Friday, June 27, 2008

A Not-So-Brief Travelogue

There, now that I have officially "caught up," I can commence with going backward to catch up again. On Tuesday, June 10th, my mom flew out to so she could drive with me and the kids to St. George, Utah for my Grandpa Cannon's 90th birthday party. Although we had great intentions of accomplishing some great project on the house (unpacking boxes or cleaning up the office, anyone), none of that actually happened before we left (although while she was here, Jared lost the 2nd of his two front teeth and Jackson got his first tooth). On Friday morning we left at 9:00 am for Bountiful, Utah-- our first stop on the trip to stay over with Dave's parents for the weekend.

Jackson has never been a big fan of the car, although he is getting better. We made it out of town with no major disasters. We had been on the road about an hour and Jackson was beside himself. So we stopped and I nursed him and we got on the road again. It wasn't long before he was screaming again. I knew he was fed and he didn't have a messy diaper, so I can only assume that he wanted out of his car seat. Unfortunately that was not to be. Poor Jackson couldn't figure out why I wouldn't take him out of his car seat when he was most clearly asking to be taken out. I finally felt so bad for him that I put a little piece of fruit roll-up on my finger and let him suck on it. He finally resigned himself to his fate and on we went.

We finally got to Bountiful at about 1:00 am. Despite our late hour of arrival, we were off at 8:30 a.m. to Honeyville with Megan and her friend Hilary (whose hometown of Deweyville is adjacent to Honeyville) for the Rogers Family Reunion (which is why my mom and I had left on Friday instead of Monday as originally planned). I brought the kids with me despite Grama Susan's offer to watch them for me. After the fact, I realized that kids at family reunions are the unfortunate victims of the need for visual aids (as in "Look, here are my kids. See, I really have them. They look like me, too. And by the way, they are bored out of their minds and don't have any clue who any of these people are.").

We arrived at Crystal Hot Springs "Resort." To describe it in the words of a person who shall remain nameless: "This place is totally ghetto. It looks about 100 years old." Or to quote Hilary's picture captions in her facebook album of the event: "Crystal Hot Springs is pretty ghetto. Note the puke green waterslides and prison fencing." OK, maybe that's overstating it a bit. Nevertheless, despite the less-than-resort quality pools, puke green waterslides and attractive prison fencing, the waterslides really are quite fun and it is a cheap place to camp with a fun, if not exactly posh, activity close by.

We arrived just in time for breakfast: a huge barrage of pancakes, sausage, ham and Sunny Delight. My cousin Jeffrey was on hand cooking and eating some fish that he had just caught from the nearby drainage ditch. Camryn and Jared kept themselves busy by examining the remaining fish that occasionally flipped a fin out of its bucket. This was an extended family reunion that included a smattering of people including aunts and uncles, second cousins-once-removed, my dad's Harley-riding 40-ring-wearing cousin Mary Anne (who is the organizer of the reunion), my grandpa's twin brother and some random relative from Tennessee.

After breakfast, the kids begged to go on the waterslide. I took them to check it out only to find out that they had to go down by themselves and the pool was 4 feet deep at the bottom. Oops.

So we went back to the reunion where we visited with relatives (the kids were thrilled) until it was time for the "Heirloom Auction." The auction is what pays for the costs of the reunion (breakfast, etc.). Everyone who wishes to can donate items to the auction and the proceeds go to the family reunion fund. I looked around the auction tables at the assortment of items: polished rocks, crocheted potholders, a coin collection, homemade aprons, a plaster bunny, a jeweled frog, and so forth.

The auction started with a set of potholders, an ugly orange and green crocheted set. "$10, will anyone take $10?" --You've got to be kidding me, I thought. But the potholders did sell--and for $13. Here I started to get uncomfortable. Are they serious? They are auctioning off a bunch of junk and they want me to fork over money for this? The auction moved onto rocks. I let Jared bid on some and he started to get really into it. I don't think he connected that we were paying money for these items. He just knew that he had to say a higher number in order to get an item.

