2019-09-01 Sun: Spring Hill, AB

Posted 2019-09-09

Everyone was hungry when we arrived last night, so Michele fired up the oven, put our dinner in (breakfast? It was pretty late!) and we went to unpack and set up for the night. Imagine our surprise when a few minutes later, smoke came pouring out of the oven and began filling the house! Imagine more surprise when we found that not only did the vent hood not work, but almost all of the windows in the house were screwed shut so we couldn't ventilate! A couple were operable, but had no screens and the insects at that hour were still insane. We finally found two windows (not near the kitchen...) that we could open, and hacked the portable air conditioner to exhaust a minor amount of air from the area. There was nothing wrong with the oven; it had simply had stuff smeared around instead of being properly cleaned. It took a few hours to clear the house, so we ate in a smoky kitchen and went to bed in rather oppressive air. Good thing we were sleepy!

The next morning we arose and attended church. No need for another meal in-between; it hadn't been long since the last one! Spring Hill is a small town, and most of its citizens are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Southern Alberta was colonized in the 19th century by Mormon pioneers, and this part of the province continues to maintain the peace and charm that used to be common to so many small towns in Utah. It was a new experience for most of the children to see all of their neighbors streaming out of their homes to join them in their walk to worship together.

From Miriana's Journal:

We went to church in the Hill Spring Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. It was a very nice ward, and was only two blocks away so we walked. Sacrament meeting (in which the whole ward meets) was awesome, and so was Gospel Doctrine (the scripture study class for adults that happens after Sacrament meeting). Now, we have nothing to do for the rest of the day, which is a relief because we just finished three busy days in a row. This is a good house to have nothing planned in. There is a room full of toys that the kids are enjoying. Joseph (4) discovered that the blocks had numbers on them, and immediately started pointing out math problems printed on the larger blocks, and creating and number lines with them (he can count up to twenty or thirty and can recognize zero through nineteen). Upon seeing this, I started teaching him how to do simple math problems.

Rock Snot?

2019-08-31 Sat: O Canada

Posted 2019-09-08

After breakfast, we began repacking the bus. This took a long time, in spite of each of the kids bringing only little bags w/ 2 days' clothes into the house, leaving most of their wardrobe on the bus (one of Michele's many clever ideas to make this trip doable; they prepare them on the bus while riding to the next stop). It took longer than we'd hoped, but we finally got on the road. On the way out of town we visited the Spokane Washington Temple, paused in Coeur d'Alene for fuel & supplies, then headed north.

The border crossing station was small, and we're pretty sure that we were the most exciting thing to happen to them that day. It didn't take long to get through the line, but then we had to park in another lot while they gathered & processed 15 passports.

It was a long trip over the mountains to our next site, near Cardston, and we learned an important lesson regarding driving directions and relying on mobile devices. (See Lessons Learned). Charles had given one of his phones to Cookes (since their CDMA phone wouldn't work in Canada) and then found that he had no mobile data (After cursing Google Fi, he later discovered that he had disabled roaming data to avoid accidental charges) and that after moving around and doing other things, Google Maps had lost our route & saved map from the running app. Furthermore, he hadn't yet gotten his AT&T & Verizon modems working yet, so had no chance of roaming via those carriers either. He hadn't been concerned, assuming that Michele would make her usual stack of printed maps; Michele, on the other hand, had listened enough to his pooh-poohing of all her paper and expressions of confidence in his own tools that, being herself pressed for time before the trip, she didn't worry about it. Fortunately, between Michele, Charles, and "Mr. Geography" Matthew, they remembered enough to keep going in the right direction. Towards dark, we ran across an LDS meetinghouse and made use of the WiFi to refresh the routes on our maps. We finally pulled into Hill Springs at 23:30.

2019-08-30 Fri: Spokane, WA

Posted 2019-09-08

(Note the link to the AirBnB site, which not only shows you where we stayed, but includes our review of it. Look for similar links in future places.)

Friday morning saw Michele & the kids heading to a park, where Michele finally got to meet an advocate for the deaf that she has become acquainted with remotely in the years since we adopted Jonathan. The kids enjoyed playing in the large fountain (It's okay; it's intended for play!) Later, the afternoon and evening was occupied with a trip to Grand Coulee Dam, with tours, exhibits, & a laser show. Charles missed both activities in favor of staying home and working.

2019-08-29 Thu: The trip starts!

Posted 2019-09-08

After a couple of weeks of very little sleep for the parents while we prepared for the trip (the previous night, Michele fell asleep for 2 hours on the bus in the early morning, then resumed work when she awoke), Michele, Alexander, Miriana, and Shana capped preparations and celebrated the upcoming trip by pulling an all-nighter. (Charles crashed for a while because he's a wimp somebody had to be able to drive the first leg!) Our planned preparations had been delayed in part because of last-minute mechanical problems that kept the bus in the repair shop for almost a week.

We still didn't feel prepared (Instead of neatly installed equipment in the bus, Charles had an empty rack (well, Michele filled it with swim noodles),piles of equipment stashed under the seats awaiting configuration & installation, and late-arriving gear being forwarded to Idaho where he could hopefully install it. Not everything was packed neatly & labeled/cataloged so we could easily find it, but we hoped that at least most of what we needed was onboard! We couldn't fit much more on; there was hardly room to sit, and scaling at the local quarry on the way out, we found that we were at least 1,100 lbs. overweight. (We're packing a lot of food to eat during the first week or two of the trip, so that will improve.)

By the way, Michele's parents are also accompanying us on our trip. They're driving their motorhome, and generally trying to stay in parks near us so they can support & share in our activities.

The first stop, nicely breaking up the trip to our first night's destination in Spokane, was Zillah! Home of both the famed Church of God - Zillah and Charles's sister and her family, it's also conveniently located for his mom who lives in Yakima. The Bevers went and picked her up, and we all had an enjoyable afternoon. Swimming, eating, visiting -- it was a great break, and especially welcome after the grueling pre-trip.

While we were there, Alexander discovered that one of the 8 batteries we had bought and installed under the bus was very hot -- and that he'd also forgotten about fastening the whole array down; they'd stayed in place fine so far in our custom tray, but with rough roads ahead... We left the defective battery disconnected, and later bought supplies and snugged everything.

After saying goodbye, we made another quick stop outside the Columbia River Washington Temple, Miriana's highlight for the day. To quote: "I LOVE visiting temples. The grounds were gorgeous, and simply being on the grounds of a temple brought a wondrous feeling of peace."

We arrived in Spokane after dark, and after a late dinner, we crashed. And the evening and the morning were the first day....