A Refreshing Trip to CO

When the wedding invitation arrived in my beau’s mailbox, I’ll admit I was a little nervous about attending. “Let’s wait and see what the schedule looks like,” I remember saying. I wasn’t looking for excuses really, but something about going to a wedding that involved the family of my beau’s ex was a little nerve-wrecking. Good news was that his ex wasn’t going to be there. Although divorce shouldn’t sever the ties of previous family relationships, my situation, unfortunately, seems to have gone differently. I was genuinely happy that my beau still has relationships with his ex’s family. Once it looked like the trip was going to be a “go”, we planned some activities around the upcoming celebration of love.

Day 1: After many trips to Keystone, I had driven by the shadowed mass on the I-70 of what is Pike’s Peak but don’t recall having actually gone there so the drive toward this particular mountain was incredible. I’ve always wanted to run the Pike’s Peak Ascent but my schedule has never permitted it due to timing of the school year. Some day, perhaps! We arrived after about a 7 hour trip to Colorado Springs and after checking into the motel (great price through booking.com!), we decided to check out Garden of the Gods. This particular location was also listed on my Bucket List board on Pinterest! Inspiring, to say the least! I can’t help but feel closer to God in the mountains, particularly when you see such wondrous sights such as these!

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Day 2: Our morning began early after having purchased tickets weeks ago to ride the Cog Railway up Pikes Peak. We had to be at the depot by 7:30 AM. Of course, I hadn’t planned on having strep throat and still being on antibiotics for this trip either, so although I had wanted to HIKE Pikes Peak, that wasn’t going to happen on this trip.  I wanted to get to the top so the railway was the way to go. Again, the views were spectacular! I was elated that I didn’t get altitude sickness on the way up (I can be prone to that based on my history) and we were both trying to stay hydrated to ward off any potential problems, so much so that Mike couldn’t wait to get to the top and was first in line for the bathroom! The conductor did an excellent job with her commentary on what we were seeing and puns and made the 1+ hour journey up (and back) very enjoyable.

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Day 2 continued: The wedding was also this day so after heading back down the mountain and visiting the gift shop (of course!) we rested before getting ready for the wedding. It was a lovely ceremony and you could just feel the love and contentment between the bride and groom. I felt very accepted and there was no discomfort at all.

Day 3: This was the BIG day! We had planned to hike a 14er (a 14er is a mountain that exceeds 14,000 feet. See What are 14ers?)and carefully chose Mt. Bierstadt as my beginner mountain. Mike had hiked a couple of 14ers many years ago so this wasn’t new to him but he hadn’t hiked this one yet. We got up at 4:30 AM to drive 2 1/2 hours to the trail head (from Colorado Springs to Georgetown) to ensure that we were down below the tree line prior to any potential storms coming in during the afternoon. I had my Garmin on to see what the mileage would be like but it died at 6.4 miles after several hours on the trail despite having been fully charged prior to departing. The book that we referenced said the trail was a 6 miles round trip hike that should take about 6 hours so I’m curious as to what our actual mileage was since we were beyond that and weren’t even down yet!

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The trail started through willows and then got to boulders. Due to my running, I would consider myself to be quite fit yet my legs were screaming at me to stop because they were so tired of climbing! When we got to the part where we could actually see the summit, it was easier to keep going. A second wind? Perhaps. The end was near! Well, the TOP was! We still had to hike down.

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The view from the top

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Another view from the top. The clouds were starting to gather and you could see lightening off in the distance therefore we didn’t stay on the top as long as we would have liked.

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Tired was an understatement but WOW! what an accomplishment! We hiked a 14er!

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This was the “official” marker of having made it to the top – a cardboard sign! Yep, had to take a picture.

Going down was tough and Mike twisted his ankle more than once. The parking lot seemed a long, long, long way away and we got rained on a couple of times as well as lightly snowed upon. We did pack adequately though, and had plenty of fuel and water to make the trip, for that I was grateful. After spending about 7 hours hiking and getting up predawn, we crashed that night!

Day 4: Since we were in Georgetown , just down the road from where I spent many days in Keystone, I wanted to show Mike the place I love so much so the next day we headed in that direction. After showing him where my parents’ town home used to be, we walked around Lakeside Village and then walked to River Run, sharing stories of my experiences as we went. After shopping at the Silverthorne Outlets following our walk (I took advantage of the savings and did some Christmas shopping!), we headed back to Colorado Springs.

