Thursday, June 26, 2014

A Tale of Two Sisters & Their Wild Little Road Trip

Once upon a time...there were two sisters who headed out on a lovely May Saturday afternoon to attend the graduation party (above picture) of a dear friend who lived several hours away. It was more exciting than normal because their dear father had just the day before bought a car and they were very excited about this 2 1/2 hr trip the car would do at 45MPG, instead of what their truck got, 13MPG. #score It was also fun that they were getting to do the "maiden voyage" in the new car, a lovely red Toyota Prius.  

From the beginning, older sister (yours truly) was determined on three points: first, that they would leave ON TIME; second, that they would not get lost; and third, that the trip would not be stressful. Sounds easy, right? But you just don't know these sisters. They have taken many road trips together and EVERY SINGLE TIME, "catastrophe seems to lie in the way". (quoting Morgan Harris, from Anne of Avonlea =)) They either get lost...or blow a tire...or run into the sketchiest of men...or get lost again...or something bizarre like that. Literally every time. Older sister was determined once and for all to break the cycle and have a peaceful trip filled with nothing but uneventfulness, and the party at the end.

Things didn't go well from the very beginning, even before they left. Nobody could find the GPS anywhere. Finally it was discovered that the GPS was inside of the family van, which wasn't at home. Older sister had printed off the mapquest directions even though she greatly dislikes mapquest. (based on a previous trip several years ago in which mapquest directions had been wrong and GREATLY led her astray) So she had these directions all printed out, just in case, to have a backup plan in case something went wrong with the GPS. The problem was, she couldn't remember where she had put them. Both sisters searched frantically for about twenty minutes, and finally gave up. Younger sister went to print off directions again, only to discover that the printer was out of ink. By now time was running out-if they didn't leave in the next five minutes they would be late. Younger sister quickly jotted down a few of the main roads and turns and grabbed an Iowa map. Meanwhile one of brothers located an old and dusty GPS and gave that to younger sister. #momentofpeace 
But then younger sister plugged it in and realized that due to age or something, it was toast and didn't work at all. During all this time there was a missing shirt and a bad hair day involved for older sister, which wasn't helped by all the aforementioned issues. 
Finally, about half an hour later than planned, they were on the road. The first thing on the schedule was a phone call to brother (who at the time was living in Arkansas) because he had worked quite a few jobs in the area they were going to, and he would be able to give accurate directions. The sisters were finally able to relax and enjoy a nice conversation with him, as well as receive some helpful directions. 

The time flew by. They hadn't been to this particular part of the country very often and the scenery was gorgeous. Things seemed to be going quite well. (a sign that something bad was about to happen) The fuel gage showed almost empty, so they pulled in at Casey's. Older sister got out to fuel up. After swiping her card she removed the nozzle and went to open the cap on the car fuel tank. It seemed to be stuck so she tried to get her non-existent fingernails (#farmgirlprobs) around it to pry it open but budge it would not. It didn't help that there was this harley rider dude fueling up his motorcycle right behind her and she could tell he was taking the in the whole scene. Of course she needed to appear like she had the situation in control, so she tried to look as natural as is possible when one is peeling their fingernails trying to pry open the cap on their fuel tank.  She finally stuck her head in the car door and asked younger sister to please come help. Younger sister was getting a kick out of the fact that older sister couldn't even put gas in the car successfully...until she came and tried it herself and even though younger sister tried and tried SHE couldn't get it open either. The sisters looked at each other in disbelief. This was ridiculous-they couldn't even get FUEL without having problems. And then behind them they heard the booming voice of the harley rider guy(was that a chuckle lurking?) "Um, there's a little button to push inside the drivers door to pop that open". The sisters stood petrified for all of two seconds and then younger sister said "oh, thanks" and flew to the front to check for this button. Sure enough, there is was. #learnedsomethingnew #thankyouharleyriderdude #howAWKWARD
Older sister fueled up as fast as possible and then got in the car and shut the door so the harley rider guy  wouldn't hear the peals of laughter coming from inside that little red car. =)

Back on the road...once again, everything went quite well for a while. They had another turn and according to the few little map quest instructions that they had, they would be driving the current road for twelve miles before turning left. Older sister checked what mile the car was at and began to count accordingly. 

