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My mom is a big George Strait fan.  Like big, big.  Huge.  Her and her bestie Sherrie have traveled to see him in Minneapolis, Dallas, and Phoenix on multiple occasions, so I wasn't terribly surprised when they planned a trip to see him during his residency in Vegas.  Since George retired from touring, this was a bigger deal than some of the other concerts, and they ended up with a group of seven meeting up in Vegas - leaving one extra ticket for me!

I couldn't commit to the trip early on because of work projects that were up in the air.  When I finally nailed down my assignment, I was to be in Atlanta the week before and realized I could probably find a good deal on a flight from Atlanta to Vegas.  Sure enough, as a hub airport, there were a ton of cheap fares, and for $195 I booked a flight on Frontier, arriving at 7pm Friday.  Since I would be arriving at the arena directly from the airport, so I packed a change of clothes and toiletries in my sister's suitcase.


So I spent the week in Atlanta, and around 4pm changed into a dress for the concert, and drove to the airport with just my purse.  The flight to Vegas was uneventful, and after some confusion, I found my Uber driver who got me to the venue quick enough to still enjoy the opening act, Casey Musgraves.  If you haven't heard of her, check out her video for Biscuits - it's pretty cute!  Last time I saw George, Ronnie Dunn of Brooks and Dunn opened for him.
George Strait and the Ace in the Hole band were as awesome as ever.  But even more enjoyable was seeing my mom fangirl and have such a great time with her best friends.  The eight of us were split up four and four, so my mom, sister, and my 2nd mother Judy sat together, and Sherrie, Casady, Holly, and another friend were about six rows ahead of us.  George played one of my two favorite songs of his; Troubadour, but didn't play I Cross My Heart from the movie Pure Country.  

After the concert, we walked around a bit before hailing a couple Uber's back to the home they rented on AirBnB.  The house was a perfect pick by Casady, and had plenty of comfy beds for everyone, plus a pool to keep cool during the day.  Our group needed two Ubers to get around, which was a bit cumbersome at times, but way better than dealing with cabs.  Luckily for my mom and her friends, Cas and my sister were in charge of transportation, making it easy for the over-forty crowd. We spent the morning at the pool before heading back to the strip for lunch and shopping and my first trip to the Venetian hotel, which was a welcome escape from the desert heat.  We ventured to Fremont Street for more souvenirs, people watching, alcohol drinking, and gambling.   


When it was time for me to head to the airport, I said my goodbyes as the ladies continued on their adventures, returning to Des Moines a few days later.  Anticipating a chilly red eye flight back to Atlanta, I got a souvenir sweatshirt to keep warm!  Taking off 25 hours after I landed, the same flight crew got me back to Atlanta just after 3am.   


What a fun, whirlwind trip with so many fun people I love!






My mom, me, sister, and 2nd mother Judy.


Vacation Flashback - 25 Hours in Vegas

Monday, June 19, 2017


My mom is a big George Strait fan.  Like big, big.  Huge.  Her and her bestie Sherrie have traveled to see him in Minneapolis, Dallas, and Phoenix on multiple occasions, so I wasn't terribly surprised when they planned a trip to see him during his residency in Vegas.  Since George retired from touring, this was a bigger deal than some of the other concerts, and they ended up with a group of seven meeting up in Vegas - leaving one extra ticket for me!

I couldn't commit to the trip early on because of work projects that were up in the air.  When I finally nailed down my assignment, I was to be in Atlanta the week before and realized I could probably find a good deal on a flight from Atlanta to Vegas.  Sure enough, as a hub airport, there were a ton of cheap fares, and for $195 I booked a flight on Frontier, arriving at 7pm Friday.  Since I would be arriving at the arena directly from the airport, so I packed a change of clothes and toiletries in my sister's suitcase.


