Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Texas Pics

The Oregon Cost near sunset

Really big redwood tree

Going over the Golden Gate Bridge

California Coast from our campsite area

There's our trusty Honda driving through a redwood tree.

James and his hero. ;-)

Amy and Elvis

Mann Chinese Theater

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Texas Pics

Amy and Abby on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon

Driving through the Petrified Forest

The Eastern Rim of the Grand Canyon at sunrise

The Wiebes at the Grand Canyon

The Painted Desert

Carlsbad Caverns

Almost a column (in a few thousand years)

Abby watching the road from her back seat perch.

The Wiebes made it to Texas!

Our Texas Trip

September 12, 2005

As we cross over the Texas State Line and more officially become Texans again, we thought we’d chronicle some of the high points of our trip for you and include some of the great photos we’ve taken along the way.

After a teary goodbye with our good friends the Cornwells on Sunday morning (Sept. 4th), we went to pick up our sweet dog Abby up from her foster family that has kept her for 2 years for us. That was emotional as well, but it went smoothly and we were off on our journey.

Day 1 took us to Portland and then to the 101 which runs along the Oregon coast. We’d heard many times how beautiful the Oregon coast is, and we were not disappointed. The weather was perfect, and we stopped along the way to take several photos before camping for the night near the California border.

Day 2 originally called for a short drive to Redwood National Forest where we planned to camp, hike, and just enjoy the area. We spent a fair amount of time driving through the forest including driving our car through a redwood tree. Our campsite left something to be desired, and we learned that California will not allow dogs on ANY of their hiking trails. So, we decided to use the extra time to push further along the coast in hopes of camping somewhere on the beach. We were so glad for that decision as we ended up camping right on a beach and got there in time to enjoy the sunset. It was Abby’s first time playing in an ocean, and she was so funny. She’d try to bite the waves as they came up as if her biting them could somehow stop them. We took our camping chairs out to the beach and watched the waves come in until it was dark.

Because we drove further than planned on Day 2, Day 3 was more relaxed. We continued along the California coast, which was also beautiful, however it was slow going due to very windy and hilly roads. This may be a good to time remind some of you and tell others that our car is a 1990 Honda Accord with over 200k miles whose check engine light came on two days before our trip. We took it to a shop and learned the distributor was bad and could go out at any time among other things amounting to $900 in repairs. As the car isn’t worth that on a good day, we decided not to the repairs and pray our way to Texas thinking we could get a rental car if anything went wrong. As if that wasn’t enough, we put a car top carrier on top and have the poor car as loaded as it can be. Needless to say, we weren’t taking those curvy roads at BMW type speeds. On a side note, for any of you interested in the gas prices we paid, the highest we paid was $3.39 for regular and most of the trip it’s been closer to $3. Not as bad as we expected! We made great time, though, and decided to spend a couple of hours in the wine country. We went to 2 different wineries including one of our favorites from a prior trip to San Francisco. We bought a bit of wine but had most of it shipped as we didn’t have room to spare in the car. We then got to drive over the Golden Gate Bridge (with Jean, James’ Mom, with us in spirit, i.e. via cell phone). We went another couple of hours south to Salinas where we had our first hotel stop of the trip. Keep in mind that this is now Tuesday night, and our last showers were on Sunday morning. We were ready!

Day 4 took us down the California coast again. We started out on the 1 which is right on the coast, but soon moved over to the 101 which is a bit inland due to the curvy roads and fog that prevented us from seeing the coast anyway. We did get back on the coast as we came into LA, though, which was fun as we got to drive through Malibu and see some really impressive houses as well as Pepperdine University. Now Day 4 is the precursor to the Price is Right. We had originally booked a hotel, but learned we had to get to the show line so early that the hotel would be a waste. We put Abby in Doggie Day Care (where she also stayed overnight) and we spent some time in Hollywood enjoying the sites. We drove down Hollywood Boulevard and saw a grocery store, which we were looking for in order to perform our Price is Right research! We made sure we knew the prices of Preparation-H and Gold Bond foot powder. Hey, you never know when you’re going to need to know these things. (For those of you who aren’t TPIR fans – for shame! – these are frequent pricing items on the show.) We had dinner, took pictures of the Hollywood sign, and saw a movie at Mann Chinese Theater. We then enjoyed the Hollywood Walk of Fame for a while and had some gelatto before changing and heading over to TPIR line. We knew we were way too early, but we had nothing better to do since we’d cancelled our hotel. We decided we’d just be first, which guaranteed us a spot in the front row. We took our camping chairs and our sleeping bags and set up camp right on Fairfax Avenue in LA outside CBS Television City Studios. In case you’re wondering, we were there at 11:30 PM on Wednesday night for a 2:30 PM Thursday taping.

Day 5 was a day filled with waiting for our date with destiny, i.e. Bob Barker. The overnight waiting went fairly quickly. We got our actual tickets at 8 and the contestant processing began at 10. We sat in numerical order on benches outside the studios from 10 to 2 filling out paperwork. Since we were all wearing numbers based on our arrival during this time, we were like celebrities in the line. People kept coming up to us asking what time we’d arrived, and Amy even walked by someone on her way to the bathroom who said, “Look, there’s number 2!” We’re not sure if people thought we were cool or just plain crazy, but we didn’t care. We were in the front row, and they weren’t. We were finally ushered into the sound stage at 2. It really was exciting to be right there up close and see everything. It looks much different than it does on TV. The studio is a lot smaller than you’re led to believe as the audience is only 350 people. We weren’t called on stage, but we got a lot of camera time as we high fived many of the contestants that ‘came on down’. You’ll all have to watch for us on November 14th when it airs. We’ll send a reminder when it gets closer. We had a really great time, and Bob was just a few feet in front of us for most of the show. We were both really glad we went. After the show, we picked Abby up and drove a couple of hours east to a campsite where we quickly set up and crashed for the night.

