Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Table Rock

God writes the gospel not in the Bible alone, but on trees and flowers and clouds and stars. -Martin Luther
We've seen so much Beauty!
The picture below is at the top of Table Rock Mountain in the Table Rock State Park in SC.

As we descended the mountain we knew we were almost there when we started hearing the sounds of water. Pretty little waterfalls welcomed us back down!

Dane's favorite part of the whole day came after the climb...

Can anyone guess what comes next???

Yes, Dane's change finding obsession continues and one of the prime spots to find change is under a deck where a drink machine in located. The grand sum was $14.35 in change. I couldn't believe it! It almost paid for our $16 campsite that night, although trying to stuff all that change into the envelope and then into the deposit box at the campground didn't work so well.

Dry Falls in in the Nantahala National Forest near where we camped the night before. I'm not sure why they call in Dry Falls. Possibly because you can walk underneath it and not get wet. We arrived in the morning and saw the sun rise over the ridge. It was beautiful.

One of Dane's artistic shots of Dry Falls

Burgess Falls

We visited my Miriam and Adam in Cookeville. Miriam took us to Burgess Falls to hike while Adam went to play basketball.


Probably the most exciting part of the hike was Laura, their dog trying to commit suicide. We decided to recreate the scene with Dane playing the hero, but in reality the hero was Miriam. She hung on to Laura's leash for dear life after she took the deadly 9-foot plunge and Laura miraculously landed safe and unscathed wagging her tail at the bottom, while Miriam nursed fingers that had been burned as the leash line whizzed through her hands as it carried Laura to the rocky bottom.

Thanks for letting us visit! We had fun. Miriam, I took your blue jacket.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

People to See

Visiting people is one of the many joys of this year. We've just completed our NC/SC trip and we've seen a BUNCH of family and friends.

I don't have pictures of everyone, but here is who we've seen...

After Grandma and Grandpa's house we had a short and sweet little meeting at Bojangles with Dane's great Uncle Earl and his caregiver. His wife, Aunt Marie, died just a few months ago and although he seems in good spirits he said that the loss of his wife has been the hardest experience of his life. (no picture)

After we visited Charleston we stopped in Myrtle Beach to see Cousin Daniel and Renee and their new baby Jack. If you've been following our post the whole time, you will notice a pregnant Renee in our earlier pictures! Renee relinquished Baby Jack into my arms as soon as we stepped through the door, and I gladly accepted the bundle of joy!

We then headed for Florence, SC, where we had supper with my old landlords, Jimmy and Tina. My friend Leah and I rented a little house out in the country from them while I was in college and they lived right next door. They were much more than landlords to us, they were also spiritual mentors and encouragers too. I have so many special memories from that time. I was happy for Dane to meet them. (no picture)

Next came Hartsville, SC to visit the aforementioned Leah and her husband Kevin and little boy Jackson. Her parents Doug and Patty also live in Hartsville and we slept at their house. Hartsville is a charming little town that has held on to its character and both families live in beautiful old houses (not without their problems as Leah would be quick to point out!) Jackson was just a baby when I saw him last time and he is now a very smart 3 year old. Just an example...He recognized a picture of Ronald Reagan while looking through a book. How many 3 year olds can do that?

Dane and Jackson having some roller-racer fun

If you look closely you can see Dane and me on the end of Doug and Patty's looooong front porch

After a short stop in Charleston where an attempt to see an old friend failed (my poor planning) we drove to Greenville, SC to see Sam, Natalie and their baby Jack (does anyone notice a Jack trend here) Dane worked with Natalie in Russia where they both taught school. Dane also first met Sam in Russia while he was visiting Natalie. They have the gift of hospitality and we had a fun time, good food and good conversations.

Dane especially (and me too) really enjoyed downtown Greenville. This is one of their parks

I would recommend the Mice on Main mouse hunt for anyone visiting downtown Greenville

We found seven of the nine

While in Greenville we also visited a long time friend of Dane's family, Bob and his new wife Katherine. They've only been married a few months and it seems to suit them well. Bob has been transformed from a frozen food eating bachelor to a happy healthy veggie eating husband!
(no picture)

After climbing a mountain in northern SC, we headed even further into the mountains to visit Beth and Bryce and their boys, Eli and Sam in Robbinsville, NC. I worked with Beth in Nashville and they were also our fellow parishioners and neighbors. They literally live on the top of a little mountain. Our truck couldn't make it up their driveway the first time. Bryce works in a clinic there and Beth takes care of the boys. They were getting ready for Eli's 2 year birthday party while we were there.

The view from our bedroom window at Beth and Bryce's. The picture doesn't do it justice!

We left Beth and Bryce's house only to face more mountains and hundreds of bikers on the legendary Tail of the Dragon road. Notice the curvy road sign and the bunch or bikers up the road. Dane got a little too excited and thought he was racing there for a while. I had to slow him down!

Sorry for the long post. I told you we saw a lot of people. And that's not all! I'll post more later. I'm posted out!

A couple more exciting adventures.

First, a bank robbery! Yes while we were browsing in a used bookstore in Bryson City, NC we heard sirens, saw cop cars squeal into the parking lot across from the bookstore, and saw an on-foot chase of the bank robber himself. The robber didn't get far. As he was running down Bryson City's little main street someone who worked at the local hardware store tackled him flat. He was captured, but let me tell you, the little town of Bryson City was in an uproar! It was quite exciting.

