"Far away in the sunshine are my highest inspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see the beauty, believe in them and try to follow where they lead."
– Louisa May Alcott
I don't know about the rest of you, but there are a couple of New Year's resolutions that I have already given up on. What's up with that? Why is it so difficult for me (and lots of people just like me) to stick with a plan, especially when the plan involves something that will make us healthier? Is it laziness? I have never really been a lazy person so I'm not sure that's it. So I have included the quote above to re-inspire me to get back on the stick.
This week there are no pictures to upload and share. Steve and I left what was probably our second favorite state park - - Henderson Beach in Destin, Florida - - and the following day, they were hit with severe weather and a possible tornado. We camped out at Ochlockonee River State Park for a couple of days and were also hit with severe weather, but given that we were in a dense forest, most of the high winds were buffered by the trees so we didn't really experience any damage although it rained most of the night. Tallahassee, just 40 miles north of us, had a tornado touchdown, so once again, we dodged a bullet.
Ochlockonee River State Park was an interesting place. I don't recommend it if you are in a camper that falls into the "Big Rig" category as ours does. It barely, and I mean BARELY, accommodated our 40' foot Big Red and we have two light scratches on the side to prove it. This area of Florida is supposed to be a haven for Florida black bear, but being the wildlife repellent that we are, we saw nothing except some deer tracks near our campsite and the infamous white squirrel. I wish we would have had our camera with us when we took our nature walk because the squirrel was actually white and sort of creepy looking. I have included a link to a website that talks about them: http://tallahasseemagazine.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=375&Itemid=97
Anyway, we left there after a couple of days and have parked ourselves in Sorrento, Florida which is just north of Orlando. Steve and I have been chilling here waiting for the arrival of my mother-in-law Connie. We have a number of fun activities planned for her so we will have a ton of pictures for next week's post. We did get to play some putt putt yesterday at what I would consider the best miniature golf course I have ever played (and if you know my kids and grandkids, you know we love putt putt so I know from what I speak). It is the Congo River Mini Golf in Altamonte Springs. Awesome. It even had one par 4 and a couple par 3 holes. Some of the holes have a wheel you spin to make the play more interesting. Like using the wrong end of the putter, using only your foot to move the ball and bonus point for a hole in one. There's also a scavenger hunt that you play for prizes.The best part about it was the layout and the way they staged each hole. They really paid attention to the details on their theme and the landscaping throughout was nicely done. Made for quite an enjoyable experience.
Ok, sorry for such a boring post this week but sometimes you just have to lay low and chill so that's what we did this past week. We are hoping to make up for that this week and wear Connie out in the process! :)
Take care and think about kick-starting your forgotten New Year's resolution. January 1 is just an arbitrary date anyway and taking the time to do something that will improve our health or our lives is worth focusing on any time of the year.
I close with my favorite bumper sticker ever: SCENERY IS HERE, WISH YOU WERE BEAUTIFUL!
"Trust your own instinct. Your mistakes might as well be your own instead of someone else's."
– Billy Wilder
This quote has nothing to do with our travels this week. I just thought it was an interesting perspective on life.
Hello from the Florida Panhandle!!!
What a fabulous place. The water here is a beautiful emerald green color, which is probably why this is called the Emerald Coast. As I said in our previous post, we met a man named John who gave us tips on two great places to stay in Florida. I begin first with Fort Pickens Campground, which is part of the U.S. National Parks Service and located on the Gulf Islands National Seashore just south of Pensacola. GORGEOUS!!! The campground is just east of the Fort on an island called Santa Rosa that is about 1/4 mile wide. Being such a slim piece of land, the campground has water on two sides - - the Gulf of Mexico on one side and Pensacola Bay on the other. The sand is white and very fine and contrasts nicely with the beautiful sage and rosemary that grows in bushes along the dunes the line the shore. The weather here has been awesome too - - sunny and warm with great breezes.
