Feb 17 2011

Day 676: Update in Photos

by andrew

Before we left San Diego I snuck in a helicopter ride (actually the same morning we had to check out of the campground by noon) to shoot video for stock. Hopefully the adventure will more than pay for itself (it better 🙂 ).

Beautiful San Diego was our home for a month. Among other things, we made it to the southwest corner of CA and walked up to the border with Mexico on the beach, we played in the tidal pools at La Jolla and saw the seals and sea lions, we went to a vineyard / winery about an hour north and enjoyed tasting the wines, we played in the ocean in January and February at several different beaches, we enjoyed having a Trader Joe’s close by again, we had cook-outs with dear friends parked right behind us, we made new friends at the campground who routinely gave us fresh tangelos from their family’s tree, we went for an hour (1-way) ride on the 3-level Coastal Train along the coast up to Ocean City, CA had lunch way out at a restaurant on a massive pier and rode back during sunset, we went for walks around Mission Bay where the campground was, and many other adventures besides – all the while enjoying summer in winter.

This is our parking spot about 30 minutes south of Fresno, CA with a beautiful view to the Sierras. We’re staying on the farm of friends of friends and are so blessed to be able to make new friendships and have another taste of community in a place previously foreign to us.

We had an adventurous trip north that included lots of heavy pulling through mountains and an episode of overheating that forced us to pull over. We even lost our pyro gauge and I wasn’t sure if we were going to be able to continue at one point. But we all prayed about it and I realized there really was no option but to throw our trust completely on YHWH and keep going. As soon as the family finished praying, and I came to resolve in my heart and spirit (I was outside under the hood), the pyro gauge came back to life and we pressed on without any other setbacks.

And then there was Bakersfield! Wow. Enough words cannot be found to describe the Bakersfield miracle. We set out from San Diego with directions in hand and campground recommendations from our tangelo friends who travel between their home in Washington state and San Diego every year for the seasons. Our original plan was to head up along the coast and end up in LA and maybe Malibu to connect with friends of friends there. That door closed for a variety of reasons which ended up pushing us through a more easterly route. YHWH confirmed it was the right direction for us as we pulled into a campground in Bakersfield, CA that had been recommended by our tangelo friends. It was around 7:30pm and the office was closed, but I had called ahead and our site number (112) was waiting for us on the door. We pulled into our site after several attempts (it was quite slanted on one side and leveling a camper is everything), the kids exploded out of the truck crying shrieks of banshee freedom, and I began to set up. Enter stage right: very familiar looking gentlemen. Queue the line: “Hey, didn’t we meet you guys in New Mexico?” Turns our we had not only arrived at the same campground, but had been assigned a site immediately next to dear friends we had made at a campground in New Mexico a month and a half earlier. They travel full-time too and homeschool their 5 boys who instant friends with our kids, and we only overlapped in NM for 1 night. They went northwest to Arizona and we went west to California. We weren’t event going to stay in San Diego for a month but were supposed to go to LA and instead ended up in Bakersfield. They were only supposed to be in Bakersfield for a few days (weeks before we arrived), but ended up stuck there for weeks to work out insurance, plates, and a new van after theirs was crushed by a semi (thankfully no one was hurt). And here we wind up weeks later, without staying in touch, parked next to each other at the same campground. I would call it a freak coincidental act of fate except that I have seen YHWH do things like this throughout my entire life.

Bennah and Reayah made it into their blog post about the amazing encounter, and I wish I had pictures of the whole crowd playing in Bakersfield to post here! Here’s Patsy’s post (scroll down to the entry “It’s All About Perspective”):
And here’s Marty’s post about the accident:

Kidology is the children’s pastor ministry they are involved with during their travels. Amazing! All honor to YHWH!

Another highlight from Bakersfield was the not-quite-lukewarm-hot-tube-date. Renee and I had Bennah and Reayah watch the kids after bed time and managed a quick dip in the hot tub. We had Sky in the car seat and rocked him to sleep beside the water. The only thing was the water… it wasn’t even as hot as I’d make my own bath water. I ended up having to jump into the freezing pool and back just to get it to feel “hot” – even if only for a few seconds. But the night was beautiful and it was nice to have a moment of quality hangout time with my wife. That’s probably the first time Renee has ever shivered in a hot tub. Not kidding.

And here we are planting potatoes on the farm where we’re staying! Fun fun fun!

This was going to be a 10-photo post, but I ended up having to write a lot more than I had originally planned… the hour drags on… and I’ll have to make this part 1. More to come!

Feb 5 2011

Day 663: Better than the Zoo

by renee

We’ve been in California for 3 weeks now and have been staying just north of San Diego. Many beautiful rocky and sandy beaches, tall palm trees and clear blue skies. It’s a bit bizarre being somewhere so warm while hearing about our friends and family getting hit by winter storms. We’re praying they all stay warm and safe.

