Gratitude week 152

  1. Thanksgiving; a time to count blessings.
  2. A visit to my massage therapist.
  3. Dan needing to get gas and missing a fatal car accident.
  4. Black Friday deals.
  5. Volunteering with my daughter sorting kids clothing.
  6. Devilled eggs and pumpkin pie.
  7. Clean sheets.
  8. Getting a good deal and planning a trip to the Caribbean this winter. We are going to an island in South America so I will be able to cross the continent of South America off my bucket list.
  9. I found an affordable futon couch to decorate my office with and will still be able to use my office as a bedroom if needed.
  10. I found the perfect Christmas trees this year. I got a traditional tree and found the white colored tree I was looking for. This is my second favorite time of year. This year Angel, Alex, and Lexi joined Paul and I picking out the trees and decorating. We finished the evening by watching my favorite Christmas movie, the National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

This uncertainty, part 4

Usually I have my whole life planned out. Well, maybe not that extreme but you get the point. I thought I would be one of the few marathon runners that would run into their 70’s. That didn’t happen. Sometimes I still dream of running. I hate exercising now. I told the doctor all I really wanted to be able to do is run again. She chuckled at this and told me if I did she would be replacing both my knees in the next two years. It’s been a whole year since I ran and this year my husband and daughter will be doing the last race I did without me. I am happy for them and don’t want them not to do it because I can’t. I just never expected my life to be this way.

I thought I would be checking Europe off my bucket list in the summer of 2020. You all know what happened with those plans. Who would have guessed? When I plan things I pretty much plan on it happening. But I also learned life doesn’t always work out the way we plan.

Usually by this time I have next year all planned out as far as travel goes. This year I have no idea what I want to do. Right now I’ve set aside several dates on the calendar for going on a trip. That’s about it. My husband and I are thinking of trying last minute deals with these dates. My only rule is that I want to go somewhere I haven’t already been. The problem with this plan is that we aren’t spontaneous people. Even if we have absolutely nothing going on, we both plan our days. We are by nature extreme planners. We like our structure and lists. On Mondays and Thursdays I wash towels. We are going to try this but we might not like it.

Typically I would get some input from my husband about where he wants to go and I would plan everything. Checking off all 50 states and all continents is huge on my bucket list, but my husband does not have these constraints. These are higher priority trips for me. Now my husband is getting involved in finding the deals. Since at heart he is a finance guy, he spent hours creating a financial calculator down to the penny to analyze which is the best deal. I could care less about that but I am concerned I will find something and it will be gone before he can decide what the better deal is. Then who is in charge of the planning. It has always been me and it’s something I really enjoy. I have a systematic way of doing things. Hopefully this is not going to create conflict. Now I think all this spontaneity might not work. Part of the fun is doing all the research and planning the details.

There is also some uncertainty about the next step in our business. There is uncertainty regarding the economy. In my mind there is still some uncertainty around COVID. This year we had to cancel a trip because of it. If anything I am getting better living with uncertainty, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. I’m not one of those we’ll see how everything pans out kind of person.

Gratitude week 149

  1. The first half of the week was unseasonably warm and sunny so we were able to get out and about walking on the area trails.
  2. We had a plumber come out again since one of our pumps was clicking almost non-stop. Turns out we had multiple leaking toilets and once those were serviced it fixed the problem. So, yeah, another home maintenance problem fixed.
  3. I’m also grateful we have a well and are not on a water line. Oh my gosh would that be expensive.
  4. Lunch with my friend Jen at a restaurant I’ve never tried before.
  5. My husband is going strong on his detox diet and is almost halfway done.
  6. We got a dumpster a couple days ago and not only is the future office painted but now the carpet is torn out. I did most of the work myself. Physical labor feels great and doing a home renovation project has always been on my bucket list.
  7. With the dumpster I’ve felt more motivated than ever to get rid of stuff and declutter.
  8. I’ve also been motivated to do a little redecorating. We bought our house furnished and I am satisfied with most of the decor. However, there are some things I really don’t like. The area rug under the dining room table is ugly, stained, and worn so I just ordered a new one I like.
  9. As strange as it sounds for someone my age, I feel like I am really starting to figure out who I am and what I want. I guess that’s the benefit of having adult children and a mostly empty nest. Most of my life I felt the need to be responsible for other people even people I shouldn’t have had that expectation for such as my mom and disabled brother. I’m done with that now.
  10. I’m grateful to have more time to volunteer. It has been a really enjoyable experience to help those in need. I volunteer through a program supported by area churches to give out diapers and kids clothing to families in need.

