Sunday, September 30, 2007

End of vacation

This is Andy with his "battle buddy", Private Brown. They are each assigned to one person for their entire time of basic training. Andy said that some people had a hard time because they had a bad partner, but he said he was lucky and got someone who was a good worker and fun to be around. Their partner was also the person they pulled night shift with.

Here his platoon is, lining up one last time after graduation. The middle one, in the back row is Andy.

We surprised Andy on Saturday by all wearing t-shirts that Laura had made up. When he was younger, Laura started called him a nickname that he banned us from using when he got older. Laura never really listened to him and somehow she got away with it. After he left for basic training, he signed some of his letters with this name. So - Laura had t-shirts for each of us that said something with that name. Mine said - "got "nickname"? Bob's said "Member of the N.B.F.C. (National nickname Fan Club), Heather's said - "I heart nickname". You get the idea? I can't reveal the name or he will never forgive me! Anyway - he got a good laugh on Saturday when he saw us all wearing these shirts? Throughout the day, several peopla asked what the shirts meant. On Saturday, we drove Andy to Virginia to his next station. We stopped at the Ripley's Believe it or not Museum. The figure you see is a life size version of the tallest man on record. He was 9 feet tall. In the picture is Aaron, who is 6'6" and me measuring in at only 5'4". It was nice to do something lighthearted and goofy before we dropped Andy off.

We brought Andy to Fort Eustis where we weren't able to see his next living quarters. They took him and sent us on our way. To his disappointment, he wasn't able to keep his laptop. He did call us already though and told us that he will have free time to call, he has 3 nice guys in the room with him and one of his friends from basic is in the same building. Once again he is upbeat and feeling good, so I'm okay too!

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Saturday, September 29, 2007

Graduation Day

Friday was graduation Day. 920 soldiers graduated, from 5 different companies. It was a nice ceremony, but not the tear jerker we heard it would be! It is quite something to see them all marching and lining up.

Here is Andy in his dress uniform, minus the jacket.



Proud Dad and Mom with Andy


Laura, Aaron, Andy, Heather


After Andy received his papers, he was released to us to drive to Fort Eustis. On the drive through North Carolina we stopped at a Civil War battlefield. This home was used as a hospital during the war. The family remained upstairs while 600 Union and 45 Confederate soldiers were treated. It is in nearly the same condition as it was at the time.
We are now in Virginia and will be starting for home after we deliver Andy. Hopefully we won't be too teary as we start home! It's been great seeing him again.

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Thursday, September 27, 2007

Here he is!

Today was the long awaited Family Day! We got to the base about 8:30 and settled into the bleachers. The program started at 9:00 with a chaplain opening with prayer. They welcomed everyone and asked who had come the farthest. The person who came the furthest was from American Samoa. There were also people there from Germany, Hawaii and Alaska! They recognized veterans who were present and gave a short informational talk. They then did a demonstration on military maneuvers. Then they said it was time to do what we were there for and that was to see our soldiers. Smoke bombs went off in the distance, and the platoons marched out through the smoke. Here they all are marching out. We then had to go on the field and find our soldier, which didn't take as long as I thought it would.

This is Andy's barrack. In the foreground is a rubberized area that they did their workouts on. Andy's room was on the top floor.

This is Victory Tower. We saw a group working on it today. They were scaling the wall, doing ropes, rappelling...


Here is Andy! We were so happy to see him. He looks great. I noticed that his walk is even different - his posture is straight and he walks with confidence. We met several of his "battle buddies" and their families. We had the whole day and were actually kind of bored because there wasn't much to do, but it was so nice to spend time with him and hear more in depth what his time there has been like. We were able to observe something that we thought was really impressive. On an army base they are very respectful of the flag. At 4:50 we were sitting outside and a bugle sounded over the intercom. Within 5 minutes we saw several soldiers begin to stand, including Andy. At 5 pm they played the bugle retreat over the intercom, and all the soldiers saluted. This is the time they take down the flag and Andy says that all over the base anyone who is outside, stops what they are doing to salute. Even people driving, stop, get out, and salute. They do this in the morning when it is raised also.
Tomorrow morning we will have graduation at 9:00. He will be released to us after that and at some point we will begin the drive to Virginia. I'll try to post some graduation pictures tomorrow.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

It's been another great day!

