Z is for Zoo

Z is finally here!  I made it!  I never thought I would have been able to make it all the way through this challenge, but I did!  Anyway…

Z is for zoo!  I don’t want to be completely vague, so I will say that specifically, I would like to visit the Columbus Zoo.  I’ve heard it’s an awesome zoo!  I know some people aren’t that crazy about zoos, but I think they are so fun!  I love looking at all the animals.  The monkeys are usually pretty entertaining, the big cats are so regal looking… I just love it all!  Ok, that’s not entirely true.  I hate reptiles, especially snakes.  I am completely terrified of them.  I will literally stop breathing when I see one, even if it’s behind glass.  The last time I went to the zoo I (stupidly) went into the reptile house.  The group I was with really wanted to go in, so I hesitantly said I would go too.  The snakes were incredibly active that day, and I nearly had a panic attack.  I spent a few minutes in there when I told my group I was getting out of there before I started to go into a full-blown panic attack.

Other than reptiles, though, I love to see all the animals at the zoo!  I’m such a kid at heart!

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Y is for Yellowstone National Park (and it was so hard not to use Yosemite… so I will anyway)

El Capitan and Half Dome

Yellowstone is near the top of my list of places I want to visit.  (Of course, as I say this I am thinking about all the other places I have written about and think that they too are near the top of my list…)  Anyway, my desire to go to Yellowstone comes from another great place I have visited, so since it too starts with a “y” I thought I would tell you a little about my vacation at Yosemite National Park.

Once we all got past all of our initial concerns (my mom’s was that we would be eaten by bears, my dad’s was that our car would run out of gas before we found a gas station, my brother’s was that we wouldn’t find anything to eat, and mine was that I didn’t have cell phone service…), we all relaxed and had a great time.  It was one of the best family vacations we ever had.  It was my first time in the mountains and the sights, literally, took my breath away.  We stayed in a little condo with no air conditioning, and it was July and they were having a heat wave with record temperatures.  Still, we had a blast exploring the park.  We did some minor hiking to see Bridalveil Falls and Yosemite Falls.  We took countless pictures of El Capitan, Half Dome, and other landmarks.

As we were driving into the park, I made the statement that “I want to see a bear.”  It was not 10 seconds later (honestly, I am not exagerating) I looked out my window and said “Look!  A bear!”  I named him Norman.

One day we drove to an area that was at a high enough altitude that there was still snow on the ground despite the fact that the air temperature was in the mid-60s.  We were all wearing shorts and t-shirts and had a snowball fight.

Another day we decided to go on a longer hike.  We chose a 4-mile hiking path that was labeled ‘strenuous,’ but we figured we were all in good shape so we would be ok.  My brother tried to warn us that it was going to be tougher than we imagined after he looked at his topographical map.  We ignored his warning and desided to go for it.  We figured going down the mountain would be easier than going up it, so we drove to the starting point at the top and parked the car.  The plan was to hike the four miles down and then catch the park shuttle back to the top to get the car.  Let me tell you: down is no easier than up.  We were all so sore and tired by the time we made it to the bottom.  The hike was, well… strenuous.  To top it all off, the shuttle had stopped running.  Just when it looked like we were going to have to hike the 4 miles back up to get the car, a nice elderly couple offered us a ride.  We were so thankful, and I’m not sure any of us have ever been so sore before or since the days after that hike.

Still, it was an awesome vacation, and one of the best places I have ever been.  I know someday I would love to go back.

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X is for ‘X’-actly where I am

Ok, ok, this is kinda cheating.  Really cheating, but I just can not think of a place I would like to go that begins with the letter ‘x’.  I do have to point out that I am not at home right now, though.  I am on my way to a conference in St. Paul, Minnesota.  Someplace I have never been before, so it is very exciting!  I’m not there yet, we still have a way to go, but I can’t wait to be there!

Unfortunately, this is as long as this post is going to be because of our travel schedule, but at least I was able to get it written!

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W is for Winchester Mystery House

Winchester Mystery House

The Winchester Mystery House is possibly the most bizarre house I have ever seen.  Honestly, it is a beautiful structure.  Pictures of its exterior show what appears to be a huge, beautiful but intricately detailed house.  Intricate does not even begin to describe the inside of that house, though.

The house is a maze with some of the weirdest features: a staircase that leads to the ceiling, a door that leads to nowhere, a cabinet that is 1/2 inch deep and another that opens to the next room, a window in the floor… the oddities just keep adding up.  Why so strange a design for a house?  It’s all thanks to Sarah Winchester.

Sarah had married William Wirt Winchester, manufacturer of the Winchester rifles.  He died a premature death, and this death in addition to her infant daughter’s death years before brought Sarah Winchester to a state of depression.  She sought the advice of a spiritualist who told her that the spirits of those people who had been killed by a Winchester rifle were haunting her and her now dead family.  The only way to avoid being the next target of these spirits was to build a house and never stop construction on that house.  Thus began the construction of what we now call the Winchester Mystery House.

