For years, I've heard Lauren talk about one of the biggest loves of her life. I kept telling her that I hoped we could meet someday. Yesterday, I was finally able to meet Dustin.
I can think of a few people off the top of my head who understand Lauren's love. Jaci, my Mom and Merrin are who come to mind right away. I think horses are incredible and I enjoy time with them. But I do not have the all encompassing love for horses that Lauren has. Lauren eats, sleeps and breathes horses. She has been this way for as long as I can remember. So to see her in her happiest place in the world was a treat to say the very least.
To watch her ride, and see her great form was a special thing for us.
Most of all, I loved seeing her smile. She is a pretty serious person, so to her her look downright radiant made me smile from ear to ear.
Thank you, Lauren for letting us meet Dustin and getting to see you ride. We loved every minute of it!
I'm gonna smile every time I see this picture! Just beautiful! Both of them!
Not to be outdone by Lauren, Josh also introduced me to his friend. Named friend. I know that is his name because I heard Josh say, "hey...that's my friend. Friend! I'm here!" He and friend did all the regular boy stuff then. There is really good boy stuff on a farm!
I mean, there are really, really cool boy things to do on a farm. We should have lived on a farm just for my two boys sake.
Thank you, Josh, for letting me follow you and friend around and snap shots of you doing your boy thing!
Yup, I got a shot of you that will make me smile every time I see it too!
When we left the OBX area, we had plans to come back quickly. Today we realized that is not likely to happen given the devastation there. Out of all the places we have visited so far, this was by far the one that felt the most like "home" to me so I'm sad we won't be going back just yet. We hope to return in the spring and in the meantime we will send supplies and do other things to help this area as they rebuild.
Today I tagged along with Diana, Josh, Austin and Lauren. First stop was at White Oak Lavender Farm. It was a lovely little family owned and operated farm and store. Not only did the have the lavender growing and lavender products galore, they also had some animals we could see. It was a really neat place.
We have been busy, busy, busy since we hit the valley. Between seeing Austin and the rest of the family, we've hardly had time to catch our breath. We spent the night at Memaw's, and Ava decided that Memaw is the bomb....just like Austin thinks she is. On Sunday, the guys took the kids and they went up on the mountain and went skeet shooting. The ladies all went to see the movie The Help. Nathan and I had already seen the movie, but I loved it so much that I was happy to see it again.
We have a very short visit, due to the holiday weekend coming in (we can't stay at this place then). So we are trying to enjoy what little time we do have. The valley is as beautiful as always. Beyond our heavy hearts over the devastation in OBX, we are trying to enjoy where we are.
I am catching up on blogging and it's a strange thing to be catching up on posts from last week, because so much has happened since then. Our friends, Barb and John, stayed the weekend with us and immediately after they left we had our eye on Hurricane Irene that was heading our way.
Monday we thought we would stay and ride it out. By Tuesday it was looking like we might need to rethink that plan. By Wednesday we had decided to leave. We packed up and went to tell people goodbye, and were handed our evacuation notice as we were saying goodbye.
To say this was sad and hard on us is putting it mildly. We love this place. We love the people here. It just felt wrong to be heading far away when disaster was about to hit here. Still we headed out at night, hoping to beat the traffic some.
We landed in Williamsburg, VA very late at night. Tried to find a spot in the Outdoor World, decided it was too dark to properly park and ended up in a Wal-Mart parking lot. We woke up the next morning with only a few hours of sleep and our hearts still very heavy. The next day we headed over to the Shendandoah Valley, while I was on the phone trying to find a place to live for the next week. We landed in Greenville, and geared up for our highlight of the trip, which was seeing Austin!
This is a picture of our friends that visited us, on top of Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. I have to give a sincere thanks to them for their visit with us. We had such a wonderful, wonderful time with them. We truly just soaked up every minute we were them. It was interesting, it was easy to just spend time chatting about our lives with them and they were such grateful company when we extended even the slightest things their way. They honestly were just a joy to be around and we felt lucky to have them as guests. When they thanked us as they left, we said it was our privilege and we meant it.