After a while I finally started to get it: this was kind of like a white-elephant gift exchange, only you make a donation to the reunion fund to get your item. So when the bidding started on a hot pink boot-shaped pocketknife, I realized that Dave HAD to have this for his Father's Day gift. I bid until it reached about $30 (it ultimately went for about $45). After careful deliberation, I decided that Jared absolutely could not live without the jeweled frog-- the mouth even opened up to hold treasures inside. With the help of Jared's expert bidding we came home with a $20 jeweled keepsake. Jared and Camryn both pronounced the auction their favorite part of the reunion. After the reunion, we went to lunch at Cafe Rio and Hogi-Yogi (mom figured out that she can have sugar-free yogurt with berries and count it as a protein and fruit on her food plan).

On Sunday we went to church with the Dave's family. Susan got asked to sub for the organist at the last minute. She seemed stressed out by this, so I offered to play the organ for her. During Sunday School I practiced the hymns and tried to figure out good stops. [May I just insert here that organs that have stop presets that don't show which stops are being used should be outlawed. It is really annoying to try to figure out good stop combinations when you don't know what is already on.] On the opening hymn, I had arranged a rousing stop change after the 2nd and 3rd verses. This would have been great except that the organ started out a hair too loud, and then after the stop changes got louder... and louder. And since you play the organ with your feet AND control the volume with your feet, it is a little bit tricky to adjust the volume once you start. The end result was fine, but being my perfectionist self, I was a little bit annoyed that it didn't go exactly as I had hoped.

On Monday, Mom, Jackson and I left for St. George, leaving Camryn and Jared to stay with Grama Susan until Friday. I was thrilled at the prospect of being down two children for almost a whole week. Just think of the fun we could have! Just think of all we could get done to get ready for Grampy's party! What I discovered is that even when you are minus two children, trying to get things done with a baby is frustrating at best. We did manage to get the party preparations done, shop for some clothes, visit Grampy every day and eat at Cafe Rio every day except one, but it was still disappointing that we couldn't squeeze more in.

We spent a good portion of the week on the phone trying to arrange a ride for Camryn, Jared and Megan to get to St. George from Salt Lake. After much haggling and worrying, they finally got a ride with my cousins Carrie and Cynthia just in time for Grampy's birthday lunch at Golden Corral (a St. George tradition-- a real step up from Chuck-o-Rama). David Rogers, Dad, Lindsay and Martin had all just arrived. Jared went to the buffet and found out that they had an ice cream machine, jelly beans, candy corn and that he could have his own steak. He proudly ordered it Medium-Rare and then sat down, saying, "Mom, this is this best restaurant ever!" [Incidentally, Grampy's 90th birthday was the 7 year anniversary of my graduate piano recital. Crazy--- it makes me feel old!]

On Saturday morning, Dave and Nate both flew into Vegas and drove to St. George. We spent the day in last-minute preparations for the party. In true Cannon style, my mom was prepared for the worst-case scenario: we had food to feed 200 people. Dave spent about 2 hours cooking 30 pounds of hamburger, while we had put about 30 pounds of chicken in 5 different crock-pots to cook the night before. The party went off really well: we had lots of people (although not nearly 200 =] ), Grampy blew out 90 candles (with the help of his great-grandkids) and the great-grandkids demolished one of 4 cakes by sticking the candles in and using them to lick the frosting. We had TONS of food and expended great effort to make a dent in the leftovers over the course of the weekend. After the party, it took mom a good day and half to quit lamenting that she somehow should have been able to magically better predict how many people would come when most people did not RSVP. =]

We spent Sunday going to church and visiting with relatives. On Monday, we set out with Mom, Dad, Lindsay, Martin, Nate, David R., Dave P., Megan and the kids to Zion National Park. I had fond visions of enjoying the beautiful scenery as a family, perhaps doing the Riverside Walk or the short Emerald Pools trail together. But other forces were at work....

Dave and I once hiked at Zion when Jared was a baby. We hiked up to Scout Lookout on the Angels Landing trail with Jared in a backpack. At that point we decided to turn back, given the steep drop-offs that would make your stomach churn. Ever since, Dave has wanted to finish the hike. Marty was also pumped to go on this hike; I was game and so were several others. We got off late so Dave and Marty were pushing to start with the Angel's Landing Trail before it got too hot. We ate lunch at the trailhead and then all set out on the trail, kids and stroller and all.

