Saturday, August 17th
On Saturday morning, we drove to Heber City—which is very close to the famous town of Park City—and went on a 90-minute train ride via the Heber Valley Railroad. Melanie’s parents and her brother Tom went, too. While it was sometimes stressful to drive my father-in-law’s oversized truck through the windy roads of Emigration Canyon, it was nice to see a part of Utah we haven’t seen in years. The scenery was enjoyable, and although it did take a full hour to drive to Heber City from Melanie’s parents’ house, it didn’t feel like it. The train ride itself also felt much shorter than 90 minutes, although it did indeed last that long. The train cars all had windows that were rolled down, which created a nice breeze as the train rocked and swayed along the track. In the middle of the train ride, two young women came into our train car and put on quite a show, fiddling with each other right there where everyone could see. It was impressive how well they kept up with each other. I think the older folk really enjoyed it. I’m not a big fan of fiddle music myself, but the performance kept things interesting. In other news, Grandpa bought kettle corn for us, and Eddie and Peter both took a few photographs during the ride. Early on, I had to use the train restroom, which was a tiny compartment with an open window right at waist level. The window didn’t look closable from what I could tell, so basically you had no way to use the restroom without baring yourself to anyone out in the world who happened to see the train go by. Luckily, the train doesn’t usually pass by anything other than nature, so if you really gotta go, you’re probably okay. But it’s a little unsettling. Here are some pics from our trip to Heber:
Driving back from Heber, we stopped in downtown Salt Lake City to satiate our hungry bellies. I know I write about food on here often, and it may seem like our vacation is way too centered on eating. But if we’re going to be eating something like 80 meals over the course of our stay in Utah, a place that has much food that we love and miss, I figure we ought to be taking advantage of that. And so we have been. On this particular occasion, we had lunch at one of my favorite Utah pizza parlors, Litzas Pizza. You wouldn’t think pizza would be the most expensive meal of the trip so far, but it was—by a long shot. Melanie and I split a small pizza with pepperoni and black olives, while Eddie and Peter each chose his own miniature pizza. Creegan asked for spaghetti instead, but hardly ate any of it when he saw that it didn’t have meatballs, which it turns out is what he really wanted. We also enjoyed their garlic bread, flavored sodas (I was naughty and had a non-diet vanilla Coke), and in Melanie’s and my case, salad. Two standout features of Litzas’ salads are the beets (yum!) and the Roquefort dressing (double yum!). I enjoyed myself immensely.
It was only a few hours later that we were meeting up at my little sister’s dorm room for a dinner party. Saeed, her fiancé, has been touted as a great chef by everyone in my family who has tasted his food. It was now Melanie’s and my turn to do so. I can’t tell you much about what we ate because it was all traditional Persian food, but whatever it was, it was very tasty. There were lots of vegetables and spices (of a non-heat-producing variety) involved. Most of my side of the family had been invited to the party, so this marked my first time during this trip to see my one and only brother, Steve. Over the last several years, Steve has been something of a spiritual seeker, so we enjoyed talking about religion together. I also got a chance to visit with Aurora, one of Khrystine’s good buddies since high school. She’s always been a very nice person, and it was good to see her too. For whatever reason, we keep failing to take photos when we’re with my family. However, Melanie did snap a few photos when she took our boys outside to a nearby playground. Behold the cuteness:
Eddie laughed when he saw this photo. He said, "Look at Beegy, pointing at the clock like a wise man!" I'm not sure what that means, but it made me laugh.
Sunday, August 18th
It was yet another family-oriented Sunday. Melanie’s brother Brent and his wife Shanda had arrived in town from Seattle with their three kids—Abbie, Owen, and a new little girl still biding time in Shanda’s womb. They had arrived in the middle of the night a day earlier (Friday night going into Saturday morning). We had seen them a little bit on Saturday night, but Sunday was the first day we got to visit with them to any significant degree. To mark the occasion, Melanie’s brother Mark and his wife Trina came over for a big family dinner. With that many people in a house, it can become somewhat hectic, but it was nice to spend the day more or less at “home.”
Monday, August 19th
Eddie and Peter officially started school on this day. Because they are both students of virtual school (which has some significant differences from homeschooling, although not everyone appreciates that), we were able to get them going on the school year despite our being out of town. Admittedly, it started off a bit roughly. Grandma’s house offers too many distractions, and as it’s been months since Eddie’s had to do school and Peter is just starting Kindergarten, both of them will need time to readjust to a more structured lifestyle. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that within a couple more days, everyone will be in the swing of things and school can be a largely positive experience. (Today, Tuesday, things did go much more smoothly, for the record.)
Brent and Shanda insisted on a lunch date with Melanie and me. In the afternoon, we left our kids behind and went on something of a double date to La Hacienda. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, we discussed religion and I loved it. Brent especially seems to see things very much as I do. Over the last eight or nine months, I’ve had the fortune of connecting with people with whom I really click in this department, and it’s exciting to me. It’s invigorating, and it makes me wish those people weren’t so spread out, geographically speaking. Commiseration works wonders for one’s emotional wellbeing. I’ve been pleased that, multiple times on this trip, I’ve been able to connect with people in ways that make me feel an abundance of love towards them. Don’t get me wrong; discussing religion isn’t a prerequisite to feeling love for a person. But such discussions often result in people baring their souls (no pun intended)—voicing their desires, expressing their disappointments, etc. It is a subject that, for many, matters a great deal and so is spoken about with great sincerity, even if one is expressing frustration or uncertainty. I like connecting with people in this way. It’s edifying.
On Monday night, Melanie and I took the kids to a Salt Lake Bees baseball game. This has become an annual tradition for us. We always opt for general admission “seats,” out on the grass just beyond left field. The weather was perfect for a game: breezy and cool. I loved being there. The game was a bit slow, however. Knowing the kids were already pretty exhausted, we decided to leave at the end of the 5th inning. That took nearly two-and-a-half hours, which seemed outrageous. Alas, we enjoyed the time we were there and had no qualms leaving relatively early in the game. We enjoyed a hot dog while at the game, which came free with our ticket as part of their family night special. I watched maybe six or seven plays and spent most of the rest of the time anxiously watching Eddie, Peter, and Creegan engaged in horseplay. As always, our first stop at the game was the playground. Here are some pictures from the night:
Notice that Edison has lost a tooth since his last open-mouthed picture. The tooth came out on Sunday night. Fortunately, the Tooth Fairy was able to locate us despite our being out of town.
Because we stopped at the restroom on our way out of the stadium, and because we got delayed when I dropped our truck key down between the back seats into a very difficult to reach crevice, we didn’t get home until 11 p.m. or so. Still, we very much enjoyed ourselves. I’m sad to know the rest of this trip will pass ever so quickly.