Personal / Travel / Uncategorized

A Buckeye Kind of New Year

Dear Friend,

Well it’s been a crazy few days! The fact that I still have a voice and am not laying in bed sick is a miracle, but we’ll get to that later. I’ll start with an incredible trip we took to Joshua Tree to get some fresh air, see some nature, and do some hiking. My sister was in town from Los Angeles, my uncle was still in from Ohio, and we thought this would be a great thing to do as a family before everyone had to go home and back to work. Naturally I had to include Jasper in this family venture, and I was just hoping that his bad leg would hold out long enough to enjoy the hiking.

It was a beautiful day. Crisp, cool, clear blue sky greeted us as we drove through the park admiring the scenery. Our first stop was to see the gorgeous cacti that littered almost every inch of the desert. Sadly, however, Jasper wasn’t allowed on the trail because of potential damage so he stayed back with mimi and Elana. Minus the fact that he cried almost the entire time I was walking the trail (I don’t think he liked mommy leaving him), he did rather well. He was certainly excited when I came back though!

Jasper is enjoying Joshua Tree!

Jasper is enjoying Joshua Tree!

Gorgeous Joshua Tree

Gorgeous Joshua Tree

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Mimi and Jasper enjoying while mommy went to see the cacti

 

After our first stop we ate our picnic lunch in the car and then headed to see some gorgeous rock formations and hike some (dog friendly) trails. The scenery was absolutely breathtaking, and while couples and families were enjoying rock climbing adventures, we had a very special member of our family who wanted to join that fun too. Bad leg and all, Jasper turned out to be quite the adventurous rock climber! He could get up like a champ, but coming down was another story. Mommy had to help with that 🙂

Uncle Lon enjoying the rocks

Uncle Lon enjoying the rocks

Mother son picture!

Mother son picture!

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What comes up must come down!

What comes up must come down!

He loved going up... Not so much coming down

He loved going up… Not so much coming down

IMG_7330 IMG_7320 IMG_7315

Mom was trying to get through the stones to find her Jamie

Mom was trying to get through the stones to find her Jamie

After a half an hour or so of hiking, we packed ourselves back into the car, drove through the rest of the park, and then headed back home. Elana and I were resting in the back with a very tired Jasper sleeping in my lap, and the best advice I can give if you want a good way to wear out your dog, is to take him/her to Joshua Tree!

Fiesta Bowl Bound

The next day we were all up by 7am getting ready to leave the house in Elana’s hands and head to Arizona for the Ohio State/Notre Dame Fiesta Bowl. This would turn out to be my third time seeing Ohio State in a bowl game (7 years ago I was at the Fiesta Bowl, and 6 years ago at the Rose Bowl), and I was on pins and needles I was so excited. I have been out of the country for the last 5 football seasons, and this was my first live game since I took Stephane to see CAL play some random division II school in their pre-conference play in 2012. When you are a football fan like I am, five years without a fix is a long time, and though I personally didn’t attend Ohio State, I’m a buckeye by birth, with the majority of my immediate family graduating from OSU, and when you are a fan for almost 28 years you are a true Buckeye.

My baby Buckeye self!

My baby Buckeye self!

We left California around 10 in the morning, and once we hit Blythe some two hours late we decided to stop off and get some lunch. After some slight deliberations we settled on Sizzler for our fine travel dining experience, had a wonderful meal and even better service, ran into some Buckeye fans on their way to Arizona as well, and then piled back in the car only to cross the Arizona border a mere 5 miles later.

Some fine, Sizzler dining :-)

Some fine, Sizzler dining 🙂

The gorgeous desert view on our drive

The gorgeous desert view on our drive

We arrived to our hotel in Glendale around 3, which is actually 4 in Arizona since they are one of the only states in the Union that don’t recognize daylight savings time. We lost an hour and didn’t even have to wait for it! We checked in to the quaint Comfort Suites in Peoria, where we discovered we were walking distance from dining, shopping, and any number of other activities. I picked a great place in the centre of the city a mere 10 minutes away from Cardinal stadium.

Brutus is enjoying the hotel room

Brutus is enjoying the hotel room

Mommy and me all ready to go!

Mommy and me all ready to go!

