A Group Post: The Vandiver Family Live Blogs

My Grandmother is an avid letter writer. One of my favorite types of letters she would construct would be to break out a legal pad and a pen and pass it around to everyone at a gathering and ask each of them to say what was going on and then she would mail it to whomever was missing from the event. Since I have determined that it is almost close to impossible to write an actual blog post while staying in a hotel with your family, I decided to let them get in on the action. What follows is the passing of the computer around to all those who are awake enough to write- Mom, sadly, isn’t feeling so hot and went to bed early. This post, is for my grandmama; a virtual postcard, if you will, in her favorite style.

Russell: San Diahhhgo, what an adventure! Between hanging out with Weekend Man and Popcorn Breath (our new nicknames for Mom and Pops) and constant trips back and forth to Encinitas, it has definitely been interesting. We have visited the San Diego Zoo and the USS dangerzoneMidway. The Zoo was fun because it reminded me how magnificent wild animals actually are. However, the Midway Museum has been my favorite part of the trip thus far because we saw “The Highway to the Danger Zone.” Leigh and I stood next to a F-14 Tomcat fighter jet, which is the jet featured in the movie “Top Gun.” “Permission for fly-by, sir? Negative Ghost Ryda.” Classic, man!!!!! I tell you what (Hank Hill Voice), it sure is nice to be back together with the whole fam. With Leigh moved out to Los Angeles, it’s super cool to live vicariously through her and her adventures. Party on Garth. Party on Wayne. Panda Jam!!!!!!

Pops: Weekend Man here. As I sit here with the Fam, sunburn on my newly exposed, what  I think they call a pate, I am so thankful to have these guys next to me. We are driving a rental Hyundai Genesis,  which has been named the “Phil Collins Mobile,” back and forth between our suite at the Hyatt whatever and Aunt Doretta’s place in Encinitas so we can be with those precious Grands. Today we went to the aircraft carrier USS Midway. What impressed me the most were the volunteers that acted as docents in every part of this beautiful part of American history. These were the guys that lived in the small spaces allotted to the enlisted men that served so selflessly and quietly for you and me. They recounted their part in a never-ending story of sacrifice and pride of service. As each of them told their story you could see an eighty year old veteran revert back to the nineteen year old boy that left his home in Nebraska, Kansas and maybe even our part of Georgia. They spoke with visible and poignant emotion of how they served. These guys are all of our uncles, grandfathers, brothers and fathers and they are all spending their time trying to explain what it meant to them to serve our country. If you are here or Mobile or anyplace that you can visit a part of our history, go. Tomorrow we go to LA;  new home to my baby girl. May good fortune follow her and may she find the niche that serves her need to express herself.

Leigh: Oh man… I wish you were here! San Diego is amazing. The weather is beautiful. The scenery is beautiful. But what is the most beautiful is being with my family. We don’t get to see this side of the family often so when we do, it is always special. We’ve eaten some amazing meals and seen some amazing things. Almost all of my mom siblings reunited for a great dinnerfam and breakfast the next morning and it was so great to reconnect with them. I am really looking forward to being out here and making up for lost time. After spending quality time with them, mom, dad, Russell and I had drinks at the beautiful Lodge at Torrey Pines which is the historic hotel restored beautifully in the California Mission Style that sits next to the world famous golf course and looks out onto the ocean. The next day we returned to the San Diego Zoo after a 16-year absence. The last time we were inleighcoco Southern California as a family, Russell was 5 and I was 17. It always amazes me what you remember and what you don’t from past experiences. So, it is always fun to build new memories on top of old. And the San Diego Zoo is amazing. We had a dinner with our Russell cousin’s Jim and Geri (who graciously let Jojo and I spend the night with them) that was amazing. The only thing better than the food was the company and the atmosphere! Today we broke from the group and the Vandiver III’s went to the USS Midway where we had a seriously awesome, informative, and inspiring time. The ship was decommissioned after the Gulf War, and commissioned prior to WWII, so walking amongst the history was so cool! We’ve been trying to spend as much time as we can with my sister Cara and her family who are staying 35 minutes away, so a lot of the trip has been in the car… but its been totally worth it! Tomorrow, we leave San Diego and head to Anaheim for some Disney fun and hopefully it will be as much fun as the trip has been up until this point! You can always tell you are having a good time when you are only a little sunburned and totally exhausted at the end of the day. Which we are.


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