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Day 5: That night we stayed at the Air Force Academy (cheap lodging!) and toured the chapels in the morning. They were absolutely incredible! The larger chapel was Protestant with a humongous organ in the balcony. Below that was a Catholic chapel and Buddhist and Jewish chapels. What an amazing place!

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I only had a week left before I headed back to the classroom for meetings and I can’t think of a better way to wrap up my summer. I accomplished things I hadn’t done before, admiring God’s incredible works and spent precious quality time with the one I love. And in case you’re wondering, yes, I was very glad that I went!

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It’s been quite a year . . .

I had such plans for my blog this year. I had great thoughts of what I was going to write about, how life was going to go, and then things started to spiral in all sorts of directions. Hmmm. . . I guess that’s how life works, isn’t it?

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A run-down:

January: After nearly 14 years of living in the same home, it was time to move. There were too many not-so-good memories in that house and I wanted to downsize. I met with a realtor, determined a time-line in which to get her recommended improvements done, and started the work.

February:  The goal was to have the house on the market by the end of February. I had to repaint the entire ceiling (kitchen/dining/living room/hall/entry way) due to changing out the light fixture in the kitchen.  It took 6 GALLONS of paint and a lot of time & energy. I didn’t meet the deadline. I wasn’t even going to even start looking at other homes yet as I didn’t want to get my hopes up in case my own home didn’t sell in a timely manner. My teenage son didn’t help matters any when the hallway had to be patched, as well as his bedroom wall, and the bedroom door replaced. Ugh.

March: House finally hit the market after spring break and a lot of sweat equity!

April: Let me tell you that trying to have a house ready for viewing with 3 kids, 2 dogs, 3 guinea pigs and working full time was just crazy.  However, on our 3rd last minute showing, the house sold —  in only 4 days!! Uh-oh, now I have to find somewhere else to live AND pack! I had already started purging things left and right and even managed a yard sale in an attempt to earn some $ instead of just giving it all away. That was a nice surprise as I earned about $300 for one day! Then there was CraigsList and Facebook Marketplace to help get rid of some of the other stuff. . .

May: I ran the Spring Prairie Fire Half Marathon and, amazingly, somehow managed a PR in spite of all of the craziness! I finished in 186th place, 4th in my age group out of 67 women with a time of 1:53:49. Soon after, my nephew graduated from high school. We found somewhere else to live but the home inspection came back with horrible issues so we backed out of that deal and luckily didn’t lose my earnest money. In the meantime, my teenage son got angry in the bathroom and punched a hole in the bathtub. Another costly repair. Closing on my existing home was scheduled for May 15 and I didn’t have anywhere to live!  The rush was on to find another home! This entire time I’m praying for God’s guidance and his direction on all of the plans. After all, He’s got this under control, right?! My stress levels were off the charts . . .

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trust in god

May continued . . . I found another home but they couldn’t close in time with mine so we moved all of our house into a storage unit and moved in with my parents. A week after closing, school finished up for the year and we headed to Sanibel Island, FL for a week with my parents. Perfect timing for a break, that’s for sure! I ran miles on the beach, biked across the island, relaxed poolside, and enjoyed time with my parents and children. I also got to see my aunt and uncle that I hadn’t seen in ten years! The very next day that we returned from FL, my oldest son moved to Lawrence, KS. Well, he IS 20, but nothing can prepare you for your children leaving home.  And it’s not like he was just around the corner — it’s a little over 2 hours away!!

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Bikes and beaches. Ahhhh . . .

 

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I loved running on the beach!

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My beautiful children at various locations on Sanibel. But then again, I’m biased!

June: My mortgage company was giving me issues and dropped the ball on the purchase of my new home, delaying the closing date to mid-June. Praise God, though, as the sellers were willing to let me move in on our original closing date! If that hadn’t have happened, I would have had NO help to move all of our belongings AGAIN, this time from the storage unit to the new house. I can’t tell you how disappointed I am in my mortgage company.  What makes it even worse is it’s the same company that carried my previous loan! Crazy. In the meantime, my younger brother and his family were planning a move out of state. They had put their house on the market and my sister-in-law had already moved to FL. We settled nicely into our new home and it didn’t take me hardly any time at all to unpack. I still have work to do with it (the previous owners REALLY liked the color gray and couldn’t paint worth a darn) but it was mine with fresh memories ready to be made in it. Refreshing, I tell you! I also managed a quick weekend trip to my parents’ lake house. A change of scenery can do one good, that’s for sure, especially with someone you love!

