I know most readers of the blog are preoccupied with the puzzle, especially since it looks like it might actually be big news and not just some random household item (just a few more days!).  But while that plays out, here’s a little update on recent events.

Debi’s family came down to Tampa for Thanksgiving.  Her parents, sister and brother-in-law, Brent and Suzy, and their son, Ethan, and one of the twins, Steve, arrived on Thanksgiving.  I cooked a large Thanksgiving meal – faux turkey (which they all liked), mashed potatoes, glazed fall vegetables, stuffing, gravy, etc.  I even had pumpkin pie and pumpkin cheesecake for dessert.  They all seemed satisfied, even though we ate around our tiny kitchen table.

The visit was relatively uneventful until later that night.  Our house has 3 bedrooms and 2 baths.  One of the bedrooms is an office, another is ours, and the last one is a nice guest bedroom with a queen bed in it.  We have an inflatable mattress we have used in the office as a second guest bedroom, but there really was no way we could put everyone up at our place for a week.  So, Debi’s parents stayed with us and the rest rented a house about 15 minutes from our place.  That first night, after dinner and lounging for a bit, we headed over to the rental home so everyone could get settled.  Earlier in the evening, Rosemary, Debi’s mom, had specifically told us what the code was supposed to be: the first 4 digits of her zip code (i.e., 8412).  We were all prepared to type the code in so we could get into the house.  We pulled up to the house, unloaded some luggage, then headed for the door.  I don’t know who the first person was to try the code, but it didn’t work…  So, someone else tried. Then everyone else tried.  Then we went around back (I even jumped a fence needlessly; boy am I getting old – that fence was a lot harder to jump than they used to be).  We tried the back door.   We tried all the back doors.  Nothing.  Steve calculated the possible combinations of the 4 digits, assuming they used those four digits, and we began running through the various combinations of 8-4-1-2.  Several people called the owner of the condo and the contact person.  No answer!  (Granted, it was about 10:30 pm on the night of Thanksgiving at this point).  We were beginning to consider how we could put everyone up at our house for the night when I noticed a light waving around inside the house.  Then, the door opened.  Brent had found “a way” into the house (in the interest of not having the house robbed, I’m not going to share it except to say it did not cause any damage to the home).  It did involve climbing and slithering and some minor acrobatics.  But Brent is pretty flexible and the home was no worse off as a result.  Ergo, we got in.

Of course, the front and rear doors only have codes, no keys.  So, once people were in, they couldn’t really leave until they had the actual code.  But, at least everyone could spend the night and hope that someone would be forthcoming with the code the next day.  Luckily (sort of), they were – they called around 5:45 in the morning and gave Brent (he was the “lucky” one whose number they had) the code.  It had 3 of the 4 digits, but not in the correct order.  Someone programmed in the wrong code.  Ce la vie!

We spent the next day (Friday, the 28th) at the beach.  Our favorite beach – Fort de Soto – was not at all crowded, like usual, and was very nice.  It was a bit chilly, especially later in the evening (we stayed until the sun set), but it was nice to just sit and relax.  Most of us were too cold to get into the water, so we spent the time reading.  But Brent (a.k.a. AquaMan), dove right in – with the aid of my snorkeling gear and wetsuit.  He eventually found a conch shell, a bunch of sand dollars (both living and dead), and a full size crab.  He definitely added to the entertainment.

Saturday (Nov. 29th) we headed down to the Manatee Viewing Center, which Debi and I visited about a year ago.  The manatees were out in full force.  We spent about an hour there enjoying the wildlife before heading back to Tampa to pick up Scott, Shalynn, and Andy, Debi’s brother, sister-in-law, and nephew.  We didn’t do much else this day (though I may be forgetting some activities).

