Well, three weeks ago today Noel and I set out for the biggest surprise of my other brother, Kyle's, life: we flew to Alaska to watch him graduate from high school.
Not only did Noel and I come, but my sister and my nephew also came from North Carolina. And Kyle didn't know they were coming, either.
Hanging at the restaurant before graduation.
He was shocked, to say the least.
I left Lane with Shannon, all the laundry done, lots of friends lined up to help Shannon out, and 14 meals frozen in the freezer for dinners. I took one suitcase, one backpack, one purse, and one baby in the Ergo and we embarked on the 48-hour trek to Alaska. I have to say that the traveling itself wasn't bad (jet-lag with a baby, on the other hand, stinks). I mean, American Airlines hooked us up with a bulkhead seat with lots of legroom and a bassinet. While Noel didn't sleep in it that much since it was daytime for us, it was so nice to have a place to lay her down and let her play or sleep and give my arms a rest.
Snoozin' in the bassinet.
We had a 20-hour layover in Dallas on the way to Alaska and a 16-hour one on the way home. Normally that wouldn't be so great, but I happen to have lots of friends in Dallas, so I hooked up with my longtime friend Marci. She let us spend the night at her place on the way to Alaska (where we got a little sleep...Noel did a fair amount of screaming from being super exhausted from the long travel day) and hang out and nap on the way back. She let us borrow an infant carseat. She drove me to the mall where I got new blue jeans. She treated me to Chic-fil-a and Mexican food. I got to meet her little boy, William. I treated her to Starbucks for breakfast when she picked me up at 6:00 a.m. on my return journey and Dairy Queen for dessert during a trip to the mall. We schmoozed, chatted, and just enjoyed getting to catch up. All in all, it was great to see her (and it was great to have a real bed to nap on and a shower!).
Me and Noel, Marci and William, at Uncle Julio's.
And my chicken enchiladas. So yummy.
I met up with my sister at the airport (we managed to get on the same flight from DFW to Anchorage...awesome, huh?) where I met my nephew for the first time and got to see my sister for the first time in almost two years.
My nephew, Maddox. Yup, he's a cutie.
We made the flight to Anchorage, collected our bags (yeah...they wouldn't check them all the way through for us), ran (well, walked as fast as we could with baby, toddler, stroller, backpack, carry-on, and two suitcases) to the check-in counter for our flight to Kenai, checked in, and booked it to our gate. We barely made our flight and were very grateful that there's no security check for flights to/from smaller cities in Alaska. And we were shocked when we boarded the plane to find out that it was bigger than usual, carrying 25-30 people instead of the usual 15, even being a large enough plane to have a bathroom. That was the first (and only, as my flight back to Anchorage was on a 15-passenger prop plane) time that flight has ever had a bathroom!
And we got to Kenai, met my mom at the airport, and shocked the pants off my brother an hour or so later. We spent the next few days introducing ourselves to new-in-the-last-two-years family members:
Observing the wildlife:
Attending graduation festivities:
And playing Settlers of Catan:
(Noel liked to help.)
I got to eat steak, yellow squash, good yogurt, flavored coffee creamer, salmon, ice-cream sandwiches, Cherry Pepsi, halibut, Chic-fil-a, and real Mexican food for the first time in two years. I got to go to my church in Alaska. I got to play Angry Birds for the first time. I got to meet my nephew. I just got to be myself with my family, staying up late watching movies, talking, and playing games. I got to watch my brother graduate, hug his neck, and tell him how proud of him I was.
All of us. Except for my brother Sean. And Lane. And my and Rachel's husbands. =)
And I came home to this:
It was a good trip.