On this hallowed eve…

Ahhh….turning 51 tomorrow.  What can I say?  My celebrity pals have been all over it.   Brad Pitt sent me a pair of mittens that he knitted himself (or so he says…).  Beyoncé dedicated a song to me at her last concert (or so she says…I wasn’t there.  Her concerts are past my bedtime) and Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said that the first touchdown pass that he throws in tonight’s Super Bowl will be for me (he always says crap like that…).   Anyway…celebrity notables aside, here’s what’s on my mind as I turn 51:

  • You know that you’re getting older when the gifts that you receive become more and more about comfort and “socks” are mentioned as your number one item.  Instead my beloved bride bought me a really nice chair to sit my dainty derriere into whilst I sit in front of the computer, making funny for you folks.  Nicely played Connie Sue.
  • Failure isn’t fatal.  If I had come to this realization forty years earlier I can’t help but think just how different this life would be.  In high school I would have danced my ass off at homecoming and prom.  Ass….OFF.  I would have shot the ball constantly in basketball.  You can’t score if you don’t shoot.  I probably would have started down a different career path.  It’s not that I don’t like what I do now, it’s just maybe these talents would have been better suited elsewhere.  At the age of 51…its probably too late to try something different.  Everyday I’m around many young people. I encourage them. I let them know that while I am their boss and hold them accountable for their actions that they are valuable and there’s no such thing as a “perfect life”.  That todays culture doesn’t put enough importance on being: honest, trustworthy, friendly, moral, having a good work ethic and playing nice with others.  That you don’t have to agree with everyone. That life is oftentimes a grind of the boring and mundane.  That it’s up to you to make it happen for you.  And while I’m at it…making work fun and stable for those under my watch.  I really appreciate those tried and true stalwarts of my work day.

Failing...?

Failing…?

  • Are you like me?  Old enough to remember the days when you had to buy a rock groups whole album just to get the ONE song that you really liked?  Albums were like ten bucks or more, and unless the group was really good you had just paid ten dollars for one song.  That’s why I think ITunes is the bees knees.  $1.29 for one song.  Just a couplea clicks and its downloaded into your computer.  A few more clicks and its burned onto a blank DVD-R for the CD player in my old Chevy truck.  Quick survey…who has AC/DC AND the Statler Brothers in their ITunes library?  Anyone…?  Anyone…?  Just…me?  Figures.  The Class of 57 is GOLD people.  GOLD.
  • Yes, I will be getting back into the gym.  Officiating basketball doesn’t really keep a guy fit or build the upper body.  Goals set.  Failure looms.  Let’s see what happens.
  • At this age I’m probably more apt to call a spade a spade, a drama queen a drama queen and walk away from idiots rather than waste my time and energy.
  • I traveled to four different countries this past year.  Headed to Europe this year.  I’m pumped.  I’m also pumped to take a two-day road trip, camera in tow,  of the back roads of my beloved home state…Iowa.  I might even make it a three-day trip.

Hanging Lake is stunningly beautiful....but when your daughter asks you to do a pano selfie you jump ALL OVER IT!!

Hanging Lake is stunningly beautiful….but when your daughter asks you to do a pano selfie you jump ALL OVER IT!!

Rooms next to the river.  Nuff said

Rooms next to the river. Nuff said

  • I haven’t gotten any post-season officiating assignments.  There’s still time, I suppose, but I’m skeptical.  It’s a bitter pill to swallow when you do your best, get a glowing evaluation from a state clinician at a big time game, love the sport and work on it daily to get better only to be on the outside looking in…left out of the tournament.  I had a great season, nothing can diminish that.  I’m a good official, and so are the guys on our crew…but it wasn’t meant to be this season.  Failure isn’t fatal, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a lesson to learn from it.  I just don’t know what that lesson is, yet.  I’ll have all off-season to mull it over.  All.  EightMonths. 

It could be a long offseason....

It could be a long offseason….