Now that we have had the craziness of the hurricane, we see all the more how important our time with them was. They brought such joy and peace to us, and that carried us through our evacuation and the days to follow.
It has me pondering the role that friends hold in my life. The older I get, the more I realize that I get by not with just "a little help from my friends", but rather I get by with a lot of help from my friends. This past winter, I really realized that. While going through what we did, it gave me the gift of analyzing exactly what friendship is to me. It gave me the chance to evaluate what I want from my closest friends and why it was necessary to ask for that from someone that is a close friend of mine.
Barb has played a significant role in all of this for me. While I was sorting through one friendship in particular this past winter and sharing it all with Nathan, he wasn't quite understanding clearly what I was explaining to him. During this same time we met up with Barb and John for a few hours in Florida and as we left he said, I can see now why you are so frustrated with that friendship. Barb and your friends like her have spoiled you. They are such good friends to you, why would you want to settle for something that is so much less than what they are willing to give you?
And he was exactly right. I have friends like Barb that have set a higher standard in my life than I would have asked for myself, and they have shown me that I don't have to settle for friends that are only there when things are happy and fun if I don't want to. I am so grateful for that. It doesn't mean I don't still love the other friends in my life, just that I don't want to put as much time and energy there at this point in my life.
He said he was in awe at how well Barb knows who I am and how supportive she is of me being..well, me. I agree. I hope I give the same to her in return. Because at the end of the day, isn't that all you can really hope for in a friend-that they work at knowing the real you and appreciating the real you? Not to say my friends like Barb don't speak up when truth needs to be spoken to me. They do. Boy, do they sometimes! And they still love me and stick by me even then. Because I trust how much they do know me, I trust their input.
They also let me share honestly with what I see in their life without taking offense, even if they disagree. If something is a big deal to one of us, we don't downplay that or try to talk them out of seeing it that way. We let it be what it is to them. If someone is sad or depressed, we honor that as much as much as if they were happy and full of joy. We work at adjusting our behaviors where who we are is spilling over onto each other in ways that hurt or cause stress for the other, while still remaining true to who we are. And this particular group of women that I am talking about has managed to do this for about a decade now. I hope we are still there for each other for many more decades.
I value friendship far more than I ever did when I was younger. I wonder if that won't continue to be more and more true the older I get. I hope so, because when a friendship is a good one, it is a rare and precious thing.
Thank you, my friend, and all of you women in this particular circle of my friends. You all rock!
I've been counting down the days for something exciting-my dear friend Barb and her husband John coming to camp with us. We met them at the Pea Island Wildlife Refuge and wandered around for a short time. A very short time compared to how long we probably both would have stayed because the mosquitoes were out in killer force even with bug spray on. It is a beautiful refuge from what we did see and we saw a few birds while there.
Area was historically used for market waterfowl hunting, commercial fishing, farming, and
Refuge is comprised of ocean beach, dunes, upland, fresh and brackish water ponds, salt flats, and salt marsh.
Bird list boasts more than 365 species; wildlife list has 25 species of mammals, 24 species of reptiles, and 5 species (low number due to salt environment) of amphibians.
Concentrations of ducks, geese, swans, wading birds, shore birds, raptors, neotropical migrants are seasonally abundant on refuge.
Refuge has 1,000 acres of manageable waterfowl impoundments.
Several shorebird nesting areas and wading bird rookeries are located on the refuge.
Endangered and threatened species include: peregrine falcons, loggerhead sea turtles, and piping plovers.
Provide nesting, resting, and wintering habitat for migratory birds, including the greater snow geese and other migratory waterfowl, shorebirds, wading birds, raptors, and neotropical migrants.
Provide habitat and protection for endangered and threatened species.
Provide opportunities for public enjoyment of wildlife and wildlands resources. Public use programs focus on interpretation, environmental education, wildlife observation, wildlife photography, and fishing.
After leaving Pea Island, we headed over to Chicamacomico Life Saving Station, but they were closed. So we asked Barb and John if they would want to see the Nights of Rodanthe house. We have seen this house from the road many times, but still hadn't driven up to get a closer look. We didn't get too close of a look this time either because there wasn't a place to park that wasn't so sandy that we feared we would get stuck. So we did a drive by "shooting" instead.
