Lubec, Maine and Saint John, New Brunswick

May 22-25, 2009
Surry, ME
Lubec, ME
Saint John, NB
Alma, NB

When I started this blog, I was only planning on writing about Bryon’s death forward.  Facebook reminded me today that On This Day eight years ago, Bryon arrived from New York for his first trip to Maine.  It was before I moved to Albany.  I felt like I wanted to share what I remember about that trip.  I don’t want to forget before my daughter is old enough to hear the story so if I write it here, she will likely get a better account.  A preservation of sorts. Also, I am riding a pretty harsh grief wave and maybe writing about this will give me a break from the grief.

As I was saying, Facebook reminded me that 8 years ago, I was excitedly awaiting to arrive of my love.  It was a Friday.  It was his first time coming to Maine and his first time meeting the parents.  That was back when there was that topless donut shop in Vassalboro, ME and Bryon was getting a rise out of me by telling me he was going to stop.  He didn’t actually stop but he enjoyed pulling my chain.

Saturday Bryon and I began the 3 hour drive to Saint John, New Brunswick.  We made a stop at the West Quoddy Lighthouse in Lubec so we could say we had been to the most eastern point in the United States.

 

We arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in the late afternoon.  Bryon was driving and somehow knew his way around even without using Google Maps.  He had an amazing sense of direction. We stayed at a Delta Hotel.  We had dinner at the Saint John Alehouse which boasted the largest collection of beers on tap in Eastern Canada.  They had 29 beers which Bryon found charming.  We both ate these delicious burgers with a cheese that was flavored with Guinness and we both had a side of poutine.  Bryon was talking about hockey with the bartender.

The next day, we drove another hour and a half to the Bay of Fundy National Park.  I remember we passed a cute historic little cemetery and I was sad we didn’t stop.  (I have fascination with old cemeteries.)  Bryon assured me it was okay that we didn’t stop because they were probably Loyalists anyway.

We spent the day at the National Park.  It was beautiful.  We had lunch at a restaurant in a little coastal New Brunswick village named Alma.  I don’t remember the name of the restaurant but I remember that we ate fried clams and that the service was not good.

That night we had dinner back in Saint John at a restaurant that overlooked the Reversing Falls.  We went out a bar after but I don’t remember the name.

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The next morning, we stopped at Moosehood Brewery and Bryon bought a few pint glasses on clearance.  I think they have all been broken.  At some point, we went to the New Brunswick Museum but I don’t remember where that fit into the timeline.

On the way, I remember we stopped at a gas station and convenience store in rural New Brunswick because we weren’t sure if we had enough has to get back to the US.  (If you are not from the US or Canada, the reason we wanted to get back to the US is because gas is much less expensive here.   So if you drive to Canada from the US, always, always, always fill your tank before you cross the border.)  We put in ten dollars worth of gas figuring that would get us back to the US. Bryon couldn’t resist playing some scratch-offs.

I was excited that we were stopped on the International line.

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So many details I don’t remember.  Makes me glad that I now keep a travel journal and I write down all the mundane details like the names of restaurants and what we ate and every Museum we go to.  I want my daughter to know every detail of our adventures.  But I want to give her some idea of the adventures her Mom and Dad had before her.

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Race Recap: Ann Arbor Probility 5k

So this blog is called “Running Forward” and you may have noticed there hasn’t been much running in it.  That’s because I dropped the ball over the winter.  I did some running over the winter but nothing over 6 miles.  Every time I seemed to pick up momentum, I seemed to get this on-again, off-again chest cold. Plus I had gone back to work after Thanksgiving and it was hard learning to juggle work and single motherhood.  I hate making excuses and I am usually very hard on myself but I am trying to cut myself some slack.

I was registered to run a half marathon the weekend I was in Ann Arbor but as the race approached, I knew I was not in any shape to run a half-marathon. At first I thought I could tough it out it. I mean, I ran a half-marathon six weeks after Bryon died.  But I was in the most raw grief at the point.  Then the chest cold was cycling back around again.  My Maine best friend told me that there was no shame in switching to a shorter distance. I have never run a 10k but I decided I wanted to be in better shape to get a base 10k time so I decided I would run the 5k.

