Tuesday, January 31, 2012

In Which the Trip is Part of the Destination

The view I get to enjoy for the next few days, early morning sun rising.

    We've spent the last week-and-a-half visiting family and friends in California and Arizona. I plan to post some pictures from our journey soon. It's been wonderful, but also a bit crazy and very tiring! I've hardly had an extra moment, and I was finally inspired to write last night, after a very long day driving from the Phoenix area to where we're settled for the next few days in Baja, Mexico. 

    My childhood was full of long journeys, of five kids packed in the back of the brown station wagon, of three days driving to get from our home in Alberta to southern California and Baja, where my Dad's family lived. Yesterday reminded me of one of those days, only now I'm in the front seat, the mom's seat, trying to help everyone stay happy, well fed, and sane. (Which is really, really challenging at times.) There was a saying that was often thrown around in my family, something along the lines of "the journey is part of the trip". I couldn't quite remember how it went, but I'd been thinking of it after the 11 hour drive that finally brought us to our destination last night. This morning I picked up a memoir written by my great grandfather, known to us as Poppa Tom. On the front cover is written "That is a pleasant journey in which the trip is part of the destination" (Dr. Henry Van Dyke) I recognized that sentiment as it had been passed on to us, and felt it keenly yesterday, that getting here was part of the experience, and if we're to travel, we must learn to embrace the journey. 

    Here is an account of yesterday's travels, as written down by my very tired self last night: 

    We are safe and sound at Su Casa. I forgot how much I love this place, and can't wait to look out over the ocean in the daylight! It was a long and challenging day- 11 hours after we left Apache Junction we finally arrived here. Our first stop was Phoenix, where Erik tried to sort out the rental/insurance issue and was basically told that the company's insurance underwriter wouldn't cover minivans. But, that we could buy our own insurance from a third party; we just wouldn't have any coverage from them. So we chose to do that. (This after checking and double checking that we would be able to take the van into Mexico, and even being told we could buy the insurance from them!) While Erik went in and talked with the manager of the rental company I fed the kids breakfast in the van. 

    We drove southwest from Phoenix, through barren looking deserts, fields of what appeared to be cotton, and lots of stinky feedlots full of cattle. We crossed the border into California and set our clocks back an hour. Raphael seems to need to stop and pee about every thirty minutes; I'm sure it's a boredom tactic, but we indulge him. I mean, what boy doesn't love to pee on the side of the road! Our kids are learning good life skills like how to squat and "go" in the absence of a toilet. Stuff you just can't get from a textbook. Our next big stop was Calexico, just north of the border adjacent to Mexicali. There we found a park and let the kids play and ate our lunch. The sun felt hot and everyone enjoyed being out of the van for a while! Just a few blocks farther we stopped to purchase our infamous Mexican insurance. That done, we were free to cross the border. We went back and forth about whether to cross there or further west, but decided there was no good reason to wait. We fueled up- gas, and popsicles for the road. I was happy to be greeted by the cashier with a friendly "Buenos Tardes" and he spoke nothing but Spanish to me during our transaction. Ah, yes, Mexico was near! 

Looking back from the top of the pass, Northern Baja.

    We crossed the border and were thankful for our GPS and Google Maps which navigated us successfully through the Mexicali. Inevitably, we got turned around a bit but it was pretty easy to get  back on track. Heading west, we drove up into the most beautiful rocky, desert mountains. I can't even describe them, except that each mountain looked as if it were made of lots of smaller rocks piled upon each other, almost like globs of frosting. There were beautiful vistas and we enjoyed the drive. Coming to the top of the pass we expected to wind our way down but instead came upon what seemed to be a high plateau. We continued on to Tecate and then turned south toward Ensenada. By this time the light was fading; our morning delays regarding insurance had put us on the road a lot later than we'd planned. 

    The 60 miles of remaining road took us back down through mountain roads.There are a lot of vineyards in that area now, but the light was gone and we weren't able to see them. We were slowed down by some road construction but mostly the drive was smooth. The kids had had enough by this point, and there was a lot of fussing, fighting, and general falling apart. We finally came out at El Sauzal, where we made the quick drive north to San Miguel. We got a little turned around but finally arrived at our beloved Su Casa around 7PM, or 8PM Arizona time. The kids ran around like crazy monkeys on the patio, just the way my brother and sister used to when we'd arrive after a long drive. Erik unpacked the van, and I warmed up some food and tried to settle in. We've finally gotten the kids settled down and enjoyed a bowl of soup in the quietness of this special place. While I nursed Pearl I read the story written by my Great, Great Grandfather, C.E. Utt, about how he stocked the streams of San Pedro Martir with trout a hundred years ago. I looked at the photos of Su Casa being built, a gift of love from my Grams and Gramps to their family. I love to be in this place, where so many special souls have been before me. There's magic in the air. 

    I am hoping for a good night's sleep, and looking forward to sitting on the patio tomorrow, looking out over the blue Pacific at Dragon Island (or Abraham Lincoln Island, or Todos Santos, or whatever you want to call it.) I'm looking forward to reconnecting with my cousins, of visiting the home my great grandparents built, the place I ran around as a child so many years ago. 

