Saturday, April 18, 2009

So Very Thankful . . . .

At about 5 a.m. this morning, I was awakened by flashing lights outside the window of the bedroom. When they didn't go away, I got dressed and went outside to see what was going on. The house two doors west of me was on fire! My neighbor, Cheri (she lives inbetween me and the house that was on fire), came out at the same time and we were completely stunned! First, let me say that thankfully all the people that lived there got out safe. It was one of the most incredulous things I have ever seen. The east side of the house was completing engulfed in flames with thick, black smoke pouring out of every window, soffit and roof vent. The street was filled with emergency vehicles and personnel. The fire department was in the process of hooking up the hoses, etc. so they had apparently just arrived. Within moments, the windows blew out from the intensity of the heat. With the source of new oxygen from outside, the flames grew even bolder.

Cheri has her boat parked between the houses so she let the firemen know that there was a boat close to the fire with gas in the tank. So, in addition to spraying water on the house, they also sprayed her side of the house/boat to keep the flames from spreading. Luckily, the ground was a bit damp so it helped to keep any embers from spreading the fire. Although it seemed like forever, they extinguished the fire within minutes. I was SUPER impressed by the efficiency and professionalism of Rockledge's fire and police departments! They made sure everyone was safe and stayed calm.

I have to say that my fire experience is pretty much limited to camp fires and fireplaces. It is the first time I have witnessed the power of flames that destroy. My heart goes out to my neighbors who lost just about everything. Witnessing this event has been really humbling . . . thinking about how your belongings can be gone in a little more than an instant. This morning I am so thankful for my family and all that I have. I realized how blessed I am to have so many earthly possessions but also realize EVEN MORE that the intangibles in my life are what truly bless me. My family, my faith, and my God can never be taken by fire or any other means.
In the pics below, you can see how devastating the fire was -- even the 2x4 frames were charred and destroyed. It is a complete loss . . . what wasn't burnt to a crisp was ruined from smoke. Again, I am so glad that everyone got out safely.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Floating, Roasting and Freezing!

It's spring break here so we took a short camping trip to Ichetucknee Springs! It's located about 30 miles northwest of Gainesville. We went with the Lund family and Ben & Joey Waters came as well. It was beautiful! The weather was originally supposed to be perfect but at the last minute the forecast changed! Although there was plenty of sunshine, the sun was deceiving! Both nights, the temperature was in the 40s and we froze our buns off! During the day on Monday and Wednesday , it was in the 70s and perfect, but on Tuesday, the wind was blowing 20-30 mph and we literally huddled around our fire ring most of the day! I took tons of pictures but have only posted the highlights. I have tried my first crack at a Smilebox Slideshow so, if I did it right, you can browse all the photos.

Our campsite was beautiful! There were lots of trees and we had sunshine and shade! At night, we were surrounded by fireflies! Other than the freezing night temperatures, it was a wonderful experience!

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: Ichetucknee springs
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Gaming was in full swing with Risk and Be Serious!

The campfire tradition of marshmallow roasting!
This one's a bit too done!
We don't just roast marshmallows, we roast Peeps!
When smoke gets in your eyes, improvise!
Fire is fun!
Here are the headsprings of the Ichetucknee - it is like a big swimming hole. Not everyone was willing to get in the first day! A bit chilly!
Amateur snorkelers!
Hanging out at the Headsprings!
This is what happens when you think there is a bug on you!
We FINALLY got to go tubing on Wednesday! The first picture is NOT of us because we didn't have a waterproof camera to take down the river - it is just an image I found on the internet. But I wanted to give just a glimpse of one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen! And the pic shows exactly what we looked like! The scenery is amazing! The water is crystal clear so you can see turtles and fish swimming below. We even had a manatee swim right by us! The water is 72 degrees year round, so even tho' it was chilly - because the air temperature and the water temperature were so close, we weren't uncomfortable and the water even felt warm when you were in the sun! Tubing down the Ichetucknee should be on everyone's bucket list!

Miranda took this picture! Aren't these wildflowers beautiful! They were growing along the sides of the road so we stopped to pick some and brought them back to camp.