While in the Fort Pickens area, Steve and I had a great time checking out Pensacola. One of the greatest finds of our trip so far has been stumbling upon the National Naval Aviation Museum. This museum featured more than 150 aircraft of the U.S. Navy, several excellent models of some of the more prominent aircraft carriers, great IMAX movies, cockpit trainers and simulators, and a tour of the tarmac that houses the planes too large to fit inside the museum proper. The amazing thing about this museum was that it was completely FREE. I cannot believe this place isn't more well-advertised than it is because it is truly one of the best museums that Steve and I have visited in this country so far. Anyway, it was a full day's time to see everything there because the exhibits are just so well done you want to take your time with each of them. While there, we met a man named Bob Bothfeld who works there part time as a volunteer tour guide. Bob's claim to fame, however, is the TDR-1 Assault Drone hanging in the main part of the museum. Bob was the engineer in charge of the design of this top secret piece of military equipment. He spent two years of his life working on this drone during World War II and couldn't tell anyone about it. He told us great stories about some of the pieces there at the museum, which made our time there that much more enjoyable. Lastly, this museum is located on the base that is home to the Blue Angels. Sadly, however, they are in California this time of year preparing for the air show circuit so we didn't get to see them live. We do plan to see an air show while on our world tour so we can see them in action. I remember seeing them when I was younger. My mom and dad took us to air shows when we were kids and I was always fascinated by their speed and precision. A couple of years ago, they were featured at an air show at the Willow Run Airport and since Visteon is located within spitting distance of that airport, they practiced right over our Corporate campus. That was cool too. Steve and I are both looking forward to seeing them in action again.
In addition to the Naval Air Museum, the air base houses the oldest lighthouse in Pensacola. Steve and I climbed the 177 stairs to the top of that lighthouse (which of course has a fresnel lens - - we learned about those at the Shipwreck Museum in Whitefish Point, Michigan). What an awesome view from there. We could see our campsite right across the bay as well as the airfield on the base. One of the cute things that the city of Pensacola does is display numerous pelicans around the city that are painted to represent various things about the city. There was one of the pelicans here at the lighthouse. We took pictures of some of these pelicans so you can see what I'm talking about. They reminded Steve and I of the frogs that were painted and posted all over the city of Toledo. Fun!
Before leaving Fort Pickens Campground, Steve and I toured this great piece of history. First, this fort was built in 1829 and was used by the U.S. military until 1945. It has an interesting history, which I cannot do justice to, so I am including a link to the website that describes it - - http://www.nps.gov/guis/planyourvisit/fort-pickens.htm. We had fun crawling around this impressive fortification and highly recommend a stop if you are in the Pensacola area.
From there, Steve and I traveled on to Henderson Beach State Park in Destin, Florida. Again, BEAUTIFUL!!!! This state park was rated the best state park in Florida twice and I can see why. The campsites are awesome. Each is in a very private setting and has a large area that contains a nice fire pit and picnic table. There is also about a mile long section of private beach that is designated just for the campers and park visitors. This beach is phenomenal and is reached via a boardwalk over the dunes that is about a quarter of a mile long. The walk to the beach is breathtaking and the park service does a nice job describing the flora and fauna of the area. We've not done a lot of sightseeing in the Destin area and don't plan to. We bought a cool kite and will be flying that on the beach either today or tomorrow, depending on the storms that are expected. Sometimes it's just nice to do nothing and that's what we plan.
Steve and I went walking on the beach, not just for a relaxing walk, but specifically to see the Portuguese Man O War that were washing up on the shore. It was a particularly bad day for beachgoers because both the red and purple flags were flying - - meaning, don't go in the water and if you do go in the water you are stupid. The red flag indicates that there are severe rip tides present. The purple represents dangerous sea life present. Hence, our desire to check things out. Steve took some great pics of these things which numbered in the thousands that had washed up on shore. They are the prettiest color of blue and look rather creepy. The fin is actually clear with pink highlights along the top edge and down the ridges. The tentacles were about two-feet long. While walking the beach we met a nice couple who were from Gladwin, Michigan and are familiar with the Klott family. His grandparents sold the land that now makes up the Sugar Springs resort where a number of Klott family members own property. Anyway, he told us that these tentacles can reach 30 feet in length and that if you are swimming in the ocean and can see one near you, you are too close. The tentacles could probably reach you at that point. They also told us that there are dolphins present just off shore and that the sea turtles have been coming in from the water at night to do whatever it is they do. Lay eggs maybe. Unfortunately, a big storm was coming in so we couldn't hang out and wait for the turtles, but hopefully we can get out and see them tomorrow before we leave. We will have to rely on moonlight to see them as flashlights are prohibited. I guess the artificial light confuses the turtles and causes them to crawl away from the ocean instead of back to it.
