brett

The Bachelor.

As a blogger, I can see a lot of things.

I can see how many people read my blog. I can see how you found my blog, such as Facebook or Twitter. I can see how many read my “About” page (that tells me you’re probably a new reader). I can see which pictures get downloaded. I can see which country you live in – United States, Canada, United Kingdom are my top 3. I can see how many times you watch a video. I can even see what google term you used to find my blog.

The only thing I can’t see is you.

Are you male or female? Are you 90 years old or are you 18 years old? Are you single, divorced, widowed or married? Do you have kids or no kids? Do you live next door to me or do you live in New York City?

I don’t know.

All it took was one or two ladies out there to suggest a topic for me to write on this 30-day writing challenge. And single ladies, do I have a treat for you! (I’m clapping)

Hit it, Beyonce.

His name is Brett Cannon. He’s single.

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Brett is 32 years old. He lives in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. He was born in Texas. He still carries a Texas accent. I know this for a fact because Scott starts talkin’ like he was born n’ raised in Texs when he starts talkin’ to Brett on the phone. Scott adapts to how his friends speak. It’s just one of his mannerisms I picked up on when I eavesdrop on Scott’s phone calls.

I’ve known Brett for, oh, 13 years. Brett has known Scott for 27 years. Scott and Brett grew up in Ft. Lauderdale. They met at church. Ladies, I am going to read some scripture from the Bible. Turn to Genesis 1:27. Ah hem. Sorry, I have a little tickle in my throat.

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God He created him.”

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Ladies, can I get an Amen? Amen!

I know what you’re thinking, “Julie, he’s from South Florida. He’s probably stuck-up and goes through 20 girls a week.”

No. Not true. He does not go through 20 girls a week. When he dates someone, it’s for a long time. And he is not stuck-up. He’s one of the sweetest guys I know. His personality is a lot like Scott’s personality, really.

Which brings me to the topic of fishing and hunting. This is Brett’s job. He fishes and hunts for sponsors like Garmin, Oakley, Salt Armour, and Interstate Batteries. He doesn’t always stay in Florida. Brett travels around the world. Brett gator hunts, hog hunts, elk hunts, whitetail deer hunts, mule deer hunts. You name it, Brett hunts it.

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If you’re a vegetarian or a PETA member – just leave right now. I’m not being mean, no judgement from me. I’m just being honest. You’re not a match.

You need to like the outdoors. Scott and Brett do this thing where they start twitching if they’re indoors too long. Bonus points if you’ve killed a deer or caught a marlin or even a largemouth bass.

He would like a woman that can cook. Brett can cook. I make him cook me dinner when he visits because I’m a terrible cook. He’s pretty good but he would like to share the kitchen with someone, especially someone that dances in the kitchen too.

Brett is also looking for a woman that is smart, independent, and has a career. She needs to have great communication. Humor is a requirement because eventually you’re going to be hanging out with Scott and me. We like funny girlfriends.

Let’s see, he gave me more adjectives: trustworthy, fun, spontaneous, beautiful and drama-free.

And there you go. Brett Cannon.

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Choose your stalking method, ladies:

Instagram

Facebook

His phone number (954) …..“JULIE!” 

I’m kidding, Brett! A little drama is ok. 

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Wait, don’t go! Find me on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram

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House Targaryen.

Daenerys Stormborn of the House Targaryen. First of Her Name. The Unburnt. Queen of the Andals, the Rhoynar, and First Men. Queen of Meereen. Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea. Breaker of Chains. Mother of Dragons.

The white-haired girl on Game of Thrones.

Julie of the House Burton.

Whoa, you look just like her.

Did you actually dye your hair?

Call her what you want.

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Halloween isn’t about the kids. Get, kids. Go find me a Milky Way. Halloween is about changing who you are for one night. You are not who you were born to be. You can be anyone in the world with the help of an Etsy account and Amazon Prime. You can even be a delicious Milky Way. No one needs to worry about travel or serving dinner or your grandma telling you your brother is her favorite. This isn’t that kind of holiday. Halloween is pure entertainment with a cocktail in hand. Because it’s what we do – we drink and we know things.

Halloween is about knocking off those who reign.

For one year, Beetlejuice and Miss Argentina sat on the Iron Throne in Suburbia. Who else could knock them off than the Mother of Dragons. This is her game. The Game of Thrones.

Jorah, shieraki gori ha yearn! – That means Jorah, let’s kick their ass.

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Jorah couldn’t help her this time. Khal Drogo couldn’t help either. Who could possibly bring down the Mother of Dragons – from Season 1 and Season 3.

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This is the scariest picture taken this night. But no, Daenerys and Khal took down A Christmas Story bunny.

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Hooters waitresses just wanted a tip. Bob Ross just wanted to talk about happy trees.

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Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman. Ah, we’re getting close. Catwoman gave birth to the one that took down the Iron Throne.

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Avatars.

Avatars took down Game of Thrones. Again.

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The yellow contacts. The flattened noses. The wigs sewn into their hair. The full-frontal nudity covered only by a piece of cloth and some blue paint. Hollywood beat the Game of Thrones.

I knew we should have hired Peter Dinklage to bartend, Scott.

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The traditional morning after picture: Daenerys Targaryen only drinks from the coffee cup meant for a queen. Oh look! So did Kelly Kapowski.

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Wait, don’t go! Find me on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram. I might just break out the wig for fun.

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Dude looks like a lady.

It was a normal Saturday night, really. A small group of neighbors and friends gathered to celebrate a surprise birthday for oh, let’s just call her Chrissy.

While Chrissy ate dinner with her spouse, the preparations began.

