This was the week I have been looking forward to for my entire sabbatical. This was the week of our family road trip. I decided for this blog to not really reflect on the deeper meaning of this time, but to simply share what we did for my own records.
It was our family road trip. For Thanksgiving week, we rented a car, and drove it through desolate and open country. It has been a really long time since I have intentionally gone on a road trip. I guess it makes sense once you have kids that the less time in the car the better!
But now that my kids are old enough and we have the technology to keep them occupied, it seemed right to load up and hit the road.
Our trip began with me picking up a Nissan Quest mini van. We have never been a mini van family, or a new car family. I never thought much about that until my daughter commented on how luxurious this car was with all the power outlets and leather seats. Well, you know me, I am all about the luxury. So we loaded our things and hit the road.
Our first stop was Reno. #notluxury. But we had a cheap hotel and goofed around circus circus, and just enjoyed decompression from hectic weeks at school and poor air quality from the fires. We watched movies, got late night pizzas, and soaked up having nowhere to be or nothing to be accountable for.
In the morning we headed south towards Las Vegas. The plan was to enjoy the tranquility and beauty of Nevada. I know, if you have ever driven through Nevada you would be laughing right now. But it really was just that, tranquil and beautiful in its own distinct way. As a dad, I loved listening to music and pod casts and driving hundreds of miles in peace and quiet while the car slept, read, or listened to music. As we got close to Las Vegas, I thought it would be great to visit Area 51. Turns out there is a gift shop and restaurant. (A perfect spot for a late lunch.) Too bad, attached to the gift shop was a brothel. Needless to say, we kept on driving.
Las Vegas was great and awful all at the same time. We spent a few hours on top of the Stratosphere enjoying the three rides at the top that hang over the side. MacKenzie was so scared at first, but then became an adrenaline junkie. After getting our fill of these rides at the top of the world we headed down to the strip to see the casinos and enjoy a classic buffet. All of that went according to plan. What I wasn’t prepared for was explaining to my middle school children why you would want to call phone number and have a naked girl show up at your room. The dark side of Vegas is right there alongside the family fun of Vegas and the dissonance is almost too much to bear.
In the morning we got out of town and headed to southern Utah to spend the rest of the week outside of Capitol Reef National Monument with my Aunt, Uncle and cousins. This drive was incredible. Moving through Nevada with all its casinos, billboards, and brothels, to the simple beauty of Arizona was a breath of fresh air. And from Arizona we headed into Utah. Southern Utah is space as well. But every 40 miles or so was a tiny little Mormon town. It was like going back in time to see these little ranching towns with the church in the center, and a little store, a few houses, and that is it, for another 40 miles.
After a full day of driving we crossed the geographic divide from Mormon ranghing land into the National Monuments. And within 10 miles the change in landscape was dramatic and beautiful.
For the next few days we enjoyed the stunning beauty of red cliffs, snow covered mountains, and dramatic sunrises and sets. We hiked to the top of a canyon one day, got caught in a hail storm the next. We read books, talked politics, and rested. It was just what the doctor ordered.
Just as fast as we arrived, it was time to head home. One thing I have learned from all my years in student ministry is that the way out is always more fun than the way back. So I took that little bit of wisdom and decided to fly our family back instead of drive. So on Friday we drove to Salt Lake City, then to the airport, and slept in our own beds Friday night.
And to wrap up our week, we got home and spent all of our last day of vacation transforming our home into a Hallmark Christmas home. We trimmed the tree, hung the lights, and made second Thanksgiving dinner with a turkey of our own. It was a special day to wrap up a special week.
And as quickly as our week long family adventure started, it has come to an end. It is time for homework, early bedtimes, and gearing up for the final push of the school year.
I am so grateful for my family, for Katie, for my kids. I recognize that every good and perfect gift comes from Jesus and I am thankful that Jesus ran after me, saved me, transformed me, healed me, and and blessed my life more than I could have ever imagined!
Happy Thanksgiving! Talk to you in a week!