Race Recap: DeForest, WI 4th of July 10k

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I’ve done 5ks.
I’ve done half marathons – lots of them.
I’ve done marathons.

But somehow, the 10k has alluded me these last two years of running. For some pretty silly reasons too.

First, they’re just not as common, so the opportunity hasn’t presented itself as readily as other, longer races. “Why do a 10k, when I can get a heavier, swankier half marathon finishers medal?”

Ok, if that sound like B.S. – you’re right. It is.

Here’s the real reason I was a 10k virgin until yesterday – I’m a BIG FAT WUSS.

See, with the 5k I know what I’m getting into. In the world of long distance running (it’s all about perspective here) the 5k is virtually a sprint. I run 3 miles all the time without stopping. I can handle that. Run it fast – got it.

With the half marathon, which is definitely a long race, I know how to approach that as well. My pacing strategy always comes down to 3 mile blocks, with water/walk breaks at those points. Run it steady – got it.

But the 10k – who knows with that one?! For me, the 10k is perplexing. Three miles is no problem to run, even five miles I can do without stopping. With that background, I feel like the six miles of a 10k should be no problem. Except there has always been a mental block for me. It’s JUUUST long enough to be intimidating to run my heart out for, but JUUUST short enough that I can’t simply zone out for a couple hours.

I decided to man up this week and at the last minute registered for this 10k in DeForest, WI. It wasn’t really motivated by anything other than I hadn’t done a race in awhile and since it is a holiday I figured this would be a pretty fun and lively one. I already needed to do a medium-length run for marathon training, and for $25 it delivered a new course, some comrades, a free t-shirt, and lunch. Not a bad deal.

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Being over enthusiastic, as per usual, I dawned my red, white and blue. Pigtails (yeah, it surprised me that I did that too) flag ribbons, and a blue star clapper completed my ensemble. I figured I would be the “Freedom Fairy” with my little star clapper along the course.

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I assumed I would fit in with the fine freedom-loving folks of DeForest, WI. Doesn’t everyone look for an excuse to get dressed up? Apparently not, because 98% of people were just there in their LuLu Lemon and Nike clothes. DID YOU MISS THE MEMO: It’s Independence Day. Hello! (I was a little disappointed I didn’t even see one person wearing a birthday hat for the occasion. Come on, that would be hilarious!)

I felt like Elle Woods from Legally Blonde showing up to the “costume” party in a bunny outfit, while all the Harvard YoPros (that’s young professionals for all you non-YoPros out there) wore their suit jackets and cardigans. After I recovered from my (very mild) embarrassment I was ready to run.

Let me tell you about 10ks. They’re not that much different from 5ks. Or half marathons. You run. And you do that for about 55 minutes. And then you’re done. I stopped for water, just like any other race, and I sprinted to the finish, just like any other race. Talk about building something up too much in my mind, again – as per usual.

I finished the 10k in 55:28, just south of the 9:00min/mi pace I have been striving for lately! I would have placed in my age group (W20-24) but being a small race the age group I fell into was W20-29. Either way, I walked away with a PR!

Bomb pops at the end - how perfect!

Bomb pops at the end – how perfect!

Having gotten my workout in for the day, I celebrated our nation’s birthday like I’m sure the founding fathers would have wanted us to – with a flag cake! (That’s what they envisioned when they wrote the Declaration of Independence, right?) And yes, I kept the red, white, and blue theme going all day – because I love America, that’s why.

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My first 12 hours in Istanbul

I finally landed in Istanbul and the adventure began as soon as I exited the plane.

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Before reuniting with my mom, I first navigated my way through visas (I had purchased mine online which made that an easy line to circumvent) and then headed through passport control. The line looked miserably long, but moved quickly and the people watching made the time fly by.

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After I got my first passport stamp ever, I was through the gate, grabbed my bag, and was off in search of my mom. That proved to be a pretty easy task given that as blonde Americans we both kind of stuck out.

