Family Time in Brighton

I’m losing track of time. 😂 I think I’m on days 16…17?

I’m so ready to be home now! Two more days of driving. The last day will be a short one though.

I arrived at my aunt’s house and she had made a nice chicken pasta salad, which we sat and ate while we caught up. I watched a little TV with Ruthie but I was ready to crash by like 9:00. I went up to bed and was asleep before 10, and didn’t wake up until 8!

The next day we all just rested. Jacob came over and pretty soon everyone look a nap.

There’s a cousin under that blanket!

I love their dogs! They’re so sweet, if a little rambunctious. Although I found that they would calm down a lot faster if I turned my back to them if they tried to jump on me. 😁

I mostly took pictures of the dogs, which I will post at the end. I forgot to take a picture with my aunt! But here is a cute one with Ruth and Jax. Lol Jax is such a little weirdo 😂

He loves to be held like a baby.

He also came up to me and stared at me a lot. Expectantly. 😂

Jade is the girl; she’s really sweet. Also silly.

After everyone woke up, we opened my bottle of birthday wine (thanks Lici!) and played Apples to Apples and Pickles? Karmen grilled some steaks to go with the wine and we just had a really fun evening.

My adorkable cousin 💗

The next day everyone left before I did and I found that Ruthie had left me some notes to remind me of what i needed to do. She’s so stinking cute.

Then I drove to Utah! I saw some absolutely gorgeous scenery. I wish I had a camera attached to my car or something because it was so breathtaking. I did stop, however, for the Devil’s Slide. I had never heard of it, and it took my breath away!

Apparently they are two limestone strata that were turned on their side over time, and the surrounding materials eroded more quickly. Amazing.

A couple other shots from the same spot:

Also, side note about Nebraska: this is a bad sign 😂

I also saw this meditation center in the middle of nowhere. There was a gas station with nothing around it for miles, but they had their own mediation center. I could tell the station was run by a Sikh family, and most of the people who stopped there seemed to be Indian. I was fascinated.

Oh, and this sign is in my hotel. 👀

Now, enjoy some cute dogs playing!

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Nebraska

Today was a nice day. I’ve been listening to my playlists of every year since 2013, and I just got to 2016. It’s been a long time and it’s kind of beautiful to hear songs that used to mean a lot of pain and feel neutral now. And songs that I used to bolster myself remind me of how much I cared about myself during the pain. I feel loved.

I drove through some of the most intense rains I’ve ever driven through! I had my wipers at full speed and still I had to drive very slow. Many people had to pull over to wait it out. I’m grateful my wipers are new! Everyone was driving with their hazards on, which helped a lot.

Look at that sky!

Also, look at this cutie.

I’m at my hotel and I had taco John’s for dinner. It’s still pouring outside. I wish I could hear it.

Tomorrow I get to see my aunt and cousins!!

Erie and then Joliet

My last morning in Winooski involved going out to breakfast and then getting a maple latte. So good.

We had been getting up really early (for me) every day, and Ben had a 9:30 appointment, so we had to be done in plenty of time for him to make it. I was excited because I figured I would get on the road really early… but then Amber and I started talking and I didn’t end up leaving till later than I normally had been. Totally worth it though! 😁

I was really tired that day. I actually had to stop at a gas station and take a nap in my car! So when I made it to my hotel in Erie I didn’t even look for dinner. I had picked up a chicken salad sandwich at a gas station (which turned out to have a big hair in it) 🤢 and went to bed.

In the morning I realized I could kind of see the lake from my room. If you squint.

I didn’t take a breakfast photo because I couldn’t get it together early enough to have the hotel breakfast, so I just packed up barely before checkout and looked for something to eat while driving. I only had a seven hour drive plus I got to gain an hour from the time change, so I wanted to move as fast as I could so I could spend more time relaxing in the evening.

On my way to finding food I saw that I have my own grocery 😮

I got a latte at starbucks, and had to drive through McDonald’s because starbucks was out of breakfast sandwiches. I can’t remember the last time I’ve eaten something from McDonalds. Like… at least ten years.

I made it to my hotel by 6pm. I picked joliet because it was right off the freeway, and I would have had to go north and deal with traffic if I wanted to stay in chicago one more night. I’m at a really nice holiday inn. They have their own restaurant I was able to eat at and get a Manhattan. Then I came back to my room and worked on my fall bullet journal till it was way past my bedtime. 😅

But here I am with room service breakfast at 9:00.

Today I drive to Lincoln, Nebraska. Another state I’ve never been to! I think I’ve figured out that 2.5 star hotels are the sweet spot for me. There is usually an elevator and luggage carts, and food. I’ve been really comfortable since I figured that out!

Winooski day 2

We had a really relaxing morning. They made me coffee.

Later we went to a farm and had lunch and met chickens and cute barn animals.

