We drove away from home in Kennewick at 10 am on Wednesday morning, March 22 in our 2015 red Passat loaded with luggage, various bags of books and stuff and several acoustic instruments. Dennis, Arthur and I made it to Phoenix by Thursday evening around 7:00, driving right to Sky Harbor Airport to pick up Paul, who had flown in from New York. Arthur stood waiting for him to walk into the big room near his gate and when he saw Paul, ran across and leaped into a body hug with legs and arms!
Paul, sans luggage, navigated us out of the labyrinth of the airport and in 10 minutes over to Keith and Bethany's home, where the others had enjoyed a meal of pork chops, salad and lemon curd together. Annie Laurie had flown in from LA around 3 pm, with Zach and Kaley and their children having driven down from Colorado Springs in two days, arriving around 5 pm. Now all 16 members were together, though baby Isaiah was asleep already. The four of us arriving late had a chatty supper, then we drove 5 minutes to the rental house where all from out of town were staying.
What a place! Huge, luxurious, filled with art. The living room boasted a huge fireplace and a harpsichord! They had graciously designated the master bedroom for Dennis and me and our suite was at least 1000 square feet! Paul and Arthur slept in the large den with Zion and Kacia. Keziah had a roll away in the family room. Zach and Kaley had a bedroom as did Annie Laurie, who had a fever when we arrived.
Friday morning, Kaley and Zach took Zion, Kacia and Arthur to a special childrens' park, meeting up with Keith and Bethany and their four children. Keziah stayed with us, since she was ill also, and got in an extra nap. We had a relaxed morning talking with Paul and Annie Laurie in the big kitchen before scrambling off at noon to the Royals/Mariners game, which was an hour's drive away. We had forgotten our tickets in the car, parked very far away, but in time they were found online so we got into the game by the second inning.
It was so nice to sit on the blankets in the grass in the sun, talk with Zach and Kaley some, watch the children frolic and see the game. Bethany was home with Isaiah, but Kaley took a picture of the rest of us by the fence and great shots of the 6 children too. Mariners had been ahead the whole game, then the Royals rallied but fell short. Zach's whole family had their Royals shirts on, while Keith's had their Mariner's garb on!
Rearranging who was going with whom for the ride back home, I went with Keith and the little boys, Annie Laurie went with Kaley and the girls, and Zach, Paul and Arthur went with Dennis. Only problem was, I had the keys for the Passat! So Keith, well away, had to turn around and go back to find Zach in the parking lot to give him the keys! Then we all had long drives home, crawling in the rush hour traffic, but that gave Keith and I a nice chance to visit. Near home, Dennis bought Rubio's take out Mexican food for all, which we ate together in the "mansion". Bethany brought Isaiah over, whom I got to hold as much as I wanted. Uncle Paul let the older children play Minecraft. Annie Laurie went to sleep on the floor of the family room, but felt some better the next day. Arthur established his place in the living room at the square coffee table to work with his markers and paper
Saturday morning provided a welcome time of catching up over the breakfast table with Zach and Kaley about their natural fight against cancer. They'd been dealing with close friends who disapproved of the course they are taking. Keith rode bikes with Evangeline, K2, and Abraham over from their house. Kacia was full of talk about how Annie Laurie was going to take her to buy her some candy! Some of the games from March Madness were on later, so everyone who cared about those enjoyed watching them together. All six of the children were glad to have a chance to go swimming in the very big pool at the mansion in the afternoon, since there hadn't been time on Friday. It was cold but fun, with Annie Laurie and the bigger guys joining in as well. I took Paul and Annie Laurie to Costco for clothes for Paul and groceries, with a fun stop at Starbucks. Zach and Kaley also shopped at Costco. They were in charge of supper that night, making their delicious chicken taco recipe with Keziah pitching in as well.
Zach directed the conversation at the huge table with the adults, asking everyone to say what they admired about each of the others. This was very affirming for everyone, a great "official" beginning to our time together. There was some warring over the Minecraft play throughout the week but overall, everyone got along very well. Arthur had some good wrestling times with Paul and with the younger children while he was feeling ok.
Sunday morning we got breakfast done quickly and out the door to meet Keith and Bethany at their church. Isaiah, Keziah and K2 stayed with the adults and the other children went to the children's class. I was glad to take communion, then when the pastor announced he was preaching about Stephen from the book of Acts, I was very ready to hear what he said, since Dennis has been preaching about Acts and I have been reading MLJ on Acts.
Waiting for everyone to gather after service was over, Kaley suggested we take a family picture when we got back to the mansion before anyone changed their clothes. A tripod was rigged that hid Kaley from our view, but she got some great group photos around the pretty painted bench that graced the large courtyard entry way to the mansion. In the afternoon, several went to a bookstore where Paul bought some great books for both sets of grandchildren. We finally discovered the stash of games so the children played those off and on the rest of the week.
Sunday evening, Annie Laurie and Paul made chicken curry & rice with dosas & garlic spread and Paul's potatoes for a special supper. Their direction for the dinner conversation was for each to talk about their big goals/dreams in life. We didn't get too far that night since we cut it short to do music together and to get the children to bed a bit earlier, so we continued and finished this topic on Wednesday eve. Playing and singing worship songs altogether in the family room went well. The children were eager to play Paul's bass with him, taking turns.
