Big Sky

We made it to Billings. Finally. It was a long day. Longer than our calculations said it would be. Losing an hour entering Montana didn't help either.

Nothing overly eventful happened today. We drove through a bunch of mountain passes, saw some snow falling on three occasions (nothing on the roads though), saw lots of cattle, horses and deer, and plenty of big sky (it was mostly cloudy all day long, so there wasn't much sky to brag about.

The boys have been fairly good. Anders rode in the truck for a big chunk of the day--that was kind of fun for him. He could at least see better. Nils isn't happy with sitting for very long, no matter how you try to please him. Any time we stop where he can get out and move is fine with him.

Tomorrow--we conquer the rest of Montana and half of North Dakota if all goes well.

Thanks for all the prayers. They're helping. And now for sleep . . . (at least that's our goal and biggest need right now)


One State Down

We made it--to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.

Sunday night, 3 couples from church came over to help us finish packing the kitchen and some other odds and ends (or did they just come to bring us supper & share it with us?).

Yesterday was . . . crazy, I guess would fit. We picked up the truck in the morning and made it back to have lunch at our neighbour's house. People started arriving before noon--and the truck was probably packed by 3pm. I think there were about a dozen people at different points. We had to leave behind a few non-essential items that wouldn't fit in the truck. With better planning, we could have got more in, but it was difficult with so many hands and brains trying to work together. Oh well--we've got enough stuff. A few people stayed and helped clean the house (I'm not going to try and name all the names through this--rest assured, we know who they are and appreciate them very much). And throughout the day a few people stopped by to drop off treats and toys for the boys for travelling. Some friends took us out for supper (Moby Dick's for fish & chips at the beach . . . a fairly quintessential last supper before leaving the Pacific Northwest).

We got up and finished things in the house . . . and tried to cram a few last things in the truck so that the car wasn't overly packed. Then off to the border. Customs went fairly well. They x-rayed the truck and our car (don't ask: I'm not sure how it was done--they made us go inside). It took a little longer because we had 4 houseplants with that we were trying to bring back (one that my parents gave Beth for her 21st birthday and another from my grandfather's funeral); they ended up in the incinerator, I guess (you have to have some certificate of clearance saying they're not diseases or anything to bring them back in the US, even though they lived in the US for over a decade in one case, and were never more than 2 miles from the US border).

The western part of Washington is beautiful. Evergreens, mountains, Peugeot Sound. We made it through the big pass east of Seattle. One of the mountain towns had about 8 feet of snow on the ground. We saw a little snow, but the roads were cleared.

The majority of the state as you travel it's width, is pretty plain. We felt like we'd already been through the Dakotas (though it's more desert-like--a tumble-weed ran in front of the truck at one point). The big highlight was the 14-mile stretch where they put signs along the fences letting you know what crops are being grown in the fields (though not much was growing right now, obviously--and they didn't have much labeled). I think it's a wonderful idea for agricultural areas to educate people (agrication, as I call it)--though in a lot of places the signs would only be field corn and soybeans, so I guess that'd get old pretty quickly. We saw potatoes, peppermint, field corn, sweet corn, timothy hay, alfalfa and green manure.

And now, we're back in the mountains. We've gotten through Washington. Only 4 more States to go (only in the west--or in Canada--could you travel 2000 miles and only get through 5 States; and really, we're only going through 70 miles of Idaho).

That's all for tonight--gotta get rested up for another day.


Down to the Wire

The cable company is coming in an hour or so to disconnect our internet and phone service, so this is a final blog before we leave. We may be able to update some along the way, but we'll see how our time goes.

We've got friends coming over this afternoon to help pack (and they're bringing supper for us as well). And tomorrow we pick up the truck and get it loaded. If all goes well, we'll be crossing the border Tuesday morning to begin the 2000 mile drive (that's per vehicle) to Minnesota. If you want to help us unpack, be in the Minneapolis area (Saint Louis Park) next Saturday (at least, that's when we're hoping to arrive and move in). :)


Back to the Beach

Yesterday was a nice day (somewhere around 60F). After Beth got home from work, we went down to the beach in White Rock (yes, for once I went to the spot where you have to pay for parking--which goes against my principles here) so we could have a picnic and enjoy the beach one last time. It's hard to say that--that it's our last time living by the ocean (for now at least).

But it's best to enjoy it. So we did. We saw a bunch of little crabs under the rocks--including a couple that were about 2inches across. Under one of the rocks in a tidal pool was something that looked like an eel. There were plenty of indiscriminate, tiny fish swimming around as well as various shellfish (mostly broken, empty shells that the gulls had gotten to) as well as larger crab parts. Anders and I even saw a minuscule little jellyfish in the water at the end of the pier.

It a partly-cloudy day, so we got to enjoy some of the mountains as well. I guess we'll at least have plenty of lakes where we're going.


Up to Our Ears in Boxes

Our house is quickly getting overtaken with boxes. It has been slowly piling up for a few weeks now. But it's getting more and more as we get closer to moving date. We pick up the truck on Monday--hopefully we 'll be leaving early Tuesday morning. We're getting close to having an apartment to move into--still working on a job, but there's hope. On one level, I'm ready to move on: ready to get on our journey through recovery, ready to be a little closer to family, ready to leave some things behind me.