We got about 100 feet before Jared and Camryn started complaining that it was hot. After maybe 1/10th of a mile they were done and the sand on the supposedly "paved" part of the trail was making the stroller difficult to push. At this point we decided to split up: Mom and Dad took the kids back to do an easier trail while the rest of us pushed onward. We climbed higher and higher on the steep trail. Meg occasionally punctuated the conversation with, "I don't feel great. My stomach hurts. I don't do well in the sun." After consuming numerous water bottles in 100 degree heat, climbing up rocks with chains attached to them and ascending 1000 feet, we finally arrived at Scout's Lookout. At this point, the trail goes out on a rock fin and then ascends up the rock fin to the "Angel's Landing." However, to get out to the rest of the trail you have to traverse a spot where the trail is about 3 feet wide with 1000 foot drop-offs on either side. There is a chain to hold onto, but when the trail expands to about 8 feet wide, the chain goes away (but the 1000 foot drop-offs don't).

Now, ever since I was pregnant with Jared, I noticed that I don't exactly have a fondness for heights. Maybe it was just visiting the Grand Canyon with my center of balance off, but something about motherhood has instilled an intense, "Get away from that edge right now!" instinct in me. But I thought that without Jared in a baby backpack I could, with some determination, summon up the courage to finish the hike. We started out on the rock fin. I commented, "I don't do very well with heights....." a comment that started to get more frequent than Meg's observation that her stomach hurt. By the time I passed the "step of faith" and got out on the 8 foot wide ledge with no chain, I started to panic. I tried to scoot along slowly on my bottom with both hands touching the rocks, but I could only see visions of myself tumbling 1000 feet to the valley floor below, leaving 3 bereft orphans.

At points like this in movies, the hero summons his/her courage, faces her fears and confronts them. I did likewise. Sitting there on that rock, in 105 degree heat, 1000 feet above the valley floor, I confronted my fear of heights. I thought, "I know this fear is irrational. I know that if I go slowly and carefully I won't fall. I know I can do this-- that if I really want to I can make myself finish this hike." And with that motivating thought, I decided to turn around and wimp out. Maybe I just glanced one-too-many times at the teeny trees and rocks below me. Or maybe it was the thought of three motherless children. Or maybe it was the realization that while I technically COULD do it, it was going to be unpleasant, uncomfortable and take a very long, stressful time. Whatever it was, I turned around, going back over the 3-foot-wide precipice at the "step of faith," breathing in slow, measured breaths until I was back at Scout's Lookout on -- at least relatively-- solid ground. Yes, out of all of us who made it to Scout's Lookout, I was the only one who turned back and didn't finish. I wimped out. I faced my fear and my fear won. =] Oh well, maybe someday I can star on a de-motivational poster: "Fear: It May Be Irrational, But It Can Still Beat You."

As a result of turning back, I finished the hike an hour and a half before anyone else. I was under the impression that mom and dad were going to meet us at the trailhead. They were under the impression that we were going to meet them at the Visitor's Center. The net result was that we both stood around waiting for the other party , watching every shuttle bus for about and hour and a half. At long last, the other hikers got back and we discovered that Meg really was not lying: her stomach did hurt and she got the migraine headache of her life as a reward for her efforts. Two people in our party got heat exhaustion and threw up. So, no, the day didn't go exactly as I had pictured, but it wasn't anything that dinner at Winger's couldn't fix....

We didn't get back from Zion until after 8:00. We didn't get to dinner until after 9:30. Needless to say, Dave and I did not leave on Monday night as previously planned. But we did eventually make it off at 11:30 a.m. the next day. I was worried that Jared and Camryn would be bummed about the Zion trip because they spent so much time waiting around, but they were fine: they found some cool walking sticks, watched the buses and were thrilled to pieces with the tweeting birds Grama bought them at the Zion Visitor's Center (Jared's is named "Zack" and Camryn's is named "Sweety Tweety P"). Plus, they got to go swimming with Grandpa while we went to Wingers. Jared pronounced this trip, "Pretty much my best vacation ever."

No comments: