Terry and Jill were a little sad this morning when were driving them back to the trail head. Partly because they were saying goodbye to us and partly because their trail buddies would be a couple days farther up the trail from them. Then, much to their delight, when we pulled into the Mount Rodgers National Forest Headquarters to drop them off there stood all their friends. After much whooping and hollering we gave them hugs good bye and we headed our separate ways to continue our adventures.
Congrats go out again to Kathy White for correctly answering the questions to the contest. Semaphore has been used for relaying visual instructions to engineers since the 1840s and are still used today in the form of lights. Flag semaphores are used on aircraft carrier flight decks and you also see them at airports when when they guide an aircraft into and away from the terminal with the use of flashlights.
Kathy's fabulous prize will be hand delivered while we are visiting family and friends back home.
"Map out your future, but do it in pencil."
– Jon Bon Jovi
Good morning. Happy Memorial Day! Before I give you the update for this week, please take a moment to remember the sacrifice our service men and women have made for this country, and specifically for you and me. If it weren't for these brave individuals, this country would be a much different place. I know that I couldn't be a soldier, so I appreciate those who are. May God bless all of them and their families.
Alrighty, we are in Marion, Virginia hanging with Terry and Jill (aka Serial, Minutes - - their trail names) and Rooney, their dog. We have had quite the down week because first, it rained every day so we didn't get much else done except a lot of homework for me and a trip to the movie theater. We saw "The Avengers 3D" and loved it. I would definitely see that again.
Two days ago, we picked up Terry and Jill and have been hanging out with them and enjoying hearing about their stories and how much they are loving their adventure. They are 500 miles into their trek and look great. We spent time talking about our lives and the our mutual "adventures". It's funny to see how similar our lives are right now. All of us are loving our lives right now and none of us have a clue where we will be a year or two from now. I think the above quote is the best way to describe the approach to life the four of us are taking. For me, that is a big step because I am a HUGE planner. To move forward without a real plan is quite the growing experience for me. Anyway, our visit with them has come to an end. We are depositing them back into the woods later this morning and won't see them again until July 4th week. That will be a fun time because we will be in Harpers Ferry, WV - - which is a huge civil war location and I love history - - but mostly because we will be meeting Jill's parents. Can't wait!
From here we head to West Virginia for a brief stay, then on to Hocking Hills in Ohio for what I am hoping is some significant outdoor time. After that, Steve and I will be in Michigan - - well, Steve will be in Michigan and I will be in Chicago for school. The second week in June we will both be home and spending time with family and friends, which will be just super. We are also going through our annual checkups with the doctors and dentists, as well as visiting the health department to get the shots we need for our trip to Haiti in November. For those of you who missed that blog, let me explain. Steve and I have been sponsoring a child in Haiti since 2000. His name is Wilguens Dereme and he was just 5 years old when we began to sponsor him through Compassion International. He will be coming out of the program after this year so Steve and I decided to go to Haiti and visit with him and his family. We are so excited to see him, I cannot even put it into words. For the past 12 years, we have been corresponding several times a year and he feels like part of our family, even though we've never met him. I am sure there will be many many tears, but I am also sure this visit will be life-changing in a very good way.
Well then, that's it for the update today. We have a couple of pics of Terry, Jill and Rooney. It was great to spend time with them but it is time to say Adios, for now.
Take care everyone.
This contest has a three part answer. Be the first to correctly answer the questions in a blog comment to win the fabulous prizes... good luck
1) What is the name of this device
2) What is this device used for
3) What is the device pictured "saying"
"I think the purpose of life is to be useful, to be responsible, to be honorable, to be compassionate. It is, after all, to matter: to count, to stand for something, to have made some difference that you lived at all."
– Leo Rosten
Hi y'all. We are here in North Carolina and have been in the South for so long that I believe both Steve and my vocab is being seriously impacted as a result. Just the other day he was telling me a story and said the word "yella" to describe the color of something. Really? Yella? I'm just saying.
