Friday, December 10, 2010

He Still Feeds the Hungry

Late yesterday afternoon, as the sun was well on its way to the evening horizon, my wife and I did something very ordinary. We went to the local Walmart to get some groceries and thermal underwear. In this case, with our tropically thinned blood being assaulted by the blast of Canadian artic air currently sweeping through North Carolina, the groceries were the luxury, and long underwear the necessity.

In the midst of our ordinary day and our somewhat usual routine, something rather extraordinary happened to us. It happened right in front of us, actually. As we were checking out, I think we met an angel. This is how it happened. I was at the front of the shopping cart unloading it onto the conveyor belt that moved the items to the scanner/cash register while Jennifer stood behind the cart and sifted through the vast caverns of her purse in search of her wallet. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed a diminutive elderly lady come behind us in line, pushing a shopping cart that contained a few small items. She began to speak with Jennifer in a soft, almost retreating voice. Thinking she was simply being friendly, I ‘leaned in’ to hear what she was saying. As I heard it, she quietly asked if we would buy the few items in her cart to feed the ladies at the women’s shelter at which she served. Jennifer looked over at me and, not being sure if I was within earshot of the conversation, said, “James, what do you think?” To be sure I understood, I inquired as to the request. The little lady seemed bashful, not wanting to be overheard by the cashier or the manager who stood close by. So, my Jennifer said, “she is asking if we would buy these items for the women’s shelter.” I looked in her cart and, seeing just a few things, said, “Sure.” I instructed the cashier to add the ladies’ items to our total but to bag them separately for her to take. The cashier did so.

With a gentle almost quivering voice and a grateful gaze that lifted from the floor for just a moment, she took the bag of items in her hand and said, “Thank you, Sir. God bless you, Sir.” Then, she quietly slipped away.

As Jennifer and I began our trek to the car, weaving our way in and out of the traffic both in the store and parking lot, we mentioned how sweet it was to help such a one as this. But, as the hours passed and I reflected on the moment, the encounter seemed increasingly meaningful and full of glory.

I wondered if our little angel came to the store with nothing but her hunger and a hope in the kindness of God. I imagined her walking around the store prayerfully selecting a few items to feed the women in the shelter. I wondered if, as she took each package from the shelf and placed it in her cart, she whispered a prayer that her precious Lord Jesus would provide a way to pay for it. I wondered if, as she pushed the cart toward the check out line, she whispered a prayer that God would open someone’s heart to give a little food to the poor. I wondered if her faith ever shook as she approached the cashier with nothing in her hand but her need. I wondered if she prayed that God would somehow, in someway, make the impossible, possible, once again. She must have.

She must have had a simple, sincere and powerful faith in Jesus, the faithful one. I even wonder if Jesus whispered to her, these two are mine – they will help.

At the end of the day, we were so very glad she came to us with her need. The scripture says, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” We felt incredibly blessed by this precious woman. She did more for us than we could have ever done for her. She helped us see the tender beauty of a simple faith in Jesus. She, in her vulnerability and trust, gave us a picture of how Jesus cares for us and that her Heavenly Father knows the way her tummy sounds when it growls with hunger. Her caring heart, her simple faith, and her total lack of pride spoke peace and encouragement to us. What a beautiful woman she was! We thank God for the encouragement of faith and the reminder of God’s loving care for all of His children.

And, in case you are wondering what was in her cart (and it didn’t hit me until the next morning), she had a small bottle of Crisco oil, a loaf of bread and some frozen fish. She had chosen loaves and fishes to feed the hungry women, trusting that Jesus would, once again, perform a miracle. And, He did. Praise Him!

Matthew 15:34,38 “And Jesus said to them, ‘How many loaves do you have?’ And they said, ‘Seven and few small fish...and those who ate were four thousand men, along with women and children…’”

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The End.

Saturday, October 23 officially ended our cross-country RV trip. 119 days on the road. 17 weeks. My dear friend, Dawn, asked me yesterday if the ending was anti-climatic and I have to say in all honesty, no. The trip was more than I could have ever imagined and totally different than I could have expected.

It is strange, though, that after dreaming, planning and praying about doing this for the last three years, now it is done. What next? Hahahaha, I laugh, because if this trip has taught me anything, it is to never etch plans in stone! God has His plan for us and so now we will enjoy the memories of the trip, look forward to the next step and be thankful for it all.

We had our last night on the road in the amazingly beautiful Grayson Highlands State Park in southern Virginia. We met up with Clayton and Amy, along with their three children, and enjoyed an evening by the fire under a full moon and the next day taking a short hike in the park and encountering wild ponies, something the children enjoyed immensely...well, me too. We then loaded up the RV and headed to Charlotte, NC.

That is where we are now. We have the RV parked on 40 acres overlooking a pond. It is very beautiful, unfortunately, it has been raining since our arrival, so everything is muddy and wet. Plus, the rain dampens my spirits, so I feel pretty unmotivated. But, I have decided to take this opportunity to reflect back on the last four months and try to encapsulate for you my favorite moments from the trip.

When I remember back to our very first night on the road, in the horrible RV park in Fort Lauderdale, it could very easily be 4 years ago, not a mere 4 months. It really boggles my mind. We experienced our first leak in the RV, which was quickly remedied by tightening a few loose pipes, but we were sure the RV was trashed and thought, "What in the world have we gotten ourselves into?" Our next night was at brother Charles' place to have our "Going Away Party" and to say good-bye to our families. This is the most difficult memory for me because I remember my Mom crying as they were leaving...brings tears tumbling down my face now as I think about it.

I have lived within a minimum of 2 hours from my Mom since 1990 and I miss her terribly. Skype and the phone are good, but nothing compares to seeing her face to face and hugging her so tight I'm afraid I will break her. I am so thankful to God that she has Ted, whom I miss just as much, and her Abby Girl to look after her. I can't wait until I get to see her again!

Saying good-bye to Mom and Pop, James' parents, was equally difficult. Thankfully, James and Pop had maintained their nightly phone visits throughout the trip, with the exception of a few nights here and there because of no cell phone reception, so we were able to stay close, but again, nothing compares to physically being in someone's presence.

Saying good-bye to all of the family was painful, but at the same time, we were excited because we had our trip ahead of us. Now, it seems the sorrow of saying good-bye has truly set in. We look forward to reuniting with them all soon, as well as our many wonderful and incredible friends we left behind in the Keys. So many amazing things have happened in their lives since we left, like the arrival of Jayda Skye, first grandchild of our sweet friends, Deidre and Mike Neal and the arrival of Cali, the newest puppy-family member to Marilyn and Keith Allen! I can't wait to meet both of them and hug my girls (Dee, Mare, Cindy, Ruth, Kathy...just to name a few) like they have never been hugged before!! onto the trip, I can't cry and type at the same time. Certain things, places and people really stand out when I think about the trip, the first being Austin, Texas. This was our first unofficially planned stopped and what a great surprise it was. I got my first decent haircut since leaving Skip in the Keys in Austin, we had our first amazing Thai meal there and really enjoyed the downtown, music and activity. I think we will revisit Austin again and again.

Then there was Santa Fe; this was our first extended stay, meaning, more than two nights. We loved the weather, food, art and driving north of Taos seeing the amazing landscape. It was here that the feeling of being on the road set in and the stresses of every day life started to fade away. We really enjoyed Santa Fe and the feeling of relaxation that we found there.

Colorado was amazing in so many ways that I can't list them all. We were in Dolores, CO for 10 nights...the longest stay, matched only by Maine, during our trip. We did travel to Carbondale for two nights to stay with Diane and my heart still warms at the memory of spending time with her. I was so thankful she and James had a chance to get to know one another better.

The mountains and sense of peace we took away from Colorado stayed with us throughout the trip and that says a lot about a place. I remember fondly and with a big smile on my face, the many nights by the campfire with Charlie, Judy and Sunny! What fun we had meeting up with some good Key's friends and enjoying food, drink and laughter together. We ate well, laughed hard and enjoyed every moment with them.

Then there was Southern California. Ahhh...yes, a good time for sure!!! I have to be honest and say that living there still lingers in our minds and we wait to see what God has planned for us. I was reunited with Dawn, whom I have known for 20 years, and it did my heart good! My time with her, Frank and their kids was cut short due to their move to Texas! But, since Dawn and I are both Dallas Cowboy fans and she lives near Dallas, I'm sure we will be visiting a lot!

I finally got to meet a lot of the "Wheaton Gang" while in Southern Cal and what a blast that was! Our time with all of them was very special and let me just say that Laguna Beach is gorgeous! The water is a bit too cold for me, but I loved that James surfed and SUP'ed while there! The Bahamian in freezing cold water...that is one adventurous man!

I remember vividly that it was in Dana Point, California that James and I both realized we are water people. Having spent about six weeks "inland" and in the mountains, we had forgotten the powerful calming quality that water has until we drove down to Dana Point and were faced with the amazing and awesome Pacific Ocean. We both sighed deeply. Southern Cal is beautiful, diverse, filled with amazing and unique people and a place we both feel a deep bond to. It will be interesting to see where that leads us.

I have said many times in these Blogs how impressed and proud I am of our National Park system, but I don't think I can say it enough. I hope all of you get out and see as many of them as you can. They are all completely different, unique, wonderful and awe inspiring in their own ways. I can't pick a favorite because they are all so different. Here is a list of the parks we visited:

Carlsbad Cavern National Park
Mesa Verde National Park
Grand Canyon National Park
Joshua Tree National Park
Sequoia National Park
Kings Canyon National Park
Yosemite National Park
Redwood National Park
Crater Lake National Park
Olympic National Park
Glacier National Park
Acadia National Park

I'm sure I have left some out, and that doesn't include the many, many State Parks we visited along the way.

IF I had to pick one favorite area, I would have to say the coasts of Northern California, Oregon and Washington. The shores, beaches and coastlines in this sector are so wild, intense and breathtaking. The best day for me on the trip was in Westport-Union Landings State Beach in Northern California. It was our first primitive spot and we were parked 20 yards from a cliff that overlooked the ocean. We didn't go anywhere while we were there...we just stayed at the RV and read, wrote, visited and enjoyed the sound the surf, the whales breaching out in the deeps and just the amazing beauty that surrounded us. It was The perfect day for me.

