50th Anniversary Trip-Last Day

17 Jun

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

April 14, 2021 Leaving Pigeon Forge

Our final morning in Pigeon Forge,Tennessee. The days had flown by and I wondered if I should have booked 7 nights instead of 5. Maybe it was good to leave with future adventures to anticipate rather than a “been there done that feeling.”

Our check-out time was 10 am and we had a lot of stuff to load into the car. We made it with minutes to spare and waved a fond good-bye to our unit.

As you may have noticed from previous posts, my husband loves Krispy Kreme doughnuts. For him, a trip to Pigeon Forge always includes a visit to the doughnut shop. Every day of our stay he would ask if that day was KK day. Every day I said not yet, until this day, our final day. After all, our route from the time-share to highway 441 to begin our journey home would take us past Krispy Kreme.

Photo Credit Pinterest

In past times we would always purchase a dozen glazed doughnuts, preferably hot from the fryer. Now we limit our order to one each or two each for special occasions. Fifty years of marriage definitely qualified as special.

Photo Credit Trip Advisor


Our daughter and I were salivating over the featured doughnut flavor, Oreo. We decided to split one. It was good but not nearly as tasty as it appeared.

After 5 days of doughnut deprivation my husband was too intent on wolfing them down for me to get a good picture. I had to settle for this one.

Hyped up with sugar and caffeine we began our return journey through the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Newfound Gap is where the states of North Carolina and Tennessee meet. Several hiking trails including the famous Appalachian Trail can be accessed at the gap. I was impressed with this group of older hikers and wondered what sort of trail they were attempting.

When we began our anniversary trip we were thrilled to view an elk herd wading in the Oconoluftee river. We weren’t so lucky on this day, but we did take the time to enjoy a walk by the river. I was fascinated by the tree roots growing on top of the ground.

I think I may enjoy the spring colors of the mountains more than fall. There is something about the tender green of the leaves and the delicate blossoms that speaks life to me.

50 years of marriage. So many memories we have made together. Life hasn’t been perfect, but wouldn’t perfect be boring? We have always enjoyed road trips and the memories that stand out are the ones that began with a wrong turn or a particularly unpleasant situation that turned into a funny memory. We are looking forward to whatever time God has ordained for our future together. We are blessed.

I'm a winner

After my retirement, I decided to re-learn the canning and preserving skills I learned from my mother but hadn’t practiced for twenty years. I titled the blog Old Things R New to chronicle my experience.  Since then I have been blessed to have six other bloggers join me, DiVoran Lites, Bill Lites,  Judy Wills, Louise Gibson, Janet Perez Eckles and Melody Hendrix

In addition to blogging, I work as the publicist/marketer/ amateur editor and general  “mom Friday” for my author daughter, Rebekah Lyn. I also manage her website, Rebekah Lyn Books  

My 2021 goal is continue touse my love of photographs and words to be an encourager on social media. You can visit Real Life Books and Media You Tube Channel if you would like to view some of the mini-videos I have created for our church, Gateway Community in Titusville, Fl.

The Father of Miami

15 Jun

The Storyteller Almanac

The latest episode in my ongoing podcast series, “The Storyteller Almanac” is now live and available for listening / downloading. This one is called, “The Father Of Miami.” It’s presented in my favorite format, the “Paul Harvey / Rest Of The Story” format. In other words, ya’ gotta stick with till the end to figure who or what the heck I’m talking about :).

Click HERE to listen

You can find the podcast on any of the major podcast platforms like Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify and similar. Or you can navigate directly to www.StorytellerAlmanac.com to listen/ Please “follow” or subscribe to my podcast so you won’t miss any future episodes. No charge. No obligation and no salesman will call :).

Thanks for droppin’ by, neighbor! “Mike, The Storyteller

Today, June 15th, 2021 is National Nature Photography Day!

