Tag Archives: Colorado

Heat

In my new home on the Western Slope the Dog Days of Summer took on new meaning over the past couple of weeks. In this older, lathe and plaster house we experienced some Sirius heat (forgive the pun).

Though I Googled the region extensively before moving, I wasn’t sure what to expect from summer in my new climate. This is the first (and for me unexpected) seasonal change. Still, even with the sudden heat I wouldn’t have guessed how perfect, how close to heaven as I can imagine this environment is for me – now that the evaporating cooler is up and running.

The transition wasn’t so smooth for the two elderly, long-haired cats we live with. The temps jumping from the mid-seventies to the nineties in less than a week, the poor pusses suffered for days.

We now walk to errands and shopping first thing daily rather than leisurely going whenever we see fit. During the second day of heat, we returned home to find the poor, old pusses flat on their backs on the floor where obviously they willed the cooler to start blowing relief. They’ve lived in the house all their lives, so they know the drill and had adjusted to Erin’s pace. Still, it was hot…

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Matty cooling it

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Miss Chill & Erin’s Crock

I was ready to crank the cooler up when temps were still in the 80’s at 23:00 hours. Even with dual fans in the windows and ceiling fans running for a few days, sleep did not come to me until the wee hours of the morning. Unless easy-going Erin is busy upstairs she is oblivious to the still mild heat. So I sleeplessly commiserated with mes mews those few days. …Until I noticed inside the house was hotter than outside in the early afternoon. Then we got serious.

During the first week of heat, Erin and I made several trips to the hardware store replacing weather ravaged parts on the cooler. I hate considering I may not be as mechanically adept as I used to be, but brother Edmund dropped by and fixed what I couldn’t figure out for days. So, we had relief on the sixth day. It’s all good; we had to adjust our routine to watering the flower bed and garden earlier with old school sprinklers anyway.

Although we were quick to prepare the cooler, we soon learned another new adventure lay ahead – for me anyway. Matted fur. So there we were on the floor with electric clippers, brushes and combs, and the rubbery oven mitt, cutting away the amazingly hard wads of fur and hair from poor, old Matty, the older, grey tabby.

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Have I mentioned I’m allergic to cats – dander and fur? Or that they’re both long haired cats? True, I lived with my sweet Lucy Retardo for the eighteen years she reigned over our homes. And I cleaned, dusted and vacuumed daily. Every. Single. Day. Then there’s the barrage of immune support I now take (again), to lessen the affects. Living with Lucy taught me how natural foods work just as well as the prescription allergy medication and two other OTC remedies without all the almost comical side effects. Raw unfiltered local honey is truly a blessing – just sayin’  Though I walk even more to burn the additional calories, it works for me. Even without the dreadful humidity of North Texas, in the hot weather that’s love, people.

Granted, domesticated animals require a lot more work than the hummingbirds who nested for the second year on our front porch. But we learned they keep summer homes. Mostly to avoid being dive-bombed by the nesting family we simply use the side door. Still, the fur kids have already grown on me and we’ve established a routine that is helping us all live together more comfortably – I’ll spare you the details, but allergy sufferers can write me privately for additional helpful tips.

Caring for the earth and all life forms thereon is high on my priority list. Sure, with my almost obsessive vigilance to housekeeping I prefer to enjoy the Wild Kingdom and domestic animals in the great outdoors. Still, I adjust. It’s all about the love. Cats seem to fit a house with two old broads.

Today, in the quiet (with the cooler turned off), I often think of the many people I also love. Yet walking as gentle rain kisses the Western Slope I feel more content than ever before. Life isn’t quite perfect, but the lyrics come to me “…with two cats in the yard. Life used to be so hard…*”

“When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor. You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet: all flocks and herds, and the animals of the wild, the birds in the sky, and the fish in the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas. Palm 8:3-8 (NLT)

From Our House, From the 1970 Crosby, Stills, Nash &  Young album Déjà Vu

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Relax

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“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”*

Okay, so our neighborhood isn’t exactly in the woods, but it’s rural enough for me with everything we need within walking distance. I came here to connect with my life, the life I seemed to have lost making a living.