Sunday (Nov. 30th), most everyone went to church services (LDS) in South Tampa.  Debi, Steve, and I went for a leisurely walk along Bayshore Blvd., enjoying the early morning.  After church, Scott, Steve, and I geared up and headed to Raymond James Stadium to watch the Buccaneers play the New Orleans Saints.  We were a little nervous that it was going to rain.  I gave Scott and Steve some ponchos we keep in our emergency kits and grabbed a light rainjacket from REI I own.  I figured I’d be okay in my rainjacket as it is advertised as being waterproof. Turns out, it’s not even water repellant.  A more accurate description of the REI Ultra-Light would be “spongy”.  About 10 minutes into the game the rain hit.  It wasn’t a full-on torrential downpour (or I may not have survived), but it was a pretty good little storm.  Scott and Steve stayed dry in their very light yet fully waterproof ponchos.  My supposedly waterproof jacket, on the other hand, slowly started to let water seep in.  About 5 minutes into the rain, my jacket was water-logged and so was I.  I passed my phone and the binoculars off to Steve and sat in the rain, hoping my now water-logged jacket would begin to repel the rain.  I think it may have as I didn’t seem to be getting much wetter.  Eventually the rain stopped.  At half time I went below the upper deck and tried to air out my jacket.  I think I got some of the water out, but it was still soaked.  My pants were also water-logged.  Even so, it wasn’t too cold out.  So, I headed back up to our seats and finished the game.  It was actually a very good game with a lot of lead exchanges.  Scott and Steve also seemed to really enjoy it.  We walked back to the house after the game (we live about a mile from the stadium), dried off, then headed to the rented house where we hung out, played cards, and relaxed.

Debi and I had to go back to work on Monday, so the rest of the family went to the Florida Aquarium (here in Tampa) without us.  They met us at UT around 4:00, when our classes were over, and we took family photos.  This was one of the better photos:

Top Row: Steve, Gary, Rosemary, Debi, Ryan. Bottom Row: Scott, Shalynn, Andy, Ethan, Suzy, Brent

We then picked up Thai Food for everyone from Rouen Thai (awesome Thai food), took it back to the rented house, and spent the evening playing canasta.

Tuesday, Debi and I had to teach our Gateways class and Debi had one other class to teach.  We were supposed to pick up donuts for our Gateways class (just something we do), so we got donuts for everyone.  They went to a park in the morning, then we met up with them in the afternoon.  Scott, Steve, Suzy, Debi, and I then went to the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg.  We have wanted to go to the museum ever since we got here, but just hadn’t had a chance.  It was well worth it (they even have discount tickets on their website).  It is a bit small and some of the more famous pieces aren’t there, but those that are on display are really impressive.  Dali was prolific and really good.  I don’t know much about art, but I know when I like something.  Dali’s paintings were really cool.  Here’s a photo of Steve on the Dali-esque bench out front we took as we were leaving.

Steve at the Dali Museum
Steve at the Dali Museum

We picked up Taco Bell for everyone for dinner and spent the night playing canasta again.

As Debi and I didn’t have to teach Wednesday morning, we headed over to the condo with her parents and spent the morning lounging, getting things ready for everyone to go home, and playing the last few hands of canasta. We started playing the Cragun version of canasta with the Morgan family on our Caribbean cruise a few years ago.  Everyone got hooked.  It’s a fun game that requires some skill but mostly just makes a good time chaser while we chat. They wanted me to keep the Excel spreadsheet for future games.  So, just so they know I updated it, here are the final scores: debi – 7171, ryan – 9010, steve – 6870, scott – 6040, shalynn -5935, suzy – 7875.

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4 Replies to “Thanksgiving with Family”

  1. Sure looks and sounds as though you allll had a fabulous time. I guess the icing on the cake was the “baby” news!!
    I am so happy for you all on both accounts. What a wonderful way to spend a “thanksgiving” holiday. Love to you all!

  2. Sounds like a blast. I’m glad you had a lovely holiday, and more importantly that you played Canasta like a true Cragun and kicked butt! Good for you!

  3. Yeah, there were a couple of 20 footers that were really cool. The one that looks like Abraham Lincoln was groovy. The guy was really a great artist.

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