The mascara wands whipped out, panty hose pulled on (with the fun prints!), party dresses went over heads and accessories pulled the final look together. Oh, the hair. There were no mom buns or yoga pants because this is Chrissy’s party and Chrissy isn’t that kind of woman. Chrissy is not a plain woman. Oh no, Chrissy is extravagant and her friends were extravagant with her.

The hair was let down. Perfume sprayed. Cleavage up. Nails dry.

And out the door.

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Did you know my husband wears a size large maternity dress from Target?

Surprise, Chrissy! 

 

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It was an evening with girlfriends. The men in our lives – gone, tucked away for the night. The real women, with soft skin and curvier hips, watched as the newfound women discovered their female identity.

I can’t write better than the words that came from the pretty mouths of men.

“Hey, do you think I need to touch up my number 5 lipstick while I’m in the bathroom? Will someone go with me?”

“Has anyone sat down to pee yet? It’s…it’s different.”

“My feet are killing me. These heels.”

“Did this wig come with lice? Do you always feel this hot behind your neck?”

“Are you still tucking back?”

“My wife doesn’t let me motorboat her. Will you let me? I’ve always wanted to do this.”

“Nip slip! Whoops!”

“Hi, my name is Scotti-with-an-i. Heart dot.” — “Hi, I’m Jamie.”

“You want to go to a Chicago Cubs game if they go to the World Series?” — “Might be expensive. Oh, they’ll pay for us to go if we give them a good lay.” (hand wave at wives)

“Let’s bring Chrissy to the Cubs game. She’ll score us free tickets in somehow.”

“Oh shoot. Forgot my purse at home. Guess someone needs to buy me a drink!”

“Can I have something fruity with vodka?”

“Oh my God! You can’t even taste the vodka in this!”

“I think we all agree that Ty looks the hottest. Hey, Ty! You’re going to be sore in the morning.”

“Did you have any idea how hot your husband looks tonight?”

“Ty’s so pretty. I’m kinda jealous of her now.”

“If Zeus was a lesbian, that is exactly what he’d look like. Kristy, the Roman Goddess, or something.”

“Oh no! I think I lost a nail! Has anyone seen my nail?”

“Metallic nail polish is in right now.”

“Look at this gown! And who are you wearing tonight?” — “The whole football team.”

“Jamie really brought tampons in her purse! What else you have in here?”

“Help me insert this tampon. Please.”

“Well, I can’t go back to the babysitter now. She didn’t see me leave the house. I can’t let her know I look hotter than she does right now.” (hair flip)

“I’m sorry, I can’t give you a hug goodbye. I’ve seen your penis too many times.”

“Ha! Her patty hose ripped. That sucks.” — “Did you know you can fix that with clear nail polish?”

“You need more number 5 lipstick. Have you heard of the number 5?” — “Of course I do! I watched my mom put on the number 5 growing up.”

“Cubbies grand slam! Yay!” (clapping and jumping)

“I’m so flat chested. This sucks. Your boobs look so perky, how did you do that? — “Shhh. It’s a nursing bra.”

“Let’s get Brazilians!”

“Can I see your phone?” — “Sure!” (pulls out phone from bra)

They say you’re supposed to walk a mile in someone else’s shoe before you judge them. These men walked in their wives’ shoes, bras, and necklaces for a night. And they were painful shoes.

They did it for the laughs and for the love.

It was a normal Saturday night, really. Happy Birthday, Chrissy. To many, many more.

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Wait, don’t go! Find me on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram

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BattleFrog.

Somewhere over the rainbow…

Wait, that’s not right.

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Somewhere in the city limits of Topeka, Kansas, Coach Pain gave a motivational speech to the 10:30 am wave of runners in the BattleFrog obstacle race.

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Coach Pain. Image via BattleFrog.

“Who here is cold?”

My teeth chattered while I jumped in place.

“Take a deep breath.”

I inhaled and exhaled. I continued to jump.

“Breathing will warm you up. And I’m gonna tell you right now –  holding your breath and hopping like this with your teeth chattering will not warm you up. You want to feel cold? Go to San Diego, California. Coronado Beach. Now that’s cold.”

I don’t know, California seems pretty warm. I continued to jump in place. Scott rolled his eyes at me.

“Are you scared?”

Yes.

“I said, is anyone here scared?”

Please don’t yell at me.

“That’s fear.”

Ya think?

“Fear doesn’t care if you’re scared.”

Well, shit.

“Everyone get down on one knee.”

I made a disgusted face. Ugh. Mud on my knee already. Scott gave me a stern look. I half smiled.

“We do not live just to live. Each one of us has a duty for ourselves. When you get up in the morning and the sun is shining on your face and not on your grave, that’s a blessing.”

I’m going to die. Right here. In Topeka, Kansas.

“I like to tell people the truth. We are missing the truth. You’re going to be challenged today. Fear is going to challenge you. You’re going to want to give up.”

How much did we pay for this?

“But there’s another person in the mirror when you looked at yourself this morning. You’re fighting a fight because someone else fought for you. Someone else that is not here with us today. Can I get a HOORAH.”

Group: HOORAH!

“CAN I GET A HOORAH!”

Scott: HOORAH! THAT’S RIGHT!

“You, sir!”

Coach Pain pointed at Scott.

“You will be your team leader. You don’t get a choice. I picked you for a reason.”

You have got to be kidding me. It’s only because of his muscles. 

Scott got our group organized at the start line and stood next to me.

Me: I’m not listening to you.

“READY, SET, GO!”

An 8K in American terms is 4.97 miles and in BattleFrog terms is 5.5 miles.