  • I’ll be published!!  A magazine contacted me about writing an article for them.  Dead serious!  I signed a contract and am getting paid to write.  I had my right-brained wife (who’s real anal about being smart…cause she is…) proof-read the article prior to submission.  She had me add a couple dozen comma’s and apostrophes.  Nuff said.
  • It’s a time of transition.  My old classmates are becoming grandparents.  Those big-haired, sexy vixens from the early nineteen eighties are now grannies…and are totally rocking it!!  I love seeing them with their grandkids on Facebook.  It’s also a time when some of my older friends are retiring.  What.  The.  Hell?!  I can’t have friends that old…can I?  Good for them.  AARP has been blowing up my phone trying to get me into their stable of older celebrities.  I’m not buying…for now.

Ooo...touch tone phones?!  Why didn't you SAY so?

Ooo…touch tone phones?! Why didn’t you SAY so?

  • This next year I’ll try to shore up some long time friendships that have gotten on the cool side of luke-warm.  You may never know what kind of journey someone’s on until you park their ass on a bar stool and buy them a beer, or three.

Thanks to all of you for your friendship, for reading along and commenting.  I count myself truly blessed to have each of you in my life.  God bless.

R

 

 

2016 Ripley year in review

The highlights and lowlights of 2016 (make yourself comfortable….I might go on a rant)

February…I was assigned three post-season basketball games, a personal high for me.  It’ll be a tough number to beat but every night on the court I try not to suck.  So far….so good.  I used to get butterflies before each game, hours before tip.  Nowadays I get a little nervous, but only to get the game started and start having fun.

April…I took a cruise in the Caribbean with my best buddy.  It was a banner year of travel for yours truly.  Haiti, Jamaica, Mexico and Japan.  Some of my favorite photos of the year were taken during this cruise.  Dave’s my wingman.  Has been since August of 1984.

KICKIN' ASS SINCE 1984

KICKIN’ ASS SINCE 1984

The Tequila Kid and The Ripper

The Tequila Kid and The Ripper

June….a family vacation to Colorado.  All five of us.  Again…lots of fun, great food and a few memorable photos.

Hurricane Pass

Hurricane Pass

We were all over those rapids like a hobo on a ham sandwich

We were all over those rapids like a hobo on a ham sandwich

August…the unexpected death of a young friend.  I miss him.  I was working yesterday when a young man wearing a hoodie turned towards me asked a question, he looked like my friend.  It took me aback.  His death has affected the way that I manage our young employees.  I can’t say that its a better way of managing, but more aware of what’s at stake.  Over the course of 27 years I’ve known five employees who’ve taken their own lives.  I’ve never come to a reasonable answer for any one of them.  As I said before…I miss him.

2016...With our friends daughter, Lilly. She'll never know...

2016…With our friends daughter, Lilly. She’ll never know how great of a person Jordan was.

 

August…..they flew the coop!!  Our two youngest daughters left…in a big way.  One to Germany.  The other to Japan.  Our closest daughter is in Miami…1500 miles away.  My wife and I are all alone.

September….we’ve lived in this neighborhood since 2002.  We’ve been the “new” neighbors for almost 15 years to our next door neighbors.  With Pat and Ed moving into an assisted living apartment and our other neighbor moving to a nearby town…Connie and I are now “old” neighbors.  The young couple living next to us put up a privacy fence and don’t let me pet their dog (of all things…?) but at least Jerry and Claire seem more like our kind.  Nice…wave if they see you…stop and talk.

October...at my workplace, I started posting videos on our stores Facebook page with the charge of “engage our customers”.  Many of the videos that I see on Facebook for our company are…professional though fairly bland, in my opinion.  What I did was become Rowdy Rich.  I  started putting stuff out there with the idea of trying to catch our customers attention with #1…a gimmick (me wearing a pig nose for National Pork Month or something else) and #2…a great price on something that our customers may want.  Its resulted in folks enjoying our Facebook videos but as far as driving us towards a sizable sales increase, don’t hold your breath.

November….I traveled to Japan to visit our daughter Karalee.  Its a long-ass flight…dead serious, but quite an adventure…and I totally enjoyed myself.

