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Be Strong and Courageous

21 Feb

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

 

Courage seems to be my word for this season of life. Oddly, this is coupled with Rejoice. How can I rejoice as my heart is weeps? Because God has promised that He will be with me wherever I go, even into the depths of heartache He is there. All…the…time.

 

Crosscards.com

 

Amy VosKamp wrote a powerful post  Why God Doesn’t Heal People We Love, Brutally Honest, Psalm #3

Road Trip~ Pagosa Springs Night Glow

15 Feb

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

 

Day 10, September 16, 2017- Evening

In my last post, Pagosa Springs-Color Fest   I shared a lot of pictures from the balloon ascent. We were all thrilled with the event as we returned to the condo.  A minor mishap with one of the toilets required a call to the front desk and someone was quickly dispatched to fix it. Shortly after the repairman left, the phone in the condo rang. Pam, the timeshare owner picked up the phone and we began laughing and chanting “Just say no.” Timeshares are famous for trying to upsell when you visit their properties and Pam sometimes has moments of weakness.

When she hung up the phone, we were surprised and skeptical to hear that she had won a prize basket that included two free tickets to Night Glow, an event with music, beer tasting and balloon illumination. We joked about it being an oops gift due to the toilet incident and that when she went to collect, they would try to sell her something.

To our shock, the gift was legit! “Here’s your gift, enjoy.” Now we had two tickets with unlimited beer tasting and none of us drank beer!  We decided, what the heck and went to the event that evening with two of us purchasing at the gate non-beer tasting tickets.

We didn’t know what to expect. There was a tent with a stage and chairs for the audience and  performers were singing. The music was loud so we opted to sit at one of the randomly scattered picnic tables while we scoped the area, trying to figure out what to expect.

 

I bought some delicious sweet kettle corn.

There is a story with this picture and why it was cropped, but I’m not telling. Maybe the look on Rebekah’s face will give you a clue.

 

Rebekah talking with Pam who is not pictured.

As we waited for the balloons to arrive, I checked out the food options. There were not a lot of choices and I chose a vendor selling beef brisket sandwiches. I bought one, hoping it would be large enough to share with my husband.  The vendor must have been doing a lot of business as they were out of napkins and forks. The funny thing is they were still selling people coleslaw! The brisket sandwich was out of this world delicious, the meat thick and juicy. I have been frequently  hankering for brisket since then, but none has compared well to what we ate that night.

The first balloon arrived and I was surprised to note how compact it was and it easily fit in the back of a truck.

 

 

After our supper, the aroma of kettle corn began to drive me crazy. I decided we needed some to snack on as we waited on the balloons. The line was long and by the time I returned to our table several had been inflated.

 

 

To my delight, one of the balloons was positioned next to our table. The balloonist was so kind to the small children and hoisted them up to sit in the basket. One young fella spent a long time there and was given the privilege of pulling on the gas burner to shoot flames up into the balloon.

 

 

To end the evening, the band synchronized the music with the balloons and put on a breathing taking show of flaming and glowing balloons.

 

 

 

I’m so glad Pam won the tickets. We didn’t know about this event and would have missed making a memory that I will treasure.

PS: In case anyone is wondering what happened to the free beer that was included with Pam and Rebekah’s ticket, they upgraded for a glass of wine.

 

The Love Secret

14 Feb

 

 

Crosscards.com

Road Trip~ Pagosa Springs Color Fest

1 Feb

On the Porch
Onisha Ellis

 

Day 10, September 16, 2017

We were up early Saturday, excited to take part in ColorFest and  view the mass balloon ascension in Downtown Pagosa Springs. We were fortunate to score a parking place in the town lot but still had to walk a short distance to the viewing area along the San Juan river. I was worried that my husband wouldn’t be able to tolerate the walk, but he made it!

 

Hot springs along the San Juan river

 

We arrived early enough to watch the balloons being filled.

 

 

This was our first balloon ascent and I didn’t think to bring chairs. I was concerned about my husband standing the entire time and our daughter volunteered to fetch a ground blanket from the car. On the way back she captured this shot.

 

 

While she was at the car, I spied a lone picnic table across the river and rushed to snag it.  It turned out that the viewing from the picnic table was perfect. Several of the balloonist enjoyed showing off and would drop their balloons to touch the water, then soar upwards. This one didn’t quite make it and there was a lot of laughter coming from the folks in the balloon.

