The Journey

I haven’t mentioned this before, but my mother and stepfather have been in poor health.  My mother has dementia, COPD, and kidney disease.  She requires 24/7 care as her dementia makes her quite confused on occasion.  On one of my last visits with her at her home in Wise, VA, she made a full breakfast of fried eggs, biscuits and gravy, bacon and jam and woke us all up.  It was delicious.  The only problem was it was 3:00 in the morning.  Mother was getting her medicines mixed up and she even had a fall and broke her wrist.  Due to these and many other examples, my siblings and I found an assisted living facility to help care for her.  She has been a resident at Mount Pleasant House in Mount Pleasant, NC since last winter.  My mother seems to love it there and we are very glad that we can have her so much closer to us so we can help with her care. 

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Our stepfather is 85 years old he has been in the hospital in Wise.  Mother’s health has been stable lately and since she was having a good week we took her to Virginia to visit her husband.  She was so happy to see him and all his children.  I believe that our stepfather was also very happy to have her come for the visit and was a good dose of positive medicine.

I know that many of us in my age group have either already lost our parents or may be in the same situations helping to care for them.  Dementia has been so hard for me to deal with.  Whether it is your body that gives out first, your mind, or your mind and body together, it is a very hard load to carry.  It is hard not only on the individual but on the extended family as well.   We are taking it one day at a time and I find comfort in knowing that my parents are saved and they will be dancing with the Lord whenever he chooses to call them home.  I also find comfort knowing that God will also help us as we continue to love them and care for them while they are here on the earth with us.

The trip to VA is only 5 hours from Mount Pleasant but my mother’s doctor gave strict instructions that we must stop often.  We adhered to those guidelines and stopped many times and also found 2 wonderful places for lunch. 

First came our Saturday adventure.  We stopped in Wytheville at Key Ingredients at the Fort Chiswell Mansion.  This gem is right off I81/I77.  Saturday was my day to find the restaurant and Urban Spoon pointed me in Key’s way. 

 

the mansion

 the mansion

This mansion was built originally in 1840 and was the home of a family that owned a lead mine in the area.  My sister pointed out that it made sense that there was a lead mine there because just a little further down the road was the Shot Tower on the New River.  This is where they dropped molten lead into the cold river to make the shots that were used in the Civil War.

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Our server was very attentive to our needs and the mansion was really interesting.  The food was delicious. 

Here’s my veggie wrap and pasta salad. 

Veggie Wrap

Very, very yummy.  It was piping hot and there wasn’t a sauce on it that I could tell.  The veggies burst with flavor! 

Mother got the pulled pork sandwich and coleslaw.  She loved it and Rosa said it was good too but I didn’t take a taste.

Pulled Pork

Rosa got a salad and a crab cake.  She said it was very delicious and I agree.  I love crab cakes and this one was one of the very best I have ever tasted.

Salad and Crab Cake

Mother and I have a huge sweet tooth so we couldn’t pass up dessert.  Key offers creamery ice cream. Here’s my Lemon Crunch.

Lemon Crunch

Rosa got Peach, and Mother got Black Raspberry.  We all tasted each other’s but the one that we chose was our individual favorites. 

If your travels take you near Wytheville and you want a very relaxing, beautiful, and tasty lunch, you’ve just got to give Key Ingredients a try. 

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 I’m giving Key 4.5 fat cucumbers out of 5! 

Complimentary Cukes

On Saturday for dinner we stopped at a Pound, VA iconic drive-in.  Robo’s is famous for their foot long chili dogs.  All 3 of us got one.  Yes, even me.  You can’t go to Robo’s without getting a hotdog.  

Robo's

Robo's

Check out Rosa’s new hybrid Camry.  We really were traveling in style!

Rosa's new Camry 

This weekend was the Bristol Speedway race weekend so we had to travel about 9 more miles away to the little town of Clintwood to find a hotel.  A brand new Sleep Inn had a vacancy and was a wonderful place to rest our heads.  

Look at what was right across from our hotel. 

Dickenson County HS

That’s the Dickenson County Memorial and Industrial High School.  It is always so cool to see my maiden name when we come to this neck of the woods. 

For lunch on Sunday it was Rosa’s turn to pick the restaurant.  She came up with Harvest Table also located right off I81 in Meadowview, VA.  This awesome place was the 1st place winner in the Southwest VA farm to table category. 

Harvest Table

 Harvest Table is surely #1.  Every single thing about this place was perfect.

