We were blessed beyond measure during our time with the kids and the grands. Those precious good-night hugs, reading a favorite story to a little one, having the tiniest one fall asleep in your arms, even snuggling under the blanket and watching a movie. Losing at Dutch Blitz. Losing at Dutch Blitz again. So many precious memories – and so many blessings. But with driving over 3000 miles in those two weeks, there were some Bonus Blessings that I’d like to share (in no particular order):
- Fuel Prices
This of course was a blessing to just about everyone this holiday season, but when you rack up over 3000 miles being able to purchase gasoline at record low prices was HUGE. The lowest price we paid for gas – $1.68/gal in Marysville, OH. Highest – 2.33 in Lancaster, PA. Average price – $2.00 These are some of the lowest prices we have paid for gas since we hit the road in August 2004. Total dollars spent on fuel for the Grand Tour – $313.00. Sa-weet. (Now if those Diesel prices would just come down a bit …..)
- Clear roads
Except for some expected traffic around the cities, we were blessed with light traffic for all of our travels. Does this girl’s heart good!
- Clear weather
We came in behind (and totally missed) a drenching rain that hit the East just before Christmas and as the journey progressed we never drove in a bit of snow. Phew. And it snowed enough to close the schools the day after we left Columbus. Dodged a bullet on that one. Phew again.
- Bonus Family visit
Whoohoo! – we made a quick stop to see my sister and some of her family before we got to our kids in Lancaster. We were so delighted to see these folks – including some little ones that Gary had never even met! It was a great prelude to The Grand Tour – we got in lots of practice hugs!
- Local restaurants
Thanks to Yelp.com we were able to enjoy some funky local restaurants. We especially enjoyed The Little Grill Collective in Harrisonburg, VA. Yum!
- Staying in Motels
Since we usually travel with our own accommodations, we don’t actually have a lot of motel smarts. So traveling over Christmas Eve and then Christmas Day I was a little apprehensive about accommodations. Oh, I was pretty sure there would be availability, just not too sure what would be open. Turns out the Hospitality Industry does not take Christmas off. Not only that, but the Days Inn in Gadsden, AL (our first night – Christmas Eve) was having a “this night only” special for $28.00. Yep, that’s $28.00. Crazy. A nice clean room, all the standard amenities including a nice continental breakfast with those make-your -own Belgium waffles. $28.00. I’m still amazed at that. The next night we were at a Motel 6 ($52.00 with no standard amenities (not even a box of tissues) and no breakfast. But it was clean and we slept well.) Our return trip had us in a Super 8 – same price as the Motel 6 but with tissues and breakfast ) Anyway – we were blessed to be in clean safe motels each night of our journey, something we should never take for granted. (Especially having driven through the night on several occasions in the past!)
- Bringing Food
We had packed the standard (for us) road food – Cheez-its, pretzels, Fritos, granola bars, and baby carrots (for when you start feeling guilty about all the junk you are consuming) for munching along the way, but at the last minute I threw in some lunch meat and rolls in case we wanted to stop for a little picnic. (Guess I forgot that we were driving NORTH). Any who – after we got settled in at the Motel 6 after a long Christmas day of driving, we decided to grab a bite at the Waffle House across the street. Now I have to confess, the Waffle House is pretty low on my “places I want to eat” list, but on Christmas Day it’s about the only game in town. Particularly within walking distance of the Motel 6. Imagine our dismay (or was it relief?) when we were told that there would be a 45 minute wait for a table. Actually, imagine our surprise when we saw someone taking names at the door of a Waffle House. Thankfully we had not eaten all that sandwich stuff so we were spared a night of growling stomachs (which might have happened if we had waited our turn at the Waffle House or not.) The next morning we found that sweet Cooperative Grill, so that more than made up for our sketchy Christmas dinner.
- Beautiful scenery
Oy – we do live in a beautiful country. Even the interstates take you through amazing beauty.
- The John Bonus
Heading south we were able to hook-up with our SOWER buddy John Stoner for one of our overnights. His sweet wife Rosie was off taking care of her mom, but it was so lovely to spend time with this dear friend. It was quick – just dinner and an overnight, but oh so worth it!
- The Bill Bonus
We set up our stop with John before we left Ohio, but imagine our delight when we “just happened” to connect with another friend as we were driving through Louisiana! At Gary’s suggestion I contacted him to see if he had made it to TX yet and he said that he had just gotten on I12. Wait a minute, WE just got on I12. We were able to connect for a late breakfast at the next exit. God is so good!
Thanks for coming along for the Blessing Bonus! Hope you can find some unexpected blessing in your day too!
Psst – there are a few more “down the road” shots HERE if you’re interested!