Showing posts with label anniversary. Show all posts
Showing posts with label anniversary. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Crazy May

We're very proud of Drew. He's now doing
web-based marketing at Weigels.
Wow! It's the end of another crazy May. I've long noticed (for the last 25 years or so) that May is just a hectic month. There are several birthdays in our family (including Darla's, Drew's and my sister's), our anniversary (this year marked 27 years), Mothers Day, the end of the school year (made more crazy due to Drew's and Dara's graduations from college and high school, respectively), and the beginning of consistently warm weather. That brings on gardening and yard work, not to mention outdoor activities of other sorts. In addition to these things, Drew bought and moved into his first house, Duncan got engaged to be married and moved out of her college house, and Dara determined where she would go to college, bought a car and sold her truck.
Yes, Truck Norris now has a new owner. I'm kind of sad to see him go. We had pretty recently replaced the engine with a brand new AMC 304 v-8 and everything was finally running right! Wow the blood, sweat, and tears that I put into that truck! But the new owner seems very excited and will no doubt continue to give it great care.

My Wag, after body repairs, before paint.

Not my Wag. This is the kind of old school stripe I'm getting!
My Wagoneer has been another iron I've had in the fire. Since February it's been in the shop getting fixed and painted. By fixed I mean all the damage from my wreck has been repaired, plus any rust on the truck has been repaired with new metal. Now it's really getting close to being ready for paint. I'm painting it the same color it had, which is a tiny bit brighter than the original "black cherry" (dark maroon) it came with from the factory. The previous owner had given it a respray that was a beautiful improvement on the already great color (it is a little more pearly-metallic than the original) but the paint job itself was not the best. It had places of overspray and some runs, and the wood grain decal and trim had not been replaced, and it was cracking and fading. Most people never saw these flaws, but I did and it was quickly getting worse. The biggest issue was the rust that was starting to bubble and show at the bottom of the quarter panels (a typical Wagoneer issue). I'm going to do something different regarding the wood siding. I found the chrome trim for an early 1970s Wagoneer that highlights the distinctive lines that were covered in the the 1980s by all that wood grain vinyl. I am going to just do wood grain on the 4-6 inch stripe that runs the length of the Wagoneer just below the door handles inside my new chrome trim. It's been a hassle to resolve all the problems, but I can't wait to see how it turns out. It will be a unique Wagoneer!

Here's Joe, tearing down an old 360 I bought to rebuild.
After having it machined (bored .030 over), ported, and
installing a new intake, pistons, four-barrel carb, etc.,
it should be a stud. I hope it lasts as long as the old one!
What's more, I'm getting a new engine built for the Wagoneer. The original one that's currently in it has about 250,000 miles. That's a lot for a carbureted AMC 360, even though they were great engines when designed in the late 1960s. A friend introduced me to an engine builder who I really like. He's a Mopar guy (for you non-motorheads, that means he likes Chryslers, Dodges, and Plymouths, particularly the Hemi muscle car varieties), but he agreed to help me build an AMC 360 for the Wag that has 300 hp, and 400 lb. ft. of torque. That's not crazy power, but it is definitely much more than the Wagoneer has ever had (144 net hp, and 280 lb. ft. when new). That should allow the Wagoneer to pull Daisy our camper up any mountain that has a road. I can't wait! This was all made possible because of the hit-and-run that happened to me last August. I was hoping the Wag would be finished by our usual Father's Day camping trip, but I don't think it's going to happen. But that's ok. I really just want all these jobs done right.

I'm sure I'll write a post on all this Wagoneer stuff once everything's done (will it ever be done?).

Hopefully, things will begin to settle down a little. Right now I'm speaking at a marriage conference in LA (Lower Alabama) for Coaches Outreach.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Last Nevis Post...What a Trip!

Well, we've been back in Knoxville less than a week and life is crazy busy once again.
Ok...I've been told we've made people mad and some have kidded us that we've been gloating. I feel bad if that's happening (we're NOT gloating, just sharing a joyful time with friends!), cause we certainly don't want anyone getting mad!! I pray that you ALL will have the opportunity to BE MARRIED FOR 20 YEARS TO A PERSON SEEKING CHRIST. THAT'S the REAL blessing! The trip was really just a celebration and rekindling of our most important earthy relationship.

Here's a FEW shots of our final two days on Nevis...

