17; The Birthday of My Dreams – Part Three


Anne-Marie’s Notes: I am so very excited to have my daughter, Lindsey, graciously writing some guest posts for my blog about our 2009 AZ Trip. Of course, no arm twisting was needed for the talented author to compile the tale.

If you have not already, you might want to read the Adoption Story to get a better understanding of our relationship.

The Trip : Day #3; ????????? (if you count the “?”s carefully, you will notice that there are nine of them – one for each person in our party)

On the evening of May 31st, after our hike, Anne-Marie had called and said that Danni was unwell with the sickies. By the morning of June 1st, Nate had also come down with the sickies. So…Anne-Marie stayed at the hotel with the Munchies. As to what Mom, Dad, Allie and I did…well, that shall remain a mystery! Bwah hah hah hah hah! : )

The Trip – Day #4; The Multi-Destination Adventure (Sedona – GC – Flagstaff)

After all of the last minute packing details, we were finally on the road to Flagstaff. We were very sad to say “good-bye” to Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon, but the next adventure had just begun. We were departing the first phase of our journey and entering into the second. As we drove up the mountain on Highway 89A toward Flagstaff, I listened to Take Me Home, Country Road on my iRiver while Allie called her Mom. Leaving Oak Creek Canyon meant cell phone reception!

With the Shaffers in tow, we headed up the switchback highway toward Flag. Allie hung up with her Mom, and we started listening to Prince Caspian soundtrack.

At the top of the hill, we pulled off into a viewing area. The Munchies parked two cars away. They began to walk toward the viewing point. Mom, Dad, Allie and I followed. The minute the Munchies became aware of our presence, they were upon us. After the usual amount of “hellos”, we continued to the viewing point. Nate has this thing where, when he really wants something, he will beg in the most pathetic tone possible. He widens his eyes and looks so pitiful that you think he’ll die if he doesn’t get what he wants. It really cracks me up.

No sooner were we at the viewing point then the begging began. “Can I pleeeeeeeeaaaaaaasssse borrow your camera? Pleeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaasssssssssssssseeeeeeeeee? Pleeeeeeeaaaaaassssseeee? Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaassssssssssssssssssssssssseeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee?”
Allie handed Nate her camera. “Put the loop around your wrist.” She later told me that she was nervous that Nate would drop it over the cliff. But he did take some really cool pictures!

We hung around for awhile, then departed for our main destination – the Grand Canyon. Oh yes, did I mention that we all (nine of us to be exact) were going to pay a quick little visit to the Grand Canyon before we headed to Flagstaff? Yeah, it was kinda out of the way, and three out of nine of us [Dad, Mom and me] had already seen it more than once, but at least one of the nine of us [Nate] really wanted to see it, and another one of the nine of us [Allie] had been there but didn’t remember anything about it except for the clinic she had to visit because of her strep throat. (Anne-Marie’s interjection: I’ve also been to Grand Canyon more than once.)

With no strep throat or any other illnesses in sight, we made our way up to the canyon entrance. Allie was clearly excited. For the sake of my mother’s pride, I will not tell you how we managed to get into the park for free. We drove on, down the road leading into the park. Dead trees mingled with living trees lined the road like an eerie wall. Then finally, we saw it! Occasionally through the broken trees could be seen patches of red, yellow, and even purple rock.

I tapped Allie on the shoulder and pointed. “Allie…welcome to the Grand Canyon.” A smile exploded onto her face. She seemed to become a young child again, visiting the Grand Canyon with her parents and brothers for the first time. Who really cared if we were just a surrogate family? She was here!

We pulled into a viewing point and unloaded the kids. The girls were delegated to us, while the boys were delegated to Anne-Marie and Mom. Dad avoided us as much as possible. Helena instantly came up to me, holding out her hand for me to take it. “I want to go with you, Lindsey.” Danni clung to Allie’s hand. Although my sister and my best friend had only known each other for four days, Danni had taken an obvious liking to Allie.

We made our way into the visitor’s center. All of our eyes popped when we saw the huge observation window. The kids eagerly crowded up to the window. They stared in amazement at the wonder of the canyon. Gabe snapped a few pictures.

After having been overloaded with canyon beauty, the Munchies turned to face the visitor’s center. Their eyes popped once again as they rushed toward the large model of the canyon – Helena and Danni dragging me and Allie along with them. They marveled at it, running their little fingers along the “rivers”.

“Where are we?” Gabe asked. I came up along side him and pointed. “Right here.”

