Archive | Road Trips and Pit Stops

Tour Georgia Series: Okefenokee Swamp

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{I used to do a “Tour Georgia” series on the blog; if you want to go down memory lane click here. You’ll see an itty bitty Moseby and MM. Makes me get a little teary-eyed, not gonna lie.}

This past weekend we visited Moseby’s birth dad in Valdosta {part of my New Year’s Resolution this year was to see our birth families–and we’ve seen two out of three and it’s only February, woohoo!}. If you are not from ’round these parts you may not know that Valdosta is in the very bottom (but center) of our state–less than twenty miles from the Florida line–whereas we live north of Atlanta. And while we’re in the same state technically, they’re two very different places.

Every time we go down to visit we say we’re going to go to the Okefenokee Swamp which is about 1.5 hours away from there, but never do. Usually it’s because it’s in the summer and if you think Atlanta is hot, you’ve never been to Valdosta in August. It’s humid and oh-so-hot and there are so.many.bugs. I honestly can’t imagine what the swamp must be like!

But since this year we were heading down to visit Papa D. in February (in honor of Moseby’s fifth birth on Sunday) AND MM is studying the five habitats of Georgia right now we thought it would be the perfect time to visit the swamp.

And it was. Low 70s, gentle breeze, sunny, no bugs (!!!), and not too many people. It was the perfect weather. And because they’re experiencing a drought right now the water level is low which meant there were alligators everywhere. EVERYWHERE. We had alligators coming out of our ears.

There are multiple entrances to the 500,000-acre park, but we chose to enter it in Folkston so we could take a 90-minute guided tour {they also rent kayaks and canoes} with Okefenokee Adventures. It was $63 for the four of us & well worth the money.

Here’s some pictures from our tour.

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The boat they take you out on is a 24′ Carolina Skiff. It seats around twenty, but there were only about a dozen people on our trip. Kids 13 and under have to wear a life jacket (Georgia law anyway).

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You start off going down the canal. The canal has the deepest water–on Sunday it was 4.5 feet deep (some parts of the swamp are just a foot or so deep right now, crazy huh?!). The trees without leaves are deciduous Bald Cypress–they’ll leaf out any time now.

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Much to Moseby’s delight there were turtles EVERYWHERE. That boy loves him some turtles! (These are Yellow-Bellied Sliders)february-13-18-19-tagalongs-papa-david-okefenokee_0020_edited-1

And even thought I don’t talk much about my love of plants on here {I do have a horticulture degree!}, I was loving the coreopsis that was blooming. The waterlilies weren’t blooming yet, but they’ll start in the next month or so and pretty much bloom all the way through until September. february-13-18-19-tagalongs-papa-david-okefenokee_0012_edited-1

Oh, and we saw alligators. At least a hundred. They were EVERYWHERE. Little ones. Medium ones. Big ones. HUGE ones. Moseby took this picture {hence the “out-of-focusness”}, but isn’t it a giant?! february-13-18-19-tagalongs-papa-david-okefenokee_0029_edited-1

We sat at the back of the boat, but you can see we still had a great view. And see that thing in the middle of the canal? Yep, an alligator we had to go around.

Here it is a little closer. I guess when you’re that big YOU make the boating rules.

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This is the “prairie”-part of the swamp. Prairies cover over 10% of the swamp. This is where you’ll find most of the lilypads and birds.

Want to play a little “I Spy an Alligator”? Each one of these pictures has an alligator somewhere in it!

february-13-18-19-tagalongs-papa-david-okefenokee_0008_edited-1 I made the first one easy for you. 😉

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I definitely recommend this trip! (I probably would suggest ages four and up because kids DO have to wear a lifejacket and some kiddos might be freaked out with the alligators, snakes, frogs, bugs, etc.)

HUGE GIGANTIC NOTE: We usually have great cell service with our carrier. C. travels every week for business (all over the country) and neither he nor I have lost service in almost three years…until this trip. All the way from Valdosta to Okefenokee (about an hour) we had no service (‘cept for a bit in Waycross) and then when we left the swamp we didn’t have any service until we got back to I-16 via Jessup and Dublin which meant our GPS/Waze did not work and we had to use a compass (a compass!). My suggestion would be to Mapquest it (to and from) and print those directions off and take them with you…just in case. That way you don’t end up in a teeny tiny town like we did on a closed road with no bridge…and no idea where to go. 

