Summer Fun

By Lisa Baker

Hope you are all having a great summer.  We have had quite a few activities already. At this point we have Dad on hospice care.  He continues to be aggressive at times, however, changing his medication has helped some. My last visit with him I stayed exactly 12 minutes.  He was busy trying to take the closet doors down in his room.  Of course, without any tools he wasn’t going to get that project done, but he had no time for me at all. I tried to get him to sit down and visit with me.  He sat for one minute and was back up working on the closet doors, so I left. He has lost weight and is now wearing pull ups most of the time.  Hospice helps out by providing the pull ups and his medications among other things.

pic 1_fallen limbDuring a bad storm a week or so ago, we lost electricity.  We live close to Dreher Island State Park. By that evening my husband decided we would go to a motel for the night. I’m not sure exactly when our electricity came back on, but when we got home Sunday morning it was on. It’s amazing we didn’t have a tremendous amount of limbs down in the yard.

That afternoon, I went out to take some pictures. Our yard has several areas that are rocky and uneven.  I somehow managed to fall right on the rocks. Yes, I had shorts on, so I really hurt my knees, especially the left one.  They are all scraped and scabbed over. I also sprained my right wrist and managed to hit the side of my head, breaking my glasses.pic 2_sprained wrist

I hurt so bad that I told my husband to take me to urgent care. Thank God nothing was broken. I have never hurt so bad in my life. The doctor gave me a work excuse for the whole week and I hurt enough that I followed doctor’s orders. I’m still sore even this week, but not as bad as last week. I’m slowly healing.

pic 3_Lisa and husbandOur summer has been not so much fun but full of adventure for sure. Through it all, my amazing husband continues to be my rock.  He always supports me in everything I do. 

Make memories and have a safe summer!

Lisa 

Summer Road Trip Series Part III: “Get Your Kicks on Route 66”

By Marianna Boyce 

After driving almost seventeen hours, we made our first stop on Route 66 in Amarillo at a humongous Texas-sized wheat field. We parked alongside the road running parallel to I-40 with other weary travelers. We all had the same plan…I just hoped they brought their own spray paint.

pic 2Wind was gusting to about 30 mph, so before getting out of the car at Cadillac Ranch, I put my hair in a messy bun. I was wearing the same blue and white Ralph Lauren dress and cute little white sandals from the day before. My husband Gerry, and son Cody, were also sporting the same clothes from the previous day, but no one cared. We were all having a blast.

I released the trunk to retrieve the lime green spray paint packed before leaving South Carolina. There were some old cars we wanted to leave our mark on before heading further west.

pic 1Cadillac Ranch is a roadside attraction showing the evolution of tail fins on ten, older model Cadillacs. They are artistically displayed about 200 yards off the road, all upright, in a row, with their noses half-buried in the ground. For those that haven’t heard of this quirky little dot on the map, we were not “Breakin’ the Law.” Graffiti is actually encouraged here.

Leaving our mark on this popular landmark proved difficult on such a breezy day, but it was exactly what we needed to break the monotony of driving. After exhibiting our artistic interpretations on several cars, we shared our can of paint with travelers who didn’t come prepared. This attraction is free of charge and open 24/7/365.

Since we skipped lunch, we stopped for an early supper at the Big Texan Steakhouse a few miles down the road. At this bright yellow restaurant with a gigantic, long-horned, bull statue in the parking lot, you can order a seventy-two ounce steak cooked to perfection, free of charge. That’s four and a half pounds, y’all. Oh wait! There is a stipulation. No sharing is allowed, and it must be eaten within one hour. This includes their salad, baked potato, shrimp cocktail, and roll; otherwise, your meal isn’t free. It will cost $72. I wisely chose their six ounce filet, and after our delicious meal, we “Hit the Road Jack.” It was my husband’s turn to take the wheel…

*****

We left the tall green trees behind. They were morphing into smaller bushes. The vast landscape was dramatically changing with nothing obstructing that enormous blue sky. Texas gives an interesting 360 degree perspective. In certain areas, if you concentrate on the horizon, you can see the curvature of the earth. “I Can See For Miles and Miles…” It’s simply amazing!

In this beautiful, strange land, the billowing white clouds not only seem to dip below the horizon, they also stretch far into the heavens. There are no limits to the imagery that unveils like an artistic masterpiece. I love the enormity of Texas with all of God’s glory brilliantly on display, but we kept pushing forward.

