Monday, August 30, 2010

The Road less Traveled ... the Final mile

I sit here at 11:00 pm (11:00 only because I have just crossed the border into Arizona) – my body tells me it is really midnight.  I type into Microsoft word because the hotel has managed to lose Internet connection.  I am sitting on the edge of the bathtub – because it is the only place I can have light with out waking my “sweet sleeping” children.  It is the end of DAY 12 –

Here’s my new list of things to know for future travel –

  1. Never book a hotel with outside entrances – this can never be a good thing
  2. As tired as I may be I am not as tired as my children
  3. Take a risk and just say let’s do it
  4. All we have is time why are we rushing
  5. Trial and Error do make you better at something (packing trunks for example)
  6. Whoever told me 8 people could sleep in one room – you are crazy (we did not attempt this and boy am I glad)
  7. Kids do get tired of waffles for breakfast
  8. Eat the entire bag of taffy at once and get it over with
  9. Always stop at a Welcome to the State of … sign or you will hear about it for the next two states
  10. You can actually take a decent scenery picture out a car window while moving at 70 mph

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Road Warriors - Part 2

Day 6 through 8 - We have a brief reprieve from the trunk wars and we are now just fighting the insanity wars.  Beautiful weather draws me outside - inside I can hear mad-capped plans of a 50th wedding anniversary party gone extreme.  I take a breath of the crisp Northwest air and prepare to indulge my mother in some Martha Stewart madness.  It is only 11:00 pm and the table is covered with cupcakes and raffia ribbon.  My cousins and sisters have joined in this game of cupcake wars and we roast each other and tie raffia around paper napkin wrapped plasticware.  I can just hear the ohhs and ahhs.  On the tail end of quality control over the way to tie plastic wrapped ware and placing palm trees in cupcakes - we discover that the cupcakes are back ups - just in case the 3 acres of wedding cake ordered is not enough.  That's it for me I'm off to sleep.  (Throughout the midst of extreme anniversaries we did manage a trip to Vancouver B.C and China Town)
A family member in disguise
Day 9 - The day is spent walking down memory lane.  The party has begun and extended family has arrived.  My children are once again educated on my childhood history and are forced to relive my memories.  I am amazed each time I spend time with extended family to discover people I thought I knew.  I love to watch lives unfold and each one add a new chapter to their story.  Even better is the reality that I am a part of this story and I have the opportunity to be a part of the plot.
Day 10 - We prepare to leave for the return journey - As we pack and load - we impress 4 grown men, who will be getting on a plane within 24 hours, with our trunk tie-down expertise.  We spend a quick afternoon in Seattle at Pike's Place Market and then head for Oregon.  We arrive at our lodging destination around 11:00 pm.  Upon pulling into the hotel that happens to be sandwiched between the tombstone factory and the railroad tracks, I determine that my red neck vacation has come to an end and I am upgrading to the Best Western.  My decision was completely confirmed when I walked into the front office to cancel my reservation and was greeted by a character from the set of Criminal Minds.  It is now 2:00 a.m. I am winding down.  We are determined to take the road less traveled (only figuratively) we set out tomorrow for a trek through the canyonlands as we head back home.

So far, this trip has been more than I expected and less complicated than imagined.  For now that is a good start.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Lessons from the ROAD!

Here are the top ten things I have learned in the last 4 days -
1.  The person who invented the car DVD player was GENIUS!
2.  You always have more energy before you start the trip
3.  Kids are really funny
4.  Driving into the Tetons at 1:00 am with killer escapees in the area not a good idea
5.  Driving into the Tetons at 1:00 am is never a good idea
6.  Waking up to the awesome view of  the Tetons when you arrived in the dark - is always a good idea
7.  Taking a trip with family can be fun
8.  Making memories that will last forever involve time spent together
9.  Go along for the journey not the destination
10.  Most things said after driving for 9 hours in one day are funny

The above is a simple list- for a more detailed look at a dose of road trip reality read on..........

Day 1 - We are locked and loaded and ready to go.  We have enough entertainment and snacks to survive a nuclear blast.  Headed out to west Texas - to experience the wide open spaces - and put us a little closer to the Northwest.   Driving down the road we find a suitable radio station and Eagles "Already Gone" begins to play - there is nothing but blue sky, brown grass and a long horizon in front of us - My sister said,  "This reminds me of a movie"  - and thus - it begins.
A day filled with stories and laughter - a corny "Texas Show" and a grand view of Palo Duro Canyon.

Day 2 - We are faced with the task of strapping down our trunks and hoping that they hang on for the ride - they did for about 20 miles - stopping to check our handy work we realize that we did not do such a great job - thanks to the guy who helped us out and reassured us that it would hold - we were on our way.  Driving through hurricane force winds, torrential rain and mountain roads we arrived at the Garden of the Gods with daylight to spare.  The kids were totally thrilled with being able to climb and run and we were once again awe inspired by God's Creation.  A fun night in Old Colorado City - which included desert BEFORE dinner - (what's vacation for?) and then a brief night spent with friends, which also included the discovery that yes - the tie down was tight enough to hold - so tight that it cracked a trunk and resulted in many wet clothes.
Day 3- Early morning out and headed up to the Pike's Peak Summit - again Awesome - the kids thought this was the best!  A train ride that included - doughnuts made at the highest altitude possible - and a view that can't be beat.  Next time maybe we'll run to the top - NOT!  Back on the road we begin to head to the Grand Tetons.  No worries it is only 500 miles away - we try not to think about the fact that we are leaving at 4:00pm and it will be extremely late when we arrive.  A brief phone call by a concerned husband to alert us that there were 2 murderous prison escapees in the Yellowstone area so we should be on alert.  We thought we should contact the lodge where we would be staying to let them know we would be late.  They informed us there was no need for concern as Federal Marshals were in the area and some were staying on property.  (Thanks I feel better now).  We had no option but to keep heading on.  By the way, if you have ever wondered where the blank spot of no coverage is on an AT&T or Verizon map - I would be happy to show you.   Here is where the "movie" begins to develop its subplot that keeps you hanging on the edge of your seat.  We continue to drive hoping the car doesn't break down - hoping we make it to our destination alive - and then we hit the Tetons - 40 miles of unpaved road where it is hard to determine if we really are on a road.  Every once in a while we spot a reflector cone to give us some hope that we are still heading in the right direction.  It begins to rain - lightening cracks through the sky and we are reminded of a bad horror film.  We drive on - arriving at our destination we unpack and unload kids in the dark.  Falling into bed at 2:00 am - Sleep comes.
Day 4 - Waking to an early morning phone call I step outside to quietly converse.  I am speechless as I  am greeted with the grandeur of the Teton mountains.  Looking out across Jackson Lake I am thankful for God's grace, mercy and protection.  I am thrilled to be alive and to breathe in the cool mountain air.  The kids awake and are equally impressed.  We allow them to spend time playing Huck Finn and building rock houses on the banks of the lake - I revel in the enjoyment of kids being kids without the aid of electronics.  Life is good.  We travel into Yellowstone, and see no sign of the killer escapees, again we drive through the rain.  Arriving at Old Faithful 10 minutes after it goes off we decide to wait an hour and twenty minutes for the view.  Rain continues to come in torrents but breaks long enough for us to witness Old Faithfuls grand explosion.  We drive on - knowing that our initial plans were a little optimistic and having limited phone and internet I requested that my spouse make us reservations for the night.  As we drive into Montana, we discover that our lodging is sandwiched between the county correctional facility and the local bus station.  Really?!  I could not have invented a better script... I am sure Freddy Kruger is around the corner.  Unpacking the trunks to carry through the rain, again, I am wondering exactly how I got here.
Day 5 - Making a lunch stop at the small town where we grew up - we take a drive through memory lane.  Our children actually were impressed that we could live somewhere like this - Questions from the back seat - What did you do for fun? You mean the movie only shows one time a day?  And only on the weekends?  Why is the school so small?  You lived in that house?  You should go inside.  Back on the road headed over Stevens Pass we are on the last leg-  We make it to our destination this time by 10:30  - unload the trunks for the last time for the next five days.

I sit here now in a busy coffee shop - by myself - under the guise of having to attend an online training session.  Reflecting on moments spent together with family and love what God has given me - we will laugh and play for the next 5 days and then hit the road again for the journey home.  I have learned that it is not about the destination - it is about the journey and if we slow down enough to enjoy the ride we will laugh, cry and play along the way.  We must be flexible and forgiving and never ever forget the man who invented the Car DVD.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

I'm not Crazy - Yes, you are - No, I'm not - Yes, you are

What started out as a crazy idea has morphed into an even crazier reality. 

It all started when I was trying to make plans for summer vacation.  We received an invitation for a family reunion in the NW - a mere 2200 miles from where I live.  I promptly got online and began to search for airline tickets.  When my search resulted in fares that did not drop below $450.00 I decided - why not drive.  Now, I knew I did not want to attempt this on my own so I decided to recruit my sister.  Her first response, "Are you nuts!"  Well, yes a little.  Oh, I believe I forgot to mention that between the 2 of us we have 6 kids and we would need to bring them along.  And maybe I should mention that we are taking only one 8 passenger vehicle.

After a little research on my part I convinced her that this would be a great memory making adventure, we could do it for about $900.00 each and wouldn't it be fun?!  I just had to figure out how to rent a wood panel station wagon. 

Once we were in agreement on going I set out to do a little planning.  Just a little, because we are driving,  we can be spontanious.  This is going to be fun. 

Here I sit 2 months later,  200 plans later,  7 different driving routes later,  25 different hotel reservations made and canceled later,  KNOWING now that I am truly certifiable.  If I can not be committed for having the idea in the first place, I should be committed for spending the insane amount of time I have spent working and reworking the plan (because we will have fun DARN IT!) and if neither one of those reasons are good enough for commitment to the crazy house then when, and if,  we return from this adventure alive I will surely qualify.

So stay tuned we will keep you updated with pictures, wild stories and fun memories in the making as The Good Doctor's Wife - takes a dose of reality medicine along Route 66 and many other obscure highways.
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