Guess who's back in action? That's right...me, myself and moi. Okay, lame introduction to a post about something so epic, right? Eh. Well, I stink at introductions.
Let's get to the point of this post. As many of you probably already knew, my family and I went to the NGJ Great Ozark Mountain Shindig. I had been anticipating it for months...counting down the days in excitement.
And finally, the time came! Here are some pictures from our voyage to Missouri, and some highlights on what occurred on the trip and of course at the actual event
It was a long, long drive. Two and a half days, from FL to Roach, MO, where the Windermere (location of the Shindig) was located.
We were pretty cramped, in our mini-van. Especially us folks with longer legs - ah was I thankful to get out and stretch when the occasion arose!
(1. This is a testament to the deceitfulness of autocorrect. 2., no, we weren't gossiping. It was a discussion on book characters. Teehee...cause that's what us authorly people do.)
The trek officially started on Tuesday, September 10th. We drove up to north Alabama, and spent the night in a hotel. The first day was probably the most stressful of the entire trip, since it involved the brunt of the driving.
Day Two of the trek, we stopped in at our dear friends the C's for the morning! Ah, this was amusing, since it felt we'd just seen them. In fact - well, that's partially true. A few weeks earlier, they'd come down to OUR house. Things work out in funny ways, sometimes.
It was great to see them again - with this family, it always is. They're such abundantly sweet people, and are like relatives to me.
The kidlets loved riding around in the golf cart. Unfortunately Luke got stung numerous times by some wasps, but he toughed it out and our Bulk Herb Store 'green cream' helped the sores disappear quickly. Later, the C's youngest boy got stung on the nose...gosh, it makes you wonder sometimes what you bring with you when you go visit people! xP
(Gabby demonstrating on a very old electric guitar that was given them)
I think the highlight of the visit was playing Scattergories. I discovered that Mikaela and I apparently think VERY alike on certain questions - "mind linked!" We all came up with some pretty hilarious answers if I do say so myself.
"Animals found on a farm: Timberwolves", "Things found at a football stadium: Nuts", etc, etc. Heheheh. It's fun to be goofy sometimes. And it's always good to laugh!
This precious girl was apparently in need of a nap, so she plunked down right on the couch!
(The sad moment in which we had to leave our friends and continue the voyage.)
Thank you to the C's for having us, and for the delicious lunch you served! It was yummy and of course we treasured the chance to visit again with y'all. *hugs*
We continued driving for about two hours and landed in Nashville, where we picked up the rented RV. Now this was an experience, folks. Quite an experience.
Never before had we rented an RV and driven it somewhere. Never before had we even stayed in an RV, as a family. Never before had Daddy driven such a vehicle. I'll admit I was er...slightly scared as we pulled out of the rental place.
But oh, it was tremendously exciting. So cool to ride in such a big rig!
Of course, an added benefit was the increased amount of space. We weren't all shoved up in there like sardines in a can, anymore. Ahhh! "FREEDOM!"
The boys loved it. They played Trouble, colored, and waved at trucks going by.
Daddy did an excellent job driving!
We stopped for the night in Paducka, Kentucky, at a small campground. Our first time using a campground bath house and facilities!
Quite randomly, let me say that one thing being on the road with a camper does is instill in you a thankfulness for HOT SHOWERS. Yes. Oh how we appreciated those! The bath house at Windermere didn't have hot water, so we showered and shivered. xD Or took a 'military shower', as some would put it. You don't know what you have until you are without it!
So yeah, this trip really taught me to be thankful for hot showers and chances to maintain good hygiene.
My makeshift bed. It was actually quite comfortable, once I could arrange it so my feet fit - these things usually don't favor tall people too well.
Day Three: We passed through Illinois, and finally into Missouri!
Got to drive through St. Louis. The boys loved seeing the baseball stadium and arch.
Eeek. Filling up the gas for an RV? It's a scary task...scary for whoever is paying, anyway. xP
Along the way, we passed another RV which had a Delaware tag and a large rack of bikes hitched on the back. We saw small figures moving about inside.