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We had called ahead to make sure it was handicap accessible but what was so neat was that they met us at the side door for easy wheelchair entry.

The oven

the kitchen

The place was bustling and our server informed us that on Sunday at brunch, they offer all of their best dishes.  She assured us that we’d love whatever we chose.

Harvest Table Sunday Brunch menu

Mother got chicken salad and she loved it!

Chicken Salad Sandwich

I got this doosey of an omelette.  Wowzer!  So delicious!  It had shiitake mushrooms (the healthiest of all), caramelized onions, and  goat cheese. 

Omlette

 Rosa’s entrée was the best!  A Trout Cake Benedict.  Oh.my.word!  This was so good. 

Trout Cake Benedict

Next came dessert.  Mother got the mocha fudge cake and I got the oatmeal cake.

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Rosa was just going to share with us and that would have been fine.  However, when Mother pushed her chocolate cake to the side and started in on my oatmeal cake and then Rosa started in on mine as well, we waved to the server and proceeded to order a 2nd piece of the oatmeal.  We loved the first piece so much but when the 2nd piece come out it was obviously from a new cake that had just come out of the oven.  Man was it good!

Chocolate Mocha and Oatmeal Cake

Now don’t get me wrong.  That chocolate cake was delicious but one bite of the oatmeal and you were in heaven.  

Mother and Rosa at Harvest Table

I have to give Harvest Table 5 farm to table fascinations out of 5.  It is truly top notch!

I used to be a huge Nicholas Sparks fan and I read his book, Three Weeks with My Brother quite some time ago.  New York Daily News describes the book as a healing journey that will remind us to live life to the fullest. I remember that as the 2 brothers were planning a 3 week trip together, Nicholas was finding himself too busy and wasn’t at all interested in the details of the trip.  His brother said to him, “You’re missing it you know,” and that one statement has stayed with me ever since.  I’m a planner.  I love to search out memorable things to do and dream of upcoming trips.  I find a lot of joy just in the anticipation.  I also love making memories!  We didn’t head to Virginia on the happiest of occasions and the trip had its share of stressful moments.  However, what I will remember is the fun that we shared and the love along the journey.

May your journeys be filled with peace, love, and happiness always.

Pilot Mountain

This isn’t Mrs. Pauls

It was just Ron and me for dinner.  I lit a candle and got out the cloth napkins.

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On the menu was a Hugh Jass Salad!  Today is day one of me trying to eat more salads like we did back when we were doing the Eat to Live challenge last winter.

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The base is a Super Green mix and then I added carrots, raisins, sunflower seeds, scallions, and broccoli.  I made a vegan 1000 island dressing by mixing up relish, ketchup,  and Vegenaise,

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The star of the show was Breaded Baked Tofu.  I saw it on this blog and thought I’d give it a try.

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The author of the blog that I got it from compared it to chicken fingers but Ron immediately asked if we were having frozen fish fillets.  I followed her recipe exactly except I used panko crumbs instead of the cereal.  I really like the cayanne pepper in the breading.

It was so good.  Might be my favorite way to eat tofu ever.

Everyone get their green leafy veggies today?

Happy Eating!

 

Healthy Habits

Well today isn’t the beginning of the month.  It’s not even the beginning of the week.  However, I’ve been thinking about really focusing on some healthy habits and I jotted them down the other day.  I folded my paper and I had 32 squares so I decided on 31 healthy habits.  And, as of tomorrow I only have 100 days until my next marathon so I thought I might as well start buckling down sooner rather than later.

So here ya go.

I’m looking at number 15 right now and I’m wondering how in the world I’m going to get a green smoothie before I leave at 5:20am tomorrow for my run and work.  This is going to take dedication.  I’m also looking at number 28 now and I’ve got to go!

Night Friends!

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Make Like a Lighthouse and SHINE!

On Wednesday we left Elizabeth City and headed to the Outer Banks not really knowing what we were planning on doing.  We thought we’d drive to some of the lighthouses and maybe have lunch at one of Ron’s favorite breweries.

That’s exactly what we did.

Here’s Currituck peaking out from the tops of the trees.  She was the first lighthouse of the day.

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We started in Kitty Hawk and drove north on Hwy. 12 through Duck, NC.  Duck was super crowded and it made the short trip up to Corolla very slow going.  It seemed like everyone on the Outer Banks wanted to go see Currituck with us.

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Currituck was the last lighthouse built on the OBX and is the only one that is left unpainted.  I really loved her red bricks!

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The wait to climb her 220 steps was over an hour and a half long so we decided to skip the trip to the top.