My Maine best friend came with me to the race expo.  I went to the Half-Marathon table and explained my dilemma.  I was directed to another table that was labeled “Registrations and Solutions.”  Changing my registration was painless.  The woman that at the table assured me that there were lots of people in my situation with illnesses and injuries.

After I changed my registration, I went to the other side of the room to claim my t-shirt.  For some reason, I wasn’t feeling checking out the tables for swag.  So my Maine best friend and I checked the course map so we could plan the logistics for the next day and then left.

The next morning, I got up around 6:15 am and tried to be quiet as I didn’t want to wake my daughter.  But she woke up.  I told her she could stay at the house with my Chicago best friend or come to the race and my daughter immediately says “RACE!”  So we fed her some breakfast and bundled her up.  I ate half of a plain bagel and drank a little coffee and water.

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The race was set to start at 7:30 am and it started right in front of the University of Michigan Stadium. We decided to walk because my Maine best friend, and her fiance, the Scientist lived close enough that it didn’t make sense to drive.  It was about a 20 minute walk.  All four races had the same start.  There was a lot of excitement but I don’t know what I would feel about it if I were a marathoner.  The start was slow because there was a large bottleneck of runners.  It ended up taking me two minutes to cross the start line.

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I was not mentally prepared to run.  I was not focused, I forgot my inhalor and I forgot my garmin.  I decided that since this was just a 5k that I would just enjoy the run since I was anticipating an awful time.  

The 5k was one lap, 10k was two.  There was a half marathon lap and marathoners did two.  The 5k was not well marked but I managed.  I had forgotten my garmin and had no concept of how fast I was running.  The race was quick.  We ran down the main street and we turned onto the campus.  We ran by the natural history museum where we were the day before.  Before I knew it, I saw the 12 mile and 25 mile markers for the half marathon and marathon so I knew it was the last mile.  I was actually feeling pretty good despite not having my inhaler.

Before I knew it, I was running through the finish chute.  I was convinced my time was going to be awful but the timer said 45:59 so I knew my chip time was going to be faster. I got my medal and snagged a 5k brownie for my daughter.  After the race, I went to a Starbucks for my Venti Iced Americano with cream, sugar and an extra shot and then my Maine best friend, The Scientist, my daughter and I walked back to the house.

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My official time was 43:34.  I was satisfied.  It wasn’t my worst time and it wasn’t my best time.  For being under trained, I was content and even a little excited. I had never run a 5k that was in conjunction with a marathon and a half marathon so that was exciting and I am glad I went through with racing.  It actually started to rain heavily after we got back to the house so in a way, I was relieved I didn’t run.  I don’t mind running in the rain but I wouldn’t have wanted my Maine best friend, the Scientist or my daughter to have to stand around in the rain waiting for me.  All’s well that ends well.

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Overall, I thought this was a great event.  And I will be redeeming myself in 2018.

Michigan and the Canadian countryside

Last weekend I took my daughter on our second big adventure since Bryon passed away.  My best friend from Maine, who had been living in Florida with her fiance, just relocated to Ann Arbor, Michigan.  I looked at google maps and saw that it was about a nine hour drive.  I ascertained that it would be long, but it was doable.  The drive to my parents house in Maine is usually about 8 hours so this would only be a little longer.  I decided to make this into a “runcation” (which I will write about in another race recap post.)  To make an exciting weekend even better, my other best friend from Chicago decided to drive up with her daughter.  In case you forgot, she was the one who consoled me as I sat on the floor in a Las Vegas casino crying a month ago.

I couldn’t seem to get my act together all week so I was packing on Friday morning and got a later start than I had wanted.  I kept feeling like I was forgetting something.  I had to remind myself that there were Targets in Michigan and if I forgot anything, I could just get it at Target, along with other stuff I don’t really need but I will decide I can’t live without.  We finally got on the road around 9 am.

Our trip was pretty uneventful, though we ran into some snow but it was sunny by the time we were in Western, NY.  Before we knew it, we were at Niagara Falls.  My gas tank was just below a half of a tank but I stopped to fill my tank before entering Canada.  Anyone who travels to Canada knows, gas is very expensive and it is wise to fill up on the United States side of the Border.

