Saturday, April 30, 2011

Celebrating our 15th Anniversary

Wednesday, April 27th, was mine and Dave's 15th wedding anniversary.  Wow!  I can't believe we have been married for 15 years.  When I look back at pictures from 15 years ago, we look so young compared to how we look now.  We've both gained a few pounds, I'm finding more and more gray hair every day, not to mention the wrinkles and lines on our faces (more me than Dave).  But would I go back to that young couple in those pictures?  No, I would not.  Life was great then, and we loved each other!  But 15 years later, we have come so far.  We've had good times and bad times, fun and easy times and some of the hardest of times, but it has made us who we are today (wrinkles and all) and because of all of that, our love for each other is stronger than ever before.  We have two gorgeous children that we didn't have 15 years ago and now we also have a love and friendship built on strength, adversity and faith.  I love you David Williams!  I love you more today than I did 15 years ago and here's to celebrating 30 years of marriage in 15 more years, then 45 and even 60!

How did we celebrate?  Well, first of all I have been saying for awhile now that I wanted a new wedding band or a wrap or something to go with my diamond ring.  Afterall, 15 years is a pretty big anniversary!  We stopped in Bradleys Jewelers one day and had a look and found the perfect setting for my diamond.  It's a beautiful milgrain edged bridal set.  The wedding band consists of twelve round cut diamonds, and the engagement ring has ten round diamonds, 5 on each side of my original diamond.  I tried on several different sets, narrowing it down to three and then choosing this one which Grace had originally picked out.  She's got good taste.  We figured that it would take some time to have mine reset but it would actually be ready in 3 days!  Dave didn't want to pick it up that soon because our anniversary wasn't for another month.  Then one day he decided for us to go ahead and pick it up, but unbeknownst to me at the time, he wasn't going to give it to me then.  He was still going to make me wait for our anniversary!  So for about three weeks I had this small, beautifully wrapped black and silver box sitting on top of my jewelry box just waiting for me to open it and slip on my finger.  

And now, finally the time had arrived.  He actually gave it to me two days early, when we got back from our trip to VA.  My parents were arriving late that night for Spring break and he wanted me to be able to show it to my mom.  Isn't it gorgeous?  I absolutely adore it!!!!!

Since my parents were here aand it was our 15th Anniverary, we had to take advantage so I booked a room at a Bed and Breakfast in Wilmington and made reservations at the Riverboat Landing Restaurant.  We were hoping to leave early yesterday afternoon but Dave wasn't able to get off work as early as he wanted.  We drove down to Wilmington late yesterday afternoon and went directly to the C.W. Worth House which was gorgeous!  I had booked us in the Azalea Suite which was a room on the 2nd floor in the turet!  We had a gorgeous room with a private sitting room and private bath with claw foot tub!

After freshening up and relaxing for a few minutes, we walked down to the riverfront where we had dinner reservations at the Riverboat Landing Restaurant.  

A taste for every palate can be found on a menu that can best be described as Southern regional with French, Mediterranean and Asian influences. Add to this professional service from a friendly and knowledgeable staff, a comfortable and intimate dining atmosphere and a comprehensive, international wine list, and you have the recipe for the complete dining experience.  

The neat thing about this restaruant are the 8 private balconies they have and of course, we wanted one of those!  We had to wait for a few minutes before our balcony was ready so we enjoyed a glass of wine at the bar along with some fabulous crab dip.  For dinner, we had an awesome waiter that had just recently moved up from the kitchen.  He was funny, honest and he aimed to please!  Dave had Cioppino, San Francisco style, a tomato based stew with white wine, garlic,herbs & a medley of fresh seafood - mussels, clams, shrimp & salmon –served over linguine pasta.  I had the Arroz con Mariscos “Portuguese paella” - seafood & rice with aromatic vegetables, fresh tomato,roasted corn, shrimp, clams, salmon, scallops & flounder.  Both were absolutely delicious!!!  For desert we enjoyed an Espresso Creme Brulee on the house because it was our anniversary.  What a great night!  After dinner we walked around downtown a little and enjoyed the sites on our walk back to our B & B.

This morning we woke up to a delicious breakfast of fresh fruit, muffins, strawberry juice, coffee, baked strawberry french toast and bacon. Mmmmmm......

