Sunday, November 22, 2015

Scary Accident

Normally coming west from Europe or the Middle East is an easier adjustment for me than going east to those areas.  I seem to be able to sleep better at the right times much quicker and feel rested much sooner.

John and Renee live in Rockford...

So, when I found out Jim and Denise were going to be in Rockford for dinner with Connie, John, and Renee, I wanted to be there, too.  Andy had another commitment, so I drove down on Monday  afternoon. 

Jim and Denise live in Hernando, Florida..

Connie also lives in Rockford...  Jan was not there - she lives in Payson, Arizona.

Jacquelyn (John's daughter), husband Jeff, and daughter Jorja were there as well.

We had a nice dinner at Capri on State Street. Tasty pizza, just like back in the 60's!!  It was fun to catch up, share stories, and reconnect.  It doesn't happen often enough.

We were back at Connie's by 7:30 and it wasn't raining...I could be home by 9:00. I felt good and wide awake - I had a Coke on purpose at dinner.

All went well and I was staying awake no problem.  I was on divided highway 26 just south of 94 by Johnson Creek.  

I came over an overpass and was on a straight section with a wide open median between the north and south lanes.  Traffic was light.  God was watching over me.

You know how you sometimes doze off for 2 seconds and your head jerks you awake.  That happened and suddenly I woke up going 65  in the median filled with high weeds, rocks, and very uneven ground.

I had crossed from the right lane over the left lane into the median.  All I said (as far as I can remember) was, Oh, Lord!

I have no idea how I got the car under control or stopped.  I know I swerved a couple of times.  Suddenly I found myself by the side of the road in the left lane.  I sat there for a minute shaking, yet knowing that Angels had to have been there. With all the bouncing around in the car, the flashing warning lights came on automatically.

No one was around.  I decided I should get in the far right lane farther off the road.  As I crossed over I realized at least one tire was flat.  I got out and checked them all.  One was flat.  I didn't see any other damage to the car.

I called Andy and then contacted the roadside service USAA provides.  It would take an hour for them to get to me.  Cars went flying by me regularly.  No one stopped.  In a way I was a way I thot it was sad.  No one cared enough to stop.

In the end Andy borrowed our neighbor's car and got to me first.  He started changing the tire, and before long the truck arrived.  They checked the car over and finished with the tire.  In the end the tire was not flat....somehow it came off the rim.  The next morning Andy was able to put it back on.

I had to drive the car home slowly with the small spare tire.  Andy followed me.  It seemed to take forever.

I was so relieved and so convinced that God had taken care of me - I was able to sleep pretty well.  I have relived the event several times, but it still is not clear to me how I got the car under control and and stopped.  

I could have been on the overpass...there could have been barriers on the side of the road...someone could have passed me as I went into the left lane...there could have been fences or poles in the median...  So much could have happened.  It could have ended very badly for me.

What does God have in mind for me?  Why did He choose to spare me?  What do I need to learn from this terrifying incident?  

May I have ears to hear, eyes to see, and a heart willing to understand His purposes.

Dubai International Airport

Dubai is now the busiest international airport in the world.  There are three terminals.  Emirates has it's own - it is now the biggest airline in the world. 

We flew in and out of Terminal 1.  It has a very nice shopping area and a few eating spots.  

You can shop til you drop...

And then sleep if you like in a snooze cube.  Sounds a bit creepy to me...

We got to the airport early.  Our flight left at 12:45 am (middle of the night Sunday).  

You go through about three baggage screenings - including one in the waiting area just before boarding.  Our flight to DC was pretty much full.  

There were strong headwinds so the flight was about 15 hours long.

From what I could see on the map and out the window we flew northwest over Bahrain and then clear across Saudi Arabia, the Red Sea and the Nile River.  In Egypt we seemed to go northeast to the Mediterranean Sea, passing Turkey, Greece and Italy.

I was watching movies, the map, and the terrain out the window - and dozing a bit along the way.  

Eventually we went over southern France and England before we got to the Atlantic.  It felt like we were searching for the path of least resistance.  Fortunately it was not a rough or bumpy flight.  7,100 miles...

I watched most of five movies - Cinderella, Into the Woods, Everlasting Tuck, Mission Impossible Rough Nation, and Days of Sumner.  Only got up twice. It was a quiet crowd.  We ate twice with a couple of light snacks.

This is a city in Saudi.  There were huge dark area in the desert.  I could make out the Red Sea and the Nile River.

This was along the Nile River.

We had a quick turnaround in DC and a longer time in Chicago.  Had a tasty breakfast at Wolfgang Puck before the short flight into Milwaukee.  Our friend Ned was there to pick us up and take us home.  So grateful for safety and smooth connections.  

It's nice to be back in the USA - and sleeping in our own bed!  Grateful for a very worthwhile time in Dubai.  We learn so much and meet so many incredible new friends.  Would highly recommend such opportunities!  Life changing for sure.  Also great reminders of our own freedoms and opportunities in the west.