We now know where everything I can think of is located on the property (having given up on all the stuff I either lost, left behind or passed on to the kids). Erin and I are pleased with our progress:

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The flower bed is set and doing well,
the garden is ready for plants (since it’s too late to start from seeds), and
we have a good, solid grasp of our budget.

“…I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life…”*

Now, all eyes on our target, residual income, we begin phase two of our reorganization project; juggling the stuff in the rooms around.

Rather than plunge head-on into the heavy lifting (literally), we took the weekend off to learn what the countryside has to teach.

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Most notably we learned today is one of several free fishing weekends in Colorado; no license or tags required. So after Sunday dinner at Keira’s we’ll be dropping lines in the Lake – definitely in the woods. Sure, we could go home a little early and get a head start on the week. But free fishing during perfect weather only happens a few times a year.

Watching our bobbers on the water, I’ll thank God for my life. I’ll breathe, and work hard to think about nothing else.

“On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested from all his work.” Genesis 2:2 (NLT)

 *Walden: Or, Life in the Woods, Chapter 2 by  Henry David Thoreau
Images by E.V.A. Lambert
Closing image courtesy ABSFreepic.com

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Walk

Today again I appreciate more and more how we are fearfully and wonderfully made. First, who knew how changing my post days to Monday and Thursday would go like this?

Today’s revelation began two nights ago – I was actually cold beneath my wool blanket and goose down throw. In case I haven’t mentioned it before I never feel cold, so in the gorgeous spring weather of the Western Slope, that was the first clue that I have been running overloaded for too long. I just checked: The temps were 46 degrees to 78 degrees here that day – around 70 degrees when I retired.

This morning confirmed my suspicion when I awoke with what I generally call hamburger throat, imagining what my insides might look like with that sore, raspy feeling.

Josey tea Carli JeanWith no fever it’s all good. I arose only slightly slower than usual and was sipping my Black Silk amaretto latte by the time Erin arose. I marvel at how, in only four weeks we’ve achieved very close to perfect sync with each other. It’s almost as though the past thirty-five years had been mere weeks.

thumb driveRight on course, by then I’d already checked my drafts for today’s post and had dismissed all of the ideas I found there. By Erin’s second cup of Black Silk Vanilla ambition, she suggested I consider her idea from a few days before, the things we miss while driving.

Before I prepared my second latte Erin invited me to walk downtown with her to City Hall to pay a bill and get some fresh air. Because my second latte was super low fat, low caffeine with evaporated cane juice, (and my body’s fighting off an infection 😉 ) I considered her suggestion longer than I usually would.

Despite having volumes of words and photos to consider, I immediately prepared to walk anyway. Walking simply seemed right.

Though I felt tired before we wrapped up the 1.6 miles, I’m glad I went. Walking alone and had I not been feeling slightly puny, I would have logged in 3 miles in that time. However I would not have met the neighbors.

Two blocks from home a Mini-Schnauzer, a Shih Tzu, and a Great Pyrenees/German shepherd pup rushed into the road, barking happily to greet us. The pup, already bigger than her mature dog companions, but clearly a baby, loped along. Their people, Guy and Barbie were right on their heels.

Without Erin I wouldn’t have stopped to chat. We wouldn’t have learned Guy and Barbie also have property just a stretch of the legs from Keira and Newlyn’s property (Erin’s mom and her late father) where we go for Sunday dinner every week. And yet, we paused a good ten minutes, met our neighbors briefly and their fur kids – well enough that 3-month-old Big Baby began walking with us as we departed. We’ll consider doing that another day.

pit bull leashHow delightful that Guy knows Keira and Newlyn’s place by the spayed Amstaf terrier that lives in the next lot on the road just before Keira’s. Though Guy doesn’t recall knowing Erin’s two brothers, everyone in town knows Nancy the pit bull, who initially seems ferocious, but locals all stop to greet her – usually with a treat. I adore the friendly, small-town atmosphere despite the wide geographical span.
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Ordinarily under other circumstances I wouldn’t have stopped to chat up our two young, co-ed neighbors taking a break from their studies either. I wouldn’t have told them they remind me of mornings on our porch back home where Roan, Opal and I would sit, wrapped in our blankets, mugs of coffee in hand to see the day in.

