Monday, May 24, 2010

Our daughter from across the sea.

Elisabeth, Liz for short. John gave her that name when she first came to America, August 2002. She had been called Betty or Ellie but never Liz. She took to it quickly.

Today May 23rd, Liz came to visit for 3 weeks! We haven't seen her for 5 years although we email regularly and IM too. of course we talk on the phone as often as possible.

I can't wait to start of little adventure with her. We have many things planned but mostly just visiting, hanging out and spending quality time with her is the #1 priority.

Nicole made a sign of welcome and off to the airport we went. John was coming from his mom's house and Nicole and I from ours. He beat us there. Good thing. She came in 15 minutes early. It was so good to see her. I didn't realize how much I missed her until I saw her again.

When we arrived at home it was midnight but that didn't stop us from visiting right away. Liz also brought us gifts from Germany. To Nicole she brought Bebe products. They are wonderful smelling lotions and sprays. T Christian and CD of a band she likes and to John and I....First I opened a spring form pan with a measuring cup that measures in metric. I was so excited because I knew I could make this wonderful cake Liz' mom makes. Oh my gosh it is so good. John opened a book Liz made with pictures in it covering what she has done the last 5 years. We loved seeing all the wonderful things she has been doing with her friends and her family. How was miss her family.

She was and is a big part of our family. We loved her as our own. She is a great blessing in our lives. We can't imagine our lives without her now. We love you Liz.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Jay's Wedding

Many times in our lives we take kids under our wings. We mentor them, we give them advice, we worry about them, we laugh with them and share their joy.

This is a joy we have looked forward to share.

Jay was Christian's best friend in Wichita. Christian and Jay did everything together. Their love of cars blossomed in our garage where they tore down engines, put on brakes, redid carburetors.

Jay was like one of my own. He was often at our dinner table or spending the night. When praying for our own children we often prayed for their friends, Jay being prayed for many times.

One Spring break John took Christian and Jay to Utah - Canyonlands - to four wheel. What fun they had. It was Jays first experience to go to some of the most beautiful land in the country and dig into so serious Jeeping. They all had a blast.

Here it is, Jay is all grown up and marrying his college sweetheart, Jen.

Of course we went to Kansas City to witness this wonderful event especially since Christian was in the wedding party.

Sitting in the church watching the event unfold my eyes filled with tear. I felt as though one of my own was getting married. I also was proud of him. Proud of his choice, proud of the way he grew up and how he has turned out and so glad I played a small part in it.

Congrats Jay and Jen. Have a wonderful life.

Dinner and Dancing followed and great time was had for all as you can see. Christian and Cortnee really had a great time. I don't think they left the dance floor once.

You know the movie Top Gun? You know the part where Maverick and Goose sing 'You've got that lovin' feelin'? Here is Christian and another guy singing that song to Jen. It was Awesome. (I wish I had sound)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Rolling Hills Wildlife Park

This wildlife park is amazing.

First there is a 64,000 square foot museum takes you around the world to experience the delicate symmetry between humans, animals and nature in seven unique regions from the arctic to the rain forest. When you first walk into the museum it’s just after sunrise, and even before you see the gathering pride of lions, you hear the birds and other sounds of the African plains.

They have a state-of-the-art animatronic human robots narrate stories of how they weave the thread of their existence into the delicate balance of life. As you move through the varieties of foliage and landscaping, you’ll see and hear the natural environments of each section of our world.

There are many areas that show different areas of the planet. You will see the wilderness with animals and their habitat as well as Indian tribes and how they live.

Next you enter the zoo area. 105 different species of animals. They have done a fantastic job of building habitats conducive to the animal. We practically had the park to ourselves. School was still in session and this park is not in a city so it is not the end of the year field trip like a lot of zoos are.

When we entered into the ape area we came across an orangutan. She sure took a liking to John. As soon as john came into the house she came directly to the glass and smiled at him. I think she stayed there for 20 minutes. We left before she ever left.

There were 3 HUGE tortoises. I know People have seem tortoises before but these were so wonderful. Especially when we found out they were over 100 years old.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Council Grove

John and I have always wanted to go to Council Grove, KS. The historic significance has always intrigued us.

One of the most documented crossings on the Santa Fe Trail, this natural rock bed crossing over the Neosho River. We saw the wagon wheel ruts worn into the rock beds.

We stood on the banks of the river and closed our eyes trying to picture the many wagons that had crossed here so very long ago. There was a slight wind and meadowlarks calling one to another. I could almost hear the wagon wheels, the men calling to the oxen and the children walking along side.

I wonder what it was like to walk those many miles, to endure the many hardships and tragedies. I wondered if I would have the courage to leave my home and my belongings behind in search of a new land. I hope I am that strong.

This statue honors the Native American Kaw or Kansa Tribe. Together with the Madonna of the Trail, these two statues symbolize the true story of the West. They both stand near the waters of the crossing of the river.

A shelter east of the Neosho River bridge protects the stump of the Council Oak. Gathered in the shade of the big oak on a hot August day in 1825, agents of the Osage tribe and the U.S. government signed a treaty giving Americans and Mexicans safe passage along the Santa Fe Trail through Osage territory in return for $800. The tree no longer stands here but the memory is still here.

Not too far away it the Kaw Mission. Methodist missionary's built a mission to school the Kaw children. They felt that if they could teach them White ways they could fit into society better. The Kaw nation were hunters. The missionaries taught them to farm. The Indians were never accepted into the white ways liked the missionaries had hoped. The Kaw nation became more and more poor.

