Continuing from where I left off yesterday . . .
Sunday, August 30, at 4:10 AM, I woke up as a 40-year-old man in El Paso, Texas so I could make a 5:45 AM flight back home. Actually, I was born sometime during the 5:00 AM hour, but then again this was Mountain Time Zone, so I’m not sure of the exact moment I turned 40.
Why the early flight? Thanks to a dear friend at Southwest, she gave us passes that would allow us to fly for free if space was available, and this was the only flight that gave us the best chance of getting back home that day, and the ride to the airport would take half an hour.
Despite the short amount of sleep, I was feeling pretty good other than my aching feet, but once you start moving around a bit the pain mostly goes away. WifeGeeding’s best friend, who drove us to the airport, said something that cracked me up. She said people will often ask if you feel any older on your birthday, and after climbing that mountain, I must feel much older. To a certain extent, she was right.
We made it through airport security with ease, but I lost my wallet. To try to speed things up, and I realize this is a mistake looking back at it, I took out my driver license to go through security and placed my wallet in a pocket in my overpacked carry-on. When my bag went through the scanner I noticed a zipper pocket was unzipped, which is where I thought I placed my wallet, and it wasn’t there. We talked to a TSA agent, who couldn’t have been nicer or more professional. He first asked his colleagues to look around for it, called lost and found, and had one agent to look at the security footage to see if the wallet fell out at any time. All those were dead ends. He then called several people on the other side of security to retrace my steps, as well as lost and found, but no luck. Right as we were about to give up on finding it, he had this idea of running my bag through the scanner one more time to see if his agents could spot the wallet, and sure enough, there it was. My gosh did I feel sheepish for wasting their time. It’s a new bag and the pocket I put it in isn’t really a pocket, but more of an opening that provides entry to the entire bag and the wallet slid down to the bottom. For some reason, I couldn’t find my wallet when I rummaged through my carry-on before talking to TSA, but as embarrassing as it was, I was extremely thankful for how they handled my snafu with such grace and not making me feel like an idiot when it was found.
Despite the slowdown due to my wallet misplacement, we made our flight and were on our way home. As we were walking through Love Field, we were surprised at the amount of passengers at all the gates at 8:30 AM, and even more surprised to see how long the line was to go through security. We thought early Sunday morning would be a slow time at the airport, but we were dead wrong.
We hopped in our car and started to make the hour-and-a-half drive to East Texas to pick up the kids. At this point I started to think of all the driving I did this weekend:
- Friday: Lewisville to East Texas and back home, which was about three-and-a-half hours.
- Saturday: El Paso to Guadalupe Mountains National Park, and back again, which was about three-and-a-half hours.
- Sunday: Dallas to East Texas, East Texas to Lewisville, somewhere near three hours.
When we arrived at the home of WifeGeeding’s parents, she hurried in before me to remind the kids to tell my happy birthday as soon as they saw me. We packed up their things and was about to leave when her parents gave me a very precious gift, a painting of the mountain I just climbed. I’m not sure if I’ve ever been given such a thoughtful and timely gift. El Capitan is in the foreground with Guadalupe Peak right behind it.
Along with the painting, I found out my father-in-law gave the kids a small pet turtle, something like six to eight inches long. DaughterGeeding decided to name it Crackers. I think she got the name from a Franklin the Turtle book we read last week in which he cracked his shell and had to go to the hospital for an operation.
On the way home we stopped at one of my favorite burger places, Haystack Burgers and Barley, where I got my favorite drink, the Haymaker, a frozen concoction of flavored tea, lemonade, orange juice, and Maker’s Mark whisky. It’s the only alcoholic beverage other than sangria I’m willing to drink at a restaurant.
When we finally arrive home, WifeGeeding allowed me to take a nap, which lasted about three hours. All that climbing and driving wore me out. After my nap, I got a foot and chair massage, and then it was dinner time.
We ate at Pei Wei and a noticed a woman was also celebrating her birthday, so I wished her a happy birthday and mentioned that it was also mine. She was very kind and offered me half of her birthday cake to take home, but I knew there was one already waiting for me.
After dinner, I was presented with my favorite birthday cake, an ice cream cake from Baskin-Robbins, made of white cake and cookies and cream ice cream. As we were waiting for it to thaw, I opened up cards from the kids and then WifeGeeding presented me with close to 30 envelopes.
WifeGeeding contacted my friends, some blog readers, my childhood pastor, my childhood neighbors, cousins, my past college professors, former co-workers, parents of my childhood friends, and others with a letter, a Happy 40th postcard, and a self-addressed stamped envelope. She asked them to write their favorite memory of me and to mail it back. She was also pretty clever with this because she had the cards sent to a neighbor. When I turned 30, she was trying to throw a surprise birthday party for me, but I found out because a friend moved and the postal service returned the invite and I just happened to be checking the mail that day. She knows I can’t stand false sincerity and compliments so generic that they could apply to just about anybody, so I was extremely touched by what she did asking for them to give me something so unique and personalized. One person was so kind that he overnighted his postcard from Boston just to make sure it arrived on time. I’ve talked about how I now try not to put any expectations on people because they will only fail to live up to them, and that I really don’t have a right to do such a thing in the first place. She apologized that only one of my closest friends, the ones I meet once a year to pick a scholarship winner, returned a card, but I told her it was no biggie. I’m touched and thankful for those that did take time out of their day to do this for me, and while it would have been nice, I didn’t expect them to come through, and I love and accept them warts and all.
As if all this wasn’t nice enough, WifeGeeding gave me one more present that had a lovely amount of symbolism. She gave me a canvas print which contained lyrics to the U2 song, “40”, which is based on Psalm 40, for my 40th birthday.
The only downer of the day was that Crackers escaped. We let him out to crawl around the backyard, and when it was time to bathe the kids, everyone thought someone else was going to put him back in his container and that little sucker pulled a Dr. Richard Kimble. DaughterGeeding was devasted, BoyGeeding didn’t seem to care one iota.
It was a grand day to cap off a grand weekend and it has been a grand life, and I want to do what I can to make the rest of it grand. Thanks for allowing me to change things up for the past three days, the Bag of Randomness you are accustomed to shall return shortly.
Lastly, here’s another video. I’ve written about the greatness of Google Photos before, and I’m going to do it again. I love it because it backs up every picture and video I record on my phone, and every picture you’ve seen was taken by my phone. It also will surprise you from time to time by making a GIF, collage, storybook, or a video from a series of photos and videos taken over a period of time or from a certain area. During our climb I took a lot of pictures and recorded maybe ten short videos, and below is what Google Photos created from the entire batch – I didn’t edit one thing, add one special effect or filter, or add any music, Google Photos did all of this on its own. Even though the music is a bit cheeky, I prefer you listening to it rather than my labored breathing. And if you are curious what one of their story books look like, you can check out the one they made of our trip here (I’ve had a little trouble with the link, so bear with me). I like it because it added some special things like a map and animated arrow showing our flight and then our drive as well as some other goodies.
Note: No selfie stick was used, I just stretched out my arm.