Delaware

Delaware is my 42nd state I’ve crossed off my bucket list and we had two full days to spend there. I’m a small town girl and wanted to visit somewhere off the beaten path. So I choose a small bed and breakfast in the town of Milton. Not a lot different from rural Wisconsin. The first evening we walked from the B&B to an Irish pub for supper. I have to say I was very happy with the food and service everywhere we went in Delaware.

Let’s get the negatives out of the way first. Traffic. I will never complain about traffic at home again after visiting out East. Oh my gosh! We must have sat forever at a yield sign before merging onto a busy highway. The lady in the car behind us was gesturing at us emphatically. I guess we were supposed to just go and hopefully someone would let us merge. Thankfully our rental car had Florida plates. Traffic was terrible. The other thing I was not impressed with was the live music I heard.

The bed and breakfast was a charming place built in I believe it was 1810 and a governor once lived there. The house is on a historical registry. I’ve never stayed in a B&B that was so old and as always kept a lookout for ghosts. But the innkeepers said the flickering lights had more to do with a hot water heater than anything else.

Our first day, Paul and I decided to hit up Bally’s Casino in Dover. I hate to admit it, but we had a great time losing our money. The casino was large and opulent with many choices. I liked that it was non-smoking although they did offer a separate room for the smoking section. We ate lunch at the casino and again the food was great. They had specialty drinks. I ordered a root beer float mixed drink which could be really dangerous.

That evening we walked to the Dogfish Head Brewery. We were hoping to get a tour but we arrived just after the last tour of the day left. I got a beer flight. We sat outside and enjoyed the nice weather. There were a lot of families playing outdoor games and people with dogs. I bought a t-shirt and a pint glass to remind me of our trip.

Our last full day we heard it was snowing at home and decided to soak up some sun at the beach. We decided to go to Cape Henlopen State Park. The water temperature was supposed to be the warmest at the cape at a balmy 69 degrees which was pretty close to the air temperature. At the point was where Delaware Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean. At first we walked along the bay. We had the beach to ourselves but the water was very cold. We decided to walk to lunch at Big Oyster Brewery from there which ended up being a long walk. Afterwards we took an Uber back to the cape.

At the cape, we got on our swimming suits and headed to the beach. We ended up walking around the whole cape which was rather massive. People were not swimming and sunbathing there as I imagined. Instead, people were driving on the beach with Jeeps that had a cart on the front full of fishing poles standing straight up. We saw them let air out of their tires to drive on the beach, then fill them up again once they left. No one was walking or frolicking in the water. It was way too cold for that. They were fishing. This plan of mine was an epic fail.

It was really windy and cool on the beach. People had little tents set up to block the wind. They were wearing pants, sweaters, and/or jackets. Meanwhile we were the crazy Midwesterners in swimming suits laying on beach towels getting pelted with sand. It was really quite miserable. We didn’t end up staying that long. It was a long walk back with no bathrooms in sight. It was not what I had in mind. I think we would have been fine if we stayed at the Delaware Bay beach, but we didn’t know. It was the middle of October and I guess I was expecting it not to be. I think we seriously need a beach vacation.

That evening when we got back we went out for seafood. If we couldn’t be in the ocean, we could at least enjoy eating things that did live in the ocean. We enjoyed our little weekend getaway in Delaware. Here are some of the photos I took at the beach.

A spontaneous trip to Washington D.C.

I didn’t plan on crossing Washington D.C. off my bucket list but when the opportunity struck I jumped into the car. The conversation came up at the sushi bar. We met a guy from Alabama. Now before this gets a little weird, we didn’t just meet a stranger in a bar and get into his car. My husband talked to this man several times on the phone before because he was starting up a business like ours and wanted some advice. I remember one conversation quite well even though it occurred back in 2020.

