Last September Brad and Nikki flew from Florida to Utah so they could drive to southern California (and back) with us. At some point during the drive (on several occasions actually), they invited us to visit them in Florida. On February 4-5 we did.
We’d not planned on going to Florida any time soon but we’d not planned on going to the Dominican Republic (D.R.) anytime soon either. Plans change. President Sorensen volun-told a group of missionaries to plan a 30 year mission reunion in the Dominican Republic, which they did. Originally I had no intention of attending; the D.R. is many miles (2,927 to be exact) away, travel is expensive (though less so if you can use frequent flier miles to get plane tickets), creating sub plans is a medium-to-huge hassle (more huge than medium) and, most of all, I have not kept in touch with any Dominicans and very few missionaries. Why travel all the way to the D.R. to see President Sorensen (lives in Logan), Chad Koford (lives in Orem) and Carole Romney Noel (married to my brother) when I can see them locally or at family reunions?
I don’t love the hassle of preparing for big trips, I don’t love spending money, and I don’t love the anxiety that accompanies foreign travel but I do love President and Sister Sorensen. It seemed the reunion was a big deal (BIG DEAL) for the Sorensens (scheduled to coincide with President’s 75th birthday) and they are a big deal (BIG DEAL) to me so we decided to attend the reunion to support them. We would do our part to help make it successful (though spending a week in the Caribbean in February is hardly an act of martyrdom!!). Spending a weekend in Florida with Brad and Nikki on our way to the D. R. was a natural and eagerly anticipated addition to the trip.
We left Roy about 3:00 p.m. in order to arrive at the SLC airport by 4:00 so we could easily board our 5:10 p.m. flight…..a flight that did not leave until after 8:00 p.m. The plane we were supposed to take was stuck in Phoenix where it waited for a part to be flown in from Los Angeles. Eventually Delta abandoned plans for the Phoenix plane and flew a plane in from Baltimore. We eventually boarded that plane and eventually (2:14 a.m.) arrived in Orlando. Bless Brad! He patiently waited three hours for us in the cell phone parking lot at the Orlando airport and then cheerfully (if he was not cheerful at that time in the morning then he did a great job faking it) drove us for an hour to his home in Palm Bay. It was after 3:00 a.m. when we gratefully fell into he and Nikki’s king size bed and he graciously joined his wife on an air mattress on the floor of their daughter’s room. (Like I said…..be careful who you invite to visit!)
Our visit with Brad and Nikki and family was fabulous. Absolutely, completely fabulous. FABULOUS. Brad and Nikki are genuine and gracious and oh so fun. Also oh-so-fun was watching their five children play and romp and wrestle in the back yard. It like going back in time to the “good ‘ole days” before children became addicted to cell phones, television, and video games. Frank, Gideon and Jett battled imaginary foes (and sometimes each other) with real sticks, converted to imaginary swords; Eden and Harper, each balanced on large, wooden spools, contested to unbalance each other; Harper and Frank “monkey-ed” (hand-over-hand, foot-over-foot climbing) up a low hanging branch on a back yard tree. Good times.
Meal times were also good (GREAT) times. Saturday morning Brad made homemade kouign amann (look it up), soaked in custard, cooked like French toast, and topped with homemade raspberry butterscotch syrup. Oh my. OH MY! Sunday Nikki taught me how to make sushi rolls and I ate until my tummy was rolling over my belt.
We enjoyed great times at Sea World as well. I felt a little surreal, walking around in shorts and Chacos (hiking sandals) when less than 24 hours earlier I’d been bundled to the chin, hauling sheep water down to the pasture through 2+ feet of snow. Though the weather felt surreal the feel of sting-rays eating fish from my hand was very real. Also very real was the wave of water that did NOT soak me during the dolphin show. It did not soak me because I strategically sat directly behind Brad, who did get very much soaked. Real also was the person in Sea World who invited Brad to listen to her sale’s pitch. “Step over here,” she said, “and bring your parents with you” gesturing to Lance and I. “Your parents are invited to join us,” she repeated, again waving at Lance and I. Here we go again….
Being referred to as Brad’s mom was (sadly) not a first but watching the Super Bowl with him was; first time we’d watched the Super Bowl in Florida, first time a team came back from a 25 point deficit to win the Super Bowl, first Super Bowl overtime and first time a quarter back won five Super Bowls—lots of history made Sunday.
And then our Florida visit was history as well. Brad delivered us to the airport early (way too early, it turns out) where we hung out on benches, waiting to board our 5:20 a.m. flight. Two for two on delayed flights…..this time a computer malfunction in the cockpit delayed our Orlando-to-Atlanta flight two hours. They were doing the final boarding of our Atlanta-to-Santo Domingo flight when we arrived at the gate.
On board the airplane, headed towards the Dominican Republic, I wrote the following in my journal: “We had a fabulous time with Brad and Nikki—FABULOUS—but, as is almost always the case with trips when I start out, I am wishing I were home right now. I’m a bit anxious about lots of things—finding a taxi from the airport to the Metro station, buying tickets and getting on the right bus at the Metro station to get to Puerto Plata, exchanging money, hanging out with Chad and Stasie for 5 days, being social at the mission reunion, leaving the kids at home for 10 days, speaking Spanish, navigating the Capitol without Chad after the reunion, finding a chapel on Sunday—I really have a great, GREAT life in Roy. What am I doing on a plane headed to the Dominican Republic? It is so much safer and easier at home!!!!
But here I am….and I repeatedly put myself in these situations….probably because they turn out well in the end.”
Read next week’s blog to find out how things turned out in the end.