my god…

…i did not realize that ten days have come and gone without me posting anything. no, i have not been out having adventures and gathering unique stones to present as gifts to others. 

i have been sick and completely bored and useless. first i had the flu, which knocked me on my ass. then, i began feeling better, but i got “respiratory toilet,” as j**s calls it…a fancy nursing phrase for bronchitis.

i went to the urgent care here in small-town oklahoma and was given a ten day course of augmentin. the augmentin made me more sick than the bronchitis, but i kept taking it. i have two pills left now.

i am finally feeling much, much better!! now, i realize just how bored i really am. i am finding myself getting really excited to go grocery shopping, to the veterinarian, and to the doctor. 

i realize that i require periodic socialization. i need a social outlet to talk, to laugh and smile, to do good deeds, and to interact. i thrive on conversation or communication of any kind.

without communication of any kind from others, i would surely be beyond bored. i remember how it was before buggs…pretty lonely. i am blessed to have him to cuddle up with and to talk to. he is a good listener.

anyway, i am back and will continue the stories of our journeys and post photos. i am working on photos as i write this, however, the sheer number of images is mind blowing and i’m a bit intimidated.

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journey journal, our travel tidbits…

journey number one – henderson, nv to fremont, ca to walnut creek, ca to spokane, wa to henderson, nv – approximately 2,501 miles and 39 hours sitting in the car driving – approximately 10 hours outside of car walking dogs for potty stops.

     clients:  two different clients.

     passengers:  (1) dog named – olivia, a chocolate lab. (5) cats named – bear, claude, and i don’t remember because they didn’t throw urine on me or barf.

     number of states driven through: (5) nevada, california, oregon, washington, idaho.

     number of nights slept in the car: (2) fremont, ca (denny’s parking lot) and pasco, wa (walmart parking lot).

     number of nights slept in a hotel: (2) spokane, wa (rodeway inn, our grade – d) and jerome, id (comfort inn suites, our grade – a+)

     highlights: mt. shasta, shasta lake, klamath falls, crater lake, twin falls, great basin

     low points: my middle of the night meltdown, pet odor in car, sweating in hotel room with broken a/c, backing into another car, loss of reception and road construction in great basin, google leading me astray, and losing a contract due to reception

journey number two – henderson, nv to south lake tahoe, ca to puyallup, wa to gig harbor, wa to laurel, mt to bozeman, mt to idaho falls, id to murray, ut to cedar city, ut to henderson, nv – approximately 3,024 miles and 47 hours sitting in the car driving – approximately 12 hours outside of car walking dogs for potty stops.

     clients: one client.

     passengers: (1) dog named – asia, a pit bull terrier.

     number of states driven through: (9) nevada, california, oregon, washington, idaho, montana, wyoming, utah, arizona.

     number of nights slept in the car: (3) south lake tahoe, ca (raley’s grocery parking lot), ellensburg, wa (flying j/pilot truck stop parking lot), nephi, ut (pump and park truck stop parking lot).

     number of nights slept in a hotel: (5) fife, wa (motel 6, our grade – b+), bremerton, wa (super 8, our grade – a-), bozeman, mt (super 8, our grade – a), idaho falls, id (quality inn suites, our grade – a-), murray, ut (baymont inn suites, our grade – F).

     highlights: lake tahoe, klamath national forest, gig harbor, bremerton naval yards, puget sound, tacoma narrows bridge, lake couer d’alene, whitefish, red lodge, yellowstone animal sanctuary, bozeman, yellowstone national park, idaho falls, hell’s half acre lava field, cedar city, yuba state park, the virgin valley.

     low points: seeing beautiful forests on fire and animals fleeing their home, crying as i drove through portland and vancouver, being stiffed $100, being 2 hours late for brunch and for repeating the past, getting sick, hurting my back, being hospitalized, being terrorized by behemoth spiders, seeing someone that i care about do hardcore drugs in front of me and cutting them out of my life, salt lake city at night, the baymont inn suites in murray, getting another speeding ticket, losing my phone in the sand dunes of yuba state park (but finding after two hours of wandering), being so sleep starved that i knew nothing when i woke up in the back seat of my car in nephi, falling asleep in the virgin valley and waking up with multiple very deep burns on my abdomen and flank.

journey number three – henderson, nv to vallejo, ca to wendover, ut to sidney, ne to fort wayne, in to albany, ny to niagara falls, ny to erie, pa to columbus, oh to st. louis, mo to weatherford, ok – approximately 5,147 miles and 77 hours sitting in the car driving – approximately 19.5 hours outside of car walking dogs for potty stops.

     clients: one client.

     passengers: (1) dog named – lex, a white german shepherd. (2) cats named – l.o.g. and bofurd.

