The Trip…continued

One thing I was going to mention on my last post but forgot was our fellow motel patrons in Winslow.  When we came in we noticed we were sharing our motel with a busload of about a dozen Japanese tourists.  The were mostly middle-aged, camera wielding, high-water pants and buttoned up plaid shirts types, so, your standard Japanese tourist.  About 9 o’clock I could hear them out in the parking lot laughing.  They were all out there dancing Gangnam style…yep, right in the front of the motel.  I’m not sure why, but I’m happy they were enjoying their time in the US.

In the last couple days we’ve been to the Grand Canyon, did the standard husband gripping the rocks as if he’s falling into the canyon photos and the usual.  We also met a couple guys who live in the town next to ours in Texas.  They were making paper airplanes and trying to send them down the canyon.  It’s Texans, y’all.

Currently, we’re in Pagosa Springs, Co.  We are a bit traveled out, so we decided to spend 2 nights here.  It’s a pretty town up in the mountains and we spend our day walking down some of the wonderful trails they have through the town and surrounding area.  It’s also got quite a few hot springs, so some parts of the town smell like someone is boiling eggs all the time.  But that’s not the only smell around here.  Our motel proudly boasts on it’s marquee that it’s “420 Friendly” …very friendly.  If I breathe deeply enough in the hallway, I get a buzz going.  This is a very happy place to hang out, everyone has a smile on their face and eats lots of junk food.

We also went to 4 corners, what a tourist trap.  We were already expecting that when we decided to go there and laughed at ourselves for going to such a dorky place.  To add to it, they charge you $5 a person just to go in there and stand on the 4 corners spot and run the gauntlet of tourists shops.  We actually had to stand in line to take our pictures, fortunately, it wasn’t a long line and our fellow line standers were all having fun thinking up innovative ways to get their picture taken at the center spot.

I think watching other people is more fun the doing the actual tourist stuff.  The Grand Canyon was full of people from different areas of the US and all over the world.  I didn’t even recognize some of the languages that I heard.  I DID understand the one mother yelling at her kid…first for digging in the dirt, then for picking up stuff off the ground (he was doing neither, he was messing with his shoe), she topped it off by yelling “will you just sit there and look at the canyon!”   I had to leave so I could have a good laugh.  People are so ridiculous.

THE TRIP

I figured I’d better write down the details of our big trip down here before I forget everything.

Day 1  We started out on Saturday morning, June 2nd from Houston.  It was our big driving day, going from Houston west as far as possible before we got sick of driving and sick of each other.  We made it to Van Horn, a tiny little town about an hour east of El Paso.  The day was fairly uneventful, just driving, except for the part when we thought we had enough gas to get us to the next town, then we weren’t quite so sure we had enough gas to get us to the next town.  If you’ve never driving across the middle of Texas before let me tell you, there’s a whole lot of nothing between San Antonio and the western border, including gas stations.  The southwest isn’t like other places where you see a gas station every 10 miles or so.  We held our breath for about 20 miles before we gratefully pulled into a tiny little gas station and filled our tank.

Day 2  Sunday morning we started out and only got a couple miles down the highway when we noticed that the right front tire on the car was vibrating badly.  We turned around and headed back to Van Horn to see if we could get someone to look at it.  Being Sunday morning in a tiny little town, there wasn’t anything open, but we lucked out and found a guy working on a semi outside a small little repair shop.  The only reason he was there was because he got called in by the semi, but we happened to come by just as he was finishing up and get got him to look at our car as well.  Turns out both our tires were bad and needed to be replaced and fortunately, the guy had 2 of the right sized ones in his shop.  Lady luck was smiling once again.  We headed off down the road to start exploring New Mexico.  Like Texas, New Mexico has a whole lot of nothing.  Also like Texas, we were not paying attention to the gas gauge again and all of a sudden the low fuel light bings on.  Fortunately we’d just passed a town about 10 miles back, so we turned around and very conservatively drove back to what appeared to be the only gas station in a 50 mile radius.  I kid you not, after leaving that town, the next town/gas station was 56 miles away.  Can you imagine if we’d run out of gas in the middle of that?  We’re keeping a much closer eye on the gas gauge now.  I think what it is is that I always check the gas gauge when I get in the car to start driving, but when you drive for 2-3 hours at a stretch, you tend to forget to keep an eye on the gas level.

