2017-08-12 Looking Forward

It’s good to have a plan. It’s good to have things to look forward to. An event or a meet up or a vacation in the future that you can think about and be excited about. I’m a planner by nature and I love having things to look forward to. That’s probably why I am always planning to meet people for lunches or daydreaming and scheming about my next road trip or vacation. From the moment Hawaii was a done deal, it has been a topic of discussion with people and a wonderful thing to be excited about. That happens in November and I bought those tickets last spring, so I will have enjoyed looking forward to that for like 6 months.

One thing that was great about my job was that it paid enough to support my travel habit. There are so many places I want to see and so many things that I want to do that as soon as I get back from one, I’m almost immediately thinking about what is next. The downside to the job thing is, well, only three weeks of paid vacation a year. Bummer. I’m also a fan of the long weekend, you know take a Friday and maybe even Monday too and take off for a road trip. I think my PTO balance at work was often hovering around zero. Whatever job I elect to have next, I would like more time off. Four weeks is not unheard of but five would be the bomb. That’s probably stretching it some.

I originally planned to take three months off of work. Well, three months where I was just going to get some serious R and R and not think about work at all and then potentially another three months looking for the “right” job. For the most part being off work has been great, but now that I am almost halfway through my first three and about a month past my big Pacific Northwest adventure, I am really starting to want to plan some more things with the time I have left.

I’m supposed to do a quick trip with my friend Denise to Beatrice to witness the Solar Eclipse on the 21st, but that will likely be a one day trip. The one day trip I took to that crappy water park in Grand Island was more of a spur of the moment thing and not super awesome. I need something more substantial. Yesterday I had texts with both my friend Rebecca in Austin and my Mom about potential trips.

It looks like we (my mom, the kids, and I) will be going to visit my brother in Colorado in October over the four day Columbus day weekend. That’s so far away still. I may be going to Austin mid September too. That will probably be decided here in the next couple of days. Rebecca also wants to plan a girls trip sometime in October or November so that will likely be awesome too. Then we are leading right into that first week of November when I will be on the island of Maui. So that’s all very excellent.

I’ve also been thinking I would like to get back to the Badlands this year. I love that place so much. That is one of the benefits of being in a relationship .. you have someone to experience things with. I don’t much mind traveling solo, but when you get to where you are going, eating all your meals and seeing cool things by yourself is just not the same. You see the most amazing sunrise and you look to your left and your right and don’t have anyone to say “wow, how cool is that” to. That’s a bummer. Still, it would be nice to get back there before my time runs out.

For the next few weeks I need to focus on getting the kids back to school and potentially doing a little soul searching about my future. That’s another kind of “looking forward” that I’ve intended for this time in my life. I should capitalize on that opportunity while I’m at home and waking up each and every wonderful day with the luxury of doing whatever it is I feel like.

I guess it’s time to do that now. I wonder what this day will bring.

Always Looking,
~Miss SugarCookie

2017-07-29 Untraveled Roads

We traveled about two hours deeper into the heart of Nebraska to find a new place to play. We landed at the Island Oasis of Grand Island about 2:30PM. Shortly after that the kids disappeared. They dissolved into the wave pool and became one with the water. It’s 4:30 now and I’ve got my eyes trained on the slides and ropes and floats before me, but there is no sign of them. I give it another half an hour and then I might have to leave my perch and find them.

Being left to my mind with nothing else to occupy it has sparked quite a few beginnings. Quite a few wide roadways I could start down in search of a narrower, winding path to somewhere that matters more than this open road.

I’ve met someone recently that sparks my interest very much in multiple ways and I’m almost afraid to peek down such a beautiful side street. In the quiet of my present moment I’m standing by the streetlight that shins it’s soft warm glow on the entrance to that yet untraveled road. I grab the pole and swing round it slowly, letting the momentum of my body take me 360 degrees from where I started.

After one complete revolution I peer over my shoulder and impossibly there’s another street on the opposite side from where I’m standing. Another completely separate avenue of undiscovered possibilities. I wonder to myself how there could be two roads here at this juncture. I take a quick walk back across the wide Main Street to peer down the second road and see how far I can see. Not far.

