The weeks and days that led up to our trip to the U.S. and Canada were flooded with thought and speculation about how it was going to feel to be back home. The ebbs and flows of excitement, curiosity, and trepidation flowed through our bodies like ocean swells. By the time we arrived in L.A., we were ecstatic.
While driving down California’s Santa Ana Freeway, we fervently looking out the car windows at garish billboards for law offices and car dealerships, oversized storefronts for Home Depot and Wal-Mart, and long, lingering lines at Taco Bell, In-N-Out Burger, and Starbucks. It was exciting and comforting to see everything familiar!
While sitting back and unwinding in our seats, we had the sudden and unexpected feeling that we hadn’t even left. It felt like we were still living in Arizona. It felt like we were on vacation and preparing to make our annual pilgrimage home to see our families. It felt like the past twenty-two months in Indonesia didn’t exist. How illogical and startling is that?
As absurd as it seemed, we continued vacationing like nothing had changed. We spent time seeking out thrill rides in California Adventure and stuffing our faces with blue and pink cotton candy in Disneyland. We traversed vast, fertile prairielands along Idaho, Utah, and Montana’s highways to visit parents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, and cousins. We rode horses in the shadows of the Rocky Mountains. And, we shopped until our suitcases were packed full.
The reality of living 7,693 miles away didn’t hit us until the girls and I parted ways with Chris in the Salt Lake City airport, when he started his journey back to Indonesia and we flew north to visit my family in Canada. Just as he stood up to find his gate, flashbacks of jobsite leaped into our minds; promptly reminding us of our life created and defined by a small copper town in the middle of the Papuan rainforest. A life waiting for our return.
Disneyland and California Adventure
Ally and Kylee waiting in a very long line at California Adventure.
Ally and Kylee, their cousins, Anya and Alex, waiting in another very long line at California Adventure.
The girls and their cousins rounding the corner at Splash Mountain.
Chris, Kylee, Alex, and Chris’s sister, Wendy, anxiously waiting to be visciously launched up and down the Tower of Terror.
Salt Lake City, Utah
Kylee was sick the entire time we were in Salt Lake City. Fortunately, Chris and Ally were able to spend some quality time with his sister, Jen, and her husband, Chris. This is a picture of Chris, his sister, Jen, and Ally posing for a picture before going down the alpine slide in Park City.
Idaho Falls, Idaho
Chris’s mom and and dad own an acreage near Bone, Idaho. It’s a spot where we have spent a lot of time camping with his family. While we were in Idaho, we took a day trip to the property to relax, enjoy the trees, and eat a Dutch Oven dinner (bliss!).
Chris, the girls, and me helping Grandpa Dave and Grandma Kaye clean the site for the day’s activities.
Ally using Grandpa’s axe to cut firewood for the campfire. Like mother like daughter!
Kylee and Grandpa Dave enjoying the campfire.
Ally and her cousin, Katelyn, playing on Grandpa Dave’s tractor.
The highlight of our trip home was riding horses in the front yard of Waterton National Park. My Aunt Shellee, and two of her girls, Kerri and Brandi, organized a day of horseback riding, ATV riding, and a Dutch Oven lunch (bliss times two!) at their ranch in Mountain View. The perfect day ended with Kerri’s homemade strawberry shortcake – made with fresh strawberries from a nearby Hutterite colony!
Ally making friends with her horse, with the help of Grandma McNabb and Kerri’s daughter, Bailey.
Kylee on her horse, receiving instructions from my cousin, Kerri, on how to use the reigns.
Led by my Aunt Shellee, the group of sisters, brothers, and cousins set off on their ride along Payne Lake.
Cowgirls in the making!
A group photo of the riders – Kylee, Bailey, Ty, Kerri, Aaron, Ally, Shellee, Derek, Parker, and Brandi (with her young daughter).
My mom, aunt, two cousins, sister-in-law, and me starting out on our ride. My mom (in the green shirt) is riding the last living decedent of the horse that was given to her by her father.
With another great vacation behind us, we are now back at jobsite preparing for a short trip to Australia before the beginning of the 2015/2016 school year.