The First Adventure:
I got to drive down to Gering, Nebraska with my dad. I always love going down there to visit. It's where I grew up and driving through that town brings back a flood of memories...good memories. While I didn't get to visit everybody, I did get to catch up with a few friends, who I haven't talked to in a while. Most importantly, I got to visit my grandma. Ninety-one years old and still kicking, she's one of the most headstrong and independent ladies I know. I really admire her for that. Every time we go and visit her, we have a great time. We play games, talk about memories and sometimes just stare into space, but just spending time with each other means the world to both of us. Unfortunately, I didn't get any pictures while I was down there, but I have the memories in my head and I can replay those as many times as I want. I love you, Grandma Whitaker and can't wait until I get to see you again!
The Second Adventure:
Sometimes do you ever feel like you need to get away and go somewhere? A spontaneous trip, you could call it. Well, personally, I have those feelings more often than not, and I have the pleasure of living in one of the most beautiful areas in the country. The Black Hills. Now, I'm very familiar with the different routes that are woven throughout the hills. I love looking at the multitudinous pine trees that seem to never end, the continually flowing rivers, and you can't forget the unreserved wildlife! The scenery is spectacular and if you know where to go and the time of day, you can see views that are absolutely breath-taking I have seen plenty of views like this throughout my time, but this time I decided to go a different route. A route that I had never been, but a place that seems to stun everybody who seems to set foot there. The Badlands. Yep, I hopped into my truck, which is not used to going seventy mph for extended periods of time (but I had no problem, and headed east! One thing about me: I love driving alone. Especially when I have things to think about. There is something about driving that helps me do some in-depth thinking. That was exactly what I needed too. Anyways, I got there and wow, was I blown away by the scenery there! If you have not been to this part of South Dakota, I recommend that you drop everything right now and go there (not really!). Seriously, I had some expectations for the Badlands and to say that they exceeded them would be an understatement and would not even give them the credit that they deserve. They're beautiful!
I'll post some pictures, but let me tell you that they don't do justice for what the eye can really see.
All in all, the trip was very rewarding. I got to see the beautiful scenery, while being alone. I kid and sometimes call myself an introvert, but anybody who really knows me would just laugh if I told them that (It's happened already). In all seriousness though, the peace and quiet that I experienced while being at this beautiful park was calming and overall it helped me ponder on things in my life. Sometimes that's just needed when things seem to be hectic, you know?
I highly would recommend this national park to anybody!
The Third Adventure:
The coldest place on earth. Not really, but it felt like it! Bismarck, North Dakota is where the cold is at. Actually, I think it's safe to say it's just all-around cold in North Dakota. My mom and dad and I drove up to Bismarck, it made for a long day, but it was so worth it. I got to go to the Bismarck temple. It was one of the most special and significant days in my life, thus far. Before I went in, we took a few pictures and then after we came out, we took a few more. Now that I think of it, my parents and I were never in the same picture. Actually, all the pictures were of me! Oh the joys of being the future missionary (trust me, there's a lot). We did manage getting a decent picture, that I ultimately decided to use as my missionary picture for my plaque.
After the temple we went to one of my favorite restaurants: Cracker Barrel. Here's a silly selfie with my mom.
The Fourth Adventure:
I FOUND THE SUN! It's in Phoenix, Arizona! After living in an Ice Age, back home. It was so nice to feel the warmth of the Arizona air as I stepped off the plane...at ten o'clock at night! But hey, let's back up for just a few minutes.
First off, let me say that flying on airplanes is SO COOL. I haven't been on an airplane in forever. The last time I was on an airplane, I pooped in my diaper. TMI? Sorry. You get the picture though, it's been a long time! Not to mention that this was the first time that I had flown by myself. I felt like a little kid again, when my mom and dad finally let me cross the street alone, except for this time they were letting me cross a couple streets! My loving dad dropped me off, curb-side, and said bye-bye (with maybe a hug and a kiss in between there). I stood in the line, waiting to get my hard-copy boarding pass checked.