But at least it makes for a good selfie and a funny story. 😉


Oh! Oh! Oh! Before I forget! If you’re local and want to come paint some (wooden door) signs (with bows) with my friends and I, let me know! We’re getting together Tuesday, February 28th (5pm) and Sunday, March 12th (2pm) in Oakwood to paint with PK Decor. You can pick from tons of designs and they provide the paint and instructions and I provide the snacks! It’ll be fun! More info can be found by clicking here! (Between the two parties I’m painting an old truck with fireworks (4th of July), a Georgia cutout that I’m painting like Santa (Christmas), and a goat (well, because I like goats). )

 

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Two Things to Do in Houston, Texas with Kids

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This past weekend Moseby and I met C. in Houston as he was finishing up a business trip there for one purpose: to see Moseby’s birth mama and three of his half-siblings. For the first couple of years they lived in our state {at the opposite end of the state} before they moved to Texas and therefore we haven’t seen them in right at three years and they were all long overdue for a visit with each other.

And there are so many things I could say about our visit and open adoption in general, but sometimes words fail me. As they do right now. The root of it is this: LOVE. I am so thankful to his birth mom for giving me a piece of her heart to love as my son {while I also mourn that she lives life missing a part of her heart as well}. We–she & I–love the same little boy with all our hearts. I always tell Moseby that he and I are the lucky ones (I’m adopted too) because we have so many people in our lives that love us and only want the very best for us.

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This trip was also Moseby’s first time on a plane and to a zoo. MM has been on a plane three times and to a zoo countless times, but for some reason he’s never done either (#momfail). So this was a big trip for him on lots of levels. We asked him a couple of times over the weekend if he was happy with the one-on-two time he was getting with Mommy and Daddy & every time he would say, ‘Yeah…but I wish Sissy and Lala were here.’ Yep, he’s a middle child all right–he doesn’t know what life is like without siblings–how awesome is that? (says this only child.)

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The first day while Daddy worked he and I headed to the Houston Museum of Natural Science because he loves him some dinosaurs and they have a T-Rex there with the most original hand and foot bones in the world (random) named Stan. He loved the dinosaurs and the fossils and the trains. He was scared to death of the mummies (which were my favorite).

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(That’s a bat fossil, by the way.)

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We pretty much made this trip all about him and let him go where he wanted to go (he picked the zoo over NASA, for instance) and he got extra souvenirs. His favorite thing was the geode he got. He picked it out of a huge bin and a girl used some sort of machine and cracked it open. He carried that thing around ALL.WEEKEND.LONG. (They really did have an amazing gift shop, by the way. If I had someone to watch/entertain him I could’ve looked for hours at all their jewelry made my different artists. It was so unique!)

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Today before our late afternoon flight back home we went to the Houston Zoo. Unfortunately, his favorite animal–the sloth (of all things!)–was under the weather so he wasn’t able to see it (but no worries: he + Sissy + Lala ALL got stuffed sloths, lordy!), but he did get to see tigers, bats, and spiders which were also on his “must see list”. HA!

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When we go to Houston again we definitely want to do the NASA Space Center, as well as go to Galveston {and let him go aboard the USS Texas that’s there–I think he’d get a kick out of it}.

Oh! And the best food we had was at Gringos, but I didn’t take a picture because we had just gotten off the plane and I was hangry. Super yummy Tex-Mex AND they have a playground for kids to play on AND there’s a self-serve frozen yogurt machine.

We stumbled upon Old Town Spring, Texas while we were out there and it was the cutest area! TONS of shops (like On A Whim) and some restaurants (including the best doughnuts I’ve ever had at Donut Licious–woah!). It’s a hidden gem in the north Houston suburbs.

