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In a serene park in the middle of Oklahoma City, there sits 168 empty chairs.

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     The chairs face a reflecting pool between to large walls, one wall says 9:01 the other 9:03.
     It’s all very simple but the impact is enormous.  At the base of each chair is the name of one of the victims of The Oklahoma City Bombing,
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 If you close your eyes you can almost imagine them sitting as people pass by hoping that what visitors see and experience will somehow help to heal any anger they have in their hearts making the world a more peaceful place.
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     This memorial is all about healing. 9:01 signifies the innocence of the city before the bomb went off, and 9:03 signifies the time that the healing began.
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An enormous oak tree, named The Survivors Tree provides shade and a place to reflect for visitors,   This tree was once called an eyesore, but with love is now beautiful and purposeful.
If you visit, take time to go into the museum, where you  not only hear the story of the tragic events of April 19, 1995, but you also hear about how the world came together to try to help the survivors, the victims families and the  city.  We were a world at its best and worst following the tragedy. The stories you hear will change your life.

 

     We had less then 24 hours to see as much of Oklahoma City as possible and while we only scratched the surface of this town, we did take in a few sights.
The State Capitol.
Historical Automobile Alley
Bricktown
A few innings of baseball from out room at the Bricktown Hampton Inn
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The Oklahoma City / Bricktown Riverwalk.
It looks remarkably like the San Antonio riverwalk.
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(Is this where the old San Antonio River barges went?)
     In our challenge to spend at least one night in all 50 states, Oklahoma surprised me the most.
“We know we belong to the land..and the the land we belong to is grand!”
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Starting Day 6 in Jerusalem

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Meeting with The Latin Patriarchate

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Father Pat connecting with St.Pius X

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Cindy, Patricia and Angie hanging out in Jerusalem

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John the Baptist birthplace Ein Karem Church

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Church of The Visitation where Mary went to visit Elizabeth

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On our way to Bethlehem

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Things you don’t see everyday

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Church of The Nativity

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Waiting in line to see the birthplace of Jesus

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Mass in the cave of Jesus birth

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Another perfect sunset in Jerusalem

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Day 5 Israel

Starting our day with another Sea of Galilee Sunrise

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Jill, Cindy, Maggie (who made all the great signs) and Angie outside our hotel just after sunrise.

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Mt. Tabor and The Church of The Transfiguration

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Father Pat saying Mass at one of the outdoor chapels

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Steve and Patricia and the cat who came to mass

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Valley that is believed to be where The Battle of Armagettan will be fought.

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A rare group photo

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Jericho

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Steve and Patricia got to ride a camel

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Temptation Mountain, where Jesus wandered

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Jordon River (where there are land mines possibly?)

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But that did not stop us from wading in the same water Jesus was baptized in (though I’m sure it was not as murky back then)

Angie, Jill, Loretta, Michelle, Nora, Corinne, Patricia in the Jordan River

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Dead Sea (I was surprised how blue it was)

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Marshall photo bombing Angie & Jill

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We had fun playing in the mud (it made your skin feel very soft)

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Marshall, Brian, Patricia,Frank, Father Pat, Joyce, Loretta, Maggie & Terry getting ready to frolic and float in The Dead Sea

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Angie happily playing in the mud

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After floating and playing in the mud we checked out the Lowest Bar in The World

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Cindy, Nora, Celeste and Bob Baron at the Lowest Bar on Earth

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As we were leaving we passed this poor fellow who I guess could be a reminder of what could happen to you if you spend too much time in The Dead Sea (or maybe at The Lowest Bar in The World)

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Walking- Sailing – Praying

Day 4
Sunrise over The Sea of Galilee.

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Sailing across the Sea of Galilee.

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The boat crew hoisted the American Flag to The Star Spangled Banner.

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Tabgha and the area where Jesus performed the miracle of multiplying the fishes and loaves. The Rock with a Mosaic that portrays 2 fish and bread loaves sits behind an altar. People can go onto the altar and view both from a short distance.

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The Mount of The Beatitudes there were beautiful gardens, and a beautiful small chapel to pray in.

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Father Pat said Mass at one of the pavilions.

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Caesarea Philippi, the location where Jesus told Peter he was the Rock where he would build His Church.

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I always thought it was going to be maybe a big boulder, actually its a small mountain.

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The Church of The Primacy of St. Peter, also known as The Place of Coals, located on The Sea of Galilee, this small church is the site of where Jesus instructed Peter to throw his net back on the other side when he was having a bad fishing day, Peter did as he was told and turned out catching 153 fish.

