Christmas 2011, or 4,811 miles in 12 days

Boston — Atlanta — Denver: 2,149 miles
We finished our packing early the night before (11 p.m. as opposed to after midnight), and the next morning our friends John and Erin were kind enough to drive us to the airport. Our flight left at 8:30 a.m. instead of our usual 6 a.m. cheapest option, we had a sit down lunch in the Atlanta airport, and our second flight was only delayed an hour despite the big snowstorm in Denver. Aside from my seat's lack of padding, the falling airplane interior wall panels, and window shade that wouldn't stay up, it was the smoothest trip home in a while.

SNOW...FINALLY!!! if only our flight wasn't delayed for an hour

Denver — Bennett — IKEA — Goodland: 269 miles
While waiting in Atlanta, Ian confirmed with Ren, chauffeur/brother, that we could detour to IKEA to pick up frames for some Advent Conspiracy art we planned to gift. Ren offered to do even better: little Sweden was on his way so he could pick up the frames for us. Ian texted the style and price before we boarded the plane. Ren met us at the airport with the frames, then the plan was to continue on to Bennett, meet up with their cousin Ryan, and then drive on home. Until we realized Ian forgot to tell Ren the most important detail for frame procurement: dimensions. We dropped Ren off with Ryan in Bennett, then drove back to IKEA where we made the most of our frame-exchange delay by indulging in Swedish meatballs and lingonberry jam while recounting our favorite childhood Christmas memories.

Two hours later than originally planned, family and cats greeted us with open arms. The next two days were filled with family photos, good food, and quality time. Since we aren't home often, we've got to make it count. (And thanks Grandma Judy, for driving down from Smith County to spend time with us!)

dinner @ the scherling house

Goodland — Dodge City: 193 miles
We packed up again and right after the Christmas Eve service, we headed down to Dodge. Yes, the same one as "get the heck outta." Despite missing a few people (Jim, Syd, and Karla) we had a great Christmas planned. Presents in our pajamas, football, basketball, and prime rib.

xmas in dodge city...gotta love it

We timed the meat for dinner at 4 p.m. And right at 3:50 p.m., Grandma Marilyn fell. She tripped on the desk in the spare bedroom and hurt her shoulder (we found out later that night it was a compression fracture). Dane, Debbie, and Susan rushed Grandma to the hospital while the rest of us held down the fort. Which also involved taking care of Adam, who had just come down with a stomach bug. We ended up eating dinner in two shifts, and doing a lot of furniture moving to accommodate Grandma. She felt so bad for "ruining" Christmas, but we were just glad we were there to help out (Grandma, we're so thankful you're doing better!).

Dodge City — Oakley: 134 miles
After all the excitement in Dodge, we were thankful for some low key time with my family, which involved Settlers of Catan, Creatures, a cute new sandwich shop, Mexican food, and Sherlock Holmes 2.


And not that I didn't like my family before, but the older we get, the more fun it is to be together. Maybe it's because we don't see each other that often, maybe it's because I'm no longer the bossy big sister (right guys?), maybe it's because Mom and Dad are more relaxed, or maybe growing up is making all of our age differences irrelevant. Whatever the reason, we had a blast playing games and catching up on life.

Oakley — Farm: 255 miles
After a few relaxing days in Oakley, we were back on the road, on our way to Grandma's farm. We paused in Hays for lunch at Freddy's to meet up with a high school friend, and arrived at our destination by late afternoon.

clouds over kansas

I could wax poetic about Kansas. How I've missed the vast plains, the endless sky, the countless stars, the quiet, the fields of wheat stubble speckled with cows, the simple life. I appreciate the opportunities Boston affords us, but it's grounding to visit your roots every so often.

After dinner, we opened presents; because Grandma said, "well, I s'pose we'd just as well get it out of the way." And I choked up when I opened the cd set from Aunt Coleen, Uncle Eldred, Brian, and Ellen. All of Grandpa's cassette tapes recording his WWII stories are now in a digital format.

We stuffed ourselves on dinner, served on the good dishes. I could live on potato sausage and rhubarb pie. We watched How to Train Your Dragon, answered trivia questions with Grandma's 1966 encyclopedia set (old-school Google), looked through old photos, and wandered around the farm.

the witching hour

Farm — Manhattan — Topeka — KC: 198 miles
Saturday morning we woke up bright and early: Nathan had a 1 p.m. wedding to attend in Topeka, and he was our ride. We stopped in Manhattan for 1.5 hours while Nathan dressed up and repacked. Enough time to see Uncle Jim for 10 minutes, see Jordan and meet his lovely fiancee in 5 minutes, and sit down for breakfast and hot beverages (made by Steve, the best barista ever) at Bluestem Bistro with Britni and Joe. After two years, it was great to catch up in person.

We picked up Nathan, met Winston (best dog ever), left Nathan in Topeka with Sara to attend the wedding, and headed on to Kansas City for our anniversary. Our first stop was the new Kauffman Center, then we wandered the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art (with free special exhibit tickets and parking thanks to our MFA membership), had dinner at Aixois thanks to Nathan and Caleb's Christmas gift, drove around to see a few Sasaki projects in KC, and spent the night at the Southmoreland on the Plaza (for the third time, honeymoon and first anniversary being our previous stays).

spending the anniversary with my gorgeous wife, noguchi, kiley, and holl

KC — Atlanta — Boston: 1,613 miles
In the morning, we had a fantastic breakfast, walked around the Plaza, and then headed downtown to meet Nathan and Sara for lunch. It was so fun to get to know Sara and talk shop with both of them. After lunch, Megan picked us up and we hung out at Starbucks before heading to Karen and Jeremy's for the night. Our generous hosts even made us curry for dinner and waffles for breakfast before driving us to the airport (on their own anniversary, I might add).

Home again, Home again, Jiggity-jig

Two uneventful flights later (and free checked bags thanks to a full first flight), we were home again. Unpacked and in bed by 11 p.m., even.

We are so blessed to have such wonderful and generous friends and family. To everyone who hosted us, drove us around, and took the time to see us, thank you. You make it worth the miles.

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