Can I ask you a favor? Can you let Steve and I know of places that you have been on the eastern part of the U.S. that you think would be interesting for us to visit. We have found that the people we meet are giving us ideas to visit some of the most interesting places that we have seen - - most of which we would not have visited if it weren't for their suggestion. So if you have an idea of something east of the Mississippi that you think would be cool for us to see, please contact us using the tab above. We would really appreciate seeing the "off the beaten path" type of stuff most but anything cool would be appreciated.
Alrighty folks. That's it for this week's update. I close this blog by including a link to a TV segment which features my son, Terry. He uses his trail name of "Serial" in this piece as he explains the beauty of living in his hometown of Damascus, Virginia and why it deserves to be named "America's best small town". If you could, too, please visit the website mentioned in the video and vote for Damascus. It really is a cool little town and should get more press so that others can learn of it's beauty and charm as well. http://www.wcyb.com/video/index.html.
Thanks Everyone! Stay warm!
P.S. Here is a map of the U.S. showing which states we have visited so far. Twelve so far since September 1, 2011. The balance of the Eastern states will be done in 2012. West of the Mississippi will be our 2013 journey (including Alaska) so stay tuned!
"Action is the antidote to despair."
– Joan Baez
This week was interesting in a different way. We spent our time in Waveland, MS at Bucaneer State Park, which is right on the coast. Before I get to our activities on the coast, let me begin first by telling you about our short jaunt to New Orleans. Steve and I have been to NOLA many times so we did not feel the need to make an extended stay this trip. We did, however, feel that stopping at the Central Grocery on Decatur Street and picking up a muffuletta was a requirement. This store sells the world's best muffuletta and to be so close and not pick one up is tantamount to a venial sin. Anyone with me? We picked up our sandwiches and headed to a nice bench to sit and enjoy our feast and people watch (this was the day after the LSU/Alabama game so the city was packed). While there, we had an older woman who looked very down on her luck come up to us and tell us she was hungry. So, being good Christians, we gave her part of our muffuletta because, like she said, SHE WAS HUNGRY. What does she do with this sandwich? She promptly walks over to the garbage can and throws it away. WHAT? WASTE THE MUFFULETTA? Goodness me I cannot believe she did that. I almost went dumpster diving for that sandwich, but there were other people around and I didn't want to embarrass Steve, so I let it go. Oh well, we did the right thing and tried to help.
Now, on to the Gulf and our time in Mississippi. First, let me begin by saying we absolutely love it here. Both Steve and I could see ourselves living in this area every winter. The beaches are extraordinary, the people are unbelievably friendly, there are a ton of things to do in Gulfport and Biloxi, and both New Orleans and Mobile are an hour away in either direction. This area comes highly recommended for vacation stays for everyone, kids and adults alike. For you gamblers, there are several very nice hotel/casinos right on the beach. Please consider it when thinking about or planning for vacations this year or next.
The reason that I say that, and why I chose the quote above for this week, is because there is still a ton of devastation from Katrina that, although cleaned up, has not yet been rebuilt. Steve and I were stunned at the number of empty beachfront properties that were nothing more than a driveway and then empty lot. Sometimes the stilts of the former residence were still in place. Sometimes it was nothing more than the shell of a building or steps leading to nowhere. It was sad to see that such a beautiful area could have been so completely ravaged by this storm. But these people are truly hearty souls and have done their best to overcome the suffering they encountered in August of 2005.
If you will recall, the hurricane was headed directly for New Orleans but made a right turn just before making landfall. That right turn put Waveland right in the center of the storm. The water that came from the storm surge of this hurricane reached more than 15 miles inland. Steve and I have talked with many people this week who were here during the hurricane as well as some who evacuated only to come home to complete chaos. The woman who cut my hair told me that she lives in Kiln, MS and her house was flooded. Her sister and sister-in-law live in the apartment complex that are about 2 miles inland from where we are staying and both of them had to swim out of their apartments (both of which were on the second floor). Her sister-in-law held on to a telephone pole for 3 days before she was rescued. Can you imagine? Steve and I met a homeless man named Boudreau, or "Crazy Indian" as he called himself, who did not evacuate during the storm. He told us about clinging to the top of a tree (where he landed after a large wave catapulted him there) and watched as house after house floated passed him. He said the most remarkable thing to see was a 10-foot alligator drift passed him, drowned as a result of the flooding. In his words, an alligator that was made to live in water drowned in the storm, but Jesus kept him alive for some reason. One gentlemen, who is camping in the spot right next to ours, told us about his house. He lives about 8 miles from the shore and evacuated with his family. When he returned home, he had evidence that indicated he had 10 feet of water in his house. What was really remarkable to him, though, was a coffee table had floated from their living room, up a dog-legged stairway, and into their second story loft with all the knicknacks intact and upright. He also had a 5-gallon bucket filled with pieces of marble tile that he was saving from a project he was doing in his kitchen. That bucket of marble pieces was picked up (now imagine how heavy that would be) and drifted 1000 yards away from his house without dumping over. We all watched the news after this hurricane and were shocked to see the damage done and were saddened by the loss of life that occurred. To be here and see it first hand, even 7 years later, makes it much more personal to Steve and I. We were in New Orleans shortly after Katrina and saw the damage there as well and even that damage has still to be completely rectified and most likely will never be. Yet despite this devastation, these people pick up their lives and continue on and grew closer as a community because of it. It is truly a testimony of faith in some regards. I am not sure how I would deal with losing everything I had and my livelihood as well. Would I be as resilient? I don't know.
