Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Westward, HO!

"Where did you go," you might be wondering. A lot of nowhere, a lot of busy beeing around the house. But not all nowhere. A few very big somewheres starting with California.

We have lovely friends in California, stationed there through the Air Force. When they began making plans to see each other, they invited us along. With the Ellis clan, we boasted 9 children {the oldest was 5 yo} and 6 excited, tired parents for a week of hiking, playing, biking, and touristing:
Wandering down the Monterrey Wharf in borrowed clothes

Beautiful girls searching for sea lions and otters

Sunset on the bay

What?! An Ellis family photo - only because we were reminded to take one

The redwoods at Big Sur

The best part - these wonderful ladies

Bubba on the beach
I might have taught this warrior girl to shoot at seagulls. She shot one!

Expectant faces watch for the wave to fall at the Monterrey Aquarium

Ecstasy with every wave

Our trip to California was one of the most rejuvenating experiences of my life, right up there with our honeymoon. We got away from daily pressures without any true agenda other than to spend time with people we love.

The trip out was a comedy of airline errors to be certain: cancelled flights, long delays with restless children in overcrowded airports with no gluten free food, lost bags, stomach virus (appropriately discharged on the airline kiosk). 24 hours round trip. If so many people didn’t experience the same thing every time they flew, I might think we were special. I haven’t sworn off flying, but I’m not jumping to get on another plane either.

But once we were there, seeing Emily and Keith and Mollie and Jeff and all their sweet little ones that I love like nieces and nephews... What a blessing! Even now, I can close my eyes and find myself standing in that open white kitchen with the windows and door flung wide to allow the cool breeze to flow through the house, taking my tension and frustrations with it. The yard with its rusty sand and spiny plants, all harboring their precious water against the long dry season. The living room couch covered with bare legs and open picture books and plastic dinosaurs.

The trip to Big Sur, driving along the sharp coast with breakers spraying above the rocks, the wind whipping hair and clothes. Red woods towering impossibly tall overhead, imposing and sheltering. Kids circling around us like a pack, excited, whining, bounding, all looking for lunch and bugs and the one perfect stick or rock or pinecone. All crouched down at the water’s edge, staring into the stream life below them. All filing over the fallen log bridge, holding momma’s hand and shuffling tiny tennis shoes to jump proudly at the end and stand tall while momma heads back across to help the next one in line. 

The hike with my besties. Getting to be free, strong mommas, skipping up the trail without the added weight of a child or two wrapped on and dragging against our hands. That conversation started the long, tearful talk over delicious food two nights later. The talk where we bore our souls and our fears and our frustrations with two of the only people alive that could hear all those deep ugly things we hate admitting to ourselves. They are those friends. Who know how angry I get, how messy my house is, how much I love and struggle with my husband, my God, my position, my life. And they are those friends who don’t let me wallow in the struggle, but pray for me, encourage me, and point me back to the will of God. Any plane ticket, any long day of flying, any hauling sick children across country was worth that conversation.

Afton thanks God for our trip to California and the plane ride and all of our friends every day still. What a blessing!

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