Thursday, July 29, 2010

Day Ten--The New Home Stretch

We wanted to take in every last paid-for-minute in Coeur D'Alene...and post-pone the inevitable end of our journey. So, we had breakfast on our balcony, soaking up the view:

Both Jeremiah and I took turns taking a run on the trail by the water and taking the girls swimming.


Then, reluctantly, we packed up and said our last goodbyes.


I sent my family a text that said, "I think I've found paradise...Who would have ever thought it was in Idaho?!"

Only 300ish miles left to our new home. When Jeremiah went ahead and set the clock back in the car, it was a stark moment for me. Wow, this is permanent. We're changing the clocks to Pacific time...

I will say this, I have decided that a lot of our country looks arid, in the summertime at least. In the South, I think we don't realize how many trees there are, how the grass is green and not sparse--showing the dirt underneath. How all that humidity we complain about, is part of what makes our home look filled with life, instead of limping along through it. I enjoyed our road trip and the diverse beauty God has created all across it, but I found I love my home too. Our mountains might not tower as high and our streams may be cushioned by sand instead of stone, but it feels different from everywhere else. A good kind of different, to me.

As we entered Washington, I was happy to see how green it was. That part, at least, felt a little more like home. I don't think Jeremiah agreed with me, but the mountains looked even bigger here. In Wyoming and Montana they went on and on; in Idaho they were crowded and tall, but in Washington--they looked like big green giants. Wide, tall, some snow-capped, but all covered in lush evergreens. They seemed to echo the overall feeling inside our little car--intimidation. This is where we live now, I kept telling myself. It's breathtakingly beautiful...and frightening.

Jeremiah asked if I wanted to pray, and we did. For a long time, really. It felt like something big was happening, beginning, but neither of us knew what it was. All of life is divided up into segments, but very few of those segments are a single, concentrated year. I believe God has brought us to Seattle for a reason. In Jeremiah's understanding it was for the best spine training he could get. For me, it seemed like a chance to finally write. But, I'm not sure either of those obvious purposes is the true purpose. I know it sounds strange, but as we held hands and wove between those big green giants we prayed we wouldn't miss whatever it was God was trying to do with our lives.

And suddenly we were here. Getting our first glimpse of Mount Rainer:


Trying to navigate through a big new city:


We made it to our home for the next month (our house that we're living in for the year won't be ready until September 1):

And it suddenly seemed like the God who had been beckoning us forward a few minutes before, had dropped us straight on our butts. Nowhere could we find a single parking place, much less two in a row to park our car AND U-Haul. When we finally did find a partially burned down building that had some pay-park spaces underneath, we saw a man being arrested who, according to the screaming store-owner, had "tried to shop-lift and then tried to KILL one of my customers." We saw several cross-dressers, pink hair with leather leggings, tattoo parlors, homeless people, and not a single restaurant that wasn't a major bar where we might get a bite to eat with our two small children. It was horrifying. Especially after ten days on a nature high :)

I'd been able to smile at the Washingtonians on our way in. Instead of "Rest Area/ 5 miles" their road signs said "Tired? {Have you ever seen a question mark on a road sign?}/ Rest Area 5 miles." Instead of "Litter $100 fine," they wanted it to feel a little more personal "If you litter, It will hurt." I thought, "Ok. They're kinda touchy feely out here, but I can dig that. I can handle different." There's a big difference in choosing to accept that people are different and having those difference all up in your personal space, in the eyes of your wondering children. I wasn't so sure I could handle it any more.

We were able to find a pizza place, where we sat outside and ate with the girls, and while we felt like deer in headlights, we were laughing about it enough that Jeremiah said, "I'm not sure the culture shock could have been any greater if we'd moved to Kenya."

That was Saturday night, so we've been here four and a half days now. We are doing a LOT better now, and I plan to tell you why and get the 'ol camera out and take some pictures, but for now I want to wrap up the journey blogs. Thanks for coming with us, it was the greatest adventure I've ever taken :)


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Day Nine

We had a hard time saying good-bye to Mrs. Ohs the next morning.



Especially Mary Aplin :(


You could never ask for a more loving, giving, interested, and up-for-whatever hostess!

We also had a hard time knowing it was the last day of our idyllic journey. We originally planned to stop in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, but Jeremiah and I had decided that we'd exasperated our funds and it was time to make the last 600-something mile trek to Seattle. We all had a little bit of the depressies as we turned onto I-90 West. Even Jeremiah, who had vowed we'd make the trip in a week said, "I can't stand knowing it's over."

Dr. Maddox (Jeremiah's Dad) called around that time to tell us that one of his partners had said we COULD NOT miss stopping to see the glacial lake in Coeur d'Alene...or eating at one of the top five steak restaurants in the country. We thanked him for the suggestion and said we'd talk about it...but it was a short talk. About that time we literally almost ran out of gas.

We sputtered into a miraculous gas station--that our GPS system hadn't picked up and we'd already been talking about the logistics of the two of us pushing a car with a U-haul up the steep mountain roads...could Pace steer :)?!--when Dr. Maddox called us back. He said, "I hope I'm not over-stepping any lines, but I can't stand for your trip to be over either. I've booked you a room in Coeur d'Alene...all you have to do is call and confirm if you decide to stay."

