Thursday, March 12, 2015

Wyoming Trip!

A few posts ago I mentioned that my grandma passed away. I knew before she passed that I would be going to Wyoming for her funeral. Michael found out that he could use bereavement...he got 3 days. Such a blessing! At first I thought I'd be traveling by myself, but my brother and SIL were able to come as well. Speaking of blessing...we thought we were going to have to pay $366 one-way for our tickets to Billings, but one of my SIL's co-workers heard about the situation and she ended up gifting us 75,000 airline miles! We did end up having to travel from Seattle to Portland and then Portland to Billings, but my round trip airfare ended up costing me a whopping $11.20! Seriously what an amazing person to blessing us like that! 

Ryan, Steph and I flew out from Seattle at 12:30, landed in Portland and had enough time to eat lunch and then boarded our flight for Billings. Steph had asked me to deal with renting the car as she was dealing with the airfare and wasn't able to find anything under $300 that was unlimited miles. Since we were going to have to drive from Billings MT to Gillette WY and back we really didn't want to worry about how many miles we were driving. So I set out to find us a deal. I ended up going with Hotwire and got us a Midsize SUV for 4 days unlimited miles for $179! Another blessing! 

I drove us from Billings to Gillette and we got into our hotel around 10:30pm. It was all of -2 degrees outside! Brrrrrr! We stayed at the Arbuckle Hotel with my parents. Since we saved so much money we decided it would be nice to have separate rooms. This was my first time staying in a hotel room all by myself. It was kind of weird! I honestly never turned on the TV once....I read some magazines that Steph lent me and I also was able to read most of the third Hunger Games book. 

The next morning was the day of Grandma's funeral. It wasn't until 1pm so we ate breakfast at the hotel and then headed over to visit with Grandpa. I was surprised that I didn't cry when I first saw him, but we just sat down and started visiting with my Aunt Deb who was already there. After a while we went back to the hotel to rest for an hour and then get dressed for the funeral. We arrived almost an hour before the service was supposed to start. Grandma's service was held at Walker Funeral Home in Gillette. As far as funeral homes go...I haven't been inside many, but this one was so beautiful. The outside looked like a gorgeous house and the inside was decorated so nicely. They even had cute baskets everywhere that had those small packs of tissues in them. 

This is what we saw when we walked into the main room. There were flower smells so wonderful. So many people showed their love for my Grandma and our family!!

These were the flowers that were sent by our family friends Al & Ellen and Jim & Norean! 

Mom and Dad bought flowers that were from the Grant side of the family.

At the front was a picture of my Grandma when she was little as well as one I think from their 50th wedding anniversary. The plain wood box is Grandma's urn. Gillette doesn't have a crematorium so Grandma had to be sent to Sheridan and we didn't think that her ashes for in the actual box yet, but later on we found out they were. That was really upsetting to my Grandpa and he said if he'd known they were in there he might not have been able to go in the room. Not sure why...grief is different for everyone, but right now the urn is sitting on his dresser in his bedroom.

This is Terry and his wife...can't remember her name. Terry is a friend of my Uncle Clif's and he's the one that performed the service. Oh my....he was amazing. I literally was sitting there listening to him and I had the thought....I want him to officiate my service. Then it hit me that most likely he won't be around to do that....God willing right! His voice is very comforting and he talked about how this service was really more for Grandpa and it wasn't was a celebration of her life and our time with her. He did encourage us to laugh and cry that both were okay. He sang two songs acapella and they were both wonderful and brought tears to your a good way. My Dad did both the opening and closing prayer. Ryan read the eulogy. I spoke about my favorite memory of my Grandma and had the hardest time keeping it together. I was fine until I saw everyone's faces and then I lost my voice. I finally recovered a bit....good enough to get my words out. My favorite memory was when we came out to Laurel MT to visit my grandparents and we went to the mall in Billings to do some shopping. I got tired and Grandma said we should go sit down so my mom could finish her shopping. Grandma bought me frozen yogurt and popcorn...introducing me to the greatest combination of salt and sweet! Then she gave me my first lesson in people watching. It's a wonderful memory I have of just her and I! After me my mom got up and did a great job keeping it together. I have no idea how she did that!

After the service we had some fellowship time with food in the back was nice to visit with family.

Aunt Susan and her grandson Tristin.

Mom, me and Ryan.

My cousin Troy's wife Jena and their son Ryan....Tristin is also theirs.

My cousin Patrick's wife Wendy, Uncle Mike and my cousin Nicki.

Aunt Terri, Grandpa and Aunt Deb.

Ryan and Stephie

Troy & Jena

This was the first time Steph and Jena got to meet in person, but because they have interacted so much on Facebook they both felt like they already knew each other. It was fun for them to finally get to talk in person. 

Mel and I both came without our husbands or kids. It was nice to be able to chat and not have to be running around in a million directions. We both are lucky to have such great hubbies that will take care of the home front while we're gone. 

After visiting for a while I asked Terry to invite everyone for family pictures. Again his voice really came in handy here. That was after we almost had to give my Dad the Heimlich maneuver....seriously scary!!!

Grandpa with all 5 birth order it's Gail (mom) on the left of Grandpa, Aunt Linda on the right of Grandpa, Uncle Clif in the back, Aunt Deb in the back left and Aunt Terri in the back right.

All the kids and their spouses...Duke & Gail, Lee & Linda, Clif & Susan, Deb, Mike & Terri.

