Since we still had no reservations yesterday anywhere, and it was still raining, we decided to do that thing we had talked about when we were first planning this whole shindig- namely, staying at a hotel once a month for a night or two. I searched around the internet and the best deal I could find was at a Comfort Suites – so off we headed to the Comfort Suites yesterday afternoon! There was a sign on the front door as I walked in that said, “Breathing Room”, and while I believe it was a reference to their no smoking policy, that’s exactly what last night was for us – Breathing Room! I had a wonderful bath last night – something that hasn’t even been an option for the past month (don’t worry – I have taken showers!). The kids swam in their indoor pool, and I found out after I made the reservations that they had a complimentary full hot breakfast! It was enough to hold us all until dinner tonight (with just a small snack in between). The people there were SO nice. I would highly recommend the Comfort Suites in Exton, PA to anyone in this area! After we checked out we hung around in our camper in their parking lot doing math and laundry and then went to a Goodwill down the street. Somehow, in all the chaos leading up to our leaving, we lost practically every long pair of pants the boys owned, and Nicole had out-grown all of hers. So, we were able to get all the kids 1 or 2 pairs of long pants – what a blessing! Nathan has also out-grown his bicycle, and Nicholas’ bike frame was bent beyond repair when we had our last tire blow out (we guess the tire pieces flew up and dented both his bicycle and the back right corner piece of our camper)! So, we were hoping to get a new bike for Nathan at Goodwill and pass his down to Nicholas, but they only had 3 little kids’ bikes there. We will continue praying we find just the right one for him! We left for our campground and actually were able to hook up right before it turned dark – a first since we left exactly a month ago (although Nathan & Nicole are firmly convinced we arrived during light at another campground but have yet to produce any solid evidence, so my theory still stands!). We are bracing ourselves for tropical storm Nicole, but looking forward to a chilly, sunny weekend! Please continue praying the Lord gives us more direction regarding the ministry we know He has for us! Thank you SO much for your prayers!
Well, we didn't stay longer in DC - it's going to rain pretty much everywhere on the eastern seaboard for the next 2 days, so we decided to go ahead and pack it up and make our way to Pennsylvania. The trip was thankfully pretty uneventful, except right before we were leaving Maryland on I-95 we came upon a toll booth (on an interstate highway??) and they socked us for $23 saying we had 4 axles. Whenever we've gone through toll booths in our motor home (including an earlier one today in Maryland), even when towing a car, we've always been charged for 2 axles. We asked to speak to the supervisor, but there was no budging. As we drove away from there, we intermittently would look at each other and say, "Twenty-three dollars?"! Live and learn! One other noteworthy event is that we were driving down this hill and I noticed a semi-truck in the oncoming lane evidently passing another vehicle. I was a little nervous as he barrelled towards us, but also curious as to what type of vehicle would be going so slow that a semi-truck could pass uphill? Well, just as the semi pulled over into the correct lane I caught sight of the vehicle - it was a beautiful black carriage pulled by a horse! I guess we're in Amish country now. A few miles later I spotted a road sign of a horse drawn carriage I assume to warn motorists of that possibility. As Tim Hawkins would say, "Good advice, too late". :-) Even in the rain this state has taken my breath away with its beauty! Can't wait to see it under better weather conditions!
We're calling this our 'down week' with no solid plans right now - it feels very freeing to even say that since everything up to this point has felt so rushed and scheduled. We hope to make it Philadelphia and Hershey - we're landing kind of in between the two - but we don't have anything definite. So we said good bye to our last full hook up site for probably a while, and hello to....Walmart! Why pay for a muddy campsite we can't enjoy because it is raining? Besides, the good state of Maryland collected enough to pay for a campsite, so 'free' just makes sense for tonight. And this is the most level we have been yet! We had a lovely spaghetti dinner in our camper while the kids longingly stared out the window at the DQ just outside our back door (if we had a back door) no more than 500 feet from us! Here's a picture of it I took from our window:
So, while Tim was cleaning up from dinner, I gave in and took them all for a mini blizzard, which we all (except Noah) agreed was big enough to be a medium! I didn't order anything, but each of them gave me a taste of theirs - oh man are those good! I can see why DQ blizzards are my mom's favorite! We came back, got ready for bed, and I started reading aloud a book our friends near Charlotte, NC lent us called 'Ten P's in a Pod'. It's about a family of 10 who travelled around the country together back in the 1940's & 50's basically doing itinerate preaching. We were all laughing at and even identifying with some of the images portrayed in chapter 1 by the writer who was one of the 8 children. We're really looking forward to sharing this book together and hopefully learning a thing or two! Until next time - blessings to all!
