Friday, November 30, 2012

Refections of Our Adventure - Road Trip Day 2

Well, I'm not exactly sure what happened, I changed photo now I'm able to put photos back into my blog. We'll see how long this lasts. Back to our fall adventure! Day two of our travels woke us up bright and early. We wanted to see the sunrise, we wanted to have our free breakfast, we also wanted to explore a little we had no problem getting up and out. However, we did hit a few when we thought Brendan had been abducted.

I was so proud of myself, I was so organized. Got all the kids up and dressed and out to our free amazing breakfast. Typically, I like to make the beds again in the hotel room, but I didn't this time. (I'm still kicking myself for not doing this. My favorite Mickey Mouse pajama top is somewhere in North Carolina - so sad). We had a wonderful filling hot breakfast. Shane was was buffet style...that boy can EAT! Brendan wanted to go back to our room (which was a little bit of a hike up a hill to our building) so he could wash up and use the bathroom before we left. I was a bit hesitant, but he is so responsible and the other boys were still eating. I didn't want to make him wait or leave the other I said..fine. Gave him my ONLY key card and sent him on his way. After about 15 minutes or more, the boys and I decided to walk back to our room to see what Brendan was doing. We half expected to see him on his way back or totally watching cartoons on TV. When we got to the door and looked into the one was there. So we did what any rational people would do...banged on the door and yelled for him. (It was a small room...2 beds and a bathroom). No one answered. No nothing. Crazy how fast your brain goes to all of those criminal shows that you watch, you know, the FBI shows...where children are always kidnapped in old country the ones in Asheville, NC. The other two boys and I ran back down the hill to the main building..thinking maybe we missed him. Then we ran up. Every man walking now look like a child abductor. We stopped running, caught our breath and we prayed. I'm serious, we were scared! We went back to that room 2 more times and ran down the hill 2 more times and then we saw Brendan running down as we were running back up. We all screamed...BRENDAN!!!! Where were you. I hugged I just rescued him from the snare of some wild beast. "Mom, I really had to go to the bathroom...sorry it took so long!" Traveling 101...remember that it can reek havoc on your digestive system. We're ready to hit the road now!!
This was so fun. I kept finding Kodak moments. I remember posting this picture on facebook and a friend of mine said..."Where were their coats?" If she only knew...they had no shoes on either. It was one of those shots where I just really wanted it on the side of some big crazy road...made everyone hurry to get out and get a shot! They were such great sports!!
Then I had this other wild idea. I was going to find the entrance to The Great Smokey Mountains National Park. So I took a little side trail. (oops) I didn't understand that for most of this journey, we were traveling through the Smokies...we were in the green area on the Garmin. So, I added about a half hour to my trip...because I kept driving and driving and seeing signs, but no "entrances".
However, it did give us some amazing things for our eyes to behold. Such incredible beauty, and some scary places too. So many hills and mountains, my poor little car.
 Finally we made it to Tennessee! Such a fun little welcome center. Lots of great photo opportunities! is where I totally went up on the "BEST MOM EVER" rank. My boys had so much fun rolling down the hills. "Mom come on - its so much fun!!" OK..I did it! I was a little nervous that I would roll right into a pile of doggie doo, but NOPE. I think I kicked Kyle in the head, I felt a little nausea, but it was SO much fun! We laughed and laughed and high-fived each other! Such a great time! We could have done this for hours!
However, we knew we wanted to make it to Cumberland Gap. We had done our research and we were excited to step foot on the same ground as Daniel Boone, Abraham Lincoln's father, and countless others that had found their way west.