Glacier was everything we wanted and more. Majestic is a word that comes to mind when I remember driving through the park with thick fog around, or just before dawn when the stars were still out before the sun rose to tuck them away. Montana in general could be described this way. Once you have been there, it gets into your blood and becomes a part of you. People born there, stay there. I can see why.

The Midwest is another highlight because of the people we visited! Meeting up with old friends and family really ignited our spirits and made for some fun memories. For me, not a lot compares to the hugs and love I get from my nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephew! From age 2 all the way up to 25, they all have a very special place in my heart and I'm so incredibly proud to call them MINE! Yep, they are all MINE...their parents don't know it, but they are! My sisters, Whitney and Julie, have known me my entire life and there is a wonderful connection and comfort in relationships like that. They are two beautiful and amazing women and I'm humbled by their strength, courage and hearts. My Dad always has been and continues to be so much fun to be around. I loved spending time with him and knowing he and James were getting to know one another better. I hope that in the future our visits will be more frequent and for longer periods of time!

I know I'm repeating a lot here that I have already said in my previous Blogs, but just sitting and reflecting, these are the moments that really jump out at me. I have not gone back and read all of the Blogs yet, but I'm working on printing it all out and reading them with James. I'm sure after reading it, there will be a lot more laughter at the moments we shared over the last four months.

As for now, we are staying in Charlotte, North Carolina. I know that probably comes as a shock to many of our family and friends in Florida, but we do feel God has brought us here for many reasons and look forward to seeing how things unfold. We don't exactly know how things will look, but roughly, James will be working with Clayton in Ministry, I'm hoping to complete a Grant Writing course and begin Grant Writing as well as help Amy in whatever capacity I can as it relates to the church. We will NOT be living in the RV forever (thank goodness) and plan on finding a temporary spot soon. That is about all we have right now and it is good enough for us. Trust and faith in knowing God will work out all of the other little details helps us to focus on being still and doing the next right thing.

We will be coming to Florida for the Christmas Holidays and maybe get our stuff out of storage, so I will be keeping everyone in the Florida updated on our plans as we finalize them. Your continued prayers for this next chapter in our lives is very much appreciated. It is with many mixed emotions that we have come to this point, but again, feel God's hand in this and know it is the right move. I will miss my amazing friends, my beautiful Mom and fmaily and the incredibly unique life in the Florida Keys very much...but remember, North Carolina isn't that far away!!!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Nearing the end.

Greetings from Virginia, or let me say, BEAUTIFUL Virginia! I love the rolling hills in front of the mountains and the people are kind, funny and very generous.

We are nearing the end...and I have to say what a blessing it is that we both, James and I, feel the same way at the same time. Imagine how things could have been if either of us were ready a month ago, but the other wasn't. But, as God would have it, we are ready to settle down and get back into the grove of normal things.

It has been an incredible blessing being on the road for the last four months. I can't wait to sit down and read the Blog from beginning to end and revisit in my mind the incredible places and people we have seen.

Maine, was, as always, extremely beautiful. We spent three nights outside of Boston and visited Cape Cod and Martha's Vineyard, both were amazing places and made us, once again, realize we are truly water people!

We spent three nights in New York, actually, in Jersey City. The RV park was the most unique park we have stayed on this trip. It was basically downtown Jersey City on the harbor...we saw the Statue of Liberty from our RV and were only 40 minutes from Manhattan. We had to walk five blocks to the PATH (Jersey's subway system) and then catch a few subways to get to the heart of NY, NY! I SO LOVE IT THERE!

New York City is so alive and so full of different and amazing people. I could sit on the subway all day and people watch. We spent most of the time with our dear friends, Eric and Keri and their two adorable children, Emma and Daniel. It was so much fun! The four of us went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and then James took me to MoMa (Museum of Modern Art)...I was in heaven. To see Monet's Water Lilies, Degas' Dancer, all of Rembrandt's portraits was almost too much for me to handle. It seems the first part of our trip was seeing God's awesome creation and I loved every moment of it and then to spend the last part looking at man's creation of God's creation is nearly as beautiful, but not quite.

James and I aren't the only one's ready for the trip to be done...our little Miata, Sarai, has just had about enough! You might remember that since being on the trip Sarai has received a new CAT converter, radiator, rewiring of the AC and today...well, today was something all together different! We waited around until the rain stopped, which was about 2:00 this afternoon, and then hopped in the car to take in the sights along the Blue Ridge Parkway. We stopped into the gas station to fill 'er up and then just as we were turning out of the gas station we heard it. A noise like no other noise we had ever heard before.

We pull over, pop the hood and don't ya know it, we blew the 2nd spark plug clear out of the engine block. We just laughed. By the grace of God, we did this right by the gas station which happen to have a tow truck and the owner knew of a place that could fix the problem. So, three hours later, we are driving the car back to the RV thankful we weren't in the middle of nowhere when the plug decided to pop!

Tomorrow we head to Grayson Highlands State Park to camp with Clayton and Amy and their three kids for a couple of days before heading back to their house in Charlotte, NC for some much needed down time, prayer time and decision time.

We are very excited to see all of you again very soon! We have missed everyone so much and again thank each and every one of you for your prayers for us while on this trip! Until we see one another face to face...God bless and WE LOVE YOU!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

My Husband

My Blog entries to date have been about all of the wonderful places we have seen on this journey.  I’m so thankful for this platform to be able to share with you all of the amazing experiences we have had.  However, this entry is all about my husband, James.  I know he will hate this, but I simply have to acknowledge him and share with you what being on this trip with him means to me.  Without James this journey would not have happened, the memories would not exist, the life experience would be still unlived.  He is more than just my traveling partner on this journey, he is my leader, my guide, my friend, my husband, my protector.  Through Christ he provides the most stable life I have ever known in my 42 years.  So, this entry is all about him.

Some of you reading this have known James his entire life…40 years.  Some have known him since high school, some college, some have known him since his days at Coral Ridge Church, some through work and some know James by their association with me.  I have known James for almost 9 years.  I have been blessed to call him my husband for the past five years, ten months and two days (he hates it when I do that). 

There has been no break in our time together since starting this trip; i.e., 8 hours at work, time out with friends, shopping errands alone, etc., we have been together non-stop for three and a half months, 24/7.  Many of you may be shaking your head in disbelief and thinking, “There is no way…” or, “How in the world do they do it?”  But, I assure you, there are no magic words, secret formulas or tricks we have played.  I can say that this experience has been the best time since we have been married, and a lot has to do with Christ and a lot has to do with James.

I fell in love with James all over again on this trip.  Not necessarily the “butterflies in your stomach” kind of love when we first started dating, but more like a heavy, warm, comforting kind of love that is anchored into something substantial and strong…safe.  I have seen him in a way that I have never fully seen, or let me say, fully appreciated before.  I have always known James to be kind, caring and honest, but being with him for this amount of time and in all kinds of situations, I see his kindness, caring and honesty differently.

James is a man of great integrity.  I’m not sure how many of us truly appreciate that particular trait in the man.  I can’t say that I have ever given it too much thought, but I realize now that it is probably the most important trait a person can have.  Because of James’ integrity, I know I can trust him.  I know I can rely on him.  I know that when something goes awry, I can count on him…time and time again.  He is consistent in his actions and has provided me a stability I feel safe around.

James is also the most generous and gracious person I have ever known.  And I don’t mean material generosity, though he is this also, but just a generous spirit in general.  It emerges in the smallest of things, like when driving the RV on a two lane highway and pulling over so the cars behind us go by…even though he may be doing the speed limit or better.  If we are walking or hiking somewhere and see another couple taking pictures of each other, James will ask if they would like their photo taken together and then take it.  When he and I are walking down a street together, he makes sure that he is walking on the side of traffic, sheltering me from the oncoming cars.  When hiking, he lends me a hand, or foot, in the more challenging places, making his hand into a step for me to climb on or his foot as a brace while coming down a steep rock.  After nearly six years of marriage, he never fails to thank me for a meal I have cooked.  Never.  It could be breakfast, lunch, dinner or a small snack…it doesn’t matter, he always thanks me. 

They say you can tell a lot about a person by the friends they have.  That is true.  As you all know, I have met a lot of James’ friends on this trip and am honored to call them all my own friends now.  But, seeing James with his friends, some he hasn’t seen in years, some weeks, some months…is really special.  He genuinely loves his time with each and every one of them.  He is truly interested in hearing their story, catching up, reminiscing and just sharing space together.  And, his friends seem to feel the same way!  It is a beautiful thing to witness from the outside.  These are not only friendships, but relationships that have been carefully maintained by experiences of old and time apart hasn’t diminished their intensity.  There is a lot to be said about a person who has such friends.

These things I’m sharing aren’t big things…things that get one in the paper, or invited on a TV talk show, they are little things, and I believe it is the little things that show a person’s true character.  James isn’t a saint and he isn’t perfect, but overall, he is the best thing outside of Christ that has ever happened to me.  He is the truest friend I have ever had, the most honest confidant I have ever conversed with and the most loving husband I could ever wish for.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Maine-ly Fun

I can’t believe we have been in Maine for a week already!  Gosh!  Time does fly when you are having the time of your life.

I need to back up a bit and fill you in on a few other states we visited along the way.  Our time in Old Forge, NY was way too short, but a very special indeed.  Paul and Paulie Case showed us the sights and spent the evening catching up and praying for Katie, Paul’s six-year-old daughter who was badly burned a few weeks ago.  My heart aches for the entire family, but I know God has them all in His hands.

The Adirondack region of New York is quiet amazing.  Unfortunately, it rained, rained and rained some more while we were there…it even rained INSIDE the RV.  Yep, our first roof/ceiling leak, but, nothing major and it seems to have stopped since James climbed on top and caulked every possible opening he could find.  That’s my man!  Back to the Adirondack’s…autumn colors were in full bloom and the small, quaint towns we drove through made me feel like we were transported back in time.  I wish we could have stayed longer, but the short time has basically guaranteed that we will be coming back soon!

We then drove to Vermont and the beauty just kept blowing my mind.  Vermont is the “Green Mountain” State and what a perfect name it is!  As with NY, Vermont was at full peak in foliage color and for as far as the eye could see there were mountains with vibrant reds, yellows, orange and greens dancing in the rain.  Yes, the rain continued.  We stayed two nights in Vermont to do some RV maintenance and to watch some much missed college football.  It was lovely!

