Sunday, July 26, 2009


Life is crazy! Work is in the final home stretch, but I feel like I'm doing more now than ever. I'm finishing up my dealer visits, following up with dealers I've already visited, doing various JDAim (customer based sales tool) for different dealers and scheduling some possible trainings during my last week of work! I'm also getting ready to present my 'final presentation' this Friday at the branch, then taking it Kansas City to present to all sort of management there at the Ag Marketing Center. Not to mention I'm going to be on the road 80% of the rest of my internship. Take a deep breath, I can do it!

My latest travels took me to the Snake River Valley in Idaho where spuds and hay are their big ticket items in the Ag Industry. I started out flying to Boise, drove about 2 hours down to Twin Falls then got about 2 hours of my 10 hour drive out of the way to Billings, Montana. The next day, needless to say was my best day all summer (minus going home for fair) as my journeys took me straight through Yellowstone National Park. It still blows my mind that I went through two of the most beautiful national parks in one week- Yosemite (bottom picture) and Yellowstone. Although it was a long day of driving- he scenery was amazing and I got lucky with the wildlife that I saw. Two bears, a young elk, countless buffalo and birds! Got a good view of Old Faithful blow from an observatory point that I hiked up a half mile to see (left picture.) The creeks, rivers and lakes were just breathtaking. Pictures just don't do justice to the natural beauty that these places hold in person. I hope to be able to go back some day and really spend some time at both of these parks- maybe even some saddle time! :)

I find fame to be a funny thing. Last night I met Josh Gracin (middle picture) and Jason Aldean (top picture.) Two great country artists! Sarah and I got some backstage passes for the meet and greet time for both them. We were also front and center for both the performances. As cool as it was- I realized that they are just people too. I mean, they put their pants on the same way everyone else does- one leg at a time. The obsession that some of the 'fans' had for these artists was slightly disturbing. But, they did put on a good show and I like a lot of Jason's songs. "Amarillo Skies," "Big Green Tractor," and "Country Girl." I was pretty excited to see Amarillo Skies being performed in person after living there and learning to Two-Step to that song- I love Amarillo!

Another crazy thing that happened, was I met the son of the incoming President of the American Paint Horse Association. We started razzing each other about which breed was better and all- kind of like a rivalry between two state universities. I would equate the animosity between AQHA and APHA a lot like that between IU and Purdue. My loyalties will always lie with Purdue and AQHA, but I respect the other institution in the state of Indiana for what they are good for and I respect APHA for the organization that they are. After meeting this guy, I now have two connections with APHA as the current President is from Knightstown, Indiana and I have done farm calls to his place with the vet I worked for after graduating high school. Oh what a small world indeed it is.

In the midst of the stress and the countdown to the end of the summer, God has been so good to me. Granted me the opportunity to see such beautiful sights of His creation and has been reassuring me all along the way with His butterflies. My huge yellow and black one I saw just a few hours ago- a very timely sighting indeed. I'm going to a contemporary church service this evening because it was a late night last night and a little tough to roll out of bed this morning for the traditional services. So, it'll be interesting to see what the service will be like.

This week finds me in Arizona and Colorado- no rest for the weary! But I'm excited to see Arizona again- had a great family vacation there when I was younger :)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


I'm going to apologize right now because it has been so long since I last posted anything, because I've been non-stop go for the last couple of weeks, which means I have a lot to talk about! I guess I'll just start with two weekends ago and work my way to the present.

Started out Friday night with me baking away for the company picnic while my roommate was stressing out over midterms for her online classes. So, three movies later, I had two pans of cookie bars, brownies and a sugar cream pie and Sarah had about half her paper done. We both decide to call it a night and get up in the morning to finish. I went to sleep that night crossing my fingers that my pie would set up and woke up in the morning to see that it hadn't, which meant the oven came back on and the sugar, flour, blender and cream came out again! This time I didn't chicken out too early and let the filling bake just a little bit longer and it came out perfect! Although, I didn't win the bake-off with all the wives from the office, a homemade pie from scratch was a surprise coming from the intern. Overall the picnic was a success- Sarah did a great job planning it and I was the work force baking and running errands.