Well, the friends we were with last night were kind enough to allow us to have the last month of our mail sent to them from our other kind friends in Florida so we could pick it up when we saw them. They showed us the package when we got there last night and set it right by the door and guess what we forgot? So, after a wonderful morning of little church (finally!!) Nicole and I jumped in the car and drove 30 minutes to pick up the package and hug our friends' necks again. I was considering going to Mt. Vernon, but the website said it cost $15 a person, so I opted for Arlington National Cemetary instead. The view from the Arlington house (Robert E Lee's former residence) is spectacular; the the changing of the guards was very moving. I didn't know Jacqueline Kennedy-Onasis was buried next to JFK on the right, and I didn't know they had a son who only lived 2 days the same year Kennedy was assassinated, who is buried on the left. But the real story lies with all the service men and women buried there - so many sacrifices for our freedom - I wish I could have known each of their stories. We left there and drove only a few minutes right into DC and back to the Museum of American History, where I got a parking space right in front of the entrance - check it out:
I'm telling you - we have been very blessed with our parking in DC. So, we only had about an hour before closing, so we went up to the 3rd floor since we never got up there when we were there a couple days ago, and the very first thing we came upon was...the ruby slippers!
We crossed to the other side of the 3rd floor, and the next thing we came upon was Lincoln's hat:
I commented to Nicole that she got the ruby slippers and I got the old hat - kind of appropriate. :-) It really was fascinating seeing many of Lincoln's items and learning about a whole conspiracy that resulted in the execution of several people (and pardoning of some). I think I could spend a month or more here absorbing all the amazing history and science and art. Maybe we'll stay one more day - not sure. Most likely we'll leave as scheduled tomorrow. Tonight is Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian movie night, though, so I'd better go and pop the popcorn! :-) Blessings to all.
Well, we had 4 of us wimp out on today, and just Noah & Tim went into the city and checked out the International Spy Museum. I was actually ready to go back in and see more of the Smithsonian, but the other 3 kids really needed a break, so we stayed at the campsite. I worked on where we're going next (still don't have that nailed down yet) and then did 7 loads of laundry. The only good thing about doing your laundry at a camp site is that you can be done with 7 loads of laundry in like an hour and a half! The big drawback is the expense - cha-ching! When Tim and Noah came back, we all left shortly thereafter to some friends' place, who invited us over for dinner. What a great time of food, fun, and fellowship we had. They have a 5 week old baby, and she is just precious!! I may try to talk a few of the kids into going back into DC with me tomorrow because we're supposed to leave here on Monday. We'll see what happens! :-)
Woohoo!! I understand the closing took like 3 hours (while we were touring the Smithsonian), but finally, the deed is done, thank You, Lord, and thank you all who prayed for us! I felt very mixed when our power of attorney called us to let us know it was done - I loved that home very much. But I'm still very content knowing we are exactly where we are supposed to be.
