Doing the Impossible- Miss Santa Clara

“Start by doing what is necessary, then do what is possible, and soon you will be doing the impossible.”

Taylor Yamane crowned Miss Santa ClaraI had never competed in a pageant before. This was my first time, and it took so much of my courage to apply because it felt like such a risk. I watched Miss America every year since I was a little girl, but never in a million years did I think I would participate in a pageant, let alone actually win one! I never thought I was skinny enough or a nerdy engineer like me belonged in the pageant world. I realized, I have spent my entire life breaking down walls that people put up before me, and this pageant could be my chance to change even more stereotypes.

I grew up on a farm in a small town in eastern Washington. I was raised by my farmer father, who is full Japanese, and my mother who is Irish, French, and Native American. It is safe to say my town had a very small Asian population. One day in kindergarten, a girl came up to me and told me that I wasn’t allowed to play with my fair-skinned, blond, and blue-eyed friends because my hair and my skin were too dark. Obviously in kindergarten, I never thought of myself as different from the other kids, but at that moment I realized I was different. I didn’t look like the other kids I went to school with, and my home life and traditions were much different than those of my friends (I was shocked when I found out not everyone had a rice cooker in their house!). As I got older, these differences become more prominent and easy for me to recognize. I decided to embrace those differences instead of letting them hold me back.

Taylor Yamane Miss Santa ClaraI was stereotyped a lot especially during middle school and high school, but I did not want to live in a world where I was inhibited by the social confines of what people thought I should and should not be good at just because of my appearance. I was the girl who sang the national anthem for her own varsity basketball games and track meets. I was a 5’3” hurdler in high school and a dang good one too! I was a district champion, a state qualifier, and I would beat girls in the high hurdlers who were 6 feet tall, with legs as tall as me, and built like hurdlers. People looked at me like I was crazy when I said I wanted to run the hurdles because I was so short. I also auditioned for and the received the part of the red-headed Annie in our high school’s musical production of Annie when I was a sophomore! I received so many funny looks when I told people I would be playing Annie in our high school’s musical until they heard me sing. Even coming to college in California, where the culture is so diverse with so many people from all walks of life, I was still felt set apart from the crowd as a female engineering student. I had to fight for my respect here and to show that women are just as smart and talented as men in STEM fields. I have decided no matter what people say, I am going to live my own life and accomplish the things that I want to accomplish and not let anything stand in my way.

Taylor Yamane HurdlesI had to use this same mentality when competing for Miss Santa Clara. My engineering friends thought I was joking when I said I would be competing in a pageant. They did not think a pageant was a place for engineers because they only thought of pageants as a competition to see who is prettier and can do their makeup the best when it is SO much more than that! It is a scholarship program where anyone who wants to compete can, and anyone can have the chance to win. With my title, I want to break down the walls and stereotypes that come with the word “pageant”. I am the last person I ever thought would win a pageant, and I want people to know that you can be an engineer and still wear the crown. I plan to use my title as Miss Santa Clara to share my story and show that if this small-town, farm girl can become an engineer AND Miss Santa Clara, then absolutely nothing is impossible with hard work and dedication!

How Entering A Contest For A Sparkly Hat (Unknowingly) Changed My Life And Can Change Yours Too

I remember watching my hometown’s local pageant since I was a little girl and when I was 17, I entered and learned that I actually knew very little about what these pageants actually entailed. If there’s one thing I’ve realized over the past few years that I’ve been involved in the Miss America Organization, it’s that you will begin to undergo a transformation into the very best version of yourself. Just by entering a local competition for the Miss America Organization (you don’t even have to win!), you will gain the following:

 

Jill Santos Miss Napa County graduateScholarship– As one of the largest scholarship providers to young women in the world, the Miss America Organization has paid for over half of my college education to date. I finished my undergraduate studies in 2.5 years, and this would not have been possible, nor affordable, had I not gained the scholarships from this organization. Many local preliminaries will guarantee every contestant a scholarship just for participating. If you do happen to win the title, there are even further opportunities to gain scholarships through awards, advertisement sales, placement, and more.

 

Jill with former Miss Napa County winnersSisters– You will meet the most incredible like-minded women who are passionate about their communities, their education, and their careers. You will meet your closest friends, find a second family. The Miss America Organization defies the stigma of a stereotypical “pageant girl” because the women I’ve met are some of the most intelligent, talented, and kind people I have known.