Cool things we saw while driving through the New Mexico desert.  We were driving along and saw what looked like a long skinny brown plume of smoke in the sky.  It went up at least 150 feet in the air.  We watched it for a long time trying to figure out where the fire was and why it kept moving, then realized that it was a really long tall dirt devil.  It crossed the road in front of us and watched it spin the dirt as it continued along.  Further along down the road we also went through a little dust storm, then got caught in a massive New Mexico cloud burst outside Albuquerque.  Though we didn’t see it, I guess they got quarter sized hail and everything.

Which brings us to today, Day 3.  We spend the night in Albuquerque and today went to see the space ship house.  It’s just a privately owned home in the city that looks like a steam punk space ship.  It’s incredibly awesome and a minor tourist attraction.  I would love living in the house, but I don’t think I’d be keen on people stopping by and taking pictures of my house all the time.

After the space ship house we went to Old Town Albuquerque.  It has a lot of little shops, mostly jewelry, pottery, beaded stuff and woven blankets, typical tourist stuff.  I’m not much of a shopper, so we just wandered around looking at different stuff.  We did go to the candy store that made the rock candy that they used as meth in the tv show Breaking Bad.

From there we went to Pueblo Montona park.  It’s a big hiking trail, but we didn’t go for the hiking.  Apparently, a fire swept through the park a while ago and burnt up many of the cottonwood trees, leaving tall burned stumps.  One of the firemen went back to the park and used a chainsaw to make beautiful carvings out of the burnt trees.  The detail and work on it was incredible.  That was our last stop Albuquerque.  From there we headed to Gallup New Mexico.  We stopped by Red Rock park, it’s surrounded by beautiful red cliffs and even had a rodeo area snugged in a area with red rock hills around it.’

Tonight, Monday, we are staying in Winslow Arizona, of Eagles “Take it Easy” fame.  Yep we stood on the corner in Winslow Arizona, just like Glen Frye sang about.  There’s a Standing On a Corner park in the downtown area with a couple statues, a big mural on the wall behind them picturing a pretty young girl driving a flatbed Ford with the words Winslow Arizona across the top.  Also parked on the street on the corner is a real life Flat Bed Ford.  How cool is that?  There was a constant stream of people there to get there picture taken there.  How crazy is that to have that be a towns claim to fame?   Life is awesome!

Tomorrow, the Grand Canyon…hopefully.  There are wildfires in the area and some highway closings, including the one that’s supposed to take us to the canyon.  We’ll see what tomorrow brings.

Let’s Make A Deal

After seeing on the news the mental decline of Nancy Pelosi, I expressed to my daughter how sad it was that there were supposedly people who cared about her, yet still propped her up in front of a microphone to let her stumble around mentally in front of a huge audience on a regular basis.  I told my daughter that I was making it her responsiblity that if I would start losing my mental facilities to make sure that I was put someplace safe away from that kind of humiliation.  She told me that she would, as long as I did something for her.  I guess my only way to protect myself from public humiliation during dementia is if I agree to inform her if her kids are ugly.

Medical Miracles

My oldest daughter needed a medical procedure done that required she go under general anesthesia.   I went with her so I could drive her home afterwards (more on why I shouldn’t be trusted to drive later).  She was only under for about 10 minutes and I was by her side as she woke up.  The nurse shook her awake, she opened her eyes and immediately started speaking in Spanish.  I haven’t a clue what she said because I’m monolingual.  I gave her a weird look and asked why she was speaking Spanish.  Her reply, “I always speak Spanish when I’m drunk.”  Now, who can argue with a statement like that.  Eventually the story came out.  Apparently, the first time she ever got drunk was in Uruguay after being told that you speak Spanish better when you’re drunk…also, if you’re drunk in a Spanish speaking country, it’s real handy to use the language so you can eventually get your drunken self back to your hostel.  I guess this just became a habit with her and she now speaks Spanish when she’s drunk.  She explained that since she lived in Houston, she had probably a 50/50 chance that whoever she was talking to spoke Spanish anyway, so it all worked out.

