Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Four Days Later

Four Days Later

The storm came in dumping about six inches or so of fresh snow and another is due in today. The weekend was very busy with work and I’m glad I was home to handle it all. I wanted to get working on the book and there were still days of photos to edit and post, but work comes first and after all the expenses of the trip, I need all the work I can get. There’s nothing guaranteed in freelance.

Yesterday I printed out all the writings on the plans for the trip and subsequent book and the first seven days. This morning I printed through Day 18. Am I wasting paper and ink? As much as I re-read and edit my writings before posting, I still find errors. It helps me to see a hard copy page than to just look at it on the computer.

I updated the title to “TOO COLD FOR ALLIGATORS” with a subtitle of “Thirty Three Days on the Road.” My goal is to add more flavor to the writing, more detailed descriptions to make it more of an exciting read. It will be great to put photos with the pages. I want readers to experience this journey and being able to see an actual picture of what is being talked about will be fascinating. The blogs and Facebook photos were just samples of what’s to come.

Some of the photos that I posted on Facebook were not what would be considered good photography. Some of the pictures are not all that interesting. That was because I wanted to show everyone what I was seeing. There were miles of blah scenery or no scenery but for trees or walls or k-rails. Sometimes the traffic did not allow for photography or being able to take eyes off the road to look. Some of the vegetation didn’t make for a good picture, but that was what it was like.

I am eager to get to the book, but it will be days before I get to the actual book set up and pages. I am only on Day 17 of editing photos. There are hundreds (and I’m not exaggerating) that I haven’t done yet and hundreds that I will eventually go back and do. Some photos were taken to share as my journey, but there were others that were taken for the art of photography which will become prints and cards for upcoming shows.

I think about the sites that I did not visit and although there are a few regrets, I made my choices. Plus, between here and South Carolina, it was still quite cold and everything brown, gray, and colorless. There are places I’d love to visit in the spring, but this time of year is not the right time. Perhaps sometime I’ll be able to choose one state, make a dash there to see a few places then dash home. I’ll be going through brochures collected along the way and planning another trip… for maybe next year or…

But for now, there are still a few things in the truck that I’ve not brought in and some bags not unpacked. Today I am off to the Post Office to get my collected mail and let them know delivery can resume. I’ll also make a Market Basket run.

Enjoy the day.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Day 34, Saturday, February, 23, 2013, In Closing

 Freyja didn’t let me get much sleep. She was up on the bed every half hour, I swear. Guess she wanted to make sure I was still there. She just did something she’s never done; put her paw up on my shoulder. She really missed me. I missed her, too.

The amazing journey feels like it was all a dream. I’m back to reality. My To Do List this morning has 16 items on it. I’ve already got a load of laundry in the washer, I’ve cleaned the litter box, and threw out some bird seed onto the snow. The juncos were the first to find it.

It looks like I have two feet of snow out here. The walkways are bare in places and icy in others. I don’t know if I can fix it. I’m going to go out in a little while and try to get the branches out of the way and see if I can cut back the snow banks. My yard is a mess. Even some of the bird feeders came down in the wind. With the snow, ice, and mess already here, I don’t know if the snow blower can get through when this batch of snow comes in tonight.

Freyja won’t leave me alone. I’m not complaining. She has 33 days of kitty pats to make up for. She even came in the bathroom after I got out of the shower and dried my lower legs for me. ‘Course kitty fur stuck to wet skin doesn’t feel that great, but she means well. She loves me and I love her.

Chickadees and titmice have arrived. Yes, I did see them in the south, but they were all up in the trees. Now there’s a nuthatch. I think I’ll run out now and see if I can rescue the fallen feeders. I’ll have to wade through some snow if I can’t shovel it.

I have my work to do for the week and as I sat at the laptop trying to work on editing, someone decided I wasn’t paying enough attention to her. Next thing I know, a row of zeros are running across the page as one little kitty paw reaches out. “No, you cannot get on the keyboard, kitty.”

The grand adventure is over. It was an amazing journey and I suppose it will be days before the impact is processed. I have much to be thankful for and now that I’ve done this, I hope I will make the time and find the courage to travel again. I look forward to putting it all into a book and re-living the adventure again.

Day 33, Feb. 22, Kitty, I’m Hoooomme!

I had concerns about my emotions at arriving home and walking into the house for the first time in 33 days. Would I be missing my mom? This would be my first time coming home from a vacation and she wouldn’t be here. Would Freyja come running when I hollered my greeting?

