To everyone who ever said I should write a book...

     So, it's Monday, December 10th at 10:19am and I am sitting in Lula's Coffee Company...getting ready to start a BOOK!!!  Yes, you read that correctly.
     Ever since I was in high school, I have LOVED writing and my dad always told me that I HAD to write book about my life and living overseas as a Missionary Kid.  I sincerely hated math and science, but loved any class where we had to write papers or do projects (mainly because I made better grades in those classes and my teachers usually told me that I was a good writer).  Then, I got to college and continued to do well until my Junior year at Francis Marion University.  Unfortunately, I had a professor who started everyone in his class with a "0" or "F".  If a student wanted to improve their "F", they had to prove to him that they deserved it.  He never would tell us how much a paper was worth to our final grade, what he expected, or how it was even going to be graded, so it was basically a lose lose situation for every student.  This was the first time in my life that I was not doing so hot in English class.  My professor convinced me that I was NOT a good writer and that I barely deserved an average grade.  He had also been my Mimi's professor when she was at Francis Marion and constantly reminded me how much better my Mimi had done in his class than I was doing.  I was crushed...this was my favorite subject, the one I thought was my best and that I loved.  So, at the end of the semester, this professor told me that he decided to move me up from my "F" to a "C" as my final grade, telling me it wasn't because I did well, but because he was being generous.  I had never made less than a B- in my life and almost fainted when he gave me the news.  He couldn't understand why I was so upset.  I begged and cried and followed him to the staff room to try to get him to understand that if he gave me a "C" that I would lose my scholarship and not be able to continue going to school.  He told me "too bad" and to take out student loans to make up for my lost scholarship.  I knew I was doomed, but when the report cards came out, I surprisingly had a "B"...I guess my sob story him got to him later.  So, the good thing was that I came out of that semester with a "B" and I kept my scholarships and eventually graduated from Francis Marion.  The bad thing was that I was convinced that I was a bad writer.
     So, skip ahead a few years when Nick and I joined the mission field and I started to write a blog to keep all of our supporters up to date and in contact with us.  I loved writing stories on my blog about our lives on the mission field.  Some of the stories were hilarious, some were serious, some sad.  I still thought I wasn't a good writer but, the more I wrote, the more people told me that I should write a book.  I couldn't believe it!  So, for the past four years, when people said I should write a book, my answer has been "Yea, maybe one day I'll do it", but really I am thinking "Yea right, I could never write a book".
     However, My turning point was during September of this year.  If you know Nick and me, you know that we love adventures and we love crossing off things on our ever growing bucket list.  In September, we took the entire month and did a road trip across country to the West coast and back.  We had a lot of great conversations about our life together, our past few years and where we want to go in the future.  We always say that when we are an old couple (if God allows that), we want to talk about all of the things that we did and not all of the things that we WISH that we did.  So, our bucket list expands as we continue to excitedly cross off our dreams, one by one.  Finally, after that long personal history lesson, I come to the end of the "story"....we have officially put writing a book on our bucket list, saying that I need to stop talking about doing it and actually start writing it...so, here I am, sitting at Lula's, not knowing what to write (I have some crazy ideas), or where to start, or what will come of this, but knowing that it I don't at least attempt it, I will be an old woman wishing that I had dared to try!
     So, I'm predicting that if I become a famous millionaire, Nick and I will probably take a year off and do a trip around the entire world!  But, even if that doesn't happen, I can still cross this off our bucket list!



See this adorable picture of baby Ironman with his dad?

Now, look at the top of his pants, near his belly button...do you see the tool that he carefully stuck there for safe keeping?  Apparently Ironman was always meant for construction.  Even years ago, as a wedding gift, Ironman built me a beautiful jewelry box.  He is naturally gifted in wood working.  Side note - I told my dad that he should name the company "Wick n' Nick", but he didn't think that was very professional, so he stuck with Black Mountain Development group as his company name...haha!

What did you pretend to be when you were a child?  A builder?  A bus driver?  A princess?  Want did you want to be when you grew up?


Best sister ever...

Everyone needs a sister! Mary Ashley (aka Yahyee) cleaned my entire apartment and left us goodies all over the place. What a treat to come back from a long road trip to this!!!

