Some may think we're crazy for planning long road trips with our crew of 6 little people, but we prefer to think of ourselves as adventurous:). We started out on Sunday, August 17th after the morning service. The kids did really well, considering how excited we all were. We managed to sit down and eat lunch before heading towards Lethbridge, Alberta. That was our planned stop for the first night. We enjoyed visiting with the Bishops and stayed up way too late, as usual. Our kids wished that we could stay for a week, but understand that we don't have that much time at each stop. We were blessed by the preaching and fellowship. We all slept fairly well and enjoyed a wonderful breakfast before saying our goodbyes. Their little girl told us that our two little girls weren't allowed to leave. She wanted them to stay and play with her:). Hoping it's not 2 years before our next visit!
We started out on Monday a bit after 9. It was our longest scheduled day of travel, so we tried not to make many stops. Our kids were awesome travelers, but we heard some sighs from the back each time we told them that we didn't have time to stop when they saw something cool! There were lots of interesting places and we hope to fit in more of them in a future, more relaxed trip. At least the kids were able to have a water fight and baseball game before we left the Bishops. While traveling we implemented something I found on Pinterest. It was travel clothespins. As long as the child's stayed up, they were being a good traveler and if they had an extra one they were being super awesome! All of the kids earned both for the majority of the trip. We just had one day where there wasn't the extra one. No one had their normal one taken, which would have meant they were misbehaving. Praise the Lord for answered prayers! We arrived at the Waldron's house before dark and the kids had a bit of time to play before bed. I stayed up talking with the ladies until after midnight our time. I don't regret it at all and thank the Lord that He helped me not to be tired the next day.
Addie told us several times, "Me no like the mountains, yucky mountains!" She loved playing when we'd stop at the rest areas though! She just wasn't fond of all the curves. Thankfully she didn't get car sick. We were all relieved when we got out of the mountains and onto the island. There was a special surprise before we left the Waldrons-A deer was grazing in their yard:). We would have been happy to see our dog chase it away at our place, but the kids thought it was neat to see it up close. We also enjoyed driving through all the orchards on the way to the island. Seeing all the apple boxes stacked and ready to be filled. Our favorite stop on the way to the island was in Winthrop. I have lots of great memories of going there with my parents and also with Scott on our honeymoon. Scott treated us all to ice cream and it was AMAZING! I had Homemade Blackberry and wish we lived closer just so that I could go there on a regular basis:))).
We stopped at City Beach first and the kids fell in love with the ocean! I took Samuel and picked up some groceries while Scott played with the others at the beach. We had a yummy picnic supper, which included sourdough and Tilamook Cheddar Cheese. We brought some back with us to savor as long as possible. I'll have to ask my bro in law to bring us some more when he goes through Oregon! The meetings at the church started at 7, but we needed to change before meeting people. I took Garrison up the hill to my old house and the Howers let us change there. I'll admit it felt kind of funny when we first went in, but it still felt familiar. It was a great reunion at the church that night. Lots of fun rounding up the kids and introducing them to so many people I grew up with. They were a bit overwhelmed at times, but we quite the troopers. Samuel shared his cheery smile with everyone and was such a well behaved little fella for our whole visit. He was passed around a lot while we were visiting and all the kids did amazingly well for being away from home and up so late each night.
Scott preached after Bro. Geist on Wednesday and it was wonderful to see God answer our prayers as he preached. It was one of those messages where you could see the Lord shining through the messenger. We pray that it was an encouragement to many who were able to be there and thank the Lord that He allowed us to be there and be a part of the anniversary. Praying the Lord will bless there in Oak Harbor and continue spreading the Gospel through the surrounding areas. We were blessed by many of the sermons and pray that the Lord helps us to continue meditating on them and applying them as He leads.
We packed a lot in on Friday. I met one of my best friends, Katie, for coffee that morning. I brought Samuel and Scott kept the others. We were able to visit for 2 hours and picked up roses on the way out. Parting truly is a "sweet sorrow". Hoping to see all these dear friends again in the not to distant future. The next stop was to visit Dad's grave. Elyssia was the only one that got to meet him, which made her quite sad at the grave site. We each had a rose to leave, with 4 extra to leave for others. We were hoping to leave one on Mike Dolan's and Al Reid's grave, but they were buried elsewhere. We chose to leave some for those who lived some distance and weren't able to make it back to the island as often as they'd like. We left one on Mitch Foster's for Shannon. One on the Wilkins for Abby and one on Duane Trontvet's for Heather. We know that our fathers and grandparents aren't there. We know that they are with the Lord, but it's still nice to be able to share the memories with the kids and show them where we laid Dad for the last time here on earth. It's gonna be a wonderful reunion day up there!
We took the kids to Deception Pass bridge afterwards. It was a beautiful day and the kids loved the view, the boats, the seal, and the lake on the other side that Dad used to fish at.
We had a wonderful hostess, whom our kids lovingly refer to as "auntie peewee". I've known this lady for many years and it was a blessing to stay in her home and I pray that we were an encouragement to her too. Our kids loved playing with her dogs and enjoyed several wonderful memories over breakfast. We were able to spend a good part of Thursday with her and several of my childhood friends. It's so much fun to see all our kids playing together in the same places that we did growing up. Our kids really enjoyed playing at Ft. Casey and flying kites. Another friend and her family made the trip to Olympia to spend time with us. It was so nice to meet her husband and two little girls. So many people to look forward to enjoying Heaven with, when our life here on earth is ended. We had one last blessing before we headed to bed. My friend, Carolyn, came over and brought ice cream. Scott put the 4 older ones to bed while I visited and got the two littles to sleep. We talked til close to midnight and I almost lost my voice, but it was completely worth it! We laughed, we cried and it felt like we picked up right where we last parted. True friendships are like that:). So thankful for the many friends that the Lord has blessed me with and especially for those "kindred spirits". Looking forward to hearing news of her engagement in the near future and hoping that maybe I'll be able to find a way to the wedding:). It may have to be watching it online, but one can always hope... She does need a flower girl, with puffed sleeves!