At some falls in a gorge with Karalee

At some falls in a gorge with Karalee

December…I read my Facebook “Year in Review”.  Can’t say that I liked it, so I didn’t post it.  What I did find interesting is that I “liked” 5300 times.  REALLY?!  Am I that promiscuous with the “like” button?!  Broken down daily…that’s like 15 “likes” a day.  I was wondering if I was being too liberal with it, then I realized that I was being totally stupid because I’m always going to “like” or react to dog and cat videos, beautiful sunrise/sunset photos, memes that are probably inappropriate and a friend of mine posted her Facebook in review and she had over 10,000 “likes” (BTW…she rarely posts, what she does post isn’t funny and she’s a fairly quiet person….so if anyone has a problem it’s her….not me, cause I’m normal).

Connie left me alone for the holidays.  Dead serious.  For the last week I’ve been totally alone.  Christmas Eve…alone.  Christmas morning…alone.  Thank God my brother and his wife had me over for Christmas dinner (where I was fed like a King!!).  Before you get the tar warmed up and feathers ready, she’s visiting our two daughters.  One in Germany and one in Japan, with a quick visit to Sweden where she’s touring where her ancestors lived, not to mention the moose burgers she ate and wine she’s been drinking…all the while “missing you sweetheart!!”  That old ruse!!  Someone needs to start a business where you can rent a pet for the duration of your wife’s vacation.  Her absence would be greatly eased with either a puppy or kitten greeting me every nightDead serious. 

My boss had a baby.  So I’m trying to do my job and hers.  I can’t really half-ass either and get away with it…so I’ve been going into work on my days off for a few hours and working.  I’ve worked 25 hours in two days so far this week!  Its okay…I’m just getting a little grumpy towards the end of my work day…especially with no puppy or kitten or wife to greet me at home.  Also…since its Christmas break there’s no basketball games to officiate to work off my stress.  Honestly…that brings me down as well.

I’m part of Big Brothers/Big Sisters, an organization that pairs at-risk kids with mentors.   I’m a Big Brother to a 14 year-old young man.  I try to be a good influence on him, take him to movies, dinner, games, try to teach him life-skills, etc.  We’ve been together for 2+ years.  Recently his mother (and him) won’t respond to me taking him out like we used to do.  I’ve been trying for two months with nothing happening.  If his mother does reply she says that “he’ll get back to you”.  I understand that he’s 14, probably doesn’t think replying to my texts are a big deal…but I wonder if we’re “done”.  It kind of made me mad, at first, but perhaps I was only to be a part of his life for these past two years and that’s his journey, not mine.  Our case worker is reaching out to him…but I have a feeling that its “over”.  If it is…I’d be sad.  He doesn’t have a good male role model (not that I’m a Boy Scout by any measure….) in his life.  His friends are shoplifting and such, I told his mother that. He might be done with me.   I’ll just wait and see.

Ripley's...jumping for joy

Ripley’s…jumping for joy

I hope that your year was a great one.  Take care and thanks for coming along.

God bless…

R

 

Rainy day road signs and rattlesnakes

With our time in Colorado coming to an end we packed up and headed east towards home, a two-day drive for us.  VACATION 2016 was ending.  The following are photos from various days that have a story to tell.

We drove in a steady rain for the first three hours...up and down mountains. I can't say that I'll miss those hills.

We drove in a steady rain for the first three hours…up and down mountains. I can’t say that I’ll miss those hills.

Oh great...rattlesnakes. My bride "got me" with the old "dead brand on the back of her husbands bare leg" trick. Once I returned to Earth I calmly told her that I didn't appreciate such sophomoric stunts.

Oh great…rattlesnakes. My bride “got me” with the old “dead branch on the back of her husbands bare leg” trick. Once I returned to Earth I calmly told her in a high pitched/profanity laced tirade that I did NOT appreciate such sophomoric stunts.

 

Cousins having fun. Karalee and Maddie

Cousins having fun. Karalee and Maddie

Maddie and my mother-in-law Ardis. I'm her favorite son-in-law. You'll have that when you're the ONLY son-in-law. Regardless...it was great seeing everyone at the wedding.

Maddie and my mother-in-law Ardis. I’m her favorite son-in-law. You’ll have that when you’re the ONLY son-in-law. Regardless…it was great seeing everyone at the wedding.

Macy and Karalee yelling at their Uncle Jim who's crossing the hotel parking lot. Wallflowers one minute, obnoxious loudmouths the next...poor Jim

Macy and Karalee yelling at their Uncle Jim who’s crossing the hotel parking lot. Wallflowers one minute, obnoxious loudmouths the next…poor Jim

Apparently Connie and I are taking too long at Bridal Falls as we get the old "geez...are they done yet?" hands on hips look from Jordan and Macy

Apparently Connie and I are taking too long at Bridal Falls as we get the old “geez…are they done yet?” hands on hips look from Jordan and Macy

Here's the girls watching the Sound of Music. Our cabin didn't have a TV stand so Connie had to hold it the whole time.

Here’s the girls watching the Sound of Music. Our cabin didn’t have a TV stand so Connie had to hold it the whole time.

Oh joy...eight and a half hours of driving and we lose an hour going back to Central Standard Time. No matter how you slice it...a long day

Oh joy…eight and a half hours of driving and we gain an hour coming back to Central Standard Time. No matter how you slice it…a long day.

 

 

The foot bridge at the cabin. Mostly used for bear and mountain lion traffic, I'd occasionally tempt fate and cross during rush hour.

The foot bridge at the cabin. Mostly used for bear and mountain lion traffic, I’d occasionally tempt fate and cross during rush hour.

I crept down into the creek to get this photo of both bridges at the cabin and was accompanied by several thousand thirsty mosquitoes. I quickly departed but not before satisfying most of their appetites.

I crept down into the creek to get this photo of both bridges at the cabin and was accompanied by several thousand thirsty mosquitoes. I quickly departed but not before quenching most of their thirsts.

From Scottsbluff NE. "We have nice rooms. Not great...but you know...nice, but not TOO nice."

From Scottsbluff NE. “We have nice rooms. Not great…but you know…nice, but not TOO nice.”

We stopped in Ogallala Nebraska for lunch on our way home.  We found the place, a finished out Morten building on the far end of town away from the interstate, with help of Yelp.  You could tell that it was thee meeting place, complete with bar, sit-down restaurant area and meeting room for banquets.  After we placed our order at the bar the woman taking our order asked where we were from.  I laughed, replying “…is it that obvious that we’re not from here?”  We stood out from their “regulars”.  Good food and we were back on the road towards Grand Island.

What the hell is going on in Wyoming that they need six inch thick walls separating each urinal? Never mind....I don't want to know.

What the hell is going on in Wyoming rest areas that they need six inch thick concrete partitions separating each urinal? Never mind….I don’t want to know.

In Glenwood Springs CO. Not quite sure about this...?

In Glenwood Springs CO. Not quite sure about this…?

I love a good sign. Direct Dial Touch Tone Phones?!?! Can I get TWO rooms?

I love a good sign. Direct Dial Touch Tone Phones?!?! What’s next…COLOR TV’S in EVERY room?!

My favorite sign...in the middle of Starbucks, Subway & modern business's. Their lobby had a statue of....wait for it...ELVIS.

My favorite sign…in the middle of nowhere amongst a Starbucks, Subway & modern business’s. Their lobby had a statue of….wait for it…ELVIS.

My second favorite sign

My second favorite sign

Found this novelty in Glenwood Springs. Turns out me and my friends are worth MILLIONS!!

Found this novelty in Glenwood Springs. Turns out me and my friends are worth MILLIONS!!

Oh boy...eastern Colorado. Hours and hours and hours of this...

Oh boy…eastern Colorado & western Nebraska. Hours and hours and hours of this…

...and llif Colorado. llif?

…and llif Colorado. llif?