 

Professional Skills– Before entering a local competition, contestants must complete paperwork including a Resume and a Platform Statement, providing the opportunity to work on resume and writing skills. In addition to this, the interview and onstage question portions of competition teach us how to communicate effectively and think on the spot. As titleholders, we are required to attend public events, speaking engagements, interviews, and the like, which tests these skills even more. We are taught to communicate effectively to voice our thoughts and opinions in a professional way while still remaining personable. Participating in pageants has taught me confidence in speaking to and with people from all different walks of life. After graduating college, I was never nervous to attend job interviews, conference calls, presentations, and networking events in my professional life because of the experiences the Miss America Organization had offered.Jill Santos Miss Napa County speaks

 

Personal Skills– All contestants in the Miss America Organization choose a personal “platform,” a good cause for which they volunteer their time and promote in their communities. My platform is “Music Therapy for the Elderly”, a cause I choose to promote because of my passions and life experiences. In a way, this has been a “platform” throughout my entire life that this organization has allowed to come to fruition. Having a platform encourages contestants to get involved in the causes we are passionate about on a greater scale, bringing personal action and passion to community change. Your platform will allow you to increase your voice, establish yourself as active member in your community, and fuel your passion to follow your dreams. The work I have done with my platform has brought me the happiest experiences, the most creative ideas, and the hope to create my own nonprofit in the future.

 

Jill Santos Miss Napa CountyThere are so many reasons other why I advocate for the Miss America Organization, but these are some of the major ones that have truly transformed my life. Sure, I can stick on false lashes and walk in 5 inch heels now, but more than that, I attribute so much of my educational success, professional success, and life skills to this organization. Others who are or have been involved in the Miss America a Organization will share similar positive experiences. For those who are unfamiliar with this organization, I hope I have opened your mind, or at least offered a different perspective, to pageantry. I hope you consider getting yourself, your sister, or your friend involved in the Miss America Organization.  You will gain the scholarship, sisterhood, professional skills, and personal skills I described, and so much more. The crown is just icing on the cake.

Nothing But Gratitude and Goals- Miss North Bay

Molly Crawford Miss san diego, Molly Crawford San Diego State University

Courtesy of Hart Photography

I am an undergraduate, full-time student at San Diego State University studying Journalism and Media Studies with an emphasis in Public Relations, and a minor in Dance. I would not have had the means or courage to pursue my dream of higher education had I not taken the leap to compete in my first Miss America’s Outstanding Teen local pageant in 2010. I’m proud of who I am and who I am becoming, and the Miss America Organization is an integral part of that.

Molly Crawford Miss North BayOne of the most invigorating parts of being a local titleholder is attempting to live each day in embodiment of the Four Points of the crown: Scholarship, Style, Service and Success. College is one of the most challenging yet exciting goals I have ever set for myself. I take pride in my status as a student, remain eager to learn and be successful in my academic career. Nothing feels better than giving your school the scholarship dollars this organization provides. My personal style has evolved fluidly throughout my journey. It has become representative of where I’ve been, where I am at currently, and where I am pointing my arrow next. I am firm believer in the influence of everyday surroundings on the way you style yourself. My style projects an image of me that is representative of my adolescence in the Bay Area and my early adulthood in San Diego. My platform is called Perfect Imperfection: Body Positivity and Respect. I created this movement to inspire a culture of respect and positivity when we talk about our bodies and their differences, particularly among children and teenagers. Serving my community in this way has allowed me to contribute to the Body Positive movement. Success is something I strive for in every part of my life with each day I pursue my dreams.  

Courtesy of Hart Photography

Courtesy of Hart Photography

If I could add a fifth point to the crown, it would be Sisterhood. Beyond the scholarship and the opportunity for personal development, the Miss America Organization provides a place for people to connect and create long lasting relationships with some of the world’s best people. I have found some of the most wonderful friends in the contestants, volunteers and sponsors I’ve had the opportunity to work with and get to know. I have found so many people who inspire me to push myself, be kind and to remain grounded in my purpose. I am an advocate of empowering others due, in large part, to the people I have met through the Miss America Organization. The sisterhood is strong, influential and so very real.

