Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Christmas Trip

Part of this blog entry was written at various times throughout the day on December 22nd.  The rest of it has been written late in the evening of December 27th.

The blog post for Thursday, December 22 is being written while Zack and I are flying from Denver to Chicago aboard a United 777.  This entry won’t be posted to the web for several days as I am loathe to post a lot of information to the Internet indicating that I will not be home for an extended period of time.  Though I have no problem putting my life out on the Internet, I don’t like indicating that I am not home because I have read too many horror stories of people being burglarized while on vacation because they posted something on Facebook, a blog or whatever that they were not home.  So I don’t intend to post this entry with the details of our travel to the blog until we are home.

Though the hour is still somewhat early the day has already been long.  I awoke at 4:00AM to ensure we would make our flight from Denver to Chicago.  The weather this morning was horrible as we received almost a foot of snow.  When I awoke I had a little bit more packing to do, and I also wanted to get the house ready for our cleaning ladies.  Kathy and Kellie will clean the house while we are gone so we will return to a clean and organized house.  To me there is nothing better than walking into the house and it is clean and organized.  I have come to love the smell of the cleaning agents that Kathy and Kellie use.  There is nothing special to their smell, but it triggers a sense of calm in my head that I love. 

We left the house at 5:50AM for our 8:50AM flight.  Before we could head to the airport we had to stop at “B&B for DOG” and leave Lex and Finn for their own little vacation.  The road in front of our house was pretty nearly impassible as the snow was so deep that even with the high-clearance of the Explorer we were bottoming out.  All the roads through Willow Creek were in the same condition as there had been no snow plows through the neighborhood and there had been very little traffic prior to us.

The main roads were not in any better shape, but given the additional traffic on those roads we were not bottoming out.  The amount of traffic increased as we drove north along I-25 until it was bumper-to-bumper near the Belleview exit.  Our route took us on to I-225 and traffic freed up dramatically on that highway.

We arrived at B&B for DOG exactly as they open at 6:30AM.  I backed the Explorer up to the entrance so that I could just pop the back door open, reach in – get the dogs and quickly get them into the kennel.  As I opened the back gate on Explorer I was able to reach in and get Finnegan without any problem, however Lex proved to be more elusive and he was out making a dash for freedom before I could grab him.  Letting Finnegan go, I managed to stop Lex in his tracks before he had gotten very far away by stepping on his leash.

Whew – that was a close call!  That would not have been fun attempting to chase Lex through a foot of snow with my back and leg still hurting.  We got the pups checked in at the kennel and we were quickly on our way to the airport.  The road was treacherous so I went slowly and we managed to make it to the airport without too many problems.

Our flight out of Denver left pretty close to its scheduled departure.  However after we backed away from the gate we did have to deal with thirty minutes of de-icing, so that made our arrival into Chicago a bit late.  Thankfully our flight to Charlotte was delayed by 40 minutes so we didn’t have any problem in catching the flight.

We have arrived in Charlotte about 1 hour late, but my brother was waiting in the “cell phone” parking lot anticipating our phone call that we had arrived.  I gave him a call and about 10 minutes later he was picking up us right outside of the arrivals area.

From there, we journeyed to his house which is in Charlotte proper and the fun has begun!  I think our visit will be great.  I know Zack is definitely excited by the opportunity to spend 4 days with his cousins.  I am sure he will have a great time.

So I am now finishing this blog entry when we reached home on Tuesday December 27th.  We had a fantastic time in Charlotte with my family.  It isn’t very frequently that we manage to get together.  All of us siblings haven’t been together since Patty’s memorial service at the end of July of 2008.  It was good to be together as the opportunity for our entire family to be together in one place doesn’t happen that often.   There are a total of 17 of us in my extended family – this includes my siblings and all of our children.  With the oldest of my nieces and nephews now aged almost 20, you can see the opportunities for this to happen in the future will be limited.  

The giving of Christmas gifts this year was relatively low-key.  Zack only received a total of 5 gifts this year.  We are moving into that time in life when the kids receive fewer gifts.  As they age they just don’t need all the stuff that they used to get when they were much younger.  The only one who got a lot of gifts was my youngest niece Olivia who is only 8 years old.  

Most of our time in Charlotte was spent just hanging out, eating food, talking and laughing.  It was good just to spend the time talking and catching up with my brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews.  It was a special Christmas just because we were all together.  It is easy to remember to the years of being kids and celebrating Christmas together and it was good to relive that and have that feeling of family togetherness that we had as kids!

Zack spent almost all the time we were there in the basement with all his cousins.  The basement was the place to be as that was where the video game console and the pool table are.  I think he had a great time and really bonded with his older cousins.  He is the youngest of the teenagers and was somewhat in awe of his older cousins.

 (Zoey - the adorable little basset hound we took to the vet.)

We had one unexpected adventure while we were there.  My nephews who live in Charlotte, Jeff and Derek were dog sitting their neighbor’s dog – a basset hound named Zoey.  She is a very sweet dog and I couldn’t resist going over with them to pet the pup.  When I petted her ears she yelped like there was no tomorrow.  I took a look at her ears and noticed that they seemed infected.  I told my brother about it and said he should tell his neighbors.  The next morning Zoey was out in the backyard and she was yelping like she was in great pain.  My brother decided that he should call his neighbors and find out who their vet was.  He did that and we managed to get an appointment for Zoey at 3:00PM that afternoon.  The vet took one look at her ears and told us that we did the right thing by bring her in as she had a serious infection in both of her ears.  We got her cleaned up and she was a much happier puppy.  I felt so much better for her as she seemed happy on the ride home as opposed to the ride there when she really seemed in agony.  It wasn’t too much of an adventure but I felt good for taking the 2 hours out of my trip to help this cute, adorable pup!

Our trip home today was a tab bit long.  It was long for 2 reasons.  First I had used frequent flier miles for these tickets and as a result the flight times weren’t the best.  They were the best because free tickets weren’t readily available on these days.  So we flew from Charlotte at noon today and then had a 4 hour layover in Chicago.  United then made our layover much longer because of their logistics personnel.  Our flight that was to leave at 5:00PM Chicago time had our airplane taken out from underneath us by a flight to Orlando that had been delayed for two hours.  The airplane we were switched over to experienced a mechanical issue so we had to wait for a third aircraft which was an hour late arriving.  So by the time all things were said and done we departed Chicago an hour and a half later than our original departure time.  Oh well, things like that happen every once and a while.  As I told a flight attendant friend of mine this evening, at least we arrived safely in Denver – which in the end run is all that matters.

Tomorrow the remainder of the holiday season will start off busy.  I have an physical therapy appointment at 9:30AM.  Unfortunately my back and my hip in is so much pain as a result of all the walking today I am not sure how I am going to endure physical therapy.  I hope to get an appointment with the neurosurgeon this week to plan out my back surgery as I don’t want to go through this pain much longer.  We will pick up the dogs after that and then try and get to see Nancy as we haven’t seen her since the Wednesday before Christmas.  

The rest of the week is very busy as I start back to work on Thursday.  Friday evening I am having a big get together here at my house for a bunch of folks so that will be fun but it will be busy.  Saturday is New Years Eve and Zack and I will be doing some partying that evening.  Nothing to crazy but I am sure we won’t get home and get to bed until 1:30 or 2:00AM.  So the remaining days of 2011 will be quite busy for us.

It is now after 10:00PM Mountain time and my body is still on East Coast time so my bed is beckoning me. 

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.

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