Oh, dear! I just instructed Flickr to upload 54 photos for this post about my week with the Carlson family. I can’t inflict such an expectation on anyone who visits or subscribes to this blog! They’ll either scroll lickity-split to the bottom or skip it altogether. Surely I can whittle down the selection! But how? Maybe I can promise to not post any pictures for a week. Or not include every single one. But they’re all so wonderful! Oh, dear!
– – – – –
Son Taylor travels wherever Agilent medical equipment needs service, and last week and this his assignment was in two locations of Puerto Rico——Ponce and San Juan. He isn’t often taken from home for such a long stretch of time, so he invited Beth to go along. That invitation includes the kids, of course. Maybe mOm would fly in from Oregon to help keep them occupied in our hotel room. Who could resist such an adventure?
Working fully full time has its challenges when preparing for a one-week absence (I couldn’t pull off two). But volunteers to “cover” the office hours with a few additional assignments made it doable, and I was on my way to Virginia! I had seen only photos of the Carlsons’ new home in Haymarket, and they moved there months ago!
Beth’s parents live a few minutes from the Dulles airport and had held dinner for my arrival. The cheerful welcome and the hubbub of a house full of family displaced any clear thinking, and this is the only picture I took. Fail.
Taylor wanted to help his mama have some sunny fun in Puerto Rico, so he ordered me a burkini, knowing I don’t own a swimsuit (for good reason!) It was a very nice thought, but I’d need to lose around 50 pounds in one day to be caught in public wearing even this modest suit.
I can’t describe the travel lethargy I felt during the one day I was there, so I put all my steam into enjoying the babies and Declan. “Come on, Gus,” Declan urged. Who could resist?
The next morning I was back to myself, up before dawn to catch an early flight with the five Carlsons. Taylor had the whole process strategized, since it would take two cars to get people and stuff to the airport. My job was to sit with the luggage while he drove one car back to Beth’s parents’ house, get her and the kids in the other packed-to-the-gills car and drive back to the airport where I waited. T. hadn’t succeeded in talking Beth out of any baby equipment she needed for the two-week stay——car seats, triple stroller, jumpers (you’ll see in a minute), toys, bottles, Baby Brezza, bottle sterilizer (unknown water quality), diapers, clothes, and more! He was clearly having second thoughts about his invitation, planning a Facebook post with #whatwasithinking? hashtags!
That hesitation was short lived. He was quite happy to have his family along. We managed to get checked in and through security without a glitch. (Well, there’s the hiccup when the Southwest agent asked for our passports and we looked at her dumbfounded. Um, we didn’t bring passports. Thankfully it quickly dawned on her that we were going to Puerto Rico, not Costa Rica! She gets those confused.)
What would we ever have done without that stroller? Taylor did not argue.
The front/back baby pack came in handy too. It’s a good thing Beth is CrossFit fit!
They put Emery on my ticket as a lap baby. She slept the whole way from Ft. Lauderdale to San Juan.
We were already travel weary on arrival but then had a multi-hour drive to the south end of the island, to Ponce. Picture us in this stand-still traffic with two hungry (screaming) babies in the back seat and no way to pull over to prepare their bottles. Taylor was about six cars ahead of us in a second rental car carrying the water just purchased at Costco needed for bottles. Let me tell you, driving in Puerto Rico is not the same as in America. I’ll leave it at that. We eventually inched our way to and through the one-lane narrowing caused by an accident as well as road construction, and hurried on down the road to our “tropical paradise.”
We all agreed the Holiday Inn was not elegant, but it was the best the area offered. They didn’t have adjoining rooms but we managed two across the hall from each other.
Still, who would complain about this view? And a pool all to oneself. If you squint, you can see Beth in the center and Declan across the small pool from her.
They could enjoy that luxury outside while I enjoyed this luxury inside. If you’ve ever wondered why hotel rooms come with so many pillows . . .
A different view, this one includes evidence of last September’s hurricane.
I saw this toppled tree on the way to the restaurant, another hurricane effect.
There’s a lot to talk about when given such a grand view of the . . . cars and trucks and busses on the road.
I was so sure you were itching for a better view of these darlings (Avery, then Emery).
Here’s your test: Who is in the front?
On the subject of babies, here’s mine, all grown up, married, a father, headed to work. I still think he’s pretty cute. (Awwwww.)
Declan doesn’t pay much attention to his sisters, so this was especially fun to watch.
It isn’t perfectly clear, but Declan is jumping in. (Ignore the clouds; we did.)
He thought it was silly for me to sit on the edge of the pool.
If I could turn back the calendar 40 years, I could show Declan I enjoyed similar poolside play with his daddy.
Declan’s mama looks for any opportunity to work out. Notice the phone on the ground in front of her. She was watching for a picture of her new nephew, Liam, born a half hour earlier to her sister Shannon.
I wished I’d switched my camera to video to capture this sister play. The interchange so fun, a playful exchange of a plastic sand pail handle.
Emery has it; Avery eyes it.
Avery snatches it; Emery eyes it.
And so it goes. May all their future “exchanges” be so amicable!
And just like that it was Friday! All that repacking of suitcases, then reloading the car accomplished, Beth, the kids and I headed north to San Juan. Taylor had a long list to accomplish at the lab before he could join us. We had a much easier and straightforward drive this time and all three littles fared well.
San Juan has no shortage of desirable accommodations. The Marriott did not disappoint. Just walk out the back door and onto the beach!
Fine dining with a view.
And this gorgeous view from our 9th floor room. Their room, I should say.
I had just enough time at this new location to enjoy the late-afternoon sun and sand. Declan was looking for our room.
Beth had a mission, it being the day the twins turned 9 months old. Every month for their first year, she poses and posts their pictures on social media. The setting for this photoshoot was a foregone conclusion.
Quiz: Which one is Avery? We’re lucky they are so easy to tell apart.
A passing stranger offered to take Beth’s picture.
And before we knew it, Daddy arrived. The stars aligned and all the parts needed to finish the repair arrived and he was able to finish the whole job in time!
I shared Declan’s bed for my final night in PR, setting my clock for 3:30am! Taylor drove me the few miles to the airport and I was on my way home.
I spent a whopping $5 for my ticket (plus a few thousand United air miles), requiring my zig zag return (San Juan/Chicago/San Francisco/Portland), but every flight was on time and my one suitcase managed to make all the transfers.
I was a little confused when we deplaned in San Francisco. My flight to Portland was to depart from Gate 94, but I was at the very end of the terminal and the highest gate number was 90. I asked a nearby agent where Gate 94 was, and he pointed out the window all the way across the tarmac. So I hoisted my weighty backpack and put my legs to work, ending up in the International Terminal in time to buy a sandwich before boarding.
In my nearly 24 years as an Oregon resident I’ve never been to Crater Lake. Now I don’t need to; I’ve seen it from the air.
My dear man met my evening flight to complete the last leg of my journey home to Newberg. I am one lucky and blessed mOm and Gus!
Well, look at that! I used “only” 48 pictures to tell the story. Even if you quickly scrolled to this conclusion, I’m impressed and grateful for your tenacity. You win the prize.