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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American Sniper.

I’m not very good at reviews in general so I hope that’s not what you’re expecting.

Tonight, we went to American Sniper staring Bradley Cooper. I’m assuming you’ve heard of it. I don’t have TV and I rarely read the news (which I probably should do more often) and even I’ve heard of it. I’ll leave it up to you to do the research if you still don’t know what its about. You can find a summary on it’s IMDb page here.

Ever since I was little, the war and/or the military in any way, shape, or form didn’t interest me. Most people remember exactly where they were on 9/11. I was in either 5th or 6th grade. I remember a teacher telling me that I needed to remember that day. The TV in the classroom was on. Why did I need to remember this day? Why were we watching TV when we should have been doing English? I’m sure I could do the math and figure out if I was in 5th or 6th but it wasn’t “important” to me at the time. And I’m still trying to figure out its significance in my life. I didn’t feel in danger. I didn’t feel sad or scared. No one bothered explaining it to me I guess and because of that, I suppose I never really put much thought or empathy towards something I had no interest in.

I’m sure I didn’t explain that very well and I’m sure patriots would cringe at my lack of American history but who cares. I’m not afraid to say that I don’t support the war. I don’t know why we needed to ‘get even.’ That’s what it is if you simple it down, isn’t it? Hell, we got more than even. We’ve killed so many more people than we needed to. And having to say “needed to” is disgusting. I’ll never understand why we went to war other than to get even. To prove to the world that we’re some kind of superpower. It’s not something that we should be proud of. I’ll never understand why men and women would choose to put themselves in the situation to be in a war. And quite frankly, I’m tired of hearing the “serving my country” speech.

Before you panic – I’m not anti-America. I love the country I live in. I have a basic understanding that because of our soldiers, we have the freedom we have. But do we really?

I would never, ever sacrifice my life or my sanity for a country. I know this isn’t true for everyone but there is no way of telling how you’re going to come out of the war. If you physically survive being in the military or war itself, the mental side effects that could haunt you for the rest of your life isn’t worth it to me.

Watching the re-enactment of Chris Kyle in American Sniper partially proves my point. American Sniper was a phenomenal movie. It was an eye opener for me. Coming from someone who doesn’t support nor understand why people enter the military at any rank – gave me a view through the eyes of someone who has experienced it. He, as I’m sure many many other men and woman have, put themselves at so much risk and danger. They put their country before their family. I’m sorry if it’s selfish but I could never do that and no matter how hard I try to empathize with those that have, I can’t.

I’ve wanted to write a post about this for so long and getting half way through it, I just can’t seem to say what I want to say. I want people to understand that I’m grateful for being born into a country of freedom. I understand that our ancestors worked their asses off to make this a country worth fighting for. I understand that our country is a target. But I will just never be able to understand why anyone would want to subject themselves to a life of murder and mental suicide.

Sadly, I know people who have only joined for the benefits which is a topic for another day. I also know a strong young woman who fought and survived only to come back with mental turmoil and eventually took her own life. I know a man who served his country only to come back to an empty home because his wife was tired of being second place to America. There are so many reasons people serve and I’ve tried to find appreciation for that but I just don’t know why anyone would do that to themselves out of their own free will.

I wish I could explain it better and honestly, I really do wish I could understand. There are tougher problems in our own country that we could use the man power to solve. I’m trying not to be totally ignorant here because I know that there are world-wide threats to our country and to our citizens. With the technology that we have and how quickly it’s advancing why isn’t our government and military capable of having “missions accomplished” with fewer men and women holding guns and killing people?

With that being said, even though I’m sure you are still cringing and may not fully believe what I’m going to say – I am grateful for the men and women out there like Chris Kyle. I’m grateful that you have more of an understanding for the foundation that our country stands on. I’m grateful for your sacrifice to your life and your families. I send my prayers and hope for your sake to God and anyone else out there listening that with the intelligence and power as a 1st world country, we won’t always have to use murder and violence to solve problems that don’t need to exist. Knowing there is so much hatred in the world is a topic that makes the universe so much more complex than I think was ever intended.

Spread Your Wings. Prove People Wrong. Succeed.

