Monday, June 30, 2008

Asheville to Raleigh, NC

Aimee and the kids gave me a beautiful tour of Asheville and the gorgeous mountains!! The weather is perfect - cool and crisp at night and warm during the day. It was a great change from the heat of NOLA & Florida! We went out for the best breakfast in town (Sunny Point Cafe & Bakery) while we waited for my car to get checked out at the local Honda shop. It was making a horrible scraping metal sound (not unlike it has done twice before) and thankfully, it turned out to be a broken heat cover and cost me only $35. Whew!
It was a beautiful drive from Asheville to Raleigh. I stopped at a lovely rest area for my lunch break. I am trying to travel as cheap as possible so I keep the necessary items in my car.

Bread, peanut butter, jelly, unsalted tortilla chips, hummus and diet rite cola. :)

Mmmm, mmmm, good!! Peanut butter & Jelly! My favorite! I checked in at the Dieth B&B and had a good visit with my friend, Vickie, and her beautiful daughters, Hannah & Abby, before it was time to run to the airport to pick up Diana.

Diana arrived after a very long day of travel! I'm so excited to have her along for the next week of my journey. Let the adventures begin...!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Clemson to Asheville

My day started early in order to get from Hilton Head to Clemson, SC in time for lunch. My friend, Mary, had a small window of opportunity between church and a 2pm funeral and I didn't want to miss it! I would have made it earlier but I had my first Meneire's attack while driving. It was a little scary but I did okay. I found a decent place to pull off the road and just hung out there for about half an hour (it was a minor spell) until it passed. The people in South Carolina are so nice - two different cars stopped to see if I was okay as well as the highway patrol. He asked if I wanted him to call anyone for me and I had to smile. He must not have noticed my Kansas license plate! :) I still managed to get to Clemson by noon and enjoyed a visit with Mary & Bill.
Soon it was time for Mary to get ready for the funeral so I said farewell and headed on to Asheville, NC. My friend, Aimee, and her two kids, Elli and Taylor, took me to downtown Asheville to walk around and then we had supper at the Mellow Mushroom. Very interesting place and such a cute city. After dinner we drove around the Montford neighborhood and looked at really cool houses. This might be a good place to open my Hilton Bed & Breakfast. :)

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Last Day on Hilton Head Island

My first activity of the day was to find a place to get a Hilton Head pedicure so I'd have Hilton Head Toes! I ended up driving to the mall and managed to spend a little more money on t-shirts and hats. Can one have too many shirts with their name on it?
After my pedicure, I headed to the beach (after I walked the dogs, of course!) The beach was beautiful - the weather was perfect, the water was warm enough to jump right in, the sand was fine, etc. I took a little nap on the beach until I felt the water hitting my towel. Oops - high tide - time to go!
I headed back to my home in the Wexford Plantation (this is our gated entrance where I have to check in before entering.) The dogs and I enjoyed a nice swim in the pool. The pool is shaded in the afternoon and evening so it's a great place to hang out and not be in the sun.
The dolphins even came back to play while we were sitting out by the pool. I really enjoyed watching them! I can't really tell if this dolphin is just really strangely shaped of if there is more than one. :)

As the sun was starting to set, I decided that I needed to climb the lighthouse steps to watch the sunset so I hopped in my car and headed back to Sea Pines. I was just about to pass the trolley parking when I decided that would be a fun way to travel so I parked my car and boarded the trolley. They run a free trolley from 4pm to midnight from the parking lots near the entrance of Sea Pines to Harbour Town, Sea Pines Village and the beach. It even came with a tour guide who managed to share lots of information on the short ride to Harbour Town.

I climbed the 114 steps to the top of the lighthouse and enjoyed the view of Hilton Head. I was about half an hour early for the sunset so I decided to stick around. I discovered they have a live webcam so I managed to find my friend, Jenn G, near her computer and she was able to see me on the webcam. I waved and we texted back and forth. It was quite entertaining - for me and anyone else looking at the webcam, I'm sure!

The sunset was well worth the wait. I'm sure it wasn't as bold and beautiful as usual due to the multitude of clouds but I enjoyed it all the same. It was a perfect ending to a perfect visit to Hilton Head Island. I can't wait to come again - especially now that I have new best friends that live here!

Forest Reserve - Hilton Head

Cool creatures in the Forest Reserve - Sea Pines Plantation - Hilton Head Island, SC

Some kind of red bird. :)

TLC - all grown up! I had a turtle in college named TLC for Turtlee loves Carla.