We are Home Sweet Home!!!

We pulled out of Florence on September 3rd and are now just getting home on the 29th! Our cross country road trip was amazing and definitely worth all that we invested into it! The USA is a beautiful place. Thank you for praying for us on our trip and keeping up with our daily stories and photos. Nick and I can now scratch this off of our bucket list and start planning what we will attempt next! We summed up our trip with a Fast Facts list below...

Our Route:
South Carolina
New Mexico
Georgia (we went back and forth between TN and GA while driving around Lookout Mountain...half of the mountain is in GA and half of it is in TN)
South Carolina

Our Overnight Stops:
Roswell, GA
Cypress, TX
El Paso, TX
Phoenix, AZ
Grand Canyon National Park, AZ
Palmdale, CA
Cupertino, CA
Redwood National Forest, CA
Rock Springs, WY
Idaho Falls, ID
Buena Vista, CO
Lenexa, KS
Lookout Mountain, GA

Our Site Seeing Stops:
Downtown Houston
The Woodlands
The Alamo
Montezuma Castle
Chapel of the Holy Cross
Grand Canyon National Park
Hoover Dam
Santa Monica Pier
Sailing the Pacific coastline
Pier 39
Ghiradelli Square
The most crooked street
Coit Tower
Golden Gate Bridge
Redwood National Forest
Crater Lake
Yellowstone National Park
Colorado ranches and mountains
St Louis Arch (saw it from the car)
Scenery of half of the country while driving...

Hours of driving: 127 hours 45 minutes
Miles on the road: 7,801.9
Gallons of gas: 270.4
Gas stops: 30
Days on the road: 27
Nights on the road: 26
Nights in hotels: 5
Nights in campgrounds: 4
Nights in car: 1 (our tent site got flooded)
Nights with strangers: 4
Nights with family: 5
Nights with friends: 7
States we drove through: 21
Road trip kick off: aunt Vicki's in GA
Creepiest overnight stay: Rock Springs, WY
Worst traffic: Houston and San Francisco
Longest drive: Atlanta to Houston in one day
Hardest drive: 23 hours in two days
Most deserted: Oregon and Idaho
Laziest afternoon: watching John Wayne movies with our cowboy, Ben Temple
Hottest weather: Houston
Sweetest dog: Holly Hoffart's sister's dog in Kansas
Sunburns: a day by the pool with Holly
Least disappointing: Seeing the Mexican border and not crossing it
Asians site seeing with us: 8,546,976
Best camping: Redwoods
Craziest host: Bob near San Francisco
Coldest weather: Grand Canyon
Never want to go back: Las Vegas
Traffic jams: 3
Grizzlies: 0
Spoiled us rotten: the Hoffart's in TX and my cousins, the Mays, in CA
Best memory: sitting around the campfire in the Redwoods
Snacks: Twizzler Bites and Combos
Caffeine of choice: Starbucks
Injuries: none
Car problems: on the verge of overheating
Handsomest guy: Nick
Best nap: on the beach in Santa Monica with my cousin Carrie
Hours Emily drove: 0
Most surprising moment: Going to church in California and meeting someone from my hometown in Bolivia!
Audio books: 2 1/2
eBooks: 5
Books: 2
Magazines: 1
Sick days: Nick had allergies
Most expensive gas: Northern California $4.39 per gallon
Least expensive gas: South Carolina...never complain again
Hours of silence:...................
Favorite state: Colorado
We didn't get to see, but wanted to: Alcatraz and Yosemite
Lessons learned: Don't camp in the rain
Random: We moved my friend, Kira, from South Carolina to Arizona, then brought my cousin's, Emily, sewing machine back from California to Georgia and finally, dishes for my cousin, Gail, that we brought from California to South Carolina! Road trips apparently help everyone...

Favorite place in the country: home!!!

Most used sentences:
"I can't believe we're here!"
"I hope the car doesn't break down!"

