Wednesday, February 28, 2007

I am so jealous...

I am jealous of the following people:

Julie & Luke - going to France in March

My father-in-law, Wesley - going to Israel in March
Angela & Robert - going to Zambia in June
Mark - going to New Zealand for 6 weeks this summer
Brianna - going to Africa this summer
Andrew & Malvin - going to Honduras this summer

If you are taking a trip out of North America in the next 5 months I am very jealous of you. I am also very excited that you are getting to embark on these opportunities and I pray that your trips will be a blessing to you.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Monday, February 26, 2007

Linville Gorge

We are home, safe and sound, from a rather difficult overnight backpacking trip to Linville Gorge. Saturday was a beautiful day and we were all really excited to get on the trail. We started the hike with 5 people and 2 dogs. We took 2 vehicles and were able to drop off Steve's Tahoe at the Pinch In trailhead and we hopped in the back of Chris' truck with all of our gear and drove down to the Conley Cove trailhead. Hiking point to point can be a real treat because you don't have to deal with backtracking.

The hike started out great. The sun was shining and the trail meandered slowly down the 2000 feet into the gorge. We were soon in the gorge next to the Linville River. Campsites were abundant and everything was great. We headed down the river trail hoping to hike a couple of miles and set up camp well before dark.

About a mile into following the river trail, things started to become a little dicey. Instead of following a normal trail we realized that there were a lot of downed trees and we were bushwhacking more than hiking. We probably bushwhacked for well over a mile. With a pack on, it was slow going. Around 4:00 Chris (who was just coming for the day) decided he better turn back for his truck. We asked him to put a stick on the windshield of Steve's Tahoe so we would know he made it out safely.

After another hour, we finally found flat ground and a place to camp. We set up camp and started cooking supper. Around 6:30 we had the first drops of rain but thankfully it let up. We got our campfire going and stayed up until 10. Hanging out around the campfire is one of my favorite things.

Sunday morning we woke up to pouring rain. We ate breakfast, broke up camp and were soon on our way. We made our way along the gorge until we found our exit trail: Pinch In. This trail is probably the most brutal trail I have ever hiked with a pack on. It was 1.5 miles straight up on a 25% grade. There were no switch back, just up in a straight line. It took us 2 hours to hike the 1.5 miles out! My legs have never burned so much in my life! 
Profile of the Pinch In trail - our climb out of the gorge.

After about 2 hours of hiking, I heard a car horn honking and prayed that that Steve had made it to the truck. Shortly after that I saw Daniel turn a corner followed by a second honk. I practically ran the last 100 ft of the trail just to get to flat ground. I had never been so happy to hear a car honk or for flat ground. It felt so good to get in a warm car and strip off my wet clothes. Chris had left a sizable branch on the windshield - so we knew he was ok. One of the best things about hiking is the end. We celebrated by stopping at Sonic on the way home.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Crowder's Mountain

We went hiking at Crowder's Mountain today. We were able to get out of Charlotte around 2:00 and were at the park by 3:00. Sadly this is the first time we have been able to go hiking this year. We hiked a little over 5 miles. The day was beautiful and we were able to see Charlotte from the summit.

I think we were bad examples to some kids. To reach the summit you have to climb a very LONG series of steps. When you get to the top you are generally exhausted (at least we are out of shape and exhausted). We both love heights, so we went and sat on the edge of cliff and hung our legs off to catch our breath. A family was not very far from us and I overheard a 10-year girl say, "Wow, those people are brave to hang their feet off the edge. When I am their age I want to do that." I am sure her mom was thrilled at our excellent example! Most places we go, there are not kids to worry about. We may need to take that into consideration next time we are around children.

Tomorrow we are leaving with some friends for Linville Gorge (about 2.5 hours away) to do an overnight backpacking trip. I am pretty excited about it. Up until last Sunday Daniel and I were going to go by ourselves. And then at LifeGroup, one of the guys asked Daniel if he wanted to go camping this weekend. Daniel said that we were actually already planning on going. So Steve invited himself along. Then Tim and Chris invited themselves along as well. I did not know that this was happening so later during LifeGroup, all three guys came up to me at separate times to tell me how excited they were about our camping trip. This was news to me so later that night I had to get the scoop from Daniel as to how our 2 person camping trip grew to 5.

Anyways, originally we had wanted to leave tonight, but our LifeGroup is volunteering this weekend to do Room at the Inn. This is where homeless people come and stay at our church and we feed them and visit with them. The other guys were signed up to do stuff tonight and we are taking breakfast to serve in the morning. So I guess we have a pretty full weekend.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Driving Home

Today I was driving home from a meeting and there was a piece of wood with nails in it in the middle of my lane. I inched over so that I was in 1.25 lanes to avoid the nails. When I was right next to the wood and nails I had to stop for a red light.

There was a guy driving a pickup behind me that hopped out and threw the board into the grassy medium while the light was red. That was very considerate of him to do. I would never have thought of getting out of my car to move a board. I am not sure what that says about me but that was extremely nice of this stranger. He helped to prevent a lot of other strangers from getting holes in their tires from running over a board with nails.

