Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Road to Oz

I know what you're thinking. "Didn't she already do this blog?!" The answer is no. No, I didn't. I did the first Oz trip. But guess what??? ONE WASN'T ENOUGH.

So one thing you should know about me (or if you know me and are reading this, you already know this about me) is my birthday is usually a big deal every year. A month-long event. While I know this sounds incredibly selfish, it's never been about me drawing it out as much as possible (though don't get me wrong - I'm a Leo - the attention was never turned away). It was more that I had different groups of friends, family, co-workers, etc that I would celebrate with, so it always turned into weeks of celebrations. Well, this year I knew would be different. Everyone in my life is incredibly busy, as am I. So knowing I'd likely not have many celebrations, I decided I needed something different than the usual party at my house or going-out celebration on the actual day. After thinking about it, I decided a trip back to Oz would be fun, and after a few e-mails back and forth with my bestie, Kelly, we decided to go for it!

Now another thing that you should know, and likely have learned, if you're a regular reader of my blogs is I. LOVE. ROAD TRIPS. Hopping in the car and letting adventures happen is one of my most favorite things to do in life. I usually do these type of trips alone, because most people I know hate road trips, or can handle them but want to "hurry up and get there". I was worried about bringing up my fun road trip idea to Kelly until I remembered - she's used to long drives, given she has family in Nebraska. So I tossed it out there: what if we found quirky roadside attractions on the way to and from and stopped to take pictures? She was down with the idea, so I started researching.

The very first attraction I found while searching put my excitement level to warp factor 7.


Popeye was one of my favorite cartoons growing up. Mainly, I think, because my family used to tease me that I WAS Popeye (not sure why that didn't upset me, given I used to cry when people would tell me I looked like my Daddy, because I thought they meant I looked like a boy) because of my deep, passionate love of spinach. So the idea of reliving a piece of my childhood was very exciting for me. It was an instant "Add to trip" click. More research turned up a Buried Giant, Giant Concrete Teepee, and World's Largest Wren. We added them to the "if we have time/feel up to it" list.

So stop #1 was Popeye and his friends/enemies. I brought my Nikon and tripod, so we could get pictures with all of the statues with both of us, rather than doing individual pictures with them. We set the timer for 20 seconds and for it to take 5 pictures, so we could switch up poses and hopefully get 1 shot we both liked in the group. Two things you learn while doing this: 1) 20 seconds is either REALLY long, or my camera counted to 142 before starting to snap. 2) You run out of pose ideas very VERY fast. 

Poopdeck Pappy

Castor Oyl
This is where the crazy lady was yelling at us from inside the hospital (see below). We got out of there as quickly as possible.

Sea Hag/Bernard the Vulture

Bluto!!!!!! (I geeked out so much I drove the wrong way in the parking lot)

Rough House

Professor Watasnozzle

Fun in the square!


Cole Oyl

Olive Oyl and Swee Pea

Alice the Goon

And the Piece de Resistance... POPEYE THE SAILOR MAN!

Now among the things that happened as we snapped these pictures: SEVERAL strange looks (you can't tell me we're the only ones that come to see the Popeye statues), a few fox whistles, a crazy person at the hospital yelling at us from inside, a stop for lunch at a "bar and grill" that didn't have a food menu - "we only have pizza", which I imagine was frozen pizza they would nuke if we requested, and a secondary attempt at lunch... until upon pulling up we realized we'd be shunned instantly because we have lady parts. This is a Man's World...

Chester, IL - you are interesting.

And so we moved on. Next up: the Buried Giant. Not gonna lie, the pics we saw of this beforehand didn't do it justice. It is MASSIVE. A really awesome sculpture. I would've loved to have been able to get pictures of it with no one there. But people have kids, and stuff. 

So by the time we finished at the giant, we plugged in the address for the teepee, but got distracted by an outlet mall. Much shopping fun was had. As we got back on the road, we realized we were going to lose our light. So decided to go on to the hotel, and possibly hit the teepee/wren on the way home Sunday. Well, thanks to a random we-don't know-why traffic delay and a MASSIVE downpour (seriously, I was stressing - I don't see well at night anyway, thanks to my astigmatism - the rain made seeing to drive near impossible), our transit time got increased tremendously, and it became a matter of "What is our backup plan?" We had planned to try out a Mexican place in Manhattan, KS - where our hotel was - that night, but there was no way we'd be getting there before the kitchen closed. So we switched our plan to Party in the Room. Found a liquor store (That's a whole 'nother story. Good heavens.), got our wine, and hit the road again. This is actually the point the downpour hit, I got a bit ahead of myself. So, additional delay. By the time we actually got to the room/settled it was about 2 in the morning. We were exhausted. No party. Bed. Day one: 18 hours.