So I spent the week in Atlanta, and around 4pm changed into a dress for the concert, and drove to the airport with just my purse.  The flight to Vegas was uneventful, and after some confusion, I found my Uber driver who got me to the venue quick enough to still enjoy the opening act, Casey Musgraves.  If you haven't heard of her, check out her video for Biscuits - it's pretty cute!  Last time I saw George, Ronnie Dunn of Brooks and Dunn opened for him.
George Strait and the Ace in the Hole band were as awesome as ever.  But even more enjoyable was seeing my mom fangirl and have such a great time with her best friends.  The eight of us were split up four and four, so my mom, sister, and my 2nd mother Judy sat together, and Sherrie, Casady, Holly, and another friend were about six rows ahead of us.  George played one of my two favorite songs of his; Troubadour, but didn't play I Cross My Heart from the movie Pure Country.  

After the concert, we walked around a bit before hailing a couple Uber's back to the home they rented on AirBnB.  The house was a perfect pick by Casady, and had plenty of comfy beds for everyone, plus a pool to keep cool during the day.  Our group needed two Ubers to get around, which was a bit cumbersome at times, but way better than dealing with cabs.  Luckily for my mom and her friends, Cas and my sister were in charge of transportation, making it easy for the over-forty crowd. We spent the morning at the pool before heading back to the strip for lunch and shopping and my first trip to the Venetian hotel, which was a welcome escape from the desert heat.  We ventured to Fremont Street for more souvenirs, people watching, alcohol drinking, and gambling.   


When it was time for me to head to the airport, I said my goodbyes as the ladies continued on their adventures, returning to Des Moines a few days later.  Anticipating a chilly red eye flight back to Atlanta, I got a souvenir sweatshirt to keep warm!  Taking off 25 hours after I landed, the same flight crew got me back to Atlanta just after 3am.   


What a fun, whirlwind trip with so many fun people I love!






My mom, me, sister, and 2nd mother Judy.


 


That's right, someone who has never raised small children is here today to tell you all about traveling with small children!  Not to play armchair quarterback, but with ten years of traveling under my belt, I feel like I've seen some of what works and what doesn't.  I contribute over on The Kidsperts (www.thekidsperts.com) and wanted to share some tips with both audiences. Most of my advice is towards parents of kids under six years old.  I feel like your six year old can keep themselves busy as needed, and keep up with you in a crowded airport, but take this (like all advice) with a grain of salt.



Packing & Planning
Skip the cute roller bag.  I get it - you're flying to see Grandma who got your child the adorable roller bag featuring whatever animal or character, but the small bag holds very little and are difficult to access during the flight.  Not only are they a pain when you're on the plane, but you're asking a lot of your kid to drag it behind them in a new, crowded environment when all they want to do is look around.  I've seen kids struggle with these bags, or mom and dad having to snatch the bag quickly because the kid can't keep up more often than I've ever seen them successfully used.  Save the cute roller bag for your next road trip and consider having mom or dad carry a large backpack for your child's carry-on, or a backpack your kid can wear.

Pick the right shoes.  As an adult, I try to wear shoes I can easily remove for the TSA Security Check, but your child under the age of 12 can keep theirs on.  I've seen flustered parents dealing with a child's shoe slipping off in the middle of the very busy airport terminal, and I'm sure you don't want that to be you.  Laces or velcro or whatever, pick shoes your child can walk in comfortably.

Get your kid prepared. Consider what will be new to your child and help them prepare.  Whether it's talking about wearing a seat belt on the plane, talking about what to do if they get separated at the airport, or riding on the train between gates, help prepare your child for their new experiences.

At the Airport
Pack snacks.  Did you know you can pack food in your carry-on?  Airport food is overpriced and lacks variety, so might as well pack cheap snacks your kids like.  Chewy snacks like Fruit Snacks can help your child's ears to pop during the flight too, avoiding tears just after takeoff and before landing.

Board early.  Even before they call for first class, they usually announce families with small children who need additional time can board early, and I see so many parents miss out on this!  Even though your ticket may say Zone 4, get your family ready to spring into action when they call for family boarding.  This gives you a bit extra time to fold up a stroller for gate check and get settled in your seats.