By the time we got home that night, Sarah still had a little bit left on her paper and I crashed hardcore! I woke up to Sarah's excitement of finishing her paper and she wanted to go out and watch the fights. Me being fully re-energized by my nap and wanting to get out of the condo agreed to go with her, even though I think that stuff is kind of lame! We go to a local sports bar, Bully's and sit outside. It was a nice evening here in Reno and we almost witnessed a fight in real life because someone thought standing in front of the only TV outside would be an appropriate and sociably acceptable thing to do. I wonder if he still thought that when a cup of ranch dressing was thrown at him? At least the crowd was keeping me entertained, but then I got really excited when a former Boilermaker stepped out on the mat and did his thing! I was pumped feeling some connection to this guy from Fort Wayne, and wanted to start a Boiler Up cheer, but then my roomie thankfully reminded me that I might not be a very convincing Purdue student in my Oklahoma University t-shirt.

Sunday I get up and go to church and the associate pastor preached a sermon entitled, "Are You Smarter Than God?" And spoke of being trusting in God's plan for your life- something I definitely need to hear over and over again until it finally sinks in! Then Sarah and I caught a matinée showing of "The Proposal." It was a great movie- definitely dvd buyable quality!

Monday I hit the road to sunny California for a dealer visit on Tuesday. It was about a 6 hour drive. The visits went well, even though I was crazy nervous for these because they were a little bit different than the other ones that I've been doing and the TM that I was meeting is a great guy, just old school and I didn't think as receptive to what I was going to be doing. But I was nervous for no reason- I was able to do my thing and help out the dealers and a few little extra things on the side. Then I had a short little drive to Oakhurst California where I would be crashing and getting up early the next morning to drive back to Reno in time to catch a plane home that afternoon!

Oakhurst was a neat little town. About 20 miles south of Yosemite National Park, it had a lot of touristy type things to do and neat restaurants. I ate too much at the Yosemite Gateway Restaurant and needed a place to walk. Now, what you are about to read might sound creepy, weird and obscure, but o-well. I actually had noticed a cute white chapel when deciding where to eat that was in the middle of a cemetery in the middle of town on a hill. So I pulled in only to find that the chapel was locked so I started walking around this cemetery and checking out the headstones. It was kind of cool to see the different quotes and sayings and then the military ones usually had their rank and when they served and all.

I was doing fine until I came across the baby rows. Two rows of headstones closely together and most of them didn't even make it a year, some of the stones only had one date on them. I noticed a stone that had a boy and girl name on it, twins born June 1987. The same month and year that I was born. Why was I standing on their grave and them not standing on mine? Why I had been given the opportunities that I have, including just to be living, and them not? It made me take a deep breath and say a quick but meaningful thank you. I just recently finished reading "The Compass" and one of the characters in that book that was dieing talks about how people feel like they are born with a sense of entitlement, with a certificate of guarantee for 100 years. These twins days, maybe weeks old, my friends from youth group- Britney and Corey teenagers and my friend John at age 22- they sure didn't get their guarantee met. Life is far to precious folks to take it for granted. Please, please remember that!

I wake up early the next morning and plotted my route through one of America's beautiful treasures- Yosemite National Park. Unfortunately I only got the opportunity to merely drive through it, but it was still beautiful just the same! I stopped occasionally to take some pictures but kept pushing through because I had a flight to catch in Reno. But ya, it was pretty tough, let me tell you to be seeing something so beautiful and getting paid for it!

Homebound! Indiana was a site for sore eyes, that's for sure. Even though I'm having all these wonderful experiences there is truly no place like home. From my parents greeting me at the nice and early time of 1 am at the airport, to my dogs jumping into bed with me and my anti-social horse lingering at the gate for me- it was so nice to be home. I planned my trip around the Henry County Fair! Yes, I flew from Reno Nevada to Anderson Indiana for a county fair! I hadn't seen some of those 4-H for two years since I missed fair last summer and I know I keep using words like awesome, wonderful and nice- but those just begin to describe what it was like to be back! 4-H meant so much to me, not only did I grow in my horsemanship skills, but I made true, genuine and sincere friendships. The kind where you don't feel bad taking down a friend in a game of full contact football in the horse arena :)

It wasn't just the 4-H love going around either, but folks at church were so glad to see me too. My "Uncle Jim" as I like to call him, literally came running across the parking lot to hug me. It had been a few years since I've seen him and the man almost burst into tears. He has had a lot of tragedy in his life, especially recently, so I think he likes to see when one of us kids has stuff going for us.

