Archive for Vacations

“Ring of Fire”

In southwest Virginia, nestled in the Appalachian foothills in the town of Wytheville at the intersection of Interstates 81 and 77, is a dinner theater called Wohlfahrt Haus.

Us younguns!

We were looking for something special for the family to do to celebrated Gene’s 70th birthday and stumbled across this hidden gem. Southwest Virginia is known for foot stumping, fiddle dancing, bluegrass and country music and there are quite a few venues that are very unique and just plain good and fun. Wohlfahrt Haus did not disappoint.

It didn’t suit the whole family to go.

The website for Wohlfahrt Haus list six different musicals for the 2019 year, each running two months, including a 50’s special, Country Gospel, the story of little orphan Annie, Christmas special, etc. During the months of September and October they are presenting “The Ring of Fire: the Music of Johnny Cash”. The following quote was taken from their website.

The story of the legendary “man in black” told through his music, taking you on a journey of passion, humor, and salvation. “Ring of Fire” features over 30 great hit songs such as “I Walk the Line”, “Folsom Prison Blues”, “Jackson”, and “Will the Circle Be Unbroken”, all performed by a talented cast of singer/musicians. It will be a celebration of one of the greatest musical superstars of our time and the “world’s most famous rebel’- Johnny Cash!

Our evening started with a delightful, elegant, two hour, four course meal; pita chips and cheese dip, garden salad, roast beef and gravy, mashed potatoes, steamed broccoli, baked apples, hot dinner rolls and a luscious pumpkin cheesecake. We were at preassigned tables and served by a member of the cast.

Ryan and Lauren playing a card game while waiting for the musical to begin.

This turned out to be very special and made the evening over the top awesome! Our server, Jonathan Roth, was a very friendly, personable, high energy guy, who interacted with his guests and shared little tidbits about his role and life. He was really attentive and interactive with us and our grandkids and they had a blast. The dessert was served at intermission, again by the cast. Now, think about this. The cast not only served the meal and dessert but also performed in the two hour musical. At the end, they lined up in the lobby for guests to interact with them. Plus, they had already done the same thing for the noon matinee. It was very easy to want to tip our server and I suspect he did well!

Our three grandkids were the only youth in a theater full of mostly older people but they really enjoyed the whole venue. One admitted she didn’t know what to expect but it far exceeded what she expected. Karla and Ryan have participated in their school musicals so this was right down their alley. It has been really neat and special for our grandkids to really enjoy the good country music oldies with us.

The program was a collection of thirty songs, woven together with life stories and family photos. Personal and family tragedies marred his life and he battled demons of alcohol and drugs that he was never able to overcome. During times of drug rehab and remission, his songs often reflected faith and redemption.

If you are looking for something special, we highly recommend this venue. It was an evening we will remember for a long time. The 2020 season is already posted on their website.

No, you do not quite look like Mr. Nutcracker!

The Sights of New York City

We were the “old” folks who traveled with the young to New York City last weekend. They planned the trip, purchased the necessary tickets, made the arrangements, and led the way.  We had a wonderful time and it was also very special to be with daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren, Obe, Jill, Karla and Ryan.

I am posting a few pictures of the fun and unique things we saw and enjoyed that are not on my other two blog posts.

You can’t say you couldn’t find food!

A pretzel treat!

The Saturday the streets were packed. This picture does not show how bad it was.

A Sunday morning bike race through Time Square in the rain. There were lots and lots of bikers.

A barbecue place where we ate. Yes, we are standing in line to get in. It really didn’t take long and it was easy to see why the place was busy. It was packed, all three stories, and the food was good.

Subway Station

Yes we rode the subway. It really is an incredible, amazing system of transportation. We were there during off hours and it was not overly crowded.

Deserted train station (This was on or way to Ellis Island).

“Raging Bull” the symbol of Wall Street.

Brooklyn Bridge

Jill, Karla, Ryan and Obe Hostetter

Gene and I.

Barge hauling trash on the Hudson River.

The famous New Year’s eve clock that strikes midnight….and then….

…the New Year’s ball that falls.

In the middle of the street in Times Square was this Focus on the Family stage.

They were in the process of dissembling it. It would be interesting to know what they were doing.

 

Fox News headquarters.

A beautiful foundation by Fox News.

ABC News

NBC News. We took a guided tour of this headquarters. They were the only ones who offered it. It was very, very interesting. Simply amazing.

One of the game show buzzers at NBC. Ryan had fun.

It was misty and foggy the whole weekend.

 

I even got a hug from Minnie Pooh!

After the hugs and photo session they wanted money!

Trump Tower.

 

Lego Store-Ryan was in heaven!

I was amazed he could even choose something.

Lindor Truffles!  You could buy a pound for $16.99 (about 16 truffles) or a bag of 75 for $20.00.  Guess which one I took! I was in heaven!!!

Grandma and Karla with their stash of truffles!

M & M Store-we didn’t buy anything.

One neat thing when traveling with “techie” people is their use of technology to navigate.  Of course GPS led the way, but they had apps for counting the number of steps we walked, gas, food, subway, city buses, Uber, walking in the city (found out this is a good use for google maps), etc. And they could use them fast. We were never lost or without an answer to a question.

A Trump Plaza was was bout 2 miles from our Air B&B in New Jersey.

We saw the Broadway show “Ain’t Too Proud,” the story of the music group Temptations.  It was really good.

The city is rich in history and beautiful, old architecture.  There were quite a few massive cathedrals. It is amazing to think they were built years ago, before modern equipment and yet so sturdy and stunning to look at.

