Thursday, October 8, 2015

The Miles Between Friends

“Nothing makes the earth seem so spacious as to have friends at a distance; they make the latitudes and longitudes.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

Did you miss me?  I thought so.

I want to share my magical summer. (Yes, I know it's October. I'm slow.) But first, let me give you a back story:

Once upon a time back in the 1990's, the internet was REALLY little. There was no Google. There weren't 4,000,000 different websites that gave you all kinds of advice or news. In fact, if you stumbled on a good one, you stuck with it. 

A group of working women found themselves searching for parenting tips on this vast, but somewhat barren, internet. They'd all had babies around the same time and realized that they had MANY questions about these cute little humans who couldn't talk.

When these delightful women happened upon a website called Babynet, they discovered a great webmaster who gave them a place to interact. It was a magical time, when wackos weren't running around online and freaking everyone out. It was just a sweet little site, with great message boards. 

This website was the beginning of some amazing friendships that still exist today - even though the website is gone and the "webbie" passed away. I am one of those women - and I am so very blessed to have these friends. 

Now, back to this summer's adventures.

They made us a sign!
Pam, my long time Canadian friend, invited our family to visit her at her cottage. Not just this year - but darn near every year since they built the cottage. (PS. Canadian cottages are what we'd call lake houses.) And every year, we'd discuss going to Canada and decide that it was too far or too expensive or too much time. We just never seemed to find the right time to do it - until this year. 

We all realized that the daughters who brought us together as friends were on the verge of their senior years. They would soon be going to college and starting their own adult lives - and we'd never been in the same room. How was that possible? They have been the topic of conversation via email, Facebook and telephone for 17 years, but we let the years slide by without even getting them into the same room. Unacceptable! This had to change!

So, Kerry and I began our planning. We looked at airfare and calendars. We consulted with Pam on weather, location, currency, and travel trajectory. Have I ever mentioned that I'm a planner? 

#tx2can - Check instagram for all our zany stops!
We gathered passports, ordered Canadian currency, bought a selfie stick for the roadtrip, and loaded up with our hashtag #tx2can. (Yes, you have to order Canadian money when you live this far away from Canada.) 

Oh - and thanks to Randi - I put a new app on my phone called Roadtrippers that gave us ALL KINDS of places to stop. And away we went....

Largest totem pole
This 2-week trip, covering more than 1,600 miles one way, spanning 8 states was the very best vacation of my life. Not only because we laughed more than ever, but because our end goal proved that some friendships were just meant to be. And, thanks to technology, the Woods and the Smiths are forever linked. The only way to describe it is magical. But before I get to them, let me share a few highlights of the trip.

PaPa got hold of the selfie stick....
We took our time, stopped whenever it struck our fancy (ok... when it struck MY fancy), and spent some time researching family history. We also spent some time with my daddy and Keren which is always fun. I fell in love with Indiana and decided Illinois has the worst roads. Oh - and we tortured the girls every chance we got by making them take pictures with us at the "World's Largest [fill in blank]."  It was great!
Largest catsup bottle

Largest stamp (and it's NOT rubber)
We also stopped at Niagara Falls. They were pretty amazing - but we really got a bigger kick out of discussing Gracey's faux pas in middle school when she mispronounced it and practically said the "N" word. (She was horrified, of course.) It's definitely a wet experience!

I can't begin to tell you how much fun it was to drive all those miles together. Some people hate to road trip, but the Smiths are professionals. We don't even need games to keep us busy because we have Sadie! She kindly provides us with hours of entertainment whether with bodily functions or just a little toothbrushing...

Once we got to Canada, we stopped at some other friends' house on the Georgian Bay. (Do you like how a speak with such authority on that? Yeah... me too.) The kids go to school together but they are Canadian and fly the coop during the summer, so it was fun to see them. Their cottage and view are amazing and their hospitality even better. And after some R&R, we headed for our final destination: Pam and Garry's cottage!
Arrival! We took our Texas flag!

Are you wondering what big adventures we had planned? Are you expecting crazy stories of things we did that we'd never have done otherwise? I'm sorry to disappoint you. We just chilled. (And drank a lot of chilled beverages.)
The babies who started it all.

But, here's the thing: it was the most relaxed, comfortable and natural fit ever. 

Making new friends.
Everyone just fell right into the daily pace of cooking, boating, swimming and visiting. The kids all loved each other. (Maddy, unfortunately, was only there for about 24 hours because of work. But the girls still managed to hit it off!) Garry was always up for taking the girls fishing, and his nightly quizzes and/or games kept us all laughing. Pam and I made jelly, reminisced about old conversations and shared our latest parenting antics. Sadie and Nathan spent untold minutes chasing minnows and playing on the Lily Pad.

No deadlines. No agenda. No uncomfortable moments. No negativity.

Family pic minus Maddy. Last night in Canada.
I'm sure it helped that Pam and I have talked at length about her cottage life - and how she enjoys it. Not to mention they are the most amazing hosts EVER, so we wanted for nothing. Oh - and the cottage is Heaven on earth.

Whatever the reason, I believe that God knew what he was doing when he put Pam and I online at the same time all those years ago. We seemed to just click at every turn. I'd cook a meal one night - and she's incorporate the leftovers into the next night's dinner. She'd be vacuuming and cleaning the living room while I'd be folding laundry. I guess the only thing we didn't do similarly was sleep! They are bigger night owls than we are - but then I attribute that to our internal clocks set permanently to "wake early to go to work" and their's were set to "cottage time."  I feel sure with practice, we can retrain ours!

Packed up and ready to leave. :(
We were there for 6 days - and when it was time to leave, a sadness swept through the house. You know how some vacations are meant to end? Or a visit with friends reminds you that being alone can be a good thing? This wasn't like that at all. It was just.....sad. 

We drove away with SO many good memories and such a love for our friends that it was really hard to count the miles separating us. They made us promise to come back next summer - and we made them promise to come to Texas to see us - or at the very least we could all meet somewhere before then.

Next summer can't come soon enough. And countless memories show up in our daily conversations. If I was thankful for Babynet all those years ago when I needed help with a teething baby or potty training woes, I am a hundred times more thankful for Snapchat, Facebook and iMessage. Because 1,600 miles are just too many.

Thank you, Pam and Garry (and Nathan and Maddy.) We are beyond blessed to call you "framily", eh?


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