2020-06-30 Take Back the City Tour: Day 15 Colorado Wrap Up

We arrived home from our Colorado road trip late afternoon Sunday. It’s now Tuesday. That’s what happens. And.. if I don’t take the time To reflect reflected on our trip, it will start to slip away…

At the very least, I’d like to capture the highlights so I don’t forget them. Pictures are worth a thousand words, as they say, so maybe that’s the way….

Day 1 (Wednesday): We get one the road about 2PM and drive straight through to Denver with just a few stops for restrooms, gas, food AND a stop in Kearny to visit my friend Tre who I haven’t seen since the wedding. That was definitely my highlight of the day. Z was so grumpy the whole way, which is not something I’m typically want to remember, but the emotions we both had were part of the overall experience.

We arrived in Denver at about 11 and after 2 failed stops at gas stations (hunting for Ben and Jerry’s) we gave up and went to my sisters apartment. We chatted briefly and then crashed out in her spare bedroom.

Day 2 (Thursday): We had take out brunch in the park with my sister before she had to go to work. Z was still tired and grumpy after that so I let her go back to sleep while I caught up on emails on the couch with the two cats.

When we finally got moving we drove south to Colorado Springs where we had reservations to stay the night at Glen Eyrie Castle. We explored the castle and the grounds and then headed out to resume our quest for Ben and Jerry’s and visit Cheyenne canyon.

The quest took us on a bit of a detour and we ended up at the great Wolf Lodge which presumably has a Ben & Jerry’s inside but it was closed because of the pandemic. It took two more stops but we finally found the coveted ice cream darling daughter was craving at a 7-Eleven. Huzzah!! She had her ice cream while we drove to Cheyenne canyon and proceeded to explore that whole area. By car.

Most of the stops were too packed with people and, being weary about social distancing, we opted to stay in the car most of the way at the canyon. We finally got out at the top and walked on a dirt road along the Ridgeline.

After that we made our way back to the Castle for the evening. It was great to take a shower and just relax and chat. Z did her own thing and I spent time mostly researching activities for us to do. Not sure what time I fell asleep.

Day 3 (Friday): We had a lazy morning once again and didn’t get moving until about eleven. That’s when we checked out and made our way to the Academy Riding Stables where we embarked on a 2 hour horseback ride. It was a tour up and around the garden of the gods and as hot as it was, it was a great choice. I would not have wanted to hike through there on foot.

Riding the horses was fun (a favorite activity of my Z) and it helped us keep our distance from the people. We were at the back of the line and several times hung way back so we could engage the horses to trot and catch up. It was a good little refresher, but boy were we both sore that night!

After that we drove through Manatu Springs and elected not to get out of the car (almost no one wearing masks) and also skipped the drive up Pikes peak (we have both been up to the top on previous trips) and were sort of just driving around looking for a good cell signal so we could figure out what to do.

Just about that time a healthy storm started to roll in and so we drove back to Colorado Springs proper and got a room at a Holiday Inn express. I would say we waited out the storm there, but we did get hungry for dinner so we ventured out in the pouring rain in search of fast food.

There is no Del taco in Omaha so I jumped at the chance to get that fix and my pudding pie had one of her favorites—raising canes (3 finger combo with extra crispy fries, toast buttered on both sides, and a Dr Pepper with light ice (she’s so high maintenance!) 😜

We had a pretty chill evening in the hotel and watched a B movie from the bed. Then she did her own thing again while I again researched activities for us to do the next day. Once I had a solid plan, I crashed out. Not sure how long she was awake after that but she sure likes to stay up late and sleep in.

Day 4 (Saturday): Surprise, surprise.. we get a late checkout again! 😏 After packing everything into the car AGAIN, we drove another hour south west to hit the Royal Gorge. Despite the pandemic the place was packed! Again, it felt like the wild Wild West with very few people wearing masks, and it was quite annoying how disrespectful people were getting too close in the queue to get inside the park.

The bridge is super cool and it was crazy windy. We struggled to get good pictures because the hair situation was just bonkers. I think it was a combination of factors but most the attractions were closed. No gondola ride, no theatre, no sky-coaster (though we did see that run at least once while we were up at the top of the hill on the opposite side of the bridge.

It actually worked out perfectly because we had just enough time to explore around before jumping back in the car to hit our scheduled Zip-line adventure.

It was 9 lines through the Colorado high desert outside of Canyon City. A really great hike and the Zip-lining was super fun. It’s the kind of thing Z is really into. She likes thrill rides. She asked me at one point if I would go skydiving with her. Uhhhhh, “maybe” I said and then dropped that topic like a hot potato.

After the zip line we were both super hungry and about an hour plus away from real civilization. I mean there were places to eat in canyon city but again, it did not look like they had any rules in place for protecting customers so we opted to drive back to Colorado city and get food from A Texas roadhouse.

My original plan was to drive home on Saturday but it was super late in the day so we just had to plan to go as far as we could and then stop again one more night. The way things work out, Sterling was not far enough for us and Ogallala had no rooms at my preferred hotel. So we ended up driving all the way to North Platte and arrived there around 2 AM. Yikes!

Day 5 (Sunday): waking up in North Platte was actually nice, knowing that we only had about four hours to get home. We drove most of the way through but took a detour in Lincoln so we could drive around University of Nebraska campus where Z it’s going to be a freshman in the fall. She wanted to see where all the dorm rooms were and get a first look at what’s in her future.

