It only took three weeks and two days for this Meier family to travel between two different continents to visit the West Coast, the East Coast, three different time zones and eight different states (as well as the District of Columbia). This travel included four days of air travel and eight days of car travel. The longest day of car travel was 14 hours between the Northern Virginia area and Jacksonville, Florida.
Needless to say, the infant Meier boys (Jared and Luke) became expert travel companions during that time. Many visits were made between those traveling days.
Our journey began when we flew out of Quito, Ecuador on June 23 and arrived in Miami, Florida. We spent one night at a hotel before flying out the next day in the direction of Portland, Oregon and the home of Stephen’s parents (Rudy and Linda Meier).
Stephen’s parents retired from the mission field in October of 2008 and had never seen their grandchildren in person. We spent a week with them, as well as with Stephen’s sister, Lisa, his brother, Kurt, and some of his other relatives to took the time to visit. While in Portland, we were able to go to the beach and visit the zoo.
At Cannon Beach in front of "Haystack" Rock
On July 1st, we traveled back to Orlando, Florida, where Cristina’s sister, Anita Gamblin, picked us up from the airport. We spent the July 4th weekend visiting with her and her husband, Nick; with Cristina’s brother, Philip Cobb and his wife, Chrissy; and with Cristina’s brother Tim Cobb (who had recently returned home from a year’s service in Iraq).
We stayed with them through the weekend. We attended Anita and Nick’s church where we had the privilege of hearing the pastor announce Anita’s first pregnancy to the entire congregation. She is due January 28.
We began our car traveling adventures on the morning of July 6th. Stephen picked up our “premium” car rental, which had enough room in the back for two car seats and “Mamma.” We traveled to the Mobile, Alabama area to visit Stephen’s sister, Susan Blanton and her family. Susan and Shannon have three kids. Their oldest daughter is almost eight. Connor is about a year and a month older that Jared and their son, Gavin, is almost a month older than Luke. The cousins had a lot of fun together.
We left Mobile on the 8th of July to travel to Georgia and stay with some friends of Cristina’s, Liz and Dave Hansen. The next morning, we traveled to Virginia Beach to spend one night there with another of Cristina’s friends, Kelly Head and her husband Jason. They have two girls, Julianna (4) and Victoria (1), who entertained our boys quite well for the evening. We also managed to visit some of Stephen and Cristina’s friends the following morning. We met up with Ken and Betty Dahm for breakfast and Jeff Anderson for lunch. After lunch, we traveled to the Northern Virginia area to visit our church family for the weekend.
While we were in Stephens City, Stephen wanted to run a race. He found one in the heart of D.C. that was taking place on Saturday, July 11th at Rock Creek Park. We all woke up at 4:30 am so that Stephen could make it to D.C. for his 7:30 race. While we were there, we visited some good friends of ours that we had met while living in South Korea (Alex and Teresa Harrington). We spent some time with them after the race and then ate lunch together before heading back to Stephens City.
The following morning, we spent most of our time at church. We spoke at both church services, the Sunday school class and the 6pm evening service. We did manage to fit some time in during the afternoon to visit with some dear friends who used to be next-door neighbors to us during our first year of marriage (Brooke and Darrell Frick). They had recently had the addition of their first baby to the family. So, we got to meet little three-month-old Jacob while we were there.
The morning of July 13 was another early one for us. My Yahoo! map directions stated that it would take 12 hours to drive from Stephens City, VA to Jacksonville, Fl. So, we left at 5:30am with the goal of making it to Jacksonville by dinnertime. Even with multiple stops along the way, we made it by 6:30pm.
We spent the night with Cristina’s cousin and her family. She had also given birth to a second daughter about two weeks after Luke was born. Her older daughter was already 5 years old. We spent the following morning together and then drove down to Gainesville to spend two more nights with Cristina’s family.
During that time, Philip and Chrissy, closed on their home to become homeowners for the first time. We all came over to “pray over” their new home. When we got to the second guest room, Philip and Chrissy mentioned that they weren’t sure what they how they would use it. They said it might be another room for guests or “possibly a baby’s room sometime in the future.”
After eating dinner together on July 15, Stephen and Cristina came home to do all the final packing of their things. The following morning, they would be driving to Miami, Florida and flying back to Quito on a 5:10pm flight.
We made our final long road trip on July 16th. This trip was only five hours long. After several days of six to twelve hour road trips, this trip seemed a lot faster. At least, that is how Cristina felt. Poor Stephen was definitely getting tired of the driving. He wouldn’t let Cristina assist him with much of the driving, because she had forgotten her driver’s license in Ecuador and was driving illegally each time she got behind the wheel.
People have asked us various times how the boys handled the driving. We have to respond with awe at how well they did. Yes, there were some fussy moments as we neared the boy’s mealtime while on the road. However, toys, games, occasional DVDs and snacks (for Jared), chew toys (for Luke) helped to keep them busy. We also drove no more than three hours at a time, so that Jared could run around and stretch his legs and so that Mamma could feed baby Luke, who was still doing 95% Mamma’s milk for his daily meals.
I think one thing Cristina will never forget this particular trip was the challenge of having to change diapers for two babies. She had a new appreciation for clean restrooms with quality diaper changing tables. It was also the first time that she realized how few airplanes actually come equipped with a diaper changing table in their restrooms. The airplanes that did had only one diaper-changing table on the entire plane.
It is also the last flight that both boys will be “lap-riders.” Jared just turned two years old, which means he will no longer ride for free on an airplane.
This summer trip was an adventure that the entire family will not soon forget.
The two aunts pose with their tired and fussy nephews.