What’s more, the girls wouldn’t otherwise have extended an invitation to join their occasional parties any time, and they wouldn’t have welcomed us to visit them for food and grog where they both work at the local chain establishment. We wouldn’t have chatted about the advantages of the new Fitbits and the knock-offs that are out there.

GJ Law ofcI also noticed the amazing array of flora, from blooming cactus to peonies, vivid iris and the many varieties of columbine, and how they differ in full sun and from beneath the immense shade trees. Nor seemingly everywhere the vintage, refashioned architecture styles and landscaping seen on the Western Slope.

 

 

cactus flower1 flora fence Iris GJ iris maybe yellow cactus flower

 

I noticed how the many other pedestrians nodded, saying, “hi” and how one in particular paused to ask us about the shell casing we’d found in the grass a few feet in front of him. “Weird,” he said. We agreed. I wouldn’t have noticed the bird calls, especially the dove that called to us, seeming to follow us from tree top to tree top going from our block and then welcoming us back to it.

What I didn’t notice is vehicle traffic. Aside from a rare, occasional car passing (below the speed limit), the driver waving or nodding politely as they passed, there are very few cars moving through the neighborhood mid-to-late weekday mornings. The breeze and bird calls aren’t drowned out by more obnoxious sounds. Don’t tell anyone I said this, but I might have heard some dandelions groaning as they struggled for root room in the thick grass of one sunny lawn.

Then there’s the view of the Book Cliffs, Sleeping Ute, Mount Garfield, The Mesa and the National Monument towering around us. If they don’t take your breath away you need new glasses – or perhaps a check up from the neck up.

Sleep Butte  Mt Garfield

Whether I’m actually sick or simply run-hard-and-put-away-wet, I’m delighted to have experienced some of the beauty we miss when we drive ourselves to our various errands. Clearly it’s good therapy. I feel extravagantly blessed that whatever we need in our household is walking distance from our front door, even when we need a break more than anything else. The reorganization project will be waiting for us whenever we return.

God knows this deep sense of belonging to family and community is exactly what I’d hoped and prayed for. Clearly He held it all together here just for me :D.

Thanks God!

 

“Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” Matthew 6:21 (NLT)

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Roo Unplugged; Month in Review

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After the grueling weeks of sorting, liquidating, packing and hours on the phone planning, departure day finally arrived. This was no small feat for three women, each with physical restrictions, and my dear Roan who did what she does best, overseeing and helping we weary movers load the trailer.

The first day of our trek from Arlington, Texas to Colorado was actually the third day. The girls had departed Grand Junction early Sunday morning. It was already Wednesday.

Having followed their GPS instructions explicitly from western Colorado (not checking for alternate routes), the girls went due east to Wichita, Kansas and then due south. Compound the additional 238 miles, 3.5 driving hours with a fierce electrical storm and then softball-sized hail. We did not anticipate the storm or the layover in Blackwell, OK.

thunderstorm Iren Petrova

To quote a recent acquaintance, “It got worse…”

Trailer fully loaded, protecting everything possible with construction bags and tarps, checking the vehicles and the load, we noticed a problem with the trailer tail lights. After finding and employing a mechanic, we were finally prepared to depart – after resting up at the local Wyndham.

Following their experiences during the first half of our adventure, I entirely understood my girls’ fatigue by that time. My concerns and sense of weariness seemed trite by comparison. And yet, refreshed and smiling, the next morning we sprang to our tasks and set out on our merry way.

Minutes after leaving, I quickly became reacquainted with a world most of us have forgotten – the world outside of cyber space. {Audible screams as the scene fades to darkness.}

Our driver Electra Bolt (we call her Ellie) asked me to confirm our route. It was a fair question.