From there, home is only about 45 minutes away. Which is really good for so many reasons.

Arriving back home was a relief! It was a good trip but, you know, it always feels great to be in your own space again and sleep in your own bed (and spend time with those you have been missing while away).

I think the time together was super valuable and the time away was great for our mental health, even if I’m paying the price now trying to catch up on work (not to mention the inherent risks in so much exposure outside the home).

Wowza! That was a long session on the treadmill. I’m already at 10k steps today!! Definitely enough for now.

What a way to End June 2020!
~Miss SugarCookie

2020-06-27 Take Back the City Tour: Day 🤷‍♀️ Health Check

Somewhere along the way I’ve gotten messed up on what day it is. That happens when you miss accounting some days and double up on others. What I have been keeping track of on my handy-dandy paper calendar is the following:

  • What my Lorazepam dose is
  • What week it is in my plan to come down off that evil drug
  • How much caffeine I’m having
  • What time my nasty head symptoms present each day
  • And if I wake with a headache

As always, my sleep and my steps get recorded by my FitBit but I’m not watching that too closely for any connections. Perhaps I should, given the inherent connections, but I’m just focusing on how I feel, mind and body, and the chemicals I’m ingesting.

The abstinence from alcohol has been easy-peasy. I don’t really miss it. I think that when I’m done with this initial cleanse, I can just keep that up, except for the occasional happy hour. I’m also wearing my reading glasses more reliably than I was before and that’s probably helping too.

My original plan was to go for 15 days cutting the benzodiazepines, caffeine, and alcohol. My plan was thwarted on like day or 3 when I experienced a crash from withdrawal. At that point i saw a physician, had some tests, and got put on a better plan. Now it’s been another week and a few days and I’m following the prescribed plan as best as I can.

Even with the change in plans, I’m already feeling a ton better than I was two weeks ago. I’d go so far as to say I’m rediscovering what healthy feels like. I’ve been here before so I know what healthy feels like.

The strange thing is, I don’t know when I lost it (the healthy feeling) or why. In 2017 I was a wreck and had to take drastic action to put myself right again. So when did it slip out of my grasp again?

I mean, I’m in a great relationship. My kids are doing well, I get regular exercise and do several things for myself to feed my need for interaction and to flex the creative part of my brain.

Was it just too much change too fast? Moving, marriage, integration of households? Is it my job.. Too much stress? Could it be the pandemic and all the chaos and uncertainty in the world? Could it be politics and the divided shambles America has become? The constant dose of insanity and stupidity from our president. Can we get a step down plan for that hot mess too?

And how is it that in 2020, cops are still killing black people? And that the vicious cycle only perpetuates itself. And then here we are again, nearing the end of June and the daily news is waxing once again with the pandemic and politics. These serious and impactful events that shape our lives get swept under other news du-jour.

Sometimes I say everything is connected. Most of the time I’m talking about internally. Like the body and mind and soul. But it’s bigger than me. It’s all the external stimulus too. The ecosystem of the earth, the economy of the world, social and political constructs of civilization. It’s everything from the dwindling numbers of honeybees and the escalating conflicts between north and South Korea.

It’s a person making a choice to not to wear a mask in public.

It’s a parent who doesn’t teach their child about what’s right and wrong, or talk to them about current events, or lay down the law when they make mistakes. Or worse yet, teach them through their bad behaviors that lack compassion and sensibility. It’s kinda hard to witness. It’s also hard to hold inside and hold my tongue. But it’s complicated.

I’m not perfect and I’ve made mistakes and part of my angst, which I am sure contributes to my health, is the worry that I’m not doing all I should be.

This is probably enough wandering for one Saturday. I’ve got my sweet daughter sleeping in a room three floors above me in this hotel in the middle of Colorado and it’s time to make my words meet my own actions. We’ve got a fairly solid plan for today and my goal is to satisfy the thrill seeker inside her. So it’s off to the Royal Gorge we go!

Until Next Time,
~Miss SugarCookie

2020-06-26 Take Back the City Tour: Day 12.944 – Enjoying the Moment

Today is almost over. The more time my daughter and I spend alone together, the more we come to understand each other better. I mean, we live together but sometimes, we are too busy just getting through each day that we don’t even really talk and that’s a shame. Tonight she told me she was not prepared for this trip because she didn’t think I was serious about going. She thought it was just a passing thought and now here we are, 3rd night of a Colorado road-trip. Guess I was serious. We both wanted this Llama in our respective stories and as day turns into night, we realize we did not just want the Llama—we NEEDED it.

Now that adequate sleep has been had and the restoration is in full swing, we are finally getting to the good conversations. I mean, sometimes I talk and talk and it ends up feeling like a one sided story or a mom lecture, but now, it’s a two way street. She’s talking and coming out of her shell a little bit. I’ve learned some things about her in the past couple days that I did not know before. I think maybe it is because I’ve been open and freely sharing stories from my life so she’s opening up too.

We’ve also veered into some uncomfortable territory today and it’s good to have a dialogue where I can just listen to what she thinks and feels and knows about herself and life in general. It won’t be long until we are packing her up for her college dorm. It won’t be long until she starts to experience some new things and I want to make sure she’s prepared. Or as prepared as one can be for life, since it is often unexpected. I won’t be able to just pop up to her room when she texts “mama, I need you.”

