Today I'll fill you in on the highlights of our trip. Other than the car trouble and saying goodbye to Sam, it was very enjoyable. On the first evening we stopped in Cottage Grove, OR for the night. The hotel had an indoor swimming pool, so we checked to see if there was anyone in it (there wasn't) and raced back to our room to put on some swimming clothes. We stayed in the pool for probably an hour, and we were all very relaxed that night! While we were in there, a lady came in with two little girls. I struck up a conversation with her while her girls swam, and found that she was headed home . . . to a suburb of Vancouver!
On Wednesday, we arrived in Windsor, CA for two days of relaxation. A family in our church has a time share agreement, and they had some extra points that they very graciously allowed us to use. Our "room" was really an apartment with two bedrooms, two baths, and a full kitchen and living room. The living room had a queen-size murphy bed, the extra bedroom had twin beds, and the master bedroom had a king-sized bed. I could get used to a king-sized bed, let me tell ya! We also had a balcony off the living room, where I spent quite a bit of time just enjoying the view and the breeze. We were so blessed to have such a nice place to stay for those two days!
On Thursday we headed off to San Francisco for part of the day. We didn't have much money, so we didn't spend any money other than for lunch. Pretty lame tourists, we were! We crossed the Golden Gate Bridge into the city, then went to Fisherman's Wharf to look around a bit. Someone had suggested Pier 39, so that's where we went. It was very touristy, but it afforded a great view of Alcatraz and the harbor. We most enjoyed the sea lions that gather on the docks! They first appeared there after the big earthquake in 1988, and they have gradually made the docks their home. We had an inordinate amount of fun watching those selfish, lazy critters! LOL They were more fun than any amount of sightseeing! The bigger ones would allow some of the smaller ones to get on their docks, but others they would knock off if they even tried to get on. I think one of them was a female, because there was a baby sea lion sleeping on the end of her dock, and she was knocking other sea lions off left and right, then going back to lie down next to the baby. Now isn't that just like a mama?! You can see her and her baby on the very front dock in the picture, on the front left side.
On the way out of San Francisco, we heard someone beeping at us. We all thought it was just typical heavy traffic, until the car pulled up next to us and the occupants of the back seat began hanging out the window and waving wildly to us. Suddenly Sam says, "It's Yvonne and Annalyn!" They are two of his friends from here that were going to WCBC too, and they were in SF visiting relatives for the week before school started. We thought it was just amazing that, out of the thousands of cars on the road in San Francisco, they should pull up next to us . . . and even recognize us! So we had fun with that when we saw them at the school!
Friday found us arriving in Lancaster. It is HOT there this time of year, over 100 degrees every day. Praise God for air conditioning! Pastor and Mrs. Conner, from Greater Vancouver Baptist Church, arrived on Saturday, and all the boys (four all together) shared a room, and all the girls slept with their parents in the other two rooms. It was fun to have "neighbors" while we were away, and Pastor and Mrs. Conner were a blessing to us because they were dropping off their third and fourth children at the college - they knew all the emotional stuff that goes along with it. Their fourth is a good friend of Samuel's; those two boys have looked forward to going to college together for the past two years now. They didn't get in the same dorm, but they are together a lot during the course of a day.
On Saturday, we went down to Riverside to have dinner with my Uncle Bud and Aunt Shari, who live in Escondido, about 2 1/2 hours from Lancaster. It was so good to see them and catch up on their family. They are planning to go up to Lancaster and take Sam home with them during Thanksgiving, for which we're grateful. Uncle Bud is my mother's brother (his name is not really Bud - it's Leonard! LOL Wes has always thought that was funny). It's always so amazing to see him and see the family resemblances - he reminded me very much of my grandmother and some of her brothers. Although I don't get to see my extended family of aunts, uncles, and cousins very often, I do cherish those times, and I'm glad Sam will get to make some memories with his grandmother's family!
Sunday was church, of course. We loved the services, especially the music, at Lancaster. Wes likes some Southern gospel, but I dearly love the majestic orchestra and arrangements of a more classical style of sacred music. The preaching was great too. I had only heard Dr. Chappell two other times, one at a pastors' fellowship where he was the first of two speakers, and he'd been in a hurry. What a treat to hear him in his home pulpit! I believe Sam will learn much under Pastor Chappell's preaching.
Sunday night I got to meet a new online acquaintance who is a member at Lancaster. She assured me that she would check in on Sam every now and then. It was so sweet of her to meet us and get to know Sam a little - thanks, Jennifer!
Sam moved into his dorm room on Monday. He was definitely excited, but also completely stressed out with all the forms and reading and confusion of getting moved in. Not to mention meeting roommates for the first time. He was almost sick to his stomach the entire week, not able to eat more than a bite or two each meal. He was drinking plenty, though, so we felt he'd be alright. He is doing better now, although not quite up to his usual appetite.
Tuesday and Wednesday were spent with getting the car fixed and spending a little more time with Sam. Wednesday was the hardest day, as we'd said a final goodbye to Sam the night before, but we couldn't leave till the car was finished. It was a day to hurry up and wait. Wes took back the rental car before noon to keep from having to pay another day for it, then waited at the dealership. The kids and I were at the hotel room, just waiting for his call to leave. We were all pretty glad to leave late that afternoon, as far as just getting on the road was concerned.
We drove to Portland on Thursday, then on home on Friday. We stopped at "our" Wal Mart in Marysville, WA to buy some groceries and some bikes. We were given the money to buy bikes last Christmas, but we knew it would be cheaper to buy them in The States if we could. But to bring in that much value of goods duty-free, we needed to be gone for a substantial amount of time. So we saved our money all year to buy these bikes after 10 days out of the country! People were staring at us in the store - we looked like a caravan, with two assembled bikes and two in boxes. Then Andrew and Wes had to attach the carrier to the car . . . the whole thing took several hours. It's kind of funny now, but I knew Wes wasn't real happy with spending so much time on that!
This was the Friday of a long weekend for both the US and Canada, and we knew the border waits would be insane. We were each a little apprehensive about our visas, because we didn't have them with us; they hadn't arrived in the mail when we left the week before (they were waiting for us when we got home). So I prayed pretty much constantly coming up to the border. We went to one of the alternate crossings, instead of the main one on Interstate 5, where the wait was three hours. Our wait was only about 45 minutes, and the border guard didn't even ask to see our passports! He asked the usual questions - where do you live? how long and why were you out of the country? what are you bringing back and what is its value? - and then he said, "Have a great night!" We were rejoicing the rest of the way home over that!
So those are the highlights, with some pictures. Hope you enjoyed it!