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From the airport we took a train, two buses, and a cab to get back to Besiktas – my mom’s neighborhood. Everything in Turkey is packed. Granted, it was rush hour, but we were like a can of sardines on the buses. The Turkish people were all very helpful though, pointing us in the right direction along the way and helping us find the right stops. If the buses are a tight squeeze here, so are the houses. Everything is built on top of each other! With all of the hills in Istanbul you can look at a hill and see layers upon layers of apartment and business buildings, with the minarets of mosques spread intermittently throughout.

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When we arrived I was shocked by all the animals that greeted us. From the cab to my mom’s front door, I saw at least one dog and four cats. I wasn’t aware this was common in Turkey. Apparently Turkish people love animals, but don’t keep them as pets because of the expense, so the city is just filled with all of these communal animals. It is both adorable (the cats) and terrifying (the dogs roaming wild).

One of the cuter cats! (They aren't all this adorable!)

One of the cuter cats! (They aren’t all this adorable!)

If the population density and hustle and bustle was surprising, the sounds of Istanbul were as well. From dogs barking, seagulls chirping, and just the sounds of the city I couldn’t believe how loud it was!

When we got settled in, my mom and I had an impromptu gift exchange. I had brought a few things with me for her, and she had been stockpiling gifts for me over the years as well. When I asked my mom last week what I could bring her from America she had three requests: an English language Scrabble set, wasabi peas, and an iPad mini. If you had paid me to guess what she would have wanted, I would have been 0/3. I guess sometimes you miss the comforts of home and they can be things you didn’t expect to miss!

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She had a few boxes for me as well. My intro into Turkish culture started with a parade of hats. First, she gave me two Fez hats. Although popular in the Ottoman empire, I don’t think I’ve seen any Turkish people wearing them… yet.

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Next, were two green Turkish hats.

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After we finished goofing around with the hats, I opened a few more classic Turkish gifts, include: Turkish Delights (gummy candies), two absolutely beautiful Iznik style tile trivets, and a 1,000 piece puzzle of Kaplumbaga Terbiyecisi by Osman Hamdi. My bag is already going to be heavier on the way home it appears!

The puzzle

The puzzle

We headed out dinner with a trip through her neighborhood and went down to a cafe on the Bosphorus. As we went through her neighborhood we saw dozens of police. My mom lives in an area where the pretests had been fairly active, so I was initially alarmed at how many uniformed men were on the streets. They were just having coffee, smoking, and texting though – definitely not ready to engage in any rioting at that moment anyway. From there, our bus ride to the cafe took us through Bebek, the swanky neighborhood next door that I can’t wait to explore in the coming days.

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Dinner was divine. We ate at this quaint cafe that was adorned in greenery, and our table was right next to the river. If you look across the Bosphorus you are looking at Asia!

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By the time we made it to dinner it was about 8 p.m. and dark out. Since we were next to the water it was a little chilly, but each of the chairs had shawls on them. I loved it! Why don’t restaurants in the U.S. do this – I’m always freezing! I ordered salmon and my mom had this beautiful tomato tart that was to die for. (Note to self: look up how to make this back home!) We finished the meal with Turkish chi tea and then headed home.

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Outside of her apartment, we met a family who was out celebrating the Muslim holiday of Lailat al Mi’raj. They had made red lentil meatballs (also known as mercimak kofte) and halva, a sweet dessert. They asked us if we supported the protest and it was so interesting to hear how they said the protest had bonded together the neighborhood. Nur, an English speaking psychologist, said that she never knew any of the neighborhood, but with this last week they all say hi to each other and are much closer now. Throughout the night we didn’t see much protesting, mostly just people banging on pots and pans. It was interesting to see the climate in Istanbul first hand, and hear the local perspective on the situation.

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I’m so excited to be here in Turkey, with my mom, off on a week of adventuring! I didn’t see this coming a week ago, that’s for sure!

Touristy Tuesday: Istanbul, Turkey – The Flight In!

