July 20, 2018

Summer 2018

Enjoying our first summer with family and new places!

Summer 2018

Travel.....a love of Exploration!

Early on in our dating relationship Travel was something Damon and I connected on. It was something we both desired more of in our new life.  It seemed like a great way to enjoy the time we would have together.

As our first summer approached, and my teaching schedule cleared, we began to dream up possible plans.  By the first of May we had bought tickets, made arrangements, and committed to a 7 week adventure starting the middle of June.

Damon had been working hard at getting into better shape.  Since the stent had been placed in January, he had been running three days a week.

He even ran on Vacation! Pismo Beach, California

Mother’s Day weekend he began to limp.  Something in his right heel was causing him pain.  A bone spur irritating his Achilles Tendon was the diagnosis. Immobilization was the recommendation.

Lizzie had a boot and a knee scooter from her reconstruction surgeries.  Damon strapped them on.  He needed to be mobile come the middle of June, so he would commit to limited mobility for now.

The following Sunday I went out for an evening walk.  When I came home I could not see Damon anywhere.  I wandered the house softly calling out his name.  I finally ventured into our dark bedroom and softly called out “Damon.”  To my surprise, he answered.


“Are you alright?”

“I don’t think so.”

My mind raced with all kinds of possibilities.... is something wrong with one of the kids? .....is he experiencing grief?......were his parents okay?  Before my mind could come up with any more possibilities he said calmly.....

“I think I broke my elbow.”

“What???”  I did not see that coming :)

He explained that he had gone into the garage with his scooter to plug in the Tesla. When he was maneuvering back to the door he lost his balance and went over the top of the handlebars.  Instinctively his hands went out to catch himself..... his hands hit and then his left elbow smacked on the cement hard.

He lay on the ground for about 10 seconds wondering if he could get up and saying over and over softly, “no, no, no, no”. His primary thought was he could not be injured and have me find him on the floor of the garage. That would be so traumatic for me to find him that way.

In spite of the pains shootings up his arms from his hands, his left elbow, and his pained heel, he pulled himself up off the ground. Determined at any cost to make it to the bed where it would be less traumatic for me to find him. He managed to get there without passing out from pain or crashing on the foot scooter again.

So that’s where I finally found him.

It was a long painful night.

The next morning Sydney and Logan took him into the Insta-Care.  I went into school and got my morning class started, then left to meet them.  It was broken.  Not shattered, so no surgery, but a half cast and a sling were strapped on.

Oh man, what a piece of humble pie.  He needed help bathing and dressing and eating......totally dependent on some widow he had met about 12 months ago :).

All I can say is that Damon was an excellent, kind, easy going patient.  Although he was very frustrated with his latest health fiasco, he took it in stride.

The second weekend of June quickly came.  We had a family reunion to put on in Lake Powell.  The temporary cast was removed. He was left to cautiously nurse the elbow back into full mobility and strength.  His bone spur seemed to be on the mend as well, so he eased back into a normal shoe.

We had a great reunion but long days of loading, unloading, and driving the boat, took their toll.  The next week he was back in a new type of boot, nursing the elbow with a sling, and riding the scooter when it was necessary to move great distances.

After taking a few days to pack the truck, the boot, the sling, and the scooter ... Damon and I left St. George in a 24ft U-haul truck headed for Missouri.  Helping Sydney and Logan get set up for dental school was the next item on our summer travel adventure and we were going for it.  I was so excited for them!

I was also frustrated and mad.  Anger.  It's an undesirable feeling that many widows from accidental deaths often feel.  Anger at your beloved dead spouse for participating in a ridiculous event..... that resulted in his death..... that left you alone carrying the pieces of a life the two of you had worked so hard for.  It’s a strange and conflicting feeling.  Loving someone deeply, missing them achingly, and then being so dang mad at them..... all at the same time!

These feelings brewed in me as we drove across the county those 3 days. Damon was a fantastic passenger, great company, but the reality of the loss had its grip on me. It manifested in no appetite, lack of ability to engage in meaningful conversation, and silent tears.   I once heard a widower say.... "Grief, it’s a sneaky bastard that continues to rob you of life.”  I agree!

Two wounded widows.  One nursing physical wounds, one nursing mental wounds. What a bummer way to start out our magnificent 7 weeks of exploration. Good thing all experiences...especially the bad ones......are just temporary ;)  By the time we arrived in Kirksville, MO those feelings had faded.

We spent a few days helping them unpack and get adjusted to their darling new home.  And then we were off!  Sydney took us to the train station in La Plata, MO and after a 3 hour delay :) we boarded the Amtrak for Chicago!

