We spent part of the weekend on the Eastern Shore of Virginia (more about that later in this blog) to celebrate our upcoming 1 year anniversary of leaving on this excellent adventure. On this coming Tuesday it will be exactly 1 year since we entered the Missionary Training Center. I had no idea what to expect and must say that this experience has been GREAT!!! I have learned many things and seen many things I never expected to see. I've found lots of new friends and even catch myself once in awhile getting ready to say "y'all" :) What a wonderful year we have had!
This past week was no exception to others we have experienced here. We had heat, sunshine, cold, wind, and even a little rain - all in one week. I remember when we first arrived last year, the mission secretary said, "You are in Virginia now. If you don't like the weather wait about 10 minutes and it will change." That has proven to be true in many instances.
Monday afternoon when we arrived back at the apartment, I told Elder Ashton that I needed to go out and make a Charitable Contribution to Society. He looked at me askance as if I had lost my mind. It wasn't until Tuesday following a day at the office that I was able to make that contribution and it turned out to be a $30 contribution to replace makeup that I was completely out of.....I think society is better off if they don't have to see me without makeup:) I ended up having to shop in two different places but was finally able to find makeup similar to what I have used while living in Arizona. Hope "society" appreciates the charitable contribution.
We are really getting a show of color here now. As we returned to the apartment on Monday evening, I noticed this tree that was beginning to show some bright red leaves among the green.
The red/green tree
A single branch with only red leaves.
Each morning as we open the door to our apartment we are greeted with this beautiful sight!
It has taken about 3 1/2 weeks for this tree to go from mostly green to this gorgeous display of color. Every morning it brings a smile to my face when I think of the beauty of this world - in all its diversity!
I walked under the tree and found a few green leaves remaining, but am still awed at the beauty.
On Thursday afternoon we returned to the apartment by a different route and crossed the Elizabeth River in a different place......but I still find the flowing river and the large houses that sit beside bring a peace to me. It was a beautiful afternoon and even though this picture doesn't do it justice, the scene seemed very peaceful to me.
Friday morning was district meeting in our building and as we are getting ready to send 10 missionaries home on Tuesday and change areas for others, I asked them if I could get a picture of the group (there are 3 extra Elders in the picture who were visiting our district and there's one "old" elder on the end). Just as I pushed the button to take the picture, Elder Reed decided he wanted a picture with his camera and most everyone started laughing.....
So we tried again :) Sure have grown to love these missionaries and hate to see some of them go!
Friday late afternoon we left to drive over to the Eastern Shore to have a celebratory weekend. Elder Ashton had signed up to ride in a bike tour for charity over there -The proceeds from all the entries will go to the Historical Society to help preserve the history of the area. The Eastern Shore is a little over 75 miles away and we had to drive over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge/Tunnel....17 miles of combined bridges and tunnels.
A few white caps as we start across the bridge with some of Norfolk showing in the background.
Approaching the first tunnel
Approaching the opposite (Eastern) shore
As we approached the Eastern Shore, I looked very hard to spot the Cape Charles Lighthouse. If you look very closely, you can see it in this picture. The original Cape Charles Lighthouse was built with $10,000 provided by Congress in 1826 to build a lighthouse to protect the northern side of the bay. The final cost for that first lighthouse was $7399 and was lit with 15 lamps. Later Congress decided the light needed to be brighter and there were problems with beach erosion so a second lighthouse was started in a different location but was not completed by the time the Civil War broke out in 1861 and the area was taken by Confederate troops. Finally, the Union recovered the land later in 1861 and the lighthouse construction was begun again but was only about half the needed height when fighting became fierce again and the supplies to complete the lighthouse were stored for later use. During the fighting, the second lighthouse was completed and placed in operation in 1864 but again suffered from beach erosion. So a 3rd lighthouse of a different design that would better withstand the weather was built 1.25 miles away on the marshy island and began operation in 1895. Only the lighting has been changed in this lighthouse.....the current structure is the same as that which began operation more than 100 years ago. This lighthouse is 191 feet tall and the second tallest in the U.S.
Since the operating lighthouse is too difficult to reach (requires a trip across open water), the town has painted the water tower to look like a replica of the lighthouse.
