Wednesday, 23 February 2011

A trip to be remembered

OK, for this story you're going to need to know some names and hopefully you can keep all the characters straight!

Hopefully our family you know already - Nathan & Tammy, Emma (9), Sophia (7), Olivia (5) & Jacob (3)

Nathan is the oldest and his parents are Edmer & Betty.
His younger sister lives in Alberta - Deena & Chris, Colter (5), Baret (3) & Hayden (1)
His youngest sister lives in a town close to us - Linsay & Shaun, Taylor (2)

First, a little background. Deena & Chris met and married in Alberta (yes, at bible bridal college). After a couple years they moved back here where Colter was born. I think they were pregnant with Baret when they moved back to Alberta. When they had been dating and newly married, Nathan and I went out to visit them at least once a year, sometimes twice. However, after they moved back, we told them in no uncertain terms that we were never driving all the way out there to visit them - at least not with the horrible passengers we'd managed to acquire in the meantime.

Never say never right?!

Mom & Dad, Shaun & Linsay have gone out to visit them before, and we've always steadfastly maintained our position, despite the wailings and pleadings of our offspring. I'm not sure what made this year different, but we gradually began to consider it. We finally consented to going out this Christmas, with numerous dire warnings to our children that their behaviour during the drive would be the deciding factor on if there were ever to be a repeat of this trip.

Turns out, the kids did fanTASTic on the drive - WAY better than expected.

Turns out that wasn't the problem. But there were problems, oh yes, there were problems.

We planned to drive caravan style. Mom & Dad would drive with Shaun & Linsay and we would lead the pack. We would come "pick them up" bright and early at 5am on the Wednesday after Christmas and book it out West.

*Note - people who do not like to read about other people getting sick, consider yourself warned.

At 4:45am we got a phone call. Linsay had been throwing up all night and they weren't sure what they were going to do. After some discussion it was decided that Nathan's parents would take all their luggage out of Shaun & Lin's vehicle and pack up their own car and head out with us. Shaun & Linsay would follow when they could, hopefully leaving at noon.

So, off we went. Now, I'm a bit of a hypochondriac, especially when it comes to stomach ailments, so by the time we got to Brandon where we stopped for breakfast, I was not feeling so hot. Things appeared to be going in the wrong direction during two bathroom breaks at the restaurant (Tim Horton's of course!), but I convinced myself it was all in my head and we were going to keep going. Worse case scenario, we'd stop in Regina if we had to.

Thankfully, it was just my hypochondria combined with lack of sleep. I napped between Brandon and Regina and every time I woke up I felt a bit better. Whew - bullet dodged. For now.

We filled up gas in Regina, stopped for lunch (Tim's again!) in Moose Jaw and kept on chugging. We stopped in Medicine Hat to fill up again and let the kids run off some steam at the local McDonald's which thankfully had an awesome play place (pictured left). Another 2 short hours (that seemed rather long!) and we were there! We enjoyed a homemade pizza supper and found out that it had been a good thing Shaun & Linsay had not started out with us, because around noon Shaun got sick and Taylor, who had been sick two days previous, got a bit sick again. They were all doing somewhat better by the evening, so they decided they would go to bed real early and try to be on the road by 4am the next morning (Thursday) to get to Alberta in time for our scheduled Christmas dinner (wrenikje and farmer sausage - woohoo!).

Did I mention they live in the middle of nowhere? This was the view out their front yard....

And who is this lovely couple?

Thankfully Shaun, Linsay & Taylor made it safe and sound (and not sick!) and we all had a wonderful Christmas dinner that Thursday, followed by the "program", gifts and we all vacationed happily ever after. Ok, not quite.

Mom & Dad slept in the guest room downstairs. Nathan and I slept in Colter & Baret's room (their bottom bunk is a double) with Jacob on the floor in our room. Shaun & Linsay slept in Hayden's room on a double mattress with Taylor in Hayden's crib. Hayden slept in a play pen in Chris & Deena's room. All the other kids were set up downstairs by the tv for a big cousin sleepover.

During the day Hayden had had some diarrhea, but we chalked it up to teething. Might have been wrong about that one. No sooner had we started getting the kids ready for bed that night then both Colter & Baret started throwing up (they had previously had one episode of "d" as well). Chris & Deena spent the next several hours playing Mexican Train with us, while taking breaks every 15 minutes or so to deal with one or two puking children whose beds had been moved up to the living room, while I stuck my fingers in my ears and tried to convince myself that everything would be fine.

Now, obviously Colter & Baret did not get this from Shaun & Linsay cause they had only been there for a couple hours. So, we had both the Manitoba and the Alberta germs going around full force - we never had a fighting chance.

