Friday, July 26, 2013

Go West, Day 11: And then... an unexpected turn

I started my journaling for this day in the morning. Although much had changed by the end of the day, I decided to leave what I had originally written, because… well, the contrast between my expectations and reality is laughable. Now. The stars indicate the end of my original journaling, where I have picked up now to finish telling you about our day. (I still wrote it as if I were writing on that day, just for the sake of consistency.)

I’ve taken over 2800 pictures so far. That is a ridiculous number, especially considering that we’re not even halfway done yet. I really thought I would average about 100 photos per day, but obviously I underestimated myself. Oy vey.

Today got off to a bit of a rough start. After showering and getting dressed, Mr. Fantastic picked up his phone and found a text from his mom: “Do you still have crutches at your house?” That doesn’t sound good. Apparently the dry spell that Colorado has been suffering through has not carried through to Ohio. There it has been raining for almost 2 weeks straight. This morning my mother-in-law was walking our dog, and she slipped and fell. She thinks it is just sprained, but she wants some extra help getting around. We are feeling terribly guilty that she is at home, taking responsibility for our house, our pets, and our business… and now with a pretty bad sprain, from the sounds of it. And we’re here on vacation. I’m thankful to have my parents close by and know that they can step in and help.


My wonderful husband indulged me so much in Colorado. Everything we did in Colorado Springs, we did because *I* wanted to do it. And now today, he and the kids are accompanying me to another place they would never otherwise visit: MOPS headquarters!


I joined my first MOPS group when Lamb was just six months old. I had no idea what it was or whether it would be what I was looking for, but it has been a MAJOR part of my life ever since. Even now, when I am not technically in a MOPS group (the moms’ group at my church is independent, not a MOPS group), it is a ministry about which I am passionate and in which I want to remain involved. I was so thankful for the time I could spend talking so some of the women there and making good contacts. Exciting things were discussed, not all things I am ready to share here. But be praying, my friends. I have some hopes and dreams for the foundations that were laid this morning.

Sooooooooooooooo… after our time with the lovely ladies of MOPS, we were ready for lunch AND we were armed with a lunch recommendation from some of the women we had just left: Casa Bonita.


Have you ever heard of this place? I had not, but I guess it’s a little bit famous. (I’m not sure how many of you are “South Park” watchers—I haven’t seen an episode since college, and even then I never actually watched it, just saw bits and pieces of it when other people were watching it—but apparently there’s a whole episode about it.) It’s a Mexican restaurant, although you don’t really go there for the food. You go for the experience. I really… I am hesitant to try to describe this place to you, because I feel like I won’t do it justice. Really. It is indescribable. But I’ll give it a shot.

Here’s the big draw:


Cliff-diving. Every 15 minutes, there’s a cliff diving show! Inside the restaurant! Sometimes it’s just a “straight” diving show, sometimes they mix in some comedy (like a guy in a gorilla suit). Either way, the kids love it!



But they do so much more with the kids, too. There was a piñata…


…and Black Bart’s Cave (a “haunted house” type of experience)…

…a game room (a la Chuck E. Cheese, complete with tickets and prizes)...

(Roo LOVED this throwing game. If you know him, you know that this is RIGHT up his alley.)
...and lots of other opportunities for fun.


But even that isn’t all. In addition to the main seating area around the waterfall, there’s a mine room…

(Yeah, I didn't get any pictures of the actual seating in that room... but here's the mine car...)
…a castle room…


…and many others that I didn’t capture “on film.” One had a stage for magic shows. Which reminds me, we also saw a small puppet show while we were there. This place was bursting with things for kids to do. We had to DRAG our crew out of there!

After exploring the many rooms of seating and fun, we were astounded at how big the place really was. On our way out, we asked a waitress how many people the restaurant can seat. Turns out, it’s over A THOUSAND! She said that on busy days, they serve over 17,000 people! Is that astounding or what?!? I later read an interesting blog post about Casa Bonita, where the author talks about waiting an HOUR to be seated as if that’s a common occurrence. I’m glad we were there at 1 PM on a Wednesday!

When we finally got back to the campground, Roo and Mr. Fantastic snuggled up for just a quick nap while the big kids and I got everything ready to go to the beach. This was my second bummer of the day—I was hoping to run over and visit a friend who just moved to Denver from our hometown, but we had been promising and promising the kids time at the beach, and I couldn’t hold them off any longer… and Mr. Fantastic didn’t seem too keen on taking all three of them to the beach by himself. My friend and I tentatively planned to have coffee after bedtime, and our family headed down for some beach time.