We were in New Orleans when Paul was on the phone with the man from Alabama. We were thinking of visiting while we were in the area but he was out of town. I remember the conversation because some guy came up to us when Paul was on the phone with him wanting us to buy drugs. Another street over there was a pedestrian on a bike almost struck by a car fighting it out in the street exchanging a lot of f words. What must this guy think of us if he heard any of the background conversation?

This was the first time we met our friend from Alabama in person. I laughed when I told him the story of the background conversations. He offered us a tour of D.C. a few days later after dropping off his wife at the airport. He said he lived there for several years and knew his way around. I told him about my bucket list and instantly took him up on the offer. He was pretty quirky himself and said he also had all 50 states on his bucket list. He said his goal was to see all 50 states by age 50 which he did. He also said he had a goal of running a marathon, 26 miles by 26 years which he also did. I really like lists and think he had some amazing ideas by coordinating his lists to his age.

The next day at the conference we didn’t talk to our new friend much. I was a little worried the trip into DC was just bar talk. But it wasn’t. There were certain things I was expecting upon visiting the capitol of our great country and some things I was not.

We saw the Lincoln, Jefferson, and WWII Memorials. The memorials were absolutely stunning and I felt which I can only describe as wonder and patriotism upon seeing them and the words written upon the walls. The architecture was beautifully breathtaking. It was a perfect autumn day, sunny and warm to walk around. I’m not a huge history buff, but it was interesting to think about what our country and its people were like in the early years.

I was hoping to get a little closer to The White House but only saw it from the distance. There were a lot of people at the memorials. I didn’t stay long inside the Lincoln Memorial. I was feeling a little claustrophobic in the crowd. There was a steady stream of noise with planes flying over and tourists. I enjoyed my time in DC and think everyone should experience going there at least once. If we had more time it would’ve been nice to visit the museum.

Other than that, frankly I was not impressed with our capitol city. Maybe I’m just not a city girl. DC was a lot bigger than I thought it would be. We spent a lot of time sitting in traffic. Parking was limited and we had to pay for it everywhere we went. The airport was busy hustle bustle. There was A LOT of garbage on the side of the highway. I’ve never seen more litter anywhere else. My first impression of DC was that it’s an old, dirty, rundown large city. I saw the homeless. I heard a lot of sirens. There seemed to be some nice parts where the memorials and monuments are, but other than that I would never want to live there. How can you take pride in a capitol city that seems so filthy? But that’s just my opinion as an outsider looking in. And I didn’t even mention politics.

Anyway, I’m happy to have had the opportunity to check Washington D.C. off my bucket list. Here are some of the pictures I took.

The Washington Monument with a view of The White House.
The World War II Memorial
The Lincoln Memorial
The Lincoln Memorial viewed from the WWII Memorial
The Jefferson Memorial

Here and there

We left home for a week to go to a conference. We had three free days, one which we spent in Washington D.C. and the other two in Delaware checking them both off my bucket list.

We left Sunday morning in hopes of making it to our destination in time for the opening ceremony. Everything went smoothly for our first flight, not so much for our second. Paul was the one who alerted me of the first problem. It looked like someone puked right outside of the plane as we were boarding. Everyone else seemed oblivious to it. Most rolled their carry on luggage right through it. I’m hoping maybe someone just spilled food, but that’s not what it looked like.

We got on the plane and sat for the longest time. The latching mechanism for the door was not working so mechanics were called aboard with no success. Eventually we had to deplane and wait for another plane. It took so long I think perhaps they had to build another plane. The second plane didn’t take off right away either. By the time we reached our destination, we were two and a half hours late.

Next we had to wait to take a shuttle bus to the car rental area. The driver was a kind older man. The bus was rather full but he found a spot for my luggage and a seat for me to sit in. I wanted to give the man a tip but I only had larger currency. Once the doors opened, Paul raced to the rental car area. By the time I caught up to him it was too late to give the guy a tip. I was hoping to catch him on the way back.

Once we got the rental car, we still had another 30 minutes to our hotel. It was dark outside by then and we drove quite a ways before we noticed we were driving without our headlights on. We weren’t going to make it to the opening ceremony. We were going to miss the whole thing. When we got to the hotel, there was a skeleton crew of conference goers left at the bar area. A handful were planning on getting drinks and sushi nearby. We decided to go with because we didn’t eat supper yet. We got there right before the kitchen closed.