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Here we go again! Between moving from 1 house to the storage unit, Taylor moving out, then moving all of this out again into a new home, I was sick of moving!

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In the outdoor gardens at Crystal Bridges. We couldn’t resist having our picture taken by the LOVE art!

July: Even though I was feeling less stress than I had all year, my ocular migraines returned. I have been suffering with these migraines for more than 6 years and they’re actually quite strange.  They come on suddenly, rolling in behind my right eye, feeling like a knife is piercing me. I had already had an MRI in the past and tried medication, to no avail. After more than a week of excruciating and debilitating pain, I opted for daith piercings.  My niece also suffers from migraines and she said they really helped her. Once I got through the pain of the actual piercing and the healing of the cartilage, I am pleased to say that they have most definitely helped. I would highly recommend them! By July 7th, my brother and his family left for their new home in FL. In the meantime, I’m supposed to be training for 2 more half marathons and a 10-miler so my training has been suffering.

Still July:  I spent two days taking a class working for graduate credit in order to renew my teaching license by January. Next up? Homework! Then I went to my parents’ lake house and enjoyed time with my younger two children as well as my boyfriend and his children. The water was lovely and floating around in the hot sun was refreshing!

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Still July: Fast forward a week and I awoke with a sore throat. No big deal, right? Except for it got progressively worse. And worse. And worse. The Dr. visit said mono or strep, yet all of the strep tests came back negative! The white sores in my mouth told me otherwise, however, so after waiting too long on test results, I finally got a prescription for an antibiotic. Let the healing begin! Once again my training was derailed and I felt like I’d been run over by a truck. Argh!

So, what do you do during all of these types of fiascos? Dare I say that I’m actually glad that it’s now August and I’ll soon be back at work? Well, maybe I’m not THAT desperate. Cling tightly to His hand. I do believe in what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger! God always has a plan. . .

A Different Type of Thanksgiving

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A gorgeous sunset on Hilton Head Island by the lighthouse

I had the opportunity to do something different this Thanksgiving which was a relief but at the same time, a little stressful.  For many years my family would travel to my husband’s family as a Thanksgiving tradition.  The past couple of years I’ve spend it in Keystone, CO with my parents, my children (or some of them at least), and my fur boys. This year my parents were driving to Hilton Head Island, SC to visit my brother and his family and had invited my eldest son and to fly in later and join them.  Well, my son didn’t want to lose out on work money (I don’t blame him! As a server in an incredibly busy restaurant, it would make sense to earn beaucoup $!) and, unbeknownst to me, his father had asked him over for the holiday since he already had his brother and sister . He had accepted, not knowing that I hadn’t made any plans as I refused to leave him alone on Thanksgiving Day. Hmm, communication problems?! Yep, I believe so! Argh. ..  Well, now that these other plans were in place, that now meant that I’d be alone on Thanksgiving.

Parents to the rescue! I still managed to book a flight and although my heart hurt being away from my children and things that they had to deal with by being with their dad, I got to visit with my brother and his family in a state they’ve called their home for four years that I’d never seen before, run in a 10K race with a new PR, run on the beach, see some humongous alligators, and make some new memories. I was certainly blessed to have had this opportunity!

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Thanksgiving Day Race – 5K and 10K participants!

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Mandatory beach run selfie! If I hadn’t have been on a time crunch, I’d have been out there for HOURS!

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Group shot on the beach following our Thanksgiving meal. It was a beautiful day!

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My brother and I – we’re only a year and 17 days apart and were very close growing up. Not so much now 😦

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Easily 12-14 feet long. Gulp! Glad they were on the other side of the water!

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My new beau (ha!ha!) – and my Dad photobombing in the background (he was actually keeping the nutcracker’s mouth closed!). I love Christmas lights. . .

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Isn’t this a beautiful walkway to the beach? 

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My Dad and I – one last look at the beach before I headed home. 