I was nervous crossing the border without Bryon because I had read on the internet that Canada was careful about children crossing the border without both parents.  If you are a single parent traveling with a minor, you need a notarized letter from the other parents stating it’s okay.  Well, Bryon wasn’t here to notarize any sort of letter.  So I brought my daughters birth certificate along with a copy of Bryon’s death certificate.  (We also have NEXUS cards)  I was chatting with the Canadian Border agent who was very nice and she said it really was a concern when parents don’t bring any ID and it was clear I was my daughter’s mother.  She did look at our NEXUS cards and my daughter’s birth certificate.  The border agent said she didn’t need to look at Bryon’s death certificate but told me that it was a good idea to have it on me just in case.  

My daughter finally fell asleep in Canada.  The drive was long and uneventful with lots of farmland.  Bryon and I had never traveled further than the Niagara region so Southern Ontario was all new territory.  I found myself wishing he was on the trip with us.  For starters, he would have been doing the driving.  Second, we drove by so many places that would have excited him, like the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame.   I imagine the conversation would have gone something like this:

Bryon: Let’s stop!  It’s the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame!

Kerry:  You don’t even like going to the American Baseball Hall of Fame.  You think it’s lame.

Bryon: But Kerry…It’s the CANADIAN Baseball Hall of Fame.

Kerry: But…you aren’t that into baseball and a visit will take up a lot of time and we want to get to Michigan before it get’s dark.

Bryon: You are a Miss No-Fun.

I also thought fondly of Bryon as I drove by London, Ontario and saw the sign for the Labatt Brewery.  He loved Labatt.

I was bored with the radio in the car and ended up listening to the CBC news.  I decided that would be my cultural activity of the day since I would not be stopping at Tim Hortons, or the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame or the Labatt Brewery.  I drove by a really large wind farm that went on for 45 minutes.  Then I was finally in Windsor, Ontario and then I was crossing the Ambassador Bridge into Detroit.  The Bridge was beautiful and I couldn’t take a picture because I was driving.  There was a very large American flag.  I don’t know if it is because I am generally a patriotic person or if it was because I was glad that my long drive was almost over but I started to belt out “America the Beautiful” when I saw that flag.  My daughter was not impressed.  I can’t blame her as I am not exactly a good singer.  Actually my singing is not even tolerable.  Poor girl.

We made it to Ann Arbor around 7:15 after google maps took us on an interesting drive in Detroit. I was so excited to see both of my best friends.  Since I don’t use people’s names in this blog, I am going to refer to my friends as “my Maine best friend” and “my Chicago best friend”.  And I will refer to my Maine best friend’s fiance as “the Scientist” because, well, he’s a scientist.  We sat down and ate some Domino’s Pizza (which I learned is headquartered in Ann Arbor) and drank some Aldi wine (not too bad).  My daughter was excited to see my Chicago best friends daughter and they wore princess dresses and chased each other until it was time for bed.

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Good Night, Michigan
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All tuckered out

I woke up early Saturday morning to make my run to Target to buy the items I forgot, along with those other items that I didn’t really need but decided I can’t live without.  My Chicago best friend came with me and we decided to do the “divide and conquer” approach and I think we were out of there within 20 minutes.  It was quite impressive.

After we returned to the house, we packed up to take the bus downtown.  My daughter really enjoyed riding on the bus.

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Who knew the bus could be so much fun?

The plan was to take the girls to the Natural History Museum at the University of Michigan. They had a great time running around and looking at the artifacts but they began to get tired and hungry.  We had made it through the first two floors and the Scientist went up to check the third floor and said there wasn’t as much there so we decided to leave.

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Natural History Museum at University of Michigan
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Natural History Museum at University of Michigan
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Natural History Museum at University of Michigan
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Natural History Museum at University of Michigan
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Natural History Museum at University of Michigan
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Natural History Museum at University of Michigan

I wanted to do some shopping so we stopped at The Den to buy my daughter and myself an article of clothing that said “Michigan” on it.  

We then had lunch at Hopcat which was delicious and very reasonably priced.  I had the tacos which were delicious.  And I don’t know what the seasoning was on the crack fries, but they were amazing.  My daughter learned the hard way that the hot sauce was not ketchup.  There were some tears but I still think she handled better than some adults would have.  The hot sauce was really hot.

