Wednesday, May 30, 2007

I CLIMBED A MOUNTAIN...

So, it may be difficult to imagine, or even believe, but I really did climb a mountain...not a huge one, but big enough to give that view that Ben showed below. It was intense. There were some moments when I just thought I'd give up b/c it was really hard to breathe (due to the altitude) and my legs were hurting...I'm still working on getting back into shape. But I stopped for breaks a lot, prayed for strength and finally reached the top to see the gorgeous waterfall and view of Ogden. Let me tell you, I was brought to tears being up there after the climb. The combination of God's majesty in full view as well as the accomplishment of the climb (and a little bit of fear of going back down the steep, loose dirt & rock to the trail) were simply overwhelming. It was a moment of praise and glory given to God...I hope that if you don't already know what I am talking about, that you will each experience this at some point...maybe on a hike in Utah. :)

By the way, Ben was great. He didn't push me, but encouraged me, he didn't complain (but I did send him ahead when I wasn't sure I would make it) and he loved me through it and told me he was proud of me. I was pretty proud of him. He didn't seem to mind the higher altitude as much as I did (I guess that's what makes him a mountain man) but I will say that on the way back down, he mentioned his quads were feeling it and mine were loving the stretch (that would be the runner vs. the walker/stair-stepper...he felt strong going up, I felt strong going down)...anyway, it was a great experience and I look forward to doing it again and again.

Ben didn't mention that we attended a SLC Bees game, AAA baseball, on Friday. It was a fun game. They had fireworks and we saw 19 new Air Force recruits take their vows, a bald eagle "accompanied" the singer of the national anthem (on the arm of the zookeeper), and a helicopter flew over the field really low. Not bad for a small city. Definitely different than Philly crowds, much quieter. :) We enjoyed it, and to add to the fun, we saw friends from church...yep, we actually recognized people somewhere other than at church or on base! What an encouragement!

The Memorial Day picnic at our new pastor's home was lovely. We met some new people and got to know our pastor, Don Krafft, and his wife, Elizabeth better. We are very excited about this new church. It is amazing to find a place that is so similar to Pilgrim (our beloved Philly church) in Utah. It is much smaller, but the people are just as real and genuine and open and loving...so we feel right at home.

2 things to close tonight...Ben is leaving on Thursday for 4 days, 3 nights for Dave's wedding and although I know I will be fine, and already have some plans with church friends (my only friends here so far), I am a little concerned that I will feel homesick here alone without Ben. Please remember me in your prayers over the weekend. He comes home Sunday evening.

The other thing is that one of my friends asked about commenting on the blog. To comment, click on COMMENTS below any of the posts and it will open a new window. You will see any comments left by others as well as replies from Ben or I. To make a comment, type in the comment box and either put your name with your comment and sign it "anonymous" or use your name with "other". Another hint, if you have a name that might be common, use a last initial or nickname that we will recognize...that makes it easy for us to know who says what. And we always check the comments to see who is reading the blog and what you all think about it...especially since we don't talk to most of you regularly! I hope you will comment...LOVE YA!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Waterfall Canyon

Well, we found out that the street we hope to live on , 29th street, ends at a trailhead on the east side of town at the foot of the mountain. We hit it up on Saturday morning, hiking above Ogden amidst wildflowers and mountain bikers. The trail led up to a beautiful waterfall that towered over us. My friend Steve is coming to visit in July, and I can't wait to get us on mountain bikes to explore all this stuff!
Esther amidst some flowers.
That's Ogden from way up high!
















The waterfall......


I'm (ben) heading home on Thursday for my friend Dave's wedding. I'm really excited to see my family and celebrate with Dave. Bummed that I won't have as much time as I'd like for family, but we're hoping to come home for a good stretch later on in the year.

Friday, May 25, 2007

CAN I JUST SAY...

HOW CUTE IS MY HUSBAND...HE LOVES THE MOUNTAINS SO MUCH...AND ME, AND RASCAL...AND THE LORD MOST OF ALL...HOW BLESSED AM I???

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Mountains rock!






I really, really appreciate the offers to donate real beer from dear family and friends! I can't wait to repay everyone with some guided hikes in the foothills around these parts, and for those who partake, I will buy you a Polygamy Pale Ale at Rooster's brew pub in Ogden (why have just one!) Ha!


Anywho, after 2 straight weeks of beautiful, sunny weather, it got rainy and cool on Tuesday. So I was wondering what happpened up in the mountains...... and ...... it snowed!! Above was the view from our apartment balcony.
So after that CRAZY weather, it went back to beautiful and sunny again. Don't worry, I hear we'll pay for it in July and August when it gets close to 100 degrees EVERY DAY! Anywhoot, today was amazingly clear, and we had a great view of what we call the "Salt Lake City mountains". These are just outside the city and host the Alta and Snowbird ski resorts. Snowbird just ended their season last week, when it was 90 degrees here in the valley. So they're really high, and good visibility plus the sunset really made for a great picture below. We had to drive a half mile from the apartment for this shot. Keep in mind, these mountains are 45 miles away!!



