Ryan and I are both fortunate to have so many people we love and miss while we are off on our adventures. It is only natural that we would want to see as many of them as possible when we do manage to make our way back to the USA. Holidays are excellent opportunities to get some big hugs, have some good laughs, and make some new memories. Therefore, we often embark on what Ryan has come to call “The Tour de Family.”
Stop #1) Portland, Oregon
My parents moved to Portland about three years ago. They are great lovers of wine and we brought back some Malbec and Torrontes from Argentina for them to try. In return, I hit up Dad for some beef bourguignon and talked Mom into making my favorite taco salad. After all, buddies help their buddies.
Stop #2) Lacey, Washington
My sister and her family have lived in Lacey for seven years now. (How time flies!) I helped her hang her outdoor Christmas lights in the rain because there was no talking her out of it! Then we took my niece Ruby and nephew Theo to get their pictures taken with Santa. They reported that they have been good all year.
Stop #3) Spokane, Washington
I lived with my grandparents and my Uncle Dean while I was attending graduate school in Spokane (at EWU). It was one of the best years of my life and it’s always great to get back to see them, although this trip was a little sad because my grandpa had passed away while Ryan and I were abroad.
This Tour de Family we did things a little differently and I sent Ryan ahead to Wyoming without me so that I could have some special time alone with my Grandma Geri. She gave me an early Christmas present and took me to the “A Christmas Story” musical. She also drove me to the Wellpinit Indian Reservation to visit my great Grandma who everyone calls Nanny. Then Grandma Geri taught me how to make homemade egg noodle soup just like Nanny used to make.
I also got to see my good friend Kym while I was in Spokane. She drove up from Moscow, Idaho to meet me for a lovely afternoon. I took her on a wild adventure trying to find a cafe that was no longer in business (some five years later). Then we enjoyed a little holiday shopping in downtown Spokane.
Stop #4) Colville, Washington
Both of my parents grew up in Colville and much of the family on my dad’s side still lives there. I made a quick trip up there to get hugs from my Aunt Lisa, Uncle Kelly, and my cousins Makayla (along with her fiance Cruz) and Leanna. I also got to see Rick and Janey Kuh, who are some of my family’s dearest friends (and my honorary parents). We didn’t have time to play Settlers this trip, be we got to go for a nice walk.
Stop #5) Riverton, Wyoming
Ryan and I both grew up in Riverton. His immediate family lives there, as well as my brother Jon and sister-in-law Jill, and many of our friends. I built my niece Evie a fort in the living room of Ryan’s parent’s house. Then we decorated a tablecloth with chalk. We also got her all dressed up and took her to see Santa.
While in Riverton, I got to have lunch with many of my work friends. I heard my good friend Laura sing in public for the first time–she was amazing! I also got to watch my friend Amy’s boys (Price and Jesse) play hockey. We froze our little keisters off.
Stop #7) Shoshoni, Wyoming
I stayed with my sister-in-law Kira and her family in Shoshoni for a few days and helped them get ready for the new baby! This meant that I got to help movie Evie into her big-girl’s room upstairs and decorate Dallen’s nursery.
Stop #8) Lovell, Wyoming
Kira and I piled Evie in the car and took her to visit our good friend Cammie (and her family) at their farm in Lovell. Evie played with Brooks and Hayden, and we enjoyed catching up. Evie also got to ride Brooks’s pony (Danny) and catch chickens. She were in hog heaven.
Stop #7) Powell, Wyoming
We stopped in Powell on the way to the cabin to visit Ryan and Kira’s Grandpa Amos, along with their Uncle Mark, Aunt Laurel, and Uncle Fred. Grandpa Amos is 91 years old and he’s sharp as a tack! What an incredible man.
Stop #8) Cody, Wyoming
We all headed up to Ryan’s happy place for Christmas. His grandparent’s cabin (on his mother’s side) is the perfect place to enjoy some snow and snowmobiling and Sheree’s cooking. (She’s amazing!) It was nice to have everyone together for Christmas, including Grandpa Bill and Grandma Lola.
After Christmas, Ryan and I enjoyed New Year’s with my brother and sister-in-law, our parents who had flown down from Portland, and our honorary aunt Sandy at her cabin on Eagle Creek. There were games, good food, and outdoor adventures. I almost forgot how bad I am at cross-country skiing!
Stop #9) Kona, Hawaii
Our last stop of the Tour de Family took us all the way to Kona to visit my grandparents on my father’s side. Grandpa John and Grandma Kay were gone when we went to Colville and we wanted hugs from them as well. They showed us a great time around the big island. It was a wonderful way to begin another year full of adventure.