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

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

2019-05-20 Nebraska Day 1 – Road Trip Shenanigans

Let’s see, what we I can remember now that we have made it to our Cozy Econolodge Motel (Room 133) with Kitchenette in Lovely Valentine Nebraska?…

We got on the road about 8:30AM, just as we had planned and headed west out of town via Maple street, past Elkhorn and Valley and Fremont and North Bend and bypassed all the northbound roads (still closed from flooding) until we hit Columbus. Among our many plans was to stop at historic landmarks along the way because we would not have pesky teenagers groaning about frequent stops. And so we did.

At Columbus we went North, at Norfolk we went west taking random snaps of things from the car window. Jim had the route marked on the atlas with notes next to towns with potential sites. Apparently L. Ron Hubbard is from Tilden Nebraska (not verified), but there was no posted sign that I could see when we passed through. Apparently not all press is good press. I suppose the only thing that proves is that Crazy can be born anywhere.

By the time we got to Neligh (which I am not sure how to pronounce), I was ready to get out of the car and see something. There’s a historic mill there, the first in the state I believe (not verified) and we parked and walked around a bit and it really wasn’t much. I’m less into history and more into just being outside in nature and seeing beautiful things. It was also cold and damp and the car was nice and toasty so we were quick to agree to get back in and keep going. We went north from there to our first real destination of the day, AshFall Fossil Beds State Historic Park.

We took the turn off and drove north to find the entrance road with a modest barrier across it and a chain with a sign that said “Closed”. Closed on Sundays and Mondays. Of course. We know all the roads that are closed due to flooding because that was pat of the planning process, but we do not know that one of the sites we intended to visit is closed on the day we intend to visit. Super! When we headed back down the road Jim says “There’s some great pics of it online, I can show you when we stop.” Hahaha (by the way, one of the first things he did when we unloaded our stuff into the motel room was connect to the wi-fi and show me the pics as promised. Very sweet).

By the time we hit Orchard I had started a little game of “guess the population”, with the person who is the closest being the winner. The winner gets a whole bag of nothing, but it’s fun to be right (I’ve only been closest once so far but Jim did far more research to prepare for this adventure than I have). One town on the map did not even exist and two others, Norden and Sparks, were unincorporated (whatever that means). Approaching Valentine, our stop for the night, we had a lot of daylight left, a lot of rain coming down, and a lot of growling in the stomach for food.

We stopped at the first restaurant that came up on google maps, The Coachlight Cafe. I had a cheeseburger, of course, and it was, how shall I say, less than delightful. I’m gonna drop a 2.25 out of 5 rating right here and leave it at that. Let me tell you, that is tough to do with a cheeseburger lover who is hungry (things always taste better when one is hungry). 2.25 is probably pretty generous. It was served with a bag of plain lays potato chips. Very classy. /Deep sigh.

After that we got gas and then doubled back to the Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge and river valley. We saw bison really close to the road and there were several scenic overlooks that were shrouded in clouds and rain and made more beautiful by the grey mist settling itself over the horizon. Looking out over the valley it was as if God in Heaven was reaching down to earth to touch the land with a soft grace. It was magnificent.

We drove on some really sketch roads to get to the places we wanted to see. After the Fossil Bed Fauxpas, Jim was hell bent on getting us down to Smith Falls. I gripped my door handle and held my breath as we slid down muddy gravel roads to the park entrance. It was still pouring rain and the quarter mile walk to the falls would leave us soaked from head to toe. The falls did not disappoint. Due to the rotten weather, we were the only souls (save for a flock of goldfinches) for miles around. The quiet and solitude mixed with the loud rush of the falls was pretty amazing.

We lowered our umbrellas for a few quick kisses and a few quick selfies and then it was time to head back to the car. The drive up and out was slightly better but we were both visibly relieved when we were back on the paved highway. By now it was getting late and dark would be on us early as there was no sun in the sky to set. We drove into town again and found our motel and promptly removed all our wet clothes.

We cranked up the heat and Jim tried to get the TV fire stick to work with the sub-par WiFi while I started writing about our day. We never got the streaming working and just sat and talked instead, drinking our dinner and cross checking tomorrow’s forecast with the places we intend to go next. 100% chance of rain and SNOW everywhere. I didn’t pack appropriately.

Tomorrow the adventure continues as we press west. There’s a lot of nots scribbled in the atlas along our route, most of which I can hardly read. We’ll see what we can make of Day 2.

Next stop… Alliance,

~Miss SugarCookie

2019-05-20 Love the One You’re With

Namely Nebraska, my current home state.

What DOES one do when they’ve recently been released from the responsibility of work and find themselves with a week that’s also without the typical parental requirements? .. They plan a road trip!

(Of course 😉)

This little adventure we are heading out on this morning will take us to many unexplored corners, edges, toadstools, butes, skies wide with possibilities, and perhaps (according to the forecast) even snow! We’ve mapped a course that will hit several of the rarely visited highlights Nebraska has to offer.

