We just returned home from our epic Pacific Norhtwestern vacation. It was an amazing trip in so many ways. A few highlights:
120+ hours in the car, spent chatting, laughing, sleeping, watching movies and getting along every second (ha! you know better than to believe that, don't you?) Truly, though, the kids did incredibly well with all the extreme togetherness, and we enjoyed so much wonderful family time.
6632.2 miles logged on the suburban and pop-up. My dear, dear husband drove ALL of them, save about 4 miles I drove locally one day. He is a rockstar. During all that driving he was doing, I was playing butler to the children, holding trash and about another thousand things and breaking up fights (I told you it wasn't all sunshine and roses!)
14 states traveled through
43 states, 1 US territory and 6 Canadian provninces represented in our license plate game (we were SO close to 50 states! Darn you, Eastern seaboard and deep south!)
During the 120+ hours and 6600 miles, we saw the following sights: Seattle, Vancouver BC, Victoria BC, North Cascade National Park, Olympic National Park, Washington beaches, Oregon coastline and beaches, tide pools, whales, seals, beautiful lakes and mountain hikes, Redwood National Park, and Crater Lake National Park (more elaboration below)
Seattle, Vancouver, Victoria and just about every other place we saw in the Pacific Northwest was full of redheads. Seriously. I have redhead radar and it was binging constantly! Redhead! Redhead! Not sure why the Northwest had such a high ratio of redheads, but I was with my people!
Doing laundry once a week-ish, with six helpers, in 1.25 hours is THE BEST EVER. We would be totally broke if I used a laundromat all the time, but I would have tons of extra time on my hands. Maybe it would be worth it. .
I am not a fan of tall bridges over major expanses of water. Like, I close my eyes, pray, and go to my happy place. The kids know this and are generally respectful of my anxiety, but every now and then someone busts out with a quiet refrain of "free-fallin", or the Veggie Tales' song "Drive into the river, Bob,". They're special like that.
The scenery we took in was breathtaking. The Northwest is among the most beautiful areas I have ever seen. The beaches were mind-bogglingly expansive - we could see for miles. The mountains, the lakes, the landscape in general was gorgeous. The Redwoods were impressive and stately - everyone marveled at their height and girth. Truly, this area of the country lives up to its reputation as one of the most beautiful areas in the country.
Each of these major trips we take with the camper usually inspires a theme song or two (here are some from other years). This year was no different, but we all had differing ideas about what song should win. Many people thought the Lego Batman soundtrack (dialogue as well as songs) should win, since the kids watched it several thousand times quoted it ad nauseum (after renting it twice, I bought it at a Walmart), others thought it should be Shenandoah, a favorite song of my husband's to play when we are in serene countryside. But ultimately, the Moana soundtrack won out as the theme. The song "How Far I'll Go" seemed to work well with its line "It calls me", and the way the beauty called all of us in.
Number of Thrivent shirts spotted (not including the ones worn by us!): two
During the long drive home (spanning three days), one of my children got stuck in the seatbelt. The child had twisted around so that the seatbelt was literally locked into place around the child's tummy. Even with the seatbelt unlatched, the child could not get out. After some general wailing and anxiety, we pulled over. One child checked the situation, then I went back, and ultimately, my husband, with his killer problem-solving skillz was able to remove the child from his seatbelt prison. Thankfully we did not have to "cut the seatbelt!!" per the seatbelt victim's wishes.
On the day we went to Victoria in British Columbia, the girls and I went to a proper British high tea. We drank tea as we chatted with English accents and pointed our pinkie fingers out. We nibbled on tiny sandwiches and pastries as we took in the beautiful gardens and scenery surrounding us. All three of us loved the experience and I'm so glad my older daughter suggested it.
We've all worked hard today, cleaning out the camper, putting things away, washing dishes, clothes and people, and generally getting things back to normal. I'm glad to be home, for sure, but I am sorry to be done with both the vacation and all the family time. Now that we're back, regular life starts again and we're all pulled in different directions. There was something wonderful about all the time away with just our seven.
I am so thankful my husband pushes us to take these adventurous trips. If it were up to me, we'd probably go to the beach every year and sit on our tushies. But he wants to instill a sense of adventure in our kids, and he wants them to see the country. And see it they have. To make it affordable, we've camped across the US, and in so doing, we've all seen a lot of beauty. My husband tirelessly plans our elaborate trips and knows all the places we should stop along the way. I am grateful for his effort and desire to foster our kids' sense of wonder and adventure, as well as show them God's glorious creation.