Out of the nest.

Kids grow up. When they do… they eventually leave.Today was “my” day to discover what that feels like.

My brain knows this is “supposed” to happen. Adult Children are meant to mature and grow and leave the safety of their home and family and go – grow and become. The fear of the unknown, the pressure for her to figure out each life detail and the anxiety of discovering if they are old enough now to know better… it must be a common feeling for all parents… but when it hits you for the first time, it’s anything but familiar.

2006 Jessica and Daddy - Grand Canyon

2006 Jessica and Daddy – Grand Canyon

I still remember myself at 20 and how I wanted to be independent and yet… much of the source of my strength was attached to my family. If they believed in me… than I could too.

I hope my daughter feels that secure today… Because her Mother and I DO believe in her.

It’s clear from her first years… our oldest daughter was meant to explore, to ingest different cultures and ideas and to learn ! She always begged to go for “rides” with me, or to travel whenever I had a business meeting out-of-state. When I introduced her to the concept of a “road-trip” she was lost to it’s allure forever.

Our first real RoadTrip was in the spring of 2006 and we drove to the Grand Canyon, Mesa Verde, Telluride and Durango Colorado. We hiked and ate junk food and read historical pamphlets. We rode snowmobiles and explored little western cowboy towns and sang along to Hillary Duff for a week. We drove with unfolded maps all over the southwest in our mini-van and we had a ball. By the time she was a pre-teen… she was hooked on discovering!

Dad and Jessica - Feb 2010 - New England

Dad and Jessica – Feb 2010 – New England

As a 16-year-old we took her to Boston MA for a surprise weekend birthday treat. She had us drive the coastline in the dead of winter to find the best Chowder and to sample some Maine fresh lobster. We wandered for a weekend, back through New Hampshire and Vermont to see the sights and to finally sled on dreamy, snowy, Norman Rockwell painted New England hillside. Her thirst to discover and see and experience had become stronger… her little light was becoming a brilliant flame.

Boston - 2010

Boston – 2010

By the time she graduated High School… she had the west coast firmly on her radar and we did an epic week-long RoadTrip from Seattle to San Francisco and back by car to celebrate. Hwy 1 and the Redwoods, Yosemite and the high desert ghost towns of the Sierra Nevada…she Loved them all.Wanderlust had her firmly in its grip.

As a sophomore in College, she’s taking her love to explore to a new level… international studies. Costa Rica here she comes. I’ve no doubt she’ll be climbing volcanoes and hiking in their epic rain-forests before this blog gets fully shared. Her adventures will continue as her love for life still grows.

It’s clear to us as her parents… she’s ready to fly.

Time to leave the nest and go on her own. God has a secure position in her heart and as a grown woman, she has a life to go lead. I’ve no doubt that in doing so… lives will be changed and a world explored. God has put that in her blood and now it’s time for her to find out for herself all the things I could only hint to her of.

Ruby Beach... Oregon 2012

Ruby Beach… Oregon 2012

I’m more than excited for her… and a little sad. Things are as they should be.

The next chapter is hers to write.

———————-

Parents… as a 44-year-old… it’s painfully clear to me. Our time is short, and the days fade fast from childhood to maturity. The lessons of life are so precious for us to truly share with each of our amazing kids.

I believe the greatest parenting gift of all is to help our teen kids marry their faith with the unique passions God has given them and then to urge them to take the jump of trusting God with their hearts and dreams  for a lifetime.

Peace and Grace from a slightly proud papa.

Pastor B.

PS – She’s already out and exploring…

Costa Rica - Jan 10, 2014

Costa Rica – Jan 10, 2014

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Cascade Mountain Snow at Easter!

Arriving from the gorgeous San Juan Islands we entered Anacortes WA via the Washington State Ferry, we left blue sky and calm seas behind as we lumbered into the grey gusty rain that’s cliché’ for Northern Washington state. Two cups of McDonalds coffee (with 3 creams)later we were cruising through the drizzle of the Seattle suburb of Everett WA on our way to the Cascade mountains via State Hwy 2.

Caleb desperately was seeking to find/see/play in snow. As a ten year native of Nashville, he only had fond memories of snow and winter from his Illinois-Iowa years as a little guy. Today we were gonna find snow if it killed me. We had flown thousands of miles and searched for five days to find him some of the cold white stuff and the Cascade mountains were our last chance at delivering the goods.