Being a photographer that has always loved the great outdoors, wildlife and nature, this day was made for me!!!. I’ve captured thousands of nature pictures over the years. Having recently done a big push on my Etsy Shop, I though to myself, “ How can I not post a few of my original nature photo up there?” Sooooooo……. Check these latest two out if you would by clicking HERE


I’m on a roll with adding more good stuff to my Etsy shop :). I added a shot I managed to capture a little while back on a summer afternoon in small town Florida. The photo is offered both as a digital download and a physical matted print of ‘Old Glory’ – our American Flag in honor of Flag Day, June 14th, 2021. I also figured where Independence Day / July 4th was right around the corner, this would be a good add. Please check it out in my Etsy Shop where you’ll find an additional picture in greater detail 😉

I’ve been ‘clickin’ the shutter since I was about 16. I morphed into video production when I went to work for The Walt Disney Company many years ago. Currently, I still work for Disney. But my real passion and path is utilizing my photography and multimedia skill sets for the greater good. Translated, anything or anybody that deserves recognition, appreciation or documenting for future history, I’m all over it. Too many important things just slip away in a fast moving, fast paced world / society. ‘If ya’ wanna know where you’re going, ya’ gotta know where ya’ come from’ (Sir Lawrence Olivier – The Jazz Singer 1980). 

If you feel so inclined, I’d sure appreciate you subscribing to Storyteller Almanac on any of the major podcast platforms like Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts and more. Really helps me grow the po

To contact me for any reason, please click or copy & paste: 

MikeThomasImagery@gmail.com

Letters From Mother 3

14 Jun

My Take

DiVoran Lites

Dora Bowers

April 28, 1983

PhoPhoto CPhoto credit Pixabay

Dear Ones,

I just scolded Dad for coming back from fishing early. I guess the wind got to them. They brought in three nice Corvina—about eight pounders. Lowell got a 12 ½ pound Covina last evening.

At another painting lesson, the teacher and I painted a seascape with a Jonathan Livingston Seagull. David loved that book, and our picture was beautiful.

Photo crPhPhoto crPhPhoto credit Pixabay

I should answer your letter, but Dad’s in and out and getting excited about fishing, iced tea, hot weather, and “pearls” from heads of the big fish. Later loves. 

Dad’s going at such a pace that he will surely sleep for a day 

Sounds like all your cars are busy these days. That little red bug has had about everything replaced.

Wish I could have seen that young man our granddaughter was dating. She was probably right to quit him after he got mad and pounded on his steering wheel until it cracked. 

Dad and I have been together a long time. Sometimes when I think back, I’m surprised we made it.

I went to San Diego to the Billy Graham Crusade a few years back—like seven or so. I was surprised that he could lead all those people to Christ. I’m sure the Holy Spirit was busy, too.

Hope you had a nice weekend. It’s great when you can get away together.

Photo credit Pixabay

Will your friend’s house be an exceptionally large one? Do you like the plans? Guess I’m past wanting a fine home; it seemed good to quickly clean a camper trailer and get on with my creativity this morning. Not warm enough to swim yet.

I’m with you. Long phone conversations are disruptive-I don’t have many-I guess it all depends on whether you want to talk or rather do your writing? Maybe you should put a bell under the counter, and when you’ve talked long enough, kick it and say, oops, there’s the doorbell-talk to you later. Or get a phone that unplugs.

Dad put a cruise control in the Datsun king cab, and the first time the motor raced when he hit the clutch, I had such a charge of adrenalin, it cured my arthritis for two days. I learned to use the cruise control on the straight stretch from Borrego Springs. It’s a nice touch. Saves on wear and tear of the foot.

No letter from my sister, Judy, since she asked for our family health history. I sent her all I remember.  I hope I didn’t scare her too much by telling her about our mother and two brothers dying of heart attacks.

Photo crPhPhoto credit Pixabay

This is a lovely day. No wind, no rain, not too hot, exactly right. The lavender lilacs were blooming as we came over the hills.  We could smell them with the car windows open. We also saw new, green oak leaves with burnt sienna bloom on the tops of the Oak trees. 

Love you and like ya, Mother and fisherman Dad.

“Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken at the right time.”

See Proverbs 25:11. Your two letters arrived on our anniversary. 