Anyway, as I said, we loved our time here. Steve and I went to the Gulfport Dragway and watched amateurs race their cars. Some were definitely modified for racing, but some were completely stock. I was introduced to drag racing a couple summers ago by my brother-in-law Yog and totally loved it. That was a Nationals event and much faster than what we saw in Gulfport, but it was fun nonetheless. We also walked around and talked with the drivers and learned a lot about amateur drag racing. Some of the cars also had some really cool paint schemes and I enjoyed that very much.
By now, you are all aware of my fascination with the Space program, so while we were here, we had to visit the Stennis Space Center. This NASA facility is where all the rocket engines are tested. I was disappointed that they weren't doing any testing that day, but we were able to drive out the 2 miles necessary to reach the test sites. The reason these 2 miles are required is because of the sound waves created by these engines while in test mode. These engines create such sound waves that the vibration will break windshields of cars parked any closer. Our guide told us that the surrounding areas often mistake the tests for earthquakes. NASA now publishes the testing schedule so that the communities around the base are informed prior to the scheduled events, thereby keeping the panic to a minimum. This facility has been responsible for testing all the rocket engines since the Mercury rockets that were first used for manned flight in the USA. Even though the space shuttle program is over, NASA is developing a new rocket that will be used to shuttle equipment to and from the International Space Station. Those engines are now being developed and tested at Stennis.
Steve and I love the drive down Beach Blvd. and have made that cruise several times while we have been here. It runs from Waveland all the way to Biloxi and is absolutely breathtaking as it literally runs right along the shoreline. One evening we stopped at a restaurant to have dinner and met Charlotte, our waitress, who was from Point Place in Toledo. She moved here last year because her husband took a concrete job with a construction company. She said that she loves living here but that summers were rather oppressive (which we heard from others as well). She also said that construction companies are clamoring for help so if anyone is willing to move to the Gulf shores area, work is available here as well as in Texas and Louisiana which we mentioned in previous posts.
Biloxi is really a fun town. It is packed with casinos, but also has a lot of other things going on. There are fishing and shrimping trips you can take. Lots of wildlife tours are available too. And, of course, being right on the water, the beaches are long and beautifully manicured. And the seafood, OOOOOOOOOOOOO soooo good. Steve and I had several dishes that were made with Gulf fish product and I can honestly say, they were delish. Steve had some oysters on the had shell (yuk) that he raved over. I had fried green tomatoes topped with lump crab. MMMM MMMM. The shrimp is spectacular too. Despite the BP catastrophe 18 months ago, the gulf fisherman are still producing an excellent product so I highly recommend purchasing seafood pulled from the gulf. It's "homemade" and helps out these fisherman. As we mentioned in our last post, gulf seafood is the most regulated and tested seafood in the world because of the BP oil spill so don't be concerned about it's safety.
The rest of our time was spent close to home. Bucaneer State Park is quite a nice place to stay. Being in Waveland, it suffered significant damage but is working its way back to health. This park had a water slide and wave pool which were completely destroyed yet the skeletal remains still and we pass by them every day on our way in and out of the park. What is also interesting here is many of the trees that were destroyed. They remain standing, but are completely stripped of their bark, branches and leaves. These trees are called Live Oaks and are majestic when in full bloom. To see these beauties now as nothing more than scraggly sticks is really sad. Anyway, we marveled at some beautiful sunsets and watched a lot of football here as I am sure you did too. Can you believe the Giants beat the Packers? How about that San Francisco/New Orleans game? We had several Saints fans camping near us and we could hear them whooping and hollering when their team took the lead with just over a minute left in the game. They got quiet shortly thereafter. Bummer for them. The games next week will be interesting although it appears that New England is being set up to win yet another Super Bowl. (Go Browns!!)
