2017 Total Solar Eclipse Trip-Day 3

Day 3, August 20

On Sunday morning we got up bright and early. Well, at least I did! I read my Bible while I waited for everyone to get up. People’s alarms were going off, but no one was getting up!😌 At last we all were up and running! We all helped make breakfast in the kitchen downstairs.

We ate and fellowshipped until time to leave for church.

We left and drove to church, about 20 minutes away. We enjoyed the good service and fellowship. We got back to the Neelys’ and helped get lunch ready. Mr., Daniel, and Hannah Wilkes were there. They would be staying at the Neelys’ for the eclipse as well. The lunch was so good! All we girls were discussing what to do for the afternoon. Some people took naps, and Victoria, Annabelle, Lauren, and I played harps.

I had always wanted to play a pedal harp, and that was the first time ever! (We have a lever harp.) What a blast we had! Victoria and I played the pedal harps and Annabelle and Lauren played the lever harps. That was one of my highlights of the trip!!! It was so nice of them to let us!

We then got this idea that we could get everyone together to play instruments!  The girls got up from their naps and we got enough violins together.  They even brought a pedal harp down to the living room to join the growing orchestra! Reese and Annabelle played flute; Jessica played viola; Daniel played cello; Victoria, Susannah, Samuel, Karen, Hannah, and I played violin; and Lauren played harp. Then Lauren and Victoria switched harp and violin, and then I switched with Victoria for harp. We played for the rest of the afternoon. It was such a blessing to be able to use our instruments for God’s glory!

 

 

At last we stopped. I don’t usually play harp for hours, so my fingers were getting sore!😕 We ate a good supper and the work began. You should have seen Mom, Mrs. Neely, James, Jessica, and Daniel trying to make solar filters for James’s, Jessica’s, and my camera lenses!

Our solar eclipse film…

Daniel Wilkes and James Staddon were making it somewhat fun!!

I was helping at first, but I soon got out of the way and let the “professionals” finish! In fact, they were anything but that! You don’t have solar eclipses of the sun every week! Jonathan was taking some videos and I took pictures. Very interesting, indeed. Except for the fact that I got very bored!!!😜😂 So Lauren and I played the piano!  Mr. Neely, Mr. Wilkes, and Reese were writing a tract to pass out about the eclipse. We also got a Dutch Blitz game going. After we tired of that, we played Skip-Bo. It got so late that we finally retreated to bed.

 

Reporting for the Parfitts,

Naomi

Arkansas Trip November 2017, Day 2

It has been a little while since I wrote about day 1 of the Arkansas trip. We had some friends staying with us for about a week (which I will have to write about in a different post!) and our church had its annual missions conference, which kept us busy. So, I am just now getting around to writing about day 2!😐

Day 2-November 19, 2017

I awoke in the morning to the same hum of the tractor trailer that I had fallen asleep to the night before. Some or all of the other members of my family were up already. I quickly folded up my “bed” and put it in the back in its spot. After eating breakfast and reading our Bibles, we were eager to leave. We carefully pulled out of our spot between the tractor trailers and proceeded to the gas station that was part of the Flying J we had stayed at.

The GPS showed us where we had driven at Flying J. It makes it look like we couldn’t find our way around! Well… I guess we couldn’t!!😆

Our bus in the row of tractor trailers. Makes it look small!

 

a view from closer up

After filling up with diesel, we got on the highway. The land was so flat and full of fields. It didn’t feel like we were driving on the highway, it felt like we were driving in the middle of one huge field!

view from windshield

farm along the highway

flat plus flat equals very flat…(you didn’t know I was that good at math, did you?😉)

 

It didn’t seem like a Sunday, since we were driving instead of going to church. But, of course, we were not going to miss the service! At 10:00, we logged onto Livestream and watched the church service at our church while we drove. By the time it was done, it was noon and time for lunch. What we were planning to do was make lunch and then go find the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri. Before I was old enough to remember, my family had gone and eaten lunch and gotten pictures under the arch, and that is what we wanted to do. So off we went in our bus to find it. The arch is not far from the Missouri border. So we crossed the border and began trying to find a way to get to the arch. The road was very confusing. First we went across a long bridge and once we were across, we tried to find our way around. It seemed like we were going in circles. Oh, here is a fenced-in parking area that might be just the thing, as the arch is not very far away. What does that sign say? No RVs? Swallow. Oooookay, then! Let’s try something else. We turned a corner, and the next thing we knew, we were back on a bridge again, and crossing the state border into Illinois! Oh, brother! We tried to find a place to turn around, but next we found ourselves on some back street. What are we doing out in the middle of nowhere next to a train track? We finally got turned around and went back to Missouri on the same bridge. It doesn’t look like we are going to make it to the arch.😢 We got pictures of it from the road and decided that was enough. Sadly we left the neighborhood without getting up close to the arch.