Slowly the Munchies lost interest in the model of the canyon, and one by one made their way into the visitor’s center – a miniature museum of sorts. The place was crawling with evolution. Everything as far as the eye could see said “millions and billions of years ago” in one form or another. But this deceptive information went right over the heads of the Munchies. Ignoring the googols of years, they approached and touched every display they were interested in.

Helena led me to a rock which hung from the wall. The caption read “Start the Half Time Clock. Measuring Deep Time”, and an arrow pointed to a little red button. Anne-Marie pushed the button. To our surprise, oodles of lights burst from the rock like a constellation in the sky. Half the lights went off. Then half of that half, and so on and so forth until the whole rock was once again dark.
I rolled my eyes. Oh great. More evolution. “It’s evolutionary,” I told Anne-Marie.
She looked surprised. “Oh really?”
“Yeah,” I explained as best as I could from what I remembered from my scientific studies, “It’s something to do with the amount of oxygen in the rock. [Evolutionists] think that rocks lose half of their oxygen over a long period of time.”
“Actually,” Allie stated, coming up behind us with Danni in tow, “it’s the amount of carbon.” She pointed to the sign. “It says so right there.”
I did know that! It had just escaped my mind! But, I know where to give credit when credit it due. “Thank you,” I said to Allie.

Helena was inspired. She pushed the button, causing the rock to light up again. “Wow,” she said in ecstasy, “The rock sparkles. I didn’t know they did that!”

Finally she led us away to the other side of the room, to a wall display of trilobites and other such supposedly extinct creatures.

Then they saw it. Another observation window facing the canyon. Gabe snapped pictures like a mad man. Helena was inspired.
“Can I use your camera?” Helena asked Allie, in the most pleading tone of voice she could muster.

Allie looked nervous. “Sure,” she replied, handing Helena her camera, “Put the loop around your wrist.”

Within several minutes, Allie’s camera lost pictures as Helena went mad, spastically taking pictures of everything she could focus the camera on.

As we headed outside to the multiple viewing points, I took hold of Allie’s camera. “Let me hold that for you, Helena .”
“No,” Helena said, pulling the camera away, “I can carry it.”
“Let me carry it outside for you,” I offered.

The kids ran to the guard wall and leaned over the edge. These guard walls are only about two, maybe three feet tall, so I have no idea how that’s supposed to save a loose 5-10 year old from falling to his/her doom. Mom, Anne-Marie, Allie and I pulled them back.

They stared in awe at the canyon. “Those are mountains!” one of the Munchies exclaimed, pointing to the rock formations. “Look at the mountains.” I couldn’t help laughing.

We walked on, visiting viewing point after viewing point. Then we saw the death trap…a lookout point situated on a cliff, jutting out over the canyon, only surrounded by a piddly chain link fence. There is no way the Munchies are going down there!

“Why don’t we watch the kids,” Mom offered, “and you and Allie go down there and take some pictures.” Taking her camera away from Helena, Allie and I made our way to the viewing point. Dad was already down there when we arrived. We walked up to the rail and gazed over into the overwhelmingly deep canyon. One thing you must know about me at this point is that I have morbid acrophobia. So now, standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon (for only the fourth time in my short life) with only a piece of chain link fence between me and a plunge to my doom, I started getting vertigo and stepped back.

“I’m having vertigo,” I said out loud.
Allie heard me. “Oh no!” She exclaimed. “Just don’t look down.” She turned me around. “Look at your Dad.” She wrapped her arm protectively around my shoulders. “You’re going to be all right, Lindsey.” That much I did know.

(Anne-Marie’s 2nd interjection: After Lindsey & Allie returned, at her mom’s suggestion, I took the Munchies, one at a time, down to the launch point of doom lookout point while someone snapped a photo of each one clinging to the chain link fence.)

Lunch rolled around and the kids were ready to go. So we packed up and headed to a wooded area to eat our sandwich lunches. I tapped Allie on the shoulder. “Are you tempted?”
“By what?” Allie asked me.
I pointed to a nearby tree. Allie chuckled. She was an avid tree-climber, but wasn’t about to climb a tree on this trip.

We took up two tables; Mom, Dad and Anne-Marie took up one table, and Nate, Helena , Danni , Allie and myself took up the other. That’s when the trouble started. Gabe claimed not to be hungry and ran off through the woods. We called to him to come and sit down, but he pretended not to hear us.

