Thursday, January 26, 2012

Over the river...

Destination: Grandma's House (Powell, TN)
Total miles: 330
Cost: priceless

One of my favorite places to go when I have time off of work is my Grandma Rush's house.

Living < 3 hours from Grandma definitely has it's perks! The drive up I-40, between Asheville and Knoxville, is beautiful no matter what time of year you take it.

I could elaborate on the awesomeness of visiting my grandparents, the enjoyable restaurants that Grandma and I check out around Powell, the uplifting services I get to attend at their church, but while those are all great things about visiting them, I would have to be truthful and say that probably my favorite part of any trip to Grandma's is talking with them and listening to them.

For instance, I have found out that my Pap (as we call my mom's's dad is Grandpa) used to work at a steel mill...some night shift, some days, in various jobs around it...and his stories are always worth the listening to!

Every morning, my grandparents eat breakfast, take their pills, and pray for their family. While I'm not much of an early riser, on those rare occasions where I wake up early, I love sitting in bed and hearing them pray in the kitchen for each of their kids, grandkids, great-grands, brothers and sisters, and church family.

I'll elaborate someday on the road trips, the drive, the fact that I can take my Mr. Darcy-fill up as I'm leaving Travelers Rest and not have to fill up again until I get back (10 gallon tank, 35+ mpg, 330 miles roundtrip, do the math)...but for now, I will leave you with this:

Family is one of the most precious treasures mankind has...and my grandparents (on both sides) are among the most rare and beautiful jewels anyone could ask for :)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Where Are the Mummies?!

Destination: Discovery Place, Charlotte, NC
Total Miles: 210
Cost: <$100
Companions: LPs

First big road trip of 2012! With one poor sister waking everyone who wasn't already up at 7:30am by upchucking in the bathroom, I decided to bump up the planned Monday trip to Thursday so as to avoid overexposure to sickness. So, by 8:45am I had all 3 LPs bundled up and loaded into Mr. Darcy. Before we got too far, we had to stop at Walmart to get a couple things. Then off we went. It is a 2 hour-ish drive from Travelers Rest to Charlotte, but it was a great day out for a drive. 

The current exhibit at Discovery Place is The Mummies, which displays mummies and artifacts from around the world (dating, in theory, back to 6000 BC). While the kids enjoyed learning about a sarcophagus and the amulets, I don't think they were as interested in the mummification process as I was (medical stuff). But, did you know that in the last few years they have been able to x-ray and CT scan mummies to discover what's on the inside instead of unwrapping or harming the mummy?! Fascinating! 

The Discovery Place also offers a variety of other things to keep kids (and adults) occupied. There's a science lab center, a huge section dedicated to the science of physics, an area set up for kids to create items from duct tape/old scraps of fabric/tinfoil, an aquarium section, a rainforest area, and a little kids area that's completely set apart (just to name a few areas). There's also a 3-D theater and an IMAX theater. We went to a showing of Bugs (a 3-D movie about the life of a caterpillar-turned-butterfly and a praying mantis).  Wish they'd have warned you that the mantis eats the butterfly at the end...or maybe edited the section on "reproduction is what bugs do best..." but the LPs handled it well. 

We took advantage of the IMAX and watched a documentary on Mummies: The Secrets of the Pharaohs. Amazingly enough, the kids were pretty pumped about the discovery of the tombs containing mummified pharaohs, particularly Ramses the Great. I've been listening to a dramatic reading of the Bible on long car rides, and today's section was about the beginning of the plagues of Egypt. When the documentary discussed Ramses being the Pharaoh spoken of in the Bible, they very excitedly whispered that we had just heard about him! Enjoyable to see them putting 2 and 2 together! 

Couple of Tips (which I promise to put into the tips section at some point soon!): 
1. Pack snacks. Any drive that is over 30 minutes will usually find the kids asking if we can stop to get a head it off, have them help prepare snacks (bags of pretzels/chips) and water bottles beforehand. 
2. Have a blanket on hand. Multiple uses: cover up someone who is cold, be a pillow, stick an inch out the window and shut it to provide a shade for the poor kid stuck in the sun, create a tent for the kid who doesn't want to be around the others any more...
3. While the kids enjoy watching a DVD or movie on my iPhone, they also enjoy listening to radio dramas and books on cd...they also like music (depending on their mood it can be silly or quiet), so have plenty of options on hand.
4. The Silent Game can be employed, but try to use it for NO MORE than 30 minutes.
5. Get maps for those old enough to read. Even if they can't read a map very well, it gives them something to hold (so they don't touch anything they're not supposed to) and is a fun way to get them involved in figuring out where to go or just gives them an idea of what comes next.