Ok, that's it from the Travelin Andersons for this week. We decided to skip Mobile Alabama and head for the Florida panhandle and the beautiful beaches there. The family that camped next to us told us about Fort Pickens Campground in Gulf Breeze so we're going to check that out. We intend to get some sun as the weather will be in the upper 70's while we are there. We also plan to visit Pensacola and the home of the Blue Angels. Connie, my mother-in-law, is flying down to stay with us for a week on January 30 and we are excited about that too.
Until next time, be good and stay warm. Looks like winter is finally settling in.
"Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat."
– F. Scott Fitzgerald
I love F. Scott Fitzgerald. If you haven't read anything of his, you should take some time and do so. The reason that I chose this quote, however, is because Steve and I watched "Midnight in Paris" last night. It's a movie that just came out on DVD and it has a ton of stars that make cameo appearances throughout. Owen Wilson plays a writer who's in Paris with his fiancee and her parents and every night, at midnight, he has encounters with various figures from history (F. Scott Fitzgerald is one of them) that change his life. I know, it sounds weird but it is truly a wonderful movie. Check it out.
So, we've had a great week. First off, the weather has been spectacular. As I write this, I am watching the Denver/Pittsburgh game and it's still 70 degrees outside. It was just a gorgeous weekend. Both days got up to 76 degrees and the thundershowers that we were to have seemed to pass right on through without leaving a drop. Nice!!!!!
Our first adventure this week was to visit Dinosaur Valley State Park in Glen Rose, Texas. Apparently Central Texas is lousy with dinosaur fossils. Who knew??? Anyway, Steve and I visited a riverbed that had theropod and sauropod tracks that were left in the limestone bed of this shallow river. Apparently these tracks are 113 million years old. A good number of the prints could have been anything, let's be honest here, but there were a couple of three-toed prints that were absolutely spectacular. We also had a nice picnic there as it was a beautiful sunny day.
The next day we took our new truck and trailer on their first journey and headed to Livingston Texas where we stayed at the Escapees headquarters campground. Escapees is a camping club that we belong to. If you are thinking about doing some serious travel with your camper in the future, I highly recommend becoming members of a couple of camping organizations. These organizations provide discounts at a number of campgrounds, but Escapees and Good Sam's go one step further and do a number of things that help full-time campers like Steverino and I. Anyway, we were in Livingston for three days and took the time to check out Livingston Lake State Park. It's a great park with absolutely awesome campsites so if you are in that area, check it out.
The next day we went into Houston and visited the Johnson Space Center. Man, I sure do love rockets and the space program so I was in my glory. Anyway, we took the tram tour around the facility and learned about and saw some really cool stuff. First, there are 14,000 people who work at the Johnson Space Center and part of the land is dedicated to the local school system to use in their FFA programs. They even have a prize-winning longhorn steer on the property that is worth $500,000. Can you imagine the cost of that filet??????
So okay, back to the rockets. Since Steve and I have visited other space facilities (Kennedy in Florida and U.S. Rocket & Space Center in Huntsville, Alabama) so some of what we heard was not new information. But for me, it was just the coolest being at the facility that actually manages the space voyages once they lifted off from Kennedy Space Center. We sat in the room where they mission control group worked through the issues with Apollo 13, which I thought was sweet. We also got to see the actual podium that President Kennedy gave his "We choose to go to th On our visit, we made a stop at the facility where the astronauts train on mocked-up versions of the actual facilities where they will live and work in space (such as the shuttle and the international space station). We also visited a Saturn 5 rocket where we saw the British version of the Travel Channel filming a segment - - so if you are ever in the UK and are watching the Travel Channel and see a segment on the Johnson Space Center and happen to notice a woman with khaki capri pants and a red shirt in the background, that's probably me.