And the pic below is Rascal..... just being Rascal.

answers to prayer

SO, WE FOUND OUT THIS AFTERNOON THAT OUR OFFER ON THE HOUSE WAS ACCEPTED...$165,000 FOR THE GORGEOUS 4 BR 2 BATH "VAN BUREN" (AS WE CALL IT SINCE IT IS ON VAN BUREN ST). PRAISE GOD FOR HIS PROVISION. WE MAY HAVE CLOSING COMPLETED BY JUNE 23RD! WHICH WOULD ROCK B/C THEN I WOULD BE HOME WITH BEN FOR THE MOVE BEFORE I FLY TO PHILLY ON JULY 4TH. ANOTHER PRAISE FOR THAT!

IN OTHER NEWS, WE HAD A CALL FROM OUR (NEW) PASTOR'S WIFE TODAY INVITING US TO THEIR HOUSE FOR A MEMORIAL DAY PICNIC WITH OTHERS FROM THE CHURCH. HOW GREAT! WE WILL HAVE A CHANCE TO REALLY GET TO KNOW SOME MORE PEOPLE WITHOUT HAVING TO WAIT FOR INVITATIONS. (OUR PLACE IS REALLY TOO SMALL TO COOK IN, AS I FOUND OUT TONIGHT TRYING TO DO A PASTA DISH...TOO SMALL...PLUS, I HATE ELECTRIC RANGES AFTER HAVING GAS)

GOD IS DOING WONDERFUL THINGS, AND EVEN THOUGH WE REALLY MISS OUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY, I AM SOOOOO PLEASED TO SEE GOD MOVING AND WORKING IN OUR NEW LIFE HERE. WE COULDN'T BE HAPPIER ABOUT THE NEW HOUSE (STILL JUST HOPING AND NOT PUTTING TRUST IN IT THOUGH!)...AND THE NEW CHURCH IS GOING TO BE COMPLETELY DIFFERENT THAN PILGRIM (WHICH ME MISS IN SO MANY WAYS) BUT I KNOW GOD HAS A PLACE AND A PLAN FOR US HERE AND I TRUST IN THAT DAILY AS WE MOVE FORWARD WITH ADJUSTING.

ONE NOTE OF PRAYER...BEN (BY THE WAY RASCAL JUST BROUGHT ME HIS BALL TO PLAY FETCH...AND AGAIN...HE HAS ADJUSTED JUST FINE!) ANYWAY, BEN TELLS ME HE HAS A LOT TO LEARN AT THE NEW JOB AND I AM FULLY CONFIDENT IN HIM, BUT HE SOMETIMES DOUBTS HIMSELF AND BECOMES ANXIOUS...PRAYER AND ENCOURAGEMENT ARE MORE THAN WELCOME!

I CAN'T SAY ENOUGH HOW MUCH I MISS YOU ALL AND LOVE YOU...AND HOW WELCOME YOU WILL BE TO VISIT AND MAKE NEW MEMORIES WITH US. :):):)

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

by the way

I GRADUATED...on Sunday...that was my official graduation...I wasn't there of course, but it's done! I just thought you might want to join me in Praising God for His goodness and mercy in allowing me this honor. I am now a Master's level counselor with certification (still unofficial) in secondary guidance! woohoo!

We've made an offer...

Ok, so we made an offer on a house today. We LOVE this house...not that we can't live without it, but it just seems like it is just what we were looking for. Here is a link so you can see the front of the house and the specs:
http://www.utahrealestate.com/687726
We will be keeping you up to date on how things go, but we are quite hopeful that we have made a great offer and will find no major problems. We continue to pray for God's guidance in this endeavor...there are so many new things to consider and it is the biggest investment of our lives to date. (although combined education costs are close at these housing prices ;)
Please pray with us about a smooth closing and God's leading in our decision making. I feel confident that He has led us to this home and has allowed us to be blessed in being able to make an offer on such a lovely place.
I am most confident that each and every one of our visitors will be most comfortable in this home. There are three bedrooms on the main floor along with a full bath, a kitchen, dining room and living room (with gorgeous fireplace). The "basement" has a garage, living room, storage space, laundry room, bedroom, kitchen/dining space and bathroom with shower. So, with 4 bedrooms and 2 baths, hosting will be our pleasure. Hardwood floors are in the main floor living, dining and bedrooms. The kitchen and hall have tile. Downstairs is carpet (that needs updating) and tera-cota tiling. It has a beautiful patio and backyard which is fenced for a dog. We would be blessed and honored to own this home, care for it and host lots of loved ones! Please pray with and for us. We'll know if the offer is accepted by the end of the week!

