Thursday, July 10, 2008

Everyone Should Experience the 4th of July in Evanston, WY

At least once.

Why? That's a hard question to answer in a simple manner. So I'll stick to what I know and ramble through the answer. :)

To start the story I need to begin a few days before the 4th. My husband was excited that he would have Friday off for the 4th so we had a long weekend ahead of us. He wasn't excited about the fact that we had no plans at all for anything out of the ordinary to do over the long weekend, so he told the family that we should discuss amongst ourselves some ideas and we would hold a family meeting when he got off of work that night and decide what to do together.

The littles like anything, so we didn't ask their opinion. My 15 year old simply didn't want to go out on the boat again--for reasons we still don't understand. And everyone else was pretty much up for anything that involved not having to stay home to weed or mow the lawn.

After some debate we finally decided that we would go to Evanston, Wyoming to see their rodeo on the 4th and catch a fireworks show afterwards.

Why a rodeo? Because I told my husband that when I was younger my dad used to always take us to rodeos and I loved them, but we had only been to maybe two rodeos in the whole 17 years of marriage. Our 8 year old and the younger kids have never been to a rodeo, and our 10 year old was too young when she went to remember anything about a rodeo at all.

Why Evanston? Honestly, because all of the local rodeos were already sold out.

Evanston is only 70 miles outside of Salt Lake City, so it wouldn't be a long drive. We called ahead and got a hotel reservation, packed up the car, loaded in the kids, dropped the poodles off at my folks house and then started on our way.

Here is what we learned as a side bonus: My 15 year old daughter has the capacity to practically inhale the largest fajita burrito I have ever seen in my life. I was impressed. We had unloaded the car at the hotel and then left to find a place to eat dinner. Don Pedro's Family Mexican Restaurant was conveniently located just across the street from the rodeo grounds and they served excellent food.

After eating we made our way over to the rodeo. I won't go into a lot of detail about the rodeo at this time, but I will say that my 8 year old is NOT good at the 'Chicken Run'--he can't catch a chicken to save his life. It does make for some good comedy though. Maybe not for the chicken..

Now. To get to the 4th of July experience in Wyoming, let me preface it by reminding you (or letting you know) that Wyoming has completely different fireworks laws than most States. The big "illegal" fireworks are not illegal in Wyoming.

While watching the rodeo we were on the top bleachers facing toward the hills and a small subdivision that lay just past the rodeo grounds. Behind us was the city of Evanston.

The people in the subdivision began setting off fireworks about an hour or so before dark. So we pleasantly enjoyed watching calf roping, bull riding, and bronc bustin', while also being treated to a lovely fireworks display.

During this time I began to wonder where we were going to have to go to see the actual fireworks show after the rodeo.

The answer to that? Just turn around and look at Evanston. Anywhere in Evanston.

The entire town purchased tons of fireworks. It was the most amazing sight I have seen in a long, long time. Everywhere you looked fireworks were shimmering and popping. The whole valley was one giant fireworks display. The colors and flash surrounded the city. When we ran inside Walmart to grab some beverages, you could hear the booming sounds of the fireworks. When we went outside into the Walmart parking lot, we saw cars parked there with people standing outside their vehicles simply to get a better view--and many of those cars had out of state license plates, so we aren't unique in choosing Evanston as a July 4th destination.

Neighborhoods were lined on every street with people in their lawn chairs both watching the light show and adding to it.

Church parking lots were full, and whole congregations sat on the lawns watching as they all set off fireworks and more fireworks.

When every street in a town has dozens of large fireworks going off, you can't help but be impressed with the magnitude of the exhibition. It was like one giant fireworks show finale that lasted more than two hours.

It was breathtaking.

So much so that we are already planning on going there again next year. And this time we will shake out of our fireworks stupor and get the camera out of the bag and take photos.

The next morning as we passed back through town on our way home, we saw people sweeping and shoveling up piles and piles of spent fireworks. Dumpsters were full. Kids were working hard to clean up the aftermath. But no one seemed to mind the work.

Trust me...after the show we saw, it would be well worth a few hours of clean up the next morning.

