Category Archives: Traveling All Over The Map
We headed east from CACA (California City, CA) with fur flying out the windows of my Chevy Blazer. Really, lots of fur. I was only semi-prepared for the amount of fur that would be flying around. My car had been vacuumed and wiped down in preparation for the trip and I knew there would be fur, of course there would be fur. Frosty is a Great Pyrenees and Lab mix so there is constantly fur everywhere. White fur that clings to every dark item of clothing that I own.
A giant purple blanket was over my back seat and his huge queen sized comforter that is his “dog bed” was on top of that. A large body pillow was tucked underneath to even out the slope of the seats and provide him with a nice soft nest to stretch out on and rawhide chews were tucked into the pouches on the backsides of the front seats within easy reach. He was all set and comfy.
It took me most of the weekend before I left to gather enough clothes to last me until January when I am scheduled to head back from Georgia to California. The heat in California and in Texas where I was planning to stop for my daughter’s reception for a week required warm weather clothing and since there were several events planned in Austin for the weekend reception I needed several outfits so as not to embarrass my daughter (this is all in my head, not what she said). Then there was the fact that Georgia during the winter can get quite cold. Remember the disaster last year when Atlanta got hit by snow? Well I do. So I stuffed my suitcases and a couple of space bags with everything from lightweight Summer clothes to heavy winter clothing and put half of it on the roof rack in a roof carrier. I was once a girl scout and I am using that for my excuse in being over prepared.
Did I mention the part about how I took 2 computers, a monitor and my 32″ TV as well? Oh, ummm yeah. I may be a little crazy. Then there is the fact that my Princess and The Pea pain issues make nearly every bed on the face of the earth painful to sleep on. At home I have a plush pillow top mattress with a 4 inch memory foam topper to sleep on. I have tried everything over the years including air mattresses, in search of something that doesn’t cause additional fibromyalgia pain and this is what I ended up with. It cost me $350 at Bed Bath and Beyond years ago even with my step-daughter’s employee discount. Even that will cause me pain if I sleep too long. Soooo, I rolled up my 4 inch topper and by sitting on it and tying excessive lengths of rope around it, managed to squeeze it into the front half of the roof rack container doohickey. It took my neighbors to lift it onto the roof. Of course it wasn’t until after I had loaded everything on the roof that I discovered the little tag that said, “Water resistant but not waterproof” on the roof rack doohickey. Sigh.
The front passenger seat had my borrowed ice chest with my yogurt and fruit mixture and a bunch of frozen water bottles and ice…..and some extra shoes….and baby wipes for my face and hands….and more bottles of water…..my purse…..my kindle with a couple of audio books and of course my iphone with more audio books and the extra chargers for both the kindle and the iphone.
I was completely packed in but Frosty was quite comfy. The plan was to make the first day the longest drive day since my energy levels should be better on the first day. Please note that I said SHOULD.
There are no shoulds. They just don’t work. There is only reality. The reality of having fibromyalgia is that you may feel okay one minute and the next be knocked on your butt with exhaustion. Then there is the issue of my back and long distance driving. I tried my best to prepare for everything and used a lumbar support to try to maintain a proper posture. I only partially succeeded with everything.
Fuel stops and potty stops became my focus. How far could I go before I had to stop and could I manage without a bathroom until I needed fuel. I had packed some tea for a caffeine fix since I had been trying to quit my Coke Zero habit. I had also packed up some apples and carrots for snacks but somehow managed to leave that bag back at home. I didn’t discover that until I was almost in Arizona. Ah well. Shit happens. I had also packed that with cans of tuna and some mayo. I am fairly sure I left the packed bag in the fridge but there is a possibility it is sitting decomposing on my kitchen counter. I guess I will find out in January when I go back home.
I started to get really hungry. No doubt this is because I had just discovered I HAD NO FOOD. Doh! So I decided to make a stop and get some lunch.
Somehow, without even knowing where I was going, I landed at Churiaco Summit, CA and the home of the General Patton Memorial Museum. Frosty was salivating more than I when we smelled the smell of grilling hamburgers. I ran into the Foster’s Freeze and grabbed a burger for me and a patty for Frosty and ran back out to the car. I wasn’t about to sit inside and eat with Frosty alone in the hot car. I jumped in and drove to the parking lot of the museum where you could clearly see a pretty awesome collection of tanks and WWII era vehicles including a fire truck. As we sat munching I looked up to see something that tickled my funny bone.