Sarah Winchester made sure that construction on the house never stopped so as to appease the spirits.  She also had special features built into the house in order to confuse the spirits.  This is why there is a staircase that leads right up to the ceiling and a door that opens to nowhere among other unique features.

Sarah Winchester also found meaning in things that others may not.  She felt that the number 13 was significant, and traces of this belief can be found throughout the house.  For example, there are 13 bathrooms in the house and sink drain covers have 13 holes in them.  Also (if my memory from the tour I went on is correct), an earthquake at one point shook the house during the night.  Damages trapped her inside the front bedroom she had been sleeping in (rumor has it she never slept in the same room two nights in a row).  It took hours before she was able to get out of the room.  She took this as a sign that the spirits felt that construction should end on the front of the house.  So, Mrs. Winchester abruptly ended the construction there and send all workers to begin construction on the back of the house.

Ok, so I just took a decently long time to explain just a bit about the Winchester Mystery House, (the information of which came both from the memories of my own visit there and their website).  I went there several years ago, and it really is very cool.  The tours are guided (I think so that people do not get lost).  To me,  it’s just crazy how this woman became so involved and dedicated to this belief in a need to always be constructing this house.  And construction didn’t stop until she had died.  Now, we all have the opportunity to see this amazing structure.  The last time I went, it was on an afternoon in July.  If I go again, and I hope I do, I want to go on one of the flashlight tours at night!

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V is for Vegas

Ok, technically it’s Las Vegas, but no one calls it that.  Everyone just says “Vegas” so I am too.

I’m not really a big gambler.  I’m not much of a risk-taker, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t want to go to Vegas at least once!  When I gamble, I don’t gamble big.  I’m not out to win large sums of money, which means I also don’t lose large sums of money.  I’m there to have fun, and hopefully win some small spending cash as a result.

To give you an idea of my style of gambling, let me tell you this.  I can make $5 last at least 2 hours.  I play the penny slot machines.  I don’t play a penny at a time (I bet to cover all lines), but still, it’s a penny machine… money lasts longer that way.  Now, when I say that I don’t bet to win big and just want some small spending money, let me again explain.  I pulled a five dollar bill out of my purse, played on it (on a penny-machine) for 2 hours and cashed out with $20.  Ok, I only won $15, but I didn’t lose anything!  I had fun!

I don’t want to go to Vegas just to gamble, though, seeing as I’m not a big gambler.  I also want to see Vegas.  The architecture looks so cool!  The resorts look so neat on the outside, and I’m told its fun to walk around and see all the different casinos inside too.  So, really, I want to see Vegas, gamble a little, relax by a pool for a while… just enjoy a relaxing and fun vacation.

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U is for Universal Studios

I love theme parks, and I have always wanted to go to Universal Studios (Orlando), but I will admit that my desire to go turned into an obsessive need to go when the Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened.  The Harry Potter series of books are 7 of my favorite books.  As I read them, I wanted Hogwarts to be real in the worst way, and now (more or less) it is!  I’m dying to go!

As soon as it opened I was already upset that I didn’t have plans to go… then a cruel trick was played.  My parents got to go… without me.  As if the knowledge that they were there without me wasn’t bad enough, let me paint you all a picture.  They went in November.  Here is Ohio, it snowed for the first time of the season while they were in Florida.  Still, when they called me they told me how cold it was in Florida.  Really?  I mean, I understand it’s not 80 degrees and sunny, but at least it’s not snowing!  Oh, the calls… my mom kept telling me how awesome it was and “Oh, you should be here!” she would tell me.  “You would love it!”  I know I would love it!  She told me this every time she called.  She didn’t mean to rub it in, but I was going crazy!  I was in snowy, cold Ohio doing homework while she and my dad were having fun at Universal Studios!  The torture!

So, obviously, I want to go to Universal Studios in Orlando.  The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is, of course, the #1 thing I want to see at Universal Studios, but it is not the only part that I want to visit.  I want to see all of Universal Studios Florida while I’m there.  I also want to go to Universal Studios Hollywood, though.  I love movies.  I love going to the theater to see movies, renting movies, watching movies at home, watching movies with friends, family, or by myself.  And, I’m the kind of person who actually watches all of the bonus materials on DVDs and then even goes and looks for more information on movies.  Universal Studios… movies… they go hand in hand!  I think it’s the perfect place for me!

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T is for Texas

Ok, I know… big state.  If I had to pick someplace in Texas where I would like to go, I think I would probably pick San Antonio.  My parents went there several years ago, and said it was beautiful.  They loved it.

First of all: the Alamo.  This year marks the 175th anniversary of the Battle of the Alamo.  I love history, remember?  I hope not… I mention it a lot.

Secondly, I want to see the River Walk.  It looks beautiful.  The whole area looks beautiful, and so full of fun things to do.

I would like to see other areas of Texas too, though.  I just don’t know where else in the state to go!  Tell me: what other great places should a visitor see in Texas?

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