Saturday, July 16, 2011
Friday, July 15, 2011
|The dark cloud that follows me. Here it is on 80 in Wyoming.|
We are on our way back east. And not too happily for me. It is a long, long car ride after my Rodeo trick. We are booking though. At a 1000 miles a day this could be a shorter trip than a flight with serious weather delays, My husband ( you know the one who is supposed to be sick, but is doing better than me right now) is in super driver mode so we are going to keep moving. For anyone who has never driven with a super driver, I will explain. This is a person who is goal oriented and the goal is to get somewhere quickly. Side trips are out. Extra rest stops and god forbid the sit down restaurant, out. You can not pry this persons hands off the steering wheel. Right now I am in no condition to argue so I am sitting back trying to enjoy the view and letting super driver do his thing. I did get him to stop and look at some buffalo this morning so that was an achievement. So far a smooth trip. Loads of construction, but no big delays. The weather has been mostly decent. My weather friends from across the country and the pond tell me we have great weather driving across, yet I already managed to make it rain in Wyoming.
My biggest complaint besides not being able to get out of the car with out help and the fact that we are heading towards New Jersey, is the food.The Rt 80 food has been crap. It is to be expected. Don't plan on a good eating time as a vegetarian traveling through beef country. I usuallly prepare better but because I was barely moving I didn't get food in California to take with us. I wish there was something other than a Subway at every single exit.
So I'm sitting here starving at a rest stop (with WiFi) while the super driver tries to sleep. Figured I would share my complaints.Some interesting things to note at this rest stop. Large man in bright pink shirt is here. I swear this guy is following us . I have seen him since Elko, Nevada and again at almost every other gas station and rest stop since.You can blame the 70 or so Advil I have taken on this trip for my paranoia, but how many 350 pound men in bright pink shirts can there be? If he is trying to be discrete, he needs to change his shirt. Also there is a guy sleeping on the ground in the road next to his motorcycle, which is next to our car. In all my rest stop experiences, and there have been way too many, this is a first. Things to discuss with this gentleman:
A.There are a million bugs crawling around. Take your sleeping bag and go sleep on a picnic table that is at least 3 feet off the ground. Its like 5 feet from your current bed.
B, Use the money you saved on gas riding a bike and get a hotel. Its Nebraska , how much can they be? Maybe you could split the costs and share a room with the guy in the pink shirt. He looks lonely.
C. Dude you are on the ground! Should I call suicide hotline? You see how bad these people drive during the day when they are awake. What about when they are tired ? Don't you realize that someone who is sleep driving , will not see the bike , pull in and park right on top of you?
I'm going to try and get some sleep now. Maybe super driver will let me drive a few hours tomorrow.And yes,even though he is asleep, his hands are still on the steering wheel.
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
When last we left them, moose and squirrel were trapped in….oh wait that’s another story. This is the one about my long walk back after getting thrown from a horse. Warning and spoiler alert. For those who are easily bored you may want to skip this one and yes there will probably be some self-pity in the lines below.
As I said in yesterday’s blog, my options were get back on the horse or walk the, I don’t know, ½, 1 or 2 miles back to the stables. Mileage, more simple questions no one could answer. Climbing back on a horse was not do-able in my current condition, not that I would anyway, so I opted for walking. All my riding partners had deserted me so I wasn’t getting any assistance there. Apparently my now rider free horse had suddenly decided to keep up with the group and ran through scaring all the other horses. The” idiot guide” ( yes she is still an idiot and you will see why shortly) said she would go get a golf cart and come back and pick me up. She took off on her horse like Dale Evans. So there I was alone in the middle of who knows where following a trail like Hansel and Gretel except that my only guide was horse poop. And believe me there was plenty to follow. Now a long walk, mostly uphill, when you can barely move leaves lots of time for thinking. Too much one might say. All those negative or perhaps realistic thoughts come breaking through. I reviewed my recent flight (the 10 foot one, not on a plane) and the realities of how this could have been much more serious and how even the injuries I just suffered could be permanent making me even more of a cripple than I already am. You see several years back in a stupid, freak-no just stupid accident I managed to dislocate my foot, crush my ankle and break my leg in 3 places. The result is a shattered/crushed, plated, rodded,( not sure there are words for rods and pins through your leg) pinned, i.e. permanently damaged leg. This leg causes lots of pain, both physical and emotional, and limits much of what I can do. This new injury could further complicate that. I can barely move as it is, I don’t need a bad back on top of everything else. When I started this blog, I left all this leg stuff out not wanting to give it any power, but here it is, sneaking up behind me. What is the point of travel if you can’t even move? Am I trying for the impossible here? Is it too ambitious, risky, dangerous or just foolhardy to try and travel with 2 people with physical limitations? Am I risking my husband’s heath pushing us around the country or globe? Or am I doing it by almost killing myself? Should I just go home and plop my now iced ass down on my couch and get fatter waiting for life to be over? I expect setbacks, but not from my end and not like this. Anyway in the middle of my depressing internal rant the “idiot guide” comes walking back. She got the golf cart stuck. I only needed to see the trail for 2 seconds to know a golf cart would not work on it so yes, she retains the name “idiot guide”. She then gives me complicated and convoluted directions on how my friends can come and pick me up from a bike path so of course I gave up and walked the rest of the way back. I arrived to pitying looks from my group. Not ever the kind of looks you want to get. I cracked a joke but no one heard it because they were all too busy with their pitying looks. My sage wisdom for today is that if you are going to get thrown off a horse, do it by yourself so you don’t have to deal with the pitying looks.
