Monday, June 22, 2015

Final Road Trip Thoughts

A friend and former co-worker of Edie’s died a week after we left on our road trip; she was sixty years old. Edie and her friend had spoken in great length over the years about their plans for retirement and the excitement they felt to begin working on those plans. The friend and her entire family (adult children and their families) were planning on moving to Idaho and wanted to be there before school started in the fall. She retired from her job at the beginning of May 2015, ready to get her Nevada house packed up and sold so they could begin their lives in Idaho; she passed away before May ended, never having realized the fulfillment of all the years of planning.

When someone passes on, we can’t help but ponder about our own lives, wondering how much time we have left and how many unfulfilled dreams we will leave behind. It’s one of the reasons the two of us take road trips. We want to see places we’ve only heard about and we want to have experiences that take us outside of the box of normal, everyday living. We want to know what we can do, not what we can’t do. Believing you can’t do something becomes a self-fulfilled prophecy -- the truth is most challenges can be worked through or around with a little creativity and a lot of fortitude. If we contemplated every bad thing that could happen to us on the road as we drive, we would never leave our house.

Instead, we put our faith in a loving Heavenly Father whose presence we feel profoundly whenever we travel. And sometimes He blesses us with miracles. Like when we pray that a horrific rain storm will ease long enough for us to get to our next destination and the prayer is answered immediately. While it may sound silly to others, our road trips have increased our faith and reinforced our knowledge that we matter to our Father in Heaven and that He is aware of every step we take.

Every trip we take changes and inspires us to some extent. We have met people whom we will remember for a long time and, hopefully, some of them feel the same way about us. There’s the waitress in Holland, Michigan, who told Sandy that Sandy had made her day because Sandy admired the way the waitress handled something. The waitress commented that no one had ever said that to her before. Did it change the waitress’s life? Probably not. But for that day we were sitting in the right restaurant at the right time to impact someone’s day. Or the family from California we met in Washington DC while waiting to enter Ford’s Theatre. One of our favorite memories will be the woman who operated a home furnishings and antiques store in Richmond, Virginia. We spent a long time standing in her store just talking with her about family, traveling, and hair (we loved her hair style). She was organically beautiful; she either had great genes or took great care of herself through diet and exercise. We thought she was in her late 40’s or even 50’s; turns out she’s 67 years old. She really impressed and inspired us and she told us that we made her want to go home and get her husband and travel somewhere. She hugged us before we left.

Every historical site we visit impacts us, too. To see how and where this great country was created reminds us that it is our responsibility to make sure that people before us didn’t sacrifice and die in vain so that we could be free now. We are free to live lives that matter, that have purpose, that impact others in some small way, hopefully, before our time on earth is over, in spite of our fears, worries, doubts, comfort zones, and the need to procrastinate.

Personal growth and fulfillment comes from stepping outside of our everyday lives and trying new things, even if the results aren’t what we expected. There’s no failure in trying, but not trying will later bring regrets. Wayne Gretzky said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” So we will keep traveling and trying new things.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

All Good Things Come To An End

Our vacation/road trip is over, and now we're just unpacking and trying to recuperate.  Below are some random pictures and thoughts about our trip.

We love old architecture, especially old churches. Below is a picture of an old church building in Menasha, Wisconsin. Because of how crowded older streets are, we couldn't get far enough away from the church to get the whole thing in the picture, but it was a beautiful building.

What happens to a knee when the person attached to said knee wipes out on asphalt in Ohio.
Reenactment actors at Arlington Cemetery
Did you know that if on a very humid day you wear flip flops while walking in the grass of St. John's Episcopal Church in Richmond, Virginia, there's a good chance a wasp will sting you on your foot?

We love Wegmens grocery stores, even though they didn't have what we specifically went there to get. Sandy learned about Wegmens when she would visit her daughter, who used to live in the Buffalo, New York area.

This Confederate jacket was in the Civil War Museum in Richmond. If you look closely, you can see a bullet hole on the soldier's left side of the jacket right where his heart would have been. So sad.

It is so stinkin' hot and humid in the south, and yet the dress below was what the women wore back then. We don't know how they did it. 

And a couple more pictures of Sandy's granddaughter at her graduation.

Savannah on her way to receive her diploma...and the back of some random dude's head.
Even though we could get used to maid service every morning, we're glad to be home.

