Friday, March 13, 2015

Love Passing Through

Is it time to go, yet?
We worked today but left early because our youngest was on her back from military duties far away. She serves our country in places and ways we can't speak of, and like three of her sisters, has given many years to full time National Guard service. All five daughters are amazing, bold ladies and world travelers, four in the military, one in academia. 

I'm ready to go.
Yes, she's brave, adventuresome and independent, a capable soldier in all kinds of situations, what modern folks would call a "kick butt woman"... but she's still our baby. And we haven't seen our baby in a long while, so we were holding our breath until time to close up shop and head for Jacksonville Naval Air Station where Crystal's plane would land.

Our GPS took us right to the base and they have a convenient lot for folks awaiting incoming planes or meeting military personnel. We didn't have to wait very long.
Our beautiful Crystal back on American soil!
We won't have long to enjoy time with Crystal. She is only on leave and must return to her post in just eight days, so her stop here is just that, a layover on her way home to her hubby and children.
Father and daughter, so happy together! 
It seemed we never stopped smiling, even during our meal...
Crystal looks so good, so healthy and happy.
So we only had a few hours to have a nice dinner together and talk of happenings old and new. So many things we take for granted. For example, the ability to practice our faith. Where Crystal is, there are only a handful of Jews and keeping G-d's dietary laws is difficult. It is also a problem celebrating the Feasts and holidays such as Passover, Shavuot, Purim, etc. 

Crystal has been working hard within the military structure there and through chain of command to provide religious needs for all manner of Jews. She has rallied the Jews, who often shun Messianic Jews, so this is a real breakthrough. She was able to arrange a Hanukkah and a Purim observance and is trying to get a Rabbi for Pasach (Passover). So proud of her.
Crystal's meal

She could not discuss the details of her living situation other than to say it was primitive and to talk about the food and how she was able to reasonably keep Kosher. She was SO HAPPY to eat her meal here... a nice, but not gourmet repast, but to her, it was heaven! Only Richard could eat his whole meal, but that's what "doggie bags" are for.
I'm standing on the curb and Crystal in the gutter.
All to soon, it was time to drop Crystal off at the commercial airport for the rest of her journey home. She'll travel back this way again at the end of her leave as she resumes her duties of protecting our freedoms.
We sure love this girl!
Is it proper for parents to brag? Who cares, we're so blessed to have this loving, honorable, wonderful, wholesome, happy and capable woman as our daughter, we just can't help but talk about it. Come to think about it, we feel that way about all our kids... bet you feel the same about yours.
So long, Crystal, See ya on the backstroke.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Olustee Depot. Really?

Richard and I have been train fans for years, so when the Osceola National Forest made plans to reopen a historic railroad depot, we talked with them about changing our volunteer status from camp hosts at Ocean Pond Campground, where we were slated to be until May, to hosts of the Olustee Beach Day Use Area, the Landing Group Campground and the Olustee Depot Visitors Center. After some adjustments to accommodate our faith, the transfer was set and we moved over to Olustee Beach.
I am happy with the move and love the Polaris!
The idea that we would ever get such a perfect assignment really never crossed my mind. We would take care of the Depot and the group camping facility and fill in for another host two days a week taking care of the boat ramp and other day use facilities.
The boat ramp is open and used 24-hours a day!
That's what was intended and that's how it started a month ago, but then the other host had a family medical issue arrive and had to leave, so... 
The Depot, Really!
We operate the Depot three days a week and the day use area is open every day. It includes a 24-hour boat ramp, improved swimming beach, playground, outdoor game area, covered picnic facilities... you name it. Very well appointed with rest rooms and hot showers, it is a popular recreation area. We open up each morning and lock up the day use area each night. So we truly live in a gated community!

The Beach is being readied for warm weather use.
It is peaceful here and quiet at night. There is a fair amount of use in the daytime and we hear that really picks up as the weather warms and summer approaches. Water facilities always attract fun loving folks. We hope another volunteer is brought in before things get really crazy, though. We've agreed to stay until October.
Home Sweet Home... for a while.
So, we have a private paradise and get to operate a depot... how amazing is that? Lots of work, though. But then, we are volunteers, and that's what we came for. Soon as we get caught up, we'll set up our screen tent, oh, and try to get around to posting some blogs looking back at some of our other wonderful domiciles.
Meanwhile, Richard and I are having a blast!