|The Poop Trail|
We are probably leaving today if I can stand being in the car. Wineries are out, North Dakota out. I guess it’s time to go home, regroup and decide if it’s time to give all this up. If I’m going to be miserable, I might as well be in Jersey.
Monday, July 11, 2011
|My view sitting on Sneakers, The Evil Horse, for the 30 seconds he was tied to a pole.|
The Bucketlistour's blog says crazy travel adventures, so as promised here is one. Since so many of my husband’s bucketlist items have been completed, I thought it was time for some of my bucketlist plans to be checked off. What a bad idea that was. So far on this trip I have brought rain and traffic everywhere I go and the one hotel I really wanted to stay in was a major disappointment (see the blog Am I difficult?) This past weekend however, I believe I hit the pinnacle of disastrous vacation adventure choices. We went horseback riding. Sounds tame or even lame right? Oh but read on. Now I have only wanted to go horseback riding with my husband for our entire married life and we are not going to say how long that is. He has been promising for years, so finally we are going. I’m thrilled and ready. We arrive at the “stables” with our niece and her 5 year old daughter who are also going. They bring everyone to their horse and get us saddled up. Now I haven’t been on a horse since I was a kid so the 30 seconds explaining everything to me really wasn’t enough. But there we were, on our way. Right from the start my horse, Sneakers, or as I have renamed him “The Evil Horse” (TEH) was being difficult. He wouldn’t keep up with other horses, preferring to go backwards sideways or anyway but straight. He had an attitude and was not a team player. Now I am all for individual rights but not when I am on the back of one of those activists. We were in northeastern California, where the Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountain ranges meet. Beautiful scenery or so I am told. I never got a chance to see it. I was too busy trying to get TEH to stop snacking and move in the right direction. Oh and did I mention mountains? This was supposed to be a nice one hour trail suitable for a five year old. Well if that five year old was born to a rodeo family maybe, but this was not a suitable trail for any age beginner. With rocks, hills, steep inclines and declines and oh and even stairs, this was definitely for more advanced riders. The rest of the group was moving along with a little difficulty, but mostly smooth sailing. Not me. I had the second guide behind me smacking my horse in the butt, startling us both and lecturing me about how I have to control the horse. Not for nothing but all I wanted was a one hour PEACEFUL ride through the forest. If I wanted to play mind games and be the “horse- whisperer” I would have stayed in New Jersey aiming my skills at my three “unwispered” dogs. And another thing "annoying unhelpful guide lady”, Why is the five year old who is barely holding the reigns and knows nothing about animal control ( who again is FIVE for goodness sake) having no trouble?” Obviously “annoying unhelpful guide lady” assumed I was afraid of the horse. I had no fear of the horse but based on my law of fall averages I knew how likely it was that I would land on the ground. I have an impressive track record with my air to ground landings. I guess she thought she would ease my fears by telling me no one ever falls with these horses, with this trail. Well that was as good as Bill Evans (our local weather forecaster) telling me to plan for a sunny weekend. After Bill promises the sun (literally) we all run to roll up car windows and plan indoor activities. Now I knew for sure this would end badly. After 20 minutes (seemed like hours) of this fun I was exhausted from trying to bend the horse’s will to mine. I am quite sure I would have had a better shot bending a spoon up on stage somewhere. Anyway I guess TEH finally had enough of me too. He turned sideways on a hill and started to do that Lone Ranger thing. Those of us from more easterly parts would call it a wheelie. I screamed for the guide who was of course suddenly nowhere to be found. TEH started neighing and began to make his move. Now I can proudly say I got my 8 (seconds) rodeo style which gave me enough time to plan my gracious dismount into the mud and the dirt. Once I knew it was inevitable, I made sure to get my previously shattered right foot (and leg but that’s another adventure story for another time) out of the stirrup and plan my decent aiming to hit ground on my best padded parts. Ten feet up in the air later there I was on the ground thinking I did a Christopher Reeve. I couldn’t breathe and saw an entire replay of Million Dollar Baby where the paralyzed Hillary Swank tries to end it all by biting her tongue. The “idiot guide” (yes she has moved up to idiot status now) is screaming “DON’T MOVE! DON’T MOVE!” Well how am I going to know if I’m paralyzed if I don’t try to move?And if I am paralyzed I probably don't need to be screamed at to stay still. So fortunately I moved and started to breathe. My landing knocked the wind out of me and it was slowly coming back. After laying in the mud for what seemed like hours I slooooooowly stood up and did an assessment. I was covered in mud and dirt but no bones sticking out so yippee for me, a bonus I didn’t have after my last major fall. I didn’t see any blood and I knew I didn’t land on my head or neck so I figured I was beat up but not 911 call worthy. For those that are genuinely concerned, or just looking for some helicopter evacuation drama, sorry, I do not even have a bruise or a scratch on me. Go figure. Of course I can barely walk and Advil stock prices are on the rise, but I don’t look like I took a flying leap. The topper of all this was now I could either get back on the horse that just threw me or walk all the way back. I will save the “Long Walk Back” entertainment for tomorrow. Right now I need to go wash all the mud out of my clothes. Before I go I thought I would end with a little gem of knowledge that I have picked up on this trip. Get ready for it . You know it's coming.....Without a doubt, horseback riding is a pain in the ass.