During this four week road trip, we learned that we have about a three-week travel stamina.

There will be more trips in the future, maybe even some more four week ones. Edie's already planning them.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

More Sight Seeing and the Reason We Planned This Trip

Time to do a little catching up on our travels.

While in Richmond, Virginia, we spent some time at St. John's Episcopal church, where Patrick Henry said the following:

“Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” 

The church is undergoing some renovations and additions.

St. John's Episcopal Church

There are several graves on the church grounds, but unfortunately, the headstones are so old that the engravings on them are unreadable. The plaque below lists some of the war patriots who are buried there.

Then on to a tour of one of Patrick Henry's homes in Scotchtown, Virginia.

 We love the old furniture. The cradle is authentic and was used with at least one of his children.

We love seeing the presidential libraries/museums, so when we got to Arkansas, we stopped by President Clinton's museum.

Replica of President Clinton's Cabinet Room

Replica of his Oval Office

President Clinton's Presidential Limousine
But the most important place we visited was in North Carolina at Sandy's granddaughter's high school graduation. Savannah is such a remarkable young lady! She graduated eighth in her class and was a Gold Medal Graduate. Sandy is so proud of her and loves her very much!

Now she's off to college, where we know she will be very successful.

That brings us up to date for now.

More later...

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Blog Update Two Days in a Row - What??

After leaving the Washington, D.C., area Tuesday morning, we headed south, where we toured James and Dolley Madison's home, Montpelier. The home and the surrounding grounds are beautiful, and of course, no picture taking was allowed in the home. Dolley is known for saving the famous portrait of George Washington.While Madison was president during the War of 1812 with the British, Dolley was left behind in the White House while her husband went in to the field. As British troops marched on Washington, Dolley took down the enormous portrait of Washington and smuggled it out of the city to keep it from falling into enemy hands.

Front of James and Dolley Madison's home in Montpelier, Virginia

View of the Blue Ridge Mountains taken from the Madison home
Yesterday we toured some historical sights in Richmond, Virginia, one of which was the Confederate White House where Jefferson Davis lived during the Civil War. Again, no picture taking was allowed inside the house. We also visited the Civil War Museum, which is next door to the Confederate White House.

Front door of the Confederate White House

Robert E. Lee's bed, desk, etc., that he used in his tent during the war

Swords from the Civil War

Guns from the Civil War
 William W. Davies spent forty years collecting buttons from notable Confederate Army and Navy officers' uniforms and then having them made into a set of jewelry, which he called Rebel Brass.
Rebel Brass
 The plaque below lists the officers whose buttons were used for Rebel Brass. It may be too small to read the names, but we decided to include it anyway.

This chain is on a walkway leading up to the museum.

Jefferson Davis' clothes and gun
Picture of Civil War veterans reenacting Pickett's Charge, one of the battles from the Civil War.
That's our adventures through yesterday. We're leaving Virginia tomorrow morning.

Sure wish it wasn't so humid in this part of the country.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Washington, D.C. - Home of the...

...oh never mind. We won't go there.

Monday was our last day in Washington, D.C. Below are pictures of some of the things we've seen and done since Friday.

We spent a few hours at Arlington Cemetery:

We went to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and watched the changing of the guard. What a moving, almost spiritual experience! Many spectators were wiping tears from their eyes.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

The guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Another view of the guard
Several veterans were there as well.
Some of the spectators stopped to shake the hands of the veterans who were present and to thank them for their service - another emotional moment.

Then we went to Robert E. Lee's house, which is on the grounds of Arlington Cemetery.

Side and back view of Robert E. Lee's house

Front view of Lee's house. 
This was the best picture we could get of the front of his house, because of a fence around the yard, but on the other side of the fence is this view of Washington, D.C. 

View of Washington, D.C., from Lee's front yard
No picture taking was allowed inside Lee's home.

The next stop was a tour of Ford Theater. While waiting in line, we saw these fine young men waiting to tour the Peterson house, the home in which President Lincoln died.

Balcony at Ford Theater where President Lincoln was shot

The gun that was used to kill Lincoln

The room in which Lincoln died

Then off to the Spy Museum...

Things that make you say Ewwww!

 ...and the Museum of American History.