Cascades via Hwy 2

Cascades via Hwy 2

An hour into our drive east on Hwy 2, we started to really gain altitude and noticed the grey layers above starting to show teasing glimpses of blue as the late afternoon sky seemed to gradually clear.

We could see patches of old snow remnants along the ditches and in the deeper shadows of the woods as we whizzed by. We were following a roaring mountain stream bed as it snaked its way out of the mountains and back to the sea we had just left behind. Dropping a gear for traction, it was clear the road was winding tighter the higher we drove.  As we climbed over 4,000 feet we suddenly noticed real snow on the curb of the road, snow about three feet high and covering the mountain sides as we rose above the river valley and immediately we felt the cooler mountain air.

I made the turn at fifty five and saw the avalanche ahead…. not kidding. Avalanche !

The road was covered in a pile of snow and rock about ten to fifteen feet deep across all the lanes of traffic as a melting snowbank had suddenly “let go” and it couldn’t have happened more than 30 seconds before we arrived. Talk about close call!

Avalanche !

Avalanche !

We waited until the local WDOT guys came with some end-loaders and removed enough for us to get by and it was obvious to everyone we had indeed found the snow! Now it was up to us to find a way to enjoy it and get back to Seattle in time to catch our flight home in 24 hours. Turns out, it was not a problem at all.

Leavenworth WA is a very “over the top”  Bavarian village, but it “works”. Seems to be the entire city has whole-heartedly embraced their German-roots and every hotel, shop, eatery and establishment has a German or Bavarian theme, menu, style and décor. Even the Italian restaurant we ate at. 🙂

Warning, room prices are high up here as Leavenworth is about your only lodging option for a few hundred miles of Hwy 2 as you come in from the west to east and the beautiful views of the snow capped Cascade mountains and the proximity to famous wineries and Seattle make this a very popular and happening little resort community, year around. We hit it on a Wednesday night in late March and it was very active.

Leavenworth WA

Leavenworth WA

The next morning we drove into the mountains off of Hwy 2 and went snowmobiling. Oh YEAH. We found the last outfitter (Mountain Springs Lodge) in the area who would do a snowmobile ride and we had a blast. They were worth the wait! Super nice and super professional, great gear and everything you needed all included in one fair price. So after driving about 40 minutes we made it to a remote lake (Fish Lake) in the high Cascades and began a 2 hour snow tour that was so much fun, we all swore to do it again 🙂

Tired and hungry we found a legit diner (59 Diner) on the way home and had some of the best cheeseburger and fries with home-made shakes anyone could ever want for. If your in the area, STOP and get some. Seriously good diner food. Sit at the Elvis booth – you’ll know what we mean when you get there 🙂

Flew out the next morning at 5am with the rest of south Seattle after enduring a comic-con Northwest convention at the Doubletree hotel (Seattle Airport) as Good Friday and Easter weekend dawned. Southwest was gracious and efficient and we made our connecting flight in time.

Finally ! Snowmobiling

Finally ! Snowmobiling

If you’ve been reading along… my Point is thiswe had a ball!

Caleb was alone with his two parents for a week and will never forget his time in the Northwest. We focused ONLY on him and celebrated just HIM for a week. No distractions, no business calls – and no sister drama… we loved on him without anyone or anything in the way. The investment is priceless… our kids need to know we value them more than our jobs, our church activities and our own selves and the memories we share will last for generations.

Roadtrips are so unique in how they provide us as parents with an amazing and priceless way to really honor our adolescent kids.

Please consider seriously how to take your 16 year old on their own trip and watch them grow right before your eyes…

Peace out RTP!

Pastor B.

Discovering “Sunny” Seattle !

Just back from a great five-day trip to Seattle WA with my wife and son Caleb, we had a fantastic time and wonder of wonders… it was perfect weather ! Despite it’s sulky reputation, Seattle was most welcoming to us. Sunny and cool, highs in the low sixties and no rain or fog to be found anywhere for our trip.

Wow, what a beautiful place Seattle can be!

We have a family tradition oMarch 2013 f taking our kids on a special trip for their sixteenth   b-day and as the youngest, Caleb had been watching patiently as his two older sisters each took turns picking and planning their coming of age trips. Jessica picked Boston and New England, Bethany visited the beach at Siesta Key, FL and now Caleb had chosen the pacific northwest!

