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Our Last Day in DC

Today we mailed the remainder of our quilts back home and then headed to see The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. There is no doubt it is the largest Catholic Church in North America. Everything was done in mosaic tiles, little tiny tiles, so beautiful. You get a crooked neck from looking up at the Murals on top of all the domes. It took quite a while to see it all.

We then went to the Vietnam Wall so Flo could pay her respects to Johnny O Brooks. While we were there, we met an Army Bugler so I had to stop and talk to him. Jeffery was part of Pershing’s Own Army Band stationed at Ft. Myer. He has been in the Army 7 years and he was waiting to play taps for an Honor Flight coming to the Vietnam Wall. We both discussed how it is never easy to play no matter how good you are.

We decided to head to Old Town for our annual Pop’s Ice Cream. We were on our way there and Flo is reading the GPS. We were trying to get to the George Washington Parkway and boom, there it is three lanes over and if you miss it there, you end up going in circles. I said, “Look out”, and did a crossover but we made it. Flo turned white and I proceeded to tell her that was the second time. I did it once with Debbie and crew and Flo says real quiet, “I bet they wet their pants. I almost did.” We did do a big U-turn but now my U-turns are calm Flo said.

We got to Pop’s and had our ice cream then sat by the river in the shade as its 90 degrees today. We are having dinner in and getting ready to come home. Just check out the dinner Jeanine made. We will end with Blueberry Buckle and Peach Cobbler for tonight.

We had a great trip and we are headed home tomorrow.

God’s Blessings
Gail

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Family Day and Rest

Today we took it easy. Guess you need days like that. We ran to the store, our big adventure of the day. Jeanine made a big family dinner and for dessert we had Blueberry Buckle and Peach Cobbler. You might say we get spoiled when we come here. We did get to spend special time with Jeanine and Carl and their daughter and grandkids. Tomorrow we will do our last minute site seeing and go to the Wall for Flo. Tuesday we fly home; Wednesday we have Sew Day; and Saturday the Sonora Quilt Show so it will be a busy week.

God’s Blessings,
Gail

Back Roads of Virginia

We were off today to see the 43rd Annual Gas and Engine Pasture Party in Somerset, Virginia. Getting there I think we hit every backroad out of DC. Then, boom, there in the middle of the pasture was all kinds of old and new tractors, old Steam Engines, old cars, classic cars, lawn tractors with all kinds of seats and gizmos on them and everybody driving them all over the pasture. They had a flea market, a tractor pull, country music and homemade ice cream made by a 1923 John Deere engine.

We watched a steam engine, made in 1929 and stoked with firewood, run a rig that crushed rock and made cement. We watched my veteran sister, Annemarie, make a dinner bell in the Blacksmith Shop.

You know I always have a “Flo story.” She was watching at the Blacksmith shop when one of the guys signaled for her to come over. She went to see what he wanted and he gave her a tiny horseshoe he had made. He told her it would give her luck for a year and then he kissed her hand and told her to come back next year for another one. Flo did it again – another boyfriend.

We watched the tractor pulls and of course I was pulling for the John Deere. It was amazing! They have a weight hung behind their tractor and drag and pull a big tractor until their tires spin. We had a great day and enjoyed our time with new friends.

On our way home we stopped at the biggest Ice Cream Shop I have ever seen. The candy aisles were huge. We didn’t buy anything but custard pudding. One day I am coming back there.

Our last stop for the day was honoring an Army veteran with a Quilt. Julie was totally surprised. She told us it was giving her chills down her arm looking at it. As we left she told us we really got her.

What a day. Flo gets a boyfriend, I was a happy camper seeing the tractors, and we gave a Quilt. When we got back home Jeanine fixed a great dinner – life is good.

Stay tuned . . . . . . . . . .