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I love to travel and even before the year with the Wienermobile, I tried to get out jetsetting every now and then. It may surprise you then, hell it even surprises me, that I have never been abroad. In college I was focused on graduating debt free, so study abroad just never seemed to be an option in my mind. Given that my mom has been living overseas for five years, you might think I would have been over to visit her. But again, I never seemed to have both the time or the money at the same time.

That is, until now! I’ll have to save the details of how the time came about, but in a Kelly-esque last minute change of plans, I booked my ticket to Istanbul, Turkey five days ago!

Five days ago it seemed like a really great plan. Four days ago it didn’t. Suddenly, out of seemingly nowhere, there were riots all over Istanbul. Maybe I missed some of the build-up coverage, but it felt like in one day the city had gone from a destination promising rugs and coffee, to one on fire. When I checked in with my mom, although she tried to be reassuring, hearing “they just tear gassed my street and there are helicopters overhead… but don’t worry, everything is actually fine,” just wasn’t the comforting message I was going for.

But the women in my family are both courageous and delusional, plus – let’s be honest – I had already booked my flight so there really was no turning back now.

So with my bag already packed (you know, living out of a suitcase is kind of nice sometimes) I headed to O’hare to enter my first international terminal. Call me overdramatic, but they are certainly different than regular terminals. Each of the different airlines had a much different look to all of their patrons. The Middle Eastern airlines, for example, had families that were much more diverse than Swiss Air, which I was flying. It was fun just to take all of that in.

I got to the airport with plenty of time to spare, playing the over-anxious traveler for the first time in a long while. Normally I have a more “meh, I’ll get there eventually,” than a rush-rush-rush attitude. With my extra time I headed to the airport bar. I love bars at the airport because everyone is interesting, going somewhere, off on adventure of some kind. The one in the international terminal was even better because there were just so many different languages to listen to! The downside: one glass of wine cost me $15! Oh well, it’s vacation, right?

I was pretty eager to board and see just who I would be sitting elbow-to-elbow with for the next 8.5 hours on our flight to Zurich, Switzerland. The plane was 2 seats in one aisle, 4 in the middle, and then 2 more seats. I held my breath as I counted across to find mine, hoping it wouldn’t be in the middle block of seats. Hurray! An aisle seat in the two person section! Relieved, I exhaled slightly and started looking back to see if anyone was already sitting by the window in my row.

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An eager-faced girl pleasantly greeted me. Stella, an 11 year old (12 tomorrow she proudly exclaimed!) Greek girl from the Chicago suburbs was taking a solo trip to see her family in Athens, Greece for the summer. Hmm… an unaccompanied minor. I wasn’t sure what to make of the situation initially, but Stella ended up being just like me when I was that age, for better or worse!

She was very cute, admittedly not the best photo of either of us.

She was very cute, admittedly not the best photo of either of us.

She was a chatter, that’s for sure. But in a silly, anxious, wants to talk but not sure what to talk about, so she’ll say everything kind of way. The first thing she said was, “I’m glad you’re not a man or a boy because I would be nervous, but you seem nice!” Well – that’s the right foot to start out on.

She was adorable. Yes – she squirmed entirely too much for me and fidgeted a ton. Yes – she talked about everything that crossed her mind and her pedicure wasn’t exactly something I was dying to know about. But she could hold a conversation pretty well and something tells me she is probably going to be pretty great when she grows up. Plus she shared her snacks, and who doesn’t love that in an airplane, especially when they smell so tasty!

The flight itself was incredible. My mom had advised me to spend a little bit more to fly with an international carrier like Swiss or Turkish Airlines, opposed to United, because of the service. No kidding! The whole flight was a game of “what will they bring next?!”

I had texted a friend beforehand saying that all I wanted were outlets and warm towels. He had said I could at least count on Swiss chocolate. We were both right. There was an enormous selection of really good movies and TV programs, games, and music – all that were free! This already was a huge contrast from the U.S. carriers I’ve flown with.

