Thursday, December 20, 2007

Grand Ole Opry House, Nashville, TN (Wed.12/12)

No concert, but we took the tour. It's all about the history. The old Ole Opry, the new Ole Opry. The membership, the members... Very impressive place – holds 4000-some people but attracts performers who fill up stadiums with their concerts.

Elan, Levi and Roy

Christmas came early for Shae and Kobe – we bought them each a guitar-shaped fly swatter. Happiness is...

Fort Mountain State Park, GA (Th.12/6-Mon.12/10)

8 miles outside of Chatsworth, GA, it was enough up in the mountains where getting an accurate weather prediction was pretty impossible. One day perfect sunny weather was the forecast (for Chatsworth) instead we received deep moving fog – the boys creeped around played Lord of the Rings kinda stuff. That works too.

The mini golf is closed for the season, but you can still have the boys “be the ball” and time them to see how long it takes to run through this obstacle course.

855 foot long wall which nobody knows how it got there... The mysterious wall is thought to have been built by Indians as fortification against other more hostile Indians or for ancient ceremonies. Others think it was inhabited by a people with pale skin who could see in the dark... They try to make it into a big long mystery, but the basics of it are this: lots of rocks, don't know how they got there or what they were used for. It didn't make the 1000 things you need to see in the US before you die... no wonder.


Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park GA/TN - (Fri.12/7)

Another Civil War look. The last large Southern battle into south-central Tennessee and northwestern Georgia occurred here from September 18 - 20, 1863. Considered a Confederate victory for halting the Union advance, the Battle of Chickamauga was a costly one. It claimed an estimated 34,624 casualties (16,170 for the Union; 18,454 for the Confederates). Another Pyrrhic victory I'm afraid - “One More Victory Like This And We're Lost”

History presented in the South is a bit different than how it's presented in the North. I know slavery wasn't the only thing that was disagreed on and initially it wasn't the main disagreement but while there was wrong done on both sides, I have a hard time viewing the South as the “good guys.” However, I will make it my aim to study the opposing views and solve this once and for all with the voice of perfect objectiveness. Right...

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Rock City, GA (Fri.12/7)

Rock City was on our list of possibles, but it wasn't until the Tillman's said it was really good that we put it on the “go list”. You can see 7 states on a clear day. The kids liked it so much we all ran through it a second time. Thanks Tillmans. Elan wrote the commentary below, and the kids all selected the pictures. -Graham

We definitely had a great time at Rock City!

I truly thought that Rock City was the Hard Rock Cafe!?

They had some really cool rock formations, like needles eye and Fat Man's Squeeze. A couple more months at McDonald's and I couldn't have survived!

We all got a good share of extraordinary heights from Lover's Leap, a true drop off!

One of my favorite parts was Fairyland Caverns.

A very talented artist had made a variety of Fairytale scenes including Snow White, and Mother Goose. It was all in the dark, so it was glow-in-the-dark. It was really fun! I'm sure glad we stopped by at Rock City! -Elan

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Dahlonega, GA (Wed.12/5)

Pronounced duh-lahn-uh-guh (fyi my text-to-speech software loves this word whether you write it phonetically or not)

The site of the first U.S. Gold-rush. The center of the town is built around a visitor center (below photo). I'm sure they have other industries, but it appears the whole town is built around being a gold-rush town during the 1800's. They made official US gold coins from 1838 until 1861. I know nothing of coin collecting but apparently these are some of the most sought after coins around (one of those... if you don't believe them, just ask them...). The display stuff was pretty good, but alas, no free gold (no free Harley, no free money, and now no free gold... I'm finally catching the pattern... he can be taught!)

we spent night camped out by the laundry mat – good times.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Keowee-Toxaway State Park, SC (Fri.11/30-Wed.12/5)

Boys feeling the need for sledding – not hindered by the “problem” of us being 1100 miles from Minnesota snow (another reason we're coming home for Christmas)

So dry here that Levi and I gathered leaves and dropped a match into the fire pit and it started right up. A little scary when you look around and see the forest covered with several inches of these bone-dry leaves.

no water in sight for these docks

Magnolia Plantation, Charleston, SC (Tue.12/4)

The Magnolia plantation was a plantation for rice, until rice prices dropped and then they diversified...