Plan ahead for your layover.  Obviously you don't want to have a 30 minute layover and risk missing your connecting flight, but a long layover can be a great way to let your toddler burn off energy.  Some airports, like Dallas and Minneapolis, have a designated play area for kids.  Chicago's OHare has a Children's museum at the airport, and Chicago and Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson airports have really neat tunnels connecting the terminals.  In Chicago you'll enjoy a little neon light show, and Atlanta has art installations.  The moving sidewalks can be fun for kids and there are usually really wide walkways, but be mindful when a hoard of travelers need to get by quickly.

Find a quiet corner. Often a flight will have an empty gate nearby and it can be a great place for your kid to run, scream, climb on stuff - whatever!  without disrupting other travelers.  This can also be a good spot to picnic a quick lunch, watch something on a tablet, or have your kid crash for nap across a few seats.

During the Flights
Plan activities.  I'm sure your kid can keep themselves busy, but being confined to a seat during a flight can be a whole new experience, especially if there's turbulence and the seat belt light is on.  I remember my mom packing playdoh for flights when I was a kid, but also consider sticker books, markers, etc. to keep your kid busy and happy.

Break the screen time rules.  Most parents have limits on how much screen time their kids can enjoy each day/week, but this is the right time to break the rules.  I would recommend not letting your kid play with the tablet or phone until you're seated on the plane, so the novelty doesn't wear off in the boarding lounge.  The FAA now lets you keep electronics on the entire flight, as long as the device is in airplane mode.  This means you'll want to load Netflix videos, games, and apps before you leave home.  Amazon Fire tablets are super affordable, and it would be worth getting one for each kid.

Headphones.  You can probably tune out Elmo, or Dora the Explorer (or anything other than that annoying Caillou kid), but your fellow travelers shouldn't have to.  These Kid's Headphones have maximum volume settings to protect their hearing, AND have a built in splitter so you can plug in a second set and let two children watch the same show, or watch with your kid.  I would suggest having your child use these for a few weeks before the flight so they get used to wearing headphones.

Flyebaby for children under 25 lbs. I first saw the Flyebaby when the mom next to me set it up once we had reached our cruising altitude, and I immediately started asking questions.  It's a portable hammock that anchors to the tray table and parent, letting you interact with your baby during the flight.  It can't be used during taxi, takeoff, landing, or major turbulence, but a great way to keep your baby engaged during the flight.

Your kid calls the shots.  I know, I know.  You're a wonderful parent who establishes and enforces boundaries so that your child grows up to be a perfect adult. Just like I tell parents during portrait sessions; this is not the time for parenting, you should absolutely negotiate with the tiny terrorist.  This may sound harsh but after keeping your child safe, parents number one concern should be minimizing the impact to other passengers.  Just like I wouldn't play my movie without headphones so that other passengers have to listen to Step Brothers or Talladega Nights: The Legend of Ricky Bobby,  we should try to minimize what other travelers are subjected to.  I know you're probably on vacation, but unlike at a store or mall where I can walk away from your 2 year old who is having a meltdown because he realized his shoes are brown, I (and 50+ other passengers) are held hostage by a child's tantrum.  Your small child's behavior isn't your fault!  I think highly of the parents who do their best to fix the situation.  If I could beg of you one thing, give into what your child wants, distract them with more snacks, a new show on the tablet, playdoh, your earrings - whatever!  As long as it isn't going to hurt them or you, it's totally okay to give into their demands.
Parents who are actively trying to make their kid happy mid-flight get a pass over those who put their toddler in timeout on a flight and let the kid scream for all three minutes.  
Yes, that actually happened on one of my flights.  
At the end of the day, kids have a mind of their own and who can say what will and won't work; hopefully these suggestions will be a tool to get you started in the right direction!  What other travel tips do you have?  Leave them in the comments!












This post originally appeared on www.thekidsperts.com.

