Musings from home after my 2 week road trip

I traveled 4400 miles in 15 days, and crossed state lines 21 times. Only two of those states were new to me – New Jersey and West Virginia. I think I’ve been in 44 of the lower 48 states now.

My time on the road, driving, was about 80 hours. I slept on 2 couches and a day bed for free, 3 hotels, and 9 airbnb’s. I spent $2200, about half of that for lodging, around $400 for gas, the rest for food and miscellaneous. Not bad, really, I had budgeted $3000.

I feel overstuffed with travel, kind of like that overstuffed feeling you get after a Thanksgiving feast. You look forward to the meal, enjoy it immensely, and afterwards think you might not ever want to eat again. That’s kind of how I feel about travel right now. Stuffed. Not only did I take this trip, I spent two months in Chattanooga and two months in Carson City (for work) this year. I looked forward to it, enjoyed it, but right now, I don’t want to make any more travel plans!

The best food I ate was that prepared by my kids. The rest of the time I struggled to find anything that was really good. I ate in the car on the road for lunch quite a bit – leftover pizza, cookies, and apples. The apples I picked in Massachusetts saved my life, I think. I got a really bad pizza in Niagara Falls. I’ve learned to really dislike eating out. Yesterday at home was lovely. Oatmeal for breakfast, omelette with the eggs and veggies I was given in New York for lunch, and a delicious butternut squash soup made by my husband for dinner.

I’ve always wondered what it would be like to live other places, and staying in airbnb’s gives a tiny taste of that. They were mostly great, but a couple of the beds were like marshmallows. My favorite, I think, was the one near Goshen, NY with the fabulous patio.

Most places have keurig coffee makers.I really dislike that kind of coffee. I did bring my French Press and supplies, but water heated in the microwave for coffee just isn’t the same. I was glad for coffee shops.

In this not quite post pandemic world, masks are still a thing. In some places, all the signs were down, in others, masks are required. I pretty much wore my mask when I went inside anywhere. Why not? Even though I’ve been vaccinated, it certainly doesn’t hurt me or anyone else to wear a mask, and it could make a difference for someone.

I didn’t do anything “touristy”. Even when I went to Niagara Falls, I only paid for parking, and spent time in the public areas. I didn’t go to museums or other attractions, although I sometimes enjoy doing so. Sleeping in a different place every night and having those experiences was really what I wanted out of this trip, after seeing my kids of course!

So now, I will nest at home. I will enjoy cooking, crocheting, playing with the grandkids, embracing the uncertainty of life as it unfolds. I will start working full time again, after the first of the year. I plan to keep writing here, just not as often.

And, no doubt, at some point, I will be on the road again.

Road trip Day 14 – Through Tennessee, a corner of Georgia, sleeping in Alabama tonight.

I enjoyed the loft in Elizabethton, but the bed was like sleeping in a marshmallow. I packed and left early, found a coffee shop down the street, and hit the road. The mountains of Tennessee are really beautiful, but I didn’t stop to take pictures because I wanted to get to Chattanooga by lunchtime.

I did take a short detour and went to an antique store in Sweetwater. I bought a little figurine, but it is in my car and I didn’t take a picture of it. I liked these two displays:

I spent two months in Chattanooga earlier this year, for a contract job, and really enjoyed the old part of the city, the restaurants, and the parks. I would love to return for an extended period. It’s not the same, just passing through, but I went to my favorite haunt, Niedlov’s Bakery, and got some cookies. Being a Monday, and a holiday to boot, the place I wanted to get Italian food was closed, so I got a Mellow Mushroom pizza, knowing that it would be good, and I would have leftovers.

Then I got here. I am at a bed and breakfast called The Secret Lodge.It was built in 1965 and was considered a mansion at the time, with a rooftop pool. It is perched on top of a mountain in northern Alabama, and has the most gorgeous views. I’m just gonna put a bunch of pictures here.

I’ve got my pizza, a complementary glass of wine, and a gorgeous view. Perfect!

Road trip Day 6 – Ohio across Pennsylvania to New York

The rain that I drove through most of the day was a delicious, misty, soaking-the-earth type of rain. I relished it, remembering the monotony of the dry climate when I was in Carson City in the summer. I love rain (but not if it is torrrential while I’m driving!)

I slept soundly in the wonderful airbnb bed, and really wouldn’t have minded staying there longer!

Wonderful house with lovely people

But, I still have people to see! So I packed up my stuff, and got a delicious coffee and a fig scone at Rising Star Coffee roasters. I tried to eat it outside, but had competition from bees so had to make a run for it.

I then got my first glimpse of Lake Erie at the Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve – a really nice place to walk and reflect.

After that I drove east on Lakefront Road for a while, enjoying periodic views of the lake, and found a small park, perfect for a picnic lunch by the water.

Feeling satisfied, I got on Interstate 90, thinking I would make better time. That was horrible! So many 18 wheelers, and tons of traffic. So, when I got to Erie, PA, I got off that road and took Hwy 5 most of the way to Buffalo. My google map later told me I was very smart, because I was avoiding crashes on 90!

I was surprised to see acre after acre of lush vineyards between Lake Erie and the well-maintained two lane road I travelled on. Sometimes there were cornfields on the other side. I loved driving through the small towns, and looked enviously at the interesting homes with the Great Lake in their backyard. I wondered what it was like, waking every morning to that sight! I also wondered what it was like in the winter!

The rain got a little heavier, traffic in Buffalo was a mess, but I arrived in Niagara, happy to have another place to lay my head.

This guy was playing amazingly at the rest area/welcome center in Pennsylvania!

