We are a family from the Seattle USA area who is living a year in Vanuatu in the South Pacific.
Here is the latest news from Josh (12).
The Adventure of a Lifetime
For all things considered, here are all the things we have done so far on the trip to my Grandparent's house in Minnesota before our big adventure to Vanuatu on the 19th of September. We drove in a cramped car for what feels like forty days and forty nights. I now understand how Moses must have felt trying to lead 2.4 million people, that’s counting women and children to the promised land, although it took us a total of four days with minimum bathroom breaks and by wheels and not by foot. Given the luxury of an air-conditioned eight seater suburban, I was contained for the most part of the journey, until my mom started reminding us about our last trip to Vanuatu and the unpleasant ordeal of riding in the back of a rented truck full of very sweaty passengers to the local market in the capital of Vanuatu, Port Vila. Picking up the occasional chicken and pig farmer, and cramping every stranger we meet on our way was something I cannot forget. I tried to block out the thought in my mind but can’t help but recall the odor of the scrawny pig and chicken next to me on the way to the market. The pig and chicken were placed in a basket woven out of coconut palm leaves and tied at the legs so they don’t escape. I can’t understand why we should pick up strangers and as mom would say; “it takes a village, kids.” Maybe one day, I will come to understand what she means because I know you DO NOT pick up strangers in the US and thank God, she did not make my Dad stop to pick up a stranger on the way to Grandma’s house.
Now back to the road trip.
We left Bainbridge reveling in the thought of adventure but that quickly ended when we realized that the cool road trip montages they play in the movies are a lot less cool in real life. All we did was drive through farmland, and I don’t mean just in Washington, I mean every state we went through. Montana (no surprise there), North Dakota, and Minnesota. The only cool parts were when we stopped at a rest area on the edge of the badlands, and when we drove right past the Yellowstone River. The KOAs were all pretty interesting. The first night was in Spokane, Washington. The Yogi Bear movie was the choice of the night entertainment the night we showed up. The next one was in Livingston, Montana, with a strange playground. It had a swingset, a slide, and a play structure but the weird part was that half of it was an outdoor fitness gym. The next KOA was in Bismarck, North Dakota, which had nothing special but we did get to see a weasel at the campground.
After three different KAOs (Kampgrounds Of America), and surviving tenting with a toddler, a grumpy older brother, and a pesky sister, I was ready to be done and was relieved when the ‘ Minnesota Welcome You’ sign was in sight as we crossed into the border of North Dakota on I-94 into Minnesota.
We made it to our grandparent’s house in Bagley, Minnesota, home to the world’s only Dairyland. Originally, it was a Dairy Queen but the people who owned it (the Fartlanders) didn’t keep it clean, so one health inspection and it got closed down. They opened it again as dairy Land, but back to the subject at hand. When we got to our grandparents, we stayed there for one day and then left for my mom's doctoral hooding ceremony in Minneapolis. Early the next morning, we made our way to Minneapolis convention center where the ceremony was held and at eight thirty the commencement ceremony started. It was a grueling three hours until our mom finally went up to the stage and went through the ceremonial hooding thing that they did for all billion graduates that made a never-ending line.
Once it all ended, we all went down the escalators to the party, there was a live band with a DJ (who was clearly at the wrong party) and the entire thing was catered. There were tiny buffet stands everywhere, after many tiny meatballs chicken skewers and carrot French fries I found the desserts, and there I saw it. Golden cupcakes, not kidding literal gold cupcakes; they had made cupcakes and topped it off with a small layering of edible gold on it. After a few hours, we went to a restaurant to meet up with the rest of the Sovick family on my Dad’s side. We went back to the hotel and eventually my older sister, my older brother and I went to the mall of America with our Aunt and Uncle. We went straight to the middle of the mall where there was an amusement park. It had three different roller coasters, a giant swing ride and tons of other rides I don’t know the names of. But the really cool part was the Lego store; from the floor above it, we could see a twenty-foot tall robot built completely out of normal sized Lego pieces. There was also a Roman soldier fighting a Minotaur, a sea monster, and a helicopter suspended in the air with a four-foot Lego person (also made out of normal sized Lego pieces) hanging from a rope connected to it.
After looking at the entire mall and getting a new hat, we went back to the hotel and the next morning we set off for Bagley again. Halfway there we stopped at my Dad’s old college, Saint John's University, to visit and go for a long hike to the edge of the lake that was on the campus. At the end of the hike, there was a tiny chapel. On the way back, we found these fish that kept popping up every time I spit into the water. We were able to touch them too. In one stage while crossing one of the bridges, I heard something and I looked down and saw a baby beaver munching on the grass in the middle of the water. We stopped and watched it for a while and took some pictures but eventually, it swam away and we walked away. We were all really tired by then and got back to our grandparent's house at night so we ate dinner and went straight to sleep.
The next day, my brother and my sister and I went to the Clearwater County Fair to help our grandparents by running their stand at the fair while our grandma was at another fair and our grandpa was working. My brother and sister worked the stand until our grandpa came back from his job and took over. Meanwhile, I was looking around at the rides and getting all the free stuff from the stands. When our grandpa got there, I stayed with him and everybody else left. I tried a shake from one of the stands, and it was heavenly and at ten o’clock we went home and went to bed.
So far, I have been going on long bike rides across the farm and down to the river, taking my 4-year-old sister on grandpa's four-wheeler for a ride while my sister, Jada has been busy practicing her cake making skills. My sister has been asked to bake a wedding cake for my aunt who is getting married soon, which I think is a great privilege. I trust my sister can pull it off since she is an excellent cook. My mother on the hand has been busy cooking with Grandma and enjoying grandma's homegrown veggies and making pickles. Last night, she made the biggest peach cobbler I have ever seen and between the eight people, it was gone in less than an hr!