The sisters were listening to music as they drove along but older sister was getting frustrated that she couldn't get the cd player figured out. She kept wanting to skip along to her next favorite song instead of listening to every single song on the cd, and she couldn't figure out where the skip button was. The digital screen in the new car was a little much for her, tech-challenged as she was. She implored younger sis to figure it out. Younger sister tried for a while without success and tried to convince older sister that it wasn't a big deal. Older sister wasn't convinced, so she tried to figure it out and drive at the same time. #notbrilliant  
Finally...lo and behold, she got it figured out! #score 
Now she could happily skip along to all the best songs! 

But somehow, during that little cd-player-figuring-out-episode...they were now at mile fifteen, and entering a very dumpy little town. According to the directions, their turn should have been at mile twelve. Both sisters were puzzled. How did they miss it? They had been so carefully watching and reading every road name for the right one. Out came the trusty map. Younger sister carefully searched and found that the current dumpy town they were at was definitely past their turn. They must have passed it during that whole little three minute deal of trying to figure out the cd player!
They were already running very late and both sisters were quite frustrated at themselves for missing their turn. Back they headed, the way they had come...both keeping their eyes peeled for the correct road. Sure enough, about three miles back, there is was. 
Once again they were driving along, following their limited mapquest directions to a T, determined NOT to lose their way again. The very last part of the directions said "turn right and you have arrived". The only problem was...it said to turn right at this VERY rustic-looking dirt road. (see above) Older sister knew something was wrong with this. It was so steep (the picture doesn't show very well but where the road ends in the picture it began a very steep decline) and as the sisters peered down they could see a deer ambling across in the mud. Far in the distance they could discern a farm off on the next hill. That was probably their destination, no doubt. Older sister knew that if she would've had the truck, she probably would've gone for it. But she had a new car, not a truck, and didn't have any idea if there was a creek at the bottom of this mud road or what was down there. And she wasn't about to add STUCK to her list of accomplishments for the day. Absolutely not.
 At this point younger sister voiced her opinion and said that she didn't care what older sister thought, but SHE was calling for help. Older sister was not in favor of this plan, but younger sister proceeded anyway and called a friend who had been to the graduation location before. He gave new directions and got the sisters going the correct way (which was totally different than what mapquest said, btw. #thumbsdownformapquest) and five minutes later they arrived at the party safe and sound. Oh, and late. 
It was the perfect evening for an outdoor celebration. The sisters had a lovely time reconnecting with old friends they hadn't seen for a while and meeting some new ones as well. Time flew by and finally around 9:30pm they said their goodbyes and headed home. Older sister had a little issue trying to figure out where the lights were on the car but finally she did find them and they were good to go.
Heading for home sweet home! Surely the way home would be less adventurous than the way there. The sisters took a few pictures to commemorate the occasion.
Their Iowa map had definitely seen its better days. In spite of it, younger sister did a marvelous job navigating and keeping older sister on the straight and narrow, with only a few minor "scenic routes". (as scenic as they can be at 10:30pm) And to be honest, the scenic routes were the fault of older sister, who sometimes veered from the directions of younger sister to follow her own routes.

Around 10:30pm older sister was beginning to feel a bit drowsy so younger sister suggested stopping for a Wendy's Frosty. (older sister was greatly excited-Frosty's were her favorite!) They pulled in a Wendy's right off the main road and went to the drive through to order. It appeared that the drive through order station was not working properly, so older sister pulled out of the drive through and into the regular parking lot so she could just run inside and order. But younger sister didn't think they should run inside-she said it would take too long and she thought that older sister should try the drive through again. Although she was rather embarrassed to keep driving in circles in the Wendy's parking lot, older sister went with younger sister's advice and headed back to the drive through. Finally-success this time! They were just preparing, Frosty in hand, to pull out back onto the road when a text came in on older sister's phone. Since she was driving, she gave the phone to younger sister to check the text. One second later younger sister gave a squeal and shouted "ooh, she's got a RING!" whereupon all thoughts of getting home were suspended and the car was stopped so both sisters could inspect the very beautiful engagement ring of their beloved cousin who had just texted them with the happy news that she was going to become a MRS!
They pulled back out onto the road and younger sister put the phone on speaker phone so they could call cousin to hear the details of when/where/how she got her lovely ring. And of course there was a good bit of time after they got off the phone, spent discussing all the coming wedding joy.

