Summer Vacation 2014 - Days 1-3 - Tuednesday and Thursday

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This year’s edition of summer vacation is to the Mile High City where we are attending an African and Caribbean Heritage Camp. It’s been a few years since we’ve been in Denver in the summer, so we were pretty excited to get things started.

The plan was to make the 15 hour drive from Tuesday through Wednesday morning. After 23 day of work, we packed up the car and… waited for Target to deliver some new patio furniture. That could have probably been planned better. They gave us a window from 2-6 on Tuesday. Luckily they turned up at 5:00. It seemed a little sketchy - they showed up in a Penske rental truck and had the back full of stuff. I don’t recall if they had uniforms on. Very strange.

We got on the road by 5:30 PM and started the trek, but first we had to drop Heinz off at his resort for the week, Nature’s Touch Pet Boarding near Watertown. They were very excited to find out that Heinz would be spending the week with them (insert sarcastic look here). When I called them to make the reservation, they took my information and finally asked for my name. When I said “Grady,” the woman said, “Oh great, Heinz.” He is notorious for barking the entire time he stays there, so they will have had their fill of his annoying, high-pitched bark by next Monday! The road to the boarding house is a bit out of the way and on gravel roads. After the 25 minute drive we turned off on the last gravel road to deliver him, only to find that there was a bridge out right before the drop off. Ethan suggested that the owners might have destroyed the bridge instead of taking Heinz on as a tenant for the week. He might be right…

After about a 6 mile detour to get back to drop Heinz off, the kids were getting hungry, so we stopped immediately at one of our favorite Culver’s in Johnson Creek and had supper. Short story long, we were finally on the road for real by around 6:30 on Tuesday evening. No problem - we were planning to drive through the night anyway.

And that’s just what we did. We split the trip up into quarters. Quarter 1 was to Cedar Rapids - we arrived there around 10:00. That one wasn’t too bad - everybody was awake for all of that. the next quarter was to Omaha which we arrived at around 2:00, and most everybody was sleeping by then, including the driver. The third quarter was the roughest. I pulled over around 3:00 to let Jenny drive for a spell. After 2 hours, she had had enough, so we pulled over at a beautiful Nebraska rest stop and did just that, rested. After an hour break, the car windows were sufficiently steamed and we continued our journey, ending the third quarter near North Platte, NB around 7:00 in the morning.

After some Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks we hit the road for the final quarter of the trip, the final drive into Denver, where we arrived around 11:00.

Tuednesday - felt like a single day, even though it was two, technically. Quin and Ethan got a decent amount of sleep on the trip, but Jenny and I were pretty cached. Our friends Maylee and Steve offered to let us stay with them for the first night of the trip, which was awesome. The first order of business, their awesome apartment pool, where we spent a couple of hours, after which we got some lunch and relaxed for the afternoon while taking in the World Cup.

The evening went by in a blur. We walked to get some dinner at the Lowry Beer Garden, then walked back, and Quin and I fell instantly to sleep. I had heard the phrase “as soon as my head hit the pillow,” but this was the first time I experienced it myself. I agreed to “put Quin to sleep” that night, but I think it turned out the other way around. I’m not sure how Quin fell asleep that night, but Jenny assures me that he was sleeping when she got up there. 10 hours later I’m feeling mostly OK, but it’s still hard to believe that 3 days occurred - it only felt like 2!

Thursday was a mostly lazy day as well. Some more pool time, some lunch, then check into our hotel in Westminster, CO, near where our camp was taking place at Regis University, Denver, CO. The camp started at 4:30 where we checked in and took in the opening bar-b-que and social hour. It’s always fun to go to these things and see other families that “look like us.” Quin took off and played soccer for 90 minutes or so with a bunch of other kids while the rest of us mingled. We met some interesting people, most of which were from the Denver area. One couple we met was from Kansas, and turned out that the father does voice work for cartoons, and even voices some of my favorite characters! Always fun to get out and meet people!

Anyway, the evening ended at Dave and Busters with some video games. Tomorrow the camp starts in earnest - Ethan gets to go whitewater rafting with the high schoolers. Jenny and I will be in different talks throughout the day. Quin will be doing some age appropriate games and other stuff. I’m sure there will be more interesting things to blog about tomorrow, but for now, it’s sleepy time. I’m guessing it’s going to take a few days to recover from that 2 hour sleep night that was Tuednesday.

Written by Brandon Grady
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