Category: Family

Family Reunion

“On a stormy sea of moving emotion, tossed about I’m like a ship on the ocean. I set a course for winds of fortune, but I hear the voices say..” Carry on Wayward SonKansas

(July 18-22) Riding through Kansas and Missouri didn’t really pose much excitement, however these COWBOY BOOTS were awesome that I purchased. Miriam got two pair and I believe her excitement supersedes mine in this “cowboy boot endeavor”.

At this point in the journey my excitement level for scenery somehow dissipated into the wind as the now big adventure and goal was to get to Cowden, Illinois as soon as possible. We were very eager to see some of our family members, especially my cousin Rick 🙂 This guy is THE storyteller.

As soon as we rolled into the farm, it was beauty and country craziness.




After blowing up old and worn out washing machines, we headed over to an iconic spot for Cowden: the Covered Bridge.


We were already off to a great visit. I haven’t visited Cowden, Illinois since 1999.Cowden has a population of around 584 (2015) so needless to say this is an extremely small town. Everyone knows everyone. There is a post office, a bank and a gas station. My family and I would visit for the family reunions. My mother’s mother was a Hooper and from Cowden. My grandmother had 12 brother’s and sisters of whom had children, who had children who have children. It’s a rather LARGE family. There are a few that I know well and have a close relationship with. 🙂

Riding horses has never been an activity I have experienced often nor an activity that I’ve really enjoyed. However, on this glorious, fam-filled occasion I decided to take a crack at it.


And then this….


I fell off the horse. Not my proudest moment and honestly it was quite embarrassing, though I am of the great understanding that not everyone is capable of riding horses and do not possess that skill and that we possess other skills. 🙂

For the next few days we hung out with family and caught up on the things we’ve missed while Rick tended to the horses.


Nearing the end of our visit Rick needed to shoe his horses. So he called the local farrier.


There were a few time where the horses weren’t having it but in the end everything worked out and they all received their shoes.

It was hard saying goodbye as this was one of the big stops I was looking forward to the most. We caught up with family members we haven’t seen in many years. It felt good to scan those old memories and add new information. It had been many years since we had seen Rick and reuniting with old family members makes for a fantastic trip 🙂


“Oceans of diamonds always shine, smooth out below” MorningBeck                                         img_2247img_2208

From the time I was 12 years old and had watched, “A River Runs Through it” and witnessed so many other films covering Montana, my heart yearned deeply to witness this beauty that so many call, “God’s Country”. Trust me when I say, this IS God’s Country. If you are looking to find solace from the everyday torment of work, politics, drama, social media and anything else that may be causing you stress, this is the place to go. When we entered Montana my heart beat heavily. With eager eyes and my head smushed against the van’s glass window my need to jump out of the van and experience the air and everything that was Montana grew rapidly and without ceasing. I begged dad to stop the van and so he did. I stepped out onto the road that quickly turned into grass to witness this miracle that God had created. We looked around and my heart swelled.







There was a stream at every turn and at every other turn people were fly fishing just like what was depicted in “A River Runs Through It”:). Unfortunately I didn’t get any pictures of this as they were so far away that they wouldn’t show up in the picture had I actually taken one. I couldn’t believe how everything I was seeing with my own eyes looked just like what I had seen in movies. You always think that movies make things look better than what they are OR they take away from what they really are. In this case it was everything I thought it would plus more. The beauty of this is unparalleled.




We even stopped to get some pics of ourselves 🙂





Oh! Look’s like Miriam has the selfie stick this time! *hehe* 🙂


Everything looks like an image out of a book. It looks and feels so unreal. It’s just one continuous jaw dropper. And if you’re not convinced wait until you check out my blog post on Glacier National Park!