If one passes through, as I’ve done many times on my way to Colorado, most of the view from I-80 is endless rolling hills of corn and soybean fields. It’s about 6 or 7 hours of the most boring scenery that the Universe created. One has to get pretty far from the beaten path to see the cool shit. And, there’s some really cool shit!

The other thing that happens sometimes when you live in a place is that you are always so busy rushing around all the days and exhausted at night (that’s me), that you don’t get out and experience what that place has to offer. It always amazes me when people from Omaha day they haven’t been to the Zoo (we have a world class Zoo), or that they have never been to Mahoney Park, or a college World Series game, or to any one of a dozen great restaurants around town. We’ve got Jazz and Shakespeare on the Green in Summer and there’s always some concert to go to, always.

I’m not saying it’s got all that say, Chicago or KC or Denver have to offer, but it’s just human nature to take for granted the places we dwell and not really experience them. I dunno, it could just be me, I guess I should not try to generalize the human population.

Anyway, so this week is all about “loving the one I’m with” with the one I love. How great is that?!! And in honor of that, our first destination is Valentine Nebraska. How appropriate!! 😊

As I said, the forecast is cold, raining, and possibly even snow where we are going. Of course. It’s reminiscent of the first little day trip that we took together last year to Winterset to see the Bridges of Madison County. Super romantic right up to the point where you can’t feel your toes because it’s snowing and freezing cold and you don’t have proper winter boots on. Still, I’m grinning from ear to ear in every single damn picture in front of every damn beidge. That’s what love does to a person. It doesn’t really matter what the conditions are, as long as you’re doing it together.

Cheers to that. And cheers to road trips! We’ve got all our snacks and supplies packed and are ready to take this show on the road.

Next Stop.. Ashfall Fossil Beds,

~Miss SugarCookie

2018-07-30 Waking Up in KC

I do so love a good road trip and KC is just the perfect distance away for me to get my fix AND end up in a city with so much to do. Historically there’s been a wide range of reasons for visiting. Great wolf lodge with the kids, worlds of fun and oceans of fun, first with my parents and friends when I was young and now with my own kids as they have gotten older. I’ve had road trips with friends staying at the Plaza and Power and Light, and then multiple trips to the Cerner campus and downtown for CHC. In my life I’ve probably traveled here no less than 20 times, always a good time.

Somehow I feel like this trip will be one of the last times with the kids going to Worlds and Oceans. Well, C hates rollercoastes anyway, so when Z and I went yesterday he stayed back at the hotel. The park gets smaller and smaller each time I go. When I was young it feels like it took literally all day to make the loop around and hit all the rides. Yesterday Z and I did it in just a couple of hours.

One of the reasons for that is because we no longer ride all the rides. My stomach can’t take anything with spinning anymore and the boomerang used to be her favorite but now hurts her neck. Between the two of us, we skipped every other ride. Well, we still rode the boomerang, but just once instead of like 4 times. At the end we both agreed that the Mamba was our new favorite (it was the only thing we went on twice).

Actually I think her favorite thing was hitting up the “guessing” game, where you pay five bucks and they guess your weight or age or bday month. She loves to have them guess her age to see how off they end up. It’s a welcome change to a few years ago when she would seriously blow a gasket if a server at a restaurant tried to give her a kiddie cup. Now she’s just tickled to have the poor kid guessing her age to be 5 years off.

When he said she was 11 she was just beaming. I nudged her said, maybe you should show him your drivers license. 😂 He said he felt bad, high-fived her, and then she grabbed some crap stuffed panda that probably costs about 25 cents. It was a win-win-win. I’d love to see what he might guess for me, but I like my 5 bucks more.

Today, despite the now seasonably cool temps, we’re going to Oceans. The kids can enjoy the water slides, we can hit up the wave pool, and lazy river, and then perhaps just relax through the afternoon. The only thing I have to do today besides that and get back on the road to make it home is a team meeting at 6PM. I could even take that in the car if I have to.

At the moment I’m trying to digest the free hotel breakfast by walking on the exercise room treadmill. The kids are at the hotel pool, cuz .. you can never have too much swimming, apparently. It’s still kind of too chilly for outside swimming so we’re waiting a little bit to get going. It’s fine by me.. getting some extra steps is always the bonus plan.

I should probably go check on Work stuff before we have to check out of the hotel and lose the “free” WiFi. Maybe we’ll drive around the area a bit too and see what else we can see in this cool city.

Check ya Later,

~Miss SugarCookie

2018-04-16 The Master Procrastinator Strikes Again

First and foremost.. holy hell!! Serious snow fall over the weekend. I don’t remember the last time it snowed on Tax day, but that’s exactly what happened.

My Saturday girls game day plans got postponed to next Saturday and I opted out of monthly wine night. Both were partially selfish as 1) I was still fairly under the weather and 2) I was hanging with JS and didn’t want to leave.

