Pre-Trip Feels.

It’s the eve before my next big adventure and I’m sitting in an empty nail salon getting a deluxe pedicure sipping complimentary water, but I’m pretending it’s a glass of sweet wine. This is the life.

I leave for Hawaii in less than 24 hours, our flight is scheduled for a 6:15 a.m. departure from Hector International. Good luck self in getting up on time. Though, I do feel like a little kid at Christmas. I’m sure I’ll be up before my alarm patiently waiting for my brother and parents to pick me up before the 5 o’clock hour.

All of my trips are special for differnt reasons but this one is dedicated to my dad. I’m not sure he’s ever really been on a proper vacation outside of weekend getaways throughout his adult life. I remember hearing a tale of a Mount Rushmore road trip in his youth with my grandparents but that was more decades ago than I am old. It’s time to venture out, pops.

My dad turns 60 this year, in October. Two years ago on his birthday, our family surprised him by telling him he was going to make it to Hawaii before his 60th birthday. I doubt he believed us and I’ll never forget his face when we told him.

See, he’s a truck driver. He’s been everywhere, man. Literally. Every state, including parts of Canada. He’s just missing The Aloha State, until now. I know he’s nervous, I’m certain I inherited my anxious tendencies from my father. But I know he’s super amped too. I anticipate “travel day” will be a bit stressful and draining for him and/or my mom but “hello sunshine!” and all the transportation woes will be a thing of the past!

Well, it’s time for my sugar scrub and 10-min leg massage. This is my favorite part of pedis so I’m going to leave you here while I try find inner peace for a moment or two. Have you treated yourself to some kind of self-care lately? If not, get on it girl! Or guy or dude or whatevs.

P.S. I had planned on ending my post above but I need to shamelessly plug Fantasy Nails on South 45th. I usually bounce from place to place for pedis but I’ve finally found the best one in all of Fargo. These guys are legit. The Deluxe Pedi (middle package) included all the usuals like a sugar scrub, paraffin wax, and hot towels but I had 2 hot towel sessions, an amazing cooling gel treatment, and not one but three 5-10 minute massages. While the wax was doing it’s thang, he stepped away for about 15 minutes and I was in a peacefully bliss quiet oasis of massage chair and meditation. Check it out and ask for Hersley (phonetically spelled, unsure of it’s accuracy, lol). A Deluxe Pedi is $40 for regular polish and $55 for gel. 👌

Lastly, here’s our typical night before, Bodhi-thinks-he’s-coming-with photo. One day, bud.

What I learned.

I never even once thought of the people I’d meet on this trip. I was like, “I’m a solo traveler within a group; everyone is going to be doing their own things.” It didn’t even occur to me that I might meet people and even more so, meet people that I could grow to adore in such a short time.

Just writing that makes my eyes swell up with tears. The people I met this week were just as incredible as Iceland is. I focused my writings a lot on the trip itself but haven’t included much about the people that I’ve met along the way; mostly for their privacy. I have some feel-good stories and many moments in my journal that I’ll keep for myself to remember them by and cherish forever. I don’t know if any of us will ever cross paths again in this life, but I hope we do. It makes my heart so warm knowing there are people in the world that have the same wanderlust spirit and taste for adventure that I do because it’s easy to forget that when surrounded by people with different desires.

G (Gunner, our tour guide) was absolutely incredible. She is so proud of her heritage and of her country. She’s kind and welcomes you warmly and she’s so consistent. She’s not “on” and you can’t see through her because she is 100% genuinely authentically incredible. There was an elderly couple on our trip that had been all over the world; 100+ countries in their time together. The last time they’d been to Iceland was 1966. My mom was one! While some of their travels over the years was for work; a lot of it was for adventure and pleasure, too. They said that our guide was one of the top 5 EVER. In the 50+ years of traveling, Gunner Rosdottir is in their top 5. Talk about a compliment and it doesn’t even do her near as much justice as she deserves.


Guys, I’m so proud of myself. Like, in the best possible way. I can’t even think about it without crying and all of these feels are the most wonderful kind.

I noticed on face book that people are posting what they looked like at the beginning of the decade and at the end; most of them glow-ups but honestly that’s only due to fashion. I reflected on this on my last jaunt of a flight home. Physically, I’m much heavier now than I was at the beginning of this decade; is that a glow-down? I’m sure I’ve learned how to do my makeup a bit better and I’ve hopefully upgraded my fashion game but so much more has changed internally for the better rather than externally.

My life is split up into a handful of segments and I don’t know if that’s normal or not. A decade ago, I was in the early years of what would become a rocky and tumultuous relationship. I was more insecure than I’d ever been in my life and thought that by loving someone harder, I could fix them. Seven years ago, I was forced to leave that relationship because my mom and brother moved me out in the middle of the night due to an explosive conversation they heard when I secretly dialed my moms number. That didn’t last. He was broken and I was the only one that could salvage what life he had left in him. Or so I thought.

He didn’t share the same sense of adventure that I had. So, five years ago, I took the first step into not waiting around anymore for my life to begin. I started traveling with my mom. I feel like my first trip with my mom, through reflection, was my first real step into gaining Independence from an abusive situation. It took me another three years before I finally left that broken relationship.

