Serendipity

Raindrops on roses, and whiskers on kittens….

For as much as I stressed and complained about the transition from  living in an 1888 square foot, three bedroom house, to a 2002 suburban and 10’x6’ cargo trailer, I have to say that the trade- off has been surprisingly refreshing.   I had a sneaking suspicion that I would come to love aspects of our adventure, but I really had no idea what they would be and how they would influence me.  Now, almost three months into our travels, I want to share a few of my favorite things!  I’ve listed these;  not in order of importance, but in the order I have discovered them.

First, my greatest joy on this journey has been the ability to visit dear friends in the “Lower 48” as it is affectionately named by Alaskans.  My happiness quotient has tipped the scales since this adventure began with every friend we visited.  People are some of my favorite things.  Friends in particular make me smile!  I have enjoyed all the visits in Washington, Idaho, California, and now Arizona.  I am blessed that my husband loves people too and has indulged me by meeting with every friend I could possibly contact in each area we have passed through.  (Let me insert a plug for Facebook here, for without it, I may have not reconnected with so many friends. 😉

Secondly, I have enjoyed so much the time we have been able to spend together as a family.  With Jamin’s traveling/fishing schedules, we missed out on several months with him this year.  I love that we can catch up now and be together.  I have to say that I couldn’t be more blessed with children who have enjoyed the traveling as much as their parents.  Very rarely have I heard, “Are we there yet?”  Instead, when our car stops and we turn off the engine, the kids ask, “Why are we stopping?”  They have been so flexible.

Thirdly, I love the simplicity of having our whole world contained in just 10’x6’ trailer.  There is so much less responsibility, fewer messes, less dishes, and no arguments about what to wear.   Meals are simpler, and outings to restaurants are a treat.  I will have to admit, however, that I still over packed.

Fourthly, the time of prayer with my kiddos has been priceless.  On this trip we have been walking through the book of John together.  As we have studied who Jesus is and how he affected His world, we have followed up with prayer times that have been heaven on earth to me.  The Holy Spirit has been so precious, and my kids have had the chance to feel the presence of God in their prayers.  We learned that God gives us the Spirit without measure.  He doesn’t give six- year-olds a smaller portion than adults.  He gives all of Himself to each of us.  This has been a powerful lesson that I hope my kids will always remember and live in.

We haven’t just stayed in our trailer on this trip.  We have stayed in hotels, the homes of friends, and have camped in a tent.  As I write, we are staying in Queens Creek, Arizona in the currently vacant home of some very generous friends of ours from Alaska.  There is a pool in the back yard and we are taking full advantage of it. Although people around here are in coats and Ugg boots, this 70 degree weather suits us just fine.

We have another week or so here, and then it’s back to Idaho for a white Christmas with my family in Boise. 

 Friends, family, and the God who continues to surprise me with blessings in unexpected places…these are a few of my favorite things.

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Morris Family Adventures Part 4

We’ve cuddled mice and chipmunks, hugged dogs and bandicoots, posed with princesses and kissed sponges.  This Southern California adventure is coming to a close, but not before it has conditioned me to be suspicious of every day sights and sounds.

We ate dinner tonight at the Macaroni Grill.  As we sat at the table with our cousins and aunt and uncle, I noticed that the light above the Hostess table was flickering.  Immediately I anticipated the need to buckle a seat belt in the event that our dinner table would turn into a rollercoaster that would be launched by a magnet directly out the door.  While I watched the walls suspiciously for rats and cockroaches to appear, I realized my plight….I have been on sensory overload! It’s time for a day of unplugging.

We purchased Southern California passes which gave us three days at Disneyland and California Adventure, a day at Universal Studios, a day at Sea World and a day at the San Diego Zoo.  The only catch being that we have to complete our adventures in 14 days.  So, we set out to explore Disneyland and ride every ride and after two days we switched gears to Univeral Studios.  By day four there were melt downs…but surprisingly not by the children, but by us, the parents.  So we took day four to rest, do laundry, enjoy the hotel pool and catch up on sleep, paperwork and business.  Then back to Disneyland for our last day there, then we spent the following day unplugged enjoying the beach and coast and visiting with a friend of mine and her family.  It felt so good to play in the sand, explore the tide pools, and reconnect with someone I had not seen in 19 years.

My friend Heidi Viselmeyer Afusia and her three kids with us at the beach.

We left that night for San Diego.  We have been here for almost a week now and have enjoyed the San Diego Zoo, a trip to Lego land and a visit with a friend that used to live in Homer, Alaska who now resides here.  The highlight of this visit for me was getting to meet my second cousin Mike Hardin who is the owner of famous local diner called Hodad’s.  I contacted him before we arrived to tell him we were in town and would love to meet him.  We were welcomed to his restaurant with open arms where we met him and his son Shane.  We dined on burgers the size of my face, onion rings, fries and a malt that contained at least a quart of ice cream.

Mike Hardin, me and Shane Hardin his son.

