Tag Archives: Travel

The Hiawatha Trail

We took our kids on the Hiawatha Trail. It used to be part of the Milwaukee Railroad.

“It was called one of the most scenic stretches of railroad in the country. When the Milwaukee Railroad was operating, the trains traversed through 11 tunnels and over 9 high trestles, covering a 46 mile route that crossed the rugged Bitterroot Mountains between Idaho and Montana. The “Route of the Hiawatha” is most famous for the long St. Paul Pass, or Taft Tunnel which burrows for 8771 ft. (1.66 miles) under the Bitterroot Mountains at the state line.”

Now they’ve covered the tracks with dirt and you mountain bike over it.  It’s a beautiful path.  We put tag-a-longs on the back of my bike and Kevin’s so that the two youngest road with us and our oldest road his own bike.

The first 1.6 miles are in a completely black tunnel.  You have to wear headlamps or a bike light to make it.  On both sides of the tunnel there are 18 inch ditches for water runoff.

(I highly recommend learning to ride with a tag-a-long and kid before entering a slightly sloped, completely black tunnel with water dripping from the ceiling.  It throws balancing off just a wee bit.)

It took us 3ish hours to get down the path.  It was mostly downhill.  We paused occasionally to read the historic signs along the way and to eat unhealthy snacks.  We thought of riding back up but the shuttle was right there waiting for us.  It was a sign.  And we didn’t realize how tired we were until we sat down.  And closed our eyes.

They drop you off at the end of the tunnel so you have to bike through it again.  Seeing as we were experts at riding our bikes in the dark, it went much faster the second time.
I recommend riding bikes in a dark tunnel.  It makes you feel like you’ve done something incredibly cool and dangerous without actually doing anything cool or dangerous.

We're waiting for endorsement deals.

We’re waiting for endorsement deals.

Travel Advice

I recently went on a trip.  All by myself.  I didn’t even need an adult chaperone.  And I didn’t have to wear an underage badge pinned to my shirt.

I’ve realized this year that I tend to travel a lot.  I thought I’d pass on some of the immense amount of knowledge I’ve acquired.

Tip #1

Airplanes are chilly.  Socks are a wonderful idea when you are wearing sandals.  I generally wear subtle ones so as not to draw attention to myself.

You may have to look closely.  I swear I'm wearing socks.

You may have to look closely. I swear I’m wearing socks.

Tip #2

Make yourself comfortable.

A wall is technically not furniture so obviously it's ok to put your foot on it.

A wall is technically not furniture so  it’s ok to put your foot on it.

Tip #3

Only rent cars from people who check for dents with the largest possible flashlights available.  But make sure they don’t swing around too fast and dent your rental with the largest available flashlights possible.

(Feel free to caption this yourself)

They don’t sell them.  I asked.

 

 

 

The Universe and Manilow

I’m worried about Barry Manilow.  I think karma may get him.  I’m waiting to hear.

Last time I mentioned a writing retreat I went to.  It was Thursday to Saturday.  I was pretty much in a class or discussing writing.  My friend called me and told me she had 2 free tickets to Barry Manilow.  I had an appointment I was able to switch so I could make it to the concert.  So I just happened to be in the state on the night Barry would be performing; I had free tickets and I was able to go.

I WAS MEANT TO GO.

So I got in my car and started driving.  It was about an hour drive to the stadium.  I was ten minutes away.  I was making good time.  I was pretending my name was Mandy when my friend texted:

Manilow cancelled.

HE CANCELLED. Five minutes before the doors were to open and he cancelled.

The universe had symbiotically come together to allow me to go to Barry. THE UNIVERSE wanted me to go to Barry Manilow.

And he cancelled.  I’m worried what the universe might do.

I own this but I don't have a matching boa and now I never will.

I own this but I don’t have a matching boa and now I never will.

Consistency

I just went to a writing retreat.  One of the presenters, Ann Cannon, is a columnist and blogger.  She says that consistency is the key.  I thought I’d try it for a while.  It will be scientific research.
And then I’ll publish it as a thesis
And get an honorary doctorate
And I’ll make everyone call me Doctor Marianne
Or maybe Your Excellency
And I’ll get an endorsement from the Nordstrom Shoe department
And take my family on a Disney Adventure.
Twice.

This has nothing to do with this post.  But it's really hot right now and this picture is so cool.  I wish I was writing this in a pool.

This has nothing to do with this post. But it’s really hot right now and this picture isn’t. I wish I was writing this in a pool.

And all of this can be mine if I’m consistent.
I guess it would help if I were consistent with blogging…

Brothel Days

We took our kids to Virginia City and Nevada City.  They are historical towns with living museums and stage coaches and handmade ice cream and candy.

