5,286 miles later…

 A Familiar View

If details bore you, don’t read this post, but if you want a sense of our crazy trip, read on! 

Saturday night we returned from our holiday trip to the United States.  Besides having a great time visiting my family and a number of friends, we drove more than we have ever driven before in such a short period.  Here’s what our trip looked like:

Friday, December 14, we took an overnight bus to Mexico City, where we spent two days hanging out and seeing some of the sights as a family.  (It was $400 cheaper for us to fly out on Monday, so we figured ‘Why not?’)

That Monday, we flew to Houston, where Erin and the girls rented a car and went to visit some friends near San Antonio, TX for a couple of days.  I, meanwhile, flew to Tampa, FL to pick up the minivan we had just bought.  I arrived in Tampa at midnight, was met by the car salesman at 1am, and was in the car by 2am.  I drove an hour to where I would have a breakfast meeting the next morning, then caught a couple of hours of off-and-on sleep in the car.

That morning (Tuesday), I got to hook up with one of our interns from last summer for breakfast.  I then hit the road for Jacksonville, where I had lunch with a mother and daughter who became friends after they came to Oaxaca for a mission trip the summer of 2006.  I was right back on the road after lunch, arriving in Tallahassee to visit and spend the night with friends from Four Oaks Community Church, who we have also gotten to know through mission trips they have taken to Oaxaca.

The cool thing was that Wednesday morning, as I headed towards Texas to meet Erin and the girls, some of our Four Oaks friends were heading the same direction.  I caravanned with them until the New Orleans area, where I stopped to meet with the missions directors of a new church that is planning on sending down a mission trip team this coming summer.  Continuing from there, I caught back up with our Four Oaks friends and was graciously invited to spend the night with them at their aunt’s house in Lake Charles, LA.  They fed me authentic shrimp gumbo (I think that’s the first time I’ve had it), and it was awesome!

The next morning I met with another pastor just east of Houston whose church is coming to Oaxaca this summer.  I then hurried to meet Erin at the car rental return, arriving only about an hour late.  Oops :(  We met up with a college friend of Erin’s that afternoon, and then were taken out to a great Korean restaurant by Korean friends who came on a mission trip in July.  They also were kind enough to host our family for the night.  See how many friends you get to make from all over when you host mission trips?

Friday, December 21, we finally drove to Little Rock, AR and joined my dad and some of my siblings for Christmas.  We had a really fun time visiting together.  Oh yeah, the day after we got to my dad’s, he and I drove to Tulsa, OK and back to pick up my siblings.  (Joint parenting stuff after a divorce is a mess – I don’t recommend it.)  Christmas was good, and the day after my sister Catherine and her boyfriend arrived.  Since we were close already, we took the opportunity to drive to Memphis, TN for a day to visit some extended relatives.

So after all that, our family and my siblings then drove to Sterling, KS (commonly referred to as ‘the middle of nowhere’) to visit my mom.  My sister Hannah surprised the family by coming out from Colorado to visit us, so we had all seven kids in our family together for the first time since mine and Erin’s wedding six years ago.  The time at my mom’s was a great visit, too, highlighted by an impressive fireworks display put on by my brother Ben for New Year’s.

The day after New Year’s it was time to head south again.  We headed out in the morning, meeting another college friend of Erin’s in Oklahoma City for lunch, meeting with leaders of another new mission trip team that night in Austin, TX, and then spending the night in San Antonio, TX.  After putting the car in the shop the morning of January 3 (it has a mysterious oil leak we’re still trying to figure out), we were on the road again by early afternoon.  We crossed the border into Mexico at McAllen, TX at 8pm and then drove on a few hours to a small town called Soto la Marina.

Now we’re up to last Friday, and getting close to home.  We drove on to a beautiful town on the coast of Veracruz, called Costa Esmeralda.  We got in late afternoon, got a hotel room, and spent the evening and the next morning eating out and relaxing on the beach to celebrate our 6th wedding anniversary.  Our anniversary was this past Saturday, the 5th of January.  We hit the road about midday Saturday, stopped off in the city of Veracruz for a late lunch at Carl’s Jr., and then were home by 10pm that night.

23 days, 12 states, 2 countries, 11 different sleeping locations, 5286 miles driven, and 92 hours in the car.  And I would do it all over again.  (I can’t speak for Erin.)  It’s hard having family all spread out, but the cool thing is that we get to visit so many more people, now that we have friends all over the place.  Thank you, God, for a good trip, and thank you that we’re now home and settled for a little while!

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