I wish you could have felt the lift that happened in our car. ANOTHER DAY!!! IT WASN'T OVER!!!! We travelled into Idaho on pure joy. I'd like to say now that I was totally wrong in my picture of Idaho. I've always thought of it as sort of a flat, arid place. Jeremiah asked me why and I laughingly realized that I think it's because...of how dusty Idaho potatoes are. Bahhahahaa. My mind is bizarre! I think Jeremiah described Idaho (or at least the skinny, northern part of the state where we were) best, "It's like in Montana, all the mountains are spread out and then you get into this little narrow part of Idaho, and it seems like all the mountains got squished together--just like the state." It's true! You feel like the steep mountains are jam-packed on top of each other. Fighting for their ground, their height, their streams--beautiful!

Then we got to Coeur d'Alene. Man, did we get there. A lake formed 2,000 feet in the air by a melting glacier. The water is a deep, cold blue and the mountains surrounding the lake are covered in evergreen trees.



And our hotel room was such a GIFT! I don't think I've ever stayed anywhere this nice (except maybe on our honeymoon), and I jumped up and down and squealed (along with the girls--who were excited at the excuse to act crazy like their Mommy and Jeremiah who watched us and grinned from ear to ear) for a solid five minutes straight.




The view (and those blinds closed with a remote control. imagine the delight for the girls :)):


And if you came in the winter-time, there was even a fireplace.

We wallowed in the lap of luxury!

And were so very thankful to Popon and Moogie who gave us such a dream night.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Day Eight

It was the most comfortable night I've ever spent camping...but that's not saying a whole lot :) I can say that I was neither too hot nor too cold, except for those couple of times I woke up and my butt cheeks felt numb ;). And those little pads they sell to put underneath your sleeping bag, make quite a difference on the 'ol hipbones. I crawled out of our tent to see this:


The rising sun and fog over the mountains. A couple of sweet sleeping faces:


And my husband getting breakfast started on the fire:



I am willing to "rough it" when it looks this good :) We had eggs, sausage, cheese toast, and coffee,

And apparently Mary Aplin's night was too rough to feed herself. Thankfully, Sister was there to always.

We took a walk through the fields,

And then we broke camp and spent the rest of the morning getting prepared to tube down the Madison River.

I didn't dare take my camera with me in the water, but here's a shot of some other tubers. Apparently it's quite the past-time, and people float on all types of things...including air mattresses :)


As we lolled down the cool, rolling river, underneath the big Montana sky, with mountains towering on either side of us, I wished for my sisters. Taylor, Caroline, Kendall--it was our kind of paradise. A sport that revolves around laying out ;) We L.O.V.E.D. all three glorious hours!

That night, tuckered out from camping, and sun, and water, we had a low-key night. Mrs. Ohs taught us how to make sushi, and we watched Willow while we ate her favorite strawberry ice cream.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Day Seven

We woke up at Mrs. Ohs' (if you are wondering who Mrs. Ohs is, I explain a bit more in this post) ranch, where I never cease to be awed by the view from her back door.


That last mountain on the right is Hollow Top, and back when we were dating and didn't have children that we drug along with belts, we (along with some friends and Mrs. Ohs son--David--as our guide) climbed it. It was one of the hardest things I've ever done. I'll never forget when we reached snow for the first time, and Alex and I mistakenly took it as the summit. We started exclaiming our joy and the fact that we didn't know if we could have made it another step, when David laughingly informed us that we were just about halfway up. Allie, do you remember the devastation?!


Anywho, Mrs. Ohs leases her land out now to a farmer who grows wheat across her 1000-something acres. I'd never seen unripened wheat before, since it's not a big cash crop down in the South. I'd also never payed close attention to these little babies.


They irrigate the crops with run-off water from the mountains, but they move themselves extremely slowly and precisely over the same path--day and night. Precisely enough that they run right over teeny lil' bridges that span gullies throughout the farm. I'm going to stop talking about machinery now, but it was mind-boggling. Guess people aren't farming with watering hoses like I thought :)

Mrs. Ohs kept both girls while Jeremiah and I took a run together. I am sad I can't run with my camera, because some of my favorite views of the whole trip were on that run. Little red barns nearly swallowed by rolling green wheat fields with mountains soaring in the background. I also had a mighty nice view of a hunky guy who was always several yards ahead of me. It was after that run that I told him, "Not that I doubted it before, but now I know for certain, I'm ready to go anywhere as long as I'm with you." This trip has been so very good for us.

While we were sweaty anyway, we went and picked out a spot and set up camp.


Quite a better view than an RV two feet away, huh :)

Then, we headed into Bozeman and met Mrs. Ohs' daughter LeAnn, with her two cute kids Naudia and Colton, an older gentleman that she cares for, and Jim and Dianne Good--Jeremiah's pastor and his wife from when he lived there. Y'all get all that? And we all stormed the Museum of the Rockies, where we saw a DaVinci exhibit (Did you know he invented one of almost everything we still use today? :))
This was his design for an armored tank.

Pace got to see some more dinosaurs (that would be the largest T-Rex head ever uncovered):



And then we went to another part of the museum--this old house, and y'all, I am in love:


Dianne Good works there as a part-time job, so she gave us lots of sneak peeks



And I am sort of jealous that she gets to wear these outfits and operate this fabulous kitchen just like they did in the old days--with no running water or electricity.




This was the lady of the house's nightgown, laid out on the bed:


And I spent a lot of time lingering over all the sweet baby clothes, like this jacket:



And loving the ancient feel of the oddities:


If I could garden, I would want them to look precisely as these did. Beautiful and functional and untamed, all at once.




A rainstorm brought an abrupt ending to our time together, and we worried our camp-out was about to be squashed again.

Fortunately though, it was fast and furious, and while we did cook our dinner at the house instead, we still had dessert around the fire.


I love s'mores.

And grown-up time talking in the open air, after the girls are all zipped up in the tent.