*****

pic 3We crossed into New Mexico and made it to our next destination about an hour before sunset. The timing was perfect. Cody wanted to see the Blue Hole of Santa Rosa. This mystical Blue Hole is a natural geological formation created by a network of underground lakes in the middle of nowhere. With a constant inflow of 3,000 gallons of water per minute, it’s an incredible sight to see.

pic 4The surface diameter measures eighty feet, but increases to 130 feet at the bottom, making it a bell-shaped gem. There’s a rock ledge just underneath the water, but it dramatically drops off eighty feet into a mesmerizing, brilliant, blue void.pic 5

There is no lifeguard on duty, but if you’re adventurous, feel free to take a surface dive in the crystal-clear water. Even in their hot summers, this beautiful artesian well is a constant sixty-one degrees.

pic 6Cody was able to take two quick dives. The shock of the cold water instinctively pushed him up in milliseconds. My husband and I weren’t quite as bold. I only dipped my big toe and Gerry chose to merely observe. He’s not keen on anything cold, except for his chocolate cherry ice cream, and southern sweet iced tea. A visit to this interesting oasis is also free of charge and open 24/7/365.

pic 7As we watched the beautiful New Mexico sun setting behind the mountains in the distance, we drove a few miles down the road and found a room for the night. We were all exhausted, so we looked forward to a good night’s sleep before the adventures we’d lined up the following day. We all showered, crashed, and burned. Our plan was to rise early the next morning to see something grand. If we timed this one right, we’d be there a little before sunset as well…

We had an amazing twenty-four hours driving from South Carolina to New Mexico—and all still on speaking terms. Miracle? Not really…just “Love the One You’re With,” and don’t sweat the small stuff. Hopefully, you picked out the song references easily. We sang them all.

Arizona, here we come…pic 8

Summer of 2019: Trial Run of an Empty Nest

By Janet Prince

pic 1This summer, Gary and I have had the opportunity to have a trial run for when we have an empty nest. Our youngest has attended two trips leaving us home alone for the first time in almost 22 years! We have always joked that when the nest was empty, we would start dating again, and we did!

We went out to dinner alone one of the nights. Having time to have dinner alone in a restaurant with out the girls and their friends was a rarity. But of course, what did we talk about? The girls! Our life has always revolved around them and it seemed that not having them with us put us a little off balance. In our little family we have always moved as a unit. We go most places together and even when we are home, the girls have always spent time with us on the porch talking and watching TV. On another date, we made it a double with Ashlan and her husband Joe. It was a lot of fun getting to hear everything going on with them and it let me get my “mama fix”!View of beach at Huntington Beach State Park, South Carolina, USA

Summer has always been a great time to travel and to relax. The beach and the mountains are always our go-to places. We have our favorite places to go eat and our favorite things to do in both mountainsplaces. We always do the same things, but they are things that make us happy and things that the girls always looked forward to. I guess we can be called creatures of habit. Every place holds a special place in our memories.

Summer also means some separate traveling for Gary and me. The last weekend in June each year is when I travel with many others from our state to the GFWC Annual Convention. This year we were in Austin, Texas. We had lots of laughter and catching up with members from across our great country. Although it can be tiring it allows me to come home rejuvenated. Spending time with my girlfriends on these grand adventures is something I look forward to each year. Gary also gets to travel, but his is for work.

Our trial run of an empty nest has been good for us. We have had time to talk about whatever we wanted, and we learned that yes, we will be alright when the nest is really emptied. But for now, we are glad our nest is still full!

Until next time,

Janet

Summer Road Trip Series Part II: “God Bless Texas”

By Marianna Boyce

According to Google, Dallas is the third largest city in Texas, and ninth largest in our nation. In my opinion, it’s the most daunting to navigate. I was a passenger for a previous road trip in 2015 with our daughter and her family and quite honestly, I was awelcome to texas sign nervous wreck. It was nearly impossible to enjoy the mesmerizing sparkling midnight skyline with their intense traffic, but I somehow managed. My heart races just thinking about it.

With this bit of information in mind for our 2016 trek across the USA, I called driving dibs for this enormous metropolis once we reached the city limit sign. I actually insisted. In a meager attempt to persuade my husband Gerry easily, I forfeited the remainder of our driving marathon for him and our son Cody to split between themselves. Surprisingly, they both humored me and agreed to my crazy little deal. Otherwise, my backseat driving alter-ego may have reared her ugly head—and no one wanted that girl on our trip. I could’ve sworn they secretly adored her, but Gerry and Cody both swore they didn’t like her at all, hence my decision to leave her at home. Y’all would be so proud…

After driving all night from Lexington, South Carolina, we closed in on Dallas around lunchtime the following day. This year, we’d see the mega city during daylight hours. As we approached the outskirts, Cody’s driving shift came to a close.