We then learned we were already out of range of my new cell carrier, so a Hot Spot also failed to connect my trusty, old backup S3. We tepidly proceeded as Ellie’s GPS directed.

a map

At Amarillo, TX, our first stop for the night, misinformation from the desk clerk disabled me from logging onto the Wifi. Fortunately the cell Hot Spot quickly enabled a connection. I investigated the route and alternates noting them on an app this time. The words “GPS signal lost” on previous excursions still haunt me now and then.

a compass

US-287 (specifying 4 linking turns) to US-50. Check. Approximately 15 hours of driving the Toyota FJ Cruiser and 12′ x 8′ trailer – no view out the back window.

We experienced new visuals on the road without old-school travel guides or printed maps.

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Unable to interrupt the unstable GPS on Ellie’s cell we also discovered:

– We could not determine the next fueling station. But we now know the fuel needle drops below Empty before it’s actually empty.
– We did not anticipate the windy, excessively bumpy back roads – but Ellie developed some impressive new grooves on her steering wheel. Erin and I became more limber.
– We could not enlist OK Google to identify the landmarks on the way.
– Unable to explore other food options we settled for what we could see a couple of blocks ahead of us.
– In hindsight we would have done well to research hotels before leaving. We were fortunate to spot a 3-star in Walsenberg, CO. No, we didn’t recall having heard of the town either. Then again, my girls had been five days on the road.

Day Six: Once more unto the breach*, our battle that day was to make it over the Rockies to the Western Slope before nightfall.

Shakespeare might have put our adventure:

If we were mark’d to arrive, we are enow
To do our journey loss; and if to awander,
The fewer women, the greater share of honour.
We few, we happy few, we band of sisters.
For she to-day that shares mileage with me
Shall be my sister; be she ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle her condition…

Forgive me, William.

“For you shall not go out with haste, Nor go by flight; For the Lord will go before you, And the God of Israel will be your rear guard.” Isaiah 52:12 (NKJV)

*Paraphrased from William Shakespeare‘s King Henry the Fifth

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My Newest Normal

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Before leaving Texas rising before daybreak was my normal. Three weeks in at my new residence I’ve been up before the sun exactly once. This new feeling of having slept through most of the day is initially offsetting, but I suspect I shall adjust – eventually. We are enjoying catching up since Erin and I last lived together – often most of the night. I wasn’t even bothered after realizing I seemed to have lost an entire day. So, this week my Tuesday post shall be on Wednesday!

This all seems like a natural part of relocating to a somewhat new household. Expand that to an entirely new neighborhood and a new state which I had heretofore only visited and liked immensely. I am happy to report the populace and the environment continues to appear sincerely friendly and welcoming.

My challenges to date:

Household logistics:
I’m now familiar with the layout of the rooms. While not as intense as the first few days, we’re still in the Dude, where’d we put my stuff? phase. I find a modicum of comfort noticing Erin also shares this experience. While we shuffle items around to make room for my stuff amongst the belongings she and her son amassed over their 16 years in this house.

My Inner Compass:
Leaving the house an average of 3 times per week, distinguishing east from west on an overcast day here will take some time. Still, GPS on my cell makes walking to nearly anything I need a delight.

CO 3Visual perception:
I pray I never become desensitized to the often overwhelming beauty of Mount Garfield, the Colorado National Monument, The Little Book Cliffs, Colorado River, the groves, vineyards and the many other natural wonders of the Western Slope. I expect soon these shall help me navigate the area.

Mental perception:
The concept of Home remains a mystery to me, however Sunday Dinners every week with the family of childhood neighbors help tighten my grip on it all.
Home today seems to me to be like a presence that has lurked nearby as long as I can remember. I have longed to know it better but have yet to fully engage it. I am determined to relentlessly pursue.

 

 

“Whenever you enter someone’s home, first say, ‘May God’s peace be on this house.’  If those who live there are peaceful, the blessing will stand; if they are not, the blessing will return to you.” Luke 10:5, 6 (NLT)

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In The Zone

“You are traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of Sight and Sound but of Mind. A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. Your next stop, the Twilight Zone!”*

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*

Working without Wi-Fi or an internet connection in my new home often feels like I actually stepped out of the truck into the Twilight Zone. Things that I once used and rarely noticed before, essentially took for granted, are not available now and I must hourly or daily readjust my movements in their absence.

