When we first found out about our assignment to Delhi and that it came with an R&R trip we started planning out in our head the great trip we would take. Would we go to Australia? Or maybe to Thailand? Or to Europe? Because at the time we had no intention of going back to the states at all during our two year tour. Fast forward a year, a year full of being on the other side of the world with a time difference that made it difficult to keep in touch with family and an internet connection that made it doubly difficult. Yup, we wanted to go home, we decided.
So, June rolled around and we found ourselves at the Delhi Airport, ready for a month in the states as an entire family, with an additional month for those of us who don’t have to answer to the man.
The kids were absolute champs on the plane, especially the big two, and by some miracle of the travel gods we managed to get an empty seat next to our crew on both of our flights. We landed in SLC and were greeted by familiar faces who were kind enough to indulge us in something we had been dreaming of for a year – an In N’ Out burger.
We spent two weeks in Utah relaxing and spending time with family. When you’re the oldest of seven siblings, two weeks barely cuts it in making sure you get to see and spend one on one time with everyone, but somehow we managed, and we did it in a such a way that we never felt stressed or overwhelmed. We visited Justin’s brother Trent’s new house and went to Lagoon with the whole crew.
Elliott was the only one of the grandkids who was tall enough to go on the grown-up roller coasters and he went on every one of them, like a champ, and even said he liked them, although not with much gusto. He was at his happiest, though, when he was joining in with the rest of the kids on the smaller rides, part of the grandkid crew.
Our last weekend in Utah we went camping up American Fork Canyon for a few nights and it was so nice to be out in nature – clean air, bright stars, hikes, the works. Almost everyone was able to join us, if only for a few hours, which was so nice.
Next we headed to phase two of our vacation – California. The Daniel side of things. There weren’t quite as many scheduled activities. A couple of Angels baseball games. Our only real agenda was to swim all day long and eat all the steak and popsicles we could afford, and drink as much glass-bottled soda as we possibly could. Elliott started out the summer as a pretty tentative swimmer, terrified of the deep end, reticent to jump in even the shallow end unassisted. After just two weeks he was the picture of confidence, although his form needs some work. We lived in our swimsuits and, in the case of the toddler, her birthday suit.
Because Justin was going to be back in India for Elliott’s birthday he took him out for a special guy’s day that consisted of shaving together, going to the Lego store, having lunch, and then putting together the extravagant lego set that Justin bought.
All too soon it was Independence Day – Justin’s last full day with us in the States. We spent it in perfect summer-y fashion, cooking copious amounts of meat on the grill, never changing out of swimming suits, and then blowing stuff up way into the night. It really couldn’t have gotten much better, except for the unspoken looming sadness that lay beneath the surface, knowing that the very next day we were going to be separated for a month.
And then, all too soon, we were saying our goodbyes at the airport. Such a bummer. I’ve decided that we went about this all wrong. Best to get the sad goodbyes out of the way at the very beginning of the vacation with the knowledge that there will be a happy reunion in the middle of your vacation. This vacation was too front-loaded. While the rest of our vacation was great, it was more…empty without Justin there to share it with us…