Then sadly, I had to come back Reno. I'm still trying to shake off some of the homesick blues. Even though I have no idea what I would be doing at home right now, there is just this sense that home is home and I would find something to do most likely. But, I guess I have to sacrifice somethings in order to gain all these amazing experiences that I have gotten to partake in. And I keep telling myself and my mom and dad like to remind me of it too- If I end up settling down back at home it will be my own choice. I've gone out and seen the world (literally after Ireland), and I won't be wondering when I'm 35 all the what if's if I didn't do all of this. So that justifies this crazy year of mine and I just keep trying to be patient with God's great plan with my life- even though I wish some things would hurry up. Hopefully when I go to Ireland I can be a dork again and just get so super excited about school and just let God's plan unfold in front of me! That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Stage 3- Ireland and a Few Reflections

It's getting closer and closer- and now I have a definite date to count down to. Sunday, August 30th- I will be flying with another fellow Boilermaker to the land of green for the semester! Wow, a month and half away just about! This doesn't seem possible!

I started my epic, 3-stage adventure last January and now I'm almost to stage 3! I am so glad that I took this huge plunge of being away for an entire year to pursue two wonderful internships and then to study-abroad in the beautiful country of Ireland in Dublin! I have already bought two books on Ireland (with my Barnes and Noble membership mind you). One is a great book filled with photographs of Ireland from the air and the other is a collection of their folk tales. Crossing my fingers, I'm taking Irish Folklore 101 while over there, so maybe I can get ahead a little bit.

Probably the biggest challenge of all of this has been fighting with homesickness and missing my friends back home. I talk with my mom a lot on the phone and I think we came to the conclusion that it is during the settling in process that the homesickness rears its ugly head. But once I settle in and get used to a routine, then I'm great!

That got me thinking just now how different my routines have been between Amarillo and Reno. In Amarillo, I jumped right into a social life at the local college with their Wesley Foundation, I spent a lot at Snaffle Bit barn riding horses and hanging out and then finding time to chill with amazing roomie Meghan- oh and working 8 hour days :) I was seriously non-stop. Meghan probably thought I was nuts coming in late at night and then leaving before her in the mornings. But, I was having a blast and making tons of friends!

Here in Reno, it has been a lot more low-key. When my roomie and I are both in town we hang out a lot and we are eerily similar in so many ways- speech, dress, ideas and even dreams! Yes, we both had dreams about pancakes one night! But when she's not here, I'm either reading, blogging or working out. Very 'independent' type things. Which is great! I love the alone time and I'm finding that I'm liking me more and more. I don't necessarily need the big social life to have a good time. Sarah and I will often just rent a couple of movies and come home and watch them and have a great time!

I've checked out the South Reno United Methodist Church a couple of Sundays, and the associate filled in for the pastor this morning and he had a great sermon on "How Smart is God?". Talked about being completely broken and trusting in God's will. Well, I've been literally to the other side of the country pursuing wonderful opportunities that He has given me and I'm about to hop the pond to pursue yet another great adventure! Wowsers- life couldn't get much better! Maybe a crystal ball to know for certain where I'm going to end up- but where would the fun be in that?

Alright- movie time with the roomie and then off for a GREAT week! Traveling down to central California tomorrow for a dealer visit on Tuesday, then taking that afternoon and Wednesday morning to make it back to Reno to catch a flight home! YAY for Indiana! Wednesday I'll see Yosemite, have a layover in Las Vegas and then be in Indy- all in one day! Crazyness!

Oh- a quote that I've been pondering that has shown up in a couple of books that I've been reading. It was in a fiction novel "Girls and Trucks" and then a fiction/ life guide book "The Compass", which is similar to "The Alchemist." These are two fairly different books, but I suppose you could draw some similarities between them if you had to, which is why I found it interesting that this same quote came up.

"Sometimes you meet someone who changes your life, but it doesn't mean your life has to change."

