Monday, September 1, 2014

Refined or ReFIND--Which Is It?

In 2011, the word was balance. In 2012, I decided to think outside the box. Last year, it was act.

This year, I chose the word refine as my focus.

It's eight months into the year, and it still doesn't fit.

School's been in session for three weeks now, and I've been feeling lost.

I thought I would love being alone all day every day. I thought I would get so much done without little kids underfoot as I tried to fold clothes or clean the kitchen or run errands or do homework. I thought I would set life on fire and take no prisoners.

It's nearly impossible to explain, but I haven't found it in me yet.

It's weird, suddenly being alone all day every day. It's hard to do laundry or dishes or errands or homework when there are 6 1/2 solitary hours spread in front of me. No carpools or time restrictions. No naptimes or surprise plates. No telling time by the PBS schedule--in fact, no TV playing in the background at all.

One morning, blurry-eyed Evie and her starfish head wandered down to breakfast, lovingly burped her baby before she dusted her French toast with powdered sugar. I was busily serving breakfast, helping Micah prepare lunches, listening to Hyrum practice the piano, and generally commanding the commotion that is school mornings.

For an instant, I stopped and looked at my youngest child, no longer a baby but a big girl who needed to eat quickly, get dressed, comb her hair, and grab her backpack before rushing out into the world for the day. And in that instant, all I wanted to do was snuggle my baby in my lap, lovingly pat her, then spend the day with her--folding laundry, doing dishes, running errands, telling time by PBS, making surprise plates, and reading stories before naps. It was so overwhelming that it took my breath for a moment. I wanted her to stay home from school and PLAY with me and be my shadow. In that moment, I felt the loss of all of my children's babyhood and toddlerhood and preschoolerhood, and it hurt.

And because she is now a big girl, I had to swallow my hurt. Instead, I looked at her, scooped her up, squeezed her tight, then sent her upstairs to dress for the day--in a twirly pink tulle tutu skirt that still-little girls love but grown-up girls now wear to kindergarten.

August was not of month of refining for me. It was a month of refinding--refinding who I am, refinding how to manage my days, refinding schedule and motivation without someone around to care for 24 hours a day.

This growing up stuff is hard on moms.

If you need me, I'll be home. Alone. Waiting for the bell to ring at 2:15.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Saturday #34--Day 4 With Dad and Getting Back Home Again

I thought I had this whole end-of-the-trip thing figured out. We would arrive at the rental car return before 7 am, hop the shuttle to the airport, check our bags, grab some breakfast, and still have an hour to wait for our flight to SLC.

Note to anyone reading this: BWI airport on a summer Sunday morning is not a peaceful place.

We had to watch two shuttle buses leave the rental station, packed completely full with travelers, before there was room for us. This should have been my first clue that we were in for trouble.

I've never seen an airport congested like that. So many families with so many suitcases and so many different places to go so early in the morning. It was insane. Even the curbside check-in desks had lines dozens of people long.

We took a gamble (and since we hadn't checked in for our flight before because I was distracted talking to the police--you can read about that situation here) and waited in the Southwest full-service line. Forty-five minutes later we had our C-30 and C-31 boarding passes as we rushed to the next line--security. That line was so unending and unmoving that one couple begged their way to the front after waiting over an hour, showing their tickets and saying, "Our flight leaves in six minutes, can we please go in front of you?" Over and over, people let them through, feeling their pain and hoping that it wouldn't make us miss our flight due to our kindness.

Our flight was scheduled for departure at 9 am, boarding at 8:40, and we didn't even make it into the terminal until 8:45. In an unfamiliar airport and with only 15 minutes till takeoff, I was a little stressed that we'd miss our flight and I wouldn't make my flight to Phoenix, especially after I saw the couple who had begged their way to the front of the line walking dejectedly through the airport on their way back to the ticket desk. Dad was convinced that we had time to grab breakfast and his Pepsi before we boarded, and I may have been impatient with him. (Two hours later and somewhere over Nebraska, I was glad I'd gotten breakfast before we'd left.) Laden with sodas, breakfast sandwiches, carry-on bags, one purse and one fanny pack, we made it to our gate just as passengers B 30-60 was called to board the plane.