Finally they were in more familiar country and  younger sister was tired so she settled back and went to sleep. Older sister felt great (the Frosty and engagement news was invigorating!) so she turned the music loud and drove along at 60something MPH. Suddenly, very much without warning, a deer appeared in her headlights. She screamed, slammed on the breaks, and swerved, just barely nicking the deer. Younger sister of course woke up with the scream and sudden stop and both sisters sat there, stunned. At that exact moment they heard, over the speakers, this phrase in the song that was playing, "You have shown me mercy upon mercy, grace upon grace, time after time". (from the song "You Have Been Good")
They looked at each other and immediately began praising the Lord for His faithfulness in sparing their lives and keeping them safe! This was the first time for older sister to almost hit a deer so she was pretty shook up but thankful to be safe, and for the Lord's faithfulness in watching over them!

About 45minutes later they pulled into their driveway, safe and sound and exhausted...and with a few new memories to add to the "adventuresome road trip" pile. =)
When all is said and done, the sisters still say there is no one they'd rather road trip with than each other, even though the combination of older sister + younger sister ALWAYS seems to result in, well, trips like this one. =) Memories are made, lessons are learned, and in the end...well, it all turned out well anyway, in spite of all the drama and, ahem, "catastrophes", that occurred during this wild little road trip of the two sistas.
THE END.
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Maybe someday I shall write a book on the subject. =)
-Chels

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Ohio Roadtrip||Cousin's Wedding

Several weeks ago, my dad, sister, and I took one of our "flying trips" (see definition of that on this post) to Ohio to attend the wedding of my cousin Bryant and his beautiful bride Brianne, and to pick up my mom and youngest sis, who had been visiting my grandparents in New York.
Super cool when the groom sweeps his bride off her feet for the recessional. Love it.
 I told my brothers that they missed out big time on the meal. It was AMAZING. Chips and salsa at every table?! Oh yes. And enchilada burrito type things with all the toppings.
 Bridal table loveliness
Love the pearls around the napkins!
 Isn't it beautiful?
 My uncle and aunt (the groom's parents) shared some very sweet words and memories of their son's life.
Getting to meet the newest little Stoltzfus (the grooms niece)  was definitely a highlight!
 Mom with the four of her eight siblings who were at the wedding.
My cousin and my mom, who matched accidentally. We took this picture to send to my aunt (who wasn't at the wedding) to make her jealous. =)
The happy couple!!
 A few of us cousinhood. The time together was short but super fun. We always have a party whenever we are together. And with all the weddings that have been happening/are in the future, our already large number just keeps growing and growing!
Me with my grandma

So thankful that there are still godly weddings in existence! Due to our touring schedule we have to miss quite a few, so it is always a special treat when we can go. 
And the wedding season seems to be just picking up. It's almost to the point that I could just go to weddings full-time, if I was able. =) 
Another cousin just got engaged the week after Bryant & Bri's wedding, so now HER wedding plans are in full swing and it is so much fun! Looking forward to posting more about that sometime soon!

-Chels

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Alli's Birthday||Evening Out

So for my sista's twentieth birthday, I planned a fun little evening out for us. It was totally a surprise and she knew absolutely nothing about what was going on.
The evening of her birthday, I told her to be ready to go early and we headed out. We drove to downtown Iowa City, which is a lovely place, but very much a college town and crazy busy.
Our ride that evening was our super classy fifteen passenger van. (hehe) With my brother gone and one of our trucks in the shop and the other truck almost constantly being used for getting the men back and forth from the fields...I was thankful for anything with wheels. =)

Parking the van in downtown is not my favorite thing in the world but I can do it. I ended up telling Alli where we were going because we had been there before, but I couldn't remember how to get there again, so I needed her help with directions and I had to tell her. =) We found it just fine but ended up having to park about four blocks away because we couldn't find parking closer. I skillfully awkwardly wedged our big van in between two other vehicles. Our key fob doesn't work and by now I am so used to locking manually that I did it without thinking. I gathered up my clutch and my phone and exited the vehicle. We both slammed our doors and I began digging for change to insert into the parking meter. All the while that I was digging the coins out and Alli was inserting them, I had this nagging feeling that something wasn't quite right. I couldn't figure out what was wrong. Wallet. check. Cash in wallet. check. Phone. check. Keys. KEYS!!!!! Noooooooo!!!

