Deer just outside eating fruit from the orchard


After leaving Carhenge (how cool was Carhenge?), we drove for a while, and the scenery looked mostly like the picture above. But as we drove north toward South Daktoa, the flat land of the midwest rose to hills, and trees dotted the horizon, and we knew the Black Hills would soon be upon us.
We stayed in Keystone, South Dakota, at the Backroads Inns and CabinsHighly recommend! This is the second time we've stayed in a cabin on a vacation. The first was on our honeymoon in Fredericksburg, Texas. Personal cabins are really so much more fun than hotels, and they're not much more expensive. Our one-room cabin in South Dakota cost $135 per night and came with a bathroom, kitchen stocked with pots & pans, dishes, etc., and there was the best little sun room plus our own fire pit in the back! The owners even left us marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate for the first round of s'mores. Now I can officially add "ate a delicious s'more around a campfire in South Dakota" to my reverse bucket list.

Jordan prefers cabins to B&Bs because you (these are his words) "don't have to see other people if you don't want to." That guy. But he's kind of right. It's fun being all by yourself.
There were also deer roaming about all over the place, and every time we saw one, we immediately stopped the car and shouted DEER while I snapped pictures like crazy. Because, you know, I've never seen a deer before. (Sarcasm.) I felt like Ross in that Friends episode when he's in Vermont with Emily, and he's like, "Gotta go! There's a deer just outside eating fruit from the orchard." Except there was no fruit and no orchard and no one was filming us. But otherwise it was exactly the same thing.

There were also a lot of turkey. I mean a lot. We actually had to stop our car once and wait for a flock of turkeys to cross the road. Let's just say they were in no hurry.

Keystone is a historic town because when they were carving Mount Rushmore, Keystone was the closest town (about 7 miles) and was essentially "home base." It's a very small town, and the main street is mostly just one block filled with gift shops and some restaurants. We checked Trip Advisor for reviews before we grabbed pizza at Jane's boardwalk pizza on Friday night after we checked into the cabin. The Bumgarners gave it 3.5 out of 5 stars. Not the best pizza ever but definitely a solid "like" as far as pizza goes.

There's an old train that still runs through the black hills, and we could hear the whistle from our cabin. I loved it. The house I grew up in, in Illinois was near train tracks, and sometimes I miss the sound of trains. 

It can be tricky choosing places to stay when you're planning vacation, but it turned out that keystone was the perfect place for us. I honestly was worried we'd get bored, but actually we wish we'd stayed longer! There is so much to do, and it's so dang pretty that it makes you never want to leave.
-Wednesday, Oct 1: Part 1 (of 2) of my "Life of an Editor" post
-Friday, Oct 3: More South Dakota! Pictures from our trip to Crazy Horse and Mount Rushmore
-Monday, Oct 6: Project 12/September <-- HOW IS IT OCTOBER???

Where do you like to stay on vacation: Hotels? Cabins? B&Bs?

What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains: A Recap


As previously mentioned, I picked up The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr to read on our road trip to South Dakota. Probably not your average road trip reading material, but I had heard it mentioned by a few people and thought it sounded interesting.

This is going to be less of a book review and more of a book recap. Spark Notes style, if you will. Because this book was super interesting, and I want to share some of the quotes that stuck out to me and then hopefully have some discussion in the comments. (That's assuming you make it all the way through this post, which, if this book knows what it's talking about, most of you won't. Challenge extended!)

*But first! A short disclaimer: The following is by no means all of the interesting material from this book. I picked just a few things to talk about here so this post didn't get too crazy than it already is. Also, Nicholas Carr doesn't hate the Internet, and in the book he admits that there are many advantages to it. Also, just as far as a book review goes, most of the book I found easy to comprehend for the average person (aka me). But there were a few points at which he dives into some scientific brain stuff that was over my head, and I just kind of skimmed those sections.

Let's start things off with a question to consider: Do you control your technology? Or does your technology control you?

"In the end, we come to pretend that the technology itself doesn't matter. It's how we use it that matters, we tell ourselves. The implication is that we're in control. The technology is just a tool, inert until we pick it up and inert again once we set it aside." (p. 3)

All well and good, right? But Carr continues:

"[The technology] is so much our servant that it would seem churlish to notice that it is also our master." (p. 4)

Basically he is suggesting that we like to think that we control our technology, specifically the Internet, because we can put it down or turn it off whenever we want. But really it is starting to control us because even when we put it down or turn it off, it's already changed the way our brains function. Here's another quote:

"Calm, focused, undistracted, the linear mind is being pushed aside by a new kind of mind that wants and needs to take in and dole out information in short, disjointed, often overlapping bursts--the faster, the better." (p. 10)

Oral Language and the Printing Press

In the first few chapters, Carr goes into the history of stories, discussing the earliest forms of oral language where memory was the only way to continue traditions and pass down stories to younger generations. A little later, we started carving letters into stone and pounded papyrus into scrolls. In those days, words and stories were only for the elite. 

