Day 2: The Nerdvana Annihilation

Not much to report on a day full of time traveling. We made it to MSP a couple of hours early as advised because we’re both paranoid and prepared flying newbs.

It was my moms first time there and my second. I had a good idea of what to expect because my friend Alicia and I hit up Cleveland a little over a year ago but it was a bit different this time around.

We just zoomed right through the security checkpoints like it was no big thing. I had expected to remove our shoes and unload half of our personal item/carry on bags contents because of the whole “electronics go in their own bin” thing. Guess not. Or at least not today.. Or maybe not this airline? Who knows. The simpler the better was cool with us.

My favorite part of flying is the takeoff and landing. The ascent reminds me of the Starship 3000, that spaceship county fair ride growing up. AKA, so relaxing. Why had no one ever made that comparison when I had asked countless times what flying is like in years past? Jeez, guys!

I was curious to see what my mom would think of her first “real” flight. Prior to today, she’d only ever been on a 4-passenger and 6-passenger plane. Both were years and years ago. She liked the ascension also. She definitely didn’t act as giddy as I did on my first flight ever but she’s also not as dramatic as I am; if you can believe that. My mom did say though, while we were waiting for our connection, that she’s not sure what she thinks of flying in general. Her ears didn’t pop the entire 3ish hours we were waiting so everything was muffled as if there was a wall between us which is a very frustrating feeling.

With that being said.. Family and friends, you’ll be happy to hear that we made it to our connecting city of Charlotte, NC and miraculously didn’t get sucked into the hurricane threatening that region of the country. Our flight to Dublin did end up being delayed slightly but only by about 45 minutes. We’re safe and sound. I hope someone called Grandma Darlene.

The Charlotte Douglas International Airport was lightly illuminated today and at about 60% operation if I had to choose a random percentage. We did overhear an employee tell a waiting passenger that a lot of people haven’t been able to come to work the last couple of days due to the weather, thus the ghost-town vibe we kept encountering.

As I type this, I’m sitting in seat 26A on flight 724 eastbound to Dublin, Ireland. A surprisingly delicious dinner (I mean, supper) was served about 20 minutes ago. I need to ask my mom when we land what the round pea looking pieces of food were. (The flight isn’t full so my mom moved up a seat because why not?) They weren’t peas; they didn’t taste it and were very pale in color but I don’t even know if they were veggies. They were good AF though. She’ll know what they were because she’s a mom and they know everything. Thank you, Jesus, for mother’s. 🙌🏼

Well, I should try to catch some zzz’s. I hear traveling through space and time causes this thing called jet lag and we’re hitting the ground running when we land. Until you read again, slán.

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

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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