8-25-2011 One Month (written on August 25th)
One month ago today, on July 25th, we did the final pack of our car, had an early morning doctor’s appointment (multi-tasked with a dog grooming appt!), a final lunch date with a friend and then we hit the road for the beginning of a two week trip to Florida, where we’d later board an airplane for Puerto Rico. As we drove south on Interstate 35, the emotions that I had been able to stoically hold inside during our Going Away party the day before, came bubbling to the surface. As the tears fell, Robert and I gave thanks to the Lord for the amazing friends that He has blessed us with in Minnesota, and all of the ways that had supported us and loved us and been there to guide and encourage us through both the great times and the tough times. The beauty is that friendships do not end because of the separation of miles. We knew that God had called us to Puerto Rico, and we also knew that though we wouldn’t see our friends and family on a regular basis, those relationships would remain strong and true. We also hoped to host many friends on their own visits to Puerto Rico in the near future! (hint, hint!)
The Dressels & the Dades (our Going Away Party hosts!)
The next several days followed this crazy, wonderful, memory-making itinerary:
July 25th - drive 5 hours south to Coralville, IA to spend a couple days at the home of my (Holly’s) parents. The drive was routine and uneventful, but sweaty. Did I mention that the A/C on the minivan that we wouldn’t be keeping had already broken and we didn’t want to sink $2000 into repairing the A/C on a vehicle we couldn’t keep? Smart financial decision, but it led to a very sweaty trip!!!
July 27th - drive a short 3 hours to Batavia, IL, where we stayed at the home of our dear friends for a short overnight. Our two girls LOVED having the opportunity to spend time with their 3 girls, whom they have become fast friends with over the years. Holly loved having the opportunity to connect with her college roomie. We were all bummed though, to miss her husband, as we always seem to schedule our visits to IL at the worst possible times for him. PS - on the way to Batavia we got to stop in some small town right across the border of IA in IL and have breakfast with a MN friend who was in the area for a wedding! Crazy but fun to have a MN connection “on the road”.
July 28th - Started out early for our longest drive of the entire trip...well over 12 hours in the car and passing through 5 states as we drove from IL to NY...Niagara Falls to be exact. We pulled in with enough time to check into our hotel and pop into the Applebees down the street for some dinner. We were all exhausted heading out of the Applebees and didn’t realize that Robert’s backpack, which never left our side b/c it was full of important documents (and $$!!) for our trip, was no longer with us. We did realize it when we pulled back into the parking lot of the hotel 5 minutes down the road. Minor freak out moment. Okay, actually MAJOR freak out moment. The kids and I went on into the hotel while Robert sped back to Applebees. Thankfully it seems the night crew at the ‘Bees didn’t have exceptional work ethic...when Robert got back to the restaurant, our table was still full of the plates and unfinished food we had left there. And Robert’s backpack was there, all valuables still safely inside. Phew! He got home and we all quickly crashed!
July 29th - Another early morning as we planned to go to Niagara Falls. None of us had ever been there before and we couldn’t be this close and not go! Unfortunately as we woke up, the rain was absolutely POURING outside. Not just a heavy rain. The kind of rain that even if your windshield wipers are at the highest speed they can go, they still can’t keep up. We stopped and got some breakfast and as we got back in the car the skies were still dumping water on the earth by the bucketfuls. We prayed that the rain would stop in time for us to visit Niagara Falls and began driving in the direction of the falls, through the incessant rain. About 5 minutes away from the state park, the rain stopped entirely. By the time we parked and got out of the car, a bit of sun was peaking out. We hiked around the area, though our favorite part, of course, was the Maid in the Mist voyage! We had to do it in two rounds because we had PJ, and PJ wasn’t allowed on the boat, of course! So Robert, Juancho & Laura went first, and Angie and I followed. Thankfully we we were there early enough and just after the rain, so the lines were small and moved quickly. Angie decided to use some of her birthday money from Grandma to buy a couple little souvenirs from the gift shop. By lunchtime we were on our way to Boston, MA where we would stay with friends that we hadn’t seen since 12/08/2007, the day we left Colombia. Our friends had adopted their son from Colombia at the same time, and stayed in the same ‘residencia’ as us and we all became fast friends. We couldn’t wait to see them again and catch up on the years!
(Postscript: Sorry there are no pics for the above...I took pics, but they are locked away on my digital camera...still looking for that USB cord...the pics below were taken with my camera phone...)
July 30th - Juancho’s 14th Birthday! We did a small birthday celebration today and decided to save the real ‘fiesta’ for when we got to Puerto Rico! We were in Boston today and our friends took us around to all the sights. Our friends live in Concord, so the natural starting point was seeing some of the historical sites in Concord and Lexington from the days of the Revolutionary War. We saw the place where the first shot of the Revolutionary War was fired (“the shot heard ‘round the world”), where Paul Revere made his fateful ride warning about the arrival of the ‘redcoats’ and the homes of several famous authors such as Emerson and Alcott (author of ‘Little Women’). Later we went into Boston, took a Swan Boat ride at the park that the children’s book “Make Way for Ducklings” made famous. We saw Fenway Park and later went to a classic clam & seafood restaurant for some real New England grub. I did NOT have any clams though...couldn’t bring myself to do that! Was very impressed with the 4 year old and 8 year old who had no trouble putting away the clams though!
The kids in Lexington, MA in front of a Revolutionary War memorial
At the "Make Way for Ducklings" park - Boston, MA
(can't remember the name of the actual park...)
The girls on a 'Swan Boat' ride - Boston, MA
(Angie & Laura are with friend Julianna here)
July 31st - We left our friend’s in Concord after a wonderful breakfast send-off and drove through Connecticut to see my oldest sister Debbie. She is in Connecticut for about a year and a half and didn’t expect to see any of her family during her time there. But God works in mysterious ways and led us to plan a route down the east coast that went directly through her town! After seeing Debbie, we drove into NYC just for the purpose of being able to now say I’ve been to NYC! We stopped for a few minutes and snapped a few pics of the Statue of Liberty. Then we got back in the car and drove through New Jersey and stopped at a hotel just into Maryland.
And before you burn your eyes out reading this very.long.post.that.still.isn’t.finished, I’ll stop here and say “Tune in tomorrow for Part Deaux!”