2021-05-29 KC Road Trip Part 1: It’s All Going to Be OK

This is new. My daughter is having her first “friend” road trip/weekend and I’m backseat chaperoning and trying not to backseat drive. She drives like a teenager—too fast, following too close, and extremely irritated when I offer pointers. I’ve seen what she calls her most social finger waving to me from the driver’s seat at least 4 times now. I have to bite my tongue.

Right now she has one hand on the wheel and one hand awkwardly gripping the top of her Starbucks cup, sipping some overly-sweet concoction that doesn’t even have coffee or espresso in it. In my head I imagine she squeezes too tight and the lid pops off and the seat of my car is irreversibly sticky, uncompromisingly ruined as syrup and melted whip cream seep into the seams of the fabric. 

I wince as she removes her “wheel” hand to pinch the straw and swirl it around the bottom of the cup. 

The miles stretch on as we pass semi after semi. She read somewhere that driving seven miles over the speed limit is “acceptable.” Acceptable meaning, you won’t get pulled over. Sometimes I have to look away, close my eyes, take a deep breath, and remind myself (in my head), that it’s all going to be OK. 

This is her trip and she’s waited a long time to get to do something like this. It would probably have happened during or just after her senior year of high school but the Coronavirus had other plans for all of us that year. So much of what was supposed to happen had been ruined and, at times, I feel like I am overcompensating–trying too hard to make it up to her. I feel like I might be doing that for the rest of her life. Letting her drive is such a small thing. 

I have to remind myself that I did this trip to KC when I was her age—a right of passage for many teenagers from CB and Omaha alike. We didn’t have chaperones. We rented a motel in town the night before we left, didn’t have reliable cars, or smart phones. Hell, we didn’t even have enough money for gas for the trip home. We didn’t think too far ahead and didn’t worry about breaking down or all the terrible things that could have happened. We just went and it all turned out OK.

***

It’s all going to be OK. 

Or is it?

***

When my daughter approached me with the idea for this road trip.. I was all for it. I would even have been ok with her and her friend going without supervision or help. They are very responsible girls and my daughter is a serious planner so she would have thought of everything well in advance. Well, only the things she knew to consider anyway. 

It was her friend’s parents that would not let them go without a chaperone which I happily agreed to do. I even said up front I would stay out of their way and let them call the shots (hence the driving situation). What I didn’t realize then was that the weekend they were planning was a holiday weekend and also one of the first of the season when the main activity they wanted to travel for would be bonkers busy. The destination I’m talking about is Worlds of Fun in Kansas City. 

All the planning in the world can’t prepare a person for the fresh hell we experienced at the park.

We arrived at our hotel in Liberty Missouri about 1pm and were able to check in early. Side note for all you young travelers—in these parts you can’t rent a hotel room unless you are 21 years old. It’s a good thing I was along for the ride! 

With no time to waste, we changed and drove a stones throw up the road to Worlds of Fun.

Parking? No problem.

Waiting in queue to enter the park? No problem.

Navigating to our first ride? No problem.

But that was the end of our problem-less sidewalk.

We surveyed the line for the first “starter” coaster we wanted to try. It seemed extremely long. We got in it anyway. In about 10 minutes time it barely moved. Red flag. 

The woman in front of us was eavesdropping on our conversation, part of which included the fact that there was a Panda Express right next to the ride and how absolutely gross their food is. After a few more minutes she says, “you guys know this line is for the Panda?” Ugh 😩 

So we wasted about 15 minutes in that line and quickly made our way to the correct line, which didn’t seem all that long. In fact, I kinda remember the last time I was at the park and it was equally as long. It moves pretty fast. I said to myself. 

It didn’t. 

And it’s one of those lines that you can’t really see where it winds around as the queue is out of sight. Well, you can’t see it until you’re already far enough that you’ve committed 40 minutes of your life to it, which is exactly what happened. And it wasn’t moving fast.. It was barely moving.

My daughter was the one who made the call. We dipped out of the line to go elsewhere. Mind you, we arrived at the park at about 2pm and now it was 3. She said “which way do we go?” 

I urged that we head toward the Mamba, which is the major coaster at the back of the park. She said “we can’t start with that one!” 

