Here's the sixth chapter of Kiylee's Christmas.
Chapter Six – A Family Trip
We had never been on a vacation before. Yeah, we’d been out of
school for Christmas and summer, but I mean we’d never really gone
anywhere. We sometimes made plans, but when it came near time to leave,
Mom and Dad would change their minds and say they didn’t have enough
money and maybe we could go next year. But this time, they weren’t
making the arrangements.
Jim was getting married! He was 36 and he had never been married
before. He is Mom’s oldest brother, but he gets mad at us when we call
him “Uncle,” so it’s just Jim. His wife was also 36 and she hadn’t been
married before either, so Grandma and Grandpa wanted to have a big
family thing to celebrate. They planned another wedding reception just
like Aunt Deb’s, except that this time Mom didn’t have to make the
Anyway, Jim lives in New Zealand and his wife, Naimah,
is from Singapore. So they got married in Singapore and then they came
to Utah for another wedding and reception. They said their vows in Aunt
Laurie’s backyard and the wedding reception was at a church near
Grandma and Grandpa’s house.
The reception was pretty much the same,
stand in line, shake hands, smile and pretend we’re having a good time.
That wasn’t the part I was excited about. Back in December when Jim
announced that he was getting married, he also invited the entire family
on his honeymoon. I know that sounds weird, but he thought that we all
should get to know Naimah while she was in the United States since they
would be going back to New Zealand and we wouldn’t get to see them that
I didn’t care about that part, but the idea of a real
vacation sounded great. Jim put Aunt Laurie in charge and she started
making arrangements for everybody. She wanted money in January for all
the rooms, so I knew if Mom and Dad paid up front, they wouldn’t back
out at the last minute. We were going to Yellowstone first; then we
would go to Wyoming and spend some time in the Tetons and Jackson Hole.
were supposed to leave the day after the reception and drive all day.
Then we would get to Yellowstone late in the day and spend our first
night there. It started out kind of fun. Grandma rode with us and some
of my other aunts and uncles traded cars so we could spend more time
together. We stopped at a rest area just before we left Utah and
Nathan’s shoe fell out. Dad picked it up and set it on top of the van.
That was the last time we ever saw it. Don’t ask me why he didn’t just
toss it back in the van! Mom teased him about it for the rest of the
We played the license plate game and the alphabet game
until we stopped in Idaho Falls for lunch. By then we were getting
tired of riding. Kiy was just learning to crawl, so she hated being
stuck in the van for that long. Luckily, we bought a little TV and VCR
that kept Nathan entertained, but the rest of us were pretty tired of
We wandered around the Idaho Falls LDS Temple
for a while and watched the water slide off the edge of the
embankment. It was really cool. It wasn’t really like a waterfall,
because the water just kind of dropped off the edge and down into the
canal. Mom was really nervous because Nathan liked the water too much
and she was afraid that if we let go of him for even a minute, we’d
never see him again. In fact, Mom’s little paranoia at the temple set
the stage for the entire trip. I don’t know, I guess she just thought
that one of us would die somewhere along the way. First it was the
temple, but it got worse when we actually got to Yellowstone.
The first night we stayed at the Canyons. The rooms were pretty small
and our family and Grandma squeezed into two rooms. Since we didn’t
want to spend very much money, we also took coolers with food and drinks
and stuff. We didn’t want to attract any animals to the van, so we
drug all of it into our room. We didn’t have much room anyway, and
having to trip over coolers and boxes just made it worse. We were so
But I was excited too! We finally went somewhere on a
family trip and it was even better than just our family. We had
everyone with us. Mom has seven brothers and sisters and they were all
there with their families except Gary, who wasn’t married and lived in
Japan, and Aunt Deb and Uncle Layne. They didn’t come because their
baby was due any time and the doctor didn’t think that they should leave
Anyway, we had a pretty big group. Our new aunt was nice, but
we didn’t really get to spend much time getting to know her. She rode
the whole time with Grandma and Grandpa in their car and other than a
little bit of time in the evenings, she and Jim stayed in their room. I
think she was tired. She had that huge wedding in Singapore that she
planned all by herself. Then she came to Utah and went through another
wedding and reception. Then she got in a car and listened to Aunt Amy
gab for hours. She must have been exhausted!
We got up that
first morning after finally sleeping for a few hours. I was staying
with Grandma in her room about 30 feet from Mom and Dad’s cabin. We
opened the door and when we got about half way over to the other cabin,
we noticed three buffalo standing about 50 feet from us! Neal was
scared, but he wouldn’t admit it. I had read books on buffalo, so I
knew how fast they could move. I started walking faster, and I sort of
pushed Neal in front of me. We finally got to Mom and Dad’s door and I
don’t think those buffalo even glanced at us. Mom and Dad had the door
locked and we finally roused them out of bed about ten minutes later.
Those buffalo could have eaten us in the amount of time it took for Dad
to find his glasses and step over coolers and boxes to get to the door.
