Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Barbecue, Beamers and Bounty

Wouldn't you know that we'd go to another BBQ restaurant? Well, you'd better believe it! This time it was in North Carolina.

Judy and John took us to Spartenburg to the BMW plant where several models of BMWs (Beamers) are made. The tour was a walking one that took about 1 .5 hours. Very interesting. The robots that do much of the work were fascinating to watch. If I could afford it I'd want an SAV (sports activity vehicle) but they start at double what we paid for our first house so I think it isn't in our immediate future. (It took me awhile to talk Aaron into a GPS for the car so I don't think he'd give in for a BMW!!)

So now about the bounty! Glenn Beck does advertisements for Carrabas Italian Grill and since we have none in our neck of the United States I've wanted to eat in one. So after going through BMW we went to the Carrabas. I told a couple of the staff members that I'd heard their restaurant advertised on Glenn Beck's show. Aaron ordered just a salad since he was going to share my meal and he wanted it when the rest of the food came. So the waiter brought out two salads that were supposed to be John and Judy's but he gave one to Aaron. So we made some inquiries and got things straightened out. At the end of the meal the bill was presented and when I looked in the folder I saw the bill said: Balance $0.00. I gave the folder with the credit card to the waiter and he said it was all taken care of. I asked if it was because we'd asked about the salads and he said that the manager can give out a free meal and he'd chosen us. So we got a $43 meal for nothing. Isn't Jesus good!!

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Beautiful Biltmore

Today we went to Asheville, NC to tour Biltmore House...the largest home in the USA. It is now a tourist place where 1000s visit daily. It was built by George Washington Vanderbilt in the late 1890s and is incredible for what it has in it for the time period it was built. Lots of electric lights--even in the swimming pool which they keep empty. I won't even begin to tell you about the house because you can look it up on the Internet and learn a lot more than I can tell you.

I will say that we had to climb many, many steps both up and down and my knees were killing me. I saw a lot of older people, and heavy people struggling. Ay yi yi!

Friday, January 26, 2007

Clearly Carolina

We arrived yesterday at Ridge Haven, a beautiful site in the mountains of North Carolina south of Asheville. This is a Presbyterian retreat and conference ground, used by groups that are not all Presbyterian. A group of women is coming in this evening and we will eat our meals with them tonight, tomorrow morning and for lunch and then again on Sunday. We'll earn our meals by helping with the setup. Seems like a fair exchange to me.

Aaron's cousins have purchased land WAY up high on the mountain, accessible by a nice road but very curvy. Our daughter would not like it at all--the road, that is. Eventually they will build a house up there to retire in and they are thinking of a round home so that the view will be available from everywhere. Hopefully we can visit again when they are ensconced on top of the mountain.

As we drove along the roads here in the area I noticed a lot of bottles, etc. thrown along the road side. Evidently throwing out trash is quite common and acceptable here and that is too bad since it is such a beautiful area. JD told us of places where old cars and single wide trailers are left sitting...and sitting...and sitting. Rusting out, falling apart, totally unusable. Anyone who has known me for years will know that I detest littering! Small or large!!!

We'll be here until Monday morning. Away from the stresses of life in the city.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Yes, Virginia, there is a Virginia

I've been gone from the blog for the past few days. We are in Susan, VA...north of Newport News. You may not find Susan on the map as basically Susan is a post office--a very small post office. It is about 100 sq. feet in size and painted yellow. This is where Aaron's brother Philip and his wife pick up their mail on a daily basis.

Phillip and Lydia's house overlooks part of the Chesapeake Bay and it is a beautiful setting. Dusk is settling in as I write and the shadows of the trees on the further shore are reflected in the calm of the water. It is not always this picturesque--they've been affected by hurricanes here. The house is 8.5 feet above sea level and though they've never had water in the house they have had it in the garage.

There are no curtains on the many large windows as there is no one who can see into the house. So don't you be thinking about coming here and going out on the water with your binoculars!!

Yesterday evening Phillip's computer came up with the "blue screen of death". Having had this problem on our laptop I knew this was not a good sign. Today I set the computer to check all kinds of diagnostic things and then had to call support. Sid in New Delhi talked me through some things and I thought we might have to do system restore or pick a date to reset things to but miraculously it corrected itself. I told Sid I'd been praying for this computer. Thank you Jesus for Your help!!

Lydia is feeding us all kinds of wonderful foods. It'll be hard to leave all this comfort!

Monday, January 15, 2007

Mickey, Money, Miasma

Mickey: Today was Magic Kingdom day. Oh my aching feet! But it was a good day despite the heat and the lines. I especially liked "The Hall of Presidents", "Mickey's PhilharMagic" and "Pirates of the Carri bean." Mickey's program was 3-D and you felt air, water and wind. Too cool.

Money: It cost us $281 for our 2 days at Disney. Was it worth it? Yeah. I'm glad we went. Will we do it again? Maybe...if we go to the other two Disney theme parks. By the time the grandkids are old enough to go and should happen to invite us along, I'll probably need to be pushed in a wheelchair or have one of those nifty scooters. Hmmmm.

