Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Christmas in review!

Alright already, here's the recap. :-)

Sunday (the 21st): Anxiously watched the news and the airport website all day (couldn't go to church because they were ALL CANCELLED - for the second week in a row). Essentially every flight was cancelled. I think there may have been 12 that took off that day. In good news, there are 4 non stops to Dallas on American Airlines daily (the ONLY flights that American flies out of PDX) - and 2 of them actually flew (late, but whatever... they left Portland). Got a call about 9 PM that we needed to go down to Sheridan (about an hour or so south of where we live) and rescue Geoff's uncle and cousin who were stuck on their farm. Got home around 2 AM and went to bed around 2:30 AM.

Monday: Left for the airport like 4 hours before our flight (which was showing on-time, a good sign). It took about an hour to get there, which wasn't bad at all. Again, since American only has 4 flights a day, it only took us about 5 or 10 minutes to get our bags (okay, one bag and one cardboard box... we are classy) checked. Southwest, United, Alaska, and Northwest all had lines winding around the entire airport - literally, they were winding around the check-in area up and around through the security line and then back and around and even OUTSIDE. So then it was on to security. We got in line and then Geoff said "I don't think this is security... I think this is the line for Alaska". So he did some investigation, and sure enough, it was the Alaska line. There WAS NO SECURITY LINE because no one was going anywhere. So we casually walked through security and headed to our gate. Definitely didn't need to be there early! We had a 12:55 PM flight and the 9:30 AM flight was at the gate next to us just chillin'... oh well. Around 11:30 they put them (the 9:30 peeps) all on the airplane, de-iced them, and said they'd leave the instant the Port of Portland opened the runway. To their credit, the Port WAS working very hard - in the first picture below you can see these guys trying to put CHAINS on a luggage conveyor belt... I thought that was hilarious. And in the second picture you may be able to make out THREE plows and graveling trucks out on the runway (there was a fourth that wasn't in the picture). But the snow just kept falling and they couldn't keep up. So the 9:30 people were all on the plane ready to go... and the Port decided they weren't going to open the runway. They kept all of those poor people on the plane and told us that our flight would be leaving around 2:15 PM, when the Port said they were going to open the runway. Geoff went to go find us some lunch around 1... and about 5 or 10 minutes after he walked away they called all of the flight attendants back to our gate and then said "alright everyone, the Port is opening the runways, so get on as fast as you can so we can get out of here when they do!" Geoff had heard them call the flight attendants back so he was already on his way back when I called him (sans lunch) and we loaded up. They said because of the slush on the runway they had large weight restrictions so it was either people or fuel they had to sacrifice - since it doesn't make much since to fly an empty plane nonstop to Dallas, they chose to take off with minimal fuel and make our "nonstop" a direct by putting us down in Reno and filling us up. The fine people on the 9:30 flight (who had been sitting on their plane since 11:30) left about 30 minutes before us, around 1:30, and we left about 2. After a quick stop in Reno, we were 3 or 4 hours late arriving to Dallas, but we didn't care in the slightest! We were so glad we made it. :-) (and there were over 100 cancelled flights on Monday too!)