This pic was taken on May 12, the day of our 20th anniversary. We decided to eat at Coconut Grove, a restaurant in which we had eaten lunch one day earlier and really liked. We had met the owner, a Frenchman who had also lived in New York before selling all and moving to Nevis 5 years ago (he looks kind of like George Clooney). Awesome fish! Darla had some freshly caught local grouper that was INCREDIBLE! The restaurant's claim-to-fame is that it has the best wine cellar on the Island. But like a couple of nerds, we brought some non-alcoholic sparkling grape juice that they gave Darla at the Baptist Church for Mother's Day! We didn't care and neither did they. We couldn't take it home. It was a great time!

The view of the beach at twilight was so good. The gentle cool breeze was perfect! A quintessential group of wealthy Brits were there. It was so fun listening to them! It could have been a SNL skit! We were cracking up.

Really, for our last two days, we wanted to spend as much time on the beach as we could. So on the 13th that's what we did until lunch when we decided to go back to Peak Haven where we had eaten after our hike to Nevis Peak.

Here I am looking through the telescope.

I know it is funny, but Darla was always wanting to take pictures of the food we were eating. She took this after I had already eaten half of the chicken. IT WAS SOOO GOOD. It was a Nevis favorite: Curry chicken cooked in a stew. The cook's name is Llewellyn. He used to work at the Four Seasons resort. Such a nice and gentle man, and a great cook! Also on the plate are some yellow Nevis-grown sweet potatoes and other local veggies. I wish I could convey how good it was. Darla had a chicken sandwich made with Llewellyn's homemade bread. Mmmmm. And what a view while we ate. We conversed with the owners there too.

Afterward we decided to pop over to a place we had heard about from several sources: Golden Rock, a restored sugar plantation which has been turned into a restaurant and hotel. All I can say is...Wow. Darla and I were sad that we had not come sooner and eaten there. All these pics will perhaps show how excellent this place was. They had restored the original stone buildings and had added some water features and allowed the tropical plants to grow in just the right places.
Their specialty is their lobster sandwich. We had heard about it the whole time we'd been on Nevis but never went to try it. While walking around, one of the servers walked by with one. HUGE! Homemade thick-sliced bread LOADED with chunky lobster salad (yeah, like chicken salad)! Perhaps my only regret for our whole trip! We should have eaten here!! Even some of the rooms are in the remodeled ancient stone structures. I wish the pictures did this place more justice.

This pic is of the most desirable room there, the honeymoon suite, converted from a sugar mill tower. Darla (always curious to see how the inside looks) went up to the front door and nervously cupped her hands around her eyes at the glass to see inside. Assuming no one was there, she started oohing and aahing about how nice it was. I couldn't resist. I spoke loudly, "We're sorry, we didn't know anyone was in there--sorry!" Darla just about swallowed her tongue!! I wish I had a picture of her face! It was great.

Well, the dreaded day finally came when we had to leave Nevis. Here are some shots from the ferry as we departed and went to St. Kitts to fly home. We met a nice couple on the ferry from Boston who are attending seminary at Gordon Conwell. Great folks, and it was good to talk to some Americans.

It was truly sad to say goodbye to a little island we had grown to love, which has such kind people. Nevisians (pronounced Niv-EESH-uns) are almost all helpful and smiling. They speak perfect English and are very proud of their education (highest literacy rate of all western countries), low crime, rich history, and Christian heritage. They are hard-working people who have made their island great.
We boarded the ferry and took pictures all along the 45-minute ride to St. Kitts. We passed a big old freighter, a Carnival cruise ship, and other craft as we approached the port city of Basseterre. It is interesting that frequently while on Nevis, the Nevisians expressed disdain for St. Kitts. One Nevisian called Basseterre "thug city."

How to end...
I can't express how glad I am that we did this together. We'll be paying for the splurge for a while, but it was SOOO worth it. And Nevis couldn't have been better. I'm recharged and ready for another twenty and beyond!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


There is no way to describe it. God is good to us. Our trip just seems to go from great to even greater. Thanks to all of you who have wished us well. Again, no time to tell details. Here are some shots from the last two days or so.
Yesterday we spent most of the day lounging at the beach. We hung out next door at Nesbit Plantation. We went snorkeling and saw a lot of stuff. There's no way we can bring back the huge conch shells and other treasures we have found. Beautiful fish abound. Don't know if I mentioned it, but Lobsters are everywhere. I've caught
one but lost it swimming back in. They're not easy to catch...and can cut you up if you're not careful. Darla had an awesome lunch on the beach (Mahi Mahi sandwich with a tropical salsa on top, salad, & fries) and we shared a dessert.
A rich chocolate brownie with caramel, nuts, and coconut, served with great vanilla ice cream. Darla's favorite!!

