Tag Archives: United States

Gung Hay Fat Choy at the Happiest Place on Earth!

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Gung Hay Fat Choy at the Happiest Place on Earth!

I make it to Santa Monica on a wing and a prayer in about three hours from Escondido. I find the Primary Parking in front of my Aunt’s house and get my bags inside; we’ve no time to wait and I’ve wasted enough already! We stop long enough to pick up people and head to Oliveras Street, the closest parking. The destination: Chinatown, Los Angeles. Today is the Lunar New Year! GUNG HAI FAT CHOI! It’s nearly two hours of floats, costumes, persons of interest, marching bands, martial arts schools, and Dragons! It was an amazing rainbow of sound and movement. There are so many different creations coming down the road that I have trouble keeping up with them all. At the very end, fifteen rolls of firecrackers are set off to chase away the bad luck and ring in the year. It takes nearly two whole minutes for the bulk of the crackers to go off; it sounds like gunfire over Baghdad when the Iraqis won at soccer. Once they were done the people pressed in, coming from the end of the road to the Gate to get out of the area. We have to wait nearly twenty minutes for some of the crowds to clear to go down the road to a restaurant. It takes another twenty minutes to walk down the street because of all the people still around for the New Years deals being offered by vendors. Once our group finally reaches the restaurant, we are seated quickly, and then almost ignored. We have to ask for menus and water, and once our food is ordered, it takes nearly an hour before we see the first of our food. The wait, although upsetting, was forgotten as we ate ourselves nearly sick on the amount of food set at our table. A good meal followed by time with good friends; we don’t leave until a rather large group comes in, probably a family reunion. From here all but three go home: Ms T, Ms M, and I stay to shop a while with the last stragglers of a crowd. I find some fabulous deals and pass up many more, have a light dessert of tapioca pearl tea, and then we head home.

After a night of light sleep, thanks to Boo Cat, I wake late in the morning ready for an afternoon of fun in the sun. My Uncle and I go to one of his favorite places for lunch and we have the most amazing weather for the afternoon. Southern California has the best anyone can ask for when it comes to winter weather: it’s in the upper sixties and there’s not a cloud in the sky! We meet my Aunt and have a fabulous time walking down the water to Venice Beach. The Pacific is so cold that my feet go nearly numb. We get back up to the sidewalk and head back to the Santa Monica side of the beach; there are bathrooms that are actually in the realm of sanitary. The sunset over the ocean is well worth the wait; the hues that we see in Californian skies I have yet to see anywhere else. Once the Sea swallows the Sun the water boils; its warm enough now to consider swimming, but this is when people get seriously injured or go missing the most, so I let my feet be warm. We head back to the house for another night of Cat-filled sleep. I wake up late, again, to a lazy day of reading, and getting my dear sick Edyth into the shop to see what ails the old girl this time. It makes me sad and angry that I am still fixing my car; after every turn she has some life-threatening issue that will strand me in the middle of nowhere without the ability to reach help. Every time as well it costs more and more money to fix her. It will take another day to know what it is this time; so the three of us are going to the Happiest Place on Earth!