Traveling with Small Children

Friday, June 16, 2017

 


That's right, someone who has never raised small children is here today to tell you all about traveling with small children!  Not to play armchair quarterback, but with ten years of traveling under my belt, I feel like I've seen some of what works and what doesn't.  I contribute over on The Kidsperts (www.thekidsperts.com) and wanted to share some tips with both audiences. Most of my advice is towards parents of kids under six years old.  I feel like your six year old can keep themselves busy as needed, and keep up with you in a crowded airport, but take this (like all advice) with a grain of salt.



Packing & Planning
Skip the cute roller bag.  I get it - you're flying to see Grandma who got your child the adorable roller bag featuring whatever animal or character, but the small bag holds very little and are difficult to access during the flight.  Not only are they a pain when you're on the plane, but you're asking a lot of your kid to drag it behind them in a new, crowded environment when all they want to do is look around.  I've seen kids struggle with these bags, or mom and dad having to snatch the bag quickly because the kid can't keep up more often than I've ever seen them successfully used.  Save the cute roller bag for your next road trip and consider having mom or dad carry a large backpack for your child's carry-on, or a backpack your kid can wear.

Pick the right shoes.  As an adult, I try to wear shoes I can easily remove for the TSA Security Check, but your child under the age of 12 can keep theirs on.  I've seen flustered parents dealing with a child's shoe slipping off in the middle of the very busy airport terminal, and I'm sure you don't want that to be you.  Laces or velcro or whatever, pick shoes your child can walk in comfortably.

Get your kid prepared. Consider what will be new to your child and help them prepare.  Whether it's talking about wearing a seat belt on the plane, talking about what to do if they get separated at the airport, or riding on the train between gates, help prepare your child for their new experiences.

At the Airport
Pack snacks.  Did you know you can pack food in your carry-on?  Airport food is overpriced and lacks variety, so might as well pack cheap snacks your kids like.  Chewy snacks like Fruit Snacks can help your child's ears to pop during the flight too, avoiding tears just after takeoff and before landing.

Board early.  Even before they call for first class, they usually announce families with small children who need additional time can board early, and I see so many parents miss out on this!  Even though your ticket may say Zone 4, get your family ready to spring into action when they call for family boarding.  This gives you a bit extra time to fold up a stroller for gate check and get settled in your seats.

Plan ahead for your layover.  Obviously you don't want to have a 30 minute layover and risk missing your connecting flight, but a long layover can be a great way to let your toddler burn off energy.  Some airports, like Dallas and Minneapolis, have a designated play area for kids.  Chicago's OHare has a Children's museum at the airport, and Chicago and Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson airports have really neat tunnels connecting the terminals.  In Chicago you'll enjoy a little neon light show, and Atlanta has art installations.  The moving sidewalks can be fun for kids and there are usually really wide walkways, but be mindful when a hoard of travelers need to get by quickly.

Find a quiet corner. Often a flight will have an empty gate nearby and it can be a great place for your kid to run, scream, climb on stuff - whatever!  without disrupting other travelers.  This can also be a good spot to picnic a quick lunch, watch something on a tablet, or have your kid crash for nap across a few seats.

During the Flights
Plan activities.  I'm sure your kid can keep themselves busy, but being confined to a seat during a flight can be a whole new experience, especially if there's turbulence and the seat belt light is on.  I remember my mom packing playdoh for flights when I was a kid, but also consider sticker books, markers, etc. to keep your kid busy and happy.

Break the screen time rules.  Most parents have limits on how much screen time their kids can enjoy each day/week, but this is the right time to break the rules.  I would recommend not letting your kid play with the tablet or phone until you're seated on the plane, so the novelty doesn't wear off in the boarding lounge.  The FAA now lets you keep electronics on the entire flight, as long as the device is in airplane mode.  This means you'll want to load Netflix videos, games, and apps before you leave home.  Amazon Fire tablets are super affordable, and it would be worth getting one for each kid.

Headphones.  You can probably tune out Elmo, or Dora the Explorer (or anything other than that annoying Caillou kid), but your fellow travelers shouldn't have to.  These Kid's Headphones have maximum volume settings to protect their hearing, AND have a built in splitter so you can plug in a second set and let two children watch the same show, or watch with your kid.  I would suggest having your child use these for a few weeks before the flight so they get used to wearing headphones.

