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Today I visited the Brainerd Presbyterian Church, EPC here in Chattanooga, TN.  The service was very encouraging and the pastor gave a great gospel message.  The people were very friendly as well.  I felt very much at home, but missed our own church family!

After Easter lunch we went to the Tennessee Aquarium (again) and finished walking through all the various parts that we missed the first time.  Of course we had to pet the sturgeon and stingrays again!  We spent some time walking along the river in Chattanooga – it was such a beautiful day!

I then stopped at an Auto Zone parts store to pick up some heater hose to fix my vaccuum leak in the van.  Rather than stop at the dealer and try to order a new part – I was hoping to repair it at low cost.  After talking with David York, (I’ve bugged him a lot this vacation), the heater hose seemed like the way to go.  So, David, for your enjoyment, I’m attaching pictures of the finished product.  I hope these get us home!  We’ll head back to Indiana on Tuesday.  We’re hoping for a warm up by then, but I think we’ll be disappointed.

It is about 9:30pm and we are just settling down in our place of lodging here in Chattanooga, TN.  Traffic was hideous until we got north of Atlanta – and many times it was bumper to bumper, just crawling.  Macon, GA and Atlanta, GA were the worse – but we made it!

Let me speak to the goodness & grace of God: as we pulled into the garage where we are staying, my temporary tape job on my pcv boot gave way and the van lurched to a stop.  It was “perfect timing”.  I am so grateful that it did not happen on the interstate as we were tooling along at 70 mphs.  God is good all the time.

Tonight we are planning on an early heading to bed and sleeping in tomorrow.  We need to rest from this extended driving.  I may walk down the street tomorrow to the Presbyterian church on the block and attend there for Easter Sunday.  It is odd being away from our church family.  We are looking forward to being home!

Kind of a boring post today – but all we did was drive!  🙂

Thursday we went to the Holy Land Experience here in Orlando.  It was a very neat place to explore.  The dramas were very well done and very poignant – especially as we focus this weekend on what was accomplished for us a couple of thousand years ago.  With the thoughts of the Passion of Christ and His resurrection on our mind we saw much of it come “to life” right in front of our eyes.  It was very touching, and wonderful to experience.

Today, Friday, we went to Cocoa Beach around 10:00am.  We found a little park way out of Cocoa Beach proper and enjoyed the beautiful sunshine and powerful waves.  The boys enjoyed breaking waves, the girls were running through the water and building sand castles decorated with shells and Keegan was doing his “happy dance” in the shallows.  Ang & I were continually smiling and soaking up the warm sun.  It has been a beautiful week here in Florida.  We are so thankful to our church family for this opportunity!  You guys are great!!  Enjoy the pics!

Tonight the older boys, Brice & Patrick, and I went to an Orlando Magic game – as they were hosting the Memphis Grizzlies.  It was a very close game – which made it exciting for us.  The Magic weren’t ahead most of the game, in fact only twice(?) during the first half.  Halftime score was Magic 45, Grizzlies 46.  But by the end of the game the Magic pulled it out and won 81 to 78.  See the pics below for the action.

Earlier in the day we just rested around the resort and read, swam and played Rook.  Angie and I did take a very nice walk in the afternoon, ending up at a Wafflehouse where we shared a double pecan waffle and sweet teas.  It was a gorgeous day here as far as the weather goes – no clouds, plenty of sun and very mild temperatures.

We arrived at the Magic Kingdom at about 7:45a.m.  Excitement was running high!  It was a bit breezy and a little on the cool side, but the rising sun was providing great promise for a warm day.  We boarded the tram that took us to the monorail and then the monorail to the entrance of Magic Kingdom.  We were a tad bit overwhelmed with the immensity of Disney – it just kind of took our breath away!  We entered Main St. and the fun racheted up!  Pictures with Pluto, enjoying the shops…and the castle!  Look at the castle!!  We attempted to experience as much as we could in the fifteen hours that we spent at the Magic Kingdom.  From Toon Town to Frontierland to Tomorrowland, we covered a bunch of ground!  The crowds were heavy, but not obnoxious; and the waits in lines weren’t really that bad at all – less than an hour everywhere we went.  We took pictures with the princesses, Goofy and of the two parades we got to see.  By nightfall we were weary, but determined to see the fireworks.  We stood in the center of Main St. and had a great view of the fireworks over the castle.  Holding some Mickey balloons, we then joined the surge back toward the monorails.  Tired but happy, we entered the van and finally crashed around midnight last night.  I’ll put some pics here – enjoy!