They obviously take their littering seriously in Chiriaco Summit, if you don’t obey they threaten you with a TANK! Other places just fine you.
It was a cute little spot to stop at and I am actually planning on a longer stop on my way back since the temperatures will be cooler and I will be able to leave Frosty in the car for a few minutes longer. There was a cute little souvenir shop that had all sorts of shiny things to linger over and I would really like to go through the museum. January will be a perfect time to do some wandering there and I shall make sure not to litter!
A million things to do
Clothes to pack
Dog fur everywhere
Where is that clothes brush?
More hours are needed
My thoughts are scattered
So is my underwear
How many hats?
What will fit in each bag?
Sleep, I need some of that
More dog fur
My clothes are going to smell like dog
To wash or not the car?
Vacuum the seats or just another blanket?
Food, real food, no junk
Coffee, tea, caffeine a must
Trail Mix and audiobooks
The adventure is close
I think I’ll try some of that
When I first read Matthew Trinetti’s There are 100 Days Left In 2014, I was blindsided by the rush of creativity that opened up in my mind. His original article was written when there actually were just 100 days left in 2014 but since I didn’t read it on the day he posted it, it was a few days later so I changed that 100 days left in 2014 to be a 100 day challenge for me to re-boot my life and recharge my creative side. I had just started blogging and was tip toeing through Blog 101 so my challenge to myself was to be creative every day, whether that was an artsy craftsy sort of thing or creating a blog post or story. I knew that I was soon going to be traveling on an “adventure” that was going to cover several months and was tentatively scheduled to be ending around January 3, 2015, so it all fit for me. The pieces slid into place and my mind exploded.
Really that is kind of what it felt like. I felt this total rush of creativity, ideas and colors warred in my brain. I began dragging out the pots and vases that I wanted to use for gardening and floral arranging, I spent hours with a special tool breaking down tiles for mosaics and throughout it all ideas for blog posts and stories flowed through my consciousness.
Some of my ideas require a bit of thought since my body isn’t always up to what my mind wants to do. That might be an understatement. My body is kind of like the lemon of a car bought brand new that breaks on the first day out of warranty. Only my warranty ran out when I was 39 and about to turn 40. Poof. All the parts were kaput. Sigh. All water under an old bridge now. I have spent the last 14, nearly 15 years coming to terms with my limitations.
I now have blisters on my hands from the hours spent breaking those tiles into smaller chunks for the mosaic pots I want to make but I haven’t been able to do the actual gluing and grouting. It is kind of hard to do in a semi-reclined position and since my back has decided this whole “sitting” thing is going to cause my legs and feet to go numb….well it has been a struggle. So I have managed to throw my creative juices into my blogging and reading up on other people’s blogs and on things like formats and following, tagging and categories and all the good stuff I can learn from others. It seems that the artistry that is banging around in my head and is trying to escape is going to have to be patient and play along with my defective body. I will get those projects done, but at a bit of a slower pace. Baby steps. The time spent in my garden and puttering about with my plants when my body could handle it allowed me times to create in my mind. I think of stories and experiences and have lot of thoughts flying about, some worth pursuing and others not really worth much bother at all.
I now have 91 days left of my 100 day challenge and I also have a clearer idea of where I am headed. I have been spending time creating with my garden, propagating plants and researching for next spring but I am actually wrapping things up here for this year. My plants are going to be passed on to others to water for the next couple of months and I will be leaving California in just a few short weeks. The time puttering about helped me plan. There are garden projects that I have spent time researching about and will end up becoming part of my blog once I return from my adventure. Their time hasn’t come yet but I can see the bones of the articles, a framework to be filled in come spring along with the flower and vegetable beds and planters.
So, on to phase 2 of my 100 Day Challenge. Tomorrow will leave me with 90 days left of my challenge and just 15 days left before I leave California City, California (yeah, yeah, that can be abbreviated into CACA and in some ways suits the place) and head out in my old Chevy Blazer, with nearly 300,000 miles on it mind you, and start driving to the Atlanta, Georgia area. Wooo Hooo! I am not moving there, but I am going to be taking an extended vacation there that I have been planning with a very good friend for a couple of years now. My friend is eager to introduce me to his girlfriend and family and I have been hearing about all of them for years now so it is past time to meet them. He is in a much better financial situation than I am so he is picking up my tab. I had to struggle with this for a bit and actually cancelled the trip in the past but as I mentioned before, things just seemed to slide into place and I decided to go for it. Umm yay me?
