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Sunday, June 23, 2013

ROADTRIP To The Wedding!
7,000 miles, 23 days and 15 States!

First stop, Idaho to visit John's sisters Mary and Sheila.  Mary is pictured with her husband Jim and Sheila is with Ruth.  Her other daughter Ann had to leave before I remembered to get the camera out.
After we left their place, we stopped in Twin Falls to see Shoshone Falls.

Next destination was Arches National Park.  It was AMAZING!  We got up at 4:15 one of the days,  in order to get out to the park and hike in the dark to be able to have my camera set up in time to get the sunrise.  The arch next to the sunrise shot is the view of it from the other side.  We climbed all the way up there behind it to get the sunrise.  The top left photo is the same arch that is on the top right, only the first one is taken across a canyon on the first day, the next day we hiked up to see it from the other side.

Here is the view of some of the 'trails' we had to hike up to get to those arches.  It was either slick rock or deep sand, straight up.  We always did them early and missed the crowd and the heat.  By the time we were coming back down each day, the crowds were coming up...which we could never figure out why they were just getting started when it was already 90°!
Here are some other arches and formations.  What a place.  Looking back, I am pretty sure it was my favorite of all the parks we saw. 

A few of the desert flowers.

 This is the area around our hotel.  The bottom right is the view from our patio.  Bottom left is some ancient drawings from Arches Park, I didn't really know where to put it, so figured I would just stick it here.  I can't believe those drawings have lasted all these years.
 Next stop was to have dinner with my nephew David, his wife Beth and their kids, Meri, Luke, Nate, Ellie and Sam.  We were happy to meet up with them and wished we could have stayed longer, but we had to hit the road again.
 Kansas and Missouri had a few surprises for me.  We just happened by on a side road and saw one of the homes that Laura Ingles Wilder lived in. This was the one that her little sister Carrie was born in.  All along that stretch of road were box turtles walking and crossing. I don't mean a few, there were Tons of them!  I am happy to report that we didn't see any smashed ones and all of the cars we met up with were going around them as we were.  The little guy in the photo was just sitting there looking up at me. I sure do wish I could have brought him along with me, but decided not to try. Then came the dead armadillos.  Everywhere.  I was hoping to see at least one live one, but no such luck.  The mill photo was also a battlefield from the Civil war.
 We finally made it to Memphis to Melanie's place, the whole reason for this trip...her son's wedding.  Terri and her husband had already flown in the day before.  It was such a good time there.  It felt like one long slumber party with my two high school friends.  Terri was my maid of honor and Melanie was a candle lighter in my wedding.
 Of course we had to do the 'tourist things' while we were there.  We visited the Shiloh Battlefield  and downtown Memphis and went to see Elivs' home.  His 'mansion' was not what is considered a mansion in this day.  Not impressive at all, the only part that really had the wow factor was the Hall of Fame where all of his gold, platinum records and other awards were shown.  (the bottom right photo)  I was awed!
 So after 3 days we all jumped in our vehicles and drove on over to Eureka Springs, Arkansas where the wedding was going to be held.  I thought Eureka Springs was such a cute little place.  Sure, touristy, but a fun place to walk around.  We stayed at the Crescent Inn, where the reception was held.  Across the canyon from the hotel was a huge statue of Christ.  We drove over to get a closer look and I took a photo of our hotel from there.  One of the photos shows how they built a home right on one of the rocks, another one has a little pedal car exactly like one I used to have as a little girl.
 The wedding was held at Thorncrown Chapel, a glass church!  It was gorgeous.  We went there ahead of time and I took a ton of photos, inside and out.

