Wednesday, July 24, 2013

LIFE LIST: SEE THE GATEWAY ARCH


Where: Jefferson National Expansion Memorial is the actual name but most just know it as the 'Gateway
Arch' in St Louis Missouri. It is called this as it is a 'memorial' to Thomas Jefferson who made westward expansion possible by acquiring Louisiana through the Louisiana Purchase.



When: June 13th 2013


Cost: You can see the arch from all over the city and the 92 acre park below the structure is totally free, there is also a museum under the arch to which admission is also free. There is a fee to go to the top of the arch.

She wasn't the only one enamored by this city, this river and this one of a kind structure.
Why this is on my list? It has been on my list since the first time I came across it a few years ago doing travel research, though it wasn't until very recently that I learned that you can go inside it to the top-this was a whole other experience on its own. It's funny that I wanted to do see this arch for years though I had no idea of its significance, symbolism nor the architectural marvel that it is. What shocked me the most was that it was built in 1965! Even today it is such a modern piece of art as well a modern engineering feat to be able to build elevators in a curved, or rather catenary shape, functional to travel 630 feet. I am dumbfounded that this massive freestanding monument, second only to the Eiffel Tower, only cost $13 million to build when Cloudgate which is minuscule in comparison cost $23 million and all you can do is look at it. Granted that $13 million would be about $100 million in today's dollars.


Will I do it again? I gotta say I LOOOOOVE ST LOUIS!!! I could easily spend a lot more time there, I have already composed a list of things I would like to do if I ever get a chance to go back so if my husband gets called back to Missouri on business I'd go along with him in a heartbeat! For instance a free yoga class is held every Saturday underneath the arch-how fun would that be!?
 One day I'd like to drive out west to see the Grand Canyon, I would make it a point to spend a night or two in St Loui. It's a long drive and when  I plan actual 'vacations' I try to pick places I've never been before but I think one way or another I'll see that 17,000 ton stainless steel beauty again one day!


Something I'd recommend? Oh yes, I think these iconic structures across the US (Mt Rushmore, Statue of Liberty, Cloudgate) are a must for all Americans to see and for those visiting the USA they are great destination locations. Not to mention St Louis is a remarkable city with no shortage of things to do and see.


Seeing the arch itself was exciting as I pulled into St Louis, it was exhilarating to see something new. I travel a lot around the USA but it's often to the same locations. By the time I was 18 I had already been in 39 of the 50 states, it was fun to see 2 more states, one with such a famous landmark. I feel like it's been a while since I've seen something new!


As far as the park goes, it is quite lovely and very well kept. Our hotel was directly across the street so in the 2 short days we were in the city there was several time that we went over to the park and ran around. It was so much fun to chase my daughter around in such an awe inspiring setting. The evening that Joel met us in St Louis we went over to the park at around 10h at night and we played, we ran around, took pictures and layed in the grass underneath the arch looking at the moon and the stars. It was my favorite moment the 3 of us have shared together. And it was so great for Z, she could run, be as loud as she wanted, there was nothing to worry about even though it is sandwiched between the Mississippi River and a major highway the park is so large that we really didn't have to worry about her getting to close to either.





You can find lots of information about the history of the arch in this article.


Related Posts:
Eurobungy
Drive thru African Safari 
10 fun filled days in Missouri
a morning surprise 
30 adventures on my 30th birthday 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Braces: a rude awakening

 I cannot believe I've had my braces for over 1 year now.

I had an appointment last week and here's what came out of it...

the good news

-My orthodontist said it could be anyone of my visits now that he will say it's time to take them off

-"Your hygiene is impeccable, if everyone was like you our lives would be a dream" Gosh I love going there, I know it's just teeth maintenance but it's always such an ego boost! Especially since I am petrified of having an decalcification. If you don't know what this is it is from not taking proper care of your teeth while wearing braces, these heinous stains appear on your teeth and CANNOT be removed. Below is a picture I found on google.



the rude awakening 

-They attached these charming little gems to 4 of my teeth...
Real attractive right? To me it looks (AND FEELS) like something from a 'Saw' movie.
-They also added 'chain' to the brackets on my lower teeth, that's the thing in between the brackets that looks like there's food stuck in my teeth. The only good thing about this chain which is an enormous amount of pressure on my lower jaw is that every time I tell someone they added the chain they say 'wow you are almost done'. So apparently this is one of the very final touches.