Next, New Hampshire.  We were only in the state for a short time, but with the few covered bridges and all foliage mixed with sunny, clear skies, it was simply perfect.  We had our destination in site and couldn’t wait to get there.

Maine.  All of Maine is gorgeous, but we are particularly fond of Bar Harbor.  I am sure it has a lot to do with the fact we have mountains and sea all in one beautiful vista.  We were thrilled to meet up with Tim and Diane for the first three days!  I couldn’t have asked for a better way to start our Maine visit. 

Everyday was special with them, but one really sticks out in my mind.  We decided to hit the local, and highly acclaimed, brewery, “Atlantic Brewery Company”, for a tour and beer tasting, which we did…at 10:30am.  Yep!  You read that correctly...10:30 in the morning!  The funniest thing was the fact that the “Master Beer Drinker,” as he calls himself, was not at all fazed by the fact that we were there well before lunch!  Don’t get the wrong idea, the size of the samples they give during the tasting aren’t enough to cause a buzz even if we were there all day!  There were some amazing beers and the most outstanding mustard I have ever eaten that made their way back to our RV.

Well, now it gets difficult to explain, but after the Brewery we decided to hit the company’s other business…a winery for a wine tasting.  It is now around 11:30am and still before lunch.  We had such a great time!  These little businesses in the area really rely on tourist and they show it by their incredible hospitality!  We felt welcomed at every stop.  The wine was good, not great, but set inside an 1800’s barn, it was tons of fun.

To continue with the “tasting” theme, I should tell you about our very favorite spot, “Fiore.”  This is an olive oil/balsamic vinegar specialty shoppe with complementary tasting of all their oils and vinegars.  Yes…I was in heaven.  We loved, loved, loved this stop and have enjoyed the Blood Orange Olive Oil with White Grapefruit Balsamic Vinegar several times since then!

To top it all off, we hit one of the local Lobster Pound for some delectable, sweet, succulent Maine lobster.  Now, I’m a Florida girl through and through, but give me a Maine lobster over Florida lobster any day!  Those who have had both know what I’m talking about.  We each had a 1.75lb lobster, well, except Tim, who went for the 2lb-er, and we all managed to eat every possible bite with no problems whatsoever.  We even joked about ordering more it was so good.  But, we opted to head to our RV, light a fire and sit under the gorgeous, star-filled night enjoying our wine from the local winery and some bread dabbed in the special oil and vinegar we bought from “Fiore.”  It was a day and evening to be remembered for all time.

Tim and Diane left on Wednesday and then it proceeded to rain for two straight days, which didn’t bother us too much as we enjoyed spending time relaxing and watching movies.  This was a much needed and appreciated down time for us.  Have no fear, though, we resumed our marathon driving/site seeing activities yesterday by visiting Lubec, Maine, the eastern most city in the United States.  We drove all along the coast to get there, about 100 miles, and enjoyed the little towns along the way.  We arrived in Lubec and was greeted with the "Annual Lubec Autumn Howl" happening downtown Lubec.  Vendors and musicians filled the street that overlooked the bay between Canada and the US.  Very pretty.  We went down to the water to watch the seals playing in the water and then a huge bald eagle flew right in front of us and I was hooked.  We had lunch, which I ended with a Fried Twinky…not so good.  Soggy, actually.  Yuk.  But, hey, I HAD to try it!

We are on the final leg of our trip.  We both have mixed emotions about this.  On one hand, we are sad that this wonderful adventure God has blessed us with is almost over, yet on the other hand, we are very excited to see where He has us next.  Yes, I know a lot of you want to know the same thing, so stay tuned!  I’m such a stinker!!   In the near future, we will be in Boston, New York and Washington DC. 

God Bless you all! 

Thursday, September 30, 2010


It has been awhile since our last post...sorry about that. Visiting with family and friends has been the main focus for the past couple of weeks, and what an amazing time it has been.

This journey has been filled with such wonderful blessings and this period of time ranks right up there near number one. This was my first visit to Wheaton, Illinois, where James went to college, and I loved it. It is a very pretty town with wonderful shops, restaurants and of course, the college, Wheaton. But, the best part was the people.

We met new people and reuniting with old friends, every visit was so special. Everyone opened up their homes to us and made us feel like family. Shayne, Jennifer and Dave, Jeff and Stacey, John and Krista, my Uncle David...everyone showed us such generosity!

After Wheaton, we headed to my Dad's place in Alexandria, Indiana. It always warms my heart to see my Dad. He generously invited us to park the RV in his driveway and hook up for a couple of days. Time was way too short, but very special none the less. We visited with my dear friends from High School, Jill and her family, Faye and her family and Laura with her family. What a great time. And, I got to eat my favorite pizza, Pizza King! Thank you, Jill, my wonderful friend, for putting it all together.

There is never enough time to spend with my sisters. We spent some time at Whitney's and then saw her again Sunday at Dad's house. I wish we lived closer. She is such an amazing woman and I love her humor, honesty and beautiful soul. Then, of course, there are all of our amazing nieces and nephews (including the "great" ones...dang, I feel old). They are all growing up to be beautiful and handsome individuals I'm proud to call family. Jordan is a Junior in High School, smart as a whip and drop-dead gorgeous. Brandon is working for the city, working out (he looks incredible) and taking care of his Mom and little Thor, his brand new English Bulldog puppy. Brooke and Mat continue to amaze me with their grace and gifts in raising four of the most fantastic children I have ever laid eyes on; Tristyn Grace, Kaedyn Nicole, Zoe Elayne and Ryder Alan. I could eat them up!!! they have grown.

Dad took James and I to the James Dean Car Show in Marion, Indiana and we really had a great time. Cars from every decade were showcased. I had a hard time picking between them all, but I did find two cars I really liked, the '68 Camero with the 3.27 engine ( birth date) and the 1967 Charger. Yep, I liked those very much.

Family came over on Sunday for a cookout at Dad's and to watch football. It was a good day as the Cowboys and Colts both won! Yeah!! Dad and Linda also have a new puppy, Boomer, who is a Chihuahua ADORABLE!! I wanted to take him with us, and I believe Dad would have let us, but James said no...he said it would traumatize Peanut too much. I knew he loved that old curmudgeon of a dog. So, Boomer stayed behind. He really is so very cute!

Monday morning came too soon and we had to say good-bye. I hate that part. But, we take with us great memories and know we will all be together again soon.

On our way to Ohio, we made a stop in Greenfield, Indiana to visit my Uncle Kenny and Aunt Joyce. I hadn't seen their home (built in 1869) for nearly 20 years and was anxious to see the work they had done. It is a very beautiful home and we loved visiting with them.

Monday we spent the evening in Cincinnati and had dinner with James' college roommate, Brian, and his family, Audrie-Anna is wife and three sons, Jonah, Noah and Isaac. GREAT TIME! I have said after every visit with one of James' college/high school friends that I'm so incredibly blessed to now call them MY friends as well. These are such amazing people and I thank God for the opportunity to build friendships with them all. Thank you, Brian and Audrie-Anna, for opening up your home and for the amazing Mediterranean food!

Tuesday we drove the short distance to Columbus where we would be meeting Julie and David! YEAH! Again, spending time with my sister and nephew lifted my spirit high! It was so great seeing them. I'm so proud of both of them as they are both in school...Julie graduates this December, and I have to admit, I'm a bit jealous. I love being in school!! We ate at the Olive Garden and then visited back at our RV for a bit. Julie brought some old photos with her so we had a great time reminiscing and laughing till our bellies hurt. David is amazing. Period. I simply can't write enough about him. The only thing missing was our sweet niece, Samantha...she was at her father's house and couldn't make it THIS TIME, but we will see her soon. I love my sister so much. I am so proud of her and her determination to finish school and live her life for the Lord. Thank you, Julie.

So, now I'm filled with the love of family and friends and ready for this last stage of our trip. We are currently in Dunkirk, NY heading to Old Forge, NY to visit with our dear friend, Paul Case. For those of you not on Facebook, I ask that you pray for Paul and his family. His little girl, Katie, six years old, was in a horrible accident and suffered burns over 30% of her legs. She is in Shriner's Hospital in Boston for three months. We can't wait to spend some time with Paul and his son, Little Paulie, tonight.

After that, we will be on our way to Maine. We are blessed to have two good friends from the Florida, Tim and Diane, meeting us there for the first three days to see the sights, eat some lobster (pronounced lob-sta) and catch up. After that, we have still have a week there to reconnect and further enjoy the colorful foliage Maine has to offer.

To all of you we have visited in the past two weeks...THANK YOU. Each of you have made this trip very special for us. Your love and support means more than we could ever express. We know our paths will cross again and look forward to those times very much. May God continue to bless you all. We love you!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Two States Later

We left Montana several days ago, spent time in Wyoming and are now on our third day in South Dakota. Our last two days in Montana were rainy, cold and miserable, which was fitting since we were sad to leave and maybe, just maybe, Montana was sad to see us leave as well. Missoula is a wonderful little town and we did enjoy some interesting Thai food while there, and shopped at a great vintage shop to purchase some much needed warm clothes.

Cody, Wyoming was fantastic! The Buffalo Bill Historic Center is like an art museum on steroids. It has Western Art, Firearms, Yellowstone National Park Display, Native Indian and a Library. We spent a couple of hours milling around with our dear friends, Roland and Sloan, and new friends, Clause and Ana, who are friends of the Munech’s visiting from Germany. After the Historic Center we headed to Irma’s Bar and Restaurant for some catching up, eating and we even watched a Gun Fight in the street, corny, but fun. Cody was not a planned stop, but we are thrilled we added it to our itinerary.

We have had some major driving days and will have until we reach Maine. We are averaging about 400 miles a day in the RV, which depending on the road conditions, could be anywhere from 7 to 9 hours of driving. What a blessing that the country is spectacular, therefore the drive isn’t so daunting. Big Horn National Forest in Wyoming was incredible and because of its high elevation, autumn was in full bloom. All the Aspen Trees were a vibrant yellow.

We arrived in Rapid City, South Dakota on Sunday and were pleasantly surprised when we woke Monday morning to find temperatures in the 70’s climbing to the 80’s later in the afternoon! Yeah! I was thrilled. It seems I have been cold for months, so the opportunity to wear shorts and short sleeve shirts came as a tremendous boost to my mood!