While coming out of the anesthetic she was also fixated on Michael Jackson, how long she’d actually been awake and assured me that she’d be able to drive home.  I drove.

On Tuesday we bought a ‘new to us’ car.  It’s 10 years old, but looks nice, runs fine, etc.  Thursday morning I had to take hubs to the airport.  We left home about 3:45am and after having some issues at the airport, I was back on the road and headed home a little before 5 am.  This was my first time driving home alone from the airport, but I was confident I knew where I was going.  The problem was it was dark and rainy, and my night vision isn’t very good, especially when it’s raining.  I was wearing my glasses, but they didn’t help me see the curb that divided the service road from the onramp of the beltway.  Yep, I hit that baby probably going about 45-50 and managed to dent both wheels on the right side of the car.  We had some issues getting it insured, so after being assured that our insurance would cover any new vehicle we bought for the first 30 days, I thought I’d be fine calling our insurance and requesting roadside assistance.  Turns out that while our car is INSURED for 30 days after purchase, the roadside assistance feature is only good for the specific car it’s purchased under.  So, I ended up with a $125 tow truck ride home.  On the plus side, the driver of the truck was really nice and we had a nice chat in the half hour it took to get me home and also, the name of his company was Tow Jam Towing.  You can’t be too sorry to contribute money to a company with a name like that.  I had to get 2 new rims, which ended up being another plus, because after calling around I found a auto repair place that seems really trustworthy only about a half mile from our house.  When live gives you lemons, you gotta find the lemonade people.

Nigerian Scammer

We’re currently car shopping, which is really difficult when you don’t have a car.  We have to keep borrowing our girls cars so we can go check out possible prospects.  It’s been a pretty trying experience.  We drove about a half hour away to go look at the first one, we found it in the parking lot, the seller hadn’t shown up yet so we were just looking in the windows.  The inside we full of garbage.  Like he’d been eating at fast food restaurants every meal for the last 2 weeks then threw the junk in the car.  The fast food wrappers and pop bottles were bad enough, but there was a pee cup in the back seat.  Yeah, I know.  We texted the guy and told him we weren’t interested and he couldn’t figure out why.  We also drove 20 minutes to see this Cadillac the guy was really talking up in the ad.  He owned a car repair shop, this was his wife’s car and he took care of it well, the price was non-negotiable, blah blah blah.  During the test drive we smelled oil and when we got back hubs checked out the car while I looked at the spot where the car had been parked and saw a big oil stain on the ground.  Told him we weren’t interested and he asked why and we told him it leaked oil.  He proceeded to argue with us claiming it didn’t leak oil.  Uh…we SAW the oil on the ground and smelled it burning on the engine, but he still claimed it wasn’t leaking.  I don’t know why he kept pushing it, like we’ll say, “oh, you’re saying it DOESN’T leak oil?  Well then we’ll turn right around, come back and buy it!”  Another car we looked it looked pretty good, until we checked the dipstick and there wasn’t a drop of oil on it.  Car shopping is pretty traumatic.

But, today we finally got a car.  We bought it from a dealer.  The guy was really nice and polite.  He was originally from Nigeria, so of course, Nigerian scammer jokes were tossed back and forth by all of us.  For the record, we don’t feel scammed, even though we call it our Nigeria Scammer Car, and are planning on sending more people his way if we meet anyone looking for a car.

We also went with the girls to a special Princess Bride showing at a theater.  It was great, we all got inflatable swords so we could duel during the movie, bells to ring whenever there was gross kissing or true love mentioned and bubbles to blow at the happy ending.  It was fun going to the movie with a bunch of other fans.  We were all quoting lines along with the characters, cheering when our faves came onscreen and booing and hissing whenever Prince Humperdink showed up.  Definitely a good time.