At a second farm we got some eggs, vegetables, and raw milk, which is one of my favorite things. Ben and Amber will never be the same.

At home we rested and hung out with Taco.

They made me more coffee. I just really wanted to have some with raw milk in it. That may not have been a good idea. It’s almost 11:30 and I’m still wide awake! 😅

We got some thai takeout and played Harry Potter. I heckin love that game.

Tomorrow it’s time to ramble on back to Erie. This has been such a wonderful vacation. I love Amber and Ben SO MUCH. I’m so grateful I got to come out here and share their space with them. I have never seen them happier. 💖🌈

I’m a little sad that my trip is on the last leg, but I will be seeing my aunt and cousin in a few days. 💖

Winooski day 1

Space Barn, so named because of the knots in the wood that look like galaxies. This is a gorgeous space made gorgeous by beautiful people.

A happy birthday banner for me 💖

Taco was really bummed I was here. 😂

Here he is trying to hold Amber down so she wouldn’t leave

Once people get dressed he starts getting distressed and whines. Awwwww poor Taco. While we were gone he had his revenge by eating all my cookies 😂

Lunch time

Walking around Winooski: fiber art!

We had an amazing dinner at Misery Loves Co. This is a chilled cantaloupe soup with crab in it 😮

I had two Lincoln Gaps. The boiled cider was not hot, just reduced. SO GOOD.

Then we went to get ice cream. It was an extremely hot day. Then back for a shower and a rest. Tomorrow should be cooler!

Niagara to Winooski!

I made it to the Space Barn! I was so excited to see Ben and Amber that I forgot to take pictures. But there will be plenty of time for that later. 😊

Here is my hotel breakfast!

Niagara Falls was really pretty. I was surprised to see Ontario right there. The falls were amazing enough but it was awesome to see the city backdrop behind it.

See the water rushing to its end.

And then

Rainbows!

It took me longer than I thought it would. The park is huge. And the city surrounding it was super touristy and kind of gross. Also it was hot and humid which made me feel gross, so that might have been part of it. 😂 The park was soooo pretty though.

I made it to Winooski by about 9pm. A lot of highway driving through gorgeous countryside. I found this nice place to pee!

Don’t worry; I checked for trolls.

Five States!

I have been in five states today!  Illinois to Indiana to Ohio to Pennsylvania to New York.  I couldn’t really resist having breakfast in the room.

Look at this; the teeniest tabasco sauce bottle ever.

I got started later than I would have liked, so I didn’t get on the road until about 1 p.m.  I lost another hour and am on eastern time now.  I got to my hotel at 11:30 though, which is pretty good time!  I beat Google’s guesstimation by at least ten minutes, anyway!

I’m staying at the Radisson at Niagara.  It’s right on the water.  My room as a freaking balcony!!

Chicago Day 2

I finally remembered to get a picture of the lobby of the Drake.  One of the lobbies.  It’s kind of confusing when you walk in.  There was a live harpist in here this afternoon.  Playing the freaking harp.

I had brunch at the Oak Tree, which was in the top of a fancy mall across the street.  It was the only place I could get in that didn’t have $30+ meals.  It was quite good!

A random shot I took on my way to the Museum of Contemporary Art:

So this was my favorite thing at the MCA:

I had never tried VR before.  It was… really… it felt realistic.  There was one part where I looked around at some people walking and forgot I was in VR for a while.  There were headphones with sound, and at first you see yourself sitting on the snake with human figures walking around like normal, until something shifted and they all started floating up and flying around and these trees came in and then dirt was flying in my face and I wanted to cover my eyes.  These gigantic trees were being blown about by a major storm and it felt like I was in the middle of it, in danger.  Then it shifted a few more times and there was this gritty city scene at night and there were a lot of people around, but three of them broke off from the rest and started walking directly toward me.  Their body language was threatening, and they didn’t look quite human.  It took all my self control just to stay seated and not run away from them.  They come up to me and I think one of them pretended like he was going to hit me, but his hand froze in front of my face.  Then the scene dissolved and shifted again.  Shortest four minutes ever.  I would love to do that again.

I didn’t take any notes about who did that and what it meant.  I think I thought I would remember.  *sigh*  It’s so pretty though!!  I think it has something to do with natural resources and how we’re stripping the earth too much.  Actually that was kind of the theme of the whole room.

The museum was a lot smaller than I was expecting.  I think I meant to go to the Art Institute, which is the really big one with the huge collections.  Oops.  I guess I’ll have to go back!  I’m really glad I went to the MCA though.  I saw some amazing works.

And I got to get my Bowie on. 🙂

I got to meet my friend Susan from art school!!  She just happened to be in town that weekend visiting her daughter.  She wasn’t feeling well so she went to urgent care in the afternoon and rested for a bit, and then she took me on an architectural boat tour.  The weather was hot and humid as balls, so the idea of sitting down and looking around from a breezy boat really appealed to both of us.