Two years ago, almost to the day, I left the man that I’d loved with every ounce of my being for nearly a decade; for my entire adult life. I don’t know if i’ll ever be able to love someone the way I did him ever again. I know I’m capable of love; I’m a lover by nature but he took a piece of me that I’ll never be able to give someone again. A love that was fueled by pain. A love that I’m not willing to go through or forfeit to anyone ever again. I want a love that will move mountains, not dig graves.

That same two years ago, I was so unbelievable lost and broken in the truest sense. I came to realize that I wasn’t a person. My entire being existed to make his life better. I didn’t have a sense of self because it died when I left. I wish I could have told that girl then what I’d be doing now. She never would have dreamed of visiting Ireland and Scotland in 2018. She never would have dared go on a solo trip to the North Shore in her home-state. She didn’t think she’d ever get to see the Grand Canyon and she never ever, in a millions years, would have guessed that she’d travel to Iceland alone. I wish I would have told that girl that she’ll get through the pain and immerse the cocoon of heartbreak stronger and more powerful than she could have ever dreamt. I’m so proud of the woman I’ve become. I’ve always been strong but I can’t get over just how strong I am. How I can do this life and do it well, all on my own.

I know that I frequently reference this period of my life; this relationship.. And while I’m not defined by it now, it did define my life and who I was in it for a third of my life. So, I think it’s okay to refer back to it because it will always be there and it’ll always be a stepping stone of chapters in my long life of book. I’m only 30. I have so many more pages to grow from.


Thank you, dear readers, for coming on this journey with me. I’ll leave you with a quote by an Icelandic Nobel Peace Prize winner. Our tour guide recited it to us on one of our magical days traveling through the land of fire and ice:

“Where the glacier meets the sky, the land ceases to be earthly, and the earth becomes one with the heavens; no sorrows live there anymore, and therefore joy is not necessary; beauty alone reigns there, beyond all demands.” – Halldór Laxness

Day 1: Star Light, Star Bright

It doesn’t seem like that long ago that I had embarked on a new adventure. Wait, it was just six months ago! If you live anywhere near where I’m currently living (NoDak), you’ll understand when I say this winter was LONG AF. Just about as soon as I landed stateside again in September, I began dreaming of my next adventure. I desperately need to go back to Europe but I’ll leave that for another day to ramble on about.

About half way through this winter, my mom asked if I wanted to get away and out of the cold. And YA GURL was like “yep.” Without thinking much about it, one of us suggested Arizona and we were both on board. This winter, really, has been draining. Not only have the snow storms put an emphasis on seasonal depressive moods but I busted up my knee twice in the last couple of months. Officially tearing my ACL and my meniscus in two places at the end of January. I have currently managed to forgo surgery for a multitude of reason and have thankfully gotten by with some PT and lots of rest. My knee is no where near 100%, maybe 60% on a good day? We’ll get there.

Enough about that. You’re here for an adventure and I’m about to deliver!

Day 1 is about as routine as day 1’s go, I think. Finishing up packing, because I’ve been a major procrastinator lately and stressing a bit about “did I plan this enough?” were the recurring themes of the days leading up to our trip. I’ve been on a continuous stress-boat of anxiety for a few months due to some work-flow changes in my job and it rarely lets up enough for me to indulge in a life outside of work. Which I know, is incredibly unhealthy, but I’m working on it.

For the first time ever today, I flew out of my local airport, Hector International. Also, for the first time ever today, every inch of my body was patted TF down like I was some sort of criminal. I thought I had this travel thing down. I’m extra cautious with the items I bring on board, my flying attire is basically PJ chic (yogas, sports bra, shirt, slides) and I still was patted down. I don’t know if it was a random spot check but it was weird. Up until today, I was almost weirded out about how “easy” it’d been to stroll through security checkpoints like it was nothin’ because it really was. I had nothing to hide and it’d always been a breeze. Now I know, the pat-down happens. You’ve been warned.

I’m tired and today wasn’t extra eventful aside from the frisk so I may jump around a little bit.

Actually, I’m going to bullet this shit out so I can get to sleep.

  • The people of Alamo as in the car rental service, are jerks. Don’t rent a vehicle from them. We stood in line for well over 30 minutes waiting for a vehicle I reserved. Once I got to the front counter, I was notified that there were no vehicles available. So like, wtf? I ended up dinking around at another rental car place but guess what? They didn’t have any vehicles either and so, head hung low, I returned back to Alamo with the intention of giving them a piece of my mind. Obviously with my mom’s help because lets be honest, she’s the confrontational one between the two of us when it’s go time. We ended up with a vehicle, not the one we paid for and one that will end up costing us more in gas than we had budgeted but it’s better than nothing. I guess.
  • The four and half hour drive (or so) north from Mesa was a beautiful one and filled with angels watching over us. Not only were the roads full of bizarre speed limit changes but we curved around one rock formation after another all the way up. The scary part about this is, I drove. If you know anything about me, two of them should be: 1. I’m a shit driver. And 2. I’m a shit driver because I love looking at all the things. I’m grateful my dad wasn’t with us. We’d surely have driven over cliff because he would have flipped at how distracted I was.
  • We arrived at the Grand Canyon and Yavapai Lodge well past sunset. (I just realized that I hadn’t told you where exactly in AZ we were headed. Surprise!) I was hoping to get a few glimpses of the canyons tonight but we’re preparing for an early rise in the morning so stay tuned. I didn’t know this until I arrived, but Arizona has more certified “International Dark Sky” places in the United States than any other state. This made it a bit difficult to find our actual lodge without streetlights to guide us but we managed. Believe it or not, I do remember the days of finding a place on a map without Siri directing me where to go. I have lived in a city for quite some time so I don’t get to observe the stars as often as I would like. It’s really one of my favorite things in this world. Tonight, I was able to do that for a brief time and am so happy I did. Obviously cameras never quite capture the night sky the way we see it but if you look close enough, you’ll see the Big Dipper in one of my photos below.