It was lunchtime, but none of us were hungry. We grabbed a pack of cheese crackers and cold Pepsi-Cola from the ice chest and carried on our traditional American, wind-in-the-hair road trip. Finally, it was my turn to drive.

Nervous excitement consumed me, but I’m happy to report, I drove like a pro. The midday traffic was more tolerable than the midnight mayhem the previous year. The intimidating multiple lane roadways were still packed full of cars. I navigated their intricate highway system that in my opinion, resembled a big roller-coaster ride. I loved every exhilarating moment.long straight highway

Exercising such formidable driving ability, Gerry and Cody suggested I continue our quest without stopping for a driver switch. As we exited the Dallas-Fort Worth area, that famously long and straight Texas speed limit 80highway magically appeared out of nowhere. It was right up my alley. This is an area you’d definitely want a full tank of gasoline. There was nothing intimidating here. The speed limit was eighty, so eighty(ish) was what I did.

There are reminders up and down the highway system warning drivers that the left lane is for passing only. After passing, you must safely move back into the right lane. What a novel idea. I wish South Carolina had the same law. Oh, wait! We do! We are merely lacking in the reminder sign department. Where can we start a petition to get those for the Palmetto State? “God bless Texas.”

***

The scenery in this great state is very special. It’s exactly what you’d expect, but in a peculiar way, nothing you’d expect at all. Trains stretch as far as the eye can see. On one side of the road are oil wells. Grandiose wind turbines occupy the other. Chances are, they all belong to the same roughneck or rancher, but who knows? They contradict and complement each other simultaneously. It’s the old and the new, the big and the small. Oh, never mind! There’s nothing small here. The old saying “Everything’s bigger in Texas,” is true. I’ll bet that landmark steeple will never be mounted on a church rooftop.

***

Our course transitioned further north to I-40 via US-287. We were gravitating toward a national historic highway. Maybe you’ve heard of it…

I drove until we reached Amarillo. This is where our road trip took on a life of its own. So route 66far, we’d been driving fast and furious, but join me for my next post where the fun truly begins. What good is trekking across the United States of America unless you experience a little bit of classic Route 66.

Summer Road Trip Series Part I: Go West Young Man

By Marianna Boyce

arizona sign (p1)Have you ever heard of Sierra Vista, Arizona? It’s a great little city in Cochise County about twenty miles north of Mexico, but 1,921.5 miles west of South Carolina. You’ll discover the reason Sierra Vista holds a special place in my heart as we travel west for my summer road trip series.

rocky wall w flag (p2)In a day where everyone is in a hurry to do everything, flying the friendly skies makes more sense, but my preferred method of travel is the traditional American ‘let the top down’ road trip to see the beautiful sights our country has to offer. Gerry and I have done both—many times.

We embarked on this long journey with our daughter Tiffany and her family in 2015. Our son Cody was unable to go with us, but he expressed interest in our taking the same exact route to this special little dot on the map the following year. He knew it wouldn’t take much to convince me of another opportunity to drive west.

I had kept a journal of our original trip, so we easily charted the same course in 2016. It was awesome knowing exactly where we were going and how long it would take to get there; but for this adventure, we made no hotel reservations. We threw caution to the wind and prayed God would protect and have us in the right places at the right times. Talk about faith. Be sure to read my future posts to see how that worked out for us.

Of course, as a woman, I packed everything but the kitchen sink days in advance. It was neatly organized in the dining room waiting for our departure day of June 8. I even packed lime green spray paint…

Gerry was slated to drive the first leg of the trip, so he took the day off to rest while Cody and I worked. Once I arrived home, Gerry neatly arranged everything in the trunk of my light sage-colored Lincoln MKZ. Over the years, I’ve learned this process is much easier when I’m not involved. His goal was to leave the backseat open for whoever needed to rest or just enjoy the ride. The only thing he tossed inside the car was a comfy pillow and my purse.

We planned to leave that evening in order to travel as far as we could while traffic was light. Have you ever driven through Atlanta at lunchtime? Exactly!

