January 9, 2014

Expanded and Unabridged

Expanded and Unabridged ~ A recap of our time away.
But, before we launch into all that, please know that we view this vacation as a gift
from the Lord's gracious and loving hand to our family.  We didn't deserve it.  
It really was a wonderful provision for this first Christmas without our Austin.
Not a need.  Not at all.  However, it truly was a great blessing.

I gave a brief synopsis in my last post.  Very brief.
This, however, is the expanded and unabridged version.
It isn't brief and it isn't for the faint of heart ~ wink.  
Remember I said we came home exhausted?  Yes, we did.

 But, it was good.  Very, very good.

Our adventures began at 5:00am on December 10th.

We left for the airport shortly after rising to catch an 8:00 am flight.
We landed just before 11:00am in Los Angeles, California.
Fraser, our love-of-anything-cultural man, discovered that there
was an outdoor Mexican market in the heart of old L.A.
So, as you may have guessed, it was one of the first things we did.

The next morning, we met up with my sister and her two children for the day.
Unfortunately, her husband had to work, so, he was unable to join in.  We were sad.
We ate at In-N-Out for lunch together ~ What a treat!  :)
We don't have In-N-Out here in Canada, so this was our first ever experience.
Do you have In-N-Out where you are?  You must go!

We were able to spend the day together at Disneyland ~ What fun!

We headed over to my sister's on the weekend.
Early the following week, the boys took a day out at March Air Force Base.
Emma and I stayed behind ~ We were not sorry to *miss out*.  :)

As you can see, Calvin was in his element.
Planes and cameras are his two favourite things.
Just to give oomph to that statement, I will let you in on a little something ~
Calvin and Howie spent an entire day at LA International Airport,
on day three of our trip, where he took over 1000 images of planes!
Yessirree...he has it bad.

But, I digress.  And, no, I wasn't there.  
I was with Fraser and Emma for another day at Disney.  :)

After five nights with my sister, we ventured out on a road trip.
We took an excursion that had us journeying through the Mojave Desert.
What an experience that was!  Miles and miles of sand and straight (but rolling) road.

Fraser wasn't running for help ~ he was curious.

Amazing and massive expanse of majestic wilderness ~

Truly, one feels extremely small in the middle of it all.

Historic Route 66 ~ A fun find!

We drove six hours Northeast from my sister's home to Williams, AZ.
We arrived still wearing shorts as snow was just beginning to fall.
Amazing what happens when you climb a few thousand feet and drive North.
You get Winter!  :)

The next morning, we drove from Williams to the Grand Canyon National Park.

The South Rim views were completely clouded in.
The very first family shot of the day is all grey.  No view.

Nada.  Zip.  Nothing.

This was to be our only day at the Canyon ~ and it wasn't guaranteed to clear.

Of course, we were hoping to see something.  
Howie wanted to stand in one spot and wait.  He really did.
We walked instead.  And, over time, the cloud lifted.
What a great blessing!!  Because, who knows if we will ever be back.

The Lord is in the details.  Isn't He just so gracious?

It was actually a treat to see the Canyon in varying light
and cloud cover throughout the day.  It was stunningly beautiful.  
I am SO glad we made the effort to go!

Emma captured Calvin capturing an image.

Yes, he was nearing the edge.
No, I didn't tell him not to get too close.
(At least, not at that moment.  Nope.  I was quiet as could be.)

Emma's camera does panoramic shots like the one below ~ 

Isn't it just amazing?  The sheer expanse of the Canyon is mind boggling.
It really is true ~ it cannot be fully appreciated from photos.
In all honesty, it's difficult to comprehend what you are actually looking
at even when standing right at the edge.  Incomprehensible.  Truly.

We made it over to an Eastern Viewpoint where there was a tower to climb.
The views from inside the tower were glorious.
The majesty of the Canyon brings glory to our Great God.
It makes me smile to think of His Creativity!

Emma and Daddy (above) and Mummy (below) inside the tower.

Fraser and Howie late in the day.

It was sunny, but cold.

The South Rim's elevation is about 7,000 feet.

This is such a common view of our Calvin ~

Camera in hand capturing whatever is before him.

Just like this!  :)

A tripod is a great tool in the hand of a skilled photographer.
Thank you, Calvin, for bringing it along ~ it was a blessing to 
have you in some family photos alongside us.