DiVoran has been writing for most of her life. Her first attempt at a story was when she was seven years old and her mother got a new typewriter. DiVoran got to use it and when her dad saw her writing he asked what she was writing about. DiVoran answered that she was writing the story of her life. Her dad’s only comment was, “Well, it’s going to be a very short story.” After most of a lifetime of writing and helping other writers, DiVoran finally launched her own dream which was to write a novel of her own. She now has her Florida Springs trilogy and her novel, a Christian Western Romance, Go West available on Amazon. When speaking about her road to publication, she gives thanks to the Lord for all the people who helped her grow and learn.  She says, “I could never have done it by myself, but when I got going everything fell beautifully into place, and I was glad I had started on my dream.”

Sound Theology

13 Jun

SUNDAY MEMORIES

Judy Wills

I’ve mentioned in previous musings, that I am on facebook quite a bit.  And if I find something that resonates with me, I “save” it and sometimes use it in a blog post.

That’s exactly what I would like to do with today’s post.  I found this particular cartoon by Charles Schulz, and it appealed to me, so here it is.

Credit facebook and Charles Schulz

Credit facebook and Charles Schulz

Why did this particular cartoon spark my interest?  Well yes, it WAS, indeed, sound theology.  And sound theology from God does, indeed, have the means to comfort and reassure us.  I have, personally, found that to be quite true.

How often have I found Satan trying his best to sway my thinking to something that God would not want me to be thinking about?  Far too often, that’s for sure.

So what do I do – to get my mind off that topic and onto something pure?  I turn to Scripture.  There are many Scripture verses that I have learned/memorized, that lead me right back to God.  Satan cannot stand to be in the presence of Scripture – it literally drives him away and out of my mind!

One of my favorites – and one I’ve quoted in oldthingsrnew before is:

In this world you will have trouble, 

but TAKE HEART!

For I have overcome the world

John 16:33

But the Scriptures that help me the most, are ones that praise and adore God Himself.  They lift me up as no others.

Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty

Who was, and is, and is to come!

Revelation 4:8

and again:

Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord Almighty,

The whole earth is full of His Glory!

Isaiah 6:3

You see, it doesn’t take a lot of memory space to praise God.  But that SOUND THEOLOGY gives peace like I’ve never had before.

And just for your information – those Holy, Holy, Holy words are the words batted back and forth among the angels, before God’s throne.  WOW!  I get to magnify God with the angels!  Amazing!

I am so glad God made a way for me to praise and adore and worship Him that way!

Judy is living in Central Florida with her retired U.S. Air Force husband of 50+ years. Born in Dallas, Texas, she grew up in the Southwestern United States.She met her husband at their church, where he was attending the university in her town. After college and seminary, he entered the Air Force, and their adventures began.They lived in eight of our United States, and spent six years in Europe, where their oldest daughter was born. She was a stay-at-home mom for many years .

  Judy has always been involved with music, both playing the piano and singing. Always interested in exercise, she was an aerobic dancing instructor, as well as a piano teacher for many years, and continues to faithfully exercise at home.

After moving to Central Florida, she served as a church secretary for nearly nine years.Her main hobby at this point in time is scanning pictures and 35mm slides into the computer. She also enjoys scrapbooking.She and her husband have two married daughters and four grandchildren, including grandtwins as well as a great-grandson. She and her husband enjoy the Disney parks as often as possible.

Camping Can Be Fun Part 1

9 Jun

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

My wife, DiVoran, and I were born and raised in the desert southwest and were used to clear and dry type weather.  When we first moved to Florida in 1965 for me to work on America’s Manned Lunar Landing Mission, we would never have imagined ever going camping anywhere in the jungle that surrounded us.  It was hot and humid all the time and we were inundated with frogs, lizards, spiders and mosquitos day and night.  It was all I could manage was to go from my air-conditioned house to my air-conditioned car and drive to my air-conditioned office.  Did I mention that my air-conditioned office in the Vertical Assembly Building (VAB) was located in the middle of a National Wildlife Refuge, which was full of all manner of slithering things, such as alligators and snakes?  