For instance, we have basic satellite television service, but no DVR. When I settled in to relax a minute with Erin on the first evening here, not pressing a couple of buttons to view my recorded shows we missed while on the road was a shock. The cable network now determines when we see our preferred programming. And without internet access we can’t log on and live stream. Simply shocking.

Every few minutes I grab one of my cell devices or open my laptop and almost immediately Vision blurs, my ears detect the slightest ringing and eerie distant music, and I initially feel light-headed. In nanoseconds I must adjust to the feel of actual paper, reference books and that landline handset for reference.

Even after I remember I can go to the library that’s a good stretch of the legs away to reconnect with cyberspace and the blogosphere, the world around me seems to move slower and slower while I gather my bag to leave.

Now, two weeks since I left Texas, we are still reorganizing and juggling everyday items to fit our combined 50 pounds of stuff into our 20 pound sized home. What I once considered necessities have taken on whole new definitions while I utilize actual antiques in the kitchen and bathroom for the time being, but mostly for the challenge.

Used to glass shower doors, I won’t soon forget the sensation of a shower curtain billowing against my ankles for the first time in decades. Eeek!

However, I am amazed at how quickly I adjust to heating water in a teakettle rather than the microwave, making coffee in a French press rather than the Keurig. More astounding, I actually put oil and kernels in a pot (matching the lid first) and shaking it over a gas flame to make popcorn. And, oh the delight of melting and then drizzling butter – bomb diggity!

Sure I’d like to open the cupboard and see my dishes that have been familiar for years, or see my cosmetics in the medicine chest. On the other hand, I can practically feel the presence of my things, safely stored in the garage until we make space for them – and may actually need them. They seem to call to me every few hours, “don’t forget me…”

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<em>”… the world that was, and the world that is, or the world that will be… In the Twilight Zone.”</em>*

“…but we have this treasure in Earthen vessels, that the Excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.” 2 Corinthians 4:15 (NKJ)

 

*, **Rod Serling, The Twilight Zone TV series 1959 – 64, images courtesy photobucket.com bucket.com

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Amazing, Moving Grace

paper-in-box-4608x3456_85917More than ever before I am grateful for grace today. This is particularly so while our new household seems to be in chaos.

 

However, I’m delighted to report that, uncharacteristically, my mind is not in chaos. I attribute this unusual phenomenon to being in familiar, excellent company.

While many tasks which would help us settle in hourly slip through the cracks, grace and patience abound. With rare, good humor (albeit sometimes twisted) we make our ways together through the challenges of blending our households. Compassion and care are the first rule – as is best.

Our maze is beginning to shirink. The piles and boxes of household and personal items including years of our collected antiquities is becoming less intimidating.

Our options are limited while we manage our very restricting finances, yet we hope to also integrate more modern technical equipment, particularly internet access into our new life together. For now, sister Erin and I focus on our short term goals – finding our stuff and somewhere to keep it all handy. All this while we keep our long-term goals to promote a full, rich life in perspective.

While the volumes of our combined paraphernalia (all necessary to daily life, of course) astounds we two sixty-something women, we laugh frequently (mostly at ourselves). We weep almost as often (sometimes for joy), we hug for any reason and we assure one another constantly, “it’s gonna be great.”

Family pops in frequently to assist with the heavy lifting. This all helps distract me from the huge inconvenience of being disconnected from my cyber-community.

I employ my old Galaxy S3 (without carrier service) as a tablet via my active cell Hot Spot. While I can do many tasks from my trusty phones, we have yet to discover why we can’t connect on the laptops. Up for the challenge, my patience and confidence are tested daily while honing my technical skills.

Now fourteen days since I separated from my flesh and blood family, my heart is calm overall. Though I wonder about my girls in Texas, I am confident this newest change in our family dynamic continues to be good for us all. And late in the day when my faith sometimes wanes, experience encourages and grace comforts me. It’s all good.

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A New List

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During this monumental week I have reflected upon life, family and especially relationships. Creating space between my immediate family and me was heart wrenching. I anticipated the emotional as well as the more tangible hardships – and I’m glad to report we got through unscathed. So, I’ve titled my journals from the past two weeks, The Fine Line; Friends and Family.