As many times as I have been to Los Angeles, I still can’t get over how long it takes to actually get places. It’s not just the traffic; LA is fairly spread out for being one continuous metropolitan area. We left the house around eleven, getting to the parking structure around noon. Before I can enter the park, I receive the call about my car: my head gasket it still leaking water into the piston, and my timing is slipping. In layman’s terms: I could still drive it if I don’t go uphill, but the Grapevine would kill her absolutely, and HWY1 might kill her. All translates to no more Northward Bounds for my Edyth. I decide to leave it to another day, because I will not allow anything to stop my happiness today. I’m at Disneyland! I quell my nerves with a Nutella and banana crepe and head into the park. The flowers are exactly how I remember it! I answer a quick survey with the nice lady right by the gate and head over to New Orleans Square. My Aunt and Uncle have already been on Splash Mountain, and we head on over to Pirates of the Caribbean. I totally sqee’d over the Jack Sparrow additions, but one of my favorite bits has been silenced: “Wenches for sale” is almost unheard. We have lunch and explore the rest of New Orleans, then on to Adventureland and do the Indiana Jones, and off to EVERYWHERE! I see the Fairytale Kingdom (and nearly kill myself in Sleeping Beauty’s castle). I was desperately upset that my favorite ride, It’s a Small World, was closed, the water drained and the lights off. I find my second favorite, the Teacups, and have at! It starts to become evening as the lights come on like fairies. We enjoy a fabulous evening of rides and lights. Much ado about everything in the Magic Kingdom; every little detail is worth seeking. The entire ambiance is so carefully played out to create What Dreams May Come. We end our time within the safety of the Gates at the Soundsational Parade on Main Street. Lights and Music come down from the Castle, and I have only one complaint: there is no Alice. She has been absent this whole day, because she leaves for the day earlier than the other Actors. Otherwise, it is amazing and fabulous. One former Actor had come to see his friends, and was next to us as the parade went by; all of the other Actors and Actresses waved in our direction. I felt like a Princess. The costumes are worth mentioning: the details and visuals they created sent my muse on a high that it hasn’t returned from. Once the Parade was over, my Uncle and I caught a showing of Steamboat Willie, and the three of us went shopping. I got myself a Tea Service for one, as well as a new Tea Press.  We head home to Chinese food and another cat-filled night.

After another late breakfast and my Aunt takes me to the shop to talk about my Edyth. As my car is now costing me more than I can afford, I decide to finally give up on my Old Girl. My Aunt and I clean her out of all my possessions. The shop owner is a great friend of my Aunt, and he agrees to hold my car for me until it gets picked up. I finally decide to donate her to the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee (http://www.elephants.com/). Cars for Causes picked her up three days later. My last leg North was spent as a passenger in my Aunt’s fabulous minivan, complete with Car Lashes.

I arrived Home on 02 February 2012. This leg of my journey has been completed. Forward; Father up and Farther In.

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Beautiful Southern California

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Beautiful Southern California

Coming down from Winter, I make it to a small famous place on the Arizona/ California border founded in 1967: Lake Havasu. It’s a very out of the way location, and doesn’t have as many large town amenities as one would think, but the calling card here is a Gift from Across the Pond: a Bridge. This Bridge used to span the Thames River in London, England. It is a beautiful open arch stone structure with wrought iron lights and an amazing view. It almost makes me forget the wasted several hours of my car troubles, where my poor Edyth would not start. As it turns out, the plugs shook themselves loose, an issue from the wires being replaced in Albuquerque. I almost feel as though, after my visit on the Bridge, I can make it the whole night to San Diego; cooler heads prevailed, and I was told that many worries would be abated if I stopped for a night before taking the California leg of HW78WB.

I pulled into Blythe, California, around eight in the evening. It took nothing to get through the California Border Patrol, which stops everyone coming into the State, and most people moving about the Southern quarter of the State. The Patrolman I spoke to served with 3/1, from Germany. My first stop in town was the Best Western, which had one available room on the first floor, smoking, which the clerk said she could give me at $107 plus tax for the evening, 11AM checkout. Thankfully, the Motel Six wasn’t far and the last room on the first floor, smoking, was $65 including tax, noon checkout. It makes me wonder why I even bother to check the Best Western anymore. Get to the room, spray as much perfume as I can to cover as much of that smell as possible, and check the local Chinese menu. It has a $20 minimum order, which is all I have in my pocket, which means no Chinese, because if you don’t have enough to tip, you don’t have enough to order out. Returning the nice clerk’s only menu, a Trucker suggests I go to the Sizzler for dinner, because this is one of the better ones he’s been to. I decide to check it out. My dinner was a six ounce steak with rice, endless salad and soup bar, with an ice cream, for $15 even. I was able to get a good dinner, and had enough to tip, and felt entirely satisfied with my evening. My night was relaxing and uneventful, and I slept in till ten. I checkout just before I would get a late fee and take off.