Photo credit https://fas.org/irp/imint/10061385.htm

I had camped with my family as a teenager in New Mexico on deer hunting trips, and DiVoran had camped with her dad on fishing trips in Colorado when she was younger.  But the climate and weather experiences of those camping trips, during our youths, were so much different.  When some friends from church and work suggested a weekend family camping trip to one of the Central Florida freshwater springs, we were skeptical, but our friends assured us that it would be a lot of fun.  They painted a ‘Florida Paradise’ picture for us.  

Photo: https://www.visitflorida.com/en-us/things-to-do/arts-history/native-american-heritage-alexander-springs.html

Our friends furnished the small two-man pup-tents (open on the bottom and no way to secure the front opening) and mosquito netting that we thought would protect us from the insects.  Well, as it turned out, the blankets we were sleeping on (no air mattresses) did not keep us from being poked by rocks and sticks.  But worst of all, we had no way to support the mosquito netting above us, so as it lay on top of us the  mosquitos jabbed us right thru the mesh.  The fact that this trip was happening in the middle of the summer was aggravated by the Florida heat and humidity.  All in all, it was a couple of miserable nights.

Photo: https://www.pinterest.de/pin/97249673187141267/

I must admit the swimming and tubing was great.  The water was clear and cool, and in spite of the problems, we were hooked on spending time at the Florida freshwater springs.  We discovered that there were other freshwater springs down the middle of the state, and we set our sights on visiting as many of them as we could.  But the first thing we needed to do was get some decent camping equipment.  I called my mother, at home, in Albuquerque, NM and asked her if she still had the family camping equipment.  She said she did, and she was not using any of it.  She packed up the four-man tent, army cots, propane stove and lantern and shipped them by Greyhound bus to us.  I was amazed that everything was in perfect condition after all those years in that dry desert climate.

Photo: https://wildernesstoday.com/best-family-tent/

—–To Be Continued—–

Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 63 years in Titusville, Florida. He was born and raised in the Southwest, did a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy, attended Northrop University in Southern California and ended up working on America’s Manned Space Program for 35 years. He currently is retired and spends most of his time building and flying R/C model airplanes, traveling, writing blogs about his travels for Word Press and supporting his wife’s hobbies with framing, editing and marketing.  He also volunteers with a local church Car Care Ministry and as a tour guide at the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum there in Titusville.  Bill has two wonderful children, two outstanding grandchildren, and a loving sister and her husband, all of whom also live in Central Florida, so he and DiVoran are rewarded by having family close to spend lots of quality time with.

One of Bill’s favorite Scriptures is:  John 10:10

Letters From Mother-2

7 Jun

Scribe, DiVoran

My Take

DiVoran Lites

April 20, 1983

We’re at the Salton Sea, Dad, your uncle Lowell, and me. It’s cloudy and cool. We’ve had more wind and rain this spring. Lowell’s going home today and then to Victorville to get your grandmother. She will fly home to Colorado Saturday.

We were all up at Kathy’s Saturday for lunch and had a good time. Rayna’s growing so fast. She will be four in July. (Kathy is Lowell’s daughter, and Rayna is Kathy’s daughter.)

Photo credit Pixabay

I got to take a painting lesson over here on Tuesday and take another one today—Wednesday. We were painting a yellow rose. A rose, but not a perfect rose. I finally caught on to making the leaves. I think I have some bad habits to unlearn because I tend to use too much paint. This particular technique requires a light touch and little paint. I was startled when I learned that I needed a particular brush, $7.95 and special white paint, about $7.00 (I didn’t have to buy, borrowed that) and sap green about $6.00, and I bought a canvas. It all totaled $22.73 with the lesson. Shocking, no? Well, today should be only ten. I may continue with a few more this spring while we’re coming over here.

Did you get the tape I sent? Was it in good condition? Do you need Kathy’s address? I have Helen Lucchesi’s too. I don’t have Carol’s. What others did you ask for?

