But love your enemies and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. Luke 6:35
The sweet aroma of citrus blossoms waifts into our truck as we drive through Dinuba, past acres of orange groves. It’s a smell that brings us twenty years into our past when we lived in Redlands, CA–a town steeped in a rich citrus heritage. I’m sure that if smells could heal, sickness would be abolished in the Central Valley of California each spring.
Pulling onto the property of Gleanings for the Hungry, the familiar comfort of returning to a location for a second time greets us. We are here for the week, excited to serve, ready to learn.
On Monday morning, much of the routine we remember repeats itself with predictable precision: morning devotions, bountiful meals, and fulfilling work. However, this time around holds the bonus of familiar faces and friendships that were forged on our first visit that we now get to build upon.
Seeking to return to our Idaho roots where we can reconnect with treasured friends and settle into a brief stationary rhythm, we begin a northerly ascent. Leaving the palm tree warmth of Southern California, we are now in search of snowy evergreens. Along our route, Death Valley National Park places an unexpected pull on my curiosity cord and we pause our progress to take a peek.
LOW ELEVATION AND EXPECTATIONS
I know nothing more than the fact that Death Valley is the reigning champion of high heat (134 degrees) and low elevation (282′ below sea level) as we descend into her depths. To be honest, my expectations are also low. I anticipate a dry, desolate, wasteland. Right out of the gate, she shocks us in a way we could never have expected.
Enough margin is built into our afternoon that when Trent asks if we should stop at the Father Crowley Vista overlook, I affirm the idea and look forward to my first view of the valley. Pulling to a stop, we hop out of the truck. The air at this upper elevation of 4,000 feet is chilly but we don’t expect to linger long. Making our way to the edge of the overlook, the wind whips at my hair as I lean over the railing and capture my first glimpse of Death Valley. Continue reading “shocking surprise | Death Valley National Park”
Perched atop a wall of immovable rock, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, I watch as my kids create an imaginary world.
Each child sets up shop in a different location, collecting treasures: sea glass, red wood, seaweed, and driftwood.
Their shell currency allows them to conduct commerce amongst themselves while they build and expand their rocky residences.
I’m invited to peruse and shop at my leisure. Soon, I’ve discovered a brilliant excuse to invest in the purchase of driftwood: new curtain rods. Over the course of the afternoon, my living room becomes more personalized as the factory rods are replaced with decorative driftwood.
Later, as I walk through the campground I notice that I am not alone in my driftwood acquisition. Nearly every RV I pass has a stash laying about. In a lifestyle that fosters minimalism, the popularity of this beachside treasure does not escape my notice.
What could be easily overlooked, however, is the inherent pain represented in each piece of wood. Devastating wildfires, followed by substantial rains resulting in fatal mudslides have recently swept through this coastal area. An influx of driftwood debris has ensued.
We’ve often said that this full-time traveling lifestyle has thrust us into a season of “feast or famine” when it comes to community. While we are in close proximity to other traveling families, fireside chats, meals and general life together often abounds quite effortlessly. Conversely, the opposite is also true. When we are alone, especially for long stretches of time, a feeling of isolation is not uncommon.
Without a doubt, there are relationships to be had if you are willing to pursue them. Herein lies the rub. At times there is a choice between the pursuit of the location or the people…
Should our travels continue beyond this first year, I anticipate that the pull between places and people would begin to yield much more heavily toward people. As a result, I expect that we would begin to pursue places which are in close proximity to the people we wish to see rather than the reverse.
In three short months, our entire outlook had improved in this area. One key factor to finding our tribe was attending a Fulltime Family Rally. Rallies are in place to help families connect and create opportunities for relationships to develop that can continue down the road (both literally and figuratively). Some have even likened it to “speed dating for families”.
OUR FIRST FULLTIME FAMILY RALLY
We attended our first rally in Tallahassee, Florida last February. We came to it new to fulltime travel and very parched of community. The Florida Rally was huge, with over 80 families present. Seeing so many families all in one space really allowed us to get a better grasp of the size of the community we were joining. As we started to learn the number of years that these families had been on the road (some as many as 7+) and see the number of kids (and pets) they were traveling with, we began to see that this lifestyle could be sustainable. Continue reading “my caring coddiwomple community | Fulltime Family Rally”
I’ve never done this before. In fact, the concept still seems to lack a sense of sagacious* forethought.
Nevertheless, I have woken up at 5:30 in order to be ready to take my place behind this starting line. In all ironic honesty, I paidmoney to wake up early and stand behind this line.
I can’t help but wonder what the high-school version of myself would have thought of this unexpected twist. I–the girl who saw no logic in running unless it was from something dangerous or toward home plate–is about to run 5 Kilometers for the pure challenge of it. Continue reading “comparison crap | my first 5K”