The natural daylight is waning and the tiny street lamps along this stretch are no match for the darkness that’s growing. Still, what I can see appears lovely. Then I find myself turning my head from side to side to see each of the new roads I have discovered in turn. So different and yet equally as enticing and beautiful.

At the moment I’m quite content to just stand here and daydream about what my future travels might be like. In my head I’ve already wandered down the first road a little ways and stopped to smell a few of the blue wildflowers growing not far off the path. The air is filled with the scent of bread baking and there is a slight breeze brushing over my shoulders. It all feels positively amazing.

The other road is a little tougher to imagine but when I’m thinking about it, for some reason I’m filled with satisfaction and a sense that all is right with the world. There’s no sensory inputs, just intuition.

The sun is completely set now and such a chill has risen in the air that I can’t linger here any longer. I must return to reality and collect my things and go.

As if by magic or the sheer will of the universe to make my thought a reality, one of my children has re-appeared before me, emerged from the depths and she has also come to feel the same cold creeping in. She’s soaking wet and ready to leave. I’m sure I’ll have to go fetch the other myself, as he’s immune to the cold and will not probably notice for hours that the sun has gone down or that his belly is empty. That’s a true wanderer.

We turn and leave with smiles on our faces. As I exit the scene I can’t help but look back over my shoulder again and bid farewell to the two untraveled roads I have discovered. I know it will not be long before I’m back again.

Happy Daydreaming,
~Miss SugarCookie

2017-07-20: These are a Few of Our Favorite Things…

On the plane ride home I asked my kids about our vacation with very specific questions. I think what you retain in your memories is solidified by recalling it several times, especially when it is fresh in your mind. I’m asking myself the same questions and will see how my answers stack up next to theirs.

What was the best thing you saw..
C: The Space Needle he also added, “We never saw the bean.”
Z: The Redwood Forest and her reply to C, “dude that’s in Chicago.”
Me: Also the Redwood Forest. “and now I guess I need to plan a trip to Chicago.”

Favorite Food or Food Place or meal…
C: Mod pizza in Seattle
Z: Also Mod pizza or Shari’s
Me: I also liked Shari’s but my favorite meal was the picnic we had at Oswald State Park at the beach. Looking at the map I think it was “Treasure Cove” but can’t be certain because I don’t recall seeing a sign”. Second might be the VooDoo donuts or Food truck lunch we had on the first day. I may have picked the Sand Dollar Cheeseburger, because it was so delicious, but I had to eat it so fast and I was pressed for time and also was alone.

Worst food (for comparison)…
Z: The fancy French toast place (which was Portage Bay Cafe).
C: I didn’t have one.
Me: I agree with Z, that Cafe was overpriced and not very good. I would also comment that every meal we ate that was fast food would be on this list. If I had to pick the worst though, it would be the burger place called Shake and Burger. I can’t even remember what city we were in but everything about it was terrible.

Best hotel or night’s stay…
Z: The Holiday Inn Express .. They had the best pool.
C: The Rennasamce Marriott was the nicest but the HIE did have the best pool.
Me: I agree with Cooper, but also really liked the hotel location/view/room we stayed at the Comfort Inn overnight in Eugene Oregon.

Worst hotel (for the sake of remembering)…
Z: The Comfort Inn Portland airport. Pool was not swimmable and we lost our pool toys and they were doing re-modeling and the drywall dust got all over my suitcase and ruined it. The elevator did not work in the morning and the breakfast was “meh”.
C: The Comfort Inn Portland airport.
Me: Yup, this is one thing we all agree on. The Hot Tub was also out of commission and it looked as though mold was growing on the surface under the water. Gross. They did take 45 bucks off our stay, but it did not make up for the experience and not allowing the kids to do one of their favorite things and swim.

Best Experience (not just what you saw but something you did)…
Z: Wings over Washington and Having a tv on our second flight.
C: Also Wings over Washington.
Me: Hands down hiking the Redwood Forest. Even driving through gave me chills. I just love that place. I will say the Wings over Washington was a good ride which was pretty cool the way they really made you feel like you were flying over the state with the sights and sounds and smells and feels. I wish the ride was a little bit longer though. I also enjoyed catching up with Princess KK even if it was just for a day. Driving down the coast was cool and laying on/rolling around the sand dunes of Oregon was newt. Also and also hiking up the path to the top of Multnomah falls. It really is hard to pick a favorite thing when there really were a lot of great moments.