We got there Friday night and ate at the Star Cafe.  It was better food than we’d had in a while.  Then we checked into the Nevada City Hotel. There is no air conditioning and all of the fans had been checked out.  The breeze was blowing the wrong direction — it wasn’t going in our window.  So we left and went on a ghost tour.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.  And then our 10 year old told our 8 and 6 year old he could hear voices.  I did not enjoy that.

The next day we woke up to find out it was Brothel Days in Virginia City.  A friend told me not to worry because our kids wouldn’t understand; as long as we skipped the lecture they had at 1pm about Brothels.

I had a feeling, however, had they seen the Bed Races they would’ve asked questions about why a woman dressed in her underwear and garters was riding on a bed while four people pushed it down the street as fast as they could.

Luckily, the train came.

I've always wanted to work in a living history museum.  But not when it's 96 degrees.

I’ve always wanted to work in a living history museum. But not when it’s 96 degrees.

Going back to Law School

I recently went back to Iowa for my friend’s daughter’s wedding.  I hadn’t been back since I graduated law school almost 11 years ago.  I also haven’t used my law degree for about 11 years.

I was an average student.   I was looking for an average, medium-powered job and people get referrals based on how good a lawyer currently is; not on their rank in law school.  (I get excellent referrals, by the way.  They just have nothing to do with law.)

This pictures proves I graduated from here

This pictures proves I graduated from here

I walked in and almost felt a whoosh carrying me back to the past.   I should have 20 lbs of books on my back and a constant prayer on my lips I wouldn’t be called on that day.  But then I noticed a couple things:

1. The entrance has furniture now.  There are actual chairs to sit on.  We had chairs on the first and fourth floors but not on the main floor, where you spend a lot of your time.  The ground was good enough for us, thank you.

2.  There were TV screens in the building for announcements.  It also displayed the weather.  11 years ago, we had to walk up to a board and read a piece of paper for our announcements.  We had to look out a window to find out the weather.  We had to earn our info.

3. The biggest change: the cafe serves Starbucks coffee and real food.  I don’t drink coffee, but even I know this is a step up from the big black bags they used with “Regular” and “Decaf” stamped in white.  And you didn’t stop here for lunch.  You bought water, a Diet Coke and, on bad days, a giant Snickers.  I think they had instant oatmeal you made yourself.

We only had a water spicket coming out of the wall

We only had a water spicket coming out of the wall

I worry about the future of the law.  Because it looks like law students are getting soft.

Arches: the Gateway to Patience

I took my kids to Arches National Park.

Here’s how it went in their words:

We hiked Park Avenue (so named because the red rock is as high as sky scrapers on both sides of the path).  It is down hill at the beginning but flattens out quickly.  The hike is .9 miles one way.  We probably did .75 and turned around due to lack of shade.

10 yr old son:  I like this place way better than New York City.  There are too many people there.

8 yr old daughter:  New York City is WAY better.  I hate this place.  There’s too much sun.

We had water.  I may forget lunch for school but I don't forget water in the desert...

We had water. I may forget lunch for school but I don’t forget water in the desert…

We’re almost back to the car:

8 yr old: I’m gonna die of a heart attack.

She sits down on a rock.  I tell her I’m going to take her picture.  She poses.

We hike The Windows.

Me:  This is Turet Arch.

8 yr old:  It should be called Tiring Arch.

We approach a little hill with slick rock.

8 yr old: We’re going there?

   5 yr old son: Look! No hands!

We go to the visitors center to watch the introductory film so everyone can become Jr. Park rangers.

5 yr old: Is this 3D?

We only hiked Park Avenue and The Windows.  We walked around Balancing Rock and then headed back to Moab.  We went to Milt’s for burgers and shakes, swimming at the pool, and a chuckwagon dinner.  The next day we hiked Delicate Arch.  On the way out of town we drove 3 miles to the middle of nowhere to see fossils still in the rocks.  I almost got stuck in sand.

I asked my kids if they liked the trip.

10 yr old:  I liked the arches.

5 yr old:  I liked the dinosaur fossils.

8 yr old: I liked everything.  Except the hiking.

This is not "almost there."

This is not “almost there.”

What to do if you’re a SAHM at a Conference

If you’ve ever been to a professional conference with your spouse and someone has asked you what you do and you’ve answered ‘stay at home mom,’ you’ve also experienced the glazed over look, the speaker staying for a polite 3-4 more sentences and then moving on.

I’m tired of people getting a glazed over look and leaving after a few polite sentences.  I want them to leave for more exciting reasons.  Or maybe just out of fear.
I’ve come up with a few alternatives:
If you aren’t at a Dental conference, tell people you are a dentist.  People will then ask about a tooth.  This may freak you out, but all you have to ask is, “Do you floss?”  The answer is always no and then you can tell them that there is nothing a dentist will ever be able to do for them again unless they regularly floss.