That about sums up our day. I feel so lucky to have my mom as my travel partner. Traveling isn’t always rainbows and sunshine but having someone along that can take the good with the bad really makes all the difference when it comes to enjoying the greatest treasures in life.

I’d like to extend a special thanks to our Guardian Angels today for keeping us safe as I drove around admiring this lovely state. The land that is Arizona is truly a beauté so far.

Day 3: I thought our hotel room entrance was through a half-door.

We’ve arrived! Or as the Irish would say, “táimid tar éis teacht!” I’m trusting Google translate on this one so just go with it. Out of the three airports I’ve now been to, the Dublin airport is the most visually appealing. Lots and lots of glass and green; very easy to navigate. Minneapolis’ is too but it’s much larger or seems to be anyway.

All was semi-well today. Maybe more weird than anything trying to adjust to a new normal for the next 12 or so days. The views coming into Ireland were spectacular. We watched the sun rise on the horizon while descending this morning. That, paired with the green island and blue sea.. It was one chef kiss away to a perfecto!

All was good until we hit customs. I had been prepared knowing what our plans were; I have outlines for both my mom and me. We did some reading knowing that we may be asked questions on our purpose for traveling but damn, Daniel was it nerve-wracking. There’s a dude at work that once told me “kindness if free,” yes with the typo. I wanted to share that nugget of wisdom today but I’m sure she wouldn’t have been happy with me if I did. We got through it though!

On our ride to City Centre, there was a couple celebrating 50 years together this year. He and his wife are spending three days in Dublin and then heading to Rome for a couple of weeks. He was trying to figure out what stop to get off on and said something along the lines of just being a small town farm boy from Indiana. He just wants to get to Rome so he can serende his wife on a gondala. At that moment on an Airlink Express Bus somewhere in Dublin, my heart literally melted.

We found our hotel pretty easily after the bus stop and dropped our bags off before hitting the streets to find our first tour bus. With the help of a local Irishman, we found where we needed to be in no time and took a loop around the city just to see the sites and get used to our surroundings. Parts of Dublin remind me of Madison, WI. I think it’s mostly because of the pedestrian only areas. It was unusually mellow and relativly quiet though, in Dublin. We had expected more of a hustle and bustle vibe.

After a pit stop back to the hotel for a power nap (because we were crashing hard) and a break to watch a violinist play Somewhere Over The Rainbow (one of my favs!), we jumped aboard an evening sightseeing tour. Dublin in the evening is just as beautiful as in the day. Our tour guide sang us songs the entire time and played guitar to boot. It was a perfect way to end our first day in a new ‘land.

P.S. I’ll update this post sometime tomorrow with photos. I need to figure out how to get to sleep tonight. 🙂

Day 1: What about a bog? Say that 3 times fast.

Operation world traveler wannabe to will be is about to begin! Some of you may or may not know that I have a binder full of our to-do’s while on vacation. I’m an ultra-planner by nature and my mom, not so much.

Our first trip was planned out to a T. It eased my stress to know what we were going to do when but it did have downfalls, of course. Being so attached to my “plan” made it difficult to stray from it and there were a couple of activities or days where we would have loved and preferred to stay awhile longer.

Trip two, I tried to be a bit more loose with our plans. I still had our time away organized as shit but I had a lot more “ehh, we can decide when we get there” pockets and days. This trip made me a lot more of a stress ball and I feel like we had wasted time that we could have used a bit more wisely had I made some decisions ahead of time.

Present day, I’m trusting in the motto “third times a charm.” Our days are planned out via day trips around the Emerald Isle and Scotland and our evenings are free for adventure and spontaneity.

Before we left for Minneapolis, we met up with Bodhi’s godparents, Nick and Katie to go over my helicopter cat-mom of a list and visit a bit. They’ll be taking care of Lil’ Boat and my apartment while I’m away. (THANK YOU!) Then, funny enough, my dad was also in town so we all hit up Qdoba (otherwise known as Kubota, thanks to Dad) for lunch before leaving.

We stopped in Albert(s)ville for a minute or 30, Wiki’d all the different types and true definitions of bodies of water, stopped at Minnehaha Falls for a break from the humidity and ended the night walking on the very dimly lit Stone Arch Bridge.

‘Twas a great first day to the start of our vaca. Even if Mom compared the heat to St. Louis!

