Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Adventures of "O", "Oh, No", "Snow", "Let it Go" and "Fort Monroe"

Saturday, February 28

This past week started off with some changes and we all know that I am not a huge fan of change....Our friends, Elder and Sister Wilson from Boise, Idaho, will be leaving to go back home on Monday, March 2nd, so the Mission President asked one of the other couples serving here to come take their place in the office.  The new couple, Elder and Sister Shaw, are from Linden, Utah and are very nice....and catching on very quickly!   They started training with the Wilsons on Monday and I think they have it down pretty well.   I sure am glad they will be there to help us in the office but I will really miss the Wilsons.   They took us under their wing when we first arrived and have been great to help us learn the ropes of what we are supposed to be doing.   Those of us who work in the office wanted to have a going away dinner for them and it was planned for Tuesday evening.  The mission secretary lives in the area so she agreed to make most of dinner and I was going to take an Angel Food Cake with creamy chocolate frosting.   I left the office about 4 to go to the apartment (2.5 miles away) and frost the cake.   I was planning to meet everyone back at the office about 4:30 and we would all go to Sister Stoecker's house together.  Almost immediately after I pulled onto the main road, I could tell something wasn't quite took me 30 minutes to go 3 blocks and when I got to the last intersection before the bridge that crosses the James River, the policemen were turning everyone back.  It had been snowing a little that afternoon and there was an accident on the bridge so they closed it down....Well, I had no choice but to turn around, stop at a grocery store to buy a cake and head back to the office.   Just as I got there, Sister Stoecker called and said we needed to cancel dinner because the roads were just terrible!  OK - still not a big deal - we'll just eat leftovers for dinner.   At 5:05 we left the office for home but we couldn't got the way we normally do because the bridge was closed and we had to take a little longer way in order to find another bridge to get over the water.   The longer way was about 13 miles instead of 2.5 and because of the streets that were like glass it took us a full hour to get home.   Oh, no!   Sometimes the best laid plans must bow to mother nature ;-)As we drove to the office on Wednesday morning, I commented to Elder Ashton that I felt like I was part of "Frozen" and should change my name to Elsa because all the snow that fell on Tuesday evening looked like it was embedded with crystals - especially if the sun hit it just right.

It stopped snowing and we didn't get any more snow on Wednesday, but the prediction was that we would get 5 - 8 inches that night.   I had been trying to get by without any boots but finally decided to cave and see if I could find some.   I think I waited almost too long because the only thing I could find that would fit my feet and had zippers in them so they would go over my high instep were the fashionable boots seen below.

I told Elder Ashton I felt like I was ready to march into combat....but at least they kept my feet relatively dry.   As I looked down at them I thought of a time in the early nineties when it was a fad for girls to wear "combat" boots aka Doc Martens.   I bit my tongue quite a bit about those shoes and now I feel like I am wearing them ;-)

When I got up on Thursday morning, I was glad I had purchased the boots because the predicted 5-8 inches of snow did fall.  And, I decided I would do my "Frozen" act for you, sans the music :)  By the way, I think Elder Ashton thought I had lost my mind when I asked him to take my picture pantomiming that song.  Soooooo, even though I don't look or sound like Elsa, here's my weak attempt.

I like this part of the lyrics.....even though it may be a little fib to say "the cold never bothered my anyway" ;-)

Let it go, let it go
I am one with the wind and sky
Let it go, let it go
You'll never see me cry!

Here I stand
And here I'll stay
Let the storm rage on!

My power flurries through the air into the ground
My soul is spiraling in frozen fractals all around
And one thought crystallizes like an icy blast
I'm never going back,
The past is in the past!

Let it go, let it go

And I'll rise like the break of dawn
Let it go, let it go
That perfect girl is gone!

Here I stand
In the light of day
Let the storm rage on,
The cold never bothered me anyway!

I had signed up to feed the Elders on Thursday night and they were grounded from driving because of the icy streets.   Elder Ashton brought me home to work on cooking dinner and then he went and picked the Elders up.   I made Cheeseburger Soup (for the first time because I had heard some of my kids and grandkids really like that and thought maybe the Elders would like it to - they did!), rolls and still had the unfrosted Angel Food Cake so I frosted it with lemon frosting just like Elder Ashton likes it.   I think the Elders got full and we had some soup left over so I had Elder Ashton take it to our back neighbor who I have been trying to befriend.   She is divorced and struggles with depression so I try to be extra nice to her.    It wasn't an hour later that she called on the phone telling me how good the soup was and asking for the recipe.   I've tried to talk to her a little about the church but she isn't interested so we will just continue to be her friend and watch out for her.   Elder Ashton was putting some air in the tires on his truck last night when we got home and the neighbor and her daughter were out there with a dead battery so he gave their car a jump. It is nice that we can help our neighbors in some small way!