I don’t sugarcoat things.

I rummaged the Internet the night before. I looked for articles that weren’t written by the mud race elite. I’m a real person, not a machine. I didn’t want a motivational speech. I didn’t want someone to tell me, “anyone can do it! It’s for all fitness levels!” I wanted honesty. I wanted someone to tell me exactly what each obstacle entailed.

If you want to know what an 8K mud race is like for a beginner, this is the only place to read about it.

Please remember I trained for this by eating cupcakes.

See previous cupcake post.

Mother is nature is a bitch. I live in the heartland of America. In the spring, the warm gulf stream air rises and the cold arctic air pushes down. When the two air masses collide over Kansas – BOOM! Thunderstorms. Mother Nature will run your cold, mud bath from her never-ending faucet. We spent two miles of this race walking through water. We spent the other three miles running through a slip and slide of mud.

Marathon runners are a bitch. No, not you. You’re not a bitch. You keep doing what you’re doing. I’m just saying I would be a bitch. I don’t have an autopilot mode or a “zone” runners get into. I like to give up and walk. It feels good to give up. This wasn’t a marathon. Everyone walked. We walked through pitch black, cement storm sewers against a cold current of water at our knees. Every time I saw a storm sewer coming up, I knew it would slow my team down to a hunched-over crawl. And it felt good to crawl, even if it was pitch black, sewer-crawling.

Vietnam was a bitch. Every war scene in Forrest Gump was performed by my team. Adrenaline pushed us in and out of trees. We grabbed anything to keep us from falling in the mud, a thorny tree limb or a handful of poison ivy. Invisible holes would appear while walking through the murky streams. Underwater tree roots would trip us. We walked along the edge of a pond – the inside edge of a pond in waist deep water. My shoe got stuck in the muddy bottom, I tripped and there was nothing to catch my fall. My hand touched the bottom of a pond and probably a dead body. I saw the white light.

Obstacles are a bitch. The first obstacle was to carry a sandbag over our shoulders up and down bleachers. But first, we had to walk up a steep hill of mud. I face planted. There was no time to turn my face away. Cameras clicked. I heard laughter. The weight of the sandbag on my neck pushed my face in and I couldn’t move. The doctor in our group pulled the bag off my neck and I continued on with a mud mask. We encountered monkey bars over a pool of muddy water, we carried two jugs of water with BattleFrog cameras in our faces. We climbed walls. We belly-crawled under crossed wires in a pit of mud. There was no one there to stop you from skipping an obstacle or to make sure you did eight burpees if you skipped. I skipped a few.

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It was 5.5 miles of running, falling, walking through water, crawling in sewers, shivering and sweating. Fear showed up. Weakness showed up. Help was there when you needed it. There was a laugh or two. I flipped off the frogs croaking in the ponds more than once because they needed to shut up and stop cheerleading.

I walked through the finish line 3 hours after Coach Pain gave us his motivational speech. Even though we stayed together, I was the last one in our group to finish.

I’m going to tell you right now – it was painful. If I had my phone on me, I would have called Uber to pick me up in the woods around mile 1. But I didn’t have my phone. Once you start, there’s no going back. You can walk 5.5 miles and skip the obstacles or you can run and do every obstacle. No matter what your fitness level is at a mud race, you will start and finish 5.5 miles. And maybe that’s the hardest part for everyone – starting. Once you start you can’t stop.

I received a medal around my neck. My only emotion was relief.

I did it. It’s over. HOORAH.

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laid

How to get laid.

How to get laid. 

Maybe you found this title on Facebook. Or maybe Twitter. Quite possibly this title popped up in your email. It wasn’t marked as high importance but you made it so.

It’s called the hook – the sentence that grabs your attention. You click. Maybe the title is vaguely what the story is about. Or maybe the story spiraled off into a controversial subject and now there’s a comment war that you want no part of. Writers will say anything for that page hit.

So yes, I got you to click but I’m following through with such bold expectations. The inspiration for this post came from a group text with our friends before our trip to Colorado.

Scott: Guys, I got bad news. We got some wacky condo that has bunk beds.

Me:

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Hunter: Then I call dibs on the room with two twin beds.

Scott: Well, Casey is the only one who isn’t married so he’ll be the only one who gets laid.

Hunter: Let’s be honest, Casey is the only one getting laid anyway.

Me: OMG. You two sound married to each other. You say the same thing and hit send at the same time.

Wes: Ear muffs recommended, huh?

Scott: Me: Hey Julie, how does this feel?🙂 Julie: Get off, asshole. Me: I’m going to the balcony.

Hunter: Apparently it doesn’t feel very good, Scott.

Scott:

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Hunter: Me: (slides to her side of the bed) Kathy: Go away! I’m already asleep. Me: But you’re watching TV.

Scott: Me: (slides to her side of the bed) Julie: (farts twice) Me: (slides closer)

Hunter:

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Wes: Oh boy. What have we gotten ourselves into?

Me: Stop scaring Wes and Emily! They’re newlyweds!

I know you are laughing at this conversation. I know this because we are all the same people. After all, you did click on the title and you’re still reading.

Get out your notebooks, boys. Take notes. You will be quizzed when you get home. If you pass, you’ll get a nice little surprise tonight. Ladies, grab some popcorn and enjoy the ride.  You don’t need to know how to get laid – we get it whenever we want.

* This is for long-term relationships. Newlyweds, singles – you get it whenever you want too.

Rule 1: Get in her head. 

