Tour to Oregon and Back! ... and all the adventures we had along the way!

Tour to Oregon and Back! ... and all the adventures we had along the way!

Here’s a glimpse into what it’s like to spend almost 100 hours in the van together (that’s 33 hours per week!) and doing music shows while traveling across half the United States in January and February! If you didn’t catch that, we did it the SMART way - during the winter in mountain country!!! (Maybe not such a good idea) Five mountain passes, potentially 70-90 mile-per-hour winds in some places, and all sorts of weather possibilities…

Czardas - a sneak peak behind the scenes of our latest music video!

Shooting video in the rain.....or at least shooting between downpours! What fun. NOT! It was discouraging to get all the paperwork done, logistics worked out, and time spent to drive all the way to MO, only to be met with BAD weather! But, God worked out everything for the best and we came away with a video that has more weather features than we had originally planned on! His ways are always best, even though while you’re going through them, it can be easy to wonder. 

As you can see above, we did all sorts of things to keep the rain off the instruments as much as possible!

Umbrellas were our best friends.

The details: We arrived at the location only to have the skies pour and drizzle. Even though the rain lasted all day, we were able to shoot video now and then when the skies let up. The canopy we brought along at the  last minute was invaluable - we were able run under it when it poured and also do some closeups under it during the rain. I would be almost out from under the canopy on one side while the soloist would be as far away from me as possible while still remaining under the canopy. Crowded! Have you ever tried to get 8 people, 8 instruments (including a piano), a generator, umbrellas, and camera equipment all under 1 ten by ten foot canopy? It was tough to keep stuff dry! Beth (a very nice runner) brought us towels to use in drying off our instruments and even opened up her home in case we needed a place to warm up/dry off - thanks Beth!

Here, you can see the canopy when it was only filled with 4 people and part of the equipment - we weren't even shooting footage under it!

Because of all the rain, we weren't able to capture all the footage we were hoping for, so we were able to schedule a return to the park (on our way home from Texas) to finish the video. The only problem was it poured Monday morning when we were again scheduled to shoot video - thankfully, the rain dried up mid-morning, and were were able to grab a few shots before heading home!

I forgot to mention: the hill here was treacherous for filmmakers trying to get a smooth shot without stepping in holes and slipping a bit on rocks!

Take a listen here and see what you think! 

In case you’re interested, here’s the backstory behind this unique burned out castle:
According to local folklore, Ha Ha Tonka is an Osage Indian word for laughing waters, alluding to the springs in the gorge far below the castle. This American mansion was built by Robert M. Snyder, a wealthy Kansas City businessman, on more than 5,000 acres. Construction began in 1905 only to be halted a year later with the untimely death of Snyder in one of the state's first automobile accidents. Snyder's sons finished building their father's dream, eventually leasing the property out for use as a hotel, until tragedy struck in 1942. The entire interior was consumed by fire when sparks from a chimney ignited the roof. Today only ruins remain of one man’s dream.

It must have been gorgeous before, but I love the feel it has now!

Check it out on YouTube! 

Epic Virginia Vacation Adventure!

Finally. Our first family vacation in a VERY long time. Ten whole days away from all of our instruments. We were ready to relax and have the time of our lives!

Waiting for a large farmer's market located in a train station to open...

Waiting for a large farmer's market located in a train station to open...

Shopping and browsing (Seth's favorite activity....NOT!)

Shopping and browsing (Seth's favorite activity....NOT!)

IMG_9776byLaura-ebyLaura for web.jpg

I had a marvelous time photographing Historic Colonial Williamsburg. All over town, there were ancient buildings and people in period costume ready for my camera! The people in Colonial Williamsburg knew all their historical stuff - and talked it, dressed it, acted it, and had fun living it! Williamsburg was very impressive and we all learned a lot.

Our carriage ride around Colonial Williamsburg rounded out our experience.

Sailing!!! Our first time ever! Each of us got a turn at the wheel. Captain Bill was full of tips for us on the art of sailing, took the two photos on the left for us, and kept us entertained with war stories about the places we passed on our trip.

More shopping, exploring, visiting historical sites at Jamestown and Yorktown, eating out at a wonderful restaurant (Thanks Daddy!) going mini golfing...

The resort we stayed at was incredible! How'd you like to try out playing a mammoth game of chess or checkers? We also played Settlers of Catan, tennis, shuffleboard, basketball, and horse shoes! Swimming at night in a heated pool with underwater lights that are constantly changing color was beautiful. It was the first time in my life that I could float on my back in neon pink water and gaze at the stars! 

Yeah, that thing Karen is holding is a crab, freshly caught. Ya gotta cook and eat fresh seafood at the coast! Soft shell crabs were the family favorite: the hard shell crabs were a pain to dismantle, at least they were the way we were doing it.

