Another Grand Family Trip…

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008 | Food

…in which I talk about our recent trip up to Arkansas for Thanksgiving.

Yet another grand adventure with the family transpired last week. We were so excited to take Ansel up to see his grandparents, great-grandparents, and other family, since he’s been walking, babbling, and just all around loaded to the gills with cuteness. We left out of Denton on Wednesday and made the 8+ hour drive up to West Memphis. Ansel didn’t do as well as he as in the past. He hardly slept at all on the way up, and for the most part grumped and fussed. He was simply not in the mood to be in his car seat for that long. On the occasions where we stopped and were able to get out for a bit, he was even more resistant to go back in. I felt sorry for the little guy, but he was just not happy about the trip.

We did, however, get there safely but unfortunately ran into our first snag almost immediately. We called Jeremy and Christy to check on their status and found out that there was a problem at our regular hotel. When we arrived, it turned out that the reservation that Christy had made a month in advance had been lost and they had no free rooms. We bitched, complained, and basically made a protest in the lobby before finally going out to find another hotel. I used my internet phone to search around and find some other hotels with names we recognized and the first one that came up was a Holiday Inn. I called and they said they could give us the adjoined rooms. We suspected, rightfully, that the price would be really high and were prepared to walk out and find another place if it was too much (even though my dad was paying for it all, we didn’t want to break the bank on the hotel).

When we got over there, they told us the rooms were $120 a night, each. We nearly choked, apologized for wasting their time and started walking out when I decided I’d at least ask about any discounts. I explained that we were visiting for the holidays and that the Red Roof Inn had lost our reservation and we were pretty much without a place to stay for the weekend. To my surprise, the clerk offered us the military rate (which wasn’t completely inappropriate, we were visiting my grandfather who has a solid military background) which turned out to be only a little bit more than we had originally planned to spend. Since we were desperate, we decided the slight overage was fine and we took the rooms. While we thanked her and filled out paperwork, she explained the amenities. Jeremy and I admitted to the girls later that we weren’t even paying attention because we’re not used to having amenities.

Upon getting to the rooms, however, we realized that this was a much nicer place than we’d ever stayed in before. The flat screen TVs were the first real sign that we were in a more expensive hotel, let alone the comfortable beds, the down comforters, and the overall cleanliness of the rooms and baths. We got all of our stuff out of the cars, packed everyone back in Jeremy and Christy’s new seven-seater and headed out to the house, with a slight detour by Kroger for beer and coffee creamer (since the rooms even had coffee makers). At the house, we greeted everyone, had some dinner, showed off the babies, and visited for a while before finally heading back to the hotel for the night.

Thanksgiving day, we rolled out of bed in a leisurely manner and headed out to the house with no great haste. We knew that breakfast would be sparse and that dinner would be in the early afternoon, so we felt no need to rush. Of course, when we showed up and started eating breakfast scraps at 11am, we were interrogated and accused of eating too close to dinner. What are we, twelve?

Ansel took a solid nap and we actually had to wake him up for Thanksgiving dinner. I was so looking forward to him getting to try everything and seeing how he liked the big meal. I got him a little bit of everything and he was really enjoying his food. I missed out on some of the goods because I chose to feed him first and some things ran out. I thank Jeremy for the bite of molasses ginger salmon that my uncle, the gourmet, brought. I almost missed out on the Jello salad as well because for some reason, instead of being out on the buffet with all the other food, it was on the “adults” table. Yes, there was an “adult” table and a “kids” table… Though to be fair, the “kids” are all getting old enough that it should just be called the “third and fourth generation” table. I didn’t think it was quite fair, however, to put all the food on the kitchen counter as a buffet, except for the rolls and the Jello. I didn’t even realize I’d missed them until I noticed someone else was eating rolls and had to ask where they were. They were both almost gone by the time I got to them. Good thing I fed my baby first, right? If I had wanted to eat, I should have left him alone and grumpy. Gripes aside, however, the food was excellent and I ate so much that I couldn’t even think of dessert. I’m not sure I even ate any, that day.

We finished up the evening with a viewing of our new extended cut of Hancock. I have to say, I think I liked the theatrical version better because there’s a whole sequence with a prostitute that feels out of place and completely unnecessary. I’m not sure why the put it back in, but its there and we can’t really avoid it, so we’ll have to live to accept it. Honestly, though, its just an attempt at adding some toilet humor and kind of takes you away from the pace of the movie.