How did you like the spelling in my last letter? Some words come back to haunt me, such as biscuit, mall, restaurant, museum, Reagan. I have an old dictionary here that has 30,000 words but no definitions. Mail.

Well, it’s time to go to school from 8 AM to 11:30 AM. Gotta get a banana, mail your letter and go. 

My take on spelling is that sometimes a person can be deficient in spelling but brilliant in math and visa-versa. 

Love you lots,

Mom

DiVoran has been writing for most of her life. Her first attempt at a story was when she was seven years old and her mother got a new typewriter. DiVoran got to use it and when her dad saw her writing he asked what she was writing about. DiVoran answered that she was writing the story of her life. Her dad’s only comment was, “Well, it’s going to be a very short story.” After most of a lifetime of writing and helping other writers, DiVoran finally launched her own dream which was to write a novel of her own. She now has her Florida Springs trilogy and her novel, a Christian Western Romance, Go West available on Amazon. When speaking about her road to publication, she gives thanks to the Lord for all the people who helped her grow and learn.  She says, “I could never have done it by myself, but when I got going everything fell beautifully into place, and I was glad I had started on my dream.”

BBQ Time! Part 2

6 Jun

SUNDAY MEMORIES

Judy Wills

Last time, I mentioned that May is proclaimed BBQ month!   But May is past now, and I still have one of our favorite bbq eateries to tell you about.  So even though it is now June, and bbq month is over, I still want to tell you about another favorite bbq place:

Our other favorite bbq eatery is the Mission BBQ

 A bit different type of barbecue, and the atmosphere is amazing! 

Their dedication to the first reponders and military is amazing!  If you are there by straight-up 12:00 noon, you are asked/invited to stand up and observe the National Anthem.  Every.  Single.  Day. At noon.  I believe it is sung by a military academy choir.  There is a U.S. flag inside the building, but there is also one showing on the TV screens during the anthem. 

I personally hold my hand over my heart, as I was taught, and try to sing along.  However, I usually get so choked up that I am in tears and unable to finish the song.

Recently, it was “Armed Forces” week, with Armed Forces Day on the following Saturday, so Mission BBQ had a special day for each branch of the service.  The day we were there was honoring the Navy, and four cadets from a local high school presented the color guard.  Very touching.

From their website:  

Our Story

MISSION BBQ opened its doors for business on September 11, 2011.

Ten years after our world changed forever, in some small way we wanted to change it back.

We strive every day to remind ourselves what makes Our Country great—its heroes.

It started with two best friends patriotic for Our Country, passionate about BBQ and who believe in running a business with meaning and purpose.

We believe there is nothing more American than BBQ. And nobody more American than the brave men and women who have sworn to protect and serve Our Communities and Our Country. We do what we do for the love of our soldiers, firefighters, police officers, first responders—all our loved ones in service.

We set across this great land from Texas to Kansas City, Memphis, St. Louis and the Carolinas…to discover the secrets of great BBQ.

Every day we work hard to prepare you authentic BBQ, made from the freshest ingredients.  Serve it to you in a patriotic dining room filled with tributes to those who’ve made Our Community and Our Country great, given to us by the people who earned them. Stop by at lunchtime, and you might catch us during our daily salute to the Stars and Stripes.

At MISSION BBQ, we Proudly Serve Those Who Serve. Come help us complete Our Mission.

There are 17 Mission BBQ locations in Florida, alone.

They have great sauces to choose from, but my favorite is one they keep in the refrigerator, called Alabama White Sauce.  Just enough “kick” to it to get your nose running!

We go as often as we can, and always want to be there for the noon salute.  Their restaurant is a ways from our house, so it is a designated time that we go – not very spur-of-the-moment.

So there you have it – our two favorite BBQ eateries in Orlando/Kissimmee.  We are so very glad they are here, and we are able to partake of their BBQ!  

Eat up, Orlando!!

