Elf in a Suitcase earns her wings and wraps up road trip with a fun surprise!

IMG_4728This past weekend, I was getting a quick bite to eat at a fast-food restaurant (remember Hardee’s!?) in Charlotte, N.C., when the drive-thru employee stuck her head out the window and said something that surprised me.

“It is so hot outside!” she groaned while reaching out to take my money. “What kind of winter is this!?!”

Um. An AWESOME one!?!

This particular day in the Carolinas featured a sky of blue swaths and white clouds along with what I found to be a very pleasant temperature of 73 degrees. That was approximately 3,792 degrees warmer than the weather back home in Utah, so I wasn’t about to join her in complaining.

“You could be in this,” I told her, showing her the widely distributed photo of the snowy Salt Lake City street with wrecked vehicles and an umbrella-wielding unicyclist. “This is what it looks like right now back at my home.”

She smiled. “We haven’t had snow like that in years.”

After spending the past nine days in mild weather, not counting the last two days in chilly Tennessee, I’m finally headed home to my long-lost winter wonderland. I’m looking out an airplane window, and I see snow, mountains and clear skies, and I can’t wait to drive up and see the snowman my 9-year-old son Ethan built in our front yard.

IMG_4868It’s been a long couple of weeks on the road. I haven’t slept in my own bed since Dec. 10. Here’s hoping Old St. Nick doesn’t make too much of a clatter tonight when I settle down for a long winter’s nap. I’m not feeling like springing out of bed after spending the past 14 nights sleeping in airplanes and hotels in Sacramento, Denver, Miami, Orlando, Atlanta, Charlotte and Memphis.

As you might’ve read, Santa Claus assigned me with a traveling companion, Elfie, my “Elf in a Suitcase,” to help keep me company and keep me in the holiday spirit while away from my family. I’ve been sending photos to my kids in this blog to show what Elfie and I have been up to on our adventure across America. Thank goodness, this tired sports writer will be home for Christmas, you can plan on me!

Until then, hope you enjoy the final photos from sweet Carolina and Elvis’ homeland — and don’t forget about the fun surprise at the end!

IMG_4731Another Elfie selfie! This one is just outside of Charlotte.


IMG_4734What the beautiful North Carolina city looks like without an elf in the shot.


IMG_4745This was one of my favorite moments of the trip. Former Jazz center Al Jefferson is a funny guy whom I really enjoyed working with the past three years. He now plays for Charlotte, and it was nice catching up again. Best part? His friend and current Jazz player, Enes Kanter, had a ballboy deliver him this hand-written note before they played Saturday:

“Dear Big Al,

My Boy! I’m gonna pump fake you all night.

Jeremy (Evans) said he is gonna dunk on you.

Airport was closed but thank you for letting us land on your bed.

Biggie says you’re a (inside joke).


Your Boy Big Turk”

That kind of hilarity doesn’t happen very often on this NBA beat, so I appreciate when it does.


IMG_4750Michael Jordan was also at Saturday’s Jazz game. He’s one of the Bobcats’ owners.


IMG_4761Elfie wanted to sit in MJ’s seat at Charlotte’s arena. She can’t wait to brag about this when she goes back to the North Pole.


IMG_4768A friend teased his elf that his BBQ ribs were reindeer. Elfie wouldn’t believe me when I told her this was a Carolina pulled pork sandwich.


IMG_4778Bah humbug to airports. Uh, I mean, happy holiday travels!


IMG_4773Maybe I don’t want to get off the plane.


IMG_4810Santa asked me not to take Elfie on Beale Street in Memphis. It gets a bit too crazy for a young elf (and an old married man).


IMG_4813At times, it felt like this road trip would end when pigs fly. Phew! Good thing we found a pig with wings in Memphis!


IMG_4787Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken! Our party of eight devoured 55 pieces of poultry. Trust me, you do not want to try this.


IMG_4814Finally convinced Elfie that none of her North Pole friends were harmed while making this meal of wet ribs, smoked turkey and brisket at award-winning Central BBQ.


IMG_4818Elfie LOVES Elfis! (I couldn’t convince her that his name is really Elvis.)


IMG_4816Elfie was so enamored with Mr. Jailhouse Rock, she didn’t notice her own reflection in the mirror.


IMG_4820“You ain’t nothin’ but a hound deer!” Surprisingly, Elfie and I did not get kicked out while messing around in this gift shop by Graceland.

Not surprisingly, some of my family members will be receiving incredibly awesome Elvis guitar flyswatters for Christmas.


IMG_4824Elfie at Graceland! Yep, that’s The King of Rock-And-Roll’s home in the background.

She told me to look closely by her left foot. According to Elfie, it says, “Elvis loves Elves!”


Screen Shot 2013-12-24 at 12.37.49 AMWow, look who’s famous now! Yep, that’s Elfie, now The Queen of Rock-And-Roll, who snuck into the suit-coat pocket of Jazz broadcaster extraordinaire Matt Harpring alongside Craig Bolerjack. Who’s that photobomber in the background with the goofy grin?! (Thanks to the ROOT Sports crew for putting us on and to Jazz fan Brent Hansen for sharing the photo on Twitter!)


IMG_4852We got a Santa’s sleigh-like view of my home, which appears to be covered in white powder.

Did you see us fly by Ethan, Sydney, Aidan and Baby Jack!?


IMG_4865Our flight needed a co-pilot.


IMG_4860Elfie can’t wait to tell Santa Claus that she earned her wings!


IMG_4872One last Elfie Selfie for our arrival back in Utah. We made it back to Salt Lake City on Christmas Eve Morning.


As a recap, my exciting trip with Elfie started on Dec. 5 in Portland after Santa sent me a special letter (click here). We took a two-day break in Utah and then got going again for two straight weeks with stops in Sacramento (click here), Denver (click here), Miami (click here), Orlando and Atlanta (click here) before wrapping up in Charlotte and Memphis.


Hope you guys had as much fun following our “Elf in a Suitcase” adventure as we did living it!

Now, Elfie has to hurry to back to the North Pole to report back to Santa Claus (hope I was good enough!) and this sports writer needs to get back to the family he hasn’t seen in 10 days.

Merry Christmas!

Oh, yes! Elfie — along with Mommy and Daddy — have one last surprise for you kids …

Are you curious!?

Wondering what’s going on yet?

Have you been good kids this year?

Or are you at least to start being good between now and the time the surprise is revealed!?

OK, here we go …

Before she left for the North Pole, Elfie wanted you to meet her cute friend and the new member of our family, Sophie The Pug!!!

IMG_4907Sophie loves Elfie. Maybe a bit too much.


IMG_4904Meet Sophie the Batpug!


IMG_4898Sophie can’t wait to meet her new friends at the Genessy house!



  1. shannon says

    Thank you for sharing your adventures with us. Sorry you’ve been away from your family for so long but it was fun sharing Elfie and your adventures. She’s quite the social butterfly that Elfie. So glad you’re home safe and sound with your family for Christmas. Merry Christmas to you and your family and Sofie’s a lucky doggie to have such a wonderful home.

  2. Erica says

    I want to see Sophie!!!!! All that food looks yummy. Airports must be a disaster during the holidays. Elfie sure has travelled.

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