Sign for St. Louis, MO

view of the arch from the highway

That bridge that we got familiar with after driving over it twice!

sideways view of arch

beautiful view of the arch beside the water

Here we are next to the railroad track out in the middle nowhere…

After all that running around, our big rig was quite thirsty for some diesel. So we went to fill ‘im up. We got off the highway, but unfortunately, the gas station was on the other side of the road! So we had to go farther down the road to find a place to turn around. In doing so, we somehow ended up in a neighborhood full of curving roads that went up and around very high hills! Naomi puts it this way: “We felt like we were going to fall off the edge of the world!” We were very glad when we finally found a church parking lot to turn around in! We eventually found our way back to the gas station, and, wouldn’t you know, right across the street from the station was a Dairy Queen. We thought, “Hey, while we are here, why don’t we get ourselves some blizzards?” So before getting diesel, we went to the Dairy Queen and ordered blizzards. After we got them, we went back out to the bus and headed across the street for diesel.

 

Naomi’s blizzard

Naomi eating her blizzard

Annabelle eating her blizzard

me eating my blizzard

As the afternoon wore on, we got tired and some of us took naps…

Annabelle sleeping

Mom driving

Naomi and I played Phase Ten for a while, but with the sun shining in the windows it made us very sleepy and we eventually went to sleep also. Once, while we were playing, we stopped on the side of an off-ramp to switch drivers instead of going to a rest stop. Apparently Mom just barely kept the RV on the road!

 

Half the wheel was sticking off the edge of the road! Yikes!

 

When I woke up, I went into the back and read a book. When I looked up from my book a while later, it was dim because the sun was setting.

the sunset

I thought that we were probably in Arkansas, because the countryside was very much characteristic of Arkansas! I was right, we were. In a very short time, it was pitch black outside, and of course, all the roads were very twisty and windy! We carefully threaded our way through curves and twists, until we reached the town, where it was straighter. By then, we were recognizing things from other times that we visited Grandma. In a short while, we turned onto the gently sloping street that Grandma lives on and pulled into the church parking lot that she lives next to. After going inside and visiting a little with Grandma (and Uncle Paul and his son Jacob, who live with her) we said goodnight to them and went back out to the bus for bed. We decided not to try to go to where we had been planning to park until the next night, since we were too tired to that night. It wasn’t as simple as the night before. Since we didn’t have a tractor trailer on either side of our RV, we could put the slideouts out. First Reese leveled the RV, then we put them out. After that was done, Annabelle and Naomi unfolded their beds and made them. Reese and I also set up our beds on the floor. Finally we all got to bed, this time without anyone stepping on my arm!😅

So there’s the end of day 2! The lesson learned from day 2 is: When you’re going somewhere, stick to the road and don’t try to go find some arch…at least not when you are in a big RV!!!🤣🚍

A Poem

I suddenly wrote a poem the other evening after looking at old pictures on my laptop. When I showed it to my girls this evening, they told me to post it on the blog. It’s not a great poem, but it’s the first one I have written in about 15 years. Perhaps someone will be blessed by it. ~ Jamie

How My Heart Aches

How my heart aches as I look
On the photos in my book.
All the years that passed so fast
Many days that didn’t last.

See how small the babies were.
Now they’re grown; it’s such a blur!
How I miss my husband dear;
How I wish that he was near!

But the Lord is changing not.
He it is that cleans my spot
On my heart and on my mind.
He is patient, tender, kind.

Surely life is brief and sad,
But the blessings we have had!
Many happy times we share
All because of God’s sure care.

Jamie Ruth Blair Parfitt
April 12, 2018

2017 Total Solar Eclipse Trip-Day 2

August 19, 2017

At 5:30 the next morning, my alarm woke me with a start. I got up and started getting ready for the day. It was Reese’s 21st birthday!

One of the first things I did was get the camera battery and charger and get them put in the camera bag. I got to it before Annabelle’s phone alarm went off!😉 At last some people made their way to the living room with their stuff. We warmed up and ate our pre-made breakfast sandwiches that Karen and I had made the night before we left.

At Aunt Fran’s house in the morning.

Reese on a walk down the street.

Before….

 

….I played around with it in Lightroom!!!

We got going after saying good-bye to Aunt Fran.

This was the sunrise as we drove.

First we stopped for gas. I read my Bible before drifting off for a nap. I had gotten up an hour early! From Ohio we drove on through Pennsylvania to West Virginia.

 

But wait. It’s not that easy! It took us FOREVER to get through Ohio! Anyone who has driven through it knows it takes way too long. When we traveled when I was younger, I would ask, “Are we out of Ohio yet?” Always, except for the last time, the answer would be “No.” Now I just say, “We’re still in Ohio, right?”

When we were nearing the Staddons’ house in West Virginia, I stopped reading and looked around the town. We drove until we got to Buffalo Calf Road. That was the Staddons’ road!

 

We had only met James Staddon before and that was when he stayed at our house about 8 years ago! But we never met the others except on Skype many years ago. Needless to say we were nervous and excited! We drove on Buffalo Calf road for the longest time. It is a very narrow one-lane road with a ton of drop-offs, lots of curves, and more curves. It was different from the roads I’m used to in New York, but it was beautiful.