The bus driver I was hoping to catch on the way back wasn’t there. This time there was a bus driver who stood outside the front door of the bus. The bus was full, filled to overflowing. The driver just stood there. He did not help people put luggage on the racks or even say anything. At this point, we got to the airport really early so we should have just waited for the next bus. The luggage rack was full so I just stood there holding my luggage with one hand and tried to grab onto something with my other hand. Even though there wasn’t any room, people still entered the bus.

I stood next to a seat with two elderly people in it. In the seat behind them there was a family, a man younger than me with a son of about 11. Across from them was the mom who sat on the outside seat and wouldn’t move over to let someone else sit with her. At this time I was getting irritated. Not just because I was carrying a purse, backpack, and suitcase while trying to maintain my balance on a crowded bus. I was irritated the woman did not offer to move over. I was upset that I saw several senior citizens standing while the pre-teen sat without offering a seat to an elder.

Once the bus stopped, the family wanted to get off at the first stop. The woman complained I was in her way. It’s not as if I wanted to stand in the aisle. There was nowhere else for me to go. They were complaining about me out loud to each other. I was starting to get really angry about it. They couldn’t leave fast enough but I was a little shaken by the experience. The elderly lady in the seat in front of them must have noticed because she turned to me and smiled complimenting me on my shirt diffusing some of my irritation.

The family was rude in my book, but I placed a lot of blame on the bus driver. He was not going to be getting a tip from me. He probably didn’t get a lot of tips. The rest of the trip home was relatively uneventful. The first flight we ended up getting seats in the last row and the second flight we sat very close to the front. When we left it was warm. We were coming home to the cold rain. It takes courage sometimes to come home to a place of cold when we know the days ahead will be dark ones. My flipflops no longer keeping my feet warm. Yet it is comforting because it is home to me.

Gratitude week 146

  1. As much as I love to travel, it’s always nice to be back home.
  2. I’m grateful we got everything ready for winter before we left because it showed up while we were gone.
  3. I’m grateful to sleep in my own bed with clean sheets, an electric blanket, and a quilt on.
  4. I checked the state of Delaware off my bucket list.
  5. We made an unexpected trip into Washington D.C. so I checked that off my bucket list as well.
  6. Today I bought some light yellow paint to start turning Arabella’s old bedroom into my office. I’m excited to get started on some of my winter projects.
  7. I’m grateful for a quiet week and weekend ahead.
  8. I’m grateful for the warmish weather while we were travelling out East.

Gratitude week 145

  1. It was a rather quiet week to rest, reflect, and recuperate from the wedding.
  2. I was finally able to find some undergarments to fit Arabella good enough.
  3. Paul and I were able to get a lot done to get ready for winter. We sailed our boat to its winter home, covered the pool, shut down the cabin, and will be getting the yard ready for winter. It always feels good to get these tasks done.
  4. The trees have reached their peak in colors.
  5. We are getting ready to fly out east tomorrow for a business trip. I will be checking another state off my bucket list. Not to worry if you don’t hear from me much this upcoming week.
  6. We had a plumber come out this week to fix a couple problems we were having.
  7. I found the key to our bedroom door so we can lock it when we are gone. It’s not a huge deal, but last time we were gone Arabella slept in our bed and used our shower. We just don’t want anyone in our room.
  8. Dan and Angel got a duplicate gift of a big mixer for their wedding which they gave to me.
  9. We made plans to go to a yurt with our friends this winter. We will have to snowshoe 4.5 miles to get to a remote location without running water or electricity. Sounds like an adventure.
  10. My brother Luke and his family are planning on coming over for the weekend next month as my niece has a swim meet in the area. I’m glad I will finally be able to watch one of her meets. I had a good conversation with my brother.

Gratitude week 144

  1. My daughter got married yesterday and it was a perfect day!!
  2. It was wonderful to see family and friends who helped celebrate our daughter’s wedding with us.
  3. They couldn’t have asked for better weather for the wedding.
  4. I’m grateful for everyone who was a part of Angel and Dan’s special day. There are so many details that go into planning the perfect wedding day.
  5. I’m grateful to have a daughter who is so organized I didn’t need to worry about all the little things.
  6. I’m grateful my daughter picked the right person to spend her life with. They are a wonderful couple and that is more important than anything else.
  7. I’m grateful the stress of the wedding is behind us now and it is time to move on.
  8. I’m grateful our friends decided to host their annual Halloween party this year. It’s a disco theme. Time to dust off that leisure suit.
  9. I’m grateful to be flying out this weekend for a business/fun getaway. I will be checking another state off my bucket list.
  10. I’m grateful to have a lot of stuff going on the next couple of weeks to ward off some of the after the wedding blues.