This is what the beach is all about...reading a good book about American Christian history! I also finished a book about Eric Liddel, the Olympic runner about whom they made the movie, "Chariots of Fire." Awesome book. It's called Pure Gold. I highly recommend it.

It was not all paradise, however. Me being the adventuresome type, must push the envelope. I started getting coconuts for eating and drinking the coconut milk. Got a little obsessed with knocking them out of trees and figuring out how to get them open, etc.

Anyway, when Darla and I were leaving the beach to take a shower before dinner, I grabbed a rock bigger than my fist, said to Darla, "Watch out honey, I'm going to get a coconut." I threw it hard at a big coconut about 20 feet off the ground. It hit the coconut square and bounced right off AND RIGHT AT DARLA'S HEAD!! Thankfully she had her visor and sunglasses on which shielded her from the brunt of the blow. I thought she would have a concussion or her head was split open or worse! I couldn't have done that again if I tried all day for a year! She has a little bruise, but nothing serious. Whew! Thank you Lord. Stupid me. She's so patient with my A.D.D.

We went to town to eat and many restaurants were closed (go figure...we're learning that there are certain Nevis cultural ways). We finally found a place we had heard about called Seafood Madness. Sounds totally different than it is. This was actually a very peaceful place, and we had it all to ourselves. I totally splurged and got fresh lobster. UNBELIEVABLE. This was the MEDIUM!

It makes my mouth water just to see the pictures again. It was the best lobster ever. It's my favorite food, and I haven't had it in many years. I savored every bite. Does it seem like we're talking a lot about food?

Today we planned to hike the 3232 ft. Nevis Peak. It's in the center of the Island and is a huge inactive volcano. You can see it wherever you are on Nevis and there is almost ALWAYS a cloud on it. We've only seen the peak cloudless twice the whole time we've been here. I don't know why...something meteorological.

We had been told that it was very difficult and VERY dangerous to go without a guide. Stories of people who have been lost abound. Interestingly, when we tell locals we're hiking the peak, they respond with emotion. "'re crazy!" kinds of responses. But you know's there...we've got to hike it. Poor Darla. She's been dreading this the whole time.
We booked a guide (great guy, his name is Sheldon) and met him this morning at 9:45.

Let me tell you: I've hiked most of the hardest trails in the Smokies. This was SO hard. Over half of it was crawling STRAIGHT up on all fours, pulling on ropes over mud, tree roots, and slick rocks through the thickest jungle you can imagine! Darla is one of the toughest women I know. She wasn't feeling well for the first (less difficult) half because we ate a big breakfast before coming. But she sucked it up and made it! The whole time I was thinking about how sorry I was to get her into this.

This is one of the many flowers we saw on the way called "Bird of Paradise." The flora is amazing--like a big botanical garden--huge ferns, vines, trees that are nothing if not exotic. There were NO bugs, and Sheldon told us there were no dangerous animals of any kind (no snakes on the island due to the many know). As to hunting, Sheldon said, "Open season, all the time." He told of an old guy he knows that kills and eats monkeys. There are small wild hogs, two different kinds of doves (one big, one little) but nothing dangerous.

Here is a typical part of the trail, in this case a hole in the mud, rocks, and roots that Darla is crawling through. What doesn't show here is that this is STRAIGHT up (most was like climbing a ladder), and behind us is a drop of about 50 feet into the dark jungle!

The views on the way up were astounding. We were blessed to have less cloud cover until the very top.

I can't overstate how difficult this was. My arms are sore as I write for pulling myself up with the many ropes necessary to climb this trail.
Sheldon, our guide, was young and talkative. He had a lot of opinions about religion and many questions. We found out much insider Nevisian stuff that was really interesting. He was brilliant and engaging. Not to mention athletic. He climbed the whole thing in Reebok tennis sneakers.
We were beaten up and covered with sweat and mud when we finally got to the top. Drew would have absolutely LOVED a challenge like this. He would have been in heaven.

