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We Went On An Adventure: Part 1~We Did Actually Leave Nebraska, I Promise

Published September 12, 2014 by ia84

I realized the other day that we’ve been home from our trip for almost two solid weeks, and I’ve yet to write about it.  Because it would be a ridiculously long blog entry to write about the entire weekend, I’ve decided to split it into many small entries.  Also, some of the pictures I’m including are ones I took with my phone, hence the really super-duper poor quality.  The ones I took with my actual camera are just a regular level of bad.

Back at the beginning of August, the boy mentioned to me that since we both had Labor Day weekend off, he thought we should go somewhere.  I was in agreement, because I greatly enjoy getting to travel.  Turned out, the biggest challenge was deciding which direction to head, but finally we agreed on Colorado.

So, when I got off of work on Friday (8/29), we headed west from Omaha.  Around midnight-1 a.m.-ish we rolled into Hastings and once we got to my grandma’s, we crashed for the night.

Saturday, we got up and continued our journey.  Our first stop was in North Platte, at a little tourist trap right off the interstate.

See, I’m not kidding!

If you’ve ever driven down I-80, or are from the North Platte area, the Trading Post is a familiar sight.

When I was growing up, every summer we’d come home to Nebraska for a visit, and getting to visit the fort was one of the highlights of the yearly trip.  Since I am big into nostalgia, and am also determined that the boy is going to be exposed to all the weird, wonderful things I know of, visiting the trading post was a no-brainer.

It’s a bit hard to describe this place to someone who’s never been there.  Basically, it’s a mini-museum with a giant gift shop.  There’s a big miniature display of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.

It’s a bit hard to tell (thanks to my “wonderful” camera on my phone), but behind that glass are thousands of carved wooden figures that are all depicting the Wild West show.  Plus, it’s all on a motorized system, so every half hour you actually get to see everything move and there’s a bit of narration to explain what you’re seeing.  It’s pretty interesting.

Cowboy hats with attached tiaras are just a sampling of the awesomeness available in the store.

Once we had our fill of the Trading Post, we continued our journey west.  As we were leaving North Platte, the question arose of which direction we should head to get to Denver.  Now, for those who don’t know, there are three main ways to get to Colorado from Nebraska.  There’s dropping south into Kansas and heading west.  However, that’s a pretty boring drive.  The same can be said for option number two.  If you go west on I-80 through Nebraska, and go on I-76 into Colorado, about the only scenery you’ll see is construction.  Not terribly exciting.  We opted for option number 3.  Going west to Cheyenne and dropping south from there.

This really is a beautiful drive.

 

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These pictures are what happens when I’m not driving, and my camera has battery life.  For those who think that Nebraska is only flat and boring, these pictures serve to prove that thought process wrong.  I took these in the panhandle, as we were nearing the Nebraska/Wyoming border.  (The traffic cones and windshield bug splat prove we really were on a road trip!)

And now, I come to then end of part 1.  Up next…Cheyenne and really craptacular “Mexican” food.

We’re Going On An Adventure

Published August 29, 2014 by ia84

I should be sleeping right now, but I’m very VERY awake.  Tomorrow night after work (or rather, today after work, since as I write this it is technically tomorrow), the boy and I are headed out on an adventure.

To see the mountains.

Or possibly the smog.  (But not the Smaug…seriously, December can’t get here soon enough!)

It was pointed out to me tonight that I had forgotten how much smog there can be in Denver.  Having not been there in almost a decade, I don’t really know what to expect.

Having not lived there since I was four, finding our way around is going to be it’s own special adventure.

I’m so excited to get out of Omaha, to get out of Nebraska.

I’m also a little bit nervous.  I’m nervous about the boy meeting one of my very dearest friends.  It’s always a slightly nerve-wracking experience to have your friends meet your boyfriend.

It’ll be a quick trip, but I think it’ll be fun.  And crazy.  And awesome.

And I really need someone to reassure me that Casa Bonita is still just as much fun and just as magical now as it was when I was a kid.

