I find there are two kinds of people: those who love a road trip, and those who love a road trip even when takes a toll on your gastrointestinal system. Sadly, I fall into the second category. But I still love the open road…that I cannot deny.
After driving over 4300 miles and sleeping in the same room with my whole family for multiple nights, I am happy to say we are home. We started out in Denver, made our way north to Montana, west to Washington, south to California, and east to our home. Billy, who I wish I could say is a big fat bragger, but in actuality he isn't, drove every single one of those miles. I was his shotgun rider "singin' to the radio" every single step of the way, reminding him to stop at red lights, and not look at his apple watch while going 80 mph's down an interstate. You can barely imagine how helpful I was.
Not only did I help co-pilot the minivan, I bossed my children around too. I made a list of rules entitled, "#2016roadtriprules" and taped them so Jack could see them at all times. Also, I had written out our itinerary and kept it close by so that when the children would forget for the gazillionth time where we were staying that night I could politely say, "Please refer to the itinerary". The only time my perfect plan met with disaster was when the 4 year old asked. She can't read, so I had to respond.
Before we left for our monster road trip of a lifetime, I mentioned to a few people that I was nervous about being in a minivan for 2 weeks with my family. Some might call me a "worrier" or say that I "fret" unnecessarily, however, I feel my concerns were valid. Besides Zoe's tricky food allergies, I was nervous before we left that we might not come home as close as we were before going. I feared me and Jack would fight and that always makes Billy tense which then makes me and Jack giggle which makes Billy more tense, and so it goes. In the end someone cries, and so on. But I am happy to report that there was not one single tear shed on this trip (unless you are four) in fact, even last night as we were pulling in at midnight, laughter filled the car, (among "other" things.)
This trip was so significant in many ways. It was the first real vacation we have taken since adding Zoe to our family and it very well may be the last trip we take like this as a family of 6. We laughed together, we sang together, we prayed together, and above all, we loved each other through every single mile. We talked about things that matter, and we (the boys) talked about things that don’t. (ie. Star Wars) One of the highlights of this trip was just being in the car, barreling down the interstate listening to the 7 hour playlist I made before the trip. There is nothing sweeter than having a whole family belting out "The Gambler" in unison, and after that singing "Good Good Father". Such memories fill this mama's heart.
Along the way we made many stops to visit loved ones. We kicked it off with family in Montana, for a couple hours over coffee. Then to Spokane to spend the night with a dear friend I have known since I was 13 years old. We met at volleyball practice right before our 8th grade year, and have been friends ever since. Our time overnight at their home was amazing. Having a friend for 30 years is no small thing, and seeing the fruit of her and her husband's life, their hard work, and how they have lived for the glory of God brought me to tears.
The following several days were spent in Seattle with Billy's family. His sweet mom turned 90 the day before we arrived, and we were able to celebrate with all his siblings, and many nieces and nephews. My birthday fell on the same day we celebrated Gran's and everyone was kind to me too. Turning 44 is nothing compared to turning 90 though, so I tried not to hog the spotlight too much.
We did the conventional Seattle stuff…Golden Gardens, Space Needle, Pike Place…There was one disturbing incident at a stand alone coffee shop called "Baristas". Apparently they sell more than coffee. One can tell this by the way the barista is minimally dressed in fishnet items. Billy politely excused us by saying "No thank you" and we drove off all squealing with embarrassment. Going for coffee in Seattle took on a whole new meaning for our family.
After Seattle, we stayed a night in Tacoma with my aunt and family for a night of hospitality and laughter, and being able to do laundry! After a long and amazing drive through Oregon (seriously, did you know Oregon is basically beautiful?) we continued on to our final destination, with a pit stop in Sacramento and a salty 107 degrees of I'd rather be having an MRI.
Billy made us stop in the Redwood Forests along the way so he and the boys could see where Stupid Return of the Stupid Jedi was filmed. He and the boys made space ship sounds the whole time and pretended me and the girls were Wookies. Thankfully it was so beautiful I could tune them out.
We landed in Santa Ana for the remainder of the trip and spent it at Disneyland, seeing friends and more family, and hitting the beach as many times as we could fit in. We saw dolphins in the ocean, and scary people at Venice beach. We rode the rides on the Santa Monica Pier, and we ate at In 'N Out. We ate a huge breakfast every morning and played all day, or till our bodies gave out. We had the time of our lives. We enjoyed travelling mercies, safety on the road, full tanks of gas, and full bellies. We enjoyed being together, and even more, we realize the gift we had of that special time. I don't know what tomorrow may bring, but I know what I had yesterday, and it was above and beyond what I could have imagined. Gratitude fills my heart with love. Home is where my family lives. And God is a Good, Good Father.