My son loves all things music and art and his choice of Seattle was well suited to his personality and style. A hub of independent music and art, we had no lack of unique and interesting places to visit, see and enjoy on our trip.

We determined to cram as much as we could into the five days we had… so my wife and Caleb flew out early on Saturday from Nashville (Compliments of my frequent flier miles on Southwest) and I followed them on Monday. We grabbed another fantastic hotel bargain online before we went from Priceline.com. It surprised us with a sweet 17th story window view of the harbor in our spacious downtown (Red Lion -Hotel link) room, so close to the action that they were able to walk to most of their adventures before I could fly in and pick up our rental car on Monday.

Some of the Highlights…

Pike Street Market, anything you can eat at the 100-year-old 3 Girls bakery  (Yelp Link) and the many music stores buried all over the downtown city blocks surrounding Pike street. The Seattle Space Needle and Chihuly Museum, are “must see’s” in our book and the panorama from the top of the needle was everything you hoped it would be.

Paige, Caleb and Dad at the Space Needle and Chihuly

Paige, Caleb and Dad at the Space Needle and Chihuly

Prices were in line with other major attractions in cities and the combo-package discounts were very reasonable. $33.00 per adult for two attractions. The Hotel was price-lined at $85.00 per night for a very economical visit. Southwest services Seattle – Tacoma International airport directly from most major cities and has the round trip airfares in the $300.00 range.We enjoyed the uniquely urban sophistication of Seattle and its gorgeous water ways, harbor views and many excellent coffee shops, eateries and city parks. The only thing that limited our adventure was time and fatigue. We barely scratched the surface. By the start of day three we hit the Washington State ferry and Bainbridge Island to do a quick circuit of Olympic National park and the Olympic Peninsula’s North shore.

The Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge is a must visit for those driving the peninsula in any season. The views and the unique atmosphere that walking a driftwood and stone beach gives is not to be missed. The glory of the snow-capped Olympic mountains only a few miles inland filled the horizon on one side while the blue beauty of the Pacific ocean rolled to the other. For those with the time to stay and explore, there are a host of cabin and vacation lodging options in Seattle, ideal for families of any size with a few days or weeks to explore the area!

Dungeness National Refuge

Dungeness National Refuge

Moving on, we had reserved a space on the Black Ball ferry to Victoria BC from Port Angeles WA only a 30 minute drive from Dungeness. A blustery and beautiful ride from the Olympic Peninsula to the island of Vancouver BC was a little over an hour-long and gentle enough to stomach for anyone. Complete with concession cafeteria, duty-free shopping and excellent coffee, the ferry comfortably housed all on board and allowed for open deck viewing of the journey for those with a warm enough coat to enjoy.

Follow along with us tomorrow, as we fill up both remaining days of our journey exploring the legendary beauty of Victoria BC, experiencing the remote San Juan Islands and a late season snowmobile ride into the Cascade mountains.

Peace out RTP!

Pastor B.

Japanese Gardens, Voodoo Donuts, Lebanese lunch and 7000 Rose’s… KEEP PORTLAND WEIRD!

Friday June 15: Our last full roadtrip day…kinda sad, kinda happy… but it was here.

Jessica loves cities…so we headed to Portland to check it out! Online she had found the eclectic Voodoo donuts and Blue Plate fountain ( both legendary eateries in the region) hidden in the bustling metropolis that represented well over half of the population of Oregon…and wanted to eat at authentic – off the beaten path places while we were here!

The Sign says it all…

 The Voodoo donuts experience was a wild one, a line had formed around the corner and Jessica snapped pics of the crazy sign and downtown Portland vibe. When it was our turn we found the choices too many to decide… So we bought a Voodoo dozen ( let the staff pick our 12) and had a bite of each in our famous pink box.

Voodoo Sugar Coma

 Our favorites were the bubble gum and captain crunch creations as well as a blueberry with raspberry sprinkles! NICE.

