We were all stretched and strengthened in faith through this experience.
By the evening of February 11th we were packed and ready. We tried to sleep in our empty house one last time, Colton is the only one who slept much. We were too excited about the adventure that lay ahead of us. The morning of February 12th at a approximately 4:30am we left our driveway in Michigan for the last time. It was harder than I thought to leave. After all this was the first place we called home as a married couple, the first place to raise our family. In the short five years that we lived in that little one bedroom house it had become... home.
We were of course filled with adrenaline that first day of travel, we survived Chicago, and drove the amazing hills of Iowa and stopped finally in Vermilion South Dakota, an amazing 701 miles from our starting point. Colton was a super trooper traveler. We couldn't have asked for better company. We where elated at our progress. But, as it turned out it was a blessing that we made it that far in one day.
South Dakota in wintertime is never a pleasant trip. I had memories from childhood when we would drive from our home in Idaho to visit family in Michigan, and the images came rushing back as we drove further into the state. Blowing snow, icy roads, and the wind, oh the wind. It would cut right through you, leaving you feeling like an empty shell, and as swept through you it robbed you of any energy you may have possessed. We where only able to drive at most 45mph through the majority of the state. The sick feeling in the pit of our stomach made us begin to question our decision to leave Michigan. We wondered if this would be what the rest of the trip was like. Even the traditional stop as Wall Drug could not be fully enjoyed. Colton also grew restless, though he was still a great traveler. As we reached the hotel, he exploded into a torrent of pent up energy, Shawn, Ron, Kyle and I took turns entertaining and walking the hotel halls with him. Good thing we where pretty much the only ones in the whole place. We wondered maybe if we where the only crazy people who traveled through South Dakota in winter at all. But, by morning there where a few other weary travelers in the breakfast room of the hotel. It took two full days to get through South Dakota, and after the experience we knew there was no turning back. We would not drive through that state again for all the money in the world.
Wyoming put a much fresher perspective on things, the weather was clear and we began to climb some mountains. I was in heaven, I love mountains, as I told Kyle I would rather look up at mountains towering over me than be able to see a hundred miles, the knot I had grown accustomed to in my stomach began to unwind. I wish I could say Kyle had the same experience. Mountains were an entirely new experience for him. And since he was driving I'll take his word for it that curves in the road as we crossed the passes made him pay attention to driving in a way he had never experienced before.
Before long though we crossed the Montana border, we were in the state that would be our new home. I sucked in the mountain air and praised God we had made it this far. We stopped for one more night at a hotel. In the morning we drove what seemed like the short distance to Butte and loaded up on groceries, none of us wanted to have to go anywhere once we were done traveling - at least for a week. The realization that there was only one final mountain pass between us and our new life began to settle on us. We felt nervous and excited at the same time. Colton had even caught the wave of anticipation. He fluctuated from nerves and wanting to go back to Michigan, to excitement about seeing our new house that would have his own room, tractors and more cows than he could count.
As we took the exit on the interstate and began our final leg of the journey to our home, we marveled at the beauty, and swallowed hard at the realization of how remote we would actually be. I prayed and thanked God that we had come so far, and that he would stay close to us through this transition. And then we saw it... The ranch, the place we would call our home.