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The Lake Was Calling

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What was once the mountains calling have since been replaced by the lake. When my parents sold their place in Keystone, CO, I’ll admit that I was disappointed. But the 9+ hour drive was a pain and not easy and they wanted something closer to home. I don’t blame them. As much as I loved going, the drive was a nuisance and basically 2 days of traveling nixed any short trips away. This past summer I went with them to Rogers, Arkansas where they ultimately bought a place in Bella Vista, right on the lake.  Since I was recovering from IT issues from my marathon, it was the perfect time to get out of town. I even took a vacation day from work so I could stay a little longer.  Oh, and this was the ultimate craft weekend, too!

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Breakfast on the screened in porch every morning. Heavenly!

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Morning Bible study/reading on the dock watching the sun rise. I do studies through felicitybee where she has monthly themes and readings/writings. I love them! If you have a chance to check them out, please do! 

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Mandatory selfie before hitting the lake with my Dad in the kayak

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A beautiful, still lake

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My Dad and I

It was a lovely weekend and I can see why my parents love it here so much. I’m looking forward to another weekend away soon where next time I can bring my fur babies!

 

My SF 1/2 Marathon

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A couple of months ago when my parents and I were discussing vacation plans for the summer, we decided to visit San Francisco.  After having secured our lodging and flights, which were rapidly being booked from under us, we glanced at what was going on in the city the days that we were going to be there.  Lo and behold, there was the San Francisco Marathon taking place on July 31st!  Most people would be like “Who wants to run a race on their vacation?” but me? Sign me up! I did linger a little too long, however, and missed out on the first 1/2 marathon sign up which took us over the Golden Gate Bridge.  I wasn’t ready for the full marathon yet so I signed up for the 2nd 1/2 marathon.

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The countdown was on! 

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Fort Mason’s Festival Pavilion

I made it to the expo on Friday when we were visiting Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf. Located in Fort Mason, the sign proudly announcing that ALL races were sold out and building was packed with vendors. I could have spent hours there! I didn’t, though, and quickly got my packet, asked about transportation from the hotel to the start line/shuttle and headed out to meet the rest of the family who were hanging out at a local Starbucks.

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Obligatory selfie!

The morning of the race arrived with a temperature of 56 degrees (lovely!). After hardly sleeping – excitement! – I headed down to the lobby to walk the dark streets of Union Square heading to the shuttle bus pick-up.  I must say that I am sometimes geographically challenged.  I knew I had to walk down Market Street which would then meet up with the road that the shuttle buses are on.  Of course I turned the wrong direction!  I met up with a gal from Central California named Irene who was also heading to the race. Once we got turned around in the right direction, we joined the incredibly long line for the shuttles. I was thankful I had left early enough that we didn’t miss the transportation access!

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This line stretched around 2 blocks and was constantly growing!

Finally on the bus, we breathed a sigh of relief, thinking it wouldn’t be too long and we’ll make it to the start line.  Except the shuttle bus driver didn’t know where he was going and we were his first route to take to the start.  Are you kidding me?????  We took the scenic route where we could hear the drivers’ conversation with dispatch about where he could and couldn’t go (road closures due to the race) Panic started to set in when I overheard dispatch say, “Why are you making a left there?” Breathe. I had no control over it. Let it go. *Gulp*

We eventually made it to the start line where due to being late I missed Wave 3’s start and had to settle for the next one.  That’s after making a mad dash to port-a-potties (no TP :() and checking in my sweatshirt. What a frenzied way to start a race!

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The 2nd Half Starting Line!

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In the starting shoot – crazy hair already! It was a bit humid.

The race got started and I was trying to find my pace.  It was a crowded start at the edge of Golden Gate Park with the usual people cutting in front of you and narrowing of the course so my time wasn’t a good starting time.  The course itself was very interesting with hills up and down.  I was impressed with the numerous water/electrolyte/medical stops located throughout the course (10 in my 13.1 miles!) and was grateful for port-a-potties when I had to make an emergency visit after mile 7 (my first potty stop EVER during a race. Hope not to repeat that again!).  I had a goal of a 2 hour time (my PR is 1:55) but didn’t want to put on too much pressure racing on a strange course in a strange city with hills that can’t be replicated in Kansas. Even by losing time to potty, I finished with 1:58:11 only my Garmin says that I ran 13.29 miles instead. I had walked many, many miles the previous two days sightseeing San Francisco so my legs weren’t as fresh as they could have been either. I was pleased with my time, though, and gave it all I had, which is all I could have done!