Monday, May 21, 2007

One minor flaw

Well, we keep finding out new things that rock about Ogden. Over the last few years, the city has lured some major ski manufacturers to come to town (Salomon, Descente, Rosignoll), and they're all chipping in to fund a major recreation center in the downtown. It used to be a mall that went backrupt, now it's a huge construction site. It will feature the biggest indoor rock climbing wall in Utah, one of those stationary "surf" waves that you can surf, and...... my favorite.... a vertical wind tunnel/sky diving simulator!! Not sure when it will be complete but here's the link:

http://www.ogdencity.com/mall.salomoncenter.html

Jenny Porter, you definitely need to come visit!!

Ok, the only fly in the ointment: Beer. I've heard a lot about Utah's liquor laws, and looking for some beer the other night was my first negative experience here in Utah land. First off, almost all beer sold at restaurants and stores is limited to 3.2% alcohol by volume, whereas the normal is like 5.6%. So they call the Utah suds "near beer", which to me is like diet soda. Anyway, the only time you can get real beer ("full stregth beer") is A) at a state liquor store or B) at a bar that you must become a member of and not bring anyone under 21 to even enter the premises. Which isn't that bad, and there's even a state store 2 miles away from us in Layton.


So off I go looking for it, and of course it's not signed, and burried WAAAAYYYYY back in this huge outlet/strip mall behind a Chevy dealership. So of course I couldn't see it and needed to stop and ask for directions. So I pull up to an auto parts place thinking, heck, they probably drink beer and won't tell me I'm going to hell or something. I go in, and ask a guy, and he tells me three times that they do not sell liquor in this part of Utah. I got the sense that I've offended him and his beliefs about alcohol, so I turned to leave, and then he called me back and said he was kidding, and that it was behind the Chevy dealership. So I thanked him a lot, and as I was leaving, the guy at the cash register called out, "But you won't get to heaven!". I looked back to see if he was just joking with me, but he was definitely serious!!

Definitely an interesting night! Still, so far that was the only negative experience I've had here. The state store ended up being really pitiful, only a few sad cases and way expensive. Looks like we're gonna take a few trips to Wyoming to get the real stuff, or I can ask my captain buddy in the office to hook me up from the PX.

Houses, Houses, Houses

SIGH...We may be making an offer on a house tomorrow...Please pray! I am a bit anxious about it...maybe we should wait...maybe there is something else that will come on the market next week or in a few days even...haha, I am so neurotic and I truly do know that God is in control and will lead us into the home he has prepared for us. yep, I'll just keep trusting and loving Him. Ok, goodnight!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

HAPPY GRADUATION KATERS!!!!

TODAY MY SISTER, KATE, GRADUATES FROM MESSIAH COLLEGE. WE ARE SOOOOOO PROUD OF HER AND ALL OF THE HARD WORK SHE HAS PUT INTO HER INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS DEGREE. SHE HAS STUDIED IN JAPAN AND ALL OVER EUROPE...HAS TRANSFERRED SCHOOLS, AND HAS LEARNED AND GROWN SO MUCH. WE LOVE HER AND TREASURE HER AND AGAIN, ARE SO PROUD OF HER!

CONGRATULATIONS KATE!!!!! WE LOVE YOU AND MISS YOU AND WISH WE WERE THERE WITH YOU TO CELEBRATE TODAY! LIVE IT UP, GIRL! LOVE YOU LOVE YOU LOVE YOU!!!

House Hunting!

So, we have been busy with our Ogden, Ut house hunting. We have seen about 10 houses. A couple were complete dumps, a couple were nice, but not for us...and I think we have narrowed it down to our 3 favorites. They range in price from $150,000-$169,900, have lots of charm, hardwood, tile and carpeted floors.
One has a whole new main floor with hardwood living room (LR), tiled Kitchen & dining room (DR), 2 carpeted bedrooms (BR), full bath and laundry. The basement is not 100% finished but has potential with 2 more BRs, a bath that needs complete work, a half kitchen (mother-in-law apt style) and another LR. The outside needs some love, paint, style, flowers, but it has a gorgeous huge tree out front and awesome mountain views. It is white (sorta, dirty) siding.
Another has had a Mormon family there forever and is a great value with 3 upstairs BRs, with a walk in closet, and a bath. The main floor has a somewhat updated kitchen, a full bath, a big LR with picture window, DR, office space but it is all carpeted (we are pretty sure there are hardwoods underneath). The basement has laundry, storage, 2 BRs, a basement entrance, a bath with shower. This house has tons of storage and cabinets EVERYWHERE...very charming. The outside has a driveway with garage, another driveway with covered carport, veggie garden, small fenced yard (for a doggie!) gorgeous irises and roses (makes me think of grandma and granny!) and is a corner lot on a nice quiet street only blocks from the river. It is brick and white siding.
The third house is a corner lot in town, great location. It is brick, has steps leading up to the front (reminds me of the Main street house), has a gorgeous fully fenced back yard with landscaping, stone path, perfect spot for a swing, a patio for grilling & relaxing, is perfect for a dog. The main floor has big windows out front into the LR and DR. LR has a really charming fireplace, wood floors throughout the floor, 3 bedrooms with closets, the kitchen and bath will need some updating but are move in ready. There is beautiful molding on every door and window, built in drawers and cabinet in hallway wall. Charming. The basement has another LR, big garage that is walk-in, and a terr-cota tiled hallway, small kitchen and full bath (remind me of Sarasota, Fl). There is also a small BR and more storage space. It is HUGE, but cozy and not too big for us.