So on to Oz! HAPPY BIRTHDAY, KATYBUG!!!!!!!!

Last time I went as Dorothy. For my birthday, a Wicked Witch felt more appropriate.

I took a ton of pictures at the museum and winery as I did last time, but they're a lot of what you saw on the previous blog, just with a better camera. So, in an attempt to long-story-short this blog (lost cause), I'll skip that and just give you this:

They were so sweet to put this in the party room for me!

A birthday selfie is required.

So after finishing our day at Oz, we made our way back to Manhattan. Did a little shopping, then went to dinner at Tallgrass Taphouse for birthday dinner. Rooftop dining with perfect weather, craft beer, yummy appetizers... can't ask for much more. 

Plus, you know, this girl. :-)

Back to the hotel to rest up for the drive home the next day. Or that was Kelly's plan, anyway. Our day had too much going on, plus I needed to research the alternate route we were taking home for must-see stops. Katie-brain does not allow sleep when that much is happening. That being said, I was EXHAUSTED, and was reading sentences 4 times without understanding them. So, I made myself to go to bed and decided to plan our drive home the next morning, as I knew I'd have time while Kelly got ready (I'm a fast get-ready person. She is not.).

So the next morning, I discovered our alternate route still led us past the wren and teepee. And also discovered we'd be passing the World's Largest Fork. TRIP. BOOKED. 

Total time for Day 3 was 12 hours. We encountered the wren, teepee, and fork. Tried an antique mall, but it might as well have been called a glass mall, as everything was glasses, goblets, crystal serveware, etc. Tried to stop at Osceola Cheese, and the line to get to the cheese was insane. Had I been by myself, not gonna lie - I might've stuck it out: I LOVE ME SOME CHEESE, Y'ALL - but for the sake of Kelly's sanity/the trip home we skipped out and kept going. 

So here are the pics from the last of the Katybug Birthday road trip. I have some pretty "Katie's future photography business" pics as well, that I will likely add as a gallery to this blog eventually. I just need time to go through them and pick my favorites, edit, etc. This blog has already taken me two days. I don't need to delay it further. You get what you get, and you'll like it. Please like it. Again, I'm a Leo, I need attention...
I hate birds. I was ok with this one.

It is GIANT.

I feel like this fork deserves a meal beneath it!

So, anyway - Happy Birthday to me. On to more adventures!!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016


Seriously. Those that know me (on multiple levels) know my love of "Jenny Ani" (on multiple levels). Jennifer Aniston is just... siiiiiiiiiiiigh. Love her. She's ridiculously talented. If you've never ventured outside of her Friends/romantic comedies days - give it a shot. I recommend Cake and Good Girl. Derailed is also a big step outside of what you know of her. If you're in to indie-type flicks - I recommend "She's Funny That Way" and "Life of Crime". Two movies I bought having never seen them, and was pleasantly surprised with them. ESPECIALLY Life of Crime. I had heard a lot of bad on it. I actually thought it was pretty darn good. I get it, though. The previews played it like it was supposed to be this super funny movie. It wasn't funny. It has a couple of cute moments, but if anything I'd grant it a dark comedy/crime status. Anyhoo... I'm rambling. She's talented, despite what "cliche Hollywood" gives her credit for - don't forget, she's a producer and director, too. In addition to that, she's funny as hell, brutally honest, drop dead gorgeous, and then we have this:

You can read through the whole article (and I encourage you to - PLEASE READ), but here are a few key points. Let's dive in:

"The objectification and scrutiny we put women through is absurd and disgusting." A.MEN. I'll get into more as we reach deeper in this article/my blog, but perfect example: I had a wicked bruise on my arm the past few weeks. Cannot tell you how many "What man is beating up on you?"-type comments I got. Like OMG, there's no way you could have a bruise without it meaning you're a disobedient woman to your man. Shame on you. PUNCH.

"The message that girls are not pretty unless they're incredibly thin, that they're not worthy of our attention unless they look like a supermodel or an actress on the cover of a magazine is something we're all willing to buy into. This conditioning is something girls then carry into womanhood." YUP. As someone who was verbally belittled constantly in junior high/high school, there is never a day I truly believe when I'm told I look pretty that day. I see it as "You improved over that horrible look from the other day." And I am fully aware that's not how the people saying it mean it. So I've learned to smile and accept the compliment, all the while not believing a word they say.