-They want me to wear rubber bands at night. This is unsettling for 2 reasons. 1. This is in an attempt to correct my bite, I feel like it's going to change the shape of my face, I threw a fit in the beginning about this because I think my bite if perfectly fine but I relented knowing I would just cross this bridge when we came to it...well now we're here and I don't like it! Also these rubber bands essentially keep my mouth closed...which obviously this is an attempt to kill me. Every time I put them on I feel like I'm going to suffocate, I can't control myself at night! I need to be able to sleep with my mouth WIDE OPEN so plenty of air can get through!

-The past few days my mouth has hurt so bad...like there's razor blades between my cheeks and gums and then I was punched in the face over and over again.

I'M CALLING THEM TODAY...WE NEED TO DISCUSS SOME THINGS...

Friday, July 12, 2013

LIFE LIST: RESCUE A KITTEN


"The cat could very well be man’s best friend but would never stoop to admitting it." 

    Last year I told you how we found our first kitty and if you don't remember you can read about it here. Well, I've been wanting another kitten for months now. I think since we travel so much it would be nice for Koni to have someone to keep her company. Joel has been dead against this. But I had it in my head that there would be another box of free kittens at the 4th or July parade again this year. I knew once he saw a cute little, fuzzy kitty he wouldn't be able to resist!


I was so convinced that this would happen that I was very disappointed after I scoured the parade looking for kitties and came up empty.

Luckily, on Monday of this week it just so 'happened' that I found a sweet little kitten who needed a home....and by that I mean that I may have posted on facebook that if anyone was giving away free kittens to let me know. I didn't think I'd come up with anything. I figured that if one of my friends had kitties to find homes for I would have heard about it by now, but I thought it would put the idea in a few heads so that if anyone came across a box of kittens they would think of me.

Within 5 minutes, the bride of the wedding I did last year sent me a link. Her former co worker found 3 kittens on the side of the road, two of which she had already found homes for. I called her up and got some more info. The next step: CONVINCE, BEG AND PLEAD to Joel. After I sent him the photos from facebook it didn't take too much effort. I made a vet app and plans to pick our new baby on Friday. So within 1 hour of putting feelers out we had a kitten.


All week it was quite a challenge not to tell our daughter, I wanted to surprise her, but yesterday she had her little heart broken and I was desperate to cheer her up...so I told her the good news and oh my goodness was she excited!! So excited in fact that when I woke her up at 6h30 this morning to go get 'Haka' she JUMPED out of bed!

After we got the clean bill of health from the vet we brought him home. I typically have not worried too much about that in the past but this litter was found outside just 2 weeks ago and since we have another cat I didn't want to take any risks.

Our little baby is about 10 weeks old, a beautiful smokey coat and striking blue eyes. We named him "Haka", which means ancestral war cry.....naturally. Our other cat has a Hawaiian name and I wanted something somewhat meaningful. Since my daughter and I are so involved in hula dancing, and my husband and I LOVED Hawaii so much a Hawaiian name seemed fitting. The 'haka' is like the masculine version of the hula- it also has an inside joke between me and my husband. Kona and Haka, our sweet little kitties. So far, Koni is NOT taking well to the idea of no longer being head honcho but we saw the same reaction to our other 2 kitties we had. At first Diesel despised Bear but then (after short 2 years) they grew to be best friends and would often be found sleeping together cramped in one small cat bed.

Might have been too soon for a photo together....
I am so happy to have another kitten. Actually all 3 of us are pretty smitten....


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

LIFE LIST: DRIVE THRU SAFARI

"Reminds me of my safari in Africa…somebody forgot the corkscrew and for several days we had to live on nothing but food and water”



That's not intimidating at all.
Where: African Safari Wildlife Park in Port Clinton (Northern) Ohio.

When: June 12, 2013. This was our first destination on day 1 of my big 30th birthday trip to Missouri. The drive-thru safari was the first of my 30 adventures on this trip.

Cost: $20/ person, I had a $3 off coupon and since my daughter is under 4 years old she was free so it was only $17....plus the extra 4 hours in drive time. You can spend the entire day at the park and drive through as many times as you'd like. Admission price also includes a cup of grains to feed the animals.


