Thursday, June 25, 2015

Thankful Thursday

So, what's been going on since our vacation?

Curtis has been gone at training for 1 ½ weeks. This is our first time being separated since May of 2013, when he came back from college for the summer and then married me and brought me back with him. Obviously, this is challenging for both of us, and I miss him like crazy. But I don't want to dwell on that right now. Today, I'm sharing all the things I'm thankful for, because despite this time of trial, God is still good, faithful, and sovereign, and with Him we're going to make it through this.

The day before he left - I tried to take pictures whenever I wasn't teary eyed.

I'm thankful for every second of our first 1 year and 10 months of marriage. We were incredibly blessed with so much time together. We made so many memories and grew closer together every day. 

Our last dinner together.

I'm thankful for all the people God has placed in our lives. Our families, our friends, our brothers and sisters in Christ, those who teach us the Word, and everyone who is supporting us and praying for us during this time. They've given us everything from loving support and advice, to great adventures with memories we'll cherish forever. 

We let Charlotte ride on his lap for her last car ride with him.

I'm thankful for Charlotte, our adorable puppy, and my companion for the summer. She is just the little blessing and distraction I need to get me through the summer. She's also been getting a little more mature as the weeks go by, while still keeping her adorable little personality. She is my sunshine. :)

One last family picture (We were at a red light!)

I am thankful that even while we're apart, we are joined by a bond in Christ, and though we can't cling to each other, we can cling to Him and He showers His love, joy, peace, and hope onto us every day. Great is His faithfulness, His mercies are new every morning!

Curtis says goodbye to Charlotte.

I am EXTREMELY thankful for my family opening up their home to me again. I don't know how I'd be able to get through this on my own. I am thankful I have this time to grow closer to them and get to know everyone better after being away for so long. They mean the world to me and I'm so glad I get to be a part of their lives again this summer. I'm also thankful for Curtis' family and their support. Julie (his mom) invited me to help her out with their church's Theater Camp, and it's been a great distraction and reason to get up every morning. Family is everything. :)

Airport goodbyes.

I'm thankful that I can write to him, and know that he'll be able to receive and read those letters. Our separation is only for a little while, and we will be reunited again someday. There is so much sadness and loss in the world that when I put this in perspective, we have nothing to complain about. 

I'm thankful for the military. They saw what great potential Curtis has and offered him a job that he wanted and hopefully will be a good fit, and definitely a good experience. We wouldn't have been able to have so many great adventures together without it. Even when it is difficult or seems unfair, it has provided us with a comfortable lifestyle, and I know we will grow stronger because of it. 

I'm thankful that God's plan is sovereign and He planned this from the beginning of time. All things work together for the good of those who love Him, including this trial. I can cling to that truth and know that we are in this situation for a purpose, and even if I don't know what that is I can continue to pursue Him and worship Him through it all.

Thank you to you for reading - please be in prayer for both of us as we work through this. Through Christ we can do all things!

And a side note - I am back in the Midwest, so if you want to do anything, from get together to go on a great adventure with me, let me know! I have a little time on my hands that I'm trying to make go by fast. ;)

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Door County Anniversary Trip, Day 8

Day 8 (last day!): Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Today was a drive-all-day-long kind of day. Being letterboxers, we didn't exactly take the most direct way home. But that's was Curtis' last chance to letterbox for a while. Thankfully, we were able to find both and make the most of the day.

One box took us through a marshy area in Eastern Wisconsin...thankfully, it was on a boardwalk! Still, think hot, humid, and buggy. While Curtis searched for the box, I paced back and forth just to keep them off me.

Here I am, laughing at Curtis wandering through the swamp in the background. If only he had read to the end of the clue, where it said something along the lines of "This is where the box used to be, now it's under the steps of the boardwalk"...right where I was standing. Whoops. :)

We took one more stop around Lake Geneva, then had lunch at Culvers before continuing the rest of the way home. It was bittersweet, knowing we were coming back to reality, and only had a few days together left.

Last few miles of Southwestern Wisconsin.

Crossing the Mississippi again.

Almost to Iowa!

We made it home around dinner time, which we enjoyed with Curtis' family.

It was altogether a great vacation of experiencing new things and making lots of memories that will make up for the rest of the summer. I'm so thankful we had this opportunity to take an entire week to celebrate our 2nd anniversary a little early. Now it's time to start hoping for another week to celebrate our 2nd anniversary late... ;)

Day 8 Wrap Up: Drove 450 miles, found 2 letterboxes.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Door County Anniversary Trip, Day 7

Day 7: Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Today was our last full day in Door County, and we were determined to make the most of it! With highs in the 70's and beautiful clear skies, we rose early and headed to Sister Bay to start our day.

We went back to Al Johnson's for breakfast - we needed one more serving of those amazing Swedish pancakes! 

Saying hello to the goats on the roof one last time...and yes, that's a lawn mower up there. We watched a guy mowing the grass on the roof later on as we were driving by! I guess the goats aren't doing their job right.