    And so we continue on this pleasant journey. Yesterday's trip is over, and we are enjoying our destination more because of the challenges that brought us here. Buenos Noches! 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


    We had a dusting of snow this week, a rare treat here in the Pacific Northwest. My kids get so excited and love to go play in it. They say things like "Mom, I think we're snowed in!" and "Have you ever seen so much snow?" I grew up on the prairies of Alberta, so yes, I have seen "so much snow". And then some. I like to tell them stories of how we used to get drifts taller than they are, deep enough to dig caves in. They can hardly imagine it! Someday I will take them to play in some real snow, but until that they'll have to be happy with this. 

Poppy makes a snow angel.
Happy girl!

Raphael rode his balance bike in the snow. In pajama pants. In Crocs.

And Peregrine ran around shoveling driveways. (Lest the 1/4 inch of snow prevent some poor soul from getting out of the house.) Also in pajama pants. With leans underneath.

Our house in it's snowy glory.

And the littlest snow princess, Pearl. She loved it and raced around happily with the kids.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

An Evening In

On Thursday Erik and I celebrated ten years of marriage. God painted the sky in lovely colors in honor of the occasion!

We had a lovely Evening In. I made a nice dinner, set a special table for two, and the kids acted as our servers. Peregrine decided a pirate theme was appropriate for our romantic dinner so he decorated with pictures of ships and sea captains! He also named the "restaurant" Red Rackham's: Fine Scurvy Dining fit for a Sea Captain. Aaaarhg, Matey!

There were some interesting characters underfoot, literally. Here they are under the table in the fire's light.

Our dessert, appropriately named Red Rackham's Ship.

And here we are; our table for two at various times seated three, or four, or five or six. But that is a good picture of our life together; we started out as two and God has blessed us with four more! It was a very special evening in with our little family, reminiscing about the past, enjoying the present, and dreaming of our future. (And last night we got to go out, just the two of us, and enjoy some uninterrupted conversation.) Here's to many more years together! 

Monday, January 02, 2012

From Our Home to Yours

This is the letter I sent our with our Christmas cards this year. 

                                                                                                12 December 2011
Dear Friends, 
   Greetings from our home to yours!  We’d love to invite you in for a cup of tea and a long visit, but this will have to do. These are busy years! As we look forward to our tenth anniversary, we’re a bit surprised to find ourselves still living in Oregon. We’d planned to move overseas, but Erik had cancer in our first year of marriage. Praise God he’s now healthy and cancer free! Then, of course, we added four children to our family, which can’t really be called “little” anymore! We’ve enjoyed living here and being near family, good friends, and a wonderful church.
    Recently we’ve felt a stirring to to revisit the dream we had when we first set out together. We’re slowly pulling up roots and planning  a round-the-world journey and pilgrimage. We’re preparing to put our home on the market, and when it sells we’ll leave, traveling slowly, visiting people and places, and plugging into communities and churches. Our plans are loose, and we hope to be led by God as we go, willing and able to change directions as opportunities arise. At the end of this journey, we hope to settle down longer term in another country. We’re excited about this new chapter in our lives! In the meantime though, life goes on, and here’s a glimpse into what that looks like from day to day: 

    Erik continues to work for our local public utility company as a substation wireman electrician. We’re thankful for his stable job. He enjoys photography and is always learning and trying new things. A few years ago he built a coffee roaster and roasted for a number of local businesses as a side hobby/business. As of the last few months, he’s given that up and is only roasting small batches for himself.

    I keep busy taking care of the kids and our home. I’m happy that many of the things I enjoy fit right in with my job description; I love cooking, sewing, crafting, and reading, and there are plenty of all those to be done! I’m educating the kids at home, which is challenging at times, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It’s fun to learn right along with them. This fall we participated in a homeschool co-op that meets one day a week, and the kids took some fun classes. I enjoyed helping out with the little ones. 

    Peregrine just turned 9, and has lots of interests. He’s an excellent reader, and loves building, from Lego creations to paper crafts and forts. He likes to draw comics and write stories. He’s also taking karate and just passed his second test, earning a brown stripe on his white belt. 

    Poppy is 6 1/2 and also enjoys drawing and making crafts. She’s learning to read and had fun taking Irish Step Dancing at Co-op. She loves pink and purple, fairies, unicorns, dolls and stuffed animals. All that said, she can rough and tumble and loves to get messy. She’s very generous and thoughtful.

    Raphael is a busy and independent 3 1/2 year old. It doesn’t occur to him there might be things he shouldn’t do alone! I’m trying to take advantage of that by giving him responsibility and letting him work alongside me. He keeps me laughing with the funny things he says and life with him is never boring! 

    Pearl is still our baby at 1 1/2. She finally started walking and is pleased to have “found her feet”. Prior to this she had a pretty efficient and funny way of scooting around the floor on her bottom! She’s so sweet and happy, a joy to all. It’s fun to watch her discover the world around her.
    We’re all excited about our upcoming changes, although there are many things we’ll miss about our life here. We’re glad it’s so easy to keep in touch. If you’re not already on facebook with me, I’d love to connect with you there; my name is Rebeca Groover. I also try to keep my blog updated with pictures of the kids, tales of our adventures, and things I think about. You can read it at www.carriedonthewind.com.
    Thanks for taking the time to catch up! We hope that someday soon our paths will cross. May you be filled with God’s love, joy, and peace this Christmas and in the coming year! 
    With love,
    Erik and Rebeca, Peregrine, Poppy, Raphael, and Pearl