Whew. We'd made it with no time to spare. Dad, on the other hand, said, "Great. I even have time to go to the bathroom." I think my nearly hysterical response to that idea changed his mind rather quickly, and we were two of the last four people on the plane. I'd had enough of this "last people on the plane" stuff when I'd waited for him in Salt Lake, and I'd thought I'd planned well enough to avoid it on the return trip, but at that point, I was just glad we were on the plane, headed home, even if we had to spend the last four hours of our trip sitting rows apart.

The only non-stop flight from Baltimore didn't fit well with flights from SLC to Phoenix, so I thought I'd do some creative booking (call me travel agent Denton) and ask Tucker to pick me up at the airport and take me to the Provo airport for a flight to Mesa a few hours later. Not only would I get home faster, but I'd get to see my kids and their teeny woman that I love to squeeze so much.
A special bonus:Great-Grandpa Tucker would get to meet Annie.
Naughty little thing--she blew her diaper out while we were getting our luggage, but Grandpa loves nothing more than babies in just a diaper or onesie.
There wasn't a ton of time between my flights, and I didn't have the time to thank Dad properly before we had to leave--a tight hug, a goodbye kiss, and a "Drive safe. Love you." before I hopped in the car with Tucker and his family.

This was supposed to be a quicker way home to AZ.

It wasn't.

We boarded the plane on time. I found my seat in the exit row by the window, pulled out my phone, texted Brad that I was on time and on my way home, and the plane headed for the runway. And stopped.

Then the announcement came.

The loudspeaker crackled, and the captain began speaking. "Blah, blah, blah . . . panel light problem  . . . blah, blah, blah . . . try something. Stand by."

We waited on the plane.

Then it came again.

"Blah, blah, blah . . . It's Sunday . . . blah, blah, blah  . . . mechanic will be here in an hour . . . blah, blah, blah . . . deplane and wait."


Since the Provo airport is the tiniest airport outside of Irkustk, TSA had left as soon as we'd all boarded the plane, and all 97 of us were caged in the waiting area (a room about 30x40) until the plane could be fixed. And who knows how long that will be.
Our flight had been scheduled for 2:30, arriving in Mesa at 2:45 (I love gaining an hour on my way home), and most people had planned to eat when they landed, but this delay and hungry people was not a good mix, especially when combined with the tiniest airport outside of Irkutsk--which has no food options. TSA produced one employee who could scan food into the waiting room, but no one could leave, for any reason. I was one of the lucky ones. I texted Tucker, and he brought me a lunch of PB and J, an apple, blueberries and a bell pepper. Others called Domino's for delivery, and strangers became friends over cheap pizza and airline-provided Coke products.

The loudspeaker came to life again.

"Blah, blah, blah  . . . still not fixed . . . blah, blah, blah . . . captain is in the plane and won't answer the phone  . . . blah, blah, blah . . . "

Four hours past our scheduled departure time, we saw the baggage being unloaded before the final announcement confirmed our fears.

Cancelled until tomorrow morning.

Before anyone else was online, I pulled up Southwest on my iPad, found a flight out of SLC the next morning, called Brad and asked him to use his points to GET ME HOME, then called Tucker and asked if he could entertain an overnight guest.

As far as cancellations and aborted plans go, being forced to spend the night with T and his family, eating spaghetti and talking past midnight, it was a great option. Not like I was stuck in Milwaukee for the night, not knowing anyone in town.

When Karli dropped me off back at the Salt Lake airport the next morning, 22 hours after I thought I'd left it, I was so happy to finally be headed home.

Baltimore, DC, Gettysburg. Stolen property and good people.

Late traveling companions, long lines, airport delays and cancelled flights.

It was an unforgettable trip, one that Dad and I will rehash and swim in the memories for years to come.

Day 3 With Dad--Good People Wherever You Go

The more I travel, the more I see that people all over the world are generally good and happy and friendly, no matter how different we may be.

Dad was eating breakfast in the hotel cafe on our last morning in Baltimore while I was taking stuff down to the car. I ran into a maintenance man in the parking garage who was hoping the car parked in the spot closest to the door (me) would move their car early so that his work moving mattress frames would be a little easier. I told him that I still needed to collect my dad from upstairs so it would be ten more minutes because "Dad is a little slow."