"This past month in particular has illuminated for me how much we define a woman's value based on her marital and maternal status." Now, while this one obviously has direct meaning to what she's going through, the overall message still spoke to me. Any given day for me: "Why aren't you and Steve married yet?" "Are you getting married? When?" "Do y'all plan to have babies soon?" "Wait, you don't want kids?! WHY???" "Oh, you'll change your mind about kids once you're married." "It just shocks me you don't want kids, are you sure?" PEOPLE: I, as a woman, am not on this earth solely to be a wife and/or mother. I am a person that can make choices. These choices are mine, and you don't have to make the same ones, or even agree with the ones I make. I don't judge anyone that has kids. I don't look at them every day and ask them "Wait... you have kids?! WHY???" Just because I am not dying to pop out children for my husband does not make me a bad person. **Additional note here: I actually DO have kids. They just all have 4 legs instead of 2. Meaning they're animals - don't call the Guinness World Record people to come to my house looking for several 4-legged humans.

"I resent being made to feel 'less than' because my body is changing and/or I had a burger for lunch and was photographed from a weird angle and therefore deemed one of two things: 'pregnant' or 'fat'. Not to mention the painful awkwardness that comes with being congratulated by friends, coworkers and strangers alike on one's fictional pregnancy..." *waves hands in the air in praise* PREACH! Let me tell you, dear blog readers: I have had a rough couple of years emotionally. Losing my father, which I have been fairly open about here; having to put down my cat down 4 months later; of course, being a long distance every day from my love; plus the every day ups and downs that life throws at you. I've put on a fair amount of weight in the last year 1/2. I'm aware of that. Having people remind me is not necessary. Now, you know how you hear about those people that ask about a lady being pregnant, then are horrified to find out she's not, so they've basically just called her fat? This is something that no woman should ever have to deal with. Ever. To encounter it once in your lifetime is too many. So let me tell you how many times it's happened to me. Actually, I'd have to think about it to give you the real total, but just out the gate I thought of 5 people. And I am an outspoken person. But I swear every single time it happens feels like the first time and I am just dumbfounded that a person could see that as an ok thing to say when I have given you ZERO indication that I am pregnant. Do I wish I had not gained this weight? Sure. But I realize life has its weight yo-yos and I'm just at the down (or up?) part right now. What I don't need is people reminding me of where I'm at. "Oh gosh you're fat." *brain corrects them* "Awww, you're pregnant!" Nope. Nope, you're just an awful human. Thanks for playing.

Thank you, Jennifer for putting a VERY public voice to this everyday problem. And thank you all for allowing me to bend your ear (or eyes) on my personal connection to it.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

"It's always best to start at the beginning - and all you do is follow the Yellow Brick Road."

So to start at the beginning, for those that are new to the land of Katybug - here is a good start to introduce you to me (i.e. my Oz obsession). For those that know me, let's dive right in. In fact, let's just go through Dorothy's Oz journey!

Sepia (Kansas)

So years back, I discovered (likely because of a random Oz Google search) the existence of an Oz Museum in Wamego, KS. Made a mental note that one day I WOULD go. A few years later, I legit don't remember how I stumbled across Oz Winery's site. But again, mental note. Then happened to notice it was in Wamego, KS... and the bucket list trip was created and added to the list. A day at an Oz Museum followed by wine PLUS more OZ?!?!! Yes and YES. I didn't know when it would happen but knew it would.


Cut to modern day, and Katie's plan to live life to its fullest. I decided now was the time. I was willing to go by myself, as I've discovered I actually have a lot of fun on solo trips, but tossed an invite out to numerous people to see if they wanted to join.

Now, mixed in between the bucket trip addition and modern day, there was the announcement that the Orpheum's Broadway tour this year would include Wizard of Oz. So, OF COURSE, I bought tickets to that back in December for a June show.

There are no coincidences in life. The weekend that worked best for our Oz trip happened to be the weekend of Oz at the Orpheum! So Friday at Oz in Memphis, then off to Kansas for a family visit and more Oz on Monday.

The Scarecrow

Appropriate, if you ask me, that this scene applies to this part of the story. The Scarecrow is my favorite character in The Wizard of Oz, and Dorothy's best friend. And I spent my Memphis Oz experience with MY best friend! She is a piece of my heart, so I wish we'd taken a picture of her Tin Man-inspired outfit. It was more perfect than I even processed that night! :-)

Waiting for the show to start. Selfies are always required.

We have matching Oz shoes (this IS a shoe blog, right?!), and I of course had to get a Betsey Oz fix in there with my purse.

Now, about my outfit that night: I knew I would be wearing "our" Ruby Slippers. So I just had to plan around that. Cue black pants. Then I thought "Oh, my black and white striped shirt would work. Matches the shoes." Suddenly occurred to me - I'll be dressed as the Wicked Witch of the East's legs! PERFECTION. Outfit selected. Presentation is everything.  

