Thanksgiving in Utah

For the first time, we went to Utah for Thanksgiving. David's brother Jamie and his family live near Salt Lake City, which is about 24 hours' drive from Indiana - still far, but nicer than 36 hours to California. His sisters in San Francisco and Reno drove together to meet us there, and we rented a house with them and their families. Grandma and Grandpa Harper flew up from California, and David's other brother Cary and his family were there as well, because his wife has some family in that area. 

We rented a Chevy Suburban for the trip. Our Sienna is fine for day to day driving, but we worry about taking it on very long trips. The Suburban was gigantic, and got terrible gas mileage (we averaged about 16mpg), but didn't have any more cargo space than our Sienna, and the third row of seats was as cramped or possibly more cramped than the third row in our van. But it was nice to drive a brand new automobile, nonetheless. We split the driving into two days - leaving at 3:00 a.m. on the Monday before Thanksgiving and driving until 7p.m., spending the first night in Sidney, Nebraska, at a hotel. We ate at a place called Runza, which turned out to be not so great. The hotel was nice though. The next day we finished Nebraska, then went through Wyoming and into Utah, arriving at the rental house on Tuesday night. 

David's sisters Bethany and Molly, with Molly's daughter Audrey, at the Salt Lake rental house

The house was pretty nice and had plenty of space for our three families. We'd never used vrbo before so this was a new experience. The next day, we went to Uncle Jamie and Aunt Karmel's house to just hang out for awhile. The cousins enjoyed playing video games together, and later in the day, almost everyone was taking part in a massive game of Telestrations. 

Cousins: Brandon, Truman, Benjamin, and Bella

On Thursday morning, we decided to visit Temple Square before going back over to visit cousins and eat a Thanksgiving meal. Downtown SLC around Temple Square was surprisingly empty, and we had no trouble parking or getting around. We enjoyed the gigantic life sized nativity display, and went inside the visitor's center for a little while too. This was my third time and the kids' second time visiting Temple Square. 

Thanksgiving was fun, and Jamie and Karmel spoiled us all with a huge spread of deliciousness. We all felt a food coma coming on after we ate. Before we left, we walked over to a nearby park and got a big group photo. 

from front: Truman, Penny, Benjamin, Melissa
Bethany, Bella, Sharon, Charlie, Molly & Audrey,
David, Heather, Darren, Tammy, Ali, Cary, Brandon,
Karmel, Jamie, & Jessica (Chaz not pictured)

We left Salt Lake the following afternoon (after stopping for some yummy Indian food) and drove down to Provo to visit our friends Sage & Curtis. We spent the night with them in their big schmancy new house, and cut out of town early the next morning. We took a different route on the way home, driving 8 hours on Saturday to Denver, Colorado, then 16 hours on Sunday from Denver to home. During the drive on Sunday, Penny started to cough. That started about 3 p.m. By 4 p.m. when we stopped at a gas station, she had a pretty high fever. I didn't have a thermometer with me, but my mommy-mometer said it was high. She also cried, just in general, in that heartbreaking, "I feel horrible" way that only little children can. We gave her some ibuprofen but were getting very worried about the cough, because of her asthma. We did not bring her inhalers or nebulizer because she hasn't needed them in about a year. By the time we reached St. Louis we thought seriously about going to an ER, but we knew we had albuterol at home (three hours away) and were weighing sitting in a germ ridden ER on a holiday weekend for several hours, or just trying to make it home instead. We decided to try to make it home. We were doing a lot of praying during those last few hours of the trip, and even though Penny tried to sleep, we kept waking her to make sure she was okay (much to her irritation). We got home about 9 p.m., exactly 16 hours after we'd left Denver, which means we went faster than anticipated because we did stop numerous times. I think we drove about 90mph all the way across Illinois. When we got home, we gave her more fever medicine and a treatment with the nebulizer. When she woke up on Monday morning, she was much better, but we kept her home from co-op classes just to be safe. 

We decided we've had enough of these ultra-long car trips, at least for a very long time. David loves his family, but these trips are exhausting (physically and financially). We're going to stay put for awhile.


  1. That is a HUGE adventure! You guys are seriously brave.


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