(No pictures allowed on the CBS lot, so you'll have to wait for the taping for pictures here.)

Day 6 began promptly at 6 AM as we were wanting to have some afternoon time at the Grand Canyon. We set out and made it to the park around 4 PM. The canyon was amazing, and we took a stroll along the southern rim and took quite a few photos. We then had dinner and set up camp for the night. We’d specifically chosen a camp site that had showers as our last shower was back in Salinas on the morning of Day 4. We decided to wait until the morning for those, though.
Day 7 was a good day. It was our longest day of driving at over 600 miles, so we again got up early. We mistakenly thought that we were in mountain time, but unfortunately for us it was still east coast time. This meant that we thought were at the showers after tearing down camp at 6:30 AM when in reality it was still 5:30. Anyone want to venture a guess as to when the showers opened? 6 AM, of course. The lady inside getting the place ready thought Amy was an idiot when she yelled that it was 6:30 already. We soon discovered our error by the woman’s ‘Here’s your sign’ look as she pointed to the clock through the window that said 5:30. So, no showers for us. We hit the road planning to find a truck stop where we could shower as our next hotel wasn’t planned until the night of Day 8. We found a truck stop and showered, which was a new experience, and continued on to the Roswell area. We mentioned at the beginning that Day 7 was a good day. The first good thing that happened, and we daresay good is an understatement, was that the check engine light went off on the car. Up until Day 7 we were also burning through oil at a fairly high rate and getting poor gas mileage. These things all stopped on Day 7. Most of you know of our faith and belief in the power of prayer. We had many people praying that the car would make it to Texas. We know of at least one person who prayed that God would heal our car, so I guess He liked that prayer best. We were both amazed that the light stayed off after the shop diagnosis before we left. This was one of those things that we had no choice but to thank God for. We couldn’t come up with any logical explanation, which was, we suppose, the point. After all, God doesn’t need tools. His Word makes it so! The other good things that happened had to do with a phone call to James’ mom. We hadn’t planned any sight-seeing on Day 7 and were just pushing to make good time as we headed in the general direction of Carlsbad Caverns. A well-timed phone call between James and Jean resulted in her asking if we were going to see the Petrified Forest or the Painted Desert. We didn’t know where they were in relation to where we were, so we pulled out our trusty computer program to learn that we were less than 20 minutes away from both! We made the detour and took the time to drive through and see them both, which was definitely worth it. The Painted Desert in particular was spectacular. We made it just south of Roswell to our campsite around 8 PM and set up camp for the last time for this trip. It was a good thing this was our last night of camping, as our air mattress finally got a hole. We really enjoyed our quality time at 3 AM as we pumped it back up.

Day 8 began with a short drive to Carlsbad Caverns. They have a dog kennel right on site, which Abby grudgingly stayed in while we went through the caverns. We had a great time looking at all the formations, and we took a tour through the King’s Palace area of the caverns which was really interesting and informative and took us to a depth of 830 feet below the surface. The beauty down there is really incredible. We then picked Abby up and got dinner and headed to our hotel for our last night of the journey.

That brings us to Day 9, which is today. We again got up early this morning in hopes of reaching the Dallas area in time for dinner. We plan to stop in Abilene for a few hours to spend time with James’ brother Mark and his wife Jocelyn. We’re so excited to be on these Texas roads where people pull over to let you pass and smile at you.

This trip has gone by very quickly. Abby has done great in the car. We’re pretty sure she probably thinks this is her new life. Just riding in a car all day long. Hopefully she’ll be happy to learn that there’s an end in sight. The two of us have had a great time on the road as well. We bough a couple of crossword books, which we’ve completed many of. We also have a book we’re reading together, and we take turns choosing CDs for in between. Many of you will be impressed to know that we have used the air conditioning in the car less than 2 hours on the whole trip, and this was only to facilitate phone calls. The AC puts such a strain on the car that we thought it best to just keep the windows down. The majority of the trip, we’ve had such pleasant weather that we haven’t been that hot. We’ve only had to strip down to driving naked a couple of times. (Just kidding!) Due to the fairly short days of driving most days, James opted to drive the entire trip. (Besides, we all know who should be navigating anyway, right?) By the end of the trip, we will have driven 3300 miles and been on the road for 56 hours.

We were blessed in every way, from reasonable gas prices, to good temperaments by all three of us, to the miracle of the check engine light, and even to not getting any speeding tickets! We have much ahead including the expected safe arrival of our ‘stuff’ which we shipped across the country before we left, finding a house, getting two reliable cars, James finding a job, Amy integrating into a new office, and perhaps most importantly finding a church and our community here again. We’re sad about the friendships we left behind, but we’re confident we’re where God wants us. We’re excited about the future and will welcome your prayers as we move forward. Please keep in touch, and we assure you that we will do the same.

James and Amy, and Abby Wiebe