Did I tell you that I love a good sign? Julesburg CO

Did I tell you that I love a good sign? Julesburg CO

Cabin yard and creek. Many a lion, tiger & bear were seen in this area every evening when I wanted to look at the stars.

Cabin yard and creek. Many a lion, tiger & bear were seen in this area every evening when I wanted to look at the stars.

Saw this interesting business partnership. Bar & Barbershop.

At first I was drawn to the Walken sign then saw this interesting business partnership. Bar & Barbershop.  Get a buzz cut while getting buzzed.

Connie shows us how long the last snake she saw was....which wasn't that long ago...

Connie shows us how long the last snake she saw was….which wasn’t that long ago…

Cheers!!

Massive cronut and Blackberry soda for lunch after a morning of hiking.  Not.  Too.  Shabby.  Cheers!!

Present day vacation photo....

Present day vacation photo….

 

 

...but when I look in the back seat....I still see this.

…but when I look in the back seat….I still see this.

Our last night of vacation was spent in Grand Island Nebraska….still over six hours away from home.  Our company has a grocery store in Grand Island.  I’d sound less than authentic if I didn’t admit that it was good to get back to what I’m used to.  It felt reassuringly familiar, even if it was Nebraska.

Thank you for coming along with us.  I enjoyed your comments and hope that you had a good time reading.  Take care and God bless.

R

 

 

Ugh…hiking

As you may or may not know, my bride sets up our itinerary for our vacations.  I’m free to participate in them or not.  An activity like horseback riding is something that I’ve passed on, which is really extraordinary seeing as how I look and act so much like a real live cowboy.  The confident swagger (I got it).  The “awe shucks Ma’am” demeanor after I rescue a lady in distress (nailed it).  The boyish good looks (what can I say?  God don’t make no mistakes…).  The alpha male/John Wayne persona (got muh six-shooter by muh side…pilgrim).  Me wearing just my straw cowboy hat and underwear, bare-chested on the cabins porch…blowing the steam off of my pine cone-shaped coffee mug (lookin’ pretty good if I do say so myself…).

Anyway…Connie had set up a couple of hiking days for us.  One at Maroon Bells and the other at Hanging Lake.  Let me be clear about this.  Despite all of the macho stuff that you may think that you know about yours truly, Rich Ripley….liar extraordinaire, I really don’t care for activities.  I like “alone time”.  Driving…alone.  Eating…alone.  Listening to music…alone.  Watching TV…alone.  You get the idea.  But here’s the catch, we had our three adult daughters along and I thought that I’d regret it if I didn’t hike with them…so up the mountain side I went, mile after glorious mile.  Here are a number of photos with descriptions and captions.

The "trail" for Hanging Lake. It ascends 1000' in altitude in 1.2 miles of climbing.

The “trail” for Hanging Lake. It ascends 1000′ in altitude in 1.2 miles of climbing.

I was goofing around at the trial head when our middle daughter scolded me.

Karalee:  Dad…quit joking around so much.  You’ll run out of breath!

Me:  That’s quitter talk!!  Ha ha ha WHEEZ….WHEEZZ….WHEEEEZZZ!!!

(Not a lot of oxygen up there in those hills.  Rest assured…I remained hilarious)

The troops mutinied when I set a pace that was too brisk and was demoted to the rear of the formation, a prime bear-target area. As I reminded the girls, "I only have to run faster than one of you, which I most surely will." Family vacations bring out the BEST in me.

The troops mutinied when I set a pace that was too brisk and was demoted to the rear of the formation, a prime bear-target area. As I reminded the girls, “I only have to run faster than one of you, which I most surely will.” Family vacations bring out the BEST in me.

Hanging Lake is stunningly beautiful....but when your daughter asks you to do a pano selfie you jump ALL OVER IT!!

Hanging Lake is stunningly beautiful….but when your daughter asks you to do a pano selfie you jump ALL OVER IT!!

This is what we climbed to see and were NOT disappointed. WHEEEZZZ!!