I’m going to expose my ignorance here. I have no idea who this balloon is supposed to represent. Please tell me in comments!

 

 

We took a lot of pictures. I’m trying hard to not be boring but I loved all of this!

 

Of course we took pictures of each other.

 

This time a balloon tried a different approach and he made it!

 

 

I like this shot as it captured the water dripping from the basket.  Lots of smiles from the lucky people in the basket!

 

 

We had a grand time watching the intrepid balloonists. As we were walking back to the car we spotted some people taking the waters of the hot springs. I am not positive, but I think the springs along the river are free to the public. Free or not, it was way too cold for us to even dip in a toe!

 

 

We thought our balloon adventure was over but stay tuned, we had the opportunity that evening to experience night glow!

 

PS: Here is the link for ColorFest 2018. Except for gas, lodging and food, it’s free!

PS2: Our daughter’s home that lost power during Hurricane Irma finally got the power back on and her cat, Mia was able to be brought home.  A BIG thank you to a pet sitter extraordinaire, Jennifer Gheen who went above and beyond.

Pray

31 Jan

In any and every situation…

 

Photo credit Crosscards.com

May Your Faith Bloom

17 Jan

Bill will be on a break over the next few weeks. I will be posting random pictures and posts until he returns. If anyone would like an opportunity to share a blog or photo, leave a comment and I will send you and email-Onisha

For today, I am sharing this inspirational photo from Crosscards.com. They have wonderful cards.

 

Road Trip~ Denver, Colorado to Pagosa Springs, Colorado

11 Jan

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

 

Day 9, September 15, 2017

We enjoyed our road trip to Denver, but this morning we were excited to begin the next segment of our journey, a week’s stay at a condo in Pagosa Springs! This trip began back in the spring during a conversation with our friend, Pam.She has a timeshare and occasionally she has points and no plan on where she would like to travel and it just so happened that we had a slight windfall of cash and wanted to take a road trip. I told her that if she had timeshare points to use, we had funds! After looking at several locations, Pagosa Springs was a good fit for both of us. She and our daughter could fly to Denver and hubby and I, not a fan of flying would drive our truck.

Hurricane Irma update: Before we left the hotel, our daughter checked to see if the power was back on in her home. It wasn’t, but there was hope that maybe by the end of the day.

We decided to avoid the interstate and once we were clear of Denver, began our journey south on US 285.  The ride was pleasant and as the scenery was new to us, the time flew. Pam’s daughter who mountain climbs with her husband had advised us to look for an outfitter store to purchase Acli-Mate for our daughter’s altitude sickness. Since she was still feeling queasy, we were on the look out for one.  I really wish I could remember the name of the small town where we stopped. It had a tiny outfitter’s store but it was filled with supplies. I think the name of the shop had the words Eagle Claw in them so if anyone is familiar with the area, I would love to know the name. We were in luck! The store had individual packets of Acli-Mate  upfront at the register. While Rebekah paid for them, I decided a bathroom break was a good idea. I was a little hesitant, though, wondering how clean the bathroom might be. To my surprise it was not only very clean but had the best reading material! One whole wall was shelved and held a magazine for any type of outdoor sport one could think of, all neatly laid out. I wish I had taken a picture, but it just seemed wrong.

Once we were back on the road, we began looking for a place to have our picnic lunch.  We found a park with picnic tables, but were irritated to read a sign requiring a daily use fee.  After grumbling, we decided to ignore the fee as we weren’t going to be using any other portion of the park. It was windy with a chill in the air so we chose a table in the sun.

 

 

Landscape

 

Our drive south took us through the Pike and San Isobel Forest, then the Rio Grande National Forest and they were beautiful.

 

By robert thigpen from diboll, texas (Stony Pass roadUploaded by PDTillman) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Finally, we made it to our home for the week! Wyndham, Pagosa Springs.

 

Our Unit

 

Once we had unloaded the truck, the ladies headed out to Wal-Mart to pick up some grocery items for breakfast. By the time we returned it was dark and an unexpected visitor had surprised my husband as he glanced out the sliding glass door. I’m glad he was able to capture this picture.

 

Just checking out the new neighbors!

 

We made it an early night as we had big plans for the next day, here is a hint.

 

Road Trip~Denver, Colorado to Rocky Mountain National Park

21 Dec

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

 

Day 8 September 14, 2017

We got up early, excited to pick up our daughter and family friend, Pam at the airport and begin this portion of our trip. Our daughter’s home was still without electricity in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma so Rebekah had made arrangements for her cat, Mia, to stay with Pam’ daughter until the power came back on. She had managed to shift the food in her freezer to another friend’s home that had electricity and room for the food.