Compared to the donuts and atmosphere of the Seattle “Top Pot” donutery – we liked the Seattle version of gourmet cakes better…  But the sheer audacity of the voodoo donuts design, color and names; was worth the visit for sure! Fun to eat them right out of their pink boxes and matching pink picnic tables as we nibbled ourselves into a serious sugar coma by 10am. 🙂

 From there we went exploring and found the World renown Portland … Japanese and Rose gardens in Washington park. Fabulous details found in the large Japanese garden were clearly world-class in beauty, size and scope. It took us over an hour of walking and reviewing the many micro gardens, water falls, koi ponds, tea houses and zen rock gardens to complete our tour! 

Portland Japanese Garden

The colors and care in the design and maintenance of this serene setting were indeed worth the price of admission. Jessica loved it! She took more pictures here than in Yosemite National park:) Good to know…

 The Rose garden across the street was free and intertwined in the Portland public park system and featured over 500 varieties in 7000 plantings, spread across 4.5 acres. Dating back to the early 1900’s this elevated garden provided a dazzling array of colors and scents as we walked through its expanse and enjoyed the cityscape views of Portland and Mt Hood across the valley below us. Beautiful!

Tried to find the Blue Plate place for lunch…but were unsuccessful. Instead we tried a new ethnic treat. Lebanese, at Karam downtown! After splitting a banquet of lamb and chicken, homemade humus and fresh-baked Pita bread we were stuffed and walked the downtown city blocks enjoying the sun and clear June skies in a truly unique and beautiful city! Jessica was loving it… I could tell it was a high-point for her to be here for sure!

One of the great parts of a father-daughter RoadTrip is the chance to reconnect, to re-orient our understanding of each other and the thousands of little details, nuance’s and shifts in personality, preference and discoveries that occur from the teen years into adulthood. Their new favorites. Colors, styles…taste buds and music all shifting dramatically from their freshman to senior years of high-school. It’s impossible to keep up, but RoadTrip’s give us parents a huge head start in staying really connected with our young adults.

I could see that my little girl was becoming a real lady. Complex, mysterious and hungry for new cultural experiences. Portland was a paradise for her. A new place to explore, to savor new styles and flavors and sights-sounds so different from Spring Hill TN. This was exactly the reason we were here. 

Signs all over the city!

To reconnect and then release her to adult life in college. To make sure she knew beyond a shadow of a doubt how special, unique and amazing she was… how proud we were of her AND to expose her to a bright – big new world of ideas, opportunities and challenges that she needed to know existed beyond the shelter of our suburban bible-belt life. She loved the crazy Portland signs painted or posted everywhere… KEEP PORTLAND WEIRD!..I was less excited, but knew she was already beyond needing to share my opinion. She was now HERSELF.

Mission accomplished!  

After lunch we Drove east to explore the famous Columbia river gorge and Multanomah Falls! A short 30 minute trip from downtown we climbed the popular 1/2 mile path to take pictures from the famous bridge and watch as thousands of gallons of water cascaded over the Columbia cliffs below. Directly off of interstate 84 this national scenic stop is easy for everyone to discover and provides a welcome car break for families with young and old alike. A full restaurant, visitors center and gift shop allow for a great experience on any and every budget!

 With a hotel reserved through Priceline for a 60% discount  in downtown Seattle we headed north on I-5 . On the way we enjoyed the views of the southern Washington mountains including the snow-capped peaks of Mt St Helen’s, the Olympics and iconic Mt Rainier! Each epic silhouette in the afternoon sky was beautiful to watch and remember. It was like they were guarding our east and western flanks as we motored North to our flight home…sentinels to our time together.

We arrived at a first class boutique hotel (Silver cloud inns and hotels) in the capital hill district of Seattle and crashed! The service, the food and the amenities were outstanding and provided a wonderful and a truly fitting way for us to wind down our week-long North-Pacific adventure.  The only down side… Today was my 21st wedding anniversary and I was not with my bride. 😦

Jessica fixed that for me… we had posed for a picture at the Rose Garden in Portland earlier in the day… she used it to post on my Facebook wall with Paige to show me presenting a bright red rose to her on our anniversary. 

Portland Rose for my Sweetheart!

And… I had purchased a great Owl statue from the Japanese Garden for my beautiful wife…gently tucked in paper for our return.

