When I met up with my family for the first time in almost eight months, I’d kind of prepared myself for a dramatic airport reunion. You know, the kind that you see at the beginning of Love Actually, when everyone is crying and happy and hugging each other. Unfortunately, my dad didn’t know what terminal I was going to arrive at when I met him and the rest of my family in San Francisco and I had to wait around at the arrivals gate whilst he was downstairs in the baggage collection area, trying to find me. (There was still a lot of hugging and happiness, so it’s not all bad.)
I was mostly just amazed at how normal it was to be with them all again after so long – there was the original “I can’t believe it’s been eight months!” of course, but within a day or so it just felt like a normal family holiday, which for us means a certain amount of bickering and things not turning out quite as we’d planned them.
Our plan was to drive from San Francisco back down to Albuquerque in just over a week, which we managed to achieve. It wasn’t all so straightforward though: we initially drove down the coast to Monterey and the Big Sur, only finding out when we got there that a collapsed bridge meant that the majority of the Big Sur coastline was closed. That’s ok, we thought, we weren’t going to go much further anyway. Why don’t we head inland and see the Sequoia trees and Kings Canyon on our way to Death Valley? A great plan, only when we got there Kings Canyon was also closed to the public. Yay.
Luckily none of us had got our hearts set on either of these places, and the rest of the trip went pretty much according to plan! Death Valley, Las Vegas, Grand Canyon (cloudy, unfortunately) and Monument Valley (also no sun), all in the space of a few days. My sister and my dad, both of whom had never been to America before, somehow managed to visit five states in under a week – pretty impressive!
One of my favourite memories of the trip was visiting Monument Valley, in Utah. Massive red rock sandstone buttes in the middle of what was basically a desert – an amazing view, although when we went it was so cloudy and dark that the red colour we knew was there had been muted to a dull brown. We were unlucky. Dad and I, however, decided that we weren’t going to take that as our only viewing of Monument Valley, and woke up at 6 a.m. the next morning to drive 45 minutes in the wrong direction to be able to see the red rocks in the sunlight. As you can see from the photo at the end of this post, it was well worth going back.
As much as it was sad to say goodbye to my family again, it wasn’t too difficult this time knowing that we only have a couple of months until I’m home again. We had a great send-off at Cheesecake Factory (the one thing my sister was most excited about), and now it’s less than two months until I get to see them again!