As we were driving by the railroad tracks, I felt transported back to the early 1900’s envisioning a time when trains were a steady means of transportation along with the horse and sometimes a car. I could just hear the train’s horn blowing as the passengers leisurely gaze out the window at their surroundings never knowing that there would someday be airplanes, portable telephones and what we have come so desperately to depend on: the internet. Life was more simpler back then and I wonder if sometimes all of this technology we have now really is good for us. It’s something to ponder.


Dad, forever patiently waiting for me to get every single last picture I could muster. 😉



To me this is the second most beautiful place on earth. I’ve never grown up in the mountains and never saw real mountains until I went to Washington. Besides the paradise that I grew up in (river & ocean), this would be my other choice in complete equivalence, though different scenery. It truly is God’s country.

Seattle Part 2

“Love in an elevator. Livin’ it up till I hit the ground.” Love in an ElevatorAerosmith




I need to first start by apologizing for having not posted anything for 7 weeks! That’s quite a long time but with my move to Greensboro and the semester just starting, I’ve been busy with a full schedule. I will blog about that later. 🙂

Visiting Seattle once was great. Visiting Seattle twice…FANTASTIC! I got to see some of the things I didn’t get to see the first time around. For example, this time I was able to ride the Monorail, go on an underground tour, and go up in the Seattle Space Needle. You can do a lot of activities and still never see everything. In that respect it reminded me of DC. Then again, a lot of big cities are like this but hey, it gives people the entertainment and fun they normally wouldn’t get.

We started off in Seattle by doing, “Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour”. If you ever get to go to Seattle, PLEASE visit this. It’s really worth the tour and very historic. You wouldn’t even know that there was an underground city would you? Nope. Seattle built their city ON TOP OF the original city they built. If you want more info check out: Seattle Underground City It’s just an overview of the history. It’s also wikipedia. 😉

Our super funny tour guide Clay was there to give us all the info 😉

This is an image of what the city looked like many years ago before they built over top of it.


Pretty neat huh? So now, the underground city is made up of tunnels and passageways.


*wink wink*


I think all of us really enjoyed the tour. Our tour guide made it so interesting and funny which is why I suggest doing this if/when you visit Seattle. At the gift shop, Miriam and I tried our luck at getting a fortune..unfortunately there was no fortune as Swami just took our money and started blabbering in unintelligible speech. We’re not letting it get us down.


At this point all of us were ready for some lunch. Learning and walking really work up an appetite. We headed toward Pike Place in hopes of gathering food.


We were successful and found a Red Robin.




After lunch, we headed into the center of Pike Place Market so the nieces could experience that. Incase you wanted to see the original Starbucks here it is.


If you want more information on Pike Place Market or see more videos and images, check out: Seattle Part 1 It has the guys who throw the fish and some really neat iconic things.

Pike Place took up a good chunk of time so after that we headed straight for the Space Needle! This was super exciting because it’s such a famous attraction and my mother had been there once before when she was a kid when it had first opened for public viewing! How cool right? Check it out:

Space Needle Intro

The ride up

How neat right?! I will say I did make it through but going up to the top really was a bit scary. I HATE heights (as you already know) and this was no different. Here’s a little secret *whispers* I had my eyes shut the whole time. 😉 lol

View from the top




Now that, was awesome. I LOVE aerial views! It’s so amazing to see how tiny we are. 🙂 I just love it ❤

I was so excited to see the “Sky City” restaurant in the Space Needle. And yes! It does rotate. So while you are eating dinner you are slowly turning. It feels SO weird to walk around in it.



How awesome is that view? We would have stayed to eat but he had to be on our way.

We decided to ride the Monorail as our last stop. This nifty robot “Monorail Man” is stationed at the exit.



The monorail is neat because you’re several feet in the air riding this train. It’s so odd but so neat.

Check it out: Riding the Monorail

Overall, this second trip to Seattle was awesome and I’m so glad I got to spend it with my nieces. I will always cherish that time together.