Miasma: Walking through the clouds of cigarette smoke in the designated smoking areas. Yuck!!

A note from yesterday: During the video presentation about France I forgot to tell you that the music was incredible--Debussy and St. Saen. Ooh la la!

Involved Interaction

If you have a trip for Disney World scheduled don't read this.

I completely forgot to tell you about one event we were in...Honey, I Shrunk the Audience. In this you have the people from Honey, I Shrunk the Kids as characters. Professor S. is going to receive an award for Inventor of the Year. The little kid puts his mouse in a machine that duplicates things and so 999 pet mice are duplicated. Everyone in the audience begins to scream because you feel the mice hitting your legs. Freaky! (Aaron says it was puffs of air but it sure felt real.) The professor intends to show how he shrinks his luggage for trips BUT the machine gets out of his control and the audience is "shrunk". The floor or seat started bouncing and suddenly the characters on the giant screen become giant. Every time one of the characters walks across the screen your chair moves. At one point a snake head comes out toward you and I have to admit I closed my eyes on that one. It was a very fun experience.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Enchanting, exciting Epcot

This morning we made the decision to leave the motel we were in last night as we were quite unhappy with some of the accoutrement's. We drove down the road a bit and found another Days Inn that announced on the marquis that they had a shuttle to Disney World. Hurray! We pulled in and signed up for a room, grabbed some breakfast at Denny's and caught the shuttle at 9:00.

Destination: Epcot. First stop, Spaceship Earth, inside the large "golf" ball that tells you that you are at Epcot. A pleasant slow ride through the eras of communication. Then it was off to Test Track which I didn't know was going to go very fast and not in a straight line. But I survived and it was fun.

We walked around to the World Showcase where we visited the exhibits of several countries. Both China and Canada have the 360* theaters....very fun to watch. The American exhibit had The American Adventure, an animatronic wonderland featuring Ben Franklin and Mark Twain. It gave a history of the USA in 30 minutes. Makes this citizen of the US proud.

We did several more rides including one that takes you where the Disney people are growing plants--both fruit and vegetables-- underground hydroponically. Food grown there provides for some of the restaurants in the Kingdom. They are working on food stuffs that can be grown without soil and in harsh conditions around the world.

By 8:00 p.m. we were beginning to wear down and after Aaron did one last ride (one I was chicken to do) we headed to the area via monorail where we would catch the bus. We checked in to the motel and found that the room we have now is much better than last night's. Yawn! I think it is time to hit the sack.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Spectacular Space Science

I thought about that title off and on throughout the day. (I try to use alliteration in case you hadn't noticed.)

Today we were at Kennedy Space Center. You have to drive way out on Highway 1-A and Highway 1. We had purchased tickets at our motel and it was a good thing because entry at the gate was $59 and we had paid about $35 each. Phew!

Well let me tell you that KSC is an awesome experience. We saw 2 IMAX movies--one about the International Space Station and the other about the moon called Magnificent Desolation. And...they were in 3-D. Then we boarded a bus to go out to where things take place when there is a space shuttle launch. We saw the crawler ( top speed of 1 mph) that takes 8-9 hours to take the Shuttle to the launch site. The trip starts at midnight. We also saw the building where the shuttle is worked on and prepared with the fuel tanks for flight.

We saw other film presentations about the moon landing (wonderful), etc. We also were in the actual room that the ground crew kept tabs on the Apollo flights. And there was an entire Apollo rocket you walked around and under. It is HUGE.

We thoroughly enjoyed our day learning more about space and what space travel has done for the world. Did you know that a NASA employee has invented a child's car seat that will activate your key if you accidentally walk off forgetting to take your child out of the car seat? It's not just about floating around the earth.

We are enjoying walking around without needing a coat or sweater. Ahhh, Florida.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Highways and Bi-ways

Remember "I Dream of Jeannie"...the program about the genie in the bottle in the home of the astronaut? I used to watch it all the time and I remember that it took place in Cocoa Beach. So guess where we are? That's right! Cocoa Beach, Florida. It is a town full of motels, restaurants, and tourists. It just happens to be right on the Atlantic Ocean so that helps with its popularity.

Last night (Thursday) we were in the Naples area where we stayed with the son of Aaron's second cousin, his wife and kids. We had a great time with them. They treated us to Italian food from Carrabas and it was wonderful. A favorite radio personality of mine, Glenn Beck, does advertisements for them but since there are none located in Oregon I had never eaten their food. If we have further opportunity to eat at a Carrabas
I hope we can take advantage of it.