About every 12 hrs or so, we went down like dominoes.

We had originally been planning to go to Brooks the next day (Friday) and swim at their amazing leisure center, but since it was an hour away, we decided it was too big of a risk. Good thing too because Emma started around noon - not as bad as the boys, only about 5 episodes. We kept all the healthy people playing outside as much as we could - very thankful for the awesome natural toboggan slide courtesy of Chris & Deena's amazing front yard (advantage of living way out in the boonies in hill country). Deena was not feeling fabulous and had diarrhea off and on all day, and yet still managed to be an amazing hostess - in fact, she was a fantastic hostess throughout this whole ordeal, can't imagine anyone doing a better job! I lost track of how many times she disinfected bathrooms (thankfully they had 3 of them!) that week.

Just before bedtime Olivia threw up, and let's just say no one will feel like eating cherry ice cream again any time soon. This was the first time in about 3 years that she had thrown up, so I knew she'd have no idea what was coming. We put her and Emma to bed in the living room and were expecting to be interrupted from Mexican Train numerous times to help Olivia, like Deena & Chris had been the night before. But amazingly, Olivia only had the one incident!

I got very little sleep that night. Every cough or sound Jacob made I thought he was about to get started. Thankfully everything was fine during the night.

Saturday Shaun & Linsay left for the day and night to go visit Shaun's mom and we all stayed home and played outside and recovered from this quick acting bug. Since it had moved from person to person so quickly, and no one had gotten sick in quite a while, we were crossing our fingers and hoping the rest of us would emerge unscathed. Did we not learn in elementary school that crossing your fingers does nothing?!

After a couple of days of this we decided we needed to get out, so we decided to go out for supper in a nearby town. There wasn't much open as it was New Year's Day, but we ate at a local restaurant and headed for home. Thankfully we had not gone too far - we had barely walked in the door when Nathan's mom was running for the washroom. She probably had the worst case yet, with both versions.

I went to bed that night expecting the worst, and hadn't slept a wink when Jacob starting throwing up around 1:30am. He had never been sick in his almost 3 years and he absolutely freaked out. He was screaming and trying to knock away the bucket that I was trying to force under his head and yelling "I don't want to!" in between episodes. Even though we had put a sheet across most of the bedroom floor, he still managed to hit the rug. Deena got up and helped us clean up the room and we bathed Jacob and got him ready for bed. One hour later we were doing it again. Thankfully not as messy this time as Nathan and I tag teamed him and literally forced him to puke in the bucket. Poor guy. By almost 5:30 I had just about convinced myself that he wouldn't be throwing up anymore and was finally ready to get some sleep..... when Sophia walked in our room with her puke bucket and we started all over again. Yup, all kids, sick or not, were sleeping with pails by their beds by this point - good thing!

Sophia probably got it the worst of the kids - I think 9 times. By 7 o'clock I was absolutely exhausted - hadn't slept even a minute all night with a very unrestful sleep the night before. Nathan had been up most of the times as well, but he had been able to sleep in between. So, he took over and I slept from 7 to 10. We had originally been planning to leave today (Sunday), but had already decided the previous day that we would stay an extra day - hoping to go to Brooks, or at the minimum, finish getting over all this sickness.

After lunch we decided we'd all have naps before going tobogganing again. I woke up at 4 and knew my hypochondrianism had become reality. Started with minor diarrhea and I took Peptobismol and Immodium in a futile attempt to ward off the inevitable. By 7pm I was in the washroom experiencing my first ever time of both episodes simultaneously and it was horrid. (hey, I warned you not to read!) Nathan took Jacob to sleep in the living room so I could hopefully get some sleep at night. But he went to bed early cause he could feel it coming on. At midnight he forced himself and an hour later he had to again. After that he was fine. After my own 3 major episodes, it took me awhile to get to sleep as I was quite concerned with making it to the bathroom in time, even though it was directly across the hall. This was bad stuff people. But eventually I feel asleep and all was well.

Nathan's parents left bright and early Monday morning to drive straight home all day. Taylor was up a little early, so Shaun & Linsay left a bit before us. We planned to stop in Regina with them to spend the night at a hotel (with a waterpark!) before heading home Tuesday. They planned to stop and visit friends in Swift Current quickly before joining us later on. They also were expecting it to take a bit longer because they were hauling a work trailer behind their SUV that they had picked up from Shaun's mom's the day before.

