Since it's also the Friday before Christmas, I thought a good start would be with our annual Christmas letter, since it's generally anything but serious. So, I unwrap for you, our 2012 wrap-up!
Last year’s letter found us frantically planning our great escape to a land unknown. This year’s letter comes from Texas, nearly 14,000 miles later!
To put everyone’s minds at ease, we survived, we are not living in a cardboard box, the kids still eat, and the bus still moves! How do you put 14,000 miles into a Christmas letter? One month at a time.
January – (Back up 3 days to Dec. 29th) We left Colorado and at our first stop in Dumas, TX, we got stuck in the mud in the middle of the night in the cold, and it took 3 hours for a tow truck to pull the bus out. Two days later we found our car dolly’s wheel was bent beyond repair. To wrap up our first week, our van’s transmission went out half-way from San Antonio to Mission, TX and the repair would be more than the van is worth to fix. All in the first week! You would think some of this would have deterred us, but it didn’t. We took it in stride (ok, mostly). Dolly sold, van sold, just us and the bus for the next 6 months.
Other than that we had a couple of great showcases in the Rio Grande Valley for 2013 bookings, and then kept busy with little shows at RV parks where we stopped. Highlight was boondocking on the beach overnight when a very thick fog came up.
February – After a gospel show in Whitsett, TX, we took a long drive for 2 weeks in Arizona for a gospel festival and several RV parks - a real highlight of the year! The RV Parks in Arizona spoiled us rotten and we were sad to have to leave so soon, but we were contracted to play for the Mid-Winter Bluegrass Festival in Denver, so off we went. After a week in the snowy cold of Colorado, we drove back to Texas and sat in North Texas for 2 weeks to catch our breath. With that much driving we put Benny the Bus to the test and he passed with flying colors!
March – Drove briefly back to the Rio Grande Valley for a show, and over to Rockport where we played for our favorite South Texas church, and enjoyed a tour of the USS Lexington.
April – Hung out in North Texas again, playing for RV Parks, then headed into Arkansas! We dug for diamonds, unsuccessfully, and had some fun in Mountain View, AR at Mellon’s Country Store and music at the square.
May - Bounced between the boarder of Missouri and Arkansas. The names of the places we passed through in Arkansas were the best we’ve yet to encounter, including Yellville, Toad Suck, and Flippin, Arkansas.
June – After our 2nd annual trip to Silver Dollar City, we started the month at the property of good friends, ripping out the floor of the bus, which was molded underneath the vinyl flooring. It was a lot of work, but the prize was not poisoning our children’s lungs. Note to bus converters – do your floor properly and save the next owner some headaches, please. When the dirty job was complete, we had to say goodbye to our dear friends who put up with us and the mess, and headed to Denver.
July – After completing our last season playing for Fort Collin’s Streetmosphere, we
August and September – We slowed down a bit simply drove around the Mid-West, playing at RV Parks. In mid-September we stopped in Madison, WI and busked for Disney World tickets at the very large Farmer’s Market in downtown Madison. Tickets for the Magic Kingdom are a little much for a dinky family band, so the kids were asked to earn the money themselves on the side, and Farmer’s Markets are a great place to play with an open case. After a few minutes we were kicked off the state property by a police officer and walked just a few yards to a sidewalk across the street where we found you are allowed to be. Our first time being booted out for playing music!
October – We landed in the Lancaster, PA area for a time, visited Independence Hall, and then headed to see some old friends in northern Virginia where we were treated to some wonderful hospitality and a tour of the National Mall in Washington, D.C. It was over too soon and we moved on to the Winston-Salem area of North Carolina, playing at the Carolina Balloonfest, busking two farmer’s markets for more Disney funds, and treated to some of the most fantastic North Carolina hospitality. It turns out livermush is pretty good. Who knew?
November – FLORIDA!!! We stopped off at Brunswick, GA for some final ticket money busking at their First Friday, stayed at a park owned by Australians, then headed to Orlando and the big year-end prize – Disney World! The kids played outside in the heat, often the cold, tired fingers, tired voices, with a reward of 4 days in the parks, and it was worth every moment.
That brings us back to December, and we’re snug, safe, and warm here in Rockport, TX where we’ll stay until January, when we head to Harlingen, TX to start the fun all over again. This year will bring memories to last a lifetime, and should the Lord will it, we will have more adventures to come. Regardless where we go from here, we are so very thankful for His provision through a rocky and uncertain first year, knowing we can expect no less from the year to come.
There you have it, 14,000 miles.
Where will we write from next year? We’re hopeful and praying it’ll be from the bus, not a cardboard box, but if God decides we need a box for a time, I don’t doubt it will be just the right box for us. Until then, we pray for a blessed year for all our friends and family.