Friday, July 15th at about 7 pm our little family set out on a cross country journey to Georgia. It went surprisingly well. There was very little whining, fighting, or crying. In fact, the only real negative was that poor Hannah has trouble sleeping in her car seat and only slept for about 2 to 3 hours at a time that night of the drive out. Our plan was to drive through the night in hopes that the kids would sleep for most of the night and therefore that time would appear to pass by quickly. So, Hannah fell asleep around 10 pm that night and slept until 1-ish and then didn't go back to sleep until about 4 am only to sleep in until about 6 am. Riveting account of the trip so far, I know. Just thought I'd include some details. Anyway, so Jasen drove from our house until about 1-ish, and then I drove until about 5:30 while he slept on and off. Even though Hannah wasn't asleep all while I drove (when Jasen was supposed to sleep) she would go into zombie mode and stare at whatever movie was on, so at least she was quiet for the most part. Nothing of note happened on our drive out except that we were slapped in the face with an accumulation of heat and humidity when we stepped out of our nicely air conditioned car and stopped for gas somewhere in Kansas. We suddenly very much understood that we were no longer in Utah. Dang, I'm such a wimp. I've totally accustomed myself to the dry heat that the west offers. However, despite the annoying humidity of the south, I'd trade the nearly 6 months of snow here in Utah for the minor 2 months of extremely hot weather in Georgia any day.
We arrived at my parent's home sweet home around 2 am on Sunday, and I found myself so excited to be there and unable to sleep, only to have to wake up for 9 am church, awesome. It was actually really great because I got to see some dear family and friends, most notably, the darling Sis. Ballington. Ryan and Amy and baby Tessa came over after church and I got to meet little Miss Tessa for the first time. Amy is a wonderful new mama, and absolutely no offense is meant when I say how surprised I was to see how much of a natural Ryan is at fatherhood. The two of them together make extraordinary parents and I couldn't be happier for them.
Monday we relaxed by the pool with Grandma Kathy and many cousins and some wonderful aunts, and Ryan and Amy and Tessa too. Tuesday we headed to Tennessee to visit my grandparents, Grandma Faye and Granddaddy Turner. It was a short visit but we knew we'd be headed back to their house after the Perkin's reunion. So Wednesday morning we loaded back up and drove to Sevierville, TN (It's basically Pigeon Forge if that helps.) to stay in some gorgeous rustic lodges. They were decadent and beautiful and a great location for a fun reunion. We enjoyed games including billiards, poker, and air hockey throughout our stay. I loved seeing most of my mom's 10 siblings and their families. The first night we visited with those we hadn't seen in a long time and had fun catching up. I was taken aback by how much my much younger cousins had grown and were catching up to my adult status.
The next day we traveled to Oak Ridge, TN (my birthplace) and got a good look at the house where my mom grew up, which was right across from her high school. We then went to visit an old family friend, Bro. Sams, who played a really big part in my dad's decision to join the church and also whose house my dad met my mom long, long ago. I remember going to his house on several occasions growing up, so it was good to see him and his wife, and meet one of his granddaughters, Isabella, who was so sweet to play with Gabe and Hannah and entertain them with her toys and books. We then were off to the American Museum of Science and Energy (http://www.amse.org). It was fun for me because I'd gone there on a few field trips growing up, so to take my kids there was sentimental and sweet. My favorite thing about the museum is watching the presentation on the history of Oak Ridge. To keep it short, I'll just say that the city of Oak Ridge was built solely as one of the locations for the Manhattan Project, a project with the purpose of bringing World War II to an end with the creation of the Atomic bomb. Three different facilities, Y-12, K-25 and X-10, were used to produce separate components of the bomb. Just fyi, both my grandfathers worked at one or more of these facilities at some point and my dad worked at X-10 and then Y-12 before we moved to Georgia. After the museum we went to famous Big Ed's Pizza for some of the best pizza in America ever.
