Monday, January 30, 2012

Update #2 - last of vacation before mission work

Hello all,

Sunday (15th of January), we arrived in Cape Canaveral and met up with our friends, Gregg & Betsy (from Girard).  We met up with Charlie and Joyce – Charlie and I go waaaay back to the 70’s when we worked at King’s College and have been friends ever since.  They are really enjoying the South since retiring from King’s College.  Joyce volunteers part-time a couple of days a week at an exercise/gym and Charlie volunteers at a hospital and does meals on wheels. 

Julie, Charlie & Ken

We did a lot of walking, eating in local “family” establishments and sightseeing.  Our sightseeing included going to Port Canaveral to see the cruise ships and the flea market, in fact, we went to two flea markets (there are a lot of them around here), Melbourne and the botanical gardens and planetarium, visited and reminisced with Charlie and Joyce and then before we knew it our week was over.  And the BEST thing we saw was the military missle launch from the Cape!  We watched it from the beach, which was only a block and half from the condo.  Thank you, Janet, for letting us use your condo!

Ken, Gregg & Betsy taking a rest in Botanical Gardens

Ken & Julie hiking in Botanical Gardens

We heard about the recent tornado devastation near Tuscaloosa, AL where we are heading to do our mission work.  We will be contacting them to see if we will be doing ‘first responder’ work instead of ‘disaster recovery’.  This would be a new area for us.  Fortunately, we have our UMCOR and UMVIM badges as FEMA will only let those people in, but it is a whole different way of ‘recovery’.

Our next trip was to visit my best friend, Linda and Tom, in The Villages.  As you have heard me say in my blog, Linda and I have been best friends since the late 60’s.  We did a lot of reminiscing and met some of their neighbors and topped the evening off with dinner at their Country Club and watched the sun set – what a beautiful sight.

Julie & Linda

Sunset at The Villages

We travelled to S.C. and met Ellen at our usual place - Carrabbas (can you tell it is one of our favorite restaurants?). Again we caught up on all that has happened in her life and ours over the last year.  Ellen and I worked as a team doing event and party planning together for Fluor Daniel and had a great time doing it – we complimented each other and we had fun doing it.

Julie, Ken & Ellen
We then had our last visit before beginning our work with our daughter, Karen.  Ken and Karen went for bike rides during the day, played with the dog and picked up limbs from the yard for the coolness of the evening (got down to 27 degrees two nights in a row).  We went out on Saturday evening to the Boathouse with Karen’s friends, Janice & David, and then to the Ailey Ballet.  What a marvelous way to put Christian Spiritual songs to the ballet.  The first part of it was left to the imagination as to what they were dancing about, but after the intermission it came to life and the Bible stories (Daniel, Abraham Parting of the Seas, and others based on the Revelations) were brought to life so beautifully. On Friday after hard rains Wed and Thu, there was a rock slide that closed one of the few roads up Signal Mountain to Karen’s home.  Karen and Ken hiked down the road to view the damage.

Julie, Karen & Ken at the Boat House for dinner before the ballet

Switchbacks on the "W"

Ken standing in front of the rock slide on the "W"
Julie & Karen pausing in front a waterfall

Ken & Karen pausing in front of a waterfall while on a hike

Karen and our 'grandpuppy' "Goose"

It is hard to believe all the miles we have already put on the RV and our bodies since we left less than a month ago…Girard to IL to Bradenton to Naples to Cape Canaveral to The Villages to Greenville, SC to Chattanooga, TN and now to our real reason for coming down – Tuscaloosa, AL

Keep posted for updates on our mission work.

julie & ken

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Southern Trip update #1

January 2, 2012

Happy New Year to all – I pray it was a safe one and everyone has a prosperous new year.
It looks like we have made it out of PA before the snow hit.  