Gutenberg's invention of the printing press brought words to the masses and made book reading popular. "To read a long book silently required an ability to concentrate intently over a long period of time. ... Developing such mental discipline was not easy. Reading is valuable not just for the knowledge readers acquired from the author's words but for the way those words set off intellectual vibrations within their own minds." (p. 64-65)

In today's society, the truth is that people just don't read any more. Why? We're losing that ability to "concentrate intently," and the internet is changing the way our minds process the things we see and read on a daily basis.  It's actually, Carr says, refiguring the way our brains are wired to process information.

Carr says that with billboards and ads and blogs and social media, we're probably reading more than we ever have in human history. But are we "concentrating intently" or just skimming? That's the question.

"The searchability of online works represents a variation on older navigational aids such as tables of contents, indexes, and concordances. As with links, the ease and ready availability of searching make it much simpler to jump between digital documents than it ever was to jump between printed ones. ... A search engine often draws our attention to a particular snippet of text, a few words or sentences that have strong relevance to whatever we're searching for at the moment, while providing little incentive for taking in the work as a whole." (p. 90)

The Computer's Effect on Writing & Publishing

Something I found interesting was Carr's take on the technology of e-readers and how they have affected the way we think about writing.

"The provisional nature of digital text promises to influence writing styles. A printed book is a finished object. The finality of the act of publishing has long instilled in the best and most conscientious writers and editors a desire, even an anxiety, to perfect the works they produce... Electronic text is impermanent. In the digital marketplace, revision can go on indefinitely." (p. 107)

He goes on to say that we will no longer feel the pressure of perfection because we can easily write and edit our words. When letters were pounded into stone or a handwritten note was penned in ink, don't you think the writers took special care to make sure they said exactly what they wanted to say? Now, we text while we walk and send emails from our iphones with disclaimers telling readers to "please ignore grammatical errors."

Maybe it's just the editor in me talking, but when it comes to the written word, I think a little pressure of perfection is more than acceptable. I mean, when did simple spelling errors in a professional context become okay?

I found this quote compelling:

"Our indulgence in the pleasures of informality and immediacy has led to a narrowing of expressiveness and a loss of eloquence." (p. 108)

Would you agree or disagree?

The Juggler's Brain

Carr spends a chapter discussing what he calls the "juggler's brain." The idea being that the Internet "delivers a steady stream of inputs" to our senses: our fingers and hands as we hold our iPads and as we click, scroll, type, and touch our mouses, keyboards, and screens; our ears as we hear e-mail alerts and social media dings; and our eyes, obviously, as ads and alters flash and pop up as we click from page to page.

"The Net commands our attention with far greater intensity than our television or radio or mourning newspaper ever did... When we're online, we're often oblivious to everything else going on around us. The real world recedes as we process the flood of symbols and stimuli coming through our devices." (p. 117-118)

Where it really gets interesting is when Carr posits why sustained concentration is so difficult online. I mean, if the Internet is commanding our attention like he says, why do we find ourselves so distracted? I'm going to quote him again, because I can't really say it better:

"The need to evaluate links and make related navigational choices, while also processing a multiplicity of fleeting sensory stimuli, requires constant mental coordination and decision making, distracting the brain from the work of interpreting text or other information. Whenever we, as readers, come upon a link, we have to pause, for at least a split second, to allow our prefrontal cortex to evaluate whether or not we should click on it. The redirection of our mental resources, from reading words to making judgments, may be imperceptible to us, but it's been shown to impede comprehension and retention." (p. 122)

Isn't that fascinating? I had never thought of it like that before, but it makes perfect sense!

Just a few more things. First, I want to share the following quote about the pattern in which we read online, which I had also never thought of before but found completely true, at least in my case. I'm interested to know if this holds true for you as well.

"In 2006, Jakob Nielsen conducted an eye-tracking study of Web users. He had 232 people wear a small camera that tracked their eye movements as they read pages of text and browsed other content. Nielsen found that hardly any of the participants read online text in a methodical, line-by-line way, as they'd typically read a page of text in a book. 