Why this is on my list? I have wanted to do this for at least 15 years after seeing it on a brochure. Brochure collecting has always been a favorite past time of mine. This is south and east of me, even though I have made 19 trips in this direction towards the east coast it never came to pass. On each trip I've considered and mapped out this destination but it's always seemed too far out of my way. Driving to Missouri from Michigan it was clearly very much out of my way. So why did I decided to take on the extra distance on this trip? About a week before I was flipping through a coupon book and there was a $3 off coupon for this drive thru safari, I put it on my fridge and decided that since it was my big birthday I've always wanted to go, that we'd just take a day and drive down to Ohio. But then my boss gave me the day off work thus inspiring me to leave 3 days early so I thought that this would be the perfect time to do it since my husband couldn't meet us in St Louis until later in the week anyhow. With it being so far in the opposite direction by the time we got a hotel for the evening we actually only ended up about 3 hours from home!

Will I do it again? I would do it again, mostly because I'd like Joel to experience it with us. I was laughing so hard, by myself- I don't think the little one realized what was really going on, so I can see the two of us just cracking up together in this nutty environment.


Something I'd recommend? I would. It's one of those things that I think so many people pass on because it seems hokey, touristy, or unauthentic...which it is-there's nothing natural about an albino zebra in Ohio.
 I used to turn up my nose at these sorts of things but now I see potential amusement in just about everything and I certainly found it here! I was laughing the entire time....except for the few minutes when I thought one of these beasts was going to take me to my waterloo....

My safari drive-thru experience...



After we pulled into the park I decided to do the walk thru safari first. This really didn't do much for me, it was just like a miniature zoo and since we go to the zoo once a week- I did not find it that exhilarating except for A SURPRISE LIFE LIST ITEM (that's for next week) so because of that it was worth it. I think we spent about an hour or so in this area of the park, after being in the car for several hours and many, many more hours to go, it gave my daughter an opportunity to spread her wings a little.

Take note that the longhorn is much larger than that car.
Then it was time. We drove up to the large gates which were reminiscent of the beginning of Jurassic Park. We drove in, the gates closed behind us, I looked around and thought 'I cannot believe they let you in here, this is way more dangerous than it sounds'. Within minutes a flood of Alpaca, Deer and Buffalo swarmed our car. I quickly decided that it would be most wise to keep the windows up and only roll down our windows to feed them their grains and carrots when it felt safe. As it turns out a 3,000 pound horned mammal four inches away from my face without any sort of barricade does not provide a feeling of safety. Now, I freakin love buffalo. I have even composed a very short 1 stanza song about my love of buffalo, but being face to face with one made me realize something important about myself....I would have never made it as an Indian. These creatures are humongous....humongous and terrifying.

This was when I decided that leaving the windows up was imperative.
I couldn't believe I was in Ohio with a herd of buffalo standing directly in front of my car. I had several concerns; first of all, when were they going to move? second....these wild animals are massive and could do serious damage to my car in the blink of an eyelash. More importantly, It was just me and my daughter and I questioned my decision to bring her to such a trecherous place.

And this made me a little more nervous...
What's the worst that could happen? About half way through the enclosure I found a highlander cow, one of the coolest looking animals in my opinion so I wanted to get a little closer and give him some food. Obviously, you only feed the animals you like the most...If I remember correctly I think there was a sign out front declaring that this was the standard procedure. So I stopped my car and it was like he knew....like he was expecting a proposition, he walked directly over to my window. The closer he got the bigger his horns became and I thought 'holy crap if he gets one of his horns in here it could kill me, it could even hurt my daughter in the passenger seat.' This was a very bad idea...so I just quickly tossed the grains out and rolled up my window as fast as possible. I did not think about the consequences of my actions...as soon as I rolled up the window I heard a loud "SKREEETTTTCCCCHHHH" all the way down my car door 'o my god, Joel is going to kill me!!' It dawned on me that the highlander was searching the ground looking for his food I had hurled out the window AND THEN I felt my car shaking about, Z and I were bouncing around!!! The highlander got his 3 foot long horn stuck under my car! How the hell would I get myself out of this mess?! Unequivocally this large beast could easily flip my car, animals are not sensible individuals-he would probably start to panic soon and what was I going to do? It's not like there was anyone around I could flag down to help me. I think the wild ride this cow gave us lasted just shy of a minute but I was scared to death!

video

After this debacle I kept my windows up until the end of this area and we entered the the gate where the zebra and giraffes were. Surprisingly the more timid seeming animals, were kept behind a fence, we got close enough to feed them but unlike having a buffalo's head in your passenger seat, that's as close as we got.


