61 hours of driving.  Yes, you read that correctly – we just completed 61 hours of driving!  No, that does NOT include stops.  Why in the world would we do this?  Read on to find out why.

I went back and forth whether or not to take on this road trip – for several reasons – not the least of which would be going on this trip without Les.  Our family is no stranger to travel.  I think if you looked up our names in Wikipedia it would read, “Family of six who often find themselves traveling and exploring the world around them.”  I told a friend a mine that I was looking forward to settling in when we got back from this trip and she told me, “Settling in and your family do not belong in the same sentence.”  I had to laugh.  Maybe she’s right.

Our first destination was Arizona via my parents’ house.  It was our longest leg of the journey at 29 hours.  We ended up leaving a few days late because of a water problem in our basement.  When I’m driving with just me and the kids, I’ve learned our sweet spot for a happy family in the van is driving 6 hours each day when we have to drive multiple days.  Longer than that – and the van mysteriously seems to shrink and everyone is closer and louder than before.  Leaving late meant driving at least 10 hours a day and limiting how long we could stop at attractions along the way.  No fun stops on our way to Arizona.  We needed to be there by a certain day and time since I was going to be at the OCN (Orthodox Christian Network) booth at the Clergy/Laity conference.

I was truly blessed to meet several caring and wonderful people at the conference.  I have been blogging for OCN’s blog, The Sounding, for several months now.  Melinda leads our group of bloggers and I’ve corresponded with her many times via email, phone, and facebook.  It was an absolute joy to meet her in person!  She has a true talent for connecting people to make a harmonious match.

For example, she introduced Niki to a seamstress who makes vestments.  Niki was able to show the seamstress a couple of pieces she had made (a skirt and bag).  The lady was very impressed with Niki’s work and encouraged her to continue pursuing this avenue.  Niki was beside herself with elation when she got back to the hotel room.  Melinda also aided in some exciting news about Illumination Learning!  I can’t wait to share more details about it – hopefully later this summer.

I was also truly blessed to met Dionysios Potamitis at the conference.  He and his wife write and illustrate Orthodox children’s books.  He is the most sweet and caring man.  Seriously.  He radiates with his love for God.

The next leg of our trip was 26 hours.  I made it a point to make a couple of quick stops along the way.

Our first stop was at meteor crater in northern Arizona.

“Mom, take a picture!  I’m Man vs. Wild!”

Right outside of Amarillo, TX, we stopped again for about 20 minutes at the Cadillac Ranch.  I’ve seen this “attraction” on tv in the past and thought it would be a fun stretch your legs activity for the kids.  All four of them were incredibly excited when we stopped!

We were so excited to spray paint the cars that we didn’t notice the sea of spray paint cans littered on the field.  I felt so ashamed we had participated in this attraction as soon as I saw it.  There were no trash cans around.  I came incredibly close to going to the store and buying trash cans and bringing them back – but who would empty them when we left?  So sad.

We made it to camp…a little late but safe and sound.

Les was able to fly in for a couple of days of camp.  Justin and I went to pick up from the airport.