Started our day at Bryce with a horseback ride. I thought I had booked the ride that goes down into the canyon, but this one just rode along the rim. It was still fun and so relaxing. Horses are so beautiful! I was assigned a white horse called Windy and she was so sweet. I wish I could have taken her home with me. I think I would maybe like to own a horse one day.
It was about 12:30 in the afternoon when we finished our ride and it was super hot! So we decided to go back to the trailer and have lunch. We heated up leftovers and sat outside on the picnic bench. After a little while the wind started kicking up a huge dust storm and then it started to rain which cooled things down a bit.
After the storm, we went back to Bryce. We started by driving to the end of the park and stopping at each of the scenic overlooks on the way back. As you drive through the park all you see is a pine forest. You would never know there is a huge, incredible Canyon to your left unless someone told you (or you stumbled upon it... hopefully not down it)!
At each overlook the hoodoos got more & more amazing! Until we finally reached the amphitheater at Sunset Point, which is definitely the crowning jewel of Bryce National Park. There we did the Navajo Loop trail which was a steep 1.3 mile hike (down via Wall Street & up via Two Bridges).
The Indians say that the hoodoos “stand as the men they were before ‘Coyote’ turned them into rocks.” I can see why they would think that because a lot of them definitely have personalities. It was fun to try and figure out what they looked like, just like you do with clouds.
Checked out of Ruby’s Campground. We had a four hour drive to Moab ahead of us, so we stopped by Wanderlust Coffee one more time before heading out of the area to get some (people) fuel for the road. This time I tried their coffee (it was really good) and something called a “kolache” which is a Czechoslovakian thing that is popular in Texas. It was a soft bread stuffed with egg, cream cheese, bacon, and jalapeños. Super yummy!
Two hours into our drive we made a pit stop at Capitol Reef National Park. After popping into the visitor center we drove a little ways down the road to check out the Gifford House. We had heard they sold little pies there so we planned to get some and have a picnic in the grassy lawn, but they were all sold out (it was about 3:00pm).
We noticed a group of deer sitting under a tree only about 50 feet from where people were sitting having picnics. They were so beautiful! it look like something out of a dream… a little bit of heaven on earth.
Next we drove another few minutes down the road to check out the “Fremont Petroglyphs.” It was pretty cool to see something so ancient. Whoever drew those images must have been tripping on peyote of something because they sure are strange!
Then we jumped back on Hwy 191 where we drove for miles & miles on a desert road towards Moab. Something that amazes me about this southwestern landscape is how much it varies. One moment you have these big, towering, red rock mountains. The next moment you have what looks like multi-colored sand castles. Then flat, sandy land as far as your eye can see! It’s ever changing and never boring. I feel like you could explore this area your whole life and always see something new. The landscape even changes with the time of day... the same place can look completely different in the morning light than what it does in the afternoon and evening. It’s magical!
After about 6 hours (a four hour drive, plus our stop in Capitol Reef) we finally made it to Moab!
We were hungry, so we dropped the trailer and headed into town. Found this place called Hidden Cuisine which had some interesting African dishes on their menu. They had a nice outdoor patio where we could sit and watch the sun set over the mountains while we ate. We even got to see a beautiful rainbow over the mountains!
Our waitress recommended a place called Spitfire where we could go hang out for a bit after dinner. It had a cool, laidback atmosphere. We ordered a pitcher of their local Wasatch Brewery seasonal Apricot beer and played board games and pool. It was a fun night!
We drove past Arches in the morning and we noticed the line to get into the park was still pretty long. So we decided to just go into town for breakfast and try the park again later in the day.
In town we found this place called Jailhouse Cafe which called itself “Moab’s breakfast place.” While we waited for a table, Dawn & I walked over to Moab Coffee Roasters which was about a 3 minute walk up the street. I got a cup of their cold brew which was good enough to drink without any sweetener. Breakfast was good too. I got a multigrain waffle with fruit & walnuts and a side of scrambled eggs. The restaurant got its name from the fact that the building used to be the town courthouse/jail. The room where they held the prisoners awaiting trial is still there!
After breakfast we stopped into a couple shops and the visitor center. I asked them about the hike to Delicate Arch and they advised to wait until about 6pm to do it. On the way home we drove through Arches just to get a lay of the land. We stopped to see Balanced Rock since it was just off the road. Then we went home for a quick nap.
At about 5:30 we headed back over to Arches all geared up to do the 3 mile round trip hike. It was still hot, but really windy, so that helped. The hike up was very steep and I had to stop a couple times to rest, but Jimbo ran up most of the way!
We stopped to see the Petroglyphs. These were done by the Ute people around 1600 AD. Next, we came across a small “window” and climbed up to get a better look. To our surprise you could see Delicate Arch through it! It was so big and incredibly beautiful, especially in the afternoon sunlight. I know people say it was formed by millions of years of water & wind erosion, but the way those two base rocks are sitting on the earth look just like they were placed there on purpose to me! I can just picture God forming them like a child playing with sand. So amazing to behold God’s handiwork!
This morning we got up before the sun and drove out to Canyonlands, which is only about 30 minutes from Arches. We went to the “Islands in the Sky” district and drove all the way out to Grand Point Vista, which is where we thought Mesa Arch was. Turns out it was in a different location, but glad we got to see the view from Grand Point... it definitely was “grand” and reminded us of the Grand Canyon.
The hike to Mesa Arch was .25 miles, but pretty steep. Made for a good morning workout! When we first saw the arch from far off it looked like someone had lit a fire beneath it because of the way it was glowing orange. But, it was the glow of the sun shining through it... It was really spectacular!
After I snapped a few pictures I realized that it’s the same arch in the picture I found online to create the album cover for this trip (part 1). So cool!
Now we’ve officially done all five of the “Mighty 5” parks! This afternoon we’re heading back to Arches to do another hike, maybe two. Tomorrow we head out of Moab to Salt Lake City.
After a nap we drove into town to have lunch and then wandered into a store called “Moab Gear” which sold all kinds of new & used camping & climbing gear. Jimbo asked one of the guys working there where the locals went climbing, base jumping, wing-suiting, etc. He said there was a place called “Wall Street” just a few miles outside of town where a lot of people did “sport” climbing (with ropes) & “trad” climbing (short for traditional, without ropes, using the cracks in the rocks). So we headed over there to check it out!
Sure enough, there were several people there pulled off the side of the road, climbing the face of this huge sheer wall! We parked our truck and jumped out to watch them. It was about 6:00pm and most of them were starting to pack up for the day (they had been there since about 3:00). But, they were super friendly and answered all our questions. They told us about a great place nearby to go “bouldering” (climbing big boulders without gear, except for a “crash pad”). So, we headed over there!
It was starting to get dark, but we (and by “we” I mean mostly Jimbo) managed to climb a few big boulders. There were a few kids visiting from Denver that did some bouldering, so I had fun watching Jimbo climb with them for a while.
We didn’t get back to Arches to do any hikes, but it was fun to discover these climbing spots. Hopefully we’ll be able to get back there and do some more hikes in Arches and some more climbing one day.