Dare to live the life you have dreamed for yourself.. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tomorrow ’tis the day my mom and I embark on our 3rd mother-daughter trip! When my mom turned 50, she super informally announced that she wants to see all 50 states before she dies. Providing that she’s going to live to 100 (she knows this for sure), that meant at least one state a year. Obviously, she’d already visited a couple of pockets in our country because one, she’s been on a trip or three with my truck-driving dad and two, she’s not a hermit. The math isn’t perfect, but it’s a fun story. 50 states in 50 years.

Our first year, we knocked off five states and in our second, five more! The third year, we decided instead of a “ma and Or” trip, we wanted to get our family together for a mini-vacation. So, instead of another road trip, we swooped up the rest of the fam and spent just about a week up at the Zippel Bay Resort in Lake of the Woods.

This year, we are resuming our travels. We’re going bigger this time. The 50 state goal is still one of both my mom and me but we decided to reach a little further this year. We’re breaking free of the single-continent life and jetting off to a new land, or two rather. Ireland and Scotland!

There are a handful of reasons why and how we picked our destination this year. Around this time last year I had just announced, what had then been, a very important date. I had been engaged about nine months and had been 51 weeks from the big day. Fast-forward a couple more months to the holidays and the story was very different. During the most difficult time in my life, my mom and I were having a conversation about our yearly trip; where were we going to go this year? Which states?

I’m failing to remember the exact moment that Ireland came up but Éire has been my number one bucket list destination for as long as I can remember. And when I brought it up, my mom said YASSS. Okay, maybe not actually YASSS, but pretty close. Quite honestly, the entire world is on my bucket list but the Emerald Isle, for so many reasons, is a bright and shiny green star right at the tip top. It might have still been a dream at the time of our conversation but it was one I was ready to make a reality during an otherwise Boulevard of Broken Dreams time in my life.

Stay tuned for more on our mother-daughter travels in the coming days and weeks! Yes, weeks!

-XOXO, Ori

Ask us about Sam Sung..

Ahh, today we came home. A short trip but a wonderful assortment of memories that will last a lifetime. We visited the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame today. We were in a hurry before our flight so we didn’t take as much time as I’m sure is recommended but we came, we saw and we conquered. That’s what matters.

There are so many things I feel like I’ve left out. The airport and our nights on the town. The conversations we had and things we saw, the people we met. I’ll trust that my memory will hold onto those moments beyond the words that I haven’t typed. Right now, I’m exhausted but the good kind of exhausted, I suppose. I wanted to write because I haven’t written in so long. Going on trips makes me want to pick up my tablet and write everything I see. I miss writing.

I went on my first and second plane rides this week. I stayed in my first Airbnb. I saw so many beautiful things and have memories that will stay with me for years to come. I did all this with a wonderful, hilarious and kind human by my side. She puts up the toughest of fronts and she’d kill me if she ever reads this but I’m so grateful that she’s let me into her life and allows herself to let her guard down even if I have to pry it out of her. I don’t think she realizes how much this trip, this adventure, this friendship has meant to me. It’s so hard for me to let loose and relax but she makes me do it. Even though I tell myself that I have the spirit of a vagabond, I reluctantly have the mind of an organized spaz and it is so very difficult for me to stray from that.

So, if you’re reading this.. Tough as nails but secret softy, Alicia.. Thank you. Thank you for being my person this week and hopefully many more weeks to come. ❤ 

All of the things.

I definitely cannot hang. My idea of a vacation and Alicia’s idea of a vacation are so far apart, they aren’t even funny. She sleeps until she wakes up, takes her time getting ready and would be cool avoiding most of the touristy spots. I, on the other hand, want to be up as soon as the suns first ray hits our faces, check out the agenda and see everything we can possibly see.

Juggling our completely opposite narratives was an act for the circus today but we managed and succeeded. Schwing! We slept the entire morning away. Apparently staying out until 3:30/4:00 AM is not something I can do on the reg. No way, Jose. Anyway, what happens in Cleveland stays in Cleveland.

We eventually got our butts in gear and packed our day with all the things. We hit up The Melt which will cure even the worst of hangovers. The Melt was featured on Man vs. Food and Diners, Dives, and Drive-Ins. You definitely get what you pay for and that in itself is even an understatement.

After a late lunch, we rushed to The Christmas Story House and toured that little block of cinematic history. I wished I’d rewatched the movie before our trip to have a more vivid recollection but it was still pretty sweet to see. We met an uncle/nephew combo, Matt and Tyler. Again, Alicia and her ability to meet people is just so foreign to me. We ended up exchanging numbers and met up with the duo later in the evening for cocktails and swapped traveling stories.

After the CSH, we decided to explore downtown Cleveland and news to us, it’s so easy to get around (aside from the damn bus lanes and lights). We didn’t realize how close everything was. We had walked around a bit the night before but if we’d just gone one street over, we would have been in a totally other, really cool, area. Lightbulb moment for sure.

We found the Worlds Largest Chandelier, walked around East 4th Street, were bombarded by a mob of graduates and made a pit stop to view Lake Erie. I’m surprised how much we were able to see in just a few hours but that’s what you get when you have two determined women making it a point to see all of the things.

Today, we are basketball fans.

