"In every walk with nature one receives more than he seeks."
John Muir

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The little bag that speaks

We were pretty worn out upon arrival at our little motel in LaMar, CO. Our minds were on the hot tub and bed...until we stepped in our room. There sat this pretty red gift bag. Hmmmm, nice greeting by the Days Inn staff? Nope. In here were Hillary's favorite candy, bottled drinks and several audio books from the Fairbanks, Alaska, public library! You know that feeling when the parts don't equal a whole (I just can't get my head around this right away)? Reading the tag, "from your Friendly Northern Travel Agent" didn't fit either. We were somewhere in Colorado!

We rushed out to seek answers and learned that Kathleen and Josh had actually passed right by here 8 hours earlier on their way south to a friend's wedding in Kansas. Other details don't matter. The BIG part of this sweet little bag were the volumes of love that it spoke to us. Our thoughtful Kathleen, with all the planning for her own trip, had taken time to pack these personal gifts into her carry-on and then stop to drop them off hours before we showed up. This little red gift bag took the fatigue away and filled us with joy.

BTW, of course Hillary called her right away to ask if we should expect bags at the next 6 motels ahead-!?

The time zone changes worked to our advantage and we gained our first hour in Colorado. This made it not quite as late when finishing our day's drive. Below were exclusively the directions we followed along the long way.
We awoke refreshed and ready to head to Buffalo, Wyoming. Over 600 miles. Kathleen's message read, "Enjoy the mountains and the chance at a shorter driving day!" (It's all relative, you know). A little weary of the flat landscape, I was anxiously awaiting my first glimpse of the Rocky Mts ahead.

Everything is bigger in Texas

After many hours on the road, our excitement couldn't be contained when we saw "The BIG TEXAN" steakhouse in Amarillo. This place is more than just a restaurant and Hillary and I checked it all out. Learning we had cell service, we called our dear men that we had left behind.

Unique to this place is the challenge of eating a 4 1/2 steak plus all the sides in an hour. The person who attempts this feat sits on a platform with a spotlight and timer. If you get it all down, the meal is free. If you can't quite do it, it'll cost $75. A hungry man took it on while we were there, but we didn't wait to see if he ate it all. Was sure making progress when we left.
This singing cowboy was taking requests and I chose (what else???)...
"Amarillo by Morning" even though Hillary and I actually were there by evening.

We played around and worked out some of the stiffness in our muscles but, as Robert Frost wrote, we had "miles to go before I sleep" so we were back on the road to Colorado for our first official rest.

LaMar, CO, had a neat exhibit on wind energy. Those "windmills" became a highlight of our travels. They truly fascinate me. Watching a wind farm from afar, it is difficult to grasp the size of these blades. They are enormous! I couldn't even fit the whole thing in the picture without crossing the street. Here is Hillary posing next to a blade. This one is made by GE.

Every journey begins with the first step...

Here sits our amazing, personal travel planner created by Kathleen. In this she divided our journey's many miles into 8 days. Just hours before this book arrived in the mail I was edging into a panic attack over the enormity of this trip. But then, as I sat with this book and regarded every page, my pulse slowed. Each day has a plan organized by: mileage, mapquest directions, map, notes of personal interest and encouragement and a confirmation number for a motel waiting at the other end. We agreed upon 10-hour driving days and Kathleen adjusted daily travel to that goal. Mileage fluctuated greatly depending on the road conditions.
"Day 1" began at the "Davis Household" and ended in Lamar, Colorado. 720 miles. We planned to drive about 12 hours this first day because we were psyched and ready to move! The personal note included this message: "Safe travels to you both on your very first day. Love from your Friendly Northern Travel Agent." We never doubted her plan or route but trusted our organized Kathleen to take us to her the very best way!
Scenery through west Texas is about as exciting as it looks out the window. The road was only 2 lanes and filled with s-l-o-w tractor trailers. The only pause for construction in the whole trip was here, as well--about 40 minutes of just waiting in a long line. But notice Hillary's big smile. Let's see if it fades as the days on the road continue, shall we?
Every culture has a proverb about breaking down big issues into bite-sized pieces. Can you think of one??

Monday, June 21, 2010

and we're off...

Jack doesn't look exactly like the sad husband who will be spending the next several months alone, does he? I think he is happy to see all this stuff leaving our attic, to be honest.

My wonderful travel companion, Hillary, arrived the night before from NJ and we barely wedged in her little suitcase. The car is totally packed with essential things of Kathleen's life that we moved from NY to TX and stored for over 6 years. (yearbooks, hot air balloon collection, dolls, rock samples--you know, those things she has been waiting expectantly for-!)
CAR RULE # 1: Never open the trunk (or risk personal injury by compressed objects flying out at high speed).

Monday, June 14, 2010

For The Summer

I am working as a travel nurse in Fairbanks, Alaska for the summer. I wanted to start this blog as a way to keep in touch with friends and family. Enjoy my adventures.