I dunno. I kinda want to memorialize this moment. Her and I sharing a bed at a Holiday Inn Express in North Colorado Springs. Flipping through random cable channels, watching the end of Aquaman and lamenting about what a bad show it is. And deciding to go out in the pouring rain to get dinner in our pajamas. And just a little bit ago, we were huddled together researching potential adventures for tomorrow. It’s just nice to be in this moment.

Of course that moment has passed and now she’s resumed her typical teenage before-bed-screen-time with her peeps and I’m.. well.. doing this. It’s past 10PM now and we did indeed find some cool things to do for tomorrow so I’d better get to sleep.

Peace and Love,
~Miss SugarCookie

2020-06-26 Take Back the City Tour: Day 12 – The Quest for Ben and Jerry’s

My daughter and I have different styles for vacations and road trips. Or perhaps years of experience has shaped my style into being more rigid and regimented. At this juncture, I think it’s important to note that sometimes life is better when you let go of what you have learned and just accept the day as it comes. It’s better to be free of expectation. It’s better to not care that time is short and even though you want to get the most out of life that you can, it’s not great to try and do too much. It is, in a way, freedom, to be on a road trip and sleep until 1PM and give your body the restoration it is craving.

It is my way to try and pack a day full of activities and sites. To worry about how long it takes to get from here to there and to always be on-time. It is my way to get frustrated if there is not a solid plan and what I am learning from my daughter is that sometimes the best memories happen when there is no plan and you just go with the flow of the moment.

Yes, I researched all kinds of things to do in Colorado Springs. We had a nice visit with my sister yesterday and took a brunch out to a park and sat on blankets in the shade. She gave me all kinds of suggestions on where to go from there and when we had to pack up and get going (because she had to go to work), we went back to her apartment and I started preparing to leave.

Z, on the other hand, laid back down in the bed and proceeded to fall asleep. 10AM and she crashed out in the spare bed in my sisters spare bedroom and there I was, rushing to get on with the day. I let her sleep. She was so grumpy the day before on our drive and I kind of knew it was what she needed. I probably should have followed suit and climbed back into the bed too but I knew I would just lay there thinking about stuff.

Instead, I did a bit of this and that on my laptop. Responded to emails. Had a work call. Accepted another call directly from my PM and did just enough to feel good about where things were at. I’m behind schedule on a task and, in prioritizing this trip, knew it was not going to get done by the time they wanted it to be done. It is atypical for me, and I struggle with the balance on a daily basis, but it is necessary.

Anyway, once she did wake up, we really had no plan for the day other than to make our way south to Colorado Springs. We had booked a room at a castle (of all places) and only had a little list in our heads of where else we could go. It was really hot out, and hiking seemed very unappealing. Hiking, in general is unappealing for my pudding pie. She’d rather just drive and watch the scenery from the car and maybe every once and a while get out and take a snap.

One of the things she’s been craving is Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream. We had stopped at two gas stations thus far looking for those little single serving containers (which generally contain 2.5 servings). One was a Circle K and the Other was a Loves. We did not meet with success on those tries.

Once we got to Colorado Springs it was time to check into our Castle and so we did that after which we wandered around the grounds with a little map looking for the points of interest: the rose garden, the eagles nest, and the trust course. The scenery here at Glen Erie Castle is pretty cool, but those points of interest were quite underwhelming. With the Garden of the Gods a short car ride away, it felt like folly to spend any more time at all here. So we jumped in the car to head out again.

But she did not want to go to the garden of the gods. She said she wanted to do that tomorrow. We decided to go to Cheyenne Canyon instead. But the quest for Icre Cream took priority. No, Haagendaz was not an option, and nether was whatever generic brand each gas station was sporting. We googled “Ben and Jerry’s” and found one on the map that was 20 minutes north. So we headed that way.

When we arrived at the sprawling plaza of eateries, dentist offices, liquor stores and movie theaters there was no Ben and Jerries to be found. Google maps wanted us to go down a parking lot road that was completely closed off and the giant building before us turned out to be a Great Wolf Lodge (closed due to the pandemic). The whole lot was vacant. Near as we could guess, the Ben and Jerries was inside the GWL and so we were foiled again.

We stopped at a nearby Kum and Go and had no luck there either. Then across the way we spotted a Sinclair gas station and as we crossed the main thoroughfare, the 7-eleven came into focus. We stopped in and much to my surprise – Waaalaaa – there it was. The freezer with a great selection of Ben and Jerry’s. I was doing a little happy dance inside because this would make her so satisfied. She grabbed her “Brownie Chunk” (and a set of plastic spoons), and we made away like bandits with our treasure.

Now, now we could finally, at 6PM hit some scenery that Colorado Springs is known for. We drove to and up Cheyenne Canyon. We stopped at one of the more popular stops with a waterfall and watched for a bit as other human beings passed by and frolicked around the water. She does not like crowds and either do I. We would have walked up and around the falls but there were too many people and there was very little social distancing going on (let alone masks). It felt very inconsiderate.

We drove to the top of the canyon and parked at another lot there and walked a wide gravel and dirt trail for about 30 minutes. It was nice just to walk and talk and I would say that was more important than the scenery. I took a few pics but the best ones were of her. I discovered in telling to her that these scenic adventures don’t do much for her unless there are animals involved.

