Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Five Thousand Mile Adventure

Tuesday, June 2, 1015

Better late than never in getting the adventures of the last week posted.   It was a wonderful week and we continued to have new adventures and learn new things.

Last November when we first arrived in Virginia and were moving into our apartment, we noticed a small restaurant near by called Jalapeno's.   Elder Ashton mentioned that he thought we should try it out and I shuddered and said, "With a name like that I bet the food is way too hot for me".   Well, last week I finally got courageous enough to suggest that we try it out.   What a great surprise----the food was not too hot and the chips and salsa were ALMOST as good as those served at El Camino in St. Johns.   In addition to the good food, there was a great ambiance at the restaurant.   We arrived to this outdoor landscaping just outside the front door.   Elder Ashton did a little closer examination of the wagon and said he thinks it is an actual vintage wagon.

Beautiful blooming cactus made me think I was back in Arizona :)

Last week, as we came to work each morning I noticed three large plants that were growing very fast to the right side of the walkway.   Initially, they just looked like pretty green leaves, but on Wednesday, I noticed that they were beginning to bloom.....flowers almost everywhere I look.   Seems like right now most of the flowers are white.

Trying to bloom

Last week I mentioned that I was surprised to see different kinds of trees that almost looked like they belonged in a tropical forest.  Above is a picture I tried to capture of the trees that remind me of large fern plants.

I have fallen in love with the Southern Magnolia trees that are blooming right now - both the appearance of the trees/blooms and the fragrance.   My research has indicated that the pictures here may be of two different varieties.....the ones that are called saucer magnolias (the blooms are as big as a saucer) and the ones that are called teacup magnolias because the blooms are smaller and shaped more like a cup.   I hope you enjoy these blooms as much as I am loving the real thing back here!

This bloom is just about done....but as you can see it is as big as a saucer :)

It is difficult to get up close to take pictures.....as the trees are generally on private property and the property owners don't seem to fond of this "oldster" creeping around on their property taking pictures.   I was wondering how I was going to get decent pictures, and on Tuesday when I was coming back to the office from delivering a car, I took a different route and was surprised to see three small magnolia trees growing against the side of the church building - about 20 yards from the door I enter every day but around a corner so I had missed seeing them.    As you can see, the trees have lots of blooms on them and are still relatively small trees.   Some of the trees are over 30 feet tall and just covered in blooms!

 I thought this was an interesting picture of 3 different stages - a bud just forming in the foreground, a full bloom, and a fully formed bud.  Very interesting to me.  If I had any creative capabilities in my hands, I should have become a florist - but alas, no creative capabilities like that.

My children may recall that we tried to grow a Catalpa tree when we lived in St. Johns and that little tree was so straggly - it just struggled to barely stay alive.   I ran across this tree on the main road in Portsmouth the other day and was glad to see what a flourishing Catalpa tree looks like :)

We have lots of little bushes in our driveway at the apartment covered in these little purple bell shaped flowers.   Since most of the blooms right now are white, this is a nice change of pace.

I tried to snap this picture of another tropical looking tree along the freeway as we were headed to Norfolk on Thursday to catch a plane.

Traveling through the tunnel into Norfolk.    This tunnel seems to be brighter and cleaner than some of the other tunnels in the area.

We caught a plane in Norfolk and flew west for the first part of our 5000 mile adventure.  We had interesting conversations with our seat mates on the crowded planes and landed in Phoenix on Thursday at about 9:30 - where I enjoyed my first hugs from kids (our daughter) and grandkids (Addie and Colton)   It was sooooooooo good to see them!

Our mission president is very understanding and allowed us to take a short trip back to Arizona for a very significant family event - the sealing of this beautiful little family (our grandson Cade, his wife Jorden, and their son Griffen) 

Such a beautiful family and a sacred experience to see them sealed for all eternity on Friday!!!!

