Blessings in disguise?

In retrospect, driving to Wyoming at the end of November probably wasn’t the smartest of ideas.

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The trip started off innocuous enough. We hadn’t gone anywhere for vacation over the summer, so we thought we’d get out of town for Thanksgiving week. Our school district gives the kids the full week off for Fall break so that’s an entire week plus both weekends. (Score!)

We decided to visit family because that’s what you do at Thanksgiving. Since we hadn’t seen my husband’s older brother in the longest time, we thought “Why not drive to Wyoming?” (We live in Houston.)

We could stop in Santa Fe and see my brother for a couple of days on the way. Which we did.

Day 1: Driving to Santa Fe. Would have made it to our destination by 11:30 pm after driving all day but a major accident on I-40 had the freeway closed down near Tucumcari for 2 hours. Two hours of sitting and wanting so badly to go to bed.

Looking on the bright side: (1) Thank goodness no one needed to use the bathroom. (2) Thank goodness we weren’t in the accident. (3) We made it safely.

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Cottonwood on Canyon Road in Santa Fe. See my little bitty family members next to it?

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I love sculpture gardens. Here is a chain dragon at a store on Canyon Road.

Day 5: First night in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Did you know it gets really cold in Cheyenne? So cold that you have heat up the car and scrape the windows before you can drive anywhere. New to us: if you own a Toyota 4Runner and you turn your rear window defrost on when it’s really cold, it shatters your back window. Who knew? Design flaw? I would say so.

Fortunately, we were at my brother-in-law’s house so we were able to park our SUV in his garage and he lent us one of his to get back to the hotel. Can you imagine if it had broken once we got to the hotel? It snowed 3 inches during the night. That’s a lot of snow for the inside of your vehicle, don’t you think?

When the air is dry, snow looks like glitter when it falls.

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This is NOT Houston.

Day 7: Trying to get the rear window fixed. Day 6 was Thanksgiving, so we started calling first thing on Black Friday to find a rear window. My husband read on the Toyota forum that the rear window debacle is a fairly common thing and costs around $650 to replace. According to the Toyota dealer, the closest rear window for our vehicle was in Chatanooga Tennessee. They couldn’t have it replaced on Wednesday. (That would be Day 12, and we needed to be home by Day 9!)

Happily, a local auto glass place was able to get the window in and replaced the same day for $234. So we saved $400 and 4 days. Thank you, Safelite Autoglass!

Added bonus, an extra day with family we don’t see often.

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Great opportunity to trampoline.

Day 8: Traveling home in an ice storm.

First day traveling home was snowy. Once it got dark, the overpasses started turning a bit icy. Despite warnings in Amarillo to not travel, we continued on for another hundred miles. (No overpasses). The roads were fine. The problem was that we were getting low on gas. We planned to stop at a little town called Memphis, TX to refill but when we got there, the whole town was dark. At first we thought everything had closed early, but then we realized the whole town had no power. No power = no gas. We had 34 miles left and were 36 miles away from the next town. Yikes!

For the next 36 miles, everything we passed was dark. The power in the Texas panhandle had been obliterated by an ice storm. Thankfully, we rolled into the next town with 3 miles left on the gas gauge and the town had power.

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Truck in the hotel parking lot. No wonder the power was down.

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Trees in the Panhandle were heavy with ice. If we had seen this, we probably would have stayed in Amarillo!

The moral: Visit Wyoming in the summer. 🙂

True moral: Inconvenient and/or bad things happen to us all the time. The fact these things happen isn’t the blessing. When we realize we were spared worse circumstances, we see God’s grace and provision. THAT is the blessing in disguise.

NOW YOU: Any interesting Thanksgiving travel stories? Where did you go for Thanksgiving?

Please… No More Disregarding Thanksgiving!

Despite the number of businesses and retail stores already decked out for Christmas, we are in full Thanksgiving mode aDSCF8242t our house, maintaining our “no Christmas until after Thanksgiving” rule and loving every minute of it. Right down to the pumpkin spoon rest on the stove, the 3-leaf compartment snack dish on the bar and the Beanie Baby turkeys (yes, we have two!) on the bookshelf.

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While I admit to some mental Christmas planning, we are fully immersed in an unseasonably warm fall and again, loving every minute of it. Especially the colorful mix of summer flowers still in full bloom next to the rich autumn hues of pumpkins and gourds. Christmas is a mere, distant blimp on our radar at this point.


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It saddens me to see people disregard Thanksgiving in favor of the more exciting holiday that follows it. And every year it seems the rush-through-Thanksgiving-so-we-can-get-to-Christmas mentality gains momentum. Several years ago, retail stores who routinely opened their doors to eager shoppers at 6 or 7 am on the Friday after Thanksgiving opted to open earlier. And then earlier. And then even EARLIER until the Black Friday craze encroached on Thanksgiving Day.

But the tide may be turning. Outdoor and fitness retailer REI announced not only will it not be open on Thanksgiving, it “is canceling Black Friday this year. No promotions, no hourly sales, no doorbusters, no waiting in line.” A small handful of the outdoor gear retailer’s approximately 12,000 employees will be on call, while the rest get a paid day off.

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Other retail establishments have announced firm plans to be closed on Thanksgiving, allowing their employees to enjoy the day with family and friends. Check out a list of Thanksgiving honoring businesses here. I think I’ll be studying this list and shopping from as many of these retailers as I can.

I plan to indulge in all things fall and Thanksgiving related for two more weeks leading up to what I hope to be another tradition-rich holiday spent with family.

I’d love to hear what you enjoy most about Thanksgiving. Share in the comment section below.

Giving Thanks for Books and Reading

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA As both an author and a reader, I am thankful for everyone and everything that contributes to creating and enjoying a book.

I’m thankful for my eyesight, which I’ve come close to losing a number of times. I would’ve learned to read Braille, but how would I have been able to appreciate beautiful fonts and book covers?

Which leads me to being thankful for artists, designers, and photographers who make the presentation enjoyable. And the manufacturers of computers, layout programs, ink, paper, binding materials, printers, and large presses. Plus all the individuals who invented them or use them to produce books.

Although I’m a fan of printed paper, I’m also thankful for electronic devices that allow people to read more books conveniently.

I’m thankful for editors, publishers, and literary agents who never tire of reading others’ work and improving upon it (at least that I’ve seen admitted).

Speaking of improving another’s work, I cannot express enough thankfulness for critique groups. The critique partners I’ve had the honor to share manuscripts with are worth their weight in gold. And I give thanks to beta readers who read pre-published work for the love of reading and who offer their invaluable opinions.

I’m thankful for bookshelves and those who build them (including my loved ones–and you know who you are). And everyone who sells and buys books for bookshelves in schools, stores, and public libraries.

I give thanks for electricity and reading lamps and, on behalf of readers from centuries past as well as those who use them still, gas lamps and candles.  Oh, yes, and sunlight. May darkness never hinder our reading.

Most of all, I am thankful for my Creator who guided me to write and for my country, where I am free to think, to write, and to read what I wish.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving, and I hope it includes reading a good book!

cynthia-toney Cynthia