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I snuggled up with the blanket they provided, which was surprisingly cozy unlike those cheap red Delta blankets, and set into a movie. From then it was a mix of sleeping through the night and waking up for all the food they provided.

Used to a dixi-cup beverage and a palmful of pretzels, I found the spread that Swiss provided incredible. When they came by for drinks, out of curiosity, I asked how much wine was. Free! Oh, well then sure I’ll take some red wine! (I figured it balanced out the expensive wine from the airport bar.)

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The food was equally impressive. Snack mix to start, followed by a chicken, rice and vegetable dinner, salad, and a brownie. In the morning they brought by a croissant and yogurt. Perhaps it is since I’m new to this whole international travel thing, but I thought the flight was divine.

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Plus, the flight attendants were just adorable. Our aisle was attended to by this gorgeous Swiss flight attendant, who was charming both in his demeanor and also his ability to talk in so many different languages. I easily heard him speak in three – English, Italian and French.

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The only hiccup in the flight was in the middle of the night, when I pulled a typical klutzo-Kelly move and while letting Stella up to use the restroom accidentally spilled the red wine. Miraculously, it didn’t stain my jeans at all! In that moment of horror all I could think was how embarrassed I was, trying to be cosmopolitan but failing in quite the fashion.

Stella woke me up in the morning (I forgive her, she was adorable in her enthusiasm) and we watched the plane come in over the Swiss mountains. Even the arrival was different than the states. Everything in the U.S. is laid out in a grid pattern, where as things were so loopy down on the ground in Switzerland. I looked at the hilltops, hoping to spot a yodeling blonde girl with braids, but that was one expectation that unfortunately wasn’t met.

When we parted ways in Zurich I found that navigating the Swiss airport was difficult not because of language barriers, everything had an English translation, but because it is set up much differently than U.S. airports. Luckily, all of the staff kept pointing me in the right direction and I eventually made it to my flight from Zurich to Istanbul, just as it was boarding.

And that’s where I am now – en route, in an aisle seat with ample leg room, having just enjoyed another tasty meal, waiting to touch base and get my first stamp in my virgin passport!

(Update: I have since landed and made it safe and sound to our apartment in Istanbul!)

Touristy Tuesday: The Tale of Seven Cities in Seven Days

During the month of April Eliot and I were moving around. A LOT. This coming from someone who packs and unpacks their suitcase weekly, logs at least 700 miles on the road in a seven day period, and never has a zip code to call home for more than a few days. April was such a crazy month that at one point I was in seven different cities, over seven days. This is that story.

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City #1: Denver, Colorado
After our time in Louisville, KY Eliot and I criss-crossed the entire Midwest Region on our drive to Denver, CO. From our farthest East destination to our furthest destination to the West. The trip took two very long days of driving, which were more eventful than our actual two days off in Denver.

After the Go! St. Louis Half Marathon Eliot and I were Westward bound. There was just one highway separating us from Denver, I-70 and about 800 miles of it. Our first drive day was broken up by two fun visits. The first was at my Dad and Step Mom’s house in Kansas City. They live just two miles off of the interstate and every time Eliot and I drive through KC we stop to say hello. Although we couldn’t stay long, it was nice to get some quality time in with my parents. As we pulled the Wienermobile out of their driveway I said to Eliot, “It’s great – my parents are literally on the way to every city we go to in the Midwest!”

Home Sweet Hot Dog Home

Home Sweet Hot Dog Home

Three hours later I called my Dad and he tells me that in the time it took us to drive 180 miles that: a neighbor had told a friend my parents were interested in selling their house, the friends had come by to check it out, and that they wanted to buy it. That means that they’re officially retiring, they’re moving, and they better find the next place to live! (More on that later!) Maybe I jinxed it when I made that comment to Eliot – so much for home being on the way now!

