Last Day in Georgia

Lisa and I are ready to pack it in here in Georgia and head home to Kentucky.  Tomorrow we will pull out of Stone Mountain Campground and head north toward the wintry weather of home.  With the exception of a couple of brief trips home – we have been gone now for two months and are ready for a break – even if it may be brief.

Without question this assignment here in Georgia has been the most difficult we have experienced thus far – for a number of reasons.  We never expected the snow storms or single digit temperatures here in central Georgia and enduring it in our RV has been a daily battle.  These last couple of weeks have been a little better with warmer temperatures but like most people in America – we cannot wait for spring.  Along with the winter weather – we have had to deal with Lisa’s thirty-five mile commute to Riverdale.  Traffic in Atlanta is worse than anywhere we have been so far and that includes New York, Baltimore, and Los Angeles.  We have loved the southern hospitality and kindness of everyone here and for the first time in our traveling – our accent is not a topic of every conversation.  But we are ready to move on.  Stone Mountain may be the prettiest setting we have stayed (as far as the campground) – but the off-season months offer very little in terms of activity and, with the exception of the weekends, we have been practically alone.  We love the peace and quiet but miss meeting and getting to know people as we did in Arizona and California.

We don’t know where Lisa’s job will take us next.  Lisa has been recommended for a job in Monroe, Wisconsin where I noticed the high was seven degrees yesterday.  Yikes!  We have learned to not jump the gun thinking the first job offer will be the one.  Who knows where we will end up but we should know something in the next week or two.

But we do know that tomorrow we are heading home.  And there is no place like home.

Love, Steve and Lisa

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Bits and Pieces

Lisa and I are wrapping up our time here in Georgia with just a little more than one week left of her assignment in Riverdale.  We will leave here on Saturday March 1st and go home (unless our next assignment takes us elsewhere).  Here are some odds and ends to share – thanks for reading!

It don’t come easy.  It is the most exciting and stressful part of traveling with Lisa’s job – the end of one assignment and the anticipation of the next.  As of today (2/20/14) we do not know when or where that next job will take us, but we are both excited for this one to end.  It has not been an easy one and we are glad winter is winding down and we can move on.  We have both concluded that living in an RV during winter weather is just not good.  These things are just not made for cold weather – I don’t care what they say.  We have battled the freezing temperatures and two freakish Georgia snow storms and are officially ready for it all to end.  Realizing many across the country had much worse weather than we experienced here in Georgia makes it almost embarrassing to complain about the two relatively mild snow storms we endured.  But Atlanta and the south in general is just not capable of handling snow and ice and so it shut down everything.  And the daily monitoring of our water lines, propane, road conditions and food supply has grown very old – very fast.  I will take the desert over these conditions any day.

Admiration.  During the winter storms here in Georgia the mayor of Atlanta, Kasim Reed, and the Governor of Georgia, Nathan Deal, shared most of the spotlight and most of the blame for the poor handling of the situation.  I have come to admire both of these men due to the fact that they never made excuses for their mistakes and continued to be visible for the people to take their shots.  In the end, the second storm was handled tremendously and they did just what they said – learned from their mistakes the first time.  Isn’t that about all one can ask of our officials?  Too bad some in Washington have not learned that lesson.

Hiking Stone Mountain.  It is impossible to drive through Stone Mountain Park and not see people jogging, biking or hiking the miles and miles of paths and roadways found here.  For the serious bikers – I recommend coming here for a weekend and try out the many roadways found here in the park.  The steep hills and curves may demand more skillful riding than some may be ready for – but if you are up for the challenge I recommend loading up your bikes and booking a room at the “Marriot Evergreen”.  The hills also can present quite a challenge for joggers and walkers and the scenery is magnificent.

This past week I journeyed out on foot toward the main tourist area of the park and found myself at the base of the walking trail up the mountain.  I had not anticipated taking the one mile trek to the top of the granite mountain – but could not pass up the opportunity.  The trek is not bad as far as footing but it is a one mile steep incline to the top that required me to take a few stops along the way to catch my breath.  People young and old were on the journey with me and I was glad that most of the trip was in heavy shaded areas.  Finally – after a stop for lunch – I began the final two hundred yard ascent which was the steepest and most strenuous of the trip.  Rails are provided to actually hold onto during the final climb and I took full advantage of them as I paused and looked back at the Atlanta skyline miles and miles below.  It was breathtaking in more ways than one.  Finally I made it to the top and decided to forego the return climb down opting instead to pay the five dollars to ride the sky tram back.  It was an exhausting trip but a good one.  I now stand here at the campground and look up at that bald rock and say – “I climbed that”.  I mean I know it isn’t Everest – but still, I did it.

Blacksmithing.  Not too far from our campground is an area of Stone Mountain called “Stone Mountain Village”.  There you will find a number of little shops and diners that make for a nice morning or afternoon activity.  During one of our visits to the area, Lisa and I walked into an art store called, “Ironhawk Forge”.  While looking around we met the owner and resident artist, Michael Labbe-Webb.  During our conversation he mentioned that he offered classes in blacksmithing and I told him I would be interested.  With Lisa’s encouragement – I signed up for a one on one class for the next week.  The one hundred-dollar fee for a two-hour session would provide me all the basic information to do blacksmithing at home.  Okay – maybe I will become a blacksmith.