We pulled in at the Staddons’ house around 10:00 A.M. Faithful, their dog, came out to greet us.

 

David got her and put her into a side building. We were glad to get out and stretch. We met Mr. Staddon, Donald, Esther, Jonathan, and David. Then James and Jonathan loaded their stuff into the van while we talked with Esther and drank some cool water. She took us for a walk down their beautiful long lane to get all the kinks out of our legs! Faithful took a water bottle out of my hand and Jonathan tried to get it back from her for the longest time! We didn’t know him really at all, then, and I was feeling bad. But then he finally got it! 😌 When we got back, they were ready to take off. After a prayer, we all piled into the van.

Esther waving good-bye.

For the first two hours, James drove.

Our chauffeur
Reese and Jonathan
And the girls waaaay in the back.

We stopped at a McDonalds and got $1 ice cream cones. 🍦It was a really hot day, after al!😁😋 After we all ate our cones under a tree and chatted, we girls got bread, cheese, lunch meat, and mayonnaise from the cooler that was now covered with stuff in the back of the van. At last we found everything, including a knife to spread mayonnaise with. We made sandwiches and passed them out as we drove.

An electronic billboard had a count down for the eclipse.

After another while, we stopped at the New River Gorge Bridge spanning the New River. We all piled out and, of course, James and I grabbed our cameras. We walked on a board walk to a place where we could view it.

It was massive and very impressive.

We went to another lookout where we could see down over the bridge.

This is the view from that look out.

We then headed to the building and found Jonathan. We got some pictures of the river from an outside porch out back, before heading back to the van to continue on our way.

We continued to travel all afternoon. We went through Tennessee and got to North Carolina. James and I compared cameras and he taught me a ton of valuable photography knowledge! (He’s a professional photographer and a great photography teacher. If you ever want some good training or inspiration and encouragement in photography, go to lenspiration.com!!!)  I learned a lot on the trip, even though at the time I was having a hard time digesting it all! We sang and told stories and they told us the names and ages of the Neelys. And, of course, we slept!

A huge tunnel through a mountain.

 

When we came out, we were in Virginia!

We stopped to switch drivers every 2 hours. Once, we switched at a place that was a reststop/butterfly observatory. It was pretty.

The last switch was at a gas station. James was driving and somehow we got into a neighborhood that was all up or down with lots of curves. We finally found our way out!😄 Soon it got dark and we were on another curvy road. It was hard to tell exactly where the next curve was going to be!

Finally we pulled in at the Neelys’ house. We got out and walked up the walk to the door. We Parfitts had never seen these people, let alone met them!  Mr. Neely came to to the door and when he saw who it was he said, “Oh, it’s you,” and closed the door.😄 After a bit, he opened it again and let us in!😂 We met them all in the kitchen while we had a snack. The girls all looked so alike at first, I was having trouble remembering the differences! At last we all went out and got all our stuff from the van. After we all had our stuff, we went to bed.

 

Pleasant Photography

by Naomi Parfitt

I have updated the About Us page

Hello everyone. We seem to have been bitten by the blogging bug! The girls have wanted to put things on our blog for many years. But when we recently read the blog of our Canadian friends who just experienced their house burning completely up a month ago, we decided we had to start posting on our blog for real. If we enjoyed others’ writing so much, perhaps others would enjoy OURS! We have also recently become friends with a family in Vermont and a couple of their daughters have blogs, so it became almost URGENT that I let the girls sit down and type up their thoughts. That’s fine. They are old enough now to write interesting and clever stories of our lives and sprinkle photos in among the words. But they declared that we just HAD to have a new family photo on the About Us page, since the photo there was from 11 1/2 years ago. Everyone has grown up a lot since then! They asked me to post the family pictures from our first two weddings. So I have done that and will try to remember to add Trevor’s wedding family picture after it happens in May of this year. 🙂 But if this continues to be sporadic, just be sure that we are off on another trip or have dived into another ministry need here in New York.

~Jamie

2017 Total Solar Eclipse Trip

Hello everyone!

We went to North Carolina back in August for the Total Solar Eclipse!

So I’ll try to write about it now, even though it’s been a few months since it happened.

Day 1, August 18

On Friday we girls packed our last-day things into our garment bags and all. Reese was at work that day, because we planned to leave in the evening. Mom had to go trade vans down at our other house in Geneseo with some missionaries who were borrowing our van and staying at our house.  After lunch we started packing stuff into the van. I had to go out with the tractor and mow a strip of the front yard that didn’t get mowed earlier that week because of a hornets’ nest that had been in a tree. (Annabelle found the nest the hard way and got stung.😟😢 ) So when I was done, I helped get the last few things gathered up and packed into the van. At last we were on our way!😄

It was quite a warm day and we had the air-conditioning going as we drove to where Reese works. (He works at Lakeshore Metal for the Amish, driving truck and making trim.) We got there after 3:00 P.M., the time we had tried to arrive. They were having their afternoon break and we got to meet everyone. About 45 minutes later, Reese got in the truck and we drove to a place where they were going to fix our truck for us while we were gone. Well, they were supposed to fix it…Anyway, we finally left and we got on the interstate! Now we were really traveling!☺

We drove for several hours. I read a book while we drove. We got to Pennsylvania!

