For previous installments in this series, please see Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, and/or Part V.
Our vacation has been a little less action-packed since I last wrote. Part of the reason is that Edison and Peter are doing school in the mornings, but part of the reason is also that we’re just plain getting tired. We’re experiencing vacation fatigue at this point. If I’m being completely honest, I think everyone feels it—not just Melanie, the kids, and I, but Melanie’s parents, etc. I think everyone is looking forward (at least a little bit) to Melanie and me leaving and having life return to normal. That being said, the fun hasn’t completely ceased. Here’s what’s been going on recently:
Friday, August 23rd
Knowing my semester would start on Monday, I had to spend Friday morning finalizing some things for the class I’m teaching. I had to build a website for the course, etc. That’s what I did while Melanie did school with Eddie and Peter. Nothing fun really happened until the evening, when Grandpa put up a tent in the backyard and lit a campfire. The kids loved playing in the tent, which was quite big. We roasted marshmallows and eventually settled down to put the kids to sleep in the tent. Almost immediately, Melanie’s brother Kaleb and his girlfriend Kaya were texting us to see about going out for shaved ice. This had been our plan, but we didn’t know if we would go without kids once they were asleep or what. Seeing as how we weren’t far along in the bedtime process, we took the kids with us. We met up with Kaya and Kaleb at a shaved ice stand in the parking lot of a nearby grocery store. (Plenty such shaved ice stands exist in Utah. I don’t recall ever seeing them in Tallahassee.) At Kaleb and Kaya’s suggestion, we got our shaved ice with a serving of ice cream in the middle. I’d never heard of this. It was decent. The ice cream was macadamia nut flavored, and the shaved ice surrounding it was flavored (on one side) cream soda and (on the other side) boysenberry. The kids split a shaved ice flavored with root beer, cream soda, and cotton candy.
When we returned home, my family ended up sleeping in the tent through the entire night. This surprised me. I didn’t think all three kids would last through the night, and even if they did, I didn’t think I would. I wasn’t very comfortable. Somehow I made it through.
Saturday, August 24th
We started our Saturday with “pancakes on the porch,” as Grandpa called it. Actually, we were up on the deck, overlooking the backyard in which Melanie, the boys, and I had slept in the tent. It seemed a fitting breakfast after doing some rough camping. Eddie and Peter had chocolate chips in their pancakes, which was fun for them. (Creegan wouldn’t go for such nonsense.) We all got ready for the day, and by then everybody was feeling hungry again. We took to one of the eating destinations that Edison has been insisting on, which is Sconecutter. I don’t consider Sconecutter to be an essential Utah visit, but their scone sandwiches are something I’ve never seen the likes of anywhere else. We enjoyed ourselves well enough.
After Sconecutter, we headed to my parents’ for a birthday party. And whose birthday were we celebrating? Mine and that of my older sister, JoAnna. JoAnna’s birthday was actually upcoming, within just a few days. Mine is in October, but they decided to make it a joint celebration seeing as how I’m never around to celebrate my birthday with them. How very kind! In addition to cake and brownies (both of which I sampled), I was given a t-shirt, a pocketknife, some cologne, a reusable water bottle, and a watch. I was particularly excited about the watch, as my watch had broken shortly before coming to Utah. In fact, I literally had intended to purchase a watch on the very evening of this birthday party, having found it rather annoying to go without one. It was such a serendipitously appropriate gift that I asked if I had mentioned breaking my watch, but apparently I hadn’t. It was just good timing, no pun intended. Sadly, I don’t have any photos. Even with birthday shenanigans going on, I failed to take any pictures while with my family of origin. Am I lame or what?