If you are wondering what makes this particular house so special, it was the house used in the movie "Nights in Rodanthe" based on the book written by Nicholas Sparks. It was called The Inn at Rodanthe in the movie. At that time the house sat in a different location.
At some point storms and hurricanes shifted the 45 foot tall houses location to the point where it was deemed unsafe. The owners were told to move the house or it would be condemned. The house found itself new owners, Ben and Debbie Huss of Newton, North Carolina. They vowed to move the house and restore it to its former glory.
From Everything Outer Banks:
"The Huss family hired Expert House Movers (who was the company that moved the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse), and the infamous Matyiko brothers that own Expert House Movers moved on the job quickly. The house, which weighed in at a whopping 83,000 pounds, was jacked up, shored up with cribbing underneath, loaded up on beams and four pairs of huge wheels, and readied for its move in a matter of just two days. Permits were pulled, electric crews stood by to move power lines, as did the police to stop traffic while the behemoth was to take the approximate 30 minute journey down highway 12 to its new location.
The original move was scheduled for Friday, January 15th, and as the pilings were cut away and the massive truck pulled into position to move the big girl everyone gathered in anticipation. The house jostled to the left as she started moving and everyone cheered as she was pulled away from the Atlantic. Unfortunately the excitement was short lived as the house evidently wanted to stay in its long time location for one more weekend. The massive truck got its wheels stuck in the sand as it was trying to pull the house out of its birthplace, and with nightfall coming fast the move had to be rescheduled for the following Monday.
On Monday, January 18th with the truck unstuck, its wheels secure, all police, electrical, cable television and telephone company crews ready to take down their lines again, water department folks standing by, department of transportation officials there to supervise and a village of onlookers in position the house was moved at 10:30 AM. The move was uneventful if you don’t count the news helicopters, and hundreds of onlookers gawking at a once in a lifetime sight."
Although Nathan and I have been to this lighthouse already, we were thrilled to visit again with Barb and John because it was so smoky during our last visit. I'm so glad we did because the view was fabulous from the top.
I have already shared much information about this historic lighthouse in my last post, but just one reminder that there are 248 steps to get to the top.
It takes some time to get there!
The climb is worth it though because the view is amazing!
This time we were able to visit the museum and we even caught the movie about when the lighthouse was moved from its former location to the current one. The movie was much more interesting than I thought it would be. If you visit, I highly recommend it. It is incredible to hear and see all that was involved in moving this beautiful piece of the OBX's history.
We had a great time here, and saw that each time we come back, we will learn more things about this interesting place.
One nice thing about staying put in areas for a longer period of time, is that we learn things from the people there that we wouldn't know otherwise. For example, when I got to work today someone asked me if I saw the waterspouts out there. I had no idea what a waterspout was. They said go and look out the window and look up at the sky. Once I saw it, I had no idea how I missed it on my way to work. I called Nathan and sent him out to take some pictures of them.
Waterspouts are tornadoes that are over the water instead of land. And they are something else to watch.
Austin has been staying with Nathan's side of the family, and has been involved in all kinds of new things. Out of all of the siblings, he is the most interested in being around family and knowing the family history. I wonder if it isn't because he was still quite young when we moved to a place where we had no family around. Whatever the reason, he loves it when he can spend time with family. From the oldest to the youngest, like little Ray.
He has been visiting family places and learning the histories there. He has been learning about the Civil War and the history in that area. He has been working hard for a farmer and making lots of money. Most of what he is doing sounds awesome to me.
At the heart of it, he is still a city boy though. So he doesn't know that "leaves of three, let it be".
Poor guy. Even though I'm not good at nurturing sick people, I still wish he were with us so I could baby him while he is feeling so miserable. I am glad that he is with people who do love him and will take care of him.
"Our aim in education is to give a full life. We owe it to them to initiate an immense number of interests. Life should be all living, and not merely a tedious passing of time; not all doing or all feeling or all thinking - the strain would be too great - but, all living; that is to say, we should be in touch wherever we go, whatever we hear, whatever we see, with some manner of vital interest." Charlotte Mason