Friday, March 31, 2017

It’s the weekend!! Hope you all take time to get outside and walk, ride a bike, take a hike or jog and just enjoy the beautiful world. It was a wonderful spring day today. Fortunately, all the bad weather we were expecting last night fell apart and we just had a little light rain so we had a restful night. Today Anne left at 6:00 to make the drive to Tuscaloosa. It was an uneventful and easy drive. It was a long day and hopefully Anne’s mom will be feeling better soon. Max stayed at Sumatanga to prepare for our project and be here to great our first team member on his arrival today. Richard was at Cedartown with us, but since we left after two days we didn’t get to know him very well. Looking forward to spending more time with him this time around. He arrived shortly after lunch so he missed the messy nachos served at lunch. Richard likes what he has seen of Sumatanga and we are sure the rest of the team will enjoy their time here. None of our team has been here before so it will be fun seeing things thru their eyes. Sumatanga is always pretty in the spring. Compared to last fall when we were in extreme drought – the lake is really pretty.

While walking the Lake Trail this evening we saw where the new zipline will cross the lake. We hope to get to try it sometime.

Zip line at Lake Trail
Zip line at the Lake Trail. This section will end where the red oval is across the lake.

Tomorrow everyone else should be arriving so we will be here to help them get parked and settled in. Looking forward to getting started.

Back to Sumatanga

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Sorry we didn’t post yesterday. Yesterday was a very busy day, with hair cut, grocery shopping for some of the ladies, and handling a lot of business items for Aunt Jean. We didn’t get back home until about 5:15 and then it was nonstop loading out FRED until we went to bed. We decided we needed to move FRED to Sumatanga early this morning because bad weather was predicted for later in the day and Anne has to unexpectedly go to Tuscaloosa early in the morning.  Max still shouldn’t be trying to set up by himself.

Sumatanga EntranceWe departed the mountain a little after 9:00 this morning and had an uneventful drive to Camp Sumatanga. For those that are not familiar with the camp, Sumatanga is the North Alabama Conference of the United Methodist Church camp and retreat center. Sumatanga has a special place in our hearts because we both came here many years ago when we were kids. We rode Max’s motorcycle to the cross on top of the mountain here, on our second date. Our church has at least one picnic here each year and we have now returned here to work on several NOMADS projects and done drop in work at other times over the past several years. It’s such a peaceful place and they do such good work here. We checked in with Lee Padgett, camp director, and got hugs from him and others on the staff. It’s like coming home. Everyone is almost like family. We also met the Dennis, the facilities manager, to find out what needs to be done. There are tent platforms to complete and new ones to build. There are walls to be taken down and others to be built. There are organizational projects and possibly some painting along with some pressure washing. If it goes like other projects here, there will be other things to do that no one has even thought of yet. There is always work at Sumatanga. We are sure it will be another great project and we just pray that our team accomplishes whatever it is that God needs us to do while we are here.

Today there was a crew from Cutters for Christ working on taking down trees in preparation for the zip line that will soon be installed. They have more than 84 trees to remove. They had 8 men today and tomorrow there are suppose to be a few more. Needless to say, it will take several more days to clear the path down the mountain. Since the Cutters were here the camp was preparing lunch and we were invited to join them. Donna and her staff as usual out did their selves. From the picture you can see why it is very hard to not gain weight on this project. The roast beef here is some of the most tender and flavorful you can find. And they make a dish we have never had anywhere else. Tomato Pie. It’s tomatoes and onion and cheese and we really need the recipe because we don’t know the other ingredients and it might not sound good to you but wow it is very good.

We have the campground to ourselves tonight and we are enjoying just looking out over the lake. Can’t wait for the rest of the team to join us. Some will be arriving tomorrow and the rest Saturday. Drive safely all you NOMADS moving to new projects this weekend.

Alone in the Sumatanga campground
Alone in the Sumatanga campground


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

First humminbird of the year
First hummingbird of the year

We know it’s spring because we had our first hummingbird at the feeder. Always love it when our hummingbirds return. We had put the first feeder out last week thinking it was about time. Today when we saw the first ruby-throated hummingbird, Max grabbed the feeder to refill it with fresh sugar water. We got one quick picture of the bird impatiently waiting. After Max got the feeder back outside we did not see another bird.

reptile faceoff.jpg
Reptile face-off

While waiting for the little feller to return we did get to watch a brief encounter between a young blue-tailed skink and an eastern fence lizard. Oh, well – surely the hummingbird will be back tomorrow. We had storms last night! Loud storms with lots of rain. The driveway was a little washed this morning but otherwise, fortunately, no problems. Early morning was still cloudy and dreary but later in the morning the sun was awesome. We started reloading FRED today. We plan to move the rig to Camp Sumatanga Thursday – the weather is suppose to be better than Friday morning. Part of the team will be arriving Friday afternoon so as leaders we must arrive before the team. We are so looking forward to another great project for Sumatanga.  It’s going to take a little longer and a lot more trips to get loaded out with Max’s lifting limitations but we should finish up tomorrow.  We turned the refrigerator on tonight so we can load it out tomorrow. We are going to be back to work soon!  Anne completed Juno’s and Aunt Helen’s tax returns. YEA! We also did some planning for later in the year but we are keeping that a secret for now. Otherwise it was laundry, answering lots of emails, and other mundane stuff.