The campground here is completed paved which makes it an ideal place for riding bikes and scooters. Up until a few days ago, Joy was the only one without wheels. She now has Jaiden’s scooter. Jaiden inherited Zach’s. Zach now has a shiny new silver and red one that is, of course, the new favorite of everyone. Zach is gracious at times and shares it with his siblings, but makes sure he gets the first turn on it when he gets up in the morning.

Today was a great day. We spent the afternoon with some wonderful old friends who are visiting California. We explored our favorite neighborhood near our campground. We played in ocean tide pools and watched sea lions. At the end of the day we spotted the new moon at sunset. It was a beautiful way to enter into Sabbath.

Tide pool are small pools of ocean water left in the rocks and crevices when the tide is low. In these pools are hundreds of living things, hanging out, waiting to be swept out to sea again. Hermit crabs, anemones, star fish, barnacles and so many more bizarre and interesting creatures. Today was our second time at the pools. On our first visit, Bennah had said: “this is better than the zoo!”.  Tonight, Andrew overheard Bennah:

“This was the best day ever. Right Reayah?”
“Yeah'” Reayah replied.

I’m so glad our kids are fulfilled by adventures like these that don’t really cost anything. Exploring the Creator’s creation is one of our favorite things to do together as a family and it’s the most rewarding. And it’s almost always free. There are many things here in San Diego that offer too much excitement for one day for way too much money for a family of eight. It is very rewarding for me as a parent to see our children not just content, but fulfilled. Not just entertained, but quenched.



Jan 9 2011

Day 637: Spring Canyon

by andrew

We’ve been near Deming, New Mexico for the last couple nights – paused for Sabbath – and tomorrow we continue westward towards California. Yesterday we took a drive around the area to explore the local parks. Such a fascinating place with the dry, arid landscape mostly flat but the occasional massive rock formations leaping into the sky and the interesting pueblo construction in most of the dwellings.

We drove up into a national park called spring canyon and arriving around 3pm were a little miffed that yet again the gate would be closing – this time at 4pm. We paid our $5 entry fee anyway and set out to see what kind of adventure we could cram into an hour. Bennah, Reayah and I managed to scramble several hundred feet up rocks and scree and cactus to an incredible view while Renee and the little ones tried to fly kites.

I still haven’t gotten the report on how that went because as we were slipping and sliding back down as safely and yet quickly as possible I became aware of two things. First:  in pushing to get to the top I had underestimated the time we’d need to get back down and we weren’t going to make it by 4pm. Second: there was another vehicle still there too and I had heard the echo of someone yelling earlier. It hadn’t sounded distressed, but it had ben from far away and I began to wonder.

Enough of the way back down to trust my two oldest in making it the rest of the way on their own I cut across the rocks and angled down to intercept the driver of the other vehicle who had slowly started up the canyon trail below.

It was 4pm. His friend from Texas had not returned and he wasnt in the kind of shape to go up in the canyon to look for him. I coordinated with Renee, got his phone number, and headed up the trail as fast as I could.

Some running, some walking, some climbing and scrambling later – probably a mile or so – I had been praying and thinking about 127 Days and periodically calling out “hello!?” – oh and there was no kidding this little skunk just a couple feet away that I didn’t notice until I was passing it and was thrilled I didn’t get spayed – finally comes this response from above me to one of my calls: “praise the Lord?” To which I responded: “praise the LORD! Are you ok?”

Turns out the gentleman was just enjoying creation without a care in the world and no idea that the gate was supposed to have been closed 40 minutes ago. He appologized for the trouble but I told him it was no trouble at all – I was glad he was alright.

He had been way out there even high up, and said he’d had a vision in a whirlwind. I asked him to describe it. He said:

“There are so many trees fallen down… People that need someone to lift them up and replant them… And there are so many with thorns in them…”

Dec 30 2010

Day 627: Epic

by andrew

There are many many stories by way of which I ought to bring this record up to date. And I hope to, but this day stands alone. And I will not (yet) even attempt to add paltry detail in words, for they would distract you from what the pictures have to say:

Sep 9 2010

Day 518: PEI

by renee

We’ve been traveling through Canada on our longest stretch I think ever, so far. We had a wonderful week in PEI. We explored the famous lighthouses, played in the red sand, drove around the country side, met new friends and met up with old friends. On that day with our old friends, we spent an afternoon at the beach catching crabs followed by probably the best lunch of fish and chips I’ve ever tasted. Our campground in PEI was wonderful. There was a pool, a big playground and rocky beach right by our campsite. After a week exploring PEI,  I was looking forward to our drive west to Winnipeg. We left on a tuesday morning and traveled until friday afternoon when we stopped in Ontario for a brief rest over Sabbath. Traveling all day long, every day with nights spent at Walmarts and welcome centers was surprisingly easier than I anticipated. The kids were great. There were of course, challenging moments. Like giving the kids baby wipe baths in the morning (since our water tank was empty), making quick and easy breakfasts, and finding creative ways to let the kids run out their energy. Some mornings it was letting them run back and forth in a small area of grass in a Walmart parking lot or having them do lots of jumping jacks at a rest stop before hopping back in their seats. It was an adventure, but I stayed sane, knowing that in a few days we’d be at a campground with electricity, running water and outdoor space for playing again. Andrew and I have been trying to work while on the road. One morning, we spent a couple of hours at a McDonalds in Quebec. While the kids ate breakfast and played happily at the outdoor playground, Andrew was able to check emails and have a business meeting. While in Quebec, I spoke a little french. I don’t speak it that often so I’m pretty rusty but I’m always excited when the opportunity arises. Ordering 8 meatless egg and cheese McMuffins and black coffee in french was fun.  I happily pointed out french signs to the kids and tried to interpret the ones I could. I encouraged Bennah and Reayah to use some of their limited vocabulary they had learned but they were not very confidant. I guess that means we just have to practice more .

