Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Back Home Again..... in Indiana

We have been home for three weeks, but my typing fingers are finally unbandaged from a kitchen fire that I attempted to put out less than 24 hours after our return. It appears that we were not ready to live in civilization. (The fire is out--one carpet ruined--four fingers burned but healing--one Michael will no longer be leaving melting wax on the stove unattended to make candles.)
I thought I would wrap up the blog with a few random stories, quotes, and general observations collected over 10,000 miles and 50 days. (FYI--The diameter of the Earth is 8,000 miles according to Christopher's math book.)
  • Upon our return home, I was most excited to see my shoes and clothes-- which seems sick and wrong, but exciting nonetheless. I also actually missed sleeping with the kids in one room. They all slept toether for a few days in the playroom as they transitioned slowly back to separate bedrooms.

  • The Redwood Forest was everyone's favorite place. Wow! We felt so small in such a majestic place of towering trees. When we first got there, Matthew bounced out of the car, looked up and around, then asked, "Wow, awesome! Can I pee on one?"

  • We were able to hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and camp at Bright Angel campground. We arrived after dark, with six headlamps bouncing in the blackness, and had to cross the roaring Colorado River on a two foot wide metal suspended bridge. The next morning we left at 4:30AM to beat the heat of the day. So the boys never SAW the bottom of the canyon. However, they remained in great spirits the whole way out (10 miles straight up)thanks to Andy's motivational stories and songs. At one point I heard the chorus of Aerosmith's "Da, da, Da, da dude looks like a lady!" repeated for at least 10 repetitions. This concert also included EVERY word of the "Edmund Fitzgerald" (by Christopher) and at least three verses of Mellencamp's "Scarecrow."

  • A homeschooling highlight (almost) was the morning Matthew announced, "Mom! I just read this really, really, REALLY great proverb." Of course I imagined the wisdom he was being moved by until I read the Proverb...Chapter 18 verse 6. Read it for where Matthew is at spiritually.

  • On our last night at Zion we were riding around on the tour bus trying to catch the last glimpses of the park at sunset. Other than the thrill of the giant tarantula and the 35 turkeys roosting in a tree, the boys kept whining about going back to the campsite to "thrash each other." Earlier in the day they had found giant vine things growing near a river. It appears that these were not only beautiful to look at but, when picked, also nature's tool for whacking your brothers. As only a mother of boys can understand, I found myself making up rules for their game of thrashing each other. 1) No hitting in the face. 2) No yelling when you do get hit (probably in the face "by accident" which still does hurt even if someone "didn't mean to do it.") So we rushed back from the beauty of Zion to the campsite so the boys could whack each other with vines.

  • We had been encouraging the kids to find proverbs that speak to them to commit to memory. Christopher was so proud to announce that HE had one already memorized. "Like a gold ring in a pig's snout is a woman without discretion." Hmmmm.

  • This week I actually missed the tent and all piling in there together, so we took it to our annual camping weekend rather than the camper. I guess anything can feel like home if you are all together. I also wore my "trip clothes" which I thought that I would never want to wear again after the four day cycle of wearing them repeatedly.

  • God is so good and we are grateful for our time together seeing the beautiful and diverse world that He created. Andy and I both feel renewed and refreshed...and are wondering what the next trip might be....

Friday, September 24, 2010

Sort of an Inn

Michael and Bryan sleeping in a storage closet off the bathroom at the Mission "Inn."

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Finally Found Something Michael Won't Try To Catch

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Not Your Everyday Daddy Long Legs!

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Christopher Feeling Carefree at Arches National Park

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No Vacancy

Because I am a planner by God's design, almost the entire trip has been planned ahead of time. Though we taught the kids the word "vagabond" during car-schooling, we actually have been on a well orchestrated journey rather than a follow the wind sort of trip. But after we hiked out of the bottom of the Grand Canyon by 10:30AM last Tuesday, we were ready to leave the canyon after peeling our clothes off and showering at the campground (actually at the same time as our three Hoosier friends, Steve Carr, Kurt Strueh, and Eric Scudder who were also hiking out of the canyon and showering at our campground--tiny, tiny world.)

We decided to move on to our next park which was Zion in Utah. Spontaneously again, we drove into Page, AZ which was on the way and took the Antelope Canyon tour that the Dulls raved about. Sure it WAS great, but at 7:00 at night our plan to "just grab a hotel" began to unravel when every place in Page was filled. No big deal. We'll just get a little closer to Zion and grab a hotel there. At this point, I had not even begun to have any anxiety. Camping places were no where to be found either and after hiking into and out of the Grand Canyon in 24 hours, I was hobbling rather than walking fluidly. By 8:30 we were given the news that "every place in town was filled...except maybe one." So we came in weakened by the hike and clearly no longer reasoning well when we fell victim to the panic of no where to sleep with four, now cranky boys. We paid $112 dollars for the privilege of staying at "The Mission Inn."

When we pulled in the parking lot Michael said, "Please tell me we're not staying here. This looks like a slum." Sure there was only one other mini van in the parking lot amidst the motorcycles and pick-up trucks, and the mini van couple had the same pained look on their face that we did as they hurridly ushered their kids into the building. The dad saw us and smiled, "Last room in town, huh?"

Once inside Christopher asked, "Are we sleeping in those twin beds?" While they were indeed double beds, they did seem small since the room was only large enough to hold the two beds and one broken end table. The 12 inch TV was mounted to the wall and screwed into a random sheet of plywood. Since I insisted that no one touch the bed spreads and keep shoes on at all times, it proved difficult to move around out of a single file line, so we had to smash by each other to get dressed for bed or move to the bathroom. The older boys slept on a set of sheets in a closet inside of the bathroom (picture already posted by Andy while he played with my blog this morning without asking.)

We survived the night with no sighting of pestilence (of course it was dark), but we did get someone else's wake-up call at 5:00AM which only served to remind us that we had paid over $100 for a room with no fitted sheets so they came off in the night, a pillow case with a monogram on it, and only enough hot water for one shower.

When the boys woke up, Bryan asked if the front desk might have a toothbrush for him since he couldn't find his after hiking. Andy said, "Sure they will. But it will be someone else's."

My favorite thing was Matthew's innocent heart when we left. Although surprised they weren't serving his continental breakfast in the morning, he still commented, "It's OK, I liked this place. It was fun."

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Over the wall and feeling fine

-a black bear smelled our Chinese food that we reheated from Fresno and wandered around looking for HIS moo goo gai pan. The younger boys were 10 feet from the bear trapped on the other side of this river bed.

Death Valley...hot hot hot.

Yosemite's filth...notice the hands and eyebrow of sap.