I had racked up enough flyer points for two free flights by the start of the year. I think Leslie would rather have a root canal than fly, anywhere. I offered to take her on a romantic dinner date on the other side of the country and the only response I could get was a "let me think about it" with a look of "I think I'm going to be sick."
SO, I decided to take Briggs on a trip somewhere, only to figure out where. Between Radical, Ramsey, our new budgeting system, a new found dedication of funds to going on missions and to supporting various missions, and well the travel budget was rather decimated and my vacation hours were slimming down as well. I've always wanted to go to the Smithsonian but couldn't get the logistics to work out, plus I think that would be a great entire family trip instead of just two of us. I considered going to the New York Giants training camp but that would have been pretty selfish of me. I think Briggs would enjoy it for all of 30 minutes, maybe. Finally I decided upon a rafting trip to Moab, Utah. Due to my flights expiring however I had to leave for Utah two days after getting back from Wisconsin, ugh. At least this was for fun and I'd have Briggs with me.
Briggs has never flown, rafted, or camped out anywhere besides the back yard, and boy was he excited! I packed up our gear and off we went. We flew out on a Monday, scheduled to arrive in Salt Lake around 6 pm. Briggs LOVED the flight, saying "you know, I used to be scared of heights, but now I'm not!" I let him use our nice camera and he took a ton of pictures of the clouds, the countryside, the wings on the plane, the food tray, the seats, etc... Moab is a little over 4 hours from Salt Lake. Unfortunately the plane was a little over an hour getting in and we had to get our rental car which put me into our camp site shortly after midnight. The drive out was pretty stressful b/c it was soooo late, the roads wound through the dark mountains at 70 mph, and I was in unfamiliar territory. Briggs slept through it all in the car and woke up when we got to camp. We weren't totally roughing it b/c I didn't think anyone on the return flight would appreciate two boys with 3 days worth of stink on them, the campgrounds at least had a shower facility.
On Tuesday the day started at 6 so that we could get cleaned up, find some breakfast, and get to the rafting office. The night before there had been several flash floods in the area so the river was pretty muddy, but the Colorado is never really clear to begin with. The rapids were only Class 1 and 2, the outfitters let 5 year olds go down them, but Briggs wasn't quite old enough for the higher classes. Still though, he had a blast. We were in a group with a family from England and a couple from France. At several points the guide told us we could swim if we wanted to. One of the English kids finally said that that would just be weird, which was all the incentive I needed. I jumped in and not long after, half the boat was in with me, including Briggs. We ended up rafting for about 6 hours total plus about an hour lunch, it was an awesome day.
We were finished around 4 with about 4 hours of daylight left. We grabbed a shower and decided to head out to the Arches National Park right there in Moab. There's a road that winds through it with several scenic stops along the way for photog-ing. Briggs went nuts with the camera, I got my favorite shot of Briggs, and for posterity we got a great shot of the two of us together. We ate dinner at a local restaurant, grabbed some ice cream, and went back to the tent to bed down for the night. A fine, fine day.
Wednesday started at 4 in the morning so that I could break down the tent, pack up, and get us to the airport with some time to spare. We grabbed a couple of breakfast burritos from a no-name Mexican joint, this would prove to be something of a mistake later on... About an hour away from the airport Briggs looked at me with a puzzled look on his cherubic face and then his breakfast burrito awkwardly looked at me and then it looked at the front passenger seat and the floorboard and a little bit on the passenger door. Thankfully I had time to spare and was somewhat prepared. I pulled over to a parking lot, pulled out a spare clean outfit (my wife is awesome), pulled out a spare soap bar and fresh water and went to town. 30 minutes later all the cleaning materials and dirty clothes were in my waterproof (and stank proof) bag and we were back on the road with a washed down boy and a washed out car that smelled like cinnamon soap from a Holiday Inn Express. Briggs again loved the flight and repeatedly gave me the most awesome hugs at random times all the way home. What a great father/son bonding trip.
We had some leftover money and decided to get Max a couple of souvenirs from the Phoenix airport. We got him two puppy dogs b/c Briggs reminded me that we had to either get him a dog or monkey b/c that was the only kind of animal families that he had. Max LOVED them and was sooo excited to have us back home. I wish he and Les could have gone too but it was a bit much for Max. I did make sure to spend the previous Saturday just with Max pretty much the whole day to make sure he felt special too, it worked thankfully. He was cool with us going and was super excited with our coming back, new stuffed animals was icing on the cake. At the end of the night Briggs asked if just he could read a bedtime story to Max...those boys sure do love each other...
Anyway, it's been an awesome year so far and this trip with Briggs will definitely be a great memory for years to come. I look forward to taking both boys with me for fun and missions as they get older, Les I think is resolving herself to that eventual reality and has even put in that she may try to go "roughing it" with us, we'll see... Thank God for my family, for affording us to go on foreign mission trips, and for allowing me to indulge in the glory of His creation every once in a while, and most especially for giving me peace through salvation in Christ. Wow.