Saturday, June 28, 2014

Driving Tanks Across the Country: Part 5

To read the previous parts click on the following links:

Day 13:

We woke up fairly early with the intention of leaving by 8:00 a.m. However, we found it difficult to depart. It was hard to leave behind Grig's family. We packed up everything, and as Grig was walking back around his house, a thought came to him.

He told me, "As I was walking around the house, I had a thought. It said, 'Maybe there's a ring-necked snake under those cinder blocks.'" He had been wanting to show Kevin and I a ring-necked snake since we got to Virginia. He decided to follow the prompting, and sure enough, there was a snake there. He caught it and brought it to show Kevin and I. This may seem like a strange thing for the Lord to prompt him with, but I have often found that the Lord gives us tender mercies. We find these little promptings as miraculous as anything else that the Lord has done for us, and we are very grateful.

However, when Grig went to show Kevin the snake, we couldn't find him. Kevin's grandpa had taken him into the woods, and there was no sign of them.

I joked with Grig that his grandpa had stolen him so that we couldn't leave. However, as we finished loading the car, Kevin and his grandpa showed up. To my surprise, Kevin's face and hand were covered in purple. His grandpa laughed and told us that they had found a mulberry tree and Kevin had thoroughly enjoyed the mulberries. He hadn't wanted to leave the tree.

He looked awesome, so I took a picture of him and his grandpa. Then, Kevin got to see the snake that his dad had found for him, and he loved it. He likes our snake back at home, so he kept making hissing noises and pointing at it.
Kevin and his aunt.
 Then it was time for goodbyes.
Kevin and his grandma found a five-leaf clover just before we left, so she gave it to us for good luck. They also presented a GPS to us. That's was really nice of them, and we were excited to use it on our return trip. A couple days previous, Grig's dad had also noticed that one of our front headlights was out, so we had replaced that the day before. We were grateful that the headlight was the only thing that had broken thus far on our trip.

We didn't end up leaving until about 10:00 a.m., but it was nice for Kevin (and Grig and I) to spend a little more time with family. We had a shorter drive ahead of us, because we were just going to visit my sister in Tennessee and it was only a 7 1/2 hour drive.

We briefly stopped in Buena Vista, VA where Grig had gone to college at one point. He gave us a tour of the facilities, which was pleasant except for the fact that it was really, really hot and humid. Kevin enjoyed running around (he had just woken up from a nap).

Kevin really liked this big horse.
We stayed there for a while, and then got back on the road. Grig had wanted to take us swimming, but we left later than planned, so that was our only stop there.

Then, we drove a few more hours and made it to my sister's home. As we were driving, we found out that our A/C converter wasn't working (we had been using it to power our laptops). We tried to get it out and found out that it was stuck. Then, it was up to good old ingenuity to keep Kevin entertained for the next few days.

Kevin and his cousin became instant friends again and had a great time playing with her toys.

We stayed up talking, and then my sister and her husband invited us to go with them to a national park that was just a few minutes away in the morning. We decided it would be pretty sad to come visit and not do anything with them. I reasoned that we only had a 12 and 1/2 hour drive ahead of us the next day, so if we left a little later, it would be okay. (The day after we had a 16 and 1/2 hour drive).

We watched a few things on youtube, and then went to bed because my brother-in-law had school in the morning and had to get up early.

Day 14:

We got up pretty early to go with my sister and Kevin's cousin to the park. We left about 8:00 and drove through a tunnel that went all the way through a mountain. That was pretty neat. 
Then, we drove up a sharply curved road that brought us to a top of a mountain that borders Virginia, Tennessee, and Kentucky. At the pinnacle at the top, you could see all three states. That was pretty neat. We also found some great rocks for climbing. 

Grig and I took turns climbing rocks and helping my sister watch the two little toddlers. They were so happy to be together. They held hands as we walked down the trail and kept hugging and kissing.

As I was climbing down from a rock, I spotted a flash of movement. With my awesome wildlife adventuring skills, I did what any biologist would do when spotting an animal.

I pointed my finger and shouted, "LIZARD! LIZARD! LIZARD!"

Grig came running. We tried to catch it for a few minutes, and then I gave up to go and look at the scenery. However, Grig was determined. He kept trying and finally he decided to pray for help. As he kneeled down to pray, he was reminded that he had a lot to be thankful for as well. He began thanking the Lord for all the many things that He had given us on our trip.

Then, he brought his prayer to a close and stood up. He didn't see the lizard, and after looking for a minute, he turned to go. Out of the corner of his eye, he spotted the lizard underneath a fence rail (it was a fence lizard, after all). He couldn't get it out with his bare hands, so after a moment he decided to get a stick and gently prod it out into the open. It came in slowly, and got to where he knew he could grab it. He hesitated for just a minute, but then he made a grab. He got it! We felt like that was an answer to his prayer and another tender mercy. 

We thanked the Lord and admired the lizard for a few minutes, and then let it go.
This is one of the happiest pictures I've ever seen of Grig.
The blue scales are intense!
Kevin liked it too!
We really enjoyed our outing. However, we had another major surprise ahead of us. As we went to plug in our destination on the GPS, it informed us that it was a 16 and 1/2 hour drive to Nebraska. I was sure that wasn't right, so we drove back toward my sister's house, hoping that the GPS would figure out where we were and tell us the correct time.

However, the amount wasn't changing, and soon we checked our google directions that we had printed off. It turned out the GPS was correct, and I had remembered incorrectly. If we kept to our travel plans, we wouldn't get to my aunt and uncle's until 5:00 in the morning (with stops for gas and stuff). 