Family and Good Times

“Let the stories be told. They can say what they want. Let the photos be old. Let them show what they want.” Let The Good Times RollThe Cars

One of the things I had been most excited for was Miriam’s arrival. Miriam is my niece who currently resides in Germany along with her sister (my other niece) Victoria. We had already been in Washington for a month and half before she flew out with her dad. It was so good to finally lay eyes on her 🙂



We gathered around the patio table for everyone to just sit around and have a good time and converse 🙂


imageI hope everyone has noticed the coats and long sleeved shirts everyone is wearing. Yes, I will say it again, it was CHILLY some days this summer in Aberdeen WA.

One of the neatest moments happened on this trip. When Miriam arrived we were sitting in the dining area – myself, mom, Miriam, Rayann and Hayley – talking and just “visiting”. Mom began to tell a story from her childhood. They looked on with intent?


But little did they know the story would turn into BALLS of laughter! These girls were so tickled! I had heard the stories before and had been equally as amused by them and knew that the girls would get a good chuckle. I wanted to cry from being so happy watching them giggle.


The stories are pretty funny but I wouldn’t dare tell them. That’s mom’s story and it’s always better to hear her side first 😉 *hehe*

I tell you, this trip really gave me/us some spectacular memories that I will always cherish. When we are apart I can always come back to these and remember how I felt. Family is so important if you have it. If you aren’t close with certain ones, that’s okay. But if there are tolerable people in your family, please spend time with them. I really, maybe for the first time, finally understand the connection of family. It tugs at my heart strings when I think about it. These people are me. Even the ones that are distant or in our family by marriage or something else; they’re my family. We will always have that connection. Even if we do not like the same things or believe the same beliefs, we will always have a tie that binds us together. Something about that is really special. It gives you a feeling that you have a place in life, an identity or character that separates you from others. Now, with that being said there are certain people in your family that you would rather not have a tie with. LOL I understand that completely and hold no judgement should you feel yourself separate from them. *hehe* Hopefully you understand the weight of what I mean.

Swimming at Mason Lake

“Summertime and the living’s easy and Bradley’s on the microphone with Ras m.g. All the people in the dance will agree that we’re well qualified to represent the LBC” Doin’ TimeSublime



It’s no wonder that Mason Lake in Washington is FILLED with people utilizing it’s vast body of fun and swimming potential. When I was first invited to go by my cousin Chris, I was a bit hesitant. I wondered what would be in the lake and how the water was. So far, my experience in bodies of water (other than the ocean) have me searching for snakes and jellyfish like crazy. In NC our rivers and lakes have snakes, jellyfish and even alligators (depending on where you are). Well, even though I was skeptical I couldn’t pass it up. For whatever reason, being in Washington definitely has brought me out of my shell a bit and I appreciated the invitation.


I drove to Olympia to Chris and Brooke’s house. We loaded up the truck and his cool little motor boat (that goes pretty fast for a 70’s model) and hit the road for a 30/40 minute trip to Mason Lake. Apparently it’s pretty popular from what I was told and it REALLY was. There were boats EVERYWHERE. People were swimming like crazy. I was kind of blown away by how many people were utilizing this lake. I’ve never seen so many people in a body of water at one time like this. Well, I found out that there are no jellyfish or snakes in these lakes! They’re freshwater and don’t have those creepy little things floating in them. So why wouldn’t you be in it having the best time of your life? It’s also QUITE warm, unlike Wynoochee Dam.

This lake trip wasn’t just about swimming. It was also about TUBING!


No, that’s not me. It’s Brooke. LOL I fell off pretty quickly. It was a little hard to keep myself on the tube. But it was fun while it lasted!! Hahaha I did get in the water and swam for a while and then got back in and chilled out. We had such a blast!