"The vast majority skimmed the text quickly, their eyes skipping down the page in a pattern that resembled, roughly, the letter F. 

"They'd start by glancing all the way across the first two or three lines of text. Then their eyes would drop down a bit, and they'd scan about halfway across a few more lines. Finally, they'd let their eyes cursorily drift a little farther down the left-hand side of the page. 

"F, Nielsen wrote when he summed up the findings, is for fast. That's how users read your precious content." (p. 134-135)

And, finally, two more quotes from the last few pages of Carr's book. He briefly discusses AI and, for example, things like how when you search something on Google, it now automates responses for you and tries to guess what question you're wanting to ask (essentially writing code that allows computers to "think").

"What makes us most human is what is least computable about us--the connections between our mind and our body, the experiences that shape our memory and our thinking, our capacity for emotion and empathy. 

"The great danger we face as we become more intimately involved with our computers (as we experience more of our lives through the symbols flickering across our screens) is that we'll begin to sacrifice the very qualities that separate us from machines.

"The only way to avoid that fate is to have the self-awareness and the courage to refuse to delegate to computers the most human of our mental activities and pursuits, particularly 'tasks that demand wisdom.'" (p. 207-8)

"We shouldn't allow the glories of technology to blind our inner watchdog to the possibility that we've numbed an essential part of our self." (p. 212)

In a word: chilling.

P.S. Just in case you're interested in more, Bailie shared this post with me, which goes along perfectly with the things Carr discusses in his book.
If you made it all the way through, I'd love to hear your thoughts on any of this!
Here are a few questions to get you started:

-Do you read online text in the "F" pattern?
-Do you feel distracted when you're reading text online?
-Do you think we control our technology or does the technology control us?
-What do you think about Carr saying that we may have "numbed an essential part of our self" when we use the "glories of technology"?

Carhenge: A Quirky Roadside Attraction


One of the perks of being the one who plans the road trip is getting to decide where and when we stop for cheesy roadside attractions. After I mapped out our route (see this post for a screenshot of our route), I compared it with this site to see if there were any fun places to stop along the way.

Carhenge was my #1. It's "Nebraska's Answer to Stonehenge," and if that doesn't sound awesome to you, then I'm not sure we can be friends. Carhenge is exactly what it sounds and looks like: an exact replica of the famous Stonehenge just with old cars. In June 2014, it was named as one of the "Top 3 Quirky Landmarks" by USA Today.

One word: legit.
Carhenge gets approximately 40,000-50,000 visitors per year. It's kind of a thing. I ran around going, "This is so weird and cool!" And Jordan was all, "I married a crazy person."


So that's Carhenge! What do you think?
Have you ever been? Would you go?

Runners Tell All: My Race Bucket List(s)


"Runner's Tell All" is a monthly linkup for runners of all ages, skill levels, and experience hosted by Sunshine to the Square Inch and The Lady Okie. Each month we'll have a different topic, and you can find all the topics listed here. We are accepting two sponsorship spots for each month, who will receive a sidebar ad on both blogs as well as entry links in the giveaway. 100% of your sponsorship money will go directly toward running-related giveaways. Find more information on sponsorship here. We have 2 spots available for October! There are only 3 months left to join the sponsorship fun!
Before we get started, a quick public service announcement: If your name is Amanda and you entered my giveaway for a bag of Hemp Pro70 protein powder, email me, girl! You won!

Okay, this month's topic is: race bucket list. I made two of them for you.

Let's start with unrealistic. 
Obviously it would be fun to run a race in a place like Hawaii. Because Hawaii. 

I've actually been to Hawaii twice, but sadly I was not a runner then and didn't take full advantage of the whole running-along-the-beach-in-Hawaii thing. And of course any runner knows that it would be amazing to run Boston. However, I have neither the natural speed nor the desire to train for the speed to get fast enough to ever qualify, so that's most likely out. Paris is really just a placeholder for any European country, and I really want to visit Alaska some day. I have cousins who live there, and it just looks awesome. It would be so fun to run there!

The second list of races are slightly more realistic. As in, chances are high I will actually do these. I have friends who live in San Diego and Minneapolis (hi, Alison and Erin!), and I live close to Dallas. I WILL run in Chicago at some point. It is absolutely happening, and when it does it will be glorious. And Little Rock isn't too far from me. I want to do that one because the finisher medals are gigantic aka awesome, plus I've never been to Arkansas.