Uncle Lon and Brutus

Uncle Lon and Brutus

Our lovely hotel room

Our lovely hotel room

 

When we all settled in my Uncle wanted to watch Clemson in one of the playoff games, so my mom and I decided to go to a nearby mall to look around and stretch our legs. It wasn’t the most successful of shopping trips for us, but we got some See’s candy, looked at engagement rings on our quest to help Stephane get some good ideas, and ended by buying some delicious, exotic tea to have in the house as we try to honour our New Year’s resolutions of being more healthy. When we arrived back to the hotel we heard the news that Clemson won their bowl game, and then we headed off to dinner where we hoped to catch the end of the Alabama game. We decided on the Elephant Bar for our New Year’s Eve celebration, ate some delicious food, drank some delicious drinks, and then headed back home. We were all asleep by 10pm… Happy New Years to us!

Happy New Year's Eve dinner!

Happy New Year’s Eve dinner!

The next morning we were all up around 6:30 to get ready for the activities of the day. We decked ourselves out in Scarlet and Gray (from our clothes to our nails), ate some breakfast at the hotel, and then headed to the stadium to see our Bucks play the fighting Irish of Notre Dame.

I'd say we qualify as being "decked out"

I’d say we qualify as being “decked out”

You just can’t imagine

I don’t think anyone who hasn’t experienced their team in a BCS bowl game can truly appreciate how incredible this experience is. The mood pulsating through the parking lot and the stadium was electric. Families were tailgating, fans were readying themselves for the game, and we were taking in every second of the magic. We even decorated the car and brought Brutus along for the ride.

Hello Brutus! Go Bucks!

Hello Brutus! Go Bucks!

When we entered the stadium and arrived at our seats my mouth dropped! We were right in the end zone near the Ohio State band, surrounded by a sea of red. It was electric. Fans were introducing themselves and talking about their connections to Ohio State, and the time clock was ticking down ever so rapidly to kickoff.

GO BUCKS!

GO BUCKS!

A sea of red at the Fiesta bowl

A sea of red at the Fiesta bowl

Our incredible seats!

Our incredible seats!

The Pepper-Mendelsohn clan is ready to go!

The Pepper-Mendelsohn clan is ready to go!

OH-IO

OH-IO

As the clock ticked down it was time to stand and honour our country and flag with our national anthem. I couldn’t help swelling with pride knowing I live in the best country in the world, where national pride is still both honoured, practiced, and appreciated (at least with this crowd!). We saluted our troops, gave thanks we live in the land of the free and home of the brave, gave a hearty FU to ISIS and then it was time to PLAY BALL!

God bless America

God bless America

I guess unless you are a football fanatic or drug addict it is hard to imagine the rush you get when the teams come on to the field for the first kick off. It was so exciting, and it definitely didn’t hurt that Ohio State put themselves up by 3 touchdowns in the first 6 minutes of the game! It was 4 hours of pure insanity and pulsating adrenaline. By the time the game was over I was so exhausted I couldn’t see straight, and after 4 hours of jumping up and down and screaming my head off I was really surprised I still had a voice left. After 4 hours of play the Buckeyes reigned victorious, and we were able to enjoy a 4 hour ride home as BCS Fiesta Bowl champions. It was truly an amazing way to ring in 2016.

Let's go Buckeyes!

Let’s go Buckeyes!

This was about the time most of the Notre Dame fans decided to peace out

This was about the time most of the Notre Dame fans decided to peace out

Hail the victorious

Hail the victorious

Enjoying the most wonderful day!

Enjoying the most wonderful day!

As we headed home to Palm Springs we made one final stop in Buckeye, Arizona (we felt it was a poetic end to the day), picked up some gourmet Taco Bell for the drive home, and headed back to our side of the desert. The drive went smoothly enough, until we were about to cross the border into California and got stuck behind a truck full of “show pigs” who got stopped at the checkpoint…Not kidding about this one! We think it was karma for driving on Shabbat!

Last meal in Buckeye, Arizona!

Last meal in Buckeye, Arizona!

 

When we got home we were absolutely exhausted. I played with Jasper and gave him his first kiss of 2016, and then by 9:30 most of us were in bed. I’m still catching up on sleep, but I couldn’t have asked for a better New Year’s Eve and Day!

Well that’s all for now friend. Stay tuned for more soon. I love you forever and always <3,

Until we meet again,

Jordana Simone

 

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