This was the store Gene enjoyed.  New York Yankees!

Making a decision.

Grandpa and Karla sporting their new hats!

Shipping port for containers.

The last afternoon of our stay in the city, we attended a Yankees game. The 1 o’clock game got moved to 4 p.m. because of rain. It was a steady misty drizzle, the wind was blowing and it was cold. We had two blankets between the six of us and it was not enough. We had a good time but we ended up leaving after the sixth inning because of the cold and we still had a six hour drive to Harrisonburg for the night.

Yankee Stadium

Removing the tarp for game time.

The crowd was very small-I don’t know if it was a quarter full or not.

We toured the museum and Memorial Walk at the stadium.

Gene’s number all the many years he played ball was #7.

#3 was Karla’s jersey number.

 

 

As you can see we packed a lot into three days. Obe’s walking app clocked us walking 12.5 miles and that was almost all concrete! We traveled by subway, Uber, ferry, bus and car. We had a good time and it was hard for us to pick our favorite thing.

 

Other blog post from our New York City trip:

 

Hope for the Desperate

In some ways our stop at Ellis Island on our New York trip was the most meaningful for me. In 1748 my great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather Johann Matheus Hutwohl took his wife and two little girls in search of freedom from religious persecution in Germany, booked voyage on the ship “Two Brothers” and sailed for the “New World”.  Their story can be read on my blog post “A Family Story: Death on the High Seas”.  The Hutwohls (later changed to Heatwoles), along with millions of other desperate immigrants who fled Europe, were driven by hope for a new life as they left behind relatives, friends, a church community, their homeland and all they owned. There was promise not only of religious freedom but freedom from war, poverty and the bonds of an oppressive tyranny government.  The New World beckoned with open arms.

The dock were the cargo ships carrying the immigrants would dock.  The immigrants were ill prepared for the densely packed conditions and lack of food and personal hygiene.

Ellis Island Processing Center

I had gotten myself a little confused when I was at Ellis Island and thought that was the port of entry for Matheus. I kept trying to visualize him in that great hall and seeing the Statue of Liberty as the ship entered the Hudson River. I could almost feel his grief as he walked down the plank alone, a young widow in a strange land with an unknown tongue. He had buried his dear wife and two precious daughters at sea. When I got home and reread his story, I realized he landed on Mud Island at Philadelphia and entered America through that port of entry. But I am sure the process and feelings were the same regardless of which port they entered.

The Registry Room where shiploads of immigrants would come and wait for their name to called so they could be processed. The room has been restored to it’s original beauty. Most immigrants had never seen such magnificent buildings.

I realized as we toured the museum and read the history that immigration was as difficult emotionally, physically, and politically then as it is now. Most days Ellis Island processed 4-5,000 immigrants. There was concern about health, mental stability, crime and whether the immigrants could contribute to the new society to which they had come. The processing facilities, health resources and physical needs were stretched to the limit. They had to have money, the promise of a job, and people waiting for them to help them adjust and find their way. Each immigrant had to go through several screening processes:  legal hearing, and a mental and medical exam.  There was great concern about the many contagious diseases that the immigrants were bringing to the new land. Those who were sick were marked with white chalk on their clothes and taken to the “dorm” on the island for a designated period of time.  At the end of that time if they were not well, they were returned to their native land. Many lived in desperate poverty until they found jobs and could get on their feet financially. There were periods of years when all ports of entry were closed to immigration and for years no Chinese were allowed to enter.

The health dorm.

Cots for the immigrants to sleep on.

View of the New York skyline from Ellis Island on a misty, foggy morning.

Almost all Americans can trace their roots to immigration. Depending on different world crisis and situations, different ethnic groups came at different times. I found myself very grateful that Matheus took the risk and came to the New World.  He paid a heavy price. I realize that immigrates, whether today or in 1748, all have the same desperate hope for a new start. There is something that drives them from their native land, usually with almost no earthly goods, in search of a new home. There is a huge risk and they are willing to sacrifice all to make the journey. America has and still beckons as the land of promise, the land of opportunity, the land of freedom and hope. The big difference today is that illegal caravans are demanding and forcing their way in even when the legal option is there. Our forefathers came legally; their paperwork was in order.

I was especially interested in these to information plaques since my ethnic roots are German and my spiritual heritage is Mennonite.

 

We cruised in on a comfy ferry with a food concession stand and restrooms for the 20-30 minute ride from the mainland. This was much different to the conditions the immigrants endured during the weeks and months as they crossed the Atlantic ocean.

Other New York trip blog posts:

We Remember……when America’s heart was broken

There are tragic events that are seared forever in our memory: we remember where we were at, what we were doing and other details that surround the event. September 11, 2001 was one of those events. I was working in our retail feed store when a customer told us the news. The rest of the day was consumed with sitting in front of the TV, eyes glued to the screen, trying to absorb the horrific details of untold horror unfolding live in our nation.

Picture of a picture of the New York skyline before 9/11.

I remember feeling fear: fear of the unknown, fear of the unimaginable destruction and death, fear of what may happen next. I remember the eerie calm and quietness that settled over the land for several days as all planes nationwide were quickly grounded. I went outside and looked up. There was not a single white exhaust airplane streak or noise in the sky for several days.   I remember the pit in my stomach as we watched humans fall to their death from the burning inferno raging in the two World Trade Center towers.  I remember the dust-covered alien-looking ghost city as the collapsed towers crumbled into smothering heaps of twisted rubble. I remember watching people fleeing for their lives, running in heels and business attire. I could only imagine their fear, horror and confusion. I remember watching the towers burn, then crumble, knowing there were people trapped and unable to escape, experiencing unimaginable terror. I remember trying to imagine people attempting to flee the towers, descending more stairs than I can imagine or is physically possible. Some were even carrying other injured strangers.