Being in the drivers seat I couldn't actually get all that close to the zebras, I had to stretch across to try to get him his carrots then when I failed and it dropped on the ground I will never forget the look on that zebra's face-I don't think I've ever received a look that was so telling. I swear he was thinking 'Seriously? You stupid woman, all you have to do is transfer the carrot from your hand to my mouth....you're going to make it far in life.'



At first I had planned to drive through twice but by the time I got out I was anxious to see what sort of damage had been done to my car-thankfully nothing that didn't come off in a car wash, but we had to get back on the road anyways-the next day we were headed to St Louis to see the Gateway Arch!

Monday, July 8, 2013

a stranger bought ME coffee


Remember how I started buying a stranger a coffee on Valentine's Day...then I did it again on St Patrick's Day and Easter?

Well the morning of our trip to Missouri I didn't want to dirty my coffee pot so I decided to stop at Starbucks before we hit the highway. When I drove up to the window the woman told me that the person in line in front of me had PAID FOR MY COFFEE!! I was elated! The woman asked if I wanted to keep it going and pay for the person in line behind me, to be honest I did not want to- I wanted to just indulge in the fact that the favor had been returned but I didn't think the barista would believe me if I said 'no, I don't want to buy that person coffee, I do that all the time!'

I thought it was such a perfect way to begin my Big Birthday Trip! Then we were off to our first adventure...well second if you include doing the EUROBUNGY! 

Monday, July 1, 2013

LIFE LIST: EUROBUNGY

“I like to get people moving and jumping. I think it’s good to add more emotion and chaos.” –Chuck Palahniuk 

When: June 11th, 2013 My birthday wasn't until the 15th but this was the only night everyone in my family could get together to celebrate. It worked out well too, it was as I was getting us ready for dinner that evening when the plans changed to leave for our trip the very next morning-3 days early. This was my first adventure on my big birthday trip to St Louis.

 While we were out to dinner my nephew kept asking if we could all go to this go-kart place a few towns over. I didn't want to go. I was content where we were, I was sick and I had to get home to pack and get us ready for our last minute road trip. I finally came around, after all it would be a fun way to spend my birthday. So we went to ride go-karts....but as soon as we arrived I couldn't take my eyes off the large honeycomb structure equipped with trampolines and harnesses. It looked like so much fun but quite frankly I was wearing pants that were 1 size too small and I was not confident that the fairy god mother holding together the seam in the seat of my pants would be able to keep it together if I got a harness involved.


Where: go-kart park

Cost: $5 for 5 minutes of sheer childlike fun-a life listing bargain!


Why this is on my list? I didn't even know this existed until I saw it that night...as soon as I laid eyes on that large structure I knew I had to do it, no matter how tight my pants were. Essentially you're just jumping on a trampoline...which is undeniably joyful in itself. The bungy part is added when they harness you in allowing you to jump as high as you want safely. If you triathlete you could probably do all sorts of flips and tricks. I happen to be a perfectly content simpleton who horizontally had a blast! Jumping up and down for 5 minutes was all I needed to maintain endless hysterical laughter. You can't help but giggle, I think the next time I need a pick me up I'll just eurobungy my way to happiness.



Will I do it again? I'd totally eurobungy again! Though next time I'll wear some stretchy pants so I can at least attempt to do a flip. I am far from athletic so I know that a flip is nowhere in my future, but a girl can always try!

Something I would recommend? There was a sign out front cautioning people with certain medical conditions not to try the jump. Oddly, one of those warnings was toward people who have had shoulder surgeries/dislocations. I've had 2 surgeries on my shoulder but I as soon as I watched my 11 year old nephew do the jump I couldn't figure out where the danger was. It seems pretty harmless though there are certain restrictions it is very easy fearless. I was worried that I would be afraid of the height but I was not at all and actually with every jump I tried to go higher than the last.


First we rode the go carts, my daughter was in the car with me and she just LOVED it!! It was SO much fun! After that my nephew, my sister and I did the eurobungy-WHAT A BLAST! After that...we totally rode the go karts again! My sweet mom dropped about $70 in 30 minutes but it was such a fun and memorable way to spend my 30th birthday and it was a treat to be able to do it all with my family!

P.s....the pants stayed in tact-but I haven't worn them since!

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