Saturday, August 3, 2013

The last two days

Waking up in the Badlands again did something to my emotional stability. While Hannah and Anna checked us out of the motel and worked on a plan for the day, I sat in the desert field and stared at the sand castles, and cried. Couldn't really pinpoint at the time what was going on, but now as I think back I just realize I was so homesick. 

I thought about Brie and Emilee and Todd and Brandon and the others back home... and how I wanted so much to share all of this with them. And so much had happened in my heart during the week of camp that I really hadn't been able to process through yet, and I wanted desperately to return to my ministry team and talk for hours with them about it all. And being there in the Badlands, I was keenly aware that I was still 1,000 miles from home. I felt like Dorothy at the end of The Wizard of Oz... I didn't want the adventure to end, but I felt like the rest of the adventure was back in Fort Wayne. 

I don't remember much that happened that day or the next, and I don't think I was much fun... but Hannah and Anna bravely kept morale up and we got to see some more cool things before the end of the road. 

The girls climbed a sand castle... 

 We went to see Sioux Falls in SD...

The prettiest thing we saw in Minnesota were the clouds... 

And we spent the night in Madison, Wisconsin. The fact that we have no pictures of the last day of our trip is a testimony to the urgency we had in getting home. We drove through Illinois and into Indiana. Our plan was to get a Chicago-style pizza and eat it on the beach at the Indiana Dunes by Lake Michigan. But the pizza place we found did not make Chicago-style, and by the time it was ready, we were in the middle of a huge rainstorm... so we ate regular style Hawaiian pizza in a swanky pub and then drove two more hours in the rain. We got home and put on a pot of tea and just wandered through the empty rooms, wondering if anyone would come over to see us.

We were not disappointed! A knock on the door, and our dear Richard came in and welcomed us back. He started filling us in on the adventures he had had since we left, and his smiling face was the best sight I'd seen all day. Then we heard the familiar lumber of Brandon charging up the ramp and he burst into our kitchen, dripping wet and shrieking his joy at seeing us. Giant hugs and exclamations assured me that he missed us as much as I missed him. Then came Todd, just to give a hug and hear a quick story and offer us some ice cream before he had to run to work.Then Bethany and Rachel popped in, and we told the Glacier Park story for the third time in an hour - Richard was still there grinning and could probably have told the story better than us by then. Brie came home shortly after and my joy-and-love tank nearly burst. We were back in our Hobbit Hole, surrounded by friends and family.

Now that I've caught you up on the day-by-day adventure, I'll spend the next few days working through my reflections and all the things God's taught me.So stay tuned! The adventure isn't over... it's just beginning...

Yellowstone National Park

Obviously, if you're going to leave Glacier and continue the adventure, you turn south and head for the open prairie-desert road to Wyoming. We spent all day in the sprawling state of Montana to get there. We spent the night right on the border, just a couple miles from the access to Yellowstone, and Day 19 dawned on another chapter of our adventure.

We saw signs in the park for buffalo crossings. One of these signs was flashing, and we wondered what that meant... until we saw, 200 yards in front of us, a buffalo lumbering down the road at a very chill pace. We were freaking out and Hannah swung the side door open and started snapping pictures, safari-style. The buffalo just looked right at us and kept moving. We figure he drew the short straw that day and the herd sent him out to entertain the tourists. 

Only a couple minutes later, Anna started shrieking and pointing dramatically, and then pulled our car off the road to see a herd of ... something... they might have been deer, but we like to think they were female moose.

We came to Fountain Paint Pot, and decided that yes, while we had 12 hours of driving before us, we had to stop and enjoy the geysers a bit.

And we spent most of the day following the continental divide... 

And of course, if we are in Yellowstone, the one thing that we must see is Old Faithful...

We got there in time to see her spray at 9:45!

We just drove the rest of the way through the park, but it was really a beautiful view...

 After the park we kept heading south, and got to Thermopolis, where apparently there is a hot springs park with the world's largest mineral hot spring.

So we stopped for a quick spa treatment. Sat in the hot spring for about 15 minutes, and were soooo amazingly relaxed, we were really no good for anything the rest of the day. Our bathing suits still stink of sulfur though.