We loved the road… and tomorrow we were heading home. What a time! What a blessing we had been given… sharing 3000 miles and seven whole days alone. God was so generous to us and our time had not been wasted. From Seattle to Yosemite we had explored, tasted and adventured into hundreds of super cool little nooks and crannies, blasted ColdPlay, the Black Keys and Jessica’s iPod playlists for hours…singing along out of tune with the windows open! We had thrown snow balls and walked in the rain, we had sat on rockers and watched spring mist slide in over a gentle lakeside sunset. We had dived into the bustle of a sprawling urban landscape of people and tourists and commercial excess…and we had walked stone & driftwood filled beaches with beauty and isolation. We had trekked to abandoned mining towns in the desert and drove into snow filled passes with scenic vista’s for miles…all with an eagerness to see, to find to discover…to learn…to live! 

Her mother and I are so Proud !

Was our RoadTrip worthy of Jessica’s massive cultural wanderlust…? YEP, I think so!

Peace out RTP… God bless you this summer and if you can… plan your own RoadTrip moment. Get out there… the road is calling and our kids are not getting any younger, take the time before it’s gone!

Due West Please… Day 1 in Seattle WA

Thursday June 7th: Flew from Nashville to Denver – late after layover with weather delays & we didn’t arrive in Seattle until 12:45 am local time ( 2:45 am cst ) – exhausted & worn out . Starting getting sort of “goofy” with the fatigue… and laughing at the ridiculous pattern of Rental Car companies and Hotel’s trying to talk us into buying “more” or  “up selling” us everything they could along the way… felt like a consumer epidemic as we stumbled from the sleek Avis Seattle Airport counter into the local airport Hilton – terrible & funny all at the same time… after 23 hours on your feet, it was a bit aggravating to say the least. Thank God for the black out curtains on the windows of our room. I noticed Jessica was giddy and excited. Texting each step of the way. But we were in Seattle !

Top Pot Donuts ! Oh My

Friday June 8th: Tried to sleep in… but too excited. We were up by 8am pacific time – headed out for downtown Seattle & some sight-seeing. Jessica had some plans for us to find local eateries from her Diners – Drive In’s and Dive’s research 🙂

Surprised by the shift in weather, we had to grab some light jackets… it was a typical Seattle morning…partly cloudy & cool (55F) After a cow attacked our GPS (ask Jessica) we were finally able to figure a way north to the city and grabbed our cameras as we drove down into the bay of Seattle, gray clouds parting briefly so we could snap some pics of its famous skyline and the space needle. Magnificent ! After a few minutes of one-way navigating, we found and visited the original Top Pot Donuts ! Beautiful, deliciousness  with an extra heap of Awesome thrown on top! We gorged on donuts, coffee, milk and a Ovaltine Latte (house special) combined with several huge donuts ranging from a cinnamon & sugar to an old-fashioned chocolate and raspberry icing cake ! Supercool and eclectic modern vibe that felt authentic and perfectly preserved from the 50’s until today – ( A MUST VISIT if you go) WE LOVED IT 🙂

 Buzzing from the sugar and caffeine we decided to go a few blocks to the west and slowly zigged our way to the waterfront & the famous Pikes Place Market : full of beautiful and iconic flowers & thrown fish & hundreds of super fun and artistic Seattle trinket shops sprinkled along the crest of the hill near the bay. Smells and sights were terrific, but lots of tourists and lots of stuff all at once… we liked it, but moved on.

We saw lots and lots of great artists paintings, photographs,  eateries and of course the original Starbucks Coffee was right on Pike Street…itty bitty in size, but what a huge impact its flavor and style of coffee had made on the world! remarkable to consider…

We decided we were ready for some out of the city adventures, it was time to head for our car and the Olympic Peninsula. So we caught the Washington State ferry  (a version of a water bus that carries cars and people) to cross the bay to the west and save us hundreds of miles of driving. After sampling some local waterfront cuisine ( fish & chips from local chain of “Ivars”) at the ferry terminal, we walked the downtown waterfront and enjoyed the blend of building styles…the old and the modern, stone and glass and steel. A mixture of western and asian and classic architectures all in one unique location that we call Seattle!