What this stranger told me next will stay with me.

"Let me share a little gospel with you today. My wisdom to you today is: let him be slow. My daddy died 2 1/2 months ago, just shy of his ninetieth birthday. We had the privilege of having him live with us for the last part of his life, and even though it was hard, there is nothing I wouldn't give to still have him here with me today. Let him be slow. And have a blessed day."

Why are gas stations on the East Coast so hard to find? We spent an hour of our precious Gettysburg time scouring the greater Baltimore area (even using Google maps), trying to find a gas station. Seriously. It could be that I'm accustomed to AZ, where there are two C-stores at any random intersection of the city, but still.

The time it took to fill up the car depleted our tourist time markedly, and when we got back to the battlefield, we had to prioritize our time--movie, cyclorama, bookstore, then a little driving around the area to see where Lincoln gave the Gettysburg address, grab a quick lunch to eat on our drive south to the third and final place on Dad's must-see list.

We did a session in the Washington D.C. temple, and I loved being there with my dad.
As I mentioned before, Dad is a friendly guy, and it's a family joke that no matter where we go, Dad will run into someone he knows. I didn't think it was possible in DC.

I was wrong.

I was waiting for him to come out of the temple, and as the wait time stretched from ten minutes, past thirty, and up to forty minutes, I began to wonder if he had done it again.

While in the dressing room, he had struck up a conversation with someone, and in that conversation, these two men realized that they had mutual friends in common.  Which means, of course, that now they're friends.
They both insisted on getting a picture together outside.  That may sound weird to most people, but that's how my dad has always been--friend to all and stranger to none.
Although we'd had to veto our plans to tour some of the monuments that day, we had a little extra time, so we plotted out a route to the city and drove through some beautiful neighborhoods as the sun was setting.Embassies, churches, homes--it was gorgeous. Even drove around the Mall and saw the White House--from the car.

We decided we'd better get to bed early that night, since we needed to leave for the airport around 6:30 am--no more time for adventures or sightseeing. McDonald's milkshakes would be the best treat to enjoy on our drive back. After finding one close (and a parking place right in front!), we ducked inside for a take-out meal. 

Living in rural Idaho, Dad has little exposure to the homeless and their circumstances. While we waited for our food, an older homeless man wandered from customer to customer, asking for money, reeking of alcohol, and progressively getting more boisterous and disruptive. An employee told him he needed to leave, but the man held his ground. A young boy dressed in head-to-toe gold and purple (and obviously a Kobe Bryant/Lakers fan), approached this homeless man and handed him a few dollars. 

"Here. This should be enough."

I was impressed with this young boy, as was the man.

"Where's your mama? I need to thank her."

They walked around me and my dad to the boy's mom, and the man began to thank her for her generosity. Mom's response surprised me. "That's not my money. That's my boy's money, and he wanted you to have it. Now take it and calm down. Everything's all right around here."

I instantly felt such a love for this boy and for how his mother was raising him with a compassionate eye and generous heart. After the homeless man left, I caught Mom's eye and told her I was impressed and that she was raising a good man. She smiled, a little shy and a little proud at the same moment, and began telling me how proud she was of her nine-year-old son, how he had secured a scholarship to a good school just that day, and how they had decided to come celebrate together.

I left McDonald's that evening--a McD's just like hundreds of McD's across the country--with a smile on my face and a desire in my heart to see others with more compassion as this family had shown me.

As we headed back north for our final night in Baltimore, Dad and I kept reflecting on what a perfect trip it had been--beautiful weather, horseback rides, fun food, people watching, train rides. Neither of us would have traded a second of the four days we had spent together, even the mad dash through the airport in Salt Lake.

We walked into our hotel room just after 9 pm, and things were a little off.  A soda bottle and plastic lid were on the floor of our room, but we brushed their presence off to the possibility that they'd been knocked off the cleaning cart. Then we noticed Dad's suitcase was tipped over. Still no real red flag. I went to my suitcase, and it was tipped over on the floor like it had been carelessly knocked over during the cleaning, but still we weren't alarmed. Dad called Mom while I used the bathroom to get ready for bed, and when I came out, I noticed that Dad's scriptures weren't on the shelf where he'd put them.

