This weekend wasn’t long enough.
For a couple reasons.
One, my sister, P.J. flew up for the weekend- I wish I could have kidnapped her and kept her up here for a few more days… or a month…or a year…
Two, we had to pack a lot of stuff into mainly one day… I need more sleep and my poor feet are swollen- nearly three days later…
But it was worth it!
She is the best big sister in the whole world! Not going to lie I needed a girl’s day with my sister- between the pregnancy, lingering SAD symptoms, and Covid my mental health was blah at best. I wasn’t as bad as I was during the shutdown, but I needed a “break.” She helped break me out of my funk and we had a little fun- plus, she didn’t treat me like glass.
The best thing about living in rural Nebraska is that you’re two-three hours away from everything. The bad thing about living in rural Nebraska is you’re two-three hours away from everything.
PJ’s flight came into Grand Island at 10:30…pm. Three and a half hours away from Valentine.
I had a nice sunset drive going down part of the way. Then I was driving into the dark which night driving never really bothered me. However, with pregnancy I have to stop every five minutes, it felt like, to walk around, wake up, and go to the bathroom.
But we timed it well, I pulled in on the airport road as her flight was landing and was pulling into the airport terminal while they were taxiing. Originally, I was just going to wait for her outside in the idle lane, but Hunter was excited and bouncing on my bladder…
So, after a quick circle and finding a parking spot I ran inside. Well, waddled inside- my eyes zeroing in on the bathrooms. I saw PJ but I was on a beeline. She thought it was funny and met me right at the doors to the bathroom.
We hugged after we got back outside.
Then food! Late night drive throughs are awesome, and we got to chat and catch up in the parking lot of Raising Cane’s. New car didn’t want to eat in it- I’m weird I know…
A late-night drive through the Sandhills was fun- we stayed awake and somehow, I made it without needing a bathroom, lol.
We got to Valentine at 3 a.m.–we stumbled in and went to bed after saying we’re getting up at ten to go exploring.
Surprisingly, we did get up at ten, we had breakfast, and then the exploring began.
Snice it was a short trip I decided to show her the highlights along the Niobrara National Scenic River. We drove out to the Niobrara Valley Preserve to check out the Norden Chute. It’s one of my favorite places and the drive along the river valley kind of reminds me of home.
We hopped out of the car and meandered down to the river and took the trail that leads to the chute. It’s a little steep heading off the parking area down to the river side trail. PJ said to “be careful if you fall and go into labor I don’t know where I am, nor how to deliver a baby.”
So, she did treat me a little like glass, but she didn’t harp on it…
I was there in June- the water has dropped a lot. Which is normal but still noteworthy.
I apparently make people worry- I walked up to the edge to get some photos and my sister is like… “You’re going to die!”
Well, not that dramatic but she still was like move back this way…
I wandered into the water which felt good on my footsies. Yes, I say footsies.
We spent a little while taking photos- even photos of each other…
We hoped in the car and went up River Road- it was fun showing my sister where I usually spend most of my time in the summer. She’s visited before but in the winter and a lot of the locations are inaccessible during that time.
I actually convinced her to come back (hopefully next summer) with the kids for a float trip! I’m happy about that.
We made a bathroom pit stop at Brewer Bridge. Then headed to Smith Falls State Park.
Smith Falls State Park is home to the tallest waterfall in the state of Nebraska and is on the banks of the Niobrara River. We made the one-mile trek to the waterfall. Since it was a Saturday, I warned her that there might be some… inebriated… people around. But we hit it in the late afternoon and the crowds weren’t too crazy.
It was a hot walk.
By the time we hit the slot canyon the temperature decrease felt good. One of the best things about the Niobrara River Valley is the hydrology and geology. Because of the geology, the Ogallala Aquifer is near the surface and there are places where it seeps out creating waterfalls. Since, the water is mainly from underground it stays around 50 degrees- even in the summer. So, the waterfalls and side creeks are gloriously cold!
