Spring in Tennessee

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air force museum in dayton
Greetings from Tennessee,

As usual I have been keeping busy since I last wrote. In the beginning of March Brenda and I joined our young adults group for a camping trip to Cades Cove in Smoky Mountain National Park. Friday night we had a good supper of chili followed by a nice vespers. On Sabbath morning several people from our group got up early to ride bikes around the 11 mile Cades Cove loop road. They were expecting the road to be closed to vehicles but it turns out that it only closes during the summer months. I don't own a bike so I decided to try the loop road on rollerblades instead while Brenda rode her bike. I had a pretty good skate although the road was rough in several places. The scenery was gorgeous and we saw plenty of deer and a large group of wild turkeys along the way. Just as we were coming back into the campground a friendly ranger informed me that skates are not allowed in the park so I agreed to skate directly back to my campsite to take them off. Back at camp we had a good church service and then some people went hiking in the afternoon while the rest of us enjoyed some lay activities involving
butterflies up close
hammocks.

On Sunday most of the group headed home early but a few of us took our time exploring a creek near our campsite before hitting the road. On the way back to Chattanooga Brenda and I stopped at the Lost Sea which is a roadside attraction promoted as "America's largest underground lake". The tour was a little pricey but we had fun following our guide through several large caverns to the underground lake. On the lake they have glass bottom boats although you can't really see anything other than an occasional fish through the glass bottom. The boat ride was fun though and it was interesting to hear about the discovery and development of the caverns and lake.

The next weekend marked the start of spring break so Brenda had a week off from work. I took a couple days off from my work at the start and end of the week so we were able to take two long weekend trips. On the first weekend we drove up to Lynchburg, VA to visit our friends Jonathan & Arianne who used to live here in Chattanooga. We had a
trees & flowers in bloom
nice time catching up and enjoyed a waterfall hike on Sabbath afternoon. On Sunday the guys played computer games while the girls went shopping and then in the evening we all got together and played some volleyball. The exercise we got playing volleyball was pretty much cancelled out though by our visit to Cold Stone Creamery after we finished playing.

On Monday morning Brenda and I got up early and drove to Snowshoe, WV for a day on the ski slopes. It took a bit longer than expected to get through the rental lines but once we did we enjoyed some decent skiing. It was rather late in the season so the only snow was on the ski runs. It just doesn't feel right to be skiing down a slope with bare ground on either side of the trail, but we still had lots of fun. After the lift lines closed and we returned the rentals we loaded up the car for the long drive back to Chattanooga. It actually snowed on the way back but not enough to cause any problems on the roads. We got back pretty late so I had a short sleep before going in to work the next morning.


fresh strawberries
Thursday after work we loaded up the car and hit the road again, this time bound for Dayton, Ohio for a visit with Brooke, Jeffrey & Elise. On Friday we visited the free Air Force museum where we rushed through all of the exhibits. The museum is very large so in some areas we were just walking without stopping to really look at anything. We did get to take the shuttle bus out to the experimental aircraft and presidential aircraft exhibits which were both fascinating. I could easily spend several days in the museum but at least we got a good overview tour. On Friday night I braved the snow flurries to pick Amber up from the airport just after Summer arrived from Maryland by car. We pretty much spent the rest of the weekend just visiting and hanging out together which was lots of fun. On Sunday we got on the road early in the afternoon so we made it back with enough time for a good nights sleep before going back to work on Monday.

In April we slowed down a little bit and spent several weekends here in Chattanooga although we did find time to visit my Grandparents in McMinnville over Easter weekend.
we went boating for Jonathan's batchelor party
My friend Matt who was in Guam with me also came for a visit in April and it was nice to spend some time catching up with him. The last weekend in April we drove up to Mt. Rogers State Park in Virginia and met Michael and Amelia for a weekend of camping. We stayed at a camp site right next to a stream so we got to drift off to sleep each night to the sound of running water. On Sabbath we explored the Grayson Highlands area where we hiked a short stretch of the Appalachian Trail and enjoyed watching the wild ponies. The pony herd was introduced years ago and is allowed to roam free in the park.