Well, after some deliberation, we figured this family had to be a group of homeschoolers. Everybody else would've been in school, much less taking a road trip miles from their native state! We had this thought, "hey, what if these people are heading to the Shindig, too?" So we hastily made up a sign reading "Shindig?" and the boys held it to the window. As the RV passed, the kids inside held up a sign saying "yes!"
Turns out, the family parked their RV across from us at the Windermere campground and the boys ended up playing with their kids. Isn't that the coolest thing?
Sadly I got very few pictures while actually at the Windermere. Here is where we hooked up, though. It was a beautiful spot. Actually, the entire campus was.
At the actual Shindig, it was incredible. I had some disappointments, but they were overruled by other occurrences which were really fun and wonderful.
The Windermere was a captivating 300 acre piece of property, an idyllic Baptist retreat center in the middle of nowhere. Rolling hills surrounded the premises (well, to us Floridians they seemed like mountains!) and a large body of water lay smack dab in the middle. It was gorgeous. The weather was heavenly, to go with it. Just a tad chilly in the evenings, and in the day time it couldn't have been any better. NO HUMIDITY OR BUGS TO CONTEND WITH!
The first thing I noticed, when we pulled up to register, was the amount of conservative-dressing people in attendance. Nowhere else have I been, where so many people dressed modestly - even to the point of being excessively modest, and in comparison to the Mennonite style. (head coverings, very plain dresses, etc.)
There were over 2 thousand people who attended this thing. Did you get that? 2K. And in general, everyone was similar in beliefs. 2K homeschooling, Christian families all in one spot! That's a pretty amazing thing to behold and experience. It was very refreshing. (Also, I can't stress how wonderful it was to be able to walk around/drive places on campus by myself, without worrying about some creep trying to attack or take advantage me! Nowhere else have I felt so secure and safe.)
Some of the many great things which we got to do at the Shindig:
We got to see the Pearls in action, at several sessions/lectures. I witnessed Michael Pearl throwing knives, with his son Nathan being the hilarious side-kick/helper. I'll admit I was disappointed that there weren't any chances to do knife throwing on my own, but oh well. Can't do it all I guess.
We had a blast riding golf carts all over the place. It was quite a distance to walk back and forth so Daddy rented two carts which were our means of transportation. (Now, that being said, once at the camper, Adam accidentally backed into Mom and she got bruised pretty bad, but thankfully she seems fine. It was scary and completely unexpected!) I loved feeling the breeze on me as we flew around on those things. Unfortunately they had placed governors on the accelerators,(I would've loved to see how fast the thing could've gone) but I guess that was for the best long-term - could've been a major liability issue for the Windermere folks.
I got to meet a ton of fabulous people. I talked to over three dozen individual people, over the weekend. Sadly I can't remember everyone's names.
But. The ones I do remember?
Zoie and Kavan Yoder. Katie. (It was lovely to chat with you!) Rachel, Anna and Celia. (Wish I could've talked more with y'all!) Mackenzie Vitelli. (Loved chatting/playing music with you!) Mallory and Erin O'Steen. (It was real fun to hang out/jam!)
Beccalee. (I wish I could've gotten to talk to you more!) Noelle Magnell. (You were such an inspiration to me! Thank you for being so radiant!) AB Caravetta. (It was great to meet you in person!) Tristan. (Thanks for dancing with me!) Nicki. (Thanks for being so friendly and accommodating!) Hannah Marrs. (I'm sending you a penpal letter soon!) Luke Harned. (I enjoyed having lunch with you Saturday! And your book is inspiring!) Chris. Carrie Thompson. (I wish I had gotten your contact info, your book premise sounded so incredible!) Rosetta Byler. (Also sending you a penpal letter soon!) April. Another Leah. Bailey. (You were an inspiration to me!)
Ah I wish I could remember everyone!! Overall, it was a pleasure to talk to all of you, and very refreshing to meet others who were likeminded.