For early settlers and pioneers the Cumberland Gap was a gateway that led through the southern Appalachian Mountains into the great wilderness of Kentucky. They mostly traveled on foot, coming from as far away as Pennsylvania. Although many of these early travelers had different dreams and expectations heading west into Kentucky, they were all in search of land and a new start. They often traveled in groups for safety and had an insatiable drive to penetrate the great wilderness. Everyday was a struggle to survive as they lived off of the bounty of the land. Such incredible history here. We could have spent days just exploring..and we will go back!
It was a very VERY VERY steep drive up to the top of the pinnacle. I mean I at one point thought my car might go in reverse even though I was in drive. I was having to turn my steering wheel all the way left and all the way right. Very intense! However, we did see some absolutely amazing things on our way up.
When we did finally reach the top, we passed the part where we could see the boundaries of the three states. Brendan really wanted to be able to step in Virgina, Tennessee and Kentucky..all at the same time. I told him we would stop back at this point on our way back down.
It was FREEZING up here...and very VERY foggy. Well, we thought it was foggy. Loved knowing that we might see bears. No really, we had already planned how we would get out of that...we watched Man Vs. Wild before we left. I think we were confident that we could even eat the bear! lol!

So pretty. However, we did get out to the look out point of the very top of the mountain and we were so sad. All of this traveling, and we couldn't see a thing. The fog was so dense. So we just looked over at the fog and tried to imagine what it might look like.
As we stood there, Brendan seemed so disappointed. I mean I was too, but this boy just needed to see it.
Then right before our eyes we watched this fog just gently move with a gentle breeze. Suddenly we could see everything crystal clear! We were in shock. Brendan looked out at the gap and looked over at me and said..."Mom, it was like the Lord moved that cloud, just for us! I believe it did it just for us!!" My precious boy who had just told his Dad a few weeks earlier that he was wondering why God shows up for Mom all the time, speaks to Mom all the time, but never him. He has seen God's hand move in mighty ways for our family. No doubt about it. However, he has prayed, he has read the Word and he has struggled to see God move in his own personal life, answer his own personal prayers.
When his eyes could see the massive gap, the incredible colors and all of that wonder...he knew that only God could have done that, could have created that. Only God gets that Glory! I kid you not, this moment, changed my boy. Brendan was convinced that "every good and perfect gift comes from the Father!" and it was indeed personal to him. God has showed up for him.
Kyle just loved every bit of it too! We all did!
This will be a photograph that will be forever etched in my heart! Brendan taking it all in. Yes, we were in the clouds, we were up that high, so if you wait long enough, the wind will blow the clouds away, but WE give HIM all the Glory! I know my words are not doing that moment justice, because as I recall it, and type it, there are tears streaming down my face. We were at The Pinnacle and this was a pinnacle moment of my trip.
We stayed up here for quite awhile. Another one of my happy moments was when Kyle and Shane discovered that they can pick of leaves, throw them over the rail and they would be blown right behind them again. OH they laughed and did it over and over again! So much fun!
The laughter would soon be done. Climbed back down to the parking area only to find the scene in the picture below.
That would be all of my oil that had leaked out of my oil pump. My little engine that could. We carefully and prayerfully made it all the way back down to the park and continued to wait and see. I called Karen, Lorrie and Mike to see what I should do. So I got a park ranger to take a look to make sure it really was oil, then I filled up my tank with oil and bought some more for the trip to Karen's house.
This leg of the trip got me a little worried that I might be lost. Don't get me wrong, it was absolutely breathtaking, but it was also painstakingly slow. I thought for sure Madame Garmin was wrong. NOPE...she was totally right and taking me the scenic route! So worth every single second.
Just look at that beauty! Then finally, I had been to this house before...home sweet home!
This would be my view for the next 7 days! So incredible!
We still have several more days to document. I think I will document experiences instead of days now. Stay tuned for Karen and Anna's home, Asbury Theological Seminary, Shaker Village, Raven Run, High Bridge, The Kentucky River, Civil War Corn Maze, Lincoln's Birthplace and Boy hood home, Mammoth Cave, Alabama, Horseback riding, and Providence Canyon. Whew...I do hope my blog holds up!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Uh Oh!

Apparently I have officially run out of room...and can no longer upload pictures. So..since I would rather express my story in photos, I'm going to have to figure out what to do next. Maybe switching to another blogging website. Any suggestions or advice would be welcomed.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Reflections of our Adventure - Road Trip Day 1

The ending of our first day. Sunset behind the mountains of North Carolina.

