Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Back to the day to day

Back home for a week and back into the day to day routine.  It's a bit different, as at this point I'm the only one not working. (At least for now). My gainful employment doesn't start for another 5 weeks. So I'm cheif cook and bottle washer for now.  I really don't mind, and actually enjoy taking care of BFB and GFB.  I like cooking and I'm doing a fair bit of it.  Nothing impressive, but tasty nonetheless.  
I also started the process for my newest volunteer gig.  Going to spend some time at Kansas City Hospice.  Interviewed today and saw the facility, which is fantastic.  Paperwork and the like is in progress.  Love taking care of things at home, but need to talk to other people, and get out of the house too.  I'd like to make some friends too.  Because since I've been here, I really haven't had the opportunity to make any.  

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Adventure day #11

Day 11 starts before sunrise.  I have quite a way to go in total today, and want to get an early start.  Today is Sans Dunes National Park.  Also want to be early, because apparently the sand can get pretty hot. The views there were fantastic.  I made the mile and a half hike to the top of the first large dune.  Took me 2 hours.  Sand is tough to walk uphill in!
Next stop, Colorado Springs and Pikes Peak.  I had no reservation for the cog rail that goes to the top and figured I'd be waiting till the next day, which was fine, because I had a hotel room for the night. Surprise, but they can get me on the next train.  Boards in 30 minutes.   Score.  Made the very long ride to the top.  Where we get to stay for all of 30 minutes before going back.  Took some pics, peed, bought a t shirt.  Back on the train for the ride back.  Didn't notice the altitude so much as I did in Flagstaff, but I am now exhausted.  Back to the hotel, and a call to have pizza delivered.
Ate an entire small pizza from dominos.  They have gluten free crust, and they deliver. Both make me happy. After dinner a shower and bedtime.  It was 7 pm.  Fast forward to 10 pm.  Wide awake.... Definitely not going back to sleep.  It was in this moment tgat I came to the realization that the only place I wanted to go now, was home.  I wanted my own bed, and familiar smells, GFB and frank.  And BFB snoring in my ear.
So, I checked out of the hotel.  The clerk was the same one who checked me in.  Gave me a strange look.  Started driving. Google says it's 9 hrs.  I can do this.  And I'll surprise everyone.  GFB will have already gone to work, but BFB should be in bed, as he's working tonite.  Around 530 when I start getting my good morning texts from GFB, I realize that it's a nice idea to surprise BFB, but as we own guns, and they're easily accessible, perhaps I shouldn't be sneaking into the house and into without warning him.
I do this, and he is still surprised.  Home at 830 am, and right into bed.  
Yep.  This is my place. The only place I want.  I belong right here.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Adventure update days 6-10

Yellowstone was absolutely amazing.  The place is huge.  The thermal features , pools and geysers were fantastic and I got some good pics. (Sorry I'm not posting them, I have a serious lack of ambition and it's all I can do to write this!) I stayed there the entire day, from 8 am till 1030 pm.  I saw Old faithful at 840 pm, the last time to view before it got too dark to see.  And I showed up just a few minutes before the eruption, so I didn't even have to wait long! 
I know many foreigners say that americans are rude, and I tend to agree, however the foreigners aren't any better.  walking 3 abreast and not leaving room for others to go around, and being generally obtrusive.  But the Americans were doing the same thing.  My biggest gripe is with people whose children are obnoxious loud and whiny.  The park is very serene and quiet, and more than once
(and more than once by the same child) my serene walks and communing with nature were interrupted by the shrieks of an out of control child. 
OK.  I'm off my soapbox now. 
Night 6 was spent in my car at a roadside picnic area in Gardnier Montana.  It was too late to get a room, too expensive, and I was too damn tired. It was almost freezing overnight, and only 42 degrees since I woke up. 
My plan for day #7 was to meander down to southern Colorado to do Mesa Verde before heading east across Colorado the next day.  I realized when planning this trip that southwestern Colorado would place me roughly 5 hours from my bestie in Flagstaff.  After realizing that she likely wasn't on call (I can't really say what she does... but lets say she works for an agency with a 3 letter acronym and carries a gun to work while dealing with bad guys).  So I decided to take the most direct route to Flagstaff, via Utah.  Needless to say it was a very long drive.  I arrived around 330 am Flagstaff time.  Which is weird time as that part of Arizona does not observe Daylight Savings time.  And neither does part of Utah.  so I went in and out of areas that did observe it.  The time on my phone flipped back and forth several times on the journey.  Very Strange.  I was also very tired.  I stopped about 2 hours from her to get gas. I was apparently on the Indian Reservation.  She meant to tell me not to stop there in the dark.  She forgot.  Some Tall Large Native man attempted to sell me drugs.  Aggressively attempted to sell me drugs.  The fact that I had possession of a particular "Item" was apparently enough to make the gentleman decide that "No" really meant "Get the hell away from me right now I don't want your f#%king drugs a$$&@le!"  About 40 minutes after this incident I was just too tired to drive anymore.  There was not any real place to stop, so I pulled over in a small roadside pull off to nap for an hour.  Needless to say I slept with my "Item" in my lap.
Finally I arrived at besties house, had a drink and a nap.  We had a fantastic time
Saturday night and Sunday night.  Saturday night involved alcohol.  I did not take into appropriate consideration that the elevation might affect my alcohol absorption.  I ended up a bit more buzzed than intended.  Oops!
Left this morning.  Day #10.  Tried to stop at Mesa Verde to see the cliff dwellings, but it was monsooning at the time, so I made a brief potty stop and meandered my way east through Colorado.  I am now stopped about an hour from Sand Dunes National park, which is my first intended stop tomorrow.  I am now in a cheap, but not too sketchy motelish type place kinda off the beaten path.
The plan for now is to watch a bit of tv, have a snack, and then go to bed.  My "Item" will be easily available.  The place isn't really sketchy, but... It'll make me feel better all the same.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Adventure Day #5