We think all three have the potential for growing into (another cat, a dog...and maybe some babies someday;) as well as hosting as many people as want to come and visit. So, we'll be praying a lot this weekend and let you know what we decide to do since we will probably make an offer on one of the next week.

It is so exciting to be about to buy a house and make it our own and see what God has in store for us. I am still working on getting my cert completed, my graduation is tomorrow! So, that will be official. YAY! And then I will be applying to jobs and hopefully interviewing. It is a lot to handle at once, but I'm trying to be balanced. Keep me in your prayers with this. Ben seems to be adjusting really well to work at the Air Force, but I know he really misses his friends at NAV ICP in Philly.

We are thrilled that we haven't had a bad meal here yet, we have found so many awesome places to eat and can't wait to share them with you when you come visit. You will not be disappointed! The more we learn about this area, the more thrilled we are to live here and to have a great vacation spot for friends and family to visit...if you haven't planned this year's vacation yet, consider a trip to Utah, and like I said, you will not be disappointed. Between the unbelievable views, amazing food, tons of things to do and see (don't get Ben started) and a free place to stay...you can't go wrong. Seriously, I just wanted people to visit us before, but now I am so amazed at the beauty and wonder of this place and truly hope you all take advantage of us living here in the next few years.

Ok, enough. LOVE YOU! MISS YOU!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

River Walk!!








Well, we're really excited to hike and bike around here, and we started by checking out the Ogden River Walk. The Ogden river cuts through the Wasatch at 12 Street, which is known as the 12th street Canyon. Ogden has done an amazing job in completing a paved path that follows the river. It goes from the mouth of the canyon all the way to downtown. In town they put big boulders and obstacles in it, and it's used for Kayaking competitions and such. All along the path there are wide open fields for sports (above), botanical gardens with TONS of iris', mulched paths, a skate park, a flippin RODEO stadium, and a huge pool with slides.


So we're chalking this up as another reason to live in town, besides riding our bikes to downtown and seeing the bistros and BREWERIES along 25th street, we can hopefull really enjoy this river walk. We saw some great houses today. It can be a bit hard. One house faced the mountains, the view from the front porch was completely amazing, but we think it's a bit too small to host visitors. Esther found a house in town that's kind of like home, 2 stories (most houses here finish their basements and use them as living space). We'll keep ya updated. Town definitely has it's harsher areas, there is a huge hispanic population and lots of cute kids running around.


I found a KFC Lunch buffet right outside the West Gate of the base. To compensate, I started running in the evenings. Being out of shape and at 4500 feet makes for a painful run!! Pic below is the Ogden river that forms the park. I guess back east this would be a creek, but out here in the parched West, it's a river!




Sunday, May 13, 2007

Pics, pics and more pics!

Check out our flickr account http://www.flickr.com/photos/8144948@N06/ (thanks Heather for the recommendation!)...we have uploaded nearly every pic we've taken since we left PA. You can see as many as you would like...or not.

We visited Grace Church today and were so relieved to meet some really great people who were completely welcoming and encouraging. They talked to us about everything from Mormon culture (they have classes about understanding it), being new in the area (nearly everyone was at some time), where to look for houses, what the schools are like (I met an elem principal who used to be a school counselor and a PE Jr. Hi teacher). We just felt really good when we left, not only after worshiping God and enjoying the service...but after meeting such great people. We left with several phone numbers and promises for invitations for dinner! woo hooo! We did miss Ed's preaching and Pilgrim's worship...and of course our friends. I got a little emotional thinking about it and had to keep myself from crying in church...haha We have lots of new things to get used to, but like I said, we were so encouraged. One lady we met is from Johannesburg, South Africa (that is very near where our friend Christo is from) and has lived in Bangor, Maine (where my friend JP lives!) haha...what a small world. And one family asked us why we didn't have a philly accent, their mother grew up in the Fishtown area of Philly. haha The church has an Outdoor club for hikers/skiiers, etc...perfect for my mountain man! So, it seems we will be attending this church, but we are open to God's moving one way or another. Thank you all for your prayers...God listens, BIG TIME!

At least 3 secondary schools here have already posted openings for school counselors, so I need to be sure my paperwork for certification is up to date and I can start applying. Please pray about this as well!

