Ask almost any traveler and they will tell you that their most meaningful experiences were not great sights like the Taj Mahal or even nature's wonders like the Alps or Himalayas, but rather the people they stayed with. This has certainly been the case for us and Ben and Lori's was a perfect example. It came at a well-timed moment when JooYeon and I were riding the fence about whether we ever want to have children. JooYeon had never really been around little children at all other than Justin and Angie's a few weeks ago and Laban and Katie's a month ago, and this time she had more opportunity to bond, especially with Grace. It was beautiful for me to see also since only three months ago, JooYeon had been upholding her firm stance that she hated kids (and I was a quasi-willing echo after having taught huge groups of Korean elementary kids for two years)
It started from the first night with the pooping decoy (see Grace-full pooping) and the car chat (where Grace pulled JooYeon out to the car just to talk), and deepened when Grace began to understand and even get excited about the concept of a foreign language. We were all impressed with her Korean pronounciation as shown in the following video:
Of course, this is not to take any attention from Ben and Lori. I told JooYeon that some of the most frustrating times in my life have been essentially losing friends to a marriage, but there are some of my friends' wives who have had the opposite effect and actually deepen our overall friendship. Lori has been one of those so it was good to hang out with her and the kids during the day. And it was probably one of the first times since early university that I've had quality time with Ben again so the experience was meaningful on all accounts. Here's Ben modeling his famous fashion statement, the "tuck and flap."
We spent one evening up on Shenandoah Mountain with the Trosts and Ryan (cousin) and Angie (childhood friend). The weather was great and allowed for indoor sports (pool) and outdoor sports (riding the four wheelers up to the tower with Ben). The road up and down was rocky and windy, as Angie (who is seven months pregnant) mentioned it felt like she had a living bowl of jell-o in her stomach, but the views at the top were worth it.
Ryan introduced JooYeon to the word "redneck" and gave us a classic example by taking us to a nearby cabin owned by a guy named Warren with a long beard, flannels, and a rattlesnake under the porch (he was keeping it alive so that his wife could shoot it when she got home- maybe some kind of anniversary present). As a side note, when I told my parents the story about this guy Warren, they both laughed and looked at each other saying, "Warren SHOWALTER; he's your relative Daniel!" Anyway, Warren puts food out to attract bears in his backyard so we got to see five that night.
On our final morning at Trosts, we did Grace's nails and had some final coversation time with Lori (she had found an old paper from the first time we met where she used me as a case study for her psychology class... she had analyzed my whole life at that time eight years ago so it was interesting to go back and read how things had changed.) We said our goodbyes and were on our way back to Ohio to get prepared for our trip to South America.