As I let that news sink in Eliot and I made a quick detour in Topeka, Kansas to pay a surprise visit. We had an enthusiastic Wienermobile fan who blew up social media trying to see the 27′ long hot dog and since she was on our drive anyway we figured it would be fun stop and to take her around the block. Kate proved that even big kids can get excited about the Wienermobile, that’s for sure!

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By the time we made it to our hotel in Junction City, KS for the night we were wiped out. As we were waiting to check into our hotel rooms I started chatting up some of the other guests, one of whom turned out to be an amateur storm chaser! He was traveling over 1,000 miles in an attempt to catch tornados that were headed to SW Kansas – right where we were driving to the next day.

It turned out he would just be the first storm chaser of many we would see. The next day we saw a number of storm chasing vehicles pass us, with crazy gizmos attached to their cars and stickers proudly proclaiming their boldness.

Because we had been seeing storm chasers pass us the entire drive across Kansas I wasn’t exactly surprised when I saw a minivan pass us with a camera mounted to the top. I was surprised though when I looked in the side mirror to see the next vehicle, which looked like an armored tank approaching.

“Eliot – what the hell is that, a UFO?! Quick! Take a picture!” We knew it had to be some kind of storm chasing vehicle, but didn’t know what and quickly forgot about it.

That is, until I checked my phone later to see this:

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While we were taking their picture, they were taking ours! Turns out it was the crew from the actual show Storm Chasers from the Discovery Channel! A celebrity sighting and we didn’t even know it!

Even with the impending storms, Eliot and I wanted to stop at one roadside attraction. I feel bad even calling it that – it isn’t like the World’s Biggest Ball of Yarn or anything. It was the Eisenhower Presidential Library. If you follow this blog regularly you know that I’m REALLY into these Presidential Libraries, and am trying to see them all. I think I’ve gotten Eliot equally excited about them as well at this point.

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The Eisenhower Presidential Library is located two miles off of the interstate in Abilene, KS. As we drove down the main drag we noticed signs decorating downtown welcoming marathoners for the Eisenhower Marathon which was the day before. Shucks! Even though I did my own half marathon that weekend I still felt pangs of race envy swell up.

By the time we made it the two miles to the library the whole town of Abilene must have known the Wienermobile was in town, and before we even purchased tickets there was a local newspaper reporter there to interview us!

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The library itself was certainly a relic and honestly lacked the grandeur of some of the other libraries, like Nixon’s. It delivered on content though, with some really great timelines and displays of Eisenhower’s military experience. If anything, it was more than worth it to go to the museum because the volunteers told me if you become a member of any library you get into the other ones for free. WHAT?! This was the fifth library I had been to in the last year alone. I should have joined JFK’s from the start. Oh well. I am now a proud member of the Eisenhower Presidential Library. I also get a +1 to any of the libraries, so it looks like I’ll get to drag a friend to Carter’s when I’m down in Georgia.

After two long days on the road we finally pulled into Denver, only to be met with the absolute worst traffic. Worn out from the road and exhausted, I was getting squirmish – something that happens in traffic that both Abe and Eliot can attest to. In an attempt to placate me, Eliot tried to appeal to my two favorite things: running and frozen yogurt. “There are some nice trails around here!” he cheerfully pointed out as we crawled past a park. “I. NOTICED.” I probably growled back, staring at the miles left to our destination on the GPS. “I’ve been looking for some froyo – maybe we’ll pass a place on the way,” he tried to perk me up with next. “I’ve been looking too. There aren’t any. They’re miles away on Yelp. Let’s just get there.” And finally, after what seemed like eternity, we pulled into the hotel just as it started to snow. We made it! (And Eliot was still friends with me by the time we parked, so that was cool too.)

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Our days in Denver were substantially less exciting than our drive to Denver. The blizzard had us snowed in and we didn’t do much besides laundry and catch up on work. We decided to save our adventure for the weekend, when we made a trip to see a former Hotdogger, Tracy.