I had been looking forward to Rapid City to see Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse, however, they pale in comparison to the TRUE beauty of the area, Custer State Park. Wow! This State Park offers more wildlife and dream-like landscape than most National Parks we have seen. The Needles Highway goes right through the park and consists of tall, narrow rock formations that look like needles and tunnels that only one car can go through at a time. I could reach out and touch the wall of one of them it was so narrow. But, the real treasure of the park is the Wildlife Loop Road where herds of Bison (Buffalo, Tatanka, etc.) live and graze right along the side of the road offering amazing photo opps. There are also “Begging Burros” that come right up to your car, stick their head in the window and beg for food, which unnerved me a bit since we were in the tiny Miata with the top down! James did well to keep enough distance between them and us, but still close enough for photos and one pet on my part. They are really beautiful animals.

Antelopes decorate the green hillside with their beautiful tan and white colors and amazing horns. They too, are not afraid of humans and will sit right off the road until you are finished taking pictures. I swear they pose because if they are eating grass when you approach, they will turn and look right at you with their beautiful eyes until you are finished, then they return to grazing.

Absent mountains and coastlines, this landscape is almost one of my favorites. I love rolling green hills with lone trees standing in their glory! It was so relaxing to me. Peace and grace seemed to fill the air around us.

We did drive through some of the more well known towns of the area, Spearfish, Deadwood and Sturgis. Sturgis, of course, is basically a ghost town except for a few weeks in August when bikers from across the country converge on this little town and fill the streets with their iconic motorcycles, mostly Harley Davidson. Deadwood was my favorite; it still looks very much like it did in 1856 when it was as its height of fame with the likes of Wild Bill Hickok and other interesting characters of our western past filling the streets.

The Badlands and Grasslands of South Dakota are really amazing. Right now we are driving through an area that has a functioning 1800’s town, as well as props from the movie “Dances with Wolves,” you can see them right of the highway in these huge grassy fields. Beautiful. There are also hundreds of acres of sunflowers. This is stunning to behold against the blue, blue skies; yellow, orange, green and brown cover the land and it looks like an oil painting. There isn’t much more out here in the middle of the state, but what is here really captures your heart and owns its unique beauty proudly.

From here, we will be making our way to Maine via the Midwest with fun stops along the way to visit family and friends. Wheaton, Illinois is where James went to college so we will be stopping there for a couple of nights to visit friends, then to Indiana to see family, Columbus for more family and then northward to Maine. I can’t believe I am already writing about our final month on the road. Sigh. So sad.

So, until next time, may God continue to bless each and every one of you. We miss you all, think of you daily and look forward to reuniting with everyone very soon. Thank you again, for your prayers during our journey…they have all been answered as we continue to have a most blessed time.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Our Final Two Days in Glacier

It feels as if the dating turned romancing has turned into a wonderful, comfortable marriage and we don't want to separate, but we must. Glacier National Park was more than we ever could have imagined or more than we could ever describe with words and photos.

Yesterday we hiked Highline Trail, a 12 mile hike that weaves through mountains, over waterfalls and along the edge of some amazing scenery. It was a moderate trail, not very technical, but hiking 12 miles is pretty exhausting. The first eight miles were fairly easy, though a bit too narrow in spots for my comfort (vertigo only a few times), but the last four miles were all downhill, which proved to be a bit much for my knees. My legs were already tired, but then to traverse rocky and narrow paths downhill almost did me in! James, being the wonderful, protective husband that he is, immediately made me hand over my backpack to ease the load. So, he, the one with the bum knee, hiked the four miles downhill with my pack and his. My hero for sure!

It was as if we were walking on top of the world. We went through pine forests, rocky cliffs, thick Aspen forests and came within feet of Big Horn Sheep, who didn't seem to mind our presence at all. We couldn't have asked for better weather and I even got a bit of my tan back. The trail is a one way trail, not a loop, so you have to park your car at one end and catch a ride to the other. During the summer months in Glacier they have shuttles that go by every 15 minutes or so to pick hikers up, however, they have stopped running due to the end of the season. So, we literally hitch hiked. I don't think I have ever hitch hiked before, so it was a bit strange, but I stuck my thumb out, as did James, and waited. It didn't take long, maybe five minutes and a half dozen or so cars that passed us by, but finally a big SUV pulled over and the guy, a local, knew instantly where we were headed, so off we went! Thankfully, we parked the car at the end of the trail, so when we were done, our car was there waiting.

We finished the hike in about 6 hours and that was with stopping to eat twice, rest, take pictures and visit with passing hikers. Not too bad, I think. When done, we poured ourselves into the car and relished our accomplishment and being done! We still had about 30 minutes to drive home, so down the mountain we go. About 15 minutes into the ride, I was out like a light. We had the top down and for some unknown reason, I didn't fall asleep reclined with my head against the seat...nope, I fell asleep slumped over like some corpse! James said every time we went around a curve, I swayed to the other side and then back again with the next curve. Quiet a site, I'm sure. It was a bit confusing to wake up with my nose two inches from the gear shift. Apparently, I was tired.

Today, we ended our time in Glacier with a bang! We took a one hour Helicopter tour around the park, and even into Canada. We saw places that one could never see even if you lived here your entire life. Places only seen from a bird's eye view. Those who know me well, know I'm not a crier. I just don't cry easily, but put me in the midst of God's glory like I have been several times on this journey, and the tears just flow. I can't explain it, nor do I even know it is going to happen...they are just there...tears welling up in my eyes. I can only say that something deep within my soul responds to such amazing beauty and it literally has to cry out. That was today. It was magical and very special. I took ever 200 photos in one hour, but could only choose a fraction of that to put on Facebook and on the Photo Journal; I tried to pick the best ones!

Then, to make this day even more special, we finally saw a wolf. We weren't even looking for was as if he knew we wanted to catch a glimpse of its mysterious beauty and granted us our wish. We were driving to Two Medicines, another part of the park, and I just happened to look up on the hill we were passing by, and there he was, just sitting there looking over the meadow on the other side of the road. I said, "Oh my gosh, James, I think that was a wolf!" As soon as we could, we turned around and started heading back to the spot and right as we came around the curve, he was crossing the street. He was a younger wolf, not an adult for sure, and he was the most gorgeous animal I have ever seen in my life. Elegant, majestic, swift, graceful...all of those and then some. We checked with the Park Ranger to make sure it wasn't a coyote, but she said with our description (especially the was big and fluffy), she was sure it was a wolf. I am so very thankful to have had to opportunity to see him in the wild, not in a cage or a zoo, but where he is truly himself and free.

We stayed one extra day to fit in these last two activities (and to do four loads of laundry), but will be heading to Missoula tomorrow for a night then to Wyoming. I will hate leaving Montana. This is the only state we have been in where people say proudly that they were born and raised here and that the are never leaving. We have heard this numerous times...that says something about Montana. We will come back here again, that I have no doubt.

So, as with any good-byes in relationships, we leave Montana very sad, but very thankful for the time and memories. We will cherish them always and revisit our photos and journal entries like old love letters until we are reunited.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Glacier and Us

Our romance with Glacier is blossoming as it continues to reveal more and more of it's glory to us. Each day exposes such beauty that we think it can't get any better, but it does.

Yes, the glaciers themselves are going away quickly; The estimated date for all glaciers to be gone is 2020, which I believe is overly optimistic by about 5 years. But, that is OK. Glacier National Park will still be an amazingly beautiful Park. The wildlife alone is enough to make the trip! We had lunch at one of the Resorts in Many Glacier that housed photos taken in 1911 and then photos of the same spot taken in 2008 and it is startling how much the glaciers have decreased, some have simply disappeared.

The Road to the Sun is epic. Every turn offers incredible views of mountains sprinkled with snow (we say they look like chocolate cake dusted with powdered sugar...which, of course, made me crave chocolate cake for two days), or crystal blue glacier lakes. As the clouds move or the sun sets, the mountains seem to change with them.

Our first major wild animal sighting was of a Grizzly Bear, known around these parts simply as "Griz." It was in Many Glacier high up on a mountain. We would have missed it completely had it not been for the 20 or so people standing, pointing and/or looking through binoculars. We still didn't see it. So, we stopped and asked and some kind soul lent us his binoculars and sure enough...there he was! Huge Griz...I managed to get a few photos, but my lens isn't quiet powerful enough. We were thrilled none the less.

We left the RV at 5:00am the next morning because that is the best time to catch wildlife, and it also happens to be a magical time in the mountains! Seeing the bright blanket of stars slowly fade as night turned to dawn and the black of the sky morphed to a brilliant blue, then aqua, then peach, then red and yellow was something I had never experienced before.

We decided to pull into Logan's Pass parking lot to watch the sun fully rise and to our surprise, three Big Horn Sheep were standing in the middle of the lot. Our headlights fully on them, they did I. Of course, I didn't notice them at first because I'm ALWAYS looking off the beaten path for the wildlife, something I have learned three times in two days isn't the best place to view wildlife, so James had to point them out to me. The photo is the sad commentary of how I handled the situation.

After watching the sun rise and just enjoying the glory of it all, we headed to the spot we had spied the day before (on the recommendation of people who "knew") to see some more amazing creatures of the wild. We were equipped with camera, two blankets, hats, gloves, hot coffee and Bear Claws...getting the picture that it was cold? It was, but the sky was clear, the sun was bright and the Moose were ready for their water around the lake we parked ourselves. Deer joined in as well, but the Griz never showed up.

Later that day we saw a Momma Moose and the ever allusive cow. Hahaha! When you spend 8 hours looking for anything that moves in the field or bush, you jump at the first thing that catches your eye, even cows. My dream is to see a wolf, but from what I understand, they are very, very difficult to find. The man that runs the General Store, and who is also an amazing photographer, spoke of the wolf like this: he said the bear, both Griz or Black, simply look at you. They see you, but then move on. The wolf, however, notices you LONG before you notice it and the wolf doesn't just look at you...he looks through your soul. I loved it! He gave us some great recommendations for seeing wolf, but to be honest, I realize I don't have the patience, or perseverance, to be a GREAT photographer. Getting up at 4:30 in the morning was asking A LOT of me, and this man will go out at 11:00 at night, camp, wake up at 3:00am and move camp again, wake up at 6:00am and just sit for hours to take a few photos of a wolf. I don't think I have that in me.

