Monday morning we were up bright and early and on the road by 4:oo am. We had to be down to the Marriott Ranch in Virginia by 10:00am to drop Gracie off for the pioneer trek she was participating in with other kids from church. I left an hour earlier than needed to allow some wiggle room in case we got lost or had to stop multiple times along the way. This was our first long road trip with Tyler and I wasn’t sure how he would do. The timing worked out perfectly. We didn’t hit any traffic which I’m sure was due partly to the early hour but we did have multiple bathroom stops along the way.
We arrived at the ranch with 20 minutes to spare. It was a beautiful drive! When we arrived we unloaded the gear from the back of the car and said goodbye to Grace. I could tell she was nervous and excited. We were told by the wagon masters that if we wanted to hang out for two hours we could cheer the kids on as they began their trek. I wasn’t sure if we would make it two hours. I had a 6-year-old that was eager to get to our campsite but luckily we were parked by a pond that provided hours of entertainment while we waited.
Molly sat in the car and read her book while the boys skipped rocks across the lake. They soon discovered that the lake was filled with tadpoles and tiny baby frogs which they then spent an hour collecting.
As the boys played at the water’s edge we could see the kids gathering at the other side of the pond for singing and a devotional.
We watched as their names were called and they were put into families. Each family consisted of 10 teens and a Ma and Pa (adult chaperones.) It was in these assigned families that they spent most of their time. After meeting their family they loaded their handcart. Each family had a handcart that was filled with 12- 5 gallon buckets that held their clothes and gear, 12 sleeping bags, 2 large water coolers, food for the next 3 days, and tents. This was what they pulled across the rolling hills of Virginia for three days. 🙂 After everyone had their gear packed and strapped down with tarps they were ready to head out. We gathered to see them off..
On Wednesday we were back to pick up Grace at 4:00. It was thrilling to see them come across the hill and make their way to us as we clapped and cheered. Gracie looked tired but happy.
She told us all about her adventures..making bread over the fire, the beautiful countryside they slept in, her amazing family, the singing and spiritual devotionals, the physical challenges of pulling their handcart up steep hills, the comaraderie that she felt as she worked with her family, the fun of the games and the hoedown and the satisfaction she felt of making it to the end. She said that it was the hardest thing she had ever done but also the most amazing experience of her life. As we drove home she talked for hours about everything she had experienced. She told me that she was sad it was over. She said the only thing that she really missed was her bed and fresh fruit. She said if she could have those two things with her she would have liked to trek forever. 🙂
Stay tuned for what was happening at our camp while Grace was trekking across the plains in Part 2. 🙂