I remember people helping people, saving others to only die themselves.  I remember feeling great sadness and anger that humans could and would impose such evil destruction on innocence people in the name of their “god” and their hate for a nation not their own.

This past weekend we finally got to visit New York City and the 9/11 memorial. It was a very well done and touching memorial. I would highly recommend it. It brought back the memories, the feelings and most of the pictures and videos we had already seen-in real time. It was eerie to see actual pieces that survived the destruction, pictures of those killed and stand on the actual footprint of the site.

One of the reflective pools that covers the actual footprint size (1 acre) of one of the towers. It was bigger than it looks but smaller that what you would think. The names of the victims were written on the edge. White roses are placed each day on the victim’s birthday.

 

The front of the new Freedom Tower.

Looking straight up. It was a foggy day and hard to get good pictures. There were two planes attached to the front of the building near the top.

 

There were at least four walls of pictures of the almost 3,000 victims, plus those killed in the bombing of the tower in 1993.

 

Survivors’ Stairsteps: the actual steps that survived and that people used to flee to safety.

Another set that survived.

An elevator motor.

The base to the signal tower on top of the tower.

 

New York Fire Department #3 Ladder Truck.

A steel beam.

As steel beam bent into a horse shoe.

Another beam.

Another beam. That is not graffiti. It is codes left by firemen to note their location.

Our tour guide. We were standing on the footprint of the tower with one of the walls in the background.

Column pillars.

“Dedicated to those who fell and to those who carry on.”

Trinity Church is located about 2 blocks from the towers. After 9/11, it opened it’s doors to the first responders and volunteers as a place of rest and refreshment. Food was served, the pews were used for sleeping, and spiritual counseling was provided.

 

The towers could be seen from the back street of the church. That is the new Freedom Tower in the background. I am thinking the dark strip marks the height of which the plane penetrated. But I do not know that for sure.

Another business very close to the towers that became a hangout for the many volunteers during the cleanup was O’Hare’s Restaurant & Pub. We ate supper there.  The walls and ceilings are covered with badges and shirts donated by the first responders from all over the country. Thousands and thousands of them. We found a few from Virginia by our table. The place was packed.

Another memorial that was very touching to me was the “Tear Drop Memorial”.

There is a lot of symbolism in this very thoughtful, sensitive and well designed 10–story sculpture by Zurab Tsereteli  and donated by the people of Russia.  Twenty-six Russians died in the trade center bombing in 1993 and 9/11. Freedom Tower can be seen through the eye of the memorial.  It was given to the state of New York who refused it. Finally, New Jersey agreed to accept it.  You have to know about it to find it. It is on a canal street by the Hudson River in Bayonne. There are no signs to direct you and no advertising to draw your attention to it. You think you could not possibly be going to the right place as you wind through a shipping area with containers, warehouses and sea ships. It is very disturbing to me that this lovely gift as been treated in such a disrespectful way.

The walk way around the memorial list the names of the people from New Jersey who died on 9/11 and the bombing of the tower in 1991.

 

Something about this does not set well with me.  To me, it is embarrassing to think that New York would refuse such a gift. Putin came for the dedication of the memorial.  I say to the people of Russia, thank-you for the beautiful, thoughtful and kind expression of sympathy for America and Russia’s grief. Our hearts were broken that fateful day, many tears were shed and the grief of loss is still felt by those who lost loved ones.

For more information about the controversy surrounding the sculpture click on this link.

We will remember…….

 Other New York trip blog posts:

Battleship Wisconsin-Norfolk

 

Yesterday (February 2, 2019) we took our family to visit the Battleship Wisconsin (BB-64) who is berthed at Nauticus, in Norfolk, Virginia at the largest navel base in the world.  It was fun, educational and very interesting to visit this majestic battleship who, in her day, was queen of the ocean.

The Wisconsin, affectionately nicknamed “Big Whisky,” is 887 feet, 3 inches in length and 108 feet, 3 inches at the beam and could reach speeds of 33 knots. Her crew complement was 1,921 officers and enlisted men.  Despite its mammoth proportions, the Japanese had three battleships that dwarfed the Wisconsin.

This ship was actually the second ship so named. The first was called the BB-9 and was decommissioned in 1920 after over two decades of service. The second Wisconsin was built at the Philadelphia Navy Yard in 1941 and launched on December 7, 1943, the second anniversary of Pearl Harbor.  Battleships are no longer used by the navy and have been replaced with Air Carriers and Destroyers.

Big Wisky enjoyed a service that spanned six decades, surviving two typhoons and participated in three major wars:  World War II,  Korean War, and Operation Desert Storm where she fired the last shot of the war.  In 1991, least than a month after returning from Desert Storm, she was decommissioned and relieved of active duty. In 2006, the US Navy deleted the Wisconsin and Iowa battleships from the NVR and made arrangements for the battleships to be donated to a museum.  The United States Congress was very concerned about the loss of battleship firepower and stipulated that the Wisconsin had to be maintained “battle-ready” for deployment if needed.   In 2009 all rights to the battleship were relinquished as it became apparent that $500 million was needed to reactivate the aging vessel and $1.5 billion for full modernization.  The battleship was then stripped of usable parts be used on other ships. She fought with distinction in three wars and is now enjoying an honorable retirement as a tourist attraction. An interesting tidbit…. it cost $1 million a year to keep the Wissonsin in retirement. In her active days, it cost $1 million per day to maintain her duty.

