After a busy summer, even busier fall with work and the International Snow Science Workshop and the Alaska State Snow Safety Summit, I finally got the chance to escape Alaska for a winter break .
I flew to Phoenix and spent a couple of days taking care of me (visiting with my daughter, getting a massage, dental, chiropractor…) and then headed to Nashville to visit my son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter.
Avery is two-and-a-half. A bundle of lovable fun and charm. She’s an amazingly happy child and a blast to hang out with. She makes me laugh and explodes my heart with love.
She has an incredible tree house her Daddy built for her and we had fun playing in this amazing princess castle.
Thia year, for the first time since Avery was 5-months old, her Aunt Michelle got to come play with her too.
We also got to go to the Grand Ole’ Opre thanks to Allen, Stacey and Katrina and John Holancin (Stacey’s Mom and Dad.) It was an incredible experience and gave us all lots of wonderful memories to cherish.
One day we also took Avery to the Mall and I had a wonderful time watching her play with her Daddy and wave at Nana with the camera! 🙂 This is one lucky, happy child enjoying precious times with her awesome Daddy.
One day I was also excited to go to gymnastics with her. I look forward to getting to take her to Denali Gymnastics in Alaska with me. But for this day, we got to play and enjoy her gymnastics class together with her Mommy. A super fun day indeed.
We climbed under a rainbow, over a rainbow, swung from the rings and jumped on the trampoline before crawling through the ball pit and sliding down the big slide. Busy time and oh, so much fun. I think both Avery and I would love to have this go on and on, but I know one day it will be time to hit the road again!
Until then I just focused on playing and savoring every precious moment we had together. In February she’s going to have a little brother…
So after enjoying two amazing dinners (one to celebrate Thanksgiving and one to celebrate Christmas thanks to Stacey’s amazing cooking)
I completed some maintenance repairs on Fin-Henri so Michelle and I would be ready for the road.
Avery wanted to go with us but we figured we’d only make it to the end of the street before she wanted Momma and Daddy to come too so instead we just let her pretend and then wave goodbye as we drove away. Definitely the hardest part of our visit.
But I’ll get to go back in February when we welcome Avery’s little brother AleXander into the world!
After Michelle and I got on the road we had an easy, comfortable drive to the land of the lakes where we found a quiet place to camp near a marina.
After getting all set up for the night I thought we should get out and scout the area before bedding down so I walked outside into the pitch black night. I could see light at the marina not far away, but from our location back in the woods at a picnic area, there were no lights. I listened the coyotes and dogs barking and howling in the distance and felt a comforting calm. It felt safe here and I was now familiar with the way out so if we had to make a dash, I’d be prepared. “It feels good here,” I told Michelle. “I think we’ll be safe. Yes. It feels safe.”
“Shhh! Listen,” she said, quieting me. I strained to hear but could only pick up the distant barking. And then a rustle in the bushes just feet away made it obvious, we were not alone. Startled I bolted for the door, Michelle right on my heels. I think we both knew it was just a small critter like a racoon but it was spooky. Inside we laughed about it and enjoyed the time to bond. The rest of our first night was lost to deep sleep and dreams of travel.
We woke early to the sounds of rain drops and set out to find a Wal Mart where we could stretch our legs and pick up a few things we needed for the road.
By late afternoon, with Michelle at the wheel, we hit a storm right in the face. The rain was pouring down so you could barely make out the lines on the road and the wind beat against us with unrelenting force. Every time we drove between two slopes, the wind would suddenly change direction blasting against us and requiring brute force to keep Fin-Henri on the highway. We rolled into Wichita, Kansas at 6pm and made our way across town to where my nephew Joel Johnson was living while playing hockey for the Wichita Jr. Thunder.
Then next day our trip took an unexpected turn… Check back for the rest of the story…