K and I arrived home to the hot soup of Philadelphia yesterday evening, tired but happy to be home. The trip was fun, if emotional at times and I'm happy we went. But merciful heavens, I'm tired. Daycare tomorrow can't come soon enough. I'm working Saturday and Sunday at the museum next weekend, so my next day off where I'm not either working or doing solo childcare doesn't come until nearly two weeks from now. *weeps*
I suppose the best way to sum up the trip is by category:
We lived in Boulder for six months when I was five and my father was on sabbatical. At the time, I was hugely impressed that we could see the mountains from our house, which I didn't quite realize that everyone else in Boulder could do as well.
And really, it hasn't changed. You can bop around Boulder, seeing the landscape that's a bit dry but pretty similar to the Midwest, until you turn your head to the right and: whoa, mountains. It's simply gorgeous out there. We drove into Rocky Moutain National Park the first day, and while mountain driving of the hair-pin curve, roads on sheer cliffs which don't necesarily have barriers type freaks me right out, you can't argue with the view. Short of sticking your thumb in front of the lens, you just can't take a bad picture out there.
Boulder itself is a lovely little city, the epitome of the best a university town has to offer. I would love to live there if not for the high cost of living.
My father's brother lives in Boulder, along with his son and grandson. We also have a great-aunt and cousins living in Fort Collins (the wife and descendants of my grandfather's brother). We got to see quite a lot of my uncle, which was lovely, and a bit of my cousin and his son, who is 13. I haven't seen him since he was about six, but he was a very sweet little boy and has stayed a sweet teenager so far. K absolutely worshipped him and he paid a lot of attention to her.
We only got to see the great-aunt and more distant cousins at the wedding, which meant we didn't get to spend much time talking to them. That was a shame - my father always said they were his favorite relatives, and I can see why. They're just about the nicest people in the world. Kind, welcoming and they're all things like social workers and kindergarten teachers. My Great Uncle David clearly had the right idea when he married Great Aunt Doris, because they had some fantastic kids together.
At the wedding, I was watching people and asked my brother if he had ever wondered what it was like to grow up actually knowing your relatives well. We grew up 1000 miles from one set of relatives and 1500 from the other, and all of our cousins were significantly older than we were. I think that's why we tend to forget how much we fit in with my father's family. We've spent more time with my mother's family, but when we spend time with the Atkinson side, it suddenly becomes clear where our sense of humor comes from, as well as our geekery.
We wound up spreading Dad's ashes in Boulder Creek, standing on a bridge and sprinkling them into the fast-flowing water below (and narrowly avoiding someone floating by). He spent part of his boyhood in Boulder and it's a place he loved, so it feels like an appropriate place. It was sad, especially coming so close to the one-year anniversary of his death, but it was good for us to pass that milestone.
It was odd spending time with my uncle. He looks and sounds very much like my father did, and they have many of the same mannerisms. I didn't realize how much it was hitting me until we went to a Panera for dinner and when my uncle came by with his food, I was momentarily shocked that he had so successfully navigated the menu and ordered his food. The ability to read menus was something that Dad lost fairly early on, and it became automatic for me to step in to help him in restaurants. I guess old instincts die hard.
Well, I spent the week with my child virtually glued to my side (including sharing a bed) and I mostly didn't gnaw my foot off. She did pretty well on the plane and in the category of small mercies, she didn't wake up at 6am every morning despite the time change. One nice thing about her getting older is that I could ask my mother's aide to watch her for short periods without much guilt, since once she's dressed and has a clean diaper, she doesn't need much active supervision beyond preventing her from playing with knives. I also discovered how nice it is to have other people around, since K really enjoyed going into my mother's room to hang out. It makes the idea of a multigenerational house seem pretty good.
It was a good trip, but I'm awfully glad to be home.