This Is The Stuff News Reports Are Made Of

Published June 22, 2014 by ia84

So, last night (Friday) we had a bit of a gully washer here in Omaha.  I was at work, and as my shift progressed, I noticed the sky getting darker and darker until it was pitch black.  That’s about when the torrential downpour began.  By time time my shift had ended, the rain hadn’t let up, and the basement at my work had flooded.  I didn’t think much about this because it’s prone to flooding, as is our parking lot.  Before I left work, I checked the weather warnings, and all I found was that there was a flash flood warning for a county in Iowa.  Thinking I was safe, I decided to head home.

Now, have you ever seen those new videos where they show people, stranded in their cars, while the roads swell with flood waters?   I’ve always watched those videos kind of judgmentally.  I’m usually wondering what kind of idiot would go out in that weather in the first place.  Now I know, because it turns out I’m that kind of idiot.

Honestly, things weren’t going well from the minute I left work.  Like I said, the parking lot at work was flooded, but I’m so used to that I didn’t think anything of it.  However, when I got out on the road, I noticed that the water seemed to be a little higher than was comforting.  Plus, I kept having water go up the tailpipe and the van would fill with gas fumes.  Which, is apparently a not so good thing, and probably should have been a big sign to me that I was probably in trouble.

And at this point you’re thinking, “You did the smart thing, pulled over, and waited it out.  Right?”

Didn’t I mention before that I’m an idiot?

I did almost pull off at Village Inn near my work.  My thought was that I could just wait out the storm there, but then I began wondering what I would do if the storm didn’t let up anytime soon.  So, I pushed on for home.  Such a huge mistake.

Most of L Street was under some water.  There were actually multiple times that I found that the appearance of a road had completely disappeared.  When I saw cars stranded I went from worried to really scared.  I just began praying, “Jesus, just get me home.  Please just get me home.”  I didn’t make deal any deals with God, or anything like that.  I just asked to get home safely.  As soon as I could, I got off of L, and headed for Q Street, thinking that would be a better option.

Headed down hill on Q Street towards the intersection with 96th Street, I saw something I wasn’t at all prepared for.  The entire intersection was completely underwater.  Cars were stalled, and the rushing water was coming up to the hoods of large pickup trucks.  Fortunately, there was a parking lot on the hill that I could pull in to.  Sitting there, I felt trapped.  I knew I couldn’t go back to L Street, and clearly I couldn’t get through the intersection at the bottom of the hill.  It was late and dark and I was terrified and I was alone.  Because I’m a drama queen, I had a brief moment where my mind seriously darted to the thought of, “What if this is it?  What if I die here?”  I briefly considered contacting those people in my life that are most important and telling them how important they are to me, and how much I love and appreciate them.  Fortunately for them, no one received a phone call from a unnerved, terrified me, because as I sat there I decided to head back and try going a more roundabout way to get home, one that was likely to be less flooded.

Long, long story shorter, I did make it home.  It took me an hour, compared to the normal 15 minutes.  I did not make any embarrassing phone calls, or send any embarrassing texts.  Not that telling people you love them is embarrassing.  However I do believe you shouldn’t have to be wondering if you’re going to die in order to be prompted to let people know you truly care about them.

Also, I’m thankful that my stupidity didn’t actually end up on the news.

Is that what they’re calling it these days?

Published June 6, 2014 by ia84

I took the day off today, and spent the day at the Henry Doorly Zoo with the boy.  (Side note, Omaha has a fantastic zoo, and if you ever come here it’s the one place you definitely have to go to before you leave). Now, over the many years I’ve visited the zoo, I’ve heard a myriad of weird things come out of the mouths of adults.  We’re talking about statements that leave me feeling somewhere between the Picard facepalm and Professor Farnsworth saying, “I don’t want to live on this planet anymore.”   Today was no exception.