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John 21:9 “When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with bread and fish on it”
The stone in front of the altar at this church is said to be the “table” where Jesus served the Apostles bread and fish for breakfast.

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It was after this breakfast that Jesus instructed Peter to “Feed my Lambs….Tend my sheep…feed my sheep.” John 21:17.

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Putting our feet in The Sea of Galilee

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Cana & The Basilica of Anunciation

March 13, 2018 Day 3

In the afternoon we went to the church at Cana.

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I know most people think of Cana and associate it with marriage. When I think of the Miracle at Cana, I think obedience and faith in our children.
There Jesus was, having a good time, at this wedding reception and His mom asks Him to perform a miracle.
Initially He tried to tell her no, He wasn’t ready for that yet.
But His mom made a request and because He was a good obedient son, He agreed.
So came The Miracle at Cana, with Jesus turning water to wine.

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I love that this miracle happened at a wedding reception, no one was sick, no one had died, the only thing the couple wanted was to have a happy marriage and the blessing of children.

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They did not realize that among their wedding guests was The Messiah, if they had I am sure they would have asked for a blessing. Jesus and His Mother wanted this couple to get a good start with their marriage and not be stuck with the stigma of being “that couple who ran out of wine at their reception” (don’t accept dinner invitations from them). That over site made their marriage one of the most famous weddings ever (and we don’t even know their names.)

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The Church at Cana has become a popular spot to renew wedding vows, and thank God for the miracle of marriage and love.

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I personally feel that I can use all the blessings I can get, and Father Pat was kind enough to allow me to include Don via phone, so with the other couples we had another opportunity to continue to vow to love and honor each other.Father Pat even splashed my phone with Holy Water for good measure.

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Wedding vows are among the most sacred words couples ever say, repeating them in public now and then is good for us.

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While visiting I took the opportunity to pray upcoming marriage of my daughter Liz and her wonderful fiancé Eddie.

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The church is very simple, not at all ornate. There is a small chapel and a large sanctuary. Outside there is a courtyard where you can imagine newlyweds rushing through while having rice or whatever is politically correct to toss at them thrown at the time.

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From Cana we travelled to Nazareth, the place it all started.

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This is where Mary says yes to The Angel of The Lord and agrees to be the mother of the child who would change our world forever.

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The spot where the Angel came to Mary is simple yet beautiful. Looking into the room you could almost see the glow of the angel (it may have been the lighting), I had an overwhelming feeling of peace and joy when I stood looking (that was not the lights.).

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Mary who was really just a child by today’s standards was so pure and trusting in her faith, to see an angel and agree to a task that not only changed the world, but changed her life, and in the beginning not for the better. Then for Joseph to believe and accept her and Jesus loving both of them without question was one of the worlds greatest testimony’s to faith.

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The Basilica of the Annunciation is huge, if you visit take plenty of time to see all the artwork inside and out of the building. There is artwork from every country showing their depiction of Mary.

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They are all very different all beautiful in their own way.
The church grounds cover the area they believe was the small town of Nazareth more then 2000 years ago.

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The air was growing cooler and the sun was starting to set as we boarded our bus for Tiberias and our hotel for the night Galei Kinnereth

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This beautiful hotel is located on the shores of The Sea of Galilee.
I went to sleep knowing the next day would be a wonderful day filled with stories, new lessons and beautiful sights that will humble and amaze us all.

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Ceasarea – Stella Maris

Day 3 Israel
Morning
It was dark when we arrived at The Ramada Inn Hadera Resort Monday Night. I was exhausted from our 2 days of travel but felt like a child on Christmas Eve, hardly sleeping as I was anxious to start our tour.

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Our room had a balcony and I could not wait for morning to see our view, I was not disappointed, the first sunlight sparkling on the Mediterranean Sea was stunning.
Breakfast at the hotel was a buffet with fish, cheese, fruits, vegetables, fresh juice and pastry.


Energized and excited about our first day, we ate a delicious breakfast and were on our way.

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Usama our guide was a wealth of knowledge and shared with us the history of the places we would be visiting that day.

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First stop was Caesarea and the ruins of an ancient port city built by Herod.

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While there Marshall showed us what he would have looked like in ancient times.


We also had the opportunity to see the ruins of old toilets, that again Marshall was happy to be the model for.

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We had the chance to put our feet and hands in the Mediterranean Sea, and look out at the beautiful blue sea from the ruins that were once a thriving city.

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Next we stopped at The Church of Stella Maris (Star of the Sea) a tiny beautiful church that was built over Elijahs Cave.