"Dad, did you pack your scriptures already?" When he answered no, we began looking around the room more closely. His scriptures were missing, along with his old point-and-shoot camera, his new shorts, and his beloved belt with a custom-made silver buckle.

This was not the end to our perfect vacation that we'd envisioned.

Visits to the front desk. Calls to the night manager, the accounts manager, and the general manager. Security guard reports. Even a visit from the Baltimore PD to our room to inspect "the scene."
No forced entry. No destroyed room. Not professionals, that's for sure. It was strange, and to this day, we don't really know what happened. My theory is that housekeeping didn't shut the door completely and some teenagers saw an opportunity and took advantage of a few moments to cause a little trouble.
The irony of this break-in is that the thieves had missed the most valuable articles in the room. Wrapped inside one of my shirts in my suitcase was my wallet. Not wanting to carry it all day long, I had removed my driver's license, my credit card, some money, and my temple recommend, and left the rest behind--two credit cards, my debit card, and most of my cash. Wrapped in another shirt was a $500 lens for my camera. Neither was discovered.

Dad's stuff that was stolen was mostly sentimental and can be physically replaced, but in hindsight, I was so thankful that we weren't spending the night cancelling credit cards and tracing expenditures online.

It could have been worse.

Even with such a disappointing end to our final day, I went to bed still carrying a positive view of the people we had encountered that day, grateful that I made memories that will last forever.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Day 2 With Dad--Lifelong Dreams and Their Realization

We were on the road by 9:30 the next morning, off on our second day of adventure.

I have this favorite little spot in northwestern Virginia that I like to visit whenever I'm "in the area." That may sound weird, coming from an AZ girl, but I've been to the Old Lucketts Store twice before--once on Brad's and my trip to Baltimore, then again when I drove across the entire country with my four little kids in tow for the summer.

Some of you may be asking how I convinced my dad to detour to a flea market?

Truth is, I learned to love all things antique, rusty, mostly broken and barely usable from my dad. I knew he would love this store. Plus, he'd promised to buy me a birthday present while we were there. How could I say no?
He was duly impressed.  So impressed, in fact, that I had to force him out the door, but not before he bought me a huge spool of double sided satin ribbon and a silver plate for my plate wall.  I walked out with a treasure of my own:
This vase increased the weight of my suitcase by exactly 10.2 lbs. I don't know what's under the silver plating (copper, maybe?), but this puppy is HEAVY. And awesome.

As fabulous as our stop at Lucketts was, we had bigger plans on our agenda. Not only does my dad love all things Indian, he also loves everything about the Civil War, and the highest priority of places he wanted to visit on this trip was Gettysburg.
It was the most beautiful day ever--75 degrees, slight breeze, and fluffy clouds intermittently floating across the sun.

When we were in the American Indian Heritage museum the day before, I'd had to excuse myself to take a phone call. It seemed kind of rude, but I hung up the phone and giddily told Dad that I had another surprise for him. While looking up visiting hours and plotting out the days back at the hotel, I came across Hickory Hollow Farm's website: a private company that conducts guided horseback rides around the battlefield.

They had room for two riders at 3 pm on Friday. Could we make that?

My dad is rarely speechless, but he had no words at that moment. He reached down and hugged me tight, with a little tear in his eye. He then explained to me how it had always been his dream to tour the battlefields on horseback.

I had no idea.

Good thing he'd brought his boots and belt--but he'd left his hat at home.

This picture is my favorite from the entire trip.
 It was perfect. Absolutely perfect.

Well, except for all of the people we rode with who had never ridden horses before and couldn't get their mounts to obey and rode really slow and held up the entire line with their ineptitude.

But the rest was perfect.
Our tour guide had been working at the battlefield for decades, and she could answer any question thrown at her.
Dad was given "Slow Moe" to ride--a huge five-year-old draft horse who can never move fast enough. I was the only other experienced rider in the group, and although I grew up riding, I hadn't been on a horse for a few years. It's like riding a bike--it comes back, but the sore backside never goes away. They gave me Frisco, a feisty appaloosa that reminded us both of Dad's favorite horse, Starbuck. Frisco couldn't keep his opinions to himself, and I was constantly pulling his head back from attempted nips on the other horses.