I am of course taking my trusty laptop with me and am very excited about the prospect of recording my adventures. I won’t be traveling alone, although that would probably be easier since my traveling companion is a 120 lb. lap dog and he doesn’t drive too well. Traveling with a dog can be challenging and traveling with a pony sized dog even more so, but I am actually really looking forward to it. Hopefully I will be able to record some useful tips for others planning on traveling with their furry family members. I have traveled with dogs before, largish dogs but not quite as large as Frosty. Already I have eliminated a lot of places for overnight stays because they limit your dog to a whopping 30 lbs…..gee do you think they would notice the extra 90 lbs?
I have already spoken to my pain doctor, my neuro surgeon and my primary care doctor and have been given a somewhat grudging approval to make the trip. Actually I think they all figured there was no way they were going to be able to prevent me from giving it a shot so they are working with me to make sure I have the proper medications with me and that I don’t end up stranded thousands of miles from home with no meds.
My youngest daughter recently got married in a small intimate setting in Costa Rica. She and her husband planned a reception in their home in Texas and well gee, that just happens to be “on my way” to Georgia. Again, the pieces were all just dropping into place. As I was busy pouring over the various pinterest pages on arts and crafts and gardening, my daughter was posting to pinterest as well with ideas for her reception. I took all of those pages in alongside my gardening ideas. When she brought up me showing up a tad earlier than the rest of the guests to help her with the decorating….well I jumped on that and yet another piece fell into place. Nothing could make me happier than to help her with her reception.
To ease everybody’s stress levels I have been working on a dog sitter for the time of my daughter’s reception and the few days before it and after. I had visions of every comedy movie involving a dog…..dog chases cat through buffet line….dog jumps on wedding cake etc. As my background picture indicates, I have already had experience with Frosty’s fantastic reach on counters when there is food involved. Thanksgiving a couple of years ago he licked the top of one of the apple pies my granddaughter had made…..or rather he was caught standing above the darn thing looking guilty….it had been on top of the microwave which itself was on top of a high counter. He is taller than me when he stands on his hind legs. Once when I had to be out of town for a week a friend watched him and lost a sandwich and an entire tub of butter to Frosty’s counter grazing ways. I was just glad that Frosty didn’t end up with umm, intestinal distress…..Okay, I was glad he didn’t poop like his turds were greased lightning.
So I found this great app called Bring Fido and a website called Rover.com, that I will be talking about in blog posts in the near future. Monday will be the finalizations for the first leg of the trip and the first installment of the adventures of Grynnie and Frosty. Stay tuned for more canine travel tips and our grand adventure to Georgia.
“Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway” John Wayne
I was surfing the net and perusing tons of other blogs to see how everyone else was doing….well EVERYTHING. Blogging is new to me even though I have had ideas and stories wandering around my head for years and years AND YEARS (I’m an old broad) when I came across Mo’s Musings and it took me back to a wonderful/horrible day that forced me to face once of my worst fears.
Traveling has always been a love of mine. I have this insatiable curiosity about people, places, animals, especially animals and nature in general. Hiking is something that I can no longer do, due to the condition of my back, but even through the horrible pain that comes with both the back pain and my fibromyalgia I have pushed through and taken some amazing walks through places that many people have not been lucky enough to see. I have traveled through both Yosemite and Yellowstone, Mt. Rushmore and Crazy Horse and even the Valley of the Temples and Nu’uanu Pali Overlook in Hawaii.
My ex-husband (well the divorce isn’t final but…) and I created a company that serviced golf courses, parks and many state and county agencies all over the Western United States. Due to the large area that the customer base covered, we spent many hours on the road and traveled to many different states. One of the customers was located in Big Sky Montana in an exclusive…..well I should underline and put in bold that word….EXCLUSIVE place with properties adjoining a super exclusive private golf course. So exclusive in fact that they wouldn’t let ME on the property. Say what? I was a partner in the company but unless I was actually performing manual labor I wasn’t permitted on the property. Alrighty. So we decided I would spend the day in one of the local nature trail areas with a couple of books. (I read really fast)
Here’s the thing, when I was a child there was this horrible incident at a campground wherein 2 women were killed in the same night during horrible vicious bear attacks at a national park. The attacks were brought on by ignorance and the habits of humans to actual dump trash to ATTRACK bears. Back then nobody really understood the dangers and what could happen with these wild animals. This was during the sixties and was one of the incidents that prompted the national park service and others to implement new standards in parks for bear safety for both the public and the bears themselves.