✪ Click HERE to see if there is a location near you.✪


Judy is living in Central Florida with her retired U.S. Air Force husband of 50+ years. Born in Dallas, Texas, she grew up in the Southwestern United States.She met her husband at their church, where he was attending the university in her town. After college and seminary, he entered the Air Force, and their adventures began.They lived in eight of our United States, and spent six years in Europe, where their oldest daughter was born. She was a stay-at-home mom for many years .

  Judy has always been involved with music, both playing the piano and singing. Always interested in exercise, she was an aerobic dancing instructor, as well as a piano teacher for many years, and continues to faithfully exercise at home.

After moving to Central Florida, she served as a church secretary for nearly nine years.Her main hobby at this point in time is scanning pictures and 35mm slides into the computer. She also enjoys scrapbooking.She and her husband have two married daughters and four grandchildren, including grandtwins as well as a great-grandson. She and her husband enjoy the Disney parks as often as possible.

Here’s the After-Covid Joy

5 Jun

Walking by Faith, Not by Sight

Janet Perez Eckles

Reblogged June 4, 2021

June 4, 2021

Goodness, spring is over and, admittedly, the spring cleaning became nothing more than a good intention.

Then guilt nudged. I rolled up my sleeves and began with closets. Then drawers. I tossed out jars of who-knows-what in my bathroom drawer—old tubes of lipstick, creams that probably ended up there since I was a teenager.

What happened to the beautiful fragrance?

But among the junk, to my delight, I found the little bottle of perfume I’ve been searching for months. It was my favorite for its delicate, yet delicious scent.

Without hesitation, I popped the glass lid off, brought it to my nose, and the scent was, well, blah. How could that fancy bottle of perfume lose its fragrance?

The same way lots of things in life lose their zest—a new outfit, a new car, a new house, a new career and even new relationships.

Have you been there? At first, they shine with promises and fill that part of us that hungers for a little delight. But before you know it, the luster fades, the excitement wanes and the scent of enjoyment evaporates.

Are we there today? A nasty virus caused the fragrance of peace to fade. Our days turned sadly insipid. And what was once filled with the scent of freedom and joy, now has the odor of gloom.

But while most sink into a life of blah, we have another option: the aroma of God’s Word. The scent of His promise. And the sweet smell of His joy. That joy becomes our strength (Nehemiah 8:10 paraphrased).

That’s why, no matter what you face, in your weakest moments, He will renew your strength. When you run toward the finish line, you’ll not be weary. And when you walk through difficult days, you’ll never faint. (Isaiah 40:31 paraphrased).

But…instead of exhaustion, you will be strong until victory is yours because “He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:8).

Until that day, you gotta be bold, be committed and driven enough to hold on to that bottle of His promise. Inhale His reassurance. Delight in His faithfulness. And, night and day, relish in His commitment to keep you strong.

Let’s pray.

Father, when my life loses its zest and my strength wanes, I shall enjoy the scent of Your grace to keep me strong till the end. In Jesus’ name I pray.

What will bring back the sweet smell of victory to your life?

Janet

______________________________________

Did you know I wrote a book filled with words of encouragement, uplifting thoughts and illustrations of real-life triumph to empower you? Its title, Trials of Today, Treasures for Tomorrow: Overcoming Adversities in Life. You can get it HERE.

CLICK HERE for a one-minute inspirational video.

Looking for a speaker for your upcoming event? A great speaker makes the difference between a so-so event and one that shines with impact. I invite you to view one of my two-minute videos HERE.

Please shareFeel free to share Janet’s posts with your friends.

If you enjoyed these moments of inspiration, consider supporting JC Empowerment Ministries. We keep going, keep inspiring and keep bringing Jesus light into the darkness only through your cheerful tax-deductible giving. It’s simple. Just hop over to this LINK. https://janetperezeckles.com/about/non-profit-tax-exempt-authorization-letter

Janet Eckles Perez

Some say she should be the last person to be dancing. Her life is summarized in this 3-minute video: http://bit.ly/1a8wGJR

Janet Perez Eckles’ story of triumph is marked by her work as an international speaker, #1 best-selling author, radio host, personal success coach and master interpreter. Although blind since 31, her passion is to help you see the best of life.