Monday was free until evening. Our usual pattern in the mornings was Zach would make a big pot of steel cut oats, I would cook a big skillet of scrambled eggs and Annie Laurie would make a pot of coffee. Others would make toast or squeeze oranges right off the tree in our yard for whoever wanted such. This day, Dennis and I took Bethany with us to look at vintage and antique stores in Mesa, and also a music store. Paul and Annie Laurie went out for coffee and a quiet workplace. Some swimming and Minecraft for the children and baby holding time for me in the afternoon too. Zion walked up the tree in the backyard! Kacia and Abraham spent their time around the pool rather than in it for the most part.
Bethany had arranged for a babysitter for the children so the nine adults could go to dinner at True Foods Kitchen. The healthy food was delicious and it was special for Arthur to be included as an adult with the others. Afterwards, we toured the 100 year old Frank Lloyd Wright designed Biltmore Hotel nearby. A big party was going on for NFL team owners and managers! Some of us "crashed" the outdoor garden party with concert and wandered around.
Tuesday morn we all gathered at the Desert Botanical Gardens. It is a huge, designed planting of every kind of cactus and succulent (with other herbs, vegetables and flowers as well) that grow in the region. I got to carry Isaiah quite a while as we walked through the different areas. Even though Kacia was now coming down with the "bug" we all had a great time together enjoying the beautifully designed and cared for huge collection of living things. Kaley got lots of great cousin shots.
That evening we joined Keith and Bethany at their home for grilled chicken, salad and rice, with coconut chips. We ate outside on their patio and our subject for conversation was to give a scripture passage that had special meaning this past year. So good to hear how God is working in different ways in each one! Then we gathered in the living room to make music together again. Dennis taught Evangeline how to play Cripple Creek on her violin before we ate supper, and she nailed it during the jam! Keziah played piano, leading us in several hymns. Keith played bass this time.
Wednesday, Kaley and Kacia (who were both now fighting the "bug") along with Bethany, Abraham and Isaiah stayed home and enjoyed time together. Keith had to go to moot court to work on a big case he'd been preparing. The rest of us drove down to Tucson. Zach took Annie Laurie, Arthur, K2, Zion and Evangeline to an air museum called Boneyards. Dennis, Paul (battling the "bug"), Keziah and I drove into downtown Tucson to shop at the unique furnishing stores Mimi had showed us 2 years before.
Then at noon, all of us gathered at a pizza place near Mimi and Chuck's home to have lunch with Mimi, Chuck, along with Lorna, Gordon and David Kaufman! The Kaufman's were a welcome surprise as they were in town from Boston and just ready to fly back in a few days! It was a great blessing to get to see, eat with and visit with all five of them a couple hours before we scurried off back to Phoenix. We did stop first at Mimi's to see all the improvements Chuck has made since we were there last. Zach had to get the children to Awana's for their pinewood derby at 4:00 and we had to get back to back to grocery shop and make supper for everyone! Annie Laurie was making a special birthday berry pie for dessert in honor of Arthur's recent 22nd bday.
By this, our last evening together, Zach, Kaley, Zion, Kacia, Keziah, Annie Laurie, Paul, Dennis and Arthur were all dealing with various stages of the "bug". But everyone kept a great attitude! (Thankfully, it was not a stomach flu!) Dennis grilled the steak, Zach cut it in thin strips, I fried the basmati rice and the stir fry veggies so we had it all ready with the pie cooling soon after the Awana group of participators and watchers showed up. Evangeline won a trophy for her Seahawks inspired design!
We learned more about each other as the group finished sharing their goals and dreams, then everyone sang Happy Birthday to a reluctant (sick) Arthur and enjoyed the delicious pie. The guys and Annie Laurie had a shot of scotch while we talked about what a great summit this had been and hopes and plans for another next year, maybe in Maine near Lorna's summer home.
Zach and Kaley were planning to drive all the way home in one day so we packed up and cleaned up at the same early time they did. Before loading, Dennis drove Paul over to Keith's so he could go to work with him and see the real court presentation that Keith had practiced for on Wednesday. Paul's flight was in the evening so he had that last day to spend with them. We were taking Annie Laurie to LA and left shortly after Zach and Kaley, stopping by Bethany's to say goodbye. Annie Laurie knew about an installation called Mirage in Palm Springs and we got there at the perfect time to see it: a house all made of mirrors, inside and out! Thursday eve we checked into the Pasadena Rose Inn in Pasadena, planning to go to Universal Studios the next day. Ate supper at great, healthy place called Lemonade, one of Annie Laurie's favorites.
Friday morning, Dennis was feeling pretty rough and Universal Studios reviews did not make us think we would enjoy it much for the $100 per person price, so we decided to go to the La Brea Tar Pits and Museum instead. It was enjoyable though, of course, full of climate change propaganda. We considered going also to the art museum next door, but instead called Sharron and Armand and found we could bring dinner to their place that evening. So we headed toward our motel, stopping at the American Shopping Center in Altadena for Pressed Juicery ice cream-- delicious! Time for a little nap for Dennis before picking up a wood fired pizza on the way to the Deny's. Two sweet hours to spend with them eating, talking, seeing their place and yard and all of Sharron's quilted creations that Armand helps her to make. Wish we'd have taken pictures both here and with the Kaufman's and Youngs!
Saturday morning Dennis, Arthur and I drove away from the motel just minutes before Annie Laurie was picked up by her friend Brittany and they were driving the same direction as us clear to Redding! So we met up with them for coffee after going past the most congested part of our trip so I could meet Britt. We did spend the night in Redding too, but Arthur was feeling worse so we decided to not meet them for church but to get going on our way home. Dennis was still feeling rough too, so I spelled him a couple times. Had a delicious lunch in Bend, at the Old Mill center, made it home by 7:30 on April 2.