This year I have actually only run 2 races: a 5k (recap here) and a 10k (PR by six minutes! recap here). I started feeling like I didn't want to run races just to do them. I want to save up my money and run new races and in a place I haven't run before, like the ones on my realistic bucket list. So hopefully I'll get to cross some of these off at some point.

While we're on the subject of races, I am interested in your thoughts on the Rock & Roll race series. The Dallas race is March 2015, and I'm considering signing up. But the fee for just the 1/2 marathon is $80! Has anyone run a Rock & Roll race? Is it worth the money?

So that's my list! Or at least a few of the races on my list. Link up below and share yours! Hop around, meet other running bloggers, and maybe you'll find a race or two to add to your bucket list. Speaking of... I want to suggest two races you should add to your bucket list.

I know Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, is probably not high on your list of must-see places, but I've run in this race three times now (the half, full, and 5k), and it really is one of my favorites. First of all, there is a ton of crowd support. It's almost like the whole city comes out to cheer on the runners, and it's really fun. I also think it's a pretty route through downtown, old neighborhoods, and then partly around the lake. If you live in a surrounding state, consider coming out! It's every April.

The Cowtown in Fort Worth, Texas, happens every February and is definitely a favorite of mine as well. For one thing, half marathoners get two shirts (one for registration and one for finishing), and it's a fun race through the downtown stockyards.

Click on over and say hello! Ashley | Tracy

*On last month's giveaway, I asked you guys what your favorite color is. In case you were wondering, pink was the winner! Followed by: green, blue, purple, yellow turquoise, and a last-place tie for orange, gray, and mint. My favorite color is red, which I was sad to see didn't get any love. Come on, people!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Runners Tell All Linkup Rules

  1. You MUST leave a comment on the person’s blog who linked up directly before you. This is not a linkup for the sake of linking up. This is a linkup to build community and spread the love and encouragement to your fellow runners! Don't be lame.
  2. Do not share links to unrelated running posts or to your blog’s homepage, or we will have to delete your link. (I've done it before too, so I'm not joking.)
  3. Please link back to either Beka or Amanda in your post so others can come here and join in! Or grab the button below and add it to your post. 
  4. Have fun!

Man Make Fire


Vacations are the best.

For a short span of days, you can push aside the stress and requirements of daily life and claim "spotty Internet access" and "no cell phone service" on the fact that you are completely avoiding any and all incoming communication

The awesomeness level of your vacation, of course, depends on your ability to forget about the mound of emails, voicemails, and junk mail that are piling up during your absence. Just don't think about it, and it doesn't exist. Amen.

If you follow me on Twitter, then you probably know that this past week Jordan and I road-tripped to South Dakota.

When we first started telling people we were taking a five-day vacation to South Dakota, we were met with blank stares and then, "...South Dakota?" It only got worse when we said we were going to drive the 13+ hours

"So you're driving through Kansas?" they said.
"And Nebraska?"

Then they shook their heads. "That's going to be boring."

The middle part of the United States don't get no love, in my opinion. Boring and flat are two words commonly used to describe the portion of the country many refer to as "flyover states." But whatever. We decided to drive because A) flights were going to cost around $450 per person and B) we didn't want to have to rent a car plus C) I think road trips are fun and also D) road trips mean road trip candy. Sour patch kids, get in my belly.

I decided we were going to take a different route there than coming back so we could see different parts of the states. The right side is the route we took driving to South Dakota. The left side is the route we used coming back. All the letters are the places we stopped along the way to see roadside attractions or stay in a hotel for the night.

We didn't intend on driving through Colorado, but our GPS had other plans. There's nothing quite like being on a road trip, seeing a "Welcome to" state sign, and freaking out because you think you might be driving in the wrong direction. Luckily, we weren't (even though it did add a few minutes to our drive), and we had a good laugh about how we hit four states (five, including Oklahoma) on this trip.
(Skinny jeans are surprisingly comfortable to wear in the car. Who knew?)

We took back roads almost the entire way there and back. The longest stretch of actual interstate was on I-35 north from OKC to Wichita. Back roads are the only way to travel. No cops. No cars. No people at all, really. Which is only a terrible idea if your car breaks down, which luckily ours did not.

So yes. We went to South Dakota. And I'm here to tell all the scoffers that South Dakota is so awesome! There's a ton of fun stuff to do, plus the Black Hills are spectacular. Seriously, if you haven't been to South Dakota, you really should.

