We always try to head out on vacation right after school gets out because Spokane seems to think June is actually February and it rains and is freezing. So everyone gets out and heads to states that know what June is supposed to feel like.
We had to leave Gabe and Ryan home so they could go to scout camp. In the raining and freezing weather. In tents.
Anyway, it had all of the usual:
Visits with family (Romney and Nelson/Seeley)
Outings to the plethora of family friendly stuff that Utah offers
Lots of swimming and water outings
Fun food (including homemade ice cream sandwiches)
Adrianne and I have been friends for 25 years. Erika and I were roomates for a few years at BYU. Lindsay is Adrianne's sister and hilarious. Adrianne and Lindsay took a truly awe-inspiring trip with LOTS of little kids under 6 from Arizona to Canada and were going to stay with Erika...how could I not honor that little trip by doing one of my own to meet up? (Here we are with Lindsay and Adrianne and kids):
It was SO FUN.
First of all, the drive there was breathtaking...British Columbia and Alberta cannot be be described without superlatives. Best, prettiest, grandest.
Then our hostess had the mostest. Beautiful house, perfectly matched up kids, willingness to feed 13 people.
Day one was a trip to Heritage Park-- a kind of historical amusement park. Super educational, fun, lovely.
Day two was a day at the neighborhood lake. Kayaks, islands, sand, food, talkingtalkingtalkingtalking.
Day three was a trip to downtown Calgary. Sightseeing, famous buildings (Calgary tower...plexiglass floor--yikes and Olympic Village), native food (Poutine).
Every night, we ditched the kids (yay for 4 babysitting age kids!) and headed out to adult dinners.
And then we drove home through Banff. You guys! BANFF! Probably the prettiest place I've ever seen (with the most mosquitos), where I overcome MAJOR height issues to ride the Sulphur Mountain Gondola and hiked to the top of the freaking world.
Seriously, perfect trip.
So, my extended family has never done the reunion thing. This year we began to float the idea of meeting at the Albequerque Balloon Fiesta...it's amazing and kind of halfway between all the parents and siblings. When it became apparent it was going to actually happen, Ryan and I started planning.
It saves us about $2000 to drive rather than fly and so we choose to do it...it's our only option if we want to have relationships with the 8 parents/siblings that live in Texas. We crazily decided that if we were only (?) 8 hours away from the 4 Texas Romney families, we ought to leave a few days early and go see them, too. We left on General Conference weekend in October (random reunion time that corresponds with Balloon Fiesta and people who can't get away in the summer) and drove to Billings (5 hours) Friday night
then to Fort Collins to spend a night with my cousin's family (13 hours)
then to Dallas to visit the Texas family for a day and a half (11 hours)
It was crazy long but we listened to conference and did homework and fought and ate a lot of fast food. Plus we LOVE those Romneys. We swam (in October!), went to parks and caught up with new babies and fun grandparents. When I asked my kids if the extra 15 hour detour was worth it, they cheered the loudest Yes!
We headed to Santa Fe the next day (9 hours...miscalculated the drive time) with Aunt Bekah stuffed in the overpacked car.
I was in charge of the rental house and, if I do say so myself, I did an awesome job. Best Sante Fe vacation house ever.
The Balloon Fiesta completely lived up to expectations.
We LOVED watching all the cousins together.
We toured downtown Santa Fe (very cool old town)
Took family pictures
and hit the temple with all the siblings and my dad (Grandma Dorrie had the hard job of babysitting the million little grandkids)
It was kind of a bummer because the government shut-down happened while we were there so there a bunch of national parks we couldn't go to.
We did a family talent show that was so entertaining and sweet and a neat FHE. Basically it was a dream family reunion. Can't wait for the NORTHWEST family reunion in 2015 (hint, hint)
(Side note...we drove home STRAIGHT from Santa Fe. It took 20 hours and we got home at 1 am, with a detour at the Wilson Arch in Southern Utah and In N Out with our favorite Cade and Stacy in Northern Utah).