After that we went back to the cabins and all got together for dinner later that evening. Friday was tubing down the Little River (http://www.riverragetubing.com/). It was a little more than some bargained for when it was described as a very gentle ride and ended up throwing a few people off their tubes and scraping up others on some severely jagged rocks that lined the river on both sides and occasionally stuck out of the water to stand as very pointy obstacles. Jasen rode a little two person tube that was more of a small boat with Gabe, while I rode one of the same variety with Hannah. Although it was roomier than the average tube, it was also quite difficult to steer and control. Luckily we were advised to wear some form of footwear and I chose flip flops which I skillfully used as paddles. They actually worked beautifully. My little mermaid, Hannah Riley, demanded to have some part of her body in the water at all times and threw a fit just as we came to our first set of real rapids. This was the point of our river tubing experience that I had to restrain her from trying to jump in and swim all while trying to avoid some jagged rocks. I ended up cutting my toes when I had to kick off a rock so we wouldn't crash straight into it (If you remember I had my shoes off to use as paddles). Jasen scraped a finger or two at this same point. Like I said though, others fared far worse when they flipped over and out of their tubes and had trouble getting back in them, not that it was terribly deep water, it was just that the slippery rocks on the river bottom and of course the flowing river made it difficult to stand and get back in. All and all, I would've gone down a second time, but both kids were overdue for naps and wouldn't do well for a second trip. Gabe kept complaining to Jasen that he didn't like his bum being wet and told Jasen to stop letting his bum get wet. He cracks me up.
Later Friday evening we had a sort of Family Home Evening/semi-talent show. The highlight of the evening was when my mom, dad, aunts and uncles all told stories about my Uncle Gene and my Grandpa Perkins. At the time Gene was struggling with health issues and we all knew he wouldn't be with us much longer. My amazing grandpa wasn't able to be with us for the reunion as he was with Gene back in Utah. As a tribute to both of them my family told of fond memories and favorite moments with both of them. The talent portion included singing, imitations, dancing, a couple of skits and Gabe's random attempts to simply be in the spotlight. He doesn't yet know the meaning of the word talent, but he enjoys when the whole room is paying attention to him. He would start singing Twinkle, twinkle or the ABC's and then become overwhelmed and trail off and get embarrassed. Also after he saw dancing was an option for a talent he stood up to do some sort of karate-esque dance moves. He was close to our make shift stage area and would basically get up between acts; he was intermission boy. Hannah wants to do everything Gabe does these days and would sometimes join him on stage but she'd just stand next to him.
Saturday was check out day and a free day to do whatever you wanted with the plan to stay in Tennessee overnight one more time somewhere other than the cabins and then attend Oak Ridge Ward on Sunday. It was on Saturday that we learned the news of Gene's passing and instead of staying in Tennessee for church, we headed back to Georgia so my mom and dad could prepare to travel the same journey Jasen and I had just made, back to Utah. Jasen and I stayed in Georgia rather than heading back to Utah when my parents did as Jasen had already purchased tickets for he and Ryan for the following Thursday night's Braves game, which at about 90 bucks a pop were too expensive to let go to waste. Jasen and I and the kids spent our Saturday at the Pigeon Forge Outlets and had fun shopping, and then we drove back to Kingston to spend a little more time with Grandma Faye and Granddaddy. We also were delighted to spend time with my Aunt Jenny and my cousin Lara. We ate some scrumptious ribs at the restaurant at Cumberland Mt. State Park and afterward the kids chased geese and ducks around as Gabe yelled, "Hey, hey goose! It's me Gabe."
We got up Sunday and drove back to Georgia. Monday we swam some more with Grandma Kathy at her pool and then she and Granddaddy were kind enough to babysit the kids while Jasen and I had a night on the town. We went to my favorite Atlanta mall, Lenox Square Mall, just to browse around and also as part of Jasen's quest to find a great looking and fitting Braves hat. Unfortunately the quest had to be continued as he did not find what he was looking for there. We left the mall, and drove about 3 minutes away to dine at Justin's. For those of you who are unaware, Justin's is P. Diddy's restaurant in Atlanta. We had fried green tomatoes for our appetizer, I had the Calypso Chicken for my entrée, and Jasen enjoyed a little bit of everything fried that they had to offer as some sort of sampler platter. It was all very good, and I know that although there was a small part of us that hoped to see a celebrity of some kind, we didn't think our chances were that great on a Monday night, so when we didn't we weren't too upset. We did however see a very nice Bentley taking up about 5 parking spaces, and thought perhaps there was a celebrity in the VIP section of the restaurant, that or just a rich Buckhead resident, of which there are many. After dinner we were off to Phipp's AMC Theater to see Harry Potter. It was awesome.
