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.
A TRAIL OF STATUES OF ALL OF THE POPEYE CHARACTERS!!!!
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.
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)
Fun in the square!
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!!