Tuesday, October 28, 2014

October Memories

The month of October was an eventful month for our household. We had planned a vacation to North Carolina back in May and planned to be gone close to 3 weeks. We would leave Oct 13 on a redeye flight and would see Al's cousins, Larry and Ronnie, for Larry's 64th birthday celebration, and spend time with our friends in Lenoir, Scott and Pam Barlow.

As the vacation approached, we were contacted in July by our dear friend, Bev Raatz, that her husband, Gordie, had passed away. After she scheduled his interment appointment at the National Cemetery in Phoenix, she called again, asking Al to officiate the service on Friday, October 10.

Hmmm... that would be tough to pull off, since we were already flying on Monday, October 13; but we tried and found a mid-afternoon flight that arrived at bedtime on Thursday, October 9, and were able to get an early flight back on Saturday, October 11. (There was no non-stop flight available, so we landed in Salt Lake City coming and going.  Al has some difficulty with the cabin pressure on his head during landings, so we were disappointed there would be four take-offs and landings for him within 2 days, and six within five days).

ARIZONA for a few days...

Pam, Barb and Al Hughes, Bev and Sandy
All four flights were uneventful, and Al did not suffer any discomfort, Praise God! The reunion with Bev and her girls, Sandy and Pam, was a sweet blessing! We met a few of the grandchildren, too. Bev heard from another grandson while we were there that he had accepted Christ... an answer to his Grandpa's prayers!

A BUSY Weekend...

Back at "the Hughes Haus" on Saturday afternoon, we worked hard on preparations for Sunday and packing to leave on vacation Monday night. Al preached both morning and evening services and was thankful that a special Discipleship class during the Sunday School hour lightened his load. We caught up all the household laundry, pulled out more luggage and started filling bags.

Little Alice driving a big U-Haul truck
During this weekend, Alice and Jeff's house was emptied into the garage for the move to their new house after closing, so she stayed at our house to watch Checkers and Charming the first week we were gone. She divided her time between cleaning up the vacated house and scheduling the moving van and work crews, while working full time in her part time job at the post office. (Jeff was out of town for schooling, so Alice had the full load of the move on her shoulders, besides, watching our dogs.) We prayed a lot for her... what a busy lady!

We found a ride to the airport for Monday night and headed off to a much needed "time out". The flight was almost an hour late because the flight crew was still in flight on another flight.

Detroit City, Here We Come...

Our first stop was Detroit, our hometown in the old days. God treated us to a beautiful sunrise after we barely caught the flight by running along people movers, trams and "hauling it" to the next gate, just before they closed the plane for departure! (Whew! Wish we had taken the wheeled carry on! Those computers get heavy on full run!)

Charlotte, a new adventure...

While we barely made our flight, our luggage did NOT get on the plane! Arriving in Charlotte, we checked with the airline who advised us what time to check back for the luggage to be offloaded. We rented our vehicle and headed for breakfast, shopping for things we forgot to pack, and returned to get the missing bags.

Heading to Barlow's...

Getting misinformation from our google map, it took way too long to get to Barlow's house. After a redeye flight, missing luggage, and misdirection, we sorely needed a nap, so the Barlows left us to unpack and unwind and went to visit Scott's mom in hospice. 

We spent the first few days just resting, walking some paths, and enjoying not having a hectic schedule. During this time, I prepared the Sunday bulletin for our church back home. We did not have any appointments until the following Sunday (Oct 19) at Barlow's church, Refuge Missionary Baptist Church, so we spent Friday visiting Blowing Rock, NC... we found the mountain views peaceful and refreshing. While we had hoped to find the mountains in full color, many of the leaves had blown off before the colors changed. At least we had each other for good company! It was a blessed day of exploring Blowing Rock and the parkway.

Mayberry RFD (aka Mt Airy)

Al found some HUGE prayer rocks in the path
Barb on the beautiful trail
Tuesday with Craig Edwards, Al and Dr Larry Brown
Tuesday we headed for Mount Airy to hear Dr. Larry Brown preach at Mayberry Baptist Church. We explored the town of Mayberry, had brunch at Barney's Cafe, and discovered the walking trail along the Ararat river until check-in time. Al preached Wednesday night while we were there. It was a blessed message of hope for the folks there. God moved. Here is a LINK to his message on our church website.
Barb in Mayberry
Cute cop car from a Metropolitan car
We loved Mayberry... I went back for another excursion on Thursday morning, while Al went on another walk on the trail. Mount Airy (Mayberry) is such a quaint and charming place. It was disappointing to hear that much of the industry had moved away and left the unemployment rate alarmingly high. Houses were very inexpensive, and people were so needy. Very sad...

Larry's birthday...

