"Consider the postage stamp: its usefulness consists in the ability to stick to one thing until it gets there."
– Josh Billings
Happy Monday people. Hope you all had an excellent week. The Cleveland Browns finally won yesterday so Steve's happy. It happens so rarely that one really needs to celebrate the moment - - you Detroit Lions fans used to know that feeling.
This week's update is going to be a bit different. I am going to work from today backwards.
So here I sit in the Outer Banks region of North Carolina looking at the most beautiful sunrise sky. The background is a pale to medium blue, but the clouds are bright yellow and white, being lit from the early morning sun. Absolutely lovely. I hope the day stays this way because we plan to take the Chesapeake Bay Bridge/Tunnel to Kitopeke State Park and do some geocaching. For those of you not familiar with the Chesapeake Bay Bridge/Tunnel, it is a 17-mile long series of bridges and tunnels that take you from the mainland of Virginia via Virginia Beach, across the Chesapeake Bay and over to the eastern point of the tip of Virginia. Check it out at this website: http://www.cbbt.com/history.html. So yeah, I am hoping that my claustrophobia doesn't kick in. Could be interesting.
Yesterday, we had a delightful day. We began our day with a wonderful pancake and sausage breakfast at our campground. This brought back wonderful memories of the 20+ years that Terry and I went to Family Camp on the shores of Lake Huron in Michigan. People just staggering in, wearing their pajamas and not really caring what their hair looks like. Adults headed straight for coffee with that glazed look in their eyes. AAAAAHHHHH, the good old days! After this, we headed to Kitty Hawk for church. We visited the Lighthouse Christian Church and had a wonderful service. I must tell you a quick story about how good God is. I have been dealing with some self doubt about my calling and my effectiveness in counseling those who are seeking God. I won't bore you with the details but yesterday's message was all about encouragement and how God doesn't lead you somewhere and then forget about you. Both Steve and I felt that this message was meant specifically for me - - especially when the pastor woke up Sunday morning and got the idea to speak about how God encourages us. Do you see what I mean? Isn't that cool?
Ok, so after church, we visited the Wright Brothers' Memorial which was very interesting. These guys made several trips to Kill Devil Hills (which is the actual location of their first flight, not Kitty Hawk) because it provided them good wind and soft sand for landings. Their first flight was 12 seconds and went all of 120 feet. They steadily improved this performance and on their fourth attempt, they achieved flight for more than 800 feet. That was worth celebrating! One of the facts displayed in the museum really caught our eye and that was the comment that it was 66 years between man's first flight and man's landing on the moon. Incredible, no? Steve and I climbed the hill at the top of which is the memorial to the Wright Brothers. From there we could watch the kite flying contest which was happening below. That was really cool.
From there, we headed down the coast to Cape Hatteras and stopped and had lunch at a beachside pier. The weather was sunny and a spectacular 77 degrees. Perfect!
Earlier in the week, Steve and I spent a couple of days in the Washington, D.C. area. Steve had never been to our nation's capital so I was excited to show it to him. We took the subway in from College Park and stopped at the Smithsonian station which is right next to the mall. When we came to the top of the escalator that leads you out of the subway, I lead Steve to the middle of the mall because from this vantage point you have the Washington Monument on one side of you and the Capitol Building on the other. Quite the wow factor and he was impressed. We walked and walked that day going from the Smithsonian station, to the Holocaust Museum, and from there around the Tidal Basin to see the Jefferson, Roosevelt, Martin Luther King, and Lincoln Memorials. It was a monumental trip (get it - - monumental - - I crack myself up). While resting at the Lincoln Memorial, we met Orlando Rivera, a Vietnam vet, and his dad, Isidor, who is a World War II vet. Both were visiting D.C. via the Honor Flight program. They were telling us about their experience with first leaving Atlanta (where their flight originated) and how the city of Atlanta's police escorted them all the way to the airport. As they neared the airport, the Atlanta firefighters made a tunnel with the extended ladders of their ladder trucks for them to pass under. They said it was quite spectacular. When they arrived at Ronald Reagan airport in D.C., the firefighters there greeted their plane with a water tunnel on the tarmac. Coldwell Banker sponsored their trip and paid most of the expenses. How cool is that. We thanked them for their service and left that conversation with full hearts.
While in D.C., we also visited the Pentagon 9/11 Memorial. This was a very understated but beautiful memorial which consisted of 184 benches, one for each person killed at that location. Here is the website if you want to learn more about it: http://pentagonmemorial.org/. What was really eerie about this memorial is the location. It is located right next to the actual wall that was hit with Flight 77 the morning of 9/11. Obviously, the building has been repaired since this terror attack but there is one stone in the facade of the building that was left from that explosion. It is soot-covered and black and stands out from the rest of the limestone slabs. As you look back at the Air Force Monument to the south, you get an idea of the flight path that the plane took as it headed for the Pentagon. Very creepy to visualize the plane heading toward the building and what the people on that plane must have been going through, knowing they were about to die. You know, it's been 11 years since that awful day and we were all so emotionally impacted by it at the time. But eventually the pain and fear subsides and we go back to our lives and sort of "forget" what happened to our country, and the world for that matter, on that day. Being at that memorial sort of brought it all back for me and I am glad that we visited it for that very reason. We cannot be complacent about our freedom and what it takes to maintain it. Thank a military service person next time you see one!
Arlington National Cemetery was interesting. We visited the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier which contains remains of an unknown soldier from World Wars I and II, the Korean War, and until 1998, the Vietnam War. It is guarded 24/7 by the Third United States Infantry. Each soldier who guards the tomb takes a very specific path in front of the tomb. He walks 21 steps, turns to face the tomb for 21 seconds, then turns back in the opposite direction from which he came and waits another 21 seconds, and then heads back to the other side for 21 steps. The number 21 alludes to the 21-gun salute, which is the highest honor given to any military or foreign dignitary. We tried to capture the beauty of the changing of the guard ceremony in pictures, but they really don't do it justice. There are a number of YouTube videos you can watch - - here's one for your viewing pleasure: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vqZ-mkdp1H0.
We didn't really visit any of the Smithsonian museums with the exception of the Air and Space Museum. That was interesting but disappointing for us because I had built it up to be something really cool - - which it is for most people - - but we had been to so many NASA locations and military museums along our journey this past year, we were already well-versed on the vast majority of the exhibits contained in the museum so we didn't really see much that was new. The main difference is that the aircraft exhibited were the actual ones... not a replica. The remaining Smithsonian exhibits will have to wait for another time. The old man and I were exhausted. We walked almost 10 miles in two days and that is not something we were physically prepared for - - know what I mean?
Ok, so we get to the first part of the week which is the last thing I am going to write about. We stopped in Pittsburgh to visit our friends Ed and Ilona Wilkocz. We met these two lovely people at Watkins Glen, New York and have became fast friends. They took us around the city of Pittsburgh which is quite impressive. The downtown area has gone from steel-related company buildings and services to a conglomeration of more high-tech and service-oriented companies. They make excellent use of the waterfront and the drive around that area is quite interesting as you can't go more than a mile without going through a tunnel or crossing a bridge of some sort. Take a weekend and check out Pittsburgh. There is much to do and see.
Alrighty then, that's it for this week. Steve and I are hot-footing south at this point. From here we go to Wilmington, N.C. for a couple of days. Then to Edisto Beach in South Carolina. A quick stop in St. Mary's, Georgia, and then in Bushnell, Florida a week from today. We have many adventures planned between now and then so we will have much to share next week. Stay tuned and stay warm. I don't know if the weather is going to get cold again for you northerners, but for us - - it's all about 75 and sunny!!!!!!!!!