Tuesday: Slept late and then did some shopping. I seem to not remember this morning very well... my mom had a doctor's appointment and my sister, Geoff, and I all woke up while she was gone. I had oatmeal for breakfast. We went to Costco and Walmart for some groceries, then came home and started making stuffed shells for dinner with my aunt, uncle, and grandmother. They came over about 6:30 and we had a nice night visiting with them.
Wednesday: Geoff and I did some errands on our own... we went to Walmart again and several other stores. We needed to get a few last minute things for dinner and were looking for a secret gift that we had just thought of (we never did find it... several stores carried it but were out of it). We also stopped by my aunt and uncles to get some fresh rosemary for our prime rib on Christmas night (my aunt grows it). We went to the 7 PM church service and saw the pastor who married us. She is so cute... she SCREAMS with excitement every time she sees us. We love her. Then we had Honeybaked Ham for dinner... yummmmmmm.... :) Then Geoff put the rub onto the prime rib (actually I think he did that BEFORE church) and got it all ready to go.
Thursday: I got up early (after I went to bed at 1 and got up at 4 and 6 to "moisten" the prime rib) and tried to convince Geoff to go for a walk with me, but he was too sleepy! So I asked my dad instead! I wanted to see if Starbucks was open, but they were not. But Albertsons WAS open, which was good because I needed a meat thermometer. The prime rib has to be cooked to a pretty specific temperature, and my mom's meat thermometer wasn't accurate enough. So I got that. The walk was so fun - we only saw about 3 cars the entire time, and EVERY car waved to us! WAVED! From a car!! AND when we were waiting to cross a street (waiting for the light to change), a car came up to the GREEN LIGHT, and stopped and waved us across. On a major street! It was so awesome! I couldn't believe it. By the time we got back the rest of the family was mostly up and so we opened presents! Lots of fun things... the best part was probably a trowel. I think it was gifted to me by my sister. Geoff and I are planning a backpacking trip for our anniversary this year (have I mentioned that?) so we are starting to collect the items we need for it. And who DOESN'T want a trowel for Christmas? We both got lots of great backpacking gear... plus cooking stuff (including several PINK SPARKLY SPATULAS!!!!!!!) and Riedel glasses and tons of other goodness! Then we had our traditional Christmas breakfast casserole... yummmm... and then got the beef in the oven! My mom has only one oven and was worried about timing everything, but I knew it would turn out alright. The only problem was that we were doing twice baked potatoes, and they don't get that firm outside without being cooked in the oven on high temperature. So we had them in the oven pretty much all day but they never got super crispy. But they still worked out alright! The prime rib was DELICIOUS, as was everything else, and everything was timed pretty well. We had my aunt and uncle and grandmother over again and had a lovely Christmas evening.
Friday: SHOPPING! Well, first I went on another walk with my dad. Then we (sans Dad) went all over the place to do some shopping and found quite a few excellent items. We also went to REI to get iodine tablets and deet for my sister who is going to Cambodia/Thailand/Vietnam in January. I heart REI. And it was PACKED! We also went to Target where Geoff and I found the secret gift we'd been looking for before - a new remote control for my parents, who always seem to have remote issues. We took a quick break at my parent's house since we had so many leftovers to eat, then we went up to Allen (a little north of Plano, which is north of Dallas) to their outlet mall... it was GREAT! There was a Columbia store which was like a goldmine... I got a new running shirt and a new fleece, and Geoff got a new waterproof breathable jacket (which was on his backpacking gear list). We got to the Coach outlet and there was a line... TO GET IN THE STORE. Yes, seriously, a line of about 75 people waiting to get in. Of course we waited in it. :-) It actually went quite quickly, but there wasn't anything we couldn't live without in the store. There was also a Le Creuset store which was really cool! They were having a 25% off over $25 sale, and they also had Riedel glasses. The Riedel set that I had received for Christmas was actually too long to pack in our suitcase, so we exchanged it for a set at the Le Creuset store that was shorter (I know, strange). We looked at the Samsonite store since my suitcase that I got at KMart my sophomore year of high school for a band trip has seen better days... but they were still super expensive (they had a bag very similar to one that they sell at Costco for $100 that was $215. And the one at Costco is Samsonite too!). That about sums up our shopping trip... and by the time we got home, my dad was sick. :-( We had been planning to head to Houston the next day and he just thought there was no way he was going to be able to go, but said he'd decide in the morning. Oh, and we had fondue for dinner... yum!
Saturday: Got up early and headed to Houston! Our first stop - Spec's Liquor Warehouse. Now, like all of you, I'm pretty sure Geoff was thinking "we're driving 4 hours each way, and we're going to have about 6 or 7 hours actually IN Houston. Why are we spending part of that time at a liquor store?" And then he actually set foot in the store. I have been there once, and it is the most magnificent wonderful place. The FIRST thing we saw was an ENTIRE AISLE of Riedel glasses! We were both in awe... Williams Sonoma has a lot of Riedel glasses, but they have about 20% of what Spec's had. Spec's had all sorts of crazy glasses... about 50% of which we'd never even seen or heard of before. They had black ones (which we had seen) which are meant for tasting parties. And they had TINTED glasses, one "party" set of pink/yellow/green/blue tint, and one set of just pink tinted glasses. Plus just all sorts of other types within various Riedel lines. We drooled but did not purchase anything. They also have a fantastic fine foods - cheeses and meats and mustard and who knows what else. I tried a glass of champagne with an edible flower in it - the flower tasted like a cherry (okay, I didn't taste it, but my sister did). We walked up and down the aisles of liquor and then got the aisles of wine... Geoff found an $800 bottle of wine! They just have an unbelievable selection of everything. We got a couple of things - including two tiny bottles for Geoff's bottle collection. Okay. Enough about liquor! Then we went to a Mexican restaurant for lunch - ew. We've been there before, but they seemed to have one guy who was the host/bartender/server for the entire place - very short staffed. So we had to wait forever and lunch just wasn't that good. Very disappointing. After lunch we headed to Mimi and Gaggy's to see Mimi and pick up Gaggy to take him to my aunt and uncle's for a visit. We had a GREAT time there - we got to see my mom's brother and his wife plus all 3 of their kids, plus another one of my uncle's and his son (his wife, my mom's sister, passed away last year). It was so much fun, we haven't all been together in a couple of years (other than briefly at my aunt's funeral and at our wedding). We had a great time visiting and laughing. Then it was time to head back up to Dallas.
Sunday: We all slept really late and then did a little bit more shopping... we also visited my aunt, uncle, and grandmother one more time and then went out for Mexican food (goooood Mexican food!) And I got to have my beloved Steak N Shake cheese fries... don't ask me why I like these, but it dates back to Christmas Conference in Indianapolis my sophomore year of college, the first time I ever went to Steak N Shake. YUM. And speaking of Christmas Conference, my youngest cousin is headed to the southwest region's comparable Winter Conference in Dallas tomorrow. I'm so excited for her!
Monday: Got up early for our flight and headed to the airport - again, check in and security was super quick. American Airlines will be hearing from me... this was by far the best Christmastime flight experience I've had, in both directions! My family and I have definitely had terrible experiences in the past (which American has heard about too), but this was outstanding. So incredibly pleased. Geoff's mom picked us up from the airport and that ended our Christmas adventure!

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