Saturday, August 28, 2021

Young Troubadour

 What's shakin', turkey bacon?

Going to set the vibe right out of the rodeo gate with some George Strait:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9jJf-p6RYvo

You should know this about me.  I love sitting on the back of a truck, cracking open a beer and singing every word to this song.  My music taste is all over the board, but I love this old Americana Country George Strait tune.  I've also been to George Strait's rodeo that he owns in San Antonio (oddly enough his rodeo doesn't allow the consumption of alcohol + very family friendly).  George Strait...a LEGEND (56 #1 hits).

Speaking of legends...

There is small cohort of the general population who love visiting cemeteries and finding infamous + obscure gravesites on road trips.  Sure I've been labeled weird, macabre, and dark.  Guilty, guilty, and guilty.  But, completely normal people love doing it, too.  First, it's great exercise.  You'd be surprised how many steps you get in!  Second, it's sorta like Geo Cashing.  Some of these graves can be completely unmarked (for example, Linda Lovelace here in Denver, who was the star of Deep Throat + other 80's porno movies, was in an unmarked grave and...drumroll...we found it -- she had a pretty interesting life story).  So, you develop a special set of skills (thanks, Liam Neeson).  And, when the government decides to shut down the entire country (aside from gas stations, liquor stores, and every single major box store...still scratching my head over this COVID law of the land -- I guess we all gotta pretend to believe that COVID only lingered around small businesses), you can still have a fun hobby.

I found this famous American last year.  What was so cool is that the cemetery was completely dead (haha, okay I'm punny, arently I?)  But, seriously, nobody was there when out of nowhere a local historian and her friend happened to walk up while we were paying homage.  I was like, "I must be livin' right" to get this completely random free history lesson of stuff I couldn't learn by Googling.  Sadly, I've forgotten most of the cool stuff she shared.

[Me]  At the Gravesite of Jesse James, Mt. Olivet Cemetery

Who was Jesse James?

He was one of America's most notorious + good-lookin' outlaw, bank + train robber (short answer, but keep reading...)


Alright, so Jesse James was a preacher's son!  Born in 1847 in Missouri,  his father (Robert James) was a Baptist minister + a slave owning hemp farmer.  He did revivals at gold mining camps, but sadly got sick and died after arriving at a camp in California.

Jesse's mother remarried to a wealthy man who hated children + made Jesse and his siblings go live with another family.  Zerelda (known to be "iron-willed") left the older rich dude and took her children back to their original farm.  She married a THIRD time + had four more children.  She remained a staunch supporter of her sons, especially, Jesse.

He was a Confederate guerilla (called "bushwackers") in the Civil War.  As a teenager his family got ambushed + his stepfather was hanged from a tree by Union militia.  The bushwackers did some unspeakably gruesome things.  They executed over 20 unarmed Union soldiers + viscously mutilated their victim's corpses.  Again, Jesse was just a teenager.

Roughly a month after Robert E. Lee surrendered at the Appomattox Court House, Jesse was shot in the chest.  His cousin, Zee (short for Zerelda, which was also his mother's name - must have been popular name back then) nursed him back to health.  He later married her + had two lovely inbred children.  As a father, he decided to abandon the guerillas + do more "risk adverse" career moves such as robbing banks, trains/stage coaches.


Jesse James became so popular, he never had trouble being invited into people's homes where he would be fed a nice, hot homecooked meal + a place to rest and would leave a generous amount of money for the boarders.  I mean back then, people didn't have televisions, MALCO, Barnes + Noble, or Facebook to keep them entertained, so an outlaw like Jesse really thrilled the locals.  Plus, a lot of these guys were indebted to the banks for their mortgages and loved when these outlaws would holdup the banks and take the bank notes or burn the banks, absolving them of their debt.

He was murdered at the age of 34.  You would think he would have been taken down robbing a bank or a train.  But, he was shot in the back of the head by a new recruit to his gang (Bob Ford), while dusting a picture on a wall of his rented home.  His family was in the other room (his wife and two kids).  Bob Ford is likened to Judas, as he arranged a reward with the governor of Missouri in exchange for the murder of Jesse James.  Ironically, after the Fords (his brother helped) announced they had killed the infamous outlaw, they were convicted of first degree murder + sentenced to hang.  The governor pardoned the brothers.  However, they got their just karma: Bob was shot to death in a saloon in Creede, Colorado, while his brother Charley committed suicide.

After Jesse James was dead and buried, rumor ran amuck.  Not only did people speculate Jesse James had faked his death and was not truly buried in the grave, a lot of people came forward claiming to be Jesse James.  Poor guy couldn't even RIP in Mt. Olivet Cemetery before they exhumed his body + sent it off for DNA testing to make doubly sure...and yep, the corpse was, indeed, THE Jesse James.

For everyone who wants to judge everyone from the 1400's by today's standards, just know they probably wouldn't think much of you sitting around staring at a large paper weight.

Bella sniffed out these 'shrooms at Mt. Olivet Cemetery.  I'm glad she finally forgave me for this puppy cut.