This is extremely important. All the rules revolve around rule number 1 – get in her head. Tell her she’s beautiful when she’s not expecting it. And don’t tell her she’s pretty and drop your pants, that doesn’t count. Stare at her across the room. Make her laugh. Make her laugh until she can’t breathe. Remind her what she’s good at. If you’re going to get laid – and I mean rock your world laid – make sure she loves herself first.

Rule 2: A nude man is not a turn on.

I mean, yes, a nude man can be a turn on and maybe it’s more of a turn on for some women than others. But it’s not the same as a man looking at a nude woman. When a woman sees a beautiful, nude man she’s imaging what words are coming from his mouth. The bulk of a man’s sexiness is mental, not physical. But if she physically loves something on your body – YOU KEEP IT. If a woman tells you to keep your beard – you keep your beard. If she tells you your obliques make her forget her name – drop and do side crunches. Anything physical is easy money, man. Easy money.

Rule 3: Sometimes it’s just not going to happen.

Having a newborn. Working 14 hour days. The kids are fighting in the next room and it’s only a matter of minutes before one of them busts open the closet door. There’s a child sleeping in your bed. She has the flu. There are circumstances in life when her mind cannot go there. That’s what your hand is for.

Rule 4: Clean the house.

Some men are good at keeping a house clean and some men are not. The same goes for women – some women could care less about having a clean house so this may not even apply to you. If you ask me, I swear to God, Scott would get laid every night if he cleaned the kitchen, packed the kids lunches, and put the kids’ laundry away without complaining or asking for a thank you. There’s a direct correlation between a man that helps around the house and a relaxed woman in bed. The goal here – get her relaxed, maybe bring her wine. And by all means, you do not – I repeat, YOU DO NOT tell her to relax if she’s angry.

Rule 5: Her butt is not fat. Her whole body is amazing.

“Does my butt look fat in this?” It’s a trick. I’m going to tell you how to handle this situation: you take a step back and tell her that her whole body looks amazing. If you answer this specific question with a no, she’s going to accuse you of lying and stop staring at my fat ass. You do not stare at any one body part. This is the part of the female brain males will never comprehend. I don’t even understand it myself. There are certain triggers that will make a woman cry. I speak for hormonal females everywhere – we’re so sorry.

Rule 6: Presents don’t work.

Flowers, chocolates, jewelry. Those are all nice things and we’ll gladly accept them but you’re trying too hard. It’s obvious what you’re doing and we are questioning what you’re guilty of. It’s also borderline paying for sex. You may get laid or you may not. It all depends on her mood. See rule number 1.

 

Men will always joke about never getting laid. Women laugh because we know this is just not true. There are 7,413,966,540 people in the world. That’s a lot of sex. And that’s just sex resulting in full term pregnancies in a certain age bracket.

I can’t speak for all women. I’m sure there are women out there that disagree with me. There’s only one way to find out – go home and talk to your spouse. Tell her how much you appreciate her. Tell her she’s still the most beautiful woman you have seen. Make her laugh. Bring wine.

You can’t complain, males.

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Wait, don’t go! Find me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

 

 

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A hard-working vacation.

This is a hard post to write.

Vacations are always hard to write about because no one can relate.

But oh, the guilt.

Guilt is dirty. It’s right up there with shame, worry, and jealousy. They are the emotions that make us ugly people. The better you are at brushing these feelings off, well, I don’t really know because I’m a little pig rolling in the mud.

I travel a lot. I wish I could validate this statement by saying it’s for work. It’s not. The second I walk into Kansas City International Airport, I feel it – travel guilt.

Money guilt  The cost of this plane ticket and hotel could go towards paying off our credit card, the retirement fund, the kids’ college tuition or anything synonymous with the word adult.

Kid guilt  “No, mommy! Please don’t go!” The dagger.

Jealousy guilt  “That bitch went on vacation again?!” I can hear your thoughts.

Friendship guilt  Scott planned the trip with his friends and that included who we shared hotel rooms with. If it was up to me, you’re all invited.

 

We traveled to Breckenridge, Colorado last weekend. We visited the Rocky Mountains for pleasure.

Oh, wait. Let me say that again – for “pleasure.” 

Ah, Breckenridge. A sight for the eyes because no picture can do it justice. The air is thin. Snow is powder. Everyone is high. Well, yes, some are that kind of high but we’re all high-high. It’s 10,000 feet above sea level. A height where we’ve heard it all before – “it is now safe to turn on all electronic devices.”

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We traveled with the friends that turn on their electronic devices when I FALL OFF A LIFT. They missed the part where I scream at Scott.

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I screamed at Scott here, too. This was all his idea.

“It’ll be fun, Bug! We can ski all day, sit in the hot tubs at night, maybe enjoy a couple breweries.”

“Oh, sure. Ok, I can be a snow bunny!”

I’m not trying to impress anyone. I’ll say it – LIES.

I don’t get it. Maybe my parents should have taken me to the mountains as a child. I didn’t hear one kid scream like I did. Ski lessons at Breckenridge must include a lesson in bravery.

I know for a fact that my lungs want to fail at altitude. I came prepared with a can of Boost Oxygen. It works wonders when my body’s response to anyone skiing within five feet of me is hyperventilation.

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Or maybe I’m not athletic enough. I’m comfortable under a bench press. I’m not comfortable raising my heart rate. Multiple falls from 5 feet, 9 inches is hard on my old bones of 34 years. Look at my friend, Kathy. She busted her ACL and MCL on the first day of skiing.

And I grew a mustache to keep warm.

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Scott got felt up on the second day because mountain men taking selfies are dangerous too.

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And then Scott landed in a tree on the third day. Look hard. He’s in there, Waldo.