Molly Crawford Dancing Miss North BayBeing a Miss America local titleholder affords women endless, incredible opportunities that are extraordinarily unmatched. There are obvious perks, like the scholarship money each contestant is awarded, the chance to make a difference in our communities, and the ability to train professional, social and emotional skills in the field on a regular basis. “Adulting” is my favorite way to put it. This organization gives women scholarship money in exchange for the chance of a lifetime. I have spent the last seven years competing in this organization because my involvement in is directly tied to the accomplishments from all facets of my life.

I am honored to be Miss North Bay 2018. Being a Children’s Miracle Network Ambassador, and an advocate for body positivity and respect is an absolute dream come true that I am fully engaged in. I am diving into this year of service with gusto, courage and so many ideas I can’t wait to manifest. Follow me at @MissNorthBay on Instagram and Facebook to keep up with my journey!

A Million Thanks for A Million Dreams

20180203_103200(1)Behind every local title holder on the Miss California stage is a team of Amazing Sponsors!! As Miss Anaheim Hills and a part of Team Anaheim, I have had the privilege of meeting and working with them.  I got to learn just how amazing our sponsors are and how lucky I am as a girl in the Miss Anaheim Organization as well as the Miss California Organization to have people willing to help you in putting your best foot forward in life! Our fitness sponsor is Bear Pit!! Bear Pit is helping myself and my sister title holders get physically fit and ready for the Miss California stage.  They are not only work with my crazy schedule but they are very encouraging in helping me not only stay fit but also live a healthy lifestyle.

January 13th is a day I will never forget because it was the day I was crowned Miss Anaheim Hills 2018! It was also the day I was assigned my travel companion Miss Rosie! A beautiful white teddy bear donated to the Miss Anaheim Organization by our Sponsor Giant Teddy Bear!  They sell plush giant teddy bears, and helped connect each title holder with their own travel companion.  

20180120_093546Also got to visit our Anaheim police department, and hear about how they keep our city safe! To know that we have their support is not only reassuring but also very encouraging!! I got to visit the Keller Williams Realty! The world’s number one realty agency, where I met Lorri Molloy who is our direct sponsor.  The list of our Amazing sponsors goes on! The Anaheim Firefighter Association. Flatter Me … Again! Owned by Karin Cathcart, Reunion Restaurant, Joe’s Italian Ice, the owner Joe was a judge for the Miss Anaheim/Anaheim Hills competition. Our Official photographer Rod Aberegg, Orange County Family Justice Center, PDM Young Actors Workshop owned by Paul-Dean Martin, Doc Savage Orthodontist, Titan Pools, Inc, Grace OC Church and The Hirschl School of Dance Arts. To know that we have the support of so many amazing people definitely encourage us as title holders to not be afraid to  strive for greatness and it  feeling so thankful for all our sponsors, it is because of them that I can go to school with no debt this semester!! And I am so very excited to continue to work with them as Miss Anaheim Hills 2018!!

Hollins University to Provide Scholarship to Miss California Contestants

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 14, 2018
Contact: Jessa Carmack
jessacarmack@misscalifornia.org

(FRESNO, CA) Hollins University, a four-year private institution of higher education located in Roanoke, Virginia, will be joining the team of scholarship donors for the Miss California Organization.

For all ‘Teen’ or ‘Miss’ contestants that have not attended college; Hollins University will provide up to a $20,000 in renewable scholarship to any contestant in the 2018 Miss California competition who applies, is admitted and decides to attend Hollins as a first-year student.

For any ‘Miss’ contestant or transfer student; Hollins University will provide up to a $18,000 in renewable scholarship to any contestant in the 2018 Miss California Competition who applies, is admitted and decides to attend Hollins as a first-year student.

“We are thrilled to have the support of Hollins University and hope to see our 2018 contestants take advantage of the generous scholarship donation they are providing,” Patricia Murray, CEO & Executive Director, Miss California Organization.

The 2018 Miss California & Miss California’s Outstanding Teen state finals preliminary competition will take place at the Saroyan Theatre in Downtown Fresno, June 27-29. Miss California’s Outstanding Teen 2018 will be crowned on Friday, June 29th. Miss California 2018 will be crowned on Saturday, June 30th.