TOTALS (round trip)
28 hours
1,784 miles
$196.26 spent on gas <--- Compared to $900 on airfare + the cost of renting a car once we got there? Yes, please.

I took over 500 pictures of the following (in no particular order): Crazy Horse, Mount Rushmore, Carhenge, our cabin, downtown Rapid City, cool road signs, the food we ate, deer outside our cabin, black bears, the scenery on our drive, building a fire.

I'm telling you all this so you can start getting excited for South Dakota recap posts. It's happening. Now excuse me while I get back to my 200 emails. Darn you, Old Navy promotional spam!

What's your go-to road trip candy?
Would you rather drive or fly?

Re: Thank You For Your Page View


*Photo credit Death to Stock Photo (with text addition by me)

Hello, friend,

Thank you for your page view.

I am currently out of the office. My internet access will be spotty, but I will return your page view when I am reconnected to the land of wireless internet.

Or, let's be honest, maybe I won't be reconnected ever. Because I just started this book, and chances are high I'll freak out and swear off the internet forever after reading it.

Until my triumphant, if uncertain, return, please enjoy the following links to pass the time: 

Check out my new "About" page!

Awkward + Awesome (The Lady Okie archives)
Why You Should Learn to Pick Your Battles aka the most hilarious blog post ever (The Bloggess)
How to Counteract the Cubicle (Jaybird Blog)
On Being Blog Worthy (In Its Time)
Comparison is the Thief of Joy {when running} (Mile Posts)
The Importance of Words (Annapolis & Company)
You Are Lovely {a blog series} (Taking Steps Home)

Very sincerely yours,
The Lady Okie

P.S. I'm planning a post all about my day job "Life of an Editor." Let me know if there's anything you'd like to know about editing that I can address in the post!

P.S. x2. Don't forget that Runners Tell All is back September 21! We'll be talking about our race bucket lists. Hope you'll join us!

My Unofficial OKC Summer Bucket List


We can still talk about summer, yes? Good, because I have some things I need to share, for the sake of my 2014 blog book and the fact that if I don't write about it online, it never happened.

This summer I was able to cross some things off my unofficial OKC summer bucket list. I say unofficial, because I didn't officially create a summer bucket list. But I had one going on in my head, which is basically the same thing.
Remember when I took you on a tour of downtown OKC and showed you the Myriad Gardens? Well, every Wednesday night during the summer, they showed movies outside on the lawn. My birthday was on a Thursday this year, and my mom drove up on Wednesday to hang out and spend the night. I decided it was the perfect time to check out the outdoor movie! And guess what? They were showing Frozen!

Yes, I'm the freak who had never seen Frozen. (I suppose this shouldn't surprise you if you know how I feel about bandwagons.)

That's what you call killing two birds with one stone. Or, I guess three birds.
Watch Frozen. Check. See outdoor movie. Check. Eat birthday cupcake. Check.
I know I already talked about how ziplining across the Oklahoma River was kind of lame. But this was before we went ziplining in the jungle of Nicaragua, so it wasn't that lame yet. And we did have fun. 
Plus, I wore my sweet birthday shirt, so there's that.

I'm so glad I got to do this! 

I mentioned in my OKC tour that we have a rent-a-bike program where you can rent a bike in one location, ride it around for a while, and return it to another location.

Well, when Beka drove up for our birthday blogger date, we went biking together! It was really fun even though we couldn't figure out how to get our bikes unlocked once we checked them in at the docking station, so we ended up having to walk all the way back to our car. Oh well.

I showed her around Bricktown, and we had dinner at S&B's Burger Joint, and it was lots o' fun.

Did you know that Oklahoma City has an entire underground tunnel system? Because it totally does. There are shops and restaurants down there and everything!

I'd heard about the tunnels but could never figure out how to get down into them. Then one afternoon in July, I convinced my boss to let us take a field trip into the tunnels. Secretly I just wanted someone to show me where they were. 

I went back for my birthday lunch! There's a de-freaking-licious Chinese place down there that my friend Liz recommended, and it did not disappoint. Above is a picture of me in the Chinese place on my birthday. My mom was like, "Wear this crown and go stand in the corner and take a picture." So of course I did, because I have no shame.

If you ever come visit OKC, I'll have to take you down to the tunnels, and we'll eat Chinese together. It will rock your world.

Bucket lists and birthdays and fireworks and homemade popsicles and weekend long runs facing the sunrise.

Is it really September? 

I'm in denial. In my head, I'm still at the lake...

>>What did you cross off your summer bucket list?