State Fair of Texas

We planned a hell-bent-for-leather busy weekend having lots of fun.

First stop off the crazy train – the State Fair of Texas.

To say, “Howdy!” to BIG TEX.

And to throw down some fair food. Mmmmm!

We visited the butterfly conservatory – one of my favorite places. I took TONS of photographs and spent way too much time there. But it was amazing, and I’ll have to do a separate post on that.

Since I took too long, Jason took the girls to the exhibits and made a donation to the Sea Shepherd. We are big fans of, Whale Wars. And the girls got a tat as induction. It was über cool.

We hit the midway next.

I wanted to spend all my money win these angry birds.

I am playing Angry Birds Rio and got HOOKED on getting to the next level. I can only imagine my addiction to “winning” at the midway game which was picking the right number from a pool of birds ducks. But I digress…

We found the Kid Way and the kids were pretty happy about that.

The big slide was pretty funny. I don’t think they realized how big it really was until they were flying down it, because the youngest looks a little scared. HA.

After the ride, she told me, “I almost got scared.”


The oldest LOVED the slide. This was her with wind-blown hair right after. Her face says it all.

We spent the entire day at the fair.

It’s such a fun event and (almost) a family tradition. We missed last year because of the wedding and our week-long hospital honeymoon. We went, but didn’t get to take the kids. We are also missing Sydney who visited earlier in the week with her boyfriend. She works weekends at Six Flags now.

The parade was just starting when we left.

We got to see them line-up and hear the Marine Corps Band.

A very spectacular display of floats and lights.

A very memorable day of family.

We said a big Texas farewell……….until next year.

So this was part of our weekend. How was yours?

A Whirlwind Trip

I’m back already (barely).

We missed our flight.

That’s right, three travel agents traveling with six other travel agents, myself and two others scheduled to depart first missed the flight. And I’m not saying we didn’t try.

I ran down the Terminal K concord with my boots unzipped. I ran (well scuffled with my boots unzipped). I heaved my heavy jacket, my ziplock baggie of liquids (didn’t have time to put it back), and my suitcase down O’Hare’s crazy LONG terminals dodging the masses of travelers, gasping for air and looking like a crazy person (which I was am).

I was that desperate. Why? Because earlier in the week I had looked at the flight schedules for later in the day, in case I wanted to explore Chicago and stay a bit longer. Yeah. They were FULL.

So missing a flight? Not good. And we did – by mere minutes.

Timing is everything. Luckily an earlier flight had been delayed. A lot of people moved to a different flight (probably the one we missed!). It was delayed long enough for us to jump right on and get home only an hour later than we would have.

Thank-you American Airlines for not blinking an eyelash and getting a sweaty, disheveled traveler on your next flight. I am still a little crazy-eyed from the whole thing.

I just uploaded my pictures, and you know? Apparently, when it’s cold, I don’t take very many (ha).

But I will give you a few to sum up the highlights.

Airport corridor from the back of a fast-moving golf cart. We got to tour two planes, the Admirals Club, Executive Center, Flagship lounge, and flight tower.
This was plane #2 that we saw. I actually can't remember what the equipment was, all I was nowhere near as cool as 777. You have to fly on one of those in your lifetime..soooo awesome.
AA's traffic tower for runways H & K. We are IN the tower.
A live picture representing all the planes in the air at that moment. It details where they are, their path, speed, and distance. Pretty amazing.
Kimpton Hotel Room at the Hotel Allegro. It had a reflective desk. The hotel was very boutique(y) and art deco. I had a two-room suite in the corner with a jacuzzi tub and a spa kit (complete with leopard print robe). Heaven!
The shiny lamp gave me a great perspective on my living area of the suite with Sally standing by the TV in front of the mirror desk. She and I have worked together and been friends 15 years. She works for the same company as I do and went on the trip as well.
Chicago Theatre off State Street.
The beautiful Methodist Church in downtown Chicago by our hotel. I took it this morning walking to our last hotel tour before we left.

We packed a lot of things into this short trip. The airport tour, and the blue line train to downtown. A great experience for me since my city has zero public transportation (Arlington). We got to see four hotels and hear the story of their original buildings. They were all very quirky. I was impressed with the history of Chicago. I really would have liked to tour more sites (and take more pictures). It was cold, but I think I would have gotten more used to it. This morning I was too “hot” to wear my gloves. See? My blood turning bluer by the minute (ha).

I do have more pictures, and more stories, but I am two-seconds away from jabbering nonsense. An adrenalin-rushed-miss-your-plane-kind-of-day will do that to you.

Plus, I have to work tomorrow.

Did anyone get the day off? Have you ever missed your plane?