     number of states driven through: (15) nevada, california, utah, wyoming, colorado, nebraska, iowa, illinois, indiana, ohio, pennsylvania, new york, missouri, kansas, oklahoma.

     number of nights slept in the car: (1) st. louis, mo (love’s truck stop parking lot).

     number of nights slept in a hotel: (9) vallejo, ca (motel 6, our grade c), wendover, ut (super 8, our grade b), sidney, ne (america’s best value inn, our grade c-), fort wayne, in (motel 6, our grade d), fort wayne, in (motel 6, our grade b-), albany, ny (red roof inn, our grade a+), niagara falls, ny (motel 6, our grade a), erie, pa (comfort inn suites, our grade b+), columbus, oh (magnuson grand, our grade b+).

     highlights: seeing golden gate bridge lit up at night, revisiting donner pass in the winter, the great salt flats, driving over the mississippi river, chicago lit up at night, tuffy’s automotive in fort wayne, the people of fort wayne, cleveland old architecture, beautiful rest stops in ohio and pennsylvania, seeing the waves and beaches of the sea that is lake erie, the lighthouse on the lake, the beauty of upstate new york and being in jamestown home of lucille ball, the tiny little hidden towns and villages between albany and buffalo, little italy in niagara, niagara falls, the cave of the winds, seeing the maid of the mist, the tiny little hidden towns and villages in the pennsylvania countryside, fried cheese curds at sheetz, seeing where my dad was born in columbus, seeing an old time drive through dairy store like from when i was a kid, the gateway arch lit up at night, driving over the “stan span” (the stan musial veteran’s memorial bridge) lit up at night, having a white castle adventure at 0300 with buggs, touring the price building designed and built by frank lloyd wright with my friend e**c, and making candles at the keepsake candle company with my friend l***a and her son d***n.

     low points: my square card reader not working to accept payment from client, my phone crapping out on me, being stalked and attacked by bofurd continually, not being able to get bofurd back in his carrier for two hours in utah, starting to nod off while driving, having to pull over and take cat naps, my alternator crapping out in fort wayne, saying something to j**s without thinking that was selfish, having to give lex back to his owners, having my funds be frozen by my bank because i had used my debit card in so many states in just a few days, waking up in the car freezing in st. louis, getting sick to my stomach after drinking 6 – 20 ounce black coffees to stay awake from missouri to oklahoma, and accidentally getting onto the turnpike without any cash or checks in oklahoma.

jubilee – the year that was 2017…

i had heard the word jubilee before many times, but never really gave it any thought. 

a few years back, it was my friend d****e’s birthday. it piqued my interest when she posted that she was celebrating her jubilee. i wished her a happy birthday and asked her what she meant and she told me that she was celebrating her fiftieth year.

i found jubilee to be an awesome and fitting word for embracing and celebrating fifty years of experiences, memories, friends, family, love, and life. i knew that i was turning fifty this year and that’s how i wanted to handle it…as an all out celebration of me. 

i didn’t want to be sad or depressed or caught up in self-pity. i wanted to fly high and push the envelope as far as i could. i wanted to go to new places, meet new people, and try new things. 

i wanted to tear myself out of my comfort zone and throw myself into exciting explorations and thrilling adventures. i embarked on a yearlong journey that i never saw myself capable of doing solitarily a year or two ago.

but as 2017 ends, i can see it all very clearly. and, I did it. I did it all solitarily, save for the two precious souls that were always with me 24/7…my twelve pound dynamo and co-pilot buggs and my invisible friend and co-co-pilot j**s. 

i give these two beloved and precious souls kudos and all of the credit for keeping me safe and on course. when i think about it, without either one of them on board, i could have been lost forever to sleep sickness and never heard from again.

but, here i am and they are still here too…and i still have six more months of jubilee left in me!! so, i welcome 2018. i am antsy and bored and ready to get out of this comfort zone and into some exciting explorations and thrilling adventures.

dear friends and loved ones, i appreciate and value each and every one of you!! i wish you all the very best that life and love have to offer. i wish you all to have good health and strength of body and mind and soul. i love you. happy new year 2018!!

a wild and crazy ride…

i know that i am still working on our second journey, both in writing and photography. there is so much left to show and to tell you all. i can’t wait!! but here i sit, in the middle of america on my way back to nevada from journey three and i am just full of emotion.

