the overnight road trip & the whirlwind reunion

Will is from Utah and his parents still live in the house he grew up in.  He had the kind of locational stability growing up that I got jealous of and longed for a bit in my teen years.  He has three brothers and one sister and they all live in this little clump in the western states right now.  We took advantage of the closeness of family almost immediately after moving to Arizona and road tripped up for a big family reunion—his mom’s 50th birthday party!

the overnight road trip & the whirlwind reunion the overnight road trip & the whirlwind reunion

Friday, July 6, 2018

I spent the day packing and cleaning.  I worked out (leg day), did laundry, and prepped everything to go so that the minute Will got off work, we would be ready to leave.

We loaded up the car, got gas, and by 4:56pm we were on the road, driving north for Utah.

the overnight road trip & the whirlwind reunion the overnight road trip & the whirlwind reunion

One thing you may not know about me is that I’m actually really self conscious about taking photos and videos sometimes.  I hate being a bother, or getting in someone’s way, so I really dislike asking for people to pose, or move, or stop their lives so that I can take their photo.  This is perhaps why I love capturing candid moments so much—I don’t have to ask for a whole lot, except to allow me to photograph the moment.  (Disclaimer: if it’s an actual session where I’m photographing a family, for example, that’s completely different because the client has literally paid me to boss them around a little bit from behind my camera.)

Will is a huge blessing for me.  He notices moments too.  He sees things that are beautiful and he asks, “do you want to take a picture?  Do you want me to pull over?  I’m going to pull over.”  And then I get this little boost of confidence because my husband believes in me, and he can see the beauty in the moment too.  There was a lot of that on this road trip, and it really filled my heart.

the overnight road trip & the whirlwind reunion the overnight road trip & the whirlwind reunion

It’s a little over 600 miles from our place in Arizona to his parents’ in Utah, and Will drove the entire way that night.  What a hero.  We listened to the music on my iTunes alphabetically by starting with the first “A” song that came up and tried to see how far we could get.  It’s weeks later now and we’re still trying to get to songs that start with a “B.”  We also listened to The Hobbit because we hadn’t finished it on our move out from North Carolina.

the overnight road trip & the whirlwind reunion

I passed out dead asleep a little after ten because I’m an old woman and really struggle to stay up late any more.  Will powered through, with only a few stops for gas and sustenance, and we arrived just after 4am to a very quiet welcome from his older brother John.  We slept another four hours and then woke up excited for a day of celebrating and reuniting.  

Will’s sister Cherie had a fantastic vision for their mom’s party, so we all became dutiful workers and errand runners and balloon inflators and amateur cake decorators for several hours.  Cherie even masterminded a couple balloon arches and jars full of cake pops to top everything off.  We filled things with helium and twisted crepe paper from the ceiling and I really regretted leg day after climbing up and down from stools for a while.

the overnight road trip & the whirlwind reunion the overnight road trip & the whirlwind reunion the overnight road trip & the whirlwind reunion the overnight road trip & the whirlwind reunion the overnight road trip & the whirlwind reunion the overnight road trip & the whirlwind reunion the overnight road trip & the whirlwind reunion

The party itself wasn’t a surprise, but all of the decor sure was, and Will’s mom Terri had the best reaction to the reveal.  Way to go, Cherie!

the overnight road trip & the whirlwind reunion

It was a great evening, complete with a taco bar (this girl needs absolutely nothing else in life but tacos), presents, a lot of cake pops, and fun 50 questions about life for Terri.  

the overnight road trip & the whirlwind reunion

All of the nieces and nephews were super pleased about the cake pops also.

Can you tell I like cake pops?  How many more times can I say “cake pops?”

the overnight road trip & the whirlwind reunion the overnight road trip & the whirlwind reunion

These photos were taken about a year apart.  First of all, we’re missing a brother, but both times were super fantastic photo ops, and John always gives me the best faces.  

A crazy desert storm of wind and rain brought the party inside and we lasted long into the night with card games of all kinds.  My favorite is Nerts (very similar to Dutch Blitz)—think Speed and Solitaire combined, and then add about 10 people playing and your brain might explode if you aren’t prepared.  I have a tendency to test friendships with this game, because I’m very good at it and I don’t let other people win.

I’m also very humble.

I seem to remember rolling into bed around midnight after struggling to keep my eyes open for a while.  It was a blessing to get several hours of uninterrupted sleep.  

By the next morning, I couldn’t walk properly because of Friday’s leg day, and it was time for a Shugart style breakfast.  If you can think of a breakfast food, we probably ate it.  There are eggs and potatoes (my personal favorite), not to mention pancakes, sausage, bacon, french toast, coffee, tea, juice, milk, and all the fixin’s (as they say in the south).  I was way too interested in gorging myself to take the time to photograph the food, but Terri and I did make sure we rounded up all the troops to take a big family photo before everyone left.

the overnight road trip & the whirlwind reunion

This is my first big complete Shugart family photo that I’ve been in!  First of many!  I’m stoked to see how it changes over the years.  Also, I think every family deserves a token very-tall-man.  Thanks for being ours, BJ!  

We said our goodbyes, packed up the car, and set off again to head back home.  What a whirlwind adventure!  Just my kind, to be honest.  

Will and I stopped at so many gorgeous places for photos on the drive home that I think that deserves a blog post unto itself.  With Will and I combined, I think our future road trips might take a little longer than expected, due to many many stops for photos, and I’m totally okay with that.

Until next time,

Jamie out.

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