It was especially touching to see this little guy walk into the sealing room all clothed in white and he was so quiet.    I think he is giving his grandma a big wink here because he doesn't have to be so quiet once he is outside ;-)

While there, I experienced on of those epiphanies we sometimes get.   I watched a Sister who was confined to a wheelchair and seemed to have suffered a stroke or something.   Here hand movements were jerky and not well controlled.   The Sister who was working in the temple that morning, helped her with her hand movements and with getting her clothing on.   Each time the working Sister finished helping the wheelchair bound sister, she would grasp her hand and give her a big smile....and in turn received a bigger smile from the sister in the wheelchair.   As I witnessed this, I thought.....this is a picture of giving service as Christ would give service - helping those less fortunate and loving it so much that your face lights up with a smile.   I wish I was an artist so I could paint what my eyes saw that day to remind myself of the importance of helping others!

It seemed really strange to be back in Arizona where the trees are few and far between and you can see a great distance to either side while traveling on the freeways.   In fact, I experienced a little shock when I opened a cupboard in the kitchen and saw unfamiliar dishes (not the blue and white I have in my cupboard back here in Virginia.   Even with the strangeness, we were able to get a little yard and housecleaning done on Saturday morning before spending most of the afternoon with lots of family members.   I grabbed pictures of a few of them.

Sisters  - Kodi and Gray.....oh, how I love these two young women and their beautiful smiles!

Kelli and Anthony with Keisel and Sean......such a cute family but Keisel was not sure he wanted GG to take his picture - such a bother :)   Sean was great at saying cheese.   Seeing them and hugging all of them gave me a big boost!

Colby and Miranda, along with Tucker, Cooper, Grady and Duncan were so kind to host our family gathering.    I think I get nervous when the adults are in the picture and my hands start to shake - sorry it's fuzzy but that doesn't diminish what great people they are.  Can't wait until they arrive to spend a few days with us in a few weeks!

Just the boys - Tucker, Cooper, Grady and Duncan.    This Grandma is shorter now that both Cooper and Tucker - must mean I'm getting old if they are passing me up :/

Here's a fuzzy picture again with adults in it - Lori and Wyatt with two of their daughter, Kodi and Gray.   I was so glad to see them and get some big bear hugs from them!!!

Felicia and Dallon joined us after spending part of the day at the lake - their hugs are the great!!

I missed getting pictures of Ryan, Marcie, Lauren, Britin, Sydney, Michelle and Mimi but loved getting to see them, talk to them, get hugs from them, and enjoy the special weekend with them.   I have THE BEST FAMILY, EVER!!

And I can't forget to mention how good it was to see some of my friends at church on Sunday and to get wonderful hugs from them, too.   

Waiting to board this plane on Sunday afternoon to head back to Virginia.....and after almost 8 hours of travel time and 4 hours of sleep time.......

here we are, at the end of our 5000 mile adventure, arriving back at work in the Virginia, Chesapeake Mission ready to help in any way we can - and I notice that the yucca plants have fully bloomed.   I love that I saw some of these beautiful white flowers in my neighborhood in Arizona and see them here in Virginia too - a nice bridge between my two homes :)

I am so grateful to be here helping out and meeting new people and experiencing new things!   Life is good, even for this oldster :)

P.S.   I'm missing the "dry" heat in Arizona.....this humidity of 60-70% is about to melt me ;-D


  1. There is no doubt that Cade is an Ashton. It was good to see pictures of your children. I would not have recognized Colby or Wyatt.

  2. It was so good to see you. I'm glad your President is so understanding and helpful. I couldn't get over how happy you and Denis look.

  3. It was so awesome to see you on Sunday. I couldn't believe how my heart truly LEAPT when you walked in the door!! Take that as strong evidence that you and Denis are truly missed around here. So thankful you were able to come home for this fabulous family experience...and that the Catalina Ward got to be part of your little foray away from the mission. We are so proud of you, Carol! What fabulous work you are doing!!