i feel a multitude of things right now…gratitude for a safe trip thus far, for myself, buggs, and passengers (lex a white german shepherd, log an orange cat, and bo a black and white attack cat)…gratitude to ryan, bill, and nathan at tuffy’s automotive in fort wayne, indiana for spending all day from 0930 until 1630 replacing my burnt out alternator and scraping my melted serpentine belt off of the pulleys and engine and in the meantime allowing myself and buggs and lex to occupy their waiting room, bringing the dogs water and providing buggs with a coat to lie down on…gratitude for r*****d, who kept insisting that i buy the extended warranty on my car, when i made that purchase…gratitude for m***n and c***s being so kind and understanding about my car breaking down and being patient when their pets arrival was delayed by a day…gratitude for my waze app always showing me the speed limit and keeping my speeding more in line…gratitude for my co-pilot buggs, who is a real trooper and is completely adaptive to every new situation and new person or pet that he meets…gratitude for my co-co-pilot j**s, who can text me through anything and almost any situation. she has been a real blessing to me and i wouldn’t want to imagine a life without her texts in it… gratitude for all that i have in life: a place to live, a car to drive, clothes to wear, a bathroom to get clean in, food to eat, improved health, improved strength and stamina, adventures to go on, friends that love and care about me, stories to tell, and photos to share.

i feel blessed and fortunate and lucky. i feel incredibly cared about and important and special. i feel exhilarated and curious and scared. i feel most days lately, like my heart just may explode because i feel so much, all at the same time…and it nearly paralyzes me and keeps me from moving…forward, backward, or from side to side.

lately, my life has been filled with so much beauty and excitement and adventure. my curiosity and sense of wonder are nourished and fed each and everyday. the photos begin to capture all that is there in that moment, but they don’t even begin to scratch the surface of seeing the golden gate bridge lit up at night…of a blood red, smokey sunset in the mountains with the lights of bakersfield flickering down below…the stark white, salt flats of utah…the all enveloping, very fluid and saturated, watercolor clouded landscape outside of wendover…the stark bleakness of sidney…the warmth and appeal of the barns and silos and my heart pangs over the bridges of madison county sign again outside of winterset, oh how i love iowa…losing my breath as i crossed the mississippi and entered into illinois…seeing the chicago skyline lit up at night and reflected in the water…realizing how dirty, gritty, and grimey fort wayne was…the beauty of the old downtown and buildings driving into cleveland (drew carrey was right…cleveland does rock!!)…my first stop in pennsylvania made me never want to leave and upstate new york be still my beating heart…jamestown the city that gave me my redheaded, idea filled, role model lucille ball…the tiny little towns unchanged for a hundred years like warsaw and portland…the strange turnpikes and toll roads of albany, somehow fees are accumulated, but no money ever changes hands…nothing could ever prepare for the niagara river, the niagara falls, or the maid of the mist – buggs and i walked for two miles soaking it all in, being penguins gathering the perfect stones to offer someone someday – it was deeply emotional the scene of jim and pam’s wedding from “the office”…the scene of a great ocean with sandy beaches and tall, crashing waves in the middle of pennsylvania, but how could that be – lake erie – enormous, majestic, breathtaking…driving in the pitch black night, with blizzard conditions, snow and ice to get from albany to niagara falls…seeing and staying in the place of my father’s birth – columbus…driving into st. louis as the sun had just set, crossing the beautifully lit suspension bridge and seeing the arch as i drove by…all things that will be forever in my head and heart. they’re in photos too, but the photos do these things no justice!!

it’s been one wild and crazy ride…

please…

…please don’t give up on me! i’m so sorry…i have been working my ass off trying to put journey number three together. there are many individual parts that need to fit together just right to make everything all work out together.

so far, there have been some surprising and miraculous occurrences. yesterday, a woman gave a sales clerk one hundred dollars and told him to give it to the next person that he helped. well, i was the next person that he helped and he gave it to me. i was shocked and speechless. i will be paying it forward.

so, i leave henderson on sunday, headed for vallejo, ca. i’m so excited to be going back out and having another bunch of adventures with my co-pilot buggs and my co-co-pilot j**s. i’m going back to places i know well and i’m going to a bunch of places that i’ve never been.

i’m excited to be marking some more things off of my bucket list among them…niagra falls…scene of jim and pam’s wedding, from “the office.” i’m taking my good camera this time and i’m going to be taking lots of photos…and i will be bringing my tripod and cable release for some night photography.

i’ve checked the weather the whole way for each location, on each day. it looks like a few showers, but mild temperatures and no snow or ice. i will bring my carhartt coat that m****a gave me last year in iowa and i will bring bugg’s iowa coat too. this time, i won’t forget my meds or toiletries. i’ve taken care of my seat, so, my lumbar spine will be supported.

tomorrow, i am going to try to tell some more about our second journey and share another set of photos. i still have so much to tell and share. i experienced so much, in such a short amount of time. i’m forever changed and bonded much more closely with both of my pilots.