The horse ride took about three hours and used up most of our sightseeing time. We decided to cancel our plans for monuments and more Smithsonian in DC the next day and instead return to Gettysburg to get a good look at the museum, movies, and the battlefield.

I've been on many, many rides with my dad.

This one will forever be my favorite.

It was a good day.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Day 1 with Dad--DC Firsts

Taking my dad on this trip was amazing--he's a small-town cowboy who's seen more of the wilderness than most people would ever dream to see, but his experiences in big cities have been limited. Until this trip.

When deciding where we should fly in, I wanted non-stop flights both there and back, so our only option was BWI in Baltimore. After a little research, I found a commuter train to DC, so I booked the flights. Dad had never ridden subways or experienced big train stations, and watching subways through his eyes was like a child seeing their first ferris wheel.

Excuse the blurry pictures, but they tell the story so perfectly.

He thought the flurry of people in Union Station was exciting--people going every direction down every tunnel, and every single person in a hurry to get around the guy with the cane. I found a subway schedule, plotted our route to the Mall, and we went down two escalators to our line.

I had barely pulled out my phone to snap a picture of him in this alien environment when our train pulled into the station.
The blast of air that announced the train's arrival audibly and visibly shocked him. 
He took a few steps back and exclaimed at the length and speed of the train--overestimating the train's 25-35 mph speed by double.

"WHOA! This is just like the movies!"

You can take the cowboy out of the country, but he's still a cowboy at heart.
He loved everything about this new experience--hustling from line to line, pushing tickets through turnstiles--and commented on it all the time. We listened to subway performers and watched a blind man carefully make his way alongside the track, using his cane to feel for the raised path that runs a safe distance from the tracks. 

I could have ridden the trains with him all day, but we had things to see, people!
I've inherited many of my dad's traits, one of which is his love for Pepsi--he chose leaded for this trip, and I stuck to the unleaded version. 

Yes, that's a fanny pack. 

He wanted to stop at every statue and look at every building--even watching the ducks swimming in the pool and wondering why there were only girls born in that batch of ducklings.
 Every monument was new and wonderful and exciting and breathtaking.
The weather was perfect. We were told that it's never that nice in August--we were blessed with mid-September weather, and he commented on the beauty everywhere we went--how green it was, how many trees there were, how clean the city was, how BIG the buildings were.

My dad is so handsome, isn't he? You'd never guess he was knocking on 70's door, would you?
Often he would exclaim, "I can't believe I'm really here!" just like Mom did when we were in St. George. I never grew tired of hearing it.

The Smithsonian was one of the three places he wanted to visit while were on this trip, and we spent some time online deciding which museums we would see. This is the new American Indian Heritage Museum, located across the Mall from the Capitol--our first stop.
To say that Dad loves American Indian history, culture, stories, and artifacts is like saying fish love water--it's part of who he is and how he lives. He had high hopes for this museum.
After a few exhibits, we realized that this was an American Indian art museum. We asked a staff member who told us that the artifacts Dad was seeking (one Crazy Horse shirt, in particular) were in storage and couldn't be viewed. He was disappointed, but we found a few Indian history books he'd never read in the gift shop, so that assuaged the disappointment.

Although we had no formal schedule we needed to follow, we had places we wanted to see, so we cut our losses and headed back outside to plot our next stop.

Lunchtime and another DC first.

My dad had never had a Philly cheesesteak sandwich (I couldn't believe that one), and I was the lucky one who introduced them to each other. I think this will be a long and happy relationship.

Indian music across the street from the Indian museum? It was Dad's lucky day--the perfect place and the perfect weather to sit outside and enjoy the music while we enjoyed our lunch. And I have to admit, it was the best Philly I've ever had. He may never find one as good as that one ever again.
I loved watching all of the people--DC professionals rushing to their favorite food truck to grab lunch and head back into their buildings, too busy to stay outside.
Two quick train rides and we were on the other side of the Mall--to see the American History museum, where Dad's hopes to see real American Indian history were high.
 We did see his buddies, Lewis and Clark . . . 
 . . . and a few artifacts from the Revolutionary period, but that was it. He would look around every corner, but . . . no. His disappointment was relative, because we did see so many amazing things related to our country's history. Guns, banners, artillery, even a preserved horse.

