Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Adventure Across America !

How 'bout I start out with - It's been a crazy 2014! In January we found out we were expecting another baby into our family. A baby boy due in September (name undetermined).  As is normal for one of my pregnancies I was super sick and nauseous the first 4-5 months. Honestly I felt completely overwhelmed when I found out - as excited as I was, I had NO IDEA how in the world I was going to manage being a Mother to 3 children, AND continue knocking on strangers doors every day selling Comcast. Trying to hide in the dark at 7pm puking at a potential customers front curb was a pretty intense reality check - what the heck was I doing?? LOL. After sincere prayers and long conversations with Ryan, we decided to plunge into the world of me becoming a full time stay-at-home-mom, which also meant Ryan had to get a second job. But of course tax season was at its beginnings, and my mom was in serious need of my mad office coordinator skills in Portland. So in February a few days after I emotionally broke down in tears over silly work issues in front of my whole team, I knew I needed to let them in on what was going on and I put in my two week notice. I then spent the next 9 weeks commuting the 4 hour drive to Portland from Seattle weekly with kids in tow to earn some extra money, and help out the CPA firm.

Meanwhile, Ryan spent most of his free-time (the little he had) to apply for promotions, and new better paying jobs anywhere that was hiring where he had interest in. At the closing week of my working tax season, he was fortunate enough to be offered a promotion within NOAA to continue in his career as a consumer safety inspector for seafood... IN GLOUCESTER MASSACHUSETTS! I wasn't sure how this would fit in with our newly formed plans of expanding our family, and losing my income, but we both felt it was the right choice for our family and best opportunity to pursue Ryan's career. In a crazy twist of spiritual promptings, I had felt super strongly the previous 6 months I'd been working at Comcast that I needed to earn and save as much money as possible so that Ryan & I could go on an over the top 10 Year Anniversary Vacation in 2014. When we made the decision to move to Massachusetts I knew exactly where that money in our savings account needed to go, and it wasn't for an anniversary vacation. The estimated budget to pay for the moving truck and car tow alone across the United States was about $3,000 (the cost of two passengers on a 7 day cruise in the Eastern Caribbean...) But like I said, we knew it was right, so we did it.

The very last weekend we had in Seattle, we invited our extended family to come for one last short weekend visit. My brother Daniel & sister in law Katie came for a visit with my niece Ruby, as well as Ryan's mom. It was a fabulous fun filled family weekend. It was awesome to spend quality time with them before our big move. We made sure the weekend was super filled with touristy events only. All the things we still had on our "Seattle To Do" list. We went on a ferry ride from Edmonds to Bremerton. Consumed some delicious crepes from a tiny little shop near the sound. We visited and spit on the disgustingly famous "gum wall" behind Pikes Market place. And broke down to spend the money to take the quick elevator ride up to the top of the skyline famous Seattle Space Needle. It was a gorgeous day, perfect for our final exploratory adventures in Seattle.
We were blessed abundantly with loads of help from family and friends the day we loaded up the truck and moved out of our little apartment. My burdens felt light that day as several amazing women came to detail clean my apartment, and strong men carried our heavy load of objects into the truck. We were fortunate to have the Cook family as neighbors while we lived in that complex, and even in our final hours moving out, they were showering us with service watching our kids, cleaning, and comforting my uncertain heart. Finally it was time to say Goodbye. Ryan's parents were headed east with us as they offered to drive our moving truck, so Ryan & I could drive our beloved Honda Pilot SUV together as a family. It was tough to say goodbye to my mom & Matt & all our friends that day, but I held it together and my excitement for the unknown drive helped ease my worried mind.

DAY ONE - STATUS REPORT: Mountlake Terrace, WA to Boise, ID = 517 Miles Traveled

The kids were good. Better than expected. The drive that day seemed to go by fast, and we were thrilled to get to Boise since we were so exhausted from loading the truck and driving that far in the same day. The most emotional I felt was as we left the borders of Oregon and I felt like home was behind us instead of in front of us.