For supper we stopped at the best place to stop for food while traveling: Chick-fil-A!

 

We didn’t have it in NY yet so it was a treat. After we were done eating, we got a move on. We got to Ohio after it was dark and pulled in at my mom’s aunt’s place around 9:30 P.M. After greeting her we got our things from the van that we would need for the night and got ready for bed. I plugged in the camera battery and set a reminder on Annabelle’s phone to get it in the morning! Annabelle and I slept in the living room.

Pictures from Arkansas Trip-Day 1

Here are the pictures that go with day 1 of the Arkansas trip!

The list of ingredients…

Mom and Annabelle trying to get the shades to open before we left.

Me sitting on the couch while we were waiting to leave.

Annabelle and Naomi on the other couch.View of the front end of the bus.

Naomi and me sleeping while we drove.Reese looking at the owners manual for the bus when we stopped somewhere. 

Naomi and I ate lunch at the little table in the bus. (We were stopped somewhere, as you are not supposed to sit at the table while the vehicle is in motion.)Rain!

And more rain!

And, some MORE rain!💦

Tuna casserole that we made for supper. (It does taste better than it looks in that picture!)

When we got bored that evening we made a “tent” by putting a blanket over the bed. The trick to keeping it up was to latch it inside some cabinet doors that were above the bed!😄

Annabelle and Naomi playing “Phase Ten”. 

Phase Ten again.

So there are some pictures for day 1. I hope to get day 2 out soon!!😁

~Karen~

 

 

 

Arkansas Trip, Thanksgiving 2017 (By Karen)

Thanksgiving was quite a while ago—all of four months! But I thought that it would be of interest to some to read of our adventurous trip down to Arkansas to visit family for Thanksgiving. So here I go!!😀

Let me start with the night before we left. We had had a birthday supper that evening to celebrate Trevor’s birthday that was that day. After he and Dylan and Emily had left, we began taking things out to the RV. (We were going to be taking our RV on our trip.) During the few days before the trip, we had taken a lot of things for the trip out there already, so these things were just some last-minute things we had forgotten earlier. For example, a sleeping mat for me to sleep on. (I was going to be sleeping on the floor during this trip, and I definitely didn’t want to forget THAT!) We went over our list of ingredients that we were going to need to make meals, to make sure that we had everything out in the RV pantry that we needed. (We had made a list of what meal we were going to make each night, so we could take only the ingredients that we needed.) After it seemed like there were ENOUGH things out there, we went to bed in hopes of getting up early the next day and getting our trip started nice and early.