Friday, after a big pancake breakfast provided by my aunt, we wanted to give my grandparents a bit of a break from all the chaos so we decided to go to the Memphis Zoo. Dad kind of invited himself, but we understood how he was feeling (about the same as the rest of us) and had no problem with him coming along. We tried to pay for the tickets to get in, but he wouldn’t let us. We couldn’t complain about it too much, though, he saved us $26 per couple and was already paying for the hotel.

Changing Table/Dresser
I had planned ahead of time to make sure that Ansel saw the lions, tigers, elephants and giraffe… the things with which his room is decorated. Fortunately, the cat habitat is right by the entrance, so the animal we knew Ansel would recognize best was the first thing we got to see. The lions were a bit tough to see, but even still, ever cat he could lay eyes on, he would point to excitedly and say “Tat!” He’s been working on saying tiger at home, but I think he was just too overwhelmed to say anything more specific. You could tell he loved seeing the big cats all roaming around and acting like house cats.

Ansel and the Offending Sheep
We were also excited to see Ansel enjoy petting the animals in the farm area. He’s grown so accustomed to the dog and cats at our house, and even the pets at other people’s houses, that we thought he’d just love the farm animals. We started at the sheep pen and he was having a great time just leaning against the slated fence staring at the sheep. A curious lamb came trotting up to Ansel and sniffed his nose. This, unfortunately, freaked his shit out! From that point on, he would have nothing to do with any of the farm animals. We couldn’t put him down, we couldn’t let the animals get anywhere near hem, he wouldn’t touch them, pet them, and would hardly even look at them. We felt sorry for him, but it was pretty hilarious. All the while, however, Isaac is over there petting, pulling, and picking the noses of every animal that gets near him.

Eventually, he fell asleep, but we woke him up again for the Elephants. They were pretty active, but he didn’t seem to really pay them any attention. He did, however seem to perk up when we got to the giraffe. All in all, the zoo was fun, but it did start out warm and got noticeably colder over the few hours that we were there, and even though I thought to bring a sweatshirt, Heather did not, and she ended up wearing mine the whole time. We drove back to the house with two babies happily napping.

That evening, we actually got to go out to dinner while the babies stayed home with the grandparents, great-grandparents, and a great-aunt. We had no idea where we were going to go, but we had a cunning plan. We wanted to go to a kind of bar and grill, but didn’t want to go to some national chain. I decided that they never put an Applebees in a crappy part of town, so I started by browsing on Google Maps a little ways into Memphis and did a search for Applebees. Then, once I found one, I did a second search for “bar and grill” in the same location. We found a couple and decided to go check them out. The first one was closed, but the second one looked really nice. It was a place called Boscoe’s, which didn’t really strike a chord until we were walking up to it and Christy says, “I think we’ve been here before, not last time, but the time before that!” We all kind of paused and realized that, yes, in fact we had been there before, back in 2004. Fortunately, we all remembered it being really good, so we went on and got seated not at the same table, but at a table directly diagonal from the table we sat at last time. We had some beers (and wine), ate some great food, had an unnecessary desert, and generally made a great night of it. It was good that we did so, because it turns out that Ansel pretty much cried for the entire time we were gone. I was sad for Ansel and felt sorry for everyone who had to deal with it… but hey, what’s family for.

Saturday was pretty much our lazy day. Other than eating too much, too often, and watching the old home movies of my grandparents and all their crazy adventures, nothing really remarkable transpired. IT was mostly just a day for visiting. I’d seen all the home movies before, but watching them again and having everyone talk about the people, places, and events was really nice and having Heather and Ansel there to experience it made it even better.

Finally, on Sunday, we were ready to head home. We packed everything up and left the room keys behind. True to their word, the hotel gave us a wickedly good rate and we left happy with our stay. We made one last visit to the house to grab some breakfast and say our final goodbyes. We had already planned to meet up with Matt and Angela in the Little Rock, Hot Springs, Malvern area, so we called to finalize our plans and things got a bit complicated. Heather and I were ready for lunch (or would be by the time we met up) and Matt and Angela were more in a breakfast mode, so we had to find some place to eat brunch. After much deliberating about local favorites, we finally decided a good old Cracker Barrel was the solution. It’s always interesting to meet up with friends miles and miles from home. After lunch, and a bit of stressful fuel-up, we were on the road and headed home.

All in all, it was a good trip. Now that Ansel’s getting so much older and more active, he’s a thrill to show off. He’s getting so smart and interesting, that’s he’s just a joy to take places, show off, and watch him experience things. We’re really looking forward to Christmas for the same reason. I’m hoping he understands gifts a little more this time around. He’s not much older than he was for his birthday, but he’s so much more curious, he may do a little better at opening gifts. Regardless, it should be another good trip and I’m excited to share his wonder.

Three days of writing, and I’m finally done…

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