Friday, February 27, 2009

Winter pictures

I thought I'd post some pictures to make up for the lack of blogging during the last two months:

Jude's preschool class made these "goofy goggles" while studying the letter G. He was unbelievably giddy (another good G word) when he got home, and couldn't wait to show me.

Jonah's class, meanwhile, was studying ants. And they performed a very informative play about the insects for their elementary assembly. Jonah was a scout ant. (Back row, second from right)

Paul enjoying the heaps of snow in our front yard.

Jude and Jonah doing the same.

Jonah loves to get out and shovel. We have to stop him from shoveling the entire block. I hope this useful hobby will last well into adulthood. But I have my doubts.

And then, at last, an escape from the snow. Christmas with my husband's lovely family in Phoenix, AZ.

The newlyweds (hey, what's nine years?) in front of an Arizona Christmas "tree".

My sister-in-law Karen took us out for a family photo shoot. Here's one of her great pictures: Grannie M with her boys, daughters-in-law, and all her grandkids.

Jayson and Asaph hangin' out with Papa Jay

Back in Idaho, we celebrated Christmas and New Year's on the same day with my family. I got the boys a digital camera for Christmas ($2 at a yard sale. Shhh.) which was a huge hit. Jude went around taking pictures of everything and everybody. Here he is snapping one of G.G.

In Phoenix, my niece Sydney and I made hats on knitting looms one day at Grannie M's house. Paul thought this hat was pretty great, so he started wearing it around. Here he is with my dad, looking like his goofy self.

And my brother Ethan, with his lovely wife, Christina, inspecting one of Zach's nifty gifts.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Christmas travel debacle

I know I promised more of a story about our failed first attempt at a trip to Phoenix for Christmas, and I never followed through with the promise. So in case anyone's still curious, here's what happened:

We were supposed to catch our flight out of Spokane, the day after we had just experienced a whopping winter storm. This was the AP report from the day before we left:

SPOKANE — The winter storm that has paralyzed Spokane set a record for the amount of snow dumped in a 24- hour period, the National Weather Service said Thursday.

The weather service recorded 17 inches of snow at Spokane International Airport in the 24 hours that ended at 4 a.m., 4 inches more than the record of 13 inches set in 1984. Records have been kept since 1881.

More than 3 inches of additional snow had fallen on the city since 4 a.m., the weather service said, driving the total to more than 20 inches.

I didn't have my camera with me, but this photo, taken by Bill Church, who we know from, er, church, captures the road conditions pretty well.

So I dutifully checked the highway and airport reports before leaving, and (Spokane being used to this sort of onslaught) the airport was already sending flights out on time, and the WSDOT page reported "Patches of snow and ice: Moderate impact on travel." Sounded like we were in reasonably good shape for departure, so we allowed for an extra hour to get the airport, just in case.

Right. I don't know how the WSDOT defines "moderate" or "patches" of snow. The snow was packed quite solidly on the road, and three cars were off in the ditch (right at a bend in the road where we lost cell phone coverage, incidentally...) Also, WSU apparently had just had its last morning of finals before Christmas break (although they probably don't call it that anymore), and we found ourselves amidst thousands of twenty-somethings heading home for the break in cars ill-equipped for winter roads.

It took us two solid hours to get to the little town of Colfax, which normally would take less than 30 minutes.

The kids had to go the bathroom, so we pit-stopped at the Colfax Arby's. And as we sat in the parking lot, watching the cars crawling pitifully by at 4 mph, we determined that, even if we drove 60 mph the rest of the way, we would still miss our flight, which was leaving Spokane right on schedule. (Too bad the Spokane airport is so shockingly well prepared for snow burial.) And, because all flights had been cancelled the day before, every flight leaving for the rest of the day and the next several days following was completely booked.

We made the obvious decision to call the airline to tell them we wouldn't be coming. Silver lining: we very probably made somebody's day by opening up 5 seats on a very full flight for which several people had been waiting on standby all night. And thus, with heavy hearts, we drove back home.

Well, long story short: We rebooked flights for Christmas Eve, after paying MORE to reschedule our tickets than we had paid for the original tickets. (Thank you, US Airways...) And we also had five additional days at home to relax, attend a couple of Christmas parties, and be far better prepared for Christmas Vacation, take 2. We even went to Spokane and spent the night at my sister-in-law's parents' house before our flight, to ensure a stress-free departure. Our whole Phoenix adventure involved an amazing amount of packing and unpacking and repacking suitcases for six people at each stop (First attempt. Home. Second attempt. Night in Spokane. Phoenix, Brandon's house. Phoenix, Marilynn's house. Spokane motel. Home.) So I am very, very glad to not be traveling again for a while!

And we had a fabulous Christmas in Phoenix with Jayson's family, enjoying, among other things, the complete absence of snow!

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