About the Miss California Organization:

The Miss California Scholarship Organization is a volunteer based 501c(3) non-profit organization which was founded in 1924. As the Official State Final to Miss America, the Miss California Organization has awarded more than $6 million in cash and academic scholarships Miss California Organization | since the competition made its home in Fresno in 1990. Nurturing an ideal of beauty that includes dignity, courage, intelligence, creative talent and kindness, the successful contestants demonstrate a genuine commitment to serving others. Every year the Miss California’s Outstanding Teen and Miss California contestants make significant contributions to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals by raising funds and spreading awareness throughout the state. To learn more, visit misscalifornia.org.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/MissCAOrg

Instagram/Twitter: @MissCAOrg

About Hollins University:

Hollins is an independent liberal arts university dedicated to academic excellence and humane values. Hollins University offers undergraduate liberal arts education for women, selected graduate programs for men and women, and community outreach initiatives. The Hollins curriculum and cocurricular programs prepare students for lives of active learning, fulfilling work, personal growth, achievement, and service to society.

The Hollins community sustains talented students engaged in challenging study, and productive scholars and artists devoted to teaching and to the advancement of knowledge. Experiential learning, study abroad, and internships enhance the academic program. The hallmarks of a Hollins education are creativity and effective self-expression, problem solving and critical thinking skills, and independent inquiry and the free exchange of ideas.

Hollins nurtures civility, integrity, and concern for others, encourages and values diversity and social justice, and affirms the equal worth of women and men. Our university motto, Levavi Oculos, calls us to leadership and service in accord with the Hollins values and traditions.

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Tiny But Mighty- Miss Bay Area

Ashley Nelson Miss Bay AreaGrowing up I have always been looked down upon… literally. My short stature has always made me feel in some way inadequate. For example, in certain buildings, the mirrors are placed too high and all I can see is the top of my head. Also, some eye holes in doors are too high for me to look through.

In addition, when people first meet me they say you’re so “cute”, because you’re so “tiny”. When I was younger I took these comments graciously, but as I became older, I wanted to be noticed for more than just my height when people first met me. I wanted to be noticed and remembered for my confidence and how personable I was, rather than just my small stature.

Ashley Nelson Miss Placentia's Outstanding TeenEntering the Miss America Organization gave me the opportunity to do so. I was a fairly new teenager coming into this program and it was around the time I truly wanted to find out who I was as a person. After holding my first title as Miss Placentia’s Outstanding Teen 2015, I gained so many qualities that boosted my confidence and pushed me to be a better representative of not only myself, but of something greater than myself. I learned that I am not just what is on the outside, but I am so much more than that. I am a strong, independent woman who has her own opinion and can stand in a room and exude an inviting essence.

Ashley Nelson MIss Bay Area 2018I’m so grateful for the Miss America Program for giving me the opportunity to find out who I am while representing the cities I love. Winning the titles of Miss Placentia’s Outstanding Teen 2015 and now, Miss Bay Area 2018 proved not only to myself of my capabilities, but also how unique this organization is. It is purely about who the women are on the inside, and shows it is not in search for a cookie cutter type. It promotes diversity and individuality, and I am honored to be part of this organization. I hope to grow even more as a woman this year as Miss Bay Area 2018 and I cannot wait for the experiences I will gain.

I know now, that I am not just a five foot girl who only sees the top of her head in mirrors, but I am a confident and successful woman, and I owe that all to the Miss America Program.  

Get to know Anaheim with Miss Anaheim, JR Nessary

Growing up in Anaheim has been one of the best parts of my life! Being able to represent and serve my hometown is one of the greatest opportunities I have ever had. Anaheim is a kind, inviting, and special city! Come along with me, in my vlog, as I have the privilege of showing you around the best city, in the best state. We will see some special places that Miss Anaheim gets to visit, and some special people Miss Anaheim gets to work with, during her year of service. We will stop by some of the world famous stadiums, arenas, and even one very magical theme park, that are all located in the heart of Anaheim. The places I highlight are just a handful of the wonderful spots that are located in the city of Anaheim. I hope you enjoy this vlog as much as I enjoyed traveling through my city to film and showcase it!
Much love, from Anaheim,
J.R. Nessary
Miss Anaheim 2018

Miss Redwood City/San Mateo County- Writing My Own Path

2My summer break at eleven years old was for lazy days spent in my room, pouring through book after book.  While other kids ran around in the sun, I traveled to far off places and went on daring adventures, saving the town, or the kingdom, or the world. Unlike real life, reading books I was a magician, a princess, a mermaid, Miss America… I could be anything. And every few weeks, when the stories ran out, there was an even more magical place waiting for me: the public library. I went in empty handed and emerged with a stack of books as long as my tiny arms, filled with everything I grabbed off the shelves on our weekly visits to the library, and a few bonus ones thrown into the pile by a kindly librarian. One of those extra books was called The Kingdom Keepers, and while I liked the dozens of other books I brought home, Kingdom Keepers was the only book I fell in love with from the first page. Seven teens in the Disney parks after dark, fighting the Disney villains who’ve come to life and are trying to take over the parks? For a Disney nerd like me, it was everything I could dream of.  