This is what we climbed to see and were NOT disappointed. WHEEEZZZ!!

Maroon Bells on a grey rainy day. Still beautiful.

Maroon Bells on a grey rainy day. Still beautiful.

Awesomely wonderful

Awesomely wonderful

We got lost for a few hours...that's when my Cub Scout training kicked in. OVER THERE GIRLS!! I SEE A STARBUCKS!! (I wore black knee high socks that day. I regret nothing)

We got lost for a few hours…that’s when my Cub Scout training kicked in. OVER THERE GIRLS!! I SEE A STARBUCKS!! (I wore black knee high socks that day. I regret nothing)

My advice to you about hiking is this:

  1. Wear good shoes & proper clothing.
  2. Take snacks and plenty of water.
  3. Arrive early.  It’ll take awhile to hike a mile or so to the attraction, and back.
  4. Learn multiple songs that can be sung by many, songs like 99 Bottles of beer on the wall.  Singers of 99 Bottles of beer on the wall rarely surprise moose and/or bear, and if you do surprise them and they take one of your group…hopefully its the tenor.  No one likes those snooty tenors….am I right?!

Okay…activities aside….we’d return to the cabin except for the one day when….

OH. MY. LORD. This place ROCKED!!

OH. MY. LORD. This place ROCKED!!

We were on the verge of death…literally starving and on life-support when we walked into this eatery in Glenwood Springs.  Our daughters milled around the illuminated glass display cases when the owner (a younger guy) approached them and asked “YOU GIRLS READY TO PARTY?!”  This place specializes in donuts, cronuts and specialty sandwiches.  We went for the cronuts and were filled with fried, iced and filled with cream….DELICIOUSNESS!!   It closes at two in the afternoon so we got two for the price of one…or at least the girls did.

A pack of hungry wolves couldn't have done it any better as we tore into these delectable pastries.

A pack of hungry wolves couldn’t have done it any better as we tore into these delectable pastries.

Later on that night we drove down to Aspen to check out….wait for it….

Excuse me while I get in touch with my inner nerd

Excuse me while I get in touch with my inner nerd

Its beautiful. Its free. Its like his music.

Its beautiful. Its free. Its like his music.

yep...just quiet with the sound of the brook running through it...all in Aspen

yep…just quiet with the sound of the brook running through it…all in Aspen

Connie and Jordan

Connie and Jordan

As for Aspen itself…I could live with never going back.  Its pricy and getting around is a little congested, what with it being nestled in between majestic peaks and such.  We did see some cool homes though.  The average price of a single family home?  Five million clams. 

Our cabin was a good place to stay.  Unfortunately there were some issues that arose.  We were blessed (still are).  Our problems weren’t health or safety related…just a broken washer so that I had to haul our bath towels into town every day and wash them, then truck them back to the cabin to dry.  THAT…right there…is a FIRST WORLD problem.

There's nothing like walking in from a 90+ degree parking lot into a 90+ degree, steamy laundromat. I jot down some blog notes while Macy snaps the pic.

There’s nothing like walking in from a 90+ degree parking lot into a 90+ degree, steamy laundromat. I jot down some blog notes while Macy snaps the pic.

One more day of vacation left, plus a few twists and turns along the way.  I think that I enjoy the road more than the stay.  Thank you for following along.  This vacation was made all the more enjoyable back when my brother Brian left for college in the summer of ’77 and left his record collection for me.  Hours of listening to him and Creedence Clearwater Revival.  That was a pretty good summer.

Until next time.  God bless.

R

 

 

Big Sid’s is where its at!!

We tried something different on this vacation. We hired someone to drive us around in a Jeep, up in the mountains, above the tree line and I thoroughly enjoyed it…the girls…maybe not so much.  The drive took us on roads (if you can call them that…) up steep inclines, through creeks and on plenty of paths that I wouldn’t have had the courage to try to navigate.  The reward was breathtaking views and time with family.  Our drivers name was John, though he reminded me a lot of my buddy Joel.  His voice, his demeanor, his knowledge of wildlife and the history of Aspen and Colorado (maybe not Joel so much in that regard) and his easy going segues into being a smart-ass and laughing at his own jokes.  Good times.