But I'm going to miss this place as well. We've developed some really good friendships (and I wish I had invested more in them). And we'll definitely miss the scenery as well. There's something almost religious about the mountains and the ocean.
And so another journey is about to begin. And I'm very grateful for all those who are going down this road with us. The support is much appreciated.

Bringing Back the Spaghetti Sandwich (or the Spaghandwhich, as I like to call it)

Believe it or not, I do have some fond memories of the school cafeteria growing up. Our lunch ladies made homemade cinnamon rolls and buns that were used in beef burgers and pizza burgers. Their pizza was good, too. One thing they guys in my class always did, for some reason, was to put our spaghetti between the complimentary buttered white bread that was available almost every day.

Last night, we had some left over spaghetti. And I made some mozzarella grilled cheese, too. And, well, one thing led to another and the spaghetti sandwich made a long-awaited reappearance. We dubbed it the Spaghandwhich that night (we toyed with Sandghetti, but the boys got a bigger kick out of Spaghandwhich--plus, it piggybacks on the popularity of the Spamwhich). Don't knock it till you've tried it. I think it could make a good running at a restaurant. Really.


I Now Own a Cell Phone

This may not be a big deal for the majority of you. But I've never owned one before. And I've never wanted to own one. I didn't want to be available all the time--I like being able to go out in creation and not be a slave to the phone (I know, I know, I can turn it off or not take it with me). I never wanted to become one of those people who are tied to their cell phone all the time (which, I still won't). And I'll definitely never become one of those Borg people who have the implants connected to their head.

Which begs the question, why'd I get one then. For the following reasons:
1. Beth and I were going to get walkie-talkies for our drive to Minnesota in separate vehicles. We figured that we'll be getting cell phones in Minnesota, most likely, so this would kill two birds with one stone.
2. I've learnt (according to my spell-check, that's the Canadian version of learned) in recovery that I need to avoid isolation; I've keept myself private for too long. So, I decided to suck it up and get a phone so that people can reach me. And so I can be reached. So that will give you permission to call me specifically when the phone is up and running. I need that.
3. It's part of the intrigue of me.

With that said, our phones won't be answered until the very end of the month, once we leave Canada and start travelling across the US.
News items in this post may surprise some of you. If you haven't heard what's going on in our life, feel free to email me and I'll keep you updated.


Here's the Obligatory Pictures of the Boys

Nils: book reader, soccer player and bruiser (seriously, that kid has fallen and bonked into things more times in this last week than I can count)

Anders: alphabet-knower (he's been playing games on the pbs kids website and is quite good with his ABCs), park-goer and upcoming photographer (those last 3 pictures are ones he took--finger included)

What We Saw on the Way to the Park This Afternoon to Meet up with Anders' Friend Kaitlyn, Who Had to Leave Shortly after We Arrived


Lights Out

For some reason we had a power outage today (Saturday night as I write this). Who knows why; they seem fairly prevalent here, but usually its when there's wind which knocks down branches on the lines. No wind today--it must have been a now barbecued squirrel. We came back from a walk behind our house to see the ducks, turtles and frogs in the ponds, and when we returned our neighbour that it had been out for about an hour. That was around 4pm. The boys were hungry so we had some cheese and crackers. Then, taking advantage of the warm weather today, we washed the car (I think our neighbour was beside himself with happiness that it finally happened again). We spent time talking with the neighbours & the boys played with the kids from the cul-de-sac. Then it was bath time (they seemed to get dirtier washing the car)--Beth took them to the tub while I got a fire going in the fireplace upon which we roasted hot dogs. We did story time in front of the fireplace, too (after some roasted marshmallows). After the boys were in bed, Beth and I spent some time on the front porch, playing Othello by candlelight. Beth just returned from running our freezer goods over to a friend's house (we're told it might not be until 11am tomorrow that it's back on--which is dumb, because it's just a minute area that doesn't have power) since the ice cream was a bit soupy already.

It's sad that sometimes it takes a power outage for us to spend time with the neighbours (one of the girls a few doors over said, "We should have an all-townhouse barbecue tonight!"), to enjoy the stars, to get the candles going and to have some simple fun playing board games and talking. Thank God for fried squirrels, I guess.


I Am Not Alone

I just returned last night from a week in the Twin Cities. Beth was with me the last half of it. (It was very good to be back to with the boys.) We were there to go through some recovery programs (first a men's workshop for me and then a couple's intensive that Beth and I went through by ourselves).

I'm acutely aware of how differently we treat some sinners than others (and there's some warrant for it). I had my own stereotypes of certain sinners before being alongside them in a group last weekend. It was good to know that they're normal people like me (or that I'm not as much as a leper as I felt I would be). One of the blessings of the weekend was being able to share my struggles with other men, to be understood and to final understand some of what has caused my issues. Ultimately, it was a blessing to know that I'm not alone.

We're all sinners--but it becomes so easy to convince yourself that you're so much worse than others. Sometimes we need to name our sin to be able to begin losing it's power of us. And sometimes we need to discover what is really behind our sin. And to remember that we're not alone (but more importantly that God loves us and removes our sins as far as the east is from the west).