The first thing I noticed was that there was a group of vociferous passengers standing in line behind me and in front of me. They were all friends. Little did they know that Uncle Jim and Aunt Karen had a baby, who eventually all the passengers would know about, because they were talking to each other throughout the line that winded back and forth. Of course they all arrived at different times so they were sporadically spaced in-between all the apathetic passengers (ME!). I was thoroughly annoyed and it hadn't even been twenty minutes into my trip.
I finally got out of that high school reunion (what it seemed to be) and went upstairs. I had no clue what to do after that, so yes, I called my mommy and had to ask what to do. Oddly enough she told me to go through security. What? Airlines have harsh security and want to make sure their passengers are safe? What is this craziness? Long story short: My butt pockets on my jeans set off the security alarm so I had to be uncomfortably frisked and all that nonsense went on. Oh, and my poor laptop got manhandled. I can't wait to go through that again on the way back.
After I got done with security, I sat down at my designated gate, put my laptop back in it's safe haven (my messenger bag, which I haven't used at all during this trip...oops). Shortly after, I met the cutest little girl. Her mother and her were on the way to Phoenix to visit family. I love little kids (did those words just come out of my mouth?) They're so curious and innocent. Anyways, I talked to her and then heeded the words of my mother. "Go to the bathroom before you board." Apparently she still thought there was a chance that I would poop in my diaper again (sorry, I just had to say that). As I got up to go to the restroom, the little girl said, "Are you coming back, because the plane is leaving soon." Those words made my heart melt, here is this little girl who doesn't know me at all, that wanted to make sure I didn't miss the flight. After I went to the restroom I went over to the cafe and grabbed an apple and a bottle of water. As I was checking out this white-haired old guy bumped me, I turned around to say excuse me, but then realized who it was. It was a regular from Menards! Yes, I worked at Menards for ten months, so I got to know a lot of people. We would always give each other a hard time and that extended past the exit doors of Menards. It was really great to see a familiar face! "Now boarding zone 6, passengers with seats in row 30-25," rang over the intercom. "Oh! That is me! Let me just get my boarding pass...uh, where is my boarding pass." Yep, I'm a responsible adult who can't even keep track of her boarding pass! I was flipping out to say the least! I was running around like a chicken with its head cut off, trying to backtrack to everywhere I had been in the past hour. As I was frantically running around, a big hefty man stopped me. I recognized him...oh yeah! He was one of the loud rowdy ones who couldn't stop talking in the check-in line, and now he stopped me to chat? What he said next shocked me: "Where were you at our workout today?" Then it hit me, I actually knew him before he was the "rowdy one..." he works out at the gym I go to! I said a quick hello to him and then started to panic again. Let's just consolidate sentences into one: Praise smart phones. Yes, I got on the flight with my phone. Yay!
What better seat to be in, than the middle right...not if you're claustrophobic (which I'm not). I had the privilege to have that most-desired middle seat. Who did I sit by? Another one of the "rowdy ones." Yes, he knew the guy that goes to the gym I do, and they were the primary source of ringing that happened in my head while standing in line. Although as I got to talking to this guy, I became a very big fan of his overall personality. He ended up being the owner of the Yamaha business in Rapid City. The guy was hilarious! A few minutes into the flight and we were poking and prodding (literally) each other like we had been friends prior to the flight. On my other side was another old guy, but he ended up being very friendly, and he knew the Yamaha dealer's mom, so I got to hear a lot of back-story on that. Overall, the flight was awesome and people (the gym guy and the Yamaha guy) made sure that I was taken care of after getting off the plane. Thanks, guys!
Now, I'm pretty much just going to blog through pictures, because 1. I took a lot, and 2. I'm tired of typing.
A huge thank you to my family, who were generous and accommodating hosts. I love you and can't wait to see you when I get back!