We ate an awesome lunch of sandwiches and swam some more, but as all good things do come to an end we headed back to the dock. On the way I noticed a FINE home that looked pretty sweet!

imageA lot of the houses are nice like this but for whatever reason this one stood out to me the most. It looks like everything you would think a lake house would look like. I also noticed that all the homes in Washington are not brick. Apparently it’s kind of expensive to have a brick home and it’s not as easily accessible as it is on the east coast. But this home would have done just fine for me 😉

It was incredibly nice of Chris and Brooke to invite me on their adventure. I had a wonderful time with them as well as Chris’s son Jordan. Chris really went out of his way to make sure I was having a good time and I did just that. I’ve gotta find something equally as cool for them to do when they come out to visit! But what?


The 4th in Aberdeen

“She couldn’t help thinkin’ that there was a little more to life somewhere else. After all it was a great big world with lots of places to run to and if she had to die tryin’ she had one little promise she was gonna keep.” American GirlTom Petty and the Heartbreakers

During the 4th of July, most all of America is up and running. People are gathering with their families to roast hot dogs, hamburgers, eat Kraft Macaroni and Cheese and basically enjoy all things American. In Belhaven, where I’m from, they PARTICULARLY LOVE and celebrate the 4th with major festivities. They start off the day before with a Miss Independence Padgent then move into a “Street Dance” that lasts until very late. People dance the night away and have a great time. Then the next day there’s quite a large parade with festivities around every corner and booths to buy lots of cool junk. Up the road from this, there is a famous “Mud Run” where trucks are forced into the mud with their tires-a-spinning and the redneck in every one of us flying. You could say Belhaven is pretty hoppin’. But there’s one thing that can make all of this not worth the effort and that’s THE HEAT! One of the sayings go, “It’s hotter than the Belhaven 4th of July’s in here!” That’s when you know it’s hot! LOL So…this year I took great satisfaction in enjoying our day of independence in the nice 78 degree weather that was Aberdeen WA. :p


Everyone gathered together: Me, mom, dad, sister, nieces, cousins, cousin’s girlfriends and children. We feasted on some wonderful dishes: watermelon, cheese/summer sausage and crackers, pasta salads of all kinds, crab salad, cheeseburgers, hot dogs, cookies, WA cherries and other fruits. We played “Washers” (which is something like cornhole I suppose) and were just all around merry. Check these guys out. Dad (on the left) is attempting to explain something in the best of ways. Tommy (my cousin on the right) of course looks confused, but I assure you he’s not. Though he may be deciphering the white man’s speak.


It was really great because I got to hang out with my cousin Chris. This summer’s trip was the first time I’ve seen him since I was 13 years old. I have great memories of those times. I met him and a lot of other relatives at a family reunion in Cowden Illinois (look for that post to come). He was 18 then and now we’re both in our 30’s. My how time flies!


We really were having a great time. It was the first time in many years that I’ve really enjoyed myself. There was no heat really and it seemed like the most simplest, easiest action to just put food out and hang with the family!

Now, let me say that Belhaven puts on a nice little firework show at 9 p.m. It’s nice. BUT, in North Carolina, only cities can administer big fireworks. They’re illegal for residents to just shoot them off (or at least some are). In WA State…THEY’RE LEGAL! This town and every other town is lit up with explosions. Here, there, EVERYWHERE they shoot them off. Fireworks had been blasting off for days before the 4th actually came around. So naturally, Chris being the dude he is went and bought a lot of fireworks so we could have our own firework show!


Everyone was ready to kick it off! Even the kid.


It was so funny because he set all the chairs up in a row to watch the fire show commence. Hey look! It’s Kenny again! LOL


These fireworks weren’t just some run-of-the-mill fireworks. These were the BIG ones!






It was so exciting even I decided to try my hand at it. I lit several off. I have to tell you I was a little nervous to start with but after that it was all in good fun! After the show commenced we were all lit up; on the inside as well as outside. I know I definitely was. Yes, that IS a sweater. The nights are cold in Aberdeen.


Our 4th of July celebration was a hit and I’d LOVE to do it every year. I do love America. God bless our soldiers and all of those who fought for us to be free! We know it comes at a price. We love you and will always support you.