1I devoured the first Kingdom Keepers book, and over the next few years I devoured the second, third, and fourth books too. I read each one over and over again until I could finally be at the bookstore first thing the morning the next book came out, impatiently waiting for the booksellers to open the boxes of shiny new copies. In a world of middle and then high school chaos, confusion, pressure, and loneliness, the Kingdom Keepers books became my sanctuary. No matter what was going on in the real world, I had seven best friends tucked away in the pages of these books, and so I read them over and over and over again.

In fact, I read them so many times that I began to notice inconsistencies in the story, hidden in the details. Characters walking through a door twice, room locations changing, etc., things that didn’t quite add up. Even more, there were little details in the Disney parks, like dining rooms with the wrong names or an audio-animatronic’s hairstyle that wasn’t right. Things that no one would notice or know were wrong unless they’d read the books dozens of times, and unless they spent their free time reading Disney blogs and history books. But I noticed.  

So, I did what any fangirl would do; I came up with a crazy idea. Throughout my entire summer between my sophomore and junior years of high school I post-it noted every inconsistency in the series. And when Ridley Pearson, the author of the Kingdom Keepers series came to Kepler’s Books, my local bookstore, I took my books to be signed, post-its and all. And when Ridley asked me what the sea of pink and blue tabs sticking out the sides of his books was about, I told him they were inconsistencies.

4In the plot twist of all plot twists, my favorite author’s reply wasn’t ‘Wow, rude’ but instead “Wow, I’ve been looking for someone to find these for me. I just got the fifth book back from the copy editor, could you read it for me and find all of these before it gets published?”

My eyes went almost as big as the ‘surprise’ emoji, and I managed to squeak out “I’d love to!” (And later I looked up what a ‘copy editor’ was).

I got the next book in my email inbox that night, the shiny new manuscript, the one that wouldn’t be published for another eight months, the one that everyone else in the fandom was just dying to read, and now I got to. If elation, shock, and excitement could kill you, I would’ve dropped dead right there.

That night, in a matter of hours, I went from average high school student to continuity editor, and then a researcher, brainstormer, events and social media assistant on a New York Times bestselling series. I ended up a manager for the Kingdom Keepers Insider website (kingdomkeepersinsider.com) and co-authored The Syndrome, a novella in the series. Ridley even wrote me into the 7th book as a character. I became a fictional character in my favorite book series! Suddenly, all my nerdiness and wasted time reading Kingdom Keepers and learning every detail about Disney was important.

More than that, for the first time in my life, something mattered. My work mattered. My opinion mattered. People actually wanted to hear my monologues about how the first audio-animatronics were invented for the Enchanted Tiki attraction after Walt Disney bought a mechanical bird on a trip to New Orleans, and that originally it was meant to be a dinner show, which is why to this day it’s the only attraction with a restroom. Knowing that the Disney Gallery is in the building that housed the Bank of America on opening day and the original vault is still there wasn’t a useless fact anymore, it was helping make my favorite books better.  For the first time in my life, I realized I had a voice.

3It changed everything for me. I became a writer, and went on to major in creative writing in college. I went from being a painfully shy kid to being comfortable talking to an assembly of school kids and chatting up thousands of people at book signings. I studied abroad in Buenos Aires and Shanghai. I interned at Shanghai Disney Imagineering. I found my way into a full-time job, at a tech company, of all places. Kingdom Keepers even gave me the confidence to start competing in the Miss America system four years later. Everything I have in my life now is because just one person (who happened to be the author of my favorite book series) showed me that I have a voice.

That’s why my platform, Guiding Girls to Write Their Own Path, is so important. Creative writing mentorship changed my life, and in working with organizations like WriteGirl, I’ve seen it change other girls’ lives too. WriteGirl pairs girls from underserved communities with mentors in creative writing fields, to help them not only learn to write well, but more importantly to find their voice. Serving as a mentor with WriteGirl, I’ve seen mentees go from shy kids to empowered women, ready to take on the world, go to college, and change their communities for the better. If women are going to change the world, we have to learn to speak up first. We have to find our voice.