HW78WB takes you through some of the most beautiful and natural habitats of Southern California: the Chaparral, a brown rock Desert, and the Imperial Sand Dunes. Easy and Daring as the Chap and Desert were to Cowboys and Natives alike, the Dunes are truly one of California’s most Pristine and Natural Wonders. They come at you from a distance, a challenge from the Past, daring you to try and cross on Horseback, with little to no water in your canteen, in the Winter Heat. The Sand is blowing across the road and I have to fight my way along the highway around RV’s and pull-behind trailer homes; there is some sort of Event riding up on the Dunes, and everyone is coming early. I don’t stop.  Once past the RV’s and their plethora of villages on the West side of the Dunes I finally come into San Diego County, and another Border Patrol. I make my left to Escondido and set the cruise control; there are only a couple of very small towns and one small city before I hit the Mountains.

Uphill and start the Switchbacks: these tight slow turn wont end until I come down into the flatland of Ramona. The locals on this road are trying to take these roads in the higher double digits, when signs clearly post something closer to school zone speeds. The need to allow people to pass is far greater than the availability of turnoffs to allow it. I take my time and ignore my dear little TomTom; the highway comes right into Julian as Main Street. I stop for overpriced gas and a small meal, my first of the day at nearly four in the afternoon. The very nice, very bored, very anxious Hostess lets me know that I am the only customer in the last hour. My food is fast in coming: pasta primavera, which is mostly mushrooms, but I can’t exactly complain because so very far and between do you have mushrooms that are done right. Once back on the road I ride my brakes down the Mountain, going from 4000ft to 2000ft in about thirty minutes. I pull into my Aunt and Uncle’s house in the Escondido Hills just after dinnertime. A night on the Daybed and I have the day with my Uncle: we take a late drive down to a nice fish-n-chips lunch on the Mighty Pacific. I get some time to put my feet into the water: it’s still so cold that it gives me a shock, even this far South. Home again and Happy; there are even very small living clams about my feet, catching their lunch on the shallows of the surf.

Wednesday: slept late and didn’t care. My Uncle has a real treat for me: we’re going somewhere on the Harley. I get to wear his oversized leather jacket, and my Aunt’s spare helmet. I put my feet back into my Combat Boots for the first time since starting this Journey, to ride the right way, and wear full pants on a day where I should probably be walking around in a swimsuit. We hop on and I do what any good motorcycle passenger should do: lean back against the seat, let my Uncle do the work and driving, and enjoy my ride. We take the Scenic route past Lake Wohlford to a place off hidden in the Hills: Bate’s Nut Farm. In the Summer and Spring this place is a venue for outdoor events, with hot food vendors, musicians, and bikes galore! Today, it’s a humble nut farm with a general store, a ladies boutique, and a few animals to hand feed: goats, sheep, llama, pigs, emu, chickens and turkeys, and a whole gaggle of geese. We pick up some Red Velvet Fudge and Pomegranate jam, then head home. It is an amazing ride. We get home just in time to meet my other Aunt, and we head to a late lunch at a place done up in Classic TV and Collectable Coins. Then we take a small trip to Double Peak Park: the view alone is almost enough to kill for. You can see all the way from Mexico to Catalina Island.

Escondido Day Three: My Aunts, Uncle and I head to the San Diego Zoo Safari and Wildlife Park. We spend most of the Day there, seeing some of the Animals and talking of dreams to go to Africa where these amazing creatures are from. I once did some research: two years ago, you could plan an expedition including airfare for two weeks on Mount Kilimanjaro for just over 5K. I currently have that money set aside for retirement, but damnit if there was ever Temptation to be lead to: that is it.  We get onto the Safari Bus/ Tram and head off into the Habitat. There are more creatures running about without fences between them than I have ever seen; this is truly Heavenly Habitat. Part of the History of this place is that they are part of a genetically-diversifying zoo-exchange breeding program, and have been since the late 1960’s. There really has only been a public ZooPark since the early ’80s. After a light lunch and a quick trip to a tourist shop, we head home: my Aunt her hers, my Uncle, Aunt and I to theirs. It has been a fabulous day, and an extraordinary cornerstone in my Journey. Tomorrow is a new adventure in a new City; I join my Aunt in Los Angeles for the Chinese Lunar New Year. I am anxious with anticipation!