After a quick burger, fries, and frosty at a local fast food restaurant for supper, we embarked on our wind-in-your-hair road trip. I chose the backseat to start our journey, but took a silent vow to leave my backseat driving instructor mentality at home. I can’t express how difficult that was for me.

blinding sun (p9)The sun was blinding as it set in the western sky, so I put on my sunglasses, placed that comfy pillow behind my back, and propped my bare feet up on the console in front of me. “Go West, young man,” I recall saying to my husband. “Life is good!”

We drove west on I-20 all night and left South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi in our rear view. There’s not much to see at night, so Cody—being in line to drive—catnapped. My job was keeping whoever was driving awake, but I was still careful to leave my backseat driving wisdom at the house.

early morning sunrise (p11)After twelve hours, we decided to stop in Monroe. The sun was peeking over the eastern horizon, so we thought stopping for a hearty breakfast at Waffle House was a great way to greet the new day. Not to mention, we were also in desperate need of strong coffee.

For those who remember the television show, Duck Dynasty, the Duck Commander store was only a few miles down the road from Waffle House, so we stopped by to see if Phil, Willie, Jase, or Si were there. It was still very early, so their store was closed. We walked around in the parking lot for a few minutes before heading west again on I-20. It felt good to stretch our weary bodies after the long ride.

 

With the first leg of our trip in the books, Gerry took over the coveted backseat to get some much-needed sleep. Cody gladly took the wheel while I rode shotgun. I gave him a gerry sleeping (p13)tough choice between me or Siri as his trusty navigator. He chose wisely: Siri it was.

From Louisiana, we headed toward the great state of Texas. Of course,cody driving (p14) any amazing road trip wouldn’t be quite as good if you didn’t sing, “On the Road Again,” in your best Willie Nelson twang. In spite of mine and Cody’s bellowing, Gerry was asleep in mere moments…

*The photos used in this post are personal photos from my amazing road trip. They may not be the best quality, but they are all near and dear to my heart. Enjoy!*

Destination Unknown

By Marianna Boyce

For Memorial Day, a moment to acknowledge the men and women who died while serving in our military for the United States of America is definitely in order. Our fallen soldiers secured freedoms we enjoy today by making the ultimate sacrifice for our country. I’m forever grateful for their selfless acts of valor.american flag

For many people, Memorial Day also serves as the unofficial start of summer. I am not what you’d consider a world traveler, so when it comes to vacations, my preference is sticking close to home.

As you’re reading this post, I’m heading back from Folly Beach in Charleston, South Carolina. I love the more mature vibe Folly has to offer, and it’s only 125 miles away. Gerry loves playing his guitar on the beach or poolside while I relax in the chair next to him. The bright sound of that Martin guitar is incredibly soothing while listening to the ocean waves rolling onto shore. It’s absolutely divine!guitar

Some of my travels have also lured me further from home, but always for good reasons. The first flight I ever boarded was in 2002 for an all expense paid trip to St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. This tropical paradise at the exotic Marriott’s Frenchman’s Cove is situated 1,475 miles from home. It is filled with indescribable splendor and beauty, but be wary of the island’s “voodoo juice” and shenanigans on the beach after dark. I’m thankful Gerry always had the presence of mind to remove us from questionable situations. With that being said, the white sand, crystal clear blue water, CoCo Joe’s, and steel drums playing nearby, are four things everyone should experience personally. Did I mention the crystal clear blue ocean water? Wowza!

The following year, we traveled by air to New Orleans, and boarded a cruise ship to Cozumel, Mexico. This was another all expense paid trip by my employer 2,765 miles from home. Gerry said I was the luckiest woman he knew. I thought he meant because I was married to him, but maybe it was for the great trips I won instead. Being whisked away from my comfort zone made me mindful of how small we really are on this terrestrial ball. My feelings on venturing further from home slowly began to change. With that being said, I truly pushed the envelope with my next adventure.

The best vacation I’ve ever taken was a 4,614 mile round trip, nine day, adventure filled trek across the United States of America. This trip to Arizona wasn’t won by any contest; however, it was indeed a gift. I’m sure you’re bewildered, so I invite you to “ride along” with me this summer as I write about reasons this adventure is my favorite one of all time.