My hot, cranky, and pregnant self loved that the temperature dropped. I was ecstatic when we got to the waterfall and I could put my poor swollen feet in the water. I just wished I had brought a change of clothes or a towel because I wanted to crawl under the waterfall for a little while and just chill. Best perk of my job during the hotter months.
PJ thought it was cool! And cold…
All too soon we were heading back to the vehicle; luckily, I have awesome a/c.
The original plan was to stop at the Fort Niobrara NWR upper overlook and then head on to the house for dinner–then head back to the lower part of the refuge after dinner. However, the truck ahead of us had some interesting characters… that seemed to be inebriated… or at least the guys in the back seat who was poking his upper body through the back window and digging in the cooler and waving at us while the driver slowed down… they turned off so we decided to head on to town and walk the dog before dinner.
We made a good call.
After the dog was walked, we headed to one of our local restaurants- Peppermill. It was really good, and Wade met us there for dinner.
Afterwards, I dragged him out to the refuge for maternity photos– he hates getting his photo taken but since PJ encouraged him to tickle me, he was a good sport about doing it.
PJ got to do my makeup and hair which made her happy- she does a great job. I think she would make a great makeup artist if she wanted too!
I was so happy to be home- my feet and legs were swollen. I propped them up with a big glass of sweet tea and we decided to break the news to my mom that PJ came up.
My parents are older and don’t travel as much–especially with a pandemic. However, mom wanted to see me pregnant and all, so we felt bad that PJ flew up. It’s easier for PJ to fly out of Dallas since she lives in the metro area, like me the parents live several hours from an airport.
Once she realized who was on the phone… apparently, we sound alike… she wasn’t too upset. An hour later we were finally off the phone and popping popcorn!
We then binged watched Grimm until late in the morning. We also said we’d get up at 8 and hit a few of the last spots before taking her to the airport in Grand Island….
Wade and PJ were up at eight… I was unconscious until like nine…thirty.
So, we had to amend our mornings activities.
We hit up the Cowboy Trail Bridge- I about died. It was weird normally the mile hike out and back doesn’t bother me, but I was sweating, hot, and cranky by the time we got to the middle of the bridge. But it was worth showing it to my sister- she liked it. I wound up getting mad the last little bit of the trail and speed walking to get to the car so I could get tissues and Wet Ones to wipe the sweat out of my eyes and clean up my face. Plus, down a bottle of Gatorade.
Looking back, I think I pushed it the day before and even that morning–I don’t want to hold back but the baby does put a lot of stress on the body and I’m 35 weeks. Hence why it’s three days later and I’m still recovering.
Then it was the long drive to Grand Island- we did stop for lunch which took a little longer than we thought… well the trip out to the bridge and actually stopping for lunch took a little longer than we thought it would.
We also–Wade and I– thought that the drive was only three hours (Wade) and the flight was at 3:15 (me).
PJ was in the back seat…. uhm… my flight is at 3:01…
“It only takes three hours- at this point in Broken Bow we can make it in two, so you’ll have thirty minutes.”
I am checking the driving time on my phone…
“This says we’ll get there as the flight is taking off…”
Que panicked mode.
Wade might have exceeded the speeding limit a time or two, but we made it with twenty minutes for PJ to get through security and board.
I love that Grand Island is a small regional airport with two gates. Plus, the security line isn’t crazy and the one benefit of Covid-19 only “x” number of passengers on the flight.
Because of the panicked running we didn’t have a tearful goodbye- although, after she was through security and waiting to board, we stared at each other through the glass and texted how the weekend was too short and that I should have just kidnapped her.
Ten minutes after getting into the terminal they started boarding- fifteen minutes she was in line and going through the gangway.
Wade and I watched her plane taxi off, get clearance, and hit the sky.
She was home nearly an hour and a half later.
We were still driving.
P.S. I get to see her again in about a month!
P.S.S. We made it home before the sunset and had a nice walk with the dog.
One last thing…. check out Pike Creek Girls on Instagram it’s a little project us #wanderingsisters are working on! https://www.instagram.com/pikecreekgirls/