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Saturday, August 31, 2013

Road-Trip Aborted

Road-Trip Aborted

 Have you ever started on a road-trip with wonderful expectations, and then something goes terribly wrong?  We did once, and fortunately we escaped the day unscathed.  During the early years of raising our children some 26 years ago, my wife and I decided to take a road trip with our four little ones.  Our children are two years apart, and back then the youngest was two and the oldest almost eight.  We are fortunate to operate our lives as one mind with one plan, and unwavering commitment for the full benefit of our children.

My wife and I think so much alike that somewhere along the way we came to the consensus that when we brought these little children into the world, our focus became raising them happy, healthy, and safe.  Our personal everything became secondary.  I swear we never sat down and talked about it, it was the unspoken commitment (living as one).  Early on we determined that if our children couldn’t go somewhere with us we weren’t going.  We stopped going on vacations alone. Our little ones never spent an overnight even at a grandparent’s house.

This was a special adventure for us, we were going to go on a spur of the moment road trip.  The non-plan was to drive south from the Northwest towards California perhaps as far as Los Angeles (maybe even visit Disneyland) or not, and head home whenever we wanted to.  The plan was so flexible that approximately 30 miles into the trip we made a decision to treat our children to their first ferry ride across the Puget Sound.  I remember like it was yesterday, getting out of the minivan and going up on deck, and feeling the sea air hitting our faces as the ferry cut across the water at a fast pace.  We traveled from Edmonds to Kingston, and drove towards Port Townsend.  We thought of visiting some of the antique shops that the area is famous for.  However, along the way we saw a road sign pointing to a Historical Landmark (Fort Worden), and decided to go check it out.

Fort Worden, along with the heavy batteries of Fort Flagler and Fort Casey, once guarded nautical entrance to Puget Sound. These posts, established in the late 1890s, became the first line of a fortification system designed to prevent a hostile fleet from reaching such targets as the Bremerton Naval Yard and the cities of Seattle, Tacoma and Everett.  Once there the sandy beach was very inviting to a young family that had never (as a family unit) seen the Pacific Ocean.

We parked the minivan and planned to walk the children while holding their little hands along the water line.  We instructed the children not to go near the water on their own, while we prepared them by removing their shoes and socks.  While tending to two of them the six year old made a run for the water.  I didn’t realize that the area, being a shipping channel had an almost immediate drop after about two feet of sandy beach.  Before we realized what happened my baby was drifting submerged away from land.  Without a second thought, I gave an order for everyone to stay put and I dived after my little one.  I prayed for my son safety as I swam after him.  I was at a point where I could reach his feet but I wanted to lift his face out of the water, so against my survival instinct to grab him, I swam closer to him until I could grab him from his waist to lift him out of the water.

 He immediately started coughing, and crying as I swam back to shore holding his upper body out of the water.  I know that I had special help in that instance because I am not that strong of a swimmer.  My son and I had to take a very cold shower at an outdoor location on the beach.  We tried not to make a big thing out of it, but we drove into Port Townsend, had a burger and fries, visited some stores and headed home,  If for no other reason in my existence, I know that I am blessed, and that I am loved, beyond what I probably deserve.  The best is yet to come…

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