If any of you find yourselves wanting to do something different for the 4th of July, I recommend a trip to Wyoming. Not something I ever thought I would actually say to anyone, to be honest. But this was an amazing discovery. A beautiful end to a patriotic day of celebration for our country.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Blog Book Tour For You All to Check Out

My friend Danyelle has written a blog interview with author J. Scott Savage on her blogsite.

If you go here you will see the post in its entirety AND will see where you have a chance to enter her contest at a shot at a free copy of his new YA novel.

Go look. It is worth the effort. :)

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Food Network Idea

So as I was scrounging through my pantry looking for something to make for dinner, I had a brilliant idea...

(And if this is already something they have done, ignore my post and move on please...)

What if the Food Channel had a show entitled "Iron Chef Joe Shmoe" (or the equivalent). It would be a series where two people who have absolutely ZERO training in the culinary skills compete against each other for an hour long battle.

No actual Iron Chefs would be used...the series would be for a set number of weeks and the winner of the night would move on to the next week to face another challenger. OR, they could run it like a tournament and have winners compete against winners until there is an ultimate Iron Chef Joe Shmoe for that season.

One of the keys here would be that the items available for their use would be everyday items a normal (read non-cordon bleu chef) would have in their cupboards...canned vegetables, boxed mac and cheese, get the idea. Don't forget the microwave as a must-have. A grill to barbecue with--not the grill on the range, because what fun is it in that?, maybe a dutch oven or two...

The only thing the contestant couldn't do that you would normally see in an everyday situation, is order pizza or other take-out items and have them delivered to the studio. Trust me. That one has to be in the contract or someone will pull that one.

I think it would be a hilarious show. Can you imagine the faces on the judges when they get some mystery meat placed in front of them? Or the shudders as they try something no sane human would put near their mouth? Of course, there would also be the hugely surprised look as they bite into something green and unidentifiable and find it tastes quite good.

And speaking of the judges...they couldn't be actual food critics. The Joe Shmoes know they aren't top chefs and don't need some snooty person telling them that while they admire their ingenuity, they couldn't possibly score higher than a 1 because those spices were never meant to be in the same dish. Blah, blah, blah.

Nope. The judges should be 3 fold--the first guy (or gal) should be some (un)lucky passer-by in the street or in the studio audience...the second person should be any celebrity that is crazy enough to accept the job, likable, and is preferably a bit larger around the middle--someone like Kevin James. Not a health conscious type. That would be just as bad as a food critic. You need someone who will actually EAT the food. The third person could be a viewer who won the opportunity to taste potentially lethal food on tv.

I think it would be a big hit. I would watch it. I love watching Iron Chef and Iron Chef America, and sometimes think it would be fun to try some of their dishes...but seriously. Who in everyday-America uses fois gras to feed their family?

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Tagged! A Closer Look...

Okay. I knew I shouldn't have looked at Danyelle's site. She even warned me that she tagged me...

1. My Kitchen Sink
We just finished dinner, and I am totally out of dish washing detergent--so if I waited until tomorrow morning it would look even worse than this...

2. Inside My Fridge

Not a lot to look at. I need to go grocery shopping too, but we just got back in town late last night and I haven't had a chance to restock. Note the KFC bucket though. I figure that makes a nice, colorful touch...

3. My Favorite Shoes

If Danyelle can choose more than one pair, so can I...The shoes on the left aren't much to look at--just scuffed worn black loafers, but I got them on my mission and they are both comfortable and sentimental. The middle are my newest addition, and the shoes on the right are my indoor soccer shoes.

4. My Closet--and 5. My Laundry Pile
Okay, I admit to more cheating here...this is my closet, and on the floor is my laundry pile. I refuse to take a photo of the laundry pile in my laundry room. I have a door to my laundry room for the express purpose of being able to shut it and not have anyone see it. :) If you don't let this pass go, I'll take a photo of the laundry room on Tuesday after I've had a couple more days to find the floor....:) For those of you who I tag at the end of this...go to Danyelle's site and see the way it is supposed to look...

6. What My Kids Are Doing Right Now

The top photo is of the three littles running through the front sprinklers--which I actually was unaware was happening until I took the camera and went looking for them.

