F is for Fitness F.I.R.S.T.

I’ve been hesitant (thus far) to create a section of my blog about fitness. But I really want to. Really badly. So, you see, I MUST!

So, what is “fitness” to me? Fitness is so much more than losing weight, or reading memes about food intake. Fitness is about body and mind becoming one, a cooperation and competition in one (a coopertition® , if you will – Thanks Dean Kamen for instilling this in me when I was heavily involved with F.I.R.S.T.!)

F.I.R.S.T., or For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, was something I was heavily involved with when I was in high school (and at both high schools, to boot!) At both high schools, it was my chemistry teacher who was involved … and that’s why I was drawn to Chemisty! Basically, you are given a task that your robot has to be able to complete, and then you have 6 weeks to build it, and ship it away. The game evolved over time to include teams, where your robot would have to be able to work with any other robot to achieve a task. It’s a pretty neat coopertition, and if you have never had the chance to be involved with it, I highly recommend you volunteer to be a mentor (if you are over 18), join a team (check out the website to see what kind of team you can join – this is for ALL students, from K-12), if there isn’t a team at your school, make one. I did at my second school, and it’s one of the best things I ever did.

Check out this year’s F.I.R.S.T. game! One of my favourites yet!

[Source]

“You have teenagers thinking they’re going to make millions as NBA stars when that’s not realistic for even 1 percent of them. Becoming a scientist or engineer is.”  -Dean Kamen

You could say my brain was whipped into shape by F.I.R.S.T., and the teachers that mentored me along the way. Heck, it was because of my chemistry teacher Mr. Vandette that I even grew to love Chemistry, and it’s why I majored in it. And at that time, it was the hardest thing I had ever done.

Then, I got my first, and second, and third jobs – and each of those pushed me and taught me some invaluable lessons about work ethic, who I was, and how I fit in to this larger scientific landscape. Then one day, I was most likely out of my mind, I decided to get a Ph.D. During that time I was patiently hoping for a degree, as I was piled higher and deeper. Eventually, I emerged from the trials and tribulations of graduate school, only to land a postdoc, where I am now. At each of these steps, it was the hardest thing I had ever done.

I can always overcome these mind obstacles, and find a way to push myself forward. But, when it comes to body fitness, it’s like I’m flailing around in Devil’s Snare, waiting for Hermione to tell me to relax. It’s. Just. Impossible. 

I just have to tell myself to “Wake up with Determination. Go to bed with Satisfaction.”

 

E is for Expectations

Expectations.

That word, and the effects of that word, are soul crushers for me.

Do you want me to fail?
Do you want me to be upset?
Do you want me to judge myself harshly?

Expect me to do something. Expect me to be more.

Expectation is the root of all heartache. -William Shakespeare

One of my best traits is that I am a hard worker. When I open my life up to new avenues, whether it be a new position for work, or trying to conquer a weakness (like writing, ugh!), I do what needs to be done. I put in extra hours at work to overcome a learning curve, to get the science done, or try to catch up because I expected too much out of myself that week. I put in extra hours trying to think of words and how I could string those words into sentences so I could maybe, one day, write another article.

But when I feel like I am expected to put in the extra hours just because, I will under-preform. I will under-whelm.

There is a huge difference in results with the following pairs of statements:
1. I expect you to work 80 hours per week. (I will work 80 hours, but I will resent you.)
2. I expect you to get your work done. (I will work 80, 90, 100 hours, whatever it takes to get my work done.)

3. I expect myself to write an article a day. (Oh yeah! I’ll show you! … by never writing.)
4. I expect myself to write more than I usually do. (Easy-peasy. Writing one article is more than I usually write. But hey! I’m conquering something that is legitimately difficult for me.)

Is there such a thing as a negative and positive expectation? Because I feel that is what I just did there. In both pairs outlined above, the word “Expect” was front and center, but the outcomes were so vastly different.

Perhaps the difference, and the resentment, doesn’t stem from the word expect, but from the intention of that word. In the first scenario of both pairs, a rigid guide was established (you MUST do this in THIS timeline to be successful!) whereas in the second scenario, the guide was more fluid.

….