I said, “ok. We’ll stop at a few on the way.” The first one the girls were interested in (that was operational) was the detonator. An extremely tall tower that you sit in and it shoots you up like a rocket. There are two towers, 12 people at a time each. We got in line. 

Between people with fast passes and only one of the two towers being operational (and clearly incompetent people running the ride) it took two hours and forty-five minutes to get to the front of the line.

After dipping out of the line on the first ride, we were all-in on this one and no way we were leaving without actually getting to ride. It was horrible. The ride was good, but not worth the pain. 

When it was over, the girls looked at me for direction. I just shrugged and said “maybe if we hurry we can ride the mamba before the park closes.” The park closes as 7pm. We sprinted in that general direction. 

We got as far as the end of the line and made the call, no way in hell we were waiting in that line. We retreated and continued on the path to leave. It was now about 6pm and we had been at the park 4 hours and rode exactly 1 ride. I was one hot mama on the hunt to get my daughter a refund for the hundreds of dollars she spent on tickets for this weekend. 

En route to the exit, we stopped at the Zulu and waited in line 45 minutes to ride it. So 5 hours and 2 rides. I explained to the nice kid at guest services that my daughter paid in advance for three people for three days at Worlds of Fun and Oceans of Fun including a fast pass for three people for Sunday that she purchased while we were standing in line at the detonator.

They were ready. They knew that people were angry and it’s not like we live here or have season passes and can come back any day. No. This was a destination for us. This is the whole reason we came to this city. We wanted a refund. I told the kid “there is no way we are returning for two more days of this.” They gave her almost all of her money back, including the money for the tickets for the current day. What a relief. 

Sad to be so relieved to not have to go back to an amusement park, but true. 

We eventually found our car in the sea of departing vehicles and got in yet another queue to leave. Little did we know that the park was not done with us yet. The line to leave didn’t budge. We sat for 20 minutes without even driving 1 car length. There are a series of parking lots all connected by one road. One way in and one way out. 😩 

So we waited. 

My daughter had happily given up the driver’s seat and sat behind me googling directions on her phone. She said that there was another road in the map, an alternate way out. I argued that if that was the case, more people would be going that way. 

She pleaded and I was just desperate enough to listen and indulge her. I peeled out of line and went the opposite way. 

We arrived at a gravel lot where the road was crumbling, but I continued to follow it around to another paved road that had a sign—no guest access. The girls giggled from the back seat, “just DO IT.” So I did.

We wound all the way around the back side of the park and came to what was clearly an employee / service area. Then we hit the end of the road. A large metal gate blocking the path. We could see the main road just on the other side of that. We were so close.

My daughter wanted to try and move the gate, but it wasn’t latched and it looked electronic to me. I started to back the car out to go the other way and she pleaded again to let her try. 

I said “it’s not the kind of gate a person can move. It’s probably operated from a remote or keypad or button.” Just then, I surveyed the gate again and saw a button. I said “like THAT ONE!!”

I jumped out of the car and pushed the button and sure enough, the gate began to open. Huzzah! Something finally went out way!! 

On our way out, we drove past the long line of cars still waiting their turns at the final stop sign before the exit onto the main drive. We probably saved ourselves an hour by bending the rules. And I was ok with that. I Just hope that decision is not going to come back and bite me in some way. It might.

***

Despite it being almost 8pm at that point, we found a spot for dinner and still had time left after that to visit Wal-Mart and pick up a card game and some snacks. I crashed out about midnight and vaguely remember asking them to turn the TV off sometime quite a bit later.

Now it’s tomorrow and so far this day isn’t going as planned either. But it’s not my day and it’s not my plan and whatever happens, it’s all going to be ok. Right??!!

Until next time,

~Miss SugarCookie

2021-02-27 Three Days Rolled into One

Yesterday felt like two or three days long. Waking up just past two and milling about in the middle of the night and eventually meeting with the normal morning routine felt like day 1. Day 2 was going to a yoga class and returning home to house chores and a bunch of stuff for the GLR well into the afternoon. Then an unexpected thing happened that altered the trajectory of the day and threw me immediately into a third full day.

In short we scrambled to get our act together enough to make an impromptu road trip to Kansas City. 3 hours to get where we were going. 1 hour to “take care of business” and 3 hours home. When my head hit the pillow at 11pm last night I was asleep almost immediately. Waking up this morning, it feels like it was all a dream. Strange. 