At the zoo, there’s a desert dome, and the lower level features something called, “Kingdoms of the Night.” (KoN from here on out)  Basically, it’s fairly dark, and filled with nocturnal animals.  You get to see animals active that normally would be asleep during the day.  The first “quality” statement of the day, came early on through our trek in the dark.  We were passing a group of adults, and I heard one woman say, “Oh look.  The mommy frog is giving the baby frog a piggy-back ride.”  I turned my head to look at the frogs, and then had to quickly walk away before I said something I’d regret.  Honestly, I kind of wish I had a time machine to go back and walk up to that woman and say, “First, baby frogs are tadpoles.  That’s not a tadpole on top of that other frog.  Second, that “piggy-back ride” is what the rest of the world calls mating.”  I think she might have had a child with her, but honestly I was so horrified when I realized what she said, I didn’t get a good look to see if she really did have a kid with her.  However, if she did, that’s even more concerning.  Why?  Because if you’re not prepared to talk to your child about the birds and the bees, then you better not point out that it is taking place and then pump your child full of misinformation.

Later on, still in KoN, I came around a corner and heard another adult saying, “Look, the beaver had babies.”  Now, this wouldn’t have been a problem, except for two things.  A.  There were no beavers in the enclosure, and B. There was a lit sign stating, “Nutria” followed with information about the Nutria was positioned all of three feet away from the nursing mother Nutria.

Finally, as we neared the exit, we began to encounter multiple women with strollers that had somehow managed to get turned around and were going against the flow of traffic.  Now, if you just follow the flow of traffic, it’s a pretty simple path to get to the exit (that is lit up with a nice brilliant green light filling in the letters, spelling out the word ‘EXIT’).  Instead these women were going the wrong way, and wondering aloud, “Where’s the exit?”  I did manage to try to point out to one of these women which way they needed to go, and instead of turning around, she just kept going the wrong way.

There was one other alarming thing I discovered during my venture to the zoo, and this had nothing to do with other visitors.  It was due to the new sculptures in the Bear area.  Words cannot describe how creepy these sculptures are, so hopefully my pictures can do what words can’t…

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Okay, so maybe that doesn’t look that creepy, but wait…

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Still not convinced of the creepiness?

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That’s right, these weird pig bear things are sprinkled all through that little area, and they’re all staring at you. Standing guard and staring right into your soul.  It’s seriously time to call Sam and Dean.

So, yes, there were really dumb things said today, and there was the encounter with the bizarre sculptures, but apart from that it was a really lovely day.  The weather was gorgeous, and I got to spend the day with the boy (who actually did say something about the “piggy-back ride” comment, but I don’t think the woman who made the comment heard him).  It was really nice to have a normal day (or at least what I consider normal).

UPDATE!!!!  Apparently I took another picture of the creepy bear pigs.  Can’t not share this weirdness with all of you…

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It’s Not Worth More Than Life

Published April 3, 2014 by ia84

I have a lot of things I’m scared of.  Snakes, spiders, snakes, heights, snakes, anything in a scary movie, snakes…well, you get the idea.  However, the two all time scariest moments of my life actually took place while I was driving (and neither involved snakes).  One, of course, is when I went off the road in a blizzard.  Granted, I didn’t get scared until after being rescued, and I realized that I should have died.  The all time scariest moment came in December of 2009.

It was noon on Saturday, December 5th, 2009, I was with my parents, and I was driving on West Center (a main road here in Omaha).  Being the noon hour, traffic was heavy.  We were sitting in a long line of traffic waiting for the light at 120th & W. Center to change.  I remember looking up in my rear view mirror and seeing a car coming up behind me.  I could tell that it wasn’t slowing down, and even though my foot was already on the brake (because we were stopped), I put as much pressure into holding the brake down as I could.  Right before the car slammed into the back of my car, I saw that the driver was just chatting away on her cell phone, completely oblivious to the fact that she was about to cause an accident.  The impact came, our car was pushed up into the car in front of us, and then unexpectedly the car behind us hit us a second time.  It took a moment, but when no more impacts came, it was time to see what had happened.

Turns out, the woman who hit us wasn’t the only one on her phone not paying attention.  There was another woman in the car behind the woman who rear ended us, and she too was on her cell phone.  You read that right, both women were talking on their cell phones not paying a whit of attention to anything.  Not only that, but it ended up being a paramedic who witnessed what happened who called 9-1-1.  I didn’t have a phone at the time, and the gentleman who’s truck I got pushed into didn’t have one either.  Neither of the two women who caused the accident bothered to ever use their phones to call 9-1-1.

