On Monday, April 9, 2012, The Hunni answered the phone at 6:30 a.m.. Phone calls at 6:30 a.m. are never good. I knew it was The Hunni’s mom (therefore 3:30 a.m. their time), I knew it was bad news, and I heard the name “Ted”. I started praying, “Please let it be a different Ted. Not Ted my brother-in-law.” But it was. He had a blood clot go to his lung and died early on April 9. We had out-of-town guests, so we didn’t discuss too many things until after breakfast and the departure of our guests. But as I mulled over the facts, I kept thinking, “Somehow, we ALL need to get out to Seattle–somehow.” The Hunni felt strongly the same way, so in 23 hours from the news, we were packed, in the van, and driving to Seattle, Washington. Map Quest said the drive was 2,283 miles one way. I planned a few stops, so the trip was closer to 2,450 miles. Here are “Postcards from our Trip to the Pacific.”
TUESDAY, APRIL 10
4:30 The alarm went off.
4:35. I got out of bed.
5:12. The Whit’s End Van pulled out of the driveway. All the kiddos were in their jammies.
5:20. Stopped by the ATM.
5:28. Pulled onto the highway for our trip to the Pacific. We had 14 hours of driving in front of us.
8:46. Stopped for breakfast at Panera. We also stopped by a grocery store and bought journals for all the kiddos to write in daily. This is going to be our school for the trip out.
9:18. Kiddos watched three Annie Oakley movies. We are also going to count this as school. 🙂
10:55 The Hunni called his dad as the car was pulling left really hard. After he hung up with his dad, it wasn’t long before his uncle–the car mechanic– called The Hunni. After they talked a bit, it was decided that we should find a mechanic en route to have our tires aligned.
11:27. The Hunni started calling mechanics that he found on his Blackberry. The first three places he called couldn’t fit us in at the last minute.
11:42. He called a mechanic as we were about to pass the exit. I pulled over just in case we needed to pull off at the exit. The lady on the phone said, “Yeah, the mechanics are just getting back from lunch. We will fit you right in.
12:08. We pull out of McDonald’s loaded with a lunch to eat while the car gets aligned. All the kiddos were still in their jammies.
12:10. We pull into the Mobil station. The Mobil station was also a Bait and Tackle shop, along with a snack store, and a little waiting area–complete with a picnic table, toys, and a VCR player with kid movies. The kiddos still had on their jammies.
“Not a bad place to have to wait for 20 minutes with four kiddos,” I thought.
The owner was very kind, and after we had finished our McDonald’s he said, “Kids love to fish when they come here.” Then he showed the kiddos the live fish bait and let all the kiddos “fish” while we waited. “Not a bad place to wait on a car with four kiddos for an hour,” I thought.
Here they are looking at the fish.
Scout–still in her jammies–goes first.
12:49. We entertain ourselves by making silly faces in the mirror.
1:10. The owner puts in a “Thomas the Tank Engine Movie” for the kiddos to watch while we wait.
2:10. The Thomas movie ends. Little Man plays with some toy cars and scoots all over the floor while driving them around the store. The owners are very understanding and patient. “Not a bad place to wait with four kiddos for two hours,” I thought.
2:13. The Hunni visits with the owners some, and learns that their son drives a NASCAR. He drives number #39. You can visit Kely Bires website here.
Since The Hunni flew some Nascar crews around, they are able to visit. One thing that comes out is how much work the parents put into their son. “These are really great people,” I thought, “Not a bad place to wait with the four kiddos for 2 1/2 hours.”
2:15. I buy Skittles for the kiddos who are all still in their jammies. The owner says, “I’ll just add it to the bill,” and hands the package to Little Man. The words, “the bill” scare me. We have been here for over two hours–close to three. The kiddos are all doing fine as there is so many things to do fishing, watching a movie, eating candy, driving toy cars around on the floor, etc. . . , but the Mommi is getting antsy. Time is money, and we don’t have much of either. I ask how much longer on the car, and am told, “Only about one more hour.” Now I begin to panic. I go outside to cool off and calm down.
2:30. The car is finally ready. I get the kiddos–still in their jammies loaded in the car.
2:32. The Hunni joins us in the car and asks, “Are you ready for this?” I know he means the bill. “How much to you think?” The Hunni continues. I am scared, so I guess, “$600?” “Nope.” he says. My breathing gets short, and I query, “More?”. “Nope,” says The Hunni again. “45”, he says. “$45?!!!!!”, I answer, “That is impossible! We were here almost three hours!!!” The story is that we had more than just an alignment problem. I don’t know cars, so I can’t tell you about it, but I do know that it took almost three hours and a part ordered from a nearby mechanic. Mr. and Mrs. Bires knew we were headed west for a funeral. The Hunni left a tip for the workers, but even with the tip, we KNEW that the LORD had sent along some special help our way. THANK YOU. AGAIN, A HUGE THANK YOU. If you are ever near Mauston, Wisconsin, stop in to Northside Mobil to say hello. The folks there are really great.
So Number 39, I don’t know much about NASCAR, but I do know this, “YOU HAVE AWESOME PARENTS!!!” And I will always cheer for you from here on out because I know you come “from good stuff.” All the best to you.
2:35 We are on our way west again with a three hour delay, but I can’t get discouraged. I just feel so THANKFUL!
(“Look, no hands,” says The Hunni. The van drives great!)
4:08 I read the map wrong and tell The Hunni that there are plenty of exits coming up where we can buy more gas. Then there are no exits. Then The Hunni starts coasting down the hills and driving 55 m.p.h. to conserve gas. I KNOW his blood pressure is high, yet Minnesota has long gaps without gas stations. We finally see an exit with a gas station and pull off.
4:20 We pull into the gas station, and The Hunni looks at me and shakes his head. “Look, we made it, right? It was an adventure, right? I never said life with me was going to be boring, right?” I said. He continues to shake his head–smiling. Then he gets out of the car to pump the gas still shaking his head. I smile. I love him.
9:28 We pull into Mitchell, South Dakota. Perkins is the first restaurant we come across, and we know that not much is open after 9:30, so we squeak in just before they close for the night. The kiddos are still in their jammies.
Everyone has had a long day, so we tolerate some climbing across the table (Little Man.)
Some silly faces. (Scout)
Some opinions. (Eloise)
A retraction. (also Eloise.)
10:47 We check in to our hotel.
11:02 Everyone climbs into bed–still in their same jammies.
11:07 “What time do we have to set the alarm?” The Hunni asks. “6:30” I answer. We both groan and roll over and fall asleep. 4:30 a.m. this morning in Michigan seems like three days ago.