On Christmas day we went for what will most likely be our last family vacation, and probably my last trip to Vancouver as well. For that reason, the whole experience was very bittersweet.
We had a rough start as our plane was initially delayed by about 20 minutes, during which time snow started falling thickly. "Ooh! Look at the pretty snow!" Allyson and I exclaimed. (We don't get much snow in Texas.)
We wouldn't have been so excited had we known that that snow would cause us about a six-hour delay. First, we waited interminably for de-icing. Just when we were next in line, a flight attendant announced that we were returning to the gate. Due to a federal law passed to "protect our comfort," we could not remain on the tarmac more than 2.5 hours. "Merry Christmas," she said wryly.
So we sat at the gate another hour or so while they figured out what to do next. While we ate federally mandated cookies and had a sip of federally mandated water, the flight attendant explained that most of us would probably miss our connections in Seattle, and there was no guarantee we could get a later flight. She cheerfully added that there was no guarantee that we could get a flight the next day, either. And the airlines was not going to pay for accommodations in Seattle since the snow was not their fault. (They conveniently forgot that we would have missed the snow had we departed on time.) Also, if we were to exceed the 2.5 hour maximum wait again, our flight would be canceled. "Merry Christmas," she concluded. About a third of the passengers disembarked, including my seatmate. Sweet! Now it was just me and Ethan in the back row, right across from the toilets that were probably near to overflowing by the end of our ordeal.
We decided to take our chances and stay on the plane. About two hours later, we were de-iced and in the air! And after about ten hours on the plane, we arrived in Seattle. When we landed, we found we'd been automatically booked on the 11 P.M. flight, about three hours later. But Bill's dad had driven down to pick us up, so we claimed our luggage and climbed in the car for a 2.5-hour drive. I think we all preferred that to boarding another plane.
So we arrived at the house shortly before midnight. Despite the late hour, we sat down for Mom's customary soup and sandwiches. Delicious!
The rest of the trip went much better. The highlight for me was an 85-minute massage at the Harrison Hot Springs Resort, compliments of Mom. This was a wonderful blessing as I'd been longing for a massage for months. I also greatly enjoyed soaking in the hot pools, which were heated by the local hot springs.
Or maybe the highlight was playing cards and dominoes with Bill's family--especially when I beat them all on New Year's Eve.
For the kids the best part was probably skiing at Hemlock Mountain, where Allyson had her first lesson. She had the 16-year-old instructor all to herself, and he did a great job with her. It must have been rather harrowing for him to ski behind her on the tow rope; she usually ended up sliding backward when she got off, and he had to catch her before she knocked all the other beginners down like dominoes.
|Looks Like She's Playing Twister|
|Practicing Her "Pizza" Stance|
She'd made it about a third of the way down the slope, but now she was spooked. It took 30 minutes or so to go the rest of the way down because she'd ski about six feet and then make herself fall down. But they finally made it to the bottom, all in one piece.
Allyson's cousin James learned to ski also. Trevor pushed him up the bunny slope over and over, and he fearlessly skied down. For the next day or two, he kept saying, "I love to ski."
|James (Age 4) and Bill's Brother Trevor|
We also went walking along the sea wall at White Rock Beach. The kids enjoyed looking for crabs and shells.
|Katie, Allyson, James|
|Katie and Allyson|
Mom limited each child to two shells. "Can I keep one, too?" I asked. She smiled and nodded. I had found a lovely purple clam shell. I brought it home as a reminder that--for a clam, at least--a painful bit of sand results in the iridescent beauty of a pearl. I pray beauty comes out of my pain as well.
As always, there was one sumptuous meal after another, plus all our favorite treats, including way too much shortbread. I gained five much-needed pounds while I was there. I also caught up on my sleep. One morning I even slept until 11! I don't remember the last time I slept that late.
I have to share one more airport misadventure that occurred when we landed in Dallas. As we exited the Jetway, I stopped and bent over to put some books into my carry-on bag. I didn't notice that the man ahead of me had stopped also and was bending over to put something in his bag. Nor did I notice that he had about three inches of pasty white butt crack sticking out of the top of his sagging jeans. So when I stood back up, I very nearly put my nose where the sun don't shine! I all but yelped as I backed away. Bill caught my eye, and we both cracked up, so to speak. It felt good to laugh with him.
Family Pasta Night
The night after our return, Allyson and I went over to Uncle Rick's for what I hope was the first of many Family Pasta Nights. Rick and Mindy had prepared the dough ahead of time, and I helped knead it. Then we passed it through all six settings on Mindy's new pasta roller. Allyson manned the crank, and the rest of us took turns feeding the dough in and catching it as it came out.
Here's how it looked on the first setting:
By the last setting, it was 10 or 12 feet long!
|Rick, Mindy, and Rick's Friend Dave|
Here's how it looked after we cut it into segments and ran it through the cutter attachment:
We served it with Gorgonzola walnut Alfredo sauce and roasted kale. For dessert we had Purdy's chocolates from Bill's mom. It was all unbelievably delicious, better than a fancy restaurant!