I was debating on weather or not I’d make a post about the State Of The Union address that the President gave tonight. I’m not going to touch on everything because I really don’t care about everything. First and foremost, I’ve decided to steer clear of the war, terrorism, and military subjects because I don’t have a very popular opinion on any of them and really don’t want to deal with hate comments by pro-war warriors. Give it up already.

I guess the most relevant topics in my immediate world around me would be equal pay, unemployment, and minimum wage. I want to stop you here if you are looking to bash people that have differing opinions other than yours. I went out of my way to NOT post about the topics that I feel I’m uneducated on because I don’t want to put myself out there looking like a fool, so please go to the next blog if you are unable to read another persons viewpoint.

Unemployment/Welfare
It’s everywhere. If you have even the smallest of social circles, you probably know someone that currently is or has been unemployed. The reasons are about as colorful as the rainbow but the abuse of unemployment is the real reason our country has such an issue with it. There are plenty of people that don’t need to be unemployed. I’ve come across people in my adult life that are unemployed for what I think are ridiculous reasons. Anxiety? Really? Or how about the mother of four that can’t afford daycare? Did you think about daycare before you popped those babies out? Probably not. Go ahead, be a mother, more power to you but be responsible about it. Please don’t make me pay for your diapers and milk because you couldn’t keep your legs shut.

There are so many variables in every situation, I get that and I just used one unemployment “reason” for an example, there are many. And there are also many families that have children and actually have fallen into bad times. Okay, that’s fine. That’s what unemployment is here for. But if you got laid off three months ago and are living off of unemployment than I don’t have an ounce of empathy for you. None. Zilch. Zero. Get a job. You might not get on another hot shot construction or welding gig but McDonalds is hiring. Sure, it’s a smack in the face but those are the cards you were dealt. Play them, you never know when you’ll get the winning hand.

Equal Pay.
I just want to touch on this briefly. I agree, women  should receive equal pay. I’m a woman, of course I support it. But lets see the change. Just because the President says that women should be equal and not be faulted for taking care of a sick child or needing a day off doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. Where’s the change going to be implemented? When? And besides, how are we (women) going to even know when the time comes? In the year 2014, wage is so secretive in the workplace. It’s borderline unethical to talk about what you make in the office.

Minimum Wage.
Oh, minimum wage! My biggest argument for this is “why?” Why should some lady at Dairy Queen make more than or equal to what my boyfriend, a certified mechanic, makes? I think our bigger concern is where minimum wage should be implemented. Minimum wage is acceptable in entry level jobs – fast food restaurants, retail stores, convenience stores, ect. How about creating a secondary minimum for actual jobs that people either need an education or skill set to even acquire? A mechanic with an Automotive Technology degree shouldn’t be making $10 an hour, they should be starting at nearly double but it’s okay for a kid in the back of a kitchen to flip a burger and get (not earn) $10? Yeah right. How about a supervisor of a certified daycare facility? Is $9.00 an hour acceptable for someone who is responsible for the life of your child 8+ hours a day? I don’t think so. I agree, the wages in our country in many professions are low but I don’t think “minimum wage” is the solution. Minimum wage refers to entry level jobs. It’s the place where we start, it’s the place we want to better ourselves from. Build our way up, earn a better living.

If by the off chance that minimum wage does go up that doesn’t ensure that the rest of us will get a raise for our “hard” work. It means that a couple million people are going to get a pat on the back for doing nothing. Do something about it people, if you don’t like where you’re at and what you’re making than change it. If you can’t change it than accept it.

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Before I end here, I do want to clarify that I did contently vote for President Obama. My intention isn’t to spew hate or disapproval in his Presidency. He’s done many great things for our country and is continuing to do so. I applaud him for his leadership. I’ve had the same opinions on the above topics for years, even before I really gave a shit about politics. Just as I have for the topics I chose not to discuss. Accept it or don’t, we are all entitled to opinions. I plan to respect yours and you should mine.

I’m fortunate enough that I was raised to always continue to do better. I can’t even wrap my head around the grown adults who refuse to try a little harder and strive for something bigger and better. You’re not going to get anywhere by sitting in one spot. Spread your wings. Prove people wrong. Succeed.