The bottom photo is the rest of the gang--including my husband on the one couch, and one of the poodles on the back of the chair. They are all watching "I Am Legend".

7.My Favorite Room

Sort of another cheat. I like my living room. I like my new main light we just put in above the entry there. I like the dark (brick) red paint we painted that wall, and the white trim. It is a comfortable room. However, this room is the 'catch-all' after our trip and I haven't put everything away yet, so showing you the rest of the room--couches, coffee table, etc.--is out of the question. Seriously. I'm not even sure you could find the couch at this point....

8. My Recent Purchase

This is in my outside fridge. We bought a case of water on the way home from our trip yesterday.

9. My Fantasy Vacation

WITH kids, I'd take them back to DisneyWorld for two weeks this time, and throw in the Disney Cruise. We LOVE DisneyWorld.

With just my hubby, we've talked about going to Iceland...warm water springs, Icelandic horses, geysers, beautiful scenery...and you don't hear about a ton of people going there. They DO go there...but it isn't the typical vacation spot for most people I know.

10. A Self-Portrait

Note the new hairstyle. I guess if you don't know the OLD hairstyle, this photo means nothing to you. :) Just add 8 inches and a straightening iron, and you've got it.

Now--I get to tag :) This is the fun part.
I choose Cindy, Stacey, and Aimee :)

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

What We Perceive

I'm getting my haircut today. I will be leaving in a short while to drive 45 minutes to get my haircut by a nice Argentine man named Oscar, because 1. Oscar is a most excellent hairdresser, and 2. My mom is tired enough of looking at my mess of a current hairstyle that she is willing to pay Oscar's outrageous prices for me. (Which is why I haven't cut my hair for over a year--I don't trust a lot of stylists, but I can't justify Oscar's pricing very often--and my hair hasn't bugged my mom enough until now for her to volunteer. :) )

My whole build-up for this blog is to reflect a bit on what we perceive as reality, and what actually IS.

For example, today I am fully optimistic that Oscar will take me into his skilled hands and work miracles with his scissors. I will come out looking younger and thinner. And that is him just working on my hair--no scissor work anywhere else. ;)

In reality, I will come out of his overpriced salon with my mom poorer and my head lighter. I might lose weight in there, but it will be because of the volume of hair he removes. NOT because I would be in need of a new wardrobe to fit my now-svelte body. If Oscar could really make people look younger and thinner with a haircut, he could charge ten times what he does and still have a line around the block with women wanting to sit in his chair.

Have you ever looked in the mirror after going to a little extra trouble with your makeup and clothing and thought "Man, I look good." Maybe fought the urge to give yourself the 'gun' and a wink...?

I have. Okay, maybe not the gun and the wink part--but certainly a turning of the head to catch different angles and make sure I wasn't missing something.

And then, have you had someone take your photo and you see it and suddenly you wonder if you have trick mirrors in your bathroom because you are certain you didn't look like that 5 minutes ago when you had your finger on the trigger and were forcing back the wink that you are fairly sure would have looked more like a twitch if the photo is anything to go by?

Where did that extra weight come from? Someone let me leave the house wearing THAT?

Gun, shmun...someone shoot me now.

Not only do I get caught thinking that I'm more attractive than reality would show, but I also have a youth complex.

I see someone who is younger than I am and I am sure I don't look that old.

Hint to those with teenagers....DON'T ask them if you look older or younger than someone you think must look older. You'll actually get the truth. Well, if you have my daughter you will get a deer-in-the-headlights look as she wonders frantically if telling you the truth will dock her allowance or get her grounded...but the result is the same.

So you see why I am now convinced that I will go into Oscar's chair with too high of expectations and come out briefly thinking that I have gained what all vain women want--youth and beauty--I will think people are checking me out. Wishing that they looked this good.

Then I will get home to reality, where the best comment will be "Your hair is shorter". I will try my hardest to remember to let it go at that and not press for more data.

I like my fantasy.

Reality pops up frequently enough to keep me humble and a bit cranky, but in another flash of dreaming I will just chalk the crankiness up to 'unpredictable' or 'mysterious' and then stay away from mirrors and cameras--and 15 year old daughters--for the rest of the day.