Monday, July 25, 2011

A Friend

I am getting so behind on putting up photos of our trip! I am skipping a few things so that I can put up this post, because this is the highlight of our trip so far!

Late last year I came across a blog written by a mother of three boys, and in particular one adopted son. I went back over her blog from the beginning, read her story, saw her pictures and watched the video's that were posted.

This blog, written by the lovely Katie Dunlap, has had a major impact on Dave's and my desire to adopt one day in the future.

Well, I sent Katie an email, just saying how I had been so encouraged by her family's story and journey, and long story short we started emailing back and forth, and since Dave and I were going to be in Nashville this year on our trip we though it would be really cool to meet each other in person!

So we did!

Dave and I were able to attend church with the Dunlap family (and hear Katie's husband Brad speak!) and meet each other in person!

They then very kindly offered to have Dave and I around for dinner on Monday night. Brad cooked up burgers on the grill (BBQ for those back home in Australia!) in the rain - they were so good.

Dave and I both feel so blessed to have been able to spend time with this beautiful family, and to be able to call them friends - we only wish we were closer to them so we could hang out with them more regularly! (And yes Katie, to watch more Swamp People :) )

Thank you Katie, Brad and boys for welcoming us so warmly. Even though we won't be with you in Memphis, our prayers will be! xx

(Stop past Katie's blog to learn more about this family and the incredible journey that God has them on. Brad and Katie are embarking on a church plant in Midtown, Memphis, literally starting a church from scratch!)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Oak Alley Plantation

The day we departed New Orleans for Memphis (14 July) we went via Oak Alley Plantation, about an hour outside of New Orleans. I have wanted to see this house in real life for years, so it was really special to be able to make time to detour there, even though we had a big day of driving ahead of us.
The former sugar cane plantation is beautiful, especially the famous oak trees that were planted nearly 300 years ago.

We took the tour of the house, which was interesting, but it only really talked about the people that lived in the house. They didn’t go into much history of the property, the plantation life, or the slaves, which I was a little disappointed about, but it was still great to be able to see and take photos of a place I have dreamt about for so long.

We arrived in Memphis at about 9pm that night, and crossed the Mississippi into West Memphis, Arkansas where our hotel for the night was situated and called it a day.

New Orleans Day 2

Day two started with breakfast in the hotel again, and then a leisurely wander around the French Quarter again. At 1pm we boarded a bus for a tour around New Orleans, based around hurricane Katrina. Our tour guide was excellent, and we got to see a lot of New Orleans, and hear more about the city and how things are set up to try to prevent the tragedy that occurred there six years ago. It was a moving, but very interesting tour to take.

(I have no pictures of the tour. It just didn't feel right to be taking pictures of areas where loss, grief and tragedy associated with the hurricane are still obvious.)

Following the tour we went back to the hotel to have a little rest before we headed down to the banks of the Mississippi for dinner.

We had booked earlier in the day to go on a dinner cruise on an old paddle steamer boat the "Natchez" where they not only feed you, but also entertain you with - you guessed it - live jazz.

Oh, so much good music in such a small amount of time!

The sky also graced us with a stunning sunset behind they city. It was a beautiful evening, and a great way to end our time in New Orleans.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

New Orleans Day One

Monday the 11th we departed Houston and set a course for New Orleans, Louisiana! We left Houston a little later than we had originally planned, and made it to our beautiful hotel in New Orleans (Inn on Bourbon – highly recommend it!) by about 9:30 that night.

Our hotel was right on Bourbon St, probably not the quietest choice, but so handy! We went for a quick walk along Bourbon St, and returned to the hotel for the night.

After a pretty good night’s sleep (considering our room was right on the corner with a balcony overlooking Bourbon St!) we woke up excited to be in New Orleans.

We had a complimentary breakfast in the hotel, nothing fancy, and made a beeline for Jackson Square. There was a walking tour that I found in my Lonely Planet guidebook, so we followed that path, wandering streets and alleys, stopping to look in galleries and shops along the way and taking hundreds of photos.