Unfortunately a couple of the grandsons had to leave for a minute so we only got a picture with two of them. Troy, Marshall and Patrick weren't there at the time and Kelly wasn't able to make the trip. I love this picture of Tony and Ryan with grandpa though!!!

All the granddaughters were there though...Melody (Linda & Lee's daughter), Nicki (Mike & Terri's daughte) and Lyndsay (Duke & Gail's daughter).

Once it was time to leave the funeral home we all went back to Grandma and Grandpa's still doesn't feel right to just call it Grandpa's. They have a community room upstairs where we were all able to hang out. My Aunt Susan's sister is a caterer so she made a ton of food. We were there for hours! It was so wonderful to have so much time with family.

Me and my Mom! 

This is my Grandma's sister Aunt you can see Mom was probably giving her a hard time about something. Probably trying to tell her where to look since Aunt Vera's eyesight isn't the best. 

This is Aunt Vera's daughter Vicki and Ryan and Steph.

Nicki and her Dad Mike.

Wendy and my cousin Patrick.

My Grandma had a sister Helen and on the left is her daughter Lenora, but everyone has always called her Tootie. In the middle is my cousin Nicki's daughter Ayslyn and Aunt Terri.

Dad with my cousin's Troy on the left and Marshall on the right.

Me and my grandpa!

Aunt Deb and Aunt Susan.

My cousin Marshall's daughter Tiffy. Love that girl and hoping she'll get to come out here and visit with us one summer. It would be great fun! 

It was definitely a wonderful, exhausting, family filled day and that felt like 3! 

The next morning we went to breakfast with some old friends of my parents.

The Kissack's have known my parents for years. My Dad used to work with Claude. It was a blast getting to hang out with them. 

That day we did a bunch of things....went grocery shopping for Grandpa, had lunch out with family, went to my cousin Marshall's house and then spent dinner with Grandpa. 

This is a picture from Marshall's front yard. They live on a big chunk of land. It's just gorgeous out there! 

The next morning on our way to say goodbye to Grandpa we stopped at the Gillette sign so my brother could represent Little Jerry's all the way from Wyoming. Little Jerry's is my cousin Tara and her husband Tony's restaurant in Tacoma Washington. If you love great food and Seinfeld you'll love this restaurant! 

Saying goodbye to Grandpa was the hardest part of the trip. Grandma's gone there is nothing we can do for her now, but now Grandpa's whole life is changed forever. They were married for almost 63 years! The night before we left he just kept saying over and over "It should have been me to go first". Thankfully my Aunt Terri lives close enough she comes to visit on Saturdays to get groceries and wash clothes. I think my cousin Tony also checks in on him from time to time. I believe there is a home health nurse that will be coming in too and someone to help with the apartment as well. 

We were originally going to stay until Monday, but we checked out on Sunday instead. Everyone was heading home and my parents were ready to get started on their journey. By this point it was March 1st and they hadn't really been home since February 12th! My Uncle Lee and Aunt Linda had just recently moved to Cody WY so we thought it would be fun to spend our last night with them. Plus it's quite a ways closer to Billings so the drive wouldn't be as long for us to get to the airport on Monday. 

We had to drive over the Big Horn Mountains and it was beautiful. The weather and the roads were great. We did encounter a little bit of snow, but nothing bad at all. 

We stopped in Ten Sleep for lunch at the Crazy Woman Cafe. I love how when you walk into one of those small town restaurants EVERYONE turns and looks at you like...who the heck are you? Everyone was nice, but it seems like they were just surprised to see outsiders! ;) 

The food was really yummy and after we had lunch Ryan and Steph treated us to milkshakes....I got a chocolate malt....oh yummy!!! 

We got to Aunt Linda and Uncle Lee's in the afternoon and got to see their new house and hang out chat. Later in the evening we went for dinner at a nice place...I had steak! When we got back to the house we had a big box to go through with all of Grandma's pictures. We wanted to separate them out for all 5 kids and make copies of old pictures so everyone would have them. It was fun looking at all of them. 

The next morning we went shopping at the Yellowstone Store and I got shirts for Michael and the kids. Then we ate a little snack and it was time to say goodbye. 

One last picture and then we jumped in the rental car and started the drive to Billings. We got to the airport at 2:30pm. A funny thing that happened on this trip is our flight from Portland to Billings I sat next to a nice lady named Lisa. She was from San Diego and she was visiting a friend a Billings. While we were talking I found out that she was also flying back to Portland on Monday on the same flight we were. When I was walking to the gate in Billings for our flight home I hear...."Hey Lyndsay"....then Lisa stood up and I said hi and we hugged each other. We seriously had only talked for 2 hours on a flight, but we were fast friends. We weren't assigned to sit together on the flight to Portland, but I just sat next to her anyway and no one told me to move. It was so nice chatting with her for another 2 hours. Also there were a few times we got freaked out on the flight so it was nice to have someone to talk with a distract you. We are now friends on FB and her son is stationed at JBLM here in Washington so who knows I might get to see her again someday. My brother was funny because he looked at Lisa and said, "This isn't the first time she's done this" reply was..."I never meet a stranger!" 

The last leg of our trip was LONG...our flight kept getting delayed due to the plane needing to be serviced and I was starting to get worried that our plane was going to fall from the sky or something. It wasn't the most pleasant flight home and then Stephie's luggage was lost for a bit and we got home almost 2 hours later than we were supposed too, but we were home!!! The kids were all in bed so I didn't get to see them that night, but I did get to chat with Michael without a bunch of kids mauling me so that was nice. I'm so thankful that I got to go and spend this time with family!