Here are some shots of the downstairs of the Worth House.  Love all these old cameras on display!

The backyard was filled with beautiful lush green gardens with a foutain, chairs and hammock.  Too bad we didn't have time to enjoy it!

Once we checked out, we decided to just walk around and enjoy the day together, afterall there was no rush to get home.  The kids were in good hands with their Nana and Paw!  We loved looking at all the historic homes.

This was one of the most beautiful homes that I've ever seen, the Captain John Harper House!
Where we ate dinner last night.

We took this picture for Zachary becuase of his love for cars!

While walking around, we came across a print of the Riverboat Landing Restaurant and we thought what a great keepsake it would be.  When we purchased it, we were told the artist was down the street at the Farmer's Market and he would sign it for us.  We made our way to where he was just closing up shop and we chatted with him for a few minutes and he signed and dated the print for us.  After walking and shopping a little more, we stopped in at The George and had another delicious relaxing meal of crabcake sandwiches out back on their veranda.  We had some great food this weekend!  By this time we were tired and full and decided it was time to head back to the car for the drive back to Jacksonville and reality.  What a wonderful night/day it was though.  Thank you Dave for a very special anniversary. Thank you Mom and Dad for keeping the kids for us so we could go and enjoy ourselves for a night away!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

National Museum of the Marine Corps

After Easter baskets and our egg hunt, we drove just a couple of miles down the road to the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Quantico.  We've passed by it and have seen it from the road on all or trips to DC but have never taken the time to stop.  I'm so glad that Dave planned for us to go here today.  It was fabulous!  It is one of the most well done museums that I've ever bee to.  If you have never been, you definitely need to whether you are affiliated with the Marine Corps or not.  But if you are affiliated to the Marine Corps, this is a MUST SEE!

Dedicated on 10 November 2006, on the 231st birthday of the Marine Corps, the National Museum of the Marine Corps invites visitors to walk in the footsteps of Marines: from the sands of Iwo Jima, through the snow of Chosin Reservoir, and on Hill 881 South.  The Museum is not about heroes and giants.  It's about every single Marine doing his or her job as part of a larger unit.  They are all heroes in my eyes.

When you walk up you see the building and the top of the structure that you can see from the interstate.  The Museum's design is evocative of the World War II flag-raising scene on Iwo Jima.

When you enter the Museum, you enter a central gallery called the Leatherneck Gallery.  "Leatherneck" is a nickname give to Marines during the 19th century when they wore leather stocks on their necks.  While the constrictive neckwear is gone, the image of bearing and resolve remains.  This central gallery evokes bearing and resolve, but also permanence and innovation.  The artifacts, vignettes, testimonials and images in this space honor the contributions of every Marine and highlight core messages of the museum, to include innovation and advances in technology.  Suspended overhead are famous aircraft flown b Marines:  a "Jenny" biplane, two Corsairs, and a Harrier "jump jet."  On the ground, a Sikorsky helicopter disembarks Marines onto a Korean War position, and an amphibious tractor abuts a log wall at Tarawa.  On the travertine marble walls, 8 large portraits of Marines and 10 famous quotes beckon the visitor to contemplate and explore.

Next we were able to follow recruits through boot camp, from the recruiting station and bus ride, from the first buzz cut to graduation in the Making Marines Gallery.  Visitors are able to listen to the thoughts of wary recruits during that first bus ride to the training depot, stand on the famous yellow footprints and visit the barbershop where "it all gets taken away."  You can get up and close and personal with your very own "DI", lift a pack, do pull-ups and qualify on the M-16 laser rifle range.  We let Grace and Zachary test their skills with the M-16 and they both did great!  Grace scored a 92% and got her name written on the board where it stayed all day long as the high scorer!  Check out their targets in the picture below.

Along "Legacy Walk" visitors get a quick introduction to Marine Corps history.  Colonial Marines are perched high atop a ship on the "fighting tops," ready to defend and protect.