www.janetperezeckles.com

50th Anniversary-Part 5

4 Jun

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

April 13 Day 4 Shopping Day

Tuesday, April 13th was our last full day in Pigeon Forge. When we first visited Gatlinburg, Tennessee and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Pigeon Forge was called the quiet side of the Smokies. Now among its many claims to fame is the shopping. The original Red Roof Outlet still exists even though some of the major outlets have moved out and until recently my favorite Corning Ware store was there. The store was a clearance gem and I have many of their bargains in my kitchen cupboards. My husband enjoys perusing the discount tool stores and sometimes he even buys something! My daughter and I checked out the Old Time Pottery store. She is the creative one and finds inspiration browsing their shelves. Afterwards we enjoyed a delicious cup of coffee at the newly opened Black Rifle Coffee Company cafe. The brand is veteran owned and we wanted to support them.

PhPhoto

Photo Credit customcarsusaonline.com

Several years ago a new mega outlet center opened in adjoining Sevierville and that is where we headed next. I don’t think we purchased a single item but we enjoyed browsing. Our daughter may have purchased something in the Columbia Sports store. I had planned to include a visit to the Bush’s Baked Beans visitor center in nearby Chestnut Hill, Tennessee but due to Covid, it was closed.

Photo credit Wikimedia

Photo Credit Wikimedia

My plan for our last dinner in Pigeon Forge was to find a locally run restaurant. Unfortunately, we seemed to be smack dab in the middle of chain restaurant heaven. After some brainstorming, I remembered a restaurant aptly named The Diner my daughter and I had seen when we were driving around one day while my husband rested. It advertised itself as “one of a kind and locally owned.” Perfect. It was styled as a 1950’s diner and specialized in milkshakes and other ice cream treats. I ordered a fried green tomato BLT and it was yummy. I may have even eaten a few french fries as well. I held off temptation to indulge in a milkshake. But is was hard.

Photo credit Flickr Carl Wycof

After supper we returned to the time share. I made a pot of coffee to enjoy while we streamed a television program. We called it an early night as we had to be out of the time share by 10 am the next morning. We would be sad to leave.

I'm a winner

After my retirement, I decided to re-learn the canning and preserving skills I learned from my mother but hadn’t practiced for twenty years. I titled the blog Old Things R New to chronicle my experience.  Since then I have been blessed to have six other bloggers join me, DiVoran Lites, Bill Lites,  Judy Wills, Louise Gibson, Janet Perez Eckles and Melody Hendrix

In addition to blogging, I work as the publicist/marketer/ amateur editor and general  “mom Friday” for my author daughter, Rebekah Lyn. I also manage her website, Rebekah Lyn Books  

My 2021 goal is continue touse my love of photographs and words to be an encourager on social media. You can visit Real Life Books and Media You Tube Channel if you would like to view some of the mini-videos I have created for our church, Gateway Community in Titusville, Fl.

A Balloon Ride for Ivan

2 Jun

A Slice of Life

Bill LItes

For those of you who have followed my most recent blogs, you will be familiar with the major players in my wife, DiVoran’s family.  For those of you who are just joining me, her father is Ivan and her mother is Dora.  Her younger brother, David, rounds out the family members.  I became a member of this wonderful family when I married their daughter, DiVoran, and have enjoyed the pleasure of their company for over 60 years now.  I would like to share with you one of the more delightful times we had with this family. 

Sometime in early June of 1985 DiVoran and I flew to California to take part in this family’s celebration of Ivan’s 70th birthday.  DiVoran’s father, Ivan, her mother, Dora, as well as her brother, David, and his wife, Susan, all lived in Vista, CA at the time, so that turned out to be the gathering place for the major celebration activities.  As part of the celebration, on one of the days, David had made arrangements for us all to take a balloon ride.  None of us had ever been up in a balloon, and the southern California area is one of the many locations where the weather is favorable for flying balloons; cool clear mornings with little or no wind.  

