This is long, but hopefully you will enjoy the read! Here are the Photos :).
Our Amazing, Wonderful, Incredible Trip to Wenatchee by Caleb Robbins
We got up so early that it was literally disgusting! I mean the kind of early that makes you not even want to go to sleep the night before. The kind of early that makes you worried you are going to miss your alarm the next morning and keeps you dreaming about it and restless. The kind of early that left us with little to no sleep and dragging almost the whole day 😊.
3 am waits for no man! We got up, roused the less tired kids (there is a special adrenaline that kicks in when you are going on an adventure) and got out into the humid, dark, and morning air. Ah yes, in Texas it is always warm, even at 3 am. We packed up and did the last bit of tidying (mainly cleaning the toilets - it’s just mean to leave a dirty toilet for the person who is house sitting for you) and were on our way.
We went back and forth on how we were going to get all 7 of us and our luggage and car seats to where we needed to be. Finally, at the last minute I decided we would all drop the van off together and hitch a ride. At first, we were going to have me drop Diane and the confluence of etcetera and such that we must bring along (snacks for the army that makes up our children and what nots) and then I would drop off the van and ride back solo. Well, I didn’t feel good about it and given the time remaining, decided to just bring the whole family along for the adventure.
Smooth like jazz, like a nicely shaved… well anything 😉. We loaded and unloaded and found ourselves in line waiting to get our luggage checked and our boarding passes in hand with plenty of time to spare. Ah yes, the joy of naming a child Serenity and then yelling her name (which she does not always live up to) and then laughing at the irony of it all. Well I trudge through the line with my boys while my beautiful girls got to enjoy the joys of entertaining a very tired 1.5-year-old. My wife is truly amazing and I’m so grateful for her and her ways!
We made it through and had just enough time to spare to get the much needed and beloved airport Starbucks coffee. It’s almost ridiculous to not do it! I mean, given the line that is at every single one, the peer pressure alone is reason enough. We must be among the herd that gets drunk on caffeine early in the morning before flying with five children, literally, across the country. Well, there is sad news and then there is SAD news. Diane delivered the latter when she let me know that Serenity had melted down 5 people from the front of the Starbucks altar. I was very sad, like something inside me had been kicked really hard ☹. Oh well! We can just be grateful that we saved all that money and that we can endure hardship as discipline and all that and I feel like I came out of it more like Christ.
We boarded! Thank you, Father, for the wisdom that is family boarding. We got our seats altogether and I had the joy of sitting next to Asher and Creed while Diane underwent the trial of the other three. Lap children sure do save money but they also have to sit on laps. The first flight was soon a memory and we were in Las Vegas. Serenity was so happy to get to walk around again… and she sure did walk around a lot! I tried to get my boys away from the mind numbing and opportunity killing devices that I purchased for them (and am using now) and to look out at the landscape and maybe even to gamble a little. Yes, Vegas airport has lots of slot machines. After Bella met half the people at the gate and Serenity had walked a couple miles, it was again time to board.
Flight 2 was wonderful as I got to enjoy the company of my best friend and the delightful conversation that goes along with it. We landed and were off to the races. At least as fast as anyone can race on little sleep and carrying, dragging, spurring, and encouraging along 5 kids. Bella runs ahead with great gusto but doesn’t always know where to go. Serenity rides my shoulders and makes me a stallion fit for a princess. Asher and Liam walk along distracted but with purpose and Creed does his best to be a good older brother, often carrying a lot of stuff for the kids and having a hard time keeping up as a result.
The luggage all made it and we all made it onto the Rental Car shuttle. It was a feat of engineering, getting all of the luggage and kids and etceteras and what nots on the shuttle and off again. Alamo had a line and a name I feel compelled to remember for some reason 😊. Keys, check! Family… well, poor Diane had a doozy of a time keeping them entertained and together and focused and had wandered to the opposite end of the place we were headed…I was tired. After a bathroom break and a reminded that the Spirit lives in me and patience is one of the fruits, we were all on our way to get into Black Lightning our amazing Dodge minivan. Creed got to pick her out and got to name her. It wasn’t as easy finding her as I was hoping. There were signs for all the other kinds of cars but I missed the minivan signs. Also, I know what a minivan looks like but they had two classed to pick from.