If you are at a Dental Conference, tell people you’re a lobbyist against fluoridated water.  People will still leave, but they’ll leave out of anger.

Another fun response: “I’m thinking of running for President.  Hillary Clinton was on the right track but she wore the wrong shoes.”  Then ask for a contribution.
OR
“I’m trying to become a dictator of a small country off the coast of Canada.”  Then ask for a contribution.

Another favorite:
Lean in and very quietly say, “I take care of people” and then wink.

I hope this helps.  If nothing else, it will make generally boring conferences at least a little more interesting.

Or you could tell people you're a stay at home mom of zombie children

Or you could tell people you’re a stay at home mom of zombie children

Disneyworld!

Great picture of the kids?

Great picture of the kids?

We went to Disney World last week.  This picture sums it up. I put it on Facebook so a lot of you may have seen it, but it’s still my favorite.

I’ve decided I may put a little too much energy into planning vacations.  Because they never go as planned and no one is every perfectly happy.  And even when your kids beg to go on a ride, they duck for the picture.

I studied for this trip for hours but not the right way, I think.  Disney World is an EXPERIENCE not a ride.  Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and Epcot are also about shows and just being there.  We tried to run from ride to ride and we got in a lot of rides, but I wish we’d seen more shows and worried less about the rides.  There’s a life lesson in there.  Mickey would be proud.

The last night we were there, I told the kids we were staying for the fireworks at Magic Kingdom.  They’re at 10pm.  Our youngest 2 had been going to bed at 9pm (or earlier) and waking up at 7am.  We got to the park when it opened, took a two hour break in the afternoon and then headed back.

At 8:30pm my 5 yr old asked if it was time to go to bed.  At 9pm he asked again.  At 9:30 he asked once more.  I told him we were waiting for the fireworks.  He asked if they could light them now.

At 10, we started watching the fireworks.  During a pause, he asked if they could be over now.  After the fireworks, we had one more scavenger hunt map to complete before we became pirates.  I asked him to go with me.  We became pirates.  It wasn’t as big a deal as I was expecting.

I asked my 7 and 5 yr old to go on Pirates of the Caribbean one more time to celebrate our pirate-hood.  He fell asleep 2 minutes into the ride.

I took him home after this.  I can take a hint.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have two birthday parties, and a triathlon this week.  (One party was last night.  15 kindergarteners.  Fill in the blanks.) And laundry.  We’ll see if I’ve learned to enjoy the experience…

Carry On, Carry On

Today is a vent and gripe.  I feel as though that is sufficient warning.

2nd warning: this post is truly written from a married woman with small children’s point of view.  I can’t prove it, but I think it’s written this way because I’m a married woman with small children.  And I wrote it.
Recently I read a book in my book club where the author goes on a 3 month hike in order to overcome life challenges and “find herself” or something like that.  I have issues with books where the author has a life crisis, leaves everything and everyone and “finds themselves” while on an excursion in Europe or in the woods for an extended amount of time.
These books frustrate me because most of us can’t/won’t do this but still have life changing experiences we have to live through along with complex relationships with spouses and kids and friends and annoying neighbors.
I want a book where the author makes it through the day by blasting music in the laundry room; who sings Carry On at the top of her voice while driving to the school to volunteer; who gets in the car and wonders what would happen if they just kept driving, but doesn’t; who would give anything in the world to take a 3 month walk in the woods but instead gets up, makes her kids breakfast and lunch, figures out dinner and does everything she can to smile at everyone and not take out her angst on those around her.  At the end of the “leave everything books,” there is a sense of accomplishment: I did something amazing.  At the end of my book, there would be the fact that what the author did that’s amazing is get up every single day and do the same thing and know that she would keep doing it and find her sanity in the middle of THAT and have to keep finding it.  (But always suspecting that it is somewhere behind the dryer with the lost socks.)

Sometimes we can get a weekend away, but instead of preparing for our trip by getting a divorce, selling all of our possessions and buying a tent, we arrange frozen meals, babysitters, finish laundry, and leave activities for everyone involved all the while knowing that we will be coming back to exactly what we are leaving.
Is there a book like that out there?  Would anyone read it?  Is it written as fiction?  Does everything come together at the end for her or is it more honest and she admits that she knows once she gets through this stage of life, the next one will just have a different theme song…
In my lowly opinion, it takes real strength to stay sane while visiting the same dinosaur museum 3x a year for the last 10 years.
Thank you for reading.  I appreciate your attention.  Now if you don’t mind, I must go read up on the two hypotheses that explain Cretaceous extinction and try once again to learn the correct pronunciation of creatures that died THOUSANDS OF YEARS AGO CAN WE JUST MOVE ON?