The really cool part of this trip, however, was a tour we took that was guided by an actual rocket scientist. This gentlemen had worked for Lockheed for 40 years through various projects that included the space station and the shuttle and the Saturn 5 rockets. He was so knowledgeable and interesting and took us through the history of the space program using real space equipment and actual moon rocks. That was the best part of the day for me and we capped the day by coming home and watching the movie "Apollo 18". That was a mistake for a number of reasons. First, it was a painfully bad movie. Second, (SPOILER ALERT - do not read the rest of this paragraph if you haven't seen the movie but plan to) the moon rocks in this movie are actually little spiders that kill the astronauts that are sent on the top secret Apollo 18 mission. So, after having touched moon rocks earlier in the day, I was rather creeped out thinking about the possibility that I could have been infected with the spider virus that killed the astronaut in the movie.
That was it for our time in Livingston and for our time in Texas, for that matter. We were in Texas more than any other state and we didn't even scratch the surface. We will be back next winter and check out the Central and Western parts of that State (Austin, San Antonio, and especially Big Bend National Park). We then ventured on to Lafayette, Louisiana and crossed over one of the scariest bridges I have ever been on in my entire life. I am serious when I say this. It was an old bridge that angled up at what appeared to be a 45 degree angle, no kidding. To make matters worse, there was construction on the bridge so we were down to one narrow lane pulling a 40' trailer. I was nearly lightheaded by the time we crossed the center and headed back downhill to the other side. HATED IT.
Back to Lafayette, let me begin by saying I am just taken aback at how much a culture can change in a mere four hours of driving distance. We are in the heart of Acadia or Cajun country and it is hugely different from the cowboy culture we experienced in Texas. The language, the food, the music, all different. It's like being in another country. That's what I love about this United States we live in. We are all Americans but the diversity we've experienced and enjoyed across this great country is remarkable. There is no vanilla in the United States. Know what I mean?
Anyway, Lafayette is fun. Our first night here we had cajun food for dinner. I had the best crab cakes I have ever tasted. They were spicy and lumpy, which means it's good crab. Steve had something he hated, which is saying a lot since the guy will try just about anything, but the zydeco music we got to listen to that evening more than made up for his culinary displeasure.
The next day we ventured south to the Gulf. Our first stop was Cypremort Point State Park where we stopped for a picnic lunch. Some of you were lucky enough to get a picture text from Steve boasting about our luncheon surroundings, which were fantastic, by the way. Bright sunny day, about 73 degrees, nice gulf breeze blowing - - - ahhhhhhh, yeah, that's what I'm talking about for January 7. Anyway, we enjoyed our lunch and visited with some people who were fishing for catfish on the pier. The little girl (her name was Kaylee) was afraid of the catfish that was caught and sitting in the bucket. She was adorable. After lunch we drove around the point and checked out some of the houses. We especially liked the mobile homes up on stilts... too funny.
Alright so we come to the coolest part of our stay in Lafayette. Steve and I took a tour on a real live, actual oil rig platform that was used in Gulf for 32 years. Man was this interesting and Steve was in his glory the whole time. We learned a TON about the oil and gas industry so let me share some facts with you:
1) There are more than 115 of these drilling rigs in the gulf but not all are in operation due in part to the BP accident and a backlog of drilling permits in Washington DC.
2) There are 3400 processing rigs that take the oil, via underground pipeline, and process it and send it to shore via more underground pipeline or tankers.
3) There are up to 250 people one a drilling rig but some of the processing rigs are completely unmanned.
4) For each person that works on a rig, there are 6 other jobs created to support the work done on the rig.
5) The workers on these rigs work either 14 days on/14 days off, or 28 days on/28 days off, depending on how far from shore the rig is.
6) These workers (men and women) make a minimum of $20 per hour and work a 12-hour shift every day (4 hours OT every day) plus meals are included. So you do the math, and that some serious coin they are making.
7) The drilling in the gulf has come to a screeching halt (thanks to Obama) so a good number of the viable rigs are going overseas to China and Venezuela to drill for those nations.
8) The BP disaster was caused by a series of decisions made by BP, Schlumberger, Halliburton and other vendors. They based decisions on past practice but the pressure in the hole they were drilling spiked to a level they had never encountered before.
9) They are finding oil at 35,000 foot depths which is defies what scientist told them. They claim fossil fuels would not be found below 18,000 feet. So, the theory that oil is from fossils is now under question. Many believe that the earth itself is producing the oil from it's mantel and is therefore not a limited supply natural resource. Google "abiotic oil" and see for yourself.
10) Old drilling rigs rested on the ocean floor, but modern rigs are now self-propelled and "float" and are held in place by maneuvering thrusters and GPS signals.
