We've been here in the DR a little over 48 hours!  We've been SUPER blessed by the love and warm welcome we've received thus far. 
Our home for the next 7 days is a 2 bedroom apartment in a "villa" complex, where the short teams normally stay.  It's only a few blocks to the school (Doulos) and lots of little eateries and super-mercados.  It's cozy and we'll be staying here until we move to the our rented house next week.
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That's our place upstairs. There's about 10 apartment/rooms in the complex.
We had a one hour ride from the airport (after arriving about 2 hours late - some guy trying to board the plane in NY couldn't find his passport, so they held the plane while they looked for his bag and got it off of there).  Our brief time at JFK airport in NY went smoothly with just enough time for Max to get his pizza.  For breakfast.   Lovely Sandra met us at the airport in Santiago in a taxi and got us safely to our new home in Jarabacoa.   Sandra coordinates the short term teams and she and her husband, Darrell are Aggies from Texas and have just been here a few months.  They made sure our first meals were good and not eaten alone.  Love them already!
Our first day, Joe had staff training at Doulos at 8am.  The kids and I slept in - Max won by waking up at 10:30!  He apparently was a little tired.  Ah, my baby is a teenager.   Joe met his co-workers and got familiar with his assignments.  He's really looking forward to getting started on Monday with a high school group from Ohio that arrived Friday.

We got a local telephone, and we're working on getting Joe's iphone to work here.  Skype works and we have other apps like viber.  So call us or let us know how you'd like to communicate (if at all)  PLEASE communicate!

This sweet girl, Sarai, is the assistant to the Executive Director of Doulos, and she showed us all around the town (we walked).  She also the local house hunter!
Our second day was incredible - but that story will have to wait until tomorrow.  Lots of beautiful pictures to come!
 
 
I began blogging when we started this whole idea of a road trip.  And I have to say, I don't give myself very high marks for consistency.  I wanted to share so much more...pictures, stories, thoughts from the road, but sometimes you are so busy living in the moment you can't translate it into a blog post. 

So here's to 2012 and blogging and a look back at the road traveled in the last months of our Adventure on the road.  For the Adventure is sure to continue...
Emily and Jade.  I love these girls and I love them more when they're together.  They are what cousins ought to be.  And that's an Ohio sunset.

Camp Michindoh in Hillsdale, Michigan...who knew we would end up there for a week of Young Lives camp?  Teen moms, their babies, and their mentors make for a crazy camping experience.  Just a reminder that God uses the small, weak, "the least of these" to show us His great power and glory!  
Wow, that St. Louis arch is tall!
These 2 are good sports.  That's pod #6 to ride to the top of the St. Louis arch - we made it INTO the pod, and Joe and I promptly opted to exit.  They followed us like good children do, but then they were kinda mad they didn't go on without us.
If only I had a tripod I could have been in this cool picture too.


This makes the whole trip worth it all.

There's a picture of 2 year old Max in an album somewhere in front of this same tire.  He's grown a bit.  We've all grown.

A rainbow over the Arkansas Valley in Buena Vista, Colorado.  One of the most beautiful spots on the planet, and one of our favorites.  God's promises never fail.  He took care of it all that day.

This little guy, along with his adorable brothers, will likely be the reason I someday come home with another child...from where, I don't know.  Thanks to the Blacks for all the good family times.

One of the best days ever...the day we picked Emily up from Redcloud, where she spent 3 weeks serving families (and her 15th birthday.)  I think we all just felt sheer joy being together again.  And she took her brother repelling to celebrate.
Max was a superstar football player...what a payoff to work so hard, love the game, and then win the state championship...all in your first season to ever put on pads. 

I don't think we've ever been so proud of him.

So the year in the rearview mirror looks like a life lived to the full.  Blessed in so many ways and thankful to have lived and loved with no regrets.  
 
 
With Buster and his new generator, we had about a week to get from Tucson to North Carolina.  There were definite stops to make with special people to see...  Kermit, TexasFt Worth, Texas and Haughton, Louisianna.

And we made it in less than a week.
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Max with 'Tony the Tiger' - my Tutu has had this tiger for as long as I can remember
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Emily showed Jackie some of her knitting skills, while Jackie was recovering from foot surgery.  The Reeves are friends from CFC that first introduced us to Young Life and YL Camping.  What a difference that has brought to our lives!
 
 
One of our "must see" stops was Yosemite.   It was my (Tina) favorite stop so far.  The best part about this national park is that the whole floor of the canyon is flat and has a winding, paved path all the way around.  It's great for walking or biking, and the meadows are amazing.   The park is serviced by a great shuttle system that cuts down on the traffic, and makes it easy to get around.
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El Capitan
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Our first day, we parked in the "bus" lot.  Basically a parking lot for tour buses. We apparently qualify.  But our second day...while we were sleeping Joe drove us into the park and found a great spot at a picnic ground.  We woke up parked underneath big trees, just a few yards from the river. 