*Note: I thought on the drive down there (too late), I should've bought a toy house and glued it to a headband so I could've been an accurate portrayal. But at least now I have a Halloween costume. 

My review of the show (as posted the night of attending): "It was cute. Definitely wasn't blown away. I hated the way the Scarecrow was portrayed, and the Tin Man was annoying. THE. LION. WAS. AWESOME. Glinda's dress was mesmerizing. I wanted to kidnap that chunky little Toto dog. He got the loudest ovation at the end. Overall, I'm glad I went for the Oz experience, but wouldn't go again if it came back."

Tin Man

So Saturday morning, I hit the road for Kansas. Arrived late afternoon and spent a fun night visiting with family. Sunday we'd decided to do a day of antique-ing. Turns out, there was a beer/food truck festival going on down by the shops that day. Shopping, beer, and food... sign me up. We get to the first store, and I am immediately in love:

Started as a joke(ish), and rapidly progressed into me deciding I needed them. We decided to hit the other shops just in case I saw something else, or wanted to talk myself out of them. All I did was talk myself in to them more. PURCHASED. *Insert dramatic shipping story here and note: NEVER ship UPS. Just don't. Greyhound, if you have furniture/large items. FedEx for everything else.*

There were numerous other success stories from that day. Mom found some chairs, as well. We all found some little purchases here and there. One store we went in, the sales associate complimented me on my dress as soon as we came in the store. Later, I was looking at their novelty socks, and she came over and whispered "I have inappropriate socks, if you're interested.". BUT I thought she said "I have inappropriate thoughts.", and after being complimented the second I walked in the store, plus this, I was kind of like "Umm... ok, random stranger..." Once she kept talking and I realized what she had actually said, I started giggling uncontrollably and told her what I thought she'd said. We had a good hard laugh, and she said "Now I feel like I can't look you in the eye!" 

Of all weekends for me to find this album - it happened to be Oz weekend?! MEANT. TO. BE. 

Did I mention food trucks?! Buffalo chicken tots, FTW.

Cowardly Lion

So, Monday had finally arrived! Oz day!! We piled in the car and headed to Wamego. I found myself calmer than I expected, but I think most of that was that I had only slept like 2 hours. Once I had the museum in sight, I don't think the smile left my face. 

Blue gingham shorts for Dorothy's dress with my Betsey Johnson Ruby Slippers. PRESENTATION IS EVERYTHING. 

You start your journey in sepia (the gift shop, ticket counter, etc). The entrance to the museum is through Dorothy's house.

katydid38134's Oz museum album on Photobucket

Here's the museum. Every display case, plus close-ups of certain parts. I have so many words, yet "Shucks folks, I'm speechless."

We had so much fun. Probably (likely) me more than my mom, aunt, and cousin.

Emerald City (The Wizard of Oz)

Museum tour over, time to head to the winery! I booked a private party/tasting for us - because if I was going to do it, I was going to do it right. We chose 4 hors d'oeuvres, and they paired the wines accordingly. 

Our tasting room and custom menu. The Hot Pepper Bacon Jam was definitely the biggest hit (we all purchased some to bring home), but everything was DELICIOUS.

This was probably my favorite part of the day. Getting to geek out on Oz, and also laugh and chit-chat with family - well, that's a pretty good time, if you ask me. Also, discovering that they're allowed to ship wine to me (I've been told by other wineries that they can't ship to TN) was great. Because I really wanted to try their bubbly, but they're in a bottling cycle right now and didn't have any on-hand. Champagne/sparkling wine is my favorite. So I'm excited to order some. Plus be able to restock. 

Not hard to guess who belongs to whom here, is it?

There's No Place Like Home

Well really, there are a couple places I'd rather be than Memphis. But that's "home" for now, so I digress. Time to bring the chairs home! I have left the home office in a state of disarray for months because I couldn't decide if it was worth setting up the room knowing I'd be leaving for Canada at some point. Once I got the chairs, I decided they deserved to be displayed appropriately. So I took on the task of unpacking about 20 boxes and setting up the shelves. Then I ordered curtains. And poppies for my Oz vase.

The Oz wine also found its home. 

And, without further ado...

New chairs. Witch's legs curtains. Perfection.

And the panorama of the full room.

So that is my Oz journey. I may have mentioned presentation being important to me. So you're aware: this blog was written while wearing Oz knee socks. 


