The 2018 Ingulli-McCord Christmas Experience

Squirrels, Giants and Hoodoos!

Well, another year and another house. Honestly, the place we lived in last year had some bad juju going. Let me explain.

Right after last year’s holidays, we decided to take in a movie at the local cineplex. So, we jumped into the car, hit the go button and started backing out of the driveway. Something was wrong. The steering was not working . Darn. Since it was a cold day, we figured that a car that had been pampered for 7 years in a nice warm garage was giving us a message, so we moved some boxes and squeezed it in the garage. Surely it would work fine after it warmed up a bit.

You can guess the rest. Homeopathic vehicle repair wasn’t working for us. After a quick stint at the gym to bulk up the old arm muscles, we man-handled the car to the local Toyota dealer for a second opinion the next morning.

A few hours later, the call came in. “Are you sitting down?”, asked the repair tech, “because you have squirrels.” Now, after living in a place where F-150 pickups are “small”, and driving various generations of Prii over the years, we were used to the jokes about “how many squirrels were under the hood”, so we thought it was some kind of joke.

But no, this was a literal squirrel infestation in the engine compartment. Seems they had gone to the back yard, stolen a cushion from one of Diane’s patio chairs and build a nest under the hood. If that wasn’t bad enough, they apparently were hungry for something besides acorns and decided that the power steering wiring harness would hit the spot. So they ate it.

The net of this was a $750 repair bill for a new wiring harness. From this point forward, the Prius never stayed outside. Let those beasts eat Diane’s car!

After this episode, we did what any reasonable adults would do and told ourselves “We need to get the heck out of this house. And fast!” But not so fast that we couldn’t go on a couple of trips first.

Our first excursion was to Arizona to visit with Bob & Kathy Ingulli. Of course, our super-low-fare flight was about 8 hours late, so we arrived in Phoenix around 3AM. Typical trip so far.

After a great visit with our hosts, we headed to Scottsdale to experience baseball spring training with the SF Giants. We had a hotel room about 2 blocks from their ballpark. This would be awesome. Except…

You guessed it, all the time we were there, the Giants had no home games, so we had to board various buses for longish road trips every day to the far reaches of the greater Phoenix metroplex. Usually during rush hour. Of course.

Still, it was several days of games each night and lectures and field trips during the day. The highlight was the organist for the Diamondbacks followed by a tour of the inner workings of their ballpark. Baseball makes up for everything!Back to Texas, where we looked at about 2,000 homes before we agreed on one we liked, bought it, closed on it, and went on another vacation! Move in? Later.

The nominal purpose of this trip was to visit 3 national parks;  Zion, Bryce Canyon and the Grand Canyon. But first.

All roads to the west must go through Las Vegas, and this national park trip was no different. Before we picked up our group, we “needed” to spend a couple of days in Sin City. We know everyone has their own opinions on the relative merits of Vegas, and Gray’s is decidedly less than positive based on personal experience at various trade shows over the years. Diane, on the other hand had never been there and has been trying to find an excuse to visit for years. Let’s just say that after a couple of days inhaling second-hand smoke in the casinos, Diane got over her obsession. Time to move on to the great outdoors!

So, this trip was hosted by a geologist from a local college. In the week or so we spent in the 3 parks, she explained the entire geologic history of the western USA. It was way more fascinating than it sounds. While all 3 parks were awesome, the clear highlight was the hoodoos in Bryce Canyon. What’s a hoodoo, you ask? They are rock formations best described in a picture, so here they are:

Anyway, the trip was wonderful, and we can’t recommend enough visiting the wonders of the western national parks. If you ever have the opportunity, just go. If someone sucks you in to a Vegas trip, say “OK”,  and let them pay. Once you get there, lose them quickly, rent a car and head to Bryce. Just do it!

We’re all doing well. This year everyone is living in Madison Wisconsin (except us). Frankly, we remain totally confused about how this happened. Oh well. Ashleigh, Aleia, Matt, Charlie and Maeve are doing great in the Mad-City.

We did finally move to our new home after the park trip. Of course, it took about 3 months and a bunch of refurb work to pull that off, but we expect to stay in this one for a while. But no promises!

We wish everyone a fantastic holiday season and a great 2019!

Diane & Gray

PS- Hey, if you actually read this thing, please leave a comment on the site!

3 Replies to “The 2018 Ingulli-McCord Christmas Experience”

  1. Entertaining as always and a brilliant stroke of genius to decouple the mailing of cards from the writing of “the letter”. More often than not our Christmas card turn into a new year’s card for that reason. We’re an EV family now too, though no hybrid for us. Wind powered electric service in a Tesla. Yes it was a ridiculous purchase but way cool (and ultra zippy). We need to connect one of these days on our once a decade trip to Austin.

  2. We always look forward to the Ingulli-McCord adventure letter! And now we can express our appreciation online! Fred says he feels your pain. We once had a dead rat behind the engine of our old Honda Accord. Where it came from, nobody knows. And your tales of travel and house hunting resonate as we look at what our next adventure will be now that the kids are on their own (Mark got married in October!) and retirement looks more and more attractive.

    All our best wishes to you in the New Year and keep recording those experiences!

  3. Hi, Cousins
    As usual, I enjoyed your Christmas letter.
    Wishing you much happiness in your new home as well as many funny experiences.
    Love from Pennsylvania,

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