The Long Road Trip(s)

So I see the last blog post on here is a promise to blog from the road. Uh, right. Actually, driving wipes me out, and I have found that I do not like typing in the car. So here's a roundup of the past three weeks.

First, Tara and I, accompanied by my one of my Nephews, set out on a whirlwind trip to Philadelphia. You might think this a nice drive, but you would be wrong. We were driving a large diesel pickup truck and towing a 20-foot trailer. Slow progress is the first problem. The second problem is that we were, well, driving to Philly. Back in the day when Tara and I lived in Philly, we found that God gave us an extreme measure of grace to actually enjoy our time there. But, having left, that blanket of grace has been lifted and we find ourselves not liking inner city Philly one bit. Not one little bit. The purpose of this trip was to load up our remaining belongings and put our small rowhouse on the market.

So we left on Monday morning, and returned on Sunday afternoon. Six days. If you're keeping score, that's over 4,000 miles logged in six days, all for a grand total of 2.5 hours actually in Philadelphia loading the trailer. God's grace was measurable in every way. The amount of logistics and things that had to go "right" in order to pull this off is large, and it was as if the Angel of the Lord was going before us paving the way. A successful, if miserable trip.

However, there were two punctuated delights on the trip. First, an overnight visit with my oldest brother, Jeff, and his wonderful family in Pittsburgh, and, second, an overnight stay with our dear friends John and Rhonda Currie and their two adult sons, Josh and Ben, in Philly.

So there we were back in Billings, reunited with our two girls. We recovered for two days. And then left again! This time we loaded up our own vehicle and set off for sunny Southern California for a much more enjoyable road trip. We left Wednesday and stayed with my other brother, Dan, and family in Butte, Montana. Then Thursday on to Las Vegas, Nevada, and finally, to Irvine, California on Friday where we met up with my closest friend from my seminary days, Keith Mitchell, his lovely bride Malia, and their daughter Carolyn.

The Mitchells graciously put us up in a relative's home in Laguna Beach for the weekend. A breathtakingly beautiful home, high atop the hill overlooking the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean. The photo at the top of this post is taken from the deck. It was the very best kind of weekend, spent with kindred spirits, fabulous food and wine, and spectacular views. Heaven will be something like that.

On Monday we moved down the road a bit to the primary event of this vacation. The worship band of which I am a core member had the privilege and extreme pleasure once again to serve the Alliance Defense Fund at their National Litigation Academy. The setting was Laguna Niguel, in one of the, if not THE, finest hotels in America. We met up with the rest of the band, who flew in for the occasion, and we spent the week playing our music passionately in the mornings and enjoying the beach in the afternoons.

We have been doing this for many years now, and I believe this was the best yet. The sound equipment had been upgraded, and boy did it show. Amazing how great sound can energize a band! The lineup was our fearless leader, Trudy Poirier, piano virtuoso and creative genius; her sister, Kerry Skiles, our simply stellar lead singer; me on the guitar and backup vocals; my sister, Melodee, on the violin and backup vocals; and joining us for the first time was Kerry's husband Steve on the bass guitar. We played well, sang tight harmonies, and had (providentially) uncanny set lists that matched the content of the conference perfectly. The worship was Spirit-filled and inspiring.

One highlight that I just have to mention: I got to meet K-Lo.

No, not J-Lo. K-Lo. I fawned all over her, declaring my undying loyalty and admiration. I overdid it, of course, but I couldn't help myself. Okay, now you're probably wondering who "K-Lo" is. That would be Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor of National Review Online. I know. I'm a nerd. But it was a thrill!

In the off-time, as I mentioned, we went to the beach. It was glorious weather. I learned how to boogie-board, finally getting the hang of it! The girls played in the sand, and took lots of it back up to the hotel room! And I now have the best tan I've ever had.

We left on Saturday and drove all the way back home in 25 hours, with a few hours of sleep at a rest stop mixed in.

If you're keeping track, that is almost 7,000 miles of driving for Tara and me in 20 days.

We are refreshed.

But we are tired.

Maybe we need a vacation!

Brian Mattson