I can't wait to start seeing houses on Tuesday! And, for the record, Rascal is completely at home now in our apartment. I think he thinks we finally brought him back home...we just changed everything. haha He loves it here.

Let me know what questions you have! God is so good and deserves all the praise!

Happy Mothers Day to all of you wonderful Moms! (especially Nikki, Debbie, Meg, Lousie & Betty...you are all WONDERFUL!)

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Church, and we're not the only ones!

Just a real quick update- please see other recent post below-

So there's only one PCA Church in the Ogden area, and it's about a mile from our temporary apartment! Looks like we'll check this place out tomorrow:
http://www.graceutah.org/

Also, as we've been cheering the downturn in housing across the country (sorry sellers, we're buyin!), it looks like the Salt Lake City area is one of the few places that's still booming. So I guess we're not the only ones arrivin' here!
http://finance.yahoo.com/retirement/article/103016/Where-Home-Prices-Are-Hot-Now

Some pics from Ben




I love how different Esther and I are! She got all the details down so now I can throw some pictures up to illustrate, plus my two cents! Ok, the snowy picture up there of me and the mountain is from Wyoming, that's Elk Mtn at 11,000FT, and yes it really is May 7th. We read how that's the northern part of the Snowy Mtn Range, and lots of caribou and stuff come down from there in the winter to eat grass and sage that is exposed by the wind. And yes, it was windy!!




We also passed a truck with an... um... interesting decoration hung between the dually exhaust. Mom says she's seen this before, but it was new for me and I was cracking up!!






The pic with the snow at the tippy top is the view of the Wasatch Mtns from the base. Like Esther said, everywhere you go you just see it and you're awed. The pics don't really do it justice. It's humbling to be confronted with this wall of Earth that God move to such heights. I think that's about 9-10,000ft.


The Wasatch is broken up by streams coming out, that form canyons where they build roads to get to the other side. In New England I guess they call them gaps. Anyway, Ogden is situated right in front of one, at 12th street, hence the 12th Street Canyon. On the other side, 15 mins from downtown, is the Pine View Res. , formed by a dam. There were pretty big power boats zooming along, which made me think of my brother. Around the water there are two small towns, Hutsville and Eden, which are pretty sparse and include a lot of horse pasture. And ALL AROUND ARE HUGE MOUNTAINS!! They hold 3 ski resorts, the best known is Snowbasin, which hosted the Super G and Downhill ski events in the 02 Olympics. So for all these reasons, we're hoping to find an old house in Ogden, so we can ride bikes downtown but also get to the canyon relatively easy.






Some things remind me of home. Further down the valley, things are booming. Kind of like the sprawl back home, but somehow it's a little better. There are more alt. routes, and they didn't make things dependent on a few main arteries which creates al the gridlock (King of Prussia, Plymouth Meeting, cough cough!). For those who think there are less eating options here and things are more backward then Philly, you're in for quite a surprise! They have EVERYTHING and more! Olive Garden, Outback, Cracker Barrel, Marie Calenders (new for me, but my favorite so far!) and many many more. We went to our lender's office and he was next to a Japanese steak house. Across the street was a Brazilian steak house, and a block down there was Outback. Wow, we need to start excersising because Per Diem and these options are getting me out of shape.






I think I'll post more about work and stuff later. this is getting long. But we really do miss friends and family. We hope for visitors, we really can show you a good time!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Settlers in Utah?!

Hey all! First of all, thanks to all of you who post comments! I love to know who reads our blog, what you think, what questions you have...and that we are missed. You all are missed too. Seriously, the only people I have met in Utah so far have been our real estate agents and mortgage guy...more about them later. :) So, hearing from you guys is great...and once we get a little more settled and I get used to being 2 hours earlier than you all, I'll learn when is the best time to call...i tend to forget that when it is 8pm here, you guys are at 10pm and getting ready for bed!

Ok, so why has it been so long since the last post? It's not like I have a job or know anyone out here! Well, that mostly is due to the fact that we have been staying on base where there is only internet access at the library (where I am now) and it isn't always open...and is a few blocks away...and i only found out about it 2 days ago...and once we got settled into our tiny little temporary quarters, we found out that we can move into a real apartment off base guaranteed for 2 months, so i had to re-pack everything and get us ready for that after unpacking and trying to settle in....WOW...between that and eating out everynight b/c we don't have a real kitchen to cook in, and meetings about buying a house, I guess I have kept pretty busy!

