The Traveler

Leaving Las Vegas and Belated Christmas Fun

Mirror Mirror Leaving Las Vegas and Belated Christmas FunAnela, our 4-year-old granddaughter

Korbin Collage Small e1294378467933 Leaving Las Vegas and Belated Christmas FunKorbin, our grandson born 10.01.10

Landon Leaving Las Vegas and Belated Christmas FunLandon, our 2-year-old grandson

We are on the road, driving home from Las Vegas, somewhere between Bakersfield and Buttonwillow.  It was a short, sweet trip, where the Kemp kids gathered with us in a friend’s home to have a late Christmas celebration.  We are grateful for the experiences we had together and for the memories we will hold forever.

For the first time, this year we drew names.  Mark and actually felt badly because it was also the first year that we received more than we gave.  In addition to the name the kids drew, almost all of them bought a gift for us as well.  We received funny, inside joke gifts, gift cards, and pictures of the grandkids.  We also did a funny white elephant gift exchange, which always proves to be a hit, with unexpected ‘inappropriate’ items, ones that everyone wants and steals, and items that the one lucky person makes their best sales pitch, convincing everyone else that they want it. :-)

Toys Small e1294378793715 Leaving Las Vegas and Belated Christmas FunFun Real and White Elephant Gifts – I fought for the Classic Mickey Mouse, Christina was showcasing her Tiger Beat and BOP Mags, Carrie was very pleased with her Dr. Pepper Classic Lunchpail


Headbandz Collage Small e1294379035459 Leaving Las Vegas and Belated Christmas Fun‘Headbandz’ game made personal. You had to guess the word or phrase on your forehead only by asking yes or no questions. Mark made everyone a personalized one to reflect something they say, do, love, or an inside joke. Jared got revenge by putting the question, “Does that Make Sense?” on Mark’s forehead, which he often says when teaching.

The short two days were filled with good food (everyone responsible for different meals), lots of games, lots of laughter, and even a great discussion about forgiving those who hurt or disappoint us.  But the best part of the trip was going to see the kids paternal Grandpa in St. George, UT.  He is living in an Assisted Living facility, and the last time they were all together at once was some seven years ago.  As you’ll be able to see in the pictures, he was tired a lot of the time.  But there were also plenty of moments where he joked with the kids.  I’m sure these pictures will prove to be treasured forever.

KEMP Family Leaving Las Vegas and Belated Christmas FunMark’s Dad in front; Middle Row: Carrie, Christina, Mark; Back Row: Brett, Jared, Josh

Four Generations Leaving Las Vegas and Belated Christmas FunDon, Mark, Jared, and Korbin

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On Our Way to Vegas

IMG 1008 e1294019811233 On Our Way to Vegas

My Dog Woofie and Me

While many of your Holiday celebrations have come to a close, we are on our way for one more shabang… meeting the kids in Vegas! This year we decided that we would do Christmas on location – after Christmas.  Mark and I are driving right now.  In the rain.  On the lone and dreary Highway 5 in Central California.  The grapevine on the way to LA is closed due to snow – so, because of traffic flow, it is turning what should be a 10-hour drive into at least 13.

There are benefits… like extra time in the car together, chatting, listening to talks, reading out loud to each other. We love road trips! It’s always a good time to reflect, regroup, and reconnect.

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Views From the Train

IMG 1569 e1290827629710 Views From the Traintaken this morning at the Amtrak Station {Hipstamatic for iPhone}

Yesterday I enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving with my parental family.  We kicked things off the night before at a church service, which was so aesthetically warm with dim lights and candlelight, and very intimate and connecting.  The pastor had us all get within small groups of family members or friends, share the things we are grateful for, and partake of the Sacrament.  As I was a little overcome with emotion, I shared that I was so grateful for family, and friends as good as family, that always give me a soft place to land, showing up in many forms.  Also, that I was grateful for my Savior, who has us all in the palm of His hand, and who gives reason to our trials.

This morning Mark and I got on a train bound for Utah to continue the Thanksgiving celebration with his kids and grandkids.  The train pulls in around 4am, tomorrow morning.  It’s about a 16-hour ride.  Soon we’ll be pulling out our pillows and blankets, hoping to get a good nights sleep for the short hours that we’ll have.

There must be something in the air today on the train.  Everyone is being so… nice.  Couples are in love, holding each other close.  Parents are smiling and playing with their children.  Grandchildren are kissing all over their grandmas.  In a world where so many couples are distant and cold toward each other, it does my soul good to see women tucked under the shoulder of their men.

IMG 1593 Views From the Train

One thing I love about trains is that once it starts moving, you are here.  For good.  Until you reach your destination.  I’m easily distracted, so the chance to just sit and ‘be’ is welcome.  There is no feeling of ‘I should be doing this or that’, because I know that I simply cannot go or do anything other than ‘be’ on the train.  I have my honey to talk to, my laptop, my book, my knitting.  That’s it.

IMG 1580 e1290830444376 Views From the Train

So, since 10am, it’s been nothing but good conversation, fun observations, beautiful site-seeing, knitting, and writing (no reading yet).  We’ve been sitting in the Observatory all day – with large windows lining the whole cabin for optimal views.  Imagine hours and hours of  untrod wilderness, full of snow and trees.  When the sun was in just the right place, there was a whole field of snow, sparkling like diamonds.  Breathtaking.  I told Mark it looked like Edward Cullen’s (from Twilight) face.  :-)  But much more beautiful.

From time-to-time we would see a completely random house all alone, totally hidden away from the rest of the world.  There was a time I wondered, what kind of people would choose to live like that? Now I understand that they are my kind of people.  They are likely the kind of people who yearn for solace, peace, and tranquility.  A kind of people that want to live purposefully, without being bombarded with media and influenced by imagery from a very busy world.  A kind of people that want to keep sacred very special values for themselves and for their children.  There was a time I regarded that ‘kind’ as freakish.  If they are freaks, count me as one of them.  I totally get it.

IMG 1596 e1290830646835 Views From the Traintaken from inside the train

Tomorrow at 11am we are meeting everyone to continue the feast.  The feast on food.  The feast on connection, love, and family.  I’m so excited to see the kids,  and our three grand-babies.  There will be lots of hugs, kisses, laughter, and cuddling going around.

“Be Here Now” by Mason Jennings is my song anthem for this post.  Listen, and take in the lyrics.  There’s no other place to be…

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