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Hopcat- Ann Arbor

 

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Hopcat- Ann Arbor
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The attitude ❤

When we returned, I put my daughter down for a nap and my Chicago best friend stayed with the girls while my Maine best friend and I went to the race Expo which I will write about in another post.  After we went to the Expo, we needed coffee so we went to a Meijer that also had a Starbucks.  In 2007, I lived in Indiana for three months and I forgot how awesome Meijer was.  It’s like, one of the seven wonders of the Midwest.  Anyway we were in desperate need of caffeine and I also had to get the Starbucks You Are Here mugs.  It’s my latest obsession.  Anyone else into those mugs?

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I was here.

After the girls woke up from their nap, we made plans to go to a Mexican restaurant, Los Amigos.  The food was really good and I am a Mexican food snob.  I was excited to see Chilaquiles on the menu because I think the only place I can get them locally is at El Mexicano in Saratoga.  I was excited that they had a train.  It was like Governor’s except it was a Mexican restaurant and we were in Michigan, not Maine.

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Los Amigos- Ann Arbor
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My Maine Best Friends Sampler.  I think it took her three days to eat all of it.
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Chilaquiles- Los Amigos, Ann Arbor

 

We were all exhausted Saturday night and didn’t stay up late. 

Sunday was race morning which, again, I will write a separate race recap.

After the race, my Chicago best friend and her daughter left.  My Maine best friend, my daughter and I drove 45 minutes to Dearborn to go to The Henry Ford.  It was pricey but I felt like it was something you need to do in area.  We were starving so we had lunch at a diner in the Museum.  It was an actual diner car from 1946.  Jut don’t expect to get a diet soda because when my Maine best friend tried to order one, the waiter informed her that there was no diet soda in 1946.  However, the prices were not reflective of 1946 and they did accept credit cards.

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The Henry Ford
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The Henry Ford
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The Henry Ford

My daughter took a cat nap on the car ride and was tired and was beginning to lose it after the cars, trains and planes so we decided to call it a trip.  I didn’t feel too bad because my Maine best friend decided to buy the membership because she figured out that a membership would pay for itself in two trips.  She also figured that this would be the place that out of town guests would want to go so a membership made sense.

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The Henry Ford
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The Henry Ford
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It’s a Maine thing
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The Henry Ford

We had a relaxing Sunday night.  We ordered Chinese food for dinner and just hung out and went to bed early.  

My daughter and I were on the road by 7am.  We had a morning stop planned in Windsor, Ontario.  When Bryon and I got engaged, I went on theknot.com and was active in the September 2012 board.  Theknot.com was glitchy so we moved our group over the Facebook and we are still an active group.  There have been so many milestones, babies, new jobs, new houses as well as divorces, illness and now death.  I am the first widow of the group (though one of the ladies of the group was a widow who married her second love in Sept 2012)  Anyway, one of the ladies on the board lives just out of Windsor (she blogs here) so my daughter and I met her at a Tim Hortons.  I have known her online for over 5 years and it was exciting to finally meet her in person.

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Friends and Tim Hortons in Windsor, Ontario

After our visit, we had a long car ride back.  My daughter slept for about half of the Canada portion and none of the New York portion.  We stopped for lunch at a rest stop just outside of Buffalo.  The drive was long and uneventful and we made it home around 6 o’clock.

This adventure was still bittersweet.  I didn’t miss Bryon as much as I did when I went to Vegas.  Maybe that was because Vegas was the first adventure since Bryon passed.  Maybe it was because both of my best friends were there which provided twice the distraction.  But even though travelling without Bryon may have been easier, I still got sad when we passed the University of Michigan stadium because Bryon was such a sports fan and I knew he would have been excited.  I guess I just have to have faith that he comes along with us in his way but I just wish he was physically still here to go on these adventures with us.  I miss him so much but I must carry on for him, for my daughter and for myself.  But it does make me feel good that I am still fulfilling the promise I made to him in the final hours of his life.  

Vegas Vacation

Every winter, Bryon and I liked to go on a cruise.  We had one booked that was supposed to leave today.  We were supposed to sail on the Royal Caribbean Navigator of the Seas and we were supposed to sail out of Miami and go to four brand new ports (Labadee, Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao).  I cancelled that cruise even though my daughter’s godmother said she would go.  I appreciated her offer but declined because I would be too sad.  Cruising was our thing and if I were to go without Bryon, I would probably cry the whole time.  And it would not be fun to be on a cruise if you are crying all the time.  Maybe someday I will be ready to cruise again with friends.  