A red dragon fly

Some lovely kind of bird that looks like an old man

Another TLC - not sure which one is the real TLC.

My favorite - the alligator!

The blue dragon fly

and the SCARIEST creature of all...

Me! :)

(This is what happens when you spend too much time trying to entertain yourself. I should not be left alone! It's a good thing Diana is joining me on Monday!)

Friday, June 27, 2008

Hilton Head, SC

Today was a fabulous day!! I explored the island looking for something with Hilton on it (not hard to find - just hard to choose!) and trying to get the lay of the land. The island is so beautiful with lots of trees and bike paths and tons of walkers and bikers everywhere. I can certainly understand why so many people choose to vacation here. After a hard day of shopping, Beth took me on a Kayak ride around the harbor. I got a great view of so many beautiful homes and my arms got a good workout!

After kayaking, we came home for an evening swim overlooking the "creek" behind their house. Boats are continually passing by and it was so much fun to watch.

We even saw a dolpin swimming down the creek. It was fabulous!! I told Beth & Walt if they ever wanted to go on an extended vacation, I would be happy to come stay with the dogs! This place is paradise!

Beth and Walt enjoyed a dip in the hot tub. The dogs are so cute. Kiwi (black) and Tigger (red) also enjoy the pool. Kiwi even got in to swim with me. I could tell Tigger was tempted but he didn't jump in.

Beth asked me while kayaking if I knew why their boat was called "Three Hour Tour" and I said I assumed it was from Gilligan's Island but I didn't know specifically why. She had me name the people on the island and I said Ginger, Mary Anne, the millionaires...and what was their name? You guessed it! Meet Beth & Walt Howell. :) Our very own Mr. & Mrs. Howell! It cracked me up!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Hilton Head, Here I come!

I had a wonderful relaxing morning sitting on the porch just outside my bedroom drinking coffee and working on computer stuff. It was quite comfortable at 7am but you wouldn't want to be out there much later than that. :) The house is so beautiful and full of antiques and hard wood floors. I would love to run a place like that some day.
They loaned me one of their many bikes and I took a tour around the village. I stopped a nice lady walking to the mailbox and asked her to take my picture. I think she thought I was somewhat nutty but who cares. :) I loved their bikes!! It was such a gorgeous morning and I just kept saying (out loud, mind you!) how awesome it was and how much fun I was having. I only wish someone else had been there so years from now we could say, "remember when we went biking in Apalachicola..."
My hosts on Hilton Head Island, SC, Beth and Walter are my new best friends. They didn't even know me but Beth's sister is my mom's cousin's wife. How's that for networking? Mom mentioned to Sue that I wanted to stay on Hilton Head but couldn't afford it so she hooked me up with her sister who graciously invited me to stay with them. At first it was one night, then they asked me to stay another night and dogsit while they are gone, then I had some plans fall through so I asked if I could come a day early and that's how I ended up spending three nights on my head's island. I'm so excited to be here - I've always wanted to see it!
They gave me a tour of Hilton Head and took me to a cute pizza place called "Giuseppi's" in the Sea Pines Plantation (which really just means a gated community). The owner must be from Pittsburgh because they had every team known to man from the Pittsburgh area on the wall. Of course, my favorite was the wall of penguin stuff!

This has really been an adventure like none other and I can't wait to see what else is in store for me. Thanks for your prayers and for coming along with me on this journey. I'm grateful that I have wonderful friends (even if we've never met before now) to stay with along the way. I believe it's the way God intended for us to be. "Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it." Hebrews 13:2. Beth and Walter certainly live out that scripture - and I AM an angel! :)
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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

From NOLA to Apalachicola

I was a total gypsy today!! I left New Orleans with no particular plan and no place to stay so I just went wherever the spirit led me. :) I took the interstate over to Pensecola where I spent a couple of hours at the local Panera catching up on my blog. Then I decided to drive the Florida coast so I jumped (well, drove) down to Highway 98 and headed east. It was a beautiful drive!! I saw this bridge that looked intriguing so I took it over to Navarre Beach. It was a little island off the coast and it was beautiful!!
The water was as clear as could be and the sand was beautifully white and clean. I walked along the beach for a while and just enjoyed the sun, sand and surf. I debated just staying there but I decided I need to get a few more miles under my belt before I stopped for the day.
I ended up in Apalachicola (pronounced just like it looks) which is a hidden gem on the coast of Florida. I found an adorable B&B right on highway 98 that is wonderful!! I arrived after the restaurants had closed so the manager gave me a yogurt and some fresh strawberries for my dinner. She is so sweet! I moved into my room (a room with twin beds on the 3rd floor - it's one of those big old houses with a wrap around porch on the 2nd floor!) and decided to take a bath. In the middle of my bath (& talking to my mom) they pounded on my door to say the water was leaking to the floor below. AGH!

