California Dreamin and Northward Bound

It’s been a long time since we’ve put anything on the Blog!  This is Jo, btw…..We’ve been relaxing and loving every minute of this awesome time together!  After an amazing time in Gilbert, AZ, we headed to Anaheim, CA.  We spent 4 days in Disneyland and/or California Adventure. And we played HARD!!  We went on almost every ride, saw a bunch of shows and enjoyed tons of parades!  The weather was perfect!  Let me tell you that I totally felt my age at Disney!  We walked around 42 miles according to Dennis’ Fitbit!  Our feet hurt by the end of the day!

We were blessed at the beginning of the Anaheim trip with a surprise at the restaurant in Downtown Disney.  Some random strangers paid our bill!  Wow!!  Such a humbling experience!!

The girls had a blast!!  They LOVED all the roller coasters and went on as much as they could!  The highlight for me and Dennis was watching the wonder in the girls’ eyes as they saw characters and simply enjoyed the rides and shows.  They are such good girls – so polite and kind!  Can you tell we are proud?  I think the best part for me was seeing Lydia meet her favourite character, Sofia the First.  She was mesmerized!  She actually cried tears of joy after seeing her!!  It was so sweet!!

We are now chilling out in our little 580 square foot beach cabin in Santa Cruz.  Once again, we’ve been fortunate to have amazing weather!  We spent the day at the beach and on the Boardwalk.  We walked, played, watched the seals, dolphins and birds.  The girls just loved playing for hours in the sand. We ended our day with a gorgeous sunset.

Tomorrow we leave for our 11-hour drive to Portland.  We decided to drive straight through instead of taking 2 days to do this.  We are anxious to see family and enjoy the week with them.  It will be the first Thanksgiving we will spend with my mom and my sisters/brothers-in-law since we moved to Alberta 16 years ago!!  Really looking forward to this time together as well as devouring my mom’s famous potato salad!!  We will also be able to spend time with Dennis’ sister, her husband and our niece and other family members.

After the week is over we will be heading back to reality in Alberta.  It’s been an awesome trip and while I’m sad it is coming to a close, I am SO excited to see our older kids!!  We’ve missed them!!

Thanks yet again for the prayers and thoughts along this journey with us.  We feel rested and relaxed and renewed.  We are also feeling prepared to get back to work and real life! God has been speaking to us both along the way!

Much love to all of you!!  Jo

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32 Days, 17 States, 11 Homes and 10621Kms/6600 Miles Later

Sorry that it has been so long since we have updated the blog.  As you can tell from the title of this post we have covered a lot of ground so far on this trip.

Since we last left you we have been to Atlanta, Pensacola Beach, New Orleans, San Antonio and now are spending 2 weeks in Phoenix.  Let me catch you up on a bit of the highlights of the last week and a half or so.

Atlanta:  In Atlanta we rented a converted 3 story loft in the historical Martin Luther King, Jr District, just blocks from Ebenezer Baptist Church, the Church that MLK preached his first sermon in and served for many years.  Our full day spent in Atlanta was spent at the World of Coke and The Atlanta Botanical Garden.

The World of Coke was awesome to see the history of the widest known brand in the world and to hear of its history.  Joanne and I have been there before, but the girls loved it.  They especially enjoyed the tasting room where you can taste all the drinks Coke makes anywhere in the world.

The Botanical Garden was amazing and very relaxing.  Thank you Keisha, the friend that we made in Raleigh for the amazing blessing of the free tickets to the garden.  It was a beautiful setting in the middle of Atlanta.

For a break between The World of Coke and the Botanical Garden, we enjoyed an amazing lunch at the Varsity Drive-In.  This hot dog and hamburger drive-in is an Atlanta landmark and a place that my dad took me when I was a boy whenever we would go to see the Atlanta Braves play.