Drove another four hours from Moab to Salt Lake City. The mountains here are impressive! Different than the red rock mountains to the south. It feels like we’re in some kind of alpine village like Vail, Colorado or Switzerland.
After dropping the trailer we went to check out a place called Pretty Bird for dinner. A family from SLC that we met at Lone Rock recommended it. They only had one thing on the menu: a fried chicken sandwich with pickles, slaw, and a secret sauce. They had a couple sides: Mexican street corn salad (which is what I got) or crinkle cut fries. When you’ve only got one thing on the menu, you know it’s gotta be good! And it was. However, it was huge (Tump voice)! I could hardly get my mouth around it. The breading was really flavorful and the fusion of flavors with the sauce, pickles and slaw were excellent. The corn salad had some black eyed peas (I think) in it, which I wasn’t expecting. But, I liked that it was different. They didn’t have any seating (only a patio, but it was closed). So we had to eat on a bus bench. The restaurant was located in downtown SLC so it was a ghost town at 8:00pm. There were several homeless people around, but the city was very clean.
Jimbo found an arcade that was only an 8 minute walk away, so we headed over there to check it out. They had mostly pinball machines and lots of more modern games, but only a couple retro games. So we only hung out there for a little while then jumped back in the truck and headed over to a place called “A bar named Sue,” which is a cute play on the Johnny Cash song, “A boy named Sue.” If you’ve never heard it, you should look it up! It’s one of my favorite Johnny Cash songs. The place had a great vibe and great beer. I had a coffee cream ale that actually tasted like coffee (you can’t always trust the descriptions on some of these beers... they’ll sound amazing, but then they just taste like beer). We played a couple rounds of pool, tried to play ping-pong, and threw some darts, then called it a (fun) night!
Today was Dawn’s last day with us and we wanted to send her off with a bang, so we headed over to the Utah Olympic Park. It’s a winter sports park built for the 2002 Olympics. Now they use it as an Olympic training center and they have an “adventure park” that’s open to the public. A $75 gold pass gives you unlimited use of their alpine slide, zip lines, high ropes course, extreme tubing (tubing down their 60m and 90m ski jumps), and a bunch of other things.
It was super fun! I was a chicken, but Dawn & Jimbo went down the slides. I did the high ropes course. It was scary, but I’m so glad I pushed myself out of my comfort zone to do it. If you know me, you know I’m a scaredy cat. But, they say life happens on the other side of your comfort zone, so I’m really trying to push myself to do things I would never do before. I’m tired of sitting on the sidelines watching other people have fun. I pray God will give me courage!
For dinner we went to the Wasatch Brewery. The food was excellent. I tried a flight of their beers. They had a jalapeño beer and a strawberry blond ale that were super interesting. They also had a dark beer called “Polygamy Porter” (we are in Utah) that was very much like the Guinness you get in Ireland (the bottled Guinness you get here in the states is different).
After dinner we walked along the streets of the beautiful little town of Park City. They had a Bansky piece on one of their walls that they put behind plexiglass. It was cool to see one of his original works in person. I looked for them all over when we were in England and Paris, but wasn’t able to find one.
There was a Sotheby’s real estate office with some of their listings in the window and our minds were blown when we saw the prices of some of the homes in this area. One place was $10.5M! You could probably travel the whole world 100 times for that kind of money. As beautiful as that place was, I rather collect memories & experiences than things. “Travel is the one thing you buy that makes you richer.”
Spent the last few days resting & regrouping. Stayed at Mountain Shadows RV park for a week. It was a nice campground, a little crowded, but quiet and clean. We got our laundry done, spent some time planning the next leg of our trip over to California, and most importantly worked on getting a new generator. After a lot of going back & forth with Wen (the generator company), turns out the thing is no longer under warranty. So we went to Lowe’s and bought a Honda 2200i, but it wouldn’t run our A/C. So, then we ran over to Harbor Freight and literally got there 5 minutes before they closed. But the nice guy there sold us an open box Predator 3500 generator for the price of one of their 2200’s and threw in a 20% discount on top of that! Which was a super blessing! Thank you, Jesus!
However, since it was a used generator we had to change out the oil, which took a lot of time. But, once everything was said & done it worked great! We “Wallydocked” (stayed in a Walmart parking lot) last night and the generator ran our A/C all night as well as our fridge, and we were even able to run the hairdryer all at the same time. (It’s the little things!)
There are so many things we take for granted when we live in regular homes... water, electricity, the security of having a place to stay. All of these things are not a given when you live this lifestyle. Which may turn a lot of people away, but for me it’s a reminder that we depend on God’s blessings and provision every day for everything and it makes me more grateful for the little things. It’s definitely a learning curve! But, God is using it to help me learn to let go and trust Him more. If you know me, you know what a worry wart I can be. For a long time I have been praying for God to help me change that about myself and have my faith in Him be greater than all my fears. God has used a lot of things in these past few years to grow my faith and this is definitely one of them!
Lastly, got out IN-N-OUT burger fix! Jimbo had never tried it. I had a “double-double with cheese, protein style, animal style” (wrapped in lettuce and patty cooked with mustard, plus pickles, chopped grilled onions and an extra their famous sauce). It was so messy and so good! But, I was in a food coma for the rest of the day. By the way, did you know that IN-N-OUT has Bible verses printed on the bottom of their cups and frenchfry trays? I learned that it was the founder’s brother & daughter that started it as a way to share their faith. On the bottom of the cups is John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son so that no one would perish, but have everlasting life.” And Nahum 1:7 is on the fry tray; “The Lord is good, a strong refuge when trouble comes. He is close to those who trust in him.”
A few blocks from Mountain Shadows RV park we noticed a hang-glider parked in the grass out in front of a warehouse. Out of curiosity we stopped in to check it out. There we met the guys (and gals) from the Cloud 9 flight school. Turns out they not only teach hang-gliding, but paragliding and paramotoring too. Unfortunately their classes were all booked up until August, but they said we could come out and watch the classes while we were here.
The next morning we got up super early (class is from 6:30-9:30am) and drove up to the Flight Park State Recreation Area which was just a few minutes away from the school. When we first got there, I couldn’t believe my eyes! It was a whole hillside full of people with huge, colorful wings. Some people were on the ground working on getting their wings to stand. It was so cool to watch them try to catch the wind, like a cowboy trying to lasso a wild stallion. You could tell how powerful the wind was; something which was previously invisible, all of a sudden was visible in the way it inflated that wing and pulled the person up and across the ground. Then they steadily and forcefully walked their inflated wing towards the edge of the hill and after standing there for a moment or two, waiting for just the right moment, they took a step off the hill and instead of falling, they were swooped up by the wind and just glided away into the sky! It was mesmerizing... I just stood there for the whole 3 hours watching as each one went through the same ritual. I wanted to do it too!
