Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Adventures On Rainy Days Part 2

Okay, back to our rainy day adventures.

I last left you at the African Safari when we were feeding the giraffes and zebras.

They concluded the drive-through portion of the safari.

We parked so that we could enjoy the walk-through portion of the safari AND the pig races.

Our car looked like this:

That is a LOT of buffalo slobber.

We noticed an area where you could vacuum all the stray pieces of feed from your car.

But no car wash. 


It is a lengthy mental list with items we've never put into action
like:  "Open a Waffle House down the road from our house."

We walked around the zoo-like portion of the safari ever so briefly because the pig races were set to start 

and there were only 3 shows a day 

and we were NOT missing them.

NASPIG Racing, thank you very much.
Check out the names of the pig racers in the photo below underneath the START sign:

Yes, both girls have on sweatshirts from the gift shop of our lodge. It was cold.
And we were bored. 

 They are:

Pig Daddy
Mario Spamdretti
A.J. Oink
and Dale Swinehardt Jr.

Now I am no NASCAR fan but I recognized some of those names

and I appreciated the cleverness.

I desperately needed it as a 
ray of sunshine for our cloudy vacation.

 So I bet in my mind on Pig Daddy

mainly because he was adorable. 

All pink and splotchy black.
I don't know--he could've been fast.

 Right before the race started there was a hog calling contest. The emcee was asking for volunteers.

As Monte's hand started to go up in the air,

the girls begged,


for me to intervene.

But this was cloudy/rainy DAY NUMBER 3 of our vacation

and I REALLY needed to hear Monte's interpretation of a hog call.

But alas, the girls got their way.

Mainly because Monte realized that there were mostly little kids in line to try out their call except for one guy and quite honestly, he looked like a jerk standing there because, come on, let the kids have this one.

Right before the race started the emcee announced that A.J. Oink had been disqualified due to a "pork chop incident"

har dee har har.

Flags were waved and the race FINALLY began. 

Pig Daddy remained in his cage seemingly eating something.

Or looking for something to eat.

He was almost lapped before he moseyed on out of his caged.

It was deeply disappointing. 

Can you see Pig Daddy pretty much walking in dead last?

After the race, Monte had a hankering for some pork

I know

he thinks he's funny.

So we walked around quickly viewing the reindeer, warthogs and vultures and monkeys until we hit the gift shop.

The girls pooled their money and preyed upon our weak resolve to end up with these:

Ellie named her giraffe, wait for it,
Mr. Giraffe.

McDaniel named hers, to frustrate Monte,
After the gift shop, we stood in line for the snack shack.

Incidentally, they served Bratwurst so Monte got his pork

which he became convinced was in fact A.J. Oink.

NASPIG racing is rough, people.

While we were getting our food we started hearing the loudest, craziest commotion

like sirens or screaming.

We looked around to see what kids were making the noise 

or using what purchases from the gift shop.

The teen aged snack shack girl nonchalantly said,

"Oh, those are the monkeys. 
They do that when it is going to rain."

Untitled from Karmen Hartranft on Vimeo.

So we got lunch AND the local forecast.

Back at the lodge, the sun decided to shine during dinner so we rushed out to rent paddle boats.

This is a shot of the girls before they paddled right into the fountain. 

They got soaked.

The next morning we ate at a diner as we were leaving town.

The waitress sat us at a booth with a pole positioned right where one would slide into the seating.

There were many other booths available.

We decided to not speak up and maybe just consider it part of the adventure or possibly a compliment in some way.


•We were perceived young and agile enough 
to do the squeeze and slide-in.

•We were perceived thin enough (before eating) 
to do the squeeze and slide-in.

We were HUNGRY and ordered big meals with multiple sides and extras.

As I closed the menu and handed it back to the waitress, I read the words CASH ONLY on the front of  it.

Monte realized he only had $23 in his wallet. 

McDaniel announced her meal alone 
may have totalled more than that.

So he quickly did the squeeze and slide-in out of our booth to go find a bank to get more cash. 

Incidentally, Ellie had an ECLAIR pancake. Creamy custard and all.

It was culinary genius.

Monte made it back in time to eat and pay and no one had to wash dishes.

As we headed home, 

we noticed a gynecological office 
that was actually just a house.

