Family, Fun and Food in Raleigh

Hello everyone – Joanne here!  We are having a wonderful time here in Raleigh…so much fun that we haven’t had time to post anything on the blog!  So I’m going to attempt to wrap up the last week in a few paragraphs.

Birthdays:  Margaret and Dennis both had birthdays this past week.  We had a great time celebrating Margaret with a bunch of her friends and then Dennis and I went out with Rob and Margaret to celebrate his birthday.  Both times, the kids enjoyed cousin time at home!

State Fair:  We had a blast at the NC State Fair!  Many rides and lots of greasy, fried foods!!  Growing up with State Fairs, Dennis and I enjoyed watching the girls soak it all in!

Beach:  Dennis and the girls and I went to Wrightsville Beach and Wilmington.  We were lucky to have gorgeous weather and just play in the sand, collect shells, and of course, shop a bit!  Abby was excited to see and touch the Atlantic Ocean!

University Campuses:  We had the chance to visit some Universities in the area:  UNC-Chapel Hill, Meredith College, and NC State.  It was extra special to Dennis as his dad (along with many other family members) are UNC Alumni and his mom went to Meredith.  The huge trees and old buildings were incredible.  And Lydia enjoyed her new found love of collecting acorns and chasing squirrels!!

Pullen Park:  This park was nothing short of amazing!  It had a huge playground, kiddie boats, a pond to feed geese, fish and turtles, a carousel, a train and Dennis’ favourite – a statue of Andy Griffith and Opie!  It was fun for the girls to play and Dennis and I caught up on a little reading.  Lydia met a friend and soon we were introduced to her mother and grandmother.  Emma, Keira, and Keisha were a joy to visit with and we feel so blessed to have met them.  Keisha chased after us when we were leaving to give us 4 tickets to the Atlanta Botanical Gardens!  Such kindness!  We continue to enjoy the people we are meeting along this amazing journey!

Church:  We attended 2 churches while here.  We went to Trinity Baptist Church with Margaret and Connor last week.  What a gorgeous church!  It was much more traditional than I’m used to but it brought back many memories of church growing up.  I loved the choir, hand bell choir and the pastor’s sermon very much.  I had to laugh when we left as we told the greeter we were from Canada and she said, “Oh!  Do you know the Wyatts?”  I’ve always heard that joke, but it was hilarious to experience it!!    Today Dennis, Abby and I went to Summit Church in Raleigh.  This was closer to what we experience at LFC, though it was much larger.  We really enjoyed this church as well.  It was nice for Dennis as he wanted to hear JD Greear speak and we were lucky enough to hear him today.

Food:  Oh My Goodness!!  We have been in food heaven since we have arrived here!  Southern BBQ, Mac & Cheese, Fried Okra, Hush Puppies, Sweet Tea, Fried Chicken, Grits….the list goes on and on.  We have experienced a lot of different restaurants as well – many of Dennis’ favourites growing up as well as many new ones!  Let’s just say while we’ve loved it ALL, we will be eating salad for the next week or so!!

Family:  While we’ve done a lot of fun stuff while we’ve been here, the best has been the time spent with family!  Rob and Margaret have been so gracious to let us stay in their home and have made us feel so welcomed here.  We’ve spent a lot of time together talking and laughing and truly loving the chance to catch up and get to know each other better.  Connor has been awesome and has been so great with the girls!  He took us creek walking, built us bonfires, played with the kids at the Life and Science Museum, carved pumpkins with us and played many games at the house with the girls.  Jax was able to come home from East Carolina University for the weekend so that was great!  We didn’t get to spend much time together, but the time we did get was fun.  Let’s just say the next Gulley Family reunion with the WHOLE family is already in the works!!

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Spending a Day in the Past

Today we spent most of the day in Clayton, N.C.  Clayton is the town that was home to the Gulleys for nearly two centuries.  While the city is growing, there were many things that I remembered as they were in my childhood.

I was blessed to have the director of the Library open up the archives to give me some information and to help me fill in a few holes on our family tree.

It was a great day of memories for me to share with my wife and girls.

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Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Sorry we have not posted in a few days.  We were a bit “off the grid” during our stay in Gatlinburg.  We were blessed by our time in the “Ole Creek Cabin” just outside of Gatlinburg.

We, along with most of the south, decided that fall would be a beautiful season to be in the Smoky Mountains.  We forgot that we were going to the mountains on the Columbus Day Long Weekend, in a season when everyone wants to see the fall colours.  It was very crowded in town, but the cabin was a bit more secluded and quiet.  The summer has been a bit longer this year, so the colours were not as plentiful as we had hoped.

We were able to enjoy some hiking in the Smokies and to have a chance to go zip-lining in the mountains.  We also enjoyed some rest and relaxation, reading and playing in the creek.

We left yesterday and headed toward Raleigh, North Carolina.  This is my (Dennis) ancestral home.  We will be staying here for two weeks with Margaret, my one cousin on my father’s side of the family.  We have already enjoyed Margaret and her husband Rob and their son Connor.  Margaret and I have been telling old family stories and catching up on our family tree.

Many great times ahead in the days to come here!

