How does one wrap a whole week of nonstop adventures and making dozens of new friends into one solid entry? Well, I’ll just admit now, it is near impossible. I would have to have been carrying a video camera around with me to truly capture the moment of every laughing fit I had with Miss Kentucky, every crazy, obnoxious cheer for our wonderful Miss Idaho Outstanding Teen, Melanie Ross, and the period of time I spent walking in Orlando in of course the soon to be infamous potato sack.
To me, I’m already grinning and buckling over in laughter just thinking about these memories I will fondly look back on. So I will do my best to summarize the last 7 days that I woke up with a smile on my face.
I left Monday morning with Tami and Jaylee from the teen board. My first flight, was pretty typical. Of course I ended up stuck next to the strange man who had no boundaries of where his seat ended and mine began. If you ever ride with me on a plane you will find out I’m pretty easy going, but I have a weird thing about touching my elbow to someone elses elbow. Therefore it they end up poking their elbows into my area, I am left clenching my elbows into my sides. Weird, I know. So there I was, scrunched with my shoulders and elbows caved into my stomach as I tried to extend my arms out to be able to read my Self Magazine. The next flight I sat next to a semi driver from Canada who after seeing the mosquito bites all over my feet, talked to me about all the different ways of repelling mosquitoes away including patches and even bracelets. I found this to be actually very interesting. But not quite as excited as she was when shortly later I was on my computer updating my blog and uploading pictures of appearances I had made that past week. She pointed to the picture and said “What is that!”. I was holding a “Fill the Boot” firemen’s boot so I told her it was an fundraiser put on by our local firefighters for muscular dystrophy. She shook her head and pointed again “No! That on your head! Is that you?!” I gave a little laugh and nodded my head as I explained to her that I was Miss Idaho and was actually flying to meet the remaining women working towards the title of Miss America. She just kept clasping her hands together and talking about how jealous her husband was going to be that she sat next to Miss Idaho. I guess even in Canada, Miss Idaho can be a big deal! What a sweetheart she was as she wished me the best of luck and said they would be rooting for me up in Canada.
As soon as our plane landed, the humidity of Orlando immediately kicked in. We got off the plane around midnight, and my mind must have really been tired because I ended up forgetting my phone on the plane. It never fails, something always has to happen at the Orlando Airport. Last time I came in to watch the Miss America Outstanding Teen Pageant I thought my luggage was black or navy blue and Tami and I spent a good chunk of time looking around for it as Tami gave one of the attendants a hard time asking why my luggage was not there. Until my dad texted me telling me it was green, not black. Tami will never let me forget that moment! Now she has the cell phone incident to add to it. To make it even better, once my phone was out in the humidity it lost it’s ability to respond to my touch on the screen and killed my phone. What a fun adventure that was the next day trying to find a T-Mobile that would allow me to buy a new phone all while getting everything together to move hotels and prepare for dress rehearsal.
Once I was finally settled in rooming with my sweetheart sister Miss Washington, I went to meet up for a dress rehearsal with other contestants who were previously outstanding teen titleholders. The memories of dancing to “It’s Our Time To Shine Girls” flooded in a we walked into the Orange County Convention Center. It felt so great to be back and see the things that had changed (they no longer use that dance as their opening number but rather as their fitness routine nor do they have to carry state flags into the auditorium that are twice their size!) but also to still see the traditions still carrying on. That night, Melanie rock it in physical fitness as she strut her stuff and performed a rocking push up on stage.
Wednesday was a free day before the chaos began, and I took advantage of it by sleeping in until 9. And did it ever feel amazing! That night I got to watch Melanie perform her amazing talent! I’d been bragging about how talented she was all week so it was fun to be able to watch her make us all so proud. That night I had a little girl come up to me and ask if she could have my autograph. I asked her for her name, and she replied telling me it was Ally and she was from Texas. As we continued to talk, I decided she definitely needed to take home a Spuddy Buddy with her. Now for those of you who don’t know the story behind a Spuddy Buddy it’s something that is quite the special gift to be given.
You can’t buy one, but rather must be given one. I explained this to her as she gave him a big hug and told me how cute he was! Her parents smiled and asked to take a picture of us with Spuddy. He is going to be quite famous by the end of the year! We ended up meeting up every night that week and each time Ally would come up to me with a hug and talk to me about how cute Spuddy is and she couldn’t wait to show her friends at school. I even found out the day I checked out of my hotel room that they had been staying right next door to me! Ally had Spuddy peeking into my room and was talking for him to me. It was the cutest thing!