Day #1, November 18, 2017…

I got up early and got ready for the day. When I went downstairs, there was no one around down there. I figured that they would be up pretty soon and decided not to worry myself about that. I believe I got something and took it out to the RV, but I don’t remember what it was. I was in the office and when I came out I saw that Reese was lying on the couch! Gulp! Well! I got him up. By this time Naomi was downstairs. (By the way, that day was her 16th birthday, in case you wondered!) We discovered a few bags that Mom had put by the door and we took them out to the RV. Annabelle had eventually found her way downstairs by then. When Mom came down, I honestly can’t remember what we did before we went outside to the RV. But I do remember that it really took us a long time to get going. FINALLY we went out and locked the door! When we got out to the RV, it still took a long time before we left. Reese was trying to navigate the GPS to a place where he wanted to stop and get diesel. While he was doing that, Annabelle remembered something that she had left in the house! So she had to take the key and let herself back into the house. I can’t remember anymore what it was that she wanted. But she eventually came back out. Finally Reese had the GPS set up how he wanted it and we could leave! After we sang and prayed, we started out…FINALLY!! It was much later than we wanted to start, but at least we were finally on our way! 😊 The thrill of watching the scenery whiz past our windows very quickly lost its appeal. Besides, it was familiar landscape for the first half-hour or so! We read our Bibles and looked at the birthday cards Naomi had gotten in the mail. It didn’t seem long until our big ol’ RV was rumbling its way into the gas station to get diesel. By now, we were in COMPLETELY unfamiliar territory, and we were watching the things around us with interest. A tractor trailer truck pulled up to the other side of the pump we were at and a lady got out and started pumping herself some diesel. We had already gotten ours, and while Reese was inside paying, I got out and offered her a tract, which she declined. When Reese came out a couple of minutes later, he also offered her one, not knowing that I already had. She refused his, too. He came inside and soon we were on our way again with Mom driving. Since Reese had his license but Mom only had her permit, he had to sit up there the whole time she drove to “supervise” and he couldn’t go lie down or anything. Since it is not against the law to ride without seatbelts in the RV, Naomi and I went to the back of the RV to the “bedroom” and made the bed, so that at nighttime it would be ready for Mom to sleep in. It is really fun to lie on the bed and watch out the window. And in the summer, it is really fun to do that with the window open! But back to making the bed! Annabelle came back there after we had the bed made. Soon we were starting to talk about lunch. The plan for that day’s lunch was to make tuna subs with a bunch of sub rolls we had gotten for free. It was then that Annabelle made the interesting discovery that we had not brought the can opener. So we decided that we would have to stop somewhere and buy one. Of course, Reese was sure that we didn’t need one, but he wasn’t the one making lunch! We stopped at a gas station/store with an interesting name, but I can’t remember what it was. Reese and I went in and asked if they had can openers but they didn’t. The lady said that there was a Dollar General down the road a ways that would probably have one. So we thanked her, and left. We drove to the Dollar General and Reese and Naomi went in. They came out with a can opener! So we continued to drive, while we girls made the subs. We cut them and passed them out. They were pretty good, especially since I had not eaten breakfast. After lunch, we girls went to the back where the bed was and watched out the window. It was drizzling outside. After a while I stopped looking out the window at the boring highway and sat down at the end of the bed to read a book. I was so tired, and the next thing I knew I was waking up. While I had been sleeping, my head was in a funny position so my neck was sore. I fell asleep again in a comfortable position and when I woke up the next time, my neck didn’t hurt anymore. By now it was POURING!!! Reese was driving, and Mom was sleeping on the couch. It was super bad visibility out there, and a lot of people had their flashers on. Oh, I didn’t tell you that by that time we were in Ohio! When we stopped the next time at a gas station, we decided to make and eat supper before going on, which would give the rain a chance to stop. We made tuna casserole, and while it baked, Mom took a nap and we girls and Reese watched people out the huge windshield. We saw some Amish people. After the casserole came out of the oven, we ate it. We were really eager to get a move on since the storm had stopped and we still had quite a ways until we reached where we were going to be spending the night. We eventually did leave. It was dark in the RV but we did not turn the lights on because it would have made a glare on the windshield. We dozed sitting on the couches or on the bed. We finally crossed the state border into Indiana. After that I fell into a really deep sleep…
Slam!
“He said to go around the building and we should be able to park over there.”
I sat up suddenly and rubbed my eyes. Where were we? Why had the door slammed? Had Mom gone out and talked to someone? Who had told us to go around the building? I was too tired to try to figure out the answers to those questions, so I lay down again. I was aware that we were driving around slowly. Then we were backing up. Next the RV engine shuddered to a stop, and all was quiet. For a while I lay there, not moving. Then I sat up as they turned the light on. Apparently, we had gotten to the truck stop we were going to spend the night at. Reluctantly I got off the couch. I went to the back for my sleeping mat, pillow, and blankets. Annabelle and Naomi put their blankets and pillows on the two couches. Reese put his sleeping mat on the floor of the kitchen and I put mine on the floor of the living room, between the couches. And Mom slept on the bed in the back. A tractor trailer pulled up beside us while we were getting our beds ready, but never turned off. I lay down on my mat and pulled the blanket over me. All around me everyone was talking. Then… OUCH!! Someone stepped on my arm!! Finally they went to their respective beds and the light was turned off. I closed my eyes, soon fell asleep to the hum of the tractor trailer beside us, and never woke up until the next morning.

So, there you have it—day 1 of the trip down to Arkansas. The lesson learned from day 1 is- Don’t forget a can opener when going on a trip, especially if you are planning to make tuna subs in an RV while you drive!!!😉

Parfitts visit Taronga zoo

[March 27, 2018—-

I JUST DISCOVERED THAT I NEVER POSTED THIS! I WILL JUST POST IT AND THEN THE GIRLS WANT TO TRY THEIR HAND AT WRITING ON THE BLOG. ~ JAMIE]

Hello again,

It’s Saturday, Jan. 26, at 10:07 pm in NZ. I am eager to write about New Zealand, but first I want to write about taking the children to Taronga Zoo in Sydney.

We originally thought we were going to take a day to retrace the places that Reese went when he came over here with Pastor and Mrs. Folk and five other young people. They visited the same family in New Zealand that we are staying with right now. Then they took a day to stay  in Sydney and just see the sights.

So Friday morning, we got up and tried to get an early start. My planned 8 am start turned into a 10 am start. Oh well, that is completely par for the course. I keep telling people my middle name is late.

We walked to the train station, following a little map we got at the front desk. We found ourselves mostly walking behind houses. It was interesting, as it was in complete daylight, but we didn’t want to return that same way. I had found the location of the nearest station by using the internet that morning, and had tried to explore the costs of tickets for us. I think it took 20 minutes to walk to the station. The ticket agent had me pay for each of the boys as adults, but the three girls only had to pay for one ticket for the three of them. Thus began a little pattern of putting the ticket in and quickly scooting through before the gate closed again. We didn’t know how it knew we had three children for one ticket, so Karen scooted through before me. She seemed stressed each time. Only once did one of them get kind of pinched by the flaps (hope  I have a picture to illustrate that).