The “business” was the purchase of a new car for Jim. We’ve had repeated trouble with the vehicle he drives (as in stranded twice in the last couple weeks) and that’s just not something he’s keen on happening again. Though we likely have the problem with the Jeep (2001) fixed now, the “experiment” of buying old cars has lost its appeal. He just wanted something that would be reliable. 

Shortly after I moved in with him I gifted my daughter who was 17 at the time my car. It’s a 2012 Prius-C. I also had a “fun” car which was an impulse buy sometime after my divorce. That was a 2004 RX8 which was fun, when it ran. But it was non-operational more than it was operational and taking up a garage space so we sold it. That left me with no car of my own except for the one Jim was leasing when I met him. A Mercedes. It was a great car but I’m just not a Mercedes kind of girl so when the lease was up, I elected to get a Hyundai Kona. It’s a cute little hatchback with all wheel drive when I need it. And I love it.

But Jim was driving old cars. Ones purchased outright with the thought that it would be more economical to just fix them when they break down. In theory this was a good plan, until the breakdowns threw a wrench in this day and that day and pretty quickly he got fed up and started looking for a newer option. He did a lot of research and picked out what he wanted, including options, but there were no cars in the Omaha metro area meeting the specs. So he’s been keeping an eye on surrounding areas, which apparently includes KC. 

Finding that yesterday, he snagged it right up. And they refused to hold it for us overnight to Saturday, hence the impromptu road trip on a Friday afternoon. This of course meant that I had to drive home by myself. You can see how being awake since the early morning that day coupled with no real rest during the day would equate to a big problem driving solo for three hours in the dark at 8pm. It was tough.

We had to stop several times just so I could snap out of my sleepy haze. I could tell Jim felt really terrible, but was also pumping with excitement about his new car. It was cute and annoying at the same time… all the text messages (hands free with apple car play) kept me going but also became irritating because I just wanted to be left alone. When I say that little trip felt like a whole day, I’m not kidding.

He actually felt so bad about it he elected to sleep in a different room last night so that his heavy breathing/snoring would not keep me awake. As a consequence, I slept for about 7.5 hours which was glorious.

I didn’t get out of bed until 8am and that too was amazing. Now I’m walking and working on recovery. Recovery from living those three days as well as the week of hell I put my body through with exercise classes. I’m taking this day as a rest day and going to let my aching muscles heal a little bit. No weights and no heavy cardio. Just walking. 

Having my afternoon and evening hijacked yesterday meant I didn’t get to some of my Friday chores. I didn’t finish washing and drying laundry or the cat grooming or scooping litter boxes. So these are on the agenda today instead. Other than that, I’m gonna take it easy.

I’m thinking about my attempt this week to roll back the calendar to 2006 and formulating thoughts about that little experiment but I think I’ve written enough about cars and stuff so that’s gonna have to wait. 

With that, I’m gonna quit early and get to all that relaxing I’ve promised myself. 

Happy Caturday, 🐱

~Miss SugarCookie

2021-01-30 Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety-Jig

From Oklahoma to Omaha to pet some fat cats. We’re home again, home again, just like that.

AKA Oklahoma Adventure Day 6. The last leg home. A day no pictures will be taken. A day of driving highways in Kansas, Missouri, and Iowa in the rain. A day where the highlight is arriving home and having the cats excited to see us. They are not starving save for attention. Darling daughter was here to take care of them while we were away but doesn’t give them the same attention we do.

She was apparently hanging out in the living room until we arrived and then she quickly disappeared to her room. No chat about the week, just hi and bye. Ok. 

I’m pretty much unpacked now but seriously beat. I thought I could walk the treadmill but after being in the car for a 10 hour stretch (split in two with an overnight stay in Pittsburgh Kansas) and also a 2 hour horse trail ride yesterday, my body is begging for some couch time. Who knew riding a horse would make a person sore like this? 

I’ve been on horse rides before but not with this amount of trotting. My horse yesterday broke into a trot every time the horse in front of her did. Her name was Bella, and she seemed ok with the ride while we were moving but every time we stopped she pulled at the reins and tried to nip backwards like she was trying to bite me. More on that tomorrow, maybe, if I feel inclined to walk and rehash more of my Oklahoma adventure.