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I eventually stuffed a ski up Scott’s ass on purpose and followed directions from his friend, Hunter. I couldn’t yell at Hunter for cheerleading me down a mountain. We don’t have that special husband and wife bond. Hunter taught me how to zig zag down the hill of death. He taught me to relieve pressure off one leg to turn. It started to make sense. Everyone falls.

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I realized if I was going to survive, I would have to do it myself. No one can help me but me. A nurse once told me that years ago while I was pushing a tiny human from my body.

By the end of our trip, I could ski on the easiest ski runs.

This trip wasn’t for cocktails and umbrellas. You could say it was for work – the hard, physical kind of work. The travel guilt is always there. This time I came home with the pleasure knowing I made it down alive.

Are you comfortable skiing? Do you prefer mountain vacations or beach vacations? Do you feel guilty when you travel? What kind of guilt do you feel? I swear my vacations are over for now. I’ll be in Kansas, at sea level.

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Wait, don’t go! Find me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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Scott pawned us off to Florida.

In the end, I hope my children realize how much our bodies need vitamin D in November.

It helps with calcium absorption and bone growth.

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Call me old fashioned but Vitamin D is meant to be taken by the heavens, sent down on the rays from the Sunshine State. No thanks, Flintstone vitamins.

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Scott pawned us off to Florida in the middle of the deer rut*.

* The deer rut: a deer humping frenzy that occurs in 10 degree weather. The male deer are too distracted by the female deer to notice the scent of a hunter sitting in the tree stand.

 

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My husband is too distracted by the male deer to notice who the real winners are because no one from Florida actually wants to visit Kansas in November.

Meet Lindsay.

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Just kidding, Lindsay doesn’t fish.

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Lindsay and I are exactly 26 days apart in age but I was born on a bitter, snowy morning in Kansas City and Lindsay was born with a newborn, baby tan in Key West.

Lindsay and Scott grew up together in Fort Lauderdale. That means the moment I said, “I do” to Scott, I sealed the deal with my eternal summer best friend, Lindsay. Even if summer happens to fall in November.

She doesn’t even own a pair of winter boots.

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Our daughters, Emma and Madison, have known each other since diapers. They met in, well, where else but the Florida Keys.

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So yes, you could say Scott pawned us off to Florida while he froze in a tree stand. But I never complained about his weekend, alone in the woods, during the rut. He cooked, fed the dogs, started his own laundry, and scratched his balls. I don’t really know what men do alone.

I do know I came home to a slap in the face by the bitter Kansas City air. And then another slap in the face when I saw the bloody mess in our garage.

No, the blood wasn’t from a deer.

You guys, Scott did it.

It was a dirty job but it had to be done without women or children. While the girls and I were in Florida, an arrow went flying in Kansas. It went straight through the heart of a coyote.

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A coyote. The canine eating canine of the animal kingdom. If you remember – a coyote attacked and tried to kill our dog, Belle.

Read the story here.

Scott won’t move the family to his hometown of Fort Lauderdale. But he will make sure we’re always warm, including Belle. She’ll stay warm for many Novembers to come under her own coyote blanket.

Does anyone else love the snowbird life? Do you prefer living with seasons or a year-round summer? Do you have a long-distance friend that lives with palm trees? I highly recommend that you find one. Can you believe Belle got the final revenge? 

** Thank you for having us, Lindsay! Until Scott pawns us off again, cheers! Save us some vitamin D.

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Cosmo Driving

Pup Pals.

Married. Female. Two kids and two dogs. Lives in a suburb of Kansas City. Writer for a Kansas City magazine.

Read into that all you want – that sums me up.

I probably sound boring. Or exciting. However that sounds, you have an image of me in your head but there’s no way of knowing who I am based off that description.

If a camera followed me around, you would find out more about me. I am quiet, sometimes even awkwardly quiet. I don’t like attention on me. You’ll notice I probably have my phone in my hands too much. I’m just reading. Thinking. Trying to find something to make me laugh. I write a lot. I am constantly wondering if I am good at that.

Zoom out and you’ll see my kids are school aged. Scott and I are in what some call the “honeymoon of parenting years.”

Our kids are independent enough to make their own small meals. But they are still young enough to catch the microwave on fire then hightail it down the street screaming, “THE HOUSE IS BURNING DOWN! WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE!”

My kids are, for the most part, easy. Our life – it’s getting easier.

And when life gets easy, Scott and I immediately purchase a puppy.

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ADORABLE.

Social media said so.

That’s Stella – female, black, labrador retriever, loves ice cubes.

But those cameras are still rolling. Meet Stella – clothing is her preferred chew toy. She is a simple dog. She is simple in that she doesn’t care for nice things. In fact, brand new hard wood floors is her favorite place to squat and pee. But Stella is a good running partner. She fits in well with an active family. She also loves to cuddle, despite her ever-growing body. Stella just needs time to grow up and she will be the perfect lab for our family.

Now, that is painting a real picture of a puppy. But with words not a camera.

My friends in New York City speak for the rescue dogs. Pup Pals mission is to increase the rate of foster and rescue dog adoptions. They do this by making a high-quality  video production, highlighting the dog’s personality. They rate the dog’s personality in categories such as housing, social skills and grooming.

Fosters and shelters have found that these individual dog videos produced by Pup Pals get dogs placed in forever homes faster. When one dog finds a forever home, that opens space for another dog to get adopted. Quick turn-arounds are a good thing.

Ladies and gentleman – Justin Liebergen and Samantha Northart, creators of Pup Pals.