DAY TWO - STATUS REPORT: Boise, ID to West Valley, UT= 864 Miles Traveled

We had a short drive time the second day, but it was still a very long day because we tried to squeeze in as many people as we could in the remaining daylight hours... We drove past the house my mother and her siblings grew up in that was recently sold and renovated by someone outside the family. It was sad to see it look so different than I remember, but also hopeful and understanding because a whole new family was beginning their story there. We drove past my favorite old stomping grounds at temple square. We had a delightful visit with my aunt Kimberly & Gutierrez Family, which was truly a miracle since we hadn't planned to stop by, but then I saw a sign for Kaysville and instantly went into Christmas card mode recalling her address... drove over only to find no one was home - I left a note and we drove away only to see them driving up at the end of the street. We had arranged to see my dad and his family in West Valley, and made plans to swim together at our hotel. After which our awesome lifetime friend Brendon Jackson stopped by for a night visit as my dad was leaving. It was great to see everyone we saw, and it was a bit heart achy to not see everyone we know in Utah.

DAY THREE - STATUS REPORTWest Valley, UT to Mount Rushmore, SD = 1,511 Miles Traveled

Considering we didn't get to sleep until 1 or 2 am the night prior it was crazy to drive so many hours to get to Mount Rushmore the next night. We did stop for a few minutes by my Grandma's new digs to say hello and goodbye then we were on super-drive mode. The scenery this day of driving was probably my favorite of the whole trip. Leaving the Wasatch Front and Salt Lake valley driving through the intensely painted walls of red rock. There were huge cliffs and valleys with every color of rock layers, and a variety of formations. Wyoming had huge wide open spaces with plateaus and valleys that never seemed to end. Rarely saw a town, and the ones we did see didn't seem to have many people in them. It was super late and dark when we arrived at the hotel in Mount Rushmore, there were no grocery stores open, and there didn't seem to be a lot to see there. Mercedes (our black Labrador) seemed most excited to arrive there. Her ears were darting around and her nose seemed thrilled to have nostrils filled with exotic Mountain air.

 DAY FOUR - STATUS REPORTMount Rushmore, SD to Baraboo, Wisconsin = 2,261 Miles Traveled

Oh what a day! It started off awesome. We visited the Mount Rushmore monument, and tried to explain to our kids how cool it was... they really seemed more impressed with the bugs on the sidewalk, and small curbs to jump off than any other area of the historical site. lol. There was an adorable little town that I wished we had more time to explore nearby. It was filled with old country time looking shops with signs advertising things like ice cream, specialty rocks, gold mining tours, and other cute little things. As the day progressed we saw a whole lot of nothing in South Dakota. Seriously miles of NOTHING. Rolling hills, flat plains of grass. A few random trees. Not a ton of landscape. WE DID however see deer! TONS of pronghorn antelope! We also saw what seemed like hundreds (seriously there were at least 20 or 30) signs for a drug store called, "Wall Drugs". They advertised amazing donuts, free donuts for military, cheap coffee, great souvenirs, fresh homemade pies in all kinds of flavors, and bunches of other things. As a 6 month pregnant lady it was the donuts and pies that reeled me in. We stopped. We saw. We ate. And following all the signs to arrive there was totally worth it. The pie was amazing. The donuts were cakey which I usually don't care for, but it was like eating food from heaven - so divine.

It was pouring buckets of heavy hard rain with dark skies most of the day, as we drove through Minnesota. We were ALMOST there in Baraboo Wisconsin about an hour out... when I was reading Ryan random pregnancy advice from my email when BAM! CAR ACCIDENT. I didn't see it happen, but I sure as heck felt it. Driving so fast along the road and then having something smash into it was jolting to say the least. It didn't stop us completely and I wasn't even sure what we hit at first. Ryan swore. I made sure the kids were okay. Then I saw steam pouring out of the front hood, and pieces of something attached to the front top of the car. It was a DEER. We hit a deer. Well that made for an interesting night. Police came, tow truck came, we were all okay - just startled. The kids were confused when we got out of the car and into the tow truck.