The Great Salt Lake Escape

**This story won 2nd in humorous travel stories at my work. The prize? An iTunes gift card. Woo!**

Summer of 2009, my boyfriend (now husband), and I, decided to take a weekend trip to Utah. We wanted to get away from the Texas heat and enjoy a little “winter” weather. What did we know about Utah? Well, not only are the temps a lot cooler, but it has mountains and the largest salt lake in the western hemisphere. The largest! I was pretty sure I read somewhere about all the healing wonders of salt in said ginormous lake. I couldn’t wait to go float on my back gaining holistic healing superpowers. Ahhh!

I had magic dreams of the Great Salt Lake. Watching the sunset on the beach, absorbing the magical minerals into my pores, and breathing in the pure mountain air with my honey by my side. We would enjoy all the gorgeousness of nature together. I just knew, knew, I would be the earthiest gal around. Restored, renewed and ready for the orange ozone alerts upon return Texas.

Flying over the Great Salt Lake to land in Salt Lake City, I could see the lake from the sky. It lit up with the setting sun and it was spectacular; blue and pristine. I about jumped out of my seat in glee. There it is! The Great Salt Lake! Right there! Awesome! We planned to trek the next day to Antelope Island – home of the Utah buffalo – and apparently, antelope too (heh). They all live happily ever after on the Great Salt Lake. What fun!

At the rental car counter, Hertz offered my boyfriend an upgrade to a Jeep Wrangler, top removable, it was a sweet deal. Oh yeeaah! He really wanted a Jeep Wrangler, plus I could see us on the road to the beach, wind whipping our hair, shades on as we cruised the lake front – ultra cool. Yes! We took the upgrade.

The next day, we make a stop at Wal-Mart for beach gear. We pick out straw towel sets with matching pails and buckets. We take the top off the Jeep. The sunshine is beautiful and bright through the roof. Perfectly clear blue skies for a perfect drive to the lake. We head off to an island in the middle of the Great Salt Lake – Antelope Island. Weee!!

My first clue that I should have done a tad bit more research than Wikipedia was when the SMELL hit us like a ton of bricks. Not only was it the worst thing I have ever smelled (and I grew up with LOTS of dogs – HOUND dogs), but it went on for MILES. The entire area around the lake was marsh. The marsh was full of BIRDS. The birds – well, they were full of poop unspeakable evil – let’s just say, they had serious intestinal issues. Must have been something they ate. Since the top was off, there was no closing the windows. We held our breath, which? Turned out to be a very good thing.

Enduring and labor breathing along the road to the Great Salt Lake, we finally catch a sheer glimmer of beauty through the icky marsh. About that time was when a firestorm of BUGS enveloped the Jeep. Not just the Jeep, but the windshield, the side mirrors, our clothes, our hair, ears……… everywhere. This was no ordinary swarm of bugs, this was a massive attack of gnats pumped up on minerals. It should have been our second warning to stay away from the Great Salt Lake. But nooooo. We kept going. Eyes squinted. Mouths closed.

We started noticing these swarms more and more, not just on the road but everywhere else. In bushes, and roaming the countryside in clusters of intimidating wing spans. I started feeling uncomfortable the closer we got. Not to mention, still picking off the kamikaze gnats tattooed to our clothes and foreheads.

Arriving next to the Lake, I couldn’t help wonder if another bug bombing was on the way. Outside the Jeep, we had zero protection. Not even the windshield. I get out ready to duck for cover. Every step tentative. The air at the lake felt odd. It’s flat, no sound, no echo. More bugs here and there, but no roving gangs in sight, just loners. Then there were the birds. Loud birds. An island off the island of birds. Yes, more birds! Then the lake itself up close and personal just looked stank. I didn’t even want to put my TOE in it. To get close enough to do that, I had to step over algae and foam, and guess what? Yeah, more bugs. Bugs covered the top of the sand on the beach and bugs of a different kind roamed in the lake. They were like mini seahorses, but deformed and atomic looking. Scary.

It was a ghost town on the beach. No one. In the middle of summer. Now, I knew why. Regardless, I was determined to stand in the Great Salt Lake, no matter what guts it took. I marched my way over by way of the least contaminated path through the foam, the mud, and more waves of flying bugs from my disturbing footsteps. Swallowing hard, I removed my shoes and socks, then stepped my bare feet into the Lake. Next to Jason, I stood there. Trying to feel peace. Trying not to be creeped out. Trying to take in the wonder of the Great Lake. It lasted for about ten seconds. Then we hit the road faster than the bugs could follow us (I hope).

Come to find out, the Great Salt Lake is also known as “America’s Dead Sea”, and home to three things; birds, brine shrimp, and algae. The only creatures that can live in a lake with that much salt concentration. It is as gross as it sounds. I didn’t get much minerology therapy, but I will say the mountains are very nice. Park City!