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At the finish sporting my new medal!

The results came in and they sent me this awesome run-down as to how my performance compared with others.  Not too shabby!

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I couldn’t have asked for a better day for my race and who knows if I’ll have the opportunity to run this race again.  It was a great way to see the city in a different way and something I’d never done before – racing with over 27,000 strangers! Something I never thought to have put on my bucket list but an achievement none-the-less. Now back to my marathon training schedule!

 

Escaping on Spring Break

It’s been long awaited – the joy of a full week off – SPRING BREAK!  I had decided to split up the week to have time away and time at home,  a win-win situation, right?! The teens seemed to think so. Time away, time with their friends and time with their Dad. Too bad my eldest just got a new job and couldn’t come with us.

I put in my mandatory 3 1/2 hours at work on the Friday, packed up the kids and the dogs, and began the trek to Keystone, CO, where the mountains were beckoning. We did a couple of hikes, tried tubing (1st time in 13 years we actually couldn’t slide due to accumulation on the slope!), and walked in the snowstorm that dumped approximately 40″ in about 4 days.

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The morning after a few inches of snow fell – glorious, breathtaking, God’s handiwork scenery.  The pic on the left is Buddy and Cooper on a hike through an overlook by Lake Dillon. They love galloping through the snow and didn’t mind sinking belly deep! I sank in thigh-high deep at times but it was a  very enjoyable hike.  There’s just something about being in the mountains surrounded by such beauty that I feel at home, in peace, and so close to God. It clears the cobwebs and stress from my life back home and I feel so. much. better about EVERYTHING. What a wonderful emotional/mental break from life. And great cross-training, too!

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Brother and Sister did some great bonding on this trip. Lots and lots of laughter and memories made.

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Can you see how beautiful it is? In fact, my son got burnt on this 6.18 miles hike!

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This was our destination – La Bonte’s Cabin – and ski area! 

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And then the snow began in earnest. We took a walk when it tapered a little (my daughter coordinated her walrus socks with her Grandma’s jacket!) but it was snowing sideways and actually wasn’t  very pleasant. I came back with my hair soaking wet but I was plenty warm enough, despite the dropping temperatures.

We had planned to drive back on Tuesday and despite the hazardous warnings and the first time I’ve ever seen signs requesting  passenger vehicles have chains, we braved the I-70.  The highway wasn’t as bad as it could have been and some blowing snow caused some issues but we did just fine.  By the time we got to Genesee Park on the west side of Denver, you couldn’t even tell there was any weather! How bizarre . . .

As always when I leave, my soul feels fulfilled and although I didn’t want to go, I knew I had to. I’ll plan another trip soon.As it turned out, if I hadn’t left when I did, I wouldn’t have been able to leave due to the additional inches of snow!

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Mid-mountain on North Peak – Elevation: 11,237 feet – The official snow stake!

 

 

 

We’re Off to See the Wizard . . .ROAD TRIP!

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Yep, one of my Bucket List items – check!  A long weekend due to President’s Day and I couldn’t resist a road trip to Wamego, KS with my 3 kiddos. I mean, really, would I rather do chores or go somewhere fun? Exactly. We left the house before 9 am as it was supposed to take us about 2 1/2 hours to arrive.  We did, of course, stop by QuikTrip for the necessary refreshments prior to hitting the highway!

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Hwy 77 has plenty of farms and this kind of scenery.

When we arrived the teenagers were more than ready for lunch.  Two of them wanted Subway but my oldest said that was like driving 3 hours to go to Walmart. Good point.  So we looked at Friendship House (not the kids’ idea of a good place to eat: “It looks like someone’s house!”) or Kreem Kup, which ultimately won. Yummy food, that’s for sure!  With full bellies, the museum was next.

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The front of the museum. Very easy to find with front row parking.

When you first enter the museum you go right into what looks like a farmyard shop at Auntie Em’s.  Very friendly staff who not only helped me get as good a deal as I could get on the admission (yay for a college ID!), but she even volunteered to take pictures of us in the museum should we want!

The museum was full of artifacts, characters and a few videos about the making of the movie and the history — in other words, a plethora of information about the Wizard of Oz. We read oodles of signs and even watched part of the movie while we were there.  Here are a few pics of our fun trip.

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Perfect photo opp!