So starting from the beginning...we drove through the rest of WY on Monday and it was gorgeous...we saw more mountains and then all of a sudden we were in desert and then mountains, and then desert...insane! We finally arrived in Utah around 4pm and that is when I realized what a treat we are in for. UTAH IS SOOOOOOO BEAUTIFUL....I can hardly believe it. It is so green, and the mountains still have some snow...and the mountains are, as Ben said they would be, RIGHT NEXT TO YOU...and all around you, you can't be anywhere and not see the mountains. The veiw from our temp quarters gives us the mountains all the way down to Salt Lake City (SLC) and the valley, and you can actually see the SLC skyline from here, 35 miles away! The views just go forever. You won't believe it till you see it, but I believe this is the most beautiful place I have ever seen. Ben took me through Ogden and we are agreed that is the place for us to live (as opposed to Layton or Roy which are more like Plymouth Meeting area, and Ogden is more like Phoenixville, a real "city" with a main street and "old houses"). We had dinner in the Ogden Canyon after driving around the lake/resevoir that is at the bottom of Snow Basin ski resort. I didn't believe a place like that existed before I saw it. A gorgeous blue lake surrounded by open country and farms up to the mountains that surround it. The canyon is literally that you are driving along a tiny river (looks like the perkiomen creek to me) right between two huge mountain sides that just rise straight up. again, you'll believe it when you see it!

The base is interesting but not very welcoming/warm. Like I said, I haven't met anyone. But it is it's own community within a city. It has houses/apts/dorms, a minimall that is like a walmart with a food court, a comissary (food store), a bowling alley, a gas station with a garage, a car wash, a burger king, various restaurants, a library, a movie theater, child care, a chapel with protestant and catholic services...and lots of other things I don't even know about. We can't use much since we are civilians, but we're leaving base today anyway.

The weather is in the 80s during the day and drops to low 70s at night. There is no humidity and a nice breeze, so it doesn't feel that hot. There is more sun than i could ever imagine. Ben says we are on the western border of the mountain time zone, so we are almost to west coast time zone and get a lot of sun b/c of that...i don't get all of the weather/geography stuff, but i sure love the sun!

So the apt we are in on base, or rather just left, was tiny. The bedroom had a full bed in it, a dresser & closet...and the full bed BARELY fit. The bathroom was so tiny you almost can't shut the door and the kitchen was basicly a sink, refrigerator and 1/2 size oven. the microwave was on the little table in the living room area which was the only spacious enough area. Anyway, today we move into "Luxury apts" that are the same rent we paid at home for our crappy carpet. The complex has a gym, an outdoor pool & hottub, a free tanning bed (hehe) and gorgous grounds. we get it for 2 months and it is covered by govt per diem except for the pet fee which is ours to pay. our meals and groceries are still covered up to like $60 a day or something...so we eat out for dinner and most lunches, but we'll see about that once we get into the new place. Eating out all the time can mess with your system. :( hehe

So we were referred to a husband/wife real estate team and met them last night. Rob & Amy seem really nice and seem to get what we want, so we'll see how quickly they can get us into a house. We met with them and with Kris, a mortgage guy last night to start that process, and Utah has some great, low interest, 1st time buyer programs, so I think we are set! We'll start the house hunt next week and i'll keep you posted on that.

Hmmm, what else? Well, Rascal is doing fine. He is adjusting to everything pretty well except for the schedule. He was sleeping in the car all day last week and staying up all night, and is continuing that now, so we are trying to keep him up more during the day and out of the bedroom at night, but we had to do something to keep him from sitting outside of the bedroom door and meowing. (he never did that before) So Ben concocted the "Rascal Forcefield", which is a fan pointed at the bedroom door all night while it is closed so he doesn't want to sit there and meow. It worked and Ben slept a lot better, which is good b/c he gets up early for work and has had crazy busy days getting set up. He likes it, but i'm still convinced that he is going to need something new for work in a few years... like teaching maybe???

We are told they are desperate for teachers here, so i'll see about guidance counselors. There haven't been a lot of openings so far, but school isn't our yet. Something to pray about!

Ok, this is long enough...my others should be shorter b/c i'm told we'll get wireless in the new place starting tonight, so i'll try and stay more up to date! Love you all & keep posting comments! Oh, and i'll be posting pictures to a Flika account and giving you that info soon too!

Sunday, May 6, 2007

I actually saw TUMBLEWEED!!!!

I never in my life thought I would spend a minute, let alone 2 days in Wyoming! But this is God's country out here...it is so open and beautiful. From plains to bluffs to snowy mountains and western towns with WRANGLER stores...yep, we went shopping!!! hehe

Ok, going back a bit...I LOVED CHICAGO!!! This is one city that I have always wanted to see. I couldn't tell you why, but now, I could give you several reasons to definitely visit the windy city. First off, yes it is windy, but Lake Michigan is BLUE as can be and makes it worth the wind. The city is so clean. In May, and probably all spring & summer there are flowers all over the city. You literally can't go more than a few blocks, if that, without seeing colorful flowerbeds. There is almost no trash, even with the wind, and as for people living on the street, we only saw a few. And one guy was "selling" postcards for donations and giving city information to tourists although he was self-proclamed "down on his luck". He had a brochure for a shelter that he was "working" with. Interesting. I wonder if Philly has anything like that. The food, as Ben said, was amazing. We loved the pizza. I personally have never had better pizza. Oh, and it was filled with sausage, pepperoni and black olive Bethie. :) SOOOOO GOOD! That alone was worth the trip. The train was easy to use, the double decker bus tour was worth the money, Navy Pier is a really fun family place and Sear Tower is soooooo cool. I have never seen views like that. And Lake Michigan looks like an ocean from the tower...it is humongous. (did i spell that correctly?) People were friendly, but still a little city walled, like they will only open up so much...but still friendly and helpful, make eye contact and answer questions.