Flyebaby for children under 25 lbs. I first saw the Flyebaby when the mom next to me set it up once we had reached our cruising altitude, and I immediately started asking questions.  It's a portable hammock that anchors to the tray table and parent, letting you interact with your baby during the flight.  It can't be used during taxi, takeoff, landing, or major turbulence, but a great way to keep your baby engaged during the flight.

Your kid calls the shots.  I know, I know.  You're a wonderful parent who establishes and enforces boundaries so that your child grows up to be a perfect adult. Just like I tell parents during portrait sessions; this is not the time for parenting, you should absolutely negotiate with the tiny terrorist.  This may sound harsh but after keeping your child safe, parents number one concern should be minimizing the impact to other passengers.  Just like I wouldn't play my movie without headphones so that other passengers have to listen to Step Brothers or Talladega Nights: The Legend of Ricky Bobby,  we should try to minimize what other travelers are subjected to.  I know you're probably on vacation, but unlike at a store or mall where I can walk away from your 2 year old who is having a meltdown because he realized his shoes are brown, I (and 50+ other passengers) are held hostage by a child's tantrum.  Your small child's behavior isn't your fault!  I think highly of the parents who do their best to fix the situation.  If I could beg of you one thing, give into what your child wants, distract them with more snacks, a new show on the tablet, playdoh, your earrings - whatever!  As long as it isn't going to hurt them or you, it's totally okay to give into their demands.
Parents who are actively trying to make their kid happy mid-flight get a pass over those who put their toddler in timeout on a flight and let the kid scream for all three minutes.  
Yes, that actually happened on one of my flights.  
At the end of the day, kids have a mind of their own and who can say what will and won't work; hopefully these suggestions will be a tool to get you started in the right direction!  What other travel tips do you have?  Leave them in the comments!












This post originally appeared on www.thekidsperts.com.

I've made the drive from Des Moines to my grandmother's home in western Nebraska a dozen times or so.  For those of you unfamiliar with the drive through Nebraska, once you're past Lincoln, if you've seen one mile, you've seen 'em all.  And she's clear across Nebraska, only about 30 miles from the Wyoming border.

I've only actually done the driving once, the rest of the time as a passenger and that drive is exhausting.  So when cheap fares pop up on Frontier Airlines, it's tempting to book a quick trip to see my grandma.  I'm sure I'm the only person from Iowa flying to Denver to visit someone in Nebraska, but I find the 2 hour flight and 3 hour drive much easier to swallow than the 8+ hour trip in the car.

So James and I packed our bag for the cheap flight to Denver.  Since Frontier charges for carryons and checked bags, we shared a checked bag, and somehow managed to only pack 26.6 lbs for three days.  New personal best.  On a rainy Wednesday, we boarded our flight to the mile high city.

Frontier Airline's planes each feature a different wild animal, which they proudly display as you enter the aircraft.  Overall, the flight was okay.  Anytime I fly a discount airline, I miss the cushy comfort of Delta and American.  But then I remember we had to pay for our tickets (not my employer) at about half the cost of the major airlines, so it's worth minor annoyances.  We paid for a couple cans of soda on our flight in hard plastic seats that didn't recline.  Since I was in the middle seat, I was particularly grumpy but a couple episodes of The West Wing Weekly podcast kept me distracted until we landed.

After making our way through the airport, we waited for the Avis shuttle and discovered we had been assigned a Suburban for our four day adventure.  I laughed as the last thing the two of us needed was a car that seats eight, so we checked in with the Preferred desk and they mentioned a shortage of cars but let us pick between a Ford Explorer or a Lincoln Navigator.  James quickly chimed in that the Navigator would be just fine.  After figuring out a few of the bells and whistles (including the best navigation system I've used, and lights with the Lincoln logo), we left for my cousin Melissa's house in Brighton, grabbing pizza so we could catch up with her and her two kids.  As the sun started to set, we said our goodbyes and left for Scottsbluff, Nebraska.