I mean, the last I wrote was after day 1. For a trip that was supposed to partially for rest and relaxation, we didn’t seem to have enough time for me to have any solo R and R or time for writing. Which became a bit of a problem the last couple of days, but hashing that’s not in the cards for today either. 

It seems this is the end of today’s trail as well. Perhaps if I had a good nap, I could bounce back, but that’s probably unlikely. 

After 6 nights away I’m really looking forward to sleeping in my own bed. That, my friends is sure to be the highlight of my Saturday night.

Glad to be home,

~Miss SugarCookie

2021-01-25 Waking Up in Nevada 💃☔️

Yesterday when I talked about gettin outta town, I really didn’t think I would be waking up today in Nevada!! 

The original plan? To have the car loaded and ready to jet at 5:30am. Drive for 9 hours, see the sunrise from I-29 south, and reach our destination in Oklahoma by 4 or 5pm. 

Then about 5Pm yesterday our phones started blowing up with winter storm warning notices and cancellations. First it was our kids’ schools and we thought, “here we go again.” Then it was other random places that we might frequent. Then it was our city trash service notifying that the schedule was being modified with a day delay this week due to the weather. And then it was the whole city of Papillion. An automated message from the freaking mayor that the city was declaring an emergency. Holy crap? Is this it? Is it the end times? 

Of course it is. I mean, I’ve just gotten everything I ever wanted so the end of the world was inevitable. 😜

Whatever. I was en route to drop my son off at his dad’s house when Jim called and said they closed his office too and he was being advised to drive tonight and not wait for the morning. So as soon as I got home, it was scramble time. I had a myriad of tasks that were not done yet. I finished the things on my list while Jim did research on how far to drive and where to stay. 

We we’re on the road and headed for Nevada Missouri by 8:30PM. 

So here I am. Walking on a treadmill at the Nevada Holiday Inn Express staring out the window at a rainy morning and excited about the thought of having a free breakfast and taking a long hot shower before getting on the road again. 

The rain looks glorious and the sun is up just enough that it’s starting to get light out there. Jim just sent me a screenshot of the winter storm which is depicted as a white mass across much of the Midwest from Denver Colorado to Kansas City, lead up front with some wicked rain storms stretching all the way to the Carolinas and the Atlantic Ocean. That’s a massive weather system Yo!!

If I don’t see a single flake I’ll be a happy girl. The temp here will not dip below freezing and fo sho we’ll be outta town headed farther south within an hour or two. In fact I just checked and the temp for our destination and it is already 64 so the only “weather” we’ll see today is this lovely, amazing rain. ☔️ 

Leaving in a bit of a rush, there were bound to be a few items we intended to bring but forgot. I don’t have my water bottle which will be necessary if we do any hiking and the Roku was left behind too. Since our whole plan for the week was to balance outdoor activities with binge watching movies and TV, we plan to hit the wal-Mart on our way out of the area. I wonder if Nevada has a Wal-Mat? 

Nevada??!! Ha! As we rolled in last night I was cracking jokes about the Vegas Strip. Nevada has historically been bad for me, but this little town seems all right. I mean, as a HIE fan girl, what’s not to love?

Cinnamon rolls, scrambled eggs, bacon, orange juice and coffee here I come!

3 states down, 3 to go, 

~Miss SugarCookie

2020-10-09 Waking Up in Winter Park

Yesterday was a loooonnnnng day. We did not get on the road until about 6PM as Jim had a full day of work in CB. They say Denver is a 7 hour drive from Omaha, but I believe that’s only possible if you 1) Have a serious fire behind you and 2) Aren’t afraid to break the law a little bit with regard to speed (being good at Mario Cart with the road construction helps here too) and 3) Have a bladder that can hold out for the entire duration of the trip.

To be fair, Winter Park is a hot minute beyond Denver proper and once you hit the mountains the driving slows considerably. All in all, it took us 9 hours and we did not arrive until just before 2AM (that’s with the shift in time zone). But it was worth it. Since it was quite dark when we arrived we could see nada. So when we woke this morning and came down the stair of our air B and B to the front picture window in the living room, it was incredible. We’re at a condo in the town, but nestled on a hill and can see healthy foothills all around. The pines rise up as far as the eyes can see, and it looks like we hit the tail end of autumn glory from the aspens.