We began our week with a trip over to Ft. Mill, South Carolina (just south of Charlotte) to see the Del Webb community there (called Sun City Carolina Lakes). We absolutely LOVED IT!!!!! Loved the two houses that we are interested in: the Muirfield (which is a villa) and the Surrey Crest (with the loft option). We loved the way the neighborhoods were landscaped and maintained. We loved the pool, the fitness center, the number of clubs and activities available to us, just everything. Steve and I could both see ourselves living in this community and it has vaulted to the top of our list of potential relocation sites. Not just because of the Del Webb community, but after spending a week in the Charlotte area, we loved everything about it. It's close enough to our family that traveling wouldn't be burdensome, it still has 4 seasons (albeit winter is very mild) and has a large metropolitan city that offers all the sporting and cultural activities we are both looking for - - not to mention the mountains and lakes and all the outdoor activities that come with those. Yep, I think we've found it but we aren't making any firm decisions until we see the west side of the Mississippi River next winter.
Most of the week, as you can imagine, was Nascar related. We visited the Richard Childress Museum, which was a pleasant surprise. Of course, the bulk of that museum was dedicated to Dale Earnhardt, Sr. but that was okay. There was a moving tribute to him in the area where his old hauler is on display. The walls of that area are covered with these 3" x 3" tiles which were signed by all the Nascar drivers and friends/family of Dale Sr. Seeing the tile that Dale Jr. signed brought me to tears. It simply said "Miss you Dad" and it made me cry. Made me think about how much I miss my mother and how sad I was when she died. Anyway, we learned that Richard Childress is also a big proponent of Ducks Unlimited, an organization dedicated to the preservation of wetlands and the conservation of our natural resources. The display of his hunting trophies was quite impressive, too.
Keeping with the Nascar theme, we visited the Nascar Hall of Fame. Just as we arrived, they were doing a Q&A with this year's Hall of Fame inductees - - Darryl Waltrip, Cale Yarborough, and Glenn Wood. Man was that fun and interesting. The interplay among these three was just so entertaining. They told stories about themselves and each other that had the entire audience cracking up. After the Q&A, we walked around the facility and viewed the exhibits. Both of us were impressed with how it was put together and enjoyed our time there very much. The highlight of the visit for Steve was meeting Cale Yarborough. Well, he didn't actually meet him per se. Steve was using the facilities and while doing so Cale Yarborough stepped up to use the one next to him but sadly urinal etiquite forbids eye contact or chatting while both men are indisposed. Handshaking is out of the question too. Steve said he washed his hands twice trying to waste time so he could meet this legend of the sport but alas, it wasn't enough time. Now Steve is concerned that Cale has a prostate issue... men!
Our last Nascar entry for this blog will be our experience at the All-Star race on Saturday night. Let me just say that Steve and I agree that Charlotte Motor Speedway was the coolest track that we have ever been too. It is well laid out, small enough that you get a good view of the entire track, but large enough that the drivers really get up to some high speeds. The seats were comfortable and not the standard 12" in width (thank God for that). The race format was a little strange, however, but we enjoyed it very much. The race begins with a two segment showdown of 20 laps per segment. The break in-between the segments is designed for pit stops if the teams feel they need one. At the end of this showdown, the first and second place drivers move into the All-Star race - - the winner of which gets $1,000,000 prize. The winner of the Showdown was Dale Jr. which made the fans go crazy since he's the hometown boy. Second place went to AJ Almendinger ("Dinger") who honestly had the absolutely fastest car in that race.
For the actual All-Star race, there are 20 drivers automatically entered - - made up of recent race winners and past champions that are allowed to race, plus the two from the Showdown, and then a fan favorite is voted in (Bobby Labonte was the fan favorite). This race is broken down into 4 segments of 20 laps each, and then a 10 lap shootout at the end. The 4 segments were very exciting, but the shootout at the end was not so much. The winner of this race was Jimmie Johnson (yawn) and I would say that most of the crowd was disappointed with the outcome. Not because Jimmie is a bad guy, but because he has been so dominate over the past 6 years that it was sort of anti-climactic.
