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From Sea to Shining Sea

August 4th finds us back at home for our second full day. We actually arrived on the 2nd, but there was too much to do to find time to sit and write. I haven’t had too much time yet to gather my thoughts, either, but here are a few things:

We traveled 9,197 miles, used 417 gallons of gas, visited with about 48 family members and friends, saw license plates from 49 states (missed only Alaska, which Nathan swore he saw, but we couldn’t verify on the speeding car that passed us by), ate at about 27 restaurants (it would have been more if not for picnic lunches packed at the benevolence of our friends), traveled through 24 states and slept in 19 different beds, only 6 of which were in hotels.

We saw elk, bison, buffalo, deer, a little coyote, a chipmunk, squirrels, various birds, dogs and cats. Those were the live ones. The roadkill was way too numerous to count.

We have one ding in our windshield from a rock thrown up by a passing semi in Idaho (I think), a tweak to our front bumper from a blown tire on another semi (in one of the Carolinas), and road dust that all has something to say about our journey.

Only a few small things were left behind: a small container of shampoo, a hairband that went with Morgan’s wedding outfit, a beach towel purchased in Huntington Beach, a comb, a bracelet, one charging cable and a library book that is required reading for Justin. That one will be mailed by the hotel in Georgia. Not too bad for living out of a suitcase for 31 days.

We experienced a terrific rainstorm in Wyoming, blazing heat in Arizona and chilly drizzle in Washington that cleared for the big wedding day. Our temperatures ranged from the low 50s in Washington to 113 through the California desert. But the van’s a/c stayed reliably in the mid-70s.

For being stuck together 24/7 for 31 days, the kids did remarkably well. They had their moments, of course, and I was thankful for the DVD player, but they’re all still friends at the end of the day.

As are David and I, as evidenced by the kisses from sea to shining sea:

Ormond Beach, Fla.

Newport Beach, Calif.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thankful today for:

510. a reliable washer and dryer

511. winners who give glory to God

512. smoothies

513. dvr

514. choices

515. memories

516. a nice camera

517. a happy family

518. a healthy trip

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I Can See It From Here

Day 31 of our journey finds us in Savannah, Georgia. Not quite home, but we can see it from here. The Florida license plates have become more prominent, but we were blessed to finally find the elusive New Hampshire plate at a rest stop in North Carolina. We’re hoping someone from Alaska is on their way to Florida right now and heading south on I95.

For the last 5 days, we’ve been driving, sleeping, getting up and driving again. Thus the lack of posts. We did have a chance to visit with ministry partners we’ve never met, but who welcomed us into their home. We can now call them friends. We also saw two families we haven’t hugged in years and met kids we’ve never met before. Morgan wasn’t so thrilled with the household of boys, but she loved the girls who painted her nails a cool purple and white pattern.

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A cool rock formation in Wyoming, on the road to Mt. Rushmore

As we head into Florida today, we will swing by the beach in Jacksonville and wade in the Atlantic so that we can say we have actually gone from “sea to shining sea.” I’m sure it will take me a while to process this whole month. Suffice it to say right now that we are still talking to each other through goofy road games, a near miss by a blown-out semi’s tire, collecting 49 states so far in the license plate game, unnumbered dvds all while traveling thousands upon thousands of miles of roadway across and around America.

Here’s my summation on day 31 with home still several hundred miles away: Wow.

And here’s the big question that will surely remain on our minds for a lifetime: Is it pop or is it soda?

Thankful today for:

498. travel mercies

499. friendly people

500. health throughout the journey

501. new friends

502. old friends

503. memories

504. creativity–both God’s and man’s

505. the promise of home

506. a few more weeks until school starts

507. clean accommodations

508. a rear entertainment system

509. Pandora radio

America, The Beautiful

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It’s hard to believe that we’re making our way back home. All the national sites are behind us; only scenery and the few friends with whom we’re staying lie ahead. What a whirlwind! Here’s my summation to date:

Spacious skies
Amber waves of grain
Purple mountains majesty
Fruited plains

We’ve seen horses and cows and sheep in every state, but no longhorns in Texas–only in Florida. We experienced heat and humidity in the south, blazing heat in Arizona and the So. Cal desert and a terrific rainstorm in Wyoming.

We were a little chilly in, but enamored with, the Pacific Northwest. We fished in Idaho, were awed by Yellowstone Falls and sobered by the contingent of newly graduated Army officers gathered at Mt. Rushmore. I thanked one man for his service; he thanked me for my support.

My love and appreciation for my country has grown, which makes my heart ache for the trouble in which we find ourselves.

America, America, God shed His grace on thee, and crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to beautiful, shining sea.

Way to Go, Idaho!