Maybe that is why I’m doing so much better … nay, so much more, when it comes to my fitness goals. I’m not expecting myself to exercise every single day. I’m not expecting myself to lose weight. Heck, I’m not even doing a “traditionally Nicole exercise routine” (you know, with weights and being hardcore and the like). I’m just expecting to have fun, and to move more, and maybe the weight will come off during the process.

AND IT IS!

Well, now my day has flipped completely around! Maybe I just needed to get this off my chest. Thanks for listening!

drseussyoureofftogreatplaces

D …. D is for Decisions

As always, I really need to commit to this whole writing thing. I get sucked in to the daily minutia that I sometimes (ok, all the time) forget to think about, and be, me. So much so that I’m pretty sure this is the longest running alphabet blog game ever. In the history of this alphabet game. And blogs, for that matter.

D was a hard letter for me. I had so many choices and not enough blog space (unless I wanted to have D v 1.0, D v. 1.1, D v 1.2, etc.) It’s kind of like when you are playing a new person in the game Scattergories, and you roll a “D” … you tend to come up with a few answers for each category trying to think what could get you points, or at least cancel out everyone’s guess. But when you play someone new, you are playing someone who has had a vastly different experience in life: where they grew up, the countries they know, the names they have been exposed to. All of it makes for a great game. This is kind of what I’m experiencing right now. D. D can be for Dumbledore, dementors (i.e. depression), Detroit, D&D, Decisions. Decisions, so many decisions.

My first draft of this blog post tries to incorporate ALL of those D’s. I decided to just stick with one topic, even though I could talk about all of them.

I guess that settles it. Decisions and Deciding.

It’s no secret that I’m depressed, and that I am battling my own set of dementors right now (WHOOP! Tied them in anyway.) I just hate when they get in the way from me making sound decisions in my life, because ultimately, they are screwing with my success. Beachbody has a great motto: Decide. Commit. Succeed. Making a decision can be easy (example “I want to improve my fitness and start eating better”). Committing to it, however, well, that can be a challenge (“pass me the ice cream!”) BUT – if you committed to your decision to eat better and improve your fitness, then you will start seeing results … and eventually, you will have succeeded in your original decision. It’s such a beautiful thing …. until those pesky dementors resurface, demanding that you eat chocolate to feel better.

The decisions that I have made in my life have brought me to this very moment, and they have shaped the path that I will walk on in the future. And what a glorious future I see for myself! And it all started with 1 decision.

And when times feel bleak again, and my decisions are starting to look more like moments of delirium, I just have to remember Dumbledore.

dumbledore_light

C is for Chinese Cookies

I hope you didn’t think my long winded Scattergories reference was for naught. Because it wasn’t. How can you play an alphabet game with a huge category (like Nicole) and not think about Scattergories? I also decided to not go in order of the alphabet; I mean, if I’m going to be true to the game, I might as well be true to the game. And I am all about the rules.

This blog post was going to be about Chinese Cookies (i.e. fortune cookies) that I love to eat every time we order Chinese food. It’s seriously my favourite part, and I always want to know what my fortune will be. I even keep the ones that make me smile or remind me to keep going, even when things get tough (an they certainly did during grad school).

This year your highest priority will be your family.

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[I taped this one in my calendar, so as my days in Nebraska become fewer, I will be reminded of just how important this next chapter is in the life of my family.]

Use your abilities at this time to stay focused on your goal. You will succeed.

IMG_2191
[I pasted this one on my lab bench, so when the tough gets tougher, I can be reminded of that silver lining.]

 

These Chinese cookies serve as great reminders to keep my head in the game, and always strive for perfection, because there are huge benefits (not only to my personal and scientific reputation, but also for my family.)

 

And right now, during crunch time, I need these reminders.

 

I am moving out of state (again), for a new position (again) and this happens in 14 days.

 

Are we packed and ready? No.

Is everyone going to move together? No.

Does my wife have a job? No.

 

Despite all of this “negativity,” I know we will be ready (because I am a packing machine), and I know my wife will find a job (because he is mad talented and knows her stuff), which means the family will be reunited.

 

 

Everything is going to work out (foretold by my delicious Chinese cookies.)