We passed maybe two or three vehicles all day on these paths.

We passed maybe two or three vehicles all day on these paths.

YIKES!!!  I thought for a second that Bigfoot had jumped in the Jeep with us.  Turns out its just Connie Sue's hair went bat-sh*t crazy.

YIKES!!! I thought for a second that Bigfoot had jumped in the Jeep with us. Turns out its just Connie Sue’s hair went bat-sh*t crazy.

We were lucky enough to see this young bear along the way.  I coaxed him into the Jeep, scratched his ears and sung him a little Rocky Mountain High before turning him back into the wild.  I think...he cried a little as we drove off.

We were lucky enough to see this young bear along the way. I coaxed him into the Jeep, scratched his ears and sung him a little Rocky Mountain High before turning him back into the wild. I think…he cried a little as we drove off.

Even above the tree-line my legs are sexy.  True story

Even above the tree-line my legs are sexy. True story

We had a picnic in an old ghost town near Aspen

We had a picnic in an old ghost town near Aspen

The wonderful views were plentiful.  Just awe inspiring.  The camera doesn't do it justice

The wonderful views were plentiful. Just awe inspiring. The camera doesn’t do it justice

Group "jump" photo.  First attempt....fail

Group “jump” photo. First attempt….fail

second attempt....NAILED IT!!

second attempt….NAILED IT!!

...and sisters being sisters

…and sisters being sisters

Hurricane Pass

Hurricane Pass

No trip to Glenwood Springs is complete without stopping by my buddy Big Sid's Bottles and gettin' a little medicine.

No trip to Glenwood Springs is complete without stopping by my buddy Big Sid’s Bottles and gettin’ a little medicine.

...and not having anything to do with Big Sid's Bottles is that all of that fresh air required a nap in the afternoon.

…and not having anything to do with Big Sid’s Bottles is that all of that fresh air required a nap in the afternoon.

So far….a great vacation.  Thanks for coming along.

R

 

 

EXPERIENCE NEBRASKA!! (or so I was told…)

Here’s how it works.  Sometime in January my wife informs me that we need to start planning what we’re going to do for a summer vacation.  I wholeheartedly agree by mumbling “…okay…whatever…let me know what you decide…”.  She then plans our vacation, making reservations, setting up an itinerary, researching points of interest, restaurants and letting me know what dates to block off for said vacation.  I’m only in charge of my own packing and driving us to and from places.  It works out best this way since I don’t really care to travel but for the sake of keeping my bride happy I look for things along the way to keep me interested AND I always enjoy myself.  Its kind of an adventure.

This years vacation coincided with our nieces wedding in northwest Nebraska.  For those unfamiliar with the state of Nebraska, and all that it has to offer, its greatest resource are its people.  They’re nice, just like Iowans.  Iowa and Nebraska’s sister states Illinois, Wisconsin, Missouri and Minnesota all have sexy attractions like: Chicago, The Dells, The Ozarks,  National Forests, Door County, The Great Lakes, The Packers, Bears, Cubs, Royals, Cardinals, Vikings, Twins, Chiefs, White Sox, Bulls, The Twin Cities, Kansas City and St. Louis just to mention a few.  In Iowa we have the Amana Colonies where the Amish settled AND really, really kickass rest areas along the interstate highways.  If you’re from Iowa you really can’t look down your nose at Nebraska…especially when you’re known for being a leader in the production of: corn, eggs, chickens, milk and hogs….all of which are just dandy but not sexy nor attractive (actually…YOU’RE WELCOME AMERICA…while the rest of you are having a blast we’re just toiling away in America’s Heartland, listening to the corn grow and tending to the millions of chickens and hogs that reside with us between the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers).  But tirades aside…we were destined for the northwest corner of Nebraska and my wife decided to take us westward from there to Colorado after the wedding.  A great thing happened along the way….all three of our daughters would be joining us.  Ages 25, 23 and 20, it’d been years since we could all vacation together and we were looking forward to it, and truth be told….I like Nebraska.  Dead serious.  The state and its folks are fine with me…just don’t get them started on the Huskers unless you’ve got HOURS to listen to how terrific they are…er used to be.