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Me: Justin. Samantha. Let me get this straight – your mission is get dogs rescued faster by making short videos of the dog, highlighting their personality instead of listing the traditional stats. Your videos includes positive and negatives aspects of the dog so the potential family is not surprised by their addition.

So you are basically the ESPN highlight reel for dogs. Have you considered sponsoring the Puppy Bowl?

Samantha: Anytime we can combine puppies and football, I’m on board. But it’s not the puppies who need our help the most. It’s the dogs living in foster and shelter homes.

Me: How did you come up with this idea?

Samantha: I’ve been working in foster and rescue for over a decade and felt there was a need to showcase some really great pups that were just getting looked over. I fell victim of taking home a pup who wasn’t right for me. But I didn’t want to bother the foster family and not give the pup a home. I realized there must be lots of people who probably don’t even reach out to adopt because they feel they might do the same. I felt there was a better way for people to see the true personalities of the dog than just a couple photos and generic bio.

Me: You guys are based in New York City. What other cities have you helped? And will you be coming to Kansas City? Dogs love Oklahoma Joe’s BBQ. They have strong noses. I just know these things.

Justin: You mean Joe’s KC BBQ? Yeah, I know we still call it Oklahoma Joe’s. It looks like we’ll be in Kansas City in October. So far, we’ve worked in NYC, Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Los Angeles.

Me: So here’s my favorite part about Pup Pals – honesty in the ranking system. So the dog up for grabs doesn’t like cats. That’s cool. You make sure your viewers know that.

I know the rescues know the personalities of the dogs. But how much time do you spend with the dogs when you’re filming? Do you make your own assessment about the dog’s personality or do your rely on the rescues description?

Samantha: Thanks. It’s important to us that we are honest about the dogs. We want the fur-ever family to be a true fur-ever family. You don’t get that by pretending challenges don’t exist. It’s just finding the right fit.

Justin: Typically, we spend about an hour with each dog. We usually rely on the foster families and rescue workers who specifically work with that dog to help with information. And since dogs don’t lie, we’ll know pretty quickly if something they say isn’t up to snuff – or sniff – so far everyone we have worked with has been wonderful in helping us highlight these pups.

Me: Have you ever been bitten while filming?

Justin: By the dogs or the people?

Me: Have you been peed on?

Justin: Again, we’re talking about the dogs, right?

Me: Went home with chewed on camera equipment?

Justin: Actually, no to all. But I certainly bring a few sets of wipes for all the noses that hit the lens.

Me: Stop it. That’s adorable! Wipes! But seriously, you can tell me. We are in an honest space here. Our puppy, Stella, bites, pees and chews all the time. Would you like a puppy named, Stella?

Justin: Yes, please! My top dog, Cosmo, would love a Bonnie to his Clyde.

Me: AH! Halloween costumes! This is my whole world right now. I love Halloween. Ok, just kidding. I’ll take back Stella now. I need her for Halloween.

Justin: Hey, wait!

Me: Let’s talk cats. Will you be extending Pup Pals to cats too?

Justin: We would love for this to expand to cats as well as all sorts of pets. For right now, we are dog fans so we thought we would start in our wheelhouse.

Me: I think the biggest fear in adding a dog to a family is you don’t know what you’ll get.

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Hold on a sec. The dishwasher? Really?

Stellaaaaa!

Ok. If everyone could pick a dog based on their personality, I think we would all be dog owners. Look! Stella wants to be Bonnie for Halloween too! Yay! Justin, go get Clyde.

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Now, our other dog Belle – the Yorkie Poo, we did rescue.

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My only requirement of Belle, when we got her 6 years ago, was she sleep through the night because I had a newborn (named Kate) on her way. And Belle did sleep through the night. She’s the perfect lap dog. She’s not yippy but she’s protective of her family. She ran up to a coyote about a month ago when it came into her yard. The coyote picked her up and ran. She would have died that night but Scott saved her.

Justin: That sounds like a great dog!

Me: She really is. And I think you both are the “Scott” in Belle’s story. And the coyote represents the needle. Sing it, Sarah McLachlan.

Samantha: We will talk about that, actually. There are a lot of stats and figures about rescues and shelters that are depressing. Instead, we are trying to be hopeful in our approach. We focus on dogs who are in safe situations – either a foster or a no-kill shelter/rescue. When you see a video, it will be about if that dog is perfect for you. Not just “do you need to get it safety.” Our job is to help the shelters by highlighting the over-looked dogs. Once a dog finds a home, it opens up space to save more dogs.

Me: I love that. The dogs think you’re heroes too. But they can’t talk.

Cosmo Driving

Me: Hey, you brought CLYDE!

Justin: It’s Cosmo.

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Me: Catch ’em if you can!

Ok, so what we’re here for – money. My kids think it grows on trees. And dogs like to pee on that tree. Please explain to the readers what all these generous contributions go towards.

Justin: The donations go towards travel, shooting and post production. Each time we visit a new city, we also start to put together a local team. We work in multiple cities simultaneously. Our goal is to meet with rescues, film and highlight ten dogs per week. The long term goal is to have a team in every major metro, highlighting ten dogs a week in each city.

Samantha: We don’t ask for any money from the fosters and rescues because part of our goal is to increase their revenue. We do this by decreasing the amount of time and money each dog spends while in rescue.

Me: So for now, we are “relying on the kindness of strangers.”

This may sound terrible – but usually when I say that someone else agrees with me – but with a donation to Pup Pals, we get thank you gifts. I get to help a dog find a home AND I get a Starbucks gift card! It’s like you know how much I love a good pumpkin spice latte.