B is for Beachbody (and being a brash biochemist)

Anyone ever play Scattergories? I’m not talking the “junior” edition, but the full on, awesome category game of scattergories! You must immediately buy this game if you have never played it. In fact, you can get it here (or here or here). UGH! I just noticed that they changed the game! What the eff is this team nonsense?! No, no, no. The best part of this game is that you don’t have to rely on a team to win. You have only your memory of far-off places that your family has never visited so no one else writes down your Street name that starts with a B, or a Boys name that starts with a K.

I’m going too fast, let me back up. In this game, you roll a 20-sided die, each side contains a letter of the alphabet (excluding Q, U, V, X, Y, and Z), whatever letter it lands on is the letter every single word in your 12 categories on the list must start with, and then you set the 3 minute timer and race the clock.

Scattergories_lists
[Three lists from the game.]

So, let’s say we rolled an R and we were on List 7 (from the above image). We have 3 minutes to write something next to each of those 12 categories and they all must start with an R – also, you can only write one thing next to each category. Let’s play this one out for example (I love alliteration because you get more points – I will show you a few examples):
1. Rubeus Hagrid (this would yield 1 point); Roger Rabbit (2 points), if Roger Rabbit had a known middle name that started with an R, you would get 3 points.
2. Rice (+1), Refreshments (+1), etc.
3. Runway Magazine (+1)
4. You could put Raleigh or Richmond, but let’s be real – those are the only two capitals in the USA that start with R. And this category wasn’t specific to the USA (my faves!) So, to ensure I get my point, I would play Rome.

…. you get the point. At the end of the 3 minutes, everyone stops writing and everyone starts saying what they have (in an orderly fashion). If someone else wrote down what you have, no points will be awarded for that answer. Only unique answers count. If you wrote something down and everyone else disagrees with it (maybe it was the wrong category), then you don’t get awarded points. You add them all up, and move on to the next list with a brand new letter. It’s glorious. It’s fun. I am super competitive.

So being a Brash Biochemist (+2!!) who loves Beachbody …. or as I like to say Beach Body (because, +2, duh) … or a Bodacious Babe Bouncing Beach Balls (+5, Dang!). I am getting off topic – like a lot. But my title reminded me of the game, which I love, so I had to share it! I don’t have a script, people, and when I think about scripts, they freak me out and I don’t write.

Have any of you heard of the company Beachbody? They have many infomercials for exercise videos promising amazing results from your own home in X days. …. Exercise programs like P90X, Insanity, Focus T25, 21 Day Fix, Turbo Jam, etc. I absolutely, 100%, back up this company. I am not a coach (which are free, by the way) which means I don’t sell the products – but holy moly do they ever work. Not only that, but the fitness instructors are sooo nice! It’s hard to believe they are real people, but they are. And with Beachbody, you get to talk to them, and get to exercise with them. It’s just amazing to have those opportunities. And it’s amazing to finally accomplish something you thought was insurmountable … like losing weight.

ShaunT_abworkout
[Shaun T demonstrating the ab move.]

 

Did I mention you can meet the trainers?

ShaunT_Me
[Me with Shaun T!]

I don’t always stick with the programmes and I don’t always maintain my weight, but I am working on it. Sometimes that’s what matters the most; that journey you take towards self-acceptance. When I was doing these programmes religiously, I felt great about myself and the progress that I made. I was nearly in one-derland, and that excited me and motivated me to keep fighting against my food addiction (it’s a real thing, my nutrition told me I had an eating disorder because of it) — and then I got injured, required surgery, and I’m still in physical therapy trying to re-gain motion 1.5 years after the surgery …. from a surgeon who’s license is now suspended until he completes a drug treatment programme. Just my luck.

But, I AM getting better and I AM making progress and I can’t wait to jump back into my fitness journey!

Seriously, look into Beachbody if you need a great programme. They have something for everyone. And every exercise programme comes with a nutrition guide, and many free gifts (depending on the promotion) to help you succeed. I pretty much own all of their programmes …. because I am also addicted to buying exercise DVDs. (Don’t judge).