Today, though, provided us with the most spectacular wildlife viewing so far. We decided to drive in the "Inside Fork Road," which is a very primitive, rocky and narrow road that leads to several different lakes in the park. Oh yea, we rented an SUV for two days to do just this type of driving; there is NO WAY the Miata would have survived.

So, driving down the last leg to our destination, we rounded the corner, remember we are only doing 10 mph because of road conditions, and what do we see in the MIDDLE OF THE ROAD?? A giant Griz. This thing took up nearly the entire width of the road. He was stopped in tracks looking directly at us. At first we thought it might be a moose, but was a Griz. He was about 150 yards in front of us just watching. As James groped to turn the radio off, I, like a complete idiot, tried to change the lens on my camera but by the time I got the darn thing on, the Griz had moved on. James said he actually stood up on all his hind legs...and that he was gigantic. I looked up in time to see the Griz walk off the road. No photo. In the words of Napoleon Dynamite, "Idiot." It is an image forever in my memory!

We gathered ourselves and couldn't believe what we had just seen. This was the second time my intense search of the forests and fields proved fruitless as the wildlife appeared in the middle of the road. We saw a herd of mountain goats in the parking lot of the Resort we had lunch at one day...James specialty is spotting wildlife in parking lots...and in the middle of roads!

We made it to the lake and were still excited from our Griz encounter mere moments before, when we made the acquaintance of a nice man on the shore with his binoculars watching Bald Eagles. Now, that was a marvelous surprise! There were two of them circling overhead for several moments until moving on. We sat on the shore with Jarred and chatted a bit. He is building a log cabin in Montana and was taking a break in the park for a few days. We told him about the Griz and he seemed both excited and nervous, as it happened just a couple hundred yards from where he is camping.

We then headed back home. A long but wonderful day. The next two days promise some very exciting adventures for us, but I'm not will have to wait for an update! God Bless!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Our First Date

Our first date with Glacier was like many other first dates. The courted one, Glacier, presented itself with modesty and humility, almost shrouded in mystery. Literally, it was wrapped in a thick, impenetrable blanket of clouds, likened to the designs of old time Chastity Belts or Bundling Sacks. It was as if Glacier was not going to reveal all of its beauty and magic on the first date, oh no, there must be more courting involved for that to happen. Glacier demands patience so that its virtue won’t be questioned.

However, in its reticence and reserve (something we both found intriguing), hidden treasures were revealed that may have gone unnoticed had such an atmosphere not appeared this day. Little subtleties that would otherwise be overlooked because they simply fade into the background were very apparent and vibrant set among this quiet, guarded and mystic space.

Imagine meeting someone for the first time who is very active and energetic, talking a million miles a minute. It is all you can do to focus on what is being said and not getting lost in the deluge of words falling all around you. When you part from said company, you can hardly remember their eye color, hair color or possibly even their name…you are just exhausted and relieved to be alone…in silence.

Now, imagine meeting someone who is a bit more reserved…quiet. Not rude or standoffish, but truly wanting something important to occur during the conversation. You notice little things when it is still and quiet, like the way their mouth curls up into a small grin when their dialog partner says something amusing, or how their hands find things to fiddle with, or how they might twirl their hair…or the color of their hair and even eyes for that matter. Little subtleties that can only be discovered when the light isn’t shining so brightly.

That is Glacier on this, our first date. Due to the thick clouds, rain and overall grayness of the day, it seemed as if all bright colors called in sick and stayed in bed. This left a pallet of whites, grays, blacks, browns and even some shades of dark green. This was their day to shine! Without having the brilliance of the yellows, blues, purples, reds and bright greens to compete with, these muted, less appreciated, colors jumped at the opportunity to present us with another side of Glacier most miss, or don’t appreciate.

The first to capture my full attention were the Aspen trees, but not for the reasons you may think. The Aspen’s white bark is usually overpowered by their leaves, either wild greens or bold yellows depending on the time of year, and the plain, white trunks are never truly seen for their own splendor; but, in a world of shaded grays, blacks and browns, they truly jump out from the forest and into your car they are so bold! Proud, they are! You can feel it. It is amazing.

Then, as I focused more and more on what was being said by Glacier, I picked up a hint of bright green, almost fluorescent, peaking from the trunks of trees and the forest floor. It was moss. Plain ole moss. But, in this light, or lack thereof, it glowed, as if someone flipped on a light switch that lit up the moss when the clouds appeared. Otherworldly, as James would say…otherworldly.

Like any other first date, some history must be shared to establish foundation and roots. Glacier did this in a most fascinating way. While driving around, we would notice small wisps of clouds mingled among the pine trees. They weren’t horizontal, as if lazing on the branches of the trees, but vertical, making their way up the mountains to their larger cloud friends hanging out in the sky. It looked like ancient smoke signals from Indians past, and that makes perfect sense, as this is Blackfeet country. This is Glacier’s past, history, and this is how it shared its story with us.

Now, there was SOME color around, but not a lot. Surprisingly, some of the trees have already started to change; like movie trailers announcing the upcoming Autumn season. Mostly they are the smaller trees, Aspens, and the dominant color is yellow, but even the yellow is muted, like the color of freshly churned butter. Occasionally there would be flashes of reds, but not too many at all. I did pick up another color while driving, though since I was driving, it was difficult to focus on the tree to determine what it was. So, I asked James if he knew. I pointed out up in the mountains patches of what appeared to me to be trees the color of burnt brick, a very deep, dark red, set alongside the green pine trees. After he had some time to look, he reported back that they were dead pine trees. Sad. But, even in their death, they are beautiful and offer a striking contrast next to their living relatives.

Towards the end of the date we started receiving signals that things were looking up! The Bundling Sack, or clouds, started loosening up a bit and beams of laughter, or sun, illuminated the area. So, as with any good courtship, we will continue our journey into the soul of Glacier and see what more it has to offer. We will keep you posted!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Heading Eastward.

This morning we are sitting in a rather lovely State Park in Idaho, much to our surprise. We didn't have any reservations for last night (or tonight for that matter), but decided since the summer has officially ended, we would do good to drive until tired and find a place, and we did do good! This park is actually part of the Army Corp of Engineers and is located outside Priest River, Idaho. Very, very nice. So, we may stay tonight and then reach Glacier tomorrow.

The RV park in Bothell (just 15 miles from downtown Seattle), was another wonderful surprise. Great park with all sites on Lake Pleasant, complete with ducks and geese, which Peanut thoroughly enjoyed chasing back into the water every time they ventured up near our RV. We were there Saturday and Sunday nights and to our delight, Sunday mornings they do up a Pancake Breakfast for all guests of the RV park. We met some wonderful folks, mostly long-time RVer's who were more than happy to share some of their wisdom and valuable tips for the next portion of our trip. We were grateful to be able to return the favor to one couple in particular who were heading to Florida...and the Keys! They asked if there were any nice places down there for RVs and we were able to give them a list of places we were sure they would enjoy! Oh, and did I mention the pancakes (and eggs and sausage) were great? They were!

After that, we headed downtown Seattle. I loved it there. The Pike's Market is something everyone should experience in their lifetime. Not only were there fish, crab, oysters and clams, but the flowers, fruits and veggies were out of this world as well! Being the holiday weekend, vendors of all sorts were out selling their goods. We really enjoyed just walking around town and taking in all the sites. The weather could not have been any better...sunny and cool. Seattle is another place on my list that I want to visit again for a longer period of time.

I have mixed emotions about heading back East. I so miss family and friends and can not wait to be reunited with everyone, but time has gone by so fast. This trip has been so amazing and special that I don't want it to end. Making "this turn" seems to signal the beginning of the end and I'm not sure I'm ready for that. I know we have some incredible places yet to see, two of our favorites to be sure: Glacier National Park and Maine in the fall, and who knows what else in between. We are VERY excited to be seeing two of our close friends from the Keys, Roland and Sloan Muench, next week in Cody, Wyoming, as well as two other dear friends, Tim and Diane Neal, in Maine next month! I think that will satisfy my homesickness for a bit seeing them all!

Instead of dwelling on the negative (our trip being more than halfway over), I'm going to focus on the positive things left to experience in this next half of our journey. I'm going to slow it down, so to speak, and enjoy every single moment, creature, sunset, sun rise, tree, flower and walks/talks with James. God has richly blessed us in this crazy adventure of ours, and I don't want to waste one moment of it!

My next post will be from Glacier National Park!! We are both so excited to finally get there and I'm sure it will be far greater than our imaginations could ever dream possible!

Love and blessings to you all! God Bless!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

A very special Blog!

This is a very special blog because even though it was written by me, Jennifer, James artfully edited and beautifully expanded it with some of his own thoughts and words…thank you, my wonderfully creative husband and writer! I think I will hire him to be my Editor! We hope you enjoy it!

There are moments on this journey when the profound beauty of a place elicits a deep silence of the soul. These are times when beauty steals not only your words but also your breath. Poet William Wordsworth alludes to such moments when he says, “the meanest flower that blows can give thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.”

However, since silent blogs are as useless as a soliloquy for stringless guitar, I have the impossible task of painting a word picture of unspeakable beauty - because we just have to share.

“Organoleptic” is a term I, Jennifer, use to describe the northwest portion of Washington, while James uses “Thin Boundaries.”

Merriam-Webster defines Organoleptic as: "being, affecting, or relating to qualities (as taste, color, odor, and feel) of a substance (as a food or drug) that stimulate the sense organs". I will replace "food or drug" with PLACE, specifically NW Washington.

With its extreme topography and diverse ecosystems, NW Washington commands respect and must be experienced, full-bodied. You must engage all five senses to even begin to appreciate all that it has to offer. Therefore, and sadly, my photos fall far short of capturing the essence of NW Washington, WITH the exception of the sunset photos taken by James...those are truly spectacular. You can't truly “see” this part of the country through the confines of a viewfinder on a camera. You must turn on your own axis, 360 degrees, look all the way up, all the way down, and peer with your eyes as far as you can - only then do you begin to “see.” And, it’s not just the vastness of the place; you must focus on the little things, too. The tiniest of wildflowers or smallest of creatures running through the bush are no less unique and breath-taking.

You have to hear the wild ocean’s waves crashing against sea-stacks, tumbling onto pebble strewn shores, jostling the giant driftwood logs as they bask on the beach and then retreat again back to their turbulent home. As you walk along the rocky shore you can taste the salt of the misting-sea on your lips.