As you know, I struggle with fear, so normally I would just shy away from doing something scary like that. But, thankfully I really feel like God is answering my prayers for courage because I immediately went and signed up for a tandem flight! I actually couldn’t believe I did it. However, it would be a few days before my flight would actually take place (I signed up on a Wednesday and my flight wasn’t until Saturday). So I had plenty of time to talk myself out of it, but instead of giving into the fear, every time it tried to sneak up on me, I would just shift my focus onto God and His Word. “God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind.”
When the day came for my tandem flight, I was a little nervous, but mostly excited. There is a campground at the Flight Park so we stayed there the night before. It was pretty cool to sit and watch the paragliders outside my window while I drank my coffee. Once I had breakfast and got dressed I made my way out there and met my instructor, Brian. Thankfully he was a really cool, laidback guy and his relaxed demeanor helped me to stay relaxed. After chatting for a few minutes, he strapped me up in a harness and before I knew it, he had the wing up and we were running towards the cliff’s edge. I didn’t even have time to think about it (which was probably a good thing). Before I knew it we were taking a step off the cliff and in the air!
It was a surreal feeling to be soaring through the air like a bird. At one point we were actually flying alongside a beautiful bright orange and brown falcon. He must have been wondering what kind of bird we were? Haha! Then Brian asked me if I wanted to take the reigns and fly the kite for a few minutes so I could get a feel for what it was like. So I reached up and grabbed hold of the control leads. With his hands over mine, I pulled the chord on the right to go right, left to go left. It was terrifying and thrilling all at the same time! I quickly let him take back over because I realized how hard it is to control that thing. When I was watching them from the ground they made it look so easy. Once I realized all that went into it, I had a whole new level of respect for the sport. I originally thought it was something I might enjoy taking up as a hobby, but quickly realized it wasn’t for me. It’s not as relaxing as it looks, you have to have very heightened senses to pilot one of those things. Nonetheless, I was very happy I did it. Most of all because it was a big step towards overcoming my fears. Who knows, I may just jump out of a plane one day!
After my tandem flight, we headed an hour northwest to the Utah Motorsports Complex. Once we got there we set up camp right next to a racetrack! We got so watch a motorcycle race (it’s crazy how fast they go around that track!) and then we decided to take a nap. Later that evening we were going to an event there called “Night Lights.” I had seen a video on social media of thousands of lanterns floating off into the sky and when I looked into it, it turned out they were doing it right here in Utah (that was such a blessing.. thank you, Jesus)!
When we got up from our nap it was about 6:00pm and there were hundreds of people all arriving to attend the event. The traffic was backed up as far as the eye could see. It was so nice that we were able to camp there and just walk over to the area where they were holding the event!
Once we were inside, we picked up our lanterns and found a spot to lay out our blanket and set up our chairs. Then we walked around and checked out all the food trucks and got some dinner. We enjoyed some live music while we ate, then we decorated our lanterns and waited for the sun to set. To our surprise, we saw some skydivers jump out of a plane while we were sitting there! At first they looked like a bunch of little specks in the sky, but once they deployed their parachutes we realized what they were.
As soon as the sun set, the MC got on the mic and told us to light our lanterns. Then, they did a countdown and all at the same time thousands of us lifted our lanterns and watched them float away... it was magical!
After they all had floated away, we laid on our blanket and looked up at the stars for a while. The band was still playing so we danced and laughed. It was a beautiful night... The perfect ending to an amazing day! Thank you, Father God, for your blessings.
In the morning we got up and went to watch some of the different races that were going on at the different tracks around the Utah Motorsports Complex. Right outside our door there was a speed bike race. It was crazy to see how fast they were going and how they would graze the floor around the corners!
Next, we saw a go kart race. Little kids (looked like 10 and under) driving these fast little karts. Future race car drivers for sure! Then, we went over to the car race track. First, we saw a super car race (Lamborghinis, Porsches, etc.). The lambo won. The next race was sports cars (Camaros, Corvettes, Mustangs, and even a Mini Cooper). I think the Camaro won that race. Finally, it was the Miatas. But, there was a Lotus (a car I had never heard of) and two BMW’s racing along with them for some reason. The Lotus won and a BMW came in 2nd.
After all that excitement, it was time to leave. We would have never visited the Motorsports complex if it wasn’t for the Night Lights event. But, I’m so glad we did! It ended up being a super cool place. You can even rent go karts when they’re not having races. Maybe we’ll get to come back and do it sometime.
On the way back to Salt Lake City we stopped to take a look at the Great Salt Lake. I had heard that it is the 2nd saltiest lake in the world, behind the Dead Sea in Israel. It was quite a long walk in the heat to get to the shore. Along the way we saw lots of dead birds and once we got to the waters edge the smell of death was unbearable! We could only stand there for a second and then we started making our way back. Nothing like the Dead Sea in Israel!
Once we got back into town we stopped in at the gym and worked out. Then I took a good, long, hot shower (something I haven’t had in a long time since the hot water heater in the RV is only 6 gallons and we’ve been dry camping, so we’re having to conserve water as much as possible).
Afterwards we had dinner at a sushi place nearby. Jimbo doesn’t eat sushi which means I don’t get to eat it that often, so this was definitely a treat! To my surprise, this place had my favorite sushi roll on the menu (spicy tuna on crispy rice)! It was Father's Day and at the table next to us was a father having dinner with his son. I hadn’t really thought much about Father’s Day since my dad is in heaven (I pray). But, then I got the sense that I was on a Father’s Day dinner date with my Heavenly Father and the fact that they had my favorite sushi roll was His way of saying “I love you!”
Jimbo had been wanting to learn how to paraglide so bad, but all the classes at Cloud 9 paragliding school were full. We dry camped at the Flight Park Campground on Sunday night and he was out there at 6:30am talking to all the paragliders trying to find someone who would be willing to give him a class or two. But, because of liability issues and licensing restrictions (trainers have to be licensed) we had no choice but go through a school.
Once again, just as we were about to give up hope, God pulled through and we got a text from Cloud 9 saying they had a cancellation so a spot had opened up for him to take a class! (That seems to be the theme of this trip... God is definitely trying to show us that we should never give up hope!)
We were so excited we could hardly sleep! 6am came quickly and we were up and ready to go. Albeit a bit tired, but the adrenaline was already flowing. We walked out there and met our group at the top of the hill, then we jumped into the truck with our instructor, Alex, and rode down to the bottom of the hill. (Beginners start at the bottom of the hill and work their way up.)
Once we were at the bottom of the hill, Alex handed Jimbo a wing and a harness and the training immediately began. We went over everything from how to unpack the wing properly, what order to strap on your harness straps, to what each one of the strings on the wing does, etc. There’s a lot that goes into it before you can even get the wing up and off the ground!
Alex was an excellent instructor, very patient, and very experienced. He had a way of teaching that helped you remember everything you needed to do in the correct order. Before long Jimbo was soaring through the air and landing. Each time a little higher. Jimbo was either a natural or Alex really was a great teacher (or maybe both) because he caught on really quickly! The three hours flew by quickly and just like that his first class was over.