This Revolutionary War commander was especially significant--Dad's dad's name was George Tucker.
 We walked through the history of Edison's light bulb and saw Old Glory. We saw the First Ladies' exhibit, Dorothy's ruby slippers, and a 1964 Ford Mustang.

We even saw history of the LDS Church--a sunstone from the original Nauvoo Temple.
 By 4 pm, we were ready to head back to Baltimore.

My dad has always been a friendly guy, and I think his conversations took complete strangers off guard. We stopped to get ice cream from a food truck as we headed for the subway, and he engaged the vendors in a lively discussion about how fat he would be if he had their job. I don't think they understood what this Idaho hick meant when he said he'd be "a blimp." Their initial hesitation quickly disappeared as East Coast brusqueness gave into genuine Idaho interest. I watched the four men laugh and talk, and I wondered if it was the first real conversation they'd had that day with a customer.

Three quick train rides, two ice creams, and one stumble on the uneven pavement, and we were back at Union Station, rushing to the MARC train for our ride north. The commuter train was packed, and we had to navigate several cars (even jumping between cars as they precariously bumped into each other) before finding seats. One lady kindly moved across the aisle so we could sit together, and we caught our breath. I had been unsuccessful in my attempt to buy tickets at the terminal in the station, so when the attendant came through the car and asked, "Where to?" I said, "Camden Yards, please." She gave me a strange look, and told me that we had hopped the wrong train. All day I hadn't made a single mistake on these crazy trains, and now we were headed I-didn't-know-where and couldn't get off.  She told me that she could get us to Penn Station, but that was as close as this train came.

With no other option, I gave her $20 and quickly pulled out a map to see exactly where that was. Lucky for us, that little mistake took us to a beautiful station a brief 10-minute train ride north of Camden Yards. Another first in that station--Dad saw his first Hasidic Jew. When you live in rural Idaho, your experiences with people of other cultures and other faiths are extremely limited.

Thirty minutes later, we found our car in the nearly deserted parking lot of the Orioles' stadium and we headed back to the hotel.

What a great first day.

As great as it was, the second day was even better.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Dad's Turn

Remember when I took my mom to St. George last March?

Here's a refresher:

My parents live in a small home that is perfect for them. They have everything they need and almost everything they want, so when it's gift-giving time, it's hard to decide what to buy them.

Last November, I had a stroke of pure genius.

For Christmas 2013 (and as gifts for every gift-giving holiday in 2014 as well), I gave them each a card, explaining that more valuable to me than any possession are the memories I have made with them. I wanted to spend time with them, making memories and going somewhere that they would only dream of--anywhere they wanted to go, we would go. My treat.

Mom doesn't like to travel, but Dad does. We talked about places he might like to see, and I suggested the East Coast--Washington, DC and the surrounding area. He agreed.

Since my parents live in southern Idaho, we decided to meet in Salt Lake City, then fly out to Baltimore together. My flight left Phoenix at 6 am.

I've lived in Arizona for 19 years now, and I don't remember ever flying out of Sky Harbor when it was raining.
While I was waiting for the flight to board, texts began chiming on my phone--"Can you believe this storm?" "Wow! Did that thunder wake your family?" "What about the rain? And in the morning!"(Monsoon storms rarely come in the morning--usually in the late afternoon or evening.)

It was raining in Phoenix, but Mesa is 15 or so miles away, and I hadn't heard any of the commotion. When we got above the storm, I think I spotted Mesa under that huge thunderhead.

I always miss the best storms.
We had smooth air all the way to SLC, and as we flew over Kennicott Copper mine, the reality of the big adventure began to hit me. Dad and I were finally going on our trip!

I had a long layover before the next flight left (2 1/2 hours), so I rechecked my luggage and found a cozy seat next to an outlet where I could hunker down and wait for my dad. (Have you noticed that the technology age has changed which seats in the airport are valuable? Used to be those seats closest to the boarding gate were prime real estate; now the seats everyone fights over are next to an available outlet to charge phones, iPads, and laptops before long flights.)