That reminds me. Beachbody has a motto that I feel fits every aspect of my life, and I wanted to share it with all of you. It’s “Decide. Commit. Succeed.” You see, a goal can’t be accomplished if you haven’t decided to tackle it. And if you aren’t committed to finishing, then who knows how long those cabinets won’t be hung, or the door will sit in the middle of the living room waiting to be put back together (haha, sorry Kristi, it just fit here!) And once you decided to do something, and you are committed to that project, success is in your future. Beachbody made the perfect motto, and I just love it.

Also – buy Scattergories and don’t play in teams. Because that ruins the competition.

A is for Appetite ….. just kidding, it’s for Arnold Schwarzenegger

I am pretty excited to jump on this bandwagon, albeit a bit late. The premise? I’m not entirely sure it’s the same for everyone. There is an A to Z Challenge, where bloggers can subscribe and blog everyday of a month (i.e. using a letter of the alphabet every day) on a particular subject, such as April’s challenge on the subject of Survivor. My friend Rachel is also doing this challenge, and her blog (Under the Tapestry) is incredibly insightful. She got the idea from her friend Lara, who also makes themes for her challenges. Her latest one was “A Romantic Alphabet,” as Lara is a “romance author (with a scientific twist).”

MY TURN!

Starting this challenge was a bit difficult. I wanted to pick something fantastic for the first letter of the alphabet; but, the more I thought about it, the more items I had to choose from. Do I write about my sister Amanda? My academic aptitude? How I was this close to joining the Army? So many choices for just one simple letter. Naturally, I decided not to do any of these, and instead focus on my appetite and how that brings me to Arnold Schwarzenegger.

When I was younger, I was average build for a child. That is, until I was sent to live with my grandparents in Arizona when I was 6. It was then that my father, whom I was running from (long story that involves a lot of repressed memories …. that I am starting to remember), started telling me that my mother made me fat. I was 7.

This is me before being sent to live with my grandparents:
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[From L-to-R: Reychl, Amanda, and Me …. we always dressed alike, whether we wanted to or not]

You see? Pretty average. I also had some straight hair at this age … which quickly changed by grade 4. But by grade 5, not only was I ‘fat’, I also made a friend who tamed my hair.

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[Me, grade 5. Not fat and awesome hair. Is it bad that I think this is one of the best photos of me ever? I truly felt beautiful this day. Every boy in my class fell from their chairs when I walked in, and the girls stared and smiled. It was MY day and it was the BEST day.]

But, I say, what do you expect to happen when a child lives with grandparents? I missed my family, I was miles and miles away (seriously, I lived in Arizona and my family lived in Michigan), and I had no friends. So, I watched Top Gun every single day. Seriously. Every. Single. Day. I would even fall asleep next to a family portrait (of my aunts and uncles) staring at my mother. When the Easter Bunny came, he hid my Easter basket behind this portrait. He knew my sorrow. So, to recap, I missed everyone, I ate, and I sat on my butt watching Top Gun. Every day. …. until my sisters and mom joined me and we all caught chicken pox. It was beautiful misery.

But, I digress (did I mention the ADD thing?).

My dad was a pretty fit guy, and he was from ‘the old country’ (i.e. the former Czechoslovakia, the now Slovakia). When he lived there, he helped his family make marble caskets (which stayed above ground) and built many of the houses in the city (then village). He needed to stay fit just to survive his job; his life.

I don’t have many photos of my dad, but this is one of them.
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[My dad and me, probably in 1982, which made him 32 years old. With all of those muscles.]

I keep talking about my dad like he isn’t here anymore, and that’s true. He died in 1998 (I was 16), and it still weighs on me. I still cry. So … call it “daddy issues” or whatever else, but Arnold Schwarzenegger reminds me of my dad. The accents aren’t entirely the same, but the humour is. And those muscles.

Arnold was completely driven from a young age; he wanted to make it to America and he knew bodybuilding was his ticket. My dad didn’t want to be in the military, he fled, and he ended up in Canada. Close enough.

I miss my dad. I miss him so much. Sometimes I wonder if it’s silly or unfounded because of my past, but I can’t help it. I miss him and I love him and I would give anything just to see him again and tell him those things. But I can’t.