As the sun quickly set, we drove on the two lane highway that was only lit by our headlights, only passing by a few cars.  After crossing from Colorado into Nebraska, we stopped to stretch our legs in Kimball, about 45 miles outside of our destination.  This small town had a few businesses that caught our attention, so I snapped a few pics before we decided to check out Beer and Loathing bar, an homage to Hunter S. Thompson and his book Fear and Loathing.  The bar was great and the bartender was awesome.  After about a half hour, we figured it was time to get back on the road and get checked into our hotel.

Our time in Scottsbluff was short, but highlights include cabbage burgers at The Mixing Bowl, Gering Bakery, but most of all - spending time with family.  In addition to my grandmother, my Aunt and Uncle live nearby, and I got to see my cousins and meet my cousin's new baby too!

As we packed up to head back to Denver, I laughed at the difference in our packings styles.  I may be the one that travels most for business, but clearly he's winning at the adulting game.

We took our time on the trek back to Denver, refueling at this cute gas station/diner in Scottsbluff and grabbing lunch at Beer and Loathing as we made our way to Wyoming.  The drive was relaxing and the views were magnificent.  When we found ourselves in a construction traffic jam, we hopped off the interstate for a quick pit-stop, when I realized we were near the town where my grandparents lived for most of my childhood.  Every year, we'd spend a week or more with them over the summer or Christmas, and it had been sixteen years since I had last seen their little subdivision, and the amazing views of protected state land directly behind their townhouse.
A quick call to my dad, we were able to remember the name of their street, and google maps narrowed down the neighborhood when I recognized the King Sooper's grocery store.  It once sat all alone in a field, but the entire county has now been developed.  Turns out we were only about fifteen minutes from our destination.  We drove by the pool where my sister and I used to swim, and I got to see the roses and aspen trees my grandfather had planted.  The yard wasn't quite as manicured as he kept it, but I could tell the home was well loved by it's current owners.  We totally tresspassed through their side yard and I snuck a few photos of the gorgeous view.  It was a bittersweet trip down memory lane.

James had researched and found the 16th Street Mall in downtown Denver as our destination.  On our way, we got to see a packed Coors Field.  The road we were on led right to the stadium, almost looking like it reached center field.  On 16th Street, we picked up souvenirs, did a LOT of people watching, and grabbed dinner at Illegal Burger, a funky burger place, on par with Zombie Burger in Des Moines.  
Exhausted from the day, we made our way to our hotel near the airport and got ready for our early flight the next day.  Our checked bag weighed 19.5 lbs more than our trip out thanks to a purchase of Tab Cola that isn't available in Des Moines.  Surprisingly, every can made it home intact!  Since we arrived to the airport early, I wandered around taking photos and timelapse videos.  Click the Instagram image below to see a quick timelapse.
























I'm so grateful for the chance to visit family and enjoy some quality time on the road with my best guy.


Colorado/Wyoming/Nebraska - May 2017

Tuesday, June 13, 2017


I've made the drive from Des Moines to my grandmother's home in western Nebraska a dozen times or so.  For those of you unfamiliar with the drive through Nebraska, once you're past Lincoln, if you've seen one mile, you've seen 'em all.  And she's clear across Nebraska, only about 30 miles from the Wyoming border.

I've only actually done the driving once, the rest of the time as a passenger and that drive is exhausting.  So when cheap fares pop up on Frontier Airlines, it's tempting to book a quick trip to see my grandma.  I'm sure I'm the only person from Iowa flying to Denver to visit someone in Nebraska, but I find the 2 hour flight and 3 hour drive much easier to swallow than the 8+ hour trip in the car.

So James and I packed our bag for the cheap flight to Denver.  Since Frontier charges for carryons and checked bags, we shared a checked bag, and somehow managed to only pack 26.6 lbs for three days.  New personal best.  On a rainy Wednesday, we boarded our flight to the mile high city.