We spent the night in Flagstaff and then travelled South the next day.  

Before the day was out, we were into warmer weather once again.
One of the highlights of our trip was that we were able
to meet up with Jared and Lisa and their family.

What a blessing to our hearts!

The boys were thick as thieves and could be found hunting scorpions

or playing checkers or soccer together.  It was a flurry of activity.
Did you notice I said scorpions?  They actually found one.
It was outside the room Howie and I were staying in.  
I stayed in bed and let the men handle it.  And, they did.

Emma and this young miss became fast friends.
She was eager to learn how to knit ~ I'm not sure how much she learned.
But, they do look happy...don't they?

Lisa posted a less civilised photo on her blog of the kiddos ~

Wanna see?  Click here.

Lisa and me...together.  :)

We make quite a crowd ~

Thank you, Jared and Lisa, for sharing your home with us...
You blessed us so very, very much!

On the way back to CA to my sister's home,
we stopped at a rest area to get a photo with one of these Saguaro Cacti.
The children had never been *up close and personal* with one before.
Howie got a little too close ~ He was stuck by one of the needles!  Nasty.  :(

By the time we got to our final stop, we had logged nearly 1800 miles

on the rental vehicle.  Thankfully, we were renting with unlimited mileage.
It was quite the journey, but, well worth the effort.

Back at my sister's home...

Christmas Day arrived, and there were gifts under the tree 
for each of the children.  There were gifts for us as well.  So sweet.
It was warm and some of us were in shorts and some ate
breakfast outside.  It was out of the ordinary in many ways.

So, we had a different Christmas.

And, it was a blessing.  We enjoyed the sunshine and warmth

that we do not have in our part of the globe at this time of year.
We enjoyed the company of loved ones who graciously opened their
home and hearts to us not knowing exactly what to expect.
And, we were blessed by the Lord in unexpected ways.

He is always Good and Gracious and Kind.  Always.

Thank you once again, our precious family, 
for including us in your traditions this year ~
We love you and thank the Lord for you!

My Mama heart will not allow me to complete this post without mentioning 

our precious Austin ~ We miss him terribly.  Horribly.
We don't like to make new memories without him.  It hurts.
But, we are making new memories.  Without trying.
By God's great grace, many of our new memories are happy ones.

But, it's bittersweet.

We had many times of reflection and teary moments while we were away.

We also had many joy-filled times of laughter and fun.  
Tears and joy.  Emptiness and fullness.  Caught between.  

It's a new way of life and living.

It was sad to come home to an empty house where our Austin no longer lives.

We know that he is not missing out on anything.  He is rejoicing in his eternal Home.
We know that he is living.  Just not here.  He lives with the Lord in Heaven.
It really won't be long before our Saviour takes us to live there as well.

Oh, to continually have an eternal perspective!  

It is the best comfort for our aching hearts.  

May the Lord help us all to live each day as if it were our last.

And, live each day for eternity. 
Because, that's what really matters.  It really is.

Much Love,

**Photo credits ~ Calvin, Emma, Howie and Camille

using two different cameras and one phone.
It was too tricky to keep track of who used what and when for this post.  :)


Anonymous said...

Hi Camille. So happy to see your time away was a blessing for you all... I especially was amused by the "civilized" photo of you all; I should have known better.:) Great write up and photos. Thanks for blessing us by sharing. Love, Susan

Maryann said...

I enjoyed reading this and looking at all the photos. The shot of Calvin taking photos at the Grand Canyon was excellent. Also loved the one in the snow. I am so thankful that the Lord provided this time for your family and for the memories you were able to make. Thanks for being willing to share this journey and thank you for continually reminding us to keep that eternal perspective. Many blessings to you

Grandmabeckyl.blogspot said...

I enjoyed your post...loved the photos. Aw, saguaro cactus, huge things, esp in AZ. I was disappointed there wasn't much cactus in NM, where we lived for 10 years. Oh well! Thanks for sharing your vacation in word and photos and glad you were blessed by it. God gives His children mercy and love. I'm as bad as Calvin is with a camera and glad he's good at it. Hugs to you all!

Patrinas Pencil said...

