Scott did an away rotation in April (!) at the University of Utah. My family had a reunion planned for the middle of May in Wyoming and Scott had the whole month of May off, so we decided to make a big, huge, amazing trip out of it.
I posted a few pictures before, and truthfully there just aren’t that many to show. Scott’s family isn’t big on picture-taking so before we visit I vow to take plenty of pictures. I want Makcenzie to remember the cousins and aunts and uncles on that side of the family between trips, but once again, I came away nearly empty-handed. That will make this blog post short and sweet by necessity. 🙂
The Drive Out
We decided driving straight through sounded like a good idea, even though we set off around noon. Sure enough, we managed to switch off successfully during the night, survive nasty Wyoming weather and arrive safely the following afternoon in Salt Lake City. Of course, as soon as we managed to extricate ourselves from the car and shuffle inside to greet Scott’s family, we were met with, “You drove straight through?? Why?! You must be exhausted!”
Oh, when you put it that way… yes, we were wiped out and a stop to sleep could have been nice. Hmmm.
Mackenzie was great on the drive, keeping her diaper dry, staying entertained with the few toys we brought, and she didn’t require any extra bathroom stops over those necessitated by her pregnant mama and infamously-small-bladdered father.
Our Month (Plus) in Northern Utah
We had the best time staying at Scott’s brother’s house and they were so good to make room! When we arrived, his brother and wife were on a sailing trip leaving their 5 (plus one college-goer who came home on weekends) kids in the capable care of his younger sister and her husband and their 1 year old twins and 3 year old son. That was a full, noisy house! It was perfect timing to hang out with the other siblings though, before their move to Washington state.
When the home owners returned, we shuffled things around and things were a little more quiet. We settled into a routine with Scott driving to class most days and me hanging out at home with the family. Because our dietary habits are, ahem, so unique, we ended up stashing our own food and cooking our own dinner most nights. I learned a lot by being out of my normal cooking routine and without my normal stock of ingredients and gadgets! I kept working away during naps and nights and Mackenzie was spoiled by constant attention from her sweet cousins.
A week before the end of Scott’s classes, he left for class and called me 15 minutes later with sirens wailing in the background. He had been going through a light and a car coming the opposite direction turned left right into his side of the car. Miraculously, Scott only suffered some burns from the airbag and some stiffness. However, our car was totaled. Our wonderful, babied car was towed lifeless from the scene.
It ended up being a perfect storm of circumstances, all translating to the worst possible time to get into a car accident:
- Our insurance was up-to-date, but the card in the glovebox was not. We were issued a ticket.
- Our registration had expired while we were on the trip. I renewed before we left but the new stickers and proof of registration didn’t arrive before we hit the road. Fortunately I had thought to print out the receipt and stick THAT in the glove compartment so our story sounded more plausible to the officers on the scene.
- Apparently Ohio driver’s licenses do not expire on the anniversary you acquire them. They expire on your birthday, three years after you acquire them. As fate would have it, Scott’s birthday was the week before the accident and mine was the week after the accident. They cannot be renewed online. The notice they send to let you know your licenses are going to expire was waiting for us a month later when we returned to Ohio. Scott got a ticket on the spot for having an expired license and we both felt really foolish about it.
- Scott’s niece who drove me to the accident scene parked her car in a nearby parking lot. An observant police officer noticed HER car’s registration was out-of-date and sure enough, it had slipped past without their notice. He was nice enough to let her drive the few miles home and handle the registration update without a ticket, since it was clearly an oversight.
At this point, we were feeling pretty low. No car, no licenses. Stranded in the wrong state with no apparent way to get a fresh license. Two tickets to answer for in court. Though there were cameras at the intersection, we weren’t confident that the fault would be clearly the other guy’s, so we were nervous about the financial repercussions of the accident as well. He was asked to sign a ticket on the spot and after initially refusing, was briefly placed in handcuffs. We took that as a good sign but were still uneasy about it.
Here’s how things worked out:
- Scott’s sister carpooled to work for a week so we could have full use of her car to get Scott to classes and check out used cars in the area.
- We paid something like $65 for the expired license ticket, and nothing for the “no proof of insurance” ticket
- The other guy was quickly found to be at fault and we received a check for the full price of our car’s blue book value in “good” condition.
- After an extensive car search, we discovered that our car should have really been classed as “excellent” condition, compared to the other ones we could find in that price range for sale.
- We did stumble on a gem of a deal, for a newer model with fewer miles and we bought it. We may have shed a tear for the soda stains on the seats and dog-paw scuffs, but we decided to count our blessings that we found something decent in our limited time to look.
- We were able to get Ohio to send papers in the mail for us to update our licenses and because those papers gave us a 30 day grace period, just having the papers in hand was enough to get us safely back to the state without actually having to go through the out-of-state updating process (with an eye exam from an optometrist, etc.)
All in all we were very, very blessed through this experience and grateful no one was seriously hurt. I was especially grateful that my toddler and my pregnant self weren’t in the car at the time.
We were fortunate to spend time with all three of Scott’s other sisters and their families (some visiting from Washington state) before heading down to stay a few days with his mom in Provo and visit our old stomping grounds.
From there, we drove to St. George Utah to spend time with my grandparents and to hike Zions. Once again, we loved it and though I barely made it on the 8 mile hike we picked, Scott cruised along with Mackenzie in the backpack carrier like it was nothing!
We visited my grandparents’ resident neighborhood peacock, caught up on all the Dancing with the Stars action under my grandma’s careful tutelage, and just kicked our feet up for a few days.
From there, it was a drive to Palm Springs, CA to see Scott’s brother Paul. Unfortunately, the plague struck. I won’t write about that again, but let’s just say the trip didn’t end very well. Paul and his girlfriend were super nice about it, but it had to be tough to cope with a vomiting toddler for the weekend.
Back to Ohio
After getting Mackenzie somewhat stable, we drove up to my parent’s house in the bay area and stayed there for a week (apparently infecting each other and cousins in the process but still managing to have a good time).
We drove out to Jackson Hole for my family’s reunion and really had a fantastic time. I think the video posted here describes it best. Basically we stayed in gorgeous houses, went on an epic and frigid hike with all the kids, ate Reese’s cup s’mores and hot chocolate, and generally soaked up cousin-time. Yes, there was still vomiting going around thanks to the plague we brought with us, but it still managed to be an unforgettable trip (in a good way!)
From there it was back to Ohio and we did NOT drive through the night. We had the sense to crash at a hotel in the wee hours of the morning. Our new car did wonderfully and Mackenzie was vomit-free and happy to arrive back at our house.
The trip was really the perfect way to prepare for the next three years. We’ll have much less opportunity to travel and see family while Scott is in residency so it was nice to have two solid months of family and time on the road to recharge our batteries make us appreciate what we have here in Ohio.
A few photos we did take:
Mackenzie and my dad. They are peas in a pod and I attribute it to the major adventure they’ve shared together: Europe, Belize, and of course the first week of her life. My dad arrived just hours before her birth and saved our bacon by taking the night shift when we were laid up with the flu.
LOVE this one: