Wednesday, September 20, 2017

A Journey is Best Measured In Family and Friends

On Labor Day weekend, we crossed the Mackinac Bridge to the lower peninsula of Michigan. We only had to pay the "troll" $14 to get permission for the Wildebeest to cross. Thus began a two week journey that included family, friends, history, and a wedding. This quality time reinforced to us that ...

Our journey is best measured in family and friends!

Our initial stop was the home of Doug's brother and sister-in-law in Flint, Michigan. Our first "driveway camping" experience included 50 amp power, water hook-up, hot tub and a delicious bacon and eggs breakfast ... we were spoiled! We then traveled a few miles down to road to spend a relaxing Labor Day weekend with the rest of Doug's family at Leisure Lake.

Our biggest draw ... the beautiful smile and delightful personality of our grand-niece, Noelle.

Of course, the precious smile of our 97 years young friend, Odile, comes in a close second!

Our journey with family is best measured in all the giggles that fill our days!

After the holiday weekend, we left our beloved Wildebeest in the care of Doug's family and took a "Honda CRVenture" to Virginia. We definitely are not used to driving in a car for 10+ hours or passing through five states in one day, so we were happy to finally arrive that evening at the northern Virginia home of good friends, Jill, Dick and Jenna.

How wonderful to reconnect with dear friends and be spoiled by a "huge" guest suite, delicious meals, and elegant surroundings ... including the artwork of Jenna. Jill assured me that they have enough room to park the Wildebeest when a future trek brings us back to the east coast. Putting that on the RVentures bucket list!

One of Jenna's magnificent creations

Our journey with friends is best measured in all the "comforts of home" kindness that surrounds us!

We were able to easily launch our Washington, DC explorations from their home. It was about a forty minute (in good traffic conditions) drive to the Vienna, Virginia metro station that transported us right into the heart of the Washington DC tourist district.

The rain that fell on the our first day in DC proved to be just a minor annoyance,

... as there were no crowds as we walked along the National Mall and through the Smithsonian museums.

Look at that!
A crock pot and cookbook just like my mom
bought in the 1970's is on display at the
American History Museum!
And is that her Corningware casserole also??!!

No one was around to "photo bomb" our selfies,

... and Abe didn't seem to mind Doug sneaking a kiss in front of him!

The sun shone bright the next day as we explored Smithsonian's newest museum ... the Museum of African American History and Culture. We did not realize that you need to secure the free tickets on-line ahead of time, so we almost didn't get in. But because we arrived before the afternoon crowds, the lady at the entrance graciously allowed us in. From displays depicting the beginning with the slave trade to the accomplishments of African Americans today, this newest museum is definitely a must-see!

Afterwards, we enjoyed looking at the historic architecture of all the buildings that surrounded us as we walked through the DC downtown area on our way to lunch at the Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant

Oh, happy day! Doug snagged a Washington DC beer coaster as we refueled with tacos and beer.

Around the block was Ford's Theater which we explored after lunch. The theater is still in use, and they recently remodeled the museum. Doug, who normally doesn't get really excited about history museums, had to admit that Ford's Theater definitely held his interest. I never tire from the feeling that I experience when I have the privilege of visiting a place as special as this.

Back on the National Mall, I added to my "capitols" pictures with the Mother of all Capitol buildings! We also walked through the National Archives and the National Gallery.

By this time, Doug needed a "time out" to rest up
as I absorbed all the magnificent US history reflected
in the paintings and sculptures at the National Gallery.

Our journey through history is best measured in the amazing sites that surround us!

The next day we continued our journey to Richmond, Virginia where we gathered with family to celebrate the wedding of my niece Alyssa and Logan.

We celebrated new beginnings ...

time with our sons ...

an opportunity to reunite with siblings ...

and the joys of seeing nieces and nephews grow into amazing young adults!

Our journey with family is best measured in the smiles and hugs that surround us!

Two more state capitol buildings ...

Richmond, Virginia

and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

... were on our trek back to Michigan, as well as the sacred battlefield of Gettysburg.

Our three hour tour was just enough to get a "first taste" and realize that we (meaning Chris, the history geek) need to add this to our future RVentures route. At the visitor's center, we viewed the film "A New Birth of Freedom", admired the Gettysburg Cyclorama (a 377 ft circular painting of the battle) and walked through the museum.

After a delicious lunch and IPA at Appalachian Brewing Company (yes, Doug, there are sometimes "treasures" hidden among the historical sites), we walked around the Soldier's National Cemetery, site of Abraham Lincoln's famous Gettysburg Address.

Our journey through trials and triumphs is best measured in the hope for peace that our country continues to work for.

We made it safely back to Michigan, and joined Doug's parents for a few days at Leisure Lake, the RV park where they spend their summers.

I enjoyed taking over their kitchen and creating a scrumptious dessert with their overly abundant supply of fresh raspberries. It was so good, that I have to share it on my RV Recipes page.

"Bella" tries to convince Doug to share
some of the good food!

Doug had a few RV repairs on his docket which included the successful repair of our main furnace. Unfortunately, during this process, he took off his wedding ring and somehow misplaced it (which is why you see the metal detector leaning against the pole in the foreground). 

Unfortunately, it has not shown up yet, but we both continue to realize that ...

Our journey is best measured in the golden treasure of time spent with our family and friends!

Including all those awkward and fun family photos!

Until next time ... treasure your journeys with family and friends ... and enjoy the adventures in your life!

My sister and brother-in-law enjoying the view of the
James River during one early morning walk in Virginia.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Habitat for Humanity Build #8: Marquette, Michigan

We recently completed another Habitat for Humanity Care-a-Vanner build in Marquette, located in the beautiful Upper Peninsula of Michigan. It was our first opportunity to be team leaders, and ... Yah, Ya Betcha ... we were honored to work with a group of talented and enthusiastic volunteers who quickly became friends. 

While driving to the worksite one morning, I noticed groups of Canadian geese flying to the south in perfect formation. Were they trying to tell us that we better join in as the frosty days of winter will soon be upon us?

Possibly, but their magnificent flight pattern and potential was also a reminder of the power of teamwork ... teamwork that was evident as I looked around our Habitat for Humanity job site. 

Their overhead "honks" reminded me of a story that I shared during the next morning's devotion. "Lessons from Geese" are also lessons that we learn each time we are privileged to work with and get to know other Care-a-Vanners. 

Lesson 1 - The Importance of Achieving Goals
As each goose flaps its wings it creates an UPLIFT for the birds that follow. By flying in a 'V' formation the whole flock adds 71 percent extra potential to the flying range.
When we have a sense of community and focus, we create trust and can help each other to achieve our goals.
Elizabeth and Kenny and their four
children will call this house
their home this coming Thanksgiving
as a result of the UPLIFT of
all the talented Habitat volunteers!

Lesson 2 - The Importance of Teamwork
When a goose falls out of formation it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of flying alone. It quickly moves back to take advantage of the lifting power of the birds in front.
If we had as much sense as geese we would stay in formation with those headed where we want to go. We are willing to accept their help and give our help to others.
to help hold up the ceiling
drywall panels as those taller
than me secured them with screws.

Lesson 3 - The Importance of Sharing
When a goose tires of flying up front it drops back into formation and another goose flies to the point position.
It pays to take turns doing the hard tasks. We should respect and protect each other's unique arrangement of skills, capabilities, talents and resources.
Doug and Richard shared their SKILLS
as they worked together to
measure and cut eight unique openings
in this piece of ceiling drywall.

Would it fit? Of course!
Perfectly ... the first time!

Lesson 4 - The Importance of Empathy and Understanding
When a goose gets sick, two geese drop out of formation and follow it down to the ground to help and protect it.
If we have as much sense as geese we will stand by each other in difficult times, as well as when we are strong.
When some Habitat families faced
we helped rehab two Habitat homes.

From painting ...
To tiling ...
To cleaning ...
To more cleaning ...

to help prepare the houses for new owners.

Lesson 5 - The Importance of Encouragement

Geese flying in formation 'HONK' to encourage those up front to keep up with their speed.
We need to make sure our honking is encouraging. In groups and teams where there is encouragement, production is much greater. Individual empowerment results from quality honking!
to Richard and Sharon for sharing
their incredible drywalling skills!
to Jon B. and Carolyn W. for
diligently working to get to ensure
that the house siding was on straight!
to Karen and Alan who
celebrated their 36th wedding
anniversary working with us!
to Captain Pete who took our group
out on a tour of Marquette Harbor aboard
his elegant yacht, The Pelican.

to Vicki, Marquette's Habitat Support
Manager, who treated us to a
delicious pasty dinner on the lake
and encouraged us on every day!
to Barbara and her husband Phil
who cheerfully and skillfully took on
any task that needed to be done!

to this group of aspiring artists who got
"down and dirty" in order to apply a layer
of stucco to protect the house's foundation
to Maria who as a safety trainer,
made sure that we all did it "the safe way"!

to Marci who brightened up
our days with her smile
and stylish painting attire!

to our site supervisor, Doug, whose
knowledge and patience was top notch!

to Rick and Paula for assisting
with the team building by organizing
"extracurricular" activities ...
they like craft breweries almost as much as us!

to my wonderfully nerdy husband
who devised a way to indirectly
observe the solar eclipse ...
using scraps of drywall!

to all the talented people who
will make this house a home
for Elizabeth, Kenny and family!

Until next time ... Honk words of encouragement to all around you ... and enjoy the adventures in your life!

The Wildebeest joined us
on the job site on our last
work day before we started
our southern migration.
We are

Following The Geese!