But we don’t have to do it alone. We can pull each other up. Remind each other that we all have a voice. That we all have a story, and that story’s worth sharing.

After all, our voices are louder together.

 

Follow my year on Instagram at @missredwoodcity and @misssanmateocounty, and read more of my story at brooke.muschott.com

Miss Garden Grove- Where Sash Meets Science

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

Volunteering at USC-affiliated Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles

When I share that I am pursuing a career in medicine while wearing a sparkly accessory (albeit one that is perhaps not the most inconspicuous), I often get a few raised eyebrows. For some, it can be understandably difficult to reconcile the two and imagine how two seemingly different worlds could mesh together. But having traversed both paths, I can attest that the two worlds are inextricably linked and each arena compliments and enhances the other. Having gone from a complete outsider to now a staunch supporter of the mission and values of this organization, I can share firsthand the impact the Miss America Organization has made on me.

Sarah Bui Miss Garden Grove
The Miss America Organization is founded on four principles, also known as the “four points of the crown”: Service, Scholarship, Style, and Success. This multifaceted foundation enabled me to be a better public servant and has equipped me for a lifelong devotion to service in medicine. The medical vocation is most notably marked by a relentless commitment to advocating for others. I am most grateful to the Miss America Organization for allowing me the opportunity to do exactly that each and every day as Miss Garden Grove. Not only am I privileged to be a voice for my hometown at large, but I am also blessed to meet community members from all walks of life. From the precious kids at our Children’s Miracle Network hospitals to the devoted members of our Garden Grove community service groups, every child, parent, and public servant has shaped me by sharing their story. I met a woman who shared how the Pink Door Salon, our incredible local (and state!) sponsor, had changed her life by helping her heal and regrow her hair after experiencing alopecia areata symptoms. By taking the time to hear her journey and healing process, I better understood how we as healthcare providers can empathize with and advocate for our patients. Connecting with the Garden Grove community continues to mold my vision for what it means to serve, care, and advocate well both at the individual and community scale.

The very people that I am privileged to serve are the ones who have generously supported my academic journey and helped me to attain my Bachelors and Masters degrees from the University of Southern California in three years. In addition to awarding scholarships, this organization has given me the tools to help me hone my public speaking and communication skills in professional and diplomatic settings.

Steve Jones, the Mayor of Garden Grove, is also an USC alum!

Steve Jones, the Mayor of Garden Grove, is also an USC alum!

Success looks different to each individual. Personally, I experience success in investing and sowing into relationships – from my Garden Grove neighbors and friends, to the people I meet from all over the world. Each of us have the ability to sow into relationships and lift up those around us, with or without a title. That being said, it has been an honor to have a platform to mentor and empower the youth in my community, and to learn from those who have gone before me.

The past few years have remarkably transformed my outlook and vision of what it means to truly have a servant’s heart. I can’t wait to see what growth, challenges, and blessings lie ahead in this coming year.

 

 

Excited to share this journey with you all – join me on Facebook and Instagram at @missgardengrove to stay in touch!

 

Yours truly,

Sarah Bui

Miss Garden Grove 2018

Miss California’s Midwest Adventures

Despite the negative temperatures, I had such a wonderful time during my Midwest adventures! One of my highlights was definitely getting to spend time with Miss South Dakota. We had a great lunch and she treated me to my first macaroon ever. Then we just spent the rest of our day together hanging out! She showed me around the downtown area, took me to a Midwest coffee chain, and then ran some errands at the mall. I am forever thankful to the Miss America Organization for bringing these wonderful women to my life. The next day, I took a road trip to Minnesota and checked out the Mall of America. It was massive. Absolutely indescribable. I rode a few rides, my favorite being “Fly Over America,” and explored only a fraction of how much mall there is to explore. Come to find out, I missed seeing Miss America by a few hours! She was at the Mall of America that very morning! That was such a bummer! My last day, I planned to explore the falls, only to find them mostly frozen over. However, they were even more beautiful frozen than I can imagine they would be otherwise. All in all, it was a great trip. We’re pretty spoiled here in California, but the Midwest has a certain charm about it that makes it quite appealing.