After the party, we brought the kids home and let them hang out at Melanie’s parents’ house while Melanie and I went to Old Navy. I seriously buy clothes so rarely, and I had hoped to pick up a few things. I’m still regularly wearing shirts that I’ve owned longer than I’ve known Melanie. That’s no lie. I always feel it’s indulgent to spend money on clothes, but I figured I’d splurge a little. I actually ended up buying four shirts and a pair of cargo shorts. Three of the shirts are just t-shirts, but that’ll be nice. The cargo shorts are comfy, and the button-up shirt is of a light (perhaps linen) material that feels really good. I’m glad to have them. Upon leaving Old Navy, I had to stop and talk to a 911 operator on my cell phone. You see, my cell phone has a terrible design. I can “lock” my phone so that you can’t call out, but it’s super duper easy to unlock. I keep it in my pocket, and it gets unlocked all of the time. It seems like half the time when I pull it out of my pocket, I discover that my cell phone is not only unlocked but connected to the Internet, using up my minutes on nothing. It’s annoying. Well, since being in Utah, I’ve discovered that it’s also very easy to dial 911—even while the phone is locked! There must be some “security” feature that allows you to call 911 without unlocking the phone, because twice now during this trip I have had my phone dial 911 while it’s in my pocket and still showing as locked. The first time, I was fortunate enough to catch it and end the call before it connected. But when it happened again after leaving Old Navy, I did not. I heard the distant voice of a 911 operator without realizing what it was, but quickly surmised that my phone (still in my pocket at this moment) must have called someone. I took it out and saw that it had called “Emergency.” I disconnected the call as I tried to unlock the phone. A moment later, 911 was calling me back to check on me. Because the phone simply displays “Emergency” as the person who I had called, I didn’t know if it was an official 911 operator or some sort of emergency operator associated with the cell phone provider or something. I didn’t know. As such, I don’t think I always answered things very well. When I told the operator it had been a mistake, she asked me a series of questions to determine that I was not in an emergency situation. She asked me my phone number, what address I was calling from (I had to approximate that), to verify the name of the store that I was at (which I guess she could see on a map or something), etc. At one point she asked, “Do you need the police or medical assistance?” I said no. She asked something like, “Are you answering these questions of your own free will?” I said yes. Being the paranoid person I am, I worried that I wouldn’t sound convincing enough and that the operator would be suspect, but it all worked out. She must have believed me. Phew! We’ll see what happens next time this happens, which could be any moment now. [Author’s note: Less than an hour after writing the preceding sentence, I pulled my locked phone from my pocket to discover the words “Call SOS?” displayed on the screen. Fortunately, I was able to cancel the call before it happened.]
Sunday, August 25th
On Sunday afternoon, Melanie and I had plans to visit my sister JoAnna. She lives about an hour away, and so we had to take something of a drive to see her. It was kind of nice just to be on the road for a while. It was calm. JoAnna fed us Papa Murphy’s pizza, including a very yummy chicken, spinach, sundried tomato, and feta pizza with a white garlic sauce. The kids were able to make their own pizzas with a little kit JoAnna had purchased. Oh, and there was Diet Mountain Dew aplenty, making us all giddy and gleeful. After eating, we spent some time outside on the playground. Thanks to Melanie, we finally got some photographs with people from my side of the family. Sort of.
The visit with JoAnna was pleasant, even as we spoke about the difficulties of life. JoAnna has always been a good confidant and, until Melanie came along, was always my best and closest friend. I’m sad I won’t see more of her on this trip.
Monday, August 26th
Melanie, the boys, and I had lunch with Kaleb, Kaya, and Melanie’s mom at Café Rio. Grinders 13 and Café Rio are the only Utah eateries that I typically hope to hit more than once, and this trip I was lucky enough to eat twice at each. We were a large group and Café Rio is always crowded and loud, so it wasn’t a very social affair for me. I was at the end of the table, with the boys sitting across from me, and I didn’t hear most of what was said. That’s okay. It was fun enough.
In the evening, Melanie attended the combo bridal shower / bachelorette party for my sister Khrystine. Meanwhile, I took the boys to nearby Sugar House Park. Sugar House Park is a rather large park with no less than two playgrounds. We tried both. The kids much preferred the second playground that we went to, which was far less crowded and less slide-oriented. (After getting shocked on a slide, Edison is quite reluctant to go down slides. He’s a paranoid kid.) We were only there for about an hour, and then it was starting to get dark. I drove back to where the bachelorette party was taking place and texted Melanie to let her know I was out there. We stopped at a Redbox on the way back to Melanie’s parents’ house and rented Mud. We watched it after the kids fell asleep—although neither Melanie nor I saw the movie in its entirety. Melanie bailed about halfway through after continually losing a fight with sleep. I was in and out during the last 20 minutes or so. From what I saw, it was a good movie.
To be continued!