While planning our vacation, we thought it would be fun to try kayaking together. But after seeing the big waves of Lake Michigan every other day, we were hesitant to go out on a tiny little boat. We stopped by the kayak rental place, and the guy there said it was the perfect day for it though - it was a sign, we were supposed to go today! We rented a 2 person kayak from Bay Shore Outfitters in Sister Bay, and set off on the lake.

Our first stop was to go by the cliffs and caves of Peninsula State Park. We had of course visited here on Saturday, and it was fun to see it from another angle.

This was both of our first kayaking experience! We've done lots of canoeing, but never kayaking. We love being able to experience these firsts together. :) The lake really was perfect today. The only waves we faced were caused by other boats. We started off early enough that there were hardly any other boats out yet.

It took about a half hour to go from where we started to Peninsula State Park, across the bay. We decided to get out and check out the caves here. There was also a trail that went through this area - we enjoyed getting to walk on it without having to hike up the tall bluff!

After that, we kayaked to Horseshoe Island, one we had seen from afar on a few other occasions. We got out and decided to take the 1K trail that circled the island. As we arrived, others were leaving, and there was a boat nearby fishing, but while we hiked we had the whole island to ourselves.

Beautiful blue wildflowers!

It was here that we saw our 3rd bald eagle! (Or our 3rd sighting of the same one...who knows?)

We circled back to the kayak and headed back for Sister Bay. The entire trip took just 2 ½ hours, and the rental place was kind enough to charge us for just 2 hours. We were so glad we were able to do this today - the next day as we were leaving, we saw the waves were much higher, and we knew God provided the perfect day for us! What's weird is that while I did significantly less paddling than Curtis, I still ended up being the only one who was sore the next day. Not sure how that happened!

We had asked a lady at the tourist booth in Ellison Bay where the best place to get ice cream was, and her answer was Not Licked Yet Frozen Custard in Ephraim. So we drove a little further South to get a sundae to help cool off after our "workout". We had a Door County Cherry sundae...When in Door County, we had "Door County Cherry" flavored everything!

We stopped at Seaquist Orchard on the way back to Ellison Bay. There were so many things to sample there, we just called that our lunch for the day! I just snapped a picture of the orchard as we drove away. 

At this point, it was only 3 in the afternoon, so we found another letterboxing hike we could do for the afternoon. It was getting to be hot, humid, and buggy, but we stuck it out and enjoyed the walk. It was a little bittersweet knowing it was our last hike here...and together for a little while.

Enjoying the tree covered trails one last time.

We found this fun little hiding spot next to the lake for pictures.

After the hike, we went home and cleaned up to go to dinner. We went to Grasse's Grill in Sister Bay. We don't usually drink when at restaurants, but this was our honorary 2nd anniversary dinner date to make up for the one we won't get in July. I had a Door County Cherry Mimosa (because when in Door County, always go for the cherry!) and Curtis had a chocolate beer. They were both great, and together tasted like a chocolate covered cherry. :)

I had the barbecue bacon burger

Curtis had the fresca burger.

We went and enjoyed our last sunset at Ellison Bluff. Here, we also saw our 4th and last bald eagle. A great way to wrap up a wonderful vacation!

Day 7 Wrap Up: Hiked 4 miles, Kayaked 2.5 hours (not sure how to measure that in miles??) Found 5 letterboxes, saw 2 bald eagles.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Door County Anniversary Trip, Day 6

Day 6: Monday, June 8, 2015

Another rainy morning resulted in another easy start to the day. It's not that we were sleeping in super late, we just happened to know that rain was predicted for this morning so we decided to wait for it while resting. It did finally come, so all that waiting was not a waste! The rental house we were in happened to have a tv with 3 channels - nothing that would really interest us - and also the complete first season of Cheers. We had never heard of the show, but we managed to watch the episodes and ended up really enjoying it. :)

When the rain cleared up, we decided to head North to another state park we hadn't seen yet - Newport State Park. We took a long hike here, and once we reached the end it began raining on us again. The heavy tree cover kept us from getting too wet though, and we quickly made our way back to the car. Altogether, I think we hiked 6 miles...maybe ran the last one. :) We had no wildlife sightings here, and no views of the lake. Just another hike with the same covered trail that we'd seen everywhere! (I should have mentioned that at the beginning, that all the trails would look the same - that would've saved you some time, right?) ;)

We rewarded ourselves with pizza and gelato from Joe Jo's Pizza and Gelato in Sister Bay. We were a little disappointed because we assumed that Chicago style pizza would still be a big thing here, considering so many tourists were from Chicago, but all they had to offer was thin crust. Who does that?! The gelato and breadsticks were delicious though! We both got flavors containing the famous Door County Cherry... Gelato, not breadsticks. ;)

We went to the Ellison Bay Community Center beach to watch the sunset again. We enjoyed walking through the sand and on the dock, watching the sun disappear behind the clouds

Day 6 Wrap Up: Hiked 6 miles.