We only made it to 1/2 of 1 of the Smithsonian museums and a fraction of another one. We saw the Hope Diamond at the Natural History one, and then we spent the rest of the day until closing at the American History museum and we still didn't see the ruby slippers, or Lincoln's hat or many other things! We did get to see Washington's sword and the windsurfing exhibit, however, and I have a picture of Nicole's attempt to master the sport below (she actually did very well!):
We also were able to bring our lunch in, and enjoyed a nice lunch at one of the cafeteria tables in wonderful air conditioning instead of eating lunch in our car - that was a real treat! By the way - I forgot to mention that there's a statue of a guy in Statuary Hall in the Capitol building who represents Florida. I had never heard of the guy and was a little indignant when I heard such an obscure person was representing our fair state - until I heard what his accomplishment was. First, a picture of him that I forgot to upload on day 2 when we were there:
Now - his name was John Gorrie and did you give up on what he did? Well, I'll tell you - he invented air conditioning!! Isn't that awesome?! When I heard that I not only felt it was very appropriate he got a statue to represent our state, but I also wanted to kiss his little statue feet! :-)
Anyway, back at the museum, they basically had to kick us out at 5:30pm when they close (why so early?? argh!), so Tim and the kids had fun playing some football and soccer on the mall while I talked to our power of attorney about the closing. Then we drove over to the Jefferson Memorial at dusk (got a little lost along the way) and by the time we were done there it was after 8:30pm! Tim and a couple of the kids were starving, so we started heading home and praying for a cheap place to find dinner. We noticed an organic food market, so we stopped there and bought wonderful healthy meals for all of us AND some food supplies for the camper for around $60 (that's cheap for Washington)!! Only 1 drawback - no tables - we had to eat it in our car!! The people there were SO nice, though - it was called Yes! Organic Food Market and it is a chain we will be on the lookout for from now on! Well, that's the full report for today. Not exactly sure what's on the agenda for tomorrow, but will keep you posted!
Yeah - that's us - at the White House. Another great day in DC yesterday! We left the camper about 11:30am and drove straight to the Washington Monument and obtained tickets for a 4pm ride to the top. We then parked right near the Bureau of Engragiving and Printing and walked right into the start of a tour where we saw thousands of dollars being printed before our eyes during their tour. We hopped back into our car and ate our packed lunch on the way to the Supreme Court where we had a scheduled 2pm tour. I had a few things I wanted to talk to the justices about, but they don't convene again until October 4th. So we had to settle on just the tour and milling about their photo gallery, which was still very interesting. :-) And then, it was off to the Washington Monument and the breathtaking view at the top! A short stroll later we were at the front of the white house lawn with a group of Chinese tourists who offered to snap the picture you see here. We have to do the grocery store thing every 3 - 4 days since our refrigerator is so small, so it was off to the grocery store and why not make it another DiGiorno pizza night while we're at it?! Yes, a very nice day was had by all. :-) Today we're finally going to make it to the Smithsonian, Lord willing! Good thing we'll be inside - it's supposed to be 96 degrees here today!
I read Psalm 84 this morning and this verse struck me:
5 Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage.
Kind of appropriate, don't you think?
Update on our closing. Bank of America is supposed to have the paperwork to the title company this morning so that the closing can be this afternoon. The title company has 13 closings today and we're supposed to be the last ones. Please be praying everything works together so the closing can be today!
Yesterday was another nice day in DC! We took a wonderful tour of the Capitol with our congressman's aide - just the 6 of us and her - she did a GREAT job! Here's a picture of us standing in the dead center of the Capitol building which is the very center of the city. We then had lunch just outside the capitol with our friend who lives in Fredricksburg and works in DC. And then we toured the Library of Congress. It is by far the most ornate building we've seen yet. The exhibits were fantastic, including a section of Jefferson's personal library - wow! How did the guy have time to read all that stuff? We had another encounter with believers, this time in the Library of Congress. We saw some people praying in this hallway not open to the public, so when they finished and walked towards us Tim said something about it was nice to see prayer hasn't been outlawed (or something to that effect). The man was very friendly and took the time to talk with us and his aide took a picture of us with him that she is going to email to us. He is a congressman from Texas, and his name is Louie Gohmert. Very nice gentleman. We came home and finally had time to set up our camper (before this we had just plugged in the eletricity). Tim hooked up the water and sewer and I did 3 loads of laundry. This morning we all had our quiet times, took showers and are heading in shortly for a tour of the Supreme Court and hopefully the Bureau of Engraving and maybe the Washington Monument. As Tigger says, TTFA (ta-ta for now!).
We made it!! We had all this advice to NOT drive in DC - take the Metro. But the Metro for all 6 of us was going to cost us around $30 a day! So we had some friends of ours give us all these good tips since they had just been here earlier this year, and today we took the plunge and drove in. We couldn't figure out what all the fuss was about - we think Tampa traffic is just as bad if not worse! It only cost us $3 to park today for our Pentagon tour, and everywhere else we parked was free. We had a really great day - the weather couldn't have been more perfect. Here are a few pictures - hope you enjoy!