Thursday was go, go, go! The morning started with a photo shoot for the previous Miss America Outstanding Teen titleholders now competing for Miss America. We then filmed a video outside. Right after that it was straight to the room to get ready to film our individual videos for Miss America. We could do whatever we wanted to tell America why we should be Miss America. The only rule was that it had to be one minute, otherwise it could be as creative as we wanted it to be. That’s where the potato sack came in. I was inspired by the quote “Marilyn Monroe was so beautiful she could even look great in a potato sack”.
My alteration’s lady, Michelle Peterson, made the most amazing one shouldered, rhinestoned dress made from potato sacks donated by the Idaho Potato Commission. I talked about how diamonds were a girl’s best friend and then held up a rhinestoned potato as I talked about how potatoes were Idaho’s best friend but how being from Idaho didn’t make me a couch potato but I lived a rather active lifestyle. I also wore a Marilyn Monroe wig and tied my outfit into why I could pull off the Miss America crown. The video should be out in a couple of week so I will be sure to post the link to it when it does!
Right after that I went to a dress rehearsal to emcee for that night’s preliminary show. From there it was straight to Maggiano’s Italian Restaurant for the most amazing Italian dinner hosted by Carry and David from Regalia. The meal consisting of salad, bread, chicken pasta, lasagna, fruit, and lemon moon cookies. Carb overload but so worth it and my dress that was a tinch too big actually fit that night after that dinner.
Regalia dressed me for the evening in a beautiful black classic dress that had a graceful flow to it. I was able to talk with our Miss America, Teresa Scanlan that night and find out just how funny she was! Not only was she a smart little cookie, but between her and Ann Blair from Kentucky, I had just the laugh I needed after such a filling dinner.
Friday we had another early morning wake up call to head to the happiest place on earth, Disneyworld! As we walked into Disney Town, we were gradually greeted by Donal Duck, Goofy, Minnie, Mickey, and the Disney Princesses. There is truly no way you could be there and not filled with happiness. Especially when you are with some of the funniest and most energy filled ladies in all of America. We did some filming with Miss America and then were split into groups.
My group went off to ride Splash Mountain with myself and Ann Blair sitting next to each other and our security guards Chris and Rodney sitting cozy together in the back. I know I said I wouldn’t share that Chris, but we have photos to prove it and you both did look so happy there! We then went to Space Mountain to dry off. One of my favorite rides before, but now not so much after it stole my $7 white sunglasses from how fast it whipped around in the dark turns! We then went to lunch at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. We walked into a storage room for all the outfits and props that weren’t currently being used. But the way it was set up was like walking into a history museum for Disney. Old picture of the Lion King, Mulan, even characters I had completely forgotten about. We had a filling lunch right before we went on to visit the new ride, Star Tours. A virtual experience where it felt like you were riding in a Star Wars Space Jet.
Probably should not have ate all that food but the ride was a blast anyways! From there we did some more filming and then onto my favorite ride in the whole universe (get it? Universal Studios, favorite ride in the Universe!) Tower….of….Terror!!! Terrifyingly thrilling and so much fun. I sat next to Juliann from Pennsylvania as we squeezed the life out of each other’s hands. The most terrifying part was when the ride was over though and our cart kept moving through the building with no noises or lights and then just stopped. They said that upstairs the doors opened but there was no cart there. We all took out our cell phones with no service of course, but enough light to see that we had no idea where we were at! We heard a screeching and though maybe there were playing a trick on us and we were going to ride again. Instead, we moved forward and the doors opened and a camera was filming us. We found at that screech was a cart headed towards us apparently. Just a little freaky!
We went back to our hotel rooms and prepared for dinner with Miss America, the Miss America and Miss Florida Boards, and Regalia. Our buses picked us up and brought us to a 20,000 sq ft house that was absolutely beautiful and had a red carpet out front. If we hadn’t already felt like royalty before we definitely felt special that night. Two rooms were filled with fine foods including sushi overload and pretty desserts. Suddenly the power went out, but the night was saved by a few surprise guests, the Jersey Boys! If I was 16 and went to a Justin Bieber concert, I can imagine that would be what it felt like.