Today was a very long day.  Glad I slept in.  Got up at 0730, and showered and was on the road by 0815.  First Stop.... STURGIS.  Yes, I know, Crazy.  It was extremely crowded, which I usually hate, and it took me 10 minutes to find anywhere to park.  Walked down Main Street.... completely in awe of the sheer number and types of bikes.  It defies imagination.  I really wasn't looking for anything in particular, just wanted the "Sturgis Experience".  Or at least however much of the experience I can get without a motorcycle!  During the day, its actually pretty tame.  I get the impression that after dark.. it gets a bit more wild.  I've been meaning to expand my Angel Tattoo to include "Gpa" under the "Gma" that's already there.  What better place to get tatted?  So I got a tattoo at Sturgis!

Second stop of the day... Devils Tower, Wyoming.  Awe inspiring and impressive.  I could see it for miles in the distance before actually getting there.  And the first glimpse I got of it coming over a rise in the road....  I immediately started to hear the tones from "Close Encounters of the Third Kind".  After I posted a pic on FB, BFB was nice enough to include that via post from youtube.  Thanks B!
Side note, I was NOT abducted or probed, and I will not be playing in my mashed potatoes!

After that I made the very long, long, long trip toward Yellowstone.  It was a very long drive.  But that being said...  The drive was phenomenal.  Indescribably beautiful.  By far the most amazing part of my trip so far.  The rock formations in the Black Hills were towering, and very impressive.  You never knew what you were going to see around the next turn.  The road was twisty, windy, steep, narrow, and sooooo fun to drive.  I would've given damn near anything to have been on the back of a bike, and able to just watch all the scenery go by.  I feel like I missed a lot, and couldn't properly appreciate it, because I had to drive.  I feel really bad for everyone who was stuck behind me with no passing zone in sight.  I'm sorry, but I'm not likely to ever see this again, I want to see as much and appreciate as much as I can!  I stopped lots of spots to take pictures, but I wanted to stop all the time.  If I'd done that I'd never get anywhere.  So many of the great spots are just memories in my head.
From there I went through The Bighorn National Forest's southern edge.  The forest here was spectacularly primordial.  It was so beautiful and quiet and unspoiled and pure.  The sky looked more Blue, the air smelled clean like the pines.  I could've stayed forever.  Then I came out of the forest and over the hill, and the landscape was dramatically different.  It was dry, arid, and almost desert like with bluffs, and buttes, and scraggly brush, and rolling hills, sky you could see for miles and miles, and mountains in the distance.  And then the long desolate stretches of road, with nary a town, or building for tens of miles.  I had the radio off for most of my drive, and didn't really miss it.

Tomorrow, Yellowstone.

Adventure day #4

Addendum for last night...
It stormed for hours. Lots of thunder and lightening.  Add that to the tick I found in the tent, and I didn't sleep fantastically.

Woke up at 6 to rain.  According to my trusty weather app..the rain would be stopping around 7.  Back to sleep for me.  Up again at 715.

Packed up the tent.  Shoved it unfolded in its bag.  It was wet and needed to be propetly dried and folded. Not happening this morning.  Maybe later.  Really didn't want to sleep in it again wet.

First stop, Gas.  Where my coffee was free when I got gas.  Nice start to my day, and good coffee at that.