i’ve been gathering the best stones, shiny, smooth, and strange from each location that i explore. i’ve been putting them into a rock tumbler/polisher and turning them into treasures of which i will present to someone special one day. j**s calls me her penguin…bent over searching for the perfect stone…obsessed.

our second journey, part three…

…as we were driving, i could feel that something was just not right. we stopped at a rest stop in litchfield, ca and i took each dog out to potty. i noticed that maybe every fifty steps or so, i had excruciating pain running down my spine and into my legs and feet. it nearly laid me out on the ground each time it happened.

however, i was determined to deliver my cargo safely, have a good time, enjoy the sights, and take lots of photos. i drove on. we were listening to the playlist that j**s made for us. it kept me awake, in a good mood, and my mind off of going to the really bad place that i couldn’t let it go to.

(that place was a place of insecurity, fear, and self-doubt…what happens if i can’t walk…or pass out…or get hurt? i was bound and determined to keep myself from being anything other than confident, strong, and healthy.)

we stopped in alturas, ca to fuel up and get some coffee. it was sunday evening and only one place in town was open. we went there and i enjoyed some people watching and photo shooting, as i pumped gas. it was definitely an interesting place.

we sped back to the highway and i noticed that we were headed directly into some very thick, heavy, and visibility impairing smoke. there were forest fires and we were headed directly into the forest. i saw a rest stop ahead in chemult, or and thought that we should all get out and walk, before heading into the fires.

i needed to make sure that we were all taken care of and that all of our needs were met. the air was thick with soot and ash. the lighting was surreal. we were the only ones at the rest stop and it just seemed so eerie. as we were getting ready to leave, i looked to my left and two crows landed…bob and bud of course.

and, they very well may have been harbingers of things to come…

…until tomorrow…

our second journey, part two…

…well, after taking tons of photos and walking buggs to each big rock, so that he could pee on it…we got back on the road. what was left of the day, became night and once again, i was driving in the dark (which now seems to be a recurring theme in my new driving “career.” it seems like each of the scariest, curvy roads through mountains and passes appears at night.).

the temperature in the air was dropping and it was precipitating…sometimes it was rain and sometimes it was snow and sometimes it was freezing rain. well, i really love my “new to me” car…she’s really bad-ass. one of the features that i did not know that she had until she suddenly “told” me…when it became thirty-one degrees outside. i was driving and all of the sudden the word,”icy” appeared in big red letters on my console…how cool!

we arrived in hawthorne, ca to get gas and walk. i pulled around to park to get buggs out to walk and happened to catch a good glimpse at my surroundings. i had the makings of a miraculous photographic moment. in my side mirror, i could see the gasoline pumps behind me and in front of me, i could see the tesla electric fueling station. i got a pretty awesome photo that i called dual fuel, gas and electric. it was pretty cool to see.

the city of south lake tahoe was beautifully illuminated and very quiet as we pulled into the parking lot of a supermarket at about 0100. we parked by some trees and walked. i noticed that i really wasn’t feeling too good and my lower back was hurting. we got back into the car and prepared to “go to bed.” buggs of course drifted right off, was quite comfortable, and snoring like a buzz saw.

i was awake, very awake. i could not sleep. my phone was nearly dead and so were both my tablet and ipad. j**s would not be up for another three hours, so i just sat there and “wrote” in my mind. the last time i remember looking at the clock in my car, it was about 0530. i had set the alarm for 0600 and sure enough, it sounded after giving me about thirty minutes to rest my eyes. oh god…i was tired and my eyes were tiny little slits.

we got up and did our walk, stopped at mcdonald’s for sausage burritos, and made our way to pick up our passenger, asia. k****e, asia’s mom was a total flake through the entire experience. she gave me the wrong address to pick asia up at. she asked me to transport a really big box full of her crap that would not fit into her moving truck. and, she gave me the wrong address to drop asia off at. but, she promised me $100 more…

of our time in south lake tahoe, i only got two photos…the ones that i took as i was waking up. as we were driving through a pass in the carson city, nv area, i stopped and took photos of the forested valley below. my passengers were not too thrilled with me, as it was not a safe location to get them both out of the car and do a potty walk. also, asia was carsick. her mommy must have let her eat a lot of grass that morning..,

we arrived in actual carson city around noon and i needed a coffee. i was really tired. i happened to see a starbuck’s and i texted j**s to find out what kind of coffee it is that i like there…i can never seem to remember. it is the hazelnut soy latte. so, i got my delicious, expensive, designer coffee and slurped it right on down. it might have last a whole of seven minutes, if that. anyway, i was caffeinated and good to go for a few hours.

until tomorrow..,.