Friday, July 24, 2015

Our Trip of a Lifetime

If you ever get a chance to go on a trip with your mom to the land of her ancestors, do it! We did, and it was truly the trip of a lifetime. It all started with my sister and her husband receiving a mission call to serve in the Birmingham England Mission. They left last fall, and will be gone 18 months. Before they left, Bob and I started thinking about how fun it would be to take my mom to visit her. And the perfect bunk mate for her (and trip mate for us) would be my oldest sister, so we easily included her in the trip.

They were both game, so we started planning, booked flights, and began the long process of coming up with an itinerary so that we could book the hotels. We finally figured out a pretty good travel plan that involved picking up a rental car in London and driving around England, Wales and Scotland.

We went in June, and were gone for 13 days. And it could not possibly have been any better. Everything went as planned. Bob was an excellent driver (on the left side of the road, no less), the schedule worked out, everyone was healthy, and we saw and did things every day that will forever be a treasure to me.

Now, some of you may remember my mom is close to turning 85. And you may be wondering how a trip like that was for an 85 year old. She didn't miss one beat. Not. One. She scooted right along with all of us, and didn't want to "sit out" on any activity. She also was the most adventurous as far as eating. She would look the menu over, and when it was her turn to order, she would rattle off the most obscure thing on the menu. Many a time we would just look at her with our mouths open when she ordered, but she always loved whatever it was, and loved it all the more for it's "different" taste. She's an adventurous gal, that one. And my oldest sister was such a treat to have along. She is an amazing person, and one that I've always admired and looked up to. She is absolutely delightful to spend time with. We all laughed and carried on and talked into the wee hours. In fact, we mentioned that it was really an amazing thing to all still like each other, in fact love each other more deeply, after being with each other straight for that long. Especially when covering 1800 miles of land together.

We loved visiting with my sister and her husband for a few days, and touring some of the countryside with them. They knew the area like the back of their hand, which was good, since the little villages dot the hillsides and wind in and around each other.

And I never can get enough of traveling with my love. We love having adventures together and sharing those experiences and memories. There is no one I would rather be with, any time, any where.

Oh, the things we saw. And did...

In front of Westminster Abbey

I take pics of Bob like this all the time. Be still my heart.

How cute is this of Bob with a perfect view of the Changing of the Guards at Buckingham Palace... right over my mom's head. (She's in the pink jacket). He loves her and is protective of her, like she really was his mom.

In front of St. Paul's Cathedral.

On a bus tour. We take selfies often. And delight our kids with them all throughout the day.

Stonehenge. A must see for sure.

With my sister and her husband, who are missionaries serving in England. (They're on the right). This was at St. Pierre's Hotel in Chepstow Wales.

The St. Pierre Resort had a little cemetery that we walked through every day to get from the main hotel and restaurant to our townhouse.

Cardiff Castle. Oh, hello there, husband o' mine.

One thing about Bob and me on a road trip. He understands me perfectly and knows just what is important in the sight-seeing department for me. There was more than one time that he pulled over at the sight of sheep and let us have our fill of photos.

This is one of those family history moments. This home was the home of my mom's grandma and great-grandma (who lived side by side through the two doors you see). It's from the 1800's, and the woman who is second from the left is restoring it with her husband. Amazing to find this place and know exactly where our ancestors lived. And as if that wasn't enough, the sweet woman gave us treasures that they had unearthed during the restoration. She had a large tub of small medicine bottles, lots of iron pieces, and other relics. So fun! We won't mention that we lugged those iron pieces and bottles every where we went for the rest of the week. And our suitcases definitely put on some weight for the trip home.

Here's a great example of what kind of an 85 year old my mom is. We stopped at a part of Hadrian's Wall in Scotland. At this particular stop, you could climb up a hill and look out around the countryside. She could have stayed down at the bottom with the cows, but she went right on up, and it really was a good climb.

And Bob helping her back down this hillside. Pretty amazing!

Northern Scotland, on the way to Loch Ness.

Edinburgh Castle.

On the way down the England Coast from Edinburgh to the Leeds area. We wanted to travel down the coastline to take in the views, and we were not disappointed. Bob stopped whenever we could find a place to take photos. This one shows the farmland that goes right down to the ocean. Imagine living down there and farming that every day! I wouldn't get any work done... I'd be staring at the view all day long.

Our last day, we stopped at the RAF Museum for Bob. He loves anything having to do with planes (he works with plane innards every day). He was like a kid in a candy shop. Really.

And our last stop of the trip was to the London Temple. Because of some serious traffic problems, we missed being able to attend, but we strolled the beautiful grounds and visited with some of the missionaries there.

So go do it. Start making plans and saving pennies for a trip with your mom and/or dad. Go to the places that are important in their heritage. Spend time listening to their stories and memories. If you're married, make sure to bring your husband along. Let him take part in and understand how important these moments are to you. I can't imagine drinking in all that we did every day on our trip, and not curling up with him at the end of each day reliving the amazing things we saw and the funny, sweet adventures, and cementing them as memories. 

And take lots of photos. You will forever be grateful that you did.

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