I've traveled to El Salvador, Amsterdam and New York and our journey to North Carolina was different than anything I've ever done before. The group that we had gotten to know had slowly started to leave Portland. Some people left in June, most in July and the rest of us trickled out in August. We knew we needed to leave in August because I was going to be a brides’ maid at the end of the month. We also knew that Ben, Justin’s brother, and his wife Lindsey would be traveling with us. When August rolled around Justin started applying for jobs North Carolina. But every time he got a phone interview the person on the other side said, "oh you’re in Oregon? Call us when you get here." He basically needed to be there to get a job. The same went for apartment hunting; we had to have jobs in North Carolina or a letter of intent to hire in order for anyone to take us seriously. So the only way to get a job or a place to live was to actually be there. That's all fine and dandy if you're single or even a couple but, when you have kids it takes a detailed plan and a lot of faith.
The plan was, let’s be honest, not a great one. Ben and Justin were going to travel ahead of Lindsey, the kids and I, and have two weeks to find jobs and a place to live; quite a daunting task since none of us had ever been there before. The month leading up to the big trek was filled with garage sales, purging and packing. Finally, the big day came, we loaded up the 4x6 trailer and I waved goodbye to my husband and brother-in-law as they drove away with all our stuff into the great unknown. To further complicate this plan, Justin and Ben didn't even who they were staying with when they got there! They just figured that they would tent camp in someone’s back yard. They ended up sleeping in a guy's apartment with five other dudes.
I met up with Lindsey four days later and our plan was to put all the luggage, food, camping gear and two small children with their giant car seats in her four-door sedan. It's not an understatement when I say that Lindsey's car was stuffed to the gills. The day we left, the person riding shot gun had absolutely no foot room. Oh, and by the way, did I mention I was three months pregnant? Awesomeness.
Our plan was shaky at best and to add a few more complications to the adventure, Lindsey and I were both sick as dogs the morning we were to depart. Food was coming out both of us from multiple directions. In case any of you are wondering; no, it was not fun driving under those conditions. But, we were committed and nothing was going to stop us. Nothing!
We pulled out of the driveway at 6 am and headed to our first stop, Hood River, with my dad following on his motorcycle. We ate breakfast there in the gorge and got to wave goodbye to dad as he returned home and we journeyed onward. 6 hours of driving later, we made it to Lindsey’s uncle's house in Boise. We were all relieved to be done for the day, especially since we'd been barfing and pooping the whole time. Lindsey and I both just laid down on the couches while my kids played in the pool there.
Tomorrow was another early day as we were headed to Yellowstone National park. Yellow Stone was wonderful. We camped there for two nights, saw nature at its finest and the kids’ had the opportunity to swim in Fire Hole River (just like my brother John and I did so many years ago).
All the while we were camping and having a grand ol’ time we checked in with our husbands. The conversations were always the same:
"Do you have a job?"
"Do we have a place to live?"
"OK, we will keep praying."
Next on the list was Mt. Rushmore so we stayed in a motel in the closest town next to the monument.
After visiting the faces etched in stone, we headed to Nebraska. This part of the trip was cool for me because not only did we get to check out a cool national monument but I was on my way to meet my second cousins for the first time ever!
I have roots in Nebraska, this is where Grandpa Farmer was born. So get this: my grandpa’s last name and my maiden name is "Farmer" and my grandpa grew up on a farm and was actually a farmer at one point in his life! That's right, I'm legit. The Goviers, my second-cousins, own and operate the same land that my grandfather grew up on and still own the old farm house in which my grandpa was born. I basically called them up a month before the adventure and said, "hey, I’m your cousin, can I stay at your house and see where my grandpa was born? We don’t need to stay for long." Their response was nothing but love and Logan, my cousin, hoped we could stay for a week! In the end, we stayed for two nights and I got to meet my farming family, whom I had wanted to meet for a very long time.
We waved goodbye to my loving cousins and continued our trek East through more corn fields. At this point, Lindsey and I were now consumed with one thought: what if we have no place to live when we get there? This whole time we were planning on living with each other in a 3 or 4 bedroom place. So the guys were looking for a home that could for all of us. Our last big stop was Kansas City, Missouri. We ate lunch at a restaurant called the T-Rex Restaurant. This place was legit. There were robotic dinosaurs, a huge octopus and all sorts of other cool creatures. The food itself was well-priced and tasty. The most hilarious thing about all of this was that my sweet son, who loves dinosaurs, was so scared that for the first 15 minutes of us being there we had to do everything in our power to keep him calm and happy. Finally, after we had eaten, he warmed up to all the dinos and we walked around the rest of the place taking pictures.
Leaving Kansas City behind, we pulled in to another motel to hunker down for the night and call the hubs. By this point, they had been there nearly two weeks doing everything in their power to find jobs and a place to live. Ben had landed a part-time job selling vitamins at GNC and Lindsey had put in for a transfer and already had a job lined up at Starbucks. With these two jobs in place the guys had a lead on an apartment and were filling out paper work. In fact, they needed our signatures so they faxed over the papers to a FEDEX near the motel where we were staying. We all took collective sigh of relief for the first time in two weeks.
Day 9; another early morning. We left our motel in Lexington, Kentucky with an 8-hour drive ahead of us. Despite our zeal and excitement, this last leg of the trip felt the longest. Today we were not only going to be re-united with our soul mates, and the kids with their daddy, but we were going to see where God was leading us! The drive through Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia and down into North Carolina was absolutely gorgeous.
The hills and the greenery were picturesque. As we got closer the anticipation grew and the butterflies in our tummies got more intense. Finally, the voice on the GPS told us we had arrived at our destination. The men had come through, our Father God had come through, and they had secured us a three-bedroom apartment in Raleigh only ten minutes from our future church. The guys had gotten the keys only an hour before we had driven up and were still unpacking the cars! Talk about a close call! Ben and Lindsey both had jobs and Justin was on his way to interview for a chef position at the Umstead Hotel. It was still another three weeks before he was officially hired but he kept himself busy making furniture out of old palettes.
Through it all, the journey was fueled by faith and trust. The road trip itself was a fun-filled time. At the end of our six-month lease, Ben and Lindsey moved into a one-bedroom apartment and we found a bigger place because Ezra had just been born. I hope that whatever journey awaits you, you have no fear and rely on the God who created the Universe to bless you and keep you. Have fun, love others and try to visit family you have never met before!