Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Stinky-mobile

I don't know about everyone else, but my life is prone to sudden dips, turns, and whorls---all without any warning whatsoever. Last Wednesday I was cruising along, not thinking about anything but work, more work, and Laura's upcoming birthday when suddenly I found I'd be making a trip to California. Immediately.

My oldest son, who'd been spending 10 months on an epic journey of discovery, had suddenly found himself in need of an opportunity for a rigorous scholastic environment to maximize his potential. My brother-in-law agreed to go along to help with the driving (an unkind brother-in-law might point out that he did most of it---can I help it if it was his car, the roads were icy, and my driving made him nervous?).

We started off Friday afternoon, crossing the state in the opposite direction so I could visit Caleb and Laura at their schools. I was able to spend a lovely visit with Laura on her birthday, then left Saturday afternoon for California. By Sunday afternoon we were in the Sacramento area doing some frantically crammed food shopping for some of the goodies that aren't available on the prairie. Since the prairie was not originally settled by Asians, vegetarians, or by traders named Joe.

After a sprint through the must-have's of Sacramento, we headed down to Lodi for Jack to check into his motel. Not a moment too soon, because good ol' Jack was about ready to have a coronary at being forced to be in the proximity of so many ***shudder*** PEOPLE! Jiminy crickets! Someone has been in the wilderness a little long....

Jack's motel was like no other Motel 6 I've ever seen. It had been a Holiday Inn or something, but had gone bankrupt. Motel 6 snapped it up, and Jack stayed in very nice, shiny, and hot-tubby facilities. I wasn't jealous or anything (OK, maybe about the hot tub) because I was going to spend my night with my good friend, Ingrid, her husband Aaron, and her three little girls who have apparently never seen visitors before in their life.

The girls wanted me to sit by them, to tell me everything possible about my stay, fought over who got to carry my bags (I notice *I* had to carry them out at the end of the visit, after my novelty wore off!), and spent the evening fetching things for me to see.

Zaylie solemnly informed me on the way to the house, "Tina, you get to sleep in my room."

I replied in a suitably excited tone, "Oh, that's right, your room is PINK, isn't it. And you have a brand new bed your daddy made for you."

A moment's pause.

"How did you know that?

I know alllllllllllll about you, Zaylie Celeste.....Apparently someone has not quite grasped the mysteries of having a mama on Facebook.

It was a great visit, and many thanks to the family for hosting me on such short notice. Next time I might give you TWO days' warning instead of one! Then it was off to pick up John and head home to North Dakota. I'd had a chance to catch my breath by the return trip and was able to spend a little more time in noticing things than on the initial trek.

One thing I came to realize is that it had been over a year since I had experienced a change of pressure in my ears. In that whole year I had not experienced a change of elevation significant enough to cause it.

On a related note, in that same year period, I had not seen a single mountain. Oh, I'd seen the rolling hills of the prairie, but no mountains since September of 2010. I didn't see my first one on this trip until sunrise in Nevada the first day, since we came through the mountains after dark. It was nice to see such a large piece of earth rising to meet the sky. Kind of fills it up a bit, makes it seem not quite so big. I became somewhat of a mountain paparazzi, snapping photos while I drove along. Who knows when I'll get to see one again.....

As always, I was struck with how cluttered and dirty even the empty, open areas seem. Even in vacant fields there are still telephone poles, billboards, litter, and cars passing by on the road. It all looks so, so busy. And don't get me started on California's extravagant waste of trees. They're scattered around as if, well, as if they grew on trees. No wonder the state is in such financial trouble!

There are many interesting things to see between California and North Dakota. I drove past many of them, but being on the schedule we were, we stopped at only the most important. Which would be one of the most popular types of tourist attractions, the highway rest area. I even took my picture at one as a souvenir. Goodness knows I was getting no other ones!

By now, you're probably wondering about my blog title. Why did I choose it? Why, indeed. Traveling for 24 hours straight with rapidly ripening males is no picnic on the best of days. When said males decide to stop for a Super-duper Size Bean Burrito from Roberto's Authentic Mexican Restaurant, the trip takes on a whole new, shall we say, aura. North Dakota couldn't come fast enough!

Even the best of fun must end, and North Dakota finally hove into sight. My kitties were home, and we had a very satisfactory reunion, but my Finley pooch was still staying at his Grammie's. I went to pick him up, and he knew something was up even before we got home....he could smell it. I should think so, after percolating in Ewwwww de Burrito for hours! Both boys were very happy to see each other again after so long, and Finley even seemed to think the smell was a bonus.

Then it was time to curl up in my own bed. Since the babies had missed me so much, I let them sleep with me as a special treat. I think I may have been more comfortable in the car, by the time I had a kitten by my neck, a cranky moose of a tabby on my chest (she hissed at the kitten all night, but she'd missed me, too and didn't want to leave), a dog cuddled by my side and one warming my feet, and various other cats tucked into warm corners. I may have been more comfortable, but there sure wasn't as much love!

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