He’s been bit by the paragliding bug! Can’t get enough of that fun and the feeling of soaring through the air. Still a lot more to learn though. He’s on the waiting list for a couple of classes next week. We’re hoping he can get in at least one more class before we leave SLC on Wednesday and start heading west.
Went back down to Panguitch, UT (3.5 hours south, near Bryce National Park) for their Balloon Rally. Got up at 6:30am to watch the balloon launch, but they had to cancel due to the weather. So we grabbed some coffee at Wanderlust and hit up the Old Firehouse Antique store. Then we headed over to Gem Theater to watch some free cartoons and had some amazing fish tacos.
After that, we drove over to Bryce and did the Navajo Loop hike via Queen’s Garden (last time we went the Two Bridges route). This was longer and a bit more challenging, but we really enjoyed it! We were there during golden hour and I got some great pics.
The next morning, the local Lion’s Club was hosting a pancake breakfast. It was nice to sit family style out in the bank parking lot and talk to some locals. That night we sat in our lawn chairs on Main Street and watched the Balloon glow (where they light up the balloons with their burners at sunset). It was so beautiful to see the balloon’s colors “glow” against the dark night sky.
On the final morning of the Balloon Rally (Sunday morning) we got up early again and this time they were able to do the sunrise launch. I just love hot air balloons! They’re so pretty and so colorful and I love watching them float across the sky!
We “chased” them across town and got to watch them land in a field. After that we went to church and then hit up Wanderlust one more time before hitting the road back to Salt Lake.
Our last few days in Utah were spent at the Flight park. Jimbo was able to take a couple more paragliding classes and we scored a paragliding wing and harness. We made a lot a great friends and we’re really going to miss this place! God-willing we’ll be back next summer and Jimbo will be able to take a full class in order to get his paragliding certification. In the mean time he’ll continue to practice his “ground handling” skills so he doesn’t loose the skills he’s learned. We were also able to get connected with the Florida paragliding community and maybe we’ll be able to hook up with them once we get back home.
On our way out of Utah we made a pit stop at Crystal Hot Springs. I’m a warm water/warm weather girl, so this was right up my ally! I so enjoyed soaking in the hot water. They had turned these springs into pools and had several water falls with different temperature water ranging from 130 degrees to cold.
After soaking for a bit, it was time to hit the road again. We drove about 5 hours to Winnemuca, NV and found a place to eat (which unfortunately wasn’t that great, but it was late and a small town so what more could we expect). We’re definitely in Nevada because even this small town had casinos!
We found some BLM land to boondock that night. We got there really late so most of the spots were taken, but thankfully there was one spot at the very end of the road (TY Jesus)!
When we got up the next morning there were these huge “Mormon Crickets” everywhere! They were pretty creepy. I found a beautiful little stream there before we left. If we had more time I would have liked to hike the trail there.
We had breakfast at a really great place called “The Griddle.” It was the one redeeming thing in Winnemuca, NV... actually worth coming back for!
Next we had a 3 hour drive to South Lake Tahoe.
Made it to South Lake Tahoe! We were able to score a site at Kit Carson Campground even though it’s 4th of July weekend which is a real blessing! Everyone told me it would be impossible to find a place to camp in Lake Tahoe during the 4th. But, God! Thankful that He cares about seemingly unimportant things (compared to running the universe). He’s a good Dad and it’s so good to have a relationship with Him thanks to Jesus. “Every good & perfect gift comes from the Father” and this experience is definitely a gift from Him! I am SO thankful.
Hiked 8 miles of the Rubicon Trail in South Lake Tahoe. It was a beautifully scenic, relatively easy hike. Took us about 4 hours. It was a little rainy, but we didn’t mind because it kept us cool. Jimbo decided to carry a huge log on his shoulders the whole way to make things more challenging, lol! (He’s such a guy and I love that about him.) He also decided to swim part of the trail back. Then, instead of taking the trail back he convinced me (reluctantly) to climb uphill back to our truck. To be honest, I cried for the first few minutes because I thought it was a bad idea and I didn’t really want to do it. But, in the end I was glad I did because it was super challenging and a great workout (and because he was actually right and we did make it back to the truck, even though I had my doubts)!
Afterwards, we had dinner at a place called “AleworkX.” We had great food and enjoyed a really great cover band. It was a nice ending to a great day!
Today was 4th of July. We started the day by having breakfast at Bert’s Café (funny side note, there’s an Ernie’s café just up the street from them). They had been voted “best breakfast in town” in the local paper and I can see why. Food was delicious and they had great service; super friendly staff!
After that we went in search for a good cup of coffee and ended up at Revive Coffee (which had been voted top 3 coffee shops in South Lake Tahoe). Not only was their coffee good, but they had all kinds of Bible verses and inspirational quotes posted around their shop that blessed and encouraged me. One of my favorites was “no wifi, enjoy a conversation free of charge.” I have to admit that I am addicted to my phone (hi, my name is Vivian, and I’m a phone addict, lol). I’ve been trying to break the habit. This trip is helping me because we’re off the grid a lot of times. But, then when we get reception again, it seems like I fall right back into it. I need to find balance. I feel like I’m moving more towards finding that balance, but I’m not there yet... I pray I will be one day.
We spent the rest of the afternoon sitting outside listening to live music. This was the first year that Lake Tahoe cancelled their fireworks show over the lake, which stunk, but we still had a nice day enjoying the freedoms that God has blessed us with and so many brave people sacrificed their lives for. May God continue to bless America.
Drove 2 hours west to Sacramento today. Stopped by to see our friends Brian & Melissa from Youth for Christ and got to meet their new baby boy. It was so nice to catch up with them.
Next on the agenda was laundry and groceries. I’m having the girls over for dinner when they get into town and I wanted to meal prep some food for our three days in Yosemite. Making my quick breakfast burritos, oatmeal squares, a pasta salad, and a big batch of beef stew.
After laundry we showered and went to an arcade bar called “Coin-Op Game Room.” They had a lot of good games and good beer, but we got there 30 minutes before they closed so it was last call and they shut the machines off 15 minutes before they closed :/
We boondocked at a Cracker Barrel that night. Did not like Sacramento that much. Seemed kind of ghetto and there were lots of “tent cities.” It’s a sad state of affairs there.
Spent the day cooking & cleaning to distract myself while I anxiously awaited for my childhood friends to arrive. I love them so much and I’m so thankful for their 30 years of friendship. It’s been so long since we were all together. I’m so stoked that I get to experience Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks with them!
I was 15 years old when we met. None of us were in the same classes in high school, we all met separately, and we’re all so different, yet somehow we all became the best of friends. At the time I would have never imagined we’d still be such good friends after all these years. God has definitely used each of these girls in my life in different ways at different times. I truly believe they are evidence of God’s love & grace for me. I pray God will bless us with many more years of friendship!
We got to Yosemite bright & early. Thankfully traffic getting into the park wasn’t too bad. After a short wait at the entrance we headed towards Bridalveil Fall for our first hike of the day. However, we took a wrong turn and ended up at the Tunnel View overlook. Which was a happy accident because it was a beautiful first look at Yosemite. From that point you can see “El Capitan,” “Bridalveil Fall,” and “Half Dome” in the distance. It was breathtaking!
