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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Album Review: Lukas Graham

lukas-graham-652x367Music is a hard thing to write about mostly because it falls into the category of “no one understands it like you do.” Right? The way I interpret a track could be totally opposite of someone else. Well maybe not opposite, but just not the same. And sometimes you feel like you understand a song on the deepest possible level, to the point of actually feeling the words. But does anyone else feel the same? Maybe.

I’ve read a couple reviews so far on the Lukas Graham album that just dropped today. Mostly positive. YAS! I understand that not everyone will agree. Some will pull the “Never be as good as the Beetles” card in a weird positively passive aggressive way. Oh wait, they already did. First, so what? And second, how do you know? There’s no way to gauge an artists reach on day one of a release. How many people do you think doubted Elvis a few generations ago? Or Macklemore? Or Britney? No one knows how great someone will become, dream crusher.

Anyway.

I feel super connected to this album. I don’t know why. The first time I heard their single “7 Years,” I automatically was like “THIS. This is it.” I think I like the messaging and the down to earth feel I get when I listen to the tracks. They are relatable which isn’t unusual. But it’s a new relatable that I haven’t been able to feel in a long time. Mostly, I enjoy the genres that all fall within the album. It’s not just soul or hip-hop or pop. It’s all-encompassing. The background beats are easy to move to and each song has a different tone. The New York Times explained their style pretty well, I think. I’ve read about as much as I can about Lukas Graham and his band. The catch-all Wikipedia doesn’t have tons of background at this point in the bands career but it looks like I’m going to need to track down thier other releases because I just can’t get enough! There have also been numerous articles circulating since they started their U.S. promotions, which is totes awesome. I just wish they’d hit up North Dakota or Minnesota on the U.S. leg of their tour! #whereyouat

With that being said, I’m not going to analyze each track because I’ve always thought that everyone should form their own connection with artists’ music instead of being told what some blogger thinks it means or encourages you to feel a certain way. I do have to say that I really don’t have words for how many feels this album gives me. I’ve already danced, laughed, and cried. These tracks will be on repeat for months and years to come.

I rarely get my ass in gear and jump on an album the second it’s available but I did this time and I really needed it. I’ve been having a weird week. Lots of ups and downs but listening to this album however many times so far has brought me to a good spot for the end of the week and I’m glad about that. Happy April Fools day in a non-April Fools but still a feel-good way. If that makes sense.

You can buy Lukas Graham’s album on a slew of different platforms by clicking here. I can’t say that I have a favorite because they’re all so good but here’s one that you haven’t heard on the radio yet. #teardroponmyguitar Enjoy and thanks for reading!

Is it weird that I’m re-gauging my ears at age 26? Whatever, don’t answer that.

I feel like my life kind of stopped sometime around age 20 & I fell into a rabbit hole not quite as awesome as Alice. I became a secluded social hobbit.

But about a year ago this time, I decided to start doing what I want with my life. I know that seems annoyingly cliché but I don’t know how else to describe it. Before then, no one was holding me back other than myself. I think a lot of people thought Channing was holding me back for years and they weren’t totally wrong I guess. But as me, who’s been through the 20-something life I’ve had, it was more me molding into his interests or disinterests when I should have been continuing to be my own person.

He never restricted anything in my life. Ever. He actually has always encouraged me to do whatever I want but for some reason I stalled out and was stuck in thin air. Stuck in my 20’s unable to move. Thinking I always needed to be right there, always available, revolve my life around him and only him. I was wrong.. and dumb.

Now, at age 26, I’m no longer naive about the situation I was in. A lot of the things that happened in our early relationship were inexcusable. I admit that a large part of me was probably too insecure to leave. Too scared of what might happen to him or that I may never find anyone again. Mostly because of my weight. For years, I don’t know if my love for him was the same as his for me. I doubt it. I chose to live a miserable few years, that’s true. I had a good support system and could have paved another path for my early 20’s but I didn’t. Ultimately, I chose not to. And I’m cool with that.

Two, three years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to say that. Say that I’m okay with how life is turning out. Up until relatively recently, I had always wondered all of the what-ifs. What if I stayed gone when my mom and brother moved me out? What if I continued on to a 4-year college after Northland? What if I moved far far away? What if I never would have met him that day at the fair?

I didn’t have any kind of epiphany. I just realized that I’m tired of worrying about it. I can’t change it. Anything that I didn’t do or felt like I couldn’t do at the time, I can do now. Just because my early 20’s are gone and I don’t have hardly any good memories or stories to tell doesn’t mean that my life is over. I’m 26 for God’s sake. Twenty fucking six!

So earlier, I said my way of thinking all changed about a year ago. Nothing crazy happened, I was just like “I’m going to do what I want” whether it’s by myself or not. I’m going to go to the store, I’m going to go for a walk, I’m going to look for a better city to live in. I’m going to travel and laugh and not apologize.

I didn’t go on some newly 21-year old crazy streak. I sought out a better future for us. We moved to Fargo, I was able to transfer within my company and turns out I’m now in a pretty awesome place professionally and financially. I’m doing something I like. We got a cat kid named Franklin. I traveled some of the Great Lakes blue with my mommy dearest. Don’t worry mom, I won’t say “mommy” again. Ugh, that word. I remember going to a grocery story one time, years ago and this teenager said “mommy.” Pretty sure I gagged. Rant over.

But you know what? Everyone survived. Channing came with me and supported me without a struggle. After years of being so reserved when it came to my relationship, scared to disagree or say something wrong; I was worried about nothing. Over the last year and even more, Channing has more than willingly made sacrifices to help me do or get what I want. He’s never even tried to veto me on them. He supports me.

Four or five years ago, this was a different story. For whatever reason, the Universe had some kind of pull to make everything fall into place the way it has. 20-15 was a good year for us, for me. And this year is going to be even better. Funny how much truth there is to the phrase “You’re the only one that can hold you back.”