What a fun day we had today! We started the day by heading for Summerville where our blogging friend Dena lives and has a store. What a treat to meet someone in person that you have gotten to know from a blog. I can report to you that Dena is as sweet in person as she is in her blog! Even the guys came in and agreed that it was really nice to meet her! Here is a picture of Dena and me. (Ginger - this is for you!)
This is a picture of her store. What a cute place! If I lived in the area I would definitely shop here! She has the cards, stationary, purses, papers, monogrammed items and more.

As an added bonus, we got to meet Annie who had fallen and hurt her nose, and Dena's Mom who was taking Annie to the Dr. We all hope her nose isn't broken!


After we left Dena, we went to Cypress gardens. What a fun stop. (Dena - looks like a great place for you and your sisters to visit with the kids). They have a butterfly pavilion, that was filled with many different types of butterflies.
Aaron spotted this little guy hiding outside. We saw a few different types around the gardens.

We had a tour of the swamp, in a flat bottomed boat. I would have never thought a swamp could be so beautiful. Here's a few turtles we spotted on the ride.

We even saw an alligator sitting on a log!

There were lots of water lilies.

This is another place where several movies were filmed. This bridge was built for the filming of The Patriot. They also filmed The North and the South, The Notebook and a few others that I don't remember.

Here is a beautiful view of the cypress trees in the swamp. These trees live about 600 years and these trees are about 300 years old.
After our boat ride we walked the trails, then drove to Columbia. Tomorrow is family day at the base and I can't wait to see Andy! I will post pictures of him tomorrow, but I don't know what time we will be back at the hotel.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Hey Ya'll

We are having a great time here! We started this morning by visiting Boone Hall, which is an old plantation. There have been 3 movies taped here; The North and the South, Queen and The Notebook. The picture below shows the view as you drive up. The road in is lined with live oaks and is really spectacular.This is the front of the plantation, which we enjoyed touring, although it is not the original plantation. It is actually the fourth building and was built in the 1930's.
This is the oldest live oak on the plantation. It is over 600 years old.

Here is one the the buildings that housed slaves. This plantation made bricks, so their seconds were used for these buildings.

After we left Boone Hall, we called Dena and to find out how to get to Market. She was a great tour guide and told us how to get there. Below is a picture of the Market. It covers quite and area and is filled with all kinds of vendors. We had fun walking through it - and we made a few purchases.

On the suggestion of our other tour guide - Megan, we went to Sullivans, on Sullivan Island. Below is a picture of my plate, to prove that I ordered fried okra! I actually had fish too, which isn't my favorite thing, but it was all very good. This was a restaurant that we would have never found on our own; it seems to be more of a local spot, so we were really glad to have that suggestion. Everyone tasted the okra, but I'm sorry to report that Aaron and I were the only ones who liked it.
After supper, we drove to Isle of Palms and went to the beach. We all walked in the Atlantic Ocean, which was surprisingly warm.
We finished the night with a stop at Ben and Jerry's for ice cream. We had a fun day and felt like we really got to enjoy some local things. Thanks Megan and Dena, for sharing your beloved Charleston with us. We think it's great!

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Monday, September 24, 2007

Here's the pictures!

These pictures go with the post below. Megan - I hope they don't make you too homesick!This is a view of the new Arthur Ravenal Bridge, from Patriots Point.
This is the Yorktown. You can't believe how big it was. It held 3,000 sailors along with 390 officers.

Here is Bob in a Grummond Cougar. This plane was inside the ship, and was only one of many.



This is the view from the top of Fort Sumter.


Laura and Aaron

Heather

A row of cannons along the edge of the Fort.

A view of the Fort as we approached from the ocean.

Do you see that black thing in the water? It's a dolphin - you'll just have to trust me on this!