One funny (gross? horrible? scaring?) thing that happened: so Moseby is *notorious* for holding it until he almost wets his pants. The mad dash to the bathroom happens daily. Well, I tried to get him to go before we got on the plane in Atlanta but nope, he didn’t have to go. Not at all. Not even a drop. He was fine.  …and then right as we’re getting ready to take off, like taxing down the runway, he has to go right!this!very!second! but of course the flight attendant told us we couldn’t get up. So I did what any boy mom would do: I whipped out a water bottle and he pee’d in the middle of a plane during takeoff. I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried, folks. This kid gives me gray hair. And gosh, I sure am thankful for that because my life would be pretty boring without him in it.

january 12. 13. 14. 15. houston with moseby_0044_edited-1

 

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Tour Georgia Series: Washington Farms Strawberry Picking (’14)

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If you do a little searching on this blog it won’t take you long to figure out I did a similar post to this in 2011 about Washington Farms in Loganville. Just take a second and look through the pictures.

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It’s okay, I’ll wait.

What you found was a two year old MM enjoying her first trip to the strawberry patch to pick.  Ohmyword, y’all–was she ever that little?  I remember that day like it was yesterday.  She ate so many strawberries and was such a sticky messy we had to take her home and give her a bath.

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We’ve gone every year since, but this year was Moseby’s first time.

And he didn’t disappoint with his strawberry eating {notice I didn’t say “picking and putting them in his bucket”} skills.

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To give you an idea about just how many strawberries he ate–while his sissy, mommy, Mimi, and Mamaw picked SIX buckets he picked too…or at least I thought he did…’cause when I checked his bucket all he had in it was a rock. And some strawberry juice.

I had no idea because every time I looked over I saw this:

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He looks like he’s picking, right?  Yeah, that’s what I thought too. Until I started noticing this:

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Oh, Moe-Roe, you stinker!  Just have yourself a seat and eat your weight in berries.

I can’t really scold him though. They were extra sweet {and little} this year.

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A definite Georgia “must do” if you come around these parts in spring.

…that is, unless I bring this crazy boy with me and he eats them all before you get there.

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The Beach.

Oh, how I wish I could go back to the beach.  More specifically, Tybee.  Even more specifically, to my own historic strand cottage.  I even have one picked out–one that was in dire need of rehabilitation just a few blocks off the beach.

Uhm, yes please.

So while I think back on our lovely time on the beach I can’t help but think how wonderful it would be to have a “place by the shore”.  Where our whole family could go, more than just one week a year, and make wonderful memories like we did that week. One day.

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@ AJ's

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My three

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@ the crab shack

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at coco's

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Strawberry Pickin’

Last Friday while Moseby napped MM, Mom, and I went to Washington Farms for our annual strawberry hunt.  Armed with three one-gallon containers we found us a row and started picking. 

Some of us chose to stand–Mimi.  Some of us chose to sit–MM.  Either way we left we buckets of gorgeous, super delicious strawberries {after MM taste tested a few of course!}.

Strawberry Picking

Strawberry Picking

Strawberry Picking

Strawberry Picking

Strawberry Picking

Strawberry Picking

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Priscilla the Pig and a Bit of Santa Claus

{Alternate title: Tour Georgia Series – The Pink Pig at Lenox Mall}

I know, I know, I need to do a better job on this blog thing, but what can I say…my heart {and mind} are so very full of love for this sweet little guy we haven’t met and my hands are so very full with the sweet little one I already have, as well as the Christmas tree farm. 

A few weeks ago {okay, it was almost a month ago!} we went down to Lenox Mall to ride the Pink Pig.  It started in 1953 and even though my mom grew up here in the area she never got to ride it…and she tells us that every time we bring the Pink Pig up.  Poor thing, such a hard childhood.  I rode it several times myself, both on top of the old Rich’s building and when it was at the Festival of Trees.  A few years ago they moved it to its final home outside of Macy’s {Macy’s bought out Rich’s} and I had been wanting to take MM.

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But I didn’t want to wait the 4+ hour line on a holiday weekend so we decided to go on a random Wednesday at lunch.

We were the only ones there.

