Saturday, March 31, 2012

Thank You

Words are not enough.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Runner Up

Courtesy via Nicole Lynn Flickr
It was 32 days since I felt like my life was my own. We were ordered to Coronado, California (the dregs of society, I know), then 14.75 people descended on our long lost home of Pensacola to witness Cary's winging. Then 2, 311 miles stretched out before us.

I spent one whole day and 13 hours tottering along in my pickup with Dot, Cary in the 4Runner with the tripod. And while watching the New Mexico sun and clouds pass me by as I drive in a warm truck cab, listening to some sappy soundtrack, is better than any temperature yoga, there's only a certain amount of time I can spend alone with my Shuffle and with my ass cupped into the car chair position.

Which is why road trips, not just long hauls, exist.

Steeped in sleep in San Antonio
Our friend told us the riverwalk is to die for. It is. And would have been as romantic as hopping a plane to Venice - but we motored 12 hours and felt like sacks of osteoporosis-inflicted bones and aching muscle, stomachs growling, and cold.

This effect was compounded by our already shaky condition from the revolving door of house guests and marathon of winging events, followed by packing, loading, cleaning, and more packing as we filled our autos with nearly 1,000 pounds of belongings we wanted to get paid to move.

His body just fell out of the hinge.
The race was interrupted now and again by our bulimic cat and moments of note. At one point, while cleaning our Florida rental, I was yanking on a twig stuck in an open window (since our vacuum cleaner likes to stir up strange smells). I gave up on the twig and slammed the window shut, then balked at the lizard tail I'd been yanking on.

Starving upon arrival in Texas' 2nd largest city, we wolfed down cheeseburgers, huddled in down jackets, then took Butters for yet another gawking walk by the glowing, sunken river - a walk that lasted as long as our good moods from full stomachs.

We forced ourselves to the Alamo in the morning. Not worth it. Just remember it.

Courtesy via USA Today
Roswell between the 10 and the 40 - my Mecca
Another night's rest in a softer bed, even a jacuzzi, made the alien-head street lamps, spaceship-shaped McDonald's, and UFO museum, (and "research center"), an even better pit stop than expected. Locals somehow frequenting the hotel jacuzzi told us the thing to do growing up in Roswell was explore the nearby, abandoned, missile launch sites, jumping precariously between the metal layers of the chutes dug deep into the desert sand.

(Even now a resident in the eerie Pleasantville that is Coronado, this middle-of-nowhere town seems like one of the most fun places to grow up; I worry about my sanity.)

As we get out of dodge, a dog bounds out from a wind-blown gas station and tries to eat my car. Cary cracks up in his side mirror.

Winslow Eve
Our cheapest night of them all was on the eve of our natural-wonder-seeing day. The four of us travelers took to a bed I wouldn't dare take one of those germ-blacklights to and watched the TV that was deeper than it was wide. We hit the road early - the loading of luggage, cooler, litter box, kernels of pet food, and pets, down to a physical science - and headed to 1 Crater Way.

There weren't enough hours in the day to see the meteor crater crash site in Arizona and the spot we picked along the Grand Canyon. At the privately owned (if you can believe it) crater, we took in the naturally designed, red-brown museum and quirky tour along the rim.

We gushed at the free admittance for military and took more pictures in one day than we have since our wedding, when we also vowed to never smile for the cameras again. Pulling ourselves away from the gaping hole and mint green coconino limestone, we ventured to the charming Flagstaff and beyond.

A lone stop sign off the highway spun in circles as we headed toward the mountains.

Death and steaks in Williams
Before having one of the best steak dinners of my life at Rod's, we froze on the edge of the snowy Grand Canyon. For the second time that day, my eyes grew wide at first glimpse of something I could barely comprehend. Butters kept close to our legs as if she was afraid of the height.

The deep, painted canyon and string of river far below made me want to be sure to return and go down there. Cary decided to do it right then, climbing down several ledges of large rock for a picture. While I waited, I talked with a British tourist about a book she saw in the gift shop called Canyon of Death.

Partly cloudy and a chance of Loma Linda
We stopped in Cary's hometown for a visit that's never long enough these days. I would return a week later for a baby shower and part of a wedding one, eyes sunken and nails jagged from 18-hour days of moving into a matchbox, calling the companies that keep a house a hold, filling out forms on decrepit military websites, and shopping for groceries, gifts, and not enough liquor. All the while surviving on a zero, or inert, internet connection, thus zero paychecks, and scratching at seven mosquito bites turned ping pong balls overnight. (I have no idea how that happened - tsk, tsk, sleepy fingers.)

The Twilight Zone
It might feel good to have money in the pocket from our very necessary garage sale. It might feel great to have an office back, up and running at nearly full steam. It feels strange to be able to walk to the local publications to beg for freelance jobs, stop and get a giant $3 burrito, or fro yo at 10:30 at night - or go a few immaculate blocks further to the beach the moment this sea's air turns warm.

But the best thing right now - even better than having back my beloved TV and couch combo, my Tempur-Pedic, (moving is always a good way to re-fall in love with your belongings), and the ability to sleep later than 7 a.m., fit in a jog (or not), and not have to make a big decision like what walls to live between... The best thing presently is the road trip in my back pocket.

So simply my first cross-country road trip memoir is what's making me happy. Remembering the Alamo, yes, but also being in five states before 9 a.m., moving through Henderson Swamp on a low, gray highway like in the keys, (not that I made it all the way down there, but I did see True Lies), and passing through a foggy Baton Rouge as the rain and wind got really bad - but I survived ... And the especially Route 66  stop we made, making cold Griller sandwiches in a closed restaurant with big windows facing the road and roomy, squeaky, leather booths. We scavenged the adjoining store, cracking each other up over what was for sale, then sobering at the fact that we really did want to buy the awkwardly shaped wallets and weird flavor jelly beans and garish T-shirts and mugs oh my.

And remember Pensacola, I say. She's the girl who took second place to Newbold College in England - where it all started. Will this Twilight Zone of an island compare?

No more. Now it's a bigger guy. That's not orange.

A second later, I was busting up.

We noticed the McDonald's was special, too.