Miraculously, no one was killed, or injured; which considering the fact that both women were going at least 45 mph when they hit is pretty amazing.  (Although, the stress of the event triggered a nightmare medical situation with my mom over the next week, but that’s a story for another post.)

Ever since that nightmare day, I’ve been very anti using your cell phone to text or call while driving.  That accident should never have happened.  So, you can imagine the rage I felt yesterday when I got on Facebook, and saw one of my acquaintances had written that when a guy honked and shook his finger at her for texting and driving, she proceeded to flip him off and continue texting at the same time.  And to make it really great, she hash-tagged it “multitasking.”

Cue Seth and Amy, it’s time for “Really?”.  Really?  REALLY??????

Last time I checked driving is not the time to be “multitasking.”  A car is an incredibly dangerous weapon when used irresponsibly.  And yes, I consider texting and driving to be just as irresponsible as talking on the cell phone and driving.  If you don’t care about your own life, show respect and care for other people’s lives.  People in the cars around you are human beings.  Every single driver is someone’s daughter or son.  Every single passenger is someone’s daughter or son.  This isn’t “The Sims” where you can just recreate the character should Death come knocking.  There is no pause button, and the game doesn’t reset just because someone died.   Those other drivers don’t deserve to have their lives taken away or messed up badly because you don’t have the patience to wait until you’ve reached your destination to use your phone.

At the end of the day, life is too valuable to destroy so recklessly and irresponsibly.

Life is but a dream

Published January 10, 2014 by ia84

I had some really weird dreams last night.

Dream #1

First, I got a call from one of my grandmothers, and she asked me, “Did your parents move to Omaha?”

Me: Yeah, several years ago.  (Thinking it’s weird because she was one of the first people to know they were moving to Omaha.)

Grandma: Figures I would be the last to know.

Me: Oooookay….Um…I’ll have dad call you back.

Dream #2

I was in an office building.  The doors at the end of the hall opened, and in ran a herd of baby pandas (There were at least 30).  There were two women herding them, and I was soon surrounded by this moving sea of baby pandas.  I picked one up and handed my iPod to one of the women asking if she would take my picture.  She took a couple pictures, and then I had to leave and get on a bus.  When I got on the bus, I took out my iPod to look at the pictures, and found that the woman hadn’t switched the camera view.  So, I had pictures of her from neck down, but no pictures of me with the pandas.

Then I woke up.

And now I want to cuddle a baby panda.

Wherein I do something to a Christmas song…

Published December 18, 2012 by ia84

So, it’s a week until Christmas.  Yay!  I’m actually enjoying the Christmas spirit this year.  I’m just so thankful to be with my family, it’s going to be a fantastic holiday.

Last Friday night I drove home from Grand Forks, and arrived in Omaha around midnight.  The next morning I got up way earlier than I wanted so that I could rehearse music with my parents.  We were doing the music at our church’s over-40’s Christmas party.  Now, many years ago, my parents and I performed our take on gospel music quite regularly.  However, it’s been about 7 years since the last time we performed anything for anyone.  I had a grand total of one rehearsal with my parents going into the music presentation on Saturday night, and it didn’t go too badly.  I managed to get video of the performance, and I thought I’d share part of it tonight.  (Hopefully, I’ll be able to share the gospel music part in a few days.)  Here’s the video of my family covering the Christmas “classic” Leroy the Redneck Reindeer:

My mama is playing the autoharp and dad is playing the banjo.  I’m not playing an instrument (although, I’m about to get serious about learning mandolin), but I am singing with the group.  It was a lot of fun.

This song has been a bit special to our family, because my Grampa’s (the one who passed this summer) first name was Leroy.  The first time we performed this song was for him at family Christmas many years ago.

That wasn’t the only reminder of Grampa Saturday night.  Every year for Christmas we’d give Grampa a can or box of ribbon candy.  As long as I can remember he always got ribbon candy.  Well, at the party on Saturday night, there was a white elephant give-away.  My dad picked a package, and when opened found it was a box of ribbon candy.  The exact kind of ribbon candy that we got for Grampa.  It was a bittersweet moment.  Kind of seemed like Grampa was looking down on us, letting us know he’s thinking about us.