After our walk we decided to see what all the fuss was about Café du Monde and the beignet’s (pronounced ban-yay). Yummy little donut-like, fried morsels of goodness, covered in powdered (icing) sugar. Heavenly!

After our little afternoon snack we went back to the hotel for a little rest, which we followed by dinner which was terrible! But we ended the day on a high note (unintentional pun coming up!) with 3 hours of fantastic live jazz music!

This band was incredible. We went to this fantastically old place – Preservation Hall. My uncle visited this little hole in the wall place about 25 years ago so it was really cool to go and visit. Best part? It only cost $12 each for three hours of unforgettable music! What a way to top off a great first day in New Orleans!

Friday, July 15, 2011


We made the return trip to Houston on the 5th July. This time we managed to keep the trip to 10 hours instead of 12.5! Dave drove the whole return trip (crazy boy, but we were on to a good thing and we didn't want to change anything!) and we managed to only have one stop for lunch along the way! Yay for us!!

Day one back in Houston Dave set off in the morning to find us a car. I went off to do a little shopping around The Woodlands.

I met up with Dave later in the afternoon when he arrived back at Danon and Chantelle’s – with our new car!!

He had managed to find a 1994 Honda Accord within our price range, and so had made the most important purchase of the trip! Very exciting.

We went to the Wednesday night prayer and worship service at Woodsedge Church – Danon and Chantelle’s church, and following I went with Chantelle to choir practice (just to see how they do things :)) while the guys had a little man-date!

Day two started with Dave going off to organise registration and insurance for the car so that we can start driving it, while I had a little sleep in! when he got back we went for our first big wander around Walmart. Danon was good to us and put up with me saying over and over how much cheaper everything was compared to Australia!

We dropped Danon at home and then Dave and I went and did a little more shopping. For dinner we went out to Cheesecake Factory, and were joined by some friends of Danon and Chantelle’s. We were very pleasantly surprised by the food there. Our only knowledge of Cheesecake Factory is what we have seen on the Big Bang Theory!! The food was fantastic, and so many choices. Oh, and massive servings!

We spent the next few days shopping (we bought very little clothing with us), eating and swimming in the pool. The night swims were bliss!

Saturday night we were able to join Chantelle for a work party. The boys were a little disappointed with the food (canapés!) so we went across the street to grab a pizza at Grimaldi’s. Dave and I rarely buy pizza anymore (we make pretty amazing homemade pizza – if I do say so myself!) but this pizza was so worth it!

It was a beautiful balmy night to sit outside.

Sunday morning we joined the worship at Woodsedge Church where Chantelle co-led with her incredible vocal skills!! It was great to hear her again after so many years! We heard a great message by the pastor there, and followed church with a swim in the pool. Perfect Sunday and perfect way to spend our last day in Houston.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Florida & 4th of July

The morning after the car ride from hell (seriously the worst road trip ever!) we woke up to an overcast sky. But who cares really when you're in FLORIDA!! We are still adjusting to the fact that we are in America!

The overcast sky didn't last too long and by the time we hit the beach it was a beautiful day in Destin Pointe. The colour of the water was incredible, so clear you could see all the schools of tiny fish swimming around your legs, and the temperature perfect. And the sand, oh the sand, the most soft, fine, white sand I have ever seen. Just incredible. The beauty of the beach left me speechless.

Chantelle and I spent most of the day lounging in the sun. The boys joined us for a while, but the were less keen to sunbake than we were, so we sent them off in search of food. Earlier they had spotted a BBQ ('grill' here in America!) so were in the mood for cooking up some steak! Yum.

I have to say that the beach is the absolute best medicine. I felt a million times better than I did the day before in the car ride from hell!!

So we spent Sunday soaking up sunshine and taking it easy!

Monday morning we woke to even more haze, and it took much longer for the sky to clear and the sun to make it's appearance. We started out with breakfast at Waffle House, followed by a little wander around a near by shop.

Chantelle and I again hit the beach. We decided to hire canoes, and we spent an hour paddling around the bay, about 100 metres from our house.

Following dinner we settled on the top back balcony to watch the 4th of July fireworks.

Happy Friday!