Souvenirs

Screen Shot 2013-10-12 at 9.28.47 PMPart of a prosperous life for us is travel. We want to visit every inch of this country and we want to start now, not later. My brother was getting married in Provo, Utah on October 5, so that presented the perfect excuse to plan a trip. The original plan was for the 5 of us (me, Cindy and our children, two 15year old girls and one 10 year old boy) to fly. As I began watching the prices of airline tickets however, it became obvious that our only option was to drive.

readytogoDriving across the country with 3 children in one car is a recipe for insanity, right? I decided that my brother’s wedding was worth the risk so we packed, and I mean p-a-c-k-e-d the car, and headed out. We left as soon as the kids got off the bus on Friday, September 27th and steered for the distant West. Our first stop, Little Rock, Arkansas. We all stumbled into the hotel, shuffled 3 kids through the showers while we worked and then hit the bed. I don’t remember much about Little Rock. We got up, showered, packed up, ate the hotel breakfast and hit the road around 7am.

dawnattheranch

 

We did this through the first couple of days. We drove through and saw some incredible scenery but didn’t stop for much. We had a deadline and a plan for getting to the church on time, so some of the states we passed through and didn’t get to enjoy it really. The morning of the 3rd day we headed out at dawn and stumbled upon the Cadillac Ranch. I elbowed Cindy and loudly insisted that we HAD to stop. I don’t know if the excuse to get out of the car or the fact that I had been through Tennessee, Arkansas and now Texas and had nothing to show for it caused my NEED to stop, but I just HAD to get some pictures. After freezing my rear and some great shots of all of us with some cars in an unbelievably flat and muddy field, (coming from a grass and tree region, I use the term ‘field’ lightly here) I was happy with my souvenir of the stop.

paintedgrandcanyonPumped up and ready to go now, we headed for the Petrified Forest and the Painted Desert. Wow! Both are sights that I will never forget. The days were filled with driving, dreaming, singing and growing closer. (Another blog post) Our trip also included: the Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam, the Wetlands, Yellowstone, Crazy Horse, Mt. Rushmore, The Corn Palace and the St. Louis Arch, all of which required a souvenir!

Trips and souvenirs go together like peanut butter and jelly or socks and shoes.  This trip was no different!  We went through 18 different states in a 2 week trip and yes, we had to stop for souvenirs along the way. We collected refrigerator magnets, got the obligatory T-Shirts and took thousands of photos; my son, keychains; the girls, knick-knacks and a painting. (They are already arguing over who gets custody of the painting–geez) We all chose something that would mark this particular trip in our minds. Some little something to take home and hold onto to remember the time away. I even got a miniature Welcome to Las Vegas sign to hang on our Christmas tree this year.

trinkets1I am always on the look out for unusual or unique souvenirs to take home to give to friends too. This trip I found soap shaped like ears of corn from the Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota. They are too cool! I found my most memorable and unique souvenirs came from sources that couldn’t be found on GPS and things that I could not buy.

We are so blessed to recognize how many wonderful friends we have all across the country. During this trip, we contacted a few and they graciously opened their homes and hearts to us. As we would drive through different states, we would get shout-outs from different ones asking if we were going to get to come their way as well. There is no greater feeling than knowing you are loved.

The dictionary describes the word souvenir to mean, “a thing that is kept as a reminder of a person, place, or event.” I have decided that the trinkets that we bring home are NOT the souvenirs. The souvenir is the connection, the deeper connections that we make and strengthen while we are away.

theroseThe corsage that was presented to me at my brother’s wedding is here, drying so I may keep it as a reminder. It doesn’t remind me of the event, it reminds me of the connection that was strengthened with my brother at his wedding.

The rocks I brought back from Charlotte and Cat’s home don’t remind me of the belly laughs and tours of beautiful places but of the connection to the two beautiful souls that love me unconditionally and the bond that we share.

So I need to take a moment and express how grateful we are to our friends for their generosity, graciousness, hospitality, love and the souvenirs that carried us home.charlotteandcat Charlotte Foust and Cat Schelling, thank you for TRULY making this trip a memorable and fun one for all of us including the kids. You put up with noise and confusion and welcomed us as family. We enjoyed deep belly laughs, wonderful food, our own personal tour guides and deepening friendship. We love you!

thebeckettsDan, Heather, Henry, Rose & Forrest Beckett (Shep and the cat), you opened up your BEAUTIFUL new home on short notice to weary travelers and we felt like we had an early homecoming. The board was spread with wonderful food and Brady got to yell, run and play with a wonderful new friend. You guys then blew us away with your generosity and beautiful spirit a STATE away! We love you!

weddingBrian & Bethany Douglas, you gave us the excuse and motivation we needed to start on this adventure but it was the draw of the Love that you share that called to us halfway across the country. As you begin your lives together, we leave you with our richest blessings and the knowledge that your dreams will carry you into a new and blessed future full of laughter and magic. We love you both!
It is the love we share with our friends along the way that gives traveling a sparkle that cannot be duplicated with any T-Shirt or bobble from a place of interest. We have brought home a few trinkets from our travels that will fade or lose our interest over time. The newly formed friendships and stronger bonds that we have gained over the past 2 weeks will remain with us for a lifetime.

To those who shouted out to us and we were unable to answer the call, HANG ON! Our traveling has just begun and we will be back! So we dedicate this trip to the Love of Family and Friends and toast the memories AND souvenirs that will adorn our hearts forever!

LizabethAndCindySig

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