Today, tonight.. all of it was something! Well yesterday was. I’m typing as if it were yesterday but I was ¾ of the way in the bag by the time the clock struck midnight..

Sunday, May 21 marks my first flight! The entire flying experience is brand new to me. No matter how much research I did and how many people I asked, I never felt at ease or like I’d gotten all my questions answered. I’ve never been afraid to fly. On the contrary, I’ve always dreamt of when I’ll get to fly. It’s just never been an option in my life until this point. We didn’t travel growing up and I’d never been afforded the opportunity until now.

But guess what? It’s a damn breeze. I could spend 45 minutes talking about every single step from the time we were dropped off in the airport to the second we got in the Cleveland Uber but I’ll spare you for now. If you’ve never flown and you’d like someone to actually tell you step-by-step what to expect, hit me up. I’d be delighted.

I do want to say though that I was pleasantly surprised at how much of a breeze it was. Maybe it’s because my personal item was basically empty and I did my research but i didn’t encounter any issues like i hear on the news. And guess the eff what? Beyond the security line, there’s a whole other world. At least in MSP there is. It’s like a damn mall. Restaurants, stores, you name it. Alicia tells me it’s not like this everywhere but it’s still pretty sweet.

The only issue I had with the flight was I felt a bit light-headed. I can’t decide if it’s because I looked down and out the window too soon or if it was the altitude. Either way, it was so surreal in the best sense. I’m sure typing this I have a weird giddy smile thinking about my first flight but so what! Better late then never!

I want to shorten this up because I’ll ramble for days.. The descent/landing is the best part in my opinion as a first time flyer. I love the feeling of heading straight for the ground at 300 miles an hour. I can’t wait to ride a rollercoaster. For real though, I could do that part all day.

After we (finally) got our Uber and headed to our FIRST ever (for the both of us) Airbnb, we took a nap. Because we are old folks.. But eventually, we got ready to take on the Cleveland night. We hit up Fan Fest for the Cavaliers vs Celtics NBA finals until we were rained out. We had hoped to scope out some celebrities but to no avail.

We ended up grabbing dinner at Winking Lizard in downtown Cleveland and walked over the City Tap for the bulk of our evening. I kind of felt like our night had started off slow. I couldn’t get into the grove of relaxing for some reason. But it ended up being a really great night.

Alicia and I have a unique relationship. We bicker a lot. Fight, whatever you want to call it.. But it’s all in good fun. She means so much to me and I consider her one of my very best friends. Even though we drive each other mad, she gets me and I get her. I wouldn’t change our dysfunctional love hate relationship for anything and tonight I felt a lot closer to her. We were able to just hang out and talk freely without the stress of life or our relationships or work in the background.

Another thing about Alicia that I should have known about by now is that she can talk to ANYONE. If it weren’t for her, I’d probably have sat in the corner sipping my colorful drink all night. I don’t know where she gets the confidence or language to talk to just about anyone. I suppose that’s what you’d classify as liquid courage. We met some cool people tonight and we stayed out way too late and had way too much fun tonight. Is that such a thing?

I’ve been saying Monticello wrong this whole time..

Do you know how many times the two of us have told people where we are going and how many times we’ve received the same “wtf” look? And how many times we’ve had to explain “wtf” we’re doing? Tickets were cheap, the Airbnb was cheap, adventure! Honestly, the second we booked the flight, we both looked at each other with the same “wtf” look we’d been getting for the past month.

I was up bright and early this morning. Up to this point in my life, I’d only been on vacations with family and Channing. I’ve never gone on a girls trip or gone anywhere for that matter with a friend. Historically, I’ve never been good with friends. I’ve just never been able to connect. I blame my social awkwardness. But that’s another story for another time. Anyway, up bright and early. Guess who wasn’t? A to the licia.

There are a lot of things different about this trip so far and it hasn’t even began. I’m a spaz planner. I like to know what I’m doing, when I’m doing it, how I’m doing it. To the point where it’s obsessive. I’m talking Google Drive folders, spreadsheets, printed out reservations in a tidy trip labeled binder.. that kind of spaz. With the exception of a condensed spreadsheet THAT I FORGOT IN MY CAR, I was plan-less.

The. Struggle.

We eventually hit the road and went to IKEA like every basic bitch would. I pulled a classic Ori.. filled my cart up to the brim and slowly but surely narrowed it down to six items. The cheapest of all the items of course. Whereas my shopaholic travel-mate, Alicia kept her load high and dry from the aisles stuffed with left behinds. Oh, I envy her ability to shop. It’s a problem that I need to deal with. Shop, damnit. Shop!

We were grateful enough to have landed a sweet place to stay thanks to Alicia’s college connections in life. We had dinner reservations at an italian place with her former roommate and they graciously let us crash the night in their beautiful suburbia home with a bombass deck. We didn’t sleep on the deck but we probs could have. It was cool. Tomorrow I fly!

Cleveland Rocks!

Long time, no type. I’m fairly certain I’ve written that exact phrase before. What I’m about to write and the few posts following are a chronicled summary of the last few days. I didn’t have time (or energy) to write about my recent trip in real time so I’m pulling from the few notes I left myself. YES, I have a list of talking points in my list of lists..