She was excited to tell me about a time she saw a bear in Yellowstone with her dad and once when there was an Elk right outside her tent and even a Giant horse fly they thought had a huge stinger and a couple of silk worms that hitched a ride from A to B on one of their trips.

Yesterday we saw a female deer in town, and a wild turkey, and several species of birds we had not seem before. We saw a pretty good sized lizard in the rose garden at the castle and she named him “Joe”.

I said “oh, Joe. That’s my new internal medicine doctor. What a coincidence!”. We both laughed.

Right now as I type this, she is still sleeping. I could not sleep much past 6 and now it is almost 8. I wandered out of the room and got ice water from the machine down the hall. I wandered into an area labeled as private because the sign said “Great Hall” and I kind of wanted to know what a “Great Hall” looked like. It was big, and kind of ornate, but maybe like the rest of this castle, a little over promised and under-delivered.

I’m going to wrap now and check to see if breakfast is open yet. It’s included with our stay but a “grab and go” kind of a situation”. I’d really like to have a coffee. I know part of my substance cleanse includes minimizing caffeine but I’m going to give myself a little wiggle room on that for a few days.

First it was 2 out of 3 aint bad and now it’s 1 out of 3 is good enough. I’m in the final 3rd of this “Take Back the City tour” as of today and will be looking to finish out this month feeling better mentally and physically than when I started.

I am doing the very best that I can and that is all I can ask of myself at this point.

Cheers to Another Day of Unplanned Adventure,
~Miss SugarCookie

2020-06-25 Take Back the City Tour: Day 9 and 10 – Look!.. A Llama

What do llamas and road trips across Nebraska have in common?…

They are both great at injecting interest into a story.

Yesterday was a mighty long, but satisfying day. I woke up in my own bed as usual and did the morning routine but there was no time for the treadmill as I had to make quick work to both get my chores done and pack up a bag for a much needed getaway.

I did work for an hour or two AND I had a Telehealth visit with my son and his endocrinologist before my daughter and I loaded up the car with snacks and supplies and skipped town. The goal was to slice our way west straight through the middle of Nebraska and be in Denver Colorado before the end of the day.

Yes we brought a set of masks (which we decorated with sharpies the night before) and a healthy supply of hand sanitizer so we could try and keep ourselves and other safe along the way. It did not take long to realize that the trip was not only good for a change of scenery, but will likely do wonders for our mental health (well mine anyway). I miss road trips and visiting people. I miss people in general.

On the up-side, we were plugged in to Zs phone and got to listen to her playlist as we made our way on I-80 and did not hesitate to indulge in all things road trip. You know, munching on chips and popcorn in the car, having too much sugar by way of soda and coffee, and gratuitous stops along the way just because.

One of the stops was in Kearny Nebraska where I met up with a friend of mine, Tre, where we sat at a patio outside and caught up a little on life in general. I have not seen her since my wedding in February and honestly, 1 hour is not enough time to really catch up. I’m a huggie person and I wanted to hug her so badly. I abstained at first but when we parted ways, I just couldn’t help it (we were being good and wearing our masks).

That’s a real shitty part of this Coronavirus is the lack of human contact. You don’t realize how much it means to you until you miss it. I can’t imagine living alone. I’m so grateful to have Jim and the kids and I just need to remember that.

On the downside of this road trip is the expectation I have of how things will be with my daughter. It is rare for us to get to spend this much time alone and my hope is that we would talk and talk and start to get into conversations that are both helpful and necessary right before she embarks on this next adventure of her life. In about 6 weeks she’s moving into a dorm room and so our days of summer are numbered.

I was frustrated that she was in a grumpy mood to start with and tired and all she wanted to do was sit on her phone and communicate with her long-distance friends. I kept trying to engage her in conversation but she was annoyed with that and just wanted to not talk. What am I supposed to do with that?

As we crossed the border from Nebraska into Colorado the sun started going down and I could see a massive mess of clouds in the distance. The road twisted and turned and this mass of clouds switched sides of the road and eventually we were swallowed in it. There was no sunset to be had. Nearing the outskirts of Denver, there was a break in the clouds an I saw several really cool sky to ground lightning strikes cut through the sliver of daylight that was left. I tried to get her to look up from her phone and watch with me, but she wouldn’t have it. It made me feel very alone.

Part of the fun of road trips is making memories with people and I could not help but have high expectations. I thought about taking her phone away today, but then I’m the mean mom and not the cool mom. Tough to know what the right thing to do is.

We arrived in Denver at my sisters apartment about 10:30MT (which is actually 11:30PM for us). We chatted for a bit and then snuggled into the bed in her spare bedroom. I crashed hard and slept ok until about 6AM.

Now it’s 7:45 and I’m alone in the living room with the cats on the couch. There is no wifi that I can connect to so posting this will have to happen later. It’s probably a good thing that there is no wifi or I would be tempted to try and get some work done. What is wrong with my stupid brain?

In a little bit, folks will start getting up and we plan to go to breakfast at some place my sister knows that has a patio overlooking a lake. That sounds lovely. She has to work today and there’s no reason to overstay our welcome so we’ll be moving south to Colorado Springs this afternoon. I have not done much research about what we could do there, but I hear there is just a ton of outdoor places to explore. Where can you go when you want to stay away from crowds of people but also get to see cool stuff? That’s the question.

