Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Glad to be Alive

Forty miles back on the freeway I had said a silent prayer of thanks that it wasn't us involved in the mashed up pile of trucks blocking both lanes of traffic heading southbound as we drove north.  It was a grey day already, but better than the constant rain the day before, and we still had a few hundred miles to go before we would call ourselves home and safe.  Traffic backed up for miles behind that wreck, one of the worst I've ever seen, and people had got out of their cars to stretch and wait it out.  Three large trucks and their contents gutted onto the roadway in a mess that would take hours to clean up enough to get people moving again.  Back on their way.  Back to their busy lives.  I really couldn't tell you much detail about the trucks or the mess, what I remember most was that empty ambulance stretcher that sat at the head of the trucks, unmanned, unattended.  Waiting, maybe, or in hindsight not even needed.  I'll never know, but I'll always wonder.

I prayed thanks for us and I prayed for strength for the people involved, because I didn't want to be vain and greedy and take all the praying for myself, I didn't want to be selfish and just glad it wasn't us and not stop to admit the horrible truth that the unlucky will live with. The people in those trucks and their families, there is a ripple effect to tragedy that none of us even stop to think about until it happens to us.  I thought about the phone calls that were made and the unknowning people on the other end who innocently answered hello? like we all do a million times in our life, but this time the voice on the other end isn't calling to just say "hi" or sell us something and a heart skips a beat while the throat tightens.  

I thought about how life changes on a dime.  In a second.  In a beat of a heart.  A flash of the eyes.

From the vantage point of the passenger seat of our big red van I saw more people driving and texting than I ever thought possible.  The slow lane doing under the speed limit, the fast lane going over the speed limit, young, old, man, didn't matter - they texted...and it was unsafe, and unfair to everyone else, and dangerous, and stupid and selfish...and frankly - it makes you an asshole.

Miles later a semi truck almost swerves into a car, later another car attempts its own pass into an unclear lane.  Man, the road is dangerous today.  

There's a car I mumbled out.  In hindsight it was the most useless of words that I could have ever mustered out of my mouth.  Of course there was a car....we were, afterall, on a freeway, there were lots and lots of cars.  But what my eyes saw and my mind could not make any sense of and relay to the driver was that there was a car that had just entered the freeway via the offramp and was now driving, head on, into traffic, towards us.

Stop. Stop. I said, pointing, bracing myself, knowing that there wasn't the seconds or the road space needed to ever stop in time.  Knowing that to our right was a semi truck and just ahead to our left the car in front of us veered off to the shoulder.  We were boxed in.  There was no place to go.  No room to stop.  There were only the seconds that ticked off like slow, painful minutes between us and that little red car, and it had just centered itself straight down the middle line towards us and headed forward.  

My life didn't flash in front of me like other people say it does in situations like that.  There really was nothing but the waiting for impact.  A complete sense of helplessness, powerlessness and disbelief that what is happening is actually taking place is what took over me.  And we were feet, feet, from making that impact when David swerved right, semi truck or not, and then.....there was nothing.  The trucker hit his breaks, pulled off onto the shoulder enough to allow space....I have idea.  I didn't look back.  I looked forward, straight out the window like I had been, but there was just the freeway and all the miles before us like nothing had ever even happened.  And just as shocked to see a car driving head-on into traffic, my mind was just as shocked that we were still driving, that there was no impact.  The tears came before my breath and once I had a thought it was:

I'm so happy to be alive.

It was one of those series of seconds that makes a person, again, realize how little anything in this world really matters.  How being alive, while imperfect, often really is enough when we strip away all the bullshit and get right down to it, or it should be, or could be - if we would let it.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Checking In

I've checked in a few times on Facebook, but for the most part I've spent my time away from home off the internet. It's an odd thing...the more time I don't use the Internet the less I am interested in it. I went through the same thing when we moved to the mountaintop years ago and went without internet for a month. After so long away, for the most part, I wasn't really interested in the Facebook status' that fill my news feed. There was this sort of disconnect from people and what they posted about and I am again finding that to be true. 

For the most part the adventure we have encountered on our trip has been burdensome, and I could have stayed home for most of it. We had car problems on the way to Yuma and spent an unplanned night in Texas getting the fuel filter replaced. Soon after arriving in Yuma Columbus' transmission went out on his car. He used David's car for a day and a half before that one died on him too. They rented a car to look for a new car, and for David to spend four hours a day commuting Columbus back and forth to school because you have to be 25 or older to drive a rental car. Eventually they did find a new to us car so they were back to "normal" minus a chunk of change. 

Then the weather hit back home and at one point they went ten days without power. They were already worn down by the weather and car problems, so morale was low as they spent their days just getting through the cold and boredom. They did gather downed trees and power poles for fire wood part of the time, and the Red Cross set up at a local school and provided food, water, hot meals and showers. 

Generally the kids and I have just hung around my dads house and do what we normally, cooking, school. I take them to the park everyday for fun and to get them out of my dads house to give him a break from a bunch of kids running around. 

The kids and I, along with my dad, did take a trip up to Reno to visit my brother and his family. I also got to see other family I had not seen in years and years. We had a good time and a lot of laughs. My brother also replaced the fuel pump on the van, so I am really, really crossing my fingers that the van is done breaking down and we can make the drive home without any problems. 