We loaded up and got on the road! I was so hungry and the thought of vegan food for lunch inspired me to stop at Burger King for a delicious Whopper. In fact, Whoppers for everyone!!! After some good old fast food and an entire Coke coursing through my veins, I began to feel like a human again. I was eager for vegan lunch and a stroll around Gold Pond Creek Trail thingy place that is beautiful.
A quick hour and Diane’s amazing navigating skills later, we were stretching out legs at the Pond and eager to let our bladders not stretch so much. The bathroom was… gross! But enough about the bathroom. We came to a road that diverged and we took the right instead of the left and it made all the difference. We did the mile or so trek (some of it more than once for kids who realized at an unfortunate time they needed the bathroom) around the pond and enjoyed it very much. On the other side we found the picnic tables and I forged ahead with more kids to brave the gross place. I realized as I went that if we had gone left we would have stumbled much sooner across these table… that would have robbed us of our walk… it was funny.
Kelsey and the gang met us at the gross place… one of them was using it 😊. It was a nice reunion and we quickly found ourselves eating and playing around the pond. The visiting was great! The food was amazing! Go Vegan cuisine!!!! I was delightfully impressed! We played and even waded into the water a bit… but sadly all good things must come to an end and so did our time together. 14 hours after waking up we found ourselves back in Black Lighting headed for Wenatchee.
What a drive! You get to see so much beauty and there is enough twisting and turning to keep you on your toes. We arrived around 5:30 pm ready to be done traveling. We were warmly greeted and shown to our rooms. We deposited all the stuffs and got the grand tour of a grand house by an Aunt and Uncle with even grander hearts! I was shown a beer fridge and given free range…my heart melted with joy. We ate pizza and put the kids to bed and wound up with a delicious glass of wine in hand and enjoying a gorgeous view out on the deck. We visited as good friends do who genuinely enjoy hearing about one another and that ever elusive sleep finally found us around 10 pm. I passed out much quicker than Diane… head, pillow, out!
Morning broke, the smell of coffee and the sound of my little girls feeling like they had been in their beds long enough. Downstairs for some cereal and much needed coffee. The mornings were slow… just the way I like them. I brought my Bible and enjoyed having an incredible devotion looking out on the beauty that takes the breath away. I knew we had adventures in store but I was eager to get out and see the place and prompted by the Spirit, asked my family if they wanted to go on a walk. Diane and Bella took me up on the offer. Serenity took a much-needed nap and the boys played in the basement.
This walk was great and ended as a prayer walk. We enjoyed the beauty of the canal on our right and the mountains all around us and the sound of our cheerful daughter enjoying this new place and throwing lots of stuff into the water. She enjoyed the ducks and the horses and picked up a feather. Man, I really appreciate it when my kids don’t pick up feathers… so gross.
We got back from our 2-mile hike and marveled that although we walked back the way we came, it felt like two completely different trails. I guess mountains will do that for you. Anyway, after lunch we packed up, sunscreen lathered on, for our first adventure! Tubing!!! It was grand as we loaded drinks and kids into tubes and phones into water proof places and headed down the river.
Creed got out and nearly was left behind when we hit a faster part of the river. That was fun 😐. Bella loved it until she went over a rock… then the rapids were very scary. We reached a little beach area and the kids enjoyed being able to swim a bit in the freezing water. It was so fun watching them play. They all love running up and down the beach and the cold doesn’t bother them at all. Asher and Creed would swim out and let the current sweep them down to Uncle Al’s strong arms, ready to rescue them from the dangerous rapids ahead. Liam had to poop… that was fun, digging a hole and burying that mess, yay for being a dad! The boys had the hardest time with the idea of peeing in the river… they are pros now 😊.
We made it home a little sandy and ready for another wonderful evening under the stars. Decks, stars and wine/beer just really go together! My cousin came over with his family and I had a great time visiting with him until it was nice and dark outside. Alas, the kids are the great alarm clocks. Although ours were long gone to bed, it was time for his to find their sweet rest as well. After saying our farewells, we landed in our own amazing refuge and again the sandman didn’t take long to visit himself upon my person.
The next morning, I woke up to the smell of coffee and pancakes!!! Asher got up and make everyone's beds! What a cool kid. The kids found the wonders of the yard to be more endearing than the basement. They enjoyed picking blackberries and carrots and playing with the dogs. Outside is great sans mosquitoes and other obnoxious things like stifling heat.