Riddle me that for a while and let me know what you think. I have some ideas about what it means in my life right now, but would be interested in hearing some other interpretations.

Friday, July 10, 2009

On the Road Again

FINALLY- I'm on the road almost constantly like I had intended the entire summer to be. This past week I visited three dealers in three days in Washington and Oregon and was teased by being so close to cities like Seattle and Portland, but not actually getting to explore them.

I did however get to see a lot of the country as I traveled around to the different territories up there. The amount of crops and the variety of equipment used still boggles my mind being a mid-western girl who is used to the short-list of crops of corn, beans, wheat and oh- some hay. I crossed the Columbia River quite a few times and had my picture taken by Stonehenge. Not the one in England yet, but one that was built in honor of some local service men from World War 1.

The territory managers that I traveled with were great! It was neat getting to travel with them and learning about where they've come from, their career within the company and what their duties entail. I could definitely see myself being a territory manager someday for Deere. They are out and about almost everyday and their main goals are to make sure the dealers are performing at high efficiency, going after the right customers and being the go-to person between the dealers and Deere and Company. Another nice thing would be to be able to be in one place for awhile and not moving around so much with the Company.

Overall, great trip. I also spoiled myself by eating at the restaurant in my hotel. I stayed at a pretty cool lodge and had my first lobster in my lobster ravioli with a glass of chardonnay and topped off a great meal with some tiramusi. I felt like I could spoil myself after my workout that evening of a hard uphill 2 miles and a swim!

Right now my condo smells like brownies and I still have a pie to make to take to the company picnic tomorrow :) Going to show everyone some real Hoosier Hospitality by attempting my momma's famous sugar cream pie. Hopefully I can win the bake-off and take on some of these wives in the office.

This week has some great times in store for me! I'm driving down to south central California for a dealer visit, then making my way back to Reno through Yosemite with a flight time Wednesday afternoon to INDIANA!!!! I'm so excited to be coming home for the Henry County Fair. Yes, its a long way to go for a county fair, but I haven't been home for over two months and its about time :) There is a good ol' football game on with all the old gang! I am so blessed- I'll be starting next Wednesday in Yosemite National Park in California and ending the day in Anderson, Indiana. This next month is going to fly and then I'm off to Ireland- my last and final step to a crazy year! Before I know it I'll be back at Purdue :)

Monday, July 6, 2009

In Only 5 Days

Even though it's late I cannot be outdone by my traveling companion this past weekend, so I'm blogging. He already has his post up from the weekend, and definitely brought back some good memories and some laughs for sure. Here's just the quick run down of the destinations from this weekend: Emerald Bay at Lake Tahoe, Zypher Beach Lake Tahoe, San Francisco by Friday night and stayed through Sunday night.

SAN FRANCISCO! It was such an amazing time and town! I tried not to show my "country bumpkin" too much although I was sporting the Justin Boots and my newest bling belt from the Reno Rodeo a couple of weeks ago ;) I stuck out a wee bit, but I didn't care. We stayed in the hotel Nikko in downtown San Fran. Thanks to an invention called Priceline, the four of us stayed in a 4 star hotel for two nights for about $85 a piece. SWEET!

When we rolled in it was pretty late and we were all pooped from a day at the beach swimming and playing frisbee (I found out I can still pull a pretty good distance while being out in the lake- can't wait to play some real Ultimate again!), but we were excited to see the city. We walk down a few blocks and there was one of the famous San Francisco trolleys that you see in pictures, movies and awesome TV shows like Full House! We rode it the legit way by standing on the side and the overall experience just hit me! Lake Tahoe was beautiful and all, but I've seen my fair share of mountains recently, but being the first time truly to the West Coast for me and riding on a trolley in a huge city (remember, sporting the Justins)- I just did my best to take it all in.

The next day the four of us split and Lance (my traveling companion/ fellow San Fran explorer) and I took off for Fisherman's Warf on foot! That's right, we trudged up them there hills of concrete and back down! We took a different way than what the trolley had taken us before and caught the outside of China Town and a cool park where local artists were selling their work. This same park shared some locals practicing their martial arts skills very slowly and deliberately and the entire scene was draped with the backdrop of a beautiful catholic church. We stepped inside and it was a beautiful, traditional church. It was neat seeing different people praying and the sign on the wall that had the postings for the different masses- Chinese, Spanish and a few others. San Francisco is truly the New York of the West with all the different cultures that have merged into this hilly city by the bay.

