all 23 of them attended  church at the very tiny Marathon Branch in Marathon, Florida where their presence more than doubled the size of the congregation.  Glen and Spencer taught the combined Priesthood and Relief Society meeting during which they shared about some of their experiences over the last several months. 

Later on they performed a desperately needed service project at Bahia Honda State Park where they cleaned up the beach and adjacent wooded area. 

They got up at the crack of dawn this day and got to watch the sun rise over the Atlantic Ocean, while they went out for another day of deep sea fishing. 

The effects of the Tropical Storm seemed to have passed and this day turned out to be a much more successful day of fishing than the first day had been.  Here they are with one of many fish they caught that that day (both of these are yellow tail snappers, which later were eaten for dinner). 

The captain let Spencer take a turn at the wheel of the 52-foot fishing boat. Since everyone lived to tell the tale,  we will call his first foray into boat captaincy a success.   

Glen was very proud of this mahi mahi he caught.

After they returned to shore they posed for this picture in front of the fishing boat with a sampling of the fish they caught hanging behind them.  In case you couldn't tell based on the numbers of pictures they took, I have to say that they were pretty darn proud of their fishing exploits! 

And they were even prouder when they discovered that they caught enough fish to feed 15 people at Lazy Days Restaurant where you bring the fish and they cook it up right there for you!   Glen and Spencer liked it crusted in coconut and declared it the darn tastiest fish they'd ever eaten in their lives. 

*Okay this post is getting realllllllllllllllllllllly long and I'm tired, so I'm going to take a little lesson brevity from the great William Shakespeare and you're getting the abbreviated version of this trip from here on out.*

On way to Doughnut Hole Reef to snorkel. yay.

Spencer  and snorkeling gear

Snorkeling in Alligator Reef...


sergeant majors...pretty! 

gray angelfish...boring!

Parrot fish...HUGE!

peaceful moment
10 days long time.  Missed my boys.  Happy they're home.  Spencer happy.  Had great time. 

Now I do lots and lots of laundry. 

The end. 


"...since brevity is the soul of wit,
And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,
I will be brief{er next time}."

~William Shakespeare / Lara


Chelsey said...

Love this! Continue to think of you!

Deon said...

This makes me so very happy for Spencer and for your family. You are all truly inspiring. Prayers for his continued fabulousness, and for yours.

shannon said...

So great seeing Spencer having fun, and doing normal teenage things! He looks great!

Annette said...

FUN! Our ward's Scouts did Sea Base a couple of years ago. Not as long as a drive as you had.

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