About a month ago (maybe more), I was going through a weird mid-20’s thing. It wasn’t a crisis, probably more of a “damnit, I want to live more” type of a thing. After a lunch hour of complaining about everything, the men in our lives and thinking about life, my friend and co-worker sent me a chat asking if I wanted to go to Cleveland or Cincinnati. The flight was only $40 a seat each way..

Hold the door. YES! And the rest, as they say, is history.

 

What I Learned

We’re three days post-trip and I thought it’d be a great time to reflect on our vaca.. The last two days of our vacation really made me feel crappy about how the last part of our vacation went and on our way home I reflected rather poorly on the trip as a whole when I shouldn’t have.

I purposefully hadn’t planned a lot for the last couple of days because we were going to wing it a little. Turns out, I’m not the best at winging it. I feel like our moods had slowly but surely went downhill throughout the duration of our trip and it bummed me out. A lot. Mostly because I couldn’t fix it.

My mom’s always taught me that it’s a choice to be happy. You choose to wake up on the right side of the bed. I’ve agreed with that most of my life. But some days, optimism apparently is a fight for the fittest. Don’t get me wrong, the trip was good. I was surprised that Omaha was my favorite city and I want to return there to see more attractions that we didn’t get a chance to explore. I liked Kansas City too but I don’t think there is anything there calling my name.

Honestly, I probably had a rather negative outlook on the trip as a whole prior to even venturing that way. When I think of the mid-west (middle of the country), I don’t think of anything. I don’t think of water or mountains or beaches or buildings or beauty. I think of nothing, like actually nothing. Not in an “I hate America” type of way, just as a “No one has ever bragged about doing anything so how would I know what there is to do?” type of way. And the internet wasn’t much help.

There were loads of things to do all along our trip but most of them consisted of museums or events happening on days before or after we were there. You can only see so many museums before you get museumed out. Ya’ know?

Parasailing was very fun. I was so SO worried that I’d fall to my death not because I was scared of the adventure but because of my weight. And guess what? I didn’t. The harness held me and for that I’m elated. I did have a bit of an emotional breakdown after though. Although it was fun and I cannot wait to go parasailing again, I hated on myself so hard about the entire experience. I got winded going down and up the 65 steps there and back. The life-jacket was so small and tight on me that I felt as if I looked like a balloon being squeezed in the middle. I also wish I could have rode tandem. The typical way to go parasailing is two people at a time, side by side. Due to my weight, that wasn’t an option. I had so many emotions going through me by the time I got back to the car that I couldn’t even talk. I wanted to cry and scream and yell and shake myself thin. I’m so beyond grateful that I had the option to go parasailing when my weight often limits the things I can do. I only hope that the way I beat myself up that day helps me to find the motivation needed to make some serious changes.

Reflecting on the rest of the trip was rather bland. St. Louis was physically draining because of all the walking and the heat. It wasn’t much warmer in Missouri as it is in Minnesota but we spent a lot more time outside than we would on a typical 90 degree day up north and that took it’s toll on us.

For the most part, I’d like to think that we had fully intended on our trip being in high spirits the entire way and there were a lot of great moments, beautiful views, interesting things.. But it seemed to be overshadowed by the heat and tiredness and frustration.

What I learned throughout this trip though, is that my mom is still my bestie. We had moments that we just needed a minute but it was okay and we made it. I learned that I have energy to keep going even when I didn’t think it was possible. I learned that my thoughts about middle America are pretty much true.

I also learned that the only thing holding me back from being the adventurous self I know I am is my weight. There are so many things I’ve never ever done because I exceed the limit or am afraid I’ll break whatever it is. This is something I’ve been learning all my life and I really truly need to find the power within myself to overcome this.

And lastly, I learned that the words I type don’t 100% reflect how I felt about every single moment on our trip. Showing Channing all the photos I took and the souvenirs I got made me feel good. I was so excited to tell him all the things we did and where we went along with the ups and downs alike. It was a good trip even if I didn’t realize it at the time.

Most of all, I’m so very grateful to have my mom with me and in my life. I don’t know how I could possibly live my life as well as I do without her there with me every step of the way. So, if you’re reading this mom, thank you and I love you. ❤

Days 6 & 7: The Journey Home

Day 6 was supposed to be our “spa” day but it didn’t happen quite as planned. Initially we were going to book massages and pedi’s but we decided a few days ago we’d be okay with passing on the massages this time around. No real reason, just weren’t into it.

So we figured we’d go swimming. I found a pond/swimming hole in Rochester online and it looked pretty nice so that’s where we were headed. We got a little sidetracked early on wanting to get blow up floaty things so we could just veg out on the water. Turns out the swimming hole was literally a gravel pit of a hole. It was a dud and it was dirty. Not like Detroit Lake dirty but like goose poop and seaweed clumps dirty. We were in and out in 10 minutes or less\. It took us longer to change into our swimwear than we were actually there. We didn’t even stick around to lounge on the beach.

We got to the hotel about an hour or so later and did go swimming in the pool at the hotel. It was okay.

On our last and final day we headed home. We stopped in Alexandria for lunch and it was delicious and then got pedicures at a nail spa in Fargo. Much needed.

