Monday, May 28, 2012

One day this will be funny(er)

You may remember that a million moons ago we were going to go see my grandmother and pick up our lawn mower and crap from the old property.  After 4-5 weeks of cancelled trips for fevers, poor planning, work obligations etc. we made our closest attempt yet.  The condensed play-by-play of the weekend went as such:

Thursday - Catherine feels a bit warm.   This is reminiscent of our first attempt at this trip, which turned out to be a 24 hour thing.  Trip is still on.

Friday - Catherine's temp is 102 and she's a hot sweaty mess.  She definitely can't go to daycare but status of trip is TBD.

Friday afternoon - Catherine has not left my arms all day, making any attempt to work from home impossible and one attempted vendor call comical.  We pick up the trailer but postpone our departure until Saturday morning, planning a fly-by trip if needed so Catherine doesn't share her germs with grandma.  James and Matthew pick up the U-Haul and Matthew couldn't be more excited about it (or maybe it was just the toy they gave him).  Oh yeah, did I mention it also started snowing?

Saturday Early Morning - We get the kids up around 5:30a and are on the road at 6.  Catherine still has a fever but we decide to push on (mistake #1).  The plan was to stop in Livingston for breakfast to go then get back on the road.  As we head out of town and the road is empty, I say "hey, since it's daylight and early, let's go through the park on the way down instead of the way back" (mistake #2).  In Livingston I check the weather for the towns on the outskirts of Yellowstone and they all have the same weather as Livingston, mid-30s/snow.  Weather/Roads in Livingston seem manageable so we figure we can handle the park and veer south (poor assumption mistake #3).

Saturday Mid-Morning - Get to Gardiner.  Starting to see cars with 3-4 inches of snow on top.  Get to the park entrance and our exit park strategy through Jackson has been closed.  Instead of turning around and backtracking 40+ miles we decide to press on and head east out through Cody (mistake #4).  Head out toward Tower/Falls, not noticing the sign that parts of the road are closed until a few seconds too late.  Take this picture and turn around South toward Norris and figure then we'll head east through Cody instead of cutting our losses and getting out of the park (mistake #5):
Head up the mountain with our all wheel tires and Uhaul behind us.  Notice the other lane that hasn't been plowed recently has 5-6" of snow in it.  Press on.  Get to a point on a narrow uphill where our tires just start spinning in place.  Try not to panic.  James starts pushing, others jump out to push (because we're basically blocking traffic) and we get going uphill.  (rookie Montanan mistake #6 - when we cleaned out the garage last weekend in the 70+ degree weather, I put away our winter road kit) Finally decide to abort the Yellowstone Park mission and turn around.  Get stuck again.  More help and we're headed/sliding downhill to safety.  We pass a few other cars in much worse states of "stuck" than we were and by the time we've gotten back to Mammoth over 1/2 the park roads have been closed.

Saw a few elk by the road which almost redeemed this stressful 3 hour timewasting excursion:
Especially since they're looking a lot less scraggly than when we saw them 2 weeks ago:
Until a few minutes later we hit a decent sized rock we mistook for a chunk of snow (mistake #7).  This was annoying but we didn't think anything of it and pressed on.  Matthew was super jazzed about Grandma's house and as we made our way back to the interstate he created his own version of "Are We There Yet?"
Noon - 6 hours after starting we arrived in Laurel, the place we should have arrived at 8am.  Stop at McDonald's for lunch.  As we go to sit down, a 95 year old man beckons me over and then shares that the world is going to hell and if I wanted to raise good kids I'd cook for them and feed them at home and keep them away from restaurants like McDonalds.  Because I have a soft spot for curmudgeonly old ranchers I don't punch him in the face and instead thank him for his advice and his son is then excessively nice to us the rest of our meal :-)  As we head out to the car I notice a giant rainbow radiating from our car.  Upon further inspection there's a lot of oil under our car.   Luckily there were 2 dealerships across the street and one was open and willing to take a look. Though we probably paid a premium on the car/repair for it they thankfully had a welcoming waiting area/cabin with snacks for the kids to roam around, including a little secluded play area that kept Matthew entertained for 3+ hours and a rocking chair which helped with a sick baby who desperately needed a nap:
Early afternoon - While waiting for the verdict on our car, I encourage James that he may as well go shop for a car since that's what we were going to be doing the next weekend.   Long story short James' new commuter car is also a minivan and we cracked the oil pan in our regular van when we hit the rock in Yellowstone.  Even with a new van in hand, we couldn't easily get it to tow the trailer the rest of the way so we called it a (LONG) day and headed back home.

On the upside of the weekend, we were able to take some time on Monday to reflect on the meaning of Memorial Day.  We headed downtown for the parade and a chance to impart at least a small bit of what the day is about to Matthew.  In his two year old brain though he was most excited by the F-15 flyover:
And of course the horses:

He did his part with lots of clapping and waving:
Hopefully planting the seed of understanding of what an amazing sacrifice those men and women in the parade and his own ancestors have made for our nation.  

1 comment:

  1. Oh dear god that sounds like the day from hell! You sound super calm about it all right now...I'd imagine much less so at the time. Glad everyone is ok!


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