Alright, enough with the Nascar already. If you are still awake at this point, I will tell you about the North Carolina Transportation Museum we visited in Spencer, NC. To say that Steve and I were pleasantly surprised by this museum is an understatement. Apparently, as we learned, Spencer was the main and central hub for the Southern Railway and acted as the service center for all steam engines while they were in their heyday. Steve was thrilled because while we were watching the video about the importance of Spencer to the railroad industry, he realized the song "Wreck of Old 97" (sung by Hank Snow and Johnny Cash) was about Spencer and it gave the tune more meaning to him. Anyway, we toured several interesting train cars - - mail cars, hospital cars, luxury cars owned by the Duke Family, etc. Fascinating. This museum also housed an excellent classic car collection as well as a replica of the Wright Brothers plane flown in Kitty Hawk (which actually is not the location of the first flight. Kitty Hawk was the closest city from which they could send a telegram - - piece of trivia for you!) We met some very interesting people who volunteer at the museum, too. What a nice time we had there.
The most meaningful place we visited, however, is not about cars or even a beautiful natural wonder. It was the Billy Graham Library, which was dedicated to telling the story of his life. The quote above was chosen for this week because I believe it best describes the impact of this man on our generation. Billy Frank Graham began life on a dairy farm in North Carolina. His family was fairly well-to-do as their dairy business was pretty successful. The museum takes you through the various stages of Billy Graham's life - - beginning with the tent revivals in Los Angeles in 1949 where he was a keynote speaker, through his radio and newspaper columnist career, and into his world-touring evangelistic endeavors. What an impressive man he was, gifted by God with unbelievable oratory skills. It is interesting to note that he did not believe that he was a Bible scholar at all. He actually claimed that his wife, Ruth, was a greater Bible scholar than himself. Yet he was able to draw tens of millions of people to his crusades and lead hundreds of thousands to Christ. In one picture of him in South Korea, there were 1.1 million people in the audience, a sight which absolutely astounded me. Can you imagine addressing an audience of that size? I would be scared to death to say the least, yet he never seemed to be affected by the overwhelming responsibility he had at all. I want to be that kind of person. Not that I have any ambition to be a Billy Graham - - I simply want to impact people in a positive way and leave a legacy of service in a way that glorifies God. As most of you know, I am working through my Master's degree in seminary right now and am anxious about where this degree will take me. My motivation to serve was hugely impacted by this visit to Billy Graham's library and if you are ever in the Charlotte area, please take the time to visit this wonderful place. It is completely free and I guarantee you will walk away inspired.
The rest of our time here in North Carolina was spent relaxing and getting familiarized with the Lexington style of barbeque. This barbeque is completely different from that we enjoyed in Atlanta which was a more tomato-based barbeque. The Lexington style is a vinegar based marinate, which may sound weird but it was actually delicious. With respect to relaxing, that consisted mainly of going to the pool and getting some sun and doing some swimming. Steve is getting pretty tanned. Me, however, not so much. I must admit that I am no longer ghostly white. I have advanced to a version of "mother of pearl". I guess I should be happy about that as I am not a tanner at all. I did swim in the pool though. I was proud of myself because the water wasn't exactly warm, but I went in anyway. It was very refreshing!
Ok then. That's it for this week. Steve and I head to Wytheville, Virginia (pronounced "wifful" by the locals). We plan to hook up with our vagabond children - - Terry and his girlfriend Jill (and our granddog Rooney). We haven't seen them since we sent them on their journey back in Georgia on April 8. Terry is very experienced with a gruelling hike of this nature, but I am anxious to hear how Jill feels about the experience. "Poopy" - - as we affectionately refer to her - - is a trooper, though, and has hung in there so far. But as they are only 25% of the way through their journey, I am curious to see if the remaining 75% is a tad daunting to her, or perhaps, she is even more encouraged to complete the task. I will report back next week.
Take care peeps. Love ya.
This might sound strange considering our current lifestyle but this was a vacation week for us.
We spent the first part of the week in Myrtle Beach just relaxing and enjoying the sun and surf. Steve and I actually hit the beach two days (which, if you know me at all, seems like an impossibility). I must say that I failed to tan from the experience, but I did get two books read on the life of George Whitefield, the impetus behind the Great Awakening (look it up if you are interested). Steve's only complaint about our beach experience was that Greenpeace kept trying to roll him back into the water when he was sunbathing. I told him to lay off the ice cream... oh well.
We also spent part of the week near Darlington and attended the Nascar Southern 500. Both Steve and I were super excited because this was a new track experience for us and also, only the second night race we have attended (the first was the disaster known as the 2012 Daytona 500). We had awesome seats (about 30-50 yards from the start/finish line) which we thought would be spectacular. Unfortunately for us, the design of the track does not lend itself to a view of the front straightaway because of a large wall that most of the drivers hug as they come off turn 4. I am sad to say that the race was dullsville. The drivers in the top 10 spots on the leaderboard did not change for the entire first half of the race and there wasn't even a caution flag until lap 172 which is a track record...YAWN!!!!!!! So we hung around until lap 270 and took off. We figured we had seen enough of the race, nothing much was happening, and we'd beat the traffic out. Of course, as we got to the car, the action picked up and we missed all the crashes and leader changes. That's typical of most NASCAR races though... they settle into a rythym then go like crazy at the end. Thankfully we were home in enough time to watch the last 15 laps and see Jimmie Johnson win. WHATEVER! We had Ryan Newman in the pool this week and, of course, he sucked. But enough of my bad attitude about Nascar. I will renew my passion this Saturday as Steve and I are attending the All-Star race in Charlotte, NC.
So on to the important topic - - MOTHER'S DAY. Both Steve and I wish all you mothers out there a wonderful day and, for that matter, a wonderful week. Why should the hardest working person in the household only get recognition for one day, I ask you? We should be worshipped for an entire week if I have anything to say about it. My mother was one of the most marvelous people you would ever meet in this world. At times, she was my best friend and greatest cheerleader. I miss her terribly but consider myself very blessed to have a wonderful mother-in-law who has taken over that role for me and now also acts as my spiritual advisor. Connie and I did a Bible study together the summer before Steve and I launched on this journey and that time together was very precious to me. Thank you Connie, for your love and guidance!
Alrighty then. Steve and I are making our way north again. As mentioned above, we will be in North Carolina for the week. We are visiting the Del Webb community just south of Charlotte (in South Carolina) and attending the Nascar race on Saturday. I apologize for the lack of pictures this week, but I blame Steve! He said he was on vacation so I had to "bag it." Nice!
Love you guys and miss all of you. We are both looking forward to seeing family in June when we are home for a visit.
Congratulations to Kathy White for correctly explaining the darkened soil found around the Charles Towne Landing settlement. For her efforts she and her family will enjoy these fabulous prizes! The game and ginger cookies are both typical items used at the settlement in the 1670s. Stay tuned to future contests... you may be our next winner!
"You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result."
– Mahatma Gandhi
Good morning everyone. What a wonderful time we had here in Charleston. Before I go any further, I must say that this is an absolutely gorgeous city with 1,000 things to do, so we highly recommend it as a vacation spot for the whole family. Steve and I were here for a week and we hardly scratched the surface of the history and beauty of this fine city. We are sad to leave but alas our schedule beckons us forward. We are headed to Myrtle Beach for a few days before heading into Darlington for the night race on Saturday. We will most definitely be back to Charleston. We hear Christmas in Charleston is not to be missed (to our children - - think about it!!!!!)
Ok, so let me get to our adventures for the week. We began with a trip Charles Towne Landing - - the very first permanent English settlement in the Carolinas dating back to 1670. As you will see from the pictures, the three ships that originally sailed for this location struggled to get here. Of the three, only the Carolina made it on time and even then, only after stops at Barbados and the Bahamas due to severe weather. The 148 men, women and children who arrived at Abermarle Pointe in April of 1670 received land from King Charles as a gift of gratitude for their allegiance to him during a coup by Oliver Cromwell. For this loyalty, these 8 men were given the title of the Lords Proprietors as well as hundreds of acres of land each in the Carolina settlement. The settlers came to the new world to farm products such as indigo (used for dyes), ginger root, rice and sugar cane.
We learned that the Kiawah Indians were not hostile to the new settlers at all. As a matter of fact, they were a great help to them as they led the original settlers to Abermarle Pointe (vs. Port Royal which was their original destination). According to the Indians, Abermarle Pointe was a better location for farming, so that is where they headed. The settlers stayed at the Charles Towne settlement for 10 years before they crossed the Ashley River and built what is today's Charleston (the "e" was removed and the two words combined after the Revolutionary War). Steve took some great pictures of this historic locale. Check them out.