I’m trying hard to embrace my substance cleanse and also let go of worry about work, and the kids, and the virus. I’m still holding a great deal of anxiety inside and I can feel it. Now that the Llama of my story has made an appearance, I’m going to see what I can get out of it.

I need to release myself, forgive myself, and be good to myself. That’s part of the big picture of living a healthy and satisfying life, you know?
Time now to see of my darling daughter is waking up yet.

Pease and love,
~Miss SugarCookie

2020-04-16 Lottery Ticket Happiness

Every time I drive west across Nebraska on I-80 I’m full of hope and excitement about what’s to come. If I’m driving west on that long stretch of boring interstate I’m driving away from home and toward something fun and different, people I love and mountains I marvel. I know that soon I will be wrapped up in feverish conversation, catching up, and clinking glasses in cheer.

Maybe I’ve got concert tickets at Red Rocks or plans to hike some new wondrous scene. So many opportunities for capturing pictures and words and memories.

When I’m in the car driving west it’s like the best feeling. It’s freedom. Everything about it is freedom. I gather snacks that are not good for me and allow myself to get that gas station cappuccino that’s loaded up with sugar and nerds or sweet-tarts or something else that’s pure sugar and throw in some giant bag of Chex mix to balance out all that sweetness with salt and crunch. I allow myself guilt free snacking and singing out loud to my favorite tunes. All of that is freedom.

I have a tradition of stopping in Ogallala Nebraska before I drive across the border into Colorado. I whip the car down the exit ramp and find a gas station to buy a lottery ticket.

I’m not a lottery ticket purchaser normally, but the mood of the road trip changes a person. If I won the lottery, it be cool to win with a ticket purchased in Ogallala. What a headline, right?!

“Omaha woman wins millions in Ogallala”.

That would be priceless even if I never collected a dime.

Then, as I cross over into the desolate sparse grassland rolling hills of Colorado, which are only slightly less boring because the scenery has changed, I have a little sliver of hope in my possession. I can keep my little hope-secret tucked safe inside the pocket of my coat or backpack or snug under the clip of my garage door opener above the window visor. And there it will stay.

At random moments on my trip I can think about it and dream what it would be like to win. What would I do with those millions? Oh how my life would change and what power I would have to change the lives of others for the better. My kids would not have to worry about how they would pay for college and my parents wouldn’t have to worry about how they would be taken care of as they grow old.

And there would be so much more. You know. I could give and give to all the organizations I believe in. Maybe spear head some plan to turn garbage into fuel for the future. Of course it would not truly be endless, and I would still have to choose, but the hope of it is freedom. And that, in turn, makes me happy.

If only to think about it for a brief moment.

Then I get where I’m going and have my fun and eventually have to say goodbye and get in my car to drive hone. Somehow the drive home takes twice as long and is 4 times as boring. Why is that?

Nothing to look forward to. Work and responsibility and the hum-drum of the everyday. On my way I may or may not stop back in Ogallala to have them check my ticket. I’ve probably lost interest and just want to get home.

Sometime later I might find that ticket in a pocket or in between the pages of a book I haven’t looked at in months or in a folder holding other flat memorabilia from the trip. It will remind me of the good time I had. It will remind me that freedom and hope are priceless, and that money really had nothing to do with those feelings. As long as I have enough for gas to get me there and back and load my bag up with snacks, I’ll be happy.

That lottery ticket is worth every penny. Also I just like to say Ogallala.

Ogallala, Ogallala, Ogallala! Oh haha I love you Ogallala!

I can’t wait to start planning again!

Cheers to Road Trip Daydreaming in the time of Covid,
~Miss SugarCookie

2020-03-15 Out With the Old, In With the New

I’m briefly interrupting the current SugarCookie Series to write the Sunday Day Trip Status with a hint of realization and a pinch of actual stats.

Where to start? An interesting thing happened when I opened this note, started to type, and realized the date. March 15th. The Ides!!

Usually as this day approaches I think a lot about it (because of the history in it) and also usually get an ominous vibe thinking something bad is going to occur. Did Cesar have a creepy feeling when the soothsayer issued him a warning? I would think that would give anyone pause.

I have not thought about any of that or had any worry this year. I actually didn’t even realize what day it was. Shortly after getting up, we packed a few rations and jumped in the car. We drove west on I-80 with the hope of seeing some Sandhill cranes. We had a quaint little day trip and got as far as the Iain Nicolson Audubon Center at Rowe Sanctuary.

The visitor center there was open despite all official tours being cancelled. We had no interest in going inside because we could learn anything we wanted by reading about the cranes online. We went to see the birds, which we did. Sort of.

We saw some from the car and used binoculars to get a closer look. We rolled the windows down so we could hear them, but we didn’t really get to experience the mass of birds you hear about when people talk about the migration. Apparently we would have had to go farther west for that and also arrive wherever that is at dawn or dusk when they are most active. Perhaps next time. We stopped there and turned around to head home.

For me it was just nice to get out of the house even though we didn’t even get out of the car. I wasn’t in the mood for a cold muddy hike and was more interested in just getting to spend 5 uninterrupted hours with my man. It was good conversation and we did learn a little googling about the migration along the way.

