Monday, December 20, 2010

Finish up!

Dan's sister, Miriam, reminded me that I never really finished this blog.  I left off when we were at my Dad's in Ohio.  OK, so here it is!

We drove back to Michigan on November 17..and immediately got into preparations for Thanksgiving and now Christmas.  The closer we got to 'rounding the corner' in our trip, in Florida, the more we realized that we didn't especially look forward to giving up our small, cozy home in the camper on wheels!  Somewhere, pretty early in the trip, Dan and I realized that what we have together is truly special and that both our lives are forever enhanced by the joining of the two.  Both of us are naturally happy people, and both have so many reasons to be grateful and happy.  But now, we're both happier, more content, completed by the other!  As we got closer to returning to Michigan and to our lives, we were a bit sad to think about less time together.  So, we've decided NOT to spend less time together!  Gena was wondering: "When was the specific time when we fell in love during this trip?"  Dan's analogy, and I think a good one, is this:  When does a cucumber become a pickle?  At what point in time is it no longer just a cucumber, but a pickle - never to be just a cucumber again??  Well, Dan and I are forever to be 'pickles' and are so much richer for it!

We're planning our next road adventure, and this time, we hope we can limit the distance and the number of places so that we can just meander and linger when we want.  We're leaving in mid-January, around the 14th to the 16th, (still deciding) and returning mid to late March.  We'll reverse our trip down I-75, first to my Dad's, then to Mark and Susie's near Atlanta, next to Laura and Derek's in southern Georgia.  After that, we have reservations on the beach (PLEASE, warm weather) in Pensacola Beach for a few days.  After that, we'll likely travel down the Gulf coast to Key West.  There are people we will visit along the way....At some point, we'll head west for a bit:  New Orleans, at least.  Beyond that, we'll decide if we want to go further west.  The main requirement is warm weather.

So, goodbye for now, blog fans.  More to come in January! Watch for it. I pray you all have loved ones around you for Christmas, and that you have a blessed new year.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Enjoying the company of my dad and his sweetie, Ida Jo, in Waverly, Ohio.  Today, we drove the 30 miles south to Portsmouth, Ohio, enjoyed a great rib dinner and quickly viewed the amazing murals along the floodwall.  If you've a mind to check them out online, here's the link:
But, you do have to see them to really appreciate them.  Each of these panels is about 20 feet high and 40 feet wide - amazing art, 3D, great variety and historical depictions.  Check it out!
Home tomorrow!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Bye Bye Georgia, on our way home!

Sunday, November 14, 2010
We have spent the past two days at Mark and Susie Clark's house in Roswell, GA. just north of Atlanta.  Susie is Dan's cousin from Addison, Michigan.  Lovely home, lovely area, wonderful Fall weather - feels like we have gone full circle, leaving Michigan in beautiful Fall weather and now we're back in the beautiful Fall colors, nice, crisp weather.  I've rearranged my clothes, so that the winter clothes I had packed away are available now and the summer clothes are stowed.  We had such a wonderful time at Susie and Mark's place - they spoiled us with great meals, good conversation, a great walk through beautiful woods. 
We've stopped for the night in Pigeon Forge, TN (Dolly's home!), just north of the Smokey Mountain National Park.  We enjoyed driving today, through northern Georgia's mountains and Fall colors, then through North Carolina and into Tennessee.  The last two hours, we ended up driving in the dark through about half of the park - these roads are fun and beautiful in the daytime, but just dark and tiring at night.  We finally have found out where all the tourists and RVs are - almost our entire trip, we had campgrounds to ourselves, or with only a few other campers.  This evening, we started at campgrounds in Gatlinburg, then we finally found a spot at the third one here in Pigeon Forge!  Why don't these people just go home?!
Tomorrow, we've got a fairly long drive to my dad's in southern Ohio, where we'll be until Wednesday.  Then, the last leg home.
pretty church in north Georgia

Hey!  Wait for me.....

pretty woods in Roswell, Ga - beautiful walk

Mark, Susie, and Dan

Dan and Gena

woods reflected in a still pond

great backdrop!