We drove through some really lovely areas of Quebec with rolling green hills and found a quiet beach to stop at. Andrew took the kids swimming while I made dinner then we spent the night in the empty beach parking lot.

I was a but sad when we left Quebec and entered into the land of the english speaking again. It had been a little like visiting a foreign country.

Soon we will be in familiar Manitoba, visiting with family and having a baby!

Feb 7 2010

Day 302: January in Florida

by andrew

We have been having so many adventures in Florida – both with work and with play and with meeting some amazing new friends. One of these days here soon I am going to write about some of it (in theory). I should have gone to bed long ago as it is, and I’m going to try to wake up the kids in about an hour and a half to catch the space shuttle launch at 4:30am…

But, for now, here are some visuals. I know they say a picture is worth a thousand words, but I could write at least a few thousand words about the stories weaving in and out of each of these pictures.

Jan 15 2010

Day 279: Journey to Florida

by renee

We’ve arrived in Florida! Now, this isn’t the Orlando and Disney World part of Florida. This is wild boy country Florida. Where wild boars, rattlesnakes, coyotes, alligators and fire ants are all part of daily life. First day here and the kids are exhausted but happy after a very full day of playing golf, running, climbing, digging holes, swinging, petting a new horse and much more! We are parked for a couple weeks at an old friend’ s property. He and his lovely wife have three marvelous children who share the same excitement of life and hunger for adventure. Their home is in the country. The nearest town is just over 1,000 people. There is lots of room to run around and endless things to explore. We’re looking forward to many adventures and just time to chill and catch up.

Our trip here was easy and restful. The kids were amazing travelers and didn’t complain about wanting a break to run around. We took 8 days and drove through 5 states to get here (New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Missippi, and Alabama). Our first day traveling was 11 hours altogether! The consecutive days were 7 and 8 hours in the truck. The kids were pretty much content to hang out in the truck. We did school, watched movies and enjoyed the ever changing views and discoveries out our windows.

Most of the drive through Texas was acres and acres of cotton fields, wind turbines and oil rigs. I have never seen so many wind turbines in one place in my life. Hundreds of them. The cotton fields turned into a great school lesson. We pulled over and Andrew got out and grabbed a big handful of cotton from the side of the road that had blown around during the harvest. The kids each got a piece to play with while they watched some really awesome cotton harvesting videos on YouTube! I love the internet! After we saw how they made cotton bales, we started to see real cotton bales covered with tarps, waiting to be loaded on trucks. The kids were pretty amazed and I was very satisfied with a productive homeschool day.

On day 3 (Saturday), we stopped in San Antonio for three nights. We met up with an old friend there who showed us the famous Alamo, and other sites in San Antonio. The next day Andrew and I worked most of day while the kids played and enjoyed the campground and the break from traveling. We left the campground tuesday morning (day 6) and then met up in Louisiana with some good friends of ours who are nomads like us. After spending a night camping side by side in a Walmart parking lot, we went to visit an alligator house together and all the kids had a chance to hold baby alligators. Later on that day, we stopped for gas and saw a live tiger exhibit set up by the gas station!

We stopped for the night on day 7 at a campground in Marianna, Fl to clean out our tanks and get cleaned up ourselves. We arrived the next day around 3:30 pm with plenty of time to play and visit.

It’s Shabbat now and we are resting! It’s supposed to rain all day tomorrow so it might be a nice down day after all the excitement today.

Jan 7 2010

Day 271: First day back on the road

by renee

First day back on the road and it’d been great. It’s wonderful to be on the road again. Jaiden is serenading Reayah, Zach is asleep on my shoulders, Joy is chewing on a carrot, Bennah is playing my ipod and I am getting some design work done! 7 Hours ago we pulled away from Andrew’s parent’s home in 4 inches of snow with frozen water and gray tanks. It’s been a peaceful day. We are now driving through New Mexico and got to see some incredible scenery before the sun completely disappeared. We’ll be driving late tonight to the next Walmart (they are few and far between on this stretch of our route) where we’ll spend the night in below freezing temperatures. We’ll be bundling up tonight in the trailer and keeping the thermostat on a low temperature to save on propane. That’s the plan anyway. We’ll see how it goes. It’s 6 degrees F already and will keep dropping through the night.