Canyons are Grand

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Leaving friends is a hard thing to do, especially since I enjoy my short time with them with furious intensity. As I left Albuquerque (four hours late, due to car trouble, and nearly $500 short, because Firestone charges top dollar for minimal parts and labor) I thought back to my previous long days of driving. Between Georgia and Arkansas, for instance: such beautiful greenery and farmland, and I shocked a ‘good-o-boy’ at an Autozone by not only knowing what the EGR valve is, but where it is and why it was setting of my check engine light (I’ll admit to being a little short with him, but I’ve noticed that I have no patience anymore for people who automatically assume I wouldn’t know something because I am a girl). Again, leaving Tulsa and my Gnomeo, the snap decision to take a right turn and see a museum, it helps because leaving people is hard, and I need a distraction. The sunset going through Texas was amazing, with green tinges and everything. I had wished for a co=pilot, but no one has time or funds to come with me (gas is killing my bank account…). Once finally out of Albuquerque, I had to skip Petroglyph National Monument and the wolf sanctuary, which really made me upset (it would’ve been amazing to at least do one). Going through New Mexico I had a thought that I could live here amongst all the beauty and Earth. Until the wind picked up. Then it was like driving through Kansas all over again; I hate my little car being tossed by the winds, and hate even more having to pass Trailers doing the same wind-swerve-dance that I’m doing. We do this until I nearly reach Flagstaff, where it gets cold FAST. I pull into town to fill up and there snow and ice in accumulation, unlike the highway. I freeze as I pump gas, and when I go inside to get a coffee, I talk to the clerk about how this is crazy, there isn’t snow in Kansas or Virginia yet! He laughs at me that this is 7000ft above sea level, they’ll have snow until late spring.

Back onto the freeway, we come to a total stop. There are several collisions ahead of me on the 40WB, and the road is closed until they clear them. I sit wedged between two trailers for nearly two hours. Call the hotel, let them know; call some family, complain my ass off; play some games on my phone, bored to death… We finally start moving at about 11PM. It takes almost an hour to get to HW64, which is my right turn to the Grand Canyon; then it’s almost another hour and a half, going below the speed limit, because yes, I had to dodge elk and deer on my way to the hotel. The elk was just hanging out on the road, his chest above the roof of my car; the deer I saw ahead of time, and there were many of them, and it took several minutes for them to all cross the road because they would stop and look at me. Its well past midnight when I get to the hotel, and the internet isn’t working because clouds block the weak signal for the satellites that supply it to the hotel. I don’t get out of bed until nearly 11AM, and it’s almost 2pm when I finally make it to the Park.

Which takes forever; my hotel is only a couple miles from the gate, but the park itself is nearly another ten miles at a slow speed. Once I do get there, I am ASTOUNDED. You see pictures and video of the Grand Canyon, but those are pale and nearly insidious representations of what is truly possibly the most amazing thing I have ever seen! My mind can barely comprehend the Canyon walls themselves, the way they overlap and their shapes and the way the rock has formed in bands. I know the process, I understand, scientifically, what the Canyon is and the why-how-when of the rock, but none of that actually matters when It is daring you to define it with your own eyes. All this on a hazy, cloudy day. I am in imagination RAPTURE: all of the stories that go through my head, from what the Native people have done that made this land sacred, to what went through the first White Man’s head when we finally caught up to them, to the divine Spirit of Exploration that sent man after man after man to this place to chart and catalog every rock and tree… I spend the whole freezing cold day there, exploring different outlooks over the canyon, until the Sun finally breaks the clouds at sunset. It was like someone set a fire inside the living Rock Itself. The glow was that of the true Gift from God, as if the Divine Above was saying “Here is where you can find me; Here is where I will hear You; Here is where I have laid my heart for you”. I cried. Like a baby. I also cursed my camera for not being able to capture what was really there, only the mockery and shell of a rock; if there was one thing I ever wanted, it is a way to visually capture what the soul look like and share it.

