Monday, December 29, 2008

The 2008 Christmas Vacation Saga

We're in California now staying at Andrea's parent home. They are always so gracious to let us stay here when we visit - we are so thankful. But boy, what a trip down.

If you haven't been following our Facebook updates and Twitters, our van broke down in a snow storm in Idaho just about 300 miles out of Helena on Christmas Day.

A little better conditions than the snow storm our van stalled in

We were sitting in a snow bank with not a car in sight and we didn't know if we would get it re-started. I was a little nervous about that, but after about 30 minutes we got the van started and we limped to the town of Dubois, Idaho with about half power from our engine and the engine light on.

When we finally got to Pocatello, Idaho, we figured it would be wise to stay the night and have the van checked the next day. We got a discount at the hotel because of our sad story :-)

Us, stuck in motel in Pocatello on Christmas Day

Only place open on Christmas + lots of people = 3 hours at Denny's

After a few hours at the Dodge dealer on Friday, we found out that the parts we needed for the van wouldn't be there until the following Tuesday. After much calling to friends in Helena for mechanical advice, we weighed our options and then decided it would cost the same renting a car and continuing to California rather than staying in a motel in Pocatello all vacation. :-)

The car next to ours at the Dodge dealership - Pocatello got a lot of snow

We got a late start on Friday, and drove through the night to Fontana, California arriving about 7:00am. Whew! Andrea and I were tired.

Approaching Las Vegas about 3am - 34 degrees

Anyway, we're here in California now. Saturday, we took it easy and went to Vince's Spaghetti - hands down, the best spaghetti in the world.

We saw Andrea's grandmother in an Poway (San Diego) hospital yesterday. She is looking good, but has a logn road to recovery of she's ever going to get out of the hospital again.

Us and Andrea's grandpa visiting Grandma

Also, we visited the famed Killer Pizza from Mars restaurant in Escondido before we headed back up to Rancho Cucamonga. By the way, the Chargers killed the Broncos!

Fun photos from "Killer Pizza"

Today, we're gonna see several friends at Chili's and El Torrito. We're really looking forward to seeing them.

Tomorrow, we're going see my Mom. She has some major blockage in arteries through her neck and had two strokes in last two months. She lost sight in left eye first time - then during a medical procedure to determine the extent of the blockage, she had another stroke loosing some usage of her left hand.

We've gotta be back in Pocatello on Friday to turn in our rental and we're praying our van will be fixed. Funny thing - wasn't even a mechanical problem with the van - just the "computer." But it still cost us more than $1K with the rental and all.

Our rental - the "mini" version of our Dodge Grand Caravan

After all, we're still actually in a good mood. It was just a little set-back. We know that somehow through all of this, God has a plan. Can't see it yet, but we know things could have been worse. It's been a blessing to see family and friends and we definitely feel a bit refreshed.

This will be a Christmas to remember for years to come. And looking forward to 2009, we know it will be equally challenging and rewarding as we move forward to plant Encounter Church in Helena.

We could use all your prayers and thoughts - and we're looking to connect with many of you who don't yet know what Encounter is all about. Feel free to contact us and we'll get together to talk about it.

Have a blessed Christmas and hopeful New Year!

We'll be adding all of the photos of our trip here.