I was nowhere near this incident but even when I was young I was a voracious reader and had a vivid imagination. My father had a second job he did at night delivering newspapers to the machines that dispensed the local papers. On the weekends I would often go to help and it was my job to count out the proper amount of papers to go into each machine. The headlines this particular night were about the horrible bear attacks and the deaths that resulted from the attacks. Over and over and over, all night I carefully counted the papers and by the light of the overhead light in our van, I read. I still to this day, over 40 years later, remember those headlines and the horror that paper contained. To this day, I will have the occasional nightmare featuring a bear. It doesn’t matter how often I remind myself how remote the chances are to have a fatal bear attack, the fear remains and I am forced to face it.
Try facing a fear of bears while stranded in a remote park in Montana. Yeah right. Just to make things clear, there are GRIZZLIES in this area. We had been told by locals that there were bear sightings of black bears all of the time at Ousel Falls and the occasional grizzly. Mmm hmmm.
My heart was racing before I even got out of the truck. We had checked out of the hotel we were staying at the night before, it was on the other side of the mountains closer to the first job we had done. There was no café or any other place for me to wait within miles.
So he dropped me off at the trail head for Ousel Falls. I have heard that since then they have put a port a potty or something at the top of the trailhead. At that time though there were no facilities of any type. There were the usual signs telling you to keep your dogs on a leash and to clean up after them and a sign telling you to pack out what you pack in. (In other words don’t leave trash here)
There wasn’t even a trash can at the top of the trail head because well, that would attract BEARS.
We had actually walked this trail together with our kids on a previous trip. I was scared then but we were in a rather loud group (boys, ’nuff said) and the more noise the better as far as bears are concerned. I recalled that the very bottom of the trail had a little area that would be suitable for me to prop my ass on a rock and read. I really was trying to be brave but my hands were shaking as I tucked a water bottle into my jacket.
There has been a lot of interest in the Big Sky area, fantastic skiing (if you are lucky enough to have the coordination to keep from falling on your ass all the way down like me) and gorgeous views that are to die for. Over the years man has slowly wormed his way into this heavenly spot and residential areas are working themselves into the valleys and up into the mountains. Even back then, about 2005 or 2006 or so, houses were under construction ever closer to the wildlife that called this home. Yeah, that is just asking for trouble.
So here I was, water bottle, 2 books and no toilet. WTF did I think I was doing? Be brave, be brave…….I was an adult, the bears were more scared of me than I was of them……as if.
Often when in bear country I have well, yearned is probably the best word to describe it. I have yearned for one of those canned air horns that you hear at track meets and athletic events. I mean really, aren’t bears supposed to be afraid of loud noises? In most of my bear nightmares I am unable to scream or only a squeak comes out. My fear is that if a bear doesn’t high tail it out of the area my squeak won’t deter it in the least. It might think “mmm yum a little critter for my picnic basket” and try to eat me.
There are bear pepper sprays out there somewhere. I’m not sure what the spray range is, but I am pretty sure that in that situation, given my complete lack of coordination and extreme fear, I would end up taking the full force of the pepper stream in my face. Sigh. I am a klutz.
Now you might say “well why didn’t she stay at the top of the trail?”. Short answer….there was nowhere to sit. I have been fighting my back issues for more than 20 years and sitting on the ground is not an option unless I want to lose all feeling in my legs and well that just wouldn’t work should I encounter wildlife. And then there was the whole Face Your Fear issue. I was trying to be brave.
So I hiked down the trail, notice that I said down…..the opposite of down being up, the way back was gonna be a bitch. The first time we had hiked this trail, my ex our boys and I, we had followed the very well groomed trail to the bottom and beyond. My ex is one of those guys that sees a sign that says “stay out” and has to step over a fence to take a picture there. There wasn’t a sign saying to stop, there was one telling you that beyond that point the trail was not kept up and you were on your own. Sigh. During that trip I end up on my ass, perched on the crumbling edge of the trail crying in fear because I thought I was gonna fall. It took me 30 minutes, a lot of tears copious amounts of snot (I don’t cry pretty) and some very bad words, to inch my way to safety. I was convinced then that they would have to leave me to the bears and go get help.