Day 5: A Sailboat, A Ship, A Hound, and A Blimp.

Today marked the 2nd leg of our trip. Starting the day out, we were just a little over the halfway point miles wise. The rest of our trip including today was very loosely planned. I had some trouble being excited about planning a trip in the middle of the country so the next few days may be a boring read haha.

Our first stop was Springfield, IL, home of the one and only Honest Abe. Well, adult home. He was born in a log cabin somewhere else, they say. We went on a free tour and ERRMEGERD was the tour ranger a dull dog on cough syrup. B-O-R-I-N-G. He talked as if he memorized his tour speech word for word 65 years ago. His mouth droopy and his eyes mostly closed. Every room we went through in ol’ Abe’s house we were told that “..one boy died young. The family had planned to come back to their Springfield home after President Lincoln’s term in the office but he was assassinated and one of the sons died in the White House so they never did come back..” Word. For. Word. Over. And. Over. We couldn’t get out faster if we had tried.

We made another pit stop in Le Claire, IA where the American Pickers got their start. We visited the business hound while checking out the Antique Archeology shop(s). I was surprised at the small scale of stuff they had for how huge they’ve become. I’m wondering if their Nashville location is larger or maybe they sell as quick as they pick? It was neat anyway.

We also received word from the locals that Columbus’ Nina and Pinta replica ships were in town just down the road in Davenport. Turns out, they were! And in the very same place the Sailing Club was doing it’s thing! What! Wait, there’s more.. A Metlife sponsored blimp was flying around in the sky. So many things all in one place. It was visually refreshing.

We ended out our kind of odd day dining at the World’s Largest Truckstop on I-80 in Iowa and checking into our motel in Cedar Rapids awhile later. I came across the perfect quote to sum up today’s adventures:

“Our happiest moments as tourists always seem to come when we stumble upon one thing while in pursuit of something else.” — Lawrence Block

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Day 4: I didn’t see Nelly in St. Louie

Hello Heat Stroke! We woke up in quaint Pontoon Beach, IL right by the local fair or carnival.. Whatever you want to call it. Our agenda included the Anheuser-Busch Brewery, City Museum and the St. Louis Arch (obvs). I should preface the rest of this post before we get to it.. I’m writing today having had a few days pass. The night in question ended with me not wanting to move because I felt dog sick all over. #dehydrated

Our first stop for day 4 was the Anheuser-Busch Brewery. I’m not a beer connoisseur or even alcohol in general for that matter but the ABB was on TripAdvisor’s top places to see while in St. Louis so I figured we should give it a go. After today’s events, this was probably the best part of today. For me anyway.

We went on a complimentary Brewery Tour that included a trip through the Brewery grounds, a peek at the Clydesdale’s, and a walk-through their mashing and milling buildings. I’m just guessing those are the names of the buildings. One word while walking through this architectural beauty of a village.. Wow! Everything was dressed to the nines. The Clydesdale’s live more lavishly than I could ever dream of. We went into what I would call the “Beer Making Plant” and THAT was decked out too. Ivory and gold colored finishings and chandeliers.. The stair railings and the walls, the floor and the elevator.. Everything was created with design and elegance in mind. Remember, we’re in a brewery so this was odd to me. I had imagined us walking into a box of a production plant with slate colored concrete above, below, and beside us. Boy was I wrong.

If you’re a beer drinker you’d love that we received a free 8 oz beer at the beginning of our tour and another free 16 oz at the end of the tour. I was parched and don’t like the B so I got Mountain Dew at the Brewery. #Merica? The only thing that could have made this tour better is if we’d gotten to pet the Clydesdale’s.

We also hit up the City Museum. What. The. Fuck. There is no real way to explain this place. You just have to go but at the same time, I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone. Ugh. The best way I can describe it is like this: The City Museum is every fantasy a child could possibly have come true while at the very same time every nightmare a parent could imagine. There were kids coming out of the walls and floors and ceilings. There are 5 or 6 floors I think. Trees, caves, slides, ropes, stairs. A school bus, ferris wheel, and airplane ON TOP of the roof that were all accessible. It’s a designing wonder of the modern world but holy for scary if you’re a parent to a child. There are little nooks and cranny’s that parents definitely cannot fit through and everything just..keeps..going.

Last but definitely not least was the Gateway to the West, the St. Louis Arch. We paid $20 (gross) to park and then had to walk what seemed like eternity finally getting to the Riverboat Cruise. It wasn’t worth it. Maybe if we weren’t dying from the humidity? I dunno. The Arch itself was cool. The little egg shaped pod you go up in  was bigger than I imagined. Going to the top and seeing the city laid out was beautiful. I think the best time would have been in the evening after the sun had set but it was still pretty cool

I don’t know what it was about day 4. We were both so hot. My mom more so than I but it took a real toll on us. Over the last few days, we had walked more than we had anticipated. This was a lot of work and a big achievement for us super fit chicks. I really think the heat killed our moods even though we did try to be optimistic about the day. I don’t feel like it was any warmer than “home” a few weeks ago when it reached the mid-90’s but it just felt way more deadly. I suppose we were outside all day in comparison to working in an A/C building 8-5.