I went to see The Greatest Showman last night with my daughter.  Wow, what a great movie, and a musical to boot!  I love old musicals from the 40’s and 50’s and it’s always nice to see a  modern day one come out and be successful.  We were actually talking about this with the women sitting behind us after the movie was over.  Trying to name successful recent musicals.  We got Phantom of the Opera, Grease, we kind of included Dirty Dancing, though that was a dance movie, not a musical.  Anyway, I highly recommend The Greatest Showman, the music was awesome, the choreography incredible and the story wonderful, though I’m sure not so historically accurate, but that’s to be expected in musicals.  You go for the entertainment, not a history lesson.

For the last 3 years, my siblings and I have done a siblings day out.  We take turns choosing what to do.  My two sisters, who are more alike, chose the 1st one, Six Flags and last years, a day running around downtown Chicago.  My brother and I chose the Museum of Science and Industry when it was our turn, and this year it’s our turn again.  I suggested kayaking down the Milwaukee river.  When I think of kayaking, I usually think of rushing water and wilderness, but this trip is a leisurely paddle through downtown Milwaukee.  My husband and kids have all done it and enjoyed it, so I thought it would be something fun and different for the 4 of us.  We’re not particularly athletic, but hubs and I went ocean kayaking a couple weeks ago and I handled the paddling part rather well, and paddling a river is easier than fighting waves in the ocean.  At least I’m hoping it’ll work that way.  Because even though I had a pretty easy time paddling and enjoyed being so close to the dolphins (we were surrounded by about 50 of them, close enough to hear the air hole noise when they surfaced ) I did end up getting seasick.  But I think it was a combination of accidentally swallowing some saltwater mixed with the higher waves of the ocean.  Nevertheless, my egg McMuffin went back to the ocean from which it came…or whatever.  I just called it feeding the fishes.  I put the idea out to the siblings, my brother is onboard, which is the main one, since the sisters pretty much have to go with our plan when it’s our year to choose.

settled in finally

We’re back in Texas…well I am.  Hubs was for a day, then jumped on a plane for Chile with our oldest daughter.  They’re now exploring the sights of Santiago.

Between leaving the Big Island and getting to Houston, we spent a couple days on Kauai.  What a beautiful island!  I’d never been there before and thoroughly enjoyed my visit.  It’s the oldest of Hawaii’s islands, so there is much more in the way of vegetation, and the dirt is red instead of the black we’ve got over in Kona…when we’ve got dirt, mostly it’s just lava rock.  The island is totally overrun with chickens, which is a huge plus for me because I’m kind of partial to chickens.  I like watching them scratch and peck around and I really love listening to mama hens talk to their chicks.  Some people are dog people and some are cat folks, I guess I’m a chicken person.  They’re like pets you can eat!  Win-win…except for the chickens I guess.  We’ve got wild chickens in Kona, but because we’ve also got mongooses (mongeese?), who eat eggs and baby chickens, the chicken population is kept a little more in check.  In Kauai, they’re everywhere.

It’s jacket weather here in Texas, at least it is if you’ve spent the last 5 months in Hawaii.  I’ve been enjoying the cooler temps and had fun digging around in the dirt in the beds around the house, pulling out last summers vegetation and pulling the weeds that are poking their heads out.  I do love working in gardens and have missed it the last year.

The Lion Sleeps Tonight

We’ve moved from our downtown condo to a little shack in the jungle.  We’re surrounded by fruit trees and bush.  It’s a huge difference from the last 2 months.  Hubs likes listening to the waves, which is fine for awhile, but I prefer the sound of the wind in the leaves and frogs.  It’s a bit cooler here too, so I’m sleeping really good.  Of course, there are downsides to staying here, if you look at them that way.  We prefer to make it a game, such as “what kind of animal do you think it is crawling on the roof now?”, that’s a common evening game.  It can get pretty noisy here at night.  Another disadvantage, at night anyway, is that the bathroom is outside.  It’s not an outhouse, it’s just that the toilet and shower are in a patio kind of area out behind the shack.  It’s very private, so it’s not like you feel exposed or anything, but after playing the creature on the roof game for awhile, I really am hesitant to head outside to the bathroom.  But it’s surprisingly freeing to take a shower outside, though if you take too long, I guess you run the risk of getting a sunburn on places where literally the sun doesn’t usually shine.