The dinner we had at FLAVOR in southern Chicago, was awesome and started the Chicago trip off really well. We couldn't have had better food in Chicago, or better weather or more fun. I will always recommend this city for a weekend getaway.

Ok, so when we left Chicago, we were disappointed with the lunch we had in Iowa. We stopped at a "family restaurant" that was really a truck stop in a town of 900. It smelled bad...the bathroom was worse...the menu looked cheap and it seemed extensive. Ben asked right away about the pies (the first thing he noticed while I was trying to breath in the smelly place). The waitress immedaitely explained that they cook the pies there, but the get them frozen. What? I then asked about the blueberry pancakes and was told that the blueberries are canned and are put on top. What? So i thought, ok a burger is easy, can't mess that up, right? I would have preffered McDonalds...that's how bad it was. It was a flat, perfefctly round patty of SOME beef...$4 later and I ate 1/2 of it and asked for mozzerella sticks which were good, but then they are always frozen before fried, right? It was a huge dissapointment, but our Omaha, NE steak dinner more than made up for it. And we learned a lesson...be sure to eat in a place that smells good. :) hehe, like i didn't know that... oh well. Oh, and we found a great BBQ place for lunch further along in NE and that carried us all the way to Cheyanne, WY where we settled for a quick, cheap Sonic dinner. Ben had never eaten Sonic before and he loved the banana cream milk shake.

We decided to spend 2 nights in Cheyenne at the Holiday Inn, which is great. So this is our second night here and we drove through the mountains today so Ben could see Laramie, Wy which is supposed to be an authentic western town, but was a huge dissapointment, especially considering we drove through snow...yes, snow in May...to get to it. Actually, I drove and it was insane driving in snow in the Rockies! Insane!!! So, Laramie was disappointing b/c there wasn't much to see in the town and being that it was Sunday, not much was open. Yeah, probably the biggest culture shock so far is that things close by 8pm on Saturday evening and don't open till noon if at all on Sundays. I don't know if that will be that way in Ogden, but I guess I'll have to adjust my way of thinking.

Ok, going back again, (sorry for jumping all over, that is just the mood I'm in) we loved Nebraska and Wyoming's scenery. We actually saw tumbleweeds cross the highway and have seen things that I couldn't even imagine, like a schoolhouse in the middle of nowhere with a small playground, a b'ball court...and literally like a 2 room building. Tiny!

Tomorrow we head into Ogden, so I finally get to see where we are going to be living. We'll get to base and check into our room and hopefully get them to grant us our 30 day stay...which is supposed to turn into a 60 day stay. They called this week to tell us that they can only guarantee us for 3 days and it will be a day at a time after that. So you can pray with us that we confirm our reservation on base or that we find appropriate housing until we buy a place. It could be a little hairy at first, but we are trusting that God has a plan for us in this and that we will be fine, one way or another by God's provision. We love you and miss you and covet your prayers and love in return!
PS I'll put pics up later.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Chicago, and a culinary tour










Okay, so this is Ben's first time posting. I'll leave a lot of the Chicago details to Esther. I'm concerned about the food that we've encountered along this trip. We actually started this whole journey on Sunday (April 29th) with our last Philly Cheese steak at Chubby's, near Philly University. Standard fair, and it was very good. However, it was an important visit in that we can compare it directly with the Pittsburgh Steak Sandwich we had in Beaver Falls on Tuesday. I must say, I enjoyed the Pittsburgh style just as much as Philly. They chopped up the steak, and the coleslaw added a really great taste to go with the texture of the french fries they threw on top.

We got to Chicago on Wed night, and spent Thurs into the city. I'll let Esther detail the deep dish stuffed pizza. I'll stick with sandwiches and report on the Chicago Hot Dog. Definitely a far distant 3rd to the Philly cheese steak and Pitts. Sandwich. It was just a regular dog with lots of stuff thrown on (tomatos, relish, mustard, celery salt). Not too orginal or groundbreaking in my book.

Now we're about to leave Omaha Nebraska, and we had amazing steaks last night at a local joint. Hope there's something to report from Wyoming over the next two days. They're expecting about 6 inches of snow along our journey!

