Thanksgiving Birthday 2016

My birthday is November 25, and it falls on and around Thanksgiving every year. This year it was on Black Friday and/or Gilmore Girls release day, depending on who I was paying attention to in my Facebook news feed. This year, we were invited to visit my aunt and her family in Grass Valley, California for Thanksgiving. I was excited to go, not just because my family there is amazing and fun to visit, but also because my grandma was visiting from Michigan, so we could see her also. Double awesomeness!

California Zephyr line going through the Sierras. Image courtesy of Railpictures.net

California Zephyr line going through the Sierras. Image courtesy of Railpictures.net

Dan and I considered taking the train to California. The cool thing is that the California Zephyr line goes right through Salt Lake, and there is a stop just a half hour from Grass Valley in California. But when we looked it was surprisingly expensive ($400 for both of us) and worse than that our only return option was to leave at noon on Saturday. There is just one train a day, and from California it left at noon and got to Salt Lake at 3am. Since Dan has to work on Monday after the holiday, we thought getting in at 3am Monday morning would not be ideal. So we decided to drive. Save a bit of money since our car is a hybrid, and have the flexibility to leave when we wanted to.  

Wednesday night before Thanksgiving. Wet, heavy snow in the valley means there's probably worse snow in the mountain passes.  

Wednesday night before Thanksgiving. Wet, heavy snow in the valley means there's probably worse snow in the mountain passes.  

But the weather had other ideas. My aunt emailed me on Wednesday morning to say the Sierras were being hit with a pretty severe winter storm, and that maybe we should take the train after all. It was clear and sunny in Salt Lake, and I thought it would be clear by the time we drove through the Sierras, as our driving plan included leaving Salt Lake at 8pm, driving until 1 or 2am, and stopping at a motel for the night and finishing up the next morning. I took a nap in the afternoon on Wednesday since I was going to be doing the driving. When I went to sleep at 2pm it was sunny and 50 degrees. When I woke up at 4:30pm it was approaching freezing and starting to rain. By the time I dropped off the dogs and went to get Dan from work, it had changed to snow and there was almost 4" on the ground! We decided to abandon plans of driving and bought a last-minute train ticket.  

Late-night train trips are pretty decent!  

Late-night train trips are pretty decent!  

Dan makes faces for my camera in the Observation car. It took three tries to get a decent shot of him, silly guy. 

Dan makes faces for my camera in the Observation car. It took three tries to get a decent shot of him, silly guy. 

We boarded the train at 11pm in Salt Lake. It wasn't bad, because the seats are roomy and recline pretty far. We brought pillows and a blanket to make it more cozy. We slept the night away, and when we woke up with the sun the train was just coming in to Reno, Nevada. We spent the morning hanging out in the observation car, looking at the snow in the Sierras and congratulating ourselves for not driving through that mess. It sure was pretty, though! 

#nofilter ... sorry about the glare from the train windows! 

#nofilter ... sorry about the glare from the train windows! 

My uncle picked us up at the train station. We got to their house right at about 1pm, with just an hour to spare to shower up before Thanksgiving dinner! Perfect timing. Thanksgiving was pretty chill, my cousin and her family came over with pies! We had a total of 4 different kinds of pies over the weekend, and my waistline is showing the effects. My cousin's boys are 11 and 9, so after dinner we launched into playing some games that Dan and I had packed. Monikers, which was a variant of charades was pretty fun. And of course our recent favorite, Codenames. 

M and L thinking pretty hard as they are acting as the Codemasters in Codenames! 

M and L thinking pretty hard as they are acting as the Codemasters in Codenames! 

L played us a couple tunes on the piano after dinner, since he is taking lessons. I sent a video to my mom, who commented that it's clear he practices! I'm guilty of not practicing when I was his age. His repertoire of memorized songs was great! We heard themes from Star Wars and Harry Potter, along with Linus and Lucy as the holiday song.  

L at the piano.  

L at the piano.  

Friday was a nice relaxing day! We had some pie for breakfast with our coffee, and in general relaxed a bit. In the late morning we drove up the mountains to the house on the ridge, where there was a pottery sale going on from a local artist. 

I fell in love with this tiny salt cellar, which Aunt Barb proceeded to gift me for my birthday.  

I fell in love with this tiny salt cellar, which Aunt Barb proceeded to gift me for my birthday.  

I'm notoriously bad at remembering to salt my cooking. The local potter had about ten of these tiny salt cellars in different shapes and colors, and I immediately latched on to them as a possible fix for my lack of salt in cooking. They each had a tiny little scoop to go with the cellar. And as you might have noticed I'm obsessed with tiny things. My aunt purchased this one for me as a birthday gift.  

Image courtesy of Marvel Studios  

Image courtesy of Marvel Studios  

In the afternoon we met up with Azriel and her family for a movie at the historic Grass Valley Del Oro theater, which is owned by my aunt and uncle. We saw Dr Strange, which I really enjoyed! It was a different kind of super hero movie and very mind-bendy. We finished up the day having Thanksgiving round 2 at my aunt and uncles house, and, of course, having more pie. 

Three kinds of pie for my birthday! Yum yum! 

Three kinds of pie for my birthday! Yum yum! 

Our return trip on the train was at noon on Saturday, which couldn't be avoided. We squeezed one more meal in together at Azriel's house, having pancakes made by her and L. Delicious! And that's exactly how I would describe the weekend. Delicious and very fun, celebrating with family I don't get to see very often.  

Dan and I outside my aunt's house in Grass Valley.  

Dan and I outside my aunt's house in Grass Valley.  

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! 

Squirrel and Tesla

Squirrel and Tesla

Water line Winterizing

Water line Winterizing