We drove on through Wyoming and landed back in the Badlands late that night. The scenery was still beautiful, and I was still glad to be sharing this adventure with two of my very best friends. But something in me switched on as we left the hot springs, and I suddenly felt very homesick. I didn't care if I saw another blade of grass, winding road, or desert hill... I just wanted to get back to my Hobbit Hole, and my Homestead family. But we still had two days to go...

Glacier National Park

**Disclaimer to our parents: We are indeed safe. No injuries or illnesses or lasting negative effects from the following adventure. 
**Disclaimer to the rest of the world: While this was an amazing adventure and story to tell, we do not recommend or condone that you follow our lead. Learn from foolishness: trust construction signs.

Monday we traveled through Washington and Idaho, into Montana, and that evening we reached Glacier National Park. At first it was basically what I expected - big mountains in the distance, a sparkling blue lake, pine trees... very pretty, I thought, but not quite worth all the fuss we've heard... 

I thought maybe sunset would be the most spectacular view we would get - and it was quite spectacular - and that we'd just drive into the darkness to our cabin lodging for the night...

Hannah and Anna stopped to collect a few of the pebbles from the shore, which were so many different brilliant colors. Beautiful!

The sun set quickly behind the amazingly high mountains, and we found ourselves winding into them, further up and further in, on the Going-to-the-Sun Road. Higher and higher, we found ourselves in the clouds at 6,000 feet, hugging the edge of a mountain. It was too dark to take pictures, too dark to really grasp the vastness of what was around us. But at one point I looked out my window and saw the breath-taking depths below us, only a couple feet away from our car. 

We were listening to Andrew Peterson's album, Light for the Lost Boy, during this ascent, and I must say it was the absolute most perfect soundtrack for the setting - shadows and clouds, heights and depths, and silence (we were one of the only cars on the road). Very haunting and deep and beautiful. I recommend it, if you ever find yourself on that road at night. 

And here's where the real adventure began. Somewhere early on the road, around 8:30, when it was still light, there was a sign that said "Road Closed ahead 9pm-2am." We all decided it was irrelevant... Hannah thought that surely at least one lane would be open, and I thought surely we would pass through before any real construction got underway, and we all agreed it would be better to go through instead of backtracking four hours to get to our cabin another way. So on we went... At 10:00, we passed a car parked on the side of the road, and thought it an odd place to spend the night, until we came around the curve and found a complete barricade:

What do three girls who are tired and crazy and in an epic national park at night do? Why, we move the barricade so we can pass through, of course! We continued on, sure that the construction was not nearly that dramatic, until we came to this scene:

Yeah, that would be a 17-foot gaping hole that spanned the full width of the road. A construction worker walked over to the car, and amazingly did not ask why or how we were there. He just confirmed that we would not be able to pass until at least 2am. He assured us they were working as fast as they could, and if we wanted to park there by their trucks and sleep, they would let us know when it was safe to pass. He motioned behind us and said there was a restroom about a mile back down the mountain if we wanted to use it and return. So we went back and found a rustic little spot with no lights. We parked and turned the car off, and left the headlights on so we could see where we were going, used the restroom and got into our pajamas and sweatshirts. When we got back to the car 20 minutes later... the battery was dead. It is now about 10:30, and 40 degrees, and we were 8,000 feet up, and the only people we knew of were the five construction workers a mile up the mountain and the person who was sleeping outside the barricade a couple miles down. And did I mention all the signs that said not to feed the bears? So likely there were bears closer to us than people. So we bundled up and prayed for help and slept for about three hours.

At about 1:15, a truck with flashing lights came down and pulled in next to us. It was a construction worker who wanted to let us know the road wouldn't be open until about 3:30. We told him about our car, and he drove down the mountain to get jumper cables, and came back and rescued us. He offered us waters and granola bars, and escorted us back to the construction site. He said, "You should come up and watch five men hard at work!" But I think the whole crew was taking care of us, wanting to keep an eye on us and make sure we were ok, which is pretty cool. We asked if he thought the lodge would even let us check in so late, and he said, "I would think so... people in Montana are weird, and really nice." 