So …….. it became a goal of mine to own every single Arnold Schwarzenegger movie. Don’t laugh. I’m being serious. Plus, laughing would be mean, and I just poured my heart out. I have most of them; Arnold is credited for 54 titles, in which two are announced (hello, Triplets anyone?!), one is post-production (Terminator, YES!), and one is completed, making it 50 titles that are available. Some of the 50 titles also include television appearances, etc, so there aren’t really 50 movies. I need less tan 10 to complete my collection!

LESS THAN 10.

So, there you have it. I feel strange getting some of this off my chest (if you will), but hey, maybe this blog will be therapeutic.

I look forward to letting you all get to know me.

Annnnddd I’m back!

Pfew! What a roller coaster! Defending a Ph.D. is seriously no joke. First, there is writing a dissertation – and folks, mine was nearly 200 pages. 200! Me, who has a hard time thinking a complete thought (thanks ADD, who is now called ADHD, because the acronym also has ADD) and has a hard time writing! I wrote that beast in about 1.5 months. It was a necessity though, otherwise the consequences would have been devastating. I would have to stay another semester … surrounded by so many people who have excluded and made me feel lesser.

I have so much to tell you! So much has happened in these past four absent months! SO MUCH!

So, I’m a doctor now. I don’t feel any smarter, and for some reason, I thought I would. Titles aren’t everything.

I’m addicted to MasterChef Junior. There is something about kids with passions and such motivation to succeed. I just love it so much. I will probably talk about this later on.

My friend Charles and I have something cooking up that will please all of my geeky readers (if I have any). It was an idea he had originally and it was going to be done with his brother, but, there was no interest there. And the thing is, I just couldn’t get the idea out of my mind. I kept hoping and hoping I would be surprised and the two of them would do it, and then I would be in reading bliss – but nothing! So, I decided to pitch the idea back to Charles, and now we are doing this together!!!! I’m so pumped. Stand by for this!

I also started, and (wait for it) never got around to it, an alphabet challenge. I may be a year late, but I have a few drafts sitting around with this. Stand by for an alphabet of all of my favourite things.

The best thing – I have a job! YES! I am going to be a postdoctoral research fellow at a hospital in Memphis, TN. I will be joining a wonderful research team doing some very important work. I will tell you more about this as I settle in. I really hope Kristi can find a job because I don’t want to be without her for too long (although I am prepared for this … unfortunate circumstance.)

 

So many great things in the wood-work and I can’t wait to share them with you!

It’s the final countdown

keep-calm-it-s-the-final-countdown

 

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a writer. I’m not a good writer. I’m not a bad writer. I’m. not. a. writer. In stating this, it should make a lot of sense as to why I write so sporadically, and I don’t maintain this blog in a manner that most writers and bloggers do. I’m a faker. But that’s not a bad thing.

Sometimes, you just have to fake it to make it. Isn’t that what people say? If you fake it enough times, then you are made into whatever you were faking. (This may have sounded worse then I intended.) Let me explain. I’m not a writer. However, if I pose as a writer, and force myself to write, then eventually, I will be a writer. I’m not very good with maintaining a healthy lifestyle. However, if I make the decision to monitor my nutrition and get my booty exercising, then eventually, I’ll have a healthy lifestyle.

Totally reminds me of a Spice Girls song. You know the one (HINT: Who do you think you are?). (Holy poop! They are making a musical called Viva Forever based on the Spice Girl songs!!)

I digress.

I started this blog to help me with posing as a writer. Not that I would have anything interesting to say, or anything life inspiring to write about, but to simply write. … and maybe have some people to hold me accountable. (I also do a lot of stuff with fitness, but more on that later.) A friend of mine, who is a writer and has an amazing blog you can find here, is doing these alphabet posts … and I think I’m going to do something along those lines too. For motivation.

Maybe 1 month ago (don’t quote me on that, my memory is shot these days) my boss dropped a figurative A-bomb right on top of my hunky-dory graduate student life. He actually used words like “graduation,” “dissertation,” “committee meeting,” “post doc opportunities,” in pretty much the longest sentence known to man. Plus, it didn’t help that this entire conversation shifted in to slow motion right before my eyes. Oh, I nearly forgot, he also clumped “December” in there, too.