David and Columbus flew into San Diego a few days ago. We were going to spend time with friends there, but the little kids had the flu, so I just picked them up at the airport and brought them back to Yuma. Now that people are recovered we will go to San Diego tomorrow and stay until Sunday when Columbus flies back home. Then we will go back to Yuma for a couple of days before the rest of us drive home. 

The time away has been nice, even if it is a little (or a lot) boring, especially for the kids. The warmth and sunshine is addicting here and I can't help but to want to be a "snowbird" myself and come back every winter. But I am sure this will be our last trip south for a few years. If I had known what was going to happen after we left I doubt we would have gone. We've ended up spending a large portion of money on cars, and David has missed a lot of work, and it's really just sickening. 

We are sporting nice tans though, and we will go back to Knotts Berry Farm and the beach while in San Diego, which we all really enjoyed during our trip last year. I'm sure that the end or our trip will be better than the start, and even middle, and most of us are more than ready to head for home. 

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Cooking for 12 in a Tiny House

Is exactly how I've been spending most of my time. This whole getting ready to go out of town for an extended period of time and leave meals for the two men left behind, plus pack enough food for a three day road trip for the other ten of us without having to stop for fast food, plus make our regular meals, well, frankly it's wearing me out a bit...even with all the help I get. I can honestly say that I am getting sick and tired of cooking. 

And it's sort of a mess and overtakes our small kitchen/dining area. 

He's helping wash dishes. I never, ever, ever turn down help...even when it's not really helpful. Because, why?  Why would I say no now and then expect it later when he is old enough?  That makes no sense to me and deprives him of pridefully contributing. 

The freezer is getting full and I'm almost done. Indian curry chicken is the last flipping freezer meal I have to make. After that I'll be on easy street just keeping up with daily meals and getting road trip food ready. 

We are planning on leaving the mountaintop on Tuesday...and there is plenty of excitement in the air. The kids can't wait to get going and get to sunshine at Papa's house, and I'm looking forward to the three day drive...mostly because I can't cook in the 

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Feeling Adventuresome??

We've been busy getting ready for our Grand Adventure...and we haven't even starting packing yet.  I took the van in for an oil change, tire rotation and vehicle inspection to make sure we would be sea worthy on such a long trip, and two mechanics and somewhere around 2k later...we are.  I'm grateful that we had the money to get the work done, but I can't help but to think that we needed the work because we had the things seem to break down more when you get found money.  

I don't know why, but I always have this nesty need to clean the house before we leave.  It doesn't matter if we're just going out for a day in town, we still tidy up before we go because I hate coming home to a mess, and generally, by the time we come home we are worn out and don't need the added chaos of tripping our way inside with groceries...and it's rare that we don't come home with groceries.  I was deep cleaning the bathroom the other day, which I really don't do all that often due to our lack of water, and I kind of had to laugh at myself for even worrying about it when I was leaving the house in the hands of two men who will most likely live like bachelors until the very last day of our return.  In the days since I cleaned the bathroom not one person has commented on its newfound cleanliness, which leads me to believe I should stop worrying about cleaning the house and just start

And then there are all the loose ends that I don't want to leave dangling before we go.  Things like quarterly taxes reported, homeschool grades reported, financial aid applications turned in for the 2015/16 school year for Columbus and Cleo, and lots of freezer meals for the two bachelors that we are leaving behind.  Slowly, I've been pecking away at my to-do list, and today I finally reached a point that it seemed prudent to stop and actually map out our route.

I'm planning to stop in or around Texarkana, TX on our first day, and someplace a little East of El Paso, Tx the second day.  We would like to leave here in the next week or so - we're flexible! 

If we have any volunteer hosts around those areas we would love to hear from you!  

Last year when we made this trip we had hosts in Arkansas, Texas, New Mexico and San Diego that we stayed with. It was an enjoyable experience for us, and I think our hosts, too.  It was fun and interesting to meet new people along the way and hear about where they are from, and some of their life stories.  In many ways, staying with our hosts is what made our Grand Adventure...Grand!

Those visits with our hosts added many memories and stories to our own life, from sand sledding in New Mexico with an amazing family that showed us more warmth and love than I ever imagined possible from "strangers," to the fellow large family, homeschooling grandmother in Texas who gave the little kids handmade, tiny, wool felted babies that were cherished in and out of pants pockets for the rest of our trip and I still find in my washing machine a year later, to adopted grandparents in San Diego who laughed and cried with us, played games, did crafts, and went above and beyond in every way possible.  Each one of them we recall fondly and are better for having experienced.  

Two of the wool felted babies that made our cross country trip with us...

The internet and meeting strangers from it can be a scary thing, and we infact had a running joke about ending up in a basement freezer chopped up in tiny pieces, thanks to Sugar King who has a wicked and overactive imagination, but our experiences were the exact opposite of that and filled with an unimaginable amount of love that enriched us and our travels.

So, if you're feeling adventuresome and are interesting in being part of our Grand Adventure, you can pop me an email at: room4more (@) icloud (.com)