This is the only place they'll let you take pictures when you are at the Pentagon. Nicholas was pretending to be really serious as he leaned into the podium and briefed the crowd on the latest crisis - what a goof!
We met a really nice family from Georgia who asked us to take their picture, and then they took ours. Their school district started really early - the first week in August, but they're getting a week off this week and another in February - so they're taking full advantage of it!
I think Nicole and I aren't even as tall as Lincoln's legs from the knees down! This monument is huge!
We brought our lunch and ate it in our car in the parking garage near the Pentagon - sorry - we didn't take pictures of that exciting event. :-) So we decided to splurge for dinner and 3 of us got Subways and 3 others got Burger King and then ate our dinners on park benches in a park with a statue of Farragut - a famous Civil War hero. If you look behind and to the right of Nathan and Nicole in the picture above you can see a circle of people singing that we noticed after we sat down. Upon further investigation, they were singing Chrisitian songs so we joined in with them. It turns out they were part of a nationwide 40 days of prayer for the unborn, and they were from all different denominations. Since we missed going to church on Sunday, we felt we had church right there in the park. It was pretty cool.
We took other people's advice and stayed until it was dark to see the monuments lit up. We were not disappointed. Does this picture we snapped of the Washington Monument look like a post card or what?! It's not - I took that with Tim's phone. Tomorrow is The Capital Tour and The Library of Congress - can't wait!
Thank you so much for your prayers! We had no flat tires and no major issues, thank You, Lord! The only problem is that we got caught in what my parents call the 'might as wells'. We left at 11:15, which was 2 hours later than we wanted, but would still put us in DC probably around 5pm. We stopped in Fredricksburg to see some friends we had met while we were in Switerzerland, and that's when the 'might as wells' started. After lunch with them, we knew we were near a Walmart, so we might as well stock up on some food. They sell tires, so we might as well get our spare replaced for our tow dolly. Since we saw a Verizon store we might as well replace Tim's phone's car dock that has only worked intermittently. Since there was a healthfood store nearby we might as well get our beloved Vegenaise. Since Tim was replacing the spare tire with the new tire, I might as well make dinner (once again, in a Walmart parking lot - only this time it was Spaghetti - not pizza!). Since Tim noticed the pin out of the tow dolly we might as well go to a Tractor Supply store nearby and get a replacement. While we were there, Tim might as well go to the Auto Parts store in the same strip mall to get some replacement fuses for the ones that blew out for our running lights when we had the flat tire. And since there was a laundry mat in that same strip mall, I might as well dry the clothes we had washed this morning but didn't have time to dry. All those 'might as wells' turned a 1 hour stop into a 7 hour stop! Needless to say, we didn't make it to our campsite until after 11pm!! We have YET to make it to the next stop in daylight! But I can't tell you how grateful I am that we didn't have any major issues - so thank you for your prayers!! Now I know to ask for prayers against the 'might as wells' next time! :-)
The last 2 days have been major art and history lessons - my head is swimming! Just in time for us to head off tomorrow for Washington, DC - I'm sure we'll get to rest our brains, there, right? I mean, most politicians check their brains at the door there, too, don't they? JUST KIDDING! And there's no history (Smithsonian) or Science (Smithsonian) or Art (Smithsonian) to be had there at all! Well, at least tomorrow is a travel day (although those haven't been working out too well since we left). So, I solicit the prayers of our friends and families for a travel day without any major incidents! And while you're in the praying mood, please be praying for direction for the ministries God has prepared in advance for us to do (Eph 2:10). Oh, and one more thing (I know - now I"m getting greedy!). Our house was supposed to close this past Wednesday but a certain bank (who shall remain nameless but goes by the initials Bank Of America) has been dragging their feet. (Yes, I meant to spell it out - it's a joke, son, you're s'posed to laugh). Our power of attorney and the buyers all signed an extension so we can close next week, but the Title Company still doesn't have all they need from BOA to proceed with the closing. So PLEASE PRAY that BOA will step up to the plate and give the Title company the paperwork they need so we can DO THIS THING! Thank you so much for your prayers. I was reflecting tonight on how thankful I am to have prayer warriors out there - it is SO comforting to know! Blessings to all!
Tim & Jodie