One of the beauties of living on a bus is waking up to a new backyard (and front yard) every day.   We've awakened to dairy farms, Walmarts, churches, busy cities and national parks.  But the beauty lies in knowing that no matter where we wake up, God has given us that day as a gift.  One of my favorite quotes is "Today is God's gift to you, what you do with it is your gift back to Him."

 
 
The Facebook community is vast and nearly limitless.   I was perusing my news feed one day and saw that singer/songwriter Matthew Smith was going to playing at a church in Modesto, California in a few days.  When I check the trusty atlas, look at that!  Modesto is right on the way to our next destination:  Yosemite National Park.  So as we left San Francisco, we headed to Modesto! (this was on Aug 8, if you are wondering...I know, I know, I'm behind!)

About Matthew Smith:
Matthew Smith is an East Nashville singer-songwriter who writes brand new music to centuries-old hymn texts. He is a founding member of the Indelible Grace community, whose work has drawn acclaim across denominational lines.

Matthew played at our church for a conference a few years ago, and he seemed a little shocked that we showed up again at this concert.  

We met some great people at the church, and the pastors there were kind enough to let us park (and plug in) overnight.  These little blessings make life on the bus a little more enjoyable (avoiding Walmart and having electricity in the middle of the night).  A group of the pastors in the area were heading out to Yosemite the next day to hike Half Dome.   We didn't see them there, but they gave us lots of advice on how to get there, where to go, etc.

One of the best connections we have made thus far was Bill Meyer.  He and his wife were sitting behind us at the concert, and when it was over, he leans over and asks us about Tucson.  Huh?  Well, he had seen Max's information on a sign up sheet that was passed around and noticed that we were from Tucson.  Of course the conversation moved on to "what brings you here" and after a half hour of sharing, we left with the promise of further communication.   Within a few days Bill had sent several emails to friends of his that he thought would be interested in hearing more about IYT.  Thank you, God, for Bill!
 
 
Well, it was then back to Portland for Round 2!  Launa was waiting for us - YAY!  We found a nice RV park in Gresham.  We spent 3 nights there!  It almost became like home :)  Such is our life now.

Grant took us on some more sightseeing adventures, and of course, more eating expeditions.  I'm sure his intent was to take us to EVERY eatery in Portland,   He was an excellent host and tour guide. 

Launa picked us up for church (this would be 8/1/10 for those of you tracking by date and we went with her to Evergreen church.  We thoroughly enjoyed the morning and then lunch - all at the same place.  Very Portland.
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After lunch we headed over to OMSI (the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry).  It was $2 day!  So we saved a ton of money and spent the afternoon at a pretty cool place.  The IMAX Hubble Space movie made me (Tina, obviously) a little queasy, but I closed my eyes when I just couldn't take it any more, and I admit, I dozed for just a few minutes.  Launa and Emily got to hang out and have some girl-time.  Or Launa-time.  I think they had fun.  Oh how we miss Launa in Tucson!

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Monday, Grant let us borrow his car, and we drove along the Columbia to visit a fish hatchery.  It was...fishy.  Herman the 5-foot Sturgeon lived there too.  He was charming.  We learned a bit about  salmon spawning, farming, and bowling (just kidding about the bowling).   Because we were on Grant's tour, even though he wasn't with us, we HAD to go to the ice cream cone place in Cascade Locks.  I'm still not sure how we even found the place!  They had that soft serve ice cream with the flavor dispersed on the edges.  Know what I'm talkin' about?  Let's just say the vanilla with orange burst was my DREAM ice cream cone!

 
 
We actually didn't sleep in Seattle, it was South Prairie.  We spent a few great days visiting with the Thomsons, who live in Enumclaw, WA.  After discovering that we couldn't (or rather "shouldn't") drive Buster down the driveway, for fear of getting stuck, we parked at a nearby RV Park.  We had a great dinner, and then a great day visiting downtown Seattle and the Museum of Flight with Cheryl and her youngest son, Derek.  Max and Derek had a great time.
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Emily particularly likes city life.  Pike's Place Market was a crazy place!  We saw the fish throwers, had our clam chowder, and shopped around.

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Emily and Joe had to hit the first Starbucks.  Joe is exploring his creative side with his "milk art".

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We were actually in Portland last week over Emily's birthday,  just in case you are trying to figure out where we actually are on the day this is posted.  I'm a little behind, but I'm catching up.

Portland was our first try at public transportation in a big city.  We parked at the Lloyd Center mall and rode the Maxx line downtown.  We walked and walked and walked.  First stop HAD to be Powell's bookstore.  All it is cracked up to be!  The store covers a whole city block.  Spent over an hour browsing for books.  Found some deals and bought some books.  Kids then read some books.  And then the next day...we need more books!  We are utilizing the downloadable book, but still we are running out!  We are going to try some book exchanging in the next town.  As Mrs. Walker would say, "Readers are Leaders!"  
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I'm pretty sure Max is spitting in this picture...awesome
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Our friend, Grant, gave us a great tour of Portland.  Here we are at Multnomah Falls.  Then he took us to Guiseppe's Italian Restaurant for dinner, and I think their pizza was the best I've ever had.  Really.  A few years back, Grant saw my parents at this little place!  They were visiting Portland, and they got lost. They stopped into this place for dinner and Grant spotted them across the room.  That's about the time Grant came back into our lives after losing touch for a while.  We are glad to have him back and we had a great time with him.

