nice to get away

It’s nice to get away. 🙂

We’ve been on a pseudo-vacation since Wednesday.  I use the word “pseudo” because JJ really isn’t on vacation.  He has spent the week preparing for this weekend, so it hasn’t been all that relaxing for him.  But, it’s nice to be away from home, and it’s been SO wonderful to spend time with friends we haven’t seen in a while.

We meant to leave for the high desert on Monday.  JJ realized the day before that there was no way for that to happen; he just had too much to do before he could leave.  Okay, then.  We changed out plans to leave Tuesday.  It actually worked out fine; it gave me time to pack without having to pack frantically (although I still tend to pack at the last minute.  Probably because I wait ’til the end to do the final laundry, and then I pack from those clothes along with some others I pulled out of the girls’ drawers before they went to sleep.) But JJ STILL had things to get done on Tuesday morning before we could leave, so our departure time kept getting later and later…

I should back up and explain that the impetus for this trip was that JJ was part of a consulting team doing a School of Worship Enrichment (SOWE) for our church body, the WELS, in North Hollywood, CA.  Other WELS churches from the area are also invited to attend, and those churches send their pastors, organists, choir directors, and other people that play an active role in the worship lives of their churches.  The team of four consultants came from around the country: JJ from the SF Bay area, another man from Texas, another man from Ohio, and another from Milwaukee, WI.  The consultants take turns working with the churches both as large groups and working specifically with individual churches, offering suggestions as to how worship could be improved at their churches with the resources available.  (I should also mention that churches fill out surveys and questionairres ahead of time, as well as sending in some tapes/DVDs of worship services at their church.  The consulters that work with each church view those ahead of time as well as read the surveys.) The consultants also “do” some worship services for the participants, so that people can see some of the ideas that have been suggested in action.  There’s a Compline (evening prayer) service at 5pm tonight, and the consultants will also “do” the regular Sunday morning service, including presiding, preaching, playing organ, and doing any special music.  JJ is preaching tomorrow (one of the reasons it took him so long to get ready – he wanted to get the sermon written before we left), and I’ve been drafted to sing the a Verse of the Day setting tomorrow morning, too.  The whole weekend is a really neat resource and experience for congregations, and having someone directly work with one’s church is very helpful.

SO, while we’ve theoretically been on vacation this week, JJ’s still been busy much of the time.  We decided that we really wanted to leave on Tuesday.  We hoped to leave right after lunch, but with all that JJ was trying to get done before we left (he not only had to get ready for his consulting work and write an important sermon, he also had to get everything ready at our home church for while we were gone.  Those of you classroom teachers know exactly what that is like; it’s more work to prepare for a substitute teacher than it is to do it yourself!) With all of that to prepare, we didn’t pull out of the driveway on Tuesday until 3:30.  !!!  I said to JJ before we left, “Are we nuts to attempt this 6.5 hour drive leaving now?”  He said, “Yes.”  But we did it anyway.  We both knew that if we tried to get ourselves up and going the next morning, it would be at least noon before we could leave anyway; we’re just those kind of people.  We might as well leave and get there and wake up at our destination the following morning.

That’s what we did.  We had an uneventful trip, although we did realize an hour into the trip that we had somehow forgotten to bring the grocery bag with all of our munchies plus our PB&J sandwiches for supper.  I did have a cooler with cold stuff (string cheese, carrots, sliced apples, juice) and I had a box of graham crackers, but that was it.  We also lost time crawling through a mountain pass southeast of Gilroy (south of San Jose), but once we got onto big I-5, it was smooth sailing.

Somewhere on I-5, we stopped at a combo gas station/convenience store/McDonald’s and bought a few munchies, double cheesburgers, and Chicken McNuggets.  Thankfully, Curious J ate the nuggets – her first ever!  Lyd ate them happily, as did JJ and I.  That portable supper made the trip bearable (and enabled us to keep moving), as did the DVD player in our minivan.  It came with the minivan when we bought it, and it got put to good use once the sun went down.  The girls may have been staring at the Looney Tunes like zombies, but they were quiet and calm.

But it was a long drive.  We drove through some beautiful country (at least the map said it was a “scenic route”), but we couldn’t see any of it because it was dark.  We did, however, notice a brilliant array of stars in the sky.  When you get away from the city lights, it’s amazing how many  more stars you can see!  I watched the constellation Orion for much of the trip.

We finally reached our final destination a few minutes after 11pm.  Not a moment too soon – Curious J had been crying off an on at intervals for the previous two hours.  She was tired of sitting, tired of being tired, she just wanted to sleep but couldn’t get comfortable.  The rest of us completely agreed with her.  We considered stopping at a hotel, but in the end we decided to just keep going.  When we arrived at our destination in the high Mojave desert, the girls both woke up and perked up.  They played for a while, which helped get the kinks out of their muscles, and they ate a snack, too.  We finally all rolled into bed around 12:30 am.

It was SO nice to wake up at our “new” house the next morning!  The girls instantly made friends with the 21 month old girl of the house, and the mom and I (KT of “Girly Granola“) had fun reconnecting; we hadn’t seen each other since August of 2006!  Both her husband and my husband are WELS pastors, so they had plenty to talk about, too.

KT and I agreed that the occasion of us all staying overnight at her house made us feel very grown-up.  We felt it even more so the next two nights when we put our girls to bed, and we adults played Euchre around the kitchen table, talking and laughing.  We had SUCH a good time!

There aren’t a lot of tourist-y things where we were, but on Thursday morning we went to the Route 66 historical museum, which was interesting.  Lyd was introduced to old cars, outhouses, old phones, and other antiques.  We went to a local farmer’s market, and we went to a man-made lake and park where the girls had a fun time playing.  KT made a fancy French dinner for the adults on Thursday night, with chocolate mousse for dessert.  It didn’t “mousse” quite like it was supposed to, but it sure tasted great!

Friday afternoon, we headed down the Cajon Pass on the I-15 to the San Fernando Valley to North Hollywood, to the church where my husband served as student pastor the year before we were married.  I drove the whole way, and it felt exciting to be driving on L.A. freeways again.  There are just SO many cars and so many people!  It was fun.

We’re staying at the home of one of the NoHo pastors.  They have plenty of toys for the kids, as well as lots of room for us to spread out.  Not a lot of sleeping room, but plenty of room in the rest of the house.  Curious J is taking her second nap of the day (!!!) now in the late afternoon, which is good because we’re joining the other consultants and a few other people and all going out to dinner tonight.  A well-rested baby will make that a much more enjoyable dining experience for everyone!

Tomorrow it’s church in the morning, then home for Curious J’s nap while JJ finishes up his consulting work.  It wraps up around 5pm.  I realized today that tomorrow is Oscar Night, Hollywood’s biggest evening, and I’m 2 miles away!  So, my hope is that I can find some way to get someone to watch the girls and find a companion (JJ’s consulting won’t be finished yet) to go hang out and spy on the Red Carpet with me.  It probably won’t happen, but perhaps it will!  I’m also hoping to make it to Citywalk at Universal Studios at some point – it’s only 10 minutes away from the church.  Perhaps we can go there for dinner tonight; they’ve got lots of restaurants there.

Monday morning, we’re going to try to go to Warner Bros Studios.  Lyd has a new-found love affair going on with Bugs Bunny, and we’re going to indulge her a bit.  Then, Monday afternoon it’s back on the road, back on I-5, back to northern CA, and back to reality.

It has most definitely been nice to get away!