Despite the snow, cold and ice, we made a trip to Norfolk on Friday morning to have a little growth biopsied from the end of my nose.   I told one of the gals in the office that I was going to look like Rudolph and she told me I was too late for that, but with all the snow and fog we have been having I think I'm right on time.   As we were driving I couldn't help but notice the beautiful "snow trees" -----they were all along the residential streets.   So pretty!

I was also taken with the colorful row houses as we left Norfolk and headed back to Portsmouth and we were so busy looking at them that we missed the turn and had to go around in a big circle to make it back to the right road :)

As you can see, the cold temperatures are keeping the snow around.....not much melting going on!

When we got the chores finished today, I told Elder Ashton I would like to drive over to Fort Monroe (about 30 miles away) even though it was bitter cold outside.   There were some things there I wanted to see and I thought we would be inside most of the time.   So, we set off for the area - near Hampton.   

Before we came to Fort Monroe, we came to the entrance of Hampton University where the Emancipation Oak stands.......I only saw it as we drove by, but it seemed huge and has a story that relates to Fort Monroe so I wanted you to see this picture of it that I found on the web.

We drove a couple of miles farther and reached the Fort......I was not expecting what we found!  This fort was completed in 1834 and although most of Virginia joined with the confederacy during the Civil War, Fort Monroe remained in Union hands.
You can see that Fort Monroe is sometimes referred to as Freedom's Fortress.....and I was really surprised to see that it has a moat(note the water and the sign that says Moat Walk).....I didn't know there were any of those in the US.

There were many red brick buildings with white trim in the area......all looked quite old.   The fort has been decommissioned and no longer houses military operations or military families but it looked like many of the brick buildings had people/families living in them.  I like the wrap around porches on these buildings and the flags flying on the front porches.

One of the cannon used at the fort at some time in it's history.   I didn't have my "combat" boots on so I didn't want to tramp through the snow to read the placard that would give details.

A view of the bridge over the moat and the only way into or out of the Fort.  Note the huge stones used in construction of the Fort and the narrow opening......the big white GMC didn't have much room to spare going through that opening!

Another of the beautiful red brick buildings with white trim.

St. Mary's Catholic Church - looked very well-kept and is in use today because the schedule for mass was posted on a sign.

This building inside the fortification is identified as the quarters of Robert E. Lee and indicates that his first child was born there.  Across the narrow street I am standing in while I take this picture are the outer walls of the fortification and some of it has been turned into the CaseMate Museum.

Note the GIANT icicle coming down from the drain was frigid cold outside!

Another icicle and a placard indicating this is where Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy was incarcerated for two years following the civil war.

An outside walkway just before entering the Museum.....note the stones and brickwork and all the archways.

Inside the Museum.....again lots of brick and stonework and low archways.   I learned that the large number of archways used in the construction were to help stabilize the fort which was built on mostly sand.   They would use an archway above and then an inverted arch in the same place into the ground to help stabilize the building.

This is the room/cell where Jefferson Davis was held.   You may see leg irons on the bed.   The placards indicated that there are several stories about them trying to place Jefferson Davis in those leg irons but they conflict - however he indicated that he was placed in leg irons and he felt it was a huge disgrace to him.

This would have been a typical room that a military family would have lived in at the Fort.

As I indicated earlier, this Fort stayed in Union hands throughout the civil war.   In 1861 or 1862 (I can't remember which) 3 run-away slaves showed up at the Fort.   Their owner came and indicated they were his personal property and that he expected to have them returned to him.   The chief officer at the Fort at that time (I think his name was General Bernard) informed the owner that since Virginia (where the owner lived) had seceded from the union, the slaves were contraband of war and would not be returned to him.   Word of that spread and soon many run away slaves showed up at the fort.   Some of them trained and joined the union army and fought in some of the battles.   Following the war, the freed black people stayed in the area enjoying their freedom and attempting to get an education to enhance their freedom.   Some of the first classes were held under the sprawling oak on what is now Hampton University campus.   Can you imagine sitting under this tree and beginning to learn and gain an education that had been denied to you? What a great thing for those people!   It was under that same oak that the Emancipation Proclamation was read for the first time in the South in 1863.

The days and weeks are flying by and we are busy, healthy and happy.   We have been gone from Arizona for 4 months and I saw some pictures on FB of the Phoenix Marathon today---  sure made me miss that warm weather!


  1. I bet it did make you miss the warm weather! All through reading this post, I was saying to myself, "I'm glad I live in Arizona, I'm glad I live in Arizona!" My week in Michigan last week gave me PLENTY of experience with cold and snow. Your boots made me laugh. The story of trying to get home and being turned back because of snow and ice on the roads made me sad for you. You're being troopers and it's delightful to see and hear all your adventures. I know you'll miss your friends, the Wilsons, but I'm sure glad you'll have help in the office...and your Elsa pose is awesome! Wish we had sound effects on the blog. Love you, Carol! Have a great week!

  2. After reading this post I have made Fort Monroe a destination on my "after ken retires" bucket list.... I love stuff like that. Keep warm, Carol!