Tomorrow: The Falls!

Coffee in a college town

wp-1464611943472.jpegI’m sitting  here at Java Jack’s in Nacogdoches, drinking a latte and eating a vegetarian croissant. I always seem to find a good coffee shop wherever I am. This one is in a geodesic dome, has an upstairs and a really good vibe. Perfect for this college town.

I’m here to help my youngest daughter move. We spent yesterday going in and out, up and down. For her senior year she’s moving from a first floor two bedroom to a studio, which just happens to be up a hill and second floor. And it was HOT! My fitbit tells me I walked nearly 7 miles, and I feel it. It was a good workout, though!

We got everything out yesterday, so this morning, before I head back to H-town, will be spent in unpacking and putting away what we can. Inside in the air conditioning, so it won’t be a sweaty endeavor like yesterday. However, her new place is packed with boxes, and some of this stuff has got to go!

She has a lot of clothes and things she’s collected from her favorite hobby, thrift store shopping. I’m hoping we find her silverware and some food staples today, among other necessities.

This is an eye-opening experience for her- to see how much stuff one can accumulate in a short time. Since she plans to move to another city in a year, she has a directive from MOM (me).  1) Stop shopping! 2) every day put one or two items (or more) in a box to give away. Easy for me to say, I know. She’ll thank me, next year.

 

Iowa day 4 – going home, musings, and a little history

Today I head home. Rachel and Geoff left for church around 9:30, and I departed shortly afterward. The train that was passing when I left was a double decker, which stopped for a few minutes, then started backwards. I wonder what that was all about.

I decided that I couldn’t leave town without visiting Cafe Diem one more time. Their coffee is really good, and I wanted another waffle. It is a good place to hang out and write. I had originally thought to drive into Des Moines and find a coffee shop there, but the warm and friendly atmosphere here beckoned me to come inside.

After I ate my delicious waffle, I spent a little time browsing around looking at travel blogs, and all the ones I found are to exotic faraway places. My little trip to Ames pales in comparison in some respects, but I am of the opinion that everywhere is interesting. Here’s a little information about this quaint midwest city, from Wikipedia:

The city was founded in 1864 as a station stop on the Cedar Rapids and Missouri Railroad and was named after 19th century U.S. Congressman Oakes Ames of Massachusetts, who was influential in the building of the transcontinental railroad. Ames was founded by local resident Cynthia Olive Duff  and railroad magnate John Insley Blair,near a location that was deemed favorable for a railroad crossing of the Skunk River.

Ames is also the home of Iowa State University, whose campus takes up a major part of the city proper, and whose mascot can be found around town in various attire. This mirror mosaic version on Main Street is my favorite!

 

Writing while I wait in the Des Moines airport…

 I love to take back roads, when I have time, so I took the opportunity. Miles and miles and miles of newly planted cornfields flew past me. I marveled at the wide open spaces, and the big sky. Very mind clearing and heart opening. Along the way, I got a phone call that my flight was delayed 45 min. So I got here with time to spare, still feeling pretty relaxed.
Announcement overhead: They need 12 volunteers to check their carry on bags or they will check boarding group 4’s bags. I’m in boarding group 4, and I want to hang on to my bag! If I didn’t have a connection I’d check it, but I don’t trust the airline to care about my stuff and get it moved to the right plane.
Another announcement: The flight is overbooked and they need 6 volunteers to take a later flight. Are you kidding me? Does this happen all the time? Seems crazy to me. What do they do if no one volunteers? Draw straws?
Now at Dallas Fort Worth Airport….
No rushing this time. Google just notified me that my connecting flight is delayed 2 hours!!

Obviously, I made it onto the plane and they didn’t confiscate my bag. I was imagining myself wrestling someone over it, and am very glad that fantasy didn’t come to pass! I had a window seat this time, so I got to see the farmland from the air, and later the beautiful changing clouds as we flew above them. I was very hungry when I got here, glad for some time to rest and recoup. I got a veggie burger at a place called UFood Grill. It had to be the worst veggie burger ever. I only ate a few bites, but the baked potato fries were a little better, so I ate enough of them to ease my hunger pangs. Airport food, yuk. By this time I was feeling very imbalanced, shaky, and tired.

So I decided to sit right there in the middle of the busy airport and meditate. I wrapped my silk shawl around me (I had read that silk can keep negative energy away), put one hand on my suitcase, closed my eyes, and went inward. It was an interesting endeavor, and 20 minutes later I opened my eyes feeling more grounded and alert.
Checking google on my phone, I found that my flight is delayed even more, not leaving here until 10:12 pm, arriving in Houston at 11:30. Then I have to get my car, and drive the 30 min home.
I again observe the people around me. Young, old, all shapes and sizes, some rushing frantically to catch their next flight, others taking their time, or just sitting. People on their phones. I wonder about their stories. I see a team of adolescent girls all dressed alike, most likely returning home from a tournament . There are couples, friends, family groups, lone travelers like me. Some are traveling for a happy visit, or a wedding, some for a funeral. This is an international airport, so I see a diverse crowd and hear snatches of different languages.

The masses of humanity are everywhere. Tomorrow I return to work, to the patients and coworkers who are a part of it all too. Everywhere there is life, hope, and heartbreak. I am glad to be on this journey, one soul touching other souls.

Epilogue:
The plane didn’t take off from Dallas until midnight. Delay after delay until I was too tired to care, or write, or even sleep. I finally got home to my sweetie at 2 am! I am very glad I made this trip, and reconnected with my daughter. It’s been a long time since we had one on one time.