In Chicago we spent a few days enjoying the company of Laura and Spencer. Checking out the high rise they lived in, shopping in the city, and enjoying some super delicious food!

From Chicago we flew to Providence, Rhode Island.  An interesting destination that just happened to have good airfares to Cork, Ireland.  We met up with my girls. Sydney moving to Missouri marked the beginning of a new family structure for me. I desired one last trip with my girls, before life so inevitably changed.  

It's one of those flights where you fly through the night and then arrive early in the am......not so rested.  We had hours before we could check into our hotel so we took off to explore the Cork City Gaol.  An old prison that has been beautifully restored and has a wonderful educational audio track.

The next day we explored the English Market, Downtown Cork Shopping, and Fort Elizabeth.  A 17th Century Star Fortification.  We had a great time with their dress ups.

We drove to Blarney Castle to kiss the famous Blarney Stone!  Damon climbed the narrow stone tower in his boot!  Some of the spaces were so tiny.  Once at the top of the tower, you had to lay down on your back, grab some bars, and dangle off the edge to kiss this rock.  It was a fun time!

We drove towards the costal town of Dunworley.  The food, the streets, and beautiful ancient architecture was wonderful.  

One day at Dunworley we headed down to the beach.  It was only about 80 degrees, but that was warm for an Ireland summer day.  Maddy just had to submerge herself in the Atlantic!  Beautiful beach with my favorite people!

This was the stone cottage we rented in Dunworley.  I love these old stone structures.  It was fun, but also COLD!  

We drove up to Killarney and took a carriage ride into the National Park.  It was a beautiful ride.  Our driver spoke more Gaelic than English, so we did a lot of nodding and smiling.  We stayed at the Brehon Hotel and loved their food and spa.  We shopped at TK Maxx and enjoyed a charcoal ice cream cone.

We drove towards the Dingle peninsula and rented a home in Ventry.  It's right near the sea.  The sun sets were amazing!  The naked entertainment at the beach was unforgettable :)  

One day we set out for Mt. Brandon.  The second tallest mountain in Ireland.  It's a spiritual kind of mountain.  Damon had been here twice before.  We parked the car and began heading up.  At some point I just needed to keep going.  I coerced Madalyn into following along.  We weren't prepared to hike for 4 hours, but we managed on limited water and a lot of widow determination.  The views were incredible!  

Damon, Lizzie, and Sydney kindly waited for us and had us some sustenance when we returned.  

Everything is so lush and green.  It was a beautiful peaceful time with my girls.  

We said goodbye to the girls, spent one final night in Cork, and then flew to Amsterdam.  From Amsterdam we took the train to Rotterdam and them boarded Holland America's "Elegant Rotterdam" cruise ship.  

Our first stop was in Bergen, Norway.  It was a lovely warm day.  The old construction of the seaside village was amazing.  We took a funicular up Mt Floyen where I paddled in a canoe and enjoyed the beautiful views.

The next stop was off the northern tip of Scotland.  The Shetland Islands.  A tiny little spot of farmable land that has been worked for over 3000 years.  They also make a mean cheesecake and hot chocolate!

Iceland!  Wow!  I fell in love with the ease of navigation, the horses, the water falls, the flowers...... this first stop was in Akureyri, Northern Iceland.

Second Iceland stop: Isafjordur, the Northwestern Fjords.  It was a beautiful day!  Damon climbed the Dynjandi Waterfall in his boot!  Feeling the sun and the mist on my face, is a moment I will always treasure.   Waffles and strawberry rhubarb jam.....mmmmmmmm.

Reykjavik: Exploring Southern Iceland and the Secret Lagoon thermal pond.   Mushroom Ice Cream?  Mmmmmm!  

Greenland:  Icebergs and the Christian Sound.   Extreme Remoteness,  like I don't think humans belong here.  And what a life boat looked like in 2018 ;)

This cruise took an 18 day leisurely route across the Artic .   It was beautiful, peaceful, and delicious.  

Our last few stops were in north eastern Canada.  The land was rugged and very beautiful.  

And before we knew it, the boat was docking in Boston.  We left the scooter on the boat, gathered up the contents of our carry on suitcases, and  flew to Salt Lake to complete the last of our travel plans.  

We hit the Tim and Faith concert with Maddy, Preston, Lizzie, and Chuck.  We welcomed a new grandson Colbalt into the Family and a new Great Nephew Kruz.  We enjoyed spending time with Navy and Lizzie at the Janis Family reunion, and then we finally made it back to St. George.

It was a summer unlike any other.  Thanks for being a great travel companion DJ!