Next it was on to Bridalveil. The hiking trail was closed, but we were able to see to see the waterfall high above us. I can see why it’s called “Bridal-veil.” The way the water falls over the side of the mountain it looks like a bride’s veil flowing in the breeze. Just beautiful!
After that we parked our cars in Yosemite Village and jumped on our bikes. Before riding over to the trailhead for Mist Trail we stopped into the Ansel Adams studio and admired his spectacular black & white photographs of Yosemite. There I saw pretty little turquoise butterfly necklace that made me think of my little butterfly, Havanna (my daughter). I had been looking for the perfect gift for her and I felt like this was it, so I picked it up for her.
The ride to Mist trail was fun. There was a stream at the trailhead and it was such a hot day that the girls decided to jump in! The water was super chilly, so I just stuck my feet in and that was enough to cool me off. It was the perfect way to start the hike. Little did we know how tough it was going to be! The map said “1.6 miles/moderate difficulty,” but it was brutal. Between the 2,000 foot elevation gain and the heat, we had to power through. But once got to the top of Vernal Fall it was all worth it! The views of the fall, the park, along with the cool breeze and mist coming from the waterfall we’re devine!
I almost forgot to mention that while on the hike up we had stopped briefly to rest and I was sitting on a rock when all of a sudden I felt a vibration, kind of like when you go over a rumble strip in your car. My first though was, “is there a train around here?” Then Gisela, who lives in California, said it might have been an earthquake. Later we confirmed that there had been a 6.0 magnitude earthquake right in the Yosemite area! I’m so thankful that we were all safe because there could have been a rockslide.
On the way up we saw some park volunteers that recommended we take a different route back in order to avoid all the stairs downhill, so we decided to take the alternate route. However it required more climbing and ended up being a longer route. But, we did it! Felt good to accomplish such a challenge.
We were exhausted & hungry, but we still had to ride our bikes back to the truck. We got a little lost along the way, so I stayed at Curry Village while Jimbo rode on to find the truck. The girls met up with me there and a few minutes later Jimbo showed up like a knight in shining armor riding a white horse (our truck is white.. can you tell I was delirious at this point?!).
After 12 hours of hiking & biking in Yosemite we headed home for showers and then drove 30 minutes to a place called Yosemite Bug for dinner. But, unfortunately they were closed! So then we headed a few more miles down the road and found a place called the Hideout Saloon. It reminded me of the famous dive bar in Key West because it was wallpapered with dollar bills that people had written on. We guessed that there were a few thousand dollars taped & stapled to the walls!
The food was ok as well as the drinks and live music, but it was great to just be all together and a great way to end a long day!
This was one of my favorite days ever! It will go down in my personal history as one of the best days of my life. This beautiful place with some of my favorite people, I loved every minute of it!
After a brief stop to admire the wonder that is El Capitan (so huge it looks as if it kisses the sky above). We drove over to Tenaya Lake, located between Yosemite Valley and Tuolumne Meadows. This beautiful lake is a little piece of heaven on earth!
A relaxing day on the beach was exactly what we all needed after our brutal/long (but amazing) first day in Yosemite. The water was crystal blue, but ice cold! Thankfully I remembered to grab my tube out of the RV (I love the water, but can’t stand the cold... that’s why I bought a wetsuit for the Narrows hike in Zion, LOL). We had all packed snacks and after spending some time in the water we enjoyed a picnic in the shade. Gisela brought a bottle of champagne and we toasted to friendship on the beach!
Before heading back we drove a little further up Tioga Pass Road to Tuolumne Meadows. It was a big open field surrounded by mountains with some beautiful yellow and purple wild flowers. There were black storm clouds gathering in the distance. Half of the sky over the meadow was clear and the other half was dark. It looked pretty crazy/cool!
On our way back we stopped at Olmsted Point and admired the view for a bit. There was a huge black raven sitting on a ledge at the lookout point. He was acting really weird. We weren’t sure if he was injured or if he was used to people feeding him, but he just sat there looking at us. It was neat to see one up close like that. He was actually pretty beautiful. So black & shiny!
Next we dove over to Merced Grove which is one of the three Sequioa groves in Yosemite. I honestly thought it was Mariposa Grove we were driving to (which is the biggest of the three groves), but this was a short hike and we got to see a Sequioa AND a dear AND a bear so it turned out to be a happy accident!
After another long, but amazing day it was time to get some rest!
This was our last day in Yosemite. We opted to do the short hike to Mirror Lake. Along the way we passed an area where there were several large rocks all stacked on one another and for some reason there was a cold breeze flowing out of them. Nature’s air conditioner! Felt so good on such a hot day. After lingering there for a while and cooling off, we continued on to Mirror Lake.
It’s immediately obvious why they call it “Mirror Lake” because when the water is still, it reflects perfectly the mountain behind it. If I was a painter this is a scene I would love to paint. So beautiful!
We waded in the water for a bit, then headed back to our cars. Next, we decided to go to Yosemite Village for some lunch and coffee, but we accidentally ended up at Curry Village instead. They didn’t have any coffee there, but they had a good pizza place. After lunch, we headed on over to Yosemite Village and had some coffee and we did some souvenir shopping in the village market.
The grand finally of our visit to Yosemite was sunset at Half Dome! We almost missed it, but managed to get there just minutes before the sun went down (thank you God)! We had a beautiful cotton candy sky and Half Dome looked like a big scoop of ice cream! It was like something out of Candy Land, lol!
Afterwards we stayed for the night sky ranger talk which was really interesting. It was incredible how many stars you could see in the sky out there! The ranger had this crazy laser pointer that shot across the sky like a huge light saber. I finally understood what it means when they say a star is “16 light years away.” It means that the light we are seeing was emitted from the star 16 years ago and we’re just now seeing it.
“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” Psalm 19:1
Yesterday we drove 2 hours from El Portal (near Yosemite) to Three Rivers (near Sequoia and Kings Canyon). Jimbo & I had to stop along the way to get our oil changed. It’s hard to believe we’ve put close to 10,000 miles on the truck since we left home in May!
Today we visited Sequoia National Park. Took a lot of driving up long winding roads to get to the Sherman Tree trailhead, but we finally made it. After a short hike, there it was... the biggest tree in the world! These things are massive. They’re not only tall, but wide from the base all the way to the top. The base of the Sherman Tree is 36.5 feet in diameter and it’s 275 feet tall! They estimate that it’s 2,200 years old. That means it was “born” shortly before Jesus!
After a long, long winding drive we made it to the Kings Canyon visitor center. Then, just a short drive from there was the trailhead for the General Sherman Tree, a.k.a. “The Nation’s Christmas Tree” (named that by President Calvin Coolidge after he heard a little girl say it would make a great Christmas tree).