I quickly dressed and drained the tub and they moved me to a queen bed room on the 2nd floor with a door out to the front porch. I feel like royalty! I wish I could stay longer but tomorrow I must move on to my head...I mean Hilton Head. :)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

New Orleans - Work day 2

Fred and I had to cut 2x4's to attach to the ceiling in order to have something to attach our sheetrock to. We aren't really sure why it wasn't done to begin with but we decided to do it right. Fred said if he would do it for his own house, he would do it for this one. I thought that was a great idea!
After work, Lesa and I headed to Mississippi to explore the area where we served as Red Cross volunteers (and how we met) in 2005. We drove Highway 90 all the way down the coast past Biloxi and it was amazing! There are still a few hints but it's hard to tell a hurricane wiped that area off the map a few short years ago. We were able to find the areas where Lesa delivered meals in the ERV and we went by where we lived and the places we remembered. It was very encouraging. I knew MS would have an easier time of clean-up and repair than New Orleans but I never expected it to look as good as it did.
This is the brand new bridge along highway 90 going east from Ocean Springs. This bridge looked like chunks of concrete just thrown into the water!
Our cute little room at the Bethlehem Volunteer Center - a Lutheran Disaster Response site. They have mobile bedroom units that they use for overflow and we were lucky enough to be given one of those rooms instead of the giant room with hundreds of bunk beds. :) It felt like a little cabin and we loved our little home. Katie Huener is the camp director and she's fabulous! If you ever want to go work in New Orleans and have fabulous accomodations and wonderful food - call LDR. They will set you up!!
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Monday, June 23, 2008

New Orleans - work day 1

Lesa and I were very excited to start work on the houses in New Orleans. We were assigned to do sheetrock - hanging, mudding, sanding and painting of the entire house. Well, not the entire house - it had already been started. :) We worked with a wonderful couple, Fred & Jan, from Lebanon, Ohio and Fred taught me all about hanging sheetrock. It was fun - just like putting together a puzzle. The only bad part was cutting out and re-doing the job that was done prior to us. One of the pitfalls of volunteer labor.
New Orleans is HOT! We were quite disgusting at the end of the day but it was such a wonderful feeling to be able to help build instead of just tear down. I did discover that I am much better at cleaning because there isn't a lot of expertise involved. The work goes a lot slower when you are building someone else's house because you want it to be perfect. Fred was a great teacher and he's really good at getting the sheetrock to line up perfectly. I was even able to use my math skills which were getting a little rusty in my wee little brain.
After work Lesa and I took a tour of home - well, a tour of the homes we previously gutted on various mission trips. I won't tell you how depressing it was to see several of them completely gone (oops - I told you anyway) but it was quite comforting to see these two homes that are completely finished. I'm sitting on the porch of a home that looks gorgeous inside and a new couple has just purchased and are in the process of moving in.
This was Kathleen's house and it has been refinished and is currently for sale. Yea!! Two out of five - not bad. :)

We spent the evening at the camp visiting with new friends and getting ready for another hard day of work. It's great to be here!
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Sunday, June 22, 2008

Heartbreak Hotel

Lesa and I spent the morning touring Graceland and learning more about Elvis Presley than anyone needs to know. It was so much fun!! They gave us audio tour guides that led us through the house and the grounds. I enjoyed the music most of all!
Lesa is quite the Elvis fan and she enjoyed all of it - but I think she was a bit partial to the horses. It was a fabulous morning!
We enjoyed our stay at the Heartbreak Hotel. The pool was even shaped like a heart! I spent some time before breakfast reading my first sabbatical book and drinking coffee by the pool. The weather has been perfect!
After having a grilled peanut butter and banana sandwich (Elvis's favorite) we were back on the road and heading for New Orleans. The drive was uneventful - thankfully!
Our first stop in New Orleans was Cafe Du Monde for Beignets. If you can't eat donuts for dinner when you are on sabbatical - when can you? :) We knew our time was limited and we certainly didn't want to miss our opportunity! They were delicious - as always. We arrived at the Bethany Volunteer Center where we stayed when we came down in March '07 and settled in. It has changed quite a bit - Lesa and I even got our own room! We are very excited to start work tomorrow!