We finally made it to the bay and bought our tickets for the Gold and Blue Fleet Bay Tour and the Aquarium at the Bay. For a mere $33 we had an hour boat cruise and saw some sweet fish. Lance being a fisherman was pretty pumped about the Sea Bass or whatever, lol, but I'll even admit- that was a HUGE fish! Over 7 feet long! And that is no fish tale folks. We grabbed some brunch to refuel ourselves after our hike/ workout/ torture session of walking those hills. Actually it wasn't that bad and there is something about seeing a city by foot that is pretty cool. We ate a "Surfs Up" a pretty sweet little restaurant on Pier 39 where all the shops and happenings were going on. Then it was time to catch the boat!

"I'm on a Boat!" which is some hip-hop song that is supposedly catchy and cool, was actually a pretty accurate statement to my excitement. We went up to the front of the boat (probably the coldest spot) where we could have the best view. The tour was about an hour long and it was full of nonstop picture action as it took us under the Golden Gate Bridge and around the one and only Alcatraz Prison. That feeling from riding on the trolley from the first night hit me all over again! This was my first time seeing the Pacific, exploring a whole new city and seriously about to get up close and personal with the Golden Gate Bridge and "The Rock"- things I have only seen in pictures, TV and heard about! I could take a little chilly weather for that.

The rest of Saturday we wondered the wharf, admired/ laughed at the street performers and people watched. It was a great time for sure. Did feel kind of sorry for Lance though as the poor boy got pooped on by a bird- twice! I thought it was hilarious and he was in good spirits about it. Kind of like that new country song, "ssshhhh" "it" happens!

After some ice-cream as an afternoon treat, we decided to head back to the hotel and wait for my roomie Sarah and her friend Brophy to get back from their wine tours up in Napa Valley so we can all enjoy the FIREWORKS together! Thus, my first legit taxi ride back to the hotel. My boots were not in the mood to walk all that way back! Lance flagged this guy down and away we went. (Lots of firsts on this trip for me, one would think I didn't get out much.) The fireworks were amazing! From where we were standing, which might sound familiar because we were only a few blocks down from Lombard Street, we could see two shows going on and then the booms and flashes from another one. We ran into some British young adults who were on holiday in the States and one was extremely happy to be in the city of San Francisco for obvious reasons if you met him in person. Found it ironic that we were celebrating America's INDEPENDENCE DAY with some Brits, as in independence from England. I remember some of my high school history there.

Then Sunday rolls along and the Houston Astros have been in town playing the San Francisco Giants. We go to the Sunday afternoon game and snag some sweet seats along the third baseline. Lance being the baseball buff that he is was super pumped when we found out that Randy Johnson was pitching. Apparently this guy's nickname is the "Big Unit" and a pretty impressive pitcher that just got traded to the Giants. Too bad for Randy, he was having an off day and the Giants couldn't pull out the sweep like some of the hometown fans were preparing for by bringing their brooms with them to the game. But I got a free t-shirt out of the deal because we went early.

Let's see- some funny take-aways from this trip:

- Girls, just fyi we heard first hand that one gal was having better luck with the guys that she was picking up at bars than the guys that she was picking up at Renaissance Fairs at Eagle's Falls in Emerald Bay.

- You can make a killing by painting yourself silver, standing on a silver box and pretending to be robot.

- Probably the best for me- this crazy little ol clown balloon woman. She made some sweet balloon figures, but she tried to "entertain" while doing it. She had some mad rhyming skills for sure ;) Really to get the whole effect you had to be there and these lines are something I just made up, hopefully you'll get the idea. Just imagine a creepy, short elderly woman with a raspy voice trying to entertain kids.

"Why does Scooby need legs?"

"Scooby need legs, Gen Ho (the soon to be owner of this Scooby creation) my dear, so he can walk along the pier. With a twist and pull and a knot you see, we'll make Scooby quite handsomely."

"Now Scooby is ready to be free and run and play with thee. So take him with you today, and enjoy your time beside the bay."