So, like I said, it wasn’t until I started to type the date just now that I realized what day it was. The 10 year anniversary of my divorce and also the anniversary of the day my dad had his heart attack. That’s how I know my life is so much better now.. I don’t dwell on these details. It’s a beautiful thing to forget the bad times.

Spending half a day in the car means I didn’t get any steps in so I’m trying to make up for that now. We’ll see how well I do this late in the day. I’m already losing motivation to follow through with the status analysis part of this session. Perhaps an abbreviated check..

Sleep: Average sleep score of 73 with an average of 6 hours and 49 minutes of sleep each night.

Steps: Just over 70k steps which averages to 10k a day. Ok I guess. This stat has taken a hit this week cuz Jazzercise classes are on the restricted activities list. Booooo!

School: I finished editing 2/3rds of my current thesis manuscript. Cheers for that success!

Weekly submission goal: Success! I’m now 3 for 3 with submitting to some publication or contest. Let those rejections commence. This week I also created a spreadsheet to track that activity and loaded it with my submission history going back to my first submission in 2017 (until 4 weeks ago, there’s only been a total of like 4 so I’ve almost doubled that in one month).

Work: I put in a whopping 18 hours. Money in the bank baby!

What else? I finished watching the bachelor and was disappointed in the result. It was dramatically satisfying but c’mon Pilot Pete?! How could you??!! Whatever.

I think that’s all I have in me today. I think it’s enough.

I guess the ominous bad thing happening March 15th this year is the chaos caused by a global pandemic. Things seem to be changing rapidly each day and I just don’t know what to expect when I wake up each day.

Cheers to forgetting bad memories and replacing them with good ones,

~Miss SugarCookie

2019-10-12 Great Day’s and Girls Only Getaways

I ended my post a few days ago with “Tomorrow’s Gonna Be Great.” And indeed it was and how did I know that? How?

On Wednesday evening when I was walking the treadmill and thinking and writing I was sort of in a sour mood as I had been running around all day and did not accomplish much. The things I did get done were not very satisfying. I guess I was thinking (or hoping) that the day to follow was going to be better. Perhaps more self-fulfilling prophesy than premonition. Whatever it was.. the next day (Thursday) was really great.

Of course because it was great, I didn’t have time to write about it and the day that followed that (yesterday) was pretty stellar too and super busy. No time for treadmill or writing or even just sitting and thinking about stuff. Is that why the past two days were so great, because I was busy and had no time to spare? I would say maybe a little bit, but for the most part no.

Yesterday is still so fresh in my mind and far overshadows the day before that. It all started a few weeks ago when my Z sent me a text message about a concert she wanted to go to on October 11th. Skillet is one of her favorite bands (in her top 5) and she begged me to go but the closest show was in Kansas City. KC is about a 2.5 hour drive (2 to the outskirts where the Airport is) and so it is a pretty quick little road trip for us. Not that the road trip part of it mattered, because we both love road trips so even if it was 7 or 8 hours we probably would have gone. I actually briefly considered the Oct 10th show in Chicago. That would mean she would have to miss school though which would be bad parenting (not that I haven’t bent those rules before in certain circumstances).

The reality is, my time with her at home is really getting short now and a year from now she will be off at college. I want to take advantage of any opportunity I can to spend QT with her. The fact that she is 17 and still thinks of me first when doing this sort of stuff is pretty great and I knew it would be a good trip for just the two of us. I actually had other plans I had to cancel (the Phil Collins concert in Omaha), which I was really looking forward to (because I’m an old nerd), but it was totally worth it.

As it turns out, with Parent Teacher conferences this week the kids had a 4 day weekend so there was no school Friday. This meant we could leave at whatever time we wanted and take our time and make a whole day of it. I had several things to take care of in the AM before leaving (work and also the last harvest of the season before the temps drop to freezing) and after that we got on the road.

I knew I would not want to attempt to drive back to Omaha after the concert so we booked a room at the Holiday Inn Express. We arrived just in time for check-in. Shortly after that, we made a quick run to target for a few things (because every good road trip needs a Target run) and then it was back to the room to get all dolled up for dinner and the show.

The concert was in the heart of downtown KC in the power and light district at the Arvest Bank Theatre (super cool vintage venue). Doors opened at 6 and the show started at 7. There were three bands total and though I dig concerts, the music at this one was not really my thing. The first two bands were extremely loud. I never was a big heavy metal fan and they were both rock approaching metal. Even Z covered her ears for a lot of those first two acts.

The band we came for, Skillet, was a little closer to something I might typically listen to and therefore more enjoyable. She clearly enjoyed it, beaming from ear to ear when each new song she recognized started. It was a medium sized venue, so there were really no bad seats, but we were in the very top section, with all the other people who don’t stand during the show. We were at the end of a row so she had a perfect view of the stage. It was so great to see her so happy.

The whole thing lasted about 4 hours, which included us getting half way to the car before realizing the sweatshirt we bought was the wrong size and had to walk back to exchange it. I’m not sure what time we arrived back at the hotel but I was wiped out and ready for bed. I fell asleep as she was messaging with a few of her Cali friends and someone who was in a time zone where it was only like 2:30 PM – good grief where in the world must that person be?

