If you wanna feel better about your family, just read about ours...

Starring: a dad, a mom, a son & daughter-in-law, a daughter & son-in-law, a teen, a tween, a grandson, a granddaughter, 3 dogs, 2 rabbits, 2 dwarf frogs, an unfortunate number of tadpoles, and a whole lot of love.




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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Downhill From Here, Part II

I left off with Zac and I checked into a cabin in Tennessee while Ron, Kearstin, Caymen, Barbara and the baby sat in the van at the top of a mountain with a half mile of steep snow covered hills between us and no cell service. 

This was going nowhere fast and we knew we had to make the inevitable climb back up to the van so we decided to start running.  By the time we got there, it was pitch dark, I couldn't breathe, had numb fingers, frozen snot across my cheek and I no longer felt guilty about the lunch I'd eaten at Golden Corral earlier in the day.  As a matter of fact, my only regret was that we hadn't stayed longer, but I digress.

Nick and Aubrey were still about an hour away when Ron texted them the situation.  We tried to find another route to the cabin, but there was none.  That left us with one thing to do.  We parked our van along the side of the road, everyone took luggage, I grabbed the food and drink bags and we started hiking to the cabin.  Zac and Barbara ran ahead as fast as they could with the baby.  Kearstin and Caymen were in front of me and Ron followed behind.  My goal was to keep the girls within my sights, which worked fine until my feet went out from under me, I landed with a slam onto one of the food bags and slid past them as I rode a bag of potato chips down the mountain.  When I spun to a sloppy stop at the bottom, Kearstin's voice broke the silence from somewhere behind me when she said, "Daaaaaaaamn."

Shut it, girlie.  I saved the wine. 
I. Saved. The. Wine.

We finally made it to the cabin where I poured a glass and soaked my aching bones in the jet tub
while Zac and Ron made the climb back up to meet Nick and Aubrey and help them hike down with all of their stuff.

Once everyone was safely settled in, the fun and laughter that followed was everything you'd ever hope for a family's first getaway to the mountains. 

That lasted until noon the next day when we started to get hungry for more than breakfast cereal and snacks.  The original plan was to go indoor skydiving and out to dinner to celebrate Aubrey and Caymen's birthdays, but we'd given up on that when we barely made it to the cabin at all.  But one way or another, we had to get food.  It was eventually decided that the guys would take the hike back up and check out the road conditions in the light of day after a morning of warm, hopefully melting, sunlight.

An hour later, I was thrilled to see our van pull into the cabin driveway.  Twenty minutes after that, we were stuck in the middle of a steep hill while the guys used a shovel, floor mats and box of kitty litter to inch our van slowly up the mountain.

Where'd we get a shovel and kitty litter, you might ask?  Well, Nick and Aubrey read the warning email the cabin company sent and they packed some of the "recommended supplies." 
Brilliant, I tell ya.

By late afternoon, we were happily signing our lives away on indoor skydiving waivers.  An experience that Caymen will never forget as the young instructor gave her a lot of attention with some special tricks that included a personal flight with him to the very top of the tunnel.  I asked her if she was scared and she answered, "No.  I knew he was a trained professional."

Trained professional / 17 year old kid with a weekend skydiving job...6 of 1, half dozen of another.

After a birthday dinner at Blue Moose and cupcakes from GiGi's, we slid back down the mountain where we got stuck again and Nick and the cupcakes almost went down a steep ravine trying to help guide Ron who was driving the van up the hill leading to our cabin, backward, in the dark.

Miraculously, everyone survived our family weekend and Sunday morning we drove back up the mountain uneventfully, leaving sunny Tennessee, predicting 50 degrees that day, and headed home to our forecast calling for 6-8 inches of snow.

Seven hours later, we arrived home...got stuck in our driveway...and for the 3rd time that weekend, carried our stuff through the snow. 
But hey, nobody fell down or had to pee outside.

In this family, you recognize the silver lining...
...if you can find one.


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Downhill From Here, Part I

A couple of months ago, Zac called and asked if we'd be interested in a family weekend with all of us together in a cabin in Tennessee the following month.  Um, let me think...YES!!!

And with that, it's my belief that somewhere in the heavenly realms an emergency meeting of the guardian angels was called and all hands on deck were ordered to be on Courter-duty the last weekend of February.

Apparently, Tennessee spent much of their winter dealing with snow, because a few days before we were scheduled to leave, we all received an email warning us to "come prepared with extra food, equipment and supplies" and were "strongly urged" to travel in a 4-wheel drive vehicle.

So on Friday morning Zac and Ron loaded up our 2-wheel drive mini-van with 2 days worth of clothes, snacks and breakfast cereal (read: the exact amount of food and supplies we'd originally planned), and then threw in a fire starter log and lighter.  Voila.  "Equipment."

Zac, Barbara and the baby were riding with us.  Aubrey and Nick were driving separately and planned to arrive later that night. 

We were a little worried about the road conditions we might encounter, but the further into Tennessee we drove and experienced no problems whatsoever, we began to let down our guard and do what we do...make fun of those dramatic Tennessee residents and their obvious intolerance for a little snow.  At one point as we climbed the mountain, a snow plow passed us going the other way with it's plow scraping dry ground and throwing off sparks.
Tennessee.  Psh.  Stooopid.

We eventually made a sharp right onto the road leading down to our cabin and there in the middle, blocking our way, was a 4-wheel drive vehicle with it's hazards on.  Come on, dude.  MOVE.  So Ron maneuvered around to the left of the guy and then quickly realized why he was stopped when we found ourselves staring straight down a steep hill that disappeared around a hairpin turn that was covered in a solid sheet of ice and snow.  Ron slammed on his brakes, we all gasped and instinctively pressed ourselves into the backs of our seats as if we were teetering on the edge of a cliff while Kearstin screamed from the back. 

Alright, Tennessee.
We'll see you your drama and raise you some panic.

Somehow it was decided that everyone else would wait in the van while Zac and I walked to the cabin to survey the situation, me in my yoga pants and ugg boots.  I mean, how far could it be, right?  Turns out, half a mile going downhill, then uphill and around curves in the bitter cold is far enough to have to make a pee stop in the middle of the road where Zac got a little fancy with his.  Mine, which resembled steaming demonic markings in the snow, was nothing to photograph. 

We finally reached our cabin.  The cabin named, 'Amazing Grace.'  Clearly, God has a sense of humor.

Obviously, the van was not going to make it to the cabin and daylight was quickly fading.  Zac called the rental agency and told them we couldn't reach the cabin and they gave us a phone number to call to "apply for a refund" which is code for: Screw you and your mini-van, too.

He knew the key code, so we decided to go in and get warm before trekking back up the mountain to the rest of the family.  After several unsuccessful attempts, he called the agency back to find out how to work the key pad.  She was surprised to hear that we'd made it to our cabin when just 2 minutes ago, we reported that we couldn't.  Zac explained that he and I had walked there and the rest of the family, including a 3 month old infant, was currently sitting in a mini-van at the top of the mountain.  To which she
replied, "Then I'll mark you as checked in."

And with that, Zac's cell phone lost service.
Damn you, Tennessee.
To be continued...