How would we rate this trip on a scale of 1 to 10?: TEN
Would we recommend this trip to a friend?: YES


USA Road Trip Day 26

Departure: Lenexa, KS
Arrival: Lookout Mountain, GA
Hours: 11 1/2
Miles: 725
Gallons: 26.1

Today we drove through six states!!! That is our record so far. We haven't done too well with getting photos in front of the state line signs lately. We passed the Missouri sign while driving 60 miles an hour over a bridge, but we did get a picture of the arch! Traffic was crazy...we were in the middle of a city and couldn't stop. We didn't even know that we were going to drive through Illinois until we saw a sign telling us that we were already in the state! So we missed that sign along the way too. We got the Kentucky sign from our car while going over a bridge, but missed the Tennessee sign because I was asleep and Nick didn't want to wake me up. So partly it is the lack of accessible state line signs and partly it is our fault. I think at this point we just want to get home! Near Chattanooga we passed into Georgia, back into Tennessee and then back into Georgia...that was weird! It is wonderful to see green grass and dense trees on the highway again...it makes us feel like we are already home. A friend set us up to stay with someone that he knew in the Chattanooga area and we just figured out that we know each other. Roger and Joy Gulick used to live in Florence and Roger used to be the pastor at First Presbyterian...small world! We arrived at the Gulick's house and Roger came to pick us up and take us back to their friends home, where we all had dinner. After dinner and visiting, the Gulicks took us to another friends home where we will spend the night because Roger and Joy are hosting 6 Africans and ran out of beds! Can't wait to be home tomorrow. I feel like we have been gone so long that we need a welcoming committee waiting for us at our house!


USA Road Trip Day 25

Departure: Buena Vista, CO
Arrival: Lenexa, KS
Hours: 11 1/2
Miles: 707.4
Gallons: 28.4

We missed the Kansas state welcome sign because there was road construction going on and we couldn't get to it...oh well. Holly Hoffart set us up to stay with her sister and her sister's husband. Dave and Lori were not home when we got there so we let ourselves in...here is a picture of the attack guard dog who met us at the door. Scary...huh? She followed us around, laying all over us and crying if we stopped petting her. We could have been burglars for all she knew, but she loved us like family as soon as we came in their door! Dave and Lori were so friendly and hospitable and it was fun to meet some more of Jennifer's family (Jen and I have been best friends since we were 2!!!).


USA Road Trip Day 24

After a yummy breakfast at a local place, we drove around and got a tour of the area. Colorado is beautiful and we are having a great time with Ben! Spent the afternoon watching John Wayne movies and taking a nap. Then we had dinner in the town over, Salida, at a place called the Boathouse. Tomorrow morning we will be on our way home! There's no place like home...there's no place like home...there's no place like home...


Departure: Rock Springs, WY
Arrival: Buena Vista, CO
Hours: 6 1/2
Miles: 375.4
Gallons: 10.7

We spent the day driving through Wyoming and Colorado and finally made it to Ben's place!   It was so great to see our Cowboy!  We went out for burgers and got a Redbox movie to watch together, since we just arrived and we are wiped out.  Ben and Nick spent the entire night passing gas...I threatened to include it in the blog if they didn't stop, but they both said that they didn't care...so here it is.

Nick and I slept on a mattress on the floor.  I think that the last time I was at a "sleepover" with Ben was when the Temples stayed at our house during hurricane Hugo...or actually it is when they came to visit us in Bolivia in 1999.  Those were the years when I was bigger than Ben and Mark and I would get in trouble for picking on him and Mary Ashley!  Time flies and we all grow up!!!

Can't wait to see what Colorado has in store for us!



USA Road Trip Day 22
Departure: Idaho Falls, ID
Arrival: Rock Springs, WY
Hours: 8
Miles: 435.7
Gallons: 18.6

We had a two hour drive to Yellowstone this morning from our hotel (I didn't want to camp with the Grizzlies), so we arrived at the park before 10am.  On the way we passed the state line into Montana, so we were able to get a photo in front of Idaho also, on the other side of the road (since it was too dark to get the photo on the way into Idaho).

Somewhere along the way Montana turned into Wyoming, but we dont know where...

Yellowstone was a LOT bigger than the Grand Canyon park. The general store was enormous and there were several other stores and restaurants and park exhibits. And, as always, the Asians outnumbered the Americans! The park was beautiful! We entered through the west entrance and drove through only a forth of the park, stopping to see many of the small hot springs and geysers.