DAY FIVE - STATUS REPORTBaraboo, WI to Baraboo, WI = 2,261Miles Traveled

I felt blessed. For several reasons.
# 1 - we were all okay.
# 2 - the baby in my tummy was still tossing and turning
# 3 - Ryan's parents, whom we hadn't seen or met up with because they didn't take the same USA scenic route we did, were only an hour away from us.
# 4 - In my planning for the trip I had left that entire next day completely empty and booked us 2 nights in the town of Baraboo, not knowing what all we would do but figured the condo we stayed at would be fun. It ended up feeling more like a cabin water park resort than a condo. There were several indoor and outdoor water parks to swim, play, and float around in. Super relaxing and fun - heaven knows I needed it.
# 5 - We were able to switch cars on the towing device from the broken bent up one for the smaller car we'd been towing (which did cost us a new equipment rental change at U-Haul).
#6 - Since we hadn't prepared the little car to be driven across the country, Ryan's parents took us to Costco the day after our accident and as a birthday gift for Ryan got us a new set of 4 tires for the little car we had to drive the rest of the way. # 7 - As a side note, two months later, Elijah still mentions to daddy, "You know dad it's getting dark, the deer might be coming out now, better drive slower".

DAY SIX - STATUS REPORTBaraboo, WI to Erie, PA = 2,900 Miles Traveled

Amazingly still exactly on schedule. We drove through 5 states in one day! Saw glimmers of Illinois where we stopped at the visitors center and sought advice on what a toll road was, where they were, how much they were, how to go through toll areas, and realized how toll illiterate I am... well I know more now. sadly. We saw Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania too - all which seemed to blur together. Lots of farm areas dotted with cities, and traffic on the road was getting heavier the further east we drove. Kids were in great spirits - happy to get out of the car and play when they could at the rest stops. Poor Mercedes was so squished behind my seat under Evelyn's feet. Not the luxurious space she had in the SUV at all... Ryan and I had assumed when we met back up with Ryan's parents that we'd play a bit of musical chairs for Ryan driving the giant U-Haul and his parents driving with me, but alas a sweet gift Mark gave us as he continued to drive so that Ryan and I could continue together as a family.

DAY SEVEN - STATUS REPORTErie, PA to Haverhill, MA = 3,463 Miles Traveled

Today we arrive! We didn't really see any mountains like Oregon or Washington, which surprised me. Lots of green, and lots of trees though. Reminded me of a jungle. The air was warm and humid, and the closer we got to our new home, the more traffic we were swarmed by. We arrived at our new apartment complex not knowing exactly what to expect since we hadn't been there before.
The area seemed okay enough, lots of old buildings. The complex is nice and enclosed and once we saw the inside I was pretty thrilled. We decided in all our lives this apartment is definitely the nicest place either of us have ever lived. We have central A/C (yay for the prego lady)! Have a gas fireplace, which we've never had before but excited to flip a switch to start a fire instead of chopping kindling to start one. Vaulted ceilings, which make the space feel huge. And a 3rd floor view of the horizon to watch the sunset. We slept on the floor, and were thankful we finally made it.

The next day we were visited by the hand of the Lord as his servants came from our new church here to help us unload the moving truck up three flights of stairs. There were at least 10 strong men in addition to Ryan and his dad to help out. The Relief Society President even came by and introduced herself, added my number to her phone, and made me feel at home instantly. Saying things like, "Pregnant ladies aren't allowed to carry things in on my watch - you sit down and put your feet up!" Two dozen doughnuts, and a few gallons of orange juice hardly seemed like a good enough Thank You, but we truly were SO THANKFUL!

Now we live in Haverhill, Massachusetts. Home is wherever we are together as a family. Our drive across America was definitely an adventure, but really just the beginning of the bigger adventure we are already on as a married couple, and growing family. I love my husband more than words could ever describe. My children are a part of me, and although I find being a stay at home mom challenging at times, it is also turning out to be a highly rewarding experience. Next up adventure? Becoming a Mother of THREE. Life is good.