For Christmas this year, we gave our kids and grandkids an experience gift-a tour of the Battleship Wisconsin.  You can take a self-guided tour or take advantage of two guided tours: Command and Control Rooms and Engine Room.

  • Command and Control Tour was a 90 minute tour that covered four “decks” and included the Captain’s cabin, Admiral’s cabin, Combat Engagement Center, Flag Bridge, navigation Bridge and Quartermaster’s space.

Here we are sitting around the table in the Captain’s cabin. This was a very important place where meetings and decisions were made with some big name military personnel.  Norman Schwarzkupf Jr. a United States Army General who was Commander of Central Command sat at this table. We just don’t know who sat in his chair!

Pictures of the tour……

Boarding the ship

The Captain’s Quarters.

The captain is in command of the ship.  No one can tell him what to do. He is the final word.

Our tour guide was well-versed as he had served on the ship. Those numbers are very important and these signs are posted everywhere.  It tells emergency personnel the exact location of that room on the ship with each number or letter giving specific important information. I remember that the second row (89-95) refers to the numbers on the metal i-beams in the ceiling of the room.

In the Captain Cabin is this photo of the Iowa, Wisconsin, Missouri and New Jersey Battleships at sea.

The Control room where commands are given to “fire”. The brown chair is the captains chair.

A simulation of what it is like in that room during battle. The blue light was used to produce a calming effect during the flashing lights, voice commands and intense release of firepower.

 

Navigation Table where they mark and keep track of their location at all times.

This bubbles on this Clinometer tells us that the ship is floating level. If the bubble was at the top of the U-shaped curl on the far right,  we would be upside down-capsized and heading for the bottom of the sea! Incidentally, he said that divers always look for this meter as it tells them a lot about what happened.

These steep ladders were everywhere. For some of us it was easier to go down backwards.

And others preferred this way!

There were valves, levers, gauges, pipes, and equipment everywhere.

This door to the Control Room that is on top on the ship weighs 10,000 lbs. The solid steel and iron security was incredible. Attacking missiles can not penetrate it.

Sometimes it just feels good to “be captain”!!!

A view down a long walkway-over 300 feet.

  • Engine Room Tour was a 60 minute that took us seven “decks” down in the depths of the Battleship Wisconsin, where we learned what was required to power this massive city at Sea.

Pictures of this tour……

There were four engine rooms where huge broilers made steam to produce electricity and power the ship. We were in Engine Room #1.

The organized maze of electrical wires and pipes was beyond comprehension.  I can’t not fathom the engineer planning that went into producing such an incredible ship where everything fit, had it’s place and worked. And they knew what it all meant!

It was hard to get many pictures in the bowel of the ship. The spaces were so small and the equipment so huge. Some of these areas get so hot when in use because of the steam broilers.  The men worked in 130 degree temperatures with 100% humidity and no air conditioning. They can only work four-hour watches. There was one room that had crucial gauges in it that would get up to 150 degrees. That is the limit a human body can stand and they can only be in that room 30 seconds. Two go in and quickly read the gauges and come back out. No one is allowed to go in alone. Some of the pipes are 800 plus degrees. You do not accidently touch them or you deeply regret the moment.  We were down seven decks and saw the bilge-the floor of the ship.

We learned the ship has it’s own language: some examples.

  • Deck means floor
  • Hatch means door
  • Chow means food
  • Ladder means steps
  • Berth means bunk bed
  • Gallery mans kitchen
  • Scuttles means portholes
  • Speed is measured in knots
  • Bow is the front of the ship
  • Port is the left side of the bow
  • Starboard is the right side of the bow
  • Bilge-the very bottom of the ship

A destroyer always traveled with the battleship to help protect her from enemy attack and submarines. The battleship was incapable of detecting or destroying submarines. The destroyers were smaller, not as noisy, more agile and equipped with sonar equipment.

Our self-guided tour pictures….

 

Tomahawk Missile Launcher

They told the story from several years ago, when a man was visiting and touring the ship, and he asked why they didn’t raise the hatch on the launcher so people could see what it looked like. They had to admit, no one knew how. He said, “I did that job, I know how.” The next day the man returned and he took them to the right control, push the button, and the hatch raised.

The fire-power of this ship, the accuracy it could hit and the distance the missiles could go was fearsome and state of the art.

 

Berths were stuck in every available nook.

Dentist office.

Chapel.

 

Several times during the day we were referred to as “the large family”.  As we purchased our tickets, they became aware that this was our Christmas gift to the family. When we left the building, walked across the bridge to the ship where our tour guide was waiting for us, he said, “Are you the large family”?  The word was passed around!  When we were leaving in the late afternoon, one of the staff was standing by the door and wished us a “Merry Christmas”!

Sources of Information:

Most of the facts were spoken to us by the Wisconsin tour guides but I checked the following websites to fact-check as many as possible for accuracy:

 

An Evening with Rory Feek

It was probably about four years ago that I became aware of Joey and Rory Feek; delightful country and gospel music singers who were starting to cause sensations on the national scene with their music.  After the birth of their daughter, Indiana, Joey received the devastating diagnosis of cancer. She fought valiantly for about two years  but one spring evening in March 2016, Joey slipped away to her heavenly home. Rory was not only a song writer and composer but also an amazing blogger who shared with the world their powerful love story; a story of faith, hope, promise, broken and fulfilled dreams and life. Millions of us fell in love with this hometown Tennessee couple by watching their TV show and reading his blog, “This Life I Live”.