My best friend was going to Vegas with her husband and her two year old daughter because her husband was in a tournament and she invited my daughter and I to come along.  I figured it would be nice to get away and see my best friend.  I don’t get to see her often because she lives in Chicago.  I remembered the promise I made to Bryon that I would take our daughter to see the world.  We would do Vegas Mom and Toddler style.

This was my first time flying by myself with our daughter.  I used to fly by myself all the time as a singleton but I only flown by myself once since I was with Bryon.  That was to my best friends wedding in the Cancun area (same best friend I was traveling with on this trip).  Bryon wasn’t able to attend the wedding because it was during his busy time at work.  I remember being overwhelmed on that flight because I got so used to travelling with him.  And he even booked that flight for me and even researched what to expect when going through Mexican customs.  He was so organized.  He had a folder with all pertinent travel documents and he did all the heavy lifting.  But he is no longer here and he would want my daughter and I to continue living so I figured we would be brave it by ourselves.

In some ways, traveling with my 2 year old on a cross country flight wasn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be.  I was prepared for everything to take longer.  Luckily we had TSA Pre-check so security was easier.  The car seat couldn’t fit through the bag screener and I was instructed to bring the stroller to the metal detector and I had to wait until they were individually checked.  Coming back they were able to put them both through the bag scanner.

Luckily my daughter likes to people watch so she is generally entertained in places with lots of people.  But I had brought books and dolls.  Also, toddlers like to eat and there is usually lots of food in airports so I think she ate three bananas, an orange and a bag of M&M’s.  I also had gotten her a frozen yogurt with strawberries on it.  She ate the strawberries but pretty much played with the rest.  Maybe not the best dinner but I was more concerned about keeping her happy.   I guess there could be worse things for her to eat too much off.  All I know is when I went to grab some M&M’s, they were gone.

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Fun at Newark

When we used to fly with Bryon, he usually did most of the heavy lifting while I took care of our daughter.  He always made comments that he was the pack mule.  Well this time I got to be the pack mule and take care of our daughter.  So I texted one of my good friends, the one that I can talk to completely uncensored (nothing I say can shock her) and I said that I needed to get a boyfriend just so he could come with me on vacation to help with the heavy lifting.  Experience at installing car seats would be a plus.  I would even pay for the fictional boyfriend’s vacation and he wouldn’t even have to hang out with us.  During our conversation, I remembered that I am not ready for a boyfriend (even if he is fictional) and I would then have to break up with this fictional boyfriend after vacation and give him the “yeah…this isn’t going to work…it’s not you, it’s me…” speech.  Also, I like to travel a lot so I would need an off-again, on-again type of relationship.  I was starting to become stressed out over this fictional relationship.  My conversation with my friend concluded that next time I will just check the car seat and learn more about minimalist packing and wait for a real relationship to come in it’s own time.

I was surprised that so many people were willing to help.  Turns out I don’t need a pack mule boyfriend.  I did have offers from many people to help carry my bags onto the plane and to carry the carseat.  I was surprised at the kindness people showed us.  Or maybe it was pity.  Most likely, they were just victims of my daughter’s adorable looks and charming personality.

Our flight was supposed to arrive around 8:30pm (close to the time that my friends flight was due to arrive from Chicago) but we didn’t get in until after 10pm (local time so it was after 1am Eastern time).   My best friend and her husband and daughter came back to the airport to get us.  It was so good to see my best friend.  It was late and we went to bed when we got back to the hotel.

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Welcome to Las Vegas!

My cell phone never adjusted to the time change and the clock stayed in Eastern time so it didn’t surprise me that I slept in until 10am Eastern (7 am local).  We had a view of the strip and the girls were fascinated with the tiny cars down below.  They kept exclaiming “Cars!  Cars!”  My best friend and I got our two daughters ready which was quite an ordeal in itself.  As I was getting ready, a few of Bryon’s contacts (he used the daily disposables) fell out of my toiletry bag.  He probably put them in there while on our last cruise in February 2016, a month before he got sick.  I threw them away as it didn’t make any sense to keep them. I felt a twinge of sadness because over time, those little reminders of Bryon are going to slowly disappear.

