Tuesday night: packed for trip, slept as much as possible.
Wednesday: packed the van, drove to work with Steve. Was scheduled until 1:00 so I gassed up the vehicle when I punched out, bought Steve a couple of shirts at Goodwill, and got myself a pair of sunglasses at the drug store, then came back to pick Steve up from work. He wasn't quite done, so I helped wash some dishes and such until he was able to leave. I got to drive for awhile -- yay! A rare occasion, since Steve usually drives everywhere. Sadly, I find I don't enjoy driving as much as I used to. I started to get a little sleepy and the weather turned on me, so we pulled over at a rest area and he took over the driving. Then we got some DUNKIN' DONUTS at the Illinois State line, ate in the parking lot, and drove on to Midway Airport. I called home more than once to check on the family and on Grandpa. Many people were at the hospital and they said he wasn't going to be there much longer, but to continue with the trip because no one knew if it would be hours or days or a week. I had said my goodbyes on Tuesday and, though I missed being with the family together at the hospital, I was glad they were all there together and I knew Grandpa would want me to go anyhow.
The first leg of the trip, from Chicago to Minneapolis, wasn't bad. I don't mind flying. I just mind the take-off and the first few minutes of climbing in the air. I always feel, at some point early on, like "this large metal object is not meant to be in the sky and will be falling out of it like a Looney Tune character off a cliff any second now". Then I'm fine. When we arrived in Minneapolis, we had about 45 minutes before our next plane took off. On the way to find the gate, I tried calling my mom's phone but couldn't reach anyone. I called my little sister and she informed me that Grandpa had just passed away, very peacefully. On one hand I was relieved, on the other I was sad I missed being there with everyone else, and on the other hand (if there were a third one) I thought about how much I'd actually miss him -- he'd been a much bigger part of my life the last decade than he ever had while I was growing up. As we stood in line for boarding the next plane, I cried, not caring who saw me, and my husband held me, luggage in hand. He's a good man.
Thursday (or still Wednesday, depending on what time zone you're in): We landed at 11:30pm Wednesday night, which is 2:30am back home, in Fabulous Las Vegas. After getting our rental car and driving to our hotel to check in, we crashed in our room at about 1:30 in the morning (4:30 back home). Steve desperately desired McDonald's, so we got that first and he ate while we were there. After some lovely sleep, I awoke to the evil, evil bride Andie (tee hee, love you!) calling me at 7:30 in the morning. I suppose she's allowed one early morning phone call without me killing her, especially since it was 10:30am "real time" and my body clock should have been acclimated to THAT, not Vegas time! Steve and I woke, showered, gussied up, drove downtown so we could get our Dunkin' Donuts at the Fremont Casino, and were on our way to Bally's where the bride and groom, Andie and Kevin, were staying. Some photos are on Facebook for those of you that can find me there. We got very girly and did hair and makeup and jewelry and I laced up her butt several times (this makes sense if you see the back of the dress, and sounds crude if you do not see the back of the dress.) The limo came to pick us up shortly after noon (I am now going on Vegas time only, so if you're curious what time it is back in Indiana just add three hours!) Kevin's friend Eric and his wife were there as well. The photographer took some photos (that sounds redundant...) and then we had the very pretty, albeit short, ceremony and CONGRATULATIONS TO MR. AND MRS. KEVIN KINGSBURY! :) Yayyyyy! I wish you all the happiness in the world with your 800 kids. We waited for them to pick their photo package, grabbed some champagne and toasted in the limo, had the limo dude take us to the Fabulous Las Vegas sign so we could get our pictures taken under it, then went for some Mexican/Cuban food back downtown. Also fabulous. And reminding me how very hungry I am right now. We took them back to the airport to return their rental car, then drove them back to their hotel, and went back to ours and crashed, once again. Zzzzz. I got to talk to my friend Christy, who is a rollergirl in Las Vegas (how cool is that!?) and we made plans to try and see one another the next day.
Friday: Much of this day is a blur. I took a nice, long, hot bath in the morning and read for awhile, we got our Dunkin' Donuts, bought some tickets to see the Lion King on Saturday for super-cheap, hung out with Christy for a couple of hours and had a couple of drinks, went to the Sahara where they have real blackjack for $1, then I played some roulette while my husband drooled over a Danica Patrick coffee mug that he ended up purchasing (can you hear me audibly grumbling? I do NOT think she's hot -- I wouldn't mind if he bought a Salma Hayek coffee mug, at least then I could understand...:P) We went back to our hotel at some point and ended up falling asleep for the rest of the night.
Saturday: I always hate the last day in Vegas, and this time it came much more quickly than usual. This is, by far, the shortest Vegas trip we've ever taken and I don't think we'll ever go for less than a week again. We went to Mandalay Bay so that we could turn in our ticket vouchers for actual seats and got a free upgrade to seats that were even better than what we'd expected, so that was great. Then we went off the strip and out towards Sam's Town, and the new East Cannery Casino, and I think the Longhorn Casino -- we were searching for cheap prime rib which is getting harder to find in Vegas than one would think. We found it for $7.99 and chowed down. We returned to the strip to check out the new resort and casino, named "ARIA" after our daughter. I guess the good people of Las Vegas found out how awesome she was and named the place after her. Anyhow, it was pretty cool -- we bought her a t-shirt from there and I got some gelato (pistachio flavor and nutella flavor!) Then we went over to Mandalay Bay again to see the Lion King. I cannot tell you what a joy this was. The costuming was magnificent, the singing/acting/dancing was incredible, and I loved every minute of it. It was the full show, which is rare in Vegas, most shows are a cut version of the full show -- an hour and a half with no intermission. This was two and a half, with an intermission, and I would see it again RIGHT NOW if I could. Hands down, the best show I've seen out there yet. Afterward, we went to gas up the rental car, drove to the airport and checked it back in, and sat waiting for our plane. It did not leave until 11:30pm, by which time we'd consumed some overly-priced airport food (20 oz Mt. Dew: $3.34, personal pan pizza $5.29. Would you like fries with that? No, thank you, I wouldn't want to have to take out another mortgage on my home.) We flew to Atlanta this time, waited two hours and flew to Midway. This takes us into Sunday and, if you're keeping track, we were up for 26 hours straight by the time we drove home from Middlebury and unloaded the car and dropped ourselves into bed.
Sunday (see above): After the hour and a half nap, we again awoke, got dressed and rustled up the kids, and drove to Niles for my grandfather's viewing. The bad side of a funeral is, of course, that you've lost someone you love. The good side is always reconnecting with people you haven't seen or have lost touch with for a long time. After the viewing, many of us congregated at my parents' house, and I cannot tell you how good it was to have my whole family together again. I have missed that so much that it has hurt my heart in a way I never thought possible. I hope and pray that it doesn't take another funeral to get us together again in such a way. We went home, I started some laundry, we attempted to watch an episode of "The United States of Tara" but fell asleep.
Monday: wake, shower, dress, coffee, funeral. We chose not to take the kids out of school -- they got to see the family and pay their respects last night, and at least the boys have perfect attendance right now. Zachary, especially, hates to miss school, and we thought it was better for them to stay there than to come with us. After the funeral was the graveside service. Since my grandfather was in WWII, some representatives from the American Legion presented our family with a flag, and played Taps (which was the hardest part for me). The First Presbyterian Church put on a nice dinner for us, we ate, took some food with us, visited with family awhile longer, and then drove home again to more laundry and clean up the house. And blog.
Here's hoping that our next trip will be both more eventful and less eventful at the same time. Thanks for listening - this is, perhaps, the longest blog of all. So far. It won't be this way every day, I promise!