God’s Blessing
Gail

We began our day being lazy but Flo wasn’t leaving for California without going to the 5 and Dime store so we went and I told her she could have as long as she needed. Guess what, she didn’t buy anything. Normally I give her 15 minutes so maybe I’ll try doing this again. We decided to drive to Quantico early as DC traffic is a bear. We stopped at the Lazy Pig BBQ – I think the name tells you what kind of place it was. We drove to the Potomac Mills Outlets where there are 190 stores. We could have spent all day there.

We ended up arriving early at the Marine Museum so we went to the Marine Chapel. I had always heard it was really beautiful and it was. They had monuments all around in beautiful settings among the trees with benches you could sit and ponder. We didn’t have time for that but it sure was beautiful.

We met Melissa, our Quilts of Honor East contact, and Marsan, her sister who lives in Acampo, CA. They were helping us provide quilts and learning about military reunions. Melissa had this fancy dolly and we piled all our stuff on it and off we went. We all jumped in, got letters attached, cards made, and were all set up. We then changed and even had some time to visit before they found us hiding in the closed tavern.

We sat at a great table with Jerry, our contact, his wife and their close friend, a widow whose husband had been in their unit and another couple who lived in Spotsylvania, VA – kinda scary name for a town. We were sitting there when a server brought us this cute looking sandwich. I thought it was grilled cheese. It was about the size of a 50 cent piece. I bit into it and, oh Lordy, did it taste awful. You just gotta watch that fancy food. We did have a good dinner – a big beautiful steak. There were a lot of military procedures before they said we would like to honor a couple of groups and I heard my name called up to the podium. They gave Quilts of Honor a $500 donation and then the Master of Ceremonies said, “You’re on” and that I could have 5 minutes.

Now, most of you know I can’t give that short of a speech but I did and I made them laugh and cry. I then presented a Quilt to a double amputee with 3 Purple Hearts. He told me how awesome the Quilt was and he loved the Purple Heart Flo had embroidered on the quilt. Then the General spoke and when he finished, I presented him with a Quilt. His face, when he looked at it, was amazing.

We finally got through dinner and the guys were told they were to receive Quilts and to please come to the table. It was pretty crazy. We had the Quilts in alphabetical order but 48 quilts is tough to look through. Melissa and Marsan were great helpers – they jumped right in. We had to take labels off and make new ones as some of the guys weren’t on the list but everyone hung in there and we made it work just like we always do.

We were the last to leave the building and we closed down the Museum. Flo, Melissa and Marsan were a great crew. Quilts of Honor East provided about 35 of the Quilts for this reunion. A special thank you to Angie for her work and prayers for her husband, Dave. We all received a Challenge Coin from the Marine Unit, too, so all in all, it was a great night for Friday the 13th.

We are still here for a few more days so stay tuned . . . . . . . . . . . .

God’s Blessings,
Gail

Our Two Sentinels, Our Captain Chauffeur, Carl and Jeanine, Gail and Flo

Today was another one for the books. Thank you Catherine for setting up tours for us. We got introduced to Carla, our Point of Contact, and who became our tour guide. What a blessing Carla was. She arrived to pick us up with a Captain driving a van. He was in the United States Army and had been deployed with 10th Mountain before coming to the 3rd Guard. I kept saying that I couldn’t believe we were being chauffeured by a Captain in the United States Army.

Our first tour was to watch the Sentinels and Changing of the Guard. They let us go where the Press get to stand – boy were we close. It was hot, really hot, 90 something so we stayed in the shade. It was exciting to be so close. After The Changing of the Guard, we got to go down under the tomb. Our Sentinel explained so many different, interesting things and what each thing meant. The height requirements for Sentinels starts at 5’ 10”. Each Sentinel receives a wooden flag and on the back they write how many walks they have made. Our Sentinel had 400 walks and that’s a lot. He had been assigned for 20 months. They work 26 hours on; 30 minutes is their walk in summer and one hour walk in the winter. We then got to go downstairs and through the door to meet the Sentinels in their Guard room. There must have been 7 of them. They all stood up and shook our hands. Carla told them we were Quilts of Honor and the guys said, “Where’s our quilts?” All were nice guys. One was practicing in front of a mirror to see if he had the right stance. During the night they wear their fatigues and can walk the perimeter. They let us hold their night rifle. Think how we felt holding that gun that walked so many walks. We were very honored to be able to have the opportunity to meet these heroes.

