Joe and I strolled into our condo around 2:30 Saturday morning. It felt kind of weird to be back...like it wasn't even our place. Then we realized our house-guests had cleaned it better than we have ever attempted to (yes, they even got the paint out of the kitchen sink, and scrubbed months-old shampoo off the shower wall). I was a little embarrassed, then extremely grateful. Now, we can get this blog post up faster! Photos were sporadic, so here are the highlights with one or two sprinkled in :) As always, the rest are here.
Sunday, Dec. 21
We made it into the Salt Lake airport without incident, (surprising since we had a layover in Chicago), found Goldie at the airport and drove her (her, right?) to Joe's parent's condo in downtown Salt Lake. Joe parents were out of town and offered to have my immediate family stay there through Christmas. Joe and I unpacked and headed over to a surprise graduation party for our friend Nicole. It was great to see her, Dan, and their families.
Monday, Dec. 22
We enjoyed a huge breakfast at Joe's grandparents' condo (who conveniently live a few floors and halls down from Joe's parents). Later while Joe was visiting his old friends at work, I was playing phone tag with my parents who stuck trying to get to the airport and Southwest airlines, who eventually canceled their flight altogether due to the weather. Lame! I picked up Jake, Carter and Asher from the airport a little later, and Asher had a great time wandering the halls and pointing at everything. That night we went to the ZooLights at Hogle Zoo and got pizza from The Pie. YUM! We also got to see our friends Jared and Emily.
Tuesday, Dec. 23
Uncle (Dr.) Joe was kind enough to see us at his clinic to evaluate our coughs. Mine was of the normal "it's just that time of year and you probably wont get better for a while" variety, while Joe was diagnosed with possible asthma created from his years of acid reflux. We got some meds, and headed back to hang out with Asher the rest of the day. He was a willing entertainer, and we egged him on a lot. That night, my uncle Glade got our Ellingson family together (I think 14 of us?) for dinner at the Rio Grande Cafe. The food was good, the service was quick, and the company was pretty cool, too :)
Wednesday, Dec. 24
Jake, Carter and Asher headed back a day early since my parents never made it out. After taking them to the airport we caught up on some sleep and maybe watched 4 straight episodes of one of our favorite TV shows. I mean, we had to 'cause once we started the finale was that much closer. Dinner that night was at Glade & Karis; what once was supposed to be a gathering of 26 turned into a group of 11 (thanks to winter storms/sick kids!) We had great food, watched a little Christmas Story via TBS, and played foosball.
Thursday, Dec. 25
We woke up a little early so we could talk to Joe's brother Dave, who is on his mission in Norway. While we were waiting for his call, we told each other what was gifts were waiting back at home (we really weren't up for the pack/unwrap/find space in the suitcase to bring it home thing). After we talked to Dave, we headed over to Matt & Anita's for Christmas snacks, puzzles, naps, etc. We got to talk to Dave again via Skype, which was pretty awesome. We left around 7 to pick up Joe's parents, aunt, uncle and cousins from the airport. Snow on the ground went from non-existent to a few inches during our drive, so we expected some delays. The incoming flights were diverted while the airport was closed, but we knew if we left the airport we would be driving way more than necessary. Somehow we got everyone back to the condos alive and well (though it may have taken 2 trips down the hill for the rental car to stop in time for the driveway). Grandmother was awake at 12:30 (!) and had us over for some chicken noodle soup.
Quote-able--Lyddie, after showing us every Christmas present she got (and saying..."this is what it does, and this is what it does...so yeah" a lot), showed us her mini Book of Mormon. She pretends to flip through it and says "This is good stuff," then slides it across the table at us and goes "You can have it."
Chillin at the airport
Friday, Dec. 26
We bumped into Elder Holland on the walk from the Grandparents' to Joe parent's place...not super unusual since he lives in the building, but still something you don't anticipate doing. We had a great brunch at Joe & Janet's, where the girls gabbed at the table, the boys hung out on the couches, and the kids wandered up from time to time from the downstairs playroom. Then we went back to Matt & Anita's for more hanging out. Joe was Uncle of the Year, and took 3 kids to a huge sledding hill while I slept on the couch.
Quote-able--Nathaniel, explaining to Joe that "Historically, I have only sledded by myself..." and when he didn't want to listen to Joe, "I'm talking back to you!!"
Saturday, Dec. 27
Matt & Anita picked us up and we went to check out the Body Worlds exhibit in downtown Salt Lake. Lots of skin, blood vessels, and muscles to look at! It was very interesting, but once you've seen one body torn open and put into a ridiculous pose, you've seen 'em all. (Joe: "It's like they killed an entire traveling circus!") We had a quick bite at the amazing Acme Burger in Salt Lake, (sweet potato fries, un-greasy onion rings, specialty burgers and non-burgers, and fun drinks) then went back to the condo to set it up for the afternoon. Barb organized a huge get-together(28 people?)...there was gingerbread making, swimming, ping-pong tournaments, bounce-house fun, and a great dinner. After a quick clean-up, most of us went to Savior of the World at the Conference Center.