Hubs likes his fresh juice in the morning, and it doesn’t get any fresher than here.  He goes out in the morning and gathers enough oranges, lemons and tangelos to juice up and boom, there you go.  We’ve also got all the avocados we can eat.  We’ve just got to look out for the coconut tree outside the cabin, those coconuts look like they could fall off at any time and I, for one, don’t want to meet my maker by being bonked on the head by a coconut.  I’d just feel too much like Gilligan.

Well, that was interesting

So I’m sitting in my living room this morning, drinking my coffee and eating my bagel when my phone starts screeching.  I look at it to see that ballistic missiles are heading to Hawaii and that this is NOT A DRILL. Okay, that’s strange.

My first response was to call my husband, who was working at the time and tell him.  He asked what were we supposed to do about it.  Well, if we’ve got nuclear missiles coming at us, I don’t think there’s a whole lot we can do to protect ourselves, and I said as much.  He felt the same way.  Said he loved me and then we got off the phone and he went back to work because if the missile didn’t actually hit us, that work still needed to be done.

I realized I was still in my pajamas and didn’t think it would be very dignified to die that way, so I  switched on the tv to hear what they had to say while I went to get dressed and comb my hair.  We don’t actually have much for tv reception here in our condo, I’m not sure why, but we don’t watch it anyway, so it was never really an issue.  So the only station I could get was a Spanish speaking station that had a voice-over in English saying that there was a missile threat and we should take cover.  I don’t know how much good that English message was for the Spanish speaking people watching their station, but at least I knew what they were saying.  I talked to the neighbors about it, said it was nice knowing them, then went back inside to see what I could find out.

I checked the Hawaii Civil Defense website, which are the people who sent out the warning in the first place, and they didn’t have a single word about the warning.  Finally, after Googling Hawaii Ballistic Missile, I found a private persons Twitter feed saying it was a mistake.  So I went to tell the neighbors that things were good.  Five minutes later CNN got around to telling us we were fine.  All the news reports said that 37 minutes after the warning the state sent a retraction, but I didn’t get a retraction until over an hour after the original message.  Then I read that the Governor sent out a Tweet 10 minutes after the warning saying it was a mistake.  First of all, I don’t have Twitter and second of all, if I did, checking my Twitterfeed would be pretty far down my list of things to do if a bomb was coming my way.  The incompetence of this whole thing was overwhelming.

But, I now know what I will do when facing death in the eye.  I will change out of my pajamas and comb my hair.  I’m reading reports about people freaking out, some friends of ours were hiding out in a room in their house with their 7 kids.  Funny thing was, it never occured to me to be scared.  I didn’t freak out and considered for a moment calling my kids to tell them I loved them, but didn’t because it sounded so melodramatic and dorky.  They know I love them.  Does this mean I’m good in a crisis because I keep my cool, or bad because I did absolutely nothing?

Breakfast Concert

I could hear music this morning while I was eating my breakfast, so I peeked over the railing to see what was going on, and this is what I saw:

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We had some magical music made on the wall right across the road from us.  Weaver, one of the homeless guys was playing a ukulele while another guy I never got around to naming was beating a rhythm on the wall with a couple of sticks.  They weren’t quite up to the quality of the guy who was playing guitar, harmonica and singing who was there last week, but it was a pleasant way to have breakfast.

After that, I ran a few errands and stopped at the grocery store.  We’re here for 5 more breakfasts, so I bought a package of bagels to get me through the rest of the week.  But, on the way home, I gave one of them to one of the random Vietnam Vets sitting on the wall by McDonalds.  I figured I was down one bagel now, so one morning I’d have to improvise with something else for breakfast.  But, when I got home, it turns out that the 5-pack of bagels I thought I bought was actually a 6-pack, so I’m still good for breakfast for the rest of the week.  How about that??  I kind of felt like one of the Disciples who feed 5000 people with a couple loaves of bread, they’d reach in the basket and give someone the last loaf, then reach in again only to find another one.  Heck, I wonder if I could have passed out bagels to everyone??  Wouldn’t that be cool?