Link to drone video of MHCC campground
Link to drone video of MHCC campground

As you remember we had asked one of our team members for an aerial view of the campground at Murphy Harpst Children’s Center and we included that picture in an earlier blog. Today he did even better. Late this afternoon we received a link to a drone video of the campground that our friend Frank Loy made.  It’s pretty awesome so be sure to click on the link and take a look.  Thanks so much, Frank.  We sure have missed being with you guys.  Hope everyone gets a good nights rest and check back with us tomorrow. 


Monday, March 27, 2017

Max felt better today than any time since his surgery so after carefully checking the weather this morning we decided we could get a road trip in before the thunderstorms hit. At about 6:45 we headed out to Red Bay Alabama. What? You say you have never heard of Red Bay? Red Bay is not near the ocean, not on a bay, and is a tiny little town on the far western border of North Alabama. The population is about 3100. According to our guide today, who was a retired history teacher, Red Bay was named for its red soil and the bay trees that grow there. Red Bay is home to Tiffin Motorhomes which was our destination for today. Tiffin also happens to be the manufacturer of our FRED. We think Tiffin is the only RV manufacturer in the state of Alabama and we are very glad they are here. Their Phaeton model has been the best selling model of class A diesel pusher motor homes for a number of years. They currently produce 12 motorhomes each work day and employ about 1,500 people. We took the factory tour today and then spent a good deal of time looking at various rigs. Sometimes when you want to see various models, fabrics or décors it’s easier to go to Red Bay because dealers usually only have a few units in stock at any point in time. We always like to take factory tours to watch companies make anything from ice cream or candy to cars and RVs. This was not our first time to tour the Tiffin plant but we enjoyed it again. If you are ever in the area, they conduct tours each day they are open at 9:30am. After you do the tour and if you are still looking for something to do you can check out the Coon Dog Cemetery or the Rattlesnake Saloon which are also in the area. We have visited both of those compelling locations before so refrained ourselves today. We wanted to get back home before the storms arrived and fortunately we did – just barely. Hope you have all had a great start to your week.


Flashback to 2015

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Hope you all had a wonderful Sunday. It started as a gloomy day this morning but as the day went on we had some glorious sunshine. We were up early to get lunch started before going to church. We really enjoyed being back in our home church today. Bro. Barry had a wonderful message out of John 9: 1-41. After worship we enjoyed being back in our Sunday School class. Our church is such a blessing. Enjoy visiting other churches as we work and travel but it’s always so good to be back at Lester Memorial. We had the LOLs for lunch again today, since we begged off last weekend and Michelle was back with us today as well. Meat loaf, peas, mashed potatoes, salad and key lime pie that we made from key lime juice from Key West. We all enjoyed the time together.

After lunch we walked with Barry and Donna – 4 miles, and then later they come over for a visit and key lime pie. It was so good to have time with them again. We miss our dear friends when we travel. We need to plan another trip together. Just before dark we walked one more mile to get our five miles in for the day. It was a wonderful Sunday.

Since we don’t have any pictures for you today and since we aren’t at Murphy Harpst Children’s Center (MHCC) thought we would share a few pictures and information on the MHCC from our spring 2015 project. We were journaling at this time but not posting a blog, so we thought we would post some excerpts from our journal.

March 9-March 26, 2015

Today we completed our packing of Fred and left exactly as we had planned. 8:30 departure from home with stop at Aunt Helen’s for hooking up the Colorado and turning off the water and then “On the road again.” We both agreed that it felt really good. We had only been home from Florida 6 weeks but it was great to be rolling down the road in Fred again. We feel so blessed to be able to travel and work at the NOMADS Projects.

The campground
The campground

What a beautiful drive in the bright sunshine. After the snow and ice of the past two weeks…..this was a great drive. Our team leaders Jim and Mary Jo were awaiting our arrival, leading us in to the campground on the back side of the Murphy Harpst Children’s Center (MHCC) campus. MHCC is a children’s home primarily for troubled, abused children who have been removed from their home, most with no chance of returning there. The campground is quiet, secluded and with lots of great areas for Scout to enjoy.