We got a phone call as we were eating breakfast (well, Nathan & I weren't eating anything, but the kids were). Their trailer had come unhooked while driving on the highway, had passed them on the highway, crossed the road and landed on a fence! Thankfully no one was hurt and this happened in a town about 45 minutes away, where Chris & Deena go to church. This was the last town Shaun & Lin would pass where they would still know anyone that could help - not a coincidence I'd say! Turned out that the man that Chris called to help them rescue their trailer was the owner of the fence it had landed on! AND he had the equipment and know-how to able to fix the trailer and get them back on their way. Amazing!

Now that they were behind us, they decided not to stop in Swift and were going to head straight to Regina. We were about 45 minutes ahead of them, and getting close to Regina when we got a phone from them. They ran out of gas. Yes, I'm serious. They were going through gas twice as fast due to the trailer they were pulling. They had planned to stop in a small town a bit off the highway to gas up, but as they were passing the service signs there was no sign for gas. They didn't want to risk running out of gas off the highway and were only 19 km from the next major town and the gas light had not come on yet. Surely they would make it. Nope, they ran out of gas 5 km away! It was dark and about -30 outside. So Shaun started walking. After about 1 km a farmer stopped to pick him up and gave him a ride. The farmer said he was on his way to Regina for a hernia surgery. When Lin heard this later she laughed and said there's no way - he was an angel and that was the story the angel came up with . ;) The farmer brought Shaun back to the SUV and they were finally on their way again.

We had driven all the way to Swift Current before stopping for lunch at McDonald's at around 2, which was 3 our time. Yup, McDonald's was the first meal I had after being sick. We had to give the kids a break! Nathan and I both ordered grilled chicken burgers and managed just fine.

Because we ate so late, none of us were hungry when we got to the hotel around 6:30, so Nathan took all the kids swimming (he rocks!) as I just didn't feel well enough for that yet and thankfully they had life jackets, so he could manage all 4. The Regina Travelodge has a really great waterslide area, and we managed to get adjoining rooms with Shaun & Linsay so it worked great!

We let the kids swim till we got the call that Shaun & Lin would be there around 8. They wanted to stop at Canadian Tire to get some stuff for the trailer, so Nathan took Jacob and went with them and brought some pizza back at about 8:45. I watched the girls swim till 8:30 and brought up to quickly shower and get into pj's and be ready to eat when the guys got back.

Taylor had had nothing to eat since noon, so she was really hungry and really tired. Linsay couldn't find milk in the hotel, but a very kind waitress at the restaurant managed to scrounge up some 2% and gave it to her for free - Linsay kinda lost it for this random act of kindness that was so appreciated on this day of all days! The lady must've thought she was nuts crying over free milk ;) Taylor ate about one bite of pizza and decided she needed sleep more. Lin put her to bed in their room while we all ate. Then, while the guys went to pick up our nightsnack from Tim Horton's we got our girls ready for bed in our room, moved a sleeping Taylor's crib into our room and took Jacob with us to their room (he had had 2 naps that day in the car and was not ready to sleep!) to visit and watch tv. When were ready for bed, we brought Taylor back to their room and Jacob to our room and all went to sleep. Perfect set up!

The guys had picked up muffins at Tim's for breakfast the next day (Tuesday), we swam in the morning, had lunch at Chili's and then we were off for home. We booked it all the way, only stopping for a quick bathroom pit stop at a hotel along the highway for Olivia, and got home by 7. Home sweet home!

The kids did amazingly well on the drive.

And, even though THIS was our Christmas reality, despite 14 out of 16 people getting sick,
we still managed to have a fabulous time!
See the guy in the back? That's Shaun and he's hiding a puzzle piece on us (anyone who knows Shaun knows this is very typical!) - and all caught on camera! ;)
It'll be trip to be remembered, that's for sure.


Andrea said...

Ah yes...but will you do it again? ;)

It sounds like a miserable time to me...but glad you had a better impression of it all!

Romantic Dinner said...

Yeah Very lovely and beautiful your trip . nice location and lovely your all photo's some photo's very funny and nice smile....really i like your trip. Great idea and fantastic details shared in the post .

Miriam said...

Well, I'm glad you were able to enjoy at least parts of your trip, in spite of the attack of the evil viruses. I have to say, I laughed during part of your description, as I could just imagine a sped-up AFV-type video of all the people running back and forth to the bathroom and all the other lovely jobs to be done with multiple sick people in the house. Glad to hear everyone made a full recovery. We're planning a trip to Herbert (near Swift Current) for this summer to visit my aunt and uncle. I believe I shall start praying NOW for good health for all of us. :)

The Brandt Family said...

Yikes, it will definitely be a trip to remember!
I'm glad that you were able to find some enjoyable bonding times as a family even with all the sickness.

Jen said...

definitely sounds unforgettable...but glad to hear there was some enjoyable times too!
So will you do it again?

Haven said...

Thanks for the nice post.........


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