Saturday morning was orientation with the Miss America Board. If it didn’t hit me before that I had been blessed with an amazing opportunity, it most certainly did that day. Sam Haskell as well as the rest of the Miss America Board have given so much to make this organization as strong as it is today.
To see so much of their heart go into making this program what it is and hearing Teresa Scanlan emphasis just how important it is to make the most of what is given to us, just made the perfect ending to an already amazing week. One of my favorite things she said was “It’s not about you, it’s about those who you can reach out to and influence. They deserve your time, smile, and energy. Just think about all the people who would do anything to be in your shoes.” She also gave us a three words that she thought were important including maturity, humility, and one of my favorites that she said, confidence. She talked to us about how
Confidence doesn’t come from success or being number 1. But rather from not being afraid of being number 2 and how you can’t let the fear of what might happen, hold you back from anything
We also had Josh Randle from Mississippi (the reason I remember this is because a of a story he told us a about a little girl who asked him if he was really Prince William and he responded by telling her he was Prince Josh of Mississippi!)talk about the Duke of Edinburgh Award. This award consists of basically being a well rounded individual by being out in the community volunteering, staying active, adventure, and building confidence. Everything about that award sounded great to me!Therefore I am now inspired me to go out and get a group together to earn this, so let me know if you or someone you know would be interested in joining me!
Later that afternoon, I searched for the perfect dress to wear onstage at Miss America…and I think I may have found the one that just makes me feel like I’m already Miss America in it. 🙂 Carry and John from Regalia were so wonderful at being patient and helping me search for the dress that was uniquely meant for me and would allow me to truly show who I am, and not just the dress. I can’t thank them enough!
That evening, the Miss America contestants met up one last time in Orlando for an autograph signing. I saw a very good friend of mine and former judge, Glenn Harman. That is one of my favorite things about being involved in this organization for so many years. You have friends and support from all over the country and it truly feels like one of the most supportive and loving organizations one could possibly be a part of. He had been a judge of mine exactly 5 years ago from that night and to be back as Miss Idaho because of help and support from people like him, felt absolutely amazing. It was ironic to be seeing him that night 5 years later as Miss Idaho.
We then went to watch the final night of Miss America Outstanding Teen. Melanie made us all so proud up there on stage. I could have loved to just run up from the audience and hugged her right then and there! Later that night, I had the opportunity to go up with the former Outstanding Teen titleholders again but this time to talk about how MAOT has helped me over the years competing in the MAO. Felt like home to be back up there again. Elizabeth Fechtel from Florida won Miss America Outstanding Teen that evening and had such a genuine reaction to her crowning moment, those are my favorite. We celebrated each girl’s accomplishments that evening at the final night celebratory party.
You’d think after only spending a week with 53 women that it wouldn’t be hard to say goodbye at the end, especially knowing that the next 5 months before we saw each other would go by quickly. But it’s hard to explain the unique and quick bond that is formed during those days by the connections made through running like a group of 9 year olds through Disneyworld and then getting stuck in the pitch black darkness on a ride. They are formed when one girl lends another girl her comfy shoes because hers are giving her blisters or lending another girl sunglasses right after she had just lost hers on a ride (that’s trust right there!). Or when you find yourself laughing hysterically backstage as the zipper of someone’s dress busted open due to extreme amounts of laughter. It’s random moments such as those that make me so happy to be part of this special opportunity. I absolutely adore each and everyone of these women and am counting the days until we all get to be together again in Vegas for Miss America!
Goals for this week!
1. Relocating, again! This time I’ll be there for a longer period of time, so the goal is to get all settled in this week and finally stop living out of suitcase!
2. Clean the mud out of my car that was left for the Dirty Dash Mud Run…that’ll be a fun project.
3. We’re officially a little over 4 months out from Miss America, which means it’s time to kick it in gear! I enjoyed my last weekend of indulgence over a funnel cake, mini cheesecake, and Carinos bread. Welcome back into my life rolled oats and tuna fish!
4. (Had to have a fourth this week with everything that’s been going on!) I will have my latest blog up in the next few days for this past week before leaving for the annual Idaho Potato Commission meeting in Sun Valley!
Much love and hugs,