I decided we would quickly go to the zoo first. You do that by taking a ferry across the bay. The tickets we bought included as many train and ferry rides as we wanted for the whole day. Nice! We rode down to the ferry, found our dock, had a short wait before getting on the ferry and going up to the top deck. We found a shady covered open area to sit in and we set our few snacks on our benches. I fought down my worry about children falling overboard (no one is offered life vests). We came around the Sydney Opera House. It isn’t really all that impressive. It’s unique, but the individual tiles make it look kind of like a golf ball up close. Since I don’t like opera music and don’t believe it is even godly, I didn’t have any desire to go to it. Good thing. We were at the zoo all day!

We arrived at our dock and took the bus up the winding hill to the entrance. We queued up and calculated our tickets. Even with the family ticket (which gave us 15% off the total of four adults and four children), it was a bit expensive. But a once-in-a-lifetime trip is going to cost more than camping at Keuka Lake State Park. 🙂

We all got a free zoo map and started out. The first thing was a quick look at an alligator and then we walked up and around a ramp that encircled an small enclosure for the koalas. By this time it was about 11 am and it was hot. The koalas were sleeping. They were boring. Dylan said that he wouldn’t believe they were real unless they moved. We left there and looked for more animals to see if they would move. 🙂

 

Second New Zealand post

1-26-13, 12:26 am NZ time

I keep trying to post on our blog! I started this one ten days ago, and then never found the time to add photos. So here I am, needing to go to bed, and I am trying to get this post to work. I had it all written and captioned and accidentally didn’t save it when I navigated away. I hope this has been worth the wait!

~~Jamie

1-15-13, 3:56 pm NZ time

This is actually funny. So far, I have not written about New Zealand!

Here is an email that I tried to send from our “hotel” room when we were in Sydney, Australia. (I say “hotel” because we stayed in a 3-bedroom service apartment, much better than a hotel. It had a kitchen and six-person meal table, utility room with washer and dryer, and two complete bathrooms.) I could not send with Outlook, even though I could receive. It was quite disappointing, because I paid for 24 hours of internet, but I barely used it, due to inability to send by hitting reply. I gradually got smarter, going to webmail and then to my Opera account. What I wanted from Outlook was my address book! Who takes the time to type all that into webmail? Not me! I can open Outlook and find addresses, but I wasn’t about to spend my day and half in Sydney typing addresses into Opera or webmail. I could have done it on the long flight over, had I realized I would want it. Oh well, we live and learn. Anybody traveling may want to consider doing that if they plan to send out large group emails!

This “email” I am about to post was supposed to be forwarded to the whole church (Old Paths Bible Baptist Church), but the copy in my inbox doesn’t seem to have the words. So here it is, as I sent it.

Hello everyone,

Well, it’s kind of funny. I asked a few people who had come this way before if I should try to get Australian money through AAA before coming. I was told that the exchange rate here would be better, so I assumed I would get cash (after talking with our NZ friends) at the airport with my credit card. I misunderstood just about all the advice I received. I don’t usually pay for things in life with cash. I like to have a record of my spending, so I used mostly credit card, some debit, and some online banking, with a few checks written a month. I actually had a $100 bill in my purse that I took out and left behind, because I don’t like carrying around big bills. Trevor had paid it to me for his insurance.

So. We landed and stopped at some benches to compare our landing cards and make sure they were filled out the same. They were close enough. 🙂 Then we lugged our way to customs. I told the man I had unopened packages of nuts in several suitcases. Not a problem. I told the man we have shoes from a farm and they might have a little soil still on them but that we had wiped all the shoes with disinfectant. Not a problem. I asked if the Pepperidge Farms goldfish in a package were OK. Not a problem. We just walked right along and got to the counters. The man said, “Grab a line.” So we got into two lines and just sailed right through. Everyone was friendly and cheerful. We took our many, highly-loaded carts to the quarantine area and we laid our bags on the floor in a line. A cute little dog (maybe a beagle) sniffed all along the line. He stopped at the same one on the way up and on the way back, but the handler didn’t seem to be bothered by it. Then he sniffed another one near the beginning and the handler asked if we have a dog at home. We answered that we didn’t. I asked if the dog barks if he finds something. The other man said he just looks up at the handler as if to say, “I found it. Now can I have my treat?”