In May we spent the first weekend here in Chattanooga. The next weekend we enjoyed a camping trip closer to Chattanooga and picked our own fresh strawberries on the way back. We spent the third weekend in Lynchburg, Virginia for Jonathan & Arianne's wedding. The wedding weekend was busy but we enjoyed spending time with friends and the outdoor ceremony turned out beautifully. Over Memorial Day weekend Brenda and I flew out to Seattle, Washington where her parents picked us up from the airport
sunset over the tennessee river
Thursday night. From the airport we drove down to Portland, Oregon where we spent the weekend at my Grandmother's retirement center. My parents and my sister were there as well and we all stayed in guest rooms provided by the center. We enjoyed a good weekend of visiting, playing games, and doing puzzles. I also spent much of the time researching, buying and setting up a new computer and Internet connection for my Grandma. Her old computer and dialup ISP were both long overdo for an upgrade. On Sunday evening we got to meet up with Brenda's cousin and his family and then we were able to spend a little time with one of my good friends from high school and his family. We especially enjoyed playing with their two and half year old twins Arthur and Penelope. Bright and early Monday morning we headed back to the Seattle airport for the flight home. It was a pretty short trip, but the time with friends and family was definitely worth it.

So far things have continued to be busy in June. The first weekend of the month Brenda hosted our young adults potluck and then the following week we enjoyed a visit to the
the crowd at riverbend
Chattanooga Aquarium. We also spent time getting everything ready to go for Brenda's trip to Cambodia. A couple of days before Brenda left for Cambodia we went downtown to the family faith night of the Chattanooga Riverbend Festival. The featured artists for the night included Aaron Shust, FFH and Audio Adrenaline so it was a fun evening with a good variety of Christian music.

Since Brenda left two weeks ago I have still been keeping busy. The first weekend I stayed in town and helped with potluck at church, went hiking in the afternoon and then went to a young adults ice cream and game night. On Sunday I got up early and borrowed a bike for a 17 mile ride along the Chattanooga Riverwalk and then spent the rest of the day getting some things done around the house. This last weekend I attended Darlene & Steve's wedding on Friday after work and then had a nice visit with my grandparents in
the floating riverbend stage
McMinnville for the rest of the weekend. Brooke, Jeffrey & Elise recently moved to Nashville so they were also able to come up to McMinnville for the weekend. It's nice having them closer and I'm looking forward to seeing them more in the months to come. Sabbath after church we had some friends over including the new church school teacher Alicia and her husband Fred. Alicia was doing home study in Russia when we lived there so it was fun to catch up with her after many years. Saturday night we played volleyball with the local church group and then played dominos with my grandparents. Over the weekend we all enjoyed the fresh raspberries which are in full swing and on Sunday we made good use of them for breakfast. We had raspberry pancakes topped with fresh raspberries and raspberry syrup. Sunday afternoon I attended a welcome picnic for Alicia and Fred at the church school and played some more volleyball before driving back home.

This coming Thursday I will be leaving for Cambodia where I will join Brenda for a couple of weeks. For the first part of our trip we will be visiting her brother in the Mondulkiri Province and then we will do some traveling in Malaysia and Thailand for the second part. I'm looking forward to the trip and I'll be sure to post an update about it when I get back.

Until then,

Andrew

PS I finally got a new camera which I used to take the more recent pictures in this update. Also, I have upgraded my photo gallery software and moved it to a server with more disk space to make room for all the new pictures. Please let me know if there are any problems with the new gallery.

7 Comments

Sounds like things are going good. Glad to hear it.

Hi, my name is Jennifer and I am stationed at Andersen AFB. I was googling Marbo Cave and came across your website...very cool. I was wondering if you remember where Marbo Cave was and could give me directions. I know it is just past Andersen AFB, but after that I am lost. Also, did you see the sharks while on Guam? Where? Thanks!

Hi, I just came across your site while I was searching for boonie stomps here in Guam. I saw that you're from Chattanooga? I lived there for a while, and my wife is from there. We are also looking for a church to attend here in Guam, as I have just arrived here. Shoot me an e-mail if you get a chance. Thanks

-Jim

Oh, yeah, I forgot to include my e-mail. james.blackwell@andersen.af.mil Thanks

hey andrew,

i've been to cades cove during my honeymoon trip. awesome place. sad to say i no longer have a hiking buddy.

as always, i enjoy reading ur updates. thanks.

gerald

Jennifer,

I don't remember the directions to Marbo cave too well. The road you want turns off from the main road towards the ocean and it's a big intersection with a wide highway heading towards the ocean but nothing built up on that road. I think they built the road with plans to put in houses but the houses never got built. It looks like a major road that goes nowhere. You then basically wind around to the left and follow the road to the end. Then you hike in a short distance on the dirt road and the cave is on the left.

I did see sharks while on Guam while snorkeling in several different places. I think they were most plentiful though at Shark's Cove which can be reached by hiking north from Tanguisson Beach.

Good luck!

Jim,

I sent you an email directly.