Friday, October 29, 2021

The Trip Back

 We left Iowa (😢) on Sunday morning and had a long day of driving back to the same hotel that we stayed at a week earlier on the drive to Iowa, in Westlake, Ohio (outside of Cleveland).

For some reason I took two pictures of arriving in Indiana and none of Illinois or Ohio.

We ate dinner at The Cheesecake Factory that evening. Their avocado eggrolls are my favorite, and this salmon meal from their Skinnylicious menu was delicious! It was a nice treat after a long day on the road.

In the morning while at breakfast at the hotel, I was in for a very nice surprise--I ran into my friend Anna there! We were in the same ward in Connecticut from 2006-10 and we've stayed in touch through Facebook and Christmas cards since moving away in 2010. It was so random and wonderful to see an old friend out of the blue like that! She was headed west with her family while we were headed east. Her husband is now the bishop of our old ward. It was so nice to catch up!

We were driving to the church history sites in Kirtland, Ohio that morning (that will be my next post), and to more church history sites in Palmyra, New York that afternoon (that will be the post after that).

I was amused by the name of this road. "Johnnycake," LOL. It's a good nickname for John. 😆

These are a few random pictures from the trip that I want to squeeze in somewhere. My mom took these pictures. As you can see, she's really good at getting flattering pictures of me. 😂

Fossil Gorge

Red Lobster. I look like a grumpy Karen. 😂😂😂

At the top of the Hill Cumorah. Maybe she was going for a nice visionary-like shot.

But this was a good one. It might even make it on to this year's Christmas card!

Thursday, October 28, 2021

The Hansen Hotel

 My good friend Melanie Hansen generously offered for us to stay in their spacious and newly remodeled basement during our stay in Iowa. This was a great money-saver, and it exceeded my expectations in every way. Their basement is awesome, with two bedrooms, a full bathroom, a big rec room, a playroom, a game room, a mini fridge, and a gym. And I'm probably still missing some things! It was so nice, and we were very comfortable and happy there. 

This was my room. How could it not be with that cute trio of owls? 😁

My room opened up into the playroom, where Sam slept.

The Hansens' grandchildren are very lucky kids! (For many reasons, not just a great playroom!) 

John slept on the couch for the few nights that he was here and not at Craig's house. My mom slept in the other bedroom.

Sam really enjoyed the air hockey table, so much so that I ended up getting him one for his birthday in September! It's not as big or as fancy as this one, but it's a good, fun one.

John got a workout in. The Hansen Hotel had it all!

These were in the laundry room and I thought they were cute.

It was great to be with Mito again! He's such a fun, spunky little dog. We played with him a lot, and of course we took pictures with him. By the time we left, Mito might have been kind of glad. 😆

Not to be forgotten is their sweet cat Millie, who I have a particular soft spot for. Marlan really wished we could take her home with us (for real!), and I wished we could have too.

We got a kick out of how Millie likes to hang out on the roof of the house. 😅

We left on Sunday morning and Melanie and Marlan made us a delicious home-cooked breakfast, which was so kind of them. They truly are the best people and we are so blessed to have them as our friends. Marlan was our stake president and home teacher (and he's also a renowned ear, nose, and throat surgeon), and Melanie was a wonderful friend and walking partner. We had great walks and talks over the years, and I miss that a lot.

John's fake smile here makes me LOL 😂

Millie was waiting on the roof to bid us farewell. Ha ha!

Bye Millie!

Before we took off, I got a good shot of the beautiful Iowa countryside near their house. 

I'm so thankful to the Hansens for their hospitality, generosity, and friendship. They were a very special part of our eight wonderful years of living in Iowa, and they're still a special part of our lives and I think they always will be. It was a totally worthwhile trip in every way. 💛💛💛

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Saturday in Iowa

 Saturday was our last full day in Iowa before we left on Sunday morning. We'd done just about everything we wanted to do, so it was a pretty relaxed day. We were staying at the home of our good friends the Hansens (more on that tomorrow), but Melanie had been away all week and she got back late on Friday night, so on Saturday she and I went for one of our good old walks and we went out to lunch with our friend Kaelyn. 

I got one of my favorite dishes at Monica's, chicken balsamico. It was good to eat that again. But it was even better to spend time with Melanie and Kaelyn.

That afternoon the boys and my mom and I went to downtown Iowa City so that John could walk around and get a feel for the University of Iowa campus. I think it would be a good school for him to apply to next year. He remembered going there for field trips and summer camps. It would be quite a bit different to go as a student!

What's up Herky!

This is the old State Capitol building (Iowa City was originally the capital of Iowa). It's now part of the university campus.

I'll always associate the color yellow with Iowa.

That evening Sam and I returned to Red Lobster for dinner. I would have preferred to go to HuHot, which is where John and my mom went, but Sam really wanted to go to Red Lobster (mostly for the biscuits), so Red Lobster it was for me and Sam.
I don't know why these pictures came out so badly! Maybe my phone's camera lens was dirty.

This was my attempt to take pictures of the beautiful country landscape near the Hansen's house, but my camera still wasn't cooperating. There was also some haze in the air from the wildfires out west.

I never thought I'd miss cornfields as much as I have!

There was a cool inverted rock wall in the Hansen's garage that the boys had fun climbing on. 

It was so good to spend time with Melanie and Marlan that evening. We played cornhole and sat and talked by the firepit. They are such good friends to us. I feel very blessed by the support of good friends and family in my life. 💛