Tuesday we had yet another blissful day by the pool, had naps, and then went to Peachtree City to the YMCA Play Park and then to Ryan and Amy's beautiful home for a delicious dinner of smoked pork and some yummy sides. Ryan has become a grill master and expert smoker and if you're ever headed his way you should invite yourself over for some super tasty food. The kids loved spending time in Tessa's bedroom which has built-in castle doors in her not-over-the-top princess themed room. It was a little much when they first moved into the home, but they redecorated it. It's super cute, in fact, their whole house is, and I love the yard too. The kids also loved spending time with Ryan and Amy as they read them books, a favorite past time for my babes.
Wednesday we went to the Georgia Aquarium, which to say is awesome, is an understatement as far as aquariums in general are concerned. It is the world's largest aquarium as it holds somewhere around 8 million gallons of water in its tanks. The marine life was beautiful and breath taking and it was really fun to show the kids all the different animals. Gabe really loved the slide that was made to be like sliding down the inside of a whale where you come out its mouth, and he loved touching the sting rays. Hannah liked watching Gabe do things and looking at all the pretty fish, but I think her favorite part was browsing the gift shop afterward. They have some great, but pricey stuffed animals there. We went home and grilled up some brats and dogs and just enjoyed an evening in.
Thursday, I had the pleasure of seeing one of my best friends, Jennifer, who currently lives in Georgia with her husband, Sterling, and two kids, Ethan and Elise. It was fun watching our children play together and getting to talk about the joys of motherhood. It made me really wish I lived in Georgia and got to spend more time with her and her sweet little family. Later that day Ryan, Amy, and Tessa came over and Jasen and Ryan left for their game while Amy and I and the kids had fun at the house. I got some much appreciated quality time with Amy. Simply put, Amy is one of my most favorite people on earth. I am overjoyed to have her as a member of my family and proud to get to claim her as such.
Friday we had a fun last pool day in Georgia, then I cleaned out our car so we'd have a fresh vehicle for our trip back to Utah while the kids and Jasen napped. Ryan and Amy came over later and then we all headed over to my Uncle Brad and Aunt Karen's mansion...just kidding...I think you have to have a butler to be considered a mansion, other than that I think it qualifies. It's a beautiful home in a beautiful neighborhood. It's so awesome that they were able to join my mom, Jamie and Lisa and be the fourth Perkins family in Fayette County. I think Darryl should be next. We packed up when we got home. And woke up Saturday and journeyed back to Utah.
Although our stay was cut short with mom and dad, luckily they were waiting for us at our house in Payson. The kids were thrilled by this perfect ending to their vacation and of course so was I. We spent Monday with them at the Shops at Riverwoods in Provo. We played in a unique toy store called Blickenstaff's where Grandma Kathy bought the kids real lollypops, not just suckers, but actual lollypops; they were their firsts. Also, we looked at some really interesting churchy stuff at Zions Mercantile Co. Then we played at the Provo Beach Resort which is kind of like a fancy Chuck E. Cheese's only without the disgusting pizza, and it's also a hotel. Gabe and Hannah rode a carousel and then played arcade type games to win tickets and then they cashed in for some cheesy but fun little "prizes". After that we went to see Grandpa Perkins and visited with Brad and Karen too, who were there for Gene's funeral. I love my grandpa so much. I love that he gets so much joy being around, interacting with, or just hearing about his grandchildren and great grandchildren, and I'm always so happy to see his face light up when he sees Gabe and Hannah. After visiting with grandpa, we went back home and Jasen grilled carne asada for us as a send off meal for mom and dad. They left early in the morning, and we too left Tuesday morning to head up to Idaho for Jasen's Grandpa Max's funeral. At this point, all of Jasen's grandpas have passed. I am honored and pleased that I got to know two of them. Although my relationships with both Grandpa Stromberg and Grandpa Max were short-lived, I felt loved and welcomed by both of them and I personally will miss them both. Grandpa Max's funeral service was lovely and it was evident that he was much loved. I was happy to be there for Grandma Pat, who I love dearly and admire.
We spent Tuesday night with Jasen's parents. Doug grilled out burgers and dogs and then treated everyone to shakes at Charley's. Afterward, Jasen, the kids, and I went over to Katelyn and Jordan's new apartment in Logan. We love them and although they're not in Provo anymore, we visit Logan often enough that I feel we'll still get to see them regularly. Wednesday we had a great time at Willow Park and Zoo and then ate at Logan's Firehouse Pizza- so yummy! We went home, had nap time, and then Doug grilled out some delicious bbq chicken for dinner. After dinner Jasen and I packed up and we went home to Payson where we plan to stay for a good long while.
Well that concludes my vacation saga. Now please enjoy this dump load of pictures...