Scout loved the Silver Comet Trail
Scout loved the Silver Comet Trail

After getting set up in our site, and visiting with our leaders we got the bikes out and took a tide on the Silver Comet Trail. What a great bike/hike trail this is. Of course, the section we decided to ride today is the only section on this trail with big hills. Boy – we could tell we have been doing our riding in flat Florida.

We were originally scheduled to work on remodeling some dorm rooms but all the permitting has not been completed for that project so we will be working on the dining rooms. The dining rooms have lovely old hard wood floors so our first task was to cover the floors for protection. Then we began what became many hours of scraping, and steaming old wallpaper from the walls and repairing trim and walls in preparation for painting later in the week. Unfortunately, it was determined that we would have to remove a lot of old wall paper and paste prior to painting. We first tried to paint over the wall paper and it bubbled up all over the wall.

It was our turn to give the morning devotional at 8:00. We thought it went well and then it was another day of painting. Yep, all those years of saying how much we don’t like to paint and…. God works in mysterious ways or maybe it’s just His sense of humor. Anyway, we are getting a lot of practice and we are getting pretty good at painting. However, we really aren’t sure we want to admit it. By the end of the first week we had one coat of paint on everything and we had spent many hours working high on the scaffolding. You know your legs can get pretty sore from climbing up and down, up and down that tall scaffolding.

Week two was more of the same in the dining rooms with the addition of prepping walls and trim in the administration building. A group from Atlanta was coming in to paint on Saturday and we worked to have it ready for them to paint. We also took time to have some fun with a Saint Patrick’s Day party on Tuesday. A “pitch in”, grilled burgers with all the fixings, with a camp fire and of course, green cake, affectionately called “moldy cake” by the team. By the end of our third week we had completed our dining room project as well as several odd jobs around campus and the prep for the Atlanta team.

Thank You card
Thank You card we received from the kids on our last day

We were really pleased with the way everything looked and the MHCC kids were so appreciative. It was such a privilege to work to make their world a little brighter. And in the mist of all the hard, hard work, we made some wonderful friends that it was very hard to leave. No good byes, just “see you down the road at another project, and safe travels”, and lots of hugs.

Check back in tomorrow because we are considering a road trip tomorrow if the rain holds off.

Prolific Pine Pollen Prognostication

Friday, March 24, 2017

Yesterday was, as we planned, a stay at home day. We had breakfast, walked, worked on Aunt Helen’s taxes and around the house and walked some more. We did a total of 4 miles, 2 after breakfast and 2 after lunch. We also picked up our pace. We are about back to our normal pace. One of the things we noticed while walking was the beginning of the “yellow car season.” The pine trees are just starting to release their pollen. The oaks are also doing their thing. We actually had noticed the increase in pollen when Max started sneezing shortly after getting up. He is much better but the sneezing is just really not a good idea. Ouch! Believe he will make use of antihistamines until his abdomen heals up a little more.

We got pictures from the MHCC team from the morning devotions. Frank plays the guitar, and Harry plays the auto harp with Janet playing her harp when they are responsible for devotions. We miss our devotion times with the group.

blueberry breakfast
Blueberry Breakfast

Monday when we stopped at Aldi Max spotted some blueberry syrup. Yep, we couldn’t resist so this morning we had French toast for breakfast so we could try out the syrup. It was really good!!! Today started as a really cloudy and windy day. We each had to go back for another jacket when we started out for our morning walk. Today we did 5 ½ miles, 2 this morning and 3½ this afternoon. We probably won’t increase any more for a few days. We won’t get as much walking in tomorrow because we are going to Tuscaloosa to see Anne’s mom. After the morning walk Anne had to take Aunt Helen back to get the sutures removed from her skin cancer surgery. Everything went well and she was released.

We also got an update on the OK disaster rebuild so you can see what they accomplished this week.

First Things First

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

First things first. Max got a good report from the surgeon this afternoon. He is where he is suppose to be at this point. He is suppose to still be sore and bruised and he certainly is. He is suppose to be walking a lot and not picking things up for about 2 more weeks at which time he will have his final recheck with the surgeon. So we came home and walked some more. Over 4 miles today. Max is definitely getting better – just not quite as fast as he would like. Anybody surprised at that??

Before taking Max to the doctor, Anne went to the dentist to get the permanent filling on the root canal from two weeks ago That was easy and no problems so hopefully she is done with dentist appointments for a while.

peach blossomsSo from home to Birmingham to home to Cullman to home. That took a lot of the day. Otherwise we worked on some accounting, did a little work in FRED and walked. It was another pretty day for our walking. The peach tree is in bloom so maybe it escaped last week’s freeze. The blueberries are not blooming yet so we hope they also are OK.

Thanks for all your prayers.