"Every Marine a Rifleman" is the theme captured for the period 914-1918, but a U.S. Marine locked in hand-to-hand combat with a German soldier reminds visitors that war can be intensely personal.
Marines in World War I
World War I dwarfed in size and horror any previous overseas war fought by the United States.  By the time the first American forces - including a brigade of Marines - arrived in France, their British and French allies were exhausted from three years of grinding warfare against the Germans.  The Marine brigade-two infantry regiments and a machine gun battalion- served alongside an Army brigade in the 2d Division, which entered action on June 1918 to stop a major German breakthrough aiming for Paris.  The Marines fought the Germans at Belleau Wood, a three-week battle that eclipsed in its first bloody day all the casualties the Marines had sustained in their first 143 years of existence.  Hearing rumors after the battle that German soldiers referred to them as "teufelhunden" because of their battlefield prowess, Marines adopted "Devil Dogs" as a proud nickname.  

I was not able to get very many good pictures in this exhibit but it was truly amazing.  The technology used allowed you to see the battle happening right before your very eyes and then you were sitting right in the middle of it.  

Uncommon Valor: Marines in World War II
"Uncommon Valor" recalls hard-fought battles against a formidable opponent in the Pacific.  The Marines entered World War II as a small expeditionary force with an unproven new mission - amphibious assault - and old equipment more suited for the jungles of the earlier "Banana Wars".    But the Marines' early losses turn into later victories.  These gripping stories are told with the help of tanks, artillery pieces, fighter aircraft, small arms and the everyday "junk on a bunk" that belonged to the individual Marine.  Receive your briefing before boarding a Higgins Boat to land on the beach at Iwo Jima.  The Corps' most important icon is in this gallery: the flag raised on Mt. Suribachi.

6,000 small eagle, globe, and anchor insignias and U.S. Navy insignias represent the cost in human lives to take that one island.  This gallery honors the sacrifices and accomplishments of America's "Greatest Generation".
Normal Rockwell (1894-1978)
The War Hero (Homecoming Marine)
Saturday Evening Post Cover
October 13, 1945

At this  point the kids were tired and hungry so we made our way upstairs to the 2nd deck where we could eat in the Mess Hall or Tun Tavern.  We chose Tun Tavern, a small replica of Tun Tavern in Philadelphia where it all began.  "The Legend" is that on 10 November 1775, the Second Continental Congress resolved that two battalions of Marines be raised.  The Continental Marines were born that day. According to legend, Captain Samuel Nicholas set up shop in Philadelphia's Tun Tavern and began recruiting.  The rest is history.  On 11 July 1798, an act of Congress created The United States Marine Corps.  Great atmosphere and great food!

Send in the Marines: The Korean War

The "forgotten war, " fought by thousands of Americans over 50 years ago against a determined enemy, is recalled in this gallery.  The innovative use of helicopters to supports the war is demonstrated by the presence of a looming Sikorsky aircraft, but it is General MacArthur's strategic end run to attach the enemy rear at Inchon that is the first major scene.  The floor shakes as you ride up to the sea wall with the Marines.  A Pershing tank is discovered fighting in war-torn streets of Seoul.  On Toktong Pass in the Chosin Reservoir, you encounter Marines who are cold, tired and short of ammunition and you experience the frigid coldness of the Chosin Reservoir.  

And last but not least is In the Air, on Lane and Sea: The War in Vietnam.  It was a long conflict, fought in hamlets, cities, jungles and rice paddies.  To the sounds of a pilot talking to a marine on the ground, visitors embark on a trip by CH-46 helicopter to Hill 881 South at Khe Sanh - a hot landing zone.  Small arms fire hits the helicopter  and the crew chief instructs everyone to get out quickly.  Rotor wash blows on the passengers' necks as you enter the hot landing zone.  The space is warm; the sounds of war are all around.  A wounded Marine makes his way toward the helicopter; another Marine lies dead in the austere and dangerous scene.

This was by far one of the best museums that I've ever been to and it was so moving!  From the very beginning when you watch a short film of veterans of all ages talking about what it is like to be a Marine and "Once a Maine...Always a Marine" through all the galleries, there were several times that I was moved to tears.  

Of course, what is a visit to a museum without a visit to the gift shop and this one had a little bit of everything...related to the Marine Corps that is.  In the center of the gift shop is this AWESOME figure made out of Legos of the flag raising at Iwo Jima.  Wow!

We stayed right up until it closed and when we left we walked around to the side where there was a path that led to the chapel and a couple of monuments.

Lieutenant General John Archer Lejeune
The Osprey Memorial - were were living here at Lejeune when this happened in 2000.
Iron Mike