Summer Bucket List #24 took us to Dinosaur World in Cave City, Ky. It is just a half-hour drive up 65N. I remember going to Cave City right about the time it started looking like a ghost town in the 90s. The whole place seems like a remnant of a bygone can almost see the 50s model cars in all the abandoned parking lots. My grandparents honeymooned there at the Wigwam Motel during the height of its popularity. Many years later, I was there for elementary school field trips to both Mammoth Cave and Guntown Mountain. Guntown Mountain sits across from Dinosaur World and, as I drove by it, I remembered one time Ash and I got stuck for about half an hour on the chair lift. I think I was about 18 so it was not a huge deal but, if it happened today, we would both have complete mental breakdowns from the anxiety. My mom and stepdad were actually in front of us at the highest point of the ride, and mom came pretty close to her own breakdown. She was gripping the safety bar and did not move a muscle the entire time. In the clip, the highest point is over a grassy area, but in '98 it was a blacktop parking lot. 

I love this picture above. It looks like the dinosaur turned to look at Kindred and it startled her...

At the farthest point from the giftshop, you are at a gigantic dinosaur visible to interstate traffic. Naturally, this was the exact location Kindred decided we were at a Level 5 potty emergency which prompted us to run past the entire second half of the trail.

All the signs say to stay off the ropes and not touch the dinosaurs. Kindred still decided to try the "But, I can't even read!" defense and went for it...

Dinosaur World is the kind of tourist trap that you find all across America, but thankfully it is well-maintained and the girls enjoyed it. After having driven past it at least 100 times, I'm glad we finally checked it out.

What is more American that baseball, apple pie, and fireworks? We had all three on the 4th this year! The girls are just smokin' their summer bucket list right now. They crossed off four things in 24 hours!

We have a minor league baseball team called the Hot Rods and this was our first time seeing them. Their arrival came during our Georgia years so we missed out on the fanfare of their early years. The stadium is pretty nice and the home-team emerged victorious so all-in-all, it was a fun time. I didn't see much of the game because we had 2 bathroom trips, shared custody of a lemonade, and popcorn rationing in the time span of an hour. When I would spend my summers in Atlanta with my grandparents, we would go see a Braves game and the tv would always be tuned in whenever they were on. I'll always be a Braves fan because of this.

After the game, they put on a fireworks show and the girls loved it. They didn't shoot up too high, which was kind of strange, but they were still big and sparkly. Oh, and one went sideways and appeared to hit the scoreboard. I did get a little nervous when that happened.

To quote the great lyricist Miley Cyrus..."Yeah, it's a party in the USA."

This year, Thunderfest was held on the 3rd of July and the finale was truly one of the best I have ever seen. There were recordings by MLK and JFK that almost made me cry. Naiya's absence did make me cry. But, these little patriotic-dressed cuties had a blast and that is what truly matters.

It stormed a couple hours before the event started, so the humidity was at 150%. This is Kindred as soon as we got there. Approx 15 minutes later, she was drenched in sweat. The girl cannot take the humidity. It's her west coast bloodline. Her daddy was sweating too. Not me...I have acclimated nicely to breathing underwater.

Nova's face. That is all.

Look at my sweat-soaked cutie pie. Surprisingly, the bugs were not bad. But, we did have to park in the overflow lot which requires you to march, willingly, into the dark woods alongside hundreds of your fellow rednecks until it opens up into a field beside a gas station. I'm willing to bet that, 24 hours later, at least five of them blew their thumbs off with something they lit from a cigarette. 'Murica, baby.

I thought I could cheap out and buy glow necklaces from the Target dollar spot earlier in the day. But, the girls saw these sweet light-up wands and my glow necklaces were suddenly trash.

I don't hide that I think our country is a dumpster fire right now, but I hold onto hope that these girls will be the ones to turn it all around some day. 

...little Miss LaBelle, enjoying the cookie of her ancestors on a Sunday morning.

...has stories for dayzzzz, my friends. He should write a book. I tell him this all the time.

He did the 70s & 80s just about as badass as the movies depict a muscle car drag racing/Harley Davidson biker who always manages to narrowly avoid death or prison by good fortune of unknown origins. We are talking spectacular crashes which skidded to a stop on the car's roof, wheels pointing to Jesus...being clocked at 120mph on the curvy Bucksville Rd ON A MOTORCYCLE...fist fights that included tire tools...diving in alligator infested lakes in scenes straight out of a Lynryd Skynyrd song, specifically any that include guns...and so much more.

I hear these stories and I think about how I started to wild out around age 16, myself...but, I certainly pulled back the reigns once Dylan came along. I thank my lucky stars for that boy. Lately, though, I feel like some of dad's genes are reactivating in my DNA. Not necessarily going totally off my rocker...just that I need to enjoy my life more. I have always felt a big responsibility in keeping others in line or safe, and I am realizing more & more what personal cost that came with. My dad's philosophy is that bad things happen no matter what and you might as well enjoy your life. I will never forget talking with him about his two brothers who have passed away. He didn't make any excuses or place any blame...he just said, "They enjoyed the ride. It was their life and they lived it how they wanted to. Nobody could have changed that." and I know he is right. They all have a saint/guardian angel in their oldest/only sister...and no matter how many times she got those boy's asses out of a sling...they went right back to Troubletown.

I think I was sincerely triggered when these girls came along. Brooklyn was a heartache unlike anything I'd ever known. I was terrified that something could take them from us and bring that heartache back. So, I took what I already knew from the health store, studied some more, and wound up with a working knowledge that pretty much everything is going to kill us. We ate organic, tried to stay as natural as possible in dealing with sickness, and Naiya got cancer anyway. No matter how vigilant I have tried to is going to happen. And, it is going to be beautiful, and bizarre, and joyful and painful. People are going to make their own choices and face their own consequences. I have to enjoy my life again and let go of feeling personally responsible to save them. This isn't some veiled attack on any one person in my life...I feel personally responsible for pretty much everyone. Have I met you? Yes? Then, I am worrying about you, too.

Listen, I'm not advocating drugs or alcohol (with a nod to the good Dr Gonzo) but I haven't really had either in a very, very long time. And, a few weeks ago, when I had a couple of those yummy summery Loconut rum drinks, I relaxed just enough to realize exactly how tightly I was wound. I took the first deep, cleansing breath in years. I've decided to just be me. Let the chips fall where they may. I want to have SOME FUN. I want to adventure again and have faith that it's all gonna work out in the end. I'm gonna love the ones I'm with and not give two squirts about what anyone else thinks about it.

Anyway, this is my Tuesday declaration...I'm (at least) half-hellraiser and I'm ditchin' the smokescreen, y'all.
...not a fan of root beer floats.
...the girls grew these sunflowers from seed!