Our drive back down Hwy. 12 was much faster and before we knew it we were at The Outer Banks Brewing Station in Kill Devil Hills.  It was around 12:30 by this time and Ron and I were ready for some lunch.

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Ron got his favorite IPA and we ended up with the normal veggie selections.  I got cheese pizza and Ron get pressed portabella mushroom Panini.  This spot is a happn’ place and even if you don’t love craft beer, you’ll love it here.

Next up we headed to Bodie.

When I saw this picture, I quickly fell in love and is my very favorite shot of all the lighthouses.

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Love!

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You can also climb Bodie’s 214 steps but we opted to skip this time as well.  The coolest thing I’ve learned about Bodie is that it is pronounced “Body” and not with the hard o that I have been saying all along.

The drive from Bodie to Hatteras is straight down the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.  It’s about 50 miles but the trip was pretty fast as the speed limit was 55 and there wasn’t much traffic at all.  I think most people were in Duck on this day!  We went through Rodanthe , Waves, Salvo, and Avon and all of these villages seemed not as commercialized as the cities on the northern side.  Rodanthe was especially hit hard and debris was still all along the sides of the highway.  I’m not sure if this was from a recent storm or if they are just really slow at cleaning up.

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I love Hatteras’ red brick on the bottom and the swirl at the top.   She’s the tallest lighthouse in the nation!  The line was not long to go to the top and climb the 257 steps but since we had not climbed Currituck or Bodie, we skipped this one as well.

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By this time it was getting a little late in the afternoon and we didn’t know if we should go over to Ocracoke or not.  Ocracoke is an island and the ferry from Hatteras runs every 30 minutes until midnight.  When we found that out we decided we go ahead and go.  We didn’t have evening reservations in Ocracoke and with the ferry running all the way until midnight, we knew we’d still be able to get off the island and make it back to Nags Head or Manteo or somewhere for the night if we had to.

Here’s a shot of Ron by the car when we were on the ferry.

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Goodbye Hatteras!  You were pretty!

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The 30ish minute ride to Ocracoke was fun!  We had only been on a ferry one other time when we were south of Wilmington so this was still all new to us.

Ocracoke Lighthouse is tucked away and we had to search a little to find her.

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You can’t go inside this lighthouse.  She’s the oldest lighthouse in NC still in continuous service and the 2nd oldest in the United States.  I loved her!

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While we were on the ferry, Ron called and got us a very reasonable room in Ocracoke.  We ended up at the Harborside Motel.  It had been recently refurbished and was was very cute.

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Across the street was the office and gift shop.  They had a huge selection of cold craft beers and the owners were super friendly.  I even got some great cold wine.  Might even be my new favorite!

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We went out in search of dinner and traveled only 2 doors down from the hotel to Dajio’s.

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They had outdoor seating and that seemed like the place to be.  They had a cool band playing and we really wanted to sit out there but the wait was over an hour.  We opted to go ahead and sit inside.  It was very nice and proved to be the very best dinner we had on the entire vacation.

We shared a delicious beet salad for an appetizer and then these were our main courses.

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Vegan tacos for me and then Ron’s was a pesto quinoa salad.  After the beet salad and one of my tacos, Ron couldn’t eat a bite of his salad.  We put it in the mini fridge at the hotel and then in our cooler the next morning.  We devoured it when we were picnicking at our last lighthouse stop the next day.   So delicious.

We got up early and ran 2.5 miles up the road and pathway and then ran the 2.5 miles back.  There was a light breeze and even though there wasn’t a bit of shade, it was a very pleasant run.  When we got back into the busy part of the island we stopped and got a coffee and breakfast.  Ron was good and got some Kashi oatmeal and I was bad and got a huge homemade cinnamon roll.  I guess it’s a good thing that I like to run because my sweet tooth would be the death of me if I didn’t.  My vanilla latte’ was the best I’ve ever had.  If you want a good coffee, Live Oak Coffee is the place to go.

Next we had to say goodbye to Ocracoke and headed on to Cedar Island via a 2.5 hour ferry ride.  Yesterday’s short ferry ride was free and today’s was only $15.  I was worried that I’d be bored with that long of a ride but I wasn’t at all.  It really flew by thanks to my book.  I was a little seasick at first (might have been the cinnamon roll) but Ron encouraged me to go out on the deck for some fresh air and focus on the horizon.  I did and it passed quickly.

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Goodbye pretty lighthouse!

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Goodbye sweet island!

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Hello open sea.  (Well sort of I guess.)