The room was too cold and the pillows were just all wrong for me and so I did not sleep well at all. I was actually awake at 5:30AM and contemplating sneaking away to the hotel exercise room to walk and write. I didn’t though. I just turned the heat up and laid there for a while. Eventually I pulled out my laptop (yes, the new shiny) and .. waa-la.. here we are.

If it were up to me, we would be going down to take advantage of that “free” HIE breakfast right about now, but she’s still fast asleep.

I suppose I could climb back in bed and see if I can remember why Thursday was so great or what was so different about Thursday compared to Wednesday. Some days I think it’s just a mood or a vibe. Today will probably be good because we get to drive back to Omaha and then I get to spend the rest of Saturday with my fiancé without any obligations. Keep those great days coming!

Cheers to the Weekend!

~Miss SugarCookie

2019-05-23 Nebraska Road Trip Days 3 and 4 and Done

After a few days of the sky closing in around us with no sunrise or sunset to speak about, driving east under a blue sky was a welcome change. Two days ago we woke up in Alliance Nebraska where there was a layer of snow quickly melting into mush on the pavement.

That morning we drove a little further west, to Scott’s Bluff, to visit the National Monument. It was still freezing when we got to the summit (which is only about five minutes from the main road) and were really not feeling compelled to walk even the quarter mile to the scenic lookout point. It was a sloppy mess and would have soaked our socks and shoes all over again. I took a lot of pics from the car window.

After that we headed south and a little east with the best intentions. There were loads of things circled and marked on our atlas but we quickly discovered that getting close to any of those things would mean more treacherous driving. We went about 10 yards on one country road and the tires just sank in the mud. We reversed out of that situation and decided that all those buttes and Chimney Rock were really quite lovely from a distance.

I’m fairly certain we had lunch in Sidney, but all the small town cafes and bars are starting to melt into one memory. I was really grateful when we crossed paths with I-80 and let that lead us to Kearney for the evening. By the time we arrived, the Kearney Arch Museum was closed so we had dinner in town and called the day done for. The room at the Candlewood was likely the nicest thus far, and it was a good night for watching a movie on Netflix. (We’re such an exciting pair).

Waking up this morning, we once again packed all our things into the car and headed out. First the Arch and then south to the Pioneer Village where I received positive confirmation that I’m not really all that into museums, or antiques, or reading blurbs printed, framed, and mounted next to some random old stuff.

I find it fascinating that a person spent a good portion of their life and finances accumulating and assembling such a collection of stuff. It’s quite impressive actually and really a shame it’s fallen into such a state of utter hopelessness. Several city blocks and buildings full of stuff – cars, planes, trucks, Art, clothing, and engines. Entire buildings configured in a circle that you can wander in and out of. Most of it meticulously labeled with commentary. All in all, there were about 6 other human beings wandering around besides us. At 14.50 a ticket, it’s probably barely enough to keep the electricity on and pay someone to take the fee and stamp people’s hands.

We spent about an hour there and that was enough. We were actually both pretty spent in general and as we drove back east, toward other historic sites and places of interest, we found our desire to “see” anything more was waning.

We passed through town after town and instead of stopping. as we had been, to have a look, we just kept going. It was early afternoon and everything became incredibly uninteresting. Quite frankly, we didn’t even want to stop for food.

Looking at the map and thinking about spending the night in yet another hotel, schlepping everything from car to room and back again in the morning, sounded silly since we were only a few hours from home. I brought up the idea of skipping the rest and going home first.

He agreed. We both perked up at the idea and suddenly had enthusiasm for stopping a few more places along the way. That’s right about the time the storm that has been looming in the distance had suddenly relocated right above us. We tried to get to two distinct “X”s on the map which took us away from the highway and we never saw whatever it was.

Somehow, we ended up on another unpaved county road in the pouring rain. There was lightning, and thunder, and for a hot-second, there was hail. I suppose we cheated fate for 3 days and the “getting stuck”, was inevitable. I’ve never been more happy than the moment we found the highway again (I’m sure I have been though). After that little tangent, I was so over all of it. I didn’t care if I ever saw the “worlds largest porch swing”.. I just wanted to get home.

***

It’s late now and it’s been a long couple of days. I can’t say I have much to show for it or say about it (that’s not already been written above). I’m glad to be home, back with my kitten and looking forward to a long relaxing weekend.. with no driving. I do love a good road trip, but coming home is pretty great too.

Until Next Time,

~Miss SugarCookie

2019-05-22 Nebraska Road Trip Day 2 – Cody and Toadstool and Carhenge, Oh My!

We started our day yesterday in Valentine and, upon checking the forecast for the day and our destinations, decided it was best to make a stop at the local Shopko before heading out of town. The store was going out of business and so we got winter gloves and hats and long socks at 70% off. Score!

The first stop marked on our atlas was Toadstool Geologic Park but there were several tiny towns to pass through on our way west on highway 20. One of which was Cody Nebraska. Noteworthy because when I was 3 years old I lived there. It was my dad’s first teaching jobs out of college. I texted both my parents asking if they remember what the name of the street our house was on. Neither remembered but both provided the same turn by turn directions and which corners the houses were on. That’s right.. I said “houses”. Apparently we lived in two which were situated on opposite corners of the same intersection. Considering there are only like 40 houses in the entire town, that’s impressive.

I took pictures and both my parents confirmed the one was definitely the second house we lived in, though it wasn’t yellow then.