The drive across Iowa and Nebraska is breathtakingly beautiful if you enjoy lush green rolling hills and plains chock-full of corn and soybeans, interspersed with hay, hogs and cattle in various states of growth.  Dead serious…hour upon hour of green…until you get to central Nebraska then its drier and less green.  To my point…not much going on until you exit I-80 at Ogallala and head north.  You don’t realize it while its happening, but we had climbed from 800 feet above sea level (where we live in Iowa) to 3280 at Ogallala.  It has BLUFFS that dive deep to Lake McConaughy (not affiliated with the actor) and rolling, far as the eye can see, prairie.  Its beautiful. 

Here’s a reenactment of our 2007 trip to Colorado.

At a rest area in Nebraska 2007.  Throwing away an ornery Macy. (try not to stare at those sexy denim shorts and mid-calf white socks...LADIES!!)

At a rest area in Nebraska 2007. Throwing away an ornery Macy. (try not to stare at those sexy denim shorts and mid-calf white socks…LADIES!!)

Nine years later...she's still sassy, a little heavier but I have the situation under control...sans the sexy denim shorts.

Nine years later…she’s still sassy, a little heavier but I have the situation under control…sans the sexy denim shorts.

Uh oh.  Fortunately they only got me six inches off of the ground.  I was thinking "if they drop me...how can I drive with broken ribs...?"  This was Connie's idea BTW.

Uh oh. Fortunately they only got me six inches off of the ground. I was thinking “if they drop me…how can I drive with broken ribs…?” This was Connie’s idea BTW.

We arrived at Scottsbluff the day before the wedding and went about investigating the locale and took the following photos over the next two days.  It was a really nice town out in the middle of nowhere.

Amazingly beautiful.  Scottsbluff National Monument was a great place to visit.  The Oregon Trail passed through it.

Amazingly beautiful. Scottsbluff National Monument was a great place to visit. The Oregon Trail passed through it.

Pondering my next move...

Pondering my next move…

...and suffering the consequences.

…and suffering the consequences.

Having a little fun with the pano setting on my phones camera and its filters.

A beautiful day.

A beautiful day.

Family fun…

Karalee and Macy hamming it up for the camera

Karalee and Macy hamming it up for the camera

So many cool views...this doesn't do them justice.

So many cool views…this doesn’t do them justice.

We had lunch in Scottsbluff at a Mexican restaurant that received good reviews on Yelp but wasn’t much bigger than a two car garage.  It was authentic and tasty.

Are the bars on the windows to keep folks out...or in?  Regardless...I was too hungry to ponder this question for very long

Are the bars on the windows to keep folks out…or in? Regardless…I was too hungry to ponder this question for very long

We went to the wedding, held outside on a high hill overlooking the surrounding plains.  Definitely “country-western” themed.  It was beautiful.  God.  Family.  Friends.  Food.

The bride and one of the groomsmen.

The bride and one of the groomsmen.

A storm had rolled in the previous night and I got a few shots of it.  That’s one thing that I really like about being in the country…seeing the sky.

Top to bottom...blue, white and pink.  Strong winds didn't keep the mosquitoes from harassing me between gusts.

Top to bottom…blue, white and pink. Strong winds didn’t keep the mosquitoes from harassing me between gusts.

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Together again…the RIPLEYS ARE GOING TO COLORADO!!! (via Nebraska and Wyoming).

Connie, Karalee, Jordan, Macy and me.

Connie, Karalee, Jordan, Macy and me.

The ride gets wilder as we enter a state that offers legalized fireworks, marijuana, scenic mountain views, critters that can eat you and a speed limit bordering on insane down 5% grades.   Thanks for tagging along!  More to come.

God bless,

R