I did peek out the window of our bedroom before I came down the stairs and saw one aspen with about 3 yellow leaves left on it. I said “looks like we missed the boat with the aspens. Good news is, we didn’t come here for that.”

It’s true. We didn’t. That would have been icing on the cake, you know, if you are into cake. But since we’re not, it’s all good. We really came to get away from our normal lives. Jim with work and the kids and house and me with the house and kids also but in a way, just doing a bit of fast-forward on my transition away from work. So the main plan is to have a couple of really balanced days, hiking to get our bodies in motion and then retreating back to our lovely home away from home for some super chill time together.

We brought all our own food and I made breakfast as usual which we sat and ate looking out those front picture windows. It was lovely. Jim’s already researched where we could go exploring today which includes a stop to Frasier so we can acquire more of what Colorado has to offer for the weekend. As I sit here now, with my laptop at the kitchen island, I can see the dirty breakfast dishes piled next to the sink. I’m NOT doing those dishes (if I can help it). You don’t pay a 200 cleaning deposit for nothing in these places.

I’m a little torn about not reaching out to friends and family in the area. Feel like I should, but going to try to resist doing that too. We only have the weekend so our time here is limited.

On that note, we’re going to pack up and get out the door.

Peace and Love from a Mile Above,
~Miss SugarCookie

2020-10-08 Miss SugarCookie is On the Move!

I woke up this morning with more vigor than I’ve had in a while. And when breakfast was over I bounded toward my treadmill with a little more spring in my step. The primary reason for this energy comes from the fact that today I’m going to be getting in my car for a weekend road trip to Colorado.

I love road trips. It’s no secret. Road trips are in my top ten list, right up there in my bio next to gardening and hunting for the perfect cheeseburger. So far this year I haven’t been able to get my fix like I normally would have. I did go on one trip with my Z earlier this year which was a substitute for the original adventure we had planned for her graduation. That was also to Colorado.

I was talking with my friend Steph yesterday about how Colorado is the perfect quick getaway for those of us who live just to the east in the flatland. The driving is pretty boring, admittedly, until one gets away from the monotony of Rolling farmland, unless of course an alternate route through the Sandhills is chosen.

The Sandhills and northwest Nebraska are beautiful and often overlooked, but if the goal is Colorado and you are limited on time like we are this weekend, then the scenic route is not really a good option.

Nope. The goal for us will be to get to the mountains as quickly as possible which means it will be I-80 west across the length of Nebraska.

Steph lives in southern Texas and was thinking they need to discover their perfect road-trip getaway. New Mexico maybe? I’ve never been but would like to visit sometime. I’d love to visit all 50 states. I should keep track of those I’ve visited and make a point to go to new places.

As it is now I often frequent the same spots. Mostly because of the people I’m visiting or, like this weekend, proximity. Who knows when air travel will be ok again so I’ll take what I can get!

This will also be the first time since my honeymoon in February that I’ve gotten to go anywhere alone with my love. The last bit of time off we both had we elected to try “staycationing.” We planned a week when no kids would be at the house. Just us, you know.

And then Jim’s adult son decided he was going to come stay for that entire week. And then his other son decided he was going to be over too, with friends, so it did not turn out quite as we had planned. So this road trip is also a welcome departure from the kids and house and chores and adult responsibility.

Normally we would reach out to family and friends who live near Denver and try and schedule a meet-up. But not this time. We will be short on time anyway, so all that we have will be dedicated to just us. Jim said, “I’m packing stuff for hiking but we might not even do that.”

By contrast, were bringing three swimsuits for the hot tub at our air B and B. Plus lounge clothes and food to sustain us for the duration. That’s it.

My prime directive today is to get the car packed up while Jim is at work. Other than that, I’m planning on chipping away at that list of stuff I’ve been procrastinating. This includes sorting through mail, paying bills, and cleaning. But probably I’ll end up working on the GLR or putting together manuscripts for submissions. Goodness knows I’d rather do the latter any day of the week, which is probably why the procrastination happens. I mean, who wants to scrub toilets anyway?! Not this girl!

Perhaps if I just pack the car really slowly I won’t have to do anything else. 😜

In any case.. I feel the rest of the day calling now and should prolly move along.

Next stop, Ogallala
~Miss SugarCookie

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

2020-04-16 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