Sometimes we look at sights in nature but don't really see. While hiking in the woods the other day, it became a realization that we need to open our heart and eyes to see the beauty of the simple things in nature with each season. There is so much order and purpose in His creation. God has given us awesome beauty in this world to see and enjoy... if we would but stop to see and feel it. Join us as this blog is about stopping to see the real beauty around touch and feel it... "Through the Lens".

Our Friends

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Oliver Buddies

The park overlooking Mobile Bay in Fairhope Alabama

A few days ago our Oliver buddies from Texas returned to Chewacla!!  They have a daughter and family that live in Auburn and they come here quite often to visit.  It was on one of these visits we met Keefer and Brenda.  We were camping here in our Casita at the time and their enthusiasm for the Oliver was one reason we decided to really consider the Oliver.  We had previously met another Oliver couple at FDR State Park in Pine Mountain, Georgia and they showed us all around their Oliver and their love for this little gem was overwhelming!!
We met Keefer and Brenda for a healthy breakfast last Monday, eclipse day!!  Eggs Benedict, a large bowl of fruit, toast and jam along with good fellowship!!  They were going to babysit their grandchildren while their daughter had minor surgery.

Lots of visits at each other's patios and lots of conversation about our Olivers and our lives has taken place this week.  Tonight we will have an easy dinner together followed by Keefer showing us his Camp Maid set of Dutch Oven cooking items as he makes Peach Cobbler!!  Sounds great!!

Keefer's Camp Maid Dutch Oven
Peach Cobbler nice and warm in the Dutch Oven
Hey guess what??  We have plans!!!  If all goes well we plan to leave after Labor Day and spend a week in the Gulf Shores area!!!!  We will stay at Rainbow Plantation, an Escapees Park, that we spent the winter at in 2010....our first full-timing journey.  We love this area and it holds lots of sweet memories for us.  Looking forward to visiting the special places and enjoying the ocean!!
The beach at Gulf Shores
Afternoon waves at Gulf Shores
I know it might sound crazy to some but the ability to physically travel somewhere is such a blessing!!  It's not until something as easy as that is taken away do you really understand what a privilege it is!!!!

"May the Lord bless you and protect you.  May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you.
May the Lord show you His favor and give you His peace.
Numbers 6:24-26

Monday, August 7, 2017

A Trip Back in Time

Murfreesboro was the site of the Battle of Stones River...December 31, 1862 to January 2, 1863.   This conflict was also called the Second Battle of Murfreesboro and was the ending of the Stones River Campaign during the American Civil War.

Union Cemetery across the way where over 6,000 Union Soldiers were buried
We were not very far from this area while visiting Mimi so being history buffs we decided to take a trip back in time to learn more about this period in our history.
We were very fortunate because on this particular day they were conducting a re-enactment complete with men and women in uniform representing both the Confederate army as well as the Union army.  They demonstrated the firing of the muskets as well as a canon.  Of course, the ammo they used were blanks but the sound was authentic!!  Very loud!!!

Confederates massed an attack about noon on the Union soldiers.  Confederate soldiers drove them off from either side of Sheridan and Negley(Union Officers) that left them surrounded on three sides.  They held their ground for 2 hours using natural rock formations as trenches.  
Stock Photo from National Park Planner of Slaughter Pen
Notice the rock formations giving cover for the Union Soldiers

Their ammunition was running low and they feared being totally surrounded so they started retreating.  The Confederates started  picking them off leaving so many bodies piled among the rocks,  it reminded the soldiers of cattle pens where cows were held while they awaited slaughter.  Thus the name 
Slaughter Pen. 

This battle saw some of the highest casualty rates of the war. The Union lost approximately 13,000  troops either killed, wounded or captured.  The Confederates had approximately 10,000 killed,wounded or captured.  There was a total of about 23,000 casualties.  Making it one of the bloodiest battles of the war!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Happy Birthday, Mimi

We left for Murfreesboro, Tennessee on Friday morning!!
A beautiful day with plenty of sunshine and just a touch of what fall will be like.   Temperatures were in the low 80s and absolutely no humidity!!!  Awww, it's nice to be moving!!                      

The hills surrounding middle Tennessee
Castle on the hill

Just outside Tennessee at the Alabama welcome center
Our destination, Murfreesboro, is where the birthday lady lives. Mimi, as most of her family calls her, lives at Stones River Manor which is a beautiful assisted living facility.   Mike's brother, Pat and his wife Carollyn, live right around the corner.  We were there to celebrate Mimi's 95th birthday!!!!