The deep and intense aroma of pine is unique to this part of the country, accurately known as the Evergreen State. There are more pine trees and varieties of pine trees in this state than I have ever seen or dreamed possible. The intensity of their fragrance, mingled with the distant scent of campfire, is intoxicating, maybe even alluring, as any romantic scene one could conjure.

The tactile sensations of NW Washington can leave you with the feeling of being somewhere altogether different – otherworldly. The cool, sharp, crisp air tickles your skin, while the sun, at the same time, gently wraps you in an invisible blanket of warmth. All five senses are completely and constantly engaged here, paradoxically yet complimentarily...and that is the way it must be.

After going back and reviewing my pictures and Blog entries over the past two months, I do remember loving and appreciating each of the places we have visited. Some of them, Yosemite in particular, still invigorate my heart with memories of awe and wonder. However, I can honestly say without hesitation, this is our favorite part of the journey so far. Washington is! It seems like the rest of the country is tame, well groomed and safe in comparison. Washington, with renegade spirit, bucked against the rule of the land and retreated to the upper most NW corner of the country where it could be wild and reckless and free.

Olympic National Park is unique in that it offers Rain Forest (yes, Rain Forest), Coastal beaches and snow capped mountains. Talk about variety! Our first experience in the Park was the Rain Forest. There are plants and animals here that do not exist anywhere else in the country. We took a stroll through the "Hall of Mosses" to get a feel for the different species of moss, trees, ferns and plants that thrive here. The subtle beauty and mind-numbing diversity caused my brain to swim! It was actually warm in the Rain Forest and we found that to be a very welcomed surprise! Did I mention it is COLD up here?

Our next stop was Cape Flattery, the most northwest point of the continental United States, as our photo of the phone GPS will attest. "Thin boundaries," whispered James as we gazed out at the secluded scene of exquisite beauty. I repeated the words in the form of a question back to him. He explained, "The Medieval Celtic Church use the term 'Thin Boundaries' to describe areas of God’s creation in which the 'boundary' between sacred and secular, created and Creator, is so thin, that the very presence of God seems as close as the air around you. It is a place of extreme beauty, a moment of joy that is felt in the blood. It is a time when words, if they can be spoken at all, are only whispered. There is glory in it." This is Cape Flattery...a Thin Boundary.

Wild and dangerous are another two adjectives I would use to describe this area. This place looks as though God used his finger to clear a path of earth and fill it with raging sea to separate Washington from Canada. The shoreline is extreme, jagged, lined with cliffs lofting high above the sea below. The Evergreens push the boundaries, dare the cliff's edge and almost defy gravity, thus the reason for the thousands upon thousands of gargantuan driftwood logs that line the shores of this place.

We both longed deeply to stay, but night would soon be upon us and time simply would not permit. Since leaving there, I have felt a quiet peace in my heart imparted by the spiritual experience of the moment at Cape Flattery. I hope we will visit this special place again. Until then, I will hold this peace closely.

Yesterday we headed, with Peanut in tow, to Hurricane Ridge, where one can see Mount Olympia. I had seen glimpses of it while driving around the park...wonderful clips of snow capped mountains almost beckoning me to see it in full glory. I couldn't wait. The drive up to Hurricane Ridge is about 17 miles and consists of twists and turns, offering little views of the mountains. I kept saying to James, "On the way down, I want to stop here and there to take pictures," because I thought that was as good as it got. Well, was I ever in for the surprise. The Architects and Engineers who designed this park were truly genius. Upon rounding the last curve to our destination, we were met with the most spectacular view of Mount Olympia. Instantaneously, tears filled my eyes and ran down my cheeks. I literally gasped, it so caught me off guard. This is one of the places where my photos don't even come close to the majesty of the mountains...Olympia will not relinquish her full beauty to a camera. She insists on being visited personally.

We walked around a bit and were reminded that Peanut is not too fond of heights. James held him so I could take photos. I think Peanuts’ being with daddy helped alleviate some of the shivering and shock he seemed to experience the entire time. Silly dog. Unfortunately, because of Peanut, we couldn't walk the trails. The signs posted said, "Pets not allowed as they may frighten the wild life." I cracked up! Peanut frightening anything would be a hoot!

The day was clear and sunny and our drive around the park proved to be a continuation of awe-inspiring vistas. Crescent Lake leaps out at you as if in some 3D movie! James remembered this lake from his previous trip to Washington and told me of it, but no words can be used to portray its beauty. We walked a bit and then decided to head back to the coast with hopes of catching another spectacular sunset.

However, the weather had a surprise for us. As if driving through some invisible wall, we were one moment in bright, sunny, clear skies and the next, under thick, dark and foreboding clouds that created an almost eerie feel in the air. It was perfect! We visited two beaches we hadn’t seen the previous day, and, though I’m sure they are beautiful in the sun, they presented an all-together different experience shrouded in the thick fog. There is an island right off shore called James Island, which is just below Cape Johnson…I think that means we should move there! The island is awesome…you will see from some photos. It was a perfect way to end a perfect day.

Praying everyone has a safe and happy Holiday Weekend! We love you!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

A long, long, LONG way.

We are in Westport, Washington; approximately 3,500 miles (exactly 3,496.46) from our starting point in Islamorada, Florida. Pretty amazing. This is the furthest we will be away from home the entire trip. Of course, we have traveled many more miles than that; we figure about 5,000 miles in the RV and 6,000 in the Miata, but as far as point-to-point distance, we have reached the maximum. We have seen some amazing places, visiting with amazing people and experienced many amazing moments during this trip, and I have tried to share most of them with you via this Blog and photos. We still have a lot more to see and do, so please continue to stay tuned!

Oregon was fabulous. We spent a total of five nights/six days there I have to say that it was probably the most relaxing (or lazy, to be honest) of the States we have visited. The biggest day came when we drove to Crater Lake. We actually drove so much, that after 11 hours in the car, with 3 more hours to go, we decided to stop off at motel. We had Peanut with us, so it was a no-brainer to do so. James and I have a king size bed at home, but in the RV we have a queen (and it isn't a full Queen), so when checking in, we requested a king size bed. They didn't have one. They had a room with two queens, so as much as we love being in the same bed, we opted to each have our own queen bed for the night. This turned out to be a good thing since I tossed and turned all night long...probably because James was in the other bed.

Crater Lake is the bluest lake I have ever seen. The lake was formed after a volcano erupted and then died. It is the bluest blue you will ever see anywhere. And it is cold. So cold that there isn't much to do there but drive around and see the Lake from different sides, which is what we did. There were Pennacles and waterfalls too that we saw. I am so glad we made the drive. It is something to behold and I hope everyone will have the opportunity to see it one day. None of you will be sorry.

The other days spent in Oregon were in Gold Beach and what a wonderful place that is. Out of the five days in Oregon, we only had 2 days of rain and from what I hear, that is pretty darn good. As in the Keys, or south Florida for that matter, you can always tell the tourist from the locals. In Florida during "the winter" months, the locals have lost their tans, turned in their shorts and tank tops for khakis and long sleeves and talk about how chilly it is, while the tourist are tan...well, I should say, burnt, racing around in their bathing suits, tank tops, or for men, no top at all, and soaking up the rays, even if it is only 70 degrees, which is cold for us Floridians. Well, the same holds true here, but completely opposite! The locals during the summer months (now...I guess), are all in their shorts, short sleeve shirts, skirts and bathing suits, while we the tourists (at least the ones from Florida) are bundled up in jeans, sweaters and coats freezing our back-sides off! Every time a local says anything about summer, my brain goes haywire! My appendages swear it is late fall with winter right around the corner! It just doesn't compute!

We left Oregon yesterday. As I said, we had a very lovely and lazy time there. And guess what else is lazy in Oregon? Cows!! You know the commercial that says, "Happy Cows come from California?" Well, LAZY cows come from Oregon. A strange thing to notice, I know. But, I sure have seen a lot of cows on this trip and the ones in Oregon fascinate me! Cows in every other State are all walking around, eating, meeting at a watering hole or just staring at passing traffic, but in Oregon, every single farm or pasture we drove by, 90% of the cows were laying on the ground...doing nothing. After the first few I noticed, I made it a point to observe each one and sure enough, 90% of them were lazin' on the ground! Now, when we came to Washington I wanted to make sure it wasn't the climate, altitude, air or whatever, so I paid attention to the farms...and all the cows, with the exception of a few calves, were up walking around. So, it must be Oregon. Odd. Very odd.

I believe there is a stretch of Oregon, half way up the coast and spans maybe 100 miles that never sees the sun! I say this because the park we stayed at last night, the Beachside State Park, had large patches of moss growing...on the roads! You know that area hasn't seen sun or a dry day in a long time. It was very foggy and rainy when we arrived and that I was most thankful for. Unfortunately about 15 minutes before we arrived, I experienced my first ever (and I pray my last) cluster migraine. It came upon me as sudden as a lighting flash and felt as if someone took a pickaxe and began hitting me in the side of the head. That a snap of the finger. And, I have never ever felt such horrible pain in my life. I have to say it scared the heck out of me...all kinds of thoughts go through one's mind like, "Is this aneurysm? Stroke?" James knew immediately something was wrong and wanted to go directly to the hospital, but I just wanted to get to the park and see if it would pass in a little bit, and if not, then off the ER we would go. Well, after taking two migraine pills and moments of James squeezing my head (I will explain later), I started feeling some relief. I knew then it was a cluster migraine. The rest of the afternoon/evening is a fog to me, but I'm all better today.

Oh yeah, the "squeezing the head" [not what you know it to be, Cindy]. When I have a migraine, as with many other migraine sufferers, compression on the head really relieves a lot a pain. As a matter of fact, the SkyMall Magazine (found on airplanes) actually has a device specifically for this purpose. It helps. A lot.

We woke up the next morning (today) with the same fog, rain and chill in the air. There is no way I could live in that part of Oregon! We decided to pack up and head off. After about 2 hours of driving, we finally hit sunshine again! Ahhh! What a relief! Oregon has the most stunning and dramatic beaches and shorelines, as well as this small seaside towns that look like someplace out of the past. Such beauty and danger, which leads me to believe (and hope to be true), why they (the State) has named so many of their Parks and Rivers with the word "Devil" in it. We came through "Devil's Elbow State Park," "Devil's Punchbowl" and over several rivers or creeks with the same devilish word. I have to say...I didn't like it much. I don't like Satan. Can't stand him. So, to be driving up the coast and seeing the word "devil" a lot, I got annoyed. But, then it reminded me of something...Satan is always all around us...and usually in the most beautiful of places trying his best to make them ugly. Well, he didn't succeed. Every park, river and creek were still stunning, I just could do without the titles!

