Saturday, August 9, 2014

An American Journey: A Family's Trip Across The U.S.

                                         The Grand Canyon

Our summer road trip is in the bag.  Twenty-seven days, 8,100 miles, 18 states, one astonishing national park and a million memories. We traveled to Oregon and back in just under four weeks, one big family in one big van. At times our journey was a blur -- the 710-mile drive with just one stop on our last day from Franklin, Tenn. to home comes to mind -- and yet so many other times I wanted time to stop, the sun or moon to stand absolutely still in what seemed like a perfect moment. The few brief hours at the Grand Canyon come to mind. Plenty of other moments come to mind: An evening in the cool summer air of Kanab, Utah; the mind-boggling fireworks from a distant lightning storm lighting up the New Mexico sky; the view from Highway 89 where the Vermilion Cliffs jut up from Highway 89 in Arizona after we had touched the clouds on a 7,000-foot mountain pass.

                                          Kanab, Utah

The American West is absolutely alluring. The sky is so big and blue, the canyons are carved so deep into the earth and the mountains seem to kiss the sun. The landscape alternates between the staggeringly harsh and forbidding deserts and lovely and inviting river valleys. So many times I found myself thanking God for allowing me to take the trip and share it with my family. We enjoyed reunions with so many family members, friends and supporters of ours in our mission work with TEN3 ( that were most often all too brief. We made new friends and acquaintances all across the country, often of people staggered by the amount of booths we took up at restaurants, or who we encountered during a picnic on the road, or at some other family excursion. Sometimes we spied them giggling as we spilled out of the van as they watched a seemingly endless supply of Sabo lads and lasses.

                                          On a farm near McMinnville, Ore.

Our great adventure has come to a close, but I am so thankful to God that He allowed us to enjoy this time as a family. We're at a point where our older kids are forging their own paths. We managed to enjoy parts of this trip with almost all of our kids and I'm very thankful for that. We'll tell the stories of our cross-country trip for years to come, sharing laughs about what happened when Seth hopped on the teeter-totter in Weatherford, Okla. Or how Gabe and Abram and their little brothers tried to catch steelhead salmon with their hands in a small tributary of the Clackamas River. We'll relive Judah's hurling incident in Dickson, Tenn., or chasing a bull down country roads in VanLeer, Tenn., or scrambling over the rocks atop the Grand Canyon cliffs. I can still picture the vineyards cascading down the cliffs of the Columbia River Gorge, the blueberries bigger than quarters in Grandma and Grandpa Young's back yard, and the sight of the range fire in the arid Eastern Oregon hills above Interstate 84 that had ranchers on ATVs herding their cattle to safe ground. And I'll always remember the countless smiles and laughter from a family having the time of its life.

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