After we were finally ready, we went down to the lobby and had crepes at one of the cafe’s in the hotel.  (We were staying at Paris).  We then went next door to Planet Hollywood to do some shopping at the Miracle Mile Mall.  I was on a mission for the Las Vegas Pandora beads.  And I wanted to buy my daughter a Vegas T-shirt as well as a Vegas Christmas ornament because I like to collect Christmas ornaments from places I travel too.

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Crepes!  Oh lala!

For lunch, we went to Hash House A Go-Go at The Linq.  The portions were HUGE.  Then we walked around the Venetian, got Gelato, dealt with several bodily fluids (ah, motherhood) and then got lost in Ceasar’s Palace.  My daughter lost a shoe which we never found.  We went to use the elevator because of our strollers and there was a homeless man sleeping in the elevator.  So we had no choice but to (carefully) use escalator with a stroller.  Then we went back to the hotel to curl our hair before going out to a steakhouse where I got Maine lobster pasta because I am weird like that.

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Who orders Maine Lobster pasta at a Steakhouse?  

Oh and it was raining.  In the desert.  I am still kind of confused about that.

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Nightlife. Like 9pm. 

The following day we took the girls to M&M World which consisted of 4 floors of pure excitement.   I felt the need to buy my daughter a M&M stuffed animal (yellow), a M&M mug (yellow), a Christmas ornament (yellow- notice a theme?  I think it is my daughter’s favorite color) and some overpriced M&M’s (but oh, all the color choices!  But not yellow because you can get those in regular packages) and I spent so much that I could get the M&M character blanket for $5 so of course I did.  And I bought the $2 reusable tote bag because I am a sucker like that.  I got pecan pie M&M’s which were delicious and my best friend got butterscotch M&M’s which she let me try and they were amazing too.

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She couldn’t contain her excitement.
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All the colors!

After M&M world, we walked over to New York, New York and had lunch.  The kids had hot dogs and the adults had pizza.  We then walked through the castle (i.e. The Excalibur) and took the tram to Mandalay Bay.  We planned on taking the girls to the Shark Reef Aquarium.

I had stayed at Mandalay Bay in 2005 when I attended the Young Republican National Convention.  It was the first of many Young Republican National Federation events that I would attend.  As I walked through the hotel and convention center, I started reflecting to my best friend (i.e. verbal diarrhea) about how eerie it felt to be in the place that changed my life.  I didn’t know it at the time, but my decision to attend that convention in 2005 completely altered the course of my life. I had a great time at that convention and I made connections and decided to get further involved in the organization.  I met my daughter’s godmother at the following board meeting in Little Rock, AR in the fall of 2005.  I met my best friend the following spring in Washington, D.C. at the Young Republican Leadership Conference.  She was sitting in front of me on the bus that took us to and from the reception at the Romanian Embassy.   And I met Bryon at the Fall 2006 Board Meeting in Louisville, KY.  If I had not attended that convention, I would not have (eventually) met my husband or my close friends, I would not have my daughter and I would not be living in New York.  Also, almost all my friends in New York became my friends originally through Bryon.  This completely blew me away.

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An event that would change the course of my life.

We took the girls through the shark reef aquarium.  I was very impressed.

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Mandalay Bay 2017
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Mandalay Bay 2017

 

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Mandalay Bay 2017
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Mandalay Bay 2017

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Mandalay Bay 2017
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Mandalay Bay 2017
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Mandalay Bay 2017
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Mandalay Bay 2017
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Mandalay Bay 2017

After the aquarium, we drove down the strip and to the other side of the Stratosphere.  We passed Silver and Gold, the pawn shop from Pawn Stars.  We also drove through some local neighborhoods.