After a leisurely start to the day, we headed out to Wonderworks in Orlando.  It boasts over 100 interactive exhibits and it was a lot of fun for all of us!  We experienced hurricane force winds, a 5.3 earthquake, flight simulators and much more!  We had gotten there early and beat the crowd.  By time it started getting crowded, we had already experienced the vast majority of the exhibits.  After lunch we came back to the resort and swam for a bit.  The weather today was very warm, breezy and overcast.  There was isolated thunderstorms in the forecast.  It actually sprinkled for a bit while we were swimming, but when you’re already wet…no-one minds!  We took some much needed naps and had some down time before heading out to the largest McDonald’s indoor playplace in the world.  The playplace is over two stories of arcade type and playground type equipment.  It was truly an experience.  Even the menu was vastly different.  It had over 30 value meals, many of them gourmet type foods.  After dinner we drove out to see where the Magic Kingdom’s parking was because we were debating using a shuttle or driving ourselves.  We decided to drive tomorrow to Disney because it gives us greater flexibility in our schedule and what we can pack.  Upon return to the resort we got cleaned up, the boys are watching the NCAA championship basketball game and then we’re off to bed!

Temps were reaching the upper 80’s today – and it was a great break from the cooler weather we are so used to.  We slept in this morning due to our hard traveling yesterday.  But about mid-morning found us at the poolside and enjoying the slightly overcast, but very warm day.  We even got a little sun on our arms and backs!  After eating lunch we decided to just rest a bit; the girls and Angie went back to the pool, the boys and I stayed at the room and watched the Nascar race.  Later in the afternoon I met up with a friend from college, Steve, who now works for People magazine.  After dinner we headed to Cocoa Beach for a dip in the ocean and a visit to Ron Jon Surf Shop.  We got home late again, got cleaned up and are heading to bed.  Tomorrow (Monday) we’re planning a visit to Wonderworks here in Orlando.  Tuesday looks like the day we’ll head to Disney.  We are having a wonderful time!  Update on the van: something is squeaking / squawking when I first start it up.  I used some belt conditioner on the serpentine belt hoping that would help, but it still complains.  It sounds as if a pulley may seize at any moment, but after a bit it quiets down and drives fine.  Pray that it continues to hold up for us.  Of course, if something were to happen, it wouldn’t be without precedent!

Saturday we left Chattanooga, after a minor concern with the vehicle, around 9:20a.m.  We knew we had about a 9 hour drive ahead of us – and were getting prepared for it.  The GPS, which we lovingly refer to Greta the Garmin Girl, had told us that we would arrive in the Orlando area around 6:00pm.  Things were going well until we hit Atlanta.  Traffic was snarled and of the 5 lanes going into the city, only one was open.  Traffic was heavy as many people were going south for Spring Break.  We exited at the suggested alternate route and hit the “detour” button on Greta.  She led us gamely into a dead end downtown; but not despairing we hit the “detour” button again, and soon found ourselves well ahead of the congestion and finally up to speed.  That little adventure had added an hour to our trip.  As we continued south toward Macon, traffic snarled again.  This time it was close enough to lunch that we decided to take our chances at an upcoming McDonalds.  It was packed.  There were lines for the restrooms that reached the doors.  The gas station next door had the same predictament.  So, in God’s providence, we spent another hour there.  We again chose the state highway over the interstate and proceeded south.  Traffic continued to be heavy, until we passed the Atlanta Motor Speedway – something we wouldn’t have been able to see otherwise!  Pretty neat!

We again slowed in the middle of souther Georgia, this time for a tragic roll-over accident that had just occurred.  We are thankful for God’s safety and providence over us.  We finally arrived around 9:00pm at our resort.  After checking in and settling a bit, we took the kids to the pool for about an hour.  We had the pool all to ourselves at that late hour!  Then we crashed in bed and slept hard.  Sunday morning found us rising well after 9:00a.m.  Today is supposed about 90 degrees and bringing in evening showers.  We plan on going to the Holy Land Experience, and maybe the beach later.  But first, we have to go swimming again!

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We spent the morning at Rock City Gardens in Lookout Mountain, Georgia.  It was a bit brisk today after heavy thunderstorms moved through the area last night.  It really cooled things down a bit.  While it was overcast, it was not too bad, and we actually could see quite a distance when up on top of Lookout Mtn.  I know it says we could see seven states, but I’m not sure my old, weak eyes could do it…even on a sunny day.  We enjoyed the morning there, had lunch and, of course, a coffee from the Starbucks at Rock City as well.  From there we just cruised the mountain ridge, eventually finding our way to Covenant College.  It was a beautiful campus and very friendly people there.  Of course it helped that Keegan had on his cowboy hat and was swinging his play sword at anyone who would come near.  After visiting the college, we found our way to and through the Chickamauga Battlefields from the Civil War.  It was amazing to see all the monuments highlighting all the sacrifices made during the Civil War.  We listened through our cell phone as we took the free audio tour.  It was not hard to imagine the thousands of men that clashed in and out of the trees and up and down the mountainsides.  We then arrived back to the fine home we’re staying at about mid-afternoon.  We decided to rest and read for a bit before we get ready to pack for Florida tonight.  By the way, Brice and I cleaned house last night in our Rook game against Angie and Patrick!!  Revenge is sweet – we’ll see if our luck holds tonight.

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