And of was covered in a cloud. The only other disappointing thing is that we couldn't see into the crater (did I say this is a volcano?). Here we are faking a smile, acting like we're ready for more. Truth is, it was in many ways harder and more dangerous to get back down the mountain. I fell twice, Darla fell a few times and has some bruises to show for it. We were filthy we we got done.

When we were almost to the bottom, Sheldon showed me some red-orange fruits that he called "cherries." Not like ours, but they were so sweet and juicy and sooo good. The redder the better...the orange ones tasted like hot pepper/tomato mixed. I ate many of them. Tasted a little like red raspberries to me. I wish my kids could have been here. They love to eat berries we find while hiking. Aren't these beautiful? They're shaped like tiny pumpkins.

After hiking we ate at a little place called Peak Haven where the trail starts/ends. It was really good. I had a curry chicken stew that was spicy. It was a colloquial dish--that's what I love more than anything, trying the native food. Darla had a grilled chicken sandwich that was on some great homemade bread. We got salads, Thick yellow sweet-potato fries, some kind of orange squash. All delicious! The people were so nice and courteous. We spoke with each of them and thanked them for such a lovely experience. And the view...the pictures don't do it justice.
While eating we talked about how people who take cruises or all-inclusive resort vacations to the caribbean never get to experience the REAL Caribbean like we have on this trip. I wouldn't have changed a thing.

We were soooo tired. But the view...magnificent. Check out the seat of Darla's pants in this picture. I'm telling you...we were battle-scarred.

Finally...what kept Darla going...the HOT TUB. We stayed in it until the sun went down. Another beautiful sunset with an incredible 360-degree view.

Hard to believe there's just two more days.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Thanks God for a great trip so far!

There is simply too much to put into words. Maybe later. Right now I'll just share a few pics of our 20th anniversary trip.
Here's a shot toward the west from our beach:

This next shot is through the front door of a restaurant called the Galley Pot.

It's a cool little place owned and operated by a British couple. GREAT food. The guy used to be a fisherman. It looks out on St. Kitts. That's the mountainous island in the background.

This is a few steps from "our beach" looking in the other direction (east). A little rain shower was on its way and God gave us this incredible double rainbow. Believe me, the picture doesn't do it justice! Darla had just been lying in this hammock.

You can see her feet in a picture she took a few minutes before the shower popped up. Is this like some commercial or what?! The breeze makes the temperature perfect. Heaven's got to be a little like this! I'm having a hard time thinking of how it could be better.

This is Darla on Lover's Beach. It's a truly unspoiled piece of paradise. We had to go fourwheelin' through a little jungle to get here. Darla just about killed me! She was worried we would get stuck with night falling, miles away from help. Come to think of it...hmmm. Oh well, this is an ADVENTURE!

Here's me in front of the little Suzuki Vitara that's ours for the time we're here. Darla's taking this picture from Lover's Beach, close to where she's standing above. You can get a little feel for what we came through to get here! Awesome.

There's lots of cool stuff for the history buff in Nevis. Alexander Hamilton, one of the most important of our founding fathers was born and spent his childhood here.
This is me standing in front of his birthplace. I didn't know he was born an illegitimate child. Because of this, he shared in experiencing some of the injustices of the slaves from the "plantocracy."
There are also lots of old ruins of churches and sugar plantations. Really cool.
I WILL be incorporating some of what I've learned in our upcoming discovery group about American Christian history.
To the right is St. James Anglican Church, one of the churches we attended Sunday. Looks like a ruin from the outside, but let me tell you, it is a thriving church. The inside is like new. All the members descend from former slaves. These people love Jesus. Darla and I were the only white folks in this packed out crowd. They received us like family. This is one of the oldest continually meeting churches in the Western Hemisphere.

One trivial piece of history is this volcanic hot sulphur spring that the early English sailors believed would cure anything. It is DADGUM HOT!
It comes out of the ground at about 115 degrees! Darla coundn't get in past her ankles. I suffered greatly but made it all the way in. Some people have more ailments than others! I'm not posting the face I was making as I tippy-toed in the water. Sunburn made it worse!

We're about half-way finished. Wow it's gone fast. I'll try to post more later. Thanks to all for the well-wishes. This has already been a trip of a lifetime. Darla and I needed this getaway. God is rejuvenating us physically, emotionally, and spiritually. We are growing closer than ever. He has blessed me so much with a wife like Darla.