My dad could not make it for the entire trip, so driving up it was my mom, my brother Kurtis, and my three sisters and me. Driving for 13 hours isn't the most fun thing in the world when you have a packed van and no hours of sleep. Yeah, we left at about 7 PM. We arrived at the grandparents at about nine in the morning. (Utah is one hour ahead of California time.)
My Grandpa was scheduled for chemotherapy on that same day, I believe. My grandma and my uncle Boyd took him to get the treatment only a couple hours after we arrived. Most of my family spent the day napping intermittently and hanging out.
Utah, as a whole, is a weird and unsettling place. I seriously do not know how my parents were able to live there when they were younger. Basically every female person you see between the ages of 20 and 30 is pregnant, or has a trail of children following her. This is very different from California where we have sort of strict social code that children have their place to be -- playing in parks, playing with their friends in the neighborhood, you know, places where children are welcome -- and not everywhere. Seriously, one day, my sisters and I went to a movie, and sitting right next to us was a woman who brought her three-month old baby with her. (Fortunately for us, the baby was extremely well behaved; I think I heard a little baby squeak only once during the entire movie.)
In Utah, coffee houses actually go out of business. We saw a couple of abandoned coffee places. The beer they have is "Utah beer"; known for its weak alcoholic content. Every single fast food restaurant (weirdly, including the lone Starbucks I saw) has a drive-through. People -- complete strangers -- will approach you and start up conversations like it's completely normal. Every Target, Wal-Mart, and Kmart in the vicinity is either "super" or "big," meaning that it has groceries there as well.
The people you meet may seem soft-spoken and genuinely nice, but wait till you see the same people when they are driving. This is where Utahns throw their manners out the window and become the meanest people you will ever know. My dad says that this happens because Utahns feel that on the road is the only time they are really allowed to be "bad." And, boy, does it ever come pouring out.
So much of Utah is totally insane. It's hard to feel rested or at peace while you're there. The landscape is pretty, though. The mountains are beautiful, and the weather is not completely horrid, even though I do prefer California weather. Utah was so dry that my nose holes hurt most of the time.
I hope my sister Kristine does okay at BYU. My aunt and uncle are both going there, so that should be a bonus for my sister. (Yeah, my aunt is 22 years old, and just recently became married.) Plus, she has a bunch of California friends there. I'm going to be checking up on her on a regular basis to make sure that everything is peachy keen. Or at least keen.
I saw a lot of my relatives when I visited. I saw both sets of grandparents, a couple of my cousins, and some aunts and uncles. It was great to see the family and to talk to them and catch up.
My grandparents are crazy about playing cards, and a while ago they introduced me to this crazy awesome game called "500," which is now the ultimate of my favorite card games. I always partner with my Grandpa, and we were totally awesome. We stomped every single duo became up against. One of the best games was when we were 500 points behind, but then made an astonishing comeback where we won by 400 points. Rock? Rock! Plus, it was good to win with him since it helped keep his spirits up, and that is important when you're going through chemotherapy.
I saw three movies while I was there: Sky High, The Island and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. The cool thing about Utah is that their dollar theaters are actually only one dollar. (Here in my part of California, we don't even call them "dollar theaters" anymore; to get in during the day costs $2.50 and at night it costs $3.75.) On the particular Tuesday that we went, our tickets only cost $.50 each. Three tickets... $1.50. That is crazy.
Anyhow, all three movies were great. I loved them all for different reasons. Sky High was completely cute, and a movie I think that theanalogkid would greatly enjoy. The Island was superb because of all the pretty. The great and exciting pretty. The story was cool, too. It was an interesting concept, and I think that almost anyone would enjoy it. Sisterhood was great for its emotional impact. I was crying embarrassingly.
Speaking of crying, I did a little bit of that when I said goodbye to Kristine. It was just so sad that we had to leave her there in that crazy insane state. (Sidebar: she got into six California universities, and picked the only out-of-state school she applied to.) I was doing OK, but then Kellie started crying, and I could not stop the giant puddles of tears from leaking out of my face. She says that if she hates it, she is going to apply to Cal State Long Beach in November. I don't know whether to hope that she likes it there, and has a good time, or to wish that she would just be miserable so she could come home.
School started for the sibs on August 10 (Wednesday) while we were still in Utah. My brother endured his first day of school today, and my sister got registered and her first day is tomorrow. My other sister Kellie had her first day of community college today. She said that it was pretty easy, so I'm really happy for her. I'm going with her (to her school) on Wednesday so I can tell her how to get the good grades. I'm actually doing this for my friend Cecilia, as well. She starts school on the 22nd. I start on the 29th.
I also hired someone new to work for me and she starts tomorrow. Her name is Glenna, and she is the oldest of all my attendants. She has 19 grandchildren, and is the mom of one of my sister's friends.
My sister KeriAnn moved back after successfully graduating from massage therapy school. With her comes former classmate Trent, who will be staying in the room we have in the garage. They both have jobs at LaCosta Resort and Spa in Carlsbad, California.