Frontier Airline's planes each feature a different wild animal, which they proudly display as you enter the aircraft.  Overall, the flight was okay.  Anytime I fly a discount airline, I miss the cushy comfort of Delta and American.  But then I remember we had to pay for our tickets (not my employer) at about half the cost of the major airlines, so it's worth minor annoyances.  We paid for a couple cans of soda on our flight in hard plastic seats that didn't recline.  Since I was in the middle seat, I was particularly grumpy but a couple episodes of The West Wing Weekly podcast kept me distracted until we landed.

After making our way through the airport, we waited for the Avis shuttle and discovered we had been assigned a Suburban for our four day adventure.  I laughed as the last thing the two of us needed was a car that seats eight, so we checked in with the Preferred desk and they mentioned a shortage of cars but let us pick between a Ford Explorer or a Lincoln Navigator.  James quickly chimed in that the Navigator would be just fine.  After figuring out a few of the bells and whistles (including the best navigation system I've used, and lights with the Lincoln logo), we left for my cousin Melissa's house in Brighton, grabbing pizza so we could catch up with her and her two kids.  As the sun started to set, we said our goodbyes and left for Scottsbluff, Nebraska.

As the sun quickly set, we drove on the two lane highway that was only lit by our headlights, only passing by a few cars.  After crossing from Colorado into Nebraska, we stopped to stretch our legs in Kimball, about 45 miles outside of our destination.  This small town had a few businesses that caught our attention, so I snapped a few pics before we decided to check out Beer and Loathing bar, an homage to Hunter S. Thompson and his book Fear and Loathing.  The bar was great and the bartender was awesome.  After about a half hour, we figured it was time to get back on the road and get checked into our hotel.

Our time in Scottsbluff was short, but highlights include cabbage burgers at The Mixing Bowl, Gering Bakery, but most of all - spending time with family.  In addition to my grandmother, my Aunt and Uncle live nearby, and I got to see my cousins and meet my cousin's new baby too!

As we packed up to head back to Denver, I laughed at the difference in our packings styles.  I may be the one that travels most for business, but clearly he's winning at the adulting game.

We took our time on the trek back to Denver, refueling at this cute gas station/diner in Scottsbluff and grabbing lunch at Beer and Loathing as we made our way to Wyoming.  The drive was relaxing and the views were magnificent.  When we found ourselves in a construction traffic jam, we hopped off the interstate for a quick pit-stop, when I realized we were near the town where my grandparents lived for most of my childhood.  Every year, we'd spend a week or more with them over the summer or Christmas, and it had been sixteen years since I had last seen their little subdivision, and the amazing views of protected state land directly behind their townhouse.
A quick call to my dad, we were able to remember the name of their street, and google maps narrowed down the neighborhood when I recognized the King Sooper's grocery store.  It once sat all alone in a field, but the entire county has now been developed.  Turns out we were only about fifteen minutes from our destination.  We drove by the pool where my sister and I used to swim, and I got to see the roses and aspen trees my grandfather had planted.  The yard wasn't quite as manicured as he kept it, but I could tell the home was well loved by it's current owners.  We totally tresspassed through their side yard and I snuck a few photos of the gorgeous view.  It was a bittersweet trip down memory lane.

James had researched and found the 16th Street Mall in downtown Denver as our destination.  On our way, we got to see a packed Coors Field.  The road we were on led right to the stadium, almost looking like it reached center field.  On 16th Street, we picked up souvenirs, did a LOT of people watching, and grabbed dinner at Illegal Burger, a funky burger place, on par with Zombie Burger in Des Moines.  
Exhausted from the day, we made our way to our hotel near the airport and got ready for our early flight the next day.  Our checked bag weighed 19.5 lbs more than our trip out thanks to a purchase of Tab Cola that isn't available in Des Moines.  Surprisingly, every can made it home intact!  Since we arrived to the airport early, I wandered around taking photos and timelapse videos.  Click the Instagram image below to see a quick timelapse.
























I'm so grateful for the chance to visit family and enjoy some quality time on the road with my best guy.


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