Heading out of Mount Airy Thursday, we headed for Al's cousin Larry's house in Apex, NC. Arriving mid-afternoon, we were so excited to see both Larry and his brother, Ron (from Michigan) again. There were hugs all around! Al had not seen the brothers together for 22 years. As we visited, we learned that Larry's birthday BBQ would be in the evening at his son Todd's house, a few blocks away. They encouraged us to invite our grandson, Anders, who had just moved to NC and lived only 45 minutes away. We had time to play the family "game" against the brothers and were trounced.

Ron, Larry and Al Hughes, the cousins reunited after 22 years.
Sydney, Lauren, Maddie and Ethan Hughes
Later, at Todd's house, we met his children for the first time, and Todd did not recall ever meeting us in the past. There was a sweet time of acquaintance and getting to know them. Sydney, the oldest girl, was doing so well: we were happy to see her full recovery from a brain tumor last year. Larry was in his element and enjoying his grandchildren. Todd prepared a delicious meal in their lovely home while we awaited Anders. Then the party started! They provided a chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream and Sanders Hot Fudge topping from Michigan... oooh, so good. We miss that great chocolate syrup! Todd gave Al a can of the topping so we can enjoy it at home! (I get the Sander's emails and drool regularly over their sales and advertisements!) Anders rolled his eyes in bliss as he tasted its chocolatey goodness! Mmmm... seriously, if you have not tasted it, you can only imagine.

Friday was a scheduled day of preparation for Sunday. Al was preaching in Smithfield the next Sunday, and I needed to send a bulletin back to be printed out. We discovered the outlying area a bit and found some good coffee for a change.  (Motel coffee is just blah, more like dishwater! In Mt Airy we bought a few ceramic mugs, hoping it would help the flavor. Nothing helped. On Friday we discovered the Krispy Kreme had the best coffee since we arrived in NC! Unfortunately, they sell donuts, too!) :(
Barb and Anders on the beach
Saturday we were taking Anders to the ocean, so he arrived at our motel before 8 am. The maps told us to expect one and a half hours... but it took three hours. The place we were heading for had no beach access, so we continued to Surf City... we were there 32 years ago, when we took a vacation from Vermont in 1982. So many memories! None of us went swimming, but we enjoyed being in the sand and surf and getting some sun. I find the beach relaxing and would love to live near the coast for a few years. Beautiful! The east coast is NOTHING like the west coast. 

Al and Anders after lunch
While we were there, Anders ran down to the water and waded a bit. When he returned he said he had officially been "IN" every ocean that touches the U.S. - the Gulf of Mexico (Texas); Pacific Ocean (WA state and Hawaii) and now the Atlantic in North Carolina. Making memories! 

Sunday, October 26, at Smithfield NC was unique. The Freedom Baptist Church is a mostly Hispanic church where Pastor J Michael Walls is pastor. My husband met Bro Walls online when both began to use the internet about 1996 and have corresponded since, but never met until this weekend. The way the services are conducted is different than any church we have seen. Both English and Spanish songs are sung simultaneously... somewhat I suppose it will be like in Heaven, no? We enjoyed the Sunday School lesson with Anders and then the cousins came for the morning service to hear Al preach. The Hispanic people had a translated copy of the message in hand, and the interpreter sat the service out. We were blessed! Here is a message link for that morning.
Pastor Walls with Al
Todd Hughes, son Ethan, Al, Larry and Ron Hughes, and Anders
The last of the Hughes men with Anders
The afternoon we spent with Larry and Ronnie again, playing the family "game" for a rematch. This time WE won and now have challenged them to a rubber match at our place! Let's wait and see if they come!


Al with Dennis Usher
That night we drove down to the church Anders has been attending, where we knew the Music Director from our Open Door days. Dennis Usher and his family have been in Fayetteville for 30 years. Anders lives very close to the church and plans to attend where he "feels right at home".

We also saw another family we knew from Open Door and were pleased to get reacquainted with them. They had just recently discovered that Dennis had also been at Open Door.

Anders has LOTS of people he already has connections to in this area, so his next three years will be entertaining and fun!

The Scallons, formerly of Open Door, introduced
themselves to us. SO EXCITED to see them!
Back to Barlow's

Driving back to the Barlow's, we drove across the entire state on Highway 64, without using the interstate system. The colors were definitely changing, and we enjoyed seeing that the tree colors had changed since we were with them a week ago!

Blowing Rock...

View coming down the mountain

We decided to try Blowing Rock again this week and check out the colors there, too. The only disappointment on Tuesday was that most of the leaves had fallen off prior to the color change at the upper levels. The mountains were full of barren trees. We saw some color on the roadsides along the way, so we were not completely disappointed. We loved this place... such a charming town. We even discovered a restaurant between buildings that had outdoor seating under the trees, The Village Cafe. The menu was full of delicious choices, and we enjoyed all of the selections we had.

Barb and Pam at lunch at the Village Cafe.
We look forward to returning home this week and have started preparations for the next Sunday as we pack.  See you soon!