Thursday, December 6, 2018

Did Mikulas visit you?

December 6 is a special day in Hungary. It's when good boys and girls wake up to find that Mikulas or the Hungarian Saint Nick or Santa has climbed through their window the previous night to put candy and perhaps a small present in their shoes.

But he knows that American children also await a visit. However, his sack can only carry so much and America is a much larger country with many more children.  He knows too that American children expect more than just candy and a small present. So he takes advantage of the six hour time difference between Hungary and Florida to dash over to check on what they want him to bring when he returns to Florida in about three weeks with a bigger sack of surprises.

This year in Flagler Beach, Florida, Santa parachuted to the beach and rode a firetruck into town while being protected from the evil Grinch by police on horseback and cops with machine guns.  A marching band heralded his coming with "Jingle Bells" and "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" while his helpers tossed candy canes and chocolate bars to the children. One of the most enthusiastic trumpeters was our granddaughter.

 By the way, a little birdie told me that Santa will find lots of sweet boys and girls in Florida awaiting his wonderful Christmas surprises!

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Thanksgiving Report 2018

Half our family, 26 people, were here to celebrate Thanksgiving. However, between having fun with the grandkids and fixing and eating tons of food (8 pies, turkey and dressing, lots of heavenly rolls, 8 side dishes, frog-eye and fruit salad, and our Thompson traditional shrimp cocktail appetizer) we forgot to take pictures, except for these of the grandkids riding horses and playing video games and soccer. Don't forget to click on the pictures for a closer look.

 After a great ride on Ginger, David thinks he might follow the rodeo circuit to earn money for college. His Mom doesn't think so!
 Benji thinks swinging on a tractor is more for him.
 Four can play at a time on this game.
 You might think that the boys vs girls soccer match would favor the much larger boys--but the girls won.

Oregon Trail vs Dixie Auto Trail?

 One requirement for the Boy Scout  Citizenship in the Nation merit badge is to visit a place listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. You might not think of a highway as an historic place, but
at the beginning of the last century with automobiles becoming more common, the US needed cross country roads that were easier to travel on than the Oregon Trail and other pioneer trails developed for covered wagons and stage coaches. The solution was to create cross country "Auto Trails."

In 1913 the Lincoln Highway was the first paved auto trail from Times Square in New York City to Lincoln Park in San Francisco joining the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans.  Interstate 80 now closely follows that route. But what about north/south auto trails?

It just happens that the first of the north/south auto trails passes right through Flagler County--the Dixie Highway from Detroit to Miami built in 1916. Most of it now is Interstate 75 and 95, but a stretch of the original brick road still exists hidden in the backwoods of Flagler County from Espanola to Hastings Florida, easy for Boy Scouts to travel on if they know where to look.

Here's a look at the Old Brick Road or Old Dixie Highway today. You can see why Auto Trail may be a more appropriate name for this one lane highway. This is the longest stretch that hasn't been paved over as it was upgraded for new highways. However the name "Dixie Highway" is still used for several stretches of the replacement roads from South Florida to Michigan. If you look closely, you can see that the bricks for this stretch were imported from Alabama several hundred miles away.

 To find out more google "Dixie Highway" and "Lincoln Highway"

Danny Zuko meets the Piano Man?

Two grandsons are budding performers. They might choose the showbiz route to becoming famous neurosurgeons and mathematicians.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

A New Halloween Treat?

How is this as an alternative to candy for Halloween Trick or Treating? Our papayas have started to ripen just in time for Halloween! We have 50 ripening away on one tree. They are delicious and we'll probably have them eaten by Thanksgiving. The color matches the orange of Halloween Jack O' Lanterns and Thanksgiving pumpkin pie so why not make them a Florida contribution for both holidays!! Papaya smoothie anyone?