I don’t have a whole lot of pictures from the beach today. Do you know why? Because I was too busy enjoying the beach. At the risk of sounding corny, that afternoon felt almost magical. Roo was a little unsure of the water at first, but before I knew it he was sitting in the water saying, “Kick! Kick!” and thrusting his little feet all around. The big kids made friends with a sweet little boy named Robert, who had a raft, and they all had a ball climbing in and out of it and pulling each other around. And we played in the sand and we played in the water and we just relaxed and loved being together.

When Roo and Monkey decided to take a break from the water, I walked with them over to our beach chairs (and the large amount of gear we had toted out) to supervise the building of a sand castle. And then my phone rang. And I knew what I was going to hear.

Earlier in the day, I had gotten onto Facebook on my phone, and saw a few people complaining about water in their basements. Although we have never had a flooding issue in our house (two exceptions: once when we were building the house 10 years ago, which we resolved; once last year when our septic backed up, so not a rain issue), I got an uneasy feeling about it. I got online again a few hours later, while Roo and my hubby were napping, and saw that a tornado watch was in effect for our hometown area. With my mother-in-law (who lives just two houses down from us) injured, I knew I couldn’t ask her to check our basement, so I thought about calling my dad—but then I couldn’t justify asking him to drive in possible tornado conditions just to satisfy some silly gut feeling with no real basis. I decided I would wait until Mr. Fantastic was up and ask him to call our maintenance guy (my hubby owns rental properties) and see if he would just swing by and check it out to give me some peace of mind. But when he did wake up, he was still a little groggy and grumpy, so I decided to let it go until later… and then we were at the beach and I didn’t want to bother him with it…

And then suddenly I was standing at the beach chairs, talking to Robert’s dad, and my phone rang. And I knew. I picked it up and saw my mother-in-law’s phone number. And I knew.

“I’m so glad you’re answering the phone,” she said. “I don’t have good news.”

Our basement was flooded. Our FINISHED basement—as in, the toy room, the living room (with the TV), our game room (with a pool table), and a full bathroom—was flooded. The whole thing. She had called my parents and told them that she was worried about it because of all the rain, and they came out to check it. My dad had gone into our storage room in the back (the only unfinished space) and found that the sump pump wasn’t working. He was able to get it running, and it started pumping the water out, but the damage was done.

Fortunately, we have a fabulous family. My parents, my brother, and two of my nephews started hauling stuff out. My mother-in-law called a cleanup/restoration company we use through my hubby’s business, and they came right out to get all of the carpets out and cut out any drywall that got wet. My mom and dad, we later found out, even took him several (6 or more) garbage bags full of toys and photos and other random stuff, to dry it out—and in the case of the toys, wash and bleach them, just in case there was any sewer water mixed in. They worked hard to get things under control for us. I know they were hoping that we would be able to just continue on our trip.

Mr. Fantastic came up then, and I handed him the phone so that he could hear it all first-hand. When he got off, we both went through the same range of emotions… from “this is horrible” to “it’s just stuff” to “what on earth are we going to do?” We debated about packing up and leaving right then, driving through the night. We talked about continuing our trip, at least for a few days. But we kept coming back to the reality that Mr. Fantastic was likely to be SLAMMED at work after taking a month off. How could we possibly deal with all of the things we would be facing at home if he had a month of making up to do?

Finally, we just sat down, watched the kids play, and just… sat.

But we knew that we couldn’t go on with the trip. We would be preoccupied, and we needed for Mr. Fantastic to be able to help at home, not to be overwhelmed with work AND the basement all at once. In just a few days, we were slated to meet up with some of our BFFs in Yellowstone, and we would all make the trip home together. So many plans, suddenly out the window.

Lamb took it the hardest. She and her sweet friend Hannah, part of the family we were supposed to meet in Yellowstone, are two peas in a pod. More than any destination or site or activity on this trip, she was excited to spend almost two full weeks with Hannah, whom she typically gets to see just every couple of months. But we finally got her—and Monkey, who was less emotional but still tremendously disappointed—settled down and distracted, and we all just sat rather quietly on the beach, watching Roo push a truck all over God’s creation.

