Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Trek Across North America: Week 1

We have been having a great trip so far -- thanks for your prayers! No car trouble as yet... good visits with family and friends... and Alex is such a great little traveler! We are currently in Manson, Manitoba (a little town just north of the Trans-Canada highway and just east of the Saskatchewan border) with Rusty's uncle and aunt.

Here's a brief rundown of our journey so far.

We left Portland on Saturday, July 14th and drove to Kalispell, Montana. There, Alex, was reunited with his little friend, Sophie. We stayed with Sophie and her family for two nights. It was so much fun getting the kids together again!

For the first time, Alex and Sophie were actually able to play together, although they did have trouble from time to time with the whole concept of sharing. For the most part, they did pretty well, though!

Creative sharing -- Sophie sits in her doll stroller while Alex pushes her. This worked better for some reason than taking turns pushing the stroller. (Don't worry -- Alex isn't sunburned -- he just gets really red when he runs around outside in the hot summer weather!)

We went to the lake on Sunday afternoon and had a great time swimming and playing in the water.

Finger painting was a real adventure. Sophie preferred painting her own face and hair, while Alex wanted to eat the paint! Luckily, they were the non-toxic kind!

My mom has a picture of my sister and her friend Adam in a rocking chair together when they were not much bigger than Alex and Sophie. I was attempting the same level of cuteness here; unfortunately, the kids were not cooperating.

On Monday, July 16th, we drove north to Red Deer, Alberta and stayed with Rusty's cousin Gwendalee and her family for two nights. On our way, we drove through Glacier National Park. The Going-to-the-Sun Road, which cuts right through the center of Glacier, is absolutely stunning. I remember driving through the park in 1995 with my family, and it was just as breathtaking 12 years later!

At Logan Pass, we stopped and went for a hike with Roxanna and Sophie. We hiked up through alpine meadows to a spot overlooking a glacial lake (see picture above) and had a little picnic. The terrain reminded me of something out of "Heidi" or "The Sound of Music." We got to see mountain goats up really close (they crossed our path about ten feet from us).

In Red Deer, Alex enjoyed playing in the sprinkler and jumping on the trampoline with Gwendalee's kids (his second cousins). Cousin Calvin and his wife Kim drove down from Loon Lake for the day to visit with us and took us all out to dinner. We had a great time with everybody!

On Wednesday, July 18th, we drove to Regina, Saskatchewan, and stayed two nights with Rusty's cousin Christina and her family. We stopped and had a late lunch in Drumheller, Alberta. They had a great little water park with all kinds of cool sprinklers for the kids to play in. Alex had a really great time. I'll upload a video when I have a high speed connection again.

Drumheller is the home of the world's largest (man-made) dinosaur. It towers over the visitor center, where the water park was. It's quite obnoxious, really, but then again, I guess every place has to have their claim to fame.

In Regina, we went to a little park one afternoon and let Alex feed the ducks and play on the playground. Cousin Cheryl drove in from the farm with her family to have dinner with us that evening. We had a good visit with them.

On Friday, July 20th, we drove to Manson to visit with Uncle Ken and Aunt Rae for several days. We have been having a wonderful time with them. They live way out in the country in an old farmhouse on an 11-acre plot of land. Alex has been having so much fun playing in the yard, chasing the dog, digging in the sandbox, and eating raspberries that he picked right off the bush. We have been thoroughly spoiled by Aunt Rae's delicious home cooking. She makes wonderful saskatoon (like blueberries) and cherry pies -- the cherries come right off a tree in their front yard (eat your hearts out, Dad and Josh!).

I will post more pictures later -- they are calling me to come and play some 42, a dominoe game that I learned to play just a few days ago!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

On the Road Again!

Our shipment is on its way to Memphis... our bags are packed... the car is loaded to the brim... goodbyes have mostly all been said. We are leaving Portland early tomorrow morning to begin our long trek across North America, and I sit here trying to absorb the reality that this is our last night in the Northwest for who knows how long.

I really have mixed feelings about leaving Oregon. On the one hand, I am excited about going back to Memphis, reconnecting with the friends we have there, getting into a place of our own, being just our family again. But on the other hand, I will really miss living here! I love the Northwest. It is such a beautiful part of the country. In fact, I can't think of any other place in the U.S. that I would rather live than here. And after having lived here for five years (four years in college and then this last year), I feel more "at home" in Oregon than anywhere else. It is where Rusty and I met, dated, got married, and started our life together, and I have always hoped that when we finally stop being global nomads, we will settle down somewhere in the Pacific Northwest.

We were supposed to leave today, but we had so much still to do that we finally decided to just stay one more night, and get an early start tomorrow. So tonight, Rusty took me to Beaches, one of our favorite restaurants in the Portland/Vancouver area. We sat outside on the deck overlooking the mighty Columbia River, felt the cool breeze as evening fell, and reflected on this last year. It has definitely been a year filled with lots of struggle and sadness -- but there have been bright spots and moments of joy, too. I had the sense that we were closing out this chapter of our lives... And I look forward to turning the page tomorrow to a new chapter!

Memphis, here we come!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

A Day at the Zoo

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Amanda invited us to go to the zoo with her for FREE! She has a special pass that allows her to bring guests free of charge, so Alex and I enjoyed a day at the Oregon Zoo with Amanda and several other friends. Rusty joined us after he got off work.

Alex loved looking at all the animals. He especially liked the fish and the water animals because the aquarium windows allowed him to get up so close to them. He even got to pet a few of the animals (the domesticated ones, not the lions and tigers!). We had a picnic lunch on a grassy field, spent some time playing in a big sandbox, and then enjoyed a ride on the zoo train before going home.

Here are a few pictures of our day.

Thanks, Amanda, for a really fun day!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Baby on Board

When we were still living at Mary's house, Alex absolutely loved to watch his cousins skateboard. He would stand in the front yard, with his nose pressed up against the fence, and watch them for hours as they flew up and down the street. On this particular day, Robbie left his board in the front yard, and Alex decided to show everyone that he can skateboard too! He just adores his cousins and wants to be able to do everything they do.