We took the kids by the wharf in Coupeville, where Scott proposed:). They didn't find it that interesting, big surprise:))). Then we headed to my old house to have supper with the Howers. I enjoyed seeing the kids playing where I grew up with my brothers. Seeing them do some of the same things that we did. They also got to meet our next door neighbors and meet their mule, Pinata! We enjoyed Papa Murphy's Pizza, a favorite of mine growing up. There was more great fellowship and the Howers gave us smoked salmon to add to the Blackberry Jam that I'd made with Tess on Wednesday.
We headed out on Friday morning, with one last stop at City Beach. We let the kids pick some momentos at a store on the way out, but I honestly think that the time we spent together and the pictures are the true treasures. Scott said that he didn't need to buy anything because he already had his souvenier from the island, Me:).
THE RETURN TRIP....
More time with the Waldrons!! yeah, we loved it:). Kali and Maggie painted the girls fingernails and toes. Another great memory to take with us. We enjoyed delicious peaches and peach cobbler. An extra blessing of being in the Okanogan. They also sent Nectarine Jam home with us. Something to savour over the winter months. Reliving the memories... We were thankful to see Maggie before she got married, this past Saturday. So happy for her! She was born on my birthday when I was in Mrs. Waldron's Sunday School class and I remember being really excited when they announced that she'd been born on my birthday.
We were able to meet with the Warners, in Omak, before they moved to Texas. It was a blessing to see them and meet their church family.
4 hours later we were back in Canada and visiting with church family from when we lived there. Introducing the kids to the area where the 3 oldest were born. They had quite a few memories from previous trips, but it was good to refresh them. They enjoyed Gyro Park and playing at the Hawkins. Mrs. Hawkins blessed us with some of her Huckleberry Jam. Another treat to savor this winter!
We went to church at BVBC and had an awesome reunion. Sarah and Josh were there with their little girls, which was a wonderful surprise. The kids LOVED their Sunday School Classes and ti was great to catch up with our "young adults" and their families. Scott was the leader of the Young Adults for a couple years before we moved to Saskatchewan and it was a blessing to see each of the young people married and serving the Lord with their families! The kids wished we could stay longer and attend their VBS. We had a delicious potluck and headed over the mountain to Creston, B.C.
Scott preached that night and we sang as a family. The Lord enabled me to sing, even though I had had almost no "talking voice". We enjoyed the fellowship with our church family there and they blessed us with an abundance of fruit to bring home! We stayed with 2 sweet sisters that had an apartment for us to stay in. They showed the kids their rabbits and taught them a lot about how to care for them. They also taught us a lot about their fruit trees, during our short stay there. They sent us off with quite a bit of dried fruit, which was and is a nice treat.
THE FORTS AND CAMPING...
We stopped at Cranbrook to see if we could find suits for the boys. Not one to be found... On to Ft. Steele. We went there on our honeymoon and it was fun to share it with the kids. we even got to take them on the train ride, which was not something that we did 11 years ago. We ate before we headed in, which helped us to avoid expensive treats. The kids had brought some spending money and they each bought a little something.
We drove a couple more hours to Fernie, where we'd reserved a campsite. We used a gift card to have supper at Smitty's and went to the much anticipated Happy Cow Ice Cream Parlor! Scott and I shared a scoop of Huckleberry and Banana Cream Pie Ice Cream and the kids enjoyed an assortment of flavors. Delicious Memories! We headed up to the campsite after that. Our night included a walk, a story around the campfire and our first time setting up the tent at a campsite. The kids were great helpers setting up and taking down. It was a cold night on rocky ground for us adults, but a fun adventure, nonetheless. Scott made pancakes for breakfast and we enjoyed Boysenberry syrup that we'd picked up on the Island. Yummy! We took one more walk and headed out.
The next stop was Ft. MacLeod in Alberta. The main thing we enjoyed was the Musical Ride. Elyssia went up and petted the horses and all the kids enjoyed seeing the fancy riding. We didn't stay as long, due to having a couple more hours to drive, but we saw a lot and took a lot of pictures. The kids made ice cream and butter before we left. Small portions of each as part of the "fort experience". We took them to Mack's gas station for soft serve ice cream. I think we'll be taking them for that treat whenever we have the opportunity! It's $1 for a full cup or cone, with whatever toppings a person wants. That's very economical, considering there are 8 of us:). There isn't one close by, but there is one in the city and around the province.
Several hours later we arrived at Maple Creek, SK. Our final overnight stop. We quickly made some supper, set up the tent and got ready for bed. Everyone was quite tired and thankfully we were sleeping on softer ground. It wasn't quite as cold, but the mosquitoes were numerous. We slept better, ate a good breakfast and headed out to see the town. Our favorite stops were the bakery, the library, the thrift shop and the covered wagon eating area.
We arrived home shortly before 2 and it was a wonderful sight for sore eyes. There truly is no place like home, especially when we got to sleep in our own beds for the first time in close to two weeks. We're really thankful for the blessings of our vacation.
It's been a whirlwind of activity since we got home. We've butchered the chickens, canned the fruit and made jam, applesauce, etc... Our new school year has begun and Scott is combining for a farmer this harvest. We had a wonderful reunion with our church family and we look forward to settling in over the next month. Seeing what the Lord has for us in the days ahead.
Thanks for joining us on our epic journey. Here are links for pictures of our trip: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10152243783880976.1073741849.653210975&type=1&l=53e5a4103a
Just paste and copy each of them into the browser. I did them in two separate albums on facebook.