After Joey’s death, Rory said he would never sing or write songs again. But God is healing his broken heart and once again he has started having concerts on his farm in the “barn” converted into a concert hall. He shared with us Saturday night that he is very close to writing songs again.

When we heard Rory was having concerts on the farm in Hardison Mill, Tennessee, we decided we wanted to go.  Vacations are always good, but some go down as “extra special”.  Let me tell you, this one was extra, extra special. Tops!

Hardison Mill is south of Nashville and about five miles from Columbia. It is such a small little berg that it didn’t even make it on our map, although GPS knew how to navigate us there!  It was a ten hour drive plus stops.  We drove half-way Friday night and the rest on Saturday, allowing us to arrive at noon for the 7 PM concert. We decided to look up Marcy Jo’s restaurant for lunch.  Marcy is Rory’s sister.  The Jo in the name is for Joey. She and Joey worked together for nine years. It turned out that the restaurant was about 2 miles from the farm.

Marcy Jo’s Mealhouse Restaurant:

We were in for a total surprise. This quaint, rustic, little restaurant was a step-back into time.  Built in 1891 (I believe they said), it is still the old, weathered store it used to be with a history to tell.  It sits a few feet off the road at a very busy intersection, the corner of 431 and 99, the road to Columbia.  The place was overflowing with people waiting to have the experience of eating at the now famous Marcy Jo’s!  We had to wait one hour to get our genuine home-cooked meal.

The bustling place is very small with friendly waitresses and seats about forty. Upstairs is a shopping area filled with jewelry and antiques.  The walls are covered with antiques and pictures and the shelving behind the counter is filled with Marcy Jo’s cookbooks, Rory and Joey’s CD’s and books, T-shirts, local honey and glassware for sale. An old potbelly stove sits in the middle at the back.  I saw a picture of Joey and Rory hanging on the wall that was taken in the store. It appeared that I may have been sitting in the very spot she sat. The place was full of Joey essence and you almost expected her to come through the door.  Joey and Rory were ordinary country folks, living and working in rural hometown USA with big dreams.  Using their God-given talents of music and blogging, they won their way into our hearts and have become loved and esteemed all over the world.

A very magical thing happened at the restaurant. Suddenly time slowed to a grinding halt.  We were truly on vacation and no longer in a hurry to get someplace.  As we sat on a bench on the porch with the group hanging around waiting for our turn to go inside, I realized we were all strangers chatting together as if neighbors gathered at the local store. “Where are you from? Are you here for the concert?” For an hour we chatted with people from Indiana, Pennsylvania, Memphis, St. Louis and Mechanicsville, VA, which is in the area of our hometown. We talked mostly about Rory and Joey and the specialness of this spot.  It was special because though we were strangers, we had a common bond, we had been invited into the intimate lives of Joey and Rory’s through their writing and music.  All of us at the restaurant were probably tourists, there for the concert or passing through. The locals drove by, honked their horns and gaily waved, welcoming us. You only honk at people you know, right? They knew why we were there and also knew better than to eat there on concert day!

Inside we were seated at the “family” table in the center with about eight other people.  Seated beside us were two girls from St. Louis. The one’s name was Jill, making it very easy for us to remember! We enjoyed our time chatting with them.

Gene ordered “Rory’s Overall Breakfast,” advertised as Rory’s favorite entree of Angel Flake biscuits, sausage gravy and easy-over eggs, topped with shredded cheese.

I ordered the “Boss Hog”, a tender, grilled tenderloin with bacon, barbecue sauce, and cheese on a homemade bun with onion rings. It was a delicious meal.

The Concert:

 

Waiting for the doors to open.

Filling the seats and waiting for the show to begin. The barn holds 300 people and it was a sold-out crowd. We had the neat privilege of sitting beside one of Joey’s childhood friends from Indiana who was there for the show. She told us stories and pointed out family and friends of the Feeks.

The big screen said, “Enjoy the Show!” For the next 3 hours we did.  Usually the show last 1-1/2 hours but somehow this evening, time slipped by and apparently Rory also lost track of time and we were treated to double time!

The evening was a mixture of story telling, music and entertainment.

Rory’s oldest daughter, Heidi, also sang, and her boyfriend, Dillion, played guitar.

Indy was brought on stage for a short visit and a little girl from the audience gave her a card she made.

Rory called his two sisters to the stage and introduced them. Marcy is on the left and Candy is on the right. He asked a pastor in the audience to pray for the evening and especially Candy, as she is fighting cancer.

A professional fiddle playing friend of Rory’s whose first name was Daniel was in the audience. After the intermission, they got him on stage for an amazing instrumental hoe-down with Dillion.

Friendly cowboys friends showing us where to park.

 

Story Telling:

This was a picture Rory showed of the house when he bought the farm in 1999. It was a fascinating story.

Now it looks like this!

Indiana is a special needs child with Downs Syndrome. He just finished builting the schoolhouse for her with money that came as love gifts after Joey’s death. The school, opening this fall, will be for Indy, along with a selected number of other special needs children.

Pictures of the Farm:

We were not allowed to roam the farm but oh how I wanted to!!! I took some pictures from the concert hall area. It was a beautiful, picture perfect, manicured farm.

 

 

 

I saw the grove of trees across the field with the fence around it and I knew. I knew this was “the spot”, the resting place of Joey, her mother, and the previous owners of the farm.  Rory’s bench beckoned me but this was his personal, private spot and it is not open to the public, so we stood at a distance and gazed, to pay our respects.

The concert hall is also used on Sunday mornings for “Cowboy Church”. They have two services, 9:00 and 10:30 a.m. (if I remember correctly). We would loved to have attended but with our 10-hour plus drive home we just couldn’t make it work.