The class began with some safety instructions and I thought I may be in trouble when Michael explained what I should do if I get burned and how to use a fire extinguisher.  “Hey Lisa! Keep the truck running!”  Next it was an overview of all the different tools and their names including the many uses of an anvil.  I now want an anvil for Christmas – how weird is that?  Michael also showed me how to make a homemade forge using nothing more than a stainless steel pot and a propane torch.  Very cool (or hot – I should say).

Finally I was allowed to place some steel in the forge and start hammering.  I never would have thought that hammering on hot steel required a certain touch and advanced skill – but, trust me, it does.  I was just not very good at it.  The skill comes in not only how you move the steel around the anvil while you hammer – but how you hammer.  Michael could see that I was wearing myself out and explained that the hammer should bounce off the anvil and that I should work on just using my hand and not my entire arm.  “Hey Lisa!  Get the Icy-Hot Ready!”

By the end of the class, I had managed to hammer a round rod into a flat rod and create a heart-shaped Valentine gift that could be used as a paper weight.  I felt like a grade school kid showing mom what I made in shop when I presented my creations to Lisa.  “You did such a good job, Steve!  Your wife is so proud.  How about some ice cream?”

Yep! I’m a blacksmith now.

See you soon and very soon!  Steve and Lisa

Winter in Our RV – A Poem

Winter in Our RV

Snow is in the forecast – another winter storm

It’s unusual for Atlanta – where sixties are the norm.

They say that this may be the worst so take heed and be aware

The last time they had a two-inch snow a state disaster was declared.

It only took a minor snow to shut highways down for miles

People left their frozen cars and slept in Kroger aisles.

But this time will be different – schools are canceled until May

And they have called in reinforcements with snowplows on their way.

So – buy up all the eggs and milk and get your asses off the road

This winter storm apocalypse will take your life – ‘fo sho!’

So this time we were ready – we found a hotel room to stay

And then we hoped the ice and snow would take the RV away.

Perhaps a limb would smash it flat and ruin everything inside

Or maybe something would ignite and send it flying through the sky.

We just hope there is such damage that our RV is no more

And the winter storms of Atlanta would be our ticket to the store

Where Lisa gets the new RV she has been bugging me about

And not having a leaky roof will even make me shout.

But in the end our old RV withstood the snow and all

Through all the wind, snow and ice – the stupid thing stood tall.

How in the hell has it withstood those Amarillo winds?

Or stayed together in the desert and other places we have been.

No – this winter will not kill it – no ice, wind, snow or rain.

But if Lisa says “New RV” again – I think I’ll go insane.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lessons From a Leaking Roof

When Lisa and I purchased our RV in Hanover, Pennsylvania – we were told that there had been a leak in the used fifth wheel we were buying but we were assured that the problem had been fixed.  When the first heavy rain hit our campground in Gettysburg, we knew immediately we had been lied to about the repaired roof.  It was still leaking.  Since that assignment in the summer of 2012, Lisa and I have battled the dripping water (which happens to be very near my head on my side of the bed – of course) and have had some success in curtailing the flow.  But, after a period of time the drip returns and I, again, make another attempt at fixing the problem.

During a recent heavy rain here at Stone Mountain Georgia – I noticed our dripping menace had returned for another battle and I finally came to a conclusion.  I cannot fix this problem.  I surrender!  I wave the white flag!  I admit defeat!

Which leads me to another revelation – there are things in life that just can’t be repaired.  Try as we might to fix that old problem in our life – whatever it is – it just will not go away.  It may be our cross to bear.  One of my biggest gripes with contemporary preaching is the common theme among many pastors and theologians (so-called) to guide people through a series of steps in order to “fix” their lives.  Go into any bookstore and you will find row upon row of Christian books designed to help us fix certain problems in our lives.  Weight loss, marital problems, child raising issues, money problems, dating difficulties – you name it and someone has the answers to how to fix it.

What is wrong with that? – you may ask.  Nothing – except they go against everything I believe about our fallen nature and unfixable, broken lives.  Our only redemption is that of the perfect savior standing in our place – being us for us before God who demands perfection.  The truth is I cannot get it right.  I continue to fail, continue to mess up, continue to say the wrong things, do the wrong things.  If I was not so sure of what I am about to say – I would be convinced that I am the only failure in the world.  But (here goes) we are all failures and screw-ups.  And we will never get it right.  Never!

If buying one of those books and working through the ten steps to peace of mind or financial freedom or developing that perfect marriage helps you – by all means go for it.  But chances are by now you have already failed at that New Year’s resolution you made and chances are by the time you get to the end of the book – you will have already forgotten those first two steps and will have to start all over again.  But, don’t lose heart Brethren!  I am a failure too.  But here is the good news – God knows it and did something to fix us.  He declared us perfect.  With our lives hidden in Christ and in His finished work – we can proceed to honor that gospel in the way God commanded in the scriptures – to rest in the Lord.  Give up trying to fix yourself and allow God to love and forgive your brokenness.  Now I said it.  Whew – I feel better.

In the meantime – I hear another ‘drip-drip-drip’ coming from that leaking roof again.  “Lisa!  We need more towels!”.

Peace – Steve and Lisa