It was 8:00 before we finally packed up and left the beach. Our plans for a beach-side dinner—and my plans for a late-night coffee—were gone. We decided to grab a pizza and sit outside the RV, enjoying our last night in Colorado.

The boys got in the truck first. Lamb and I stopped to wash her feet off, and were lagging behind a bit. As we walked up to the truck, Monkey stood inside with his hand out the window, calling out, “Tickets, please! I need your tickets, ladies!” We giggled and slapped his hand and pretended to give him our tickets.

But if you know 6-year-old boys, you know that a joke that is funny the first time, just gets funnier the more you tell it. So he continued as Lamb got in the truck. He continued as I loaded the last few things in the back. He continued as I walked up to my door. “Tickets, please! I need your ticket, madam!” I gave him “five” and said, “There’s my ticket!” And I got in the truck. I didn’t hear, as I sat down, him saying, “No, wait, Mommy. How about this? ‘I need your credit card, please, Madam!” So I got in the truck. And I closed the door.

But it didn’t close. It bounced. It bounced because Monkey had reached his hand out through the window of the back seat, around the side, and INTO the opening of the front door as I climbed in. I didn’t know his hand was there. He didn’t know I was closing the door. Until it bounced.

I was out of that truck and pulling him out of the seat faster than you could believe. I held him and whispered to him and kissed his hand and stroked his hair. The “mommy guilt” of cutting our trip short combined with the actual guilt of hurting my child (yes, I know, unintentionally), and I was a wreck. We sat and cried together.

The RV park was about a quarter-mile from the beach, so I sat Monkey on my lap as we drove back to our site. I watched his fingers turn purple, and the tips gray, and my stomach turned. When we got out of the truck, I showed them to Mr. Fantastic and he said, “Let’s get some ice on your fingers, buddy.”

And Monkey said, “No, it’s not my fingers that got hurt, Daddy. It’s here.” And he held his wrist. His WRIST got shut in the door, and his FINGERS were purple and gray. Oh God, I whispered. Oh God, oh God, please don’t let it be broken.

I could FEEL the blood draining from my face. My hubby saw it too, and he said, “Let’s just get some ice on it, Honey.” He and the big kids stayed outside, tending to Monkey, while I fed Roo and put him to bed… and then sat crying… and crying… and crying.

My dear, wonderful hubby had apparently had the presence of mind to order a pizza at some point in all of the confusion. He came in to tell me he was going to pick it up, and of course to give me a big hug. What would I do without that man? I went out to sit with the big kids while we waited, and my sweet Monkey had his right hand sitting on the table, wrapped in ice and an Ace bandage. His tears were gone, but he was quiet. Lamb—who kept running into the RV to get stuffed animals and toys to cheer up her brother—and I entertained Monkey while we waited for our dinner. Eventually it got too dark and buggy, and we moved Roo to the back bedroom so that we could hang out inside the RV. (We later learned that Mr. Fantastic had gotten lost looking for the Pizza Hut.)

So… not quite the ending that we had planned for our trip. We had reservations to cancel, friends to call, and now would we have to start our journey home with a trip to the ER?

I feel a little guilty to leave you here on a Friday, but that's just how it all breaks down. If you don't want to wait until Monday to learn the rest, you'll just have to find me over the weekend. ;-)


Tara said...

Well, that was just MEAN! :)

What a terrible disappointment! I found myself tearing up by the time you got to the wrist story. What a complete bummer. :(

Kathleen w said...

I so feel for you, dear friend. Two weeks after we moved into our house we discovered a serious flooding issue. We resolved the issue after several times having water up to our knees. Ugg. Five years ago we refinished the basement... a project that's been going on since. Three years ago, the HVAC system flooded the basement... filling it with mold and mildew. We had to replace all the laminate flooring, again. As well as rip out most of the bathroom. In that flood I lost years of photos and creative memories albums. I wept. It didn't help that it came a few weeks after our 8th baby died and on the day our beloved Pastor passed away. We got the place up and running and last summer the SAME exact thing happened again. We redid the flooring once more. And guess what???? Saturday afternoon, it happened again!!! So I feel for you. I think I've become desensitized to it. I didn't even cry this time. ☺ My son hung a sign on the stairs that says "Keep Calm, and Dry on." Good luck with your renovation!