 I'm afraid I wailed that rather loudly and nearly gave Alli a heart attack by my sudden panic attack. My heart sunk all the way down to my toes and I just wanted to wake up and find that it was all a bad dream. But alas. It was very much not a dream. I had a fleeting thought that maybe I hadn't locked? Whereupon we both frantically ran all around the van and tried all the doors. They were definitely all properly locked. Now what? For once in my life I was actually running ahead of schedule and had been so proud of myself for being early and here I was just blowing all of that by this lovely predicatement. I remembered with relief that we do have AAA now so this shouldn't be too difficult. As we walked to the restaurant I called my father. The first words out of his mouth were "Are you okay? Are you hurt? Did you have a wreck?" (he knew it was abnormal for me to call that soon after leaving home for an evening out) I assured him that I was fine and he relaxed and was relieved..and then I told him what had happened. The good news is, this was the first time that I had ever locked my keys in the car. Bad news, is that I seem to have this type of castatrophe happen to me fairly often, to the point that he had a feeling that something had happened. =/

Meanwhile, we met up with two dear friends of ours who were in on Alli's birthday surprise and were meeting us for dinner. They and Alli went ahead and found a seat and ordered while I got our AAA number from dad and called the company. Upon them answering the phone, I gave our AAA number. Then they asked my name. I made the mistake of saying my name was "Chelsy Bontrager". (totally should have said Marlin Bontrager, but I don't think that fast-I typically give MY name when someone asks for it) Whereupon..I was informed that the only name associated with that account number was Marlin Bontrager, and that he would have to be present in order for them to come out and help us. Agh! My father was two hours away at a political rally! So I called dad again. He was less than impressed with their policy; the whole point of us getting AAA was for our bus and then also for situations like this! So he tried calling them to talk them into coming out anyway...but even HE could not convince them. Finally it ended up that we had to hire someone to come out. In between all of these phone calls I was in and out from the restaurant. It took about half an hour for them to come out, so during that time we had a lovely time together celebrating Alli's birthday at Crepes Deluxe. (you can read about our other visit there at this blog post)

To make a long story short...someone came out, and it took them two minutes to get the van unlocked. I was so impressed with their equipment, that I later told Alli that we should get equipment like that and have some in each vehicle for future emergencies like this. But then Alli reminded me that in a situation like this, it wouldn't do us any good to have unlocking equipment in the vehicle, because the whole point was that we would be locked OUT of the vehicle. Oh yes, true....blonde moment. *cough*
The birthday girl with one of our dessert crepes. A feast for the eyes as well as the taste!
We had a lovely dinner with the dear ladies pictured above. I love how some of our best friends are in totally different seasons of life than us. My world is so much richer because it is filled with kindreds of all ages!
Alli & I
beautiful...
asparagas and mozzerella crepe with pesto....ah yes!

After dinner, I took Alli to the theater and we saw "Mom's Night Out". It just so happened that we have had a very busy spring of lots of babysitting, so I felt this movie might provide some comic relief. =) I'd heard some reviews at the film festival and wanted to see it sometime. We laughed so hard and greatly enjoyed it. As far as a full review, if I would recommend it? I would say yes and no. Pros...it was a great representation of how overwhelmed mothers often really are. The comedy was great. I felt like I could relate so much just from my experience with children, and I'm not even a mom. Alli and I laughed SO HARD, and comic relief is a blessed thing when you are in the thick of a crazy schedule.
Cons...I was disappointed in some things. There were a couple of outfits that could have so easily had necklines just an inch or two higher. There was a big rap dance session at the end that was participated in by everyone in the movie, and there could've been a much better ending than that. And the one point in the movie that is kind of the climax-where the main character is talking with the big biker guy and he is sharing with her about what in life really matters would've been a perfect place to insert the Gospel and instead it was just general good advice. What was said was good, but it just could've have been so much better if it would've been more defined, I think. Especially considering that, since its a comedy, it will probably be viewed by a more mixed audience than some Christian films.

So, just curious here...anybody else ever locked their keys in their car? =) Anybody else seen "Moms Night Out"? What were your thoughts?

-Chels