Saturday, July 17, 2010

Vacation Highlights

I haven't posted here for a while due to lots of other things going on. Most notably, the past two weeks have been occupied with an epic family road trip, as I, my lovely wife, and our two teenagers traveled to northern California to spend some time with our oldest son Mike. Mike's in his second year as a pastoral intern at Meadow Valley Community Church in Quincy, up in the Sierras. It was a great trip, and after a few days of reflection, here are a few highlights.
  • Mountains - Though somewhat unintentional, our trip seemed to take on a mountain theme as we traveled through almost every range between Nebraska and northern California. That included the Badlands (OK, not really mountains, but tell that to my kids), Black Hills, Bighorns, Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, Sierra Nevadas, a few ranges in Utah, and the Colorado Rockies. I love mountains, and especially driving through them, so this was sweet.
  • The Numbers - We've never done a trip quite this long. The sheer numbers we racked up were impressive, according to our GPS. Like a total of 3,889 miles. Over 11 days. Covering 9 states. With 68 hours of drive time. At an average of 27.8 mpg from the Family Truckster, I mean the Taurus.
  • No Problems - Speaking of the Taurus, we had absolutely zero mechanical problems on the whole trip. I consider this a gift of God's grace. As well as getting stopped for speeding on I-80 in Nevada and not getting a ticket. Grace indeed.
  • The Sights - Our family was able to see some sights and experience some places that we'd never seen before, and hopefully begin to appreciate the diversity and grandeur of God's creation. Like the eerie landscape of the Badlands. The quiet beauty of the Black Hills. The patriotic feeling of visiting Mount Rushmore on the 4th of July. The close encounter of the third kind with Devil's Tower, and the prairie dogs there. The incredible sights and sounds and smells of Yellowstone, as well as the wildlife there. The splendor of the Grand Tetons. The desolation of the Utah salt flats. The ruggedness of the Sierra Nevadas. The amazing waters of Lake Tahoe. The high peaks and passes and deep valleys of the Rockies. And so much more.
  • Family Time - Packing the four of us in a car for 11 days could have been a real relational disaster. But again, by God's grace, we had a good time together. Especially the days we spent in Quincy with Mike as a whole family, and getting to see what his life is like there. And also spending some time getting to know Mike's girlfriend Rebekah, who came up from Redlands to meet us and who we came to love and view as part of the family.
  • The Church - While in Quincy, we got to know many of the people at MVCC. And I was blessed by their commitment to Christ, His gospel, and most visibly to each other. A small church truly being the body of Christ. We even got to witness the baptism of a young man that God had just saved out of a life of professed atheism - in a mountain stream. I'm convinced more than ever that God has our son Mike in the right place to learn and grow in being a shepherd. Thanks Terry, Curt, the Biddles, the Kroekers, and so many others who are modeling godly life and ministry for Mike.
  • The Funny Stuff - There were so many funny situations that kept coming up as we traveled. The most notable was the big red bus full of Asian tourists that stalked us for three days, across two states and multiple stops. We first encountered them at Mount Rushmore. The next day, they were at Devil's Tower when we stopped there. Later that day we stopped at a rest area on I-90 near Sheridan, Wyoming, and they pulled in as we were getting ready to leave. And the next day, as we stopped to view the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, there they were again. I think we lost them after that, but we kept on the lookout for red buses the rest of the trip.
Hopefully we also made a lot of memories as a family that will last. Thanks Lord, for being so gracious to us in this trip, and in an infinite number of ways in Christ every day.

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