We were soooo excited to be here.  (Somewhere between eating Fish and Chips and boarding the Ferry…it seems that Jessica ‘accidently” took someone’s RayBan sunglasses from the eatery we enjoyed, thinking they were her own…At least, that’s what she claims…?  🙂

After we ate…the ferry left with us on it and the grey skies started to lift as the  sun slowly came out. We were treated to a spectacular golden view of the Seattle skyline as we slowly chugged across Puget Sound to Bainbridge island! The sun stayed out for five or six minutes and then quietly left as quickly as it had appeared.

Our View of Seattle on the Ferry

Perfect and Surreal at the same time, it was clear we had arrived in another world. 24 hours ago we were in Nashville TN, 97F and not a cloud in the sky… but today we were on the Pacific ocean, shivering in our light jackets as the sea spray blew across the ferry deck…Crazy Cool !

This epic Road Trip had really begun… and we were stoked to find out where it would lead…. WoooHooo!

I’ll post our second and third days full adventure and how we found the perfect Lodge on the perfect lake…a gift from God just for Jessica; Tomorrow…

Peace out RTP !

Loving our last Great “Daddy – Daughter” Date!

Fresh back from my week-long West Coast RoadTrip… I’m still processing. But I had a throughly enjoyable time exploring the unknown. It was just the two of us (my oldest and I)  in a rental car, no firm plans…simply a general desire to see the sights and wander around uncovering the treasures and tastes sure to be found along the 3000 miles and seven days of open road ahead. We had only brought along the basic clothing essentials, a camera, smartphone (of course)and my favorites…Red Vines, Coffee, Cornuts and a map.

Jessica and Dad at Crater Lake 2012

Jessica now eighteen years old… fresh from her High School Graduation, had planned the basics of the trip six months earlier in the year… She wanted to visit Olympic National Park, the iconic city of Seattle and then drive the Pacific Northwest Coastline south to California and a stop at Yosemite. After that it was a bit vague… so we improvised and drove each day feeling our way south and pacing ourselves as the weather and coastline allowed.

What follows is a bit of introspective dialogue from of a father and a journaling of the places we saw and the things we did. All of it was exactly as it was meant to be and maybe the most bittersweet for me. I was aware that his epic roadtrip may be destined in fact to become our last great… “Daddy- Daughter” Date ! 😦

It’s important to note that in our house… the legacy of the Road Trip is a serious thing and the pattern of having regular “Daddy – Daughter” dates is over a decade old. I’ve been dating my daughters since they were able to walk… starting with tea parties, and wacky singing teddy bear karaoke at bedtime and growing into movie matinees’ with Chucky Cheese or Sonic Ice Creams and eventually becoming full on dinner dates at nice restaurants and special escapes to the beach or to a favorite city for a surprise weekend away.

So… for my oldest, watching her graduation day looming and knowing that she would be leaving our home this fall to start college, she was aware that in that transition… our Road Trip was waiting. A symbolic and treasured tradition that would mark in part the passing of one season to another.… the coming of age of a young-woman as she moves from the safety of her familiar world into the uncertainties and challenges of the unknown world of University life.

And of course… this RoadTrip would offer us both a chance to discover and taste of the spectacular beauty and culture of the Pacific Northwest…up front, close and personal…together. Just the two of us. Free from the constraints of a scheduled life and responsibilities…just the liberty of the open road and the power of a “whim” to redirect our way at a moments notice.

Ahhh… the lifelong lure of the Road Trip, about to be passed to my oldest. Life is good. 🙂

So much for the introduction… as you may have guessed, things didn’t “Quite” go as planned and my assumptions and her’s were about to be “updated” as we sorted out the realities from the fantasy and re-connected as father and daughter along the way. Exactly what the Road Trip is so famous for doing on our family, in my life… and if you take the risk… YOURS.

Blessings RTP Families…. part 1 of our seven-day epic trip will post  next monday. ( 6- 25-12)

Follow along next week with us as we uncover some spectacular beauty. Starting from the soggy, lush green Rainforests of Northwest Washington State and following the iconic Hwy 101 into Oregon’s rugged coastline to the arid and harsh high Sierra’s of North-Eastern California and everything in-between. Find out where to stop for food and where to keep on moving… and laugh and cry with us as I share some of the personal discoveries that can only come from spending 192 hours alone with your oldest child… Buckle up tight, it’s sure to be a wild ride 🙂

Winter Roadtrip 2012 – day five

Pushing into the Seattle area late in the evening we were greeted by it’s stereotypical wet and grey …fading quickly to black. We had identified a way across the Cascade mountain range that looked very promising… Hwy 20 eastbound looked to be a winding, two lane with lots of mountains and views. PERFECT.

