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One of the most exciting things about being a military wife is all of the cool places that my husband and I could potentially live. Hawaii, Germany, Italy, South Korea… the list goes on and on! Although my friends and immediate family never expressed it in so many words, I’d imagine they were also excited at the prospect of visiting Andrew and me in such exotic locales, places they’d only dreamed of someday visiting. After we moved to rural Iowa for Andrew’s Recruiting orders last year, we learned quickly who our real friends were by their willingness to visit us in a location that they hadn’t exactly ever dreamed of traveling to. (I can’t blame them– I would rather use my vacation time to go to a cool place like the Dominican Republic than to go back to Kentucky.)
Last year Andy’s friend Tony was our first guest, but I anxiously awaited my first visitor. It took only a year and a half, but finally, someone came to see me: my sister Brittany. She was feeling a little down a few months back, and I suggested that a trip to see me would be the perfect cure for her winter blues! Emphasis on the word winter; as it was below freezing during her entire weekend up north! I was nervous, as Britt is generally cold to begin with, but she handled the temps like a champ!
After work, my sweet husband drove me to the airport to pick Brittany up. It turned out to be a perfect idea because he was able to keep the car running in the cell phone lot while I waited for Brittany at the security gate. We both almost cried when we finally saw each other! Our drive back to Mason City was Britt and I talking ourselves hoarse for 2 hours while Andy listened, hah!
Since her time in Mason City was so short, we tried to cram as much into our weekend as we could. After waking up on Friday, we popped over by my work so I could introduce her to my coworkers. Some of my coworkers didn’t know I’m a triplet, so it was hilarious watching them compare the two of us. (One of my coworkers mentioned that Brittany doesn’t have a Southern accent like I do, haha!) Afterward, we went to lunch at an Iowa chain called The Other Place. As we were walking into the restaurant, I explained to Brittany that north Iowa is so small that every single time Andy or I leave the house, we run into someone we know. Sure enough, we walked into the restaurant and saw Andy and his fellow Recruiters finishing their lunches! After we enjoyed our lunches, we drove past the Surf Ballroom and then we stopped at Clear Lake. Britt even took a chance to walk out on the frozen lake, which she found equally exciting and terrifying!
When we headed back into Mason City, we stopped at the Music Man Square. I’ve only seen Meredith Willson’s The Music Man once (in 5th-grade music class), but Brittany was a music education major in college and is familiar with Mr. Willson’s works. (“I tell all of my friends who are performing The Music Man that my sister lives in the real-life River City!”) We even got to see his Presidential Medal of Freedom and his Grammy!
Britt enjoyed the museum and could have stayed there for hours, but we had to cut our visit there short to see another Mason City attraction: the MacNider Art Museum. The main attraction we wanted to see was Bill Baird’s puppets. You might remember his puppets from the Lonely Goatherd scene in The Sound of Music — being big Sound of Music fans ourselves, we wanted to see them for ourselves.
By this point in the afternoon, we were so exhausted from our adventures that we went back to my house for a quick nap. When Andy got off work, we went to the Northwestern Steakhouse for an early dinner. Their Greek-style steak is like none other, so naturally, we wanted to make sure Brittany experienced it as well! I’m not a steak eater, but even I love Northwestern’s steaks!
On Saturday morning, Britt and I headed to Minneapolis for a bit of sister time before her flight the next day. We went shopping at Underground Target (obviously) and then went to a cat cafe called Cafe Meow. Being the cat ladies that we are, we naturally loved Cafe Meow. We wanted to take every kitty in there home with us!
Our last adventure in Minneapolis was visiting the Mall of America. I take for granted that I live so close to the mall (I’ve been there numerous times in the past 1.5 years, including for the Military Ball in December) and that people all over the world travel to Minneapolis just for the mall! It was so neat watching Britt’s face light up when we walked inside and how overwhelmed she was at how much there is to see there. We shopped until we dropped, and then it was time to head back to our hotel!
Before we knew it, it was Sunday morning and time for Brittany’s early-morning flight back home. Naturally, we both cried when it was time to say goodbye. One of the hardest things about being an Army wife is living far from family, but it just makes us appreciate the time we do have together. Hopefully the next time Brittany visits, we’ll be stationed in a fun location like Hawaii or Europe 😉