A few other pictures:

This picture I had to take. It was in the concert hall and really made us smile as we have sold Purina feed in our store for 35 years and fed it for years and years before that! For loyal Purina dealers this antique sign was a added bonus.

A picture of Julie, who was Joey’s best friend, is still involved with the family and all their doings. We happened to be sitting next to a couple at the concert who are long-time family friends and they pointed out numerous special people to us.

Marcy brings and sells slices of her signature cakes at the concerts; a luscious chocolate called Cola Cola Cake, Elvis Cake, and Heath Bar Cake, to name a few.

And finally….

I wanted a signed copy of Rory’s two books; ” This Life I Live” and  “Once Upon a Farm”.  When I purchased the books, I asked if they were signed and the guy at the counter said no, but after the show Rory would sign the books.  When the show was over we were on the wrong side of the room and it was late and I think half the crowd was in the line. I decided to forgo the wait. When I got home and opened my books, to my surprise and delight they were already signed. I just didn’t get to shake his hand and thank him.

You can go to Rory’s website for more information about his blog, books, cd’s, the movie about their life and schedule for the concerts. It was a wonderful evening and one I will remember for a long time. Tops!

 

 

 

The Ark

 

Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time and he walked with God….. Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and full of violence. God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people had corrupted their ways. So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence……so make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out.  This is how you are to build it….. Noah did everything just as the Lord commanded him.

Genesis 6: 10-14, 22 (NIV

 

This past weekend we went to see a replica of Noah’s ark in Williamstown, Kentucky.  Words almost can’t describe this amazing, spectacular,  awesome, massive structure and the impact it has on a person as you walk up and enter the ark. It is the largest free-standing timber-framed structure in the world and can hold up to 10,000 people at one time, although I would not want to be there on that day. It felt ironic that we were heading to the ark and it was very rainy, Houston is dealing with a massive flood, the largest recorded in US history except for the Genesis flood, and big, bad hurricane Irma is snorting, stomping, blowing and flexing her muscles into a major Category 5 storm in the Atlantic, heading for the eastern shores of the US.

I believe the Biblical stories are truth.  I believe the story of Noah building the boat, saving his family (wife, 3 sons and their wives), and two of every animal kind coming to Noah and entering the ark at God’s command. I believe the world-wide flood literally happened, creating the Grand Canyon and many other national wonders. I believe they lived on the ark for over a year before God gave the command to open the door and leave. I believe this catastrophic event was God’s judgment on a very sinful world. Seeing and experiencing the “Ark Encounter”  made the story come alive and the incredible miracle of God saving a righteous man and his family and ensuring that a world of humans and animals would thrive and multiple afterwards. Thanks to Noah and his faith in God and his obedience to God’s instruction, everyone of us is here today.

The Bible gives many details about the size, and details for building the structure and the ensuing flood. The story can be read in Genesis 6-9. There are many details not recorded about the daily care of the animals, cages, disposal of waste, and family life aboard the ark but we do know that God told Noah everything he needed to know to build and prepare. Noah believed God, and God counted him righteous.

In building this replica ark, much thought and prayer was given to present the interior in a way that was biblical and historical accurate. This story has now taken on new meaning for me.  The pictures below are an attempt to show the unique, magnificent structure and stir a desire in you to visit the site and spend a day with Noah and his family on the ark.

Viewing the ark from a distance. All you could say was “wow”!

 

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Noah praying with his family.

“The door”. The Bible says God closed the door before the storm began.  Our grandson, Ryan, was so disappointed that we didn’t enter the ark through the door.

Grain storage.

Water storage.

Food storage.

More storage.

Cages.

More cages showing automatic feeders and waterers. They are not that much different from today! See the slanted floor under the cage? Most of the cages had slated floors and the manure sifted through to the slanted floor onto the slide so that it would fall to an area where it could be retrieved. The eight people on the ark had a maximum of 7,000 animals to care for. The Bible says he took animal “kinds” into the ark. There are 1,398 known animal “kinds”.

The task would have been enormous. It is almost impossible to totally visualize the daily logistics of care. But if God cared enough about preserving the life of the animals and Noah and his family, I know he gave him wisdom and insight and probably direct instructions on how to make life manageable.  After all, they had to have food and water for a year, plus waste management! If Noah had a water collection system on the roof of the ark, one inch a week would have supplied all his water needs for the year.  The ark shows how all that is possible and it is amazing!

Because the ark would have been dark (they had no electricity in those days) except for the use of lanterns, torches and the natural light from the windows on top, quite a few of the animals would have been in a semi-state of hibernation.

A probable automatic feeding system.

Managing the work.

A water system for two cages made from pottery.

A possible work area to do repairs and maintenance.

Storage area for scrolls and other artifacts they would have been taken on board. After all, God told Noah very specifically that EVERYTHING would be destroyed. Noah would have wanted to preserve his personal possessions, tools, etc.

The families would have had their living areas. God would have carefully  cared for Noah’s family. After all, they had to eat, sleep, and rest so that they could stay healthy and strong to do the work. This was a new thought to me.

 

Kitchen area.

With the living quarters on the top deck they could have taken advantage of window ventilation.

By using reflective light from the windows they could have grown fresh green vegetables.

 

The modern idea of raised beds could have been used thousands of years ago!  It is a thought!

Noah releasing a dove to check to see if the water had receded.

The Hostetters (our daughter and her family) bought a peg during the building of the ark process for $100. It was a neat fundraising idea. Each peg was numbered and they were told which area their peg was in but we weren’t able to tell which peg was theirs. Jill decided to claim that one as theirs!

