"I don't want to get to the end of my life and find that I have just lived the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well."
– Diane Ackerman
Good morning everyone! Hope all of you had a wonderful week. Not sure what the weather is doing in your part of the country, but where we are, it's in the upper 70's and sunny. LOVE IT!!!
Steve and I have moved 3 times and have driven 565 miles since we last updated you. We left the Outer Banks area of North Carolina (a vacation destination for all of you to be sure - - check it out some time) and headed to Wilmington, NC. Once again, Steve and I were absolutely shocked at how cool this little town was - - and when I say "little" I mean slightly smaller than Toledo. The character of the city is that of a Savannah or a Charleston with the historic homes and waterfront amenities, but has a much younger kind of vibe that I would liken to that of Little Rock.
Apparently, Wilmington is called the "Hollywood of the east" because there are several television shows and movies that are filmed there. For example, Jennifer Aniston just finished her filming in Wilmington just a couple of weeks ago. I can definitely see the draw to this city and we just loved it. I believe it has hit our top places to live along with Charlotte, Hilton Head and Little Rock. Sadly, we didn't get to stay very long but we did get to do some fun geocaching within the city which allowed us to do a "walking tour" of that charming town. If you are on the east coast of North Carolina, be sure and stop in to Wilmington. You will not be disappointed.
On our way south to Florida, we stopped in Hilton Head to revisit the Del Webb community there. Again, we loved it like we did the first time we toured the community. First of all, Hilton Head is just gorgeous. Secondly, this Del Webb community has models that offer us exactly what we are looking for in a home - - 2 beds, an office, room in the garage for two vehicles and a golf cart, tons of things to do, 3 golf courses, 30 minutes to Savannah - - the list could go on and on. I graduate from seminary in December 2013 so we want to narrow down where we will be settling down when I start my second career and since we will be focusing our travel efforts on everything west of the Mississippi this coming year, we need to close the books on the east coast. For me, Charlotte and Hilton Head are tops on the list.
We really didn't have time to do anything else in Hilton Head because we needed to get down further south as we were planning to attend the Blue Angels air show in Jacksonville, FL. We stayed in a campground in Woodbine, Georgia because we know this place. We stayed here when we visited St. Mary's, Georgia back in the Spring and also, because we really liked the young Australian couple that bought this campground and are fixing it up.
Anyway, let me tell you about the air show. The day began with Steve and I heading to church. We had chosen a church that was a few blocks from the Jacksonville Beach (the site of the air show) so that we could attend church and then just leave our truck there and walk to the beach. On the way to that church, we passed another church that had a sign out front that read "Beach Service 10:45". AWESOME! We love to attend service in unusual places as we think the location adds to the ambiance of the service. You will recall that we've attended services in a former drive-in theater (Daytona Beach, Florida), on top of a mountain (Stone Mountain, Georgia) and a lakeside pavillion (Lake Champlain, Vermont). Why not add a ocean side service to the mix!!! We were definitely in! So we park the car and Steve hops in the back seat to change out of his church clothes and into his beach clothes. We grab our beach chairs, the cooler, sun glasses, camera, our sun hats (Steve's big straw hat that he got from MIS) and head to church. We are so excited and just know we are going to love the experience. Since we were new to the whole beach service concept, we ask someone working the parking lot for directions on where to go. He was so kind and was willing to walk us all the way to where we needed to be. Steve and I were a bit taken aback because we were several blocks from the beach, but hey, he's a Christian so kindness is not unexpected for strangers. Anyway, as we are following him and chatting away about being in the area for just the day, he walks us right into a building which turns out to be - - you guessed it - - THE CHURCH SANCTUARY. Here's Steve and I standing there with beach chairs over our shoulders, a cooler and camera, sunglasses, straw hat, shorts, sun glasses and sandals and everyone else is dressed in their Sunday best. We were mortified. I mean absolutely stunned. We looked like total goobers and drew a lot of attention (as you can imagine). We tried to explain to them that we saw a sign that said "Beach Service 10:45" only to find out that the name of the church is BEACH UNITED METHODIST. C'mon people. Really? Your big sign reads "Beach Service"
Anyway, they welcomed us, gave us a glass of lemonade and a place to stash our beach gear. Then we attended the service. The message was about fear and trusting our God to help us either overcome the situations we are in, or to take us out of the situation if He deems it to be the right course of action. The message hit home for me as I am coming to the end of my masters program and will be looking for employment in ministry soon. I am a bit fearful because it is a world that is foreign to me, but I know that God will provide the right opportunity for me when the time comes.
So after the service, Steve and I head to the beach to watch the air show. What a spectacular venue for this event. The weather could not have been more perfect - - 79 degrees, nice breeze, and not a cloud in the sky. We plopped down our lawn chairs and relaxed while watching bi-planes and World War II era fighters and older jets do their thing. An F-22 Raptor came on the scene at high speed (although they can go faster than the speed of sound, we were right on top of a residential area and I am sure the Air Force didn't want to replace a bunch of broken windows that would result if a sonic boom were to ensue). WOW! The speed and the sound of this piece of machinery are so impressive that it can literally take your breath away, especially if it comes up from behind you and you don't even know it's there until it passes you VERY LOUDLY! I love speed and loud engines which is why I am a NASCAR fan, but these F-22's make NASCAR pale in comparison. Tons more airplanes performed for us and then finally, the Blue Angels arrived.
If you have never seen these planes in action, please find an airshow and go see them. The precision with which they fly in formation is something to behold. They also do a number of stunts that are very exciting to watch. They come within inches of each other and I mean inches. They typically fly 18 inches apart going 400 miles per hour. WOW. Steve got some awesome shots of the two planes that would pass each other periodically while doing barrel rolls or flying upside down. For me, however, the coolest part of their show was their entrance. They were staging way out over the ocean and then flew in formation, straight toward shore where the crowd was, with the smoke billowing behind them. From that far out, it looked like fire in the sky because all you could see was this huge cloud of smoke getting larger and larger and coming straight at you. As they neared the shore, they shot straight up in the sky leaving all of us staring skyward, mouths agape. I got chills just reliving that moment as I wrote this blog. Loved it!
Ok, this morning we are headed to Bushnell, Florida where we will land for a couple of weeks as we prepare for our trip to Haiti. Steve and I will be starting our malaria pills this week which should be interesting. Last time I had to take malaria pills (when I went to India) I had such incredibly vivid and psychotic dreams. If I have any dream worth writing about as we go through our pill regimen, I will definitely share it with you. We have big plans for the next two weeks - - a trip to Disney, a visit to the Del Webb in Ocala, a visit to St. Augustine, and a huge geocaching event on the 27th. Good times! Weather will be in the mid-80's and sunny. Geez it sucks to be us! Kidding....
We know how truly blessed we are.
Take care everyone! Miss you all.