Ben

Thursday, May 3, 2007

More pics






All Pics are from ND and do not do it justice. They wouldn't all fit together but I wanted to put them up anyway. :)

Crossing Ohio & Indiana






We left the Pittsburgh area this morning and drove across Ohio and Indiana to arrive in Harvey, Illinois for the night. We had a great visit at Geneva College where I ran into Sarah Romeo who is a young camp friend and a junior el ed major there. She is such a lovely young woman. I was so impressed with her and am so proud of her and what God is doing in her life! :) We also had a great dinner and visit with Nat, Oz & Caleb. Caleb loved the b'day card we gave him and he is such a sweetie, and well behaved for 3. We are completely looking forward to more and more time with these dear friends who are moving to Idaho (4.5 hours from Ogden) next month.


A few travel notes. Ohio is boring and has lots of construction, but has wonderful rest stops (clean, effecient) and the tolls to cross the entire state were under $11. Indiana had less construction, less tolls (under $5) but not as nice rest stops and just as boring (by boring we mean not much but farms to see from I 80 and pretty flat).


We split the driving and passed the time listening to music and reading. I am reading aloud to Ben b/c he gets sick reading in the car, so when he drives I read chapters from Harry Potter 3, The Prisoner Of Azkaban. This is my favorite of the 6 so far and I am so excited to read it aloud and hear Ben's reactions. :) haha I know, cheesy, right? hehe


We did have a lovely stop in South Bend, Indiana where we visited Norte Dame. What a beautiful campus! I can't say that I ever would have expected it to be so gorgeous. We had a lovely stroll through campus (we couldn't have asked for better weather) and visited a few buildings. We then drove on toward Chicago and hit the first "traffic" we had seen since leaving Philly. But, we were still able to drive at the speed limit of 70mph all through the congestion. AMAZING! (to us anyway, who have braved the Schuykill Expressway all too often). hehe


Arriving in Ill, we checked into our hotel and Rascsal stretched his legs for the first time since leaving the Holiday Inn. He didn't come out from under the driver's seat all day for more than a minute. But he loves the hotel rooms. They are like new play rooms for him. Anyway, we found this AWESOME place for dinner called Flavor and if you are ever in this area, you MUST eat here. We had the most amazing jerk chicken and rib tips with great sides, wonderful sweet tea and fresh bread with cranberry butter (which ROCKED!). So props to Flavor, and I hope you all can check it out if you are out here, it was soooooo good.


Tomorrow we take the train into Chicago and will see the Navy pier (maybe our first ferris wheel ride together) and probably sears tower and hopefully have a double-decker bus tour for the fun of it (thanks for the suggestion, Steve). I promise to let you know if Vince Vaughn is our tour guide. :) We'll let you know what all we do but I also hope to eat some deep dish pizza and have sore feet by the end of the day!


We praise God for the gorgeous weather we have had on this trip to make it that much easier and more enjoyable. We also are so greatful as today it occured to us that this is the first real vacation we have had just the two of us, no friends or family. Not that we haven't loved those times, but what a blessing to have so much free time together! Praise God!


Well, we gained an hour of sleep tonight by crossing time zones, but Ben has been out for over an hour already...I better join him! Love you all and goodnight!

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Go West Young Man (Woman and cat)!

So, yesterday the movers came and did EVERYTHING!!! It was amazing. We literally just got out of the way and let them work. It took longer than we expected, though. They arrived at around 9:30am and were finished at 4:30pm...so yeah, we got on the road at 5pm. A bit later than we expected, but we were not stressed at all b/c of how smooth the move was for us. We got up at 7am and finished a few things here and there, ran last minute errands, the movers arrived, we put Rascal in the car and then our landlord came to give us our deposit check. He walked around, said ok (in the midst of piles of stuff, 3 rather large men with boxes & packing marerial) and said goodbye. How easy was that? We sat in the car in the shade with Rascal after settling him in and making all of out stuff fit. He, by the way, had a VERY STRESSFUL day. Or so he thought anyway. He positioned himself under the driver's seat and didn't come out all day, not to eat, drink, or use the litter. He was very upset with us and ignored all of our coaxing. We think he was expecting to go to the vet again. Anyway, we had lunch in the shade (yay baja fresh), checked in on the guys, offered soda, water and pizza for their hard work...and then we cleaned up after they loaded everything into the car. They filled a 25 foot moving truck with all of our stuff. Yes, we have a lot of stuff...but they used soooooo much packing stuff, it pretty much doubles the space. Pretty cool! When we got on the road, we went through the toll booth, and headed EAST...what? Yeah, Ben accidentally went East out of habit from visiting his parent's home. HAHA We U turned asap and then, we headed WEST!!! We drove the PA Turnpike to Bedford, PA and stayed the night. Once Rascal was in the room, he was fine again. We slept fine, had a nice breakfast and headed to Beaver Falls, PA where we now are! We are heading to Geneva College's campus and then to dinner with Natalie, Oz and Caleb (he was 3 yesterday!!!). So, our trip is going really well and we are so excited to head to Chicago tomorrow. Thank you for all of your prayers! We love our friends and family and are so blessed to have you in our lives. Stay in touch with us, ok??? :)