Horse-drawn fire engine
We can't end today's post without mentioning the traffic in and around Washington, D.C. What a mess!! And then there's Sandy's Mormon profanity (her New Year's resolution this year was to not swear anymore) while driving through that mess; e.g. "What the heck, people? Just drive!!!" or "If you get in an accident in front of us with that crazy driving, I'll get out and personally kick your hiney!!" or "Oh great! We're entering this dark, narrow tunnel and we have some huge mother trucker right next to us." Patience is not a Sandy virtue.

And then on our last day in D.C., there was the drive from downtown Washington, D.C., back to our hotel in Virginia. A large dark cloud hung over the city, which is appropriate...oops, we forgot we aren't going to go there. Anyway, rain started pouring down in sheets while we were in line to get on one of the freeways back to the hotel and it was 5:00 in the afternoon, right during the rush hour traffic. The freeways are a mess on a clear, sunny day, so driving in the downpour made us extremely nervous. We both said a little prayer in our hearts asking Heavenly Father to protect us, and by the time we got to the freeway, the rain had slowed to a sprinkle and the sky above was clear. Even though the traffic was still bumper to bumper and we were going about 10 miles per hour, the rain wasn't an issue. But when we looked in the rear-view mirror, we could see the dark cloud still hanging over Washington.  Still not going there.

We left the Washington D.C., area Tuesday morning for new adventures, which we'll save for a future post.

Until then...

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Two Days of Seeing the Sights

We've done quite a bit in the last few days. Thursday morning we headed to the Jefferson Memorial. We parked in a free parking area, and walked along the Potomac River to the Memorial. Evidently Washington, D.C., has had a lot of rain, because park benches along what used to be the banks of the river are now halfway covered with water.

Statue of Thomas Jefferson

This picture of the Washington Monument was taken from the top of the steps of the Jefferson Memorial.
 After the Jefferson Memorial, we drove to Mount Vernon to tour George Washington's beautiful home. The backyard faces the Potomac River, and the whole estate is about 500 acres.

Before the tour started, we watched a short movie about President Washington. What a remarkable, Divinely guided man he was! We've heard a story about an Indian Chief who fought against Washington in the French and Indian War. He said that the future president was protected by the Great Spirit, because his men couldn't kill him. The Indian Chief said he fired 17 bullets at Washington, and none of them touched him. Washington had two horses shot out from under him and four bullet holes in his coat, yet he himself was untouched by a bullet, bayonet, tomahawk, or arrow. Many victims had fallen beside him, yet he was unharmed.

After the movie, we walked to President Washington's home, which was gorgeous inside and most of it was original to the house. No pictures were allowed in the home, but below are some pictures taken from the grounds, which was a beautiful setting for such a majestic home. There were a couple of very old, very big trees, one that was from early 1800's and one from the 1700's, according to the plaques on the trees.

Front of Mount Vernon
View from the back porch
After that tour, we went to dinner at our new favorite restaurant in Virgina: Guapos. We both had steak nachos - so yummy!

We decided Friday morning to go visit the Smithsonians, and we also decided that we'd park in the same free parking area in which we parked the day before and walk. Did you know that the Smithsonians are quite a distance down Jefferson Drive from the Jefferson Memorial? It was humid and muggy, but we were convinced we could do it, so off we went.

Our first stop was the Holocaust Museum - very sobering, very sad, but a much needed reminder of what has happened in the past. 

Holocaust Museum. We didn't take pictures of the inside displays.
We stopped in at the Smithsonian Art Museum and then headed to the Smithsonian Castle. The Smithsonian Institution was established with funds from James Smithson, a British scientist who left his estate to the United States.

Ceiling inside the Smithsonian Castle

James Smithson's crypt where his ashes are kept
Then we headed farther up Jefferson Drive to the National Air and Space Museum. Below are pictures of a few of the displays.

The Spirit of St. Louis

The Wright Brothers and the Invention of the Aerial Age

By the time we finished this museum, we were tired and ready to head back to the hotel. We had already walked five or six miles in high humidity with our arthritic joints, but we had to get back to the car, so off we went. And then this life saver showed up:

We can't say that riding on a cart pulled by a bike was on our bucket list, but we went ahead and added it to our bucket list just so we could cross it off. He uses hand signals and a whistle to maneuver through traffic, and he's pretty fast as well as very nice! We sure meet interesting people when we travel!

That takes us up through yesterday. 

There's more to come...