When I pulled into the yard, Karen and her son, Evan were here tending to Freyja. I hadn’t been totally specific of when I’d return because I had to make the trip spontaneous to the last minute. Okay, it was all about the weather at that point. If I’d run into bad weather, I would have found a hotel for the night.

We went inside and I called to Freyja. She did not come right away, but as Karen and I stood talking, kitty showed up looking as if she couldn’t believe it was me. I called, “Hi, Kitty,” and she ran to me. I scooped her up as tears filled my eyes. “I missed you so much,” I whispered into her fur.

I dried my eyes and Karen and I continued catching up. I cannot thank her enough for watching over things while I was away and to be here when I got home probably saved me from falling to pieces. Gosh, I’m getting to be an emotional old git.

After Karen and Evan left, I did a quick check in to let everyone know I got back okay. I dragged most everything in from the truck, then crashed on the couch. The actual unpacking could wait until tomorrow.

Day 33, Feb. 22, Heading for Home

The temperature at the hotel when I left at 8:55 a.m. was 26 degrees. The odometer read 16680.2 and I had a half a tank of gas. The sky was overcast. The lady at the desk never said goodbye, never asked how my stay was; she didn’t make any comment when I handed over the key. As I drove out of Scranton and exited Rte. 81N onto Ret. 84E, the sky lightened and I could see patches of blue. It was hard to tell if there was more blue or more clouds. It was bright enough that I put on my sunglasses.

The N.Y. border was crossed and I entered the Hudson River Valley at 9:50 with the speed limit still 65 mph. An elevation sign at a high point said 1,272 ft. For the most part, although there were beautiful farm lands, the drive was tedious, especially when the speed limit dropped to 55. I’d slow down and vehicles would pass on both sides. I felt sleepy and did my usual wriggling in the seat, shaking arms and hands, pounding on my legs, and shaking my head. It was scary catching myself dozing off. Still, the drive across N.Y. didn’t take too long. I took a few photos as I drove  and when I crossed the Hudson River, paying a toll of $1.50, my battery was dead. Drat, I wanted pictures of the bridge.

I made a stop in Fishkill at 10:30 a.m. to have a late breakfast at the Rte. 84 Diner. I changed the battery in the camera and hobbled inside where I ordered two eggs over hard with the yolks broken, two pancakes, bacon and orange juice for $10.45 counting the tip. I couldn’t eat all the pancakes. It was 11:15 when I left to go across the street to the Sunoco station for gas. Oh, my God! The price was $3.97/gl and that was the cash price. I paid $30 and ended up with ¾ of a tank. What’s going on with the gas prices?

I passed into Conn. at 11:45 a.m., odometer reading 168.11.1 and it was 37 degrees. The speed limit was 65 and I so wanted to drive faster. I do allow myself 5 mph over the limit. Rte. 91N was reached an hour later and Mass. at 1:25 p.m. and Vt. At 1:55. I made a quick bathroom break at a rest stop. I crossed the N.H. border at 3:15 and arrived home about 3:45. The worst driving of the day was between Keene and Hillsborough. All my fears of getting caught in the storm were unfounded. I was home safe and sound (okay, maybe the sound could be questioned, ha ha.)

I had had an amazing adventure putting 3,856.5 miles on the truck.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Day 33, Friday, February 22, 2013, a.m.

I’ve been up since 4:30 and was working at 5. This place was noisy and the first where I could hear snoring from the next room. I woke about 2 a.m. and couldn’t get back to sleep; not because of the snoring, I just couldn’t sleep.

I just checked weather in NY and it doesn’t show snow this morning. I googled maps to see how long it would take to get home and what would be the fastest route. It said to take Rte. 84E into CT and get on 91N to Rte. 9 in VT. I could be home in under six hours without any stops and in current driving conditions.

Wow, home. I want to be home and I don’t. I don’t want to come home to a storm, that’s for sure. My emotions about returning are… scattered. I want to see my kitty, but to come home to that house and to snow and cold isn’t something to look forward to. I should be glad to get home. It will be nice to sleep in my own bed and watch tv without having to deal with commercials. It will be nice to call people on a phone that works.

What’s my life going to be when I get home? I wasn’t really expecting any big revelations on this journey, but I wanted to feel different. I wanted to have some new energy, some spark. I’ve certainly enjoyed the traveling, but I’m afraid I will just crash when I get in that house; the house that is mine because I own it, but it’s not me. It’s a house that holds sad memories.

Perhaps that means one decision will be made; the decision to sell. Of course, then I’ll have to consider where to go. I like the area and I like my job. This is the first area I’ve ever lived that I have a community of friends and I feel I belong.

