Saturday, January 5, 2013

Three states: Six plane flights: Christmas Adventure in the West

On Monday my wife celebrates her 27th birthday. One week after that we celebrate our first anniversary as a married couple! This year has gone by quickly despite its many changes and adjustments. Even as we have forged our own new life here in Virginia, one thing that hasn’t changed is that we both wish that we lived closer to the rest of our families in the western United States.

Last year we were not able to spend time with either of our families with the wedding coming so close on the heels of the holidays. This year we sought to make up for it by visiting both families in a two week excursion across the country.

The journey began in Arizona where we ate lots of tasty food, hiked in the mountain preserves, played games, and packed as much as possible into the few days we had. We managed to fit in a trip to Kristen (my sister) and Corey’s house in Prescott, complete with venison stew and a walk down to the light display in the square. The next day we visited both ranches to meet our new cousin once removed and see everyone there. We also met up with one of my best friends from high school and his family to continue a long standing Christmas tradition of playing games together.
Corey Playing "Just Dance" on the wii

Playing Stone Age

Scenes from "Les Mis"
We additionally managed to see both “The Hobbit” and “Les Miserables” while we were in Arizona, which were each excellent adaptations of two of my favorite stories.  

Inspired by these films we recreated scenes from the latter in our family Christmas picture in front of the tree. We then took the hobbits to Isengard and engaged in general silliness before departing from Arizona and heading to Colorado to meet the newest member of the family, Noah Robert Zigler, born to Alison’s sister Melanie and her husband on 12/20/2012.

Taking the Hobbits to Isengard!
In sharp contrast to me, who looks as though I had just gotten out of bed in this picture (I had),  Alison dressed to match her new nephew with a special shirt she had designed for the occasion.

Our original Christmas plans were modified when we found out Stanford was going to the Rose Bowl.

Rather than remaining in Colorado for New Years, Alison, her Dad, and I flew to California and joined her uncles, aunt, and cousin in LA. We spent our New Years Day following Stanford around the region. We took the metro (who knew LA even had a metro?!) from our hotel to Pasadena where we arrived just in time to watch the Rose Bowl Parade. The experience was made more exciting since Alison’s uncle actually marched with the Stanford Band in the parade. I climbed up a tree just before they passed our viewpoint and spotted him marching by.
Uncle Sandy with the Stanford band

Entering the tailgate party
We then wound our way through the city to the Rose Bowl Stadium where we found the Stanford tailgate party and lots of tasty food!

Enjoying "It's Its" at the tailgate party

Our seats were only three rows from the bottom, so it felt like we were practically on the field. This actually made it challenging to follow the game, but positioned us quite well for the explosion of confetti following Stanford’s victory.

It was quite a unique experience and an excellent first direct exposure to Stanford Football for me!

When we arrived back in Denver we connected with one last element of the family when we were picked up at the airport by my cousin and his wife. After enjoying dinner with them, we managed to fit nearly everything into our bags before heading back home the next morning.

It was a busy two weeks, but a very memorable chance to share a wide variety of Christmas memories with our families in the final days of our first year of marriage. :)

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