We learned from a ranger talk that Sequoias have shallow, but wide reaching roots and they intertwine their roots with the roots of other trees which is what helps them stand for so long. (I had heard that before in a message as an illustration about how when we work together we are stronger, but I wasn’t sure if it was true... it seemed hard to believe that such large trees could have such shallow roots, but apparently it’s truce!) We also learned that Sequoias need fires in order to be “born.” It’s the fires that cause the acorns to open up and release the seeds. Reminds me of the Romans 8:28 Bible verse that says, “God works together all things for the good of those who love Him.” Even seemingly bad things, like a fire, can be used for a good a good purpose (to give birth to new things). I was also surprised to see how tiny the acorn of a Sequoia is... it’s incredible that such a large tree starts off as something so small! (I can see another spiritual analogy there.) There’s a lot we can learn from these Sequoia trees! (And nature in general.)
Next we stumbled upon Hume Lake, which to my surprise is a Christian Camp center. The grounds were beautiful and they had Bible verses posted everywhere. I had to stop and take a picture with the sign for Psalm 100 “The Lord is good (His faithful love endures forever”). I love that song that says, “I’ve seen joy & I’ve seen pain, but You have been my God through it all.” That pretty much sums up my experience with God... through it all, He’s always been there with me, even when I couldn’t feel it. He is good and His love is faithful.
We hung out in Sandy Cove, one of the beaches near Hume Lake. It was beautiful... there were gold flakes in the sand that make the water sparkle brightly when the sun shined down on it. Another little piece of heaven on earth!
Then, it was time to make the long drive home. We stopped at a little local market to pick up some things to make a farewell dinner back at the girl’s Airbnb. We were all exhausted from an incredible week together, but our hearts were full! We decided that we’re going to try to make this friend’s trip an annual tradition. I pray it will be possible!
Yesterday we drove 5 hours south from Three Rivers, CA to Fullerton, near Anaheim, CA to spend the weekend with my bestie, Gisela. This is the girl God used to bring me to faith in Him. It changed the course of my entire life and I am forever grateful!
Today we went on a sunset whale watching tour in Newport Beach. We didn’t get to see any whales, but it was a beautiful boat ride. Super relaxing to just sit there and watch the waves roll by and feel the breeze in our hair. We had seagulls follow us for miles... they’re such funny birds! They made me smile. Poor Jimbo got a little seasick, so he won’t be joining us next time. (Newport Whales gave us a rain check to come back on Sunday since we didn’t get to see any whales. I really appreciated that and because of that I highly recommend them if you ever want to go whale watching in Newport!)
Today we visited the beautiful town of San Juan Capistrano. We were going to a vineyard in Temecula, but the traffic was terrible so this was plan B and I’m so glad we got to see this charming little town!
The old Spanish mission was built in 1776 (same year the US signed the Declaration of Independence). The original stone building is being restored, but there is a beautiful white Spanish style church that currently serves as the mission’s building. I learned that I was baptized at a mission here in California when I was a baby. I was born in Pasadena and the mission there is called San Gabriel. Apparently there are many Spanish missions throughout California. They’re a remnant from when the Spanish were trying to colonize the area in the late 18th century.
A gentleman working at the mission allowed us to try the fruit of a nopal cactus. It reminded me a bit of dragon fruit, only it was less sweet. After admiring the mission’s building & grounds we walked up & down the picturesque streets. I was surprised how many people lived among the touristy area. On a block filled with restaurants and shops, there would be one or two private residences. We even saw one lady sitting on her front porch knitting with her dog sitting beside her. It was charming; she almost looked like a character poised there as part of the theme. But, she was authentic! I can’t imagine living in such a touristy area, but it’s such a beautiful place, I can’t blame her for not wanting to live anywhere else.
After site-seeing we wandered into a couple of wineries and savored a few delicious wines and picked at some tapas. Then, we had some gelato for dessert and called it a (good) day!
Psalm 118:24 “This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it!”
Yesterday morning we went to church and afterwards we went to a coffee shop called The Dirty Penquin; kind of a silly name for a coffee shop, but they actually had really great coffee! I got an expresso tonic with a splash of orange which is one of my favorite coffee drinks ever. Not many coffee shops make it, so I was super excited to see that they offered it.
Next stop was a taco shop for lunch. I had some fish tacos and a michelada. From there we made a mad-dash to Newport Beach (which was about 30 minutes away) for our 2nd attempt to see some whales. Unfortunately, we didn’t see any whales again this time, but we did get to see a huge pod of dolphins. There must have been close to 100 dolphins in this pod! It was so spectacular to see them all jumping in & out of the water.
Then, it was home for dinner. We stuck with the nautical theme and made some shrimp creole and watched a movie. It was so nice to hang out with my bestie… I’m super thankful for this time we got to spend together.
It was time to say “see ya’ later” to my bestie and start making the long trip home. I would have been more sad if it weren’t for the fact that she is going to be visiting Florida for Christmas, so I will get to see her again in a few months (God-willing)!
After big hugs and a few tears, we jumped in the truck and headed towards San Bernardino where there was a paragliding park we wanted to check out. After an hour drive on some scary mountain roads we reached the summit of the San Bernardino mountains and found the flight park.
First of all, I was surprised how many people live up there in those mountains! There are whole communities of people up there. I can’t imagine having to drive up and down those mountains everyday to get into town. But, it is pretty up there!
Second, the park was nothing more than a carpeted hill that was about 40 feet to the cliff’s edge. Everyone was pretty nice and offered good advice on paragliding. One guy was flying around wearing a cape. They seemed like a fun bunch!
Since there was really no room to practice ground handing there we decided to continue on to Las Vegas which was about a 4 hour drive.
We rolled into Las Vegas around 11:30pm and we were starving. So, we decided to try and find a place to park the truck & trailer (not an easy feat in Vegas) and after a failed attempt at Excalibur, we scored a spot at The Mirage. The parking lot security guards were nice enough to let us park there for a couple hours free of charge, even though we weren’t guests of the hotel. (God bless those guards!)
After we parked we freshened up, changed our clothes and hit the strip on foot. First thing I noticed was how hot it was even though it was after midnight. Next, it was the smell of weed (marijuana) everywhere.. I had to hold my breath sometimes in order to not get contact high! The casinos were still open, but all of the restaurants were closed. Thankfully there was a Chick-fil-a still open so I was able to get something to eat (God bless Chick-fil-a)!
After eating, we walked a little (a lot) further down the strip (Jimbo’s idea, not mine). Once we got to the end, we crossed the road and walked back to the Mirage on the other side of the strip. This side had the Belagio and some other really ritzy hotel/casinos on it and I couldn’t help but notice the juxtaposition of the opulence on one side and the poverty on the other. Everywhere there were homeless people sleeping on the sidewalks. It was pretty sad.
We got back to the trailer and drove to a Cracker Barrel/Bass Pro Shop parking lot, but we got kicked out of there. So, we went to another Cracker Barrel and thankfully we didn’t have any problems there (God bless Cracker Barrel)!