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A Day of Great Memories

This is Dennis.  Today was a day of great memories and connecting with old friends.  We are in Nashville and this is the city of my birth and the place I lived for the first five years of my life.

We started our day with a drive around our old neighbourhood, and the site of our first home here.  The duplex is long gone, but the neighbourhood is very much the same.  We also went by Woodmont Baptist church, the church we attended while we lived here.

After the quick tour we picked up my good friend Lynne, who is really my second sister.  I have known Lynne and her family my whole life.  We met Lynne’s mother, Jean Brantley at The Loveless Cafe for lunch.  The wonderful food made the 2-hour wait worth ever minute.

Mr and Mrs Brantley were my parents’ best friends for most of their adult lives.  True friendship is a gift from God.  Mrs Brantley was telling Joanne that she has known me from the day I was born.  It was so good seeing her!  She is a very lovely woman and very dear to me. Seeing her was my only goal while here.  It was great to be encouraged by her and her love for my family through the years.

Tomorrow we go by our home in Knoxville and then off to our cabin in the Great Smoky Mountains.  I cannot wait for the wonderful fall colours!

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Chicago Day 2

Hi, this is Abby! To start the day off, we got ready for the train. We were on our way to the Shedd Aquarium. Once we got in, we went to an amazing aquatic show! They showed Beluga Whales, Dolphins and a Sea Lion. It was amazing how beautiful and well trained they are. Later, we went to a Stingray touch. They were surprisingly smooth and velvety! After we finished we went to see different amazing water creatures that reminded me that God is so amazing and creative. God made all of those sea creatures. Once we were done the aquarium, we went on a walk to a park then to the big Bean. Then we went to the American Girl Doll store and got a couple of outfits. Finally, we went to dinner for pizza! It was delicious! Then we came back to the house.

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Minneapolis and Chicago

We feel so blessed to be on this trip.  God is blessing us in so many ways.  He is giving us rest, he is also allowing us great times of recreation, which truly does allow us to (re)create our hearts and minds.

We were able to spend a great day in Minneapolis on Monday and learned to quickly love that city.  What a beautiful place.  We spent an hour and a half trying to find the Mary Tyler Moore statue downtown for Hannah, only to find that it has been removed while the city remodels the street/mall it was in.  Oh well, we got a good picture of the spot where it was.

Then we spent some time at the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory.  It was a very relaxed and beautiful place.  It had lots of green space for Lydia to do cartwheels!

We then went to The Mall of America and the American Girl Store.  We must say, we like that mall better than the West Edmonton Mall.  Sorry Edmonton friends.

After the mall we searched out the house in the opening credits of the Mary Tyler Moore Show (once again for Hannah).  It was a beautiful home and in a beautiful neighbourhood.  The house is for sale at a reduced price of 1.95 Million.  We might go back and make an offer.

Then the day ended with a lot of football tossing in the park and a walk around the lake.

We drove to Chicago yesterday and checked in our condo here.  It is very nice with a beautiful view of the Chicago skyline.  Then we walked 5 minutes to the United Center for a Bulls preseason game.  Abby really had a great time, not so sure about Lydia.

Today we are off to the Windy City for the Aquarium and some good deep-dish pizza!  The adventure of the transit system begins.

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More Dear Friends and An Old House

Last evening we arrived in Winnipeg to spend the night with Jill and Kevin Schular and their two beautiful children, Kai and Ava.  It was a great evening catching up with them now that they have settled in their new digs in Winnipeg.

This morning Dennis and Kevin went for an early breakfast and the early service at Kevin and Jill’s new church, Whyte Ridge Baptist Church.  Joanne and the girls hung out with Jill and the kids before they left for the second service.

Dennis enjoyed seeing the location of Kevin’s new ministry and he really enjoyed the worship service there.

We then headed south toward Minneapolis.  We arrived at our home for the next few days around 8:00 pm and were warmly greeted by our hosts who live on the upper floors of our rental home.  The home, built in 1886, is in a beautiful historical district of uptown Minneapolis.

Time for bed now and then off to the zoo tomorrow and to visit the home that was featured as the outside of Mary Richards home on the 1970s “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” This is for Hannah who is the biggest Mary Tyler Moore fan ever.  Hope to have some great pictures of this beautiful city tomorrow.

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Day One-Time with Old Friends.

We made it safely to Saskatoon tonight after stoping in Wainwright for lunch with our good friends the Richardsons. It was a great time of fellowship and laughter as always. 

Tonight we had a great dinner with our friends Curtis, Lynn and Gabrielle in Saskatoon. Curtis is an amazing chef. We met these dear people nine years ago as we traveled to China together to adopt Abby and Gabrielle. Always great to see how these beautiful girls have grown and matured. 

Tomorrow morning we are off to Winnipeg for an evening with Kevin and Jill Schular and kids!  


Ready to Roll

Van is washed and fueled up. Oil has been changed. Stuff is getting packed. GPS is set. Tomorrow we set off for our grand 2 month road trip.

We are appreciative to our LFC family for this gift and we look forward to what God will teach us during this season.

The trip computer is set at 0 now, we look forward to seeing 7500 miles or 12,000 kilometers on it when we hit home in late November.