Road Trip

One of the joys of living in the midwest is its central location. Just a few hours away are numerous large cities. Also, just a day’s drive away is my old college town and my best friend, as well as numerous other friends and relatives. Last weekend I decided I was finally settled in enough to take the new car on a roadtrip and visit some people from home.

The trip didn’t start out or end particularly well. Thanks to an iPhone update, my GPS was screwy and left me not knowing how to even start. It’s a little frightening how reliant we’ve all become on technology. Sitting in my car, wondering what to do, I had to ask myself, “What did I do before GPS?” Not sure I had any maps left, I remembered Google maps, went inside, fired up the computer, and printed out my route. That got me on the road, though I was thoroughly annoyed with having to check the map instead of listening to a pleasant voice tell me a turn was coming up. We’re reliant for a reason… because technology, when it’s working, is better than no technology.

The drive was beautiful and I enjoyed the rolling hills, limestone rocks, and tree covered landscape. It stayed this way pretty much until I hit South Dakota. Now, having grown up there, I do appreciate the unique beauty it offers, but after passing through the rolling hills of Missouri and Iowa, it suddenly seemed barren and bleak. Whatever trees I saw had been neatly planted in rows after the dust bowl to help preserve land.

It was so good to see friends and family. I visited with my newly engaged niece and another one heading off for a major backpacking trip. I saw an old friend from high school, and probably annoyed our waitress by monopolizing a booth during the breakfast rush hour as we happily chatted away. Of course, any time with my best friend is amazing and wonderful. As I’ve said, Missouri would be almost perfect, if only she were here.

Despite all that, my gut feeling that Missouri was where I should move was confirmed. The whole time I was in SD I could not picture myself living there. It just felt wrong. Missouri felt right. Much of my life has been run by listening to this intuition. I’ve lost it from time to time, and generally lose myself when that happens, but it’s nice to know it’s still there. I just have to be open and listen.

The trip home was a little traumatic. The night before I left, a huge storm came through the area. There I was with a brand new car that didn’t even have it’s permanent plates yet, and no garage. My best friend selflessly gave me her garage, which was humbling. She at least was willing to accept my help with the deductible if her car was damaged. Thankfully, it was not. However, the next day I had to drive home through parts of that same storm. I delayed leaving a little and thought the worst was safely past me. I was wrong. Suddenly I was in pouring rain that was so hard I could barely see the car that was 3-4 car-lengths in front of me. I told myself if I just kept driving, I’d be clear of it in a few miles. Instead it got worse. The only way I could see that car was when it put on its brake lights. I could also see a car 3-4 car lengths behind me. I wanted desperately to pull over, but know that is how pile-ups start. As I counted the passing miles I became more and more terrified. The clouds became heavier and darker until it was almost night out. I had to keep reminding myself it was the middle of the day. I finally saw an old road that had been fenced off, but allowed me to pull my car off the road. Unfortunately, once I looked at the radar, another one of those technoligies that is valuable and I have come to rely on, I could see that if I stayed there, it would only get worse. I was on the leading edge of it, which meant the entire cell would pass over me and then I’d have to drive through it again. My best bet was to get back on the road and drive out of it. Lightning was flashing everywhere. There was probably thunder as well, but the pounding rain was so loud on the car that I couldn’t tell. And I had to pee!

The radar didn’t lie. Within about 5 miles the rain returned to normal spattering. I pulled off to use the restroom, but by the time I got out of the gas station the storm had caught back up with me. Just a few more miles of low-visibility driving and once again I was free of it. It seemed to chase me the whole way home and finally caught up about midnight that night when I was safely in bed.

I missed weather in California, and I guess mother nature is having a good laugh at me now. I had forgotten that weather could also be frightening and deadly. Then again, that’s part of what makes life exciting. Adventures are adventures because there is danger, otherwise it’s just a walk in the park.

I’ve had enough adventure for the moment. This trip seemed to mark the end of “moving” in my head – like the last box I had to check before I could say I was here. For the next few weeks I hope to settle in, write, and find my groove here. Normal life sure feels good when you survive the adventures!

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My Life in Slow-MO

First, some maintenance. If you have subscribed to this blog and are not getting notifications, it will be a few weeks. For some reason I cannot access the “activate” area of the blog through my iPad. When my things arrive, and I unpack my desktop, it will all get sorted out.

I have started my life in Slow-MO, though I’m waiting for the slow part to kick in. So far, it’s all been pretty rushed. But let’s back up…

The Drive

With everything packed in containers, and the house still technically unsold, I loaded up my cats and headed East. Because I started a little late, I ended up in Friday rush hour traffic as I left town. It was a good reminder of just why I’m so anxious to leave L.A. behind. Too many people!

The trip had it’s ups and downs, as does everything. Unloading the car in the pouring rain, and not being able to leave the next morning because one of the cats had hidden herself away, were two of the low points. The cats were clearly stressed and I felt guilt for the trauma I was putting them through. Night two, in a hotel room, they showed just how resilient they are. They had adjusted to life on the road, and were content to be out of their cages and exploring the room. They’ve been fine ever since, perhaps even better friends.

There were many high points. The scenery was spectacular. I had claimed New Mexico was a state I had been to, because I once put my foot in the corner of the state (at 4 corners). Now I know how bogus that claim was. The state was spectacular in its beauty. Texas was flat, but as I reached the Eastern edge of the state, heading into Oklahoma it shifted from deserty plains to lush rolling hills. After the past few years of severe drought in L.A. the outrageous number of shades of green began to be overwhelming. It was stunningly beautiful!

I learned some things on the road, and also now have some unanswered questions. Such as: what exactly does “bridge ices before road” mean? I get that they’re probably warning you that there might be ice on the bridge, but that combination of words is nonsensical to me.

Apparently in Eastern Oklahoma, heavy smoke is an issue as there were lots of signs saying, “Do Not Drive into Smoke.” Got it. Won’t do that.

Hitting the Ground Running

I arrived Sunday night, started looking for a house rental on Monday, and started my job on Tuesday. So things have not exactly been slow and easy going. They will likely slow down now that there is another glitch with the house sale. I am hoping it is simply a delay and will not lead to the collapse of this deal. Until the sale is complete, I’m back in limbo, pretty much unable to rent a house or buy a car. Still, life is good here and so far the leap feels fine. It will just feel better when I have some cash.

There are little details of life here that surprise me. Motorcycles can’t lane split (yay) but its strange to see them without helmets. They just give bags away for free at the grocery store! There is water standing around out in the open… not evaporating or anything! People will go out of their way to be helpful and kind. I wrote down the wrong number on a house rental, and the guy who answered offered to drive by the address and text me the right number. And he did it, adding smiley faces to the text.

Even with my worries about the house, life is suddenly and delightfully stress free. It takes me 20 minutes to get to work, and absolutely none of the drive is stressful. I was warned about the drivers here, but compared to L.A. drivers, they are saintly. I love where I work – the atmosphere, the mission, and the people. Everything is easier to accomplish in a smaller town. People are kinder. Life is more gentle. This is the right place for me to be right now, and I trust that the house situation will resolve itself eventually. If it doesn’t, this will be the shortest leap in history followed by a great big giant splat.

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