Anyway, it's a fun place to visit, and you definitely get your money's worth! Just make sure you give yourself almost the whole day to visit...there's so much to do and see...and discover! 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Where Does Morning Lie?

Over 34 way...should qualify for a road trip in my opinion. Multiple times a week, I make the 45-60+ minute (one way) drive to and from work. And (in cases like this weekend) when I am working a bunch of nights in a row, I often find myself earnestly longing after the morning of the last night. A morning which often takes quite a while in coming!

This stretch is a 5-in-a-row (five nights of 12ish hours each) with a paid-call night tacked on the front. It was originally a 6-in-a-row, but I was placed on paid-call the first night, which means I have to stay up and keep the phone close (though, the benefits of placing someone on call who lives so far away have yet to be determined). It's not a bother...other than the fact that I have now been on a night-rotation for going on 7 nights.  And that makes for some fun driving home attempts-to-keep-myself-awake!

Occasionally, I lose track of how many nights I've been working in a remedy? I stop at Starbucks every morning after I get off work (except Fridays...long story) and get my tall hot chocolate with extra whip. Since I don't clean out my car until a day off, I can count the number of Starbucks cups and know how many nights I've worked. I know. Brilliant. Good thing Mr. Darcy has 10 cup holders!!

My favorite part of my long drive is the in the Foothills has its benefits! Any time of year is a good time...seeing the mountains in the distance causes much reflection on the many Psalms which reference mountains.

My least favorite part of the drive is the horrible drivers...biggest pet peeve: if you want to drive slow, by all means, drive slow. But drive in the right hand lane! I am still working on perfecting my relaxation techniques in an effort to prevent an early stroke or other horrible blood pressure issues. :)

The title today is derived from the refrain of a song (which, coincidentally, is something that keeps me calm while driving). Check it out here. The last verse is particularly applicable as the singer questions those listening to "tell a little pilgrim where the place called 'morning' lies."

This tired night-shifter is ready to shift back to a normal person for a few days...but, can you tell me where morning lies? Could I see it from the mountains, or is it brought from famous countries of which I have never heard? If so, I will take my days off and go in search of the elusive morning...

Friday, January 13, 2012

Memorable Flights

Working the next 5 nights somewhat dampens my enthusiasm for blogging anything of great import. So (as I am on paid call tonight and attempting to occupy my time in a useful manner), I will impart to you, my readers, a few tidbits from my former adventures. Namely, one of my favorite parts about traveling (especially flying). Meeting unique people.

I happen to be one of those strange humans who loves to talk with my seat companions on planes. Actually, I really love just listening to people. So, for starters, I always select a seat next to a window (so I don't overtax myself trying to talk to more than one person at a time, and because I love watching clouds). I rarely introduce myself at first (''forgetting'' until the end of flights...and sometimes even then...), but observe the person next to me during boarding. Usually, I start up a conversation while the plane is taxiing, discussing things as simple as destinations or from where they are traveling.

If there is one thing everyone I have ever met has in common, it is this (and I think it is true of almost all humans): people love to talk about themselves.

Here are some of my favorites from the past year:
1. Kim: the female Delta pilot on her way to the next assignment...after being "shocked" that I had attended Bob Jones University (I guess she didn't think I looked like I should be from BJU? and I had to correct her misbeliefs that there are pink/blue sidewalks and cookie-cutter students!), wanted to spend the entire flight from GSP to Detroit debating on Evolution vs. Creation. I explained what I believe and why, asking for her beliefs every time she contradicted me. Her constant refrain was that what she believed was "too complex, and we don't have time.'' Interestingly enough, the one argument she seemed to grasp at was the fact that I was a nurse and surely, as a nurse, had studied bacteria and viruses, therefore I should know firsthand of how evolution was still working. While I'm no science genius, I did take Microbiology (twice) with Dr. Grey. He spent much discussion time on how bacteria and viruses can adapt/mutate to their environments. Anyway, it had to be one of the most interesting discussions I've ever had (though frustrating in that she could only attack what I said, continue to question me, yet give me none of her beliefs).