Update on the House

We finally managed to make decent progress on our house and people keep bugging us to get our newest pictures posted, so here they are. We worked really hard up until Thanksgiving of 2006. This was because my family was coming in and we were really wanting to get our floors finished and furniture moved in.   The good news is that we were able to accomplish that goal. The bad news is that the nigh before my family arrived, we were up almost all night cleaning. I can't even begin to describe the amount of dust that was in our house. It is amazing that we do not have some type of lung disease.   There is still a lot of work to do but we are currently content and have done a minimal amount of work on the house since Thanksgiving. Since it is now February, we are about ready to kick it in gear again and make some more major progress.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Hitch Hiking in NC

On January 13, Daniel and I headed up to the Asheville area to do some hiking. It was a beautiful day and we were really looking forward to the trip. To get to our trailhead, we had to drive on a one-way gravel road. As we were driving along the car started to stutter and then died. I was driving so Daniel got out and looked at the engine and couldn't figure out what was wrong. After scratching our heads, Daniel decided that since we were in the middle of this one way road that we needed to find a way to pull the car off the road.

We were on a hill (the car was pointing up) so Daniel decided that he would put the car in neutral and roll down the mountain backwards until we could turn around or park. My job was to walk down in front of him to make sure other cars didn't run into him.

At one point he got so much momentum that he actually passed me and a poor couple in a minivan almost had a heart attack when our car came hurtling down the road backwards at them. I almost had a heart attack watching the scene unfold. Daniel just thought it was fun.

We eventually found a spot to turn the car around and Daniel got out to try to push start it (we have a manual transmission) while I steered. This did not work either. At least now the car was pointed in the right direction so I got in the car with him and we rolled forward down the road until there was no more hill and we pulled off on to the shoulder.

At that point we had to decide what to do. We were in the middle of nowhere and had seen very few other people and there was no cell phone reception.

A Jeep Wrangler drove by with a retired couple from Florida. They didn't seem very interested in helping us. Then we waved down a good-ole boy in a little pick up who was from the area. He offered to drive us to where we could get cell reception so we hopped into the back of his pickup.

He then decided to take us to a gas station where he dropped us off. We tried to pay him for his efforts - which he wouldn't hear of. Then he pulled out his hand gun and told us that we should keep one with us for our own protection and then he was gone.

We called a tow truck. 40 minutes later we were hurtling down the gravel road in a massive tow truck at break neck speeds. Thanks to AAA we got a tow back to Charlotte. It was a very adventurous day.

Several days later, Daniel discovered that the problem with the car had been that a $6 seal on the engine block had busted. Once he replaced the seal the car was fine!

The gas station was not a typical gas station. It was a gas and cigarette drive-through with no inside. Thankfully it was nice out and we had no problem sitting on the curb waiting for the tow truck.
While we waited, there was a guy there filling up 15 plastic gas containers!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Checkers Game

Last night Daniel got free tickets through work to go to the Checker's game at the arena Uptown. It seems that we only go to hockey games if we get free tickets. I am not sure if this means that we are cheap or that we just don't care enough about sports to spend money on tickets. The tickets were actually for one of the suites. Not wanting to turn down an opportunity to see how people with lots of money view the games, we went.

It was pretty cool. The only negative was that the seats were kind of high and you couldn't see as well. Hockey is viewed best when you are fairly close to the ice and can really see the action.

We took some time to walk around on the "suite" floor and while we were walking, we were mauled by
Chubby, the mascot for the Checkers! Well, maybe "mauled" is a strong word. He came up from behind us and got between us and through his arms around our shoulders and then wanted us to give him high-fives. If you know us, you know that we are not overly enthusiastic people. We are more layed back and take life as it comes kind of people. So we were not jumping up and down to get pictures with the mascot or anything like that.

The game was good and the Charlotte beat Florida.

Friday, February 02, 2007

This note is all about Daniel - since he doesn't write notes, I wanted to share about his insanely cold morning commute. The following is an excerpt from an email Daniel sent to me:
Next time I am wearing wool socks and ski goggles…..
Note the 17-27mph headwind that left me outside in these conditions for even longer than normal (50 minutes). Headwind was absolutely ridiculous. Felt like I was towing a parachute. It is nice to look like a Christmas tree though. A couple cars stopped in their tracks and stared till I rolled by.
The comment about looking like a Christmas tree was due to the fact that he was decked out with multiple blinking lights on the front and back of his bike as well as on his helmet. He also had on a bright yellow vest. When we left this morning, all I could see of him were his eyes because he was completely bundled up from head to foot.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

our first snow in charlotte

We woke up this morning to several inches of snow on the ground and the snow still falling steadily. This is the first time it has snowed since we have moved to Charlotte.

Unfortunately Daniel still had to go to work. I was planning on going to workout this morning, but Daniel took the Pathfinder (our 4-wheel drive vehicle) and he called after he got to work to tell me to stay home because the roads are bad and they are supposed to get worse.

I love the snow. I wish that it would snow more often but the climate in Charlotte is too temperate and the weather forecast is predicting that it will all be gone by tomorrow.

"The aging process has you firmly in its grasp if you never get the urge to throw a snowball."
- Doug Larson

Family Hike at Fiery Gizzard

On Saturday we had originally planned to go on a group hike on the Fiery Gizzard Trail , but it was cancelled at the last minutes. So...