O how WIDE and HIGH and LONG and DEEP is the Heavenly Father's LOVE for us! What beautiful memories He created for you. It was great to see the family celebrating LIFE. Austin, though present with the LORD...was also present in these memories. He was right there cheering you on!

Thanks so much for sharing 'the Gift' through pictures!

I enjoy them!

Patrina <")>><

Patty said...

So much fun for you and your family and friends! I am so glad you were able to do this ~ a blessing indeed! I have a niece that would be ecstatic over 1000 plane pictures! She is always trying to get her mom to take her to the airport.
My husband has been wanting to visit the Grand Canyon for several years now. Maybe this will be the year.

Blessings to all!

Cheesemakin' Mamma said...

Loved all the photos! Great job everyone! Oh, I'm so glad you were all able to get away from it all and have some great fun and adventures. I loved what you said about making new memories without meaning too. Here is to many more future memories! Blessings to you all and I hope 2014 will be a good year for you.

Angela said...

I'm so thankful that you were blessed by such a great time away even though it was bittersweet. Our God is faithful and kind. Love the pictures and the description of your travels. The Grand Canyon looks amazing. I always wanted to go there. May God give you all the strength and grace that you need day by day as you continue to learn to live without your Austin.

Camille said...

Dear Susan ~ Ah, yes...civilised we are not! But, we try...yes, we do. :) Thank you for leaving a sweet comment...it's always a blessing to my heart when you do. Hugs!

Dear Maryann ~ Thank you for commenting on specific photos my friend. Emma took both of your favourites. She has a neat little camera that has some fun features on it...hence the snow photo. :)

Dear Becky ~ Thank you for encouraging our Calvin in his photography...that's a blessing. I appreciate your friendship and sweet comments. :)

Dear Patrina ~ Yes, indeed...our Heavenly Father is wonderful! Thank you for rejoicing with me! Hugs. :)

Dear Patty ~ Oh, you must go! It's stunningly beautiful! I cannot say it enough...there is nothing like being right there, viewing it first hand. :)

Dear Jackie ~ Thank you, sweet friend, for always being a kind encouragement to my heart. Hugs to you! :)

Dear Angela ~ Thank you so much for your kind and thoughtful words. The Lord truly is Good. All the time. Blessings to you! :)

With Love,

Sandy said...

Dear Camille,
What a blessing to have this trip! We praise God along side with you.
We enjoy looking through your pictures. They are so lovely. From hot to cold to hot, what an experience. We are glad you are back. :)
Hugs to ya!

Lisa said...

Camille, what beautiful pictures! We LOVED every second of seeing your family. I know it was a hard time of year to come, but thank you so much for making that extra journey over to Arizona...it was such a blessing to us, and we loved every second we got to spend with your sweet family!! I love your pics of the Grand Canyon...we've only been able to make it once so far, but we must have went to the exact same spot. That tower was our favorite! Please send your family our love!!

Camille said...

Dear Sandy ~ It was quite the experience and a true gift from the Lord! Thank you for rejoicing with us my friend. Hugs to you all! :)

Dear Lisa ~ You blessed us more than you may ever know. Thank you for everything! Love to you all! :)

With love,

Wanting What I Have said...

Oh my. I am all teary. What a wonderful get-away!!! And what a blessing. And I can't imagine how terribly you miss Austin. We love you all so much! Thank you for sharing.

Camille said...

Dear Jennifer ~ You bless me with your friendship...I am thankful for YOU! XO

With love,

PippaDavies said...

Camille it has been a while since I have checked your blog. What a lovely surprise to see your awesome photographs of a memory making journey. But bittersweet as you say without your young man :( Sending you cyberhugs and glad to see you are back at the writing station! Blessings on your year my friend!

Camille said...

Dear Pippa ~ Lovely to hear from you...thank you for your kind and encouraging words! I trust you all had a wonderful Christmas break? We will have to try to connect sometime soon. Hugs to you! :)

With Love,

Heather@Cultivated Lives said...

Thanks for giving us a peak into your trip down south. I'm so glad your loved Arizona! It was fun seeing pictures of your precious family! If you ever make your way down south again, let me know.

Camille said...

Dear Heather ~ Aww...thank you my friend! If you are ever up here...let me know! It would be lovely to meet sometime. :)

With Love,