Emily's Epic Entry into 14-dom

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We celebrated Emily's 14th birthday in Portland. She exited the bus in the morning to be engaged in an epic silly string fight!

Grant chauffered us around to see his new log home, Mt. Hood, and some other fantastic sights.  He took us to see "Despicabe Me", which we all loved.  Favorite line from the movie:  "It's so fluffy!!!  I think I'm gonna die!!!"

Grants cabin has vertical logs...very unique.  It sits close to the Zig-Zag river in Rhododendron, OR.  Rustic and beautiful!

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at Grant's cabin
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Timberlake Lodge at Mt. Hood
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Grant and Joe
Here we are at Mt. Hood, only a 40 minute drive from Portland.  Skiers and snowboarders had all the snow they needed.  Amazing.  In July!  The boys had a snowball fight while Em and i viewed the scenery from a distance.  We had lunch at the historic Timberlake Lodge.   Beautiful!

For Emily's birthday dessert, we couldn't find a cupcake shop, so we for dessert to alodge out near where we were parking for the night in Forest Grove, OR.  She had some delicious caramel brownie thing and Joe had a chocolate milkshake made with stout beer.  Interesting.  


We didn't get enough of Portland, so we will be back in a few weeks on our way back to California.  Check back for Portland - Round 2!

 
 
On our way to the Redwoods we drove through San Francisco and the big red bus drove right over the big red bridge.  We took a few pictures of the bridge from the bus, but they ended up being blurry light pictures because it was dark out.   
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On to the forest after a few scenic drives, and a stop at the "drive-thru" tree.  The bus wouldn't fit, although Joe was ready to try.  After a few pictures, he parked it and we had a picnic.  Then it was on to Kamp Klamath, a nice little RV park on the Klamath River where it meets the ocean.

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While we were at the RV park we went on a killer bike ride.  We rode to the ocean and took our new faily picture (see above).  It was uphill from there, but we all made it.  Along the way there were lots of lookout stops where we saw whales and seals and lots of beautiful California coastline. Then there was the awesome 2 mile cruise down the hill!  Max and I took it at full speed.  Joe and Emily took it at...half speed.

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It was Saturday night at the RV park and they were having a shindig.  Yes, a shindig.  The owner of the park was inviting everyone for all-you-can-eat salmon and/or chicken.  Of course we couldn't resist a shindig.  An old mountain man that works at the park was cutting the fresh caught salmon into filets on the deck all afternoon.  There were about 50 guests at the shindig and the salmon was amazing.  Max and Joe each had 2 or 3 pieces (I think).  The live music was very "authentic" including a washtub base.  Nothin' like getting to know the locals!
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California is a big state.  We drove, and drove, and drove, and we were still in California.  But, it is spectacular!    And in an effort to get this travel blog a little more up to date, I will now present a photo montage (with commentary) of our journey through central and northern California.
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The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley.  Air Force 1, the Berlin Wall, miniature White House.  The Library is being remodeled, so some of the exhibits were not open, but overall a neat experience.  Max and Joe particularly enjoyed the motorcycle exhibit that was on display.

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with a piece of the Berlin wall
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feel the love...
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Then we drove up the coast...not just any coast...Pacific Coast Highway!  What beautiful scenery!  Unfortunately, I was not feeling too hot for most of it - if you've ever driven this stretch of highway,  you know what I'm talkin' about!  Most of you would probably agree that Joe is a pretty good driver.  I obviously think he's the BEST, as I trust my life and the lives of my children to him on a daily basis.  BUT I will report that there are a few new dents and dings on the Bus as a result of the narrow road and sharp curves on the PCH.  :)

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Nutmeg loved the beach
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We finally got some sunshine! We stopped at Shell Beach in Pismo Beach, and then further up the coast we stopped in Calabria. Cute town! We were quite the spectacle, as usual, in our Big...Red...Bus.
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Next we visited Watsonville where Tina's Aunt Sandy and cousin Bobby live.  Bobby grows apples and organic strawberries.  He took us on a tour of his fields, and we went to the strawberry fields where they were picking and packing them.  His strawberries are sold in Arizona Trader Joe's!  We picked some off the vine and ate them on the spot!  We also took a flat of them with us. 

Bobby asked me what kind of apples I like, and I said "Red Delicious".  He told me I was "old school"!  He said I need to eat Fujis. 

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We spend the afternoon at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk.  It was a gorgeous sunny day and it wasn't too crowded.  The kids rode a few rides, and I tried to avoid all the delicious smelling food.  Joe indulged in garlic fries, in spite of our diet, and I think I could smell it (him) for 3 days! 

Along the way, we parked at a few Walmart's...free and nobody cares if we run the generator (it's loud).  See Emily's posts for more stories from Walmart!  There will be plenty, I'm sure.  Oh, and I'm not even sure when we were in Eureka...but we were there.