It is hard to believe that November is just two weeks from being over. When my boys and I returned from our American Adventure life was suddenly very different, wonderful, but different. I truly haven't completely adjusted just yet. However, as you may see I believe that the Lord was truly preparing me for what was about to be such a drastic change in our lives. Reflecting is really a wonderful habit!

How in the world does one say all they want to about a trip that took over 10 days and was the most amazing adventure ever for my family. I wanted to journal about it day by day, but honestly, the computer was the last thing on my mind. The camera however was with me the entire time.

So I'll just type and show pictures and see what happens. I'll probably start by doing a day-by-day, especiall in the beginning because the road trip was such a part of the adventure...which is kind of nice because I get to relive it over and over again. Yes, I like that idea! Then most likely I will post some of the great things we did in Kentucky while we stayed there for 7 days.

If you were keeping up with our journey (which was lived out on Facebook because my husband couldn't go with us. He was so thankful that we did was a lot cheaper than calling all the time) then you remember this post which explains our preparation. This trip was a first for me. Never driving more than 3 hours at a time in my life and taking my 3 boys by myself through 6 states...woohoo...what a task. We had more fun that my words will ever express.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012. One of the reasons why I love my man so much.
5:30am...we are all set to get into the car...and there are priorities. He prayed for His family! I cried. I was going to miss him like crazy! Mike would be starting his new job the very next day as a nurse. This job would require him to work the graveyard shift. 11:00pm - 7:00am. Something we're still getting use to.

Huge suspension bridge in Jacksonville. Very cool!
Thanks to our good friends Jim & Marilyn and my research of history, we had this trip pretty well planned. Then there was the other fun element from my friend Michelle...our mystery trip.

Michelle had planned out some fun things to do on our road trip for both days. We were told when to open the envelope. Brendan, my responsible front seat passenger, read everything and got us to our destination. This mystery trip was so exciting for all of us. The anticipation made traveling to our next destination so exciting. I didn't exactly follow everything to a tee, fortunately other than this particular stop...everything Michelle had planned out for us..was exactly what I had already planned for ourselves. If I ever (and I will) do another trip...she is going to be my first call! This added such an exciting element! For me, it wasn't getting from point A to point was taking in and enjoying every moment. That was my big goal. Mission accomplished!  Anyway,

Just after we crossed over the boarder into Georgia, we stopped into the Welcome Center. By the way, those places are very helpful. They have lots of space to run around and they are loaded with history! We spent a little time talking to the people there, about our trip and things we could learn. We learned that there is so much more to come back and do in Georgia!! :) I should mention that at each Welcome Center we went over 50 fun facts about each state. (I had printed that up before I left!) "Good night, sleep tight, don't let the bed bugs bite!" You hear this phrase quite often today, but most people don't know it actually started in Georgia. Colonials would bind their mattresses with Spanish Moss which brought tiny bed bugs into the mattresses. Bet you'll think twice before using that saying in passing again! - see this trip was FUN!!

Thanks to Michelle, this was our first landmark stop! I didn't know this existed. How fun!

We went inside and pretended to be at church. It could only fit about 10 people maximum! What a fun little place to stop!