Kinsey and Kiyna were very excited to see the buffalo, but Mom and Dad
made us keep our distance. Then Uncle Randy came over from his cabin to
see what all the fuss was about. He started walking toward them like
they were in the zoo and there were iron bars to keep him safe! He’s
lucky they didn’t gouge him in the stomach. We finally got him to move
away from them and we all piled into the vans and cars for our first
real look at Yellowstone.
I think Mom’s first real look at
Yellowstone was enough! We drove a few miles to see one of the
waterfalls. I don’t know what she was expecting, but she put Kiy in the
backpack and grabbed Nathan’s hand. We all kind of skipped ahead on
the path and Mom and Dad followed. The path was well used, but the
walls were short and really wouldn’t keep anybody safe. The cliffs were
high and they dropped two or three hundred feet to the river bottom.
That was the good part. By the time we got to the waterfall, I thought
Mom was going to be sick. She wouldn’t let us get close to the wall to
look over at the water. Nathan’s hand was practically purple because
she was holding it so tight. Mom took one peek and hustled us all back
to the van.
The second place we stopped was at the geyser
basin. Grandma helped Nathan into his stroller and started down the
path. Mom was changing Kiy’s diaper and she told all of us to stay put
until she was finished. It took us about ten minutes to realize that
Nathan and Grandma were too far ahead and we weren’t going to catch up
with them before we entered the basin. Mom was terrified of the geysers
and the pools of burning water that always went with them. I thought
she was going to faint when we couldn’t find Grandma and Nathan.
Grandma never remembered to fasten the seat belt in the stroller and
Nathan liked to climb out whenever and where ever he wanted. Because he
couldn’t talk and understand things, “danger” was not something that
bothered him. Most of the time, “HOT!” didn’t even mean anything.
took the short path through the basin. Mom had Kiy in the backpack and
I could tell that Mom’s leg was bothering her. She was very upset and
after about 100 yards, she found a bench and sat down. We waited there
for about 15 minutes. Dad found Uncle Glen and asked about Grandma.
They hadn’t seen her either. Aunt Laurie’s family joined us on our
bench and we all waited.
Finally, we heard Grandma coming
before we saw her. Mom sent me down the trail to make sure she was OK.
She still had Nathan in the stroller and she was patiently pointing out
things to him as they passed. Nathan was looking around, content as
could be with his little tour of the geyser basin. As soon as we
reached the rest of the group, Nathan climbed out of the stroller and
started to run. Mom grabbed at him and caught him, but luckily, Uncle
Glen was close by, because as she grabbed for Nathan, Kiy nearly fell
out of the backpack.
Of course we left the geyser basin right
away. Mom was a basket case. I think that was the last time she got
out of the van to look at anything. When we stopped at the Grand Canyon
of the Yellowstone I heard her ask Dad to please bring us all back.
She stayed in the van with Nathan and Kiy. I think one of the reasons
Mom was so upset was that at one of the bookstores, Grandma bought a
book called Death in Yellowstone. It talked about all these kids who
had been mauled by bears, fallen into the geysers, or toppled off the
cliffs. Most of them were just plain stupid, but it was kind of scary
how quickly something can happen. I read the book too, and I remember
one story about a guy who had his dog with him. He was supposed to keep
the dog locked in the truck, but he didn’t and the dog fell into a
geyser. The guy was stupid enough to jump in to try to rescue the dog.
Of course he and the dog both died. The temperature was way above
Another story told about a mother who was standing
there with her five-year-old son watching Old Faithful when the boy took
one step backward because he was scared by the spray. He fell off the
boardwalk into a geyser pool and was scalded and died instantly. That’s
the one that scared Mom. I think that ever since she found out that
Nathan had problems, she just knew that something bad was going to
As it turned out, the only injury anyone suffered on
our vacation was a bite from a vicious buffalo gnat. It got Neal right
on the upper lip. Within an hour, his lip was so swollen; it looked
like he’d been in a boxing match and lost big time. He could hardly eat
and his lip cracked and bled. We didn’t know why his lip was swollen
until we were in a grocery store and a lady who had had a similar
problem told us what to do for him.
The Tetons were more
enjoyable. Mom relaxed a bit and we were all able to have more fun. We
took a boat ride around a lake and we drove into town to a cowboy ranch
for dinner. Our cabins were much bigger and more comfortable. Mom
even said that we could come back to the Tetons sometime if we just
We made our way home through Jackson Hole.
We had lunch there and then we shopped at some of the tiny stores. Dad
bought us doughnut holes from a street vendor who made them right in
front of our eyes. We also saw all of the elk horns stacked up at the
The ride home seemed even longer than the ride to
Yellowstone. Everybody was tired and ready for a nice hot bath. It was
late when we finally got home, so we just all kind of fell into bed.
We didn’t even unload the van. Mom didn’t care, she was just glad to be
home with everyone still alive. I didn’t care, as long as I could
sleep in my own bed and listen to my own music. Nathan was just glad
that he didn’t have to wear clothes all the time and Mom was so tired,
she even let Kiy sleep with me.