Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Merry, Merry Christmas to you and yours!

We are so grateful to be with family and friends in sunny So Cal. Trees are decorated; decorations are hung; lights adorn the eaves of neighborhood homes. We have heard an almost constant string of Christmas carols and songs. This year, two have really touched my heart each time they come on: "In the Bleak Midwinter" and "The Little Drummer Boy."

The last verses of each really get to the heart of Christmas: the celebration of the birth of the Son of God--God's great gift to us (John 3:16)--and each poet's desire to do something in appreciation for that great gift. Just take a read:

"In the Bleak Midwinter" by Christina Rossetti

In the bleak midwinter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone:
Snow had fallen, snow on snow
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter,
Long ago.
Our God, heaven cannot hold him
Nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away
When he comes to reign:
In the bleak mid-winter
A stable-place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty
Jesus Christ.
Enough for him, whom cherubim
Worship night and day,
A breastful of milk,
And a mangerful of hay:
Enough for him, whom angels
Fall down before,
The ox and ass and camel
Which adore.
Angels and archangels
May have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim
Thronged the air -
But only his mother
In her maiden bliss
Worshipped the beloved
With a kiss.
What can I give him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb;
If I were a wise man
I would do my part;
Yet what I can, I give him -
Give my heart.

"The Little Drummer Boy" by Katherine K. Davis

Come they told me, pa rum pa pom pom
A new born King to see, pa rum pa pom pom
Our finest gifts we bring, pa rum pa pom pom
To lay before the King, pa rum pa pom pom,
rum pa pom pom, rum pa pom pom

So to honor Him, pa rum pa pom pom,
When we come.
Little Baby, pa rum pa pom pom
I am a poor boy too, pa rum pa pom pom
I have no gift to bring, pa rum pa pom pom
That's fit to give the King, pa rum pa pom pom,
rum pa pom pom, rum pa pom pom.

Shall I play for you, pa rum pa pom pom,
On my drum?

Mary nodded, pa rum pa pom pom
The ox and lamb kept time, pa rum pa pom pom
I played my drum for Him, pa rum pa pom pom
I played my best for Him, pa rum pa pom pom,
rum pa pom pom, rum pa pom pom.

Then He smiled at me, pa rum pa pum pum
Me and my drum.

Such as we have, we give to each other at this time of year in remembrance of Him for whom this season is celebrated.

Merry Christmas!

Love, the Owens

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Get Your Kicks: Our Christmas Route 66 Trip, Day 5

We made it! Traveling from Kingman, we stopped by for a burger and chili cheese fries at Tommy’s in Barstow, California, for lunch, then kept to the freeways on our way to the grandparents. Ironically, we experienced our worst driving weather within the last two hours of our destination as we traveled down the Cajon Pass past Victorville and in through LA. Hooray to be here in Cali!

There are more photos than those posted on the blog. If you're interested, you can find them here

Christmas Road Trip

Hey, Grandmas and Grandpas! SURPRISE!!

Right after Thanksgiving, we decided to go home for Christmas. As we considered our options, we decided to take a road trip down the "Mother Road," Route 66. We realize that road trips are not everyone's cup of tea, but once we decided to go, we got all revved up! Mother Nature wanted to make sure we knew what we were going to be missing, apparently, with that big snowstorm and deep freeze we had just before we left. More posts and pics will follow (scroll down to see them as older posts) once we get settled in California and have a little time to visit with our families.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Get Your Kicks: Our Christmas Route 66 Trip, Day 4

We drove out from Tucumcari to Albuquerque to go to Lowe’s for the third part of their Christmas train Build and Grow clinic. Although we did get there by 10 AM, we got there too late for the train! A nice boy overheard Hallie talking to the Lowe’s associate and volunteered to give Landon his. He showed real character in volunteering to give Landon his train. Hopefully Landon will return the favor one day.
Happy boy with train

As we drove through New Mexico, the landscape was lightly snow-covered, but the roads were fine. We did not stop at any roadside attractions due to our Lowe's run, and we got into Arizona in the early afternoon. We finally left the snow behind us for good (at least until New Years). In Arizona we stopped by the Wigwam Motel, Joseph City, and the Jack Rabbit Trading Post before stopping in Flagstaff. This stretch is totally the part of Route 66 that served as the inspiration for Cars. Totally. As we made our way to Flagstaff, we deliberated about continuing to Kingman and making tomorrow a shorter travel day. We ultimately chose to keep pushing on, as by the time we got to Flagstaff we still had a little daylight to burn.
The Wigwam Motel with vintage vehicles

Mural outside Joseph City

Petrified wood historical marker. Joseph City was founded by Mormon pioneers and named after the Prophet Joseph Smith.

Not sure if I can find where that jackrabbit might be. . . .

Ah, yes! We found it. 