HOLY. POOP. HOLY. POOP. HOLY. POOP. (Speaking of poop, my sister writes a mean poop blog! Check it out here.)

December … totally do-able, right? Right …. fake it until I make it.

 

This means I have to defend my dissertation before December 4, and that means I have to have my dissertation written by end of October/beginning of November, and that means I have to have my research done well before that so I can publish this darn article …. which means, which means …

IT’S THE FINAL COUNTDOWN.

 

 

 

 

You’re welcome. I know it’s stuck in your head now.

 

Happiness: What does this mean for me?

As a graduate student half way through her 5th year (yikes!), I often wonder – when on earth will I be free of this misery? I look outside, and I see cheerful undergraduates, bunnies frolicking, falcons eating frolicking bunnies; basically, I see the world moving on. Is it moving on without me?

As I look out this window, I see my Grumpy Cat calendar that I was given for my birthday. This month looks a lot like this:

grumpy

“far, far away. losers.” That’s really what I say in my head.

Then today, I was asked a question. I asked this question to myself in December, and I still don’t know the answer.

What makes you happy? What two things can you not live without?

The first thought that popped in my mind was Kristi. Definitely can’t live without her. I was then promptly told she doesn’t count. (Darn!)

…….

…………..

I don’t know. Say something! What did you *used* to like when you had time? Sheesh, when was the last time you even attempted to do that? 

I just don’t know. Plain and simple.

 

(This song, called “Happy” by Pharrel, makes me happy every time I hear it. No matter what mood I’m in, this song brings me out of my funk, for just a few minutes. For that, I’m happy.)

 

(This song, called “Give a little” by Hanson, makes me SUPER happy. It was the last song at my wedding, and it makes me want to move every time I hear it. For that, I’m happy.)

 

I think this means I can’t live without music. So, that’s one thing! YES!!!

 

I don’t know of any other things right now.

 

What makes you happy?

 

A Trip Across Nebraska

Have you ever just jumped in a car with absolutely no cares in the world; letting the driver take you wherever, and all the while, you know that you will be safe, see many new places, … and pee on all the things? Me either. But, I never leave home on a road trip without my pups! And they just told me, they experience the above all the time! Could you imagine? (Ok, fine ….) Would you imagine? Imagine that freedom and that happiness … and all of that wind rushing through your hair.

If you are doing it right, you will find that you look just like my Daisy.
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[Dogs are seriously wonderful people.]

 

BUT – I am getting WAAAYYY ahead of myself. I didn’t start out this vacation on the road! I started it SICK! Like deathly ill. Well, not really. But, I was treated like death …. remember? Well, just in case you don’t remember ….

me_flu
[Me, as death.]

It started out with Reychl, my littlest sister, coming to visit me! … and I kind of, maybe, a little bit at least, forgot to tell her I was sick …. until she was on her way from Detroit (to Nebraska). Seeing as that is a 12 hour drive, without stops, she was mostly committed at that point. So for the first few days, we just sat on the couch, watching movies and having some quality time.

Then, I felt guilty.

Naturally, I did what any person would do. I took her to the National Roller Skating Museum a few blocks from my house.

Rollerskating

 

This place had some pretty interesting things inside … like roller skates for animals, movie memorabilia, and so many different kinds of roller skates. Like these:

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[
Cockatoo with skates]                                                         [Drew Barrymore’s skates from Whip It]                         [Skates for short people … haha, just kidding. Crazy people.]

That was all I could take that day. Too much fresh air for my flu. So, we went back home, probably watched more movies.

Then guilt settled back in the next day. So, right around closing time, I took Reychl to see the Governor’s Mansion. We pretended it was my house. Because, well …. why not? It was gorgeous, very historical, the tour guides were very nice, the first lady and the first puppy (Snickers – seriously, he has his own part of the Governor’s webpage) even came out to say hi!
governor2 governor1
[As a graduate student, I make a lot of money … what can I say?]