Pretty soon we headed off to the store to buy some supplies for lunch and adventures and of course, some scotch. I heard that Costco has some really good scotch, they just don’t sell it where I live. It was fun getting around. We got to see where my Uncle works and ended up downtown at a wonderful milkshake shop. Man, those were good. It’s just fun walking around and seeing mountains and being in a cute little city. The whole thing felt so whimsical to me.
Winsome is such a great word! Any way, the adventures at the milkshake shop were fantastic. Bella asked a gentleman if he was a pirate. He only had one eye. He wasn't a pirate, but he did have a great sense of humor! And, Diane did say when she asked 🙂. Not really.
Ah yes, what saves a town quicker than making it an epic tourist attraction? This town is Bavarian heaven. You feel like you have left America and entered into a strange and wonderful new place... populated primarily with Americans and Asians. This place is hard to describe, I will say that flowers were predominantly featured and they were stunning.
We were treated to a delicious lunch of Bratwurst. It was so good. Then the generosity just kept flowing out of my Aunt and Uncle and my kids were soon the proud possessors of a crisp ten-dollar bill. They were very excited. A couple minutes later I found myself in a toy shop... I then realized that my Uncle is just a really big mature kid. He was finding all manner of toys and tickling and teasing my kids with them. It was so fun to behold.
Creed went for the Legos and when he found them too expensive he bought some Lego cards. Bella and Serenity just played with the toys on the shelf with great joy. All manner of dragons and princesses got played with. Liam went for a tank and then some tiny little bugs. The bugs I don't understand... the tank is just awesome! Asher was happy to keep his tenner. Then I showed him something I thought he would love, a ball that when you throw it in the air changes color. It was cool!
We left the toy shop and headed to a park across the street. Diane and I were released to roam the town. I gave Diane the reigns and enjoyed the wild ride through knack land. We only walked around one store. Mostly we enjoyed strolling hand in hand through the streets in this marvelous new place.
We headed back, Asher made a quick stop to get the previously mentioned toy and we were on our way to the water once again. We changed into our superhero outfits... mainly that means swimsuits, and followed Uncle Trailblazer down to the river. It was a good hike, over a bridge and with a good view of kayakers braving the rapids beneath. Finally, we were on a sandy beach and enjoying the freezing water.
Just before you head down to the beach there is a sign that talks about a youth group who lost a couple members to the river. It was sobering... the kids weren't allowed to swim out too deep. My Uncle Michael Phelps and I however braved the currents and swam over to rock jutting out of the far side of the river. We conquered that rock and enjoyed jumping from it into the ice-cold water below.
There was a moment before we left where joy overwhelmed me and I nearly cried. It was the kind of feeling that leaves you wondering just how incredible heaven is going to be if our time on earth can be this good. As I looked at my children playing while sitting next to my wife with a beer in hand and beauty all around, people not excluded, I was blessed with such a peace I thought my heart would break.
Oh yeah Diane Baywatch Robbins saved our daughter Serenity during this adventure. Serenity delved too deeply into the river and tripped. As she attempted to drink the river dry, my wife saved her from an early drinking problem and snuggled her back into a sober state. It was a great intervention!
We made our way back. It's funny how kids can run down a trail with such joy when going to a place, and then need to get carried back, having emptied all their energy reserves. They know how to live life all out, it's beautiful and inspiring. The problem is no one in my family could carry me 🙂.
Home, showers, and kids to bed after eating the rest of the pizza. Then we adults got to enjoy a delightful salmon dinner grilled by my very own Uncle Gordon Ramsey. We dined and drank and enjoyed each other's company deep into the night. Then the pumpkin transforming machine reared its head and we all found our way to bed, where at least I, didn't suffer sleep very long.
Ah yes, the morning broke with great joy! Coffee and time with God are a hard combination to beat... and who needs the coffee 🙂. It was the day before we left and since we brought our kids with us, we had quite a bit of laundry and packing and preparing to do. We released the kids to play in the hot tub and watched them from the window above. We saw two of them make a break for the bushes at one point. I guess they just wanted to help with the watering 🙁. Any way after the morning necessities passed us by, we found ourselves downing a simple but delicious lunch before preparing to head to the park.
Ah yes, the park on the river. It was beautiful and the water was... COLD. We swam. Well, the kids swam... I waded while visiting with Lisa (my cousin's wife). She brought her kids and they all made great conquest of the beach and water. At one point I took some much needed father daughter time with my Serenity. She was fussy and sunscreen eye and just needed some Moana medicine and dad's lap. We had a good time and after she got better, she went back to .
