Friday, March 14, 2014


When we moved to Williston North Dakota I knew going back to Southern California was going to be one of two things, one of the worst things we could ever do or one of the best things… I thought we could get there, and the kids wouldn’t get back in the car without being James Bond style kidnapped.  Or maybe I wouldn’t want to go back.  I miss my friends terribly and it is much harder to live in ND than it is in Southern California, Its just a fact.  I was worried I would have doubts and want to stay behind as well.  About 3 days before we had to leave the Desert Logan, my oldest, said the words I never thought I would hear “I can’t wait to get home”...  I didn’t ever think the kids would embrace this as home or ever say In the dead of winter I can’t wait to get back to it! So obviously it was one of the best things we could have done.  It makes you appreciate to good things you have.  What a joy, what a trip… and as always, what an adenture!

We decided to drive to bring Baby Gunner with us and I don’t know what the hell I was thinking.  1760 miles (one way) in an SUV with 2 boys 16 and 15 and 2 Girls 13 and 11 and a dog 8 months…and of course The driver, I mean husband.  We were like a horse out of the gate.  We left right after work (first mistake) and decided to “get as far as we can” Rays words, “and we can stop when we get tired” Good God we were already tired when we got in the car!  So we made it halfway thru Montana that night… What a Nightmare, we were a mess.  We stopped, slept then jumped back in the car at 7am… I had my last pair of contacts in, during the stop I had to get them out, for the rest of the car trip I was wearing a $500 chew toy called Rx glasses with one arm and bite marks on one lens. I got some funny looks at our food and bathroom stops…Drove thru Mid Montana, Eastern Idaho, ALL of Utah, Arizona (tiny sliver) and Nevada.  Snow, Rain, Ice the whole way…at one point we watched a Semi Truck slightly lose control in front of us going down a grade and Ray said very quietly “We are not making contact” Talk about the pucker affect…Everything turned out fine but for about 15 seconds I was concerned.  This was true insanity, I was sure at the border of California there would be the white padded van to drag us away for being certifiably crazy!!!  It seemed like we were stopping every 20 minutes, to let someone go potty or the dog to stretch his legs.  Some people say the voyage is part of the fun.  This portion of the voyage sucked! 

At 2am I pulled into the driveway…  During the leg Vegas to Rancho Mirage, CA …I had seen aberritions floating across the road, I was talking to one (imaginary friend)in the passenger seat (really Ray was there passed out as well as the rest of the car) I saw deer run out in front of me (there are no deer on that stretch of road) as well as we sitting practically on top of the steering wheel and terrified that my fancy one armed glasses might fall off!   I can’t make this stuff up…really!  Feeling that crisp Desert Air and smelling the Night Blooming Jasmine made the stress of the drive melt away! So, the Vacation finally begins!
Rays Mom met us at the door, eyes filled with tears, offering Chicken salad Sandwiches.  Everyone declined and we got the allotted 6 bags out of Daisys “hat” (that little pod thing that goes on top of the car) and went to bed.
Let me explain the bags, I told everyone there were to bring only 2 outfits baiting suits and pajamas.  THAT’S IT!  This was going to be power shopping  vacation and not to worry, you would be coming back with that bag full and then some!   Do you think that it was a coincidence that the first weekend we were there it was President’s day?  NOPE, Sale weekend and 3 days at that! 
So our visit was spent doing a lot of Shopping, Mall Shopping, Outdoor Market Shopping, Walking and Shopping on the Beautiful Streets of Palm Desert, and of course Costco, Sams Club and Trader Joes Shopping! I am sure you get the picture.
Then the visiting began, Dinner with Rays family the whole group was there, the usual suspects…Sisters, Brothers, Nieces and everyone caught up.  I slipped out that night to a Girls night and saw Rick Springfield in Concert with some of my girlfriends I have known for about 15 years!  It was a bit of a struggle to sneak away on a family night but it was so worth it!  I miss being able to see live music at the drop of a hat! 
(Oh Dear this is getting long…I should have done a 2 part blog!)
The other thing we were looking forward to was eating during this trip…Self-proclaimed foodies, we have also been Mystery Diners for High End Restaurants, we had been spoiled to no end, living in the Mecca of wondrous dining options.  We had some catching up to do!  So we hit all of our Gastronomical delights and then some!  We even snuck in a trip to our Monday Night Beer appreciation (that was never missed unless illness or injury occurred) and a stop at a new Brewery La Quinta Brewing Co that is owned by a High School Class mate!  We even had time to sneak in a romantic Valentines Dinner too, just to two of us.
The neighborhood has changed, we have friends from one end of the street to  the other,  We caught up with most everyone which involved many glasses of wine, into the night.  Talking, eating and taking in the glorious view of Palm trees and feeling the joy of sitting outside into the night without freezing our butts off!  Gunner even made some new friends, Sierra even came over for a play date, while we were there.  He was a big hit and was on his best behavior at everyone’s house we visited!  
We headed to Orange County to see my side of the family and also told some of our friends in the area where we would be, so my Sister Donna, hosted the whole family including some of Rays friends that he used to teach with, and Catherine my best friend and her family for a whole day of swimming, eating and laughter.  It was an amazing day, a day full of love and one that will go down in history as one of the best days ever!  We got to see all of the family!  It was then that I realized that I was so lucky…

I have the best Husband and Children (and Gunner) that anyone could ask for.  We didn’t kill each other in the car for 4 days and 3520 (not counting the car ride to The OC and back) miles, with an 8 month old puppy no less… I married into a family that has not only become my family but has given me people who are not just in-laws or “the other side of the family” they have become friend...some of my best friends. 
My Sisters have become my biggest fans and have showed and told me how proud they are of us and our gigantic life change.  They love us so much and Donna and Bob throw the best parties on the planet! My Baby brother makes my heart glow at how blessed and loved he is and I am so proud of him and each day he reminds me of our gentle hearted but firm Dad.  My Nieces and Nephews make me so proud and I love how their kids are growing up like we did…As a village that depends on one another.  I loved and cherish every single day I picked you up from school or babysat you as little ones. 
This trip taught me a lot about myself and everyone around me.  You never how loved you are until your leaf from the family tree falls and is whisked away by the winds.  You come back the following spring, stronger, brighter and with even more support from the branch you grow from! 
That is a group that is exhausted from an amazing day with family and will ALWAYS "Keep in touch"