Landing on the 4th of July

It turns out when you fly on an actual holiday, things are cheaper. And it turns out when you are flying six people across the country with quilted-together banked-miles, making it as cheap as possible is a key decision point. So we flew on the 4th of July. Packing the car was a game of Tetris, with seven suitcases and six no-longer child-sized bodies; with some creative stacking we did it:

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Flying with Bean is always fun, but we’ve found that ear-protection, a heavy blanket, a well-charged Kindle, and people who patiently love him all help.

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The airlines are pretty great about accommodation for kids with autism—if you let them know, they will allow you to pre-board and get settled before the rest of the passengers crowd on. I know some folks get crabby about seeing people who appear fine taking advantage of disabled pre-boarding, but trust me folks, it’s better for everyone if he doesn’t feel panicked and has his headphones on before you get your seat. I love this one:

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The sun was setting when we landed in Utah. We expected to miss fireworks, and had arranged to meet some friends and family for the night before we headed to our family reunion early on the 5th. What we didn’t expect, and couldn’t have possibly known, was how spectacular it is to land in the Salt Lake Valley on Independence Day.

We walked out of the airport into the most magnificent warm air. Every one of the kids spread their arms and embraced the glorious, dry warmth—people kept commenting on how hot it was, to 95 degrees with only 10% humidity felt like heaven to our Virginia skin. We re-Tetrised into our Mormon-family-sized rental car and  headed south on I-15.

The freeway was deserted. We rolled down all the windows and laughed as the dry wind whipped our hair and our arms and hands surfed the turbulent waves while we sang Imagine Dragons over the roaring wind. From horizon to horizon, hundreds of fireworks punctuated the indigo sky. From the backseat, Bean yelled over the wind, “I should be miserable, but I am so happy!” We all nodded with joy.

It was the best homecoming I never could have planned, and a magnificent start to our first family reunion in more than a decade.

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Then, as one does when you’re flying west from the east coast, you cap off the night with In-n-Out as your first stop. Even Bean ate a plain cheeseburger.

We really need to work on being less reserved.

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