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Once we got to Cedar Island, we decided to try and see one more lighthouse before we had to head home.  We pointed our car toward Harker’s Island and were off.

We made it pretty close to Cape Lookout but you have to take a boat to get all the way out to the cape.  We decided to just change lenses on my camera and hope for the best.

This is what we got.  Look closely and you’ll see the light.  Cape Lookout is the only major lighthouse that operates during the day.

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I can’t wait to go back again another time and get to see her up close.

We’ve got 2 more NC lighthouse to visit.  Bald Head Island and Oak Island.  I think I better plan a trip really soon.

Happy Travels!

Old and Older

On our last morning in New Bern, Ron had wanted to find a fitness center for a workout with weights but we ended up sleeping too late and decided on a quick 3 miler around New Bern.  4 miles later (Ron Cupit miles) we finished up and really enjoyed the run.

Sunrise on the Nuese River.

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A Spider Lily sculpture by the Convention Center.

 

 

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Our sweaty selfie!

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The breakfast area was mostly empty so I got some shots of our meal.  Ron and I both got the spinach omelettes and it came with a blueberry almond cobbler.  Breakfast at the Aerie was scrumptious.

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Next up was our tour of Tryon Palace.  No photos were allowed inside the buildings but I got a lot of shots in the gardens.  Just like the trolley tour yesterday, if you love history, this place is for you.

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We really shouldn’t have been all that hungry but we were after Tryon and we tried to eat at the Museum Cafe.  It looked really good but it was very crowded.  Ron remembered this Indian place near The Chelsea from last night so we swung back by there before we headed out of town.

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IMG_1486Totally vegan and totally delicious!  We both went back for seconds.  I noticed on the wall that Bay Leaf won several years in a row for the best entree in New Bern.  If you are there, you’ve just got to try this awesome restaurant.

Next we pointed our car towards Elizabeth City, NC.  Ron was stationed there 30 years ago when he was in the US Coast Guard and wanted to so me some of his old stomping grounds.

On the way to Elizabeth City, we saw we would be passing near Bath, NC and since we had just been to the 2nd oldest city in NC, we thought we might as well see the oldest city.

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Above is a beautiful shot of Bath Creek.

Bath had a curse put on it in the olden days and it was supposed to always stay a small town.  That curse has stayed true and I didn’t really see all that much to Bath.   There was a walking tour and we saw some more old houses and the oldest church.

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Blackbeard came to Bath for a pardon but then ended up getting killed at Ocracoke not too much later.

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I loved Bath Creek and I get the feeling that the citizens of Bath are very happy that it has remained such a small town.

We made it to Elizabeth City but Ron wouldn’t let me take any pictures at the gate of the base.  He scared me to death and told me that the US Coast Guard was a division of Homeland Security now and that they would probably shoot me if I didn’t get back in the car.

We walked down by the Pasquotank River and had a very nice veggie meal at the Cypress Grill.    It was a short visit to Elizabeth City but Ron had a blast reminiscing.

Today, we’ve spent the whole day touring the lighthouses of the Outer Banks.  I’ll get these pictures up ASAP.

We are on Ocracoke Island now and it is time to go exploring and find some dinner.

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Happy, happy, happy!

 

 

 

 