City #2: Boulder, Colorado
Friday night that week Eliot and I drove out to Boulder, where Tracy – a Hotdogger from last year – lives. We went out for Thai food with her and her boyfriend Sam in downtown. Eliot and I had won the Perfect Month Challenge at work and had $60 to spend on dinner. We thought this would be the perfect opportunity to use it and figured it would be nice to treat Tracy and Sam to dinner since they would graciously be putting us up on their couch and air mattress for the night.

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After dinner we headed to the Pearl Street pedestrian mall to a basement bar called the Sundown Salloon, where we met some of Tracy’s new coworkers, played some darts, and had a great time all around. It was fun to talk to Tracy now, when I was about 10 months into the job, and compare notes from when I talked to her in September, when I was just four months in.

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The next morning I crawled out of bed, slightly dehydrated and slightly hungover – so basically in the best condition for a long run! I did 10 miles on the Boulder Creek Trail, enjoying the beautiful view of the mountains.

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City #3: Estes Park, Colorado
After our night in Boulder on Friday, Eliot and I returned to Denver on Saturday to work during the day. After we handed out that last whistle I didn’t stick around too long, and instead headed up into the mountains of Estes Park, to see my aunt and grandma. I was exhausted and honestly slept most of the drive into town, but it was fun to get to have dinner and (surprise surprise) frozen yogurt with them.

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In the morning we had breakfast in quaint little place in downtown Estes. There had been more snow and there were plenty of elk out to be seen on our way. That’s one thing I love about Estes – the wildlife might as well be town residents!

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It was great to spend some quality time, however brief, with family. That was been one big advantage of the Midwest – I’m always seeing friends or relatives!

City #4: Lexington, Nebraska
Sunday it was back to Denver for one more day of work. Typically we have dedicated drive days, where we just wake up and drive, but this day we actually had to log a few hours that night. Because of some last minute schedule changes Eliot and I just had a day and a half to make it to Chicago.

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This drive was substantially less exciting and marked mostly by bursts of song when the Pandora station came up with a karaoke-friendly selection.

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City #5: Chicago, Illinois
Monday we woke up and drove. And drove some more. And some more. Or rather, Eliot drove. This was Monday, April 15th – the day of the Boston Marathon bombings. It was a rough day for me and Eliot was a champ, tackling most of the miles. If I-70 was our best friend on the way out to Denver, I-80 was our best friend on the way back.

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In Chicago we were doing a video shoot for Kraft, Oscar Mayer’s parent company. We didn’t have to do too much, other than being our usual corndog selves, but we did get the opportunity to meet the CEO of Kraft. Now that was a cool day! Not many people can say they’ve done that!

City #6: Madison, Wisconsin
Promptly after the final “cut” was shouted from the video crew, Eliot and I hauled buns out of town. We continued to rack up the miles for the week with a drive to Madison. Eliot is a University of Wisconsin grad and was very active in WASB – the Wisconsin Alumni Student Board. WASB puts on a series of programs called “Dinners on Wisconsin” where UW grads buy dinner for current students and talk about what they do.

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Eliot and a Hotdogger from last year, Tyler, put together a program for the Wienermobile and we stopped in Madison to have dinner at the Roman Candle, a pizza place, with about 7 current badgers. Not only was the pizza to die for, but the company was great! Since we are both so passionate about the job, it was fun to share that with other interested students. You can’t help but hope they get equally excited!

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While Eliot and Tyler picked up the students in the Wienermobile I waited at the restaurant to hold the tables. While I was reading a book filled with Pizza Poems, I glanced up to see a familiar face.

I wasn't kidding. Pizza Poems are a real thing.

I wasn’t kidding. Pizza Poems are a real thing.

In walked Louise (–SPELLING–), a girl I went to high school with. Even though we didn’t really know each other too well I had to say hello! Talk about a small world!