Her daughter is a member of one of the yacht clubs there because she takes sailing lessons from them.  So, we got to have dinner and drinks on this boat on the right!  It was so sweet of them to let me join them.

And then the moon happened. ❤

Tomorrow I have to check out and drive to Niagara Falls!  I reserved a hotel already.  I was looking at the maps and thinking 8 hours isn’t bad, until I realized that it went through Canada.  I didn’t bring my passport, and I don’t want to have to deal with the borders.  But 8.5 hours isn’t too bad… as long as I don’t leave too late and I don’t stop too often.  🙂  The day after that, I’ll spend a little time enjoying the falls before I move on to Winooski! ❤ 😀 ❤ 😀

Chicago!

My stay in Iowa was so nice.  I realized why it was so relaxing… almost no one was there, and the countryside was dead silent!  Except for the buzzing of insects.  It was incredibly soothing and I slept super well.

They had free breakfast… I realized that if I put gravy on those scrambled eggs they have sitting on the heat drying out all morning, it helps.

Feeling peaceful and centered.

Something I was not expecting was how gorgeous Illinois is.  From Iowa I took highway 20 over the Mississippi and there were gorgeous historical mansions everywhere and signs for President Grant’s house.  I think it was the town of Galena.  And as I drove through town I got a really strong east coast vibe.  It was like… east coast with corn fields.  It was incredibly beautiful.

Here is the lawn next to a gas station.

View from a rest stop:

I checked into the Drake and immediately had to fight this feeling of embarrassment, or impostor syndrome, or something.  Everything was dazzlingly gorgeous.  People who looked moneyed were walking in and out and I was momentarily afraid someone was going to see me and give me the Bellevue-lady-gaze-of-disgust.  But I shook it off and walked through there like I owned the place, and of course, no one batted an eye at me.

I’m still really awe-struck though.

I was really happy to see that they had room service.  I always want room service when I stay in nice hotels, because it seems so fancy and I want to be like the people in the movies.  Dan’s usually not into it though, so this time I got to order room service for myself and enjoy it unabashedly.  They even had the little silver dish covers and everything.  I ordered a lobster roll with tarragon aioli, fruit cup, strawberry shortcake, and a Manhattan!  I was really excited about the lobster roll.  I know I should have gotten Chicago style pizza, which I’ve never had, but it just didn’t sound good.

When Dan and I went to New England several years ago for our anniversary, I was waiting to get a lobster roll for when we got to Maine.  But of course, once in Maine, we couldn’t find a lobster roll anywhere.  So this was my first lobster roll.  All the fruit was really fresh and the chantilly cream on the shortcake was delicious.  The shortcake itself was okay.  Also, that was an exceptional Manhattan.  I am really heartbroken to report that I spilled it when I only had a few sips left.  😦

On Facebook I made a big deal about being impatient for the food to arrive so I could take off my pants.  Usually my cotton knee shorts are extremely comfortable, but the heat and humidity made me puffy, so the elastic was digging into my legs.  And then once I took my pants off my shirt suddenly felt like too much, so I got to enjoy my fancy dinner with nearly nary a stitch of clothing.

Turns out my art school friend Susan happens to be in town!  So we are going to the art museum together tomorrow, and dinner and burlesque later.  🙂  Since I’ll be busy tomorrow night, I went ahead and planned next week tonight.  I’m so excited to see everyone!

Iowa!

I didn’t stop for fun things today because I just wanted to drive straight on and get to my next destination as quickly as possible… to relax earlier.

But while I was packing up my car I saw this pretty moth on the stairs

Also, every rest stop in South Dakota has a concrete teepee.

I made it to my hotel in Spencer, Iowa in plenty of time to go get dinner. Especially considering I lost another hour due to CST. I decided to eat in a real restaurant, with a Manhattan, even though there was a Taco John’s literally across the street from my hotel.

I’m staying at an AmercInn. This is seriously the nicest hotel I’ve stayed in so far on my trip. This is a 2.5 star hotel… I guess that extra half star counts for something! My room is soothing, comfortable, quiet. Ground floor. Wifi that works. Well, except I can’t use the table for my projects because the bulb is burned out and the front desk can’t find another one lol. But really, after last night, to have this level of comfort is wonderful.

Also, I am amazed at how beautiful Iowa and Minnesota are. Rolling fields and emerald soft grassy edges. So many sky.

Tomorrow I drive into Chicago! I’m so excited. I have never been there before. Sunday I’m going to check out the Museum of Contemporary Art, and then I’m on to Niagara Falls on Monday. I just booked a room in The Drake, which is right on the water and walking distance to the MCA. I love Priceline. 🙂

I’m so happy to be relaxing that I don’t want to go to bed 😂