It was a wonderful day and our time spent at the ark was probably the highlight of our trip. However, the visit to the Creation Museum (about 30 miles away) the day before was tremendous. We heard a speaker on evolution versus creation and even Karla was enthralled with the information.

 

We ate lunch in the restaurant on site. The all-you-could-eat buffet was delicious and the surroundings were spectacular.

 

The bow of the ark.

Then God said to Noah, “Come out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and their wives. Bring out every kind of living creature that is with you–the birds, the animals, and all the creatures that move along the ground-so that they can multiply on the earth and be fruitful and increase in number upon it. So Noah came out….

The Noah built an altar to the Lord…. and the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said, “I will never again curse the ground because of man…never again will I destroy all living creatures….as long as the earth remains.”

Then God blessed Noah….and God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come. I have set my rainbow in the clouds as a sign of the covenant. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant…..”

Genesis 8: 15-22, 9:1-17

Some interesting facts:

  • Size of Ark: The building of the original ark was an engineering feat. It was built without modern equipment. The Ark had a ratio (length x width x height) of 30 x 5 x 3. According to ship-builders, this ratio represents an advanced knowledge of ship-building since it is the optimum design for stability in rough seas. The Ark, as designed by God, was virtually impossible to capsize! It would have to have been tilted over 90 degrees in order to capsize. The size in the Bible is given in cubits as being 300 cubits long (510′) by 50 cubits wide (85′) and 30 cubits high (51′). A cubit in the OT was generally about 17.5 inches. However, an Egyptian royal cubit measured about 20.5 inches. Since Moses was educated in Egypt we must allow for the possibility that the longer measurement was meant here. The Ark, therefore, could have measured from 437 feet to 512 feet in length! It was not until the late 19th century that a ship anywhere near this size was built.(taken from website: http://www.ldolphin.org/cisflood.html). The titanic was 883 ‘ long or 3 times this size.
  • Date of flood: Utilizing the genealogies in the Bible we know the flood was close to 4,400 years ago, roughly 1,650 years after the creation. Noah was 600 when the Flood came (Genesis 7:6). From Scripture we know the date of the start of the Flood (Genesis 7:11) and when they left the Ark (Genesis 8:14–15), so we know they were on the Ark for a little over a year. (taken from website: https://answersingenesis.org/noahs-ark/what-we-know-of-noah/).
  • Animals in the ark: a pair (male and female) of each “kind” of “unclean” animals, 7 pairs of every bird and 7 pairs of each “clean” animal.  “Clean” animals were used for eating and sacrifice. No fish were taken into the ark. (Genesis 7:2-3)
  • Noah’s family history: Methuselah, the oldest known man,  lived 969 years and was Noah’s grandfather. He died about 5 years before the flood. Lamech was his father and he also died shortly before the flood. (Genesis 5:26-32).
  • Noah had 3 sons: Shem, Ham and Japheth. (Genesis 5:32) and was 500 years old when they were born.
  • Noah’s age: at the time of the flood: Noah was 600 years old, 2 months and 17 days when the flood came. (Genesis 7:11).
  • Death of Noah: Noah live 350 years after the flood and died when he was 950 years old.
  • Length of rain/storm: 40 days and 40 nights.
  • Depth of flood: the highest mountain peaks in the world were covered by 15 cubits.
  • Construction of ark: had 1 door (which God closed) and a row of windows on top for light and ventilation. There was no steering mechanism as the ark just floated on the water and God directed where it would go and that it was to stop on the Mountains of Ararat. (Genesis 8:4)
  • Amount of water and food needed for twelve months: 322,400 gallons of water and 400 tons of various grains, seeds, nuts, preserved fruits, vegetables and possibly insects. The water could have been stored in storage vessels and cisterns. (Taken from info posted in the ark).
  • Size of animals: 85% were 22 lbs or under. 7% 22.1 lbs to 220 lbs. and 8% over 220 lbs. They probably took young stock of the larger animals. (Taken from info posted in the ark).
  • Cages needed: 22 extra large, 186 large, 293 medium, 308 bird, 174 small and 415 amphibian. (Taken from info posted in the ark).
  • Daily work requirements: With an eight person crew it would have taken 3 to do the cleaning, 1 to water, 1 to feed, 1 to deal with human food and special animal diets, .5 to shovel waste from pit to pump and 1.5 to do laundry, human waste removal, maintenance, animal care and miscellaneous. No one was allow to be lazy! (Taken from info posted in the ark).

 

Maui-2015

Aloha!

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This was our second trip to Maui, the first was in 1991.  This was a gathering of Purina dealers from all across the US who qualified with increased sales. We were one of the lucky ones to earn the trip. There were approximately 500 of us there. 0304152101 (2) We stayed at the Hyatt Regency Resort & Spa in Lahaina, on the west side of the island. Maui is the second largest of the Hawaiian Islands at 727.2 square miles. (46 miles long and 26 miles wide).  Lahaina was the capital of the islands until it was moved to Honolulu, Oahu.  The climate is tropical and hovers between 70-85 degrees year round. It is truly a lush, tropical paradise with colorful birds, flowers, palm trees and beaches.

Our view from our hotel room.

