Friday, January 9, 2015

Christmas 2014: The Trip Home

From December 18-19, 2014

How blessed we are to have an extra long Christmas break! I don't know if I will ever say that phrase again, but at least I know that we took advantage of it and enjoyed it as much as we could!

This year, we did our "reverse snowbird" thing again and traveled back to Iowa and Michigan to visit with our families. We decided to drive this year because of Charlotte, and also because we generally like driving more than flying. If we're going to pay to travel, might as well do it in the way we enjoy the most! Oh and by the way, have you noticed the price of gas lately? It's a beautiful thing!

We were proactive in making sure the truck would be safe to drive home. We planned 2 unique routes that would take us to new roads, new counties, and new sites. We watched the weather radar for our entire route. Finally, once Curtis finished his finals, we were on our way!

My baby sister Gina sent us this adorable air freshener to help with the ride home :)

One of my goals for our last week at home: clean out the fridge. Mission accomplished!

Finally, we set off around 10 on Thursday, December 18. It had been raining and dreary in Tucson all week, so it wasn't too hard to leave. (Iowa just so happened to be having the same weather at the time!) On our way back, our goal was to take the most direct route possible and make it by Friday night.

Fog in Southeast AZ

Rain as we were crossing into New Mexico

How Charlie spent about 90% of the drive!
So how did our 5 month old puppy do with the drive? She was a perfect little angel the ENTIRE WAY. Seriously, how did we get to be so blessed? She slept like 90% of the drive home, and she gets really cuddly when she sleeps. Just the fact that she doesn't whine or get carsick is good enough for us! She was really a delight and made the drive much more pleasant!

Oh, and Charlotte also learned about "Road Trip Snacks." Above, she has her head in the bag, and is using her mouth to sort through the Chex Mix. She isn't a fan of pretzels, but she likes to suck the flavor off and break them into bite sized pieces before spitting them out. Grossed out yet? ;)

Most of the driving during day 1 was familiar to us, it wasn't until late that night that we finally started on new territory. This is our 2nd drive back together, Curtis' 3rd, and so far we have succeeded in never repeating an entire route. Our favorite thing to do after road trips is highlight roads on our Atlas, and we have a fair amount of new roads highlighted after this trip!

Charlie dozing again...eyes half open. 

We spent the night in Liberal, Kansas. This was about where we first started seeing snow. We stopped for a letterbox at the World's Deepest Hand-Dug Well, and Charlie LOVED running around and eating the snow. We knew that there wasn't any in Iowa, so we let her enjoy it for as long as it was around!

There was thick fog in Kansas the next day. We took the turnpike, and started realizing that we were way ahead of schedule. This was good, except we had agreed to pick up my brother Grant from college and bring him home, and he wasn't going to be off of work until 10 that night. Bummer! How could we kill 6 hours between Topeka, KS and Ames, IA?

Crossing the bridge into Missouri!

Charlie was awake for this part - She actually came from somewhere in Missouri. I wonder if she remembers. ;)

Our happy little family, on the last leg of our trip! The only way I could get Charlie to look at my camera was to let her bite my fingers. That stinker.

Charlie gnaws on Curtis' fingers before falling asleep again.

The closer we got to Iowa, the less snow that we saw!

Finally!! Crossing the last state line for a while. :)

The highlight of this drive: I texted Grant after this and asked if he was sure he had to work so late...a bit later he told me that his boss gave him the night off! Yay! We decided to keep this a secret from our family though. They weren't expecting us to be home until midnight, but I was sure this would be a very welcome surprise. It's not every day you can just show up at your parent's house and surprise them when you live 1600 miles away. :p

The low point of the drive: After leaving Des Moines, we started to smell something a bad way. You might remember our trip to California last July, when our battery died on the side of the road in 115 degree weather. Well, it was happening again, but this time we knew more of what was going on - it wasn't the heat that evaporated the water from the battery, it was the alternator that was wearing it out. We knew from experience that if we turned off the truck, we'd need to get it jumped at the very least. 

Praise God that we had enough gas to get us home, and only 2.5 hours left to drive! We made it to Grant's home, threw his luggage in the back, piled in the truck, and went straight home. Once we were in our hometown, we knew we were safe and that we would have help from our families.

Oh, and my family was very surprised to see us walk in 6 hours early, and glad they didn't have to wait until midnight for us to arrive! We received a very warm welcome, and Charlotte fell in love with everyone right from the start. It was just a little taste of what our 2.5 weeks at home would be like: enjoying time with family, eating delicious food, watching adorable puppies run around...and dealing with car troubles. More on that later! ;)

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