Freedom! Stretch time! 

We have had moisture of one sort or another every day this trip, but the roads have been generally fine. We hit rain again in Flagstaff after we decided to press on to Kingman, and then the rain turned into fog. And then it got dark. Thank goodness for reflective paint and reflectors embedded into the road (Michigan could learn a thing or two from these guys). We eventually drove below the cloud line and got into Kingman in time for dinner at In-N-Out Burger. Heaven. We were now mere hours from the grandparents'. 

Sure sign that we're almost home

Upon arrival in our hotel, we heard about the fire that gutted the Provo Tabernacle. How terrible to see the destruction of that special place. We attended stake conferences there when Mike was earning his master's degree, and Mike has many memories of attending events there as an undergrad. It feels a little like hearing about a death of an old friend. 

Friday, December 17, 2010

Get Your Kicks: Our Christmas Route 66 Trip, Day 3

We drove from Miami through Tulsa and Oklahoma City and on to Amarillo, Texas, before ending the drive in Tucumcari, New Mexico. We got our first taste of warmer weather! We started the day by driving back through Miami.  
The Coleman by day

Roadside eats. Check out the classic cars! 

Note the Ku Ku Bird

Route 66 is OK.

We then went on to see the world’s largest concrete totem pole, the blue whale of Catoosa, a Cherokee trading post with buffalo, and the National Route 66 Museum
World's largest concrete totem pole

Detail with the boy

Thar she blows! 

Mom and son at the Cherokee trading post

Dad and son outside the buffalo pen

Outside the National Route 66 Museum

Daylight was fading as we drove on from Oklahoma into Texas. In Shamrock, we stopped by the Conoco tower station and U-Drop-Inn Cafe, then we went to the Phillips 66 Station in McLean. Things seemed both really quiet and quite run down in the small towns, a sharp contrast to the bustle of both Tulsa and Oklahoma City.

It was dark by the time we got to Amarillo, home to many, many neon lit steakhouses, all full to brimming on a Friday night. We had hoped to see the Cadillac Ranch, but we were too late. We wanted to see this:
(Thanks Route 66, The Mother Road blog)

Or something stylish, like this shot Shad took:
(Check out this and other photos at Shad Hopkins Photography.)

But we got this:

What we did see were feedlots (poor cattle!), chilly weather, bits of snow, a giant cross, and deep dark without even the stars to light the night. We got into Tucumcari and drove down the main drag, but the lights were out except for a few Christmas lights. Most of the motels were closed. 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Get Your Kicks: Our Christmas Route 66 Trip, Day 2

We woke up this morning to snow on the ground and crazy after effects of last night’s storm. We had a few inches of snow on the car. Fortunately, the roads had been plowed and salted. While we avoided any mishaps, we did see several wrecked cars along our route. We traveled from Indianapolis across Indiana and Illinois before hooking up with Route 66 in St. Louis. As we approached the St. Louis arch, we knew the roadside Americana portion of our trip had begun! We didn’t follow Route 66 very strictly, but we did use two guides to help us decide when we would stop off the modern interstates and take the scenic byways, Route 66 for Kids and The EZ66 Guide for Travelers. We chose to mostly drive the interstates as we traveled along the approximate path of historic Route 66. The Mother Road's main season is the summer, so many of the attractions were either closed or operating with reduced hours. Nonetheless, we had plenty of side trips and places to stretch our legs that would offer something more picturesque than your typical rest area. We stopped at several roadside attractions along our way from St. Louis to Miami (say my-AM-ah), Oklahoma, where we ended the day.

We arrived in St. Louis just in time for lunch and then concretes (custard smoothies) at Ted Drewes Frozen Custard. The last time we passed through St. Louis as we moved to Detroit, it was over 100° F with 100% humidity. This time we got the city after the snow storm, so we have yet to see the place at its finest. There's nothing like a concrete when it's barely above freezing outside!
Not only do they sell custard, but Christmas trees! 
The child approves.

From St. Louis, we headed on to see the kitschy bits of the Show Me State along our route. On one side road we thought our brakes had given out as Hallie tried to pull to a stop only to discover that the road was a complete expanse of black ice. You get that with 100% humidity and freezing temps, apparently. We opted to take the interstate for a bit after that (so much for the historic vacuum cleaner museum and world's largest bowling pin).

We stopped by the "World's Largest Rocking Chair" (one of many other giant or otherwise remarkable attractions designed to draw people like us off the interstate and into a souvenir shop), where we proceeded to go into the shop and buy something after having a chat with the cashier, who said she enjoyed this job more than working at the local school district. Apparently, the shop stays busy all year long between the tourists and the attached archery range for the local hunters and the taxidermy business the owner does as a side job. Landon thought it was fun to skate along on the slick gravel outside the shop.
The chair we came to see

The shop it drew us to

The mural here is an example of the many we saw painted on the sides of buildings along our way. 