Monday, October 29, 2018

Hurricane Michael Cleanup

About 4 weeks ago Hurricane Michael at hurricane strength 5 hit just southeast of Panama City, Florida in the Florida Panhandle wiping out Mexico Beach and severely damaging nearby towns and cities. The following week was spent tarping roofs and searching for survivors. The last 2 weeks thousands of Mormon Helping Hands (now called Helping Hands of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) from throughout the Southeast have been helping the locals put their lives back together. This weekend Caroly and I joined 25 volunteers aged 12 and older from the Bunnell Ward in Flagler County, 6 hours away, to help out.

On the way there we could see the power of the hurricane that zipped north through the panhandle of Florida, through Georgia, and South and North Carolina. As you can see from these pictures, between Tallahassee and Marianna the beautiful forests have been changed to expanses of broken matchsticks. Click on the pictures for a closer look.

This sight continues all the way south from Marianna to Panama City. This gas station greets you as you enter Panama City.
The command center for the Helping Hands is the Stake Center. Note that the steeple and the flag pole are now on the front lawn.
The inside suffered water damage so the carpets and benches have been removed, Some of the ceiling has been damaged.
Here are some views of the neighborhood  near the church,

The most of the Helping Hands from Central and Southern Florida camped out in a nearby abandoned airport. We stayed at the Kannas Condo in Panama City Beach, 20 miles away to the west where there was much less damage. In fact you could hardly tell that a hurricane had come through. Ron joined our work crew  on Saturday. See if you can find him in any of the pictures.

We were assigned to help out in Lynn Haven, a  very nice suburb about 10 minutes north of the Stake Center. Families who wanted help registered their needs with the Helping Hands command center where we received their requests and with our chain saws and other equipment headed out. In this neighborhood the roofs had already been patched if the building was salvageable so we mostly cut up fallen trees and moved the logs, branches, and broken fences to the front street. The neighborhood no longer has a forest settling.

 Saturday and Sunday we were able to clear 8 yards, mostly for widows and older people. Afterwards we sang them a church song, either "I am a child of God" or "As I have loved you, love one another." One older couple said that someone came by earlier and said he would clear his driveway for $3,000. He burst into tears when we told him that we would do not just the driveway but his entire yard for free. I think there were 8 trees down in his front and back yards.

One family was so thankful that our team from Bunnell had helped them for free the previous week that they insisted that when we came back this week to help their neighbor across the street that they would have hamburgers, hotdogs, and all the trimmings ready for us.  It was delicious. The brownies and ice cream especially hit the spot.
Everywhere we went we were treated royally by the grateful people. The owner of a mobile Hawaiian Ice stand even drove throughout the town giving free snow cones to anyone with a yellow Helping Hands shirt. He said he had given out several thousand that day.

Here is most of our group with one of the families that hosted the hamburger/hot dog feast.
There were several thousand Helping Hands in Panama City and surrounding towns this weekend.  Others will be returning the next three weekends. There is still that much damage to help clean up.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

David's Eagle Project Done

This evening in pouring rain from the Mexican Hurricane Willa that was passing north of town, grandson David finished his eagle scout project, a fire pit for the youth of the church. A month earlier volunteer work crews had cleared the circle one evening and constructed the benches a week later, finishing up by the headlights of cars in the parking lot. With delays in the delivery of materials and with dark coming earlier and earlier every week, it was hard to schedule a time in the daylight to finish up.  David decided that come rain or shine, this afternoon at 5 we'd finish up since this weekend most workers would be off to the Florida panhandle to help with Hurricane Michael clean-up and the children in the ward wanted to celebrate Halloween around the campfire.  Of course it poured rain all day although the weatherman said it would be a nice day with just a slight chance of rain. Anyway, in spite of 5 inches of rain the gravel was spread and the pit itself was put together. Everyone was soaked to the bone and went home to a nice warm shower.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Gamecock visit.

Since we are now training gamecocks, we thought we'd visit the University of South Carolina, the home of the fighting Gamecocks,

and the new home of our daughter Kim since she moved from Australia. Her new condo is the bottom floor pictured here.
We heard she was straightening her back by sleeping on the floor and promoting good posture by eating while standing up, so we took her a comfy bed and a table and some chairs to help her relax when she gets home and help her to start furnishing the place so she can entertain guests.