Home Sweet Home and Surprising Friends

We awoke to Arizona slush yesterday morning, defined on my phone as “light snow.” And scurried around the building, hugging our arms as we followed the outdoor signs marked with arrows for “Breakfast.”

Maybe we’ve seen so much worse, but this breakfast was looking to be one of the best. Mostly cause it was stocked , and had two waffle makers. My mom said that the room was so crummy she didn’t want to stay another night, but after seeing breakfast, staying would be at least bearable.

Either way, we didn’t stay. I think we were ready to go home.

We scraped the ice off our windshield, packed the van, and I checked the hotel room for stray possessions one last time.

Then we were back on the road.

People ask what we did during the car rides. If we got sick of them and such. But they were fine. Maybe because we only drove three hours at a time, then had lunch, then drove three more and were at our next destination. We took this trip very easy and laid back.

During the rides, I would read, and read one of my mom’s books aloud, then read one of my little brother’s books aloud (Kidnapped was a tongue twister). Who needs audible if you have a family member who doesn’t get car sick right?

We would listen to Disney music – which, for me is synonymous with singing along to Disney music. And in each state we’d point out the “Texas cows! Virginia cows! Arkansas cows!” Also, if we saw Walmart, we’d peep/exclaim it in a cute high pitched voice: “Wal-mart!

It’s like car-window TV.

Snackwise, we had one of those boxes of assorted little bags of chips (that lasted), a few boxes of Capri suns (that didn’t last), and little water bottles that ran out too. We carried the drinks in a cooler in the van. And also had a box of granola bars and the Koontz family traveling staple: a bag of pretzels.

Needless to say, we’re about sick of all these things by now, minus the pretzels.

We were about an hour and a half away from Barstow around lunchtime. So we stopped in the same Arizona Walmart where we bought a mini camcorder on around the second day of our trip, to return it, and got some dollar snacks to hold us the rest of the way. My snack of choice were angry bird cheese nips.

Speaking of window TV, yesterday was so pretty, with the snow.

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And rocks.

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And clouds.

20140402_123921_Richtone(HDR)Soon we could see beautiful California in the distance.

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We need to work on the creativity of our welcome sign…

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I was probably staring at clouds when suddenly there was a huge THOWACK at our car, and I instantly looked at the side mirror to see what we ran over.

Nothing. I didn’t see anything.

My mom said she saw something white, but she didn’t see where it went.

We continued to drive, looking for an exit. The tires seemed fine, but we pulled over and my mom got out and checked the front bumper.

Next she was bending down and unwedging something that made rumbling WEEKIE-WEEKIE sounds against the metal. When it unlatched, she tumbled back a step, then came around to show us what it was.

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It was one of those diamond metal signs that trucks have bolted to the side of their cargo.

I laughed because my mom’s first reaction was to grin and say, “should we keep it??”

It was amazing we didn’t have a huge accident. That thing could have easily hit one of our tires, or worse, gone through the windshield. God was protecting us.

What it did was smack itself right between the front bumper and the grill, and probably looked like something close to a hood ornament.

My little brother has decided it’s going up on his wall as memorabilia.

We attempted to avoid any further catastrophe for the few hours remaining of our trip. We had chili cheese fries and milk shakes at Tommy’s in Barstow, where I ran across the parking lot and heeled a rock right through my shoe. I limped around for a few minutes, as my family reminded me that we’re almost home, I can’t hurt myself yet.

Finally, streets were looking familiar. Landmarks had memories (like the Coffee Bean near my house with the super rude manager). And then we were home. To our sweet little doggies, Kobe and Kiki.

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I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to see my room.

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It may look like a lot of clutter to you, but to me it was paradise. Hence, why in a moment of rapture I snapped a picture. . A day later, now that I look at it though. .

Yeah, it’s cluttered. I’m working on that.

I didn’t want to write this post so soon, because it was Wednesday night, and I wanted to surprise my friends.

Starting with Chris. He was looking at a house nearby, and happened to text me about it (unbeknownst to him, I was four streets away), so I told my mom I was going to surprise him and ran out the door — and had no idea where I was going. Luckily my new phone has maps on it. And the two kids playing on skateboards outside sort of knew where Victoria was.

I ran the whole way, got a huge cramp, and tackled him sideways with a hug. He ended up being so surprised, he was stone quiet. His sister and mom hugged me, and he was still staring at me like I was a ghost.

Everyone else would be at church, so I got dressed as quickly as I could.

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I was then reunited with my beautiful car and drove down there.

I saw Jake next. I got there late, so everyone was already helping out in their prospective classes. I passed his class, then backed up a few steps and just stood there, smiling. He looked at me like I was nobody, looked back at his kids, then looked up at me again,this time smiling big and running to give me a hug.

I went in my kindergarten class to see Julie and if she needed help, to find three of the adults for other classes standing there, watching the kids color. A few of the kids had already spotted me and began the “Miss Rebekah! Miss Rebekah’s back!” twittering among them. They’re so cute. I love being a teacher.

I ended up stepping in as teacher  yesterday, even in pants (which is a no-no on a regular day), and the kids were angels. I missed them a lot.

Julie, on the other hand, still hasn’t found out I’m back. I wonder if she’ll read this. You deserted our children in their time of need, Julie. I know these things. . OooooOOOOooh.

As I was walking a little girl to the bathroom and telling her I’ll hold her Tick-Tock Crock for her, I spotted Michael in the sound room. The other guys noticed me, but I held a finger to my mouth, and tossed the crocodile at Michael’s head with a bullseye. He quickly looked up and watched me for a few seconds before jumping to his feet.

Tim had the same reaction, as he stared at me, ruffling his eyebrows and engrossed in a waving battle with Chris’ sister before it fully registered who I was.

Surprising people is fun. Especially when it’s obvious they expected you to be on the other side of the country.

We hung out at Taco Bell after church. Jake, in all kindness, waved a burrito in front of my face because he knew I didn’t want to spend any more of my already dwindling spending money on dinner. But the sight of another burrito, another fast food meal, made my stomach turn.

One of the after effects of this trip.

It was a whole lot of fun seeing them all. I laughed so much.

Jake and I were messing around about how cool we are, so I made a cheesy smile and put my head close to his and said “take a picture.” It’s what my dad does all the time when he’s irritating my mom and won’t let her go.

Leave it up to my friends to – instead of seeing the humor in it – actually whip out their phones and snap a picture.

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I obviously started cracking up by the time this one was taken.

It is good to be home.

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