Isn't this the most beautiful shade of blue you've ever seen?  It reminds me so much of the water in the Caribbean!

It was pretty cold outside, but the closer we got to the hot springs, the more the air warmed up.  We even started sweating and couldn't understand how some people could stand to be decked out in winter clothes, including snow pants and coats!  Look at Ironman...t-shirts, shorts and sandals, like a hot summer's day!

We went to see Old Faithful, but had just missed it shooting up the water. So, we went to have lunch and walk around and then came back an hour and a half later, just in time for the next appearance! It shot up about 200 feet in the air and all of the hundreds of tourists were going CrAzY with photos. 

We didn't see any wildlife, except for some horses, but I am happy to not have made friends with a grizzly! We drove through more of the park and exited through the south entrance. So, now we are on our way to visit Ben Temple in Colorado!!! We drove 6 more hours towards Colorado and are staying in a hotel for the last time tonight.   It seems that we have landed in Rednecksville...this place reminds us a little of Florence (sorry to our fellow Florence friends)!!!

Have you been to Yellowstone or another National Park that you loved?  Tell us about it in the comments below...we might just have to make another road trip!


USA Road Trip Day 21

Departure: Caldwell, ID
Arrival: Idaho Falls, ID
Hours: 5
Miles: 323.1
Gallons: 10.7

Since hotels near Yellowstone are expensive and I am too terrified to camp with the grizzlies, we are staying in a hotel about 2 hours from the park. In the morning, we will wake up early and drive to spent the day in Yellowstone and then drive about 3 hours to stay in a hotel tomorrow night. I know, confusing...but, it seems to makes sense to us. Today was just a day of driving and, just like yesterday, Idaho seems to be as empty as Oregon. There was nothing to look at and we didn't cross a state line, so there are no additions to our photo collection. Everyone in the state of Idaho is so friendly and the customer service here is great! The hotel we are staying at tonight just had a free soup bar set up for dinner too!

USA Road Trip Day 20

Departure: Redwood National Forest
Arrival: Caldwell, ID
Hours: 13
Miles: 659.5
Gallons: 14.5

We left the Redwoods this morning and are on our way to Yellowstone! It will take us two days to get there, but we are finally on our way back to the east coast! We stopped for gas in Oregon and while Nick was pumping our gas, some lady came over and told Nick that Oregon prohibits pumping your own gas...Nick got in trouble! Not too much...just a reprimand! It reminds me of Bolivia, except the gas pumpers here have been guys instead of Bolivian girls in short skirts and high heels! It is unbelievable how many homeless people and hitch-hikers are around. If I was homeless I think I would go down south towards warmer states...it is way too cold up here to be living outside! Also, there have been hundreds of people riding their bikes, loaded down with camping gear. Apparently they are doing some type of cross country tour like us, but they are getting a lot more exercise! I think that I will stick to seeing the country by car. We made an unplanned stop to Crater Lake, the deepest lake in the US. It was beautiful and all of the edges looked steep, with warnings signs of falling. We then passed a volcano! We didn't even know that we would pass one. All of the air was brown and foggy and it smelled like sweet dirt. Other than that, the entire state seems to be empty...at least where we drove. There were barely any towns or any cars on the highway and the towns that we did pass were like ghost towns. We only saw two rest areas the entire day! Do you remember that game called the Oregon Trail? You could never win the game because all your people would die of thirst, starvation, disease, snake bite, etc. Now we know why no one survived...this is like a desert wasteland! Actually, near the coast was more thick forest, but that didn't last long and the closer we got to Idaho, the more scarce things got. The most "exciting" thing that happened today was our car started to overheat!!! Yikes! But, after much prayer and coolant refill stops we are still going strong! Please pray that we don't have any car trouble on the Today was the freakiest drive yet. Oregon was so deserted, we barely passed one car per thirty minutes. We were driving way out in the boonies with no lights anywhere, no homes, no cars, no people...it freaked me out and I am glad that we made it to Idaho and once again see civilization! I think that I repeated myself a lot in this blog post, but at least you get the picture...it was freaky, like X-Files freaky, like the rapture freaky...it left an impression...I have never driven on roads out in the middle of no where like today. There is no photo of us with the Idaho sign because it was too dark to take one.