When we arrived in Cape Charles, the sun was just setting.....we decided to eat dinner at the "Oyster Farm" and were able to capture the beautiful sunset.
What a way to spend an evening!
I think the residents of these houses must get to enjoy beautiful sunsets on a regular basis.
After dinner we drove a little further up the peninsula to Exmore and spent the night at the Holiday Inn Express. There were a number of cars in the parking lot with bicycles on racks and we learned at breakfast the next morning that Elder Ashton would not be the oldest person riding in the Charity bicycle ride. He met a man who was 83 years old who planned to ride 25 miles. Elder Ashton registered to ride 60 miles!
Elder Ashton stowing his apple and banana as he prepares to ride
Ready to go!
Some of the 900+ riders following registration in the restored historical building which now functions as a Civic Center.
Elder Ashton said their was a lot of variety in the riders from young to not so young, mothers with children, children riding their own bikes with their parents, retired couples riding tandem bikes, young couples each riding their own bikes, etc. He also said he saw bikes from discount stores and bikes that cost a few thousand $ more than his cost! We could not have asked for better weather - it was in the mid to high 60's with a nice ocean breeze. Elder Ashton expected to be gone about six hours so I began to explore the historic town.
I started out finding the two interesting flora examples above.
I loved this restored home with the fall decorations
Love the columns and the wide surrounding porch
A restored home turned into a B&B with beautiful fall decorations
I liked the color combination on this restored home
Loved this restored building turned into apartments with balconies.
Another well restored home - love the lavender door.
At the beachfront park I learned that the Chesapeake Bay was formed by a meteor that struck in this area 35 million years ago and the resulting Tsunami left behind the myriad rivers that flow off the bay. I am finding it very interesting to learn more about this part of the country and its history and how it all relates to that story of John Rolfe and Pocaho
Also found "LOVE" (going along with the theme "Virginia is for Lovers" spelled out in objects that relate to the Eastern Shore - oyster shells, Large tire for the commercial ventures in the area, kayaks, and other things grown in the area. We passed several fields of soy beans and of cotton.
I spent most of the morning people and bird watching along the beach while listening to the soft lapping of the waves. Can you spot the wading seagulls? They were funny to watch as they waded in the water :)
Beautiful pink flowers......maybe Azaleas but I thought those were only in the spring?
Interesting "flower" with a purple leaf
Two nicely restored homes. As I drove and walked around town I noticed that a large percentage of the homes have historic value and many of them have already been restored or are currently undergoing renovation.
I loved this tree of various colors along with the dead wood in front of this well-kept house and yard. I never see trees this colorful in Arizona.
I was drawn to this tree that was mostly just gnarled branches - I thought it had a lot of character and made me think about how some of our bodies become gnarled as we age and how much character those individuals have who struggle with some of the ravages of aging.
Although this marker indicates that the town was formed in 1884 there were settlers here much before that- in fact the volunteer in the museum indicated that John Rolfe and Pocahontus grew some crops in this area.....that the tribe had lots of land and some of the land on the Eastern shore was given to them by Powhatan.
This is one of the displays in the museum. Do you recognize any of the items?
I really liked this bed of flowers outside the museum door - the daisies made me think of my daughters-in-law.
About 2:15 pm my phone rang and it was Elder Ashton telling me he was back at the Civic Center and ready to be picked up.
Here he is after riding 50+ miles - took a little short cut because he didn't think he could make it the full sixty miles. Elder Ashton was a little disappointed that he had to stop short of his goal, but I reminded him that he should be glad that he was able to ride over 50 miles in that short amount of time AND stop to take pictures of gravestones in a small cemetery. I think he just wants to be able to do the things he did when he was 25 - don't we all ;-D
This morning we took Miss Sewell to church with us again. It was the Primary Program and she fell in love with all the kids and the parts they said and the songs they sang. She said the children just "went into my heart". She is such a sweet lady and we are all crossing our fingers and praying that she will pass the next test she has to gain her citizenship.
What a wonderful 1 year celebration adventure. How lucky I am to have this opportunity to meet and love new people. Happy Autumn!