Tomorrow we visit Cape Canaveral which is just a few miles from Cocoa Beach. What a blast! (pun intended)

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Flittin' through Florida

On January 8 we arrived in Gainesville, Florida at the home of Arnold and Joy, friends we met in Botswana. Tuesday evening we gathered around the television and watched the Florida Gators defeat the Ohio Buckeyes. Yes, even I watched the game. You see....Gainesville is the home of Florida State University, home of the Gators. Neither Arnold or Joy expected the Gators to do well. In fact, they were pretty sure they'd lose although they hoped for the best. Well for any of you who watched the game or read the paper or listened to sports on TV, you know that the Gators whupped the Buckeyes. We were watching the game til about midnight.

Tuesday Arnold and Joy took us south to Silver Springs--an adventure theme park. It is winter, though it isn't all that cold, so attendance was quite low. It was like having the place to yourself. We enjoyed walking around the park, taking the boat rides and just takin' it easy. Silver Springs is where Sea Hunt was filmed many years ago. Also some Tarzan movies were filmed there.

Aaron and I left Gainesville this morning heading to the south with Cypress Garden as our destination. We had originally planned to go to Busch Gardens but the entry fee is $85 PER PERSON!! Cypress Garden was less than half that amount. Again there was low numbers there--I'd say around 200 people--so it was definitely a stressless day. All right, I know that "stressless" isn't a real word, but it works for me.

One thing we noticed at both parks was the number of senior citizens working. Today we talked to a fellow who said that he works there because it gets him out of the house and gives him some exercise. They pay minimum wage so jobs wouldn't be a big draw to very many people. For the Seniors it supplements their incomes.

Tonight we are staying in Winter Haven, Florida.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Travelin' On

It is never easy to leave our family in Texas because we live over 2000 miles away!! You don't just go for the weekend.

We had the wonderful privilege of taking care of Sabina and Addison while mom and dad were at the hospital with the baby. The girls are just so much fun! They are both very loving and Addison loves to run up to you and hug your leg. Sabina loves to be read to. I read 3 Sandra Boynton books several times!! She also loves to hear Bible stories.

On Saturday she asked me to tell her a story instead of reading one so I told her the story of Boogie and The Three Dinosaurs . The story was amazingly like Goldilocks and The Three Bears. She loved the story.

Since Nolan, Maryanne and Emmaleese came home a day early we left Hutto on Saturday afternoon and made it to Brenham, TX where we spent the night. Today (Sunday) we drove out of Texas and into Louisiana. We drove toward New Orleans and even from Interstate 10 we were able to observe a lot of damage from Hurricane Katrina. Many, many, many destroyed apartment buildings, businesses and homes. It was pretty astonishing to see it in person, not just on TV. We passed the Superdome and it is in use again for concerts, etc. We talked about what it must have been like to clean up after the thousands of people left it following Katrina.

Tonight we are in Gulfport, Mississippi which also saw much damage from Katrina. An employee at the motel recommended we eat at The Blowfly Inn. It was close to the motel but we had difficultly finding it because it is currently located in the Holiday Inn due to having been damaged in the storm. The restaurant is being rebuilt. The waitress told us that there had been several very nice homes on the water that were completely destroyed. I think tomorrow morning we are going to drive the 7 miles to the coast to see what is left.

No, I don't think the hurricane was President Bush's fault.

Grandma and Emmaleese

Emmaleese Hope

Born on January 4, 6' 14", 18.25 inches. Cuter than any bug you ever saw!!

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Greetings from Gruene

Okay, so we thought that Gruene (Green), TX was an actual city and couldn't believe that we were unable to locate it on our map!! We were heading south towards San Antonio when we stopped at a WalMart for a little break. While waiting to pay for our purchases a family walked by and I approached them and asked what town we were in...not the first time I haven't known exactly where we were. The lady said we were in Schertz. I asked about Gruene and was told that it is actually part of New Braunfels where we had just been. So back onto the freeway we went to head north. We decided we wanted to see the Schlitterbahn, the world's largest water park (hey, we ARE in Texas where everything is bigger and better) and it was while following the signs towards that spot that we saw the sign for Gruene. The sign said that Historic Gruene Street was towards the left, only it wasn't. After some local help we arrived where we spent a little money and decided to stay at Gruene Mansion Inn. And now we are staying a second night, for half price. We are staying in a quaint room called the Corn Crib.

So if you are ever in Central Texas come to Gruene Street (hopefully you can find it easier than we did) and enjoy yourself.

Monday, January 1, 2007

Make a change in 2007

After I work on my blog I often read other peoples' blogs by clicking on "next blog". Last night I read a young man's blog who may live in another country--couldn't tell for sure. In it he shared his faith in Jesus Christ. And I would like to do the same. I accepted Jesus as my Saviour 50 years ago when I was 8 years old. No, I haven't lived a perfect life but I always have had Jesus as a central part of my life. When I do wrong I ask for Jesus to forgive me and He always does.

Now you have the same opportunity. You can ask Jesus into your life in 2007 if you haven't already done so. All you have to do is acknowledge that you have sinned (done something wrong) and ask Him to forgive you.

Then find a good Bible-believing Church to get involved in. We are Assembly of God but there are many fine churches.