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City #7: Oshkosh, Wisconsin aka OshVegas
While my parents live (or rather, lived) on the way to pretty much every city Eliot and I have visited in the Midwest, Eliot’s parents most certainly do not. He is from Oshkosh, WI which is pretty far North, near the Greenbay area. Luckily, Oshkosh showed up on our schedule and Eliot got to bring the Wienermobile home.

Oshkosh was our last city of the seven in seven days. Although we had two days off in town, it didn’t quite feel like it. Our first day off we had to drive from Madison to Oshkosh. Eliot’s family greeted us with a home-cooked meal, which hit the spot after the drive-thru diet that week. The next day the entire city of Oshkosh came over to Eliot’s house to see the Wienermobile. Ok, that may be an exaggeration, believe it or not. They did have a lot of friends over though, which was fun to meet every person who has ever met Eliot ever.

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To prepare for that event Eliot’s mom, Carol, and I created a Wienermobile centerpiece – a rice crispy masterpiece.

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The Wienermobile is made out of rice crispies, licorice, thin mint tires, and some marshmallow headlights. In case you’re wondering, it was just as much fun to eat as it was to make!

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Seven days later, we had covered quite a bit of ground. Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin. It was a long stretch, but worth it because of all the diverse experiences we had along the way – from friends and family, to future Hotdoggers and the CEO of Kraft!

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To finish up our travels in April, I’m just going to mention a few of our other stops along the way.

Once we made it out of Oshkosh, we headed to Milwaukee. We might as well have been in Eliot’s hometown still. He has more than 30 first cousins, so we continued to meet people left and right at work.

I was headed back to Kansas City on our off days that week to see my folks. Why would I fly back to KC after just seeing them just a few weeks prior? Well remember how I mentioned they decided to up and sell their house? Just as rapidly as they made that decision, they had to move out! By the time I would be back in KC in May, they would have to be out of the house. Luckily I had packed most of my belongings before I left to drive the Wienermobile, so I didn’t have too much work to do.

Once I packed up my few remaining boxes we went on a road trip to check out their new house, down at the Lake of the Ozarks. Let me first admit I was pretty leery at first. It is in the middle of nowhere. I don’t mean it’s kind of isolated. I mean, literally the middle of nowhere. As in 22 miles to the nearest grocery store. As in no cell phone service and dial up internet. Why would they want to move out to Edwards, MO!?

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Then I saw the view. HOLY. MOLY. You are greeted by floor-to-ceiling windows when you walk into the house, which overlook the lake and beautiful foliage. The house is spectacular and they have a ton of land to garden on. Since my parents don’t mind the whole living-in-the-boonies thing, this is perfect for them! I left KC very happy for them to start their new adventure, and slightly bitter that they wouldn’t be just two miles off the interstate any more for me to visit them.

After seeing my parents, I then got to see my sister in Milwaukee. She drove in from Madison one night and we did a little bit of bridal gown shopping and a little bit of celebrating for her birthday. In one month I got to see my aunt, grandma, dad, step mom, and sister. With the exception of my mom, who lives in Europe, that’s pretty much everyone! (A big shift from the SW region where I never saw anyone I knew!)

She didn't get this dress so I'm allowed to post this picture, right?

She didn’t get this dress so I’m allowed to post this picture, right?

We ended our time in Wisconsin the right way. First by working this event called Stein and Dine, which is a beer, sausage, and cheese sampling event in Milwaukee. Naturally I had to get my picture taken with the Brewer’s Racing Sausages after work.

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Our final stop was at the Cheese Castle, right before the Illinois border.

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After copious amounts of cheese sampling, I felt it was only fitting to get a good cheese head photo to mark the occasion.

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And that was pretty much all of April. I know I crammed it into one Touristy Tuesday post, but it seemed to move so fast that you could barely distinguish one week from the next. April, probably more so than any other month on the road yet, was when I felt the most like a road-warrior. I’m glad I had friends and family to see along the way, because that helped make it as enjoyable as it was. Packing and unpacking was almost fun, knowing we would get to see familiar faces at the each new destination!