We did indeed watch those five men work hard, and at 3:00, they gave us the all-clear to pass through, escorted again by their flashing truck, all the way to the lodge. We waved goodbye to the crew, blew kisses, and as they waved back in amusement, I am pretty sure one of them tipped his hard hat at us, Mr. Bingley style. They were our heroes of the night. 

We got to the lodge and a good-looking security guard escorted us to our cabin, clearly curious about our arrival time, but kindly didn't ask questions and we got about 4 hours of sleep. This  is the view we woke up to in the morning:

We took some time for a good hearty breakfast and got some huckleberry jam to bring home as a momento, and then decided to go back down the mountain road so we could see the view that we couldn't the night before.

So amazing!! I wish we could have stayed longer. Some day I will return and spend a week there in those mountains, soaking it in and writing stories. But we had other places to visit, other adventures to seek, so we said good-bye to this beautiful piece of the universe and continued on...

... and the adventure continues...

From Island to Mainland

The return journey started Saturday morning after saying goodbye to the girls and the staff at Imadene. Hannah and I took the 12:30 ferry from Nanaimo to Vancouver, and had a lovely lunch on board of classic "Canadian fare" - White Spot cheeseburger, Putin, and Nanaimo bars... Kevan, that is for you! 

We got to the mainland and picked up Anna from the Richmond Centre mall, where we found her next to her red suitcases, green tea in hand, taking notes of the outrageous clothing styles on the shoppers around her. She'd hopped a hotel shuttle to get her there from the airport, and was apparently having no trouble entertaining herself. 

Then we drove all five minutes it took to get to my Grandma and Grandpa's apartment, and as we came in the door at 4:00, Grandma said, "Well, I think you are just in time for tea!" Oh my goodness, those words, especially coming from my Grandma, just made my day. She had just pulled a fresh lemon cake out of the oven, and we had tea and cake and told them a bit about the camp experience. 

That evening, Grandma and Grandpa made us a Shepherd's pie, a family favorite, and I think a British tradition - meat, raisins, and eggs covered with mashed potatoes... so good! Sunday morning we went to communion service and family Bible hour with G-ma and G-pa, and had soup and salad for lunch afterward. It was so cool to be there with them, to visit and relax quietly for a while. And as they told us stories about their "younger days," I realized they were quite the adventurers, too! They moved to South Africa from Argentina right after they married, and they moved from South Africa to BC with four kids in tow. They worked at camps, worked (still work) with international people, and when the kids all grew up and spread out all over the continent, they drove across Canada and the US to visit them. I think adventure must be in the blood. I also kind of loved how the girls and many people at church told me how much I am like my Grandma Chandler, which I think is a huge compliment, as I think my Grandma is one of the most beautiful people I know, inside and out.

Sunday afternoon, Mom and Dad flew in for a visit with my grandparents and aunts and uncles, and consequently with us too! As I told stories and caught them up on what had happened at camp, Anna and Hannah schemed a new route for our road home.

And as quickly as we came, we had to leave early Monday morning, after kisses and blessings from two older generations of Chandlers around us. We headed first to Starbucks at the corner for pastries and coffee. There's actually a light roast coffee that is so popular in Canada, that Canadians have renamed it "True North" and claimed it as their drink of choice... so we bought some to drink as we headed to the boarder. 

Passports in hands, shades on faces, coffee in bellies, and that tingling sensation of anticipating a great unknown adventure all over, we approached customs. The Americans welcomed us back with open arms and well-wishes for an exciting and safe journey home to Indiana. And so... the adventure continues... 

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Photo blog: Last day of Camp

Just some special faces I will never forget and always treasure. Not gonna lie, I left the camp Saturday morning with a few tears in my eyes. Camp Imadene is a beautiful place, my new friends are amazing. I'm thankful that our stories have intersected for this one week, and I can't wait to see you all again someday! Prayers, blessings, and love to "ya'll"... :)

New friend, Kirsten! Bead Tent Lady/Fireside Host/Discipleship Crash-Course Co-Leader!

New friend, Ronya! Camp Dean/Devotional Lady/Dinner Buddy!
The epically dramatic Cabin Jubilee!

Enthusiastic Cabin Mt. Hebron!

Crazy gymnastic Cabin Elim!

A Hannah Sandwich on the speed boat!
Friday night chapel - PJ party!