We took a side trip from PA to IL to visit with my mother, sister and family.  Mom is the same-- stubborn and not wanting to do anything for herself.   However, after the second day, I got tired of her laying in bed and told her that she would be wheeling herself down to the cafeteria.  We would be with her, but she would be ‘wheeling’ herself down without any assistance and she had a half hour to get there.  The aide looked at me like I was probably the cruelest person on earth, as did her roommate.  Mom’s rehab has stopped so she gets no exercise.  If this is her only exercise then so be it, but she was not going to lay in bed.  She didn’t fight with me about it, just complained that she couldn’t do it…she was too tired.  Explaining to her that the reason was no activity and she chose to be this way, she needed a little more exercise.  It took her about 15 minutes and she was able to do it.  She stopped a few times to rest, but she got there!  What an accomplishment for her.  So, my sister, Helen will time her visits near meal time and force mom to do the same thing, without the assistance of any aides.  According to IL state law, if the patient does not want to do something, they don’t have to and this includes any type of rehab or exercise.  So we are taking drastic measures now – we will make sure she gets some type of exercise even if it is only for 15 minutes a day.

We have a tradition when we visit my sister, that the parents-in-law, my sister and her family and Ken and I go out to Monical’s Pizza before we leave.  This is still a ‘tradition’ and we have kept and had a great time.

Ron & Nancy Smith
Helen's in-laws
Blake, Helen & Julie
at Monical's

Campgrounds were sporadic, limited winter facilities (which means only electric) and far and few between, so we had to make sure when we drove it was to where a campground was open.  The further south we got, the better it was.

We wanted to go out for supper one night when we camped and saw a sign - here it is - but, it was closed.

Big Bubba Bucks Belly Bustin BBQ Ribs

We spent a marvelous warm week in Bradenton – relaxing, but busy with camp activities, Ken washing and waxing the RV.   I had to make an unscheduled trip to a chiropractor here in Bradenton – my fingers were going numb and so was my right leg – a definite indication of a pinched nerve.  It was my sister-in-laws chiropractor and although he was older than I, he was good.  However, I have been sore from the deep massage he gave me, but my numbness is gone – hopefully until we get home.

My brother, George, mentioned that he had set up a tour for Ken & me to see George Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, the Yankee's  spring training camp.  Needless to say, I was ecstatic!  We got to see places where a person off the street could not get to.  I have been a die-hard fan, through good times and bad times, and this was a life-long dream of mine.  Stepping out onto the pitcher’s mound and catcher’s mound made me feel like I was a part of the Yankees.  And to be able to walk down the “hall” where all the old timers have been was another thrill.  If only the walls could talk.  Our “tour guide” also gave me some mementos that I will cherish!  I can cross this off my “bucket list”.

Julie & Ken on the pitcher's mound at
NY Yankees' spring training camp in
Tampa, FL
We went to church on the Sunday we were in Bradenton and what a surprise we had – the guest speaker was Rev. Lou Pomrenke!  We couldn’t believe it – he says he has very fond memories of Asbury and said to tell all hello.

Lou Pomrekne & Julie
Previous pastor of Asbury UMC

 Our last day in Bradenton, we had dinner with a childhood neighbor and classmate of Ken’s.  We met Robin, after her day of golfing, and went out to dinner at an Italian restaurant in Lakewood Ranch.  We laughed and reminisced and got to see a new home she is bidding on.

We spent a couple of days in Naples with Dixie & Rea to celebrate Dixie’s birthday.  Another tradition we continue.  Dixie is such a great cook – she spoiled us with her cooking.    We played ‘hearts’ and relaxed in nice warm weather.  Our first night, we went to their “family night” evening at church.  Their dinner was catered by Cracker Barrel.  Friday, the 13th was Dixie’s birthday – a big one that she wasn’t handling well – we took her and Rea to a restaurant and had pizza.  That night we went to a very exciting hockey game.  The Methodist Church they belong to had a mini bus and took 15 of us to the game.  This is the way to go – no driving, no parking, leave the driving to someone else.  Although it was a minor league of Minnesota, it was quite exciting!   And they won!  A fun time was had by all.  We had to say goodbye to Dixie and Rea until they come home in May.

Dixie & Rea Atwell

We are currently in Cocoa Beach, FL at a condo we are sharing with our friends, Gregg & Betsy (from PA).  We are renting it from a very near and dear friend of mine from my days at King's College.  Thank you Janet!  More on this part of our trip on the next update.

Stay warm - we are - it got up to 80 today!

Julie & Ken