A bird we saw along the water edge - maybe Dena or Megan can identify it?

The sidewalk along Battery Park. There are Palmetto trees everywhere here and they are really beautiful.

Look at these beautiful houses. It's fun to just walk down the street.
That's it for now - more pictures tomorrow. I hope you don't get sick of looking at them!

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Hello from beautiful Charleston!

We have had a great day today. I have some pictures for you but I can't get blogger to upload them, so I am just posting and may have some pictures later. It is hot and very humid here! For those of you that know Heather, you would be amazed at her hair today. Laura says she has never seen here look like this. Her hair is quite curly today. When she was young, her hair used to curl in the humidity, but we haven't seen it curl like this since. (Sorry - I should have taken a picture of it!) Also - I was wearing sandals with straps on them and now my feet are striped! Laura and I have decided that we are far to wimpy to live here - we are wilting in the heat. I keep thinking of Andy running miles in his camo uniform in the heat, and it is cooler now than it was.
Anyway - We started our day by crossing the new Arthur Ravenal Bridge. It was opened in 2005 and is a work of art. We went on to Patriots Point. This is where the Yorktown is stationed. It is an aircraft carrier from WWII. It is huge. We climbed more steps, up and down going through the 5 different tours on this ship than you would believe. We wished we had started counting the flights of stairs at the beginning of the day. As you can imagine - Bob was in his glory. He just loves this stuff! We also went to Fort Sumter. It is on an island off the coast. This is where the civil war started. There isn't much of the original structure left, but what is there is interesting. We took a sightseeing boat out to it, and on the way back we saw dolphins jumping out of the water. When I get my pictures to post you will see that I didn't get any great pictures of that, but you can see a fin in the water! Bob said to tell you all that there were sharks in the water.
After we went back to the hotel and tried to make ourselves look presentable, be took a drive to Battery Park. It's located next to the ocean and has lots of old monuments. We enjoyed walking through it except when a flock of pigeons "attacked" Laura. We saw Rainbow Row, which are really old townhouses painted in many bright colors. This sounds like it would look awful, but it is a beautiful street. There are so many gorgeous old homes here, it is fun to just walk around and look at them.
I think that's all for now. Cheri - we are so glad to have the GPS. We would be perpetually lost without it - probably still driving around!


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Sunday, September 23, 2007

We're on vacation!

We have made it to Charleston. It is sunny and warm. We had a great trip down here, complete with lots of laughter! We made an unplanned trip to the Creation Museum in Kentucky. We were driving and saw a sign for it; it is a place we always thought would be interesting to visit so we stopped. You could spend a lot of time there, but we hurried through to see as much as we could. It was really interesting and worth the stop. Below is part of the Noah's Ark exhibit that is set up to show what the walls of the ark may have looked like.

These are pictures of the gardens at the museum. We really enjoyed walking through them.

We stayed in Knoxville Tennesee Saturday night. We had a really nice hotel room, but our night was disturbed by a group of drunks in the parking lot below us. I won't go into what we found on the pavement in the morning, along with the beer bottles.
We made a stop at the Biltmore estate today. What a beautiful place. I couldn't take pictures inside, but here is a view of the outside. There are 3 kitchens, 43 bathrooms, tons of bedrooms and sitting rooms. The house alone covers 4 acres. There are also famous paintings and sculptures. It was incredible.

Here is a view of the back porch.


The gardens here were designed by the same man who designed Central Park. They go on forever and each garden is different from the others.

We arrived in Charleston around 6:00. After checking in, we went to get some supper. We were walking, when what did I see walking across the parking lot near me? A cockroach! Bob was not very happy with me when I stopped to take a picture of it (Which was not easy - they move fast), but I knew my readers would want to see it as it was the first cockroach I've ever seen.

After supper, we went for a drive to see the ocean. I drove, because Bob was tired of driving. Because I was driving, I recieved the blame for getting us lost! There are lots of 1 way streets here, but I was only listening to my passengers directions. We did find our way back, although we only sawe a small harbour of the ocean. That's it for now - more adventures tomorrow!

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