What better way to kick off the unofficial start of summer than with a purely unadulterated, top down, wind in your hair road trip series? With our course charted, and several interesting stops planned along the way, we headed west on I-20.route 66

This vacation perfectly divides my normal life with what I often refer to as my alternate universe. It was the day we returned home that my new voyage began. Unfortunately, I had to navigate uncharted territory with my destination completely unknown. Within fourteen days, intense chronic pain had overtaken my entire body. I was neither physically or mentally prepared, but God saw fit that my incredible journey beforehand was completely unhindered.

Be on the lookout for my Summer Road Trip Series. This will be fun y’all. Where are your travels taking you this summer? Until next time…

What Did You Do This Summer?

By Shannon Boatwright

As a teacher, it’s one of those questions you get asked a lot…as if we’re going to respond with some magical, fabulous and/or impressive descriptions of all the incredible things we experienced and accomplished over our treasured summer break.  Of course, people don’t seem to realize that some, or I should say, most teachers actually still work over the summer, whether with a second job to help fill in the terrible pay gap or whether they’re having to take chunks of their summer to take required classes in order to keep up certification and/or to reach that next pay raise level.I'm a Teacher.

In years past, I’ve had to take classes and fill my summers with studies and classwork. This past summer I decided to give myself a break. No classes, no time taken away from the break that I earned and definitely needed!

Now, last summer was literally the ONLY summer that I was actually able to respond to people with something fabulous that knocked my own socks off, much less others. I never dreamed I’d be able to respond and tell folks that asked that lovely question that I’d actually gotten the opportunity to go to France and Switzerland -and it was one of the most memorable, amazing experiences of my life! Ironically last year when someone would ask what I did over the summer, I’d almost feel a bit embarrassed to say anything about my incredible trip because it so was NOT a normal travel experience for me. I’ve written a previous blog about it  Are You Experiencing One Wild and Precious Summer? You should check it out. It’s a good one for sure. I’d say it’s inspiring. 😉

But back to this summer, my summer of 2018. No fancy excursions in first-class to fantastic, far off fantasy like locations. But, I did indeed make it a great summer. (An important side-note to those reading…you don’t have to go on impressive, big time trips to create a fabulous summer for yourself!)

This summer, I utilized quality time with precious family and friends. I caught up on much needed sleep when my busy mind would allow it. I spring-cleaned and organized. We took only two short family trips – one to the mountains (See blog entry, Live Your Life!) and one recently, to the beach. And the beautiful thing…we made the most of every moment and greatly appreciated our time together. It was a summer with those I love and adore. It was a summer that allowed me the time to just be, to read, to work on future aspirations and gain personal insight.

Did I accomplish even half of what I wrote on my summer to-do wish list? Nope.

Did I accomplish other impressive things that weren’t on my list or even in my mind at the end of the insanely busy school year? Yep.

Did I gain weight and eat really well over my summer? Oh my gosh, YES. I immensely enjoyed cooking for my family, trying new recipes and sharing the yummy results of my cooking with family and friends!

Did I experience my own inner battle of deciding to accept my fuller bod and recognize my own health happiness? Actually…yes.  It’s a constant work in progress, but with every year I have the pleasure of being alive, I’m learning to accept and rejoice in not only my talents, gained knowledge and individual gifts as I age and mature, but also accept my body and rejoice in its flourishing, changing ways! (That’s of course the super positive outlook I’m feeling in this moment. I’m quite certain if you were to catch me tomorrow in the moment when I try on a piece of clothing in my closet that will inevitably be way too small, I’ll most likely respond a bit differently. Just saying. I am only human after all. We’re Only Human) 😉

So what did I do this summer?

I lived. I survived. I rested. I played. I dreamed. I rejoiced. I engaged in being ever grateful. I created. I researched. I planned for my future and the future of my family. I planned as a drama teacher/director and what I want to provide for my students.

I tried my best to appreciate every moment with those I love. I listened to the sounds of the creek in the mountains. I made sure to consciously listen to the sounds of the ocean at the beach. I made sure to play with my children – we wrestled, we fished, we created, we watched movies, we rode bikes, we swam, we played pretend with my precious little nieces & cousins, we colored, we rode ocean waves, we jumped for joy on the beach…

Did I do something totally spectacular, crazy impressive over my summer?  Maybe not in most folk’s eyes, but, I did me. I had a super summer.

Jumpin for Joy on the Beach

Now here’s to hoping people will stop asking the question, “When do you go back to school?”

Note to readers: Never ask a teacher when she or he has to go back to school. We’re on summer break. Spare us, please… pretty please.

And now, you know I have to ask…

What did YOU do this summer?