Thanks for stepping into my saloon...

Cheers!

Troubadour Kimmie


Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Bucket List: World's Biggest Ball of Twine + Another Surprise...

 Ello Mates!

Ever been to Cawker City, Kansas??  Yeah, I didn't think so.  Last year I went on a road trip and didn't want to miss this roadside attraction that had been sitting in my bucket list bank since I saw it on "National Lampoon's Vacation".  (drumroll please).."The World's Largest Ball of Twine."  


Bella's favorite spot...my lap.  Wake up, Bella!  

Me touching the big ball...is this real?

Some facts about the World's Largest Ball of Twine

Me + the Bella-meister paying homage...

She's a beaut, Clark...

The most adorable little filling station for small people...(across the street from The World's Largest Ball of Twine...

This got a 4.5 Google Star Review, which shocked the socks of me (you gotta read these and see the pictures).  I had a swarm of Kansas mafia horse flies/gnats immediately fly out and bite the shit out of me in the wee pre-crack of dawn (I'm talking THROUGH blue jeans).  I'm surprised I can't find the pictures of the huge welts on my hands.
Authentic picture of me pre-coffee with bug bites...

Other than the bugs, this is an oddly satisfying + alluring tourist stop.  It doesn't make a whole heck of a lot of sense, for one.  So, in 1953 this dude named Frank Stoeber started what is now know as The World's Largest Ball of Twine.  By 1957, a mere 4 years later, the ball weighed 5,000 pounds + was over 8 feet high!  In 1961, ol' Frank donated this jewel to Cawker City.  The City has truly embraced everything twine, showcasing artwork and window displays with...you guessed it...balls of twine...everywhere.

Oh, you may want to mark your calendar for August of 2022 (since we're rolling into September already this year).  The City hosts a "twine-a-thon" where the residents + visitors to the City add additional twine!  Yep, you can be a part of history!  Other small town events you might expect at the twine-a-thon: a horseshoe pitching contest, a car show, probably some pretty darn tasty food (as Kansas is known for BBQ), and of course, growing that ball of twine!

DISCLAIMER: Cawker City is smack dab in the middle of Central America, out in the middle of nowhere ("Nowhere") so be sure to fuel up your car ahead of time!  When flying over Cawker City you'll want a airplane seat that can bounce out of a cornfield, because that's the vast majority of landscape (corn, wheat or sunflower fields...a whole bunch of hard fields...a seat that floats will do you no good).

TERRIFIC TWINE TRIVIA!

There are two kinds of twine.  Anybody got a guess?

Answer: Sisal + Hemp!  Both are natural fibers used in twine (and textiles - even softer + more luxurious than cotton!), yet they are slightly different.  So, the Sisal, grown commercially since the 30's, originates from the Agave sisalina plant (wait, what did you just call me?)  Whereas, hemp comes from the stalk of the Cannabis sativa plant.  Hemp, one of the strongest natural fibers known to man, is traced back to China and has been grown for over 6,000 years.  While sisal is resistant to deterioration (even salt water), hemp is even more resistant and holds up to mildew!

Dear Governor Polis, can you please make us a big a ball of hemp here in Colorado?  

Neat Fact: My current City here in Colorado boasts the Largest Sticker Ball - "Saul the World's Largest Sticker Ball"...(I have not been yet, can you believe it?)

I found this twine flick pretty entertaining.  There are actually two more balls of twine in the USA (love the soundtrack...so gangster):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G6VGEV9rxdI

Please, if it's not too much to ask: Spray your balls with preventative medicine/insecticide... 

Now for the "Another Surprise":

So, I finally fueled up on coffee that day.  And, we made it to...(drumrollll please)...The Geographical Center of the Lower 48 States in Lebanon, Kansas (featured in a Chrysler/Jeep commercial during the Super Bowl):

Me having to touch everything...
Me posing + Bella scoping out the best doo doo spot...

Thanks for stopping in, and I hope this was so random your head has a nice little buzz.

Affectionately Yours, 

Kimmie


Wednesday, August 18, 2021

FLOWER POWER: The Sunflower Hippie

Happy Hump Day!

Wow, I have an overwhelming attitude of gratitude this morning.  I just woke up feeling so blessed.  I had a few people pop in my head over morning coffee + yogurt, berries n' granola.  Recently I met this wonderful soul who is a pet groomer.  So naturally we immediately connected over a love of animals.  Anyways, they told me, "You paint with words.  And, it's really beautiful."  Gosh I love compliments like that.  And, then there's my dear friend who recently told me: "You never complain, and I love that about you."  That wasn't always the case with me.  This is a literal re-hardwiring of the brain.  Believe it or not, I've been through several valleys (even though I smile a lot + have a goofy personality).  Those valleys made me truly appreciate the mountain peaks + the view from the top.  I learned that we can either wake up and choose to complain and find fault in everything + everybody....Or, we can wake up and choose gratitude + find the overwhelming beauty in God's creation.  Look, that's not to say we don't have our bad days.  We ALL do.  Even Mr. Rogers had a shit day in the neighborhood once + again.  But, we CAN choose our attitudes and how we deal with it.  I love this quote by Maya Angelou:

"You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them."