Travel odds and ends

We decided to drive a couple hours to fly out of Chicago. We didn’t have a direct flight to Idaho Falls, being a very small airport, and had a layover in Salt Lake City. I wanted to fly out of our hometown airport, but with things going on in the area tickets cost an extra $800 per person.

I haven’t been down to Illinois in awhile. One thing I noticed as I was digging around in my wallet for change is that all the tolls are paid online with no collection of cash or credit anymore. It said we had 14 days to register online to pay our tolls which amounted to $9. It ended up costing us $300 to park our car at the airport for a week. It took us about an hour to find our car upon return even though I took a picture of the outdoor lot we were in. Indoor parking was more expensive. Chicago airport is huge and it is easy to get turned around.

I try to research the area I’m going to be travelling in. But it’s a fine line for me. I want to learn about where to go and what to see, but not necessarily everything there is to know about the state. I enjoy learning about the state while I am visiting and experiencing it. What I wasn’t expecting was how dry Idaho is. I think one day the humidity was 8%. Coming from Wisconsin where the average humidity is 71%, I didn’t even think that was possible. One hundred degrees in Idaho wasn’t all that bad once you got out of the sun. We would be dying here with the humidity. Thankfully it’s only been 100 degrees or more here once in my lifetime.

Everything in Idaho that wasn’t watered was dry and barren. There were a lot of wide open spaces and sparsely populated areas. I noticed the gas prices there were around $1 per gallon more expensive than at home. The speed limits were a lot higher too. A two lane highway there had a speed limit of 70 sometimes 75 mph versus 55 at home. Whereas Idaho was dry and barren, Montana was heavily wooded. The speed limit was about the same though which was a little scary because there were also signs warning us of elk, bison, and cattle.

A lot of time when we travel to other parts of the country, people can tell we are from out of the area. Not there. We didn’t talk much differently. The thing is, it seemed like no one was from around there even some of the wait staff and shopkeepers. Everyone was a tourist or came to the area to work for the summer. A large majority of the people in our West Yellowstone hotel did not speak English when we went for the continental breakfast.

Other than that, I didn’t see too many mask wearers in Yellowstone. Even though it said masks were mandatory in federal buildings, no one was enforcing it. Hardly anyone wore masks on the plane either. That part seemed back to normal. There were even people coughing and no one really seemed to pay attention to it. Although I must say, the airport in Idaho Falls was very small and they didn’t have doors to go into the bathrooms. For about 45 minutes, we could hear a woman in the bathroom coughing and throwing up. She sounded so sick I couldn’t bring myself to even use that bathroom.

The only other oddity was that there was construction at the Salt Lake City airport. We had to exit the plane down the steps onto the tarmac and take a bus to the main airport area. The strange thing was as we were exiting the plane, Paul saw his luggage fall from the top of the conveyor belt onto the ground along with another suitcase that fell behind the conveyor belt. I was thankful I put the pint glasses I bought into my backpack.

Also, I want to add that I really enjoyed Idaho. When Paul and I were visiting New Orleans we went on a tour with a woman from Idaho. I told her I’d never been to her state and asked her what the top things to visit were and she basically told me not to bother going. Idaho potatoes are a big thing in Idaho, but nothing big. I was also jokingly told not to join a militia. Other than that, I really didn’t know anything about Idaho. I honestly just wanted to check the state off my bucket list and it happened to be close to Yellowstone. It definitely would have not made the top 100 list for a place to celebrate a 25th wedding anniversary. Who knows, maybe we’ll go somewhere warm in the winter. I just wanted to say I really enjoyed it there, probably more than I enjoyed Yellowstone or Montana in all honesty. I was not expecting that.

In the end, I checked Idaho and Montana off my bucket list of visiting all 50 states. Nine more states to go…