Sunday, Dec. 28
We went back to the Conference Center to watch Barb in Music & the Spoken Word, then tagged along with Lew to his Singles Ward at the U. Barb made a second Thanksgiving dinner that we enjoyed with the grandparents, Jim, Deanne, Nicholas and Jameson. Barb & Jim put on an amazing concert that night at their ward building across the street, where we got to see family again and catch up with some friends. We were put up that night in the Alta Club (a gift from Joe's parents), which was just another block south. If you're not interested in reading about our possibly-haunted stay there, you can skip the rest of this paragraph: The Alta Club is an old boy's club...it was built in 1883, and still functions as a club today. It also has about 20 rooms for its guests. I'll admit that after we checked in I was a little creeped out. We were the only guests in an old place, and it felt kind of strange. Picture hallways a la The Shining. Anyway, we got ready and went to sleep without any problems. Around 1 a.m. I heard some voices and thought it was whoever let us into the building; (the night guard?) no big deal, whatever. At 1:50, I heard what sounded like running above us, and man's voice shout one word (which sounded a lot like an f-bomb). The problem: we were on the top floor of the building; there was nothing above us. The sounds went on long enough for me to wake up, register that it was freaky, grab Joe's arm, wake him up (which usually takes awhile,) and have him make up something to calm me down, (he later told me that he was just trying to plan our escape route). We decided to turn on the TV for awhile. I finally thought I could go back to sleep, so I had Joe turn off the TV and closed my eyes. A little while later, I heard what sounded like a furnace rattling. I was too scared to get up and check it out, and couldn't even decide where the noise was coming from. Once I couldn't take it anymore, I started to get up and the noise stopped. Not really the icing on the cake, but combined with the other creepy stuff I wasn't thrilled. The sun could not come fast enough that day. We later found out that a guy staying at the Alta Club in the early 50's fell asleep with a lit cigar in his hand, and he died. This would explain the f-word I heard (Fire!), and the running (but not necessarily noises above us.) Whatever. We're just going to chalk it up to another fun story; a life experience we were lucky enough to be a part of.
Monday, Dec. 29
After, um, no solid hours of sleep we packed up and met Joe's friend Travis for lunch in Draper. Then we drove around and did some errands (Joe had to get some transcripts from BYU, I had to get a manicure, you know the important stuff), and also managed to pull the "Oh my gosh, can you believe we lived at this place? Everything looks different! That building used to be something else" drive around Provo/Orem. We met up with my bestest friend Jenice and her husband Ben for dinner at the Training Table (phoning in your order is the BEST!), then enjoyed hanging out at the Brobergs in Provo. We also squeezed in 2 more friend-stop-bys to Cameron & Wendy's, then Jacob, Scott & Bert's house. I had no trouble getting to sleep that night.
Tuesday, Dec. 30
Joe stayed north while I went back down to Provo. Holly was kind enough to meet me at Bajio (their chicken green chile salad was on my short list), and I had a great time catching up with her. I got to see Jenice again so we could girl talk without the husbands around, and then went out to dinner with Dawn, my old supervisor from FirstWest. Meanwhile, Joe took the kids swimming and said our goodbyes to most of the family. That night we hung out with Jared, Marcus, Emily, JJ, Marika, and Jacob. There may have been some Halo playing stretching on LATE into the morning.
Wednesday, Dec. 31
Somehow we fit all our things back into our suitcases, and headed to Vegas. We stayed at the South Pointe all night, and didn't miss the craziness of the strip. The only photo we took together was at the restaurant across the street where we got beads and watched sports. We spent most of the night being totally goofy with our friends, and watching sports.
Thursday, Jan. 1
Much sleeping in was done this day. The only real highlight was our trip to In-N-Out, then over to the Wynn to watch people play $500 blackjack hands. It took us way too long to get back to our hotel, which reaffirmed our decision to stay off the strip. We stayed up late again, talkin until Joe and I couldn't stay awake any longer.
Friday, Jan. 2
We enjoyed some all-you-can-eat sushi down the street from our hotel where we met UFC fighter Rico Rodriguez. He was very nice, shook all our hands, and had his girlfriend take our photo. Then it was off to the airport, where our flight was delayed. Boo! We finally boarded about an hour late, then sat on the runway for another half hour. We got bored during the non-stop flight, so turned on our GPS, which I guess gives you the same info as those JetBlue TVs, but on Southwest there is no other way to know you're clocking in 580 mph across the great skies of Indiana without your own GPS. Our friend Paul (whose family stayed at our place while we were gone) picked us up, and (if you can even remember the beginning of this post...) got us home around 2:30 am.
It was a great trip! I was bummed not to see my parents and other family, and have decided against traveling during Christmas for a while...let's decide on a new holiday to meet! Flag Day in Havasu, maybe? Whatever. I miss Utah because everything there (compared to here) seems easy...the driving, the access to stores and restaurants, the family and friends so close by. But I got my fill, and saw almost everyone I wanted to, so until next time...