Saturday, January 4, 2014

The Last Adventure of 2013

I've finally dug out from under the mountain of laundry and found time to tell our tale

The mountain, minus one load
4 states in 1 day of a two day road trip.
2100 miles.
5 children, 2 adults, and only 1 minor meltdown.
Burger King and Denny's - more than once.
Lots of snow, lots of love and cousins.

It was a beautiful Christmas vacation.

And yet, there is so much more to say.
We saw God's hand on us in many ways.
We originally rented a van to haul all of us and our gear to Wyoming. When we went to pick up the van, the rental agency said they didn't have one... but had a Ford Expedition instead. I thought at first, it would be too small. And yes, it was a little tight. But that just meant we had to pack lighter and that meant less to lose along the way. It also meant 4 wheel drive. Which we needed the first night, and the second night of traveling. We hit snow in Spokane and again in Billings. Driving in blowing snow, when the temps outside are in the teens ... well, I was overjoyed at that point to have 4WD and not a van!
We also saw a number of cars in the ditch, and a multiple car pile-up on the other side of the road. Once again, we were so thankful to be safe and sound when we made it to our hotel. Most of the drive was dry and without worry. Until night fell, the temps dropped, and ice was possible. The second evening of driving, we spent going 30 mph on the freeway where we would usually go 70+, once again that blowing snow etc slowed us down. Just before we entered the town our relatives live in, G asked the kids to pray - pray that the snow would stop, that he would be able to keep going, and for safety. After driving so long in the falling snow, and driving 12 hours that day, he was tired! And then, as we came up the hill ... the snow stopped! It was completely clear and we were able to drive a little faster, and able to find the exit, and roads we needed! Thanks again, God!!
cousins met for the first time this week

Earlier in the day, we had some other excitement. Little K. had a 'little' driving lesson.
And once again, we saw God protecting us.
We stopped at a rest area to use the bathroom. I hurried in with K, while everyone else slowly clambered out of the vehicle. Then while all the others went in, K and I waited in the car. I had her sitting in the front seat, as I stood beside her. She played with the steering wheel, and then I thought, that probably isn't good for the tires. So I had her stop doing that. Her busy little body immediately went to press on the pedals down below. My first thought "Don't rev the engine!" and then I screamed her name as the car shot forward over the curb! It hit a stone bench and stopped. I shakily backed up the car, put it in park!!, and turned off the engine. And then I grabbed her and hugged her tightly. A few other travelers came by to see if we were ok. Shaky, crying, scared, but yes, ok!
My husband and family came out and I had to tell them what happened. Looking back, it could've been much worse. What if any of us had been standing in front, waiting around? What if some other traveler had walked by at that point? What if that bench had not been there? What if she hadn't been thrown back and kept pressing the pedal? What if the damage had been much worse? The only thing that happened - the license plate was dangling by one side. That was it!! Thank you Lord!

But wait, there's more! The family we were to go see first in Montana, called us as we were traveling and told us they were sick with the flu - the vomiting, feverish, yucky flu. As awful as they felt, and as sad as we were to miss seeing them, we were thankful the sickness came before we stopped there, before we were exposed to it. I can't imagine traveling with a car full of sick people. Or being sick while traveling!

It wasn't all excitement. We had plenty of laid-back fun; plenty of amusing conversations; lots of laughter, and snowball fights. There were games played, puzzles put together, pranks played, and deep conversations added to the mix.

We all went ice-skating on Christmas Eve; that was a lot of fun!
 Christmas Day was spent focused on the Reason for it all - our Lord and Savior. We sang songs, had music accompaniment, and even a ballet dance. The crazy socks on the tree added to the festive feeling.
 Of course, holidays are always a time for family photos. But you know how hard it is to get all 7 of us yay-hoos to settle down for a decent picture! I think we managed to get at least a good one with our crazy socks. And then the whole clan showed off their crazy socks.

No holiday would be complete without a little shootin'. The cousins and kids and dads went out to target shoot, and then later pummeled an old pumpkin as a target.

And because it was so cold outside, there was inside activity for me, and the little ones, and whoever didn't want to be outside at the time. G and his niece made these awesome play-dough creations as we talked around the table one day:

Oh, and cookies! Real ones, good enough to eat! The girls had a great time decorating using their aunt's cake-decorating tools and frostings.

 And one more God-sighting for the trip: I thought I had booked a hotel on the west side of Spokane for our return trip. AS we entered the area, G asked what exit we needed. I grabbed the printout I had brought along to see that it was one exit away from where we were at the time! Which meant our 11 hour car drive was over 20 minutes earlier than we thought it would be! And which meant, we didn't have to drive all the way across the city just to find that we had booked a different hotel and needed to backtrack.
God is so good!
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