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.
[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, 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.



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!
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[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 ….

[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.

[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.

[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!

[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!


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.


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?

[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.


In-flu-ential In-flu-enza

I have been absent (yet again) due to some prime time influenza. I have no idea how I got it. …well, I kind of do. You see, the flu is a respiratory illness. This means, if someone coughs, sneezes, breathes, spits, talks, etc on or near you (within 6 feet!) you will get the virus. Again, this is because their “germs” (or better yet, their germ droplets) are either breathed in or inhaled by you. Super. Contagious.

I like to think back and try to determine when on earth I was infected. Doesn’t everybody? You will get symptoms 1-4 days after being exposed to the virus. I started coughing on Wednesday, March 19 (that was my only noticeable symptom). This means that I came in contact with some sick person (who may or may not have known they were contagious) Saturday/Sunday through Wednesday. I have no idea who you are, but Thank you!!!

Didn’t see that coming, did you?

First, I want to apologize to everyone I infected. You see, with the flu, you are contagious 1 day before you even notice you have symptoms through 5-7 days after you get sick. I must say that I was at work on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, … and Friday. Although I apologized for this one already, I wanted to say I’m sorry again to my dearest wife. I can’t control covering my coughs at night …. and those pesky germ droplets must have flew up, got dispersed by the ceiling fan, and were inhaled by her. Because just a few days later, she got the flu. Dang!

I went to the doctor’s office on Monday (still contagious, mind you), and I had to wear a mask. I can thank my wonderful sister for capturing photos of me while I was sick.

[Me. This was posted on Facebook because my sister “loves me.”]

I was given antibiotics, and 2 inhalers, and basically told to rest. So, I tried. But it’s hard, and I felt rather guilty resting, especially because my sister Reychl drove 12 hours from Michigan to Nebraska to visit me!!

[Proof that I was resting! And more proof that my sister can be so cruel with her Facebook posts!]

Now, back to that previous “thank you”!

Sometimes something as awful as in-flu-enza can be in-flu-ential (you see what I did there?) Sure, I had a fever that never wanted to leave me, and body aches that shook my bones to their core, but my sickness was inspiring! I was wearing myself thin with all of my research and the stress that comes along with a Ph.D. programme, and this flu told me, in it’s own germ droplet kind of way, REST! Take some time out for you!

And that is exactly what I (tried) to do. I stayed home the entire next week (mostly because my sister was in town – that is a post for another time!) I have a cough now and a sore throat, but that is it. The only person I got sick (to my knowledge) was Kristi. Talk about success!

Plus, now I feel rested (in a weird tired and worn out kind of way).



P.S. Want to know more about influenza virus infections, vaccines, etc? Go on over to the CDC website!
P.P.S. I’m allergic to the flu vaccine, so I can’t get it.
P.P.P.S. This is the first time I ever got the flu. I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy.

Sister date nights – a MUST!

You know what stinks about being busy all day long? I think, and write, so many blog posts in my head. I think I put them on here, but I haven’t! The one thing I hate doing, like really hate, is repeating myself. So, when I realize I didn’t actually write anything down, I get super upset. Because I don’t want to “re-write” it. (There really is no winning.)

Have you ever been so close to someone, despite the physical distance between you? Me too! Gosh, we are so similar! I mean, we are sooooo similar. As similar as my sisters and I used to dress.
[L to R: Reychl, Amanda, Me – we had matching everything]

[L to R: Me, Reychl, Amanda – see?? We even have matching toys! And onesies … and haircuts]

This bond has seriously gotten us through life. Sure, we fought and did all of that typical children stuff, but we always knew we could rely on each other. Even when Reychl decided it would be a great time to slap me across the face … after I had all 4 wisdom teeth removed the day before. I mean, if that isn’t love, I don’t know what is!

So, let me introduce you (briefly) to my wonderful sisters! Since Reychl “is older,” I will start with her. (hehehe!  This is an inside joke. Reychl and I convinced Amanda that Reychl was older because her birthday comes before Amanda’s in a calendar year. Amanda believed it.)

Reychl. Pronounced like any other Rachael. In fact, her name is actually spelled Rachael. But, just like Nicole and Nikol are different people (as I mentioned here), so are Rachael and Reychl. If you knew my sister before, let’s say, grade 11, you knew Rachael. Grade 11 she was in transition, and from Grade 12 onwards, she has been Reychl. Reychl is brutally honest, selfless, loyal, courageous, driven, stubborn, and caring. She is filled with wanderlust, and loves to explore. She may hurt your feelings every now and then, but it’s never malicious (if only some people would actually see that). You know she is in pain when she lashes out at you, and that’s when you have to set your feelings aside and just get her to break open and spill the beans. P.S. Reychl is the youngest sister.

[This is Reychl with her pupster Charlie]

Now there is Amanda. Amanda has always been Amanda. Which is strange, considering she is a Gemini (and Reychl and I are Capricorns.) Amanda is easily embarrassed, loving, kind, selfless, loyal, helpful and caring. She is filled with so much love, like soo much love, she can’t say “No” when someone knocks on her door and basically says ‘take my cat.’ She doesn’t slam the door, she says ‘welcome to the family! Time to find you a new name that ends in an “ee” sound!’ (I mean that! Her beautiful babies are named Rari, Gimee, Tuli, Nolli, Remi … her wife? Stacy! – and I Just slaughtered the spelling of all of her baby’s names! Phooey on me!) P.S. Amanda is the middle sister.

[This is Amanda at a Linda Eder concert!]

The one thing I forgot to mention, but alluded to earlier, is that both of my sisters live in Michigan, while I live in Nebraska/Florida/somewhere far, far away. We always make time for visits, but sometimes, we just don’t have money for long trips (and the vacation saved up for those trips!) We came up with a solution! (If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the precipitate!)

Sister date nights.

They happen once a week, with the respective sister. Reychl and I watch a movie at the same time on Thursdays. We have to be careful because we live in different time zones, but we usually time it pretty well. This way, we can talk about the movie, and laugh, and cry, and it’s all better because we are technically doing the same thing at the same time, just miles and miles apart. The movie brings us closer! We’ve watched Avatar, Hunger Games, Catching Fire, Dallas Buyers Club, The Big Green, The Wolverine, The Heat (sheesh, these have been going on for longer than I thought!)

Amanda and I just started our sister date nights 2 weeks ago because it took us awhile to figure out what we wanted to do. We settled on playing games! Then, Amanda had a brilliant idea involving playing PS3 games against/with each other! Then, Amanda found the most perfect, and annoying, game ever! Portal 2! (Seriously, what would I do without Amanda?!) Basically, we have to work together in order to accomplish some task. We talk on the phone the entire time, because you really need communication, and we try to get our robot selves to not slip and fall in to a pit of acid. We are cute robots.

[L to R: Amanda, Nicole]

We don’t let distance define our relationships! We define them, and then we do something about them. That’s how the Milkovic (Milk-oh-vick, seriously, it’s not hard) clan rides!