New Bern, We Like Bears

Day one of our vacation and we’ve learned so much about the city of New Bern, NC.  It’s the second oldest city in North Carolina and is the sister city to Bern, Switzerland.  Bern mean bear in Swiss and 4 years ago they celebrated the city’s 300th birthday and placed decorated bears all over. DSC_0019 DSC_0077   DSC_0076DSC_0075 DSC_0078 DSC_0090DSC_0072DSC_0032 DSC_0027 DSC_0026 DSC_0023 DSC_0022   But I’m getting a little ahead of my self.  Here’s some shots of our awesome B&B that we are staying at. DSC_0111 DSC_0110 DSC_0109 DSC_0037 DSC_0010 DSC_0008 DSC_0004 DSC_0001 Breakfast was wonderful but I didn’t get any shots of the actual food.  Every room was booked and the breakfast area was filled to capacity. I didn’t feel right snapping any food shots.  Ron had blueberry pancakes and I have almond French toast.  (I had dreamed that we overslept and didn’t have anything other than bacon and sausage so it was wonderful that we had other options.) Here are some shots of the breakfast area I captured later in the day. DSC_0104 DSC_0100 DSC_0099 The first order of business today was a trip to the birthplace of Pepsi! DSC_0033 I began a Coke girl and I do still love the advertising but sometime around college I switched over to Pepsi and I’ve never looked back.   We try to not drink sodas often but when I do, Diet Cherry Pepsi is my favorite. Ron’s favorite is Diet Mt. Dew! DSC_0036 We walked around a little and then it was time to take the 90 minute trolley tour. We saw so much! DSC_0093 DSC_0092 Check out that snake eye window!   Cool huh? DSC_0047 DSC_0041 I loved the history in the Cedar Grove Cemetery and this cedar tree was so neat.  Thousands lost their lives in New Bern to yellow fever and many were buried in mass graves here. The next stop on the trolley tour was Christ Church.  We got to go inside and it was breathtaking. DSC_0068 DSC_0067 DSC_0066 DSC_0064 Notice the Star of David in this Christian church.  Christianity embraces both the old and the new covenant.  It is 2 triangles and the triangle represents the Trinity. After the trolley tour we were getting hungry and Ron found this little gem. DSC_0086 We lucked out and found 2 vegetarian choices.  We got them both and shared.  A veggie wrap and a portabella mushroom burger with sweet potato fries.  We also both had this awesome strawberry and goat cheese salad. DSC_0084 DSC_0082 We try to stay away from dairy as a rule but since it was vacation we endulged! After lunch we rented bikes!  Ron said he hadn’t been on one in over 30 years and I hadn’t been on one since I did the Smithfield Tri back in 2012.  It was so fun! DSC_0094 In this shot of me you can see the trolley in the background. DSC_0097 Here’s some shots of the restaurant we ate at last night. DSC_0089 DSC_0088   Captain Ratty’s was a wonderful seafood restaurant and quite the hopping place.  Not too veggie friendly however.  Ron got a scallop salad and I had salmon tacos which were actually divine. Next came some afternoon siesta time back at our room and then dinner at The Chelsea. It was Wonderful! photo (8)   Check out the interior and the restored mosaic tile floors. photo (7) photo (5) They had 2 veggie selections and we got them both and shared.  Risotto and another portebella mushroom selection. photo (1) photo Our appetizer was fried green tomatoes with fresh mozzarella. photo (6) And I had my very first mint julep. photo (3) photo (4) Wowzer was it ever strong! For dessert it wasn’t vegan but boy was it good! photo (2) Delicious coconut cream pie! I highly recommend  The Chelsea! So delicious. We still have our tickets to Tryon Palace for tomorrow and Ron has announced that we will be guests of Sound Fitness. When you are in NC, make sure to go to the place that the Trent and Nuese River meet and have yourself a blast with the bears!

Swamp Sludge

 

I used to call my green smoothies, Green Monsters, but after last week when my sister dubbed them Swamp Sludge, the name has stuck.  And besides, these 2014 smoothies have taken on a whole new personality from the ones I first began drinking back in 2010.

In the olden days, I’d start in the bottom of the Vitamix with some almond milk, add a frozen banana, a scoop of protein powder, and maybe some berries, then a couple of handfuls of spinach.  They were delicious and a great recovery drink after my long runs.

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Now Swamp Sludge is a Green Monster on steroids!

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Ron invented these and I am so thankful that he takes the extra time and prepares these for us.  If it were up to me and I in charge of getting our protein recovery drink ready at 5:00am on a Saturday morning, it would probably be a tame little green monster at best.

Nothing doing for Ron.  It’s Swamp Sludge or bust!

Ron starts with green juice as the base.  Green juice is prepared in his Omega Vert juicer and has many of these in it on any given day:  kale, SuperGreens mix, celery, ginger, apples, and carrots.

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He puts probably about 2 cups of this juice in the Vitamix and then he adds some fresh blueberries and strawberries.  Next come the powders.  Garden of Life protein mix, spirulina, maca, and chlorella powders.  These powders are not sweet at all so today he added a little of this mix.

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This one is super sweet and a little bit will do ya.

After our long runs with Galloway on Saturday, we head to the truck and our cooler.   You won’t find anything this nutritious or delicious ANYWHERE!  You can’t buy this stuff!  In a pinch a Bolthouse Farms juice or a Smoothie King smoothie will get you close but those just can’t hold a candle to Swamp Sludge.

It does sound and look disgusting but I promise you, it is the bomb!  One Mason jar full satisfies me and I’m good to go until well up into the afternoon.   Do yourself a favor and next time someone offers you some chocolate milk after a long run, thank them kindly and go whirl up some Swamp Sludge.

Happy Sludging Friends!  :)