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Every thing is BRIGHT!PINK! and has this kitschy 1950s vibe.  The only thing missing was the old train {The Pink Pig is a train…did I forget to mention that?} that you barely could get in and out of…part of its charm.  Now they have a generic train you could find at any shopping mall.

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I know this photo has a strange tint to it. It was SO PINK that when I tried to edit it this is what I got. Oh well.

MM of course got souvenirs–a Priscilla, her little brother {Percy?}, an ornament, AND a sweatshirt.  Lord, my mom is going to buy her every souvenir she can find! HA 

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And then afterwards we went inside and met Santa for the first time this season.  She told him she wanted a dollhouse as big as her.

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He double checked his list and said he had that one down.

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Her First Tea Party

{Alternate Title: Tour Georgia Series – The Roswell Teahouse}

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I just love Plum District.  It’s a Groupon/Living Social type of website geared towards moms and families.  Last week they had a spend-$10-get-$20-worth-of-food at the Roswell Teahouse.  As soon as I saw it I knew this would be a *perfect* place for MM to have her first official tea party at almost three years old.

And boy, was I right!

{The Roswell Teahouse is just wonderful…I really can’t say it enough.  The food was amazing–honestly the best chicken salad…and tomato soup…green tea ginger dressing, etc. were the best I’ve ever had.  Oh my goodness, y’all, go there today.  I know we’ll be back.}

I asked Little Miss what she thought she should wear to a teahouse.  She decided on a dress, a hat, and some gloves.  And “lots and lots of sparkly jewelry”.  Yep, a girl after my own heart.

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So I found my childhood Easter bonnet, her little white gloves from Easter this year, some faux pink (!) pearls, and a little vintage bracelet and my baby ring.  We were all set for our tea.

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When we got there she took all that stuff off and got down to business.  Sipping her pink “Teddy Graham” tea and tackling her tower of goodies {including peanut butter and jelly, pumpkin woopie pies, cucumber sandwiches, etc.}.

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I was so surprised that she actually loved the tea after it cooled off.  She drank three cups!

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Tea drinking is serious work, don’t ‘ya know.

After bellies were full and lots of loving on two of her grandmothers we left.

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{But not without first picking up many acorns…that she then stuffed in *my* pockets and laughing about it.}

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Her first tea party was a hit and she’s already asking when we can go back.

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The B’Ham Zoo, Revisited

When we go to Birmingham the zoo is a must.  It’s a great mid-size zoo with lots of animals {you can check out February’s trip here} and MM has a blast.

The weather was so nice this weekend that we went again.  A good time was had by all–especially by MM who, as always, LOVED riding the train, giggling at the meerkats, and pointing at the ‘ingos {flamingos for those of you who don’t speak MM}.

Here’s some pictures from our little excursion.

waiting as patiently as she can for the train
Waiting on the train…and not too happy about it.

elephant
They had an elephant exhibit that just opened. This was the boy one who, well, was *definitely* a boy. And MM pointed “it” out over and over again to anyone who would listen. Oh my lord.

a sleepy gorilla.
Sleepy gorilla who MM said looked just like daddy. HA!

looking at the monkeys
Watching the spider monkeys overhead.

checking out the bobcats
Checking out a mountain lion eating their breakfast.

her face when she sees a meerkat


looking at the meerkats
Her face just lights up when she watches meerkats.

a gigantic tortoise
A giant tortoise.

@ the bird exhibit...not too sure
In February she *loved* these little birds…this time, uhm, not so much. My cousins always had birds and they NEVER liked me. Jenna pointed out that this is the exact same face I always had when I was around their birds.

an alligator sunbathing
An alligator getting a tan.

waving at the train
Waving at the train. Oh, she loved the train.

flamingos...mm's favorite
The flamingos that we stood in front of for at least five minutes while MM pointed out every detail about them, including naming them {“Suzy” is her current favorite name} and telling us about their personalities {“That Suzy is sad because she has no shrimp!”}.

@ the kangaroos
Wearing the goofy hats in front of the gold mining exhibit at the kangaroos {I have no idea what gold mining and kangaroos have to do with each other, by the way.}

And finally, my two loves walking out to the car. This picture makes my heart smile.

getting a ride when she was tired

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Tour Alabama Series: Culp Fruits, Jemison

Pardon these not-to-great pictures.  It was raining and I couldn’t pick peaches, make sure my toddler wasn’t stepping on a snake, and take pictures with my good camera all at one time.