We went on to the exiting area and I herded us over to the money exchange business in the corner. He said they only exchange cash; they don’t give cash for credit cards. I was directed to a bank machine across the way. I told the kids to encircle the carts of luggage while I used the cash machine. I put in my Visa card and it asked me for a PIN. Pin! I don’t have one of those for my credit card! So I called the number on the back of the card. No connection. Did my new international phone not work as I expected it to? I tried again and got through. I explained to the lady in Missouri that I was in Sydney, Australia, and that I needed a PIN to get money to pay for a cab to take us out of the airport. She connected me to some automated PIN department which proceeded to tell me I would receive my PIN in 7-10 days! What!!! It said if I needed cash before that to go to a bank. Great. I had 14 suitcases and about 10 carryons and we could not take the luggage carts away from the airport to find a bank somewhere to get some cash! Now what?

I decided to call my junior pastor who has traveled more than anyone in the church probably and who had helped us arrange most of the portions of our trip. I had to leave a message. It was actually one hour before the evening church service was supposed to start for Wednesday night back home. It was 10 am here in Sydney. So I called our friends in New Zealand to see if they had any brilliant ideas. Not really. I called Pastor Folk while Reese and Dylan went to ask a taxi driver if he took credit cards. I could hear Pastor, though his words were fuzzy, but he kept saying, “Can you hear me?” I didn’t go outside because I didn’t want to leave the children and I didn’t want to move the whole pile outside. I had to hang up. 🙁

The boys came back and said there was a long line and they didn’t want to stand in line just to ask a question. It was about that time (I was talking with the NZ friend at that point) that Trevor spoke up and said he had some cash. I had $79. He had $172. The girls each had $25 from their grandmother to buy food on the plane, but it wasn’t needed after all. Dylan had some and Reese had some. So we thought we knew it would take $80 to take a Maxi Taxi (a minivan) because that is what it cost for the group of six when Reese had come with a group from church in 2011. I was sure it would take two taxis for all those suitcases. I wanted to get $200 Australian, so I borrowed from all the children until we had $200. Reese wrote down the loans in a little notebook he was carrying. I went to the window and asked him how much US I needed to get $200 AU. He told me $250. There was a $12 commission and $10 fee. So I motioned to the children until someone saw me and came. I borrowed more until I had $250. He told me if I exchanged for at least $400 AU I would pay no commission. I told him I didn’t think we had that much. I dragged out the $8 I had kept in the wallet and we got up to $408. I needed $450 USD to get the no commission. I asked how much it would cost when I went back through and exchanged again. If I got the higher amount, I would get a receipt to show and I would pay no commission and get a better rate than that posted on the wall. I called Karen over and asked her to look for her other $5 bill. The man spoke up and said, “How much do you have now?” I said, “$408.” He punched some keys and made the commission $6 and gave me the receipt to pay no commission going back through. I forgot to say that he was encouraging me to exchange more at the beginning because I would pay $12 commission no matter how much I exchanged, unless I went over $450. I knew I would need $50 AU for each of us when we got to PNG to buy visitor visas in a few weeks, so since I had plenty of time this morning and maybe no time going through from NZ in a few weeks, I thought it would be better to get plenty of cash now and just have that over with. So I thought I needed $160 for two taxis. I wanted so badly to get out of the noisy airport and into our room so I could call my credit card company and explain that I needed a PIN now.

With cash in wallet, we went to find the taxi area. The man told us to go to No. 14. That was a small station wagon, so I went to him and told him we needed the maxi taxi. He motioned me to one that had just pulled up. I told the man I thought I needed two and he was sure it would all fit in his van. He let down his hydraulic “ramp” and they loaded it. We got into the middle section, which had a row of three seats facing the back of the van and three facing forward. Trevor sat up front. For just a second I wondered why he got into the driver’s seat. Silly me! They drive on the other side of the road. 🙂 I told him the address and the name of Meriton Apartments. As we drove along, with our video camera going, he asked the address again. It didn’t seem to satisfy him. He was from Africa, a nice man. I kept saying “DeVries”. Finally I dug a briefcase out of the stack and found my folder of reservations. It was Defries. So I said, “deFRIES, like French Fries.” It turns out that they pronounce it “DEFFreez.” (That rhymes with “Jefffrey’s.”) Oh well, we got here. Then the bill was only $51. And when he swiped the credit card, it wanted a PIN! I said I didn’t have one and it declined. So I was glad I had cash! I gave him the 50 and the 20 and he gave me the 20 back. I said, “Wait, I have a ‘one’ here in my pocket.” He said, “That’s OK, I have another fare.” A woman had come up and asked him to take her and her party to the airport. He was happy to have more customers. 🙂 Normally he would probably drive back to the airport empty. [editor’s note: a ‘one’ is a one-dollar coin.] For anyone wondering, it took only about 8 minutes to get here and he didn’t drive particularly crazy.