By dawn it was clear that road was now closed due to avalanche risks and an alternate route would be needed to go east. We still had three days to explore and we had not given up on finding some blue sky and sunshine. Brian felt Idaho might be the place to go, given we both were unfamiliar with the area and the state seemed filled with backroads. So we rose early and made our escape… simply looking to get away from the wet and grey coastline of the pacific ocean, we drove up into the wet and grey woods of western Washington. We were hopeful to find snow in the higher elevations at the very least and leave this wet misery behind.

The Cascades in Winter

We found it. Lots of it. Crossing the Cascades from the southern pass along Hwy 2, we found six or seven feet of powdery snow piled up along the road as we rose up to over five thousand feet, a rapid climb given we had started literally at sea level only forty miles earlier. The skies were grey still, but the air was full of the thick flakes of very wet and very heavy snow like only the coastal mountains can provide. We drove the winding road with relief and refreshment. It seemed that we might be leaving the wet and dreary climate behind and advancing quickly on the alpine wonderland we so appreciated. We crossed into a Bavarian ski village that must have been transplanted brick by brick from Europe into Washington state!  (a town called Leavenworth) We both commented on how much our wives would LOVE to visit… I noted the piped in music wafting out of the town gazeebo, sprinkled with several inches of fresh snow and felt like I had driven straight into a real life set of SHREK. This had to be Duloc 🙂

Leavenworth WA - Bavarian Village

We left the colorful lights and sugary fantasy of Leavenworth, WA behind and drove a winding road back into black and white reality…snaking our way across central and eastern Washington state, in and out of snow, fog and rain. The skies were never quite clear enough to see blue, but the rain seemed to be fading and the air getting colder as we went. Promise of more snow and less rain…we hoped.

By the time we had traversed the site of the Grand Coulee Dam and driven deep into the northern woods of northeastern Washington (via Hwy 302) we were in a full fledged blizzard. Snow we had found, slow and beautiful at first, it quickly had grown in intensity until miles from anywhere, we were caught by an un-expected (not forecasted) blast of winter that left us limping along on unplowed two lane roads winding in- out of the mountains as the sun was setting quickly in our rearview mirror.

Our car had AWD and at first the snow was only a few inches deep, but the steep terrain and 15-20mph curves kept us from making much progress. By 6pm we were into five or six inches of snow and random blowing whiteout conditions. It was impossible to get a cell signal or find a town or sign of life anywhere. I had driven for almost three hours into the center of the storm and the relentless swarm of thick snow flakes had started to really affect my vision and perspective… I couldn’t see the edges of the road in the dark and swirling snow and not a single snowplow had revealed itself. I was dizzy, and experiencing mild vertigo by the time I pulled off the road and let Brian take the wheel.

He quickly drove us out of the never-ending storm and into a beautiful little town (Sandpoint ID) where we found a welcome oasis of light and warmth and food. Sweet! We crashed at a lakefront Best Western and had the best meal of our trip… fresh rainbow trout and warm bread paired with steamed veggies. Delicious and very welcome. We had indeed found our snow, and we had found our mountains…but we had not seen much of any of it. It seemed the sky remained stubbornly closed to us, blocking the vista’s of it’s beauty that we knew had to be there. So frustrating…

Before drifting off to sleep…I remembered thinking about how good it was to not be in a blizzard and how fortunate I was to have a comrade… a dear and trustworthy friend who could take the wheel when I get too tired, or too confused to find my way. So glad to know that Brian was a true and dear companion… a veteran of the roadtrip world and I knew he would always be there to help. Kind of like our parenting and life challenges, I reflected on how critical it is to have someone else in our lives to encourage and help us along the way of life. I know when I need to find my way out of the next blizzard life brings my way…. I won’t have to do it without help. It’s really important for us all realize we don’t have to try this parenting stuff all alone. We desperately need each other, we need the help of those who have been there before us and so often we need their perspective…

Day five reminded me of a very important truth…Life is not meant to be lived alone… RoadTrips are not meant to be experienced alone and raising our kids is not a solo ride either. Lesson learned.

Peace out,

brad