The details of the first half of our final week of our Summer 2012 Utah trip:
Our final week in Utah got off to a good start. On Wednesday, August 1st, my sister JoAnna brought over her kids, Rayne and Caius, and let Melanie and me babysit them for a short while. It was Melanie’s idea to give my sister a much-deserved break. JoAnna wasn’t gone for long—an hour at most, I believe—but I think it did her some good. Her kids seemed happy with us, even if Rayne took a few minutes to get over JoAnna’s departure. Once JoAnna returned, Melanie and I asked her if she’d be interested in going to Café Rio for lunch. She accepted, and Melanie and I were able to spend a bit more time with her. Keeping kids under control didn’t help our conversations to go unimpeded once we were at the restaurant, but it was still a very nice visit, all things considered. I was bummed when it was over.
On Wednesday night, Melanie’s side of the family took to her older brother’s house. Mark and his wife, Trina, had invited us all to a baked-potato-bar dinner. Melanie and I supplied Snickers ice cream bars for dessert. Everything was quite good, but I was feeling rather headachy and tired and ended up taking a nap on Mark and Trina’s couch shortly after eating my food. The nap was brief, but by the time we got back to Melanie’s parents’ house, I was eager to continue my sleep, and that’s pretty much what I spent the night doing.
In the middle of Wednesday-going-into-Thursday night, Edison woke up vomiting. He had two brief vomiting sessions within a relatively short period of time, and then a dry heave session closer to morning. This was very bad news for Melanie and me, as we had plans to wake up and drive to Boise to see a Thursday night concert featuring our favorite band, Barenaked Ladies. Eddie, Peter, and Creegan were going to stay with Melanie’s parents, who were planning to take them all to the zoo, and Melanie and I were not going to return to Utah until Friday. Not only did we already have tickets for the concert, but we had just made a hotel reservation approximately 12 hours before Edison puked. (Why make the hotel reservation so late? Because Melanie was paranoid that something could happen to derail our plans—her primary example being that of a kid getting sick.) This put us in quite a predicament. We didn’t want to leave a barfing child with Melanie’s parents, and we had no idea how long Edison’s sickness would last. There was also the possibility that somebody else might get sick—Peter, Creegan, or even Melanie or myself. The rough night had also slowed our morning-time momentum, meaning Melanie and I were suddenly in the position of needing to decide el pronto whether to cancel our concert plans or make a rather hurried five-and-a-half hour drive to Boise just so we could barely make it to the concert. It was difficult to think of turning down a concert we had long planned on attending, but being completely honest with ourselves, it just didn’t sound that fun to go anymore. We love BNL and would rarely miss an opportunity to see them in concert, but this wasn’t a full-on Barenaked Ladies concert anyway. It was more of a festival type of concert, with multiple artists each performing a handful of songs. We didn’t care about any of the other acts, so attending the concert in order to hear five or six tunes from Barenaked Ladies hardly seemed worth the stress and effort. Moreover, we could cancel our hotel reservation without losing any money, so the only downside of staying home was the unused concert tickets themselves. And so, after stressing about the situation and realizing that neither of us really wanted to hurry off to Idaho and wouldn’t have chosen to do so at that point had we not already purchased the tickets, we officially canceled our Boise trip. We spent the day at Melanie’s parents’ house instead, with Melanie, Creegan, and me taking a short trip to Warlmart in the evening. After Walmart, I also made us go through the drive-thru at Greek Souvlaki so I could try their fried zucchini … and their bacon cheeseburgers. Needless to say, I was not feeling sick. Nor was Melanie. In fact, neither Edison nor anybody else ever threw up after Melanie and I made our decision to cancel the Boise trip. Which is not to say that the cancelation was pointless. Melanie and I didn’t regret the decision one bit, and I think we both benefitted from it. It made Friday into quite a wonderful day. Speaking of which…
Since our Thursday plans had been disrupted, Melanie’s parents decided to take Eddie, Peter, and Creegan to the zoo on Friday morning. In turn, Melanie and I decided Friday would be a “super date” day. Basically, we left first thing in the morning and didn’t return until 10pm. We spent the whole day by ourselves, going on the equivalent of anywhere between three to seven dates in a row, depending on how you want to look at it. We started out by heading to Ruth’s Diner, one of our absolute favorite Utah eateries and one with great sentimental value to us. (Case in point: Melanie and I ate breakfast at Ruth’s right before I took her to a nearby park and proposed marriage, back in July 2005.) It was about 10:30am when we arrived, so Melanie and I were both ready for lunch-type food despite our not yet having eaten anything. I ordered the halibut fish and chips, while Melanie ate a “caprese sandwich,” which had grilled chicken breast, fresh mozzarella cheese, balsamic vinegar, tomatoes, red onions, fresh basil, and a pesto sauce, all served on toasted pesto focaccia bread. We dined al fresco, and it was all quite wonderful—the food, the scenery, the company. It was a great way to start our day.
