Wisconsin 2018: Water parks, cheese curds and the Cheese Castle

My daughter and I recently visited my best friend in Chicago.  While we were making plans for our stay, my best friend sent an email with a list of things we could do.  One of the things listed was going to one of the indoor water parks in the Wisconsin Dells.

My daughter lobbied hard for that option and my best friend agreed to it.

I was happy to go to Wisconsin.

I visited once before in 2004 for a wedding of a friend who I attended school with in England.

My cousin came up from Florida to be my guest.

We were babies.

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Madison, WI, 2004

Not many pictures exist from that trip.  And the ones that do seem to feature alcohol.

Double fisting Spaaten at the Essen Huas.

Well not really.  More like holding my beer and my cousins beer.

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Madison, WI, 2004

Drinking a beer with a lemon…what was I thinking?  My taste in beers sure has evolved since 2004.

This was at the Great Dane Pub.   I remember my cousin and I talked some guys about hunting deer.

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Madison, WI 2004

This last picture I look hideous.  According to my cousin’s caption, I drank a few Blue Moons at Stillwaters.

What was I doing drinking Blue Moon?

This clearly was the age before I discovered that stout, porter, cider and pumpkin beer are really the only beers worth drinking.

I remember that there was a huge fish tank and I was talking to a nice hippie guy about fish poops.  We also had a conversation about government parks affect the local tax structure and we did not see eye to eye.  We agreed more about fish poop.

I was actually trying to remember the name of this place when talking to “Uncle Greg”.  I googled it and found out it had closed in 2005.

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Madison, WI, 2004

I actually just got rid of that sweater in my closest.  Right before I went on this trip.  It was time.  I probably hadn’t worn it since the Bush Administration.

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Madison, WI, 2004

Anyway, I really like Wisconsin and was excited to get to go again and bring my daughter with me.

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Wisconsin Road Trip, 2018

While we were driving through the Illinois countryside and we passed the town of Belvidere Oasis and while it isn’t spelled the same, it got us thinking about Mr. Belvedere.

And how come more middle class American families don’t have butlers.

I could use a butler.

And then we got thinking about how much we miss TV theme songs.

Like Just the Ten of Us

And Out of this World.

Though I still don’t understand why the alien father didn’t just stay instead of just talking through that weird cube thing.

and Small Wonder.

I remember my brother and I (and I guess my Dad too) watched it every Saturday night after we went to Mass.

We talked about other theme songs but maybe I will save all of those for another post.

Eventually we made it to Wisconsin.

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We were traveling along I-90 which also runs through NY.  I was trying hard to find an I-90 sign that was near a Cheese bilboard because I wanted to get a picture and say that it was just home…with cheese.

I was unsuccessful.

We were travelling to the Wisconsin Dells and I had no idea what a Dell was except that there once was a Farmer in one who took a wife.

This is what google told me.

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We stayed at Mt. Olympus Water Park.  I wish I got more pictures but it was hard between the two girls and having to discipline all the unruly children around us.

Yes, I have become that parent.

And I am not sorry.

Seriously, there were kids that were clearly taller than the maximum height for the kiddie area and some of them were pushing the little kids out of the way.  It becomes a real safety issue.

At dinnertime, we went downtown and had dinner at a Mac and Cheese restaurant called Macs.  It was amazing.

My daughter had the L’il Mamma’s- Cheddar, Mozzarella and Fried Hot Dogs

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Wisconsin Dells, 2018

My friend got the Chicken Bacon Ranch Mac– Cheddar, Mozzarella, Chicken, Bacon and Ranch

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Wisconsin Dells, 2018

I got the Taco Mac- Cheddar, Pepper Jack, Mozzarella, Seasoned Ground Beef, Pico De Gallo, Sour Cream and Avocado.

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Poor Squeakers looks longingly at the Mac and Cheese but he can’t have any.

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We still made room for ice cream.  I hadn’t been to Cold Stone in years.  I love that place.

I got coffee ice cream with oreos. I even got a fancy cone that I was too full to eat.

My daughter and my friends daughter were more, um, creative.  My daughter got cotton candy ice cream with M & M’s and my friends daughter got Mint Ice Cream with marshmallows.

Whatever.

It was their vacation too.

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The next day we went to the water park for a couple hours before heading back to Chicago.

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As I mentioned in last weeks Good Vibrations Gratitude Post, we stopped to see “Uncle Greg” and his girlfriend and Uncle Greg gave the girls their own cheesehead hat.

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“Uncle Greg” and the mini-cheeseheads

We were having lunch by the Capital so I felt that we had to take our picture in front of the Wisconsin Capital with the cheesehead hat.

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Madison, WI, 2018

We found this cool cow but couldn’t get the girls to look at the camera.

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Madison, WI, 2018

We had lunch at The Old Fashioned because I told the Wisconsonites that I wanted fried cheese curds and this is the best.  And they did not disappoint.

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The Old Fashioned, Madison, WI. 2018.

I took a picture of my Wisconsin Burger on SnapChat but sent it before I remembered to save it.  So no pic of that but it was delicious.

Here is a pic of my daughters chicken fingers.

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The Old Fashioned, Madison, WI. 2018.

We said our good-byes because we had one more Wisconsin stop.

We drove to Kenosha (by way of Milwaukee) to stop at the CHEESE CASTLE.

My best friend said she always wanted to stop there but her husband never wanted to.

I told her this was the trip where dreams come true.

Because that whole YOLO thing.

It was awesome.

So much cheese.

I bought a lot of cheese curds to bring home.

They are in my fridge.

And before we knew it, we were back in Illinois.

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Wisconsin-Illinois Border, 2018

The end.

 

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Late summer fun: Sunflowers and ice cream

I was supposed to go to Maine the last weekend in August but I needed to take my cat to the vet. I thought something was wrong with him. He wasn’t acting like himself and I was sure something was wrong with him.  After paying my not insignificant vet bill, nothing was physically wrong him.

So now my cat is on prozac.

It’s for the best.

And I missed my trip to Maine and my 20th high school reunion. I thought about trying to swinng it but I was too tired to do 16 hours of driving in a 60 hour period

So I wound up with an unexpected free weekend.  My close friend loves Sunflowers and asked if I would be up for a drive downstate to a sunflower field. I am always ready for an adventure and I love road trips so I happily agreed.

I wish I had a selfie to share but not a single one looked good.  For real.  My daughter wouldn’t look at the camera and I had my hair in my face.

After we looked at the flowers, we went to a farm stand.  It was crowded.  My friend told me that she wasn’t expected it to be crowded because she has seen too many Hallmark movies.  In Hallmark movies there is a ton of space.  Hallmark movies have ruined her.

Though we both agreed that that won’t stop us from watching them this Christmas.

After the farm stand, we decided to drive into New Paltz and get some ice cream.   We went to Hugeunot Creamery.  The ice cream was delicious and the staff was very kind and friendly.  The kids had ice cream cones  with sprinkles. They wound up all over the floor.  Part of me felt bad but part of me figured that it’s bound to happen in an ice cream shoppe.  My friend had a creamsicle float and I had an old fashioned hot fudge sundae.

On the way back, we stopped at a Samuel’s Sweet Shop in Rhinebeck which is owned by Paul Rudd and Jeffrey Morgan.  The kids had lollipops (though my daughter could only handle a few licks after eating ice cream) and I had a pretzel covered in Reese’s Pieces.  My friend got chocolate covered oreos.

It was a great day.  I am so glad my friend asked us to spend the day with her and it was fun to discover places in New York where I had never been.  I can’t wait for some Fall adventures with my friends.

Do you like to go on day trips?  Where do you like to go?

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.