Probably be more to come about this weekend and its many grand adventures, but I'm currently on another adventure called work! I have been blessed to stay in new places and see lots of cool things. Like right now, I'm in Pasco, Washington, starting a three day business trip to see three different dealers in Washington and Oregon.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Quick Update

It's been a few days since I posted something and with a fun-filled weekend ahead, it might a little while until I get to this so here's a quick update that I hope will suffice until I get a chance to blog next.

My travels in California were interesting to say the least. Nothing seemed to quite work out the way I planned, but I made it back safely and have a few funny comments to make.

1- Don't always trust your Garmin. Oh, it might get you there, but take you some crazy places between here and there! California 4 was probably the most tedious drive I have ever done as it switchbacked through the Sierra's and was not much wider than a lane and half.

2- Don't trust your phone alarm, even if it shows FULL battery as you rest your head on the pillow thinking that it will wake you up on time like it has every morning for the past year. There's a trend here- technology can be an untrusty thing.

3- Don't let your gas tank go below 1/4- especially in the middle of mountain no-where. I was never so happy to see the town of Markelville (California, not Indiana, which is a stone's throw away from my home) and its one pump gas station that surprisingly enough took credit cards.

4- Try not to get stuck behind 4 senior citizen couples on their motorcycles while white-knuckling it to make it to the gas station- only slows you down.

I finally make it safe and sound to my home away from home here in Reno for the summer and I decided to take good ol' Ruth's advice from the pool on Sunday and go for a run on those trails across the street up on little mountain/hill/look-out thing. It was very hilly and I really just wanted to walk it, but stopped being a pansy and kept up a nice jog. There are some random "wildlife info signs" so I made a little game out of it and ran to each one of those and stopped for a few moments and skimmed them. And I might have played on some benches as well?

The most exciting/ scary thing about this run though was a surprise in the form of a snake. Duh, I'm in Nevada, there are going to be snakes! But the surprise of it right there on the trail is what startled me. I literally leaped in the air mid-stride over it. I turned around and took a few steps towards it, because now I was curious :) First thing I checked for was a rattle. No rattle- good! It was about 2 and half to 3 feet long and a pale yellow with a black diamond design going down its back. It was more scared of me and slithered away. I just laughed and decided it just fit in with the rest of my day.

Work has been actually pretty good lately. Things are starting to roll and I'm planning on dealer visits up north next week in Washington and Oregon! Both new states for me! There is still some question of substance to the meetings, but I'm working with my boss to try and make my time and the dealer's time valuable. Some other places I'm planning to visit- Yuma, Arizona (yes, as in 3:10 to Yuma the movie); Alamosa, Colorado; Twin Falls, Idaho; Billings Montana; and Tipton, California. I'm pretty excited about the trip between Twin Falls and Billings- its a drivable distance through YELLOWSTONE and if I quote the car cheaper than the flight, my boss will probably go for it!

This weekend starts tomorrow, well actually today! I'm picking up a friend from the airport and then we're hanging out/ exploring Lake Tahoe tomorrow! I'm excited to go back and see some new sites and hopefully the water won't be too cold (I hear it is freezing.) Then we're road tripping with my roomie (who just got back into town tonight!) about 4 hours west of here to the beautiful city of San Francisco for the 4th of July! Couple of firsts for me there, the town itself and the Pacific Ocean! I'm pretty excited! It's going to take a lot though to out-do last year's 4th of July celebration in Andover, Kansas with the Strain clan and my parents even came down from Indiana to join in the festivities! So many fireworks and so many people- definitely a great weekend.

Speaking of the rents- I get to see them soon as I'm coming home for the Henry County Fair! That's right, I'm not coming home for a wedding or my birthday, but for county fair! That's just how much I love fair and my 4-H peeps. So, if you're back home July 16-18, give me a call and maybe my parents will let you have a few seconds to throw your arms around my neck- time is a precious thing when I'm home ;) But have no fears, after August 14th, I'll be home for a whole 2 WEEKS! OMG! So if you miss me at fair, then we'll definitely squeeze some time in there between Purdue and home.

Well y'all.... it's late, even for Pacific time. I'm off for a fun-filled weekend and will be sure to let you know all about it! Have a safe and happy 4th of July!