I have a moment of quiet here in New Mexico to document our Christmas vacation. As with all things this 2nd year of the pandemic, it is fraught, not only with the standard family joy/stress which is always dealt with at this time of the year, but also with the terrible (mostly anxiety) things that go along with this Omicron spike. The week before we left (we flew on the 23rd), we decided to keep Edda home from school and aftercare – which in retrospect was a good idea as the high school reported at least 40-50 cases from the 18th – 22nd (after reporting only a couple the entire year) and her after care (which is populated with about 30 people) also had a person test positive. But we did not insist that Vince stay home with us during that time and he went to an indoor music concert and various indoor eating restaurants with friends. And he got a tattoo which, honestly, was mostly (well kind of) fine for his mother. He did wear an n95 mask at the concert (one of the few people who did and it was incredible hard for him to breath). But he did end up (unsurprisingly) flying with loud sniffles and sneezes (we did covid rapid test him numerous times using up all our rapid tests – all negative), but it did not assuage his fellow Southwest airline seat companions (and me) who had to listen to him sniffle for hours. We were not sure even up to the day before if we were going to go on the trip, but the Swedes moved ahead and boarded their flight and we followed suit.
As these things happened, my uncle and his family flew in from Texas on the 22nd and we had originally scheduled a family dinner which would have included Bob, Katherine, Emy, Vince, Edda, us, my parents and Robert, Ying and Christopher, but this got cancelled and in its place, we had a short masked gathering (indoors) where Robert said he was astonished that we all took Covid “so seriously”. Christopher, a junior in HS, is on the lookout for prestigious schools on the east coast and this is his college tour trip. This was kind of fun as Robert (also a chem e) and I pulled out our old transport phenomenon textbooks (I have an old one of Robert’s) which were dated, inscribed and highlighted for Vince. Robert showed us some funny things Bird, Stewart and Lightfoot hid in their canonical textbook that I didn’t even know about.
I had to find care for two pets, neither of which are mine. Scarlett, the dog of Ben who is undergoing a bone marrow transplant, went to Mike and Sofi next door and Ivy, Emy’s diabetic cat, is boarding at our house with two catsitters (Isabella and Dara) who learned to give insulin shots to a very compliant cat. We took two cars to the airport as we were seven people and Jeremy had packed up two bikes – his and Emy’s and Edda’s wheelchair and bed. The flights were uneventful save for the sniffling from my son. Everyone mostly seemed mask compliant and the flights quiet – we made a stopover in Chicago and then to Albuquerque. In Albuquerque, we still had a 4.5 hour drive. We had too many people/luggage to fit in a single minivan, so Jeremy came up with a somewhat brilliant idea of renting a van and a U-Haul truck. Jeremy and I went to fetch the two vehicles leaving the rest of the party and luggage sitting at the airport.
But right as we drove off with the U-Haul truck from the gas station we picked it up from, the tire blew out. So Jeremy waited on the side of the road for the repair guy and I went to get dinner to bring back to the family.
Emy suggested a well reviewed burrito place close to the airport for dinner and I asked her to call the restaurant and place the order and I would pickup with the van and deliver burritos to both Jeremy (side of freeway) and the family (airport). How busy could a burrito place be at 3 pm on a Wed afternoon? Well, it was incredibly busy and confusing with a walk-up line, a full parking lot and also a line of cars waiting. Emy called and called and the line was busy, but finally placed the order and I finally found the person who took the order to pay and then I waited almost an hour for burritos. A person in line explained that this happened “every year” – apparently everyone was waiting for their Christmas tamales. The flat got fixed faster than the burritos! We all met back at the cell phone lot and devoured the burritos and settled into a 4.5 hour drive to Katherine’s house in Cliff, NM – Vince and Jeremy in the U-Haul and the rest of us in a minivan.