This is the First Citizens bank that was robbed

Second adventure occurred at Fall Creek Falls State Park. Dane and I wanted to go on one last hike before heading back to Nashville to conclude our 6 week journey. We somehow go separated on the trail. And we somehow passed each other without seeing each other. In the beginning I was mad because I thought Dane had hiked way ahead of me and left me, then God helped me with my anger as I hiked all the way to the base of the falls to find Dane. By the time I got to the bottom, I was no longer angry, but started to worry when Dane wasn't down there. Dane in the meantime was frantically looking for me expecting to see me splat at the bottom of the falls as he kept looking over the edge.

After about 30 minutes we were happily reunited.

We concluded that God must have blinded our eyes to seeing each other when we passed on the trail so that he could work on my anger and remind us again how much we love and care about each other.

Yes, Miriam, that is your jacket.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Mystery solved . . .

. . . the sombrero belongs to that enchanted place of oversized Mexican things cleverly positioned "South of the Border" in northern South Carolina. Despite the anticipation invoked by the surfeit of billboards appearing light years before actually arriving at South of the Border, the thing itself is a unique kind of disappointment.

Now Charleston, SC, though, is one destination living up to its reputation. Although I look rather angry in the picture below, we actually had a wonderful time in this charming peninsula town.

If you don't know, Charleston is appreciated nationwide among urban planners for its vitality and character. As an urban planner myself, it was a travesty that I had never been before - a travesty that has now been resolved.

The architecture of Charleston's signature homes, the holy legacy retold through its many steeples, and the cultural heritage felt in its textured cobblestone and brick streets deliver a full embodied, city experience sure to rejuvenate the ambitions of many a discouraged city planner.

One of my favorite parts of Charleston was the park system. Nearly all the residents in the historic area of the city have access to some kind of park within walking distance of where they live. And the abundance of mature, native trees, with their gnarly branches supporting strokes of Spanish moss, effortlessly transports the beneficiaries of their shade to an age of plantations, sailing ships, and horse-drawn wagons. If you're extremely lucky, you may find a beautiful young woman cooling off by a fountain in a park.

Of course Charleston is steeped in history. Indulging our recent fascination with French Huguenots, we had to check out one of the few remaining original Huguenot churches in the U.S.

Sandwiching our day in Charleston were two nights of camping in Francis Marion National Forest. Our inability to find someone to pay for the use of a camp site the first night led us to ask a neighbor about who to pay for our second night. Turned out the small campground was free and our neighbor had essentially set up permanent residence there. Normally, our site was occupied by another full-time dweller, but he had flown further south for the winter, leaving his personalized site for us. Among his personal touches was a sweet potato garden with a sign declaring "God's sweet potato patch. Dig up when plant turns brown."

Although the sweet potatoes weren't ready yet, Grandpa and Grandma sent us away with enough food to feed a good many Fort Sumter soldiers. Armed with Michelle's great-grandpa Norris' cold handle frying pan, Michelle prepared us quite an elegant breakfast.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Grandpa and Grandma

10 fun days were spent with Grandpa and Grandma. Although they live in the Goldsboro, NC suburbs, they have created a little oasis there, complete with a garden, chickens, fruit trees, flowers, a little swimming pool, lots of good food and plenty of love.

Dane left us for a few days to go to a conference in Chicago. He was sorely missed and we were so happy when he came back!

Eating fast food while Dane is out of town!

Dane coming home from the men's bathroom! So handsome!

G&G welcomed into their everyday lives. They were especially busy with ministry activities while we were there, and we just went along with them to each activity. I especially love Grandpa's garden.

Grandpa's fall garden. We got to enjoy some squash and greens out of it!

We had plenty of work to do when we got there! Cleaning gutters, running plumbing to the garage, planting seeds, weeding weeds, etc. Working is still an important part of this year and it's very satisfying to see jobs get done. Dane had to use some strange machinery (a trencher) to dig the trench for the plumbing to the garage. Don't get me wrong, we also had lots of fun!

I visited with my cousin Julie and her two sons one afternoon while in Goldsboro. Julie and I are the same age and always played together at family gatherings while growing up. It was different and good to get to visit as adults!

Julie with her two sons Evan and Pierson

Friday, September 10, 2010

Brother James and Sister Stephanie and their Gang

Emmy Grace's favorite chore is washing dishes

We spent a couple of days at my brother, James' and his wife Stephanie's house. They've got quite a rowdy bunch of the cutest kids in the world.

James and Dylan relaxing

Mommy Stephanie and Ryan looking beautiful as always

Emmy Grace being silly

I know I'm going overboard on the Emmy Grace pictures, but who can resist this face?

The whole gang! Poor Dylan was trying to sleep, but I was forcing him to get his picture taken and Emmy was stepping on his head.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

An Assortment of Random Things

Answer to the mystery picture...It is a hole especially made by Dane in the bottom of my Dad's boat. Dane was supposed to be helping to repair the boat. Oops! I don't know if it has anything to do with it, but after Dane sliced through the bottom of Dad's boat he wasn't asked to do anymore work on it!

And the new mystery question is.....What kind of meat did we get to help my Dad put in the freezer???

We visited cousin David and his wife Haley and their little boy Colt. It was a short but sweet visit. I lived with my Aunt Trudy and Uncle Donnie, David's parents, during my first year of college so David was my brother for a time.

We visited the oldest church in NC. It was simple but beautiful in its simplicity

My Mom had to work overnight at a shelter during Hurricaine Earl. Thankfully it was a pretty mild storm.

The shelter was located in a local high school and this poster was hanging on the wall. Now I know my destiny!

There are so many beautiful old homes near the Carolina coast. We thought this one was hauntingly beautiful and felt an ache in our hearts that it has been left alone to decay.

On the brighter side, this pretty little church is apparently in the process of being saved. Although it is looking a little lonely sitting up all by itself in this field.