 We left the next morning and headed to Texas.  Since we didn't want to be tied down with deadlines, except for the wedding, I waited to call people along the route we were going until I knew we were getting close, like a day or two ahead.  By the time I tried to contact my niece Leah, I could not reach her.  Finally she called me back.  She was camping!  The campground was in a bad phone connectivity area. I was so disappointed that we might not see her after getting so close after all these years.  But as it turned out, she was camping closer to where we were heading than if we had gone to her home.  We made it to the campground in time to have dinner with them there.  We laughed that after all these years since we have met up, it would be in a campground!  The last time I saw her, she was a freshman.  Now she is married and has two kids.  I was so happy to meet them all.  We also were able to meet one of her brothers there too, I have not seen him since before I got married 39 years ago!  The background photo is a field of wildflowers that lead into the campground.  We saw fields like this all along the roads in Texas.
Then came San Antonio.  I had been there once on a Red Cross Deployment, but John wanted to see it.  
 We made it up to Carlsbad, New Mexico.  I am pretty amazed that those caverns can hold so much and be so far underground!  We hiked down and were down there 4 1/2 hours!!!  What sights, photos don't even begin to do it justice.  My hands were frozen by the time we came up.
 I had forgotten all about the whole spaceship thing until we drove through Roswell.  At first I was thinking "what in the world?'  All over the place were martians and signs...the bottom left shot, I was taking the AREA 51 sign and didn't even notice the cute streetlamp until I got it on my computer.
I thought the towns along the reservation were really quaint, like something from an old book.
 So then we headed off the main road to get to Monument Valley.  It was blowing wind and sand was everywhere.  I was bummed that it would ruin my photos, but now that I see them. I am so happy.  The one below is one of my favorites of the whole trip.
Monument Valley was nothing like I thought it would be.  This shot below was it. Yep that was ALL there was there...I expected there to be tons of monuments along there that we would drive through like we had up in Arches.  As we got closer, there were homes right out there in the field by the monuments.  It was not what it was cracked up to be.
Here is Horseshoe Bend, near Page, Arizona.  I have seen this place on Flickr and wanted to shoot it for myself.  Wow, that was a tough one!  you walk right up to the edge!  I actually got on my butt and scooted out to the edge, wrapped my legs around a rock in order to get these shots.  I have a couple below that are the way John got a few shots.  Seriously, I am amazed that they don't have rails and all, but actually it was kind of nice to see it natural like this.

Then came Zion National Park and Dixie National Park.  Can you believe the red of Dixie on the bottom two?  I almost felt like I should desaturated the photo so that nobody would think I added color to them!
 And then Bryce Canyon.  WOW...Unreal that there are places full of color and shapes like this.  What a feast for the eyes.

And then we headed home...we went through Nevada and stopped for a couple of days in Reno.
and then it was back to Oregon to the place we are now calling home.  Weird to be gone all that time and then go 'home' to a place that isn't really home yet.  

