I had a wonderful holiday break from school. I did more than I ever imagined was possible in such a short time period. Like or not, school starts again tomorrow.
Friday, December 19: Neil Diamond concert in Salt Lake City
Saturday, December 20: Shopping (ugh! I don't like it, but I had to pass the time until my friend got off work.) I did find a beautiful framed print by Simon Dewey that I gave to my Aunt Angie on Christmas Eve.
Later that night: Dinner and a movie in Pleasant Grove/Lindon/American Fork
Sunday, December 21: I attended Music and the Spoken Word with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Orchestra at Temple Square, and the Bell Choir. This was the first time I have ever been to a performance or meeting in the Conference Center and the first time I've ever heard the MoTab live. It was amazing. The most exciting part was that President Monson attended as well. When he was leaving, he waved at me...and everybody else.
I attended a random ward in Murray and I swear I saw Shawn Bradley. I could be wrong.
I went back to my friend's house and have an amazing conversation with her.
My friend, Scott, called and invited me to come to Temple Square in Salt Lake to hear his father sing with a local choir. I spent the evening with Scott and his family. The girls kicked trash at Pictionary.
Monday, December 22: I met with Dr. Eula Monroe at BYU and discussed a current case study I am working on as well as future professional development in math education. Our meeting was only 1 1/2 hours.
When I got back to my car, at least three inches of snow had accumulated. I was nervous to drive home, but my family awaited my return. We were going to exchange Christmas gifts and then I would jump in the Jeep with my mom and sister for our journey to St. George.
I encountered some weather: snow, hail, snow, snow, rain, sunshine, snow, rain. I stopped counting at 18 cars that had spun off the road.
Early evening: My mother, sister, and I left on our journey. I thought I had left the storms behind me.
Instead of driving East to Page on down, we decided it would probably be safer to drive Southwest to Las Vegas and even into the edge of California. We took an obscure highway that was surrounded by giant Joshua trees. I wish I could've seen them during the daylight. It was a very eerie road with few other travelers. I freaked my mom and sister out by shutting off the headlights occasionally. Of course, I imagined each time I turned them back on a person would be standing in front of the car. My imagination gets the best of me sometimes.
At 10pm, we stopped for gas and my mother insisted that she drive and I get some sleep so that I could drive the early morning hours. I did as I was told, but woke up only a little over an hour later. I sit up to find that we are surrounded by snow. It was the craziest snow storm I've ever been in. This part of the journey will likely get it's own post.
Tuesday, December 23
By sun up, we made it out of the storm. We drove through New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, caught Memphis Tennessee, and stopped in Tupelo, Mississippi. We had planned to make it there by early afternoon, but we didn't arrive until 2am. We stayed in a cheap motel.
Wednesday, December 24
The next morning we had breakfast with Papaw, my mom's father, and his wife, Mama Wilma. We left Tupelo before noon, driving through Alabama, to make it to our final destination, Marianna, Florida, in time for the Christmas Eve service at my aunt's church.
My aunt knew we were coming and so did her whole congregation. The two who didn't know were my cousins, Alex (15) and Chelsea (13). We got out of the jeep and stared at Alex who was in the back of a truck talking to a friend. She looks at us kind of funny. (It was dark by then.) She shouts "Shuuut Up!" and rushes over to us. My aunt and cousins hadn't seen my sister, Casey, in years since she was on a mission when they came out last Christmas. It was a fun surprise.
After the service, we went home and opened gifts.
Thursday, December 25
We had a lazy Christmas day. We visited with a few people but mostly stayed home. It was perfect.
That night, we (Casey, Alex, Chelsea, and I) decided to sleep on the trampoline. We didn't make it all night. It was plenty warm, but around 2am we went in because it had reached dew point. There was quite a bit of moisture in the air when we went out. It didn't take much of a drop in temperature to get soaked.
Friday, December 26
Casey arranged with our Uncle Bill to go canoeing down the Chipola River in Marianna. They had quite a bit of rain lately, so the river looked a lot different than how I remembered it.
Afterward, we headed to Panama City Beach. It was AMAZING! It was overcast. (Thank goodness. The last thing I wanted was a Christmas sunburn.) It was 73-76 degrees during the time we were there. We went shopping at a way cool outdoor mall called Pier Park.
Later that night, a friend from my aunt's church came over and we played games and watched a movie.
Saturday, December 27
We stayed in Marianna today. We bought quite a few boiled peanuts, and I bought some jewelry at a place downtown owned by my aunt's friend. I tried to purchase a Baptist hymnal from a fine Christian bookstore, but the only store in town was closed for the day by the time we got there.
Sunday, December 28
We attended the ward I went to growing up. Frankly, everything seemed the same but the people were older. After talking in the halls during Sunday School, we left town. We had to get Casey home so she could work on Tuesday morning.
We took a different route since we didn't have to go to Tupelo on the way home. We drove through Alabama, Mississippi, Louisianna, and into Texas.
Monday, December 29
We continued driving through Texas into New Mexico and Arizona. By then, we were on Interstate 40 again. The freeway looked much different during the day and not covered in snow. It was like a whole new world.
When we left Flagstaff, my mother had planned for us to go to Page and then to Kanab and back home. She didn't want to go over Kaibab Mountain. She told me numerous times not to go that way. As my sister would point out, I have difiancy issues. We went over Kaibab. My mom panicked, but we made it just fine. We rolled into the garage at 5pm. Thirty hours in the car. I was glad to get out.
Tuesday, December 30
To contrast my trip to Florida and the enjoyment of the beach, I went skiing at Brian Head for the first time in my life.
My Christmas break consisted of travel through California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkanasa, Louisianna, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. Twelve states in seven days. Needless to say, I wasn't quite ready to start school again on January 4.