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The Strip  2017
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The Strip 2017
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The Strip 2017
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The Strip 2017
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The Stratosphere
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Pawn Stars
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Pawn Stars

We decided to have dinner at Burgr, one of Gordon Ramsay’s restaurants.  When the food came, my daughter had an epic tantrum.  I admit, I am spoiled because she is generally a very easy going and well behaved kid.  I know they say you can’t reason with a toddler but I can usually reason with her.  But she wasn’t having any of it.  She was tired and she was overstimulated.  I had to take her out of the restaurant and I strapped her into her stroller.  I found a quiet corner where I sit down on the floor and I start crying.  My best friend came out and I proceeded to completely melt down about how it all wasn’t fair.  Why did Bryon have to die?  How come everyone else in the world gets to be happy except me?  It wasn’t supposed to be like this.  We were supposed to grow old together.  Not one of my proudest moments and I couldn’t even blame it on alcohol because I was sober.

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Gordon Ramsay’s Burgr
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My Sandwich that I didn’t get to eat.

After I finished my meltdown, my best friend and I went to Holsteins in the Cosmopolitan for adult milkshakes. That made things better.

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Adult Milkshakes at Holsteins

This trip was great because I got to see my best friend and my daughter got to play with her daughter.  But I couldn’t help but feel like Bryon was missing.  It felt like he should have been on this trip with us.  He would have loved Vegas.  He would have loved the fact that the people came from all walks of life (including the homeless man sleeping in the elevator).  He would have loved the gambling and all the food.  He would have loved the casinos.  He would have loved the ride through the neighborhoods near the strip. He had been my travelling buddy for 8 years so I definitely felt his absence.  While I know he will always be with me and that does comfort me to some level, I hope in the future I won’t feel so empty from his absence when I travel.

A Promise

During Bryon’s final hours, one of our closest friends and I sat in his room and we would take turns going over to him to talk to him.  He wasn’t conscious at this point but no one really knows how much he heard or if he could even hear us at this point.  But we continued to talk to him.  I am not going to tell you about everything we talked about but I am going to tell you about one promise I made to him.

I was probably rambling at this point.  But I started talking about our travel maps.  I struggled on a good first anniversary paper gift but decided that we should buy a large map of the U.S. and a huge map of the world and put them on large bulletin boards and pin all the places we travel.  True to my nature, I even found a way to make it more complicated by adding color coded pins to denote places that only I had traveled  (blue) and places that only he had traveled (green).  We used red pins for the places we traveled together and yellow pins to denote places that we both had been but not together.

In a perfect world, I would have made these maps for him and given them to him as a gift.  But I knew that there was no way I could hide them.  So I presented my idea to Bryon and he liked the it and true to his “take charge” nature, he located the items online, purchased them and put the maps with the adhesive onto the bulletin boards. He did let me help with the assembly.   He even indulged my system of color coded pins.  Though one day as a prank, he put one of my pins in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia even though I have never been to Africa and didn’t tell me.  He waited until I figured it out.  He thought it was the funniest thing ever so I left the pin in place.

Anyway, as I was talking (or rambling) to Bryon during his last night on Earth, I started talking about these maps.  I remember saying that I couldn’t believe that there wouldn’t be any more adventures together.  We loved to travel.  We had so many plans and so many places we wanted to visit. We would never go to San Diego and visit all the Top Gun places.  We would never go to Branson, Missouri (it was always his dream to go to the Nashville of the Ozarks.  A dream I never understood).  We would never go to Scotland, or Seattle, or London or Texas.  Travelling with Bryon was amazing because he was a planner and he would make the best of wherever he was.  We could be in some random place but give him 5-10 minutes on his phone and he would figure out the top tourist attractions, the most random tourist attraction, what famous (or not-so-famous) person lived there, if there was a Waffle House or a Chick-Fil-A nearby and what the best local places to eat and grab a drink and he would come up with a plan to see it all. Literally, all I had to do was show up and enjoy the amazing vacation.

Our adventures were going to be over.  We wouldn’t put any more red pins into our map.  But I told him that I promised that I would still take our daughter on adventures even though it would be hard to do it without him. Bryon would want her to see the world.  We brought her everywhere with us.  By the time she was 16 months, she had already been on two Caribbean cruises.  Bryon wouldn’t want us to stop travelling.  I even bought special pink pins to denote our girl trips.

So today my daughter and I embark on our first adventure without Bryon.  It is going to be hard without him.  It will be the first time I will fly alone with my daughter.  We will be going to a place that Bryon had never been but always wanted to go.  We will be spending time with my best friend and her two year old daughter.

So get ready Las Vegas.  The McKim girls are coming.