During the Mormon battalion march, they camped at the Kaw mission for a time. Out church has erected a small historical marker on the property.

Tallgrass Prairie Reserve

Next on or travels we continued north and stopped at the Tallgrass Prairie Reserve. What a fantastic place. It is a home site as well as a preserve for the Tallgrasses of Kansas.

This home was one of the grandest West of the Mississippi at the time. If you were to visit this family and drove up in your wagon you would drive up to the front of the home which was approx. 45 feet actually from the front door. You then would proceed up several grand stairs on different levels to the front door. This home is 3 levels. Some of the most fascinating things to take note of is this home has 2 living areas, one for the men and one for the women. It also has a HUGE Kitchen area. Any woman this day and age would be envious of it. It actually is almost the whole bottom floor.

This sight has many out buildings. An outdoor kitchen that also served as a laundry area and a place to tan hides. Their outhouse was quite the structure. It had windows with drapery's and 3 places to sit. One for him, one for her and one for the daughter. I was surprised to see they each needed their own spot.

Our fascination was the barn though. It was 4 levels. From the side nearest the home the barn looked like 3 levels but from the other side it was 4. The first level which seemed like a basement housed the animals. The main level housed the farming equipment as well as buggies, 3rd level was intriguing. They could drive the wagons up a ramp to this level, unload it and then drive down another ramp. From there they would take the supplies and hay to the top level.

Underground Salt Mine

Our first day we headed out early to the Underground Salt Mine in Hutchinson, Kansas. A few years ago this mine opened to the public for tours.

When first arriving everyone watches a movie to get you prepared for what is to come. Then off to be outfitted with a hard hat and a breathing apparatus in case of fire. (No, we didn't get to use these.)

Into the elevator we go.....down...down...down, 650 feet down. Right through the center of the aquifer.

Side note: When building the elevator to get down to the mine, they had to go right through the aquifer. Quite a feat. How they did that was by freezing the water in the aquifer with nitrogen, drilling the enormous hole in which the elevator would go through, adding cement walls to move the water around the elevator area, putting the elevator in and then unfreezing the water. Amazing.

The mine is quite cool but not cold. 65 degrees. There are many exhibits telling about mining here and how this mine was found.

These grooves on the walls are made from the machine that drills out parts of the wall. The machine moves in a circular motion.

One of the most interesting exhibits is about living organisms found in salt crystals.

The world’s oldest living organism, estimated to be about 250 million years old, is now living at the Kansas Underground Salt Museum as part of its newest exhibit featuring the unprecedented discovery of living bacteria found trapped inside a salt crystal.

The scientists credited with reawakening bacteria from spores inside an ancient salt crystal -- Dr. Russell Vreeland, Dr. William Rosenzweig, and Dr. Dennis Powers -- were at the Museum for the exhibit opening. Their research has indicated the cells from which those spores presumably formed were alive and active before the time of dinosaurs.

The three scientists are continuing their research on the subject of living organisms in non-living components like salt crystals. In fact, the men collected salt samples from the Hutchinson mine for further research. If more bacteria are found in these samples, it’s likely older than the bacteria previously found, as the salt deposits in Hutchinson are estimated to have formed 275 million years ago.

This salt mine is also used for storage of important documents and other items that may be ruined by exposure to humidity and other elements. Items come from all over the world. There are many items here from the movie industry. Footage as well as costumes used in movies.

These underground caverns are huge. You can imagine how much stuff this place can hold.

Alone Time

John and I were able to spend a few days together 2 weeks ago. Just him and I. Nicole was in Utah in the hospital so I took the opportunity to fly to Kansas and spend time with John.

John took 2 days off from the clinic, which is a rarity, and we had that time to reconnect. Amazing what a few days of togetherness will do for a person.

For many years we have wanted to see a few places around Kansas. Places that are out of the way, off the beaten path. Places that you have to make it a point to go to. This was our opportunity.

Not only did we get to see these places and experience them together but the memories we created and the love we shared while creating them is priceless.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Beautiful Drive

On our way from Utah to Kansas yesterday we encountered a ginormous storm in Colorado. Vail Pass was closed and the sheriff was turning cars around. We usually don't leave much leeway time on our drive to Kansas so this was going to pose a huge problem for us to get to Wichita in time for patients Monday morning.

We pulled out the map to look over our options. Not too far west on the I-70 we spy Hwy 24 to Leadville which connects to Hwy 91 to Copper Mnt. Looks good to us. We have found a new route. We pull over to say a prayer asking for guidance and protection and then off we go.

The first town we come to looks very similar to Park City BEFORE the craze. Quaint and secluded. We passed over a frozen lake and drove some of the most beautiful mountain passes we have ever seen.

We came around a bend and right ahead of us was an expansion bridge. Amazing.

We also passed the headwaters of the Arkansas River. Not much to look at considering not too far away (about 100 miles) this river is wide and rushing toward Kansas. As those of us know in Wichita it is not much to look at but those who live in Colorado know different.

It is snowing quite hard and the road is packed with snow. It is the beautiful snow that is bluish colored. Not much further and we reach Copper Mnt. We know the I-70 is right here.

John and I were very happy we made the detour around the pass to see this amazing road leading to more amazing landscape. I wish I had my camera with me to capture the huge evergreens capped with fresh powder, the rivers we went over and their newly painted rocks and banks and the amazing expansion bridge.

One day, soon I hope, we will take the detour again just to snap a few photos to remember our little adventure.