Peaches at Cull Fruits

We took a little trip to Birmingham this weekend and what can I say, I got a hankering for peaches.  See, a couple of weeks ago at the farmers’ market some customers told us the best peaches are from Chilton County–about forty-five minutes south of Birmingham–and ever since I knew we would make our way there once we had the time.  I did a little web browsing and found a pick your own farm called Culp Fruits in Jemison, Alabama.

Hands

And this morning the time was right–drizzling rain and temperatures in the low 70s {it IS July, right?!}–so we donned our jeans, and in her case, an umbrella, and headed south. 

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We pulled up to a sign next to a peach orchard.  No parking lot.  No stand.  Just a woman sitting under her umbrella in a plastic lawn chair.  She told us to park anywhere {there was only one other car} at the end of a row of a trees, grab one of their wooden baskets, and pick to our hearts’ content.

Picking

And so we did.

Under the umbrella

I was so proud of MM–I’ve said many times that she’s a  bit iffy about dirt and rain, but after a while she did just fine {especially considering this mama forgot to pack her tennis shoes and her toes got covered with rain, grass, and dirt–oh the horror for my super clean girlie!}. 

2 of our 4

It was so cute because she kept calling it a “peach patch” {like a pumpkin patch, but with peaches} and picked most of her peaches off the ground like they were tiny pumpkins.  I would inspect them to make sure they had no bugs or bad spots and in the basket they would go.  To me those are the ripest anyway and the ripest ones are the sweetest ones for jam.

My peach

We loaded up four baskets {totaling about 60 pounds} for canning next week, grabbed some figs and field peas, and headed on our way–after a quick change out of wet clothes and posing in front of a giant peach in Clanton, of course! 

In front of the giant Clanton peach.

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Tour Georgia Series: Rainbow Ranch Trout Farm

Some of my favorite days of my entire life were when my dad would check me out of school early to go fishing.  We would grab a bucket of fried chicken, head over to my great uncle’s cow pasture, and sit on his tailgate eating, fishing, and talking for hours.  I loved fishing…even if we hardly ever caught anything.  In fact, I’m not sure if we *ever* did!

MM must have seen fishing on ‘Barney’ or something because lately all she’s been doing is talking about fishing.  Fishing, fishing, fishing–it’s all I hear.  She would make up songs {‘I LOVE going fishin’!’} and would pick up sticks, smile, and say, ‘Look, Mommy, I fishing!’.

And with all her enthusiasm on the subject, I knew we just had to take her.

For years, my whole life actually, I’ve driven by Rainbow Ranch.  It sits right on the Chattahoochee River and pumps the ultra-cold river water into several ponds full of rainbow trout.  The fish are priced per pound and they offer a cleaning service for 10% of your total bill.  As for the question of how stocked are their ponds?  Well, let’s just say that we caught twelve pounds in thirty minutes.  Uhm, yeah, we’ve been eating a lot of trout the past few days.

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Holding a cup of worms. {You can choose between worms or corn for bait. When asked which one she wanted to use, MM answered enthusiastically, ‘WORMS!’ …uhm, okay.}

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Her face as she talked about the wiggly worms.

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I’ll admit it: this is a bad photograph, but if you look closely you’ll see dozens of fish.

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‘Hey, Dada, let me see that thing!’

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Dinner.

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She loved looking in the bucket of fish.

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We let her “fish” with a hook-less pole. That was her favorite thing to do the whole day.

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Cleaning the fish.

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And packing ’em on ice.

We tried two different recipes. Trout-in-a-bag was good, but still a tad fishy.  I served it with pasta with sugar peas {from the farmers’ market}.  The next night we had bacon-wrapped trout stuffed with corn relish on the grill.  Absolutely heavenly.

If you have any good trout recipes, let me know as I’m sure we’ll be heading back over to Rainbow Ranch soon when MM gets a hankering to fish again!

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