Now across into South Dakota.  Much better roads immediately.  Iowa and Nebraska have some crappy roads.  
Stopped at The Corn Palace in Mitchell.  There was renovation of the actual structure going on, so it wasn't all covered in corn.  So needless to say I was not impressed.  But it was the first major town I'd seen in 2 days.  Walmart, Walgreens and a Mc Donald's all in the same place.
On the highway to Wall, and famous Wall Drug.  I don't even have words to describe it, but anyone who's driven on I 95 on the east coast... I liken it to South of The Border.  But better.  Way more atmosphere, nicer shops.  But sadly... No flying sombrero ride.  They even had the signs along the road for over 100 miles.  And there were bikes galore in town on the way to Sturgis.
I got a free bumper sticker.
I also made a hotel reservation for later from here.  I knew I was gonna end up near Sturgis... And this week is "the" Sturgis week. Hotel acquired in Keystone.  So on I drive.
Keystone.... Also packed with bikes.  But kinda cool.  Because of the time change, I had time.... I was early enough to go hit Mount Rushmore.  It's faces carved in the rock.  Huge.  Strange.  Really.
Then onto the hotel.  Which is decent.  More expensive than I wanted, but when it's Sturgis, and you book same day... I think it's fine.  Dinner acquired, back to he hotel after driving through torrential rain, sitting at a rest area with about 200 bikers waiting for said rain to lessen, for over an hour.  Walk into town, less than a block... Bought some t-shirts, and back to the hotel to do my laundry (free!!) and dry out my tent with my room airconditioner!  Now time for bed.  

Monday, August 4, 2014

Adventure day# 3

Up and out of Clear Lake early.  First stop was the memorial at the crash site where Buddy Holly was killed in 1959.

Today was mostly a driving day.  However I did manage to stop and see the worlds largest popcorn ball along the way.  

Tried to see the Castles in Ida Grove, but I had zero cell service, no google maps, and had no idea where to find them.  I realize that I could have just stopped into any open business and asked for directions, and I probably should have.  But I was feeling a bit off today, irrationally anxious.... Although I have no legit reason as to why.  I just didn't feel like interacting with people.  So I went along on my way.
GFB texted and made me feel a bit better, and not so anxious, but the feeling persisted.
Needless to say I was very happy to get to camp tonight.  Google maps gets a big fat booo over its directions to said campsite.  It led me seriously astray.  Like onto stone/dirt roads into nowhere. 
While retracing my route, I randomly passed a sign for the state park.  Otherwise I might still be driving.  

The tent sites here are seriously isolated. From eachother and everything else.  There are 16 tent sites on a 3 mile loop.  And my site is so far off the road and downhill I can't see the parking area or the road from my site.

If I didn't have other places to go, I'd consider staying here another night. It's really picturesque, and pretty.  

Adventure day #2

Started the day early.  Like 0545 early.  Woke up to a very wet tent.  Not inside, but soaked on the outside.  It didn't rain, but the fog on the bluff was thick enough to cut with a knife.  
Packed up camp and was on the go by 630.  Went to town for breakfast, and say with a very nice group of seniors at the local diner.  Finished my to go coffee while looking at this.
Not a bad way to start the morning.  

Drove into Dubuque, and got a good look at the Mississippi.
Didn't ride the train at Fenlon place.  I just drove to the top. Not particularly impressive.
Next stop... McGregor and the first Pikes Peak state park.  Fantastic views!
On to Effigy Mounds state park, where there's a bunch of lumpy mounds that aren't really much to look at from the ground.  And the hike to the point was all uphill.  Very glad it wasn't blisteringly hot out.  But it was a pretty walk.
This little guy was nice enough to pose for a photo.

Back in the card or the short drive to Decorah, and the Ice Cave.  It really is frozen in the summer!  Cold enough inside to see my breath in the air, and you could feel the cold air coming out of the cave before you got to the entrance.  I only went in as far as you could go standing up.  I could've gone farther if I was willing to crawl through a tiny tunnel, apparently it opens up again into a larger cave with more spectacular ice.... But I wasn't willing to crawl an unknown distance in the pitch dark. (The entire cave is dark, but I had a small headlamp)
For those of you who know me well, you know I don't do small spaces, so you probably aren't surprised.  
Still in Decorah was Dunning's Spring Waterfall.  A small falls by my NY standards, but still pretty.  I chose to climb the falls in my bare feet to get a shot from the top
The water was ICY!
After my feet thawed enough to feel my clutch I started the drive to Clear Lake.  Clear lake is mostly known for being the site of the plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper.
Snagged a campsite at the state park, and was set up in no time.  With the door of the tent facing the right way this time.

Went for a swim in the lake, which I frankly think was misnamed.  The water is definitely NOT clear.  But it was warm enough to not shriek when going in yet cool enough to be refreshing after a hot sweaty day.