The gardens are world renowned. The property has remained in the Drayton family for 11 generations (only once or twice did they not have boys and have to force sons-in-law to take on the family name. Lee, if something happens to Rob and you happen to have millions to pass on to a son – call me “Graham Boraas” – say the word – it's done.)

A couple gators about 10 feet from the golf-cart train

We opted for the nature train ride instead of the house tour (a+ on that decision as far as the boys were concerned) but the outside was decorated real purty for Christmas.

obligatory pictures of kids at petting zoo

USS Yorktown, Charleston, SC (Mon.12/3)

The USS Yorktown is a big boy at 19,800 tons (though modern aircraft carriers fully loaded weigh in at 97,000 tons). There is a range of self-guided tours that take you through much of the ship.

The brig consisted of 4 rooms – 3 people per room (about 4 x 10). You're probably thinking that I was thinking about free babysitting again, well, yes... but in addition to that I was thinking about the very small size of the cells – maybe our modern prisons should more closely resemble this set-up. Though it didn't work out too well for the guy in this cell.

I couldn't understand the sign on this one. Someone has a painting stencil that says “DO NOT PAINT”. Am I missing something? Seems a bit hypocritical. Not that you can tell, but this is an F18 Hornet recently returned from Iraq.

The Charleston harbor also has a sub (the last of the diesels) and a what-it-would-have-looked like-at-a-Vietnam-MASH-site.

Charleston, SC (Mon.12/3)

It was a 540 miles round trip from Clemson to Charleston. We left the 5-er (that's 5th wheel trailer) and pricelined a cheap hotel room. After arriving in Charleston, everyone was anxious to get out of the truck. Levi named the following picture:

“Elan letting out the music inside him”

The boys were 4-packed in the back seat watching a movie on the way to Charleston – Shae is our temperature intolerant boy, several times he's had his shirt off and within a few minutes would have his sweatshirt on with hood up “freezing”

the view from our hotel - Shae "if I jumped do you think I would hit the water?"

Shae, do you really want to trust Kobe with that? He's looking for a match right now.

Charleston bridge

Team Kalbaugh

A touch of Minnesota and some genuine South Carolina rolled into one... the Kalbaughs. Our family was wonderfully blessed to be with Corey and Juli.

With awesome Southern hospitality, we were treated excellently. I really enjoyed getting to know Corey and the boys are pretty sure that he's mainly their friend and not mine. Kim did many loads of laundry there and once, when we left partially finished laundry, Juli even dried and folded my tightie-whities!??

Clemson, S.C. (Sun.12/2)

We enjoyed an excellent Church service at dcf – what an incredible worship band – Corey said they were excellent and he understated things.

After hearing insights on Hagar in Genesis 16 we had McDonalds at the park. I had a chance to share my “story” with a number of Corey and Juli's friends over a double quarter-pounder... What work do you do that allows you to cruise around the US like this? - a frequent, and good, question. I don't know that I'm getting any better at telling the story, but I do love to tell how God answered prayer and in his mercy saved me at Regions hospital in 2000 and how he's continuing to work on me.

Friday, December 7, 2007

South Carolina Saturday, Clemson/Greenville, SC (Sat.12/1)

That Saturday that we had been “dreaming” about came. Kim went to Aveda in Greenville to see Juli and get a trim, wash & wax or some sort of full meal deal package.

left to right: not Juli, Juli, not Juli

Corey and 'da boys went to the park to play baseball – or some mix between kickball and baseball... when you don't have enough outfielders you can hit the runner to get them out – which ads a little twist to the game. We were playing with whiffle balls – so it's all good.

There was a parade going by so we watched until we had too much candy – it came in waves. We were at the end of the parade so many came with no candy whatsoever and then some came and dropped the rest of their stash in our laps... We kinda missed Halloween so this made up for it!

We had a whole fleet of jeeps, and a pink tractor – they pretty much had it all.

Corey resonated with Shae's “I'm all in” personality. Shae took this as a full green light for wrestling.

Corey as a jumping bag

That evening Corey and Juli took us out for BBQ. It was a happenin' place with live Mountain music to enjoy our ribs, hash, pork, and more. I missed bluegrass music at the Harvest party at Calvary this year... I think I've met my annual quota now.