With the previous trip in mind, I headed down the path. The path through this section of Ousel Falls isn’t really a long one by hiking standards, but it is winding and steep and not something somebody like me should really be hiking alone. But I was a good little wife and did what was necessary. I sipped the water only occasionally, I wasn’t gonna squat and pee on my shoes.
There is nothing like the beauty that you can find in Montana. Just the smell of the pines and the fresh mountain air will touch even the most hardened of travelers. I hiked down about a half a mile and stopped just to look around and absorb the beauty and of course to listen for any unwelcome visitors. They tell you to keep making noise so the bears will go the other way, since there was nobody there to talk loudly to….I talked to myself……loudly.
That was all fine and dandy until this couple with their dog came power walking through. Really people, when you see someone else on a narrow trail is it necessary to up your speed and wiz past them like they are standing still? Well, okay maybe by that time I was cowering in fear that the noise was, well, you know, a BEAR!.
That winding trail down the side of a mountain lush with greenery of all types doesn’t exactly give you a clear view of anything. The couple had brought their dog and obviously they were unable to read because the dog was bounding through the brush zig sagging across the trail, nary a leash in sight. It wasn’t until they were about 20 feet from me that I could see the couple and the dog. I am lucky I didn’t wet my pants. Of course I smiled and said hi, I do that everywhere by the way, I am not the eye averting shy type. They nodded and continued power walking at a high rate of speed down the trail. They may have looked at me a little oddly as they passed, might have been the loud talking to myself stuff.
I was tempted to up my pace but had a quick vision of rolling the rest of the way down the trail and opted to follow at a more leisurely pace. Some of my fear started to ease with the sight of the dog. I figured that either the dog or a bear would sense each other before I even had an inkling that there was a bear around and so I continued on a little lighter at heart and was able to enjoy the beauty and the views all around me. By the time I reached the bottom of the trail the couple was down by the water with the dog playing happily so I settled down on a boulder to read.
It was peaceful and beautiful beyond belief. Although my fear was still there it was pushed back and hiding behind the illusionary wall created by the presence of other people. They didn’t stay long. Perhaps the smell of wet dog?
Ignoring me totally they headed back up the trail, still power walking with their walking stick and their dog. Why hadn’t I thought of getting a walking stick? En garde bear! Yeah, that would work.
I was there for six hours. Six long wonderful yet horrible hours. We had agreed to meet at the top of the trail after six hours. He had estimated how long the job would take and how long to drive back to where I was at and so for about 4 hours I enjoyed the beauty and jumped at every rustle of leaves. A couple of other hikers came and went and I felt the fear rise and fall more than once. It had taken me about an hour to walk down so after about 4 or so hours and into the second book, I began to make my way up that steep ass trail. This was not, I’ll repeat that, NOT an easy task for me.
I was about five or six years post breast cancer and was just starting to realize there was something seriously wrong with me. The first few years I could easily blame my exhaustion on the surgeries, the chemo, the radiation, moving into a new house, moving again to a new state and another house and another and all the while working my butt off. My back was a known issue but the all over body pain and sensitivity was only now finally being diagnosed. I had fibromyalgia but refused to slow down, I was a wife, a mother and a business partner. I didn’t have TIME to stop doing everything for everybody.
So I plodded up the trail. It took forever. Each step was torture after about the first quarter mile. Sitting on a boulder when you have back issues, yeah, not a good idea. I had shooting pains down my right leg, I was exhausted and my legs trembled with the effort of walking up the steep trail. Halfway up I was half wishing a bear would get me, it would have ended the torture. A couple more ridiculously athletic people walked down past me cheerfully waving at my sweaty growly visage. I hated them.
It took everything out of me, but I made it to the top. Not a bear in sight. I thought I was going to die. There was something else not in sight. The truck. Well shit. I was afraid to attempt sitting on the ground lest I be forced to crawl my way into the truck when he finally showed up. So I paced….and then realized something else, I was okay. In pain yes, but I had made it through and I had faced my absolute worst fear.
I’m proud of that day. It wasn’t my smartest day, but I made it and faced a fear that has been dogging me for years. I had conquered the mountain, alone. My body hurt head to toe, but I was okay. He showed up late, asked how the day was, I looked him straight in the eye and said, “fine….Get me to a BATHROOM!”