Thursday, November 5, 2009

Venner Family Reunion

One week after my parents left, it was the Venner's turn! Martin and Rhonda got to wake up around 4:30 to catch an early flight, in order to arrive around 10. John and I (emphasis on I) got our wires crossed the night before about where we were meeting, so after a little confusion and a bit of speeding, we were both at the airport to greet our new guests!

We went out for breakfast and then down to High River. They got to do the grand tour on foot since the weather was more cooperative that week. We took them to the Antique store in town so they could do the "attic walk." When the town grew and the stores took over what used to be the center of town, the antique store began to utilize the top stories of the buildings. Walls that separated the buildings were knocked down and doorways were opened. This allows one to walk through three or four different buildings. One of which, used to be the courthouse. They left the holding cells alone, and jammed all of the old leather seats into the tiny room. There is even a creepy naked red light bulb hanging from the ceiling. My favorite room looks like it was part of a hotel. It is a big, open room with an atrium like area in the roof. The place would be an amazing setting for a Halloween dance. Might have to keep that in mind...

While we were out and about, we checked out the local bakery, which was a big hit. Date squares, peanut butter bars and other tasty treats were purchased and devoured.

Taking a trip up to Banff is a necessity it seems. John's parents were treated to the obligatory shopping spree. Martin in particular seemed to really enjoy that aspect, especially when they found a candy shop making fresh caramel corn and HUGE turtles. The turtle was not my friend, I still have chocolate on the seats of my car which I had forgotten to clean up. John bought my belated anniversary present while we were there. It is a knit sweater with a fleece lining, and holy crap is it warm! Best, most useful gift ever! It came in handy when we continued the drive out to Lake Louise. The temperature was much more tolerable that day, but by no means warm. I was glad to have my new sweater. We took pictures and walked along the edge of the Lake, a feat we wouldn't have dared to do the day my parents were there.

Spurred by some crazy urge, we found ourselves doing a 2.6 km hike up to Mirror Lake. No one had come prepared for hiking on icy trails. I was wearing Uggs... not the hiking shoe of choice. They preformed relatively well compared to Rhonda's running shoes, lol. Love you, Rhonda!

After what seemed like forever walking through a snow covered forest, we eventually reached a frozen-over, Mirror Lake. To add injury to insult, it was more like a pond, and was covered in snow. Martin didn't let that stop him from enjoying the moment. While the rest of of sat and recuperated, he wandered down to the ice and made a snow angel. No one will ever say the Venner's are boring. I was snapping pictures with Rhonda's camera the whole time we were out there, but when it started to snow, however lightly, I decided to put it under my sweater. Only after zipping up did I realize it looked like I had a beer belly. It was, of course, while I was declaring this observation, that two hikers found us.

Nothing very interesting came of that. They hadn't run into anyone in a while and asked us to take a picture of them together, which we did. They also gave Martin inspiration to head back down (we figured they had food in their bags, and we could catch them and "borrow" the food if need be). There was a lot of laughing and slipping on the way back down. Some name calling which is better off forgotten.

As for that night, I only have two things to say: Schanks and drunk Venners are happy Venners.

Unlike my family, John's actually has some extended relatives way out west, here. Martin's sister, Elsie and her husband, Derek, are two. I don't know how long it had been since Martin and Elsie had seen each other, but it was a given that we were going to take a trip up to see them.

The painfully long drive to Edmonton started out even worse after we got on the road. Out of nowhere, the snow flurries turned into a white-out. I'm not a bad driver, and I have experienced snow covered roads (Just ask my college room mates), but I was not up for the responsibility of driving John's family through a storm. I made it to Calgary, bailed off the Deerfoot, and swapped out with John. He had the pleasure of making it the rest of the way through Calgary, before the snow let up.

The perk of this trip was the Edmonton Mall. It is the largest in North America and the fifth largest in the world. We visited a little at the house, but in an effort to burn some time, we all went to the mall. After the boys split from the girls, and the Rhonda and I split from Elsie and Derek's mom, we had an interesting time. Of course, Rhonda and I needed a few more hours, but in that time John managed to turn $5 into $70 at the casino (THERE'S A CASINO?!?!?!) and buy a few pairs of much needed jeans. The guys also checked out the shooting range (this is the only mall men would drag their partners to), but found it lacking. Too expensive, and they had shot more impressive guns than the range provided.

Rhonda and I saw the indoor water park/wave pool. We saw the lagoon with the submarine ride, and we even saw the theme park where the roller coasters were. We missed the Casino since we were on the ground floor and I still have no idea where the shooting range was. We did, however, go in a bunch of jewelry shops to look at the shiny things, and she told me the story of Martin proposing. It was a fun time.

That evening we had dinner with the Edmonton Venners, we carved some mini pumpkins, Elsie came up with a new name for my degree (Bachelor of Fuck-All), and Rhonda and I got to take turns driving the 3 or more hours home while Martin sang in the backseat.

Some where during that week we drove up to Calgary and saw the +15 system. One of the days Rhonda and I finally got to sleep in, then went shopping. We needed some time away from the boys and we were supposed to find a DVD shelf/cabinet/holder. Instead we bought wine glasses, place mats and napkins at Crate and Barrel. We had to go out later with John and Martin to Ikea to find the DVD shelves. That experience could have gone a little smoother, but after we returned the first set (wrong color) and got the right set into the car (we had to put down one of the back seats and squish together on the remaining one to get home) we were good. Rhonda and John put it together while I made my honey BBQ chicken, and Martin held part of the shelf at the last second so he could say he helped. I have to admit, he cleaned the kitchen more than once so I have nothing to complain about... really.

John punished us mercilessly the whole week in a way I will not share, but Martin finally got him back one night. He was checking his blood sugar, and some how, that led to John getting tested. Below 10 means you're not in trouble, but being at the high end is not good. 4-5 is I think. Martin got a 6 something, John got a 9 something, Rhonda got a 5 something, and after being a wuss and dodging the tester a few times I got a 4.7. Martin had had some difficulty taking John's test, and when it was so high, we got a little more than concerned. Martin let him sweat it out for around a half hour until he mentioned that the screw-up could have made it higher. I think John was ready to throttle his dad. The second test produced a much smaller number. John doesn't have to worry about Diabetes just yet.

Once again, I got to drive the folks to the airport in the morning while John was at work. Once again it snowed. Much less than on the way to Elsie's, thank goodness. I probably had them there a little early, but I would rather that, than have them miss their flight. That's the second parental visit we can say we have under our belt. Now we are just waiting for John's mom, Judy, to come out and see us! What do you say, Judy?

P.S. Curt and Kandace, I really would love to have you both come out sometime. Emphasis on you, Curt! I know Kandace is already looking forward to it.

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