It has been a several weeks since we have returned from our cross country ride. I now feel comfortable walking again, my butt feels fine and I have finally found the time to put down a few thoughts about the trip with a little perspective.
To keep this some what interesting, I'll break this into two part: Part I - VA bch, FL, & the trip back home & Part II - Perspective & Lessons Learned.
Part I - Virginia Beach, Fort Myers FL, and then the drive back home.
After our arrival in VA Bch, we stayed with Maria's folks. They were kind enough to allow us all take up residence for a week. Skip flew back to Silverdale Tuesday morning. He had no interest in driving back cross country and opted for a First Class seat. He deserved it. Well done. We really enjoyed our time visiting with Maria's family - Mom, Dad, brother, sisters, & nieces and nephews.
After I dropped off Skip at 0515 in the morning at the Norfolk airport, I headed over to Norfolk Naval base for a 0600 run with CAPT Bill Lear. Earlier this year he received orders to be the Reserve Coordinator for Commander Submarine Forces. We had a good run; thankfully he took it easy on me since I hadn't donned my running shoes since the June timeframe. He has a goal of running a marathon in every state and has something like 20+ marathons completed so far. Truly an animal!!
On Wed, the boys head to the beach in the morning and then in the afternoon we head over to Bush Gardens to meet up with Tom Seifert and his family. Tom had talked with the park early on and they had graciously provided the Riding4Hope Team tickets to the park!! Wow, thanks Bush Gardens!! It turned out to be a perfect day to be at the park, it was threatening to rain which kept the lines short and relatively cool -- if you recall we were having a heat wave in VA Bch and the last two days the temps had hovered around 99 degs. Today it was in the high 80's. We tried out all the roller coasters in the park and had a great time. It was really nice to get a chance to get caught up w/ Tom and find out what he had been up to; which as always was lots. Once again Tom, thanks for all your coordination work to make our arrival one to remember. You're a great friend!!
On Thursday morning the boys and I took a quick flight down to Fort Myers FL. My Mom was retiring and she was having a retirement party on Friday afternoon. This would give the twins an opportunity to meet the rest of the Mackovjak/Cunningham clan. My sisters Ainslie and Kathlyn from Hawaii and Tampa respectively were there as well as my brother John from San Diego. There were over 50 folks who were in attendance of Mom's retirement party. Even some of Mom's family (Glenn & Elaine and her daughters) from Canada flew down for the occasion. Ainslie did all the coordination and planning and did a fantastic job!! She even coordinated a photo shoot with a professional photographer before hand. Everyone had a blast. The visit was way too short and we were back on a plane early Saturday morning back to VA Beach.
Just before we landed Maria took off and was headed back to Seattle. She had a great visit and as always it was hard to leave family. Thankfully she had an uneventful flight back home. We spent the afternoon repacking the trailer. Maria had left boxes and boxes and boxes of items to take back to WA since we had this wonderful trailer. I was VERY surprised we were able to get it all loaded. The boys took off once again and headed to the beach. They seemed to have a strong desire to check out the scenery there!!
With a tearful good bye we left the Feliciano Family early Sunday morning for the beginning of our long trip cross country. The first day we planned to drive aprox 750 miles to reach Huntsville AL. There we would stay with my Dad. That would give us all day Monday to visit. Well that was one long drive! The weather was great but sitting in a car that long was a killer. I ended up stopping at Cracker Barrel and picked up two books on tape so that I had something to keep me entertained while driving. The boys alternated between sleeping and reading some literary book for their English class. We did a slight detour and visited Appomattox. The town is located three miles west of the restored historic village of Appomattox Court House (a.k.a. Clover Hill), the site of Confederate General Robert E. Lee's surrender to Union General Ulysses S. Grant on April 9, 1865, nearly ending the American Civil War. We didn't arrive at my Dad's place until 10 PM and we were beat!
It was great seeing my Dad and Lisa who live in Huntsville AL. Monday morning when we got up; we all went out for breakfast at Cracker Barrel and had a hearty breakfast. Then it was off to the NASA space center were we spent the morning w/ Lisa. That afternoon I didn't feel too well and spent the afternoon in bed. The boys took the opportunity to have Lisa give them driving lessons on her Prius that she was giving us. We had lunch w/ the boys' Great Uncle Paul and their cousin Laura.
On Tuesday we left early in the morning with a slight rain. We had aprox 2,500 miles to drive before we were arrive back home in Silverdale. The plan was to arrive NLT Saturday evening.
I suppose I won't bore you with the details of the drive cross country. Unfortunately we were not able to stop as often as we had hoped to see some of the sites. We drove 10 to 12 hrs a day. With out a doubt I thought that was the hardest part of the entire trip. To have spent the last 43 days outside enjoying the great outdoors and then to be cramped in a car -- now that was hard. I drove the car and trailer and the boys alternated every hour to hour and half in the Prius. Over all it worked well.
We did stop at the University of Colorado in Boulder for a campus tour. It turned out it was Freshman arrival day. We couldn't have planned it better as far as the boys were concerned. It was a perfect sunny morning and all the Sororities were helping the Freshman move it. Yep life was good and the boys were ready to apply!!
We arrived home with out incident Saturday afternoon. Maria got off work a little early and met us. It was great to be home!! What a fantastic summer this turned out to be. As they say "It's not the destination; it's the Journey!!"
Thanks for joining us.....ride safely and keep the wind to your back!!
The Riding4Hope Team
(David, John, James & Skip)
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