 

 

Arriving flights at the Denver airport was frustrating as they would not let us stop the car long enough for our party to get their luggage and walk to our meet us. I feel like they were going to arrest me for asking for an extra minute! However, we finally connected and headed off to find some breakfast and coffee for the travelers who had to be at the Orlando airport at 3 am.

Once we were caffeinated we set our GPS for Rocky Mountain National Park and began our Colorado adventure .The drive to Estes Park situated at the entrance to the park would take somewhere between one and one half to two hours.

 

A cute town, but enjoying nature was our goal today. Attribution: Frans-Banja Mulder

 

From the National Park website:

Rocky Mountain National Park’s 415 square miles encompass and protect spectacular mountain environments. Enjoy Trail Ridge Road – which crests at over 12,000 feet including many overlooks to experience the subalpine and alpine worlds – along with over 300 miles of hiking trails, wildflowers, wildlife, starry nights, and fun times. In a world of superlatives, Rocky is on top!

At one stop we saw this gorgeous bird in a tree. Rebekah took a few shots of it. Does anyone know what type of bird it is? It looks like a type of Jay to me.

 

That smile won’t last long on this trip!

 

One of our first stops was to explore a boardwalk. As Rebekah, Pam and I strolled down the walk, Rebekah began to feel queasy. It seems the combination of altitude change from sea level to over 10.000 feet was not settling well. It is possible the day and nights of Florida heat with no air conditioning weakened her body’s ability to adjust.

 

Looking a little pale

 

I thought maybe lunch would perk her up so we began to look for a picnic area. Every time we found one, it was full. Finally we turned down a side road that lead to a horse camp. It was closed for the season and we had the whole area to ourselves!

 

 

As we drove higher in the mountains, we reached a tundra like area. Pretty even in its bareness. The views from there were lovely.

 

 

Rebekah was too nauseous to leave the car and spent the rest of the drive with her head down, resting her forehead on the back of the front seat. She gave me her camera and asked me to video the scenery she was missing.  Pam was a trooper. It can’t have been fun to ride next to someone who was being sick.

Colorado fall is famous for its Aspen trees. We assumed we were too early for the color but there were several patches scattered across the mountains.

 

 

 

It had been a long day for our Florida folks, so we decided to skip one of the other drives in the park. We made it back to our hotel in Denver in time to have supper at the welcome buffet. Rebekah  retired to her room with tea and crackers.

 

Candlelight Processional-Just Wow

18 Dec

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

 

We went to EPCOT at Walt Disney World Sunday night  for the Candlelight Processional.  Judy wrote about her visit there a couple of weeks ago and I wanted to share my thoughts while they were fresh in my mind.

The Disney Parks blog description of the Candlelight Processional:

The Candlelight Processional is one of the most anticipated holiday offerings that many Walt Disney World Resort guests look forward to – and return for again and again – each year. The show takes place at the America Gardens Theatre at Epcot and features a celebrity narrator retelling the traditional Christmas story, as well as live music from a 50-piece orchestra and mass choir. Each year the list of celebrity narrators varies and is usually announced during summer, with more narrators added as the season gets close. The live music in the show is delightful, with the show featuring both recognizable Christmas carols and a handful of international holiday songs. The show is included in Epcot admission and takes place three times nightly, usually running from late November to late December (this year’s dates are November 25 – December 30, 2016).

We have attended this many times over the past twenty years but for some reason, this year’s performance kept me on the verge of tears. Maybe it was because our seats were very close to the stage so that we could  see the performers so well. There are three groups that sing: A small group of professional singers, The Voices of Liberty, a cast choir and a large choir dressed in yellow robes who are high school students.

 

 

There is so much activity, with the live orchestra, the conductor and the narrator that I am usually trying to take it all in. Tonight was different.

Once the high school choirs found their places on the risers, two men in wheelchairs were wheeled onto the stage. There have been adults in wheelchairs each show I have attended but I haven’t been close enough to see them well. Tonight, I could see them, as well as their escorts and they were singing and enjoying being a part of the performance. As I looked at the faces of students singing words of joy for the birth of Jesus, I claimed the promise that God’s words would not return void (Isaiah 55:11). Wherever their lives will lead them, I prayed  the seeds planted would flourish in their lives someday.