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This is the place where Elijah heard the “still small voice of God.”

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I felt a tremendous sense of peace and spirituality in the small cave under the altar, but no whispers from God.

 

 

 

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Journey to Israel

Journey To Israel

Nearly twenty four hours after leaving San Antonio we flew into Tel Aviv, Israel. The city sparkled in the night sky and seemed like a beacon in the darkness that we had flown through from Germany.
From the sky it looked like every other city I had ever flown into at night, freeways filled with cars, some areas lit while others were dark. There were houses, hotels and businesses all with their signs bright enough to be seen from the night sky.
There were tall skyscrapers and hills that were lit up. The tower at the airport had revolving lights spinning in the night sky letting those who came in the Israeli airspace know they were serious about keeping their country safe.

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We had taken a bus from San Antonio to Houston, then in Houston we boarded our Lufthansa flight, the largest plane I had ever been in, that surprisingly had some of the smallest passenger seats I had ever squeezed into, for our 9 hour flight to Frankfurt, Germany. Though the seats were small, the company was excellent, and the tiny space became a cozy gathering of friends.

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We had a five hour layover in Frankfurt then finally we boarded our flight to Tel Aviv. where we witnessed on the plane the devoted faith of Rabbi’s on the flight.

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Some of us stopped at the Welcome to Israel sign for a quick selfie.

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Then we loaded onto another bus taking us to The Ramada Inn Hadera Resort

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where we had a delicious dinner of “cold cuts” aka chicken, fresh vegetables and bread.

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Exhausted from 2 days of travel we go to sleep  dreaming tonight of what our adventures for the next week would be.

 

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View From The Lighthouse

The St. Augustine Lighthouse in Florida is a beautiful part of the Maritime History of the United States.

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Open to the public, the cost of admission is $12.95 for a self guided tour, that includes entrance to the Light Keepers house, museum, outdoor gardens, and many other points of interest, and of course the Lighthouse!

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The Lighthouse boasts 219 cast iron steps that lead to the top. As we climbed we were met by many people who were using the climb as part of their exercise routine making at least five trips up and down.

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Climbing for pleasure or exercise, once you reach the top you will be rewarded with beautiful views of The Atlantic Ocean.

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As you climb you can stop at each landing to read stories about the duties of those who lived in the lighthouse in the past.


Be sure to check out the story about the flying cat.


You even can try to lift the 5 gallon oil can that the Lighthouse keeper would haul up the steps every 2 hours.

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As well as the interesting stories and great pictures on each landing, you will find words encouragement letting you know how much further you need to climb.

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Just one of the many spots to put on your list when visiting St. Augustine.

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A Day with “The Real Hawai’i

A day with “The Real Hawai’i

One of our best experiences during our vacation in Oahu was the private day tour we booked with “The Real Hawai’i.”
The fee of $149.00 a person for six hours was a great deal, especially considering how most tours lasting more then 3 hours will cost you over $100.00 a person. The difference is that “most” tours are going to pile as many people as possible into a bus and take you on a regimented tour with no thought to the individuals.
With “The Real Hawai’i” plan to spend a day with a private tour guide who assists you in coming up with a custom day of places and experiences with your interest in mind. They do all the driving, worry about the parking and even know the best “local” places to get fresh delicious food.
Oahu is a beautiful Island with many cultural and scenic gems that easily could be missed. The people from “The Real Hawai’i” know the Island and all the fascinating beautiful locations that are not found in tourist pamphlets.

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What I loved about our tour is that we wanted to take a path less travelled, so Dan our tour guide took us to check out the beautiful views from Pu’u o Mahuka Heiau State Historic Site.

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Hiked through Waimea Park up to the falls.

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Watched in amazement as the huge waves crashed onto the shore at Ehukai Beach (AKA The Bonzai Pipeline).

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Walked through a magnificent Banyan Tree, that was used in filming Lost and Jumanji: Welcome to The Jungle.


And ate delicious farm raised, fresh caught shrimp.


Dan the owner paired us with a terrific tour guide who took pictures for us, gave us some great history of the island, and taught us about local traditions.

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Our day with Real Hawai’i was by far the highlight of our vacation!

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If your not sure what you want to see then check out their website
http://www.therealhawaiitours.com
where you can find a variety of ideas and prices to help you come up with your perfect day in “The Real Hawaii”
You can also check out their FB page @therealhawaiitours.
Or find them on YouTube @ The Real Hawaii

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Wake Up Call

It was 8:07 am on Saturday January 13, I had just stepped out of the shower still dressed in a towel,  I started making coffee in our hotel room in Honolulu, when I heard the emergency alert signal. It was a perfect blue sky Hawaiian day so i knew it could not be a weather warning. Before I had a chance to check my phone, my husband came into the room, “Get dressed, “ he said in a firm yet calm voice, showing  me the message on his phone, he started filling his backpack with bottled water and non perishable items. I remember thinking how silly it was that I was changing my clothes, who cares what I’m wearing when I die, but even in pending danger there is decorum.
I grabbed the Ocean Vodka and our toothbrushes in the face of death good oral hygiene still seemed important and vodka makes a great antiseptic…Yeah, Right.
With our supplies in tow we headed to the hotel lobby.
In my mind all I could think about was my children and how if these were our last moments on earth, I just wanted them to know we loved them and we were okay. I tried to call but the phone lines were jammed. I wondered, did they even know where our life insurance policies were?
Don, finally was able to reach our daughter Kat and she contacted our other children, Liz and David, who both immediately called us. We told them how much we loved them, and of course I wanted them to know where our life insurance policy’s were, though this did not seem to matter to them at that moment. My daughter Liz and her fiancée Eddie were watching the news hoping to get information for us. I kept thinking I was so thankful this was us and my children were safe on the mainland.
Our next message was to siblings and friends asking them if they were seeing anything on the news and to make sure to be there for our children.
When we reached the hotel lobby there was no panic, everyone seemed stunned looking at their phones, asking others if they had seen the message. Don asked a hotel employee what their emergency plan was and where to take shelter. The poor frightened employee told him they had no idea….by this time a small crowd had gathered, they looked at Don who did not skip a beat and calmly said “Lets come up with one”. Looking around he decided the parking garage was about as good as we were going to get. I’m not sure if it was the look of confidence in Dons eyes, or if they saw the water supply he had in his backpack but suddenly he had a following. I have always joked that in a zombie apocalypse my husband is the one person I would want to be with, as he always seems to know what to do in any situation. And there he was by far the most prepared person around. His calm and resourceful command of the situation made me feel as if we would all be okay.
Once in the parking garage our group continued to try and get information on what was going on, everyone still calm and supportive. Don was scouting out the emergency exists and I was listening to a gentleman share his memory of duck and cover during the Bay of Pigs, I remembered when I was young our drills always included getting under our desks and how silly that seemed right now.
I sent my brother Michael a text message thinking if anyone would be able to get news it would be him. And it was my nephew Lance who found the first news alert telling us this was a false alarm, I put him on speaker so everyone around me could hear what he was saying.   At the  same moment Lance was talking to us, my daughter Liz was contacting Don that she had found a Twitter message from US Rep. Tulsi Gabbard saying it was a false alarm.
It would be another ten minutes before the official all clear was sent out to the public.
We all had a moment of celebration followed by a moment of quietly taking in the events of the last 30 minutes.
I said a prayer of thanks and hugged Don so tight I that I probably cut off his circulation. We called our children and looked out at the beautiful blue Pacific Ocean, that was eerily quiet.
Back at our hotel the fire alarms started blaring. The hotel was setting them off to let people know that it had been a false alarm. Many people who had not received the initial message were now were coming out of their rooms in a panic wondering what was going on.
I felt bad for the non English speaking guests as the messages were only being given in English, as we walked through the hallways seeing people coming out of their room looking around we tried to help calm them.
The fire alarms stopped for a few minutes and I suppose someone in the office decided they should send the message out in multiple languages, and several minutes later the fire alarms went off again blasting the all clear message in other languages. I think the aftermath all clear was more chaotic then the ballistic missile warning.

Later on the news they were talking about how angry people were that this mistake had happened, and while it caused me a few new gray hairs, I can honestly say it made me appreciate so much more my precious children, family and friends and the wonderful life we have. We never know when our time will end on the earth.
It was not a fun wake up call, but it was a wake up call. So to all my friends and family out, I love each of you and appreciate having you in my life.

You often ponder how you will respond in your final minutes or seconds. You consider different scenarios and thoughts, but it is not until those final moments are upon you, that you realize how you would truly react, I was so proud of Don and how quickly he did his best to prepare us. His confidence made me feel as if Kim Jong-Un had come riding in on that missile we still would have been ok.
It wasn’t until later when it all was over that I thought, wow, that just happened!

Our joke about the event became –
We heard it was rumored that Homer Simpson was at the controls of the Hawaiian Office of Emergency Management when this happened, the last words he was heard saying were…”oooohhh red button!”
I guess we need to be more careful who we have manning those important buttons!