Favorite Activity…
Z: Swimming at hotels
C: Lots of video game time in the car and at hotels.
Me: Again, it is difficult to choose among so many things that were fun to do. This is right up there with best experience, but I had to think of a secondary category because I know the kids enjoyed things that were not “road trip/tourist” experiences. I will admit it is a little disappointing that it would be the case, since we can do all those things in Omaha without spending a penny, but I am hoping their memory of our trip remains positive.

My least favorite activity became all the driving and navigating the terrible traffic and all the people in and around the larger cities. I think they are over-crowded and I would never want to live in either place. I also became increasingly irritated at my daughters picky eating and entitled attitude.

When we arrived home, Josh gave us a ride back to our house and he asked the kids what was the most memorable thing, which was phrased a little differently than the thing I had asked. They both said “getting lost in the Redwood Forest”, which I was shocked to hear come out of their mouths. I mean of all the things we had just talked about, neither of them mentioned that to me. In all fairness we were never “lost”. We crossed the “scenic” road multiple times and could have, at any time, taken that back to the visitor center where our car was parked.

At some point we did go left when we should have gone right (or north instead of south) and ended up on a different trail several miles from where we intended to be. While the kids both blame me for that incident, they admit the signs on the trail were not the best and not all “forks in the road” were labeled. When you are among such tall and majestic trees, it is difficult to see where the sun is and if it is around high noon, tough to know which way is north and which way is south. In any case, a lovely couple of girls gave us a ride back to the visitor center and it was a good thing because it really would have been several more miles of hiking and Cooper never would have made it. It’s definitely worth an honorable mention, as these things are what memories are made of.

Traveling Trio Out,
~Miss SugarCookie (And Z and C too)

2017-07-19 Finally Home

It’s not like the journey took us a long time, but arriving at midnight makes it seem that way. I had less sleep last night than the four or five previous days and immediately started unpacking and doing laundry as soon as I was up.

I’ve kind of been just going through the motions today, nothing too intense. I needed to get the kids back to their dad’s today and that was my number one priority. After that, I was free to do whatever and just tried to get back into my normal routine. Well, as normal as I can since I don’t have a job to return to. You know what the absolute best part is about coming back home from vacation when you don’t have a job? No mountain of email. No phone calls to return. No fires to put out. No backlog of requests from sales for time estimates. No angry customers or projects that have fallen behind or software issues that can’t be solved. It’s truly just magical.

This is the very reason I knew a simple vacation would not solve my problem or my woes. I know vacations can be stressful at times and with the kids along, it was often WORK to keep everyone happy and fed and not on the brink of meltdown, so jumping right from that kind of trip into the continuous adventure that actual work can sometimes be is not rejuvenating at all. However, sleeping in tomorrow and deciding what I would like to do with my day tomorrow when tomorrow arrives is bliss. That is the point. That is what I desperately needed and that is what I am taking for myself. It’s about time.

Right now I am listening to music and texting some people via Bumble off and on. I finished unpacking and the last of the laundry is in the dryer. It is nearing 10PM Omaha time (which is midnight on the West Coast), and it is the latest I have been awake in days. I may not have it in me to accomplish much more tonight. Perhaps a few pages of the new book I have been reading, but we shall see if I can even get to that.

Happy to Be Home,
~Miss SugarCookie

2017-07-18 PNW Day 8 (Part 2): The Traveling Trio

I spent about an hour this AM in the fitness center at the hotel, which pretty much amounted to a room with a treadmill, elliptical machine, a weight machine, and a TV. I let the kids geek out with their iPads in the room while I got my steps in for the day. I opted to do this over trying to do another tourist thing in the city. When I mapped out the route to downtown, every road was covered in red and I am so over the traffic here. The decision to get some exercise via the elliptical was a good one.

