I’ve been so busy, I haven’t had time to write this down for you all, but I want to put this into writing so other people can read it and know that they can do it too. Everyone, you can go on a vacation. Even if you think you aren’t ready (like I did a little), you can go on a vacation. Remember this thread, I started: http://www.tmswiki.org/forum/threads/afraid-of-the-next-day.3947/ Well, I went to FL with my mom and I had an amazing time. I wrote a few paragraphs about it which I will paste below. However, here is my TMS journal of the trip. Day One - travel day, excited, moderate knee pain, extreme ankle pain. I made myself walk along the beach and pick up shells with my mom. We had an amazing time and I was in a good deal of pain. I swam in the Gulf for the first time and I can’t tell you how happy that made me. Day Two - air boat ride! Mom was so nice and came up with a way to sit and see the Everglades. It was awesome and I was so excited after the trip, I told her I wanted to hike. This is were I needed courage. I have wanted to hike in the Everglade since I was a kid and I said to myself, “I’m going and if my knees decide to explode, so be it, because they aren’t allowed to take this from me.” We did an hour long walk and it was fantastic! It hurt, but it was so beautiful, I didn’t care. What was better is that I did what I wanted. Day Three - woke up to NO PAIN!. Take that TMS! We went for another walk, and saw more wonderful things. My knees started to act up a bit, but calmed right down a few hours later. We had an amazing dinner. Day Four - travel day to my aunts home 3 hours away. I ran back to the truck when we got caught in a downpour. Then I climbed through the car like some kind of ninja to get us dry clothes from the back. Extremely minor pain. Day Five - Beach trip with the family! I got the hang out with my 12 yr old cousin who moved away 8 years ago with my aunt and uncle. It was really cool to get to know her a bit. We share a love of animals. Day when great, until the last trip into the surf. I got hit by a huge wave and I was terrified that I would hurt my knee. Sure enough, my left knee started hurting a lot, yet I could squat, kick, walk and climb stairs without additional pain. Despite this, I had panic attacks all night. Day Six - Told mom about the knee pain and the panic attacks. She was wonderful and understanding and “talked me down”. I felt a lot better after the talk. We went to the aquarium with the family and walked around for hours. It hurt from mild to high moderate. While relaxing at the pool, that night, I felt the pain begin to subside. Day Seven - Heading home, almost no pain. Very happy to prove to myself that I could make it through a vacation. Hope this helps you! Here’s what I wrote about the trip in a blog. Three years ago, my mom wanted to do Florida vacations with her girls. My sister and her went shopping and had a great time. I got laid off multiple times, and went through a rather rough time. However, it finally happened, swamps and all! Here are some ramblings for people to read. (I never travel anywhere, by the way.) I find it amusing that many people think my love of reptiles and streams is a new hobby of mine. I got my first two anoles as a First Communion present. I was 9. My parents had a summer house in Marlow, NH. I think about 90% of my free time was spent along the bank of a stream, observing reptiles, amphibians, and fish. I loved those moments. Out of all the memories of my childhood, those are some of my favorites, and no one but myself was there for them. They’re special in that regard. Because of this, the Everglades has been my number one National Park to see, since I was very young. I wanted to see it so badly, that I was almost afraid it would disappoint, like watching He-Man when you’re 30. Maybe the most interesting part of the Everglades was how foreign it was. I walk around a forest in New England like I own the place. I know that bird, that mammal, those fish, that tree. I have always known them. I have seen just about every documentary on the Everglades but when stepped onto a path in the Everglades, I was totally out of my element. It was awesome, the real definition of awesome. Documentaries only focus in the broad picture, but never captured the nuisances of the place. I knew about mangroves, I didn’t know there was three kinds: red, white, and black, all with different survival mechanisms. I never realized how the water channels in the Everglades twist and turn like an unconquerable labyrinth, and that dense mangrove swamps can give way to vast, flat saw grass meadows in a just a few yards. I knew there were anoles, I didn’t know there was many kinds, or that I could get so close to them. I knew about birds, but I had never walked up on ten huge vultures eating dead gar fish from a dried up pool. They came up to my knee at least and weren’t afraid of me at all. I didn’t know there were enormous crabs with blue legs all over the waterways and I was also unaware that there are 4 inch long orange grasshoppers that just sort out hang out in the paths. I didn’t know a baby alligator feels like it is made out of rubber. I didn’t know how easy it was to get dehydrated. It was unpleasant, but interesting that it could happen so quickly. The hot breezes trick you into thinking you’re not sweating that badly. I saw a snake emerge from the weeds and hunt tiny fish. I knew the snake looked very similar to the harmless Northern Water Snake. I knew it could possibly be a harmless southern version of the same snake. However, there was that tiniest bit of doubt and fear that made me decide to not get close to him. I saw a baby manatee emerge from the water about three feet away from me. He was the size of a coffee table, and the slowest moving animal I’d ever encountered. The adults looked about car sized. I learned that Floridians idea of “buggy” is 3 flies on a path. The second day, I didn’t even bother with bug spray. In short, it was dirty, swampy, hot, and filled with creatures and plants. It was the dry season, my favorite time to see any place since water hides a great deal of detail, and it was everything I ever hoped it would be. Next, time I’m renting a canoe.