Well, all good things come to an end at some time or other and our vacation was no exception! We packed up, got on the road, drove to a farm (also in Virginia) where Silas was picking up a couple goats. Yup. They rode home with us. Thankfully we had a large dog crate for the small goats to ride in and an air freshening machine for us! (Thanks Charlotte!)

Uh oh. We've got problems.

Van Gogh lost it. Power that is. We smelled diesel. LOTS of it. Thankfully, it wasn't raining anymore, and we were right by a truck stop.

Almost no cell phone reception and no internet access. 

IMG_0983byLaura for web.jpg

Oh dear. The fuel line is broken. 

Oh dear #2: our vehicle is foreign-made and nobody has the parts to fix it. Metric parts.

At least a towing service is within walking distance. Daddy and the shop guy worked on it and got it running again with what we hoped would be quick fix until we arrived home.

We waited at the truck stop in the dog-walking area.

Yes!! The Sprinter is fixed! We packed back up and got on the road.

For a total of less than 1 mile.

Uh oh #3.

Time to call the tow truck. Again. The fuel line was broken worse than it was before. This time, it was unfix-ably broken. We would have to order a new part.

This time, we were towed to an area hotel. Praise the Lord - there was a pet-friendly one nearby!

They were OK with goats in our room as long as they stayed in the cage. So, the cage was carried up to the 3rd floor all the way down to the end of the hall. Oops! It didn't fit through the door. The whole thing had to be dismantled (which was quite the process since we had customized it for the goats)!

There are many more details about that stay that I am very happy we will not be repeating in the future!

The goats needed to get home. And, Daddy needed to get back to work. We rented a small vehicle, created a good place for the goats in back and crammed 5 of us in with only the luggage we could hold. It was a long, cramped 15 + hours straight home! But, we made it by around 4am! 

Seth, Luke, and Mommy were still stranded in Virginia, waiting for parts. [Seth and Luke were chosen to stay behind because Seth is great at mechanical things (what if the van broke down again?) and Luke was a second driver to trade off with Mommy.] With almost nothing to do within walking distance, no internet, and nothing good on the few TV channels available, they had a relaxing, but long wait! 

By Tuesday, after tow #3, a dealer was able to overnight the needed parts to Virginia, and 4 days after we had made it home, they joined us!

It was quite a trip! #letsdoitagain

South Carolina!!!


After we finished recording at Brookwood Recording Studio in MI, we started driving east. Hour after hour, we drove through the night. In the dark, the hazy blue Appalachian Mountains were still beautiful: the view from the top of the ridges down to the city lights below in the valley was breathtaking.

We kept driving, enjoying (?) the ice-storm damaged scenery once we finally arrived in South Carolina. It was nice to see green grass! Once we reached the coast, the beautiful beach houses on stilts became a common sight.

Click on a photo to view it full screen, then use the arrows on the sides of the page...

Our (new to us) Sprinter is tall enough for all of us to stand up in and will have much more space available to use on long trips!

Notice the short sleeves of one smart guy! It was 82 degrees in North Carolina - a far cry from the sub-zero temperatures we've been experiencing!

While test-driving the Sprinter, we stopped at the beach for an ultra quick 5 minute break before starting on the loooonnngggg drive home. At this beach on Sullivan's island, deadly currents and deep holes make it a requirement to stay out of water! It was posted that if you decide to disobey, you will be given a $1040 fine! We chose to stay out of the water.

On the way back home, we enjoyed seeing the Appalachians again, this time during the day. The rock layers showing evidence of the world wide flood are an amazing sight!

We drove for many more hours, with 4 of us in one vehicle and 4 in the other. This was one time we were thankful to have 5 drivers to share the driving responsibility! After driving for 26 hours straight, we finally stopped after dark at the Cumberland Inn (at Cumberland College) in Kentucky.

As you can see from the pictures, the hotel was gorgeous and we had an absolutely wonderful time! The hotel even had letters from George H. Bush and Jimmy Carter on their walls from the college's 100th anniversary celebration 24 years ago.

Next morning, it was back to driving again, past the black fences and black barns of Kentucky!

After getting many more hours down the road near Indianapolis, Daddy took us to the Boulder Creek Dining Company for a wonderful lunch/supper at 3pm.

Then the weather took a turn for the worse. First came strong, gusting winds around 60 mph, then torrential rain, and later a few ground level pink clouds! As we crossed the states, the rain turned to ice, and then freezing snowy stuff that sent both vans sliding around the road. Not fun. It makes for REALLY slow travel, especially with large vehicles that aren't weighed down. The last 80 miles took about 4 hours.

In the evening, we stopped at the largest truck stop in the world and purchased an ice cream cake which we split up between vans and then devoured.

South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, and finally Iowa!

After almost 50 hours of driving time, we slid into our driveway at almost 3 AM Friday morning, very glad to be home. We were gone from Sunday afternoon until 3 AM Friday and that includes 2 days of recording to finish up the CD!