I've only recently been converted to downloaded books--I know. Where have I been? I pulled out my iPad and "opened" my book. Before the end of the first chapter, I was completely hooked on Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand, and the airport and my dad and upcoming flight had been pushed to the back of my mind. Suddenly, the loudspeaker came to life, asking for one volunteer to give up their seat on the 11:40 flight to Baltimore. The announcement rousted me out of the Berlin Olympics and back to Salt Lake City.

I looked at my watch, and it was almost 11. Where was Dad?

I called his cell phone. No answer. I called Mom's phone. He had left in plenty of time. I called his phone again. Still no answer.

Now what?

I didn't want to fly without him. I approached the desk and asked if there were any way to see if he had checked his bags yet. The attendant tapped on the keyboard, reviewed the screen, and said that he had not checked bags yet. The loudspeaker crackled with the request to line up for boarding. I had an A boarding card!

Now what?

I decided there was no way he would make the flight, so I better make alternate arrangements. The next flight to Baltimore left in an hour, but it had a 3 1/2 hour layover in Denver, arriving at 12:30 am. Ugh. I really didn't want to do that, but I saw no other option. The attendant told me that our seats on the current flight would be reserved until the flight was boarded, so if Dad did magically appear, we could still be in Baltimore by 6 pm. If not . . .

One more call to his cell phone couldn't hurt, right? I dialed the number, hardly expecting it when he answered. He was at the check-in counter and the attendant was telling him that his flight had been changed to 12:30, but he knew that wasn't right. Oh. I knew what the problem was, and I could fix it.


The attendant at my desk quickly switched us back to our original flight, and I told Dad I would board the plane and save him a seat.

I got settled in the emergency exit row next to the window, the prime seat on the plane--how did I get so lucky?--and pulled out my iPad and Unbroken while I waited. Every few minutes I would glance up to see if Dad had boarded yet. The plane was filling up, and he still wasn't there. I called his phone again. He answered, slightly winded, saying he was at gate B6--almost to B15. It looked like he would make it.

The line of people walking down the aisle got thinner as the seats around me filled up. I kept telling people that the seat next to me was taken, but would it be?

Dad was the very last person on the plane.

I think my sigh of relief was audible to everyone.

After storing his carry-on bag above us, he flopped down next to me, cane in one hand and fanny pack in the other, red faced and drenched in sweat.

"Hi, Heber. I made it. Sorry I'm late."

While parking his car, he had been unable to find a parking space in one lot, so he was forced to park in a farther lot. Two suitcases are unwieldy, but when you throw a cane into the mix, it's a mess.

I quickly texted Mom that he was safely sitting beside me, and we were off.

I had been excited for our adventure, but I didn't think the adventure part would start in the airport in Salt Lake City--at departure.

Four hours later, we landed in Baltimore, got our rental car, checked into our hotel, and Dad's days of new experiences began. First on the list--dinner.

Brad and I went to Baltimore three years ago, and I knew just the place to eat. Phillips right on the water has amazing seafood. Softshell crab, shrimp with Old Bay seasoning, and crab cakes--just the first of the new culinary experiences Dad would have that weekend.
The crazy misadventure at the airport was behind us. A good night's rest, and we would be ready for the real adventures to begin.

Monday, August 25, 2014

We Couldn't Wait Any Longer

Saturday morning we piled the three little kids into the Suburban and headed north.

There was something calling us that we couldn't resist.

That something was a new wide, flat, graded area deep in the Ponderosa pine.
If you look closely, you can see spray-painted corners.

Can you see a garage here?

Micah and Hyrum could have spent all day exploring this pile.

So many perfect sticks in this world. So little time.

We found treats along the creek bed.
It's pretty late in the blackberry season, but there were just enough to stain little fingers and little chins with juicy goodness.

This little guy was making a home for himself in the newly surveyed dirt. I thought he was pretty cool and tried to get Hyrum to pick him up.
Hyrum's never afraid of creatures of any kind, but for some reason he wouldn't touch this guy. Dad did attempt to pick him up but got stung in the process. Pretty nice welt on his finger for his trouble. I looked fuzzy guy up when we got home, and it's an io moth caterpillar whose stings are painful and can be serious.

When they grow up, io caterpillars metamorphose into this:
We will have to look for these moths next time. They seem a little friendlier.

Seeing dirt moved and trees removed--I can't explain it. The excitement is building much faster than the cabin--hopefully by Christmas!