2. David: the ancient writings curator from the Getty Museum in L.A. Flight: JFK to Boston. He was on his way to check into some writings that his museum was interested in obtaining. He was telling me about some of the oldest writings he has read...including the Dead Sea Scrolls! Imagine. Being able to read those scrolls...he's the head curator of his department and gets to see all sorts of amazing original manuscripts.

3. Anne: the OT (occupational therapist) who lives in Greenville with her husband and was 4 months pregnant with their first. She and her husband had actually met through her friend, who happened to be one of Charles' old Speech Therapists! We had a great time discussing babies, therapies, Greenville, and special needs kids on our way from Charlotte to JFK. Our connecting flights happened to be leaving from the same gate at JFK so we watched each other's things while the other went to the bathroom and got food. (don't worry, I made sure she wasn't planning on traveling after that trip...these pregnant girls who travel in their last trimester give this NICU nurse heart palpitations!)

4. Nick: the Italian from Dallas, TX who was catching a connecting flight in Atlanta on his way to Charlotte...well, he was originally from Italy, went to college in Boston (which was where I was traveling back from), then got a job with Microsoft in Dallas. We had a fun time discussing technology...and after I showed him that I'm kind of an Apple girl (with my iPhone 4, iPod Classic, and MacBook Pro), he confessed to owning a MacBook Pro! lol. oxymoron. But he had a nice accent...

5. The older gentleman who lives in northern Florida, sporting a motorcycle vest, American flag hat, ponytail that was almost as long as mine (yikes!), and smelling of the same cigarettes my Grandpa G. used when I was a kid...we started at discussing books (he was reading a fiction novel about autistic kids who ruled the world, while I was reading Dune which he was extremely happy about...had read it several times, he stated)...and from there we talked about authors, northern Florida (he lives a couple towns away from my grandparents), his business ventures (was on his way to Maine to visit a friend and discuss some "scheme"), and eventually, politics. (I know! I almost never discuss politics with strangers...and he kept apologizing for maybe offending me...which I told him was difficult to do and that he had most certainly NOT offended me) I was able to give him a tract, which he thanked me for, and parted with him amicably at La Guardia.

6. The tiny 80+ year old lady from Johannesburg, South Africa. Flight: Denver to Atlanta. She had a 'lovely' accent and had been visiting her son (for ''possibly the last time'') in Denver. She had grown up in Johannesburg, though she could have passed for a relative of the Queen of England from the way she talked and dressed. I was able to sit with her while everyone else was getting off the plane and waited until she had a wheelchair, made it up the ramp, and figured out from where her connecting flight was departing.

7. The couple who was flying back from California to Simpsonville. Flight: Chicago Midway to GSP. They had just been on the Price Is Right and the wife had been called up, bid on something, won, and got to spin the wheel! Their episode aired on May 13th, 2011 (which, sadly, I had to sleep through because of work). They gave me tips about how to get on stage at the show, make-up tips (the wife is some big consultant for Avon, I think...and you know me, hardly wear any make-up), and we discussed the benefits to living in the South :)

There are more stories to be told, and many more to experience! These are a few of the ones that stand out, but don't despair! I'll share more later. For now, I hope that I can blog something of sense at least once in the next 6 days.

Monday, January 9, 2012

"It Was Only the Beginning of the Adventures"

Being a somewhat avid reader, you will see me often posting with a title that references some this case, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. It aptly describes this first post.  This quote comes from the end of that particular story, but it truly was the beginning of the children's adventures in Narnia.  I have spent the last 2 1/2 years since graduating with my bachelors in nursing from Bob Jones University working as a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit nurse at a Level III NICU in Spartanburg, SC.  And during that time, I have covered a good bit of ground.

What initially gave me a taste for traveling was a 3 week music ministry team to California.  We put well over 1,500 miles on the vehicle we rented in Cali...and I found to my immense pleasure that I not only enjoyed the amazing places I was able to see (Golden Gate Bridge, Yosemite, US Highway 1, San Diego's Point Loma...just to name a few) but I also enjoyed meeting people from, literally, all over.

Since that trip, I have been to: Haiti, Seattle, Victoria BC, New York City (twice), Michigan, Denver, Boston, Concord NH, Virginia Beach, Atlanta (several times), Charleston (several times), Knoxville TN (multiple times), and all over the Upstate of SC.  And I'm already planning things for this year...the big one being a road trip to the Grand Canyon with the Little People (more to come on the LPs).

So really, you are jumping into the middle of what began a couple years ago. But do not despair! I shall catch you up in short order...and, I think, you will find that it truly is the beginning of the adventures.