The next morning we had brunch on the Strip at one of my favorite Italian places called “Eataly.” It’s an Italian market with several eateries located inside. I first discovered them when on a trip to New York with my daughter, Havanna. Truth be told, the one in New York was much better, although I still enjoyed it!
Next we headed to Hoover Dam… what a spectacular sight to behold! We saw it from the “new” bypass bridge that’s opposite the actual Dam. If we had more time I would have liked to have walked on the Dam itself, but it was cool to see it from the perspective that the bridge offered.
If we ever get the opportunity to go back (and I pray that we do) I want to tour the visitor center and learn more about the building of the Dam. This time we got to learn all about how the built the bridge which, just like the Dam, was a feat of engineering! As we walked across the bridge I had to not think about how high up we were otherwise I would start to panic. One poor girl froze at right about the middle and started to cry. I felt her pain and tried to offer words of encouragement (and said a little prayer for her). Thankfully, God has been working on helping me overcome my fears because I was able to do it without freaking out! But, I wasn’t about to stand on the railing like I saw some people doing.
Fun fact! Before the bypass bridge was built, the road over the Dam was the only road between Nevada & Arizona (over the Colorado River) so traffic jams used to be something like 2-4 hours long to get across.
After exploring Hoover Dam we drove 4.5 hours to Scottsdale, AZ.
Today is our 4 year anniversary! The day started off great with brunch at a cute place that had a coffee flight.. it was fun to get to try all their different coffees. Afterwards we took a walk through Old Town Scottsdale to their Public Library/Museum of Modern Art grounds where we took a picture in front of their “Love” sculpture. Although it was only about a mile walk (round-trip) it was super hot, so it probably would have been better if we had driven there. I think that’s what may have started the tipping point in the wrong direction.
From there, we went to the Camping World in Mesa because we needed to dump our black tank. And although Jimbo always does it willingly (which I very much appreciate cuz it’s a dirty/stinky job), I know he hates doing it. So, I think that put him a little further down the road to “bad mood-ville.” However, he didn’t let on so I was oblivious.
While we were in Camping World I let him work on the things he wanted to get figured out for the RV. Meanwhile I looked for a place to have dinner because my mom had sent us some money as an anniversary gift so we could go someplace nice. But, when it came time to go Jimbo was still in “work mode” and didn’t really want to go someplace nice. He wanted to just grab something quick to eat and get back to work. Which hurt my feelings, of course, because after all it was our anniversary!
So dinner was kind of rough, but the food was absolutely delicious and the restaurant was gorgeous (it was set in an authentic Adobe home). I wish we had been in a better mood because we would have enjoyed it so much more. But, that’s life… it isn’t always perfect, but it’s still a gift. And love isn’t what the movies make it out to be, but I’m learning that if you don’t give up, they’ll be better days ahead. Although I hate those hard days, God never wastes our pain because we always learn something about ourselves and our relationship that makes us better. Thank you, Jesus, for that!
“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
We started the day like we do most days, in search of a good cup of coffee! We ended up at this place called “Grind Time.” It was a little family owned coffee shop and we had a nice time talking with the owners. They had something on their menu called a “chugachino” which is a mushroom coffee. I was intrigued, but decided to play it safe and just go with a pour over of their Ethiopian coffee. However, I got a packet of the mushroom coffee to go. One day when I’m feeling brave, I just might try it!
Then we spent like 5 hours at Home Depot (at least it felt like 5 hours). Jimbo has some “home” improvement projects he’s working on to make our tiny house better. One of them is building a larger platform on the tongue of our trailer so we can add another battery. Ever since we bought it we haven’t been keep the battery charged longer than a few hours while we were boondocking. We suspected that the battery they sold it to us with was bad, so we changed it out for a new one, but the problem only got a little better. So we’re hoping that a second battery will help us keep a charge for longer. We’ve lost all of the food in our fridge a couple times because of this issue, so we’re praying it works! We’re also looking into adding a solar panel. RV living is definitely a learning process, but it’s all part of the adventure!
For dinner we went to a food truck park in Mesa, AZ. They had lots of great food trucks, but our favorite was the Freedom Drinks food truck. They made crazy drink combinations. For example, they had Dr. Pepper with chocolate and cherry flavoring, Coke with blueberry purée, and lemonade with peach purée and fresh lime (just to name a few).
Today we went to check out the town of Gilbert, AZ. The more I see of Arizona the more I fall in love with this place! We had a delicious breakfast at Snooze A. M. Eatery. It was Saturday, so I decided to honor the brunch tradition of having some bubbles with my breakfast. But, instead of the traditional mimosa I opted for an “Abri-ca-lav-ra” mimosa (bubbles, apricot liquor, fresh lavender, honey, and lemon juice = delish!) and I got a “Benny Duo” which is a sample of two of their egg benedicts. Jimbo got a pancake flight and chose the pineapple upside down pancake, a chocolate brownie pancake and a blueberry. All were good, but the chocolate was the best, (of course)!
Later that night we went to an arcade bar that was pretty skeevy, but they had a couple good beers on the menu and there was a guy playing live music from his Game Boy! I thought it was so interesting that I had to go talk with him after his show to find out how in the world he was able to do that. He was super gracious and showed me all about it and even offered to come to Miami one day to do a class for the kids in our after school program. (We teach them song writing and music production among other things).
From there we went to our favorite arcade bar in Mesa, Level 1, and we played Galaga & Pac Man until we got blisters on our fingers!
We left Mesa on Monday, July 26th and drove south on 1-10 for about 4 hours and stayed the night at a Love’s truck stop in Lordsburg, NM. In the morning we perused the wares of a little mercantile shop that was adjacent to the truck stop. They had an assortment of puzzles that consisted of interlocking metal pieces that you had to get to come apart. Ever the lover of a good challenge, I couldn’t tare Jimbo away until he had solved most of them (he would have done them all if it weren’t for my boredom). I’ve realized that I can be pretty impatient sometimes, especially when it involves something that frustrates me like the puzzles because I felt like I could never solve them. However, I’m learning that if I can just stop and relax, then I might just learn something and surprise myself by doing something I thought I couldn’t do. So, I’m trying to be more patient in that regard.
On Tuesday we drove through the Guadalupe Mountains (which is also a National Park) and visited Carlsbad Caverns National Park. It’s only open until 2:30pm and we arrived at 1:00pm. Plus, I forgot that we needed to make a reservation so I didn’t think we would get in. I was literally praying for a miracle the whole way there because we had driven two hours out of the way to get there! When we got to the ticket counter I could hear them asking people if they had a reservation and I thought to myself, this doesn’t look promising. But, to my surprise, when we got to the ticket counter the lady said, any other day we would be “out of luck” but today they had a few tickets left! Mind you, I forgot to mention that I had called Reservation.gov to see if there was any way they could get me tickets for that day and they said that they were completely sold out. So it truly was a miracle we got in! Once again, God shows me that even when I think there’s no hope, nothing is impossible for Him! Praise be to the God Most High!!