After the early lunch, Melanie and I headed downtown to Broadway Centre Cinemas and saw the movie Safety Not Guaranteed. Broadway Centre Cinemas is not your fanciest movie theater, but Melanie and I have a special fondness for it. It’s the only multiplex in Salt Lake City (and probably in Utah) that specializes in art-house and independent film. Melanie and I used to frequent the theater back in our pre-married days, and I even mentioned the theater as something I’d miss about Utah when Melanie and I first prepared to move to Atlanta in the summer of 2006. It felt really good to revisit the theater, and the fact that they have upgraded their theater seats since our last appearance was a nice bonus. Our only real disappointment was that, of all the Ritter Sport candy bars the theater had available for purchase, they did not have the cornflakes in milk chocolate bar that Melanie and I used to love. They had a white chocolate version, which we tried, but it wasn’t the same. We also bought the milk chocolate with yogurt bar, which Melanie quite liked but which had a tartness to it that I wasn’t overly fond of. As for the movie itself, Melanie and I both thoroughly enjoyed it. I recommend it.
Melanie and I also did a lot of nostalgic driving around during our super date. On our way to Broadway after Ruth’s, we took a brief detour through “the Avenues.” After the movie, we drove around a bit downtown, then headed to Rose Park, the increasingly dilapidated neighborhood in which I grew up. My childhood home now looks like a Frankensteinian house composed of various bits of mismatched building supplies held together by duct tape. My elementary school was rebuilt several years ago and so no longer exists as I knew it, but I discovered that my junior high also no longer exists, although the building is still there. It is no longer a junior high, but is some sort of “science center.” Everything has changed. It’s strange, and yet all the more strange that it isn’t all the more strange. I spent my entire growing-up years in Rose Park, from the age of approximately 18 months until I was an 18-year-old high school graduate, and yet I feel less attached to the neighborhood than I do to the Sugar House area where I lived for a few years after high school. Rose Park is so familiar to me and is where a lot of my memories take place. But somehow, I don’t feel personally connected to it. Probably because everyone I know and love has left it behind, including myself.
Anyway, after driving around Rose Park, Melanie and I did a thorough drive-through tour of the University of Utah. A surprising amount has changed in the six years since I graduated. More surprising to me was just how nostalgic I felt to be there. I didn’t know I had such a fondness for my U of U days. It made me rethink whether or not I’d like to teach there. I used to think not, but there is much I would love about it. My hesitations are, for the lack of a better word, political, but perhaps they could be overcome. I’m more open to the idea, at any rate.
After visiting the U, Melanie and I drove around the Harvard Avenue area of Salt Lake. This area is full of nice, large homes, all built many decades ago and so rather classic in their own right. Melanie and I used to love driving around and house gazing in this neighborhood. This time was no exception, although our extensive time spent in the car was finally wearing on us. We only spent a few minutes in the neighborhood before deciding to do something else. And what did we decide? To see yet another movie. We decided to go to The District in South Jordan, since I’d told Melanie how much I enjoyed seeing the theater with Matt a few days earlier. We made it in perfect time for a 4:20pm showing of Total Recall. The movie theater itself didn’t wow me as much on my second visit, but it was still fun to go somewhere that feels new. The actual movie was decent for being an unapologetic sci-fi action flick. Nothing special, but not bad. After the movie, Melanie wanted to walk around the shopping area of The District. We stopped at DownEast Home & Clothing, and Melanie found some great deals on clothes, buying two shirts and a very nice dress for a grand total of $17. By this time, we were feeling ready for dinner. We headed back to the Sandy area and stopped for Mexican food at La Hacienda. Melanie had tried La Hacienda for the first time last year, but it was my first visit. Melanie and I ordered matching combination entrees consisting of a cheese enchilada (made with beautiful, orange cheddar cheese), a shredded beef chimichanga, and a chile relleno. The meals came with rice and beans, although Melanie chose to have extra rice rather than refried beans (of which she is not a fan). The food was fantastic, including the Diet Coke, which somehow tasted especially good. The evening was almost perfect, except that we did not successfully avoid having the in-restaurant guitar player serenade us. We’d paid our bill and were literally about to stand up when the guy reached our table and asked if he could play us a song. We’d almost escaped, but at that point we felt we had to oblige him. I enjoyed his song, and it wasn’t as uncomfortable as I had worried it would be, so there’s little to complain about. But we had been scrambling to evade him.
On our way home from La Hacienda, Melanie and I stopped and got some not-too-fancy chocolates at the grocery store. We gave some to Melanie’s mom as a thank-you for her babysitting efforts, and we also got some for ourselves (including chocolate cinnamon bears, which I have no interest in but which Melanie enjoys and hasn’t been able to find outside of Utah). We were pleased to find all of our children fast asleep when we arrived at home. They should have been asleep by that hour, but we didn’t know if it would work without us. Creegan can be picky about bedtime routines, and Eddie and Peter aren’t always diligent about staying in bed. Apparently, everything went hunky dory. Melanie and I were both quite happy. I’m already dreaming of the next super date, although I don’t know when or if such a thing like that will ever happen again!
To be continued…