Saturday, June 27, 2009

New Interstate in our back yard

Our house is about two blocks from Interstate 64, although in STL it is called Hwy 44 (don't ask me why!). Several years ago they started the process of widening the interstate, and the plan was that they would just close it down and rebuild it. I can't imagine that working in Atlanta! They actually tore down a block of houses next to the interstate a few years ago in preparation. They closed the part that is closest to us in December, and anticipate it being finished by the end of the year. We take the dogs up there from time to time to check on the progress of things. Its very odd, seeing an interstate as a construction site. While I was in SC they tore down the bridge over the interstate near our house, and we now have lots more traffic on our road since we are a detour route. Here's the bridge a few weeks before it was demolished. And here is the pile of scrap metal it left behind!
Views of construction....

And the doggies playing around!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Vacation time...long post!

As soon as school got out, and Mark got back from a meeting in San Diego, I headed to South Carolina in the "GA DAWG." It was fun to be driving a new car; I cranked up the CD player, opened the moon roof, and let it go! The first few days I spent just chillin' out with Sara, Ryan and Emery, and getting into their routine. Then we all went down to Charleston for a long weekend to visit with Sissi and Frank. Our first day there, Sissi and I headed downtown to do some shopping and have lunch at Vickery's. Here's part of downtown Charleston....
And here's Sissi on the patio at Vickery's. We had an awesome lunch of seared tuna, with some wonderful Bloody Mary's as we sat and talked and caught up with each other. Ryan, his friend Lex, and Frank went out fishing one day and had a great time catching sharks.
Captain Frank and his catch...
and Lex and Ryan with their sharks. Sissi and Frank have beautiful marshes and a pond right near their home. Here's the marsh...
And here's the pond. According to Sissi, there is an alligator that lives there, but we couldn't get her to come out and meet us. Here's Sissi and Frank hanging out...
Playing with Emery....
And Ryan being Emery's chew toy.
We've weathered a few storms while we were there, but even the rain was pretty!
On my last day there, Sissi and Frank took me out on the boat for a day of fishing and cruising... It started off cloudy, but turned into a beautiful day. We stopped at the Sunset Cay Marina for lunch and then headed back towards Johns Island. I took tons of pictures on the boat ride, but tried to limit these to the best of the best. Here's a group of pelicans on the shore of Kiawah Island...
A pelican in flight... A white egret in the trees...
and a scenic picture of the marsh.
After Charleston, we headed back to Greenville, then the next day I drove to Gwinnett. I had lunch with friends from Gainesville Exploration Academy and caught up with all the latest happenings at my old school. I also stopped by Sara's friend Kellie's house to visit with her and Alyssa, who is five weeks younger than Emery. What a cutie she is! I had a great dinner with Marla, Diane and Joanna, but didn't do a good job of keeping my camera with me. I stopped by for a short visit with the Arnow's, which was fun. I also managed to go by the Mall of Georgia and buy a plethora of UGA items to decorate my new car as well as other Bulldog items. I also drove through the old neighborhood and found it a bit depressing. Gwinnett in general seems to be going through hard times, but there were lots of "For Sale" signs in the old neighborhood, and I've been told that not another house has sold since mine did back in March. I was very lucky!

After all the visiting, I headed to the ATL airport to pick up Mark. While waiting for him to arrive, I got a totally unexpected stomach punch watch the USO people cheering soldiers returning home. I had to leave the area where you greet arrivals, and when Mark found me I was completely sobbing. I think I'm doing so well dealing with Austin's deployment, but something unexpected like that shows up and completely defeats me. We missed him very much during my trip!
Mark and I returned to Greenville, and the next day we headed out for a day of waterfall scouting. We went to the Pisgah National Forest, hiked trails, visited the "Cradle of Forestry", and had lunch at the Mt. Pisgan Inn on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Everything was absolutely beautiful!! the first waterfall we stopped at was Looking Glass Falls.
Next stop was The Cradle of Forestry, where the science of Forestry got its beginnings. We toured the exhibits and walked a trail. The mountain laurels were in full bloom everywhere, but particularly here, in an area that was known as "The Pinks" for the all the blooms that are there.
Here's a closeup of the mountain laurels.Then we drove up to the Pisgah Inn for lunch, which has huge scenic windows overlooking the mountains. So gorgeous!

View from the inn...
There were a few rhododendrons blooming at that higher elevation....We drove back down to Dupont Forest, which has several waterfalls in close proximity. The first one we encountered was Triple Falls.We attempted a picture of both of us in front of the falls. My camera is really too big and heavy to do this well!
Next, after a longer walk, was High Falls.
And lastly, we found Hooker Falls. Here's a rock bluff that we photographed on the way home. We definitely want to go back next summer and spend some camping and hiking time there!
The rest of the our time in Greenville was spent playing with Emery, and visiting with Sara and Ryan. Here's Emery getting her bath.

Donny and Nancy came up to visit with us and the four "Grands" babysat for Emery and Logan while Sara, Ryan, Julie and Clayton held a baby shower for Lex and Kristi. Here's Donny and Nancy working hard to keep both babies happy!
We also took Emery to The Falls park in downtown Greenville for some photo ops. It was hot, but we had a great time!

A couple of pictures of Emery just hanging out at home....isn't she the cutest!!

Unfortunately, eventually Mark had to fly off to Boston so he could go act important (Thanks, Coy!). Sara and I packed Emery up and took off to meet up with my parents on their camping trip to Lake Winfield Scott. This is a place we have been camping at for years, and it is also where Sara and Ryan chose to have their wedding.
Here we are hanging out by the campfire...the main reason many people go camping!
Great grandpa Whitie with Emery...

Great grandma Toby with Emery.... A happy Hailey...she loves to go camping!
Group photo while walking....

A wildflower called Fire Pink
Hailey just THOUGHT she was going to get to sleep on my sleeping bag!
Emery loved to watch and listen to the babbling brook next to the campsite. It made her stop crying every time!
Sara and Emery in front of the lake
Sara and Emery in the spot where Sara and Ryan got married three years ago.
After the camping trip, I babysat one last time so that Sara and Ryan could go out and celebrate their anniversary. The trip home wasn't quite as exciting as the trip down there, but I was happy to get back!