  Mike sat with us and chatted, his son Shane waited on us and when our meal was over we were informed that it was “on the house”.  “After all”, Mike said, “we are family!”  We haven’t stopped talking about Hodad’s.

panda at the San Diego Zoo

We have one last day to finish here in San Diego….that would be Sea World.  But not before unplugging again, washing our laundry, and repacking for the next phase of our adventure which will be………….

…..to be continued…….

Machu Picchu

The City of Cusco where the adventure begins

I promised pictures from Jamin’s adventure hiking Machu Picchu in Peru.  Here they are!!!

These photgraphs were taken by our friend Chuck Skeek who was also on the trip with Jamin.  If you want any copies of his photos, message me and I’ll pass the word along.

 

 

Cusco at night

 

Jamin and Chuck plan their journey...Chuck photographs the moment via a mirror.

 

Jamin catches up on some sleep

 

llamas on the mountainside

 

Machu Picchu

 

misty morning

 

The mist is lifting...

 

Another look

Disneyland at Last!!

It all started with a game of “I spy with my little eye”.  It was Melanie’s turn and she said to Jamin, “I spy with my little eye something……yellow!”  After much guessing and never coming up with the yellow item, Melanie finally gave the answer, “Dad’s teeth”.

It is because of this game that Jamin and I are having a conversation that sounds like this:  “So, Jamin,  we need to get to a grocery store today and get some lunch supplies,” I say.

Jamin:  “Yeshh, we will get to one of thoshhe places thish morning.”  He replies with his teeth wrapped in Crest White Strips waiting the prescribed 15 minutes before removing them.

It has been exactly two months since we left our home in Anchorage.  We are sitting in the shared parking lot of a college and a large hotel.  We pulled off the road sometime last night to sleep, but can’t remember which road we exited on.  We were all so exhausted.  Pulling into the parking lot, we find others who are making this their rest stop for the evening.  The man in the Camaro in front of us simply put up his sun shade across his windshield and called it a night.  There is a family in a bus parked at the back of this parking lot and they look like they are winding up the evening and settling in.  A tractor trailer is pulled up on the grass and looks as though it has been dormant for a few hours already. We pull up parallel with another suburban pulling a much larger trailer that is already “asleep”.

Our kids have already fallen asleep in the car, but we park the car, prepare the trailer and move three of the kids to the trailer with Jamin and I and the other child sleep in the vehicle in our sleeping bags.

I forgot to use the bathroom at a public facility last stop, so now I must master a new method for peeing.  I find that that the handi-wipe container has a wide opening and so I decide to empty that container and place its contents in a Ziploc so that I can have use of the container for this emergency.

Thank God for all of the “rehearsals” at the doctor’s office when I had to give “samples” with every pregnancy check-up.  Success!!  “Too much information” you say?  Well, it’s all new to me and I thought it would be useful to remember in the days to come.

We are twenty miles from Disneyland now.  We have visited many friends and family along our route.  We have visited some National parks, and tourist sites.  We have slept in hotels, rest stops, parking lots, and campsites.  We have need of a shower and a washing machine, but will have use of those later today when we check into the hotel for our six night stay here in Anaheim.

The kids are looking forward to cable tv at the hotel, a swimming pool and of course Disneyland tomorrow.  Jamin, interestingly enough, is looking forward to being in one place long enough to finish filing our 2009 taxes.  I guess taxes will be my assignment too for a few hours as we try to bang it all out today .  I am looking forward to laundry and getting the kids caught up on some of their school work so we can all enjoy the week off. 

Today we regroup, catch up on hygiene issues, use a real toilet, and prepare for a fun week at Disneyland!!!!

Morris Family Adventures Part 3

While I was in Idaho with the kiddos for a couple of weeks, Jamin took off on a Peruvian adventure with a team from Church on the Rock, Battleground, Washington to build a church in Contamana, Peru.  Here are some photos from their adventure!
They flew to Lima, then Pucalpa where they boarded a boat for the rest of the journey to Contamana.
The eight hour boat ride begins
Part of the work crew
Guido, our guide, with us on the Ucaylai River
Shoreline views on the river
The sun sets on our journey
The site where the new church will be built in Contamana
Preparing the rebar for the foundation
Pouring the concrete columns
Cooling down
Ahhhhhhh......
columns are up!!
Church meeting on Sunday morning up the river in Shipibo Indian Village
Our dear friend, Pastor Bill Courtnay from Church on the Rock, Battleground, Washington was the guest speaker.
Dancing after the service
Contamana
Some of the Peruvian Crew
After several days in Contamana, Jamin and his friend Chuck Skeek headed out on an adventure of their own to hike Machu Picchu.  Those photos will be in the next blog!
Photos are courtesy of Chuck Skeek who was also part of the work crew, our dear friend from Petersburg, Alaska. 

Vagabonding

Having just seen Jamin off on a two-weektrip where he will be helping to build a church in Cantamana, Peru for a couple of weeks, the kids and I are settling into the home of my family here in Idaho.  We all get Grammy and Papa Bob time and time with my sister Promise, and my brother Stan.  I plan to see many friends and family members while I am here as well.