After lunch, we let the kids run around. While Allie hung with Nate and Danni , I ran after Helena , who was chasing after the ever-rebellious Gabe. From what I understand, he hit her. She went crying to Anne-Marie. He went tearing off in the other direction. I returned to Allie, Nate and Danni , keeping Gabe in sight.

Nate led Danni and myself on a walk across some logs which lay around. Then it was time to go.

“Gabe!” Anne-Marie called to him. “Come on! We’re leaving!”
He ignored her and headed into a nearby graveyard. I’m not usually afraid of graveyards, but this one just creeped me out. It looked like an old Indian graveyard, and who knew what creepy things might be lurking in there.
“Gabe,” I called, “please come back, for me!”
He ignored me. I ran toward him, just as he entered the graveyard. Oh great! It’s just another one of my paranoia’s – old Indian graveyards.
I prayed for God to give me courage and then headed into the graveyard. It was like walking into a Spiderwick Chronicle book.
I quickened my pace to catch Gabe. He started running.
“Gabe,” I shouted angrily, “get back here right now!”
I took him by the arm and led him from the graveyard, gripping his arm tightly to prevent him from escaping.
“Why are you mad?” Gabe asked me.
Had I been acting mad? “It’s nothing,” I replied.

We piled back in our respective vehicles and headed south toward Flagstaff. Allie and I listened to more Adventures in Odyssey, occasionally glancing back over our shoulders to make sure Anne-Marie was still following us.

Finally, the tall peaks of Mt. Humphreys – the tallest mountain in AZ – appeared in the distance. To me it seemed big. To Allie (being from Oregon) it seemed small. But to the Munchies it seemed huge, immense, titanic, gigantic, colossal, elephantine, monstrous, humungous, and gargantuan! They were impressed.

Dad led Anne-Marie to our hotel – the Little America. We had stayed here many times before, but for Allie, Anne-Marie and the Munchies it was a new adventure! Little did I know it would be a whole new adventure for me too!

We were in building four. We had three consecutive rooms on the top floor; Anne-Marie and the Munchies in 404, Allie and me in 406, and Dad and Mom in 408. It was great! Later that week I would manage to carry a toaster from Anne-Marie’s room to Allie and my room on my head! That’s how close we were.

Pigtail Problems

Once we were all settled in, we headed out with Anne-Marie and the Munchies for the In The Pines family restaurant. We walked along the path, passing the pool area and the hot tub. The kids couldn’t wait to go in, but we told them we’d go swimming tomorrow after our hike.
We walked on. After a while we came to a fork in the path. The path to the left led toward the main hotel building, and the path to the right led to a dining area. We paused.

“Which way are we supposed to go?” Anne-Marie asked.
“This way,” I said, pointing to the left. “I can see a restaurant through the window there.” I pointed to a large window, through which we could see tables, chairs, and a bar.
“That doesn’t look very family friendly,” Mom commented. “I think it’s this way.”
Mom led us down the path to the right, up the stairs and through a door. We found ourselves standing in a fine dining room – totally not family friendly.
Several of the staff people – dressed in lacy tops and black pants – looked up at us, obviously scared that we were going to eat there.
“Where is the family dining?” Mom asked.
“Around the corner,” answered one of the staff people, pointing in the general direction of the way I wanted to go. Lindsey’s correct…once again.

I led them out and around to the family friendly dining area. The hostess led us to a long table and we sat down. The waitress came and handed out the menus. She gave Allie an adult menu, then she turned to me.

“Would you like a kid’s menu or…?” she asked. “How old are you?”
“I’d like the adult menu, please,” I replied. “I’m seventeen.”
She looked embarrassed and handed me an adult menu.
“Why did she think I was a kid?” I asked Allie once she’d gone.
“It could be your pigtails,” Allie replied. “They make you look younger.”
Up to this point, I hadn’t thought about my pigtails. Yeah, I’d had my hair in pigtails all day, but it had never occurred to me that my hair could’ve affected how old I looked. I took my hair out as the waitress returned.

“Can I get you anything?” the waitress asked.
“Excuse me,” I asked, “how old did you think I was?”
She thought. “I don’t know,” she replied. “Fifteen, maybe.”
I knew she was lying. The kid’s menu clearly states “for 10 and under”.



Haven’t read the 4 segments of Part One?: Preface, The Meeting, The Long Expected Party, & The Adventure.

And Part Two

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One thought on “17; The Birthday of My Dreams – Part Three

  1. Pingback: 17; The Birthday of My Dreams – Part Four « The Mom-O-Sphere

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