Pat, Mimi and Mike
There is nothing more fun than a birthday party for someone that has lived 95 years, oh what joy!!!!   Our party began at 11:00 with picture taking of Mimi and her two sons....Mike and Pat.   In attendance were her two sons and their families which included four grandchildren and five great grandchildren and two precious friends.                         
Our Son Stephen with Mimi
The menu consisted of fruit and plenty of pizza!!  Just before everyone was too full on pizza we had the traditional birthday cake, singing and blowing out of the candles.              

In all the years I've known Mimi she has been a wonderful example of a wife, mother, mother-in-law, grandmother, great grandmother and friend!!  A fine Christian lady.   Whenever I would walk into their home there was always a warm loving feeling....kind of a secure "come in out of the world" feeling.  She and Pop always made me feel more like a daughter than a daughter-in-law.  I treasure those times and was so glad that I could be there Saturday to help her celebrate 95 wonderful years of a life well lived!!                                
Mimi's  mom lived to reach 101 so I can see we have a lot more celebrating to do!!!   Happy Birthday, Mimi!!!!                  

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Our Tiny Home

Back in December we wrote a blog about our Oliver.  This post was really more on the technical side.  What is an Oliver?  Where is it produced?  etc.  This post is going to talk a little about "our tiny home."                                
Tiny homes seem to be the going thing.  You turn on HGTV and there are several shows dealing with hunting for a tiny home, designing a tiny home and even one called Tiny Home Luxury.  People seem to be wanting to minimize their lives.  Get the clutter out.  Get down to the basics.                                            
Tiny House at FDR State Park Pine Mountain, GA
Mike and I didn't set out to full-time in our Oliver....not really.  We thought about it but we just weren't sure.  Was it big enough?  Was it built for full-timing?  Would we like it as much as our Dutch Star?                
Our Motorhome parked in Texarkana
 We made the trip to Hohenwald Tennessee in October and talked with the Oliver production company and toured the factory.  It was on this tour that we answered the question of whether or not it was built for full-timing.  It was....definitely and certainly!!   It has a double hull, double pane windows and the tanks are all enclosed and heated through the ducted heat.  Now to the question, would it be big enough?                                  
Our Oliver in Conecuh National Forest
That's an interesting question.  Is anything big enough?  If I have 3 bedrooms couldn't I use 4?  If I have a single garage don't I need a double or maybe even 3, you have to have a workshop don't you?  I believe that we can use any and all space we are given and then crave more. When we came off the road in 2010 we bought a house.
Our Home
We had a few things that we kept in a storage building but not much in the way of furniture.  We filled this house up and were quickly running out of room after living in it for 7 years.   Is the Oliver big enough?  Probably not and that's the honest answer.  But what do we want from our RV?  What do we want from our lives at this point?

What do we want from our RV?  We hope to have a travel style that will allow us to park in state parks, national parks, national forest, Corp if Engineer parks and BLM land.  Notice I did not mention private parks. It's not that we don't like them or would not go there but we want nature, outdoors, photo ops, hiking trails and hopefully a little space.  We want to hook up and unhook relatively easy and to travel easily.  Our choice is smaller.  Because the Oliver is smaller we have to compensate for lack of space such as storage and living space.   Designated tubs provide storage and those are housed in the truck bed.  Whenever possible we prefer outdoor living and all RVs provide that.                                        
Our Oliver at Conecuh National Forest
If we are choosing to live minimalistic than this should be refreshing huh?  Well it took some creative thinking and adjustment time but I think we are getting there.  It hasn't always been easy or without issue.  The Oliver is a joy and delight to travel in as well as live in.                                
Our Oliver from the factor
We ordered Southern Mattresses for each side for better sleeping

Our food pantry
Inside of our pantry                                 
We have lighted cabinets for storage all around inside 
Our kitchen drawers for storage and they close by themselves 
Our microwave and a bit small refrigerator
Inside our closet with hanging space and shelves with bottom floor storage to
Closet door
Our wet bath and it very ample size                 
Kitchen cabinet with the Magma Stainless steel induction cookware
Our Clam Screen Room for our outdoor living
More outdoor living area on our patio
What do we want from our lives at this point?  That's the easy question!!  Since my cancer diagnosis and ensuing treatments we have both come to realize 1. Life is short and 2. What used to seem so important just wasn't.  We both just want to live simply and enjoy God's world.  To honor Him in all we do.  To meet awesome people and make some solid friends along the way.

We think the Oliver will meet our needs beautifully!!!  It might be tiny but it's our "home sweet home" and we love it!!

My people will dwell in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places,
ISAIAH 32:18