I added DON'T EVER GO TO A GYNECOLOGICAL OFFICE THAT IS JUST A HOUSE to the other mental list we keep.

The one simply called:  "DON'T EVER".

Monte adds to that list the most:
"Don't ever bring home a boy that calls me dude."
"Don't ever bring home a boy that has a head tattoo."
That kind of thing.

We laughed and laughed on the way home about this vacation we had just taken:

with rain rain that wouldn't go away

hikes in a mostly dead forest


funnel cake fries

nuclear plants

agressive buffalo

an angry yak

NASPIG racing

meteorological monkeys

soggy paddle boat rides

a squeeze and slide-in diner booth
(that only takes cash)

and lady doctors who work out of a house.

You know, God is so faithful.

He knows how I delight in these adventures.

And He is so good to keep them coming.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Things I Am Thankful For Right Now

Don't worry, I will continue my story about our adventures on rainy days

you seriously won't want to miss the part 
about the pig races 
or the monkeys

but I wanted to pause to share what I am so thankful for right now.

1) The sun!!! 
Thank you Lord that we woke up to some good ol' sunshine this morning!! 
I seriously pursued Pinterest the other day for ideas for some sort of sunshine wreath 
or door decoration so as to welcome the sun back in case we made it mad or something.

Still might do it.

The sunshine makes everything more beautiful! Look
at my Rose of Sharon just smiling in the morning sun.

I was just mesmerized by the way the sun highlighted
the lightning scar of my favorite Sycamore tree
yet also the beauty of the flowers in the hanging pot.

2) Cooler weather and no humidity!! 
We slept with the windows open last night and I had to wear a fleece this morning 
when I decided to do my bible study homework outside.

Actually, I took this picture because there was a little white butterfly that landed just below my shoulder. But of course, you can't really take a picture of your own just-below-your-shoulder.

A huge fat bumble bee landed right on the scripture I was reading right before the butterfly landed on me. It was the part in Judges when God asks Gideon to weed out his army by seeing how they drink water. Hmmm…wonder what the bee was trying to glean from that. 

Probably that there was no nectar in them thar pages.

Oh, but there is Mr. Bee, there is.

I almost fell out of my chair trying to get away or I would've snapped a picture.

No I wouldn't have. Who am I kidding?

3) The Gideon bible study by Priscilla Shirer.

Just love this!! It is cutting to the core in an area that Monte and I have been dealing with for a long time. This study has provided some great discussion between he and I and caused us to shift some thinking and how we are praying about certain issues. It is worth your consideration.

I SO LOVE this website!! I signed up on their website and they send me an email daily 
(except maybe not on the weekends, I can't remember). 

They sell things CHEAP. Like those necklaces in the picture above? $4.99 a piece. 


I bought all of them for $15. They will be great to have for birthday gifts and just for me and my girls to wear ourselves. We have bought clutch purses (I think all McDaniel's friends got those for their birthdays last year), leather bracelets, necklaces, craft items (like washi tape), these awesome galvanized metal containers that I have by the computer for pens and markers and scissors.

And they always include a Laffy Taffy in the package when they send your stuff. 

That's just sweet…literally.

5) A Little Salty To Cut The Sweet

This is by Sophie Hudson a.k.a. Boo Mama if you follow her blog. 

This book is laugh out loud funny and so charming in her small town southern ways. I felt like I knew her mother-in-law and parents by the end of this book. 

Like I WANT to know them 
(but not in a stalker way). 

She highlights the good of family and food and faith. So worth the read!

6) Stein Mart

Because I follow Sophie Hudson's blog, she mentioned the importance of Stein Mart in her life

Or "The Stein Marts" as she calls it. 

They closed our Stein Mart years ago so I just haven't made the drive to the other location further away since it's not in my backyard anymore. 

I live in a bubble like that sometimes.

But I decided to give it a try yesterday with my girls. 

Hoping it contained clothes for people under the age of 85 and getting ready to take a cruise 
(read Boo Mama's blog on this--it is funny!)

We had a ball! And we all ended up with something happy and not fighting.

Thank you, Lord! 
Stein Mart just might be our Shopping Whisperer!