I was hoping we could check in early, but there were no empty rooms. They had told me at the time of booking that we could if there was a clean one when we arrived. But it’s summer and vacationers are everywhere. We were blessed to get a room this late in the booking. They had us put our luggage on two huge, fancy trolleys which they locked into a room. We sat in the side part of the lobby and I combed the girls’ crazy, messy hair. I got directions to a grocery store and we started out for a 20-minute walk. Since our “serviced apartments” have a kitchen, we can save money because we don’t have to eat at restaurants. We walked through a couple of cute little parks. There are many eucalyptus trees planted along the streets and they smell good. We had fun looking at all the food and choosing what we wanted. Should we buy sliced cheese, or buy a sharp knife and pay half the price for the same amount of cheese? Reese and Dylan went to see how cheaply we could get a knife. Trevor and the girls went with me to the produce section. Everything was stacked neatly and the produce manager was apologizing for the messy look due to the holidays! I tried to tell him it all looked great. Several employees in the store were very friendly. We gave several tracts in the store and on the walk to and from it. Lord, please open their hearts to the Saviour and His love and His plan for mankind. We got chicken thighs, avocados, tomatoes, apples, Australian cheddar cheese, an onion, half a head of garlic, bread, butter, eggs, milk, ice cream, and frozen green vegetables (green peas, green beans, and a smattering of broccoli). The cheap veg here is green peas. We had planned to stop in one of the parks and make cheese sandwiches (hence the need for a knife), but we realized it was quite warm and the chicken and ice cream and milk wouldn’t survive. Besides, we were tired and the room was ready. We had killed 2 1/4 hours. It was in interesting walk, with lots of cranes and cars to look at.

We got into our room and had our ice cream on the balcony. We then made the sandwiches and ate. Everyone lay down to take a short nap and slept four hours! I had a hard time getting them up. I don’t have time to write all the funny things about our room, like a shower with just a partial clear wall and a drain in the floor. The kids raised their eyebrows about that. They have a lot of experiences to build up.

We cooked our chicken in butter with garlic and onion. I didn’t have salt for the meal. There are a few packets, but the boys are saving those for eggs.

I was going to attach pictures, but I have to pay for internet $5 for one hour or $18 for 24 hours, so I wanted to wait until tomorrow morning to send this. We don’t want to waste the one day we have to look around Sydney.

We have other stories of the actual flights, especially Reese talking about the Bible so loudly and clearly that those of us a row ahead and beside him could hear him. He was talking to a saved girl, but the Mormon next to him heard it all. And the Catholic missionaries on his row did. I talked to a Muslim after giving his daughter a tract. I’m so naiive, I didn’t know what they were. They had distinctive clothing on, but I don’t know enough to guess religions of people. I had to ask. Well, I won’t elaborate more right now. He was very congenial.

Goodnight. 12-27-12 11:57 pm Australia. (8 am New York)

Jamie

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That’s then end of the email I sent Dec. 29. Now for a few pictures to go with it. (I DID fix a few grammar errors. 🙂 )

~the restaurant called “lemonade” that we had supper at in LAX~

2012_12_25 Lemonade restaurant LAX 0042012_12_25 Lemonade restaurant LAX 007~loading our 14 suitcases and as many carryons into the maxi taxi~
2012_12_26 load the maxi-taxi 001~arriving at our serviced apartments: Meriton, in Zetland~The girls were looking up at the top floor, because that is where they told us would have a room. Ours was one of the five-story blocks.~
2012_12_26 Meriton Apts 0022012_12_27 views outside Meriton Apartments 0112012_12_27 views outside Meriton Apartments 012
While we waited for our room to be ready, we shopped at Coles. There are interesting things for sale in the meat case!  2012_12_26 in Coles 0112012_12_27 items in Coles Danks Street 0042012_12_27 items in Coles Danks Street 005  (It might help to know that in the UK, sausages are called “bangers.”)

2012_12_27 items in Coles Danks Street 0062012_12_27 items in Coles Danks Street 007In UK societies, they don’t refrigerate eggs.
2012_12_26 in Coles 014~Reese using his new camera to capture memories~
2012_12_26 in Coles 0262012_12_27 items in Coles Danks Street 008Annabelle, Naomi, and Karen enjoyed hearing and seeing multiple fountains. For fun, the girls and I walked across the footpath between the bubbling fountains.
2012_12_26 walk back to Meriton apts 002It was a long walk back to our apartment on a warm day, toting our groceries.
2012_12_26 walk back to Meriton apts 009Gas (petrol) is priced by the liter (litre). Don’t you think Hungry Jack’s got their design idea from somewhere in the USA?
2012_12_26 walk back to Meriton apts 017~getting our two trolleys of luggage to our room in the building next door~
2012_12_26 get luggage to room 0062012_12_26 get luggage to room 015Ice cream tastes even better after a long walk on a hot day and it’s even MORE special to eat on a balcony! 🙂
2012_12_26 refreshing ice cream 006 The view from our balcony was not beautiful, but was new and clean. Very modern; just the opposite of quaint. The kids loved it.2012_12_27 views from Meriton Apartment balcony 005 Plenty of dishes and utensils were provided to cook a nice meal.2012_12_27 supper at Meriton 006 It was so pleasant to have a table big enough for the whole family and enough dishes to serve them all.2012_12_27 supper at Meriton 008 We never served chicken and vegetables quite like this before. It was delicious.2012_12_27 supper at Meriton 010