Photo by Susan Bowers  (No, we didn’t dress like this to go ballooning)

We were all up early that day, rushing around in order to have our breakfast and still have time to drive north some 50 miles to the launch site in Paris, CA.  We met our pilot, Steve, and he asked us to help him unload his balloon from its trailer.  It was a beautiful clear crisp morning and the unfolding of the balloon was very interesting.  Steve was very particular about how we handled every part of the balloon and its hardware.  He had us position each part of the balloon, basket, guy ropes and burner in a systematic way so he could assemble everything quickly and correctly.  Once everything was ready to begin the inflation process, he had us hold the bottom to the balloon open and he used a large fan to start filling the balloon with air.  In the photo below, you can see Ivan supervising the initial inflation operation.

Photo by Dora Bowers

At some point Steve fired up the burner, pointed it toward the partially inflated balloon and blasted hot air into the balloon, and it began to rotate off the ground and rise to an upright positon.  Once the balloon was vertical, we each had to hold onto a rope, attached to the basket, to keep it from ascending before Steve was ready.  He climbed into the basket and asked us who was going to be first.  We all pointed at Ivan and said, “The Birthday Boy!”

We helped Ivan climb into the basket.  Steve went over the operation and safety rules for Ivan, loud enough for all of us on the ground to hear.  I was amazed how Steve was able to keep applying the burner just enough to keep the balloon upright and still keep the basket sitting there on the ground.  When Steve was ready, he told Ivan to hold on, and he applied a long blast from the burner; they slowly lifted off the ground, and they began their ascent.

Note:  I forgot to mention this was one of the smaller balloons and the basket was only large enough to carry Steve, the pilot, and one other person.  And because there were several of us that wanted to take a ride, the duration of the flights were a little shorter than usual.

Photo by Dora Bowers

Steve had instructed us that they wouldn’t be flying more than 1000 feet high, and for us to follow their flight path, so we would be there when they landed, to hold the ropes.  This would allow the passenger to exit the basket and the next passenger to climb aboard (a quick and easy transfer).  If it looked like the wind wasn’t going to carry the balloon far, we would all run to the next landing spot.  DiVoran said, “There goes my 70 year-old white haired mother running after a balloon!”  Dora told DiVoran later that the running was fun, as she hadn’t done that in years.  When the wind picked up, we would all jump into Ivan’s pickup truck and follow the balloon to the next landing spot for the next passenger exchange.  When it was my turn, I couldn’t believe how quiet it was when the burner was off.  I love to fly, but I had never had the opportunity to fly that low in all my flying experiences.  I could just imagine how thrilled the two French brothers, Joseph Michel & Jacques-Etienne Montgolfier, known as the aviation pioneers who launched the first confirmed piloted ascent by man with their hot air balloon, Annonay, in France on June 4, 1783 must have felt.  It was a really wonderful experience!

DiVoran remembers, “During my ride we flew over a junk yard, and when Steve applied a blast from the burner, to keep us high enough to clear an obstacle, I saw hundreds of rabbits running from their hiding places in all directions!”  When everyone had a turn, we helped Steve deflate, disassemble, fold and load his balloon onto his trailer.  We thanked him for an exciting morning of sight-seeing and headed back to Vista, where we each had something to share that was special to us that morning.  That was a wonderful ‘Birthday Gift’ that we were all able to enjoy.  It didn’t dawn on me until years later; that I had scratched off another item from my Bucket List and hadn’t even realized it at the time!

—–The End—–

Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 63 years in Titusville, Florida. He was born and raised in the Southwest, did a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy, attended Northrop University in Southern California and ended up working on America’s Manned Space Program for 35 years. He currently is retired and spends most of his time building and flying R/C model airplanes, traveling, writing blogs about his travels for Word Press and supporting his wife’s hobbies with framing, editing and marketing.  He also volunteers with a local church Car Care Ministry and as a tour guide at the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum there in Titusville.  Bill has two wonderful children, two outstanding grandchildren, and a loving sister and her husband, all of whom also live in Central Florida, so he and DiVoran are rewarded by having family close to spend lots of quality time with.

One of Bill’s favorite Scriptures is:  John 10:10

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