It has been one month since we packed up our belongings, rented out our home and headed out of our town of Anchorage.  Time seems to be flying.  We said “goodbye” to our beds and”hello” to the road.  Here are some things I have learned about myself so far:

As much as I thought I was detached from my home, I discovered that I still held some strings.  When I checked our new renters into our home and watched their golden retriever loping on “my” couches I started cringing.   I had to turn my eyes away and say to myself, “It is only stuff, it’s only stuff”.  I walked away praying that God would help me live my life “open-handed” and treat everything and everyone as loans from God.

In order to relax on the road, home school, and keep up with bills and business, I realize I have to change my mindset.  I have to make the most any downtime to accomplish things that I will not be doing during our play times; and during our play times I need to just play.  So I have to lower my expectations some (okay alot!!) in order to relax.

Almost everytime I leave Alaska to visit another state, I feel like a “hick”.  The first thing I want to do is get my hair done and shop for clothes.  Over the years living in Alaska, there are certain aspects of style and “hipness” that you just have to surrender.  For instance–  shoes.  You can easily recognize a tourist if they are wearing white shoes.  The severe changes in weather here are certain to soil your shoes and if you want to keep them long, you don’t buy white ones.  Shoes in general in Alaska are as practical and basic as you can make them.  Mud boots are a staple for at least  six months of the year, and snow boots the other six. And “fashion”? “Style”?  Who the heck cares?  Designer jeans smell the same in a fish hold as well as Walmart specials.  So I always feel like I need to update myself  here in the world where they dress up to buy groceries.

We have stayed with relatives and friends on this trip.  Each home we have entered has held a story of its own.  Staying with others gives us a chance to become a part of their life,share their favorite things, and learn their trials and sorrows.  Our prayer lists grow a little longer and our hearts become a little larger with each household we visit.

All in all, this trip has had some challenges thus far, like when our bird trained dog Denali decided to hunt the “laying hen” of our friends the Dupea’s and left it alive but without feathers on her hind quarters, but we look forward to more destinations and more friends along the way.

Journal Excerpts

We drove 900 miles a day in order to get to Washington in time for Jamin’s eye appointment, so here are some excerpts from my journal of our last two days through Canada.

Jamin is past the point of delirium from staying awake as much as he has, but it sure makes for comedy central.  I have begun keeping a record of his quotes and sayings.  Maybe someday I’ll publish a dictionary of his phrases.   Here is an example:  “Cheese Shrapnel” This refers to the pieces of cheese that break off of slices.  “Rectal Sanctuary” refers to the area where the thermometer was inserted in the dog for her check-up.

Neil Young brings out his inner artist/musician.  He has performed what he has called the “Double Helix Java Dance” which involves holding a cup of coffee (with a lid) and moving his arms to the music being sure to incorporate his elbows.  “If you don’t move your elbows, it isn’t considered a ‘double helix’ it would only be a single.” He informs me.  Using his coffee cup as a microphone/kazoo, we are being serenaded this morning.

I took a shift in driving in Canada while Jamin sequestered himself inside the trailer we are pulling behind us.  He was hoping to catch up on some sleep since he has driven the majority of this trip.  We have no communication between us when he is in the trailer.  Since we are travelling through Canada, we have turned off our cell phones to keep roaming charges at bay.  My determined destination was William’s Lake and I didn’t want to stop ‘til we arrived.  I was sure Jamin was sleeping like a log since he was so wiped out, and I guess he did sleep well for about an hour but the jarring and bouncing of the trailer triggered his need to go to the bathroom and he couldn’t communicate that need to me.  Looking around inside the trailer, Jamin decided to get a Ziploc bag to “go” in.  He found it difficult to get to the ziplocs because of the way the trailer was loaded down, but he remembered that we had a gas can in the trailer that was empty.  Perfect!!  He made good use of that.   Then he laid down again, relaxed and waited for me to stop.  But I didn’t stop soon enough for his need to “go” again.  Back to the gas can.  When we finally arrived in William’s Lake I opened the trailer to see if he had slept well and learned that he had almost filled a two gallon gas can!

It’s beautiful out now.  It’s 60 degrees Farenheit and the sky is deep blue.  We have traveled into the agricultural portions of Canada.  Some time ago we left the rough wild look and feel of Canada and Alaska, and now we are looking at horses, foals, cows and calves.  The road seems wider with fields and pastures on either side.  There are rolls of harvested hay, and lakes filled with ducks.  I am warmed by the feeling of being in the rural areas…much like the way I grew up in Idaho.  Sometimes, like now, I miss those endless fields with grazing horses.  I want to get out of the car, jump the electric fences and run through the pastures.  I want to catch minnows in the ditches of water and find frogs in the ponds.

Ahhh…yes, something about the sun and the land fills my heart.

Good news to report that our dog Denali’s “issues” seemed to have cleared and we have not had any incidents that require soap and disinfectant…as for the rest of us who desperately need a shower….well, that’s another story.