The guides here told us that we should hurry up and go to the last tour at the Capitol building. So, we crossed the street as fast as my flu would let me, and we crashed the Nebraska Farmer’s Bureau’s tour. We just kind of weaseled our way into their group like the flu in my lungs. It is such a beautiful building! Nebraska’s capitol building is one of three art deco style capitol buildings in the USA. How neat is that? What that means is … you are basically walking in an art museum. The tour guides at the Capitol were AMAZING! GLORIA WE LOVE YOU!

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[Don’t those ceilings just make you want to cry?]      [GLORIA!!!]                             [Lincoln, NE]

Did you get my reference there?? I will give you a hint ….

lastholiday
[SUCH a good movie – makes you laugh and cry and laugh and smile and then you are happy. Watch it.]

Unfortunately, we didn’t watch this movie while Reychl was in town. But we should have. Because it is awesome.

I still felt guilty for being sick. I mean, wouldn’t you? Your sister drives across the country to come and see you, and you are dying on the couch? I needed to make this up to her! So, in my delirium, I thought:

“What would make this better? A ROAD TRIP ACROSS NEBRASKA!!”

Remember when I said I was a genius when I am sick? Well, I lied. I mean, who orchestrates a huge road trip, in the opposite direction of Michigan, the weekend before their sister has to leave to go back to Michigan? To be clear, we left on Saturday and came back on Sunday, and Reychl’s original departure day was Monday. Can you imagine just how excited she must have been, after driving 24 hours in the past 36 hours, just to drive 12 more? Good thing we brought the pups! When we got tired, they took the wheel. Don’t worry, they’re old enough.

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[Wrolea loves to drive. She is so serious!]

We stopped at a lot of places, and I’m probably going to get the order all wrong. I blame the delirium. So, here are some of the places we stopped, in no particular order, although, I will try to order them because of my O.C.D.

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[The Great Platte River Archway]

At the archway, we learned all about the emigration out West. What was really  neat about this place, was all the history you learn in here is reinforced along your drive (if you do road trips like we do – and stop at everything along the way.)

We learned about the original pony express station, and how there were just a few riders, and how they helped to deliver news to California about the Civil War! THEN BOOM! We drove to the pony express station!

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[Pony Express Station in Gothenburg, NE!]

We were in the habit of stopping at this point, so we decided to see what Boot Hill was all about. It turns out, it was a cemetery, and everyone was buried with their boots on. (Hence the clever name: Boot Hill.)

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[Boot Hill.]

THEN WE ARRIVED AT THE BEST PLACE IN ALLLLLL OF NEBRASKA!!! Seriously, I have been looking forward to going here since BEFORE I accepted admissions at University of Nebraska-Lincoln!

 CARHENGE

Seriously, I was GEEKED! What is Carhenge, you ask? Simple. You’ve heard of Stonehenge right? (Please say yes.) Just in case you haven’t, or need a quick reminder (for comparison purposes in just a few short seconds), this is Stonehenge.

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[Source]

Nebraska doesn’t have Stone-henge; but, we do have Car-henge. (I hope you are picking up what I am putting down.)

Be prepared to be amazed.

Are you prepared?

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[Kind of from the same direction as the above shot of Stonehenge.]

Wait, there’s more.

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[There is graffiti all over the cars/trucks – but some of it was pretty neat.]

We then decided to go to some of the rock formations that are nearby (sort of) Carhenge.

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[This is Chimney Rock, and it basically told all the emigrants they were about a third of the way. No big deal. We are SO BAD at squishing things in the background.]

We couldn’t get close to Chimney rock, because it is fenced in. Most likely due to fear of human-escalated erosion.

BUT, we could get close to Jail and Courthouse Rocks! They were also a little drive from here, but totally worth it.

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[*No dogs were harmed when taking this trip.]

 

I forgot to mention the creepy dolls in the Governor’s Mansion. Some of the first ladies leave extra fabric from their inaugural gowns, and some of their hair, for these dolls to be made. Naturally, I took a picture of all of them.

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[As creepster as this is, it is neat to see how history shapes the dresses. Not all of the gowns are shown, because not every Governor had a ball – you know, Great Depression and all. P.S. The first gentleman is also shown here.]

 

All-in-all, it was a great vacation. Even if I was sick.

I will leave you with a picture of carhenge – the graffiti said it the best.

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