Well 2020 is a month behind us and it has already been an interesting month. We had a great Christmas with all of our kids home under one roof for the first time in quite a while. Having all of the kiddos home really warms the heart and Leah is on cloud nine having them all under one roof. As time goes on we realize that it is harder and harder to get the family together for the holiday. With Gabe living in California and Payton in Wisconsin, each with significant others and second families, it is not easy coordinating getting them all here at the same time. It’s like wrangling cats.
Gabe has now been in California for three years and during this time he and his high school sweetheart have had a long distance relationship. Samantha his girlfriend graduated college this last spring and she was now ready to head to California to be with Gabe. We absolutely love Samantha. Brilliant and beautiful, she keeps Gabe in line and you can see the love they have for each other.
Now how are we getting her to California? My idea is to sell her car and we buy here a new car in California and we ship all of her stuff. Well… my wife and Samantha had different plans. Sam wanted to take her car to California and my wife had the plan for us to drive as well and lead them to California. I fought this tooth and nail. I couldn’t see myself driving to Cali, stay for two days and drive back. It’s a 29 hour one way trip! Now granted, I will drive a long ways to shoot ducks but to move someone… I wasn’t all the way onboard. After trying to figure it out for a couple of weeks I realized I wasn’t going to win this battle.
After the realization that Leah was dead set we were leading the charge to Cali and that was pretty much the end of the discussion. I mean, what can I say? I will drive for hours and hours to fish and hunt so how can I say I won’t do it for our son. Well I love Gabe but my butt is not made for sitting for two days. After resigning my fate and this was just the way it was I changed my attitude and decided it would be an epic trip with my wife and I would get to see where my son is living and how he is living in California.
On Wednesday December 30th we set off for the west coast. I was looking forward to parts of the drive. I have never been out west and I have never experienced the desert or mountains, so this was going to be a new adventure. We drove for 17 ½ hours the first day and ended up in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The whole trip I kept thinking its going to be warmer when we stop. As we crossed Missouri it was 29 degrees, Oklahoma was a balmy 32 degree, the Texas pan handle was 29 degrees, and when we arrived in New Mexico it was down to 27 degrees. So much for the expected warm up! We found a hotel and got some sleep and were back up at 5am to make the final push to California. As we crossed into California we were about and hour and half away and the temp was still 35 degrees. I looked at my wife and said “I think Gabe has been lying to us the whole time. He said it doesn’t get cold in California.” Well, as we started to get closer, the temps started rising. By the time we got to his apartment in Fullerton, CA it was 65 degrees. Finally I could shed my clothes. Not really, I didn’t want to get arrested but I was all about soaking up some sun.
We only had two days to spend with Gabe and Sam before we both had to begin our trek home to get back to work. We spent the first day going to Hunting Beach and checking out all of the nice homes in the Fullerton and Yorba Linda area. Gabe seem to be right at home driving along with the insanity of the traffic and showed us around the city. It was nice to see he was living in a good area with everything he needs within a few blocks. One thing I was really looking forward to is trying some new food places. We set off to a couple of locations only to have each one turn us away. Not only do they not have indoor dining in California, they don’t allow outdoor seating either. I understand the indoor but its 75 degrees and we couldn’t even sit in the open air to eat! I didn’t understand that but whatever it takes to get through this covid mess.
The second day there, we just spent some quality time with Gabe and Sam. The one thing I didn’t count on was the leaving part. It was very emotional walking out of that door knowing I am leaving these two in this big city without me being there to protect them. In the past I have compartmentalized this type of thing but as I get older, I am becoming much more of a softy. I am very proud of our kids for leaving this state and experiencing new things at a young age. Something I would have never done. I always played it safe and I don’t want them to do the same thing. I want them to spread their wings and fly. It’s hard not having them close but they are both happy, healthy, successful and are enjoying their 20’s before kids and marriage.
As I reminisce about our kids I can’t feel anything but happiness that we must have done something right. All you ever want for your kids is for them to be happy, healthy and have a better life than you. It’s amazing how fast time goes. I am sitting here celebrating our youngest daughter’s 14th birthday and picking out classes for her freshman year in high school. Time goes by so fast and before long we will be empty nesters just wishing we could turn back time. Don’t take one moment for granted because when they move out a small piece of your heart goes with it. I, unfortunately, worry too much, but this year really put the holidays in perspective. I looked at them and I realized they are not kids anymore. They are young adults getting ready to live their best life. You worry about their safety and health but you know if you did your job as a parent they will be just fine. You love your kids with all of your heart and some day they grow up and meet their significant others and begin a family of their own. Sometimes I worry they will forget about old mom and dad but I also know they are only a phone call away.
Now time for the trip home. I shouldn’t admit any of this but here goes nothing. After running the southern route to California we planned on taking the same route back to avoid any frozen weather disasters. So we started off on Sunday January 3rd to head back to reality. Little did we know a few hours later we realized our GPS had lost satellite and when it resumed, it had decided the route through the Rocky Mountains were in order. Not a big deal. We saw the southern states so we might as well experience the Rockies. That was a great mind set until you get to some of the dangerous passes west of the mountains. Of course it started snowing like crazy as we were going through the mountain. This may have been the worst couple of hours I have ever driven. Going up wasn’t so bad but when you come down the mountain and every turn feels like a 90 degree pin curve in the snow every couple of minutes. I am not sure I would ever want to drive that route in the summer. People of Colorado are obviously used to it they were still driving 60mph and you couldn’t even see but a few cars in front of you. People slamming on breaks constantly. I don’t know how many people are killed on that pass but it’s not the safest roads I have ever been on. Needless to say we made the trip and made it home safe and sound. Momma is happy that she was able to spend sometime with her baby boy in California and I am grateful she put her foot down and made me take this adventure with her. I already said if grand babies come we are flying out there.
So if you haven’t made a new year’s resolution please make the resolution to spend more time with your kids and family. 2020 was a tough year for most and all of us need our family and friends now more than ever.
May your sunrises and sunsets be magical!