Monday, July 08, 2013

Adventures on Rainy Days

Once upon a time there was a trip to Alaska that didn't happen.

So a last minute trip to Lake Erie did.

But it rained

and rained


We saw the sun maybe twice in very brief moments before nightfall.

So our plans to enjoy Lake Erie and the pool were thwarted.

And the ability to leave early were thwarted by a ridiculous fee

that left us stuck with the mindset 

that we were going to make the most of this adventure.

So we ate

We found this Dairy Depot on the way to the state park.
Best. Raspberry. Smoothie. Ever.
Even though there were blueberries not raspberries in it.
But we practically froze eating our treats at the picnic
table out front.
4 chili dogs for $5.99? What a steal!
Our room wasn't ready when we got to the lodge so they gave
us bikes to ride around the grounds.

We found this bungee trampoline ride on the beach
that just happened to coincide with a brief moment
of sunshine. Ellie loved it! 

Our view from the lobby our ENTIRE first day at the park.

We read and played games until Monte decided that he was going to eat the funnel fries from the snack bar until he got sick.

 They loved them!

Like ordered them everyday after that loved them.

We snuck in activities in between the rain.

Like our morning hike through a mostly dead forest.

When I pointed out a bug on McDaniel's knee 
she freaked out wildly 
and accidentally punched herself in the crotch.

I handled it poorly

and fell to my knees in laughter.

Then it started to rain.

We also played Walleyball in the lodge's indoor court.

Monte tried to give Ellie some serving advice and when she served it into a 90 degree angle smack dab into the wall for the 13th time

I handled it poorly again

and fell to my knees in laughter.

The next day we had more than a touch of cabin fever 

McDaniel cabin fever bed jumping.

so we made the decision


to leave the lodge and drive an hour to an African Safari.

And we passed this on the way.

A nuclear power plant.

 Made me creeped out a teence.

This safari is part drive through and feed the animals, 

part walk through and see the animals like a zoo 

and part pig races.
Yes! I know.
Hang on, I will get to that later.

We bought 2 cups of feed and a bag of carrots to feed the animals.

There was a lot of instructions by the "Ranger" who was basically a college student in a vest.

We were told not to put our fingers anywhere near the animal's teeth

and if there is a struggle with the animal wanting to take the entire cup of feed

LET them take the cup.
Don't be a hero.

Oh yeah, and honk if you are in trouble.

The animals are not the least bit inhibited and have NO PROBLEM coming right up to your car window to see what is happening, in the form of food, in your vehicle.

So adorable.

These llamas made us pull out our copy of
Disney's "The Emperor's New Groove"
when we got home.

There were a fair amount of babies walking around.

Baby llamas and baby deer. 
Little babies. 
Little babies running in and out of traffic.

McDaniel was absolutely convinced that Monte was going to run over the skull of one of these precious babies.

So she screamed,

"Baby! Baby! Baby!"

instructing Monte

like a hysterical Justin Bieber

at a drive through African Safari.

This buffalo decided to take the entire feed cup

after a brief struggle where Monte forgot the rules of the ranger for a second.

Then he came over to my side to see if I forgot the rules too.

He licked my entire window. 

I was fascinated by this creature and was leaned in really close checking him out when Monte decided to

unbeknownst to me

roll down my window.

I could feel the hot breath of the buffalo on my face.

So I screamed loud and long right in his face.

 The buffalo, not Monte.

He was a bit alarmed.

After the aggressive buffalo, Monte didn't even roll down the window for this elk.

 Check out these antlers!

 Mr. Yak seemed quite put out with us and gave a 
pretty distinct stink eye to Monte.

 Of course he wasn't happy with his bangs. 

 A white zebra!

We were somewhat disappointed that after dodging baby llamas and deer 

and getting way too up close and personal with a buffalo 

and the stink eye from a yak having a bad hair day

that the giraffes and zebras were behind fences.

But I guess the safari is just protecting their investment.

Or there was an "incident" to decide that they better


keep these animals behind a fence.

The giraffes have dark purple tongues that wrapped around the carrot and pulled it into his mouth like an elephant uses its trunk.


Ok. I won't make your poor tired computer download one more picture, so I will leave the pig races and monkeys for the next post.

Stay tuned!

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