[Ken 05/08/2018] We need to be at our first assignment of 2018 in two weeks -- but it requires a journey of more than 2500 miles! It's a Long road trip, for sure, especially with a few scheduled stops along the way. But we are sooooooo excited to be [re]starting our SOWER Ministry -- this year, we begin our service at New Hope Christian School near Grants Pass, Oregon.
Enroute from Base Camp in Texas we will cross water, desert, canyon, and mountain. There will be prairie, forest, and big sky sunsets. We are going to experience rain, heat, hail, and [prolly] even some snow. We will encounter new places, new cultures, and make new friends. I love the variety of blessings that our Creator has prepared for us, for it is all packaged in Generous adventure!!!
Our intended route into the Pacific Northwest
Leaving Base Camp -- Crossing beautiful Lake Livingston on our way out of town.
While Faith was in the shop, we took time to explore the iconic San Antonio Riverwalk and a couple of the local missions, including the Alamo. We had been there before, but this time it was so much more peaceful (our last visit was during the busy Christmas season in 2015). And this walking tour would be the first time we had taken Gadgette away from her familiar-smelling doggie-walk loop at Base Camp. Let's just say that we ended up carrying her much of the time; we definitely need a little more practice walking on paths and sidewalks.
But there is good news! We found out that Gadgette likes ice cream cones and, at that stop, Ken was able to repair and reset the satellite dish. After a dozen or so "magic keystrokes" and an extended double-thumb-push on the dish control panel, it perked back-to-life. Disaster averted! Quick, let's see if we can find a re-run of NCIS so we can test it!
Within 30 minutes of our arrival in Littleton Ellie's wish came true -- she and Mallory came to see us. Finally! -- not FaceTime, but for REAL! ... Ami and GrandBumps! With hugs all around and a lengthy play session with Gadgette, Ellie sat on GrandBumps' lap to read him a story about Beekle, a fun, imaginary friend.
Mother’s Day was especially great because all of our family came together. Uncle Chris was there with a fist-bump and Uncle Robby with a high-five. Ellie even helped Ami button her sweater in a highly unique way.
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Saturday was drizzly, but the soccer coach did show up for this, the last session. Ellie was his only soccer munchkin that day. They played some extra games just for her. Ellie showed us how to dribble and kick and most importantly SCORE! Even GrandBumps got a chance to play. We cheered her on. Ellie did not let the cold and wet distract her from concentrating on her skills.
craters on the moon?
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[Ken & Deb 05/21/2018] We were not really on the moon, of course. Central Idaho's Craters of the Moon National Monument offers a glimpse into America's very volcanic past. Everything is covered by frozen-in-time lava and loose, crunchy chunks of volcanic debris (think melon-sized chunks of lava).
We took a self-guided, seven mile drive through this dark-brown legacy of volcanic instability. There are a few places where you can pull-off and hike a bit for a closer look at the lava fields, tubes, cones, caves, and craters. This 52-mile expanse of lava is conspicuously different from the snow-capped Idaho mountains and green plains to the west and east. If your passion is crumbly, crusty igneous rock, then this is the place for you!
As a child, my family made extended road trips each summer. My father would save up all of his vacation and sick time and exhaust it all at once time for this annual trip.
[Ken 05/21/2018] As I remember, it all started with an innocent trip to the west on a giant country-sized loop. The next year we were in the eastern US. The next summer we were west-bound again. And so on it pretty much went. It would not be uncommon for us to be gone for a month.
On those travels, I remember very few interstate highways – seems like we motored in the old station wagon on endless, winding, two-lane roads and crossed rivers on narrow, trapezoid-shaped bridges that, to me, looked like steel cages. Today, we would call these ways the “back roads.” I like William Least-Heat Moon’s characterization of them as “blue highways.”
There were lots of small towns (when there were towns) and the back-roads usually went right through the center of them. At the intersection of Main Street and First (that is what the street names were, usually) there was a stop sign. Eventually traffic lights became familiar. Things move slowly here.
These towns were welcomed for their gas stops – us kids would always run inside and take advantage of the free maps. And do whatever was necessary in order to avoid an embarrassing on-road use of the Tinkle Jar. Or maybe it was just to escape the cramped accommodations four (4) kids shared in the back seat of a station wagon with crank-down windows that we wern't allowed to open. Since my dad was often closed-mouthed about where we were heading, I learned to navigate and read a map by watching the road signs and following our route on these gas station freebies.
In the days before bypasses, small towns were navigation points – every small black dot that we passed through meant we were closer to an elusive, often unknown destination. There was always a local diner and a string of “motor hotels” with enticing names painted high on illuminated character-signs. There were frequent curios [gift] shops; we became accustomed to calling them “GJ’s” and “TT’s” as we cruised by.
Seems like there were more roadside attractions back then, than there are today. If we were lucky, my dad would pull into one -- maybe a drive-in, kinduv like “Arnolds” on the TV show, Happy Days. Sometimes there would be a giant root beer mug on the roof – those were a dead giveaway for what treat us kids were about to enjoy next. Yummmmm!
The late “On the Road” correspondent, Charles Kuralt, once remarked not-so-sarcastically about our interstates. “Thanks to the Interstate Highway System it is now possible to travel across the country from coast-to-coast without seeing anything," he jested. But he was right. Those of us who still enjoy summer road-trips find it easy to default to the Interstate highways, by-passing all of these great reminders of yesteryear. I think that is unfortunate.
Deb and I have been exploring these back-roads lately. And we have noticed something. The scenery is beautiful. There is not as much traffic. And many of the off-interstate, once-forgotten towns are slowly coming back to life. We have enjoyed every minute of our back-road, blue highway travels.
Now-a-days there is often a restored old hotel stuck in time. Not far away there is usually a quiet, little, city park with a plaque in front of a steam engine or a caboose on two short sections of relocated railroad track. The old gas stations have been boarded up, but some of the iconic old motels seem to be coming back to life. And traffic lights have replaced most stop signs.
Deb and I have discovered some true reminders of Americana and been surprised at how many small towns are still thriving (true, many are not). And now-a-days most small towns have a Dairy Queen. WooHoo! Here’s to the oft forgotten little towns on the back-roads of America. They still have a story to tell.
happy birthday, mom!!!
another front yard
[Ken 05/24/2018] We have arrived at our first SOWER assignment of the season. WooHoo! We are camped in shady Site #2 in the New Hope Christian School RV Park just a few miles south of Grant Pass, Oregon. The school sits in a beautiful, little basin. So far, however, the weather has been off-and-on chilly, overcast, and drizzly. Welcome to Oregon!