Friday, May 13, 2016

Rocks, claustrophobia, and near-death experiences

Well, I'm at it again! Off on a Buggy Road Trip, this time to Hiawassee, GA and then a quick stop home (ATL - for those that are new to the blog/don't know me - I consider Atlanta home, even though I only lived there 3 1/2 years from ages 6 to 9) before heading back to Memphis.

Since I'm so used to driving to ATL from Memphis, I didn't even think about the fact I wouldn't be going through Birmingham on this trip. Once OnStar started guiding me towards Nashville, I was like "Ohhh yeah, Chattanooga, then through the mountains of North Carolina/GA to Hiawassee."

Once I got on the other side of Nashville, and started seeing the See Rock City signs every half mile - for those that have never made this drive, this is an exaggeration... but not much of one - the wheels started cranking. I have this brand new camera to play with. Surely Rock City would give me opportunity to experiment.

Now, let me pause in our story to tell you a bit about my childhood. Even though we lived in Memphis (and ATL for those 3 1/2 years), I feel like I grew up in East TN. We spent summers on the lake, made trips to Gatlinburg and Chattanooga regularly, and I swear I have more memories at Nana's house in Rockwood than I do at ours in Memphis.

But I don't remember ever going to Rock City.

So I sent my older sister a text, as I knew she and the kids had just gone not too long ago, asking if it was worth it. Factoring in my DEATHLY fear of heights. She assured me it was, and that there were ways to avoid the lookouts on the trails. Cool. Decision made. 

Now, had I know what I was in for, I may have remembered to also ask her to factor in my slight claustrophobia as well. It's not horrible. It's just when I get into spaces something is touching both my front and back that I start to find it hard to breathe. 

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you "Fat Man Squeeze". The entrance is by far the widest part of the pathway. See the entrance below. See the child almost taking up the full space. I repeat, see the CHILD... you get the idea. Disclaimer: I stole this pic from Google images. I was panicking too much to snap pictures while entering.

Now, I will openly admit I had several small panic attacks while going through the park. That being said, overall I really enjoyed it. I think the fact I was focusing on what would make good pictures, it was a good distraction. Claustrophobia aside, I've always been fascinated with caves. I think it spawns from visiting the Mark Twain Cave in Hannibal, MO. If you've never visited there: HIGHLY recommend. So weaving through little rock passages was a lot of fun. By far my favorite was the rainbow passage. 

This also happens to be one of the best pictures I got, or at least in my opinion. Maybe because it spoke to me so much, I'm partial to the pictures as well.

The picture I am most proud of is at Lover's Leap. Not because it's a spectacular picture. It's ok. But I had to go out onto a lookout to get it. I was shaking so bad, I'm surprised it came out clear. I had to lean against the rail just to trust myself to lift the camera over my face. But I did it. For art.

If you'd like to flip through some of the other shots I got, visit the Photobucket album below.

Overall review - if you're not scared of heights or claustrophobic: GO NOW. Beautiful. If you are either or both with the heights/close quarters, still consider going. Just mentally prepare yourself first. You can avoid SOME of the heights. You cannot avoid the tight paths. Just keep that in mind before making plans.

Time to wrap up. What's that? You didn't understand the near-death part of my title? Oh, right. There's that.

I was leaving Rock City. Turned on the windy road that takes you back down Lookout Mountain. The very first curve: no trees, no guard rail, nothing in your line of sight other than*:
*this pic was taken while I was in the park, but is pretty accurate to the height I was at for this part of the story

So that's all I see that I'm going towards. I've heard of tunnel vision before, but never experienced it until today. All my brain/eyes saw was that descent. There was no road, other cars, etc. Just me heading towards my biggest fear. And that's when things got REALLY scary. 

I got really lightheaded (normal for me with heights), then my vision started going blurry/dark. 

In a moving vehicle. Towards a cliff.

I did the only thing I could think of. Stopped the car.

In the middle of a road. With multiple cars behind me.

But that's all I could think of to do to save me going over the edge. Literally. I looked down at the floor of the car, my vision came back, and I took that turn at 10 mph. There was a pulloff to the right so slow traffic can let other cars pass. I pulled in there, and just sat for what seemed like 5 minutes, but likely was more like 1-2 at most. Once I couldn't see any cars coming, I pulled back out, and the rest of the drive down the view out was guarded by trees, so I managed to somewhat pull it back together and drive over 20 mph. 

I know parts of Lookout (Rock City) are in GA and parts are in Chattanooga, so I don't know if this near-death occurrence was in GA or TN. If it was in TN... it must be an East TN thing. It was a full-on mud & sticks moment. Only family/close friends will get that reference, but basically I almost drowned in the lake when I was like 2. Regardless, I'm still here and kicking - and have more adventures tomorrow to look forward to!