In the evening, we pulled off the main drag and took the historic route through Kansas and to the Eisler Bros. Old Riverton Store for a taste of some road food and nostalgic atmosphere. Landon was about done with sitting in the car all day (poor little trooper). He had spent the last little part of the day watching Cars on the portable DVD player (side note: SUCH a help! We told him he could watch a movie after his afternoon nap each day, and he was so patient about waiting. Plus, once he woke up from his nap and had the movie, he was in hog heaven. What did road tripping parents used to do – other than talk to, sing with, and otherwise interact – with their kids?). Actually, that last thought reminds me of how we would while away the time on the road to visit relatives in Utah: church musicals on tape, activity books, and tormenting the siblings.
Eisler Bros. Store

Landon hangin' with the gang from Cars

After Eisler Bros., we trekked down past the historic Coleman Theatre and to our hotel in Miami, Oklahoma. While we didn't see much nighttime neon during our after dark drive, we did see some Main Streets decked out in lights, garlands, and banners to ring in the Christmas season. Once he got into the hotel, Landon bounced off the walls and beds and anything else available, then it was off to bed. 
The Coleman was showing It's a Wonderful Life on the big screen! 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Get Your Kicks: Our Christmas Route 66 Trip, Day 1

We headed out from Wayne State after Mike’s work party en route to Indianapolis for our first stop of the trip. While the weather remained cold, we had dry roads along our journey. We planned on just taking a few hours today because we would have several multi-hour trips to come. We focused on just getting to the hotel. Upon arrival, we found out that a winter storm advisory was in effect for the night. Yay.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Brrringing on the Yuletide Cheer

Brrr! We have sun, but yikes it is cold out! Sunday we got pummeled with snow and then deep freeze cold. It was so bad in Minnesota that they moved the Vikings-NY Giants game to Ford Field. Monday was Macy's 2nd Monday, which this month meant pictures with Santa, so we didn't want to miss it. Plus, the missionaries were coming with, so we really wanted to go. If you don't already see where this is going, I'll elaborate.

Instead of changing plans and forgoing out trip like sane people, we went ahead and drove into the frozen intractable maw (AKA the 7th Circle of h-e-double hockey sticks) that downtown Detroit became at 10 AM. Every freeway was blocked with some snow/ice related wreck or other, and all slippery, ice choked surface streets leading around the freeways channeled us toward Ford Field and the insane mob of football fans looking for free (or scalped--"2 for $20!") tickets to the night's game. We left home at 9:50 (the reason for our departure time is another story in itself) with the elders and arrived two hours later, just in time to get in line for Santa. Then a lady comes out telling the guy watching the line to stop bringing kids in. We made it in, but I feel bad for the others who didn't make it. As for us, we celebrated the yuletide Henry Ford style! Oh, yeah, and we forgot our camera for the Santa photo. Gotta love cell phones.

Landon told Santa what he wants for Christmas. Such a brave boy! 
Lego replica of the Fisher Building at the Depot Towne the Henry Ford has going on.
More train layouts
An exploded view of a Model T Ford

We made the trip worth the missionaries' while (hopefully) by giving them the chance to get the time in at the museum they would have had had they not been trapped in the back seat of the Buick with our squirrelly 3-year-old and taking them by a couple of Detroit-related stores. Mike tacked on a few hours into the evening to make up for what he lost during the day. The joys of a flexible work schedule (makes up for those times when he waits for the bus at 9 PM in winter when it's below 0). Did we mention it's cold out?   

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Getting into the Holiday Mood at GFV

Tonight the three of us went down to Holiday Nights at Greenfield Village. The chill in the air meant that we had to bundle up tight, but unlike the last time we went, tonight we had dry skies and calm winds, so it was bearable. Lots of people turned out to take in the caroling, lights, wagon rides, and other activities.

A group of carolers from Livonia outside Liberty Craftworks

The boy trying to keep warm while watching the singers

Enjoying the warmth of one of the many fire pits

Booths selling food or souvenirs dotted our path. 

Skaters at the outdoor ice rink

Milling about near the fire

Mummers welcoming in the season

Brass band playing Christmas tunes

More carolers performing

Christmas train scene

Snug and happy boy

With Santas Outside Taste of History 

Landon was amazed at this woman playing a hammered dulcimer

Turkey dinner! Yummy!

Hallie said, "Let's have a house that looks like that."

Landon got so excited when Santa greeted him by name. They are on a first name basis, after all.

A couple of Santa's reindeer.

More caroling, more warm fires.

Impromptu fireside photo op.

It wouldn't be Ford without the vintage vehicles.

By the time we were ready to leave, Landon was ready to run and climb and go go go!

We only scratched the surface of all the activities that were available. Something to look forward to next year. . . .