James continues to build his Handy Man skills as little things on either the RV or Miata break...he always fixes them. The roads in Oregon and Washington are a piece of cake compared to the ones in California, so he has no worries now about driving any road that shows the least bit of curves on the map...been there and CONQUERED that! I won't drive the big rig until we reach the middle part of the US where the streets are level, straight and perfect. West Coast folks got off easy!!

We are about 50 miles into Washington right now and it hosts some incredible beauty as well. Tomorrow we plan to take a drive up to Olympic National Park and then drive up to the most northern and western point in the United States...might as well since we have been to the most southern point...Key West! The weather is far...and the campground we are in for the next three nights is pretty nice as well. It has a heated pool...might have to try that out in this cool air!

We will continue to read our book, "Travels with Charley" and hopefully begin another after that is done. I never realized how much more "life" you give a book when you read it aloud, or hear it read aloud. We are both enjoying it immensely! We need to be in Glacier one week from today, so our time here is truncated just a bit, but not much.

Hope everyone enjoys the Labor Day Weekend...stay safe...there are crazy people out there! I should know, we are two of them! Hahahaha! We love and miss you all! God Bless!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Travels with Charley

What a fun day with nothing out of the ordinary happening. We hung out inside watching Eric Clapton's "Crossroads" from 2007, read a little, wrote a little and just relaxed. In the afternoon we ventured out and did a bit of shopping. Gold Beach has a wonderful little book store and art gallery, so you know we had to go there. What a priceless little gem to come across in a small, seaside town like this.

While there, James found Steinbeck's "Travels With Charley," a book some friends in Laguna Beach suggested, so we bought it. We then had lunch out, went to the store for dinner vittles and back to the RV to pick up Peanut and take him shopping! There is a wonderful store here called "Woof" that caters solely to dogs and since it is getting colder and colder the more north we go, I decided he needed a sweater. I'm grinning ear to ear because Peanut HATES to have any type of clothing on, but I swear, I think he is thankful for this. It is a green turtleneck with brown buttons and it suits him to a tee! I love it! I will post some photos on the Photo Journal so you can all see.

We then spent the rest of the afternoon taking turns reading aloud chapters from "Travels with Charley." What a great book! I had forgotten what an amazing author Steinbeck is and have truly enjoyed reading/listening to it. Friends suggested it because it is a tale of John traveling across the country, in a camper/truck with his dog, Charley. All of the details, conversations he had about his trip and the encounters he has had (so far...we aren't even half way through the book), strike a very familiar note to us! Even for those who haven't traveled in an RV/Camper, this book is worth reading. It is set in 1960...very interesting.

I then cooked a mean dinner, if I say so myself. Sorry...I love to cook and being in an RV in no way means I can't cook up some of our favorite meals like grilled pork chops, smashed potatoes and steamed asparagus. Yummy! It has been another lovely day of relaxation and pure enjoyment.

We will be hitting Crater Lake tomorrow, leaving bright and early in the morning, but not yet sure if we will be spending the night or driving back. I guess we will determine that when we are there!

Prayers go out to my Mom and Ted, who are in Washington DC attending the Glenn Beck Rally, and to my friend Dawn and her family as they begin a new chapter in Texas. We love you all and wish everyone a wonderful weekend! God Bless!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Goodbye California...Hello Oregon where did I leave off last time? Oh, yes, the PERFECT day...and it was perfect, followed by a perfect evening. While enjoying another fire watching the sunset, we also watched the very thick fog move was wild! We woke up the next morning surrounded by fog...very pretty actually.

Well, to truly appreciate a perfect day, one must experience a day that isn't perfect and well, we did. It wasn't that bad, really...and it could have been a lot worse. Leaving Westport was pretty much uneventful even though the roads were very winding and steep, but no worse than we had already been on, so it was no big deal. We exit off the main highway (101) to jump on the Avenue of the Giants, which is a road that is tucked inside a forest of giant, amazing and beautiful Redwood trees. It was so nice that we decided to pull off the side of the road for a small picnic and that was very lovely as well. But, when we were finished and on our way...the RV wouldn't start. James knew immediate that it was the battery by the "clicking" me, it just sounded horrible! Thankfully, our wonderful Abram is equipped with an "Emergency Start" button that bypasses the main battery and starts the engine off the coach battery and away we go! We did stop in Eureka, California and purchased a new battery. So, no big deal.

We headed to Patrick Point State Park for the night, which is another beautiful state park, however, I have to complain a bit about California State Parks, so excuse me. Yes, they offer incredible views, but the price is outrageous, especially when they are all primitive (no electric, no water, no sewer); other RV parks are the same price, if not cheaper. And to make matters a bit worse (well, worse for me that is), last night around 9:00pm we had a knock on our door; it was the Camp Host telling us we had to turn off our generator (when primitive you run the "genny" so you can run things like the TV, AC [we didn't was freezing] and anything you have to plug in). So, we apologized and told the nice man we would turn it off immediately. He then informed us that we couldn't turn it back on until 10:00am the next morning. WHAT???? What am I going to do for coffee until 10:00am???

Yes, I will admit it here in front of all of you, I'm totally insane for my morning cup of might even say I'm addicted, both emotionally and physically, as I get horrid headaches if I don't have it (caffeine withdraw...lovely). So, starting about 4:00am this morning I wake up wondering how it is I'm going to get my coffee? This goes on every half hour or so until 7:00am, by which time time I'm fully awake and in a serious panic. I think James was amused. I was also annoyed...having paid $35 a night for a spot with no electric, no water, no sewer and no coffee?

Well, don't worry folks, it all worked out! We loaded up the truck and we moved to off track. We loaded up the truck and headed up the road a bit to a lovely spot James found right on the ocean where we could turn our generator on, brew our coffee and enjoy it by the water side. Now, I do have to say SOME good things about Patrick Point State Park...and that is the amazing trails, rocks and views. Our campsite didn't have any view (we were surrounded by trees, which was nice), but we went exploring and it was truly beautiful. No, I didn't take my camera...don't ask me why. While we were on the trail I asked James, "Now, why in the world didn't I bring my camera?" And he responded, "Well, I guess this will just be for us." He is such a romantic. So, it was just for us. A memory of climbing the rocks, looking out over the water and just enjoying being alone in a very big world.

Oregon is everything I dreamed and more. And we have only seen 35 miles of it!! Gold Beach is awesome and the RV Park we found is right on the beach and offers FULL everything. Nice. I can have my coffee anytime I want it! OK...enough. One thing about this part of Oregon is that it is extremely windy. The photos I took on the beach I had to brace myself against the wind and the sand was brutal! James, the smart man that he is, stayed in the car (except for one area and even then he found shelter), while I faced the sand blaster and tried to get as many pictures of the fabulous rocks as I could before my skin peeled off. I loved every minute of it though.

We are going to drive to Crater Lake (a four to four and half hour drive from Gold Beach) either tomorrow or Sunday, we haven't decided. We wanted to spend the night there and bring The Nut along, however, every hotel I called was booked. So, it may be a serious marathon driving day when we go. We have heard great things about Crater Lake and can't wait to see it. We are in Gold Beach until Tuesday morning and then we hit the road again heading where? We aren't sure! Yeah! Love traveling like that!

Hope everyone reading this is doing well! Again, and I will never tire of saying it, we miss you all very much and love you! Check out the two new photo pages on the Photo Journal, "Primitive Westport" and "Welcome to Oregon!" GOD BLESS!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


After 59 days on the road, in my opinion we have had our first perfect day today. Not that any of the others days haven’t been magnificent and wonderful, but this day was the closest thing to perfection outside of heaven. We are in a State Park in a little town of Westport, California, population 60, but once held the title of the largest city on the west coast outside of San Francisco. It is a wonderfully quaint town and with incredibly odd and beautiful residents.

So what made this day so perfect? The fact that we did nothing at all. Well, nothing but sitting by the sea, whale watching, reading, writing…and now, at 5:00pm Pacific time, listening to some wonderful Jazz station out of Eureka, California. I’m telling you all…this is a day to be remembered by me for the rest of my life.

It is a bit difficult being “still and quiet” in the Lord, but that was our sole purpose for the day. We didn’t want to get in the car and do one of our marathon drive days, but just sit here and savor what was offered to us right before our eyes. This State Park is truly awesome. I am no more than 15 steps from a cliff that over looks the ocean…with black sand. It is called “black sand” but it is really more like a very dark gray or brown, but regardless, it is amazingly beautiful. We are probably 35 feet above the shore and beach below, with a large grassy area for Peanut to roam around and be comfortable (those who know Peanut know that the does not like the water…he really can’t see it). I look to my left and to my right and I see jagged coast line with crashing waves…the sun sparkling on the water and I can’t help myself but sing Incubus’ song “…blue diamonds strewn ‘cross a blue blanket.” It is so true.

Remember how excited I was to see the whales in Bodega Bay? Well, the whales make an appearance here on an hourly basis. Amazing is all I can say. If I could point to one place, one moment, in my life that I felt described Heaven, today…this place…would be pretty darn close to it.

We are completely “primitive” here in the sense we have no electrical outlet to plug into, no water to use, no sewer to dump our waters…but, we really don’t notice the difference, or we don’t care because of the true beauty surrounding us. We have to “live” a bit differently this way than when we are in a “full service “ RV Park in that we watch our water usage and don’t put on the lights or use electronic devices unless needed. I certainly do not feel deprived in any way, but free in a strange sense.

We have spent the entire day here at the edge of the ocean, with the exception of when we drove to into Westport for some sandwiches and soup. We ate outside at the Westport Inn (the proprietor made the soup…Clam Chowder) and enjoyed the wonderful company of Smokey, the resident cat. James, being a sucker for all animals, though he won’t admit it, gave Smokey a bit of his sandwich. Seriously, the town of Westport consists of maybe 3 commercial buildings and 30 houses, all lodged on the edge of the coast overlooking the Pacific Ocean. After lunch, we headed back “home” and spent the rest of the day in our chairs, watching the whales, enjoying the waves and soaking in the moments as they passed by. See what I mean in it being a perfect day?