Our tour guide was a man named Virgil who is a chemical and civil engineer who has spent the last 42 years working in the oil industry. He presently uses the oil rig we were on as a training facility for the contractors that are hired to man the rigs that are put out in the gulf. He was hugely knowledgeable and very interesting and both Steve and I could have listened to him all day. Since I am not mechanically inclined and therefore, not capable of spewing all the details of "Oil Rig 101", here is a link to a website that will explain to you how the drilling operation works. www.science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/energy/offshore-drilling.htm
What an awesome time that was and if you are ever in Morgan City, please check it out. You will not be sorry. Their website is www.rigmuseum.com.
By the way, if anyone reading this blog is looking for work and a career, please check out this area of the country. Jobs are plentiful and there are signs everywhere for open positions for general labor, etc., not just oil-specific workers. We met a gentlemen who drives truck for Ryder as part of their oil support team and he said that they cannot find enough people to fill the positions that they have so think about it. Anyway, on the way home, Steve and I stopped at the Cypress Bayou Casino and lost $80 in the slots. I swear we are coolers for each other and should not step foot in another casino as we NEVER win. We have friends and family members who have hit big money in a casino, but not Steve or I. I think our biggest haul ever was $170 at Greektown.
Today, we went to church at an Assembly of God church. Like the Baptist church we attended last Sunday, you would not really know any difference between our home church, Westgate Chapel, service and either of these denominations. Makes me wonder why we have so many of them anyway. After church, we visited the Jean Lafitte National Park and the Acadian Cultural Center to learn more about Cajun history and the story of the Acadians. The Acadians were French refugees that came across the ocean to settle in what is now Nova Scotia. The British took over this area and had them expelled because they were French and Catholic. They were sent to various cities along the Eastern seaboard of what was then the colonies. After the French government found out about how the British treated these people, they were brought back to France but, because of their long separation from the French culture, they could not reincorporate into French society. So they all packed up and headed to the French colony in Louisiana and there begins the story of the American Cajun culture.
Ok, school is done for the day and so am I. The Denver Broncos just beat the Pittsburgh Steelers (Sorry Gary) in a very exciting overtime situation. I have some Bible study to do and then hopefully a relaxing movie this evening. Both Steve and I miss all of you very much but are truly enjoying the 70+ degree weather we are having here so don't plan to see us until at least the winter months are well behind you.
Take care and next week, we're headed to Mississippi's Gulf Shore. I need that sun. I gotta work on my Ban de Soliel tan!!! (NOT)
"I make the most of all that comes and the least of all that goes."
– Sara Teasdale
Happy New Year everyone!!!! I don't know about you, but 2011 was a jam-packed year for Steve and I. A good portion of the year we spent in awe of how God has blessed us, but not all of what happened during the past year are things we are happy about or proud of. So I am beginning the new year with a sweeping away of the old and encourage you to do the same. That is why I chose the quote above - - it sort of gives us permission to do that, don't you think? I believe that this year, 2012, will be one of great things for me and Steve. It may not happen, but I cannot start out the new year with lesser expectations or what would be the point of getting out of bed???????
Anyway, let me just get you up to date with the happenings of the Andersons. I last left you just before Christmas in Fort Worth, Texas. LOVE FORT WORTH. Really really do. I highly recommend it to any young person looking to start out their post-collegiate life in a new city. First of all, the Dallas/Fort Worth area is booming and employment opportunities are ripe for the picking. It's not uncommon to see a "help wanted" sign on many of the businesses. You don't see that back home. Plus, Fort Worth has the great combination of charm and sophistication. The downtown area retains a good amount of its early architecture, which I have mentioned before, but also boasts a ballet, museums, tons of history, and is close enough to Dallas (about 30 minutes) that you can get all the professional sports action that one can stand. There is even a Kardashian nearby, in case you have the need to get your fix of gossip-magazine fodder.
Now, on to the important stuff. For Christmas this year, we had convinced our families that we would be in Texas celebrating on our own because flights were too expensive and, after all, we had just purchased Big Red and the New Rex (which we affectionately refer to as "The B.A.T." - - Big A** Truck) and couldn't afford yet another expenditure. They were not happy but understood that we would not be present for the holidays. Well, did we have fun with that one. On Thursday afternoon (12/22) we unloaded our beloved Wendy and loaded Big Red, and promptly headed for Detroit. It was a 1200-mile drive that we took two days to make so it wasn't that bad. We left behind the 65 degree weather to return to the gray skies of Michigan, but the anticipation of seeing our kids and grandkids again made up for it. Our plan was to surprise first my family because we always get together on Christmas Eve. This year, my sister Julie hosted the family party so, as part of the ruse of our surprise, we had presents shipped to my brother-in-law Dave's office so that there would be presents to open for the family even if we weren't there. That all went great until UPS ran over one of the boxes, but regardless, most of the presents made it to them before Christmas Eve.
