23 years old is too young to die. But then, God’s ways are not our ways. My mom’s brother’s son, DJ, passed away on August 12 and our family was blessed to be able to travel up north to be with the family and to celebrate DJ’s life.
Since our van was not trustworthy to make it over the “Grapevine” and through the Great Valley plains during the current heat wave we’re having, we thought it wise to rent a van. It was a treat for the kids (and us!) and not one we would normally do just for a pleasure trip, but this trip was different. It was important to us that we be there for family. And it was a nice rental . . . a 2012 Nissan Quest. Fun!
We carpooled up there with my sister, Gail, and my mom. They drove behind us in my mom’s car. We stopped in Gorman for lunch and bathroom breaks. (You won’t see any photos of my sister, ‘cause she doesn’t like her pictures taken.)
Road trips are always fun.
One never knows what they will see . . .
what is wrong with this photo??! (Waahaah!! Watch out!!!)
We arrived at my aunt and uncle’s house in Stockton about 6ish. It was a very nice evening of just sitting around and talking about DJ and enjoying some delicious food provided by so many kind people. It has been so humid here in southern CA, but up there it was cool in the evenings and not humid at all.
The kids got to go “night swimming”. They really had fun after being cooped up in the van all day.
Instead of having to rent a hotel room, my aunt and uncle’s church graciously lent us the use of their “mission house” that they use for their missionaries who are home on furlough or for other families in the ministry who need a place to go and rest. It was right next to the church and absolutely adorable. The kids loved their rooms!
The girls shared a room upstairs. They said it reminded them of rooms from books they’ve read and imagined.
The boys shared a room with bunk beds. They were delighted! (Jonathan slept half the night in his bed and half the night on the floor . . .he thought that was funny!)
Since we are already in the midst of our school year, we brought school with us. The kids did a little school Wednesday morning before we headed back over to my uncle and aunt’s home. (They all didn’t work so enthusiastically as Mom would have liked them too . . . but she understood.)
Mom finally called “time!” and Dad said it was time to load up the van. We headed back over to Darryl and Pam’s . . .and the much anticipated swimming pool.
Wednesday night, we attended DJ’s memorial service. It was very nice. And it was good to grieve. I personally enjoyed hearing so much about what his 23 years were like and the things he was interested in and driven towards, etc.
This was DJ’s mustang that he restored with my uncle. It is absolutely beautiful!
Thursday morning, we loaded up, said good-bye and headed home.
My mom and sister headed back down the 5 fwy, but Earl and I took the 99 home, and we stopped by the Blue Diamond Growers store for a little educational side-trip.
We all kind of snickered as the nice lady led us to what looked like a storage room to watch what really was a very fun and educational video on the CA production and exportation of almonds.
We all tasted the different flavors of almonds they had available and then tried to decide which ones to buy. Tough decision for 7 of us to all agree on!!
We then got back on the road, and drove a little ways, before stopping again in Hilmar at the Cheese Visitor’s Center.
We saw another video and then headed upstairs for all of their hands-on activities.
It was really cool to watch through a window into the processing plant and be able to see the workers take the curds and get them ready for the aging step of the cheese-making process.
The grounds were beautiful and we looked around and found a shady spot to eat our lunch.
Then it was back in the van . . . and we enjoyed seeing the rest of the land of CA from hwy 99.
It was wonderful to get away from the “school table” and to see family, and some beautiful scenery, although our hearts were grieving. I’m grateful to the Lord for knowing DJ (though we were separated by distance) . . . I’m grateful for the provision for our family to get to travel up north for the service . . . I’m grateful for this beautiful state we live in . . . I’m grateful for the privilege of getting to homeschool so as to be flexible in our schedules . . . I’m grateful . . .
I’m just so very grateful!
(DJ will be very missed!)