We will tonight, as we did last night, enjoy a wonderful fire by and watch the sunset and moon rise. At first, the silence is almost eerie, but then it grows on you like a warm blanket fresh from the dyer on a cool day. We sat outside by the fire until 10:00pm or so and then turned in. The cool, very cool, air made for perfect sleeping conditions with the windows open…plus the sound of crashing waves. We look forward to the same tonight. We do have a few neighbors…one neighbor in particular we have gotten to know…they are Al and Marie, a couple well into their 70’s who live about an hour away and love to visit this park…we now know why. Last night, Al had his guitar out and was singing and playing…it was wonderful.

Thank you all for your payers for safe travels…the roads were curvy and winding, but James did not find them daunting at all and provided us with an incredible drive up the coast. We look for more of the same as we journey Northward to Oregon and Washington. Wow…just typing those words amaze me. I never dreamed I would see these places! I can’t wait!!!

We continue to lift you all up in prayer and thank you for your continued prayers and words of encouragement and love. We can’t wait to be reunited with each of you! May God bless you all!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Bodega Bay

Before our trip, I had never heard of Bodega Bay, California. It is a small coastal town about 70 miles north of San Francisco with a population of 950. I love Bodega Bay. You feel completely cut off from the rest of the world and it has provided some of the most magnificent views we have seen since being on the road.

Our first day here we jumped in the car and took a little road trip, well, if you consider 150 miles little, but again, that's how we roll. We took Hwy. 1 south and passed through an a little town called Tomales, known for their oysters. Tomales Bay, apparently, is perfect for harvesting cold water oysters, which we tried. They are smaller than the ones we get back East, but they are tasty. From there we drove all along the coast until we reached the northern part of San Fran. We stopped at Murr Beach, which was used during WWII after the attack on Pearl Harbor and there are still bunkers in the side of the mountain where the military posted up to defend our country. It was very interesting. The road hugged dangerously close to the edge of the cliff and proved to be a bit nerve racking for me at times, but the view was incredible.

Yesterday we decided to hang around Bodega Bay instead of driving around a lot...this was a wonderful choice. Early in the morning as we were sitting outside enjoying our coffee, our RV neighbor came over and told us that there is a pod of whales off Bodega Head and the sightings were amazing. Well, enough said! We hopped into the car, stopped at a very small and quaint coffee shop for Lattes and Sticky Buns then down to the harbor to see some whales. Ahhh. It was perfect. What an amazing thing to witness. I could have sat there all day long, and some do with their chairs, coolers, cameras and binoculars. We then walked around Bodega Head and just enjoyed the scenery and sounds. The ocean here is very loud, yet so soothing. We kept hearing seals, so we continued to walk until we reached the area where we saw a small island in the bay that housed many, many loud seals. They are so funny! Very loud and opinionated. It was great.

Our RV Park has a trail that goes through an adjacent State Park called Bodega Dunes and then leads to the beach, so we decided to try that out. Along the way we came upon a memorial called "The Children's Bell Tower." It is a metal tower that has probably 100 bells hanging from it, with a large one in the middle. The story is that in 1994 a family from Bodega Bay traveled to Italy and while there, they were caught in the middle of a highway robbery where their 7 year old son was shot and killed. The parents graciously donated his organs to seven Italians, which, saved their lives. The people of the town where the shooting took place, were so touched, they made bells, the largest one being blessed by Pope John Paul II and sent them to the family in Bodega Bay, where this memorial was erected. It is pretty powerful.

Off we continued to the beach. It was about a mile walk but the beach was really something to behold. Tons of drift wood, wide beach and crashing waves. We walked a bit with me taking tons of photos of everything and then found a spot to rest and enjoy the views. We found a long log and used that as a head rest and I immediately fell asleep. Not long, about 10 minutes, but it was great. The warm sun combined with the warm sand under me, made for perfect sleeping conditions with the cool breeze and lulling sound of the waves.

We then headed back to the RV to relax a bit. I did laundry (exciting, eh?) and then we were off to watch the sun set. Last night was also full moon, so we were blessed to see both the sun set and the moon rise at the same time. We drove up the road a bit and found a great spot to park on a cliff overlooking the ocean and behind us were those wonderful soft hills. As the sun was setting, James turned around JUST in time to notice the moon peaking over one of the hills. Man, I just couldn't believe it! So beautiful! What an amazing way to spend our last night in Bodega Bay. We will return to this wonderful little town by the sea, that is for sure.

Today marks the beginning of the primitive part of our stay, as I mentioned in the earlier post. We ask you all to pray for safe travels and sturdy equipment (RV and car), as the roads will be quite curvy, steep and narrow. We have spoken with other RVer's who have made this drive and they all say it can be done, but we have to go slow, slow, slow. That is easy, we are in no hurry! Our first stop is about 120 miles north of here in a state park that offers spaces on the shore, but again, we aren't sure if we will have cell/internet service, so please don't worry too much if you don't hear from us for a few days.

So, until then...stay safe, be happy and know we love and miss you all so very much!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Still California Dreaming...

I am faced with two daunting tasks; one, trying to encapsulate all the events of the last six days into a blog that won't take up seven pages and two, coming up with some other adjectives to describe the beauty we are constantly experiencing on a daily basis. I will try, though, as it is all the more special to share with all of you.

Lake Tahoe is spectacular. It is the world's third deepest Lake (over 1,600 feet) and the water is crystal clear, warmer than the Pacific and almost as blue as the waters in the Bahamas. We had an amazing time with our dear friend, Michael, aka "Sunny" and I will say that his was the best "RV Park" yet! :o) We have missed him since he moved from Islamorada, so it was really a special time catching up and creating new memories.

Napa Valley. Ah, Napa Valley. Yes, the "roughing" it of the parks is great and I really love it, but every once in a while, I do love the finer touches of places like Napa Valley. The park, Skyline Wilderness Park, was perfect and only 3 miles from downtown Napa, and only a mile from the "loop" of the Valley. The loop consists of Hwy 29 and Hwy 112; they loop around, a total of 50+ miles and encircles some of the most beautiful vineyards I have ever seen...well, these were my first, but I bet money they are better than any other in this country! Our first Winery was "Franciscan" and boy oh boy, I love wine tasting! We sampled four wines and one port. We bought two bottles of wine and one of the port! Great people, amazing grounds and delicious wine. A treasured memory for my first Winery. After that we hit the most "tourist" spot in Napa called "Castello di Amorosa." It isn't an ancient castle in that construction began in 1993 and finished in 2007, however, every single brick and stone used to build the castle are all from Italy, Austria, etc. and are at least 300 years old. It is pretty amazing, as the photos will show. The Castle is even complete with a Torture Chamber! I actually saw a real Iron Maiden! Yikes! The wine...well, it is just so-so. But, the tour and the castle were worth it all.

Those were the only two vineyards we visited our first day; mind you, we tasted over 20 wines, so there isn't a lot of hoping from vineyard to vineyard for us! That night we really had an amazing time...we went downtown Napa and saw "Taming of the Shrew" put on by the local College at an outdoor park. We took a picnic of wine (Franciscan bought that day), cheese, apples and bread. What a great thing to do! And let me tell you what, I will not be the least bit surprised to see any of these young actors on the big screen some day soon...they were very talented and the play was hysterical! It was cold, though. That was the only downer.

Saturday, we went to another vineyard that boasted of an art gallery, called Mumm Vineyards. They specialize in sparkling wines, so we did a bit of tasting, but not a lot. We then went to the art gallery and enjoyed some wonderful photography and sculptures. Not wanting to spend the day wine tasting again, we decided to hit the road and drive to Sonoma. As far as the towns themselves, I far prefer Sonoma with its quaint square, wonderful park, outdoor music and incredible shops! Napa is more like a city...but, very nice, I just like Sonoma better. We did not visit any of the vineyards in Sonoma, but plan on doing so when we visit this part of the country again. I did all the driving Saturday so that James could enjoy the view and I could enjoy the winding mountain roads. What fun!! James laughs because when I'm driving those roads, I'm sitting straight up in the sit, both hands on the wheel, intensely watching the road, driving at speeds around 25 mph! Hey, those roads are steep and curvy...but, oh so fun!

The plan (hahahaha) was to stay in Napa for one more day and leave Monday morning, however, this morning we decided to head to Bodega Bay. This is where I'm truly at a loss for words. I know I have said that at least six other times before, but really, I'm speechless. On one side of the road you have soft, slopping, rolling hills spotted with cows, horses, sheep and marvelous farms, and right across the street you have the Pacific Ocean's raging waves, sandy beaches and jagged rocks jutting from the water like giants. Then to top it all off, you have amazing wild I have never seen...painting both sides of the roads. It is truly like something out of a fairy tale.

We had dinner at Nick's Cove, known for their oysters, and well, "when in Rome..." we had oysters. Neither one of us are big fans, but they were pretty good. I honestly don't think we will order them A LOT while we are here, but they were good and we are glad we tried them. The ambiance was amazing (we ate outside on the dock) and got to see the sun set over the water and then the moon rise over the hills. Wow. Just keeps getting better and better.

We are here until Tuesday...then we are hitting the "primitive" park of our journey where we will be staying along the coast...NOT in RV parks. We have about three days worth of water/fuel/tank storage before having to refill/refuel, so we plan on using every bit of it. Parks are great and offer wonderful amenities, but we are truly looking forward to being "disconnected" and living off the beaten path. Not sure when/if we will have cell phones or internet, so if you don't hear from us for a bit, you will know why.

Oh yeah, yesterday marked 2 months (eight weeks or 56 days) on the road. Half way. Time flies and homesickness lingers. Tomorrow is Pop's birthday (James' father...he will be turning 82) and we are sad that we aren't there to celebrate with him. It is times like this we both miss being home. I truly love getting texts, emails and phone messages from my family and warms my heart and often makes me cry; not of sadness so much, but of appreciation for such wonderful people in my life. Thank you all!!!

Peanut continues to enjoy life on the road. He is such a good travel dog and we are so blessed he hasn't gotten sick, bitten or worse. That holds true for James and I as well. We are in good health and I have bitten James in weeks!. Hahahahaha!!!

We love you all! May God bless you all!