Cousin Susie

overlook at dusk in the Smokie Mountains

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Georgia on my mind...and in my heart

Dan and I spent the day yesterday with Laura, 2-1/2 year old Brody, and Bryce (Laura's daycare 2-1/2 yr old).  Park, Riverquarium, books, goofiness, fun.  When Rylan (5) got home from all day kindergarten, got to watch him ride his bike without training wheels and play a shoot-em chase game outside.  Fun with him, too, playing goofy games and hide-and-seek in the house.  We'll be here until Thursday, so have to soak up as much sweetness as possible in the time allotted!
Pictures follow....
Brody in the car on the way to the park

at the park

My Laura - lovely

Bryce and Brody at the park

Brody being crazy on his bike...


Big boy, Rylan on his big boy bike

blurry action shot

Then Mommy tried her 'hand' at riding a bike....hmmm

results of marker and a private (hide) moment!

marker on legs, bottoms of feet, mouth, pj's.....

Grandma Gena (with bed head) and her two boys....

Monday, November 8, 2010

Navy SEAL are cool!

Thursday, November 4, 2010
Last night, we stayed in the driveway of Dan's friends, Denny and Denise, in Orlando, Florida.  Went out for a rib dinner, sat around and heard stories of the days while they were both Navy SEALs (acronym for sea, land, air).  We're going to be in Ft. Pierce, Florida starting tonight through Sunday, where the Navy UDT/SEAL museum is located.  The UDT  (stands for underwater demolition team) were the predecessors of the SEALs.  Meetings, ceremonies, gab sessions - I think I'll be hearing lots more stories!  These men are exceptional and I'm proud to know them.  They don't seem to tell their stories except to each other.  To other people, even other veterans, Dan was an electrician and Denny was a pipe fitter - true, but they were also SEALs.  They worked hard, more times than not in extremely dangerous circumstances, and they played hard - so far, those are the stories I've heard...the playing hard ones, I mean!  This weekend was the original reason for this whole trip - I'm looking forward to being the proverbial fly on the wall for the next few days. 
Friday, Saturday, Sunday, November 5-7, 2010
I have met so many people in the last few days: men who served with Dan, and their wives; men who served on other SEAL or UDT teams in the past; brothers all - a group of ordinary-looking men, but who are exceptional in their dedication to their country, their abilities, their willingness to put it all on the line.  They come to these events, reunions, greet each other and regale each other with stories of their experiences and friends present and passed away.  Today (Sunday) the weekend was climaxed with two events.  First, at sunrise, eight men, just deceased this year, who had been SEALs or UDT members and had requested such, had their ashes returned to the sea.  Each of eight current SEALs took one bag of ashes, and solemnly backed into the sea, swam out through the surf, emptied the bags of the ashes, and then returned to the beach together just as the sun was coming up.  Magical and meaningful time.  Bagpipes seem to be a part of all Navy ceremonies that I have witnessed, and one was played this morning too.  Prayers, heart-felt and brief speeches.  Second, the UDT/SEAL Memorial was dedicated.  It is a lovely, elegantly simple memorial, which includes a marble wall with 252 names of men who died while serving their country in a UDT or SEAL unit.  This list includes 15 names who have been added in very recent years.  Our country is still producing young men of this caliber who still do their duty proudly all over the world!  Praise God!

Start of the program, honor guard

bag pipe group...

plenty of people out for the show...

C-130 bringing the 4 SEALs parachuting in to a target on the field

SEAL putting smoke out for the show

one SEAL bringing in the flag

Dan with Admiral Eric Olson, only SEAL to ever reach that rank...

bronze SEAL at the UDT/SEAL memorial

252 names on the wall

Dan and Gena's reflection on the wall...

former SEALs

Dan's shirt says it all for these SEALs

'Uncle' George, tail gunner in WWII and Korea

"Remember when.....

"What ever happened to....."

That old gang of mine....

UDTR Class 40 (4 on the right)
Spent last night in Dennie and Denise's driveway again - other friends came over, and we had a time, laughing and telling stories.  Next stop is Laura's house - can't wait to get my hands on those boys!  I hear Rylan (age 5-1/2) can now ride his bike without training wheels!  Will be at their house for a couple of days - picutures of the cuties will ensue!