Let's talk soon!  There's so much more to share!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

So long, farewell...

Our last day in Dubai is coming to an end.  We spent the day washing linens, packing, cleaning and saying goodbyes.  

It was a beautiful day with blue skies and fluffy clouds...a bit unusual for this part of the world.

We had pizza for supper tonight - only time in 10 weeks.

Our flight leaves at 0040 on Sunday and gets into Milwaukee at 1218 on Sunday.  Hope to see you soon!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Dragon Mart

After lunch I ventured out to walk around Dragon Mart -  long and narrow, winding like a dragon tail...probably 3-4 blocks long.  ALL the products sold are from China - from jewelry to furniture, clothing to tools, custom curtains to silk flowers, lighting to flooring, toys to souvenirs -- and everything in between.

They were working on the huge dragon out front.  It's surrounded by a huge pool if I remember correctly from last year.

There are dozens and dozens of little store fronts next to each other as well as kiosks down the middle of the walkway.  Aisles twist and turn off both sides of the main walkway.  You could get lost in there for hours!  I walked for a couple of hours just looking, watching people, getting in about 2 1/2 miles walking from end to end...

Dubai Butterfly Garden

This morning we ventured out with friends to visit the Dubai Butterfly Garden.  It was great fun and oh so pretty.

This is what welcomes you as you enter the garden!

There are many different varieties of butterflies in the three large areas of the beautifully decorated gardens...all indoors so the can be enjoyed year round  -- even in the rain!

Hundreds of live merigolds were incorporated into the gardens in unusual ways to attract the butterflies.

There was a young man who would spray your arms with a scent that attracts the butterflies.

As you enter and leave you can enjoy a large lobby area decorated with artwork all created with real butterfly wings.  I've never seen such a collection.  Thousands of hours and incredible creativity invested in the display.

The pictures do not adequately capture the beauty, color and intricate designs in the artwork.

Was a great morning...

The Rain in Dubai

We indeed got rain today...  It rained at different times in various parts of the city. It can be quite a problem if it rains for very long.  There are not sewer systems to carry the water away.  It can take a while for it to soak into the ground.  Flash floods are common.

I am told that often they send kids home from school if a large storm is brewing.

The roads can be dangerous as they become slippery...

Large electronic signs on the highways warn you to watch for 'water ponds' on the road.

We had water 1-2 inches deep collect in low spots on the compound.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

So long, farewell...

Went out for lunch with a few dear friends today.  Great fun, meaningful conversation, wonderful food!

Would recommend this Lebanese restaurant in Uptown Mirdif!

Made my last trip to the grocery store this morning.  Was kind of sad - I'm just feeling like I know where everything is in the store!  And I'm finally used to having all the fruits and vegetables weighed before going to check out.  

I got out the suitcase and started packing  today.  Don't feel a need to carry clean clothes - will wash and pack them away for the winter when we get home.

There is wind and rain in the forecast during the night.  Wonder if we will hear it...not feeling like getting up at 3:00 am to see it!

Looks like it will be in the mid 50's when we get home on Sunday.  I have a light jacket with me but will be in summer clothes and sandals. 

Going to read a bit and hopefully sleep well tonight...

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Ready for bed at 7:30...

Preparing for a gathering next week...on my feet all day cooking and baking...yesterday and today.  So, I'm toes up and ready for bed.

BTW -- last weekend there was some kind of Candy Crush event at the City Center Mall.  Any fans out there?

I went to a local mall today to get some food items not available at City Center.  The wind was blowing and sand was swirling on the roads.

Here is the larger than life entrance to the Ethad Mall...with the country's leaders honored.

Tomorrow our friends hosting us are having a farewell luncheon for us.  Don't know the details yet but looking forward to it!  We love the Middle Eastern food so we will enjoy almost anything.  

Earlier today I felt like a toothache was in the making.  Now I don't feel it.  Sure hope it was a false alarm!

All for now.  It's jammy time!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Global Village

It was quiet around the house Sunday night so Melony took me to Global Village...what a fun place.  We got in free as Senior citizens over 60!  Bonus!  She said they have done wonders with it since last year - we decided they are going all out developing it for the influx of people for Expo 2020 coming up in about four years.

People from all over the world come and set up mini stores and displays in huge pavilions dedicated to various countries...from China and India, all over Europe and Africa, and every country in the Middle East.  The outside of the buildings are fantastic and even more beautiful with the lighting after dark.  We got there soon after it opened at 4:00.
There is a children's amusement park, a boat ride on the man made creek, and restaurants galore.  Different theaters and stages had programs, music and dancing going on.  The place was really hopping by the time we left at 7:30.

I'm sure we missed even more things happening but we walked around quite a bit of it.  Really worth the effort!  Here is just a sample...

The main Entrance by day...


Saudi Arabia 


France and Germany

The avenue for Europe with the amusement park at the end...

One of the show venues...



Up and down the creek



Back to the entrance with a whole new look at night!

Maybe I am just easily impressed, but it is quite a sight...only open September to April!