Our great escape ended on the summit – bug free.

*I feel the need to add an edit to this post. Salt Lake City is amazing. Wonderful, kind people. Beautiful Mormon temple with an incredible history. The mountains are breathtaking and there is SO much to do there. A weekend is not long enough. Just scratch the Great Salt Lake off your to do/to see list.

Wordish Wednesday

H-A-P-P-Y Spells Weekend

It started with my new-found passion – photography – on Saturday morning. I was lucky enough to have the joy of a one-year old DOLL as my latest participant. The best part was the hugs I got to steal. Then, showing him how to car dance while we drove behind his mom to the park. He got a kick out of that. There is nothing as enchanting as a child’s belly laugh. It’s really hard to capture a roving toddler (almost like puppies), they move and turn so quickly. I really felt I wasn’t getting any good shots, but when I got them on the computer, I was surprised. His blue his eyes turned out stunning and I ended up with about forty favorites. Here a are a few.

My second venture was to the mall – on tax-free weekend (ahhh!). I wanted to take advantage and buy the girls their flower girl dresses. Yes, they actually got to take them home. Not to mention we got the hair wreaths, hose, and shoes to match. *Today I found matching flower girl baskets for $5 a piece at Party City – squee.*

Then since the day wasn’t over……Jason took us car shopping. Yes! I know, the dreaded car shopping. Except it wasn’t that dreadful for me. I knew what I wanted. I had to get a car since Sydney will be taking my car as soon as she gets her license. She is ready. She is driving unbelievably well and can parallel park like a champ. However, our quest to the DPS didn’t pan out. Too many last-minute rushes to get their license before school and not enough DPS officers available to give road driving tests (required in Texas now). I was in TEARS. We worked soooo hard the last few weeks. Driving and parallel parking EVERY SINGLE DAY. It just killed me that she didn’t even get a chance. But, we will get try again Wednesday! In the meantime we went car shopping for me to cheer me up. Yay!

I had it narrowed down to these two. A black Toyota Prius. A gray Toyota Venza. The whole famdamily test drove these babies. We had to make sure we all fit. We did. Yes, even in the Toyota cracker car Prius. It’s actually pretty big and has a very cool dashboard. The girls LOVED car shopping. They especially loved the Scion in the showroom. It became their personal play car. They only got out of it to test drive with us. Seriously, I asked if they’d throw this sucker in with our car deal for the backyard. Heh! 🙂

After, much indecision on my part, because honestly? My practical side wanted to go with the Prius. Fifty miles to the gallon is a lot of trips home to see mom with very little cost. Gas will rise again to four dollars or more. Do I plan for the future? It’s the number one selling car that Toyota has. Obviously some people are planning. The Venza was luxury. The Venza was smooth and sleek and lush. It fit the family better, roomier; length and width. It wasn’t just good for me, but would be a good car for long family road trips as well. The cost was the same and it was more car for the money, but less savings for gas. Although, it does get very good gas mileage.

I chose…..

The Toyota Venza and it felt good to make a decision for the family. It had FIVE MILES on it when we test drove it. Bigger than what I am used to do, but I love it! Jason financed for me, I’ll make the payments. It bothers me not at all that my name isn’t on it. In fact, I am very proud of myself for being dependent on him. The old me would have tore myself to pieces for NOT taking care of myself, by myself. It takes a lot to let go of that need (fear). Letting someone else take care of me? Well – it feels pretty darn good.

Now, for all you techy geeks like me. Check this out.

A USB plug-in for your iPhone/iPod down in the console.

It then comes up to stand that holds your phone upright.

You close the middle and it’s all hidden. Coolest thing ever. It plays all your music and has blue tooth (call by voice command) in the car. Completely hands-free, you just talk over the speakers of the car. It is VERY swift. I am still trying to figure it all out.

I drove all over the place since I got it. I put 100 miles on the car in ONE day. HA.

Finally, for all you puppy fans. I walked into the living room to see this. My black lab Salem (almost 9yrs old) being used as stool. Of course, I grabbed my camera. What a trooper she is. She wasn’t around little kids most of her doggy life and she takes it in stride. Labs are the best. Love her face on the last shot (ha).

Sunday photo shoot with my Shih-Tzu. I got Brownie a new bow at the same dress shop where I got the girls dresses. Isn’t she stinkin’ CUTE??

Four months old. At least seven pounds already. She is the fattest, fluffiest, most cuddliest pup. I just adore her.

So there you have it, a BIG weekend. A NEW CAR! Enchantment and cuddly fun. What a perfect way to kick off my 39th birthday today.

H-A-P-P-Y that spells any weekend, but especially this one.