After my trip to town for dinner (cold hot dogs because I was too lazy to start a fire, an apple, and a mini box of wine) 
I chatted up the gentleman across the way about his car.  A 1926 model T.
Which he admits is not a perfect restoration, but it suits him just fine!

Clouds are rolling in and thunder in the distance tell me I may get rained on... But after this morning, at least I know the tents waterproof.  

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Adventure day 1

 Well, day one is in the books.  I'm having a great time. Long drive through some really pretty country.  First stop, Eldon Iowa..... Home of the American Gothic house.  And yes.... I got a goofy picture taken.  Those that know me via FB can view the picture. It is genuinely goofy, and I'm again reminded why I'm never IN the pictures.  It was only a brief stop, but definitely worth the time and miles.  
Second stop... Columbus Junction Iowa, and Lovers Leap swinging bridge.  
It does indeed swing when you walk on it.  Even more so when other someone's are walking on it in the opposite direction.  

Last stop of the day... Bellevue State Park in Bellevue Iowa.  I happened to snag the last campsite when I arrived just after 5.  Lucky me.  I say this seriously yet at the same time with a bit of wry sarcasm.  I like to camp, but until now all camping excursions with one exception (the first time over 15 years ago) have been in the relative comfort of a smallish yet incredibly solid and sturdy popup camper.  I had previously vowed to never camp in a tent again.  Although that may have had something to do with the fact that it was drizzling for 3 days and we were sleeping in a very cozy (read SMALL) tent with a toddler in diapers, who incidentally had some sort of GI bug that weekend. But tonight this campground was a conveniently located and cheap place to stay. At $11.00 for the non water, non electric site, I think it was a pretty decent bargain, even if I did have to construct my bed and actual sleeping quarters. Bathrooms and showers in easy walking distance.  Which was a good thing, because I was seriously sweaty after setting up the tent.  I also did so with the door facing in the wrong direction.  I didn't care enough to take it down and have a do over. It didn't go up quite as easily as it did when BFB instructed me in its setup in our back yard a couple weeks ago, so at this point I was just happy it was up, and in an appropriate tenty shape. (BFB incidentally told me after this when I called from town, that there are zip doors on both sides.  WRONG... There is a zip window in the back, but it does not open to the outside...)

No cell service on the park, and spotty service at best in town, so I called from a clear spot to let BFB and GFB know I had landed at my intended stopping point safely.  I also picked up dome hard cider and done much needed dinner. Up till that point, a soda and a snickers bar, along with a bottle of water had beeny nutritional intake for the day.

So now I'm all showered (pull chain shower with not hot water) and fed... And sitting watching the world go by from camp with a mostly cold beverage in my hand.
I gotta say the view is damn fine. And gratefully very few bugs, and so far none of the bitey kind.
I'll post this as soon as I have a decent phone signal in the morning.
Another installment will likely be available tomorrow might
Good night all

(Addendum #1... I now know why there aren't any bugs.  As it's gotten dark... There is a quite large population of bats.  They were quite elegant whilst catching their dinner, but came a little close for my comfort.  So I have retreated to my tent after one last bathroom trip.)

(Addendum #2... The inflatible sleeping pad is actually quite comfortable.... For someone my size.  I think when BFB takes it on his solo camping trip he might find it a smidge on the small side.  It was also a bitch to get out of the cinch sack, and I have no clue if I'll be able to get it or my sleeping bag back into them.)

(Addendum #3.... I will be stopping at a pharmacy type place or a WalMart tomorrow for earplugs.  I like Mother Nature fine, but in the middle of the woods, She, and the owl in the tree directly behind my tent were quite peepy-cheepy and hooty.)

Friday, August 1, 2014

On the road again

Tomorrow morning I start my trip.  I have a loose plan, a list of things I'd like to see and places to go, and an atlas.
The plan will probably evolve and morph as I drive depending on my whim, mood, weather and the moment.  For a good long while there's nowhere I need to be, no giant responsibility holding me down, and I can be free to do whatever the hell I want.
Don't get me wrong... I'm going to miss home, and BFB and GFB.  And sleeping alone in a tent, backseat, or cheap motel bed isn't preferred to my nice cozy bed at home and morning snuggles. But there definitely is the appeal of not having to do laundry, figure out what's for dinner, or clean the litter box.  This is about spending time with myself.  Putting my needs and wants before anyone else's.  Yes... I'm aware that this is a bit (a lot?) selfish.  Especially in light of the fact that GFB is still in a sling at home.  But I've really never done anything like this and I think it'll be good for me.  At the very least I'll have a bit of fun and get a few good pictures.