Samantha: Me too, girl! Which is why the “latte challenge” is so near and dear to my heart. We are hoping folks will take it with us. It’s the $65 Latte Perk level. That’s the cost of one latte per month for a year. So just think, “skip a latte, save a life.” But let’s be real, I’m still gonna get my latte.

Me: I want to thank both of you for chatting with me. It’s refreshing to watch good happen in the world. A dog is an eternal optimist. They shouldn’t be defined as just as male, neutered, hound/lab mix, loves Bonnie.

At a point, they aren’t a dog anymore. They’re just a family member that can’t talk.

Justin and Samantha: Thanks for having us!

If you would like more information on Pup Pals, please visit the Pup Pals page. RIGHT HERE. There’s a dog out there that needs your help. If anything, just watch some cute dogs all day.

On Suburb Ave.

They said we couldn’t have picked a better neighborhood to live in.

On top of that, they said we couldn’t have picked a better street.

“Oh, those are the “fun” neighbors,” they said.

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On the 4th of July, they damn near set our not-yet-owned house on fire.

We did not receive an invite.

We’ve been in the new house for one month. We are still learning names, who lives where, which kid belongs to who, and which person drives which car. I am neighborly in that I like to wave as they drive past me throwing my body on top of my trash container lid.

Our new life on the cul-de-sac is everything we were searching for – a close knit group of people – funny people, our people. This is a place for our kids to roam free. Most people don’t use the word perfect because there is no such thing – but this new life we stepped into was close to, well, perfect.

Close but no cigar.

September hit and now I’m all flustered. I don’t know what my Halloween costume will be. 

In any given neighborhood, there’s always one Halloween house. You know the one. A house that takes Halloween as seriously as Christmas morning. It’s the house the kids run to for the best candy. Reese’s Peanut Butter Pumpkins for all. It’s the house where the parents dress up because their inner child will never die. Not on a night like Halloween. Thunder. Fog. Heavy breathing. A full moon. No – stop, no full moon – the next full moon on Halloween won’t happen until 2020.

Do you know why I know Halloween won’t see a full moon until 2020?

Because I own the Halloween house. As predictable as the phases of the moon, I bring Halloween alive every year. I learned from the best – my father. The giant, hairy, head-to-toe gorilla walking his four children door-to-door every October 31st. Halloween is my day.

Until I met, oh, let’s just call them Chris and Katie.

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Chris: Man, I’m a little concerned I haven’t thought of my Halloween costume yet. It’s already April. Usually I know this in January.

Me: What did you say?

Chris: Halloween. It’s me and Katie’s thing. You’ll see.

Me: Oh, yeah we’ll see. One year, Scott and I were William and Kate. Here, check this out.

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Chris: Oh. Let’s see…what year should I pull out. Oh! One year we were the cast from Wizard of Oz.

Me: Aw, that’s cute.

Chris: I was Dorothy in drag.

Me: What.

Chris: Oh, here we go. Found it.

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Me: Well, look at this. This may have been one of my all time best. Michael Jackson.

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And Scott and the girls were my zombies. Thriller…..Well, Kate actually backed out. Might have been too scary for her.

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….

I was told Emma couldn’t wear her gash in her chest at school. I hate it when schools don’t let me have creative freedom.

Chris: Yeah, that’s pretty good. And then one year, let’s see was this last year? We were Rainbow Brite and her horse. My mom sews my costumes. You should see our basement. And my parents basement too.

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Me: Oh.

Chris: You can’t tell from the picture but the horse actually blew steam from it’s mouth. I had a steam machine built into the head.

Me: What.

Chris: Yeah, it was pretty epic.

Me: Last year, Scott and I were Maverick and Ice Man. Volleyball scene Ice Man.

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We arranged a fly-over as soon as school was let out. Went right over our house on Halloween.

Chris: WHAT?!

Me: I’m kidding. But I did try. Remember how cold Halloween was last year? Scott went around with exposed nipples. I was warm though. I special ordered my jacket from some guy in England because I wanted an exact replica Maverick jacket with all the correct patches. The details. It’s all about the details.

Chris: When Katie was pregnant, we were Juno.

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Me: I’m thinking about being Tina Turner this year. Don’t mind me lunging all up and down the street.

Chris: Oh, my dad was Tina Turner one year. He’s almost 7 feet tall. His legs looked amazing. Do you need a wig? We might have one.

Me: ……..

Chris: ………

Me: I think I’m going to change my costume. Scott doesn’t like to dress up. He won’t be able to pull off Ike.

Chris: Yeah, he will bring your average down, for sure. There’s a Halloween costume contest this year. My house. On Halloween. Katie and I win every year.

Me: And then we moved in.

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They said we couldn’t have picked a better neighborhood to live in. Instead of one Halloween house there are two. Who doesn’t love a good, healthy Halloween challenge with a blown up house.

I have narrowed down our couple’s costume to one. It’s not Tina and Ike.

The biggest challenge: keeping it a secret until Halloween.

Do you and your spouse dress up for Halloween? Do you have any suggestions for Scott and me? I am still up for changing. Especially if someone figures out who we are. Don’t be going through our Amazon trash. Do you attend Halloween costume parties? What is your all-time best Halloween costume?

bighorn

Land of the free.

Yellowstone National Park.

Raw America.

Untouched land, sitting just four miles over a volcanic hot spot. Geysers spew. The bigs roam freely – elk, bison, moose, wolves and the great grizzly bear. The only shots fired are the a click of a shutter speed. Winters are brutal. Summers don’t exist.

The family decided we would take a break from our family vacation in the Florida Keys. We would head north to a place we have never been. The land of the free. America. Old Faithful. Red, white and blue.