Saturday, June 22, 2013

I have a very good reason for getting so behind on my blog this time. 
Here is how it went.  Last September, we had a friend of Jessi’s, who is the real estate agent who helped her find her home, come out to our house so we could talk about when and IF we wanted to list our house this coming summer.  She gave us her appraisal and some pointers on what to do to prepare our house for selling when the time came.   We told her thanks and we would get back to her when we were ready, most likely by May or June.  Well, we took off on our trip to LA for Gabe’s birthday in February.  The day we arrived back home she called and said that she had a buyer that was having trouble finding what they wanted.  She still had the photos from when she had talked with us and had shown them to them.  They had even driven by!  They really wanted to see our place.  She said we did not even have to list the place, just allow them to look at it for themselves.  We had not done anything to get the house ready to sell yet.  John said OK, but we wanted $30 thousand more than the appraisal she had given us. She was doubtful that they would want it for that much but went ahead and brought them out.   We left while she showed them the place.  She said it usually was only a half hour.  We gave them an hour and went home…they were still there, we drove around and came back…still there…THREE more times!  Finally they we gone.  The next day she called and said they wanted it!!  Of course they offered less, but we came back saying that we were not changing the price.  They said OK!!!  But then we had the inspections to hurdle, every inspection passed, including the well which had not passed many years ago when we tried to sell. The most important of the hurdles was that the bank had to appraise it for our price, which she felt probably would not make it.  IT DID!!!  How could any of this have been anything but God’s plan? 
Now if you have been to my house, you know it is an OK house, but the view is what makes it.  The location was excellent.  I really had a hard time saying goodbye.  We had 24 years there.  We had memories.  I knew that memories were exactly that…memories…you take them with you.  But how was I going to ever match that view, the surroundings, the quiet, the peace I had there?  I had hummingbirds feeding there all winter.  The wisteria I planted right after we moved in was fully budded ready to burst.  The berries I had caned and tied last winter were beginning to leaf out. How was I ever going to match it?  I didn’t want to go, but I knew that I had to listen to what God was saying.
Especially in a RENTAL house!  Yes, we had decided to rent a place for a couple of years, take time to find the right piece of land and eventually build a home that would have a kitchen and living room better suited for when the kids all come home, not really a bigger house, but one with a better design.  I could see the big picture, but it was the short term that was bothering me.
So there I was, looking at rental homes.  Just to get an idea of what was out there, we had gone looking right after we signed the offer papers.   I had found 4 that would be OK, not great, but OK.  Then a couple of weeks later, when it was final, we went back in hopes that they were still on the rental market.  None of them were.  I hit the Internet again.  I found a few more…we drove by them…they were awful.  In desperation, I looked at the new apartments in Happy Valley.  John was actually excited about them.  Me?  well, I was about to burst into tears. Well, I went home and tried Craig's List and found TWO more houses. We drove by…wow!  The first one was awesome.  The second was OK too.  We ended up deciding on the first one. 
We packed up and moved in less than a week!  It was much easier packing it into those boxes than unpacking.  The unpacking took me two weeks.  I am not one to keep things I don’t use, but as I unpacked each box, I found I had more unused things than I thought I did.  I ended up getting rid of a lot of things and it feels so good to have the place completely sorted and in order.  
As I said, it was hard to leave the house.  I had so many ‘lasts’.  Last dinner, last time sleeping there, last drink of that well water, last time cleaning each room, last time mopping that kitchen floor, last time standing on my deck looking at MY mountain, last time to photograph ‘my view’, last sunset, last sunrise (so thankful for that unusually sunny weather back in April) and so on and so on.  You would have thought I was headed to my grave. It would have been a little easier, but all three kids were also going through their own farewells.  Each in their own way let me know it was a hard thing for them to let go too, which made it even harder, even though I was happy to know that they too had happy memories of our life in that home.
As I stood alone on my deck that last day, a few tears, a little prayer, a whispered goodbye to my house, my home of 24 years…I looked down and there were some of the buds that had burst a little early of my beautiful fragrant wisteria waiting for me to notice them.  I took their picture, bent down to smell them and started to walk away…and then I went back over to them and took a handful of them with me and put them in a vase at the new place.  The place I am now calling home.
I walked out the door, but left a pretty plant at the front door with a ‘WELCOME HOME’ sign to greet the new family that now calls it home. I pray that God will bless them as He blessed me while I lived there.   It was time to move on.
I like this house a lot.  We have neighbors. I didn’t think I would like that.  Yes, we had neighbors before, but not so close. They are so nice, they have all come by and welcomed us.  One even came and mowed our yard while we were away on vacation (vacation news coming up).  It is quiet here, which seems unreal when you are closer into town, but it is quieter than my other place.  I didn’t expect that.  The Columbia River is an easy walk, Blue Lake is an easy walk.  There are birds at my bird feeders and one day there were 3 squirrels.  Last week, a hummingbird found the feeder.
God has replaced ‘the view’ with another ‘view’.  Almost every day we walk to the lake, circle the lake, watch the Canadian geese with 5 little babies.  Already they have tripled in size.  Ducks are there, and squirrels and rabbits.  If we go after hours, we get to see skunks come out in hopes of left behind food from the picnickers.  And a huge surprise for me…there is a beaver dam and we have even seen the beaver there!  The park ranger said there is a baby one, but I have not seen it yet.  And I still have the mountain.  Not only is it in view, but it is reflected in the lake! And the lake is in full bloom right now with pink and white water lilies. So many gifts from God to welcome me to my new home.
 God is here, and that is what makes all the difference.  He made the sale of the house happen.  As I panicked about where I was going to live, He brought me to this one.   He helped me say goodbye, He gave me the final gift of an early wisteria bloom and moved me on to a whole lake of lilies. 
I have a little sign that was in my old home…and it is even more true now.
Home is Where You Hang Your Heart. I think I will ‘hang’ with GOD!  That is where my final home will be, I can not even imagine what He has in store for me there!