So instead we sat around on Saturday and watched the snowfall. On Sunday we had plans to visit Winterset Iowa and the famous “Bridges of Madison county”. We made the most of it despite the freezing temps. It’s being documented as the first road trip where we kissed “near” nearly every bridge.
How romantic. 😜

I say near because by the third bridge neither one of us wanted to get out of the car. We took pics from inside the car and tried to get the bridges in the background through the car windows. My toes were frozen and it was sloppy wet, muddy, and frankly a little unimpressive. I know these bridges were built in the 1800s, but they really look it. The covered structures were quite dilapidated and the insides were sadly littered with juvenile graffiti. At some point I’d like to see the movie that made the bridges famous. I bet they made them look awesome for that. I may never see the movie though. As huge of a hopeless romantic as I profess to be, I’ve never been much into romance novels or movies. Romantic comedy maybe, but mostly for the comedy.

In any case, I got some great pics of trees covered in snow and our first selfies and it kinda felt like we rewound time a little back to winter. Appropriate for a visit to Winterset I guess. We also had great conversations on the way out and back and when we arrived back home he cooked us dinner and then made us a fire and we finished off our weekend with a documentary about Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. It turned out to be a really nice weekend.

I failed to collect Sunday stats because my fitbit battery ran out and I had taken it off at some point and didn’t have my charger. My charger is actually broken and to get it to charge I have to use a clip to hold it together so the connectors connect. I’ve been wanting to replace it for a while now, but they are pretty pricy. Actually I’ve wanted the Alta HR version since about the minute I bought mine (HR came out about 2 weeks after I bought the Alta I have, of course). It is on my list but I’ve been holding off to see how well I can stick to my new monthly budget. I’m pretty sure I forgot to wear it half of this past weekend and due to not feeling well, I am sure my stats were way down for the week anyway.

That trend continued this morning when I forgot again before going to the gym to grab it off the charger. The only thing worse than not getting the steps is getting steps and not getting credit for it. Ha!! I’m hoping that I can get back on top of my normal exercise routine this week. I’m almost fully recovered from he sickness that took over last week so it should be doable.

The other thing I did this weekend was start my taxes (yeah, I did just say start).

Hence the title of this blogpost.. “The Master Procrastinator.” Normally I try to get them done a few weeks in advance of the deadline, but this year has felt kinda crazy and it’s just never bubbled to the top of my list. Well, with the deadline looming, it is now at the very top of my list. It makes no sense for me to wait because I’ll probably be getting money back (I do every year), but it doesn’t stop me from procrastinating doing the actual paperwork. I also file electronically so I should even see my refund this week. Yay!

Well, I’m well into Monday now and it’s really time to tackle some work (and finish the taxes maybe), so I’d better get to it.

Happy Monday Peeps,
~Miss SugarCookie

2017-10-16 Sometimes the Fates Decide

Late on Saturday my mom decided she wanted to drive home on Sunday instead of Monday so once Sunday breakfast was over we loaded up all of our stuff into the Jeep to get on the road out of town. However, the fates had different plans for us and decided we should stick around until Monday like we had originally planned.

We left my brothers house and did what people do when they are getting on the highway in that we stopped for gas. I insisted we make a second stop so I could get a latte. When we got back in the vehicle and turned it on, it started to idle heavily and when she tried to drive it, it went a couple of blocks in the parking lot and then just refused to go when she pushed on the gas. Then the check engine light started to flash.

So we had a very un-fun afternoon on the phone with emergency roadside assistance, getting tows, and discovering that she put diesel fuel in her tank by accident. So we had to get a second tow to a nearby Jeep dealership where the vehicle would stay until someone could take a look at it when they opened on Monday morning.

We went back to my brothers house and unloaded all of our stuff. I guess we were meant to stay in Colorado and should not have tried to change the plan. It was a beautiful afternoon and I walked from the first car place back to my brother’s house. After the dust on all that excitement settled, Lance came to take me to his place in downtown Denver where we walked some more on 6th street looking for a place to eat. We settled on Blue Sushi, which is one of my favorites.

After that he and I went back to his place and talked more and watched TV. I took an Uber back home to my brothers as Lance and I had both been drinking all evening. I came home to a mostly quiet house and proceeded to settle back into my spot on the couch in the basement. I’m really looking forward to sleeping in my own bed, hopefully tonight.

The service department at the Jeep dealership has confirmed there was minimal damage to the vehicle (very lucky) and they should be able to flush it out and get us back on the road by about 2PM today. At this point my mom and I are both super anxious to get home even though we were not originally going to be leaving until today anyway.

It’s another beautiful day out right now (sunny and 60 degrees) and I’m going to take a walk and enjoy that to pass the time while I wait. I wish I had my bike here. Next time, I will totally bring that so I can ride the trails.

Happy Monday,
~Miss SugarCookie