Our next adventure was to visit the USS Yorktown CV-10 (CV stands for aircraft carrier) that is moored at Patriot's Point in Charleston. The Yorktown was the 10th aircraft carrier ever made by the Navy and was placed into service during World War II. This ship was quite impressive. It housed 3,500 sailors while out at sea and within the ship itself an entire "city" exists. We toured the ship and were taken aback at how complicated the layout was. There were hallways going every which way leading to various places to eat, doctors and dentist offices, control rooms, engine rooms, sleeping quarters, storage units, bakeries (see the recipe in the gallery for how to make 10,000 chocolate chip cookies), and mechanical repair facilities. In addition to all that were 90 airplanes that were brought up to the flight deck via 3 different elevators. And, to make things even more interesting, this ship is apparently haunted. On the day that we visited, the SyFy Channel aired an episode of Ghost Hunters which featured the USS Yorktown. Totally cool! In addition to the Yorktown, Patriots Point also houses the USS Laffey (a destroyer) and the USS Clagamore (a submarine) but both of those were under restoration and not available for tour. Lastly, available for tour was a mock up of a Vietnam Naval Support Base. The entire day was really quite interesting and as we walked through the Medal of Honor museum housed within the Yorktown, the dedication of our armed services really hit home. These men and women who give their lives for our freedom should really be thanked every time we see one. As you know, freedom is not free, and without their sacrifice this country (and the world) would be a completely different place.
Steve and I headed downtown one day to do a walking tour of historic Charleston. What a gorgeous city!!!!! I have to say that to me, it is a mix of New Orleans and Savannah - - beautiful homes and churches in various architectural styles like Romanesque, Greek Revival, Federal, Adam, Neoclassical, Georgian, Italian Renaissance, I could go on. Most of these buildingshave their porches and balconies facing southwest to avail themselves of the cooling breezes (and trust me, they needed it. While we were there, it was 90 degrees and 90% humidity and it was the first week in May). The gardens of these homes are all in the back of the house, just like New Orleans. The downtown area also has a number of beautiful parks or squares that the citizenry used as social gathering spots, much like Savannah. It is interesting to note that Charleston was also known as a "holy city" because of the number of houses of worship located within its city borders.
It was impossible to take enough pictures to give you a feel for the beauty of the city. Everywhere you looked there was something at which to marvel. The stained glass windows were spectacular and the iron work found in the gates and balconies of some of the homes were truly breathtaking. Additionally, Charleston itself is a study in perseverance. It survived attacks from the Spanish and French and from the Northern Yankees. It has suffered numerous hurricanes, an enormous earthquake, and a fire that nearly destroyed the entire city. Yet here it sits in all its glory. As we said earlier, you will have to travel here yourselves to check it out and again, we highly recommend it.
Our last venture was to view the H.L. Hunley. In 1864, the Confederate army devised the first successful combat submarine and sent it out into the harbor to destroy the USS Housatonic, a ship there to act as a blockade for supplies coming into Charleston harbor. The mission was a success as they struck the Housatonic with a blast large enough to sink the ship in 3 minutes. Unfortunately, the 8 men aboard the Hunley died when the submarine sank to the harbor floor shortly after its encounter with the Housatonic. There is sat for 130 years until the National Geographic Society found it and brought it to the surface. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take any pictures of the actual submarine as National Geographic owns all the rites to any media on the submarine.
Steve and I had a nice evening out as we took a dinner cruise around the harbor. The food was spectacular and we met some nice folks. We also toured the Del Webb community up in Summerville (since we are still searching for our permanent landing spot). Lastly, we headed out to Kiawah Island to view the rising of the super moon. Check out Steve's pics of the moon on the page with the Hunley submarine.
Alrighty then. Steve and I are headed to Myrtle Beach to tan our smokin' hot bods. The weather is cooling considerably (it will be in the lower 80's) so a day at the beach will not be oppressive. We look forward to our visit with family in June so we want to look our best when we see everyone!
Take care everyone. We miss you all and think of you often.
P.S. In case you are wondering, Terry and Jill left Hot Springs, North Carolina on Saturday and are headed to Damascus, Virginia for trail days. We plan to hook up with them the week of May 21. Can't wait!