I realize as I blog from day to day, especially when I look at the pictures we take, that one might get the idea that our journey is a rosy one. We've seem to hit a routine now to be sure. The alarm usually goes off at 0630, although my bladder is usually going off slightly before then. The first priority of the day is coffee. I attempt to be quiet in our fiberglass haven but that's like trying to quietly crush a plastic water bottle. I even grind my coffee outside the camper but as I "quietly" step outside a loud whisper from the bed urges me to do it quietly as not to disturb the neighbors. Need I say more about that subject? Once the coffee starts brewing I usually start my computer to check email and blog if I haven't done so the night before. Lori's up now that the coffee is brewed. Her computer starts as well. Who would have ever thought camping would include wi-fi as the two of us embark upon our morning ritual together. Time seems to go quickly. I want to pull out by 0830 but the kids are sleeping so well and it's so quiet. Somewhere around 0730-0745, from behind the curtain stumbles out an offspring. Looking dazed and confused about what province we are in. Alas, once one is up the others soon follow. So much for quiet hours. My anxiety begins to rise as in order to pull out by 0830 everyone needs to finish their cereal in the next four minutes. It ain't happening. Today, 0830 was my target for departure. Somewhere around 0920 we finally pulled out of our Edmonton hide away. One of our other rituals includes the playing of "Life is a Highway," by Rascal Flatts, every morning just as we pull out of each campground. Soon after that, devotions and on with the daily schedule. As I think about it, I don't think I've yet heard the question, "Are we there yet?"
So far it does sound rosy enough. Actually, the real fun begins once we arrive at our nightly destination. Letting the kids out the Burb after nearly 400 miles is like opening the can of fake nuts with the spring loaded "snake" in it--BOING! And away they go. The older three usually go for a bike ride while Kavan goes on his rant from one end of the palace to the other. I secretly muse to myself when we have neighbors that seem to be "childless" as our four begin to simply be themselves, which is a delight in and of itself. As I begin the de-hitching and hooking up of utilities, I realize just how un-soundproof our fiberglass castle is. Lori usually needs help with something, usually Kavan as she begins to prepare supper, and needs him elsewhere. Maybe I should try the dog kennel? One of my own peeves is that kids don't realize that living in a camper is not like living in a house. I can hear myself, and will probably be quoted years from now to my grandchildren, repeatedly proclaiming in my lecturing voice, "This is a camper not a play place" (exclamation point intentionally left out). I didn't mention that I had to dig into the heater in order to remove a light stick that Kavan decided to put down inside the vent.
I pause with that thought as I realize however, that in light of my peeves as well as myself, I am a blessed man. I have four healthy, beautiful, talented, witty, sensitive, rambunctious at times, "normal" (in one sense or another), loved and loving children that simply do what they know to do, be kids. And in one sense, to them a house is a camper as a camper is to a house. During the morning movie, which usually equates to a good hour or more of quiet time for mom and dad during the drive (note picture above of offspring with headphones), Lori and I were discussing the challenging circumstances some friends of ours are facing. The thought occurred to me that sometimes we might be tempted to think that being blessed is merely the absence of heartache or trials. But being blessed is much more than that. One of our biggest stressors right now is the fact that we do not have permanent housing upon our arrival in Alaska. I say permanent as we do have housing that currently follows us everywhere we go. The fact that we can even consider buying a house is a blessing in and of itself. And in Alaska to boot!
Back to the kids, take the bottom picture. Mile "0" of the Alaska Highway. The place where it all began March 9, 1942, during World War II. I wanted to get a picture of everyone at Mile "0". Mom thought it a better idea to give Kavan a bath while the girls and I get the photo and run the errands. Smart woman. Once in the grocery store it was apparent that the girls needed to burn off some penned up energy. Even Tara took a parental role as Shayna shook the cart in the produce section. "Stop jerking the apples, you're gonna bruise them," was her stern warning. For a split second, I felt the triangulating conundrum that occurs when two children wonder which side the parent will take. Tara, seeming to wonder if I would back her position, and Shayna, anxiously awaiting encouragement or maybe consequences. The fact that we were nearly by ourselves, aside from a stock boy attempting to arrange bananas while two girls seemed to be flirting with him, was irrelevant as I could not contain my laughter. Lori found the incident worth hardly more than a chuckle, but even in that moment I was blessed to not choose one side or the other but rather, both. My laughter seemed to only fuel the looniness to follow. At one point, while Tara and Marissa found the washroom, Shayna and I hid in a far corner of the store and avoided detection for a respectable amount of time. Shayna, soon after while returning the donuts that she hoped I wouldn't find in the cart, found herself looking for the three of us as well. She exclaimed that it wasn't fair as she was by herself looking for us but otherwise seemed to find amusement at the ordeal.
Well, here I am, late again. An early day tomorrow. 371 miles to the middle of nowhere, Stone Mountain Provincial Park, to be exact. No wi-fi there so no blog until we reach Watson Lake two days from now where we'll take another day "off." I almost forgot, the top picture was in Grand Prairie, Alberta. Another place in the middle of nowhere, but one that was blessed with the nectar of the gods, otherwise known as a Carmel Macchiato with an extra shot! The middle picture is one that we've seen ever since Saskatchewan. Miles and miles of yellow flowered weeds, beautiful and intriguing as I'm not sure what they do with them.
Phrase of the day: "Look, it's Chewbacca." (Kavan, pointing and commenting as we passed a herd of buffalo.)
Blessings to all, and thanks to those of you praying for us on our journey. Pray that we keep warm tonight as Lori just informed me it's already 44 degrees outside. In fact, it hardly got above 60 during the drive today. I'm glad I found the light stick! More from Watson Lake in couple days.
The Lee Clan