Thursday, June 09, 2016

Vacation 2016 Part I: En Route

As I mentioned in my last post, we were lucky enough to route our trip so that we could spend two nights with some of our dearest grad school friends. Normally when Neil drives with us we try to do it as quickly as possible so as to avoid taking more days off work--we leave after work one day and drive through the night until we hit the Rockies (then we allow ourselves one night in RMNP, which I must say I really did miss this time around!).

But it was SO nice to be a little more leisurely and to spend an entire day with these friends! We last saw them in March when we met in Chicago to check out the St. Pat's festivities. Poor Neil was bummed to miss out this time!

I was thinking as we drove out how nice it is to have a friend who I can text and say, "Hey, can I come visit you in like three days and spend a couple of nights with all my kids and no Neil?" and have her immediately text back "Absolutely!" 

And here we are--exhausted and sweaty after bushwhacking (literally) through the woods with the kids and hauling them forcibly out of streams (again, literally), but pleased as punch to have all that time to chat together. :-)

We had a great time running the kids ragged--we spent a few hours at a playground, then back home for lunch, then another few hours at another playground/wooded park where the kids got absolutely filthy sliding down streambanks and running wild through the water, and then we went back for dinner and baths before tucking our exhausted little people into bed. We were even incredibly virtuous and went to bed at a decent hour so I could get plenty of sleep before driving to Denver the next day (we had stayed up pretty darn late the night before to make up for it!). Unfortunately nobody clued Nathan in to this plan and he woke up 14 times that night. FOURTEEN. But I still had all the fun of hours and hours of chatting with one of my dearest friends (while we ate an impressive quantity of sweet rolls...pretty much any chance we got we were talking a mile a minute and only pausing for those sweet rolls. It was a perfect day!!).

The kids had such a great time too--I loved this picture of three of our boys! They get along so well!

And it's always really really really fun to visit friends who keep a bounce house in their basement...

On Monday morning we tore ourselves away and headed out to Denver and spent 90% of the day driving through Nebraska (you guys, how is that not the biggest state in the continental US?!!). And then the next day we went through the gorgeous gorgeous Colorado mountains (and Abigail took about 800 pictures because she knows how much Neil loves that drive...she even took videos in the tunnels and his favorite canyon, and made sure she snapped every ski resort we passed, including the turnoff to Aspen!) and then we were in Utah! We stopped just over the border and climbed up to this gorgeous overlook and spent quite awhile just oohing and aahing over the landscape. It's been 3 years since we last visited so this kind of view is pretty foreign to my kids! The older 4 really wanted to pose so I could text a photo back to Neil, but Nate was terrified of the rocks and didn't want to leave my arms. (He had kind of a hard time on this trip overall...more about that later.)

At some point I snapped this photo of the van and felt like I should include it because I'm so grateful for the fact that nothing went wrong while I was driving solo. This is actually a huge blessing because we were going through this horrifically terrifying storm in Nebraska--the kind where you can only see a few feet in front of you and the wipers are going like crazy and there is NOWHERE to pull over and all you can do is pray--and then as soon as the rain stopped I heard this awful noise from the car. I panicked and called Neil and described it to him, and he told me to call him again when it came back (it stopped before he picked up) and I never heard it again, so I was just figuring it was something to do with the torrential rain. Then as I pulled into the airport to pick Neil up, I heard it again, And again. He checked everything out and couldn't find anything wrong, but then when we were coming over the passes in Wyoming it was horribly awful and so scary. We stopped in Rapid City for the night (which we normally wouldn't have done but my mom really pushed us to stop and I felt like we should) and Neil ended up completely overhauling the brakes--one of the calipers had gotten stuck and he caught the problem right before it would have caused a catastrophic failure. The guys at Autozone were so amazing and stuck around for half an hour after closing to make sure Neil had everything he needed, and even loaned him all the necessary tools without doing their normal buy-back program--they just gave him everything for free and asked him to leave it by the back door when he was through. Total miracle and I was SO grateful for their kindness and for the Lord's mindfulness of us.

1 comment:

Kayli said...

WOW about your brakes! What a blessing, and way to be, Autozone guys!
And YES Nebraska is SOOOOOOOO horribly long!

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