View from Hotel

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IMG_7455 IMG_7454 They have very fertile soil and grow coconut, macadamia nuts, cocoa, pineapple, coffee, tropical flowers, sugar cane and papaya.  The agriculture is dwindling due to high cost.  I am not sure if I remember what all our tour guide told us but even if I am wrong, you will get the picture. In years past they planted close to 150,000 acres of sugar cane. This is now down to 37,000 acres and within ten years they will plant their last crop and the land is being sold to a developer. They can import from other countries cheaper than they can grow, process and sell in their own markets. They are now growing only 1000 acres of pineapple. They have developed a sweeter pineapple than is grown anywhere else in the world but again it is no longer feasible to grown their own. IMG_7482

Sugar cane growing in the field.

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Aging sugar cane mill.

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Cocoa Pod

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Slimy cocoa beans inside the pod. It is a fascinating process they go through to make coco.

Maui is the leading whale-watching center in the Hawaiian Islands due to Humpback whales wintering in the sheltered ʻAuʻau Channel between the islands of Maui county.  Since this was prime season you could catch glimpses of spouts and whales flipping out of the waters. The whales migrate approximately 3,500 miles from Alaskan waters each autumn and spend the winter months mating and birthing in the warm waters off Maui, with most leaving by the end of April. The whales are typically sighted in pods: small groups of several adults, or groups of a mother, her calf, and a few suitors.

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I happened to have my camera focused on this boat when the whale rose out of the water.

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I never got a picture of a spout. By the time you saw them, it was too late to take a picture.

One of the fascinating attractions in Lahaina is the famous Banyan Tree, taking up a whole city block. It is the second largest of it’s kind in the world. The largest is in Egypt.  All the different trunks represent one tree.

The Tree

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A sampling of other pictures around the hotel.

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The island in the background is  Kahoʻolawe. It is known as the deserted island due to it’s lack of fresh water and wood.  After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States military used it as a training ground for the military and navy.  It is now owned by a billionaire and there is a beef ranch and a deserted leprosy colony. Before they had a cure for leprosy, persons contracting the dreaded disease were banished to this island to live out their days.

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Yes, they even had penguins.

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No place is complete without a pink flamingo!

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Their doves have a black and white checkered band around their necks.

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Tiki Lanterns

My love of tiki lanterns started when we were here in 1991.

Breakfast view

Their Polynesian culture and religion is part of the uniqueness of the island but it is so sad to see their worship of gods. Do you see the face in the waterfalls? (One of the ancient gods).  See the closer view below.

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A lot of their livelihood is based on tourism and water.  Some of the things you can do is whale-watch, snorkel, suba-dive, fish, take a submarine, sail, surf, kite-board, etc.

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I loved watching and listening to the waves crash onto shore. One day I went to the beach by our hotel and sat in the sand by these rocks and let the waves crash over me. It was so refreshing.

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I was going to sit on one of the rock and just as I was in the process of sitting I spied a “thing” that made me change my mind!  It was the same color as the rock-barely visible, and I don’t know if it was a spider or a crab. It looked like a spider body with crab legs. It was maybe 3-4 inches across. I am not sure what made me even see it but I was so grateful he did not end up inches from my down-sitter! I was wishing for my camera but I hadn’t taken it along to the beach.

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So there we are folks. I enjoyed sharing glimpses of our trip with you.

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To read about our submarine tour: “Just Like Me”.

Just Like Me

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On our recent trip to Maui, we took a very interesting submarine tour of the coral reefs.  At 125 feet below the surface there is a whole different world of God’s grand and glorious creation.

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As we peered through the port holes, we saw brightly colored schools of fish, an eel, several sharks, different kinds of coral plants and a submerged ship being used as a reef and habitat for fish.  The plants can only grow as deep as sunlight penetrates and small fish can only live where the coral plants grow.  When the sub moved off the reef, there was nothing but dark, murky ocean water.

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In the sub there were 47 molded seat indentations on the bench going the length of the submarine and they fill it to capacity-47 people.  You could not scoot down a few inches to give your seat mate additional space. So there I sat, squeezed in between “the man” and my husband, shoulders hunched with my arms pulled in towards my middle trying to make myself smaller. It was not a pleasant ride.   I kept glancing sideways at “the man” who was head and shoulders taller than me with his arms crossed, resting on his ballooning, well-endowed mid-section. I knew he was feeling the squeeze but I only felt sympathy for myself.  My cynical, critical mind critiqued him well!

Later I was thinking about this obese man and several others I encountered along the way.  There were people on our airplane that could hardly navigate the aisle much less fit into a seat. The thought suddenly hit me. They were just like me at one time.  Just like me!  I can not pride myself with thinness. The only thing I can smugly say is “I am not like them”.   I admit I  am “a little” overweight. I know it and am seriously, actively working on it.  But because I did not see myself  like them, I bestowed on myself the credentials to judge them. Hummmm.

The liar didn’t start out intending to lie and the murderer probably never dreamed he would kill. The prostitute was once pure and the list goes on. We choose, through a series of many decisions, to let ourselves become who we are; often unintentionally, often never imagining we will become who we are. Very few obese persons really desire to be overweight.  If we don’t stop our destructive habits before they get bad, they will control our lives. One lie does not make a person a habitual liar nor does 10 pounds make a person obese but it sure can put us on that path.

Usually I will strike up a conversation with a seat mate but this time I sat there miffed that I was the one who had to sit beside him and his equally oversized wife. I did not say one word to this fellow Purina dealer. The Apostle Paul said, “Those that compare themselves among themselves are not wise” (II Corinthians 10:12).   Jesus had some sobering words, “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you” (Matthew 7:1-2)

“Just like me” may not be the safest yardstick of measure.  Paul says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control”.  The yardstick needs to be against the truth of God’s Word.  “Against such there is no law”. (Galatians 6:22-23)

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 Other pictures of our Maui trip

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