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Am I really that difficult? No wait, don't answer that. Especially if you are my husband. I say no I am not difficult, I just want things to go right every once in a while. Now we are not top of the line travelers and I am a backpacker wannabe so I don't need a 4-5 star hotel or restaurant. Goodness knows I can camp out at Sloan's ICU waiting room for weeks at a time so I don't need princess treatment. That being said, when I pay what I consider $$$ , I want it to be worth the price. After spending last night at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas I feel a "difficult" moment coming on. The whole purpose of the Cosmopolitan was to mix a little luxury into our cross country trip.We have driven from the east coast with a few stops in your average hotels and sometimes just driving through the night, crashing at rest stops for a few hours.. We are visiting friends, seeing national parks and spending some time with family at their lake house. Most of the trip plan, while not camping, is outdoorsy and not luxury. I planned on one night of a nice suite, a decent dinner, some gambling ( mostly for the one who thinks I'm difficult) and most of all, time at the pool. We stayed at the Cosmopolitan the week they opened and even though it was winter the pool was open and wonderful. It was my current winner of best pool in Vegas. The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas promised me a good time. They told me so in the email they sent me. See-" Suffice it to say, we've gone to great lengths to make certain your stay is the single-most meaningful, memorable, and thoughtful visit you've ever had to our city." Well memorable can mean many things. Did they mean good memories or bad? Right now the memory is fresh and bad. It started with booking, continued with check-in and I would like to say ended with check out but they are still holding money on my credit card and the wonderful manager who was supposed to contact me 5 hours ago still has not. Now I'm not saying the place was bad, but it wasn't wonderful and I wanted wonderful. Am I difficult because I want wonderful? I understand it was a holiday weekend but I really lose my patience waiting in a long , non-moving line just to hand my money over to check in. I don't appreciate waiting an hour for my luggage to be sent up and sub-par AC and a cracked mirror in a suite in a new hotel. I realize (at least on my higher levels) that I can't blame the hotel for the weather but I want to. Most of all I want to find the idiots who threw bottles off their terrace causing the pool to be closed for almost the entire sunny part of our stay. All this plus crowds and long waits for restaurants added up to a night with more stress than rest. Not wonderful. So am I wrong to want wonderful or am I just being difficult?
Monday, July 4, 2011
Sunday, July 3, 2011
Yes it was a pilgrimage. No it wasn't Mecca , but Kansas and an early morning trip to see the largest ball of twine. Now I know you have questions. Was it worth it? Was it everything I expected? Was it a religious experience? and the most pressing question.... Why?
If I had to pick a question to answer it would be the second one. Yes it was exactly what I expected. It was a super large ball of twine. Not large enough that we didn't miss it the first time through town and had to humiliate ourselves by asking someone for directions, but large none the less. Being that this "interesting " stop seems to be overlooked by most guidebooks, I will give you the lowdown , the 411 the "everything you want to know but were afraid to ask" about it. First this outdoor , open air, attraction or "The Twine " as it will now be referred to, is not located on the right side of the street, nor is it next to the water tower. Don't make this mistake or you will probably be asking the same guy we did for directions when it is practically right in front of you. Once you see the water tower, look to your left. The twine appears to be open to the public, free of charge, 24 hours a day. We arrived shortly after dawn and no one seemed to care that we were there. Yes, you can touch the twine . I actually restrung a piece that was lose. There are even numbers and email so you can contact someone to get twine to add to the ball. I didn't feel it was necessary to call someone at 6AM on a Saturday to get twine. I hope they appreciate that. There is also a gift shop. Can't say that we saw it or if it is ever open, but rumor has it there is one. Finally, only those that are familiar with the Griswold travel spirit can answer if it was worth it or not.
|Cawker City, Kansas|
|Cawker City, early morning|