Well, I suppose if I start moving now and pack up, I can be on the road by 9 a.m.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Day 32, Feb. 21, p.m.

Day 32, Feb. 21, p.m.

Left Fredericksburg at 9:15 a.m. It was 35 degrees under bright sunny skies. The odometer read 16360.3 and there was ¾ of a tank of gas. I headed north on Rte. 17 and once I got out of the city, I really enjoyed the drive. The countryside was beautiful, though bare trees and dried yellow fields this time of year. The farmlands were huge and there were miles of open county and rolling hills. For a long time, the traffic was sparse and I loved it. I’d hold the camera up with one hand and take pictures once in a while.

I loved the farms. They were unique and beautiful. Silos would rise tall and some farms had two or three. There were red barns, white barns, and gray dilapidated barns. Some of the homes were simple single story ranch houses and others looked almost like a plantation house. I was impressed with fences, too, that ran for miles and miles; black, wide board fences, shorter white fences, barbed wire fences and natural corral fences. There were massive trees that dotted the hills and valleys, but no forests like we have in N.H.

Although I would have loved to have explored the Virginia coast and seen Williamsburg, inland has its beauty, too. I want to come back during spring or fall sometime to see this state when it’s in color. That also would be a better time to visit the historic sites. How much more interesting history is when you can actually visit the sites and get a physical feel for the countryside. However, it’s not much fun when it’s only 30 degrees and the frigid wind is blowing through your clothes. I passed by many wildlife refuges that on a warmer day, I probably would have stopped.

Rte. 66W was reached at 10 a.m. and the speed limit was 70 mph as I headed towards the Shenandoah River Valley and the mountains. I reached Rte. 81N half an hour later and the speed limits dropped to 65. Ran into some heavy traffic in the Winchester area, but after awhile it spread out. I crossed into West Virginia at 11, Maryland at 11:25 and Pennsylvania ten minutes after that. It was 32 degrees and the odometer read 16498.7. I took a quick break at a rest stop. The wind was brutal.

At noon, I stopped for lunch at a Perkins Family Restaurant in Chambersburg. They have specials for those of us over 55. I got gas at a Sheetz across the street for $3.59/gl. That was the cheapest as I’d seen some stations over $3.80. I also took a few photos of a place that used to be an old railroad station. I was back on the highway at 1 p.m.

Pennsylvania has beautiful countryside, too. Along Rte. 81, the elevations are higher and steeper. The farmlands are just as impressive. I would have loved to get some horse photos. I also would like to know more about the mining communities and see first-hand more of that territory. Cities still scare me and traffic got more intense. The speed limits fluctuated between 55 and 65 and there were signs in some areas saying fines were doubled. I’d slow down nearer the limit and vehicles would be passing me on both sides.

Not all the sights were of beautiful farms or modern cities. There were the signs of industry. Are these remnants of old coal mines? Some were interesting, some ugly like sections of land ripped apart and abandoned with debris and black… I don’t know. It left me with questions and wanting to know more.

I began to see snow in the outlying areas just south of Harrisburg. The highway climbed up and up. It seemed like it cut right into the sides of mountains and there would be vast expanses of views… when I could grab a glimpse. Then there came a section where it seemed the highway was along a narrow ridge with steep drop offs to either side. With the divided highway, the drop off would be on one side then the other. Sometimes the north bound land would be higher than the south and vice versa. The views would have been amazing… kind of like the Skyline Drive only at 60 mph in heavy traffic. It was a little nerve wracking. The road curved and rose and dipped; long and winding rising up and across then back down a long curvy slow grade. I did chance a few driving photos, but it was kind of scary. This road would be horrendous during a storm.

I was getting tired and my concentration was slipping. I wriggled in my seat, took turns shaking my hands and arms, and tapped on my thighs. My butt hurt from sitting so long. When I started weaving a little bit in the lane, I figured it was time to find a hotel. I really hadn’t thought I’d make Scranton today, so I am pleased.

This Comfort Suites Inn is a little pricey. Ohhh, it’s beside a ski resort, that must by why. They did give me a senior discount on top of the AAA. I was checked in by 4 p.m. She gave me a room with the view of the ski area. It’s all lit up at night. Bringing the luggage in was not easy. It was only 28 degrees and I don’t even want to know what it was with the wind chill. The luggage trolley didn’t wheel right and I struggled. I finally got settled in and debated about a swim, but figured it was more important to check in, write my blog, and order dinner. Tomorrow I’ll have to work and watch the weather to see if I should stay longer or if I will have time to get closer to home.