The plan for my side of the family is that we were going to skype with everyone and say grace, as Steve was requested to do. They would all be at Julie's house and, unbeknownst to them, Steve and I would be just down the street on the other end of the computer connection. Our plan was to somehow show them the truck using our laptop camera and have them recognize the surrounding area and know that they had been fooled and that we were, in fact, there to celebrate with them. Things went just as we planned and they were all surprised and there were even some tears. Christmas Eve was a total blast as the food was excellent (as always), the entertainment was a riot (we played Christmas Pictionary) but mostly the company was full of love and warmth - - just the thing for the Christmas season.
The next day (Christmas) we had planned to surprise Steve's mother. She was planning to go to my sister-in-law Beverly's house for Christmas brunch and knew that someone was picking her up at 9:30 to bring her there. Much to her surprise, it was Steve and I at her door that morning. The look on her face was priceless when she opened that door. Love that stuff!!!!! She opened her presents and we headed to church. Our church, Westgate Chapel, does a great job with the Christmas celebration. Rather than it being the traditional service, Pastor Carey had us all think about the celebration of Jesus' birth and why, if He is the birthday boy, we aren't giving him gifts to Him versus receiving them from family. So we all made Christmas ornaments and wrote on them what we were giving Jesus this year, and put them on the trees in the front of the sanctuary. That was a great exercise to do and hopefully it reminds you all, as it did me, how blessed we are to have been given the greatest gift of all - our salvation through Christ.
The following day was the Anderson family party and we were so happy to see everyone. Steve took a great panoramic shot of the gift opening at this party which will give you some idea of how many people are in this family. There were probably close to 50 people watching the kids open their presents and that wasn't even the entire crowd. There were two other rooms of people elsewhere in the house. Thank God that Bev and Larry have a house large enough to accomodate this ever-growing family because it is just the coolest when everyone is together. Sometimes I just sit quietly and look around the room and eavesdrop on others' conversation. Not to be nosy, but to just take in who everyone is and appreciate what they bring to the family and to me personally. Here are some pictures of our families enjoying Christmas.
Ok, so festivities are over. We saw all three of our children and their significant others (Terry and Jill came in from Virginia -- YEAH!!!). We got to see our daughter Jill and her husband Gary's new house (well done guys), and spent some quality time with both of our parents. We love and miss them so much and were given strict instructions to keep the postcards coming. My dad has saved every one of them and keeps them in chronological order so he has a sort of "mental map" of where we've been and what we've done. Both of our parents are living vicariously through our journey right now and we appreciate that very much, so we send interesting postcards to them as often as possible.
As of this writing, we are back in Dallas. We picked up Big Red and are doing our "shakedown" weekend with her. So far, everything has gone pretty smoothly with the exception of a few items which are being addressed on Tuesday. Our beloved Wendy has a new owner and we are happy about that. It is a man who has colon cancer and is going to use Wendy as an opportunity to spend some quality time with his teenage girls before they are grown and gone. We are not sure the extent of the cancer that he has, but this is a second occurrence of it for him so keep this man in your prayers. I do not know his name or I would tell you specifically who to pray for, but God knows who he is so put in a good word for him, if you would be so kind.
Alrighty then folks. When you next hear from us, we will be in warmer climes somewhere near Lafayette, Louisiana. We are working our way along the gulf coast toward Florida where we will hook up with our friends Dave and Deanne (you will remember that we had birthday dinner with them our first night in Dallas several weeks ago). We will also be visiting my Aunt Bonnie who lives in Lake Suzy. Then it's on to the Daytona 500 and the much-anticipated return of NASCAR!!!!
Take care everyone and remember, it's out with the old and in with the new. Make a pledge to do something meaningful for someone else this year (it doesn't have to be big). And always remember that you are blessed. The simple fact that you are reading this e-mail should tell you that! There are so many people in this world that for whom reaching the internet is an impossibility. If you are looking for a way to help others and do something meaningful, Steve and I are big fans of an organization called World Vision. Visit their website at www.worldvision.com to learn more.
Love you all!!!! TTFN.