I got to contra dance. Thank you to the Marrs family and the other family I can't remember the name of., who organized the impromptu dance. Thank you to Tristan, a very nice young man who offered to be my partner and taught me how the correct moves and such. He was a total gentleman and I wish I could've gotten to talk to him more. Also, I was thankful that everyone else was patient with us newcomers. It was such a blast. I even got Will to join in, once he tried to sneak off but the parents called him back and didn't let him leave. *snicker* But oh the contra dancing was definitely a highlight of the weekend. I wish we could organize a dance here in our area!
We went caving, otherwise known as spelunking. Yep! That's right, and yes it was the real thing - not just some touristy little detail. Sadly none of us anticipated this and we wore our nice clothes. At the end of the excursion we were covered in clay/mud/dirt. (that's what washers are for, right?) It was really cool, and pretty exerting. Lots of squeezing through small openings and crawling on hands and knees, or scaling over rocks and other natural blockades. It was really fun, and did you know that if you remain in total darkness for 40 minutes your eyes will turn purple when exposed to the light briefly? O_O
I was pushed out of my comfort zone, and forced to initiate many conversations/activities. One thing this trip taught me to do better was walking up to people and initiating conversations. I do believe I've improved at that art. It was tricky in the beginning but the more I did it the easier it became. And I met some neat people in the process!
I got to play dodge ball and volleyball. One night, I attended a meet where lots of teens/kids/parents were playing dodge ball. Oh it was such fun! I was on the winning team twice and was one of the few not to get out. (the second time anyway!) Here is where I met Beccalee and Bailey. Also hung out with Mallory. On Saturday, I grabbed Will and a few of the boys and asked if we could jump in on a game of volleyball some of the Marrs' and Tristan's family were having. Ah! I stink so bad at volleyball.
I got to play music. Even though it was not as much as I would've liked, I did get to jam with some folks. Mackenzie, Mallory and Erin, and Hannah. We sang, and strummed. It was very pleasant. Later we trekked up to one of the auditoriums and used the piano, and then a young man and his siblings walked in and joined us. I wish I knew the guy's name because he was a SUPERB bluegrass guitarist! His siblings were also good musicians.
I went to a singles mingle. Oh this was a blast. I met a number of guys here but sadly could only remember a few names. There was a 'speed dating' game where the fellas asked the girls slightly theological questions, and then there was Pictionary and musical chairs. The latter in particular was a thrill. I was one of the last to get out. There were maybe 200 people involved. But the whole evening was super fun, and I was glad I went! Got back to the RV around 11:40 at night...the campus curfew was 12.
Soooo. Yeah, it was an awesome experience. I came away feeling emboldened and inspired.
(Yes, there is actually somewhere in the country named Metropolis...and it's in rural Tennessee.)
It was sad, leaving. I already missed people and the campus. But with anything, there are two sides. While it was a not so pleasant thing to pack up and say goodbye, I was also ready to be home and get back to "conquering the world" as Luke H. put it. I was ready to smile and radiate with Christ's love, as Noelle encouraged me to do.
I was ready to put what I'd learned to practice.
(Isn't that the cheesiest thing you've ever seen?)
Overall the trip was phenomenal. It was both a patience test, and a joy. It was both a struggle, and a thrill. The voyage was stressful at times, but we overcame the difficulties and pressed onward. We gained experience, and many a memory. *happy sigh*
I. had. a. blast.
(Another cheesy road-sight coming home. The boys/Daddy always tease me about 'finding a husband' so I thought I should get a picture of this.)
(The RV rental place was a total dump!)
(Unloading everything back into the van, on the last leg of the trip coming home.)
(Will trying to compress the eggshell mattress.)
I felt that this trip was nothing short of an adventure. We did many new things, learned new stuff and I know I came away stronger than before. It was a blessing, being able to go. I am very, very thankful to Daddy for letting us do this, and to the Lord for protecting us and overseeing all that occurred.
In short? It was amazing, phenomenal, outstanding! I can't wait for next year's Shindig!!! WHOOP! Sorry guys, but y'all missed out on a treasure trove of incredible moments this time.
Soli Deo Gloria,