The last two days (days 22 and 23 of our journey) find us in the surprising state of Idaho. I say surprising because I didn’t expect to be overwhelmed by its beauty. I don’t know why I didn’t expect that of Idaho, but I did. Western Washington is majestic, and Northern Idaho blends into it with itS mountains, lakes and rivers. As we drove on a small highway, US 95, for hundreds of miles, we made our way through those mountains, then into valleys of rolling hills of green and yellow, up mountains again, into canyons by the beautiful Salmon River. The scenery was amazing, causing my eldest to dub it the most scenic state yet.

Once again we had to leave family we didn’t know when we would see again, but we were also blessed to visit friends I hadn’t seen since high school. Our time is coming to an end, but we stil have Yellowstone and Mt. Rushmore to see. Many more miles, many more friends, and just a week to go. I think it might take a long time to process all that we’ve seen and experienced. It has been an incredible journey.

Thankful today for:

489. late sunsets

490. the anticipation of Yellowstone tomorrow

491. the sound of river rapids

492. wifi

493. a chance to catch a fish

494. picnic lunches

495. kittens

496. shared memories

497. insurance that will pay for the ding in our windshield

It Was The Best of Times, It Was The Worst Of Times

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The cool thing about doing this traveling is that we get to see all these people we haven’t seen in so long. The bad thing is, they get to see us. The real us. The us who bicker with each other, have bed head when we get up, and sometimes don’t get our masks on completely straight before they catch a glimpse.

But so far, at least as far as I can tell, they seem to love us anyway. So why the mask? Why not just be who we are all the time? Just like an artist who doesn’t like showing a work in progress, I think we don’t want to reveal ourselves until we’re perfected.

Problem is, that’s not going to happen until heaven, and we have a lot of living to do before that point. So we bear with each other, let them see who we really are and, like a business going through improvements, wear a sign that says “pardon our dust.” God isn’t finished with us yet; but we’re still open for relationship.

“And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever‑increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18 NIV84).

Thankful today for:
486. A beautiful day for an outdoor wedding
487. Being married to my best friend
488. Unconditional love

The Big Day Has Arrived

Today is the day of Hannah and Andy’s wedding. My sister is getting ready to leave for the farm where the wedding will be held, and the rest of us will follow in a couple of hours. It’s always hard to imagine that your kids are old enough to get married and be out on their own. This is the second time my sister has gone through that. Last year, in fact, her eldest took the matrimonial leap. I’m just trying to prepare myself for when my eldest goes on his first date.

I remember Hannah as a baby. I didn’t get to see her or her siblings much, as we lived far away from each other. She’s the only girl between two brothers. The girl cousins are outnumbered in our family, 2 to 1. She and Morgan, I’m told, are a lot alike. I hope Morgan grows up to still be like her. I wish they could know each other better. But there are 14 years and 3,000+ miles between them. But that’s true of all the cousins. None of them live near each other. It’s sad, but that’s the way it is.

We’re very thankful we can be here today to celebrate with sweet Hannah and Andy, whom we hope to be able to get to know someday. We’ll have to depend on future family gatherings. This stay is winding down way too fast. After today, we have two more days until we leave. Sweet times, too soon gone, to be held in our hearts forever.

Thankful today for:

480. wedding celebrations

481. a sunny day

482. more solidified plans

483. flowers

484. hills

485. lots of green

Saying Goodbye

Day 17 of our trip finds us in one of our main destinations: Kirkland, Washington. It’s here that my niece Hannah will be getting married in two days. We stayed overnight with friends in Medford, Ore., and saw another old friend the next morning. Whereas seeing friends and family has been fun, fact is, I may not ever see some of these people again. My 94-year-old aunt; my 92-year-old prayer warrior friend. The fleetness of life has hit me more in the past couple of weeks than it has in a long time.

When my mom died 5 years ago, and we sold the house where we had grown up (my dad had preceded her in death 16 months before), I

I keep this close to me as it is the image on my Discover card.

knew going back to the Bay Area would never be the same. But when we drove through the other night without stopping to see the place, I felt sad. I really can’t go home again; my home is no longer there. My home was with me in the car that night in the form of my husband and my three kids. The place doesn’t matter. As we drove on, I said goodbye. I won’t refer to California as my home anymore.

Driving up to the Pacific Northwest is a joy. As we drove through lush green valleys in Oregon, I thought to myself, I could live here. Horse farms, flowing rivers, mountains on every side. It was so peaceful. If it was 78 degrees year round, I’d seriously consider a move.

We’ve passed the halfway point mileage-wise and time-wise. After the big wedding on Saturday, we will relax on Sunday and then have fun rooting against the Yankees at Safeco Field on Monday. Then, we hit the road again, this time to Idaho to visit more friends. After that, Wyoming and Yellowstone National Park.

We are blessed.

Thankful today for:

471. open doors on a summer day

472. safe travels

473. the smell of coffee

474. the ability to help

475. hot tubs

476. varying terrain

477. birthday celebrations

478. wedding preparations

479. technology that allows far-away people to stay in touch