Today the population is about 154 people and the entire place looks like it was last loved back when I was 3 (in 1976). The school is still there, amazingly. We only lived there a short time before moving further east to Scribner Nebraska where my dad had his second and last job as a teacher. He only wanted to be a HS teacher so he could coach some sport. Apparently his distaste for teaching was stronger than his love of sports because we only lived in Scribner for a year before he abandoned all that and we moved back to Council Bluffs where my grandparents were. He never taught again.

Somewhere along highway 20 the temps dropped to 33 degrees and the rain turned into snow/sleet mix. We got as far northwest as we were going to go on the highway and then turned onto an unpaved road. It would be 19 miles to Toadstool Geologic Park and this time, I was in the drivers seat. It was slow going, with snow and slush gravel and water pooled everywhere and no way to tell how deep the ruts or puddles really were. That 19 miles took us about 50 minutes. Near the end, I almost gave up. It wasn’t that I felt we were in danger, not like other times in my life when I was afraid of the car going off the side of a steep cliff. No, this was more of a dull fear of getting stuck and being stranded and waiting for hours and hours for a tow truck in the middle of nowhere.

Interestingly, I felt slightly better about the whole thing than I did the day before when Jim was driving. No doubt in my mind that this road was way worse, but there is something about being in control that eases the mind a bit. I could speed up, or slow down, or turn the wheel as my reflexes demanded and wasn’t holding my breath or clenching my jaw nearly as much. Jim was very supportive and encouraging and we made it. I knew once we were there, that was it for me driving that road. I got us there, he would have to get us out.

The next step of our little day 2 adventure would be attempting to explore the park. He brought big rubber boots for us both and we donned the supplies we purchased that morning. The story would not be complete without me mentioning that I thought I could go without the boots and we went about a quarter mile before turning back to the car so I could change. Part of my issue were that the boots were not meant for me and they were quite large. Size 8. Well, actually size 8 and 10 and 11. He threw what he thought were matching pairs into our chariot when we packed up to leave without realizing that he did not, in fact, have matching pairs.

So I wore one 8 and one 10 and he wore the other 10 and the 11 and he also had two left feet. None of that mattered much because 1.) We were out in the middle of no-where with no other human beings within probably 30+ miles and 2.) When it’s cold and wet and muddy and you just need protection for your feet, anything would do. They were actually perfect for the task.

The trail was supposed to be a self-guided. From where we stood, there was no trail. Everything was covered in snow and there were only little streams cutting through the area to provide any sense of which way one could go to get around the rocks and hills rising up at steep angles. I knew something glorious was on the other side. Some Pulitzer Prize winning photo op or other life-altering view. We tried to go one way and got blocked when the path became too steep and too narrow. We doubled back to the base of a larger stream and went the other direction. Arriving back near the start of the so-called trail, we spotted some wood posts sticking out of the ground in various places, and figured that was supposed to be the trail and we tried to follow that.

After two or three posts I was certain that the rushing stream we were criss-crossing over again and again WAS the trail. The scenery around us was beautiful and also quite not what I expected. Of course I didn’t expect snow covered trails on May 21st. I had this picture in my head of the Badlands of South Dakota and I had imagined it would be something like that. Perhaps it is, but not right now.

We explored around for a while and came to the edge of what was humanly passable under the conditions. I followed the stick markers up and around a bend and got to a place where I could see the next one, but there was no way I could find to cross over the ravine to the other side. Again, I supposed if it was dry and it was just rocks, you could climb down and up again, but it was slippery and muddy and wet and my fingers were beginning to freeze.

It’s an interesting phenomenon that despite my freezing fingers, I continued to take my hands out of my pockets to take pictures with my phone. That means that I would rather risk the freezing cold gnawing at my flesh than miss that one picture that I somehow felt was monumentally important. One of about 100 pictures I took that afternoon of course.

The cold getting into my bones was eventually what made me decide to call it done. We backtracked the way we came and eventually got back to the car where I promptly took off my mismatched boots and climbed into the passenger seat and cranked the seat heater as high as it would go. The drive back was still stressful, but I was warm and satisfied with our time at Toadstool.

The rest of the day can’t quite compare to that. We drove a little more west and south and wound our way to Alliance Nebraska, home of the world famous “Carhenge”. By then the snow had gotten worse and the highways were covered in slush and ice. Jim had never been to the spot of painted and stacked cars in a formation similar to the rocks in England so we made a stop there.

As one might imagine, with the blowing cold and snow approaching blizzard status, we didn’t stay long. I tucked myself behind a car to block the wind and took a few pics of the area. I had been before, with Matt, and that made my desire to stay anymore than absolutely necessary quite minuscule. I would have stayed for as long as it took for Jim to be satisfied with the experience. As it was, we were in and out in about 15 minutes.

The Holiday Inn Express was our resting spot in Alliance and when we arrived we cranked the heat up, laid all our wet socks and shoes across the heater, and drew the shade on the window closed. No need for a view of the highway and a reminder of the freak May snowstorm that had become the focus of our journey instead of just something noteworthy along the way. Instead of looking at the map and asking what was there to see tomorrow, I found myself putting tomorrow’s destination into the weather app to check the forecast.

Next Stop.. warmer temps and blue skies over Kearney,

~Miss SugarCookie