We left the park in plenty of time to get before dinner with Alfie and Lisa back at the homestead. Burgers and dogs perfectly grilled and a yard that was just begging to be sat in greeted us on our return. We watched the kids play and jump and laugh and eat. We talked until the sun bade its farewell and the stars were quite apparent through the smoke. They left and we cleaned up the remnants of a good time.
One last time under the stars and this time with some scotch in hand to accompany the conversation. We laughed through the heaviness that visits the heart that knows it must leave in the morning. Eventually morning arrived, a flurry of final touches with it. Checking the beds and rooms and once more and then loading the van and hugs and French toast and more hugs and then the open road.
Much Moana for the ears to sooth the less than serene Serenity and a couple of hours drive and we were back where we had started our Washington adventure. I will say that when the GET GAS NOW YOU CRAZY MAN light came on, a gas station revealed itself almost immediately. Now you may not appreciate this like I did, but imagine being in the middle of nowhere (although this nowhere is pretty nice) with five kids and a van with no gas. Ha there you've got it, now imagine the joy I felt when I found that gas station. God thank you again for that mercy!
The Rental Van driver was charming and very helpful. We exited said van and headed into the airport. I went to get a cart for our cargo and accidentally undid a security line. Then while furiously trying to get it hooked back I managed to cut my hand and lost the cart down the side walk. A kind man rescued it from the road and I felt very Charlie Chaplain as I headed into find the Southwest counter.
A long elevator ride later I found myself again with my boys standing in a very long line. Diane went to work her magic on the girls and then made her way back just in time for us to get our luggage checked and our boarding passes.
I love TSA. What a hard job, you have to check mothers carrying infants for bombs. Maybe they think it is as silly as it looks to everyone else. Needless to say, Diane Osama Laden Robbins tested positive for explosives on the hand swab test. Ha, while trying to put on all the things you take off to get through security and manage 4 and then 5 kids, I decided to desert the terrorist I married and head for our gate. Of course, she traveling alone was cleared (phew) and able to catch up before we made it to the gate. It was so busy in there.
What would you do with that many kids for an hour and a half before boarding? Well I was grateful to be reminded that I have access to lounges (thanks to my credit card) and I made a bee line for one after depositing my family in a Sbarro. A half hour later and what felt like 3 miles of walking, we all found ourselves enjoying one of these paradises tucked away in the airports. All the food you can eat and all the drink you can drink. It's quiet and nothing shuts kids up better than chewing on food. Ah, an hour of peace and rest. A Blue moon later and quite a bit of food and we were headed to the plane.
This was a direct flight and we had a tired screaming infant... yeah... it was an exercise in patience and taking thoughts captive. Thankfully we carry a great power inside us that makes us Holy. After all, it's that kind of Spirit. I took my turn with the screamer and she eventually fell asleep. She was mesmerized by her mother spraying the person in front of her with orange juice. It was truly hilarious... maybe Diane will feel the same way someday 🙂. The person sitting next to him said 'you just got juiced'.
Diane and I enjoyed the privileges of being Southwest rewards member (Thank you, Father, for Southwest drink coupons 🙂) and with a sleeping baby in my arms, found some peace. I read the gospel of Mark and she contemplated all the choices that led her to this moment... as one often does after spraying pressurized orange juice all over an airplane.
We landed and the mercy of God found us (after one long bathroom break) back in our van and headed home.
Everything went smoothly and again I marvel at the goodness, mercy, and kindness of my heavenly Father. He reminds me often that he loves me so much, and I get to enjoy the feeling of being loved. It's like sitting on a beautiful beach and watching your family enjoy a day at the river. I get to enjoy feeling what it's like to love someone with a fraction of the love that he has for me and it keeps this smile on my face. I praise this God for smooth transitions and great family and friends and wonderful Wenatchee adventures, for creativity and kindness and most of all, for the joy of knowing Him. He is the great prize and is my portion! A Shepherd who truly has restored my soul!
Thanks for being a part of my ministry and for loving my family through prayer and support! You make these adventures possible! I love and appreciate you!
Thanks for being a part of my ministry and for loving my family through prayer and support! You make these adventures possible! I love and appreciate you!
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