Red, white and blue flashing in my rearview mirror somewhere near hour 8 on our road trip to Yellowstone.

South Dakota Highway Patrol Officer: Ma’am, the reason I stopped you today is did you know you drove past me on the highway and didn’t move over? Did you even see me?

I glared at our friends’ car driving by, honking, with a camera phone out the window.

Me: Uhhhh…Yes. I saw you. I guess I wasn’t paying attention?

Officer: You do know if you see flashing lights on the side of the highway, you need to move over.

Me: Yeah, yeah I knew that. My mother-in-law got a ticket for that once.

I dug through my wallet for my driver’s license.

Officer: Do you have registration and insurance papers?

Me: Um, this is a rental. I don’t really know…

Scott handed me our rental paperwork.

Officer: That will do. Ma’am, I’m going to have to ask you to step out of your vehicle.

Me: Wait, what?

Officer: Can you follow me to my car? I want to explain the law in detail with you. It’s loud on this highway and I want to talk to you.

Me: Huh? You want me to get out of my car. Walk along the side of the highway. And then sit in your car?

Officer: Yes, ma’am.

I glanced at Scott. He looked confused.

Me: Uh, ok.

I walked in front of the officer.

Officer: Just sit in the front seat there. That will be fine.

I looked over his car to make sure it was a highway patrol car. I looked back at Scott. I opened the passenger door and sat. The driver’s door slammed shut.

Officer: So where are you headed?

Me: Yellowstone.

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Officer: You have quite a drive from Kansas.

Me: It’s taking longer now.

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Officer: Let’s see Julie. Burton. Are you related to the Burton Snowboards?

Me: Nope.

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Officer: And who is that man up there? Your husband, I assume?

Me: Yeah, his name is Scott.

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Officer: And those are your kids?

Me: Yes, two little girls.

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Officer: I see. And what does your husband do?

Me: He’s Vice President at a medical software company.

Officer: And what do you do, Julie?

Me: I’m a writer.

The officer stopped punching numbers in his computer.

Officer: Oh. Uh, so does this mean I’m going to end up in the papers or something?

Me: Yep.

Officer: So back to the law you broke. I want to explain to you that whenever you see flashing lights on the side of the road, you need to move over a lane. Especially on a highway. This is a four lane highway. You need to move to the next lane. If this was a two lane highway, you would slow down to twenty miles under the speed limit. The goal is not to injure anyone along the side of the road here.

Me: Kinda like when I walked along side the highway?

Officer: I pulled you over for breaking the law, ma’am. You need to move over a lane and make way for others when you see a car pulled over to the side.

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Me: I believe I was more concerned about my speed at the time.

Officer: I clocked you at 81 in an 80. Do you understand the law you broke, Julie?

Me: Yep. I understood it when you were at my window too.

Officer: So where are you staying at in Yellowstone?

Me: Montana. My in-laws rented a house.

Officer: Oh, no camping then?

Me: Not this time.

Officer: I took my wife and kids out there to camp. Watch out for the bison. They’re everywhere. And they’re dangerous too.

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Me: That’s what I heard.

Officer: It’s crazy how many animals you will see.

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Officer: And the bears. Oh man. I won’t camp there again. They get a little too close. You have to keep your food far from your tent. It’s not my thing.

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Officer: So what are you guys going to do if you’re not camping?

Me: Oh, I don’t know. I definitely want to white water raft. I love the thrill of danger and going really fassst uhhhhm… I’ve never done it before.

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Officer: Yeah, that’s pretty fun.

Me: Oh! And I really want to try fly fishing.

Officer: Really? Fly fish? Not many women do that. Man, I could never get my wife to fish.

Me: Yeah, fishing is our husband/wife thing, I guess. We just got back from the Bahamas last week. And we got an invite to fish in Costa Rica with some friends. We went to Dominican Republic last year. I caught my first white marlin. So this fly fishing will be interesting.

Officer: REALLY?! A marlin? Yeah, I want to fly fish. But I decided that will take up too much of my time. I’ll just wait for retirement.

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Me: Well, at least you have some pretty views here in South Dakota. Is that where I am at?

Officer: Yes. Ok, world traveler. I printed out your citation here.

Me: Damnit.

Officer: You can mail the fine to this address in South Dakota. It’s not due until mid-August. That should give you enough time to enjoy your vacation and get back to Kansas. If you would like to plead not-guilty, you must appear at this courthouse at this time.

Me: I’m not coming back to South Dakota.

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Officer: If you would sign here for me, saying you understand you broke the law.

I signed.

Officer: Here is your driver’s license back. And you’re free to go.

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I opened the door and slid a foot out.

Officer: Have fun in Yellowstone!

Me: Thank you.

I slammed the door. I opened my driver’s car door. Then slammed the door again.

Scott: What the hell took so long?

Me: I said thank you, Scott.

Scott: What?

Me: He gave me a ticket and I said thank you.

Scott: You got a ticket? How much? You were in there for 20 minutes! Did he do anything to you? I was about to get out and see what was going on!

Me: I don’t want to talk about it. No, he didn’t do anything. He just talked my ear off. Thank you. Jesus. Thank you, officer. Thank you. Thank you.

Thank you, Yellowstone.

Thank you, Yellowstone.

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Thank you.

Have you ever been to Yellowstone? Is it on the bucket list? And more importantly – have you ever been asked to sit in a cop car and not be arrested? Has a cop ever asked you to walk along the side of a highway, explain to you how dangerous this is, then give you a ticket for not moving over a lane? I can’t make these stories up.

Or these pictures.