We decided we could do it, but it would be tough. About that time, Grig's coworker sent him a text and asked where we were. We told him we were in Kentucky, and he was surprised. He told Grig he was due back in for work the next day (Friday). Grig's work day is only supposed to be Monday through Friday right now, so we hadn't asked for those days off. We were concerned. We asked if they were scheduled to work the next day, and his coworker told us yes, because they were behind. 

We quickly said a prayer asking the Lord to help Grig not to have work the next day. We didn't want him to be penalized for calling in absent.

In less than ten minutes, we got our answer. His coworker called us back and told us that there wouldn't be work Friday OR Monday because they didn't have parts. That was a direct answer to prayer, and we were so grateful. 

With that extra day we had been given in mind, we informed everyone of our intentions and late arrival time. Instantly we began to get phone calls and messages from people who were really worried about that. Grig's parents called and offered to buy us a hotel for the night, because they didn't want us to die.

After praying and talking about it, we decided to stop half-way and take them up on their offer. 

We continued traveling until we reached St. Louis, Missouri. We tried to get on the Martin Luther King Bridge, but as we took the exit for it, we found ourselves stopped in a traffic jam. We waited for a few minutes and watched cars begin to go backward down the on-ramp. We knew that was illegal, but it started to look awfully tempting after a while. Grig wanted to walk up the line of cars and see what was going on. I was worried he'd get shot. We finally compromised with him taking his phone (so he could call me if he got shot) and he went for a walk. 

We were very grateful now that we'd decided to stop for the night. We didn't know when we'd get moving again. 

He came back with discouraging news. He said that there was a bad accident ahead, and the other drivers didn't think we'd be able to move for two or three hours. He also found some spare change.

He was beginning to lean toward going backward down the on-ramp, but I said, "Let's pray. It will be okay."

So, we did. Midway during our prayer, the traffic in the far distance began to move, and by the time he finished, we began to crawl forward slowly. We knew that was another direct answer to prayer. 

Soon after, we stopped in Warrenton, Missouri at America's Best Value Inn. We had a very pleasant, relaxing night.

Day 15:

We ate the free breakfast in the morning and then drove off for Nebraska. After a while on the road, I saw a sign for an Amish Buffet. That sounded fantastic! Amish food is delicious, and I begged Grig to stop for it. He conceded, but we decided if it was too far off the road we would continue on our way. We stopped for gas, and then drove a little further. After about five miles, we didn't see any sign of it, so we decided to go back.

We flipped a U-turn at the next traffic light, and a moment later we saw flashing lights appear in our rear-view mirror. Uh-oh. 

We pulled over, and the police officer came to my window. We asked him if we weren't supposed to turn a U-turn there, and he told us that yes, it was illegal. He asked us where we were going, and I told him "Nebraska." He asked where we were from, and Grig told him Utah. He said, "You're from Utah and you're going to Nebraska?" 

We explained that that was our stopping point for the night. He seemed very reasonable and he asked us if we were lost. We told him that we had been intending to go to the Amish restaurant, but it had been further off the highway then we wanted, and so we had decided to go back. 

He checked our documents, and let us go with a warning. He was very kind, and we felt like that was another blessing from the Lord. 

We got back on our way and quickly found the highway. The rest of our trip passed fairly uneventfully, though we did stop at a fun rest stop in Nebraska that had some rocks we could climb on. We were tempted to stop at the dinosaur museum again, but we finally decided not on this trip. Maybe next year.

We reached our destination in good time and played some games with my aunt, uncle, and cousins. We were going to go fishing, but it began to storm and we decided to have ice cream cones instead. It was a pretty relaxing day.

Day 16:

This was our 12 and 1/2 hour drive. We left pretty early, and stopped at Wal-mart to refill our snacks. We decided to try and free our A/C converter one more time while we were there. We prayed, and to our surprise, it popped right out. We bought a new one to replace it, and were able to play some movies (mostly Rescuers Down Under three times) for Kevin during this long drive. 

We stopped at a fun rest stop just after we entered Wyoming. It had an archaeological dig site, and some fun trails. 

Grig and Kevin found some rocks to climb on. I had a pretty severe allergy attack (resulting in asthma) while we were exploring the archaeological site, and so we had to leave and go back to the car. I took my inhaler and was fine. 

The rest of the drive was okay, though as we reached Jackson Hole, Wyoming the sunset was absolutely stunning! 

It wasn't until the last 40 minutes that Kevin finally lost it. He began to scream and nothing would stop it. Finally, Grig (who doesn't like this movie at all) turned on Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron. That calmed Kevin down enough for him to relax until we reached my parent's home in Idaho. We got there about 11:15 p.m. 

We were tired and glad to be only three hours away from our home. We talked for a few minutes, but we were ready for bed, and my dad had early morning meetings. So, we said hello to Dakota and then went to sleep.

Day 17 and 18:

We ended up staying at my parents all day Sunday. We went to church with them at 9:30 a.m., and then had a nap that afternoon. That evening we went to a dual birthday party for some of my cousins, and Kevin got to play with his other cousins for a bit.

We had meant to leave that night, but we stayed up late talking to my brother and sister-in-law, so we decided to just crash at my parent's house for one more night.

Monday, June 23rd, we made what seemed like a really short trip back to our apartment in Utah. It was so nice to be home. We put things away, relaxed for a few hours, and then we celebrated my grandma's birthday with her that night at a park. Grig had work the next morning, so we tried to go to bed pretty quickly.

That's the end of our trip. Dakota is happy to be back home, and Oryx (our snake) is his usual stoic self (meaning that we don't have a clue what he's thinking). They both look fantastic. 

We are grateful that we saw so many miracles, that we had enough money for this trip, and that our car had very few problems. Thank you for your prayers for us while we were traveling. We definitely felt their power. 

We love you all and are glad to be back home!

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