Aside from moving to another different geographical climate, the most notable factor of this major life change is my new, immediate sense of belonging. Adjusting to the company of lifelong family friends came quick and easily. Even so, this week my journal sequel will be titled, Dude, Where’d We Pack My Clothes?

In short, my list of profound revelations today are:

  • As much as the world changes some things never will – boiled okra is still slimy.
  • We may grow, learn, shrink, wrinkle and sag, but underneath it all we’re pretty much the same people.
  • Those who take speed limits too seriously tend to annoy the rest of us.
  • God indeed compensates for most of what I once thought I missed in life – and in amazing ways.
  • After following a truckload of freshly baled hay a few hours, it’s flying debris can appear to be grasshoppers. Hay doesn’t stick to the windshield.
  • Friends often have a clearer perspective of who we actually are and what we’ve accomplished than we do.
  • Friends don’t need to know your deepest darkest secrets to understand you.
  • Normal may actually be exclusive to a setting on a dryer.
  • Braving rough waters is easier in the company of a trusted old friend.
  • Boxes of stuff seem heavier in the rain.
  • A good internet connection is invaluable. I’m still working on that!

That’s it for this night from western Colorado.

“A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.” Proverbs 17:17 (NLT)

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The Road Again; Still

My life long friends, Erin and her baby sister Ellie and I hadn’t seen or spent actual live, local face time in about 15 years. With technology one can keep in touch on the phone and internet, etc. But it’s not the same as getting together in the same place, at the same time.

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My thirty-something-eth relocation brought about our reunion. These heroines drove a trailer south and east, through wind and amazing hail to collect my belongings and me, and then we three set out on our first road trip in decades. Crossing Texas and New Mexico en route to western Colorado I particularly noticed :

first Rockies

  • Hugs. Especially random hugs for no apparent reason. When they’re few and far between one really misses them. I’m glad to report they’re very easy to get used to again.
  • Body language and reading faces is kind of a big deal.
  • Coffee. I’m jealous of my girls who can drink coffee late in the day and still sleep like a baby. It’s so not fair while I must cut off all forms of caffeine before noon!
  • Aches and Pains. I’m astounded at how our bodies have aged over the years. The packing, lugging and loading took its toll on our bodies – before we hit the road on the 4 day journey. After the first 8 hours in the car, I re-discovered places that can ache from sitting.
  • Dings in our armor – we’ve discovered torn cuticles, broken fingernails and colorful shin bones. No bloodshed, no harm, no foul.
  • Junk food rules. Our healthy diets went out the window.
  • Exercise/physical therapy regime; in such tight quarters as a car, it’s hard to do the stuff we do to keep bodies moving freely
  • Older bodies adjusting to altitude changes can be entertaining.

With all of the above challenges, reconnecting with old, family roots makes the entire trip worth any stress leading up to the drive. What feels like home to me:

  • Remembering we were “green,” conserving resources and doing our parts to preserve the earth long before there was a Greenpeace.
  • We know every line and lyric to most of the classic rock hits, as well as the renown parodies and personalities of our generation (we all fondly remember Doctor Demento, Wolfman Jack and Wierd Al Yankovich).
  • We can drop a quote from a classic movie without explaining what it means.
  • We totally get each others’ fashion genre. Not too old to appreciate well fitted mid-rise jeans, we vowed to just shoot each other the day we eye stretch denim or elastic waistbands. This does not include jeggings. 😀
  • None of us minded coasting through Vega on HWY 385 (Route 66, people) to fill a stick of photos – without stopping the engine.
  • We like nice hotels. We agree we need a housekeeper and a spa at home.

Entertainment: Road Trip Games:

  • License Plate Bingo (no one keeps score)
  • Truth or dare is still a classic.

truck gamestruckingPlaying road tag with truckers (waving, coaxing them to blow the horn). Bonus points for getting one to use a Jake break 😉

 

 

  • Naming our favorite concerts ever and confessing our most embarrassing (or happiest) memories there.
    • Note: arriving at The Dead Show without tickets won, hands down.

At the end of day two on the road I look forward to more adventure and settling in – soon.

“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” Proverbs 4:23 (NLT)

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