Overall, St. Louis was okay but I really don’t think I’d purposefully come back. I’d probably go to the Brewery again if Channing was along and the Arch because it’s the Arch but everything was under construction in and around the Arch. It wasn’t pretty and it was the same price as if it were all open. It wasn’t easily accessible and we had to climb a lot more than we felt was necessary. Being hot and tired takes a lot away from the fun and adventure. I suppose realists would tell us to get in shape then. Yeah, whatever.

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Day 3: We went parasailing!

I’m currently chilling at a Best Western somewhere in Illinois watching the Olympics Beach Volleyball event. (Wang and Yue vs. Walsh Jennings and Ross.) What stupid outfits. Do these women not have butt cracks? #lowridersforreal

We hit up three states today. At first I sat there thinking that Missouri isn’t anything to be excited about but then we arrived in the Ozarks area. We had planned to go parasailing at 10:30 this morning but it was postponed until 1 due to weather. My coworkers would be surprised to find out that I had no back up plan for this tragedy. #saywhat

We had lunch at a dimly lit tavern and strolled the Crayola colored buildings on the Bagnell Dam strip today. Grandpa’s Ice Cream shop was pretty good and I thought about getting Grandma’s fudge but didn’t.

We hiked down and then up again to go parasailing. It was both the highlight of the day and a nagging reminder that I can overcome my weight insecurities. I’ll have to post photos and video once we get home from our trip. I had a GoPro cam with me and one of the crew guys took pictures of our adventure. I guess my phone doesn’t have a spot to insert a mini SD card. (Laaaame.) I did leave the smiley face parachute with a battle wound though. Anyone who knows me, knows that I can’t balance worth shit. I totally biffed it getting off the parasail boat onto the weird bubble raft thing in the middle of the lake. For how much I’ve tripped this summer, I’m surprised my knee still works.

Anyway, I’m nearing the end of this ramble.. My advice to everyone reading is to go parasailing and wear sun screen even when it’s cloudy. Oh, and get a henna tattoo. I didn’t get a chance to get one but shoulda, coulda, woulda.

I hope to visit the Lake of the Ozarks region again. We only explored a sliver of this peace, love and definitely marijuana infused area somewhere in the middle of Missouri. Didn’t know the southern midwest could be so chill and support The Donald at the same time. Literally Trump cutouts and Vote For Trump buttons were everywhere.

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Day 2: Badminton Anyone?

My feet hurt because I’m a lazy pants most of the days of my life. And I’m tired. We were up and out by 6 this morning. “Uffda” as my grandma would say.

Today’s post is short. We spent the day in Kansas City, MO. I took a bunch of pictures I’ll probably never print like usual. Most of them are posted below but you can check me out on the Insta to see the rest @orianoelle.

P.S. I’m further south then yesterday. Already broke my own record. Boo ya.

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Day 1: My mom thinks she’s more adventurous than me.

Today officially marks an annual adventure.. A yearly trip with my mum. (I figure that’s what the English guy at our table tonight would have called his mother.) Last year we cut ground on our inaugural trip. My mom turned 50 in 20-15 and her resolution or goal of sorts was to see all 50 states before she dies at the minimum old age of 100. #gobigorgohome

Challenge accepted.

I linked last year’s blog series to my Facebook page yesterday if you’re interested in what we did or where we went. I’m tip top typing away on my phone tonight so I won’t be helpfully linking you to it.

Anyway, today we booked it out of Fargo bright and sunshine-y early. We made a pit stop in Sioux Falls to check out Falls Park. My mom had never been before and I love anything having to do with water.. so yeah.

Next up was Omaha. Attention folks, I am officially further south then I’ve ever been! Smack dab in the midwest. Go me, woo! I do seriously feel cool about that though so I gave myself a pat on my sheltered life of a back.

We attended a dinner theater of sorts tonight. It was okay. I’d totally go to one again but I, for some reason, just couldn’t follow. Maybe I was over thinking the scenario or it just wasn’t what I was expecting? I loved that they had audience participation though, it made it exciting.

We also checked out Heartland of America Park. We wanted to go there to ride in a gondola thingamajig but ended up taking a stroll instead. This was probably the highlight of day one for me. Omaha has an enormous and beautiful riverfront, it just keeps going. Hearts on hearts, yes please. And apparently so do the Pokémon Go-ers. They. Were. Everywhere.

I can’t wait to come here again. We’ve been told by locals and visitors that we need to check out the Zoo. Apparently it’s been voted the best in the world or so the English guy at our table says.. We didn’t have time for it this time around but I’ll be back. Promise.

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Thanks AmericInn

11210443_10153233961343363_2436395386843007592_nI won a $200 hotel voucher for submitting the photo to the left into AmericInn’s Great Adventure photo contest. I submitted about a dozen photos and kind of forgot about it. I was pleasantly surprised when I checked my email this morning!

You can submit too! Have you gone anywhere fun this year or last year or in 2005? Submit your “travel” photos or just ‘really cool places’ photos. AmericInn is reviewing and selecting winners each day for the entire summer. Click here to submit as many pictures as your little heart desires!  You’ll have competition though because I’m going to keep submitting!

Now…to pick a city for my next big adventure! Send me ideas!