Sunday, October 26, 2008

Impromptu Road Trip to Ephrata!

We took a very impromptu, last minute road trip out to Ephrata yesterday. Initially, we were going to go to Yakima and find a place for Ethan to pick apples. But we wound up going to Ephrata instead and we are SO glad we did! We left home later than we should have, but we had a great time and still got home at a decent hour. It was an absolutely GORGEOUS day yesterday and we could not have asked for better weather. There was a very slight autumn chill in the air, but overall it was warm and crept up to about 60F. The sun shone brightly all day and we soaked it up! Before leaving, Mike gathered a few movies for the kids and also hooked up the X-Box to the DVD player in the Pilot. Between that and the kids' Nintendo DS games, they were set!

Evan complained of a headache right from the start so we let him lay down on a pillow in the back seat and he slept like a baby all the way to Cle Elum! We stopped there for potty breaks and then headed out again. Snoqualmie pass was gorgeous. We hit a bit of traffic but it eventually cleared up and it was smooth sailing the rest of the way. It really amazed me how different the landscape is on the eastern side of the mountains. It was fascinating to actually see it change. It's very abrupt without much warning. One minute you are surrounded by evergreen trees and the next minute it's nothing but hills and desert! At one point, I wondered if we were driving through Arizona... except I didn't see any cacti!

Yesterday was my first time seeing the Columbia River! (Well, not exactly true... I have seen it in Oregon, but it wasn't the same at all!) Mike was right. You just see nothing but dry land everywhere and then out of the blue, there it is... so beautiful! We stopped to take in the beauty and get a few pictures. Breathtaking. I really want to go back in the summer when it's hot outside and the river is warm enough for swimming in!

One thing I noticed on that side of the mountains is the "big sky". Because there are no high rises or trees to hamper the view, the sky is just so "there" and so big and so prominent. I felt so amazingly small in the world.

After enjoying beautiful views of the river, we headed out and arrived in Ephrata a short time later. I have to say, I loved that little town! Then again, I'm a real sucker for small towns. For some reason, I have always been drawn to them. My grandmother lived in a small town when I was growing up and I remember absolutely LOVING it. It seemed she knew everyone who lived there. It didn't matter who it was, she was always beeping her horn at the car passing in the opposite direction. It was always the same ritual... two quick beeps and a wave of the hand... and the other car always did the same. But alas, I digress...

When we arrived at 38 G Street NE, we were warmly welcomed by Aunt Barbara and Uncle Phil. It was wonderful to see them again!! It had been nine very long years since we'd seen each other. They came to our wedding in February of 1999 and then we saw them again at Jon and Kreanna's wedding later that same year. How is that possible really? We're only 3 hours away from each other. How could we have allowed that much time to pass? Shame on us.

We sat on the couch and visited with them while the boys played outside. They also played with a train set and some Lincoln Logs that Aunt Barbara got out for them. We were able to catch up on the latest Hartman happenings as well as see pictures of their absolutely gorgeous grandchildren. It was SO nice to sit and just chat and catch up. They are so sweet!

Aunt Barbara recently finished a book she has been working on... "Letters From Italy"... a book about the lives of her parents and the love letters they shared. I read the first few pages while I was sitting on her couch and did not want to put it down. I love history, especially when it involves family. I am very honored to now own a copy of this book and cannot wait to read the rest. My only regret? I wish I had had Aunt Barbara sign it!!!!

Before we left, we went outside and took some pictures. The neighbor's dog wanted in on the action too! Uncle Phil was super, super kind to share with us a box of beautiful apples, which will be made into applesauce by me and the kids! We were also the lucky recipients of some famous Hartman honey! It is wonderful stuff and we eat it like crazy in our house! Then we said our goodbyes and headed home.

The drive home was an adventure for sure. We didn't even make it to I-90 before Evan was in tears, saying his head hurt again. So I jumped in the driver's seat and Mike went and sat in the back with the boys. That was fine, except that after a bit, my own head started pounding and my eyelids got pretty heavy. So when we got to Ellensburg, we switched again and Mike drove the rest of the way home. We had almost reached home (less than a mile!) when Ethan very unexpectedly puked! UGH... I'm not sure if he had a little bug or was just car sick, or a little of both. We pulled into a bank parking lot and stripped him down, cleaned him up, and redressed him in some clean clothes. Evan slept through it all. We made it home before 9pm!!

I can't wait to go out there again! It was so much fun and took a lot less time than I had anticipated. Perhaps next time we can see Jon and Kreanna and their beautiful children. We need to plan a time when we can spend more time than just a few hours. Families are such a blessing!

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