One of the stops I was most looking forward to for this vanventure was Kansas. Zach and I had planned out at least three weeks of time so we could just be home and enjoy our friends and family. Usually, it is such a mad dash to see everybody in the short weekend we come to visit. I really wanted to have time to be there and hang out! Luckily, Kansas falls in the center of this giant country and it fit in perfectly to make our transition from east to west over Thanksgiving.
|Inside the hanger playing games.|
We arrived a week before the holiday to help my parents get ready and allow Zach time to finish editing his book "Breakers of the Dawn." I also had a very important appointment to try on my wedding dress!! I am wearing my grandmother's dress, but having it altered somewhat. I'm very excited to wear her dress and it was fun to see the progress that has been done so far! My two nieces got to come see it along with my sister, Megan, and my mom. It was so fun and makes me excited for the day it all comes together:)
The week of Thanksgiving is somewhat of a blur. Zach got to experience flying with my dad on one of his pipeline routes. It was a pretty windy and bumpy day in a small airplane following a curvy course. I have a history of losing my breakfast on such flights with Dad, but Zach has a strong stomach and thoroughly enjoyed being out there with my dad. He got to see Kansas from a slightly different view and spend time with one of my favorite people:) I also took a day to go with Dad, but my route was a little shorter and much smoother.
Kaylee, who is five, and Olivia, who is one, came early to spend the week with us at their Nana and Grandpa Barney's house. We had so much fun running around and riding bikes with Kaylee. It was an excellent workout! For her birthday, we gave her a set of walkie talkies. They had a pretty good range on them and we went on adventures all over the airport where my parents live. Zach usually became mission control and Kaylee and I would go on the missions he assigned. Kaylee got so into these missions. Zach could tell us to do anything to go and do while he continued working on his book. It was a great week of imagination and just plain fun!
|Zach watching Olivia and Kaylee play.|
|Kaylee and my sister Megan|
|Kaylee and her dad, John riding the 4 wheeler. Hold on tight:)|
Olivia was a bit more shy and took time to warm up to us. With food bribes, we won her over and had fun playing games on the floor with her. She is getting big and developing such a fun little personality. I love watching her grow up!
|Sweet baby Olivia!|
|Olivia loved pushing the little plane around.|
|Taking it for another spin!|
|Kite flying on a windy day in Kansas. |
Kaylee and her Grandpa Barney:)
Thanksgiving day was a blast, as usual. We had a big meal with all the yummy favorites and played games in the living room. We have a history of going to see a movie on Thanksgiving to kick off the holiday season, but this year we went to the $5.00 Wednesday showing of "Mockingjay Part 1" and stayed home on Thursday. Nobody had any motivation for Black Friday shopping this year and we all enjoyed a relaxing day at the airport.
|Getting the name cards ready for Thanksgiving dinner! |
Zach and Michelle did most of the work after Kaylee got bored:)
On Saturday, our family said goodbye to a dear friend and mentor. Uncle Bill has been a part of our lives for a very long time. He was the Associate Minister at the church I grew up in and did a lot with the children's program. Zach and I got to see him at the beginning of the summer and share our plans of the vanventure. He and his wife, Jan, were both so supportive and loving. Uncle Bill died of cancer and his service was Saturday. It was a celebration of his life and love towards others and I am glad our family got to be there together.
|Bill and Jan Boyle with Zach and I back in May 2014.|
On Sunday, I got to introduce Zach to the original goob, Gabe. He was a baby I took care of when he was in the NICU almost four years ago. He is doing so great and it was so wonderful to spend a few hours with him and his mom, Ashley. She has done such an awesome job taking care of Gabe. I tried to play the video game Gabe was playing on his phone. He was trying to show me how to do it, but it was too much for him when I kept running into the walls and messing up. So, I watched him instead. He is quite the little expert!
|Ashley, Gabe and I at lunch. Zach kindly took the photo:)|
|Gabe the Goob!|
We also got to spend time with another baby I took care of, Jaxon, and his family. They spent a long time in the NICU and hospital in general and it was so good seeing them happy and healthy! Time with these guys really made me miss working in the NICU, but I'll go back soon enough:)
My weeks in Kansas got broken up slightly by a court case I was involved in back in Colorado Springs. One year ago, Zach and I woke up to a fight in the upstairs apartment. I woke up more then Zach and ended up being called as a witness by the District Attorney. They flew me back to Colorado Springs on Monday, Dec 1st and I was called to the stand on Tuesday. I was there all day, but was not allowed to hear any of the other testimonies, so I did a lot of people watching and waiting. My testimony was only about 30 minutes long, but I did have to swear in and the defense objected a few times just like in the movies! It was very intimidating to be up on the stand, but in the end, the defendant was found guilty of destroying my neighbors property and cell phone. I'm glad my testimony helped convey what happened and hopefully keeps him from doing this to anyone else in the future.
Since I got a free trip to the Springs, I took advantage of that and got to spend time with my friends! It was so fun catching up with everybody. We haven't been gone very long, but my friend Julianne got married and another friend is expecting a baby! Things keep moving along. I miss being around everybody, but it was fun sharing our adventures and hearing about theirs.
While I was gone, Zach put the finishing touches on "Breakers of the Dawn" and was ready to publish when I got home! We had a launch party complete with ice cream cake and enjoyed celebrating all the hard work Zach has put into this project! You can buy the ebook on www.Amazon.com and also read his blog about writing at www.waheroftheworlds.com! I am so proud of Zach for pursuing his love of writing! I love how dedicated he is to the things he does. His passion and drive encourage me to follow my dreams and work hard to achieve my goals as well! Thank you for being such an inspiration, Zach! I love you so much!
I also got to travel up to Kansas City to visit friends from college. They all have such lovely lives up there and it was nice getting to be a part of them for a short while. Zach ended up getting sick and having to stay home, so it was just me. Luckily, most of my friends have congregated in the same region of Kansas City, so I really didn't have too much driving!
By the time I headed home, I was not feeling too great. I had Zach's illness as well and spent the rest of my Kansas time resting and recuperating. I was so sad to leave after having such a wonderful time, but it was time for us to head on vanventuring. My mom said she missed seeing the van parked in front of the hanger after we left, but we couldn't really call it a vanventure if the van just sat the whole time. So, we have moved the van to another spot and continued the vanventure. A few hours on the road, and I was hooked back into life out here! It is pretty great checking out new places and planning out where to go next.
We are currently in Hueco Tanks State Park near El Paso, TX. It took us two days to realize we had changed time zones, but in our daily routines, time doesn't matter much. It has been so hard getting back into shape for climbing. Between time off and being sick, we really lost a lot of our strength and fitness. I am happy to say the area is beautiful and I love being able to be outside again! These things make it easier to deal with the sore muscles. It will take us a few more days to get our strength back, but we can do it:)
|Eating lunch in Hueco Tanks State Park|
|The view from our campsite!|
|The start of a lovely desert sunset.|