Family Dinner (parts due et drie)

Flight already covered our dinner at his aunt and uncle’s house, but permit me to add some family history background. Flight’s grandmother was affectionately referred to as GiGi for Great Grandmother as she met 42 of her great grandchildren before she died at 102. She was an incredible woman who raised five amazing kids who have all raised delightful children, one of whom I was fortunate enough to marry. Seriously, on all counts.

I remember telling some of my friends I was going to my husband’s family reunion to celebrate GiGi’s 95th birthday and most replied, “Oh, geez, have fun with that.” I had to further explain how this family is very unusual in that there is not a single bad one in the bunch. Most people have families that know to avoid Uncle Fred, especially when he’s had more than three drinks, or there’s a common understanding to not get Cousin Louise talking about her religion, her cats or her corns. In contrast, every single one of GiGi’s offspring is truly delightful to be around. Each is smart, engaging, and interesting, so it’s always an enjoyable time when we connect and this dinner was no exception.

Aside from the delicious food and equally delightful company, our kids had a blast. Flight’s uncle took them to the neighborhood golf course in a golf cart. And when I say “them” I mean ALL the second cousins at once:

They loved it!

We dropped Flight off at the airport before we scooted back up to Jordanelle. In his absence we spent the day breathing easy and going to the beach with friends. Although the beach was quite rocky, much to our kids’ dismay, its proximity to where we were parked was quite a luxury.

Our girls had been invited for a sleepover (and they gleefully emphasized “with NO parents”) at my third cousin’s (the same contractor’s daughter whose house we camped in sans Davista), which afforded Keeper and me some rare mother-son time. After we dropped the girls off in the late afternoon, we ran some Keeper-centric errands and were able to check out Stanza (a delightful Italian restaurant near the University) with my folks and my godfather. Keeper swore his lasagna was “the best anybody’s ever made.” He might be right.

The following day evolved into insanity (mine) owing to a host of challenges, the greatest contributors of which were the 102oF heat down in the valley, our real estate brush with an alleged felon and sorting out the potential consequences thereof, and my overscheduling our family. Note to my dyslexic self, there are only 24 hours in a day. Not 42. Maybe someday I’ll get that straight. Sigh…

There were two dazzling bright points among the chaos, however.   First, after we collected the girls, the kids and I enjoyed our abbreviated visit to the Utah Museum of Natural History. The family engineers delighted in building earthquake proof structures and evaluating land mass erosion across the millennia:

After that we made our way to the Viking Exhibit, which was truly fascinating. While the older kids played Hnefatafl (try saying that three times fast), WoodSprite and I admired the reconstructed ship display (those are all the iron bolts used to pin the ship together which were all found in situ in a Norwegian burial site) and the penannular broaches, of which my mom has several of the Scottish variety.

We had also hoped to make room in the day to see my late godmother’s art exhibit at the Utah Museum of Fine Art, but time got away from us. Again, I’m surprised to learn there are only 24 hours in a day. Shoot.

We had to press on for yet another Family Dinner (I may have mentioned we’re related to half the Salt Lake Valley), this one back at my cousins’ place where the girls had just slept over. On our way we stopped at Cummings Studio Chocolates (perhaps you see a theme here, as we’ve made it a point to check out local chocolatiers wherever we wander) to pick up some chocolate covered strawberries (delicious yet somewhat ubiquitous) and chocolate covered grapes. I had never heard of these before my time at the U and was so thrilled they were still making such a delicacy. Don’t love ‘em ‘til you try ‘em. Seriously.

The second highlight was this third and final Family Dinner, and a bonus was that my parents were able to join us. Although they haven’t had nearly the years of experience in hosting such gatherings as our contractor relative, my cousins set a fine table.   Dinner was scrumptious and it was especially lovely to spend some time getting to know the younger generation of cousins, one of whom is getting ready to ship to Great Lakes Naval Training Center to begin his time in the Navy – WOO HOO!

The following day was a flurry of down time, which probably makes no sense. Permit me to explain. Flight was due back in the early hours and (thankfully) decided to rent a car for a day to come back up to Jordanelle, which was perfect since the kids (and maybe I too) were DONE with going up and down Parley’s Canyon (see picture above) and I could take it back to the airport for my departure. Originally I was to head to the airport that evening to fly back east for Navy Reserve work, but Flight and I had some serious debriefing and planning to do and, aside from meeting the pool guys who were scheduled to close our pool, I had no other obligations that might necessitate the red-eye arrival early on Friday morning

After spending the day getting our ducks in a row, doing laundry, unpacking (Flight) and packing (I), we went to one of our favorite places in Park City from back in the day. Our Park City friends joined us as well, all four of them this time since they now had a freezer full of venison (in the words of Napoleon Dynamite – “Lucky!”). Loco Lizard is perched on what the outskirts of town used to be in Kimball Junction, which is now bustling with activity. Near the Olympic Park, several new commercial areas have sprung up around Kimball Junction, including the largest Whole Foods in the U.S., which unfortunately hasn’t opened yet. The old one around the corner, however, was still more than adequate and suited our needs just fine.

That evening, Flight told me he wasn’t going down in the Valley even once while I was gone, except to collect me on Monday.  He further offered he thought he might not even leave the campground. I didn’t blame him. I had overbooked us plenty in his absence and he (and the kids) could certainly use some down time while I was sporting my Navy poly-wool uniform in Maryland for the weekend.

I’ll explore my seemingly alternate-universe trip to Maryland in the next post…

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