We then had lunch at Shari’s Cafe, which I guess is a thing here in the Northwest. It’s a 24 hour diner that is very similar to the Village Inn we have in Nebraska. That was also a good choice and all three of us left feeling very satisfied. It is probably the first time on this trip that everyone liked their meal. Typically we had food that Zoey wanted, because she is the pickiest. This means that Cooper and I were left to just get whatever we might want at that place. It is a good thing we are both pretty easy to please. A few times we had a meal that Cooper wanted, and Z had to suffer through. I don’t know if I ever got first choice. All I really wanted was that Pike’s Place Chowder, but ended up skipping that because I really wanted to get back on the road yesterday.

At this point, we’ve made it all the way through security and are waiting to board a plane to SLC. In the security process none of my bags were flagged but both the kids had their bags double scanned because of the iPads and Z had her suitcase pulled from the line as she had a bottle of sand that had to be tested for explosive residue. Apparently sand very much resembles something nefarious under the scanner.

I know all the rules and I try to follow them. I never check a bag and am used to just pulling everything out and sorting it into half a dozen different bins. I’m exaggerating of course, but since there are three of us traveling, it really is not far off.

Ever since we came through MSP last week and had a caramel apple from the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, Z and I have been craving another one. I’ve already googled it and there is one in concourse D of the SLC airport and our flight just happens to be departing from concourse D. 😃

It will be time to board the plane soon so all the rest of the big life revelations I’ve had today will have to wait until later.

Keeping it Real,
~Miss SugarCookie

2017-07-18 PNW Day 8: Headed Home

I ended up driving back to Portland last night with every intention of just returning the rental car and staying at a hotel near the airport and taking the shuttle when it was time to go. Instead, when we arrived, I thought maybe since our flight does not leave until later in the afternoon, I might try and squeeze in one more sight-seeing “thing” before being done. Checkout is at 11 and our flight does not leave until 4PM so we do have a few hours to do something.

The trouble with that is that NONE of us wants to do anything. We could barely get ourselves to breakfast this morning. When I asked Z what she wanted to do, she just said “Stay at the hotel until we have to go to the airport”. I’m kinda right there with her.

I thought about going to lunch somewhere and then Salt and Straw for ice cream but the thought of finding parking and waiting in lines just makes me cringe a little bit. Add to that that wherever we go, it will not mean a damn thing to the kids because they will not appreciate it. Don’t get me wrong, my children appreciate things but to them, there is no difference between ice cream at Salt and Straw and ice cream from Goodrich back home (or Dairy Queen because they prefer the soft serve).

The only other place I can think to take them is Powell’s City of Books. I’ve been before, when I was in Portland in 2016, and while massive and quite impressive, it really did not seem like the type of place to actually find a book. I mean, you find yourself amidst a mass of people (like everywhere in this city), and trying to narrow in on one book is a challenge. To get to the section you want to go to is kind of fun, winding around corridors and up stairs, but in the end, if you find one you just have to wait in another line for purchase. I think the only reason why we would go is so they can say they went and now that I am thinking about it, is that a reason to do anything?

I’m probably just being negative because I want to go home and see my kitten. I know the kids are missing her too. They are grumpy and getting on each other’s nerves (and mine too) and 8 full days together without a lot of “alone” time for anyone is a long time.

Right now, it’s really just past 9 and breakfast is done and we have about 5 hours before needing to return the rental car. I think I will go google other places or things to do.

~Miss SugarCookie

2017-07-17 PNW Day 7: Winding Down

The kids are still sleeping and I had to get up to go put money in the parking meeter. It’s not the most convenient thing to have to do (at 7AM), but since I was awake anyway it’s OK. I’ve slept 8+ hours the last three nights (pharma assisted) but I still don’t feel that rested and while just a short 5 and 6 days ago I was super jazzed and ready to take on the day, today I am just sort of blah about it.

Today we will have to pack up all our stuff and load it in the car. The kids are sick of walking the city (after just one day) so we may take the light rail to go to breakfast and the Space Needle. I am bound and determined to have chowder at Pike’s Place Chowder today before I leave. I can’t visit the PNW AND be in Seattle without getting some really good chowder. Check the next entry for a review on that. 😉

Anyhow, I doubt we will stay in Seattle another night which means driving back to Portland. I’m not excited for the drive but am excited to be in the city of our departure.

More Later,
~Miss SugarCookie