The music that accompanies the Christmas story is filled with such joy and there is always someone on stage interpreting the story and songs with sign language. The woman signing tonight literally captured words, lyrics and sound in her hands and her whole being. I had to stop watching her as I feared I might begin sobbing  at the sheer beauty. I wanted to shoot video to share with you but decided to refrain out of respect for her and the people around me. Our daughter did take a still shot. It is blurred but I think it captures the moment.

 

 

I always look forward to the triumphant call of the herald trumpets. The orchestra has six of them and uses three on each side of the stage during the performance. A tweak to my enjoyment of tonight’s performance is that we sat directly underneath them. I wanted to give them a thumbs up, but decided I might embarrass my family.

 

These two herald the beginning of the processional.

 

The show always ends with the The Hallelujah chorus and the voices and instruments soared to almost heavenly heights. Although Disney overuses the word, tonight was magical.

“Glory to God in the highest and on earth, peace and goodwill to all men.”

 

PS… I almost forgot to mention that the celebrity narrator was someone named Trace Adkins. People seemed excited about him. I guess he is some kind of singer.

 

Road Trip~Colorado Springs to Denver, Colorado

14 Dec

On the Porch 

Onisha Ellis

 

 

September 13, 2017 Day 7

Our seventh day on the road. We are moving at a turtle pace, but we are savoring the journey. Tomorrow we pick up our daughter and family friend at the Denver airport and they will spend the week with us. We checked in with Rebekah before hitting the road. She is still without electricity but good news, a friend from church who does odd jobs will be over to repair her roof. I know she will be relieved to have it fixed before joining us in Denver.

I am particularly excited about this leg of our trip as we have tickets to ride the Royal Gorge Train near Cañon City, Colorado, I first learned of this train while reading Go West by DiVoran Lites but never dreamed I would have the opportunity to ride it. To add to the fun, my husband would enjoy the up close view of scenery straight out of a cowboy movie!

 

 

Our seating was in a club car and we began the journey sharing a table with a lovely newly wed couple. Once the train pulled out of the station, we moved to an empty table so we could stretch out.

 

 

Food and drinks were available but we brought a picnic lunch and ate before boarding the train.

 

 

As we pulled out of the station, we passed the Colorado Territorial Correctional Facility. The prisoners here ran the first water flues through the gorge to bring fresh water to the town. I wondered if this was the prison where DiVoran’s father once worked.

 

 

As we entered the gorge, we decided to check out the view from the open bed car. We were fortunate that one adjoined our club car.

 

My hair was a mess

The front of the train heading into the narrow opening.

The opening through the mountains is so narrow, the first tracks laid were a “slim gauge,” 36″ between rails;

A bridge was constructed 1,000 feet above the gorge but as cars became larger, it was downgraded to  walk across only. As our train passed under the bridge we saw a brave soul riding a zip line across the gorge, over 1,000 high. For the less brave, there is a gondola. We decided we were content to leave the adrenaline pumping to the more adventurous. We didn’t get a picture but we also saw several groups of people in rafts taking on the whitewater of the Arkansas river.

 

Zip line was almost too fast to capture the shot

The bridge is 1,000 high and they are higher!

 

The railroad provided a guide on the open car to point out interesting sights as well as share tidbits of history. When we came alongside these miniature power poles, he explained them to us. They were not power poles at all. The short lines extending down from the cross tie were in fact, used as a rock slide alert. If a rock touched the line and broke the connection, the train station was instantly notified there were rocks on the track and pinpointed the location.  Clever, yes?

 

 

My husband was fascinated by this tree as we waited to board the train. At the end of the trip, he asked what type it was. Being from Florida, he had never seen a cottonwood tree  and was pleased to finally be able to touch the bark. He enjoys carving and had read that cottonwood was excellent for carving. I wonder where we would find the bark for sale in Florida.

 

 

After all the fresh air and sunshine, we were both craving some ice cream before heading to Interstate 25 to complete our trip to Denver. We went to McDonald’s for a hot fudge sundae, but their ice cream machine was broken. Has anyone else noticed that McDonald’s has a high rate of ice cream machine failure? Not to be deterred from our ice cream craving, we pulled into a Sonic Drive In . Their ice cream machine worked fine and our cones were decadently delicious.

Our hotel for the night provided a free welcome buffet so we ate our supper there, then made it an early night. We were both looking forward to picking up Rebekah and Pam the next day and beginning a new adventure.

 

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