We heard a sermon from each boy. There was a Bible on the pulpit. Above is our very own Pastor Kyle!
After taking too many pictures, we got back on the road and tried to snap a picture of each state's welcome sign. That was so fun. The boys brought their DSi cameras..and so the three of us (Kyle wasn't into the picture taking...he was into just seeing..there is hidden wisdom there)..would get ready to snap. Usually Brendan had to snap my camera too...because I was driving of course! But, that didn't always stop me. Part of the fun was aiming the camera and not looking at what I was taking a picture of and seeing if it came out. I sounds dangerous...but I would never do anything stupid with my arrows in the car!
We stopped at the welcome center and had lunch. By the way, did I mention I was on a very strict budget? I had $300 in my envelope. Gas had a separate budget and was already calculated and accounted for.
I had packed a cooler with our favorite foods and we were quite content. Did I crave a Starbucks? YES. Did the siren try to woo me each time I would see her on a sign? YES. Did I give in to temptation? NO! Perhaps because I purchased double shots to go in my cooler.  We had a blast at the South Carolina Welcome Center. We were getting a bit tired of sitting in the car. Se we had lunch, played some soccer, completed tons of spots on our "license plate bingo". Yes, if you are trying to spot state license hit pay dirt at Welcome Centers.
This is a part of the trip I will never forget. Brendan, my boy that wore his air bands for car sickness (consequently my friend Elizabeth called and prayed with me the night before we left. We prayed that he would be healed of car sickness...Brendan and I both agree...he was healed. We didn't realize it until we were on our way home however) had dreamed about seeing mountains. My boys had never seen a mountain in real life before. As we drove through South Carolina, we started to see mountains. We were all "Wow, these must be the Blue Ridge mountains." The trees seemed enormous. It was beautiful. But then....
As we drove up and down some hills, suddenly Brendan sees this monstrous looking object up ahead. "What is that Mom?" I couldn't contain my excitement. I had seen mountains, climbed mountains in Vermont, but it had been so long...and seeing things through the eyes of your children...well there is nothing quite like it!
Those are the Smokeys!! Be still my heart! There was something so magical. The squeals in the car. My boys were so amazed. He would die if he knew I was saying this, but I quote Brendan with tears welling up in his eyes..."Mom, it is like I dreamed it would is so incredible...God did this Mom!!" Yes Brendan, God did this!
Getting to North Carolina seemed to take forever (because we were headed west), but we didn't care. The mountains kept us company and stopping at the Welcome Center was that much more rewarding. I need to pause here and say that my boy Brendan is an amazing kid. His heart is incredibly sensitive to the Lord. Puberty has begun, his emotions are worn on his sleeve sometimes, and right before our trip he was struggling with his relationship with the Lord. He told his Dad that he knows God shows up for Mom and Dad. He knows that God has provided in miraculous was for our family. His questions were, why didn't God show up for him personally? He was struggling with seeing God in his own life. My husband spent time with him before we left...talking and praying with him. Of course I had no idea what this trip would do for my boy. Even now as I type this, there are tears running down my face. Day two is when I really understood why this trip was so important for Brendan. (So stay tuned).
See the colors? The mountains? Honestly we feel like looking at the pictures...just isn't doing it justice.

We finally got to our Days Inn in Nashville, NC. I noticed a few things along the way. My boys did more adventurous things with me than they probably would have done with their Dad. Mike is amazing, but he is a bit more cautious than I am. I'm cautious too..but case in point...I took the picture of Shane sitting on the roof of my car. Right before that..he was standing, bare foot, hands in the air, in 50 degree weather, shouting..."THIS IS AMAZING"! I LOVED it, my husband would have freaked out!!

This little Days Inn was incredible. I had read several "not-so-good" reviews about the place. However, it was clean, no bugs, no hairs, and it had a complimentary dinner and breakfast. Yes...dinner. For $69 a night, you can eat whatever they are making for dinner that night and have a buffet breakfast in the morning. I wanted to try the dinner (Beef Vegetable Stew), but I had pumped up my kids excitement about eating these (because I didn't want to have to stop anywhere and pay for food):

They wouldn't hear of eating anything else. After all, when do they ever get to stay in a hotel, eat microwavable meals in bed, while they watch TV! Seriously...that is FUN! So we ate these instead. We did however enjoy a nice hot breakfast in the morning!

So far...I spent NO MONEY! (except for one stop for gas...and this hotel was prepaid).

My boys and I laughed, squealed, ran around, slept in one room together ate microwavable meals and Twizzlers and drank Yoohoos. We were having the time of our lives! Their smiles are etched in my heart...and this one only Day 1!