(By the way, this really KILLS people who try to dull your light)

Okay, annnnd "End Scene" with my introductory paragraph...

I felt an urgency to share this post with you, since this little event will be ending soon!  Only 8 days left!  Recently I got a call from a friend to join her at Anderson Farms in Erie, Colorado.  I've been spending a little time in Erie as of late.  And, I'm in love.  I love the people, I love the Downtown, I love the geo-scapes (yes, I just created that word for landscapes), and I simply love the vibe! 

So, Anderson Farms has been around for a bit, but this event is totally new!  It's called "Anderson Farms Sunflowers!  The sign says "Anderson Farms U-Pick Sunflowers."  Okay, so you can buy the tickets online (or once you get there), and kids under 4 are free.  The tickets are $10 (whether you buy online or at the event, but you avoid lines with the online convenience).  Tickets buy you the coolest ride on this gigantic wagon out to a field of dreams.  And, by dreams, I'm referring to fields and fields of the most beautiful sunflowers.  This really struck on heart + soul strings once the wagon stopped at our destination!!!  That's right.  You'll arrive at a 15 acre field with over 17 varieties of sunflowers and so many cool photo opportunities.  The sunflowers range in height, color and blooming stages.

Real quick...queue Tom Petty!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ozgmyx919a4

Anderson Farm provides a "concessions" where you can buy a bag or a bucket for an "all-you-can-fill" experience.  I'm not kidding.  They loan you some shearing scissors and off you go!  Oh, and they have wildflowers too!!  So, the bags are $10 and the buckets (really cool French Market buckets) are $25.00. 

NOTE: No dogs are allowed at this event.

Here's the website to purchase tickets:

https://andersonfarms.com/sunflowers/

Some things you'll want to bring:

A hat for protection (it's so hot!  And, the only shade is under this one tent)

Sunscreen

Water to stay hydrated(although they do sell water at the concessions)

A professional camera

Tennis shoes or hiking shoes (do not wear sandals - unless Chacos or something sturdy!  You're walking around on uneven terrain)

Dry-fit or breathable clothing.  Sundresses are great and breathable.  Guys, shorts.

Maybe some snacks if you get "Hangry" and experience blood sugar drops...

Some cool things they have:

Playgrounds for the kids (literally a gigantic John Deere tractor with a slide)

Bug spray stations (yes, you'll need to hose down your ankles and arms...little bugs love that flesh)

Bring extra cash or credit for cool tanks and candles...

Popcorn + Cotton Candy

Here are some photos of my experience (Quite a few since I geeked out over sunflowers...sorry, not sorry):

Caption this!  Haha!  
You'll see this guy as you pull into or exit the parking lot (depending on which way you come in)



Legit, pay attention to these tips.  You'll avoid wiltage (yes, I just made up that word)


Meet Ian from Ala-damn-bama.  Nicest guy and he'll remember your name!  The staff is so cool!


Me so corny...




Basketball hoops for the kids or the kid at heart...

Bug spray stations...

The gigantic wagon...




Bucket filling stations.  You'll want to fill your bucket 40% with water before you get started pickin'


I always meet other mermaid...



Love this green one...fun merch!


Anderson Farms candles...

She's putting our shears inside the buckets...

FUN photo opps everywhere you turn...


He thinks my tractor's sexy...



Field of dreams...








Be like this sunflower...unique...




Our finished bounty...not bad, eh?

Come out to Anderson Farms...QUICK!  Before the sunflowers are gone...

REMINDER!!!

Also, a quick reminder that Abby and I will be at the Erie Farmers Market tomorrow from 5-8 p.m. with Mermaid Sand Bars, Mermaid Bath Salts, Mermaid Hair Spritz, Mermaid Crowns (festival vibes), and the best part ever...FACE PAINT!

During our first Farmers Market we saw the overwhelming magic + sparkle in the kid's eyes.  And, that's when we realized, it's all about the kids.  If you are a parent taking your child(ren) to the Farmers Market, you are instilling great memories, teaching them to buy local + eat healthy!  It reminds me of when my Dad took me fishing and hiking.  I'll never forget those memories.

So, we're breaking out customized Mermaid (also, turtle, whale, + unicorn) tiara/crowns, festival flower wreaths and kids soaps!  We can't wait to see you and be part of the Erie community again!  We also remembered to pack dog treats this time, so stop by with your pup and say hi!

Thanks for stopping in + flower power to you, friends!  Peace + Love + Sunflowers...

The Sunflower Hippie + Mermaid for Life,

Kimmie


A Magical Mountain Zoo Experience I Won't Soon Forget!

G'day Mates! Thanks for stopping in!  Realizing I’d written a few back to back  blogs with a more serious, heavy tone, so I was feeling ...