From there we drove another hour and a half then stopped in a little town called Eunice in NM to have dinner. The food wasn’t great, but it was good to eat and then we drove another 3 hours to Abeline, TX. We arrived about 10:30pm and stayed in a Walmart parking lot for the night.
The next morning we drove 2 hours to Ft. Worth. There we went to a place called Game Theory which is a restaurant/bar that has a library of of board games you can choose from to play while there. We had been to a similar place in Asheville, TN and loved it. But, this place was out of every drink and dish we ordered. It was late and the other restaurants in town where closing, so we had to chose something from the few things they did have. While we ate, we played a game called Othello that I’m now addicted to! It’s a two player game with black & white chips that you take turns flipping over until you can’t anymore and whoever the most chips of their color facing up at the end wins. That was fun, but when we went to pay our bill, we were told that they didn’t accept cash (are you kidding me?!?), so we put it on a credit card and got the heck out of there. Crazy! That night we stayed in another Walmart parking lot.
The following day, July 29th, we were driving, what seemed like forever, through Texas when all of a sudden we got a flat on one of the trailer tires. Thankfully we were near an exit and pulled off onto a little country road to change it out with the spare. However, the tire next to it looked like it had an “egg” (air bubble) in it, so we had to look for a tire shop to get it changed. While we were at the shop waiting to get our tire changed, Jimbo went into the trailer to get something to drink and to our shock it looked like our oven had exploded! Thankfully there was no fire involved, but one of our gas burners had blown off, there were black oil stains all over our kitchen counters, the oven door had blown open and several of the screws and all the rivets had blown out of it. It was the strangest thing! The only thing we can think of is that somehow the flat and/or egg in the tire caused the trailer to shake so bad that it wreaked havoc inside.
From there we drove another hour and a half and arrived in the little town of Texarkana which is on the boarder of (can you guess?) Texas and Arkansas. There we had dinner and hit the road again, this time driving 2 hours to Little Rock where we met up with Jimbo’s friend at a Piano Bar. I had pictured something like a hotel bar, but this place was pretty cool because it had “dueling pianos” and both pianists were really good! That night we stayed in a Cracker Barrel parking lot.
On Friday, July 30th, we drove another two and a half hours and finally arrived in Senatobia, MS which is where we’ll stay for the next 2 weeks. Thankful we’ve made it this far safely! Ready to take a break from boondocking for a little bit and enjoy the “luxuries” of shore power and a water/sewer connection. It’s those little things in life that we normally take for granted.
Spent some time with family, fixed the stove in our trailer, made some progress on the historic building renovation project, and found some wild strawberries! God-willing we’ll be back the 1st weekend of October for Jimbo’s family reunion.
We drove 4 and a half hours and spent the night in Montgomery, AL. The next morning we headed downtown to get coffee & breakfast and stumbled upon a Rosa Parks historical landmark. She worked in one of the buildings in that area when it was a department store. It was on the corner of that street where she famously boarded the bus and refused to sit at the back of the bus because as she said, she “was tired.” I’m sure that meant both physically and mentally/emotionally because of the unfair treatment of people of color at that time. I’ve always admired her heart and her courage. I was so happy to have been able to have that experience.
I got coffee at Prevail Union and although they didn’t have it on the menu, they were able to make me an expresso tonic w/raspberry. It was so good! We had brunch at Catawba House. It was down-home country cookin’ which Jimbo really enjoyed. They were really understaffed and the owner said it’s because she just can’t get people to show up for work because they’re still collecting COVID unemployment. It’s like that all over the country. Crazy!
Today we drove 4 hours to Tallahassee, FL. I got to see the Capitol Building which was pretty cool, but aside from that I don’t really like Tallahassee much. We had dinner at Proof Brewery, both the beer and the food were ok.
We drove another 4 hours to Tampa where we stayed the night and in the morning we picked up my daughter, Havanna, at the airport. From there we went to The Coffee Lab for coffee and breakfast. Then, we headed over to Hyde park and picked up some cupcakes from the Sprinkles Cupcake ATM for dessert. It was hot out, so we stopped into a popsicle shop and I got a blueberry/lavender popsicle and Havanna got some other kid of interesting flavor. They were both delicious and definitely helped cool us off!
Our next stop was La Segunda Bakery to pick up a couple of their super delicious Cuban sandwiches (which in my opinion are the best in the world)! We packed them for the road and headed over to the Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg (about 30 minutes away).
The Dali museum was beautiful. It had this wonderful spiral staircase in the center and glass ceiling above. We watched a brief movie about the life of Dali on the first floor. I have been a Dali fan all my life and I never knew he was from Spain. Next, we climbed the staircase to the third floor where they had an installation of photographs by Lee Miller. She was a photojournalist during WWII and took many photographs of Dali and Picasso. I was so impressed by her ability to capture natural light in her photographs. In my opinion that it the mark of a truly great photographer. I pray I can be that good one day.
In the adjacent room was the Dali collection. I was surprised to see some of his early works which were more traditional styles (realist, impressionist, cubist, etc.). Eventually he found his own “voice” and began to create his own unique signature optical illusion style. I love the multi-dimensional aspect of his paintings. Like my daughter said, it was so amazing to see his original works up close and observe the brush strokes on the canvas!
After exploring the museum, we jumped back in the truck and drove 2 hours south to my grandparents’ house in Ft. Myers where our family is getting together for my grandma’s memorial service tomorrow.
Today our family gathered to remember my grandma Anita’s life. I loved the way they did this by setting up a table with all the things that represented her. There were butterflies, manatees, a camera, and teaching materials (such as books, chalk, apples, etc.) because she was a teacher and loved to take pictures. All of these things captured the essence of who she was so well. You were able to get a sense of who she was as a person just by looking at them.
She was actually my grandmother by marriage (my mother married her son when I was 20 years old). But although we weren’t blood relatives she & her husband adopted me & my daughter as their own. We are so thankful to have them in our lives. Like my daughter said in her eulogy, they were the family we never had. Our biological family is small and unfortunately we’re not very close, but thanks to Anita & Mike we have memories of Thanksgivings & Christmases together as a family. That is a priceless gift they have given us!
As God would have it, today is also the five year anniversary of the passing of my late husband Joel. We had been married for five years when we became aware that he had developed a rare lung conduction and was in need of a lung transplant. He survived almost a year post transplant, but then God called him home.
In the years since his passing the Lord has taught me so much, mainly that He is faithful. His promise to “work all things together for the good of those who love Him” (Rom. 8:28) is true. We can trust if God allows something it’s because He has a plan and His plans “are for the good and not to harm us” (Jer. 29:11). I believe it’s no coincidence that this sabbatical trip should come to an end like this. It’s God’s way of reminding me that life is a gift, meant to be lived! Not in fear but in faith, trusting Him in all things and at all times. He is our Good Shepherd and He will lead us along quiet streams and even in The Valley of the shadow of death we shall not fear for our God is with us (Ps. 23).
Now, after 10,000+ miles we’re in the home stretch, just another 2 hour drive ahead of us. What an amazing adventure it’s been. I pray it’s the first of many more to come. Stay tuned!