Pensacola Beach was not originally on our route, but when Joanne realized it was so close to our route and that if we went she could say she had been to Florida our plans changed.  We enjoyed a beautiful afternoon of sitting on the beautiful white sand beach of Pensacola Beach.

New Orleans:  In New Orleans we stayed in a very quaint two bedroom upstairs apartment of a quad-plex just a short street car ride from The French Quarter.  Our full day in New Orleans started with a ride on the streetcar to the French Quarter and beignets at Café du Monde.  These were fried french donuts covered in a mountain of powdered sugar (icing sugar for the Canadians in the crowd).  The coffee was wonderful there as well.  We then took a very hot and humid walk through the French Quarter.

One highlight was the nice gentleman that grabbed me on the street and asked if Lydia was my daughter. When I said she was, he said “She is Ethiopian?” very exuberantly.  I responded with “Yes!”  He then said “I am Ethiopian!”  He was so excited to see her.  He showed us the two stores he owned and gave his blessing as we continued on our way.

We were not sure what to do in New Orleans as we found it to not be the most kid friendly town.  So we decided to take the “tourist route” and went on a Cajun Encounter Swamp Tour.  We actually enjoyed it greatly.

San Antonio:  We loved our brief stay in San Antonio.  We got to our hotel around 7:30.  After checking in, we walked the block from our hotel to the River Walk and found an amazing Mexican restaurant for supper.  We then headed back to the hotel for a good night sleep.

At two in the morning both of our cell phones beeped with a flash flood advisory for the San Antonio area.  I groaned and rolled over to go back to sleep.   Joanne spent the next hour searching the internet for what to do.  I figured we were on the second floor of a 12 story building, if the water got to us we would just keep going up until we were dry.

We awoke the next day to find out that there was some flash flooding in the area and that a number of people had lost their lives, but honestly you would never be aware of that from the downtown area.

We had breakfast at the hotel and then took a short walk to the Alamo.  We took a quick tour of the monument and then listened as a very nice man told us the history of the Alamo.  It was very interesting and amazing to think what happened many years before in the spot we were sitting.

After the Alamo we went to the River Walk again and took an hour gondola  ride as we heard the history of the River Walk and San Antonio.  As it was Halloween, our guide was dressed as Michael Jackson and would strike a pose for anyone that would look his way.   We headed back to the hotel in the mid-afternoon and a quick swim in the 10′ by 12′ pool, or was it just a large bathtub?

We headed to bed early as we knew that we had a long drive the next day as we headed to Phoenix.

Phoenix:  On Sunday we headed from San Antonio to Phoenix.  This was to be the longest day’s drive of our whole trip.  The first direction on my GPS was to go 950 miles on I-10 West and then turn to head to Gibert.  A little over a thousand miles later we pulled into the home we have been blessed with here at 9:30 pm.  I was toast.

We have been blessed with the use of a home owned by Martin and Jeannine Kaup, the parents of our Son-in-Law Isaac.  It is a beautiful and peaceful place with a backyard pool for us to enjoy.  We will be here for two weeks before heading to California and then up the coast to spend time with family in Portland for Thanksgiving.

We have enjoyed the nice weather of Phoenix though the locals are acting like it is cold.  We have also enjoyed the relaxed pace.  Today we went to the Arizona State Fair.  It was nice but not quite as big a shindig as the North Carolina State Fair of a few weeks ago.

Today we also went to “My Mystery Castle” in Phoenix.  This home has an amazing history and was built by Boyce Gulley (must be a long lost relative.)  If you ever get to Phoenix and have not done this tour, you need to do it.  It is cheap and very interesting.

We have been so blessed to have this time to be together, to travel and see such great things, to rest, to seek God’s face and to refresh ourselves for the next phase of family and ministry life.  I am very excited that I feel God’s leading in my life and through a renewed energy for the vision God has for my life and my ministry at Leduc Fellowship.  I wait to hear more as I seek His face!

We will not be posting for the next week or so, just because we will not have much to report.  If you are interested please check back around November 15th!

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