Next we got a riding tour of the houses and who lives at Fort Myer. Our last tour was the stables with the Caissons. Of course I was like a little kid – couldn’t wait to pet the horses. We were introduced to Specialist Nelson who gave us a tour and explained how they polished and dyed the saddles. Their mornings start at 4:30am and they wash the horses for one hour. We were standing in the stables when in comes the horses for the evening with their riders. It was an awesome sight. The Caissons were right behind them. You will see a picture of a star on the side of the Caisson – it was so shinny. Our last stop was SGT York, the horse that carried President Reagan. SGT York is 29 years old and will retire and be buried at Fort Myer.

We finally ended our afternoon surprising Carla, our Guide. She is a veteran of the US Army and served 9 years but I’ll tell you this, she knows everything about the Sentinels and the Old Guard. We were blessed to have her guide us – we felt like celebrities.

We started home and ended up stopping for Mexican food with Flan for dessert. Tomorrow I am sure will bring more adventures so stay tuned . . . . . . . . .

God Bless
Gail

Fort Belvoir/Alexandria

We are back again and this time we have many missions. Today was our first day and we gave out a Quilt before lunch. We traveled to Fort Belvoir to award a Quilt to Dr. Greene, an Air Force veteran for twelve years and is now working with patients with PTSD.

We met AnneMarie and Tiffany and surprised Dr. Greene with her Quilt. You could see the emotions in her face and she kept thanking us. It is so awesome to award these Quilts to female veterans especially those who have given so much and help veterans every day and never get thanked. We spent some time having coffee and chatting before it was time for Flo to hit the Fort Belvoir Post Exchange, one of the biggest in the United States.

After we left Fort Belvoir, we headed to Mt. Vernon’s gift shop for our annual Christmas ornament shopping. It was 93 here today until we had Boomers and Bangers. We did hit our favorite bakery before heading back to “our mansion” away from home – Carl and Jeanine’s house. We enjoyed an evening on the porch watching the thunder and lightning. We were all sitting there when thunder hit and if you ask Flo, it hit under her chair. She jumped a mile and told Jeanine, “I think we can watch from inside.” We all laughed on that one. Jeanine made a great meal and the picture is for our crew that we are missing – they all love Jeanine’s cooking.

Tomorrow we are heading to Arlington so we should really have some stories. We have two tours scheduled at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Stay tuned for more . . . . . . . . . . . .

God’s Blessings
Gail

Homeward Bound

Our time has come to an end with Quilted Hugs of Gratitude in Brainerd, Minnesota. Flo, Rue and I can’t thank Marcia and Sue enough for the great hospitality. They went out of their way, I think they would say the Minnesota Way, to show us around and make us comfortable. It was a short trip but we all learned from each other. They have their group so organized but I knew it would be that way knowing Marcia.

The ladies that help sew for our veterans have stuck with it since 2005, just like us. That is dedication. I am proud that they can be a part of our family. The quilts they made were beautiful and you could tell they took pride in honoring our veterans.

We enjoyed seeing all the sites and hope one day to come back. We drove back to Minneapolis but stopped at Gruber’s Quilt Shop as they are a drop-off point for Quilts of Honor. I introduced myself to the owner and she said good things about Quilts of Honor. I will say this, I have seen a ton of quilt shops through the years but this is the largest I have ever seen. The fabric went for days. They had their own café and quilt retreat, and a group of ladies were eating lunch and playing cards. Flo got more fabric but didn’t get her Minnesota fabric. We made a slight detour to the Outlet Mall but we were back on the road in short time. I never knew the Mississippi River was in Minnesota. We must have crossed it 15 times, and all the lakes! I would say, “Look Flo, water again.”

We are now in the plane heading home. Rue is at my feet – she has been so good. See you all soon.

God’s blessings,
Gail