Once the fire has left the Rock, I turn to go. there is no vibrant display of stars this time of year, thanks to clouds that bring us snow. Once I make it back to my hotel, I wonder just how many people here have actually seen It, and what they think of the tourists that come to see It (there are a number of Japanese tourist, and a Spanish-speaking group). It kills me to leave, but I’m already leaving an hour later than I planned, and the snow is coming down again. I will, for a second time, drive out of winter and into spring.

The More you Know

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A short hop to the East and I find myself on the border of the Pine Barons; this is the Devil’s Country. I pull in late enough in the afternoon to not hear the Howling; that comes later. My friends have only just moved in, really. They’re still unpacking and painting the walls so that everything wasn’t simply white.  I’m greeted by a familiar spastic animal, a white and slightly spotted shiatsu; he has a new friend, another rescued animal, a light brown Pekinese who is happy as ever to be in a good home. I’m treated with such hospitality as I expected, my friends are generous people and take of their people. We eat at a small Italian place that they like, and by the time I get back I’m so tired I simply pass out for the evening. I wake up the next morning and am still tired, but can barely even doze. The winds that pick up have such a Howl in them, it is not hard to imagine some nightmarish creature screaming the life out of the surrounding areas. After a while we finally get to visiting and I get my things together; its time to turn South. After some confusion with the GSP I finally reach my destination, a modest two story redbrick in Arlington: Welcome to Castle Malicious.

Warm welcomes by the amazing gentleman DJ Malicious and his fabulous wife, along with their other houseguest (my new friend), the evening winds down with a lovely game of Apples to Apples, with which the winning is highly influenced by alcohol. I am, for the first time in a long time, not the last person awake the next morning. My new friend is the last awake, which makes me laugh beyond measure, since it is midmorning when we start the day. She and I run off while the family runs their daily errands. We have an Adventure in Parallel Parking; apparently the Ford Taurus is unparallel-parkable. We finally have to get into a space for a much larger vehicle. Together we explore the Smithsonian Museums of Native American History and Air and Space. It was fabulous. We come home to steak and veggies with rice dinner, and its on to the Evening Festivities. On to Spellbound! In our Gothic finery, we ‘hit the Town’. The club is in a nice underground restaurant with stonework walls and rather wonderful air circulation. The DJ Malicious knew everyone, from the Owner, the DJ, the Bartenders (who own the restaurant that host this wonderful gothic hideaway) and many of the patrons.  We danced the night away like Fools in Paradise.

After a full day of rest and planning I hit the road. The next stop is Tennessee! It’s a ten hour drive, plus stops. Numerous ones. Water has that habit. As do Highway Patrolmen. I don’t particularly like driving next to long trains of Trailers, especially while I have vehicles coming up fast behind me. So while trying to pass them all, I was speeding. I found out that driving at any speed over eighty miles per hour in the state of Virginia is considered Reckless Driving, and that is not just a levied fine, it’s a Court Date. As I will not be in the Continental United States during that particular time, I have to write to the judge and explain these things. I may or may not end up with a Bench Warrant. As I understand it, as long as I pay my eventual fines within fifteen days of them being posted, I should be fine. That’s the plan so far.  I will be happy when that is over.

I get to Murfreesboro without any other incidents. I am so exhausted that I forget to let people know that I made it safely. I am welcomed by family that I have seen twice in the last ten years. My Mother’s only brother and his family. My little cousin was only six when I saw her last, and she’s eleven now. Most adorable little girl, and has a talent for art (as shown by the entirely covered hallway). Bedtime is late today, because I’m visiting, as is the fabulous cousin on her mother’s side, and there’s a southern college football game is on. Getting up in the morning is difficult, but doable. My darling cousin gets to play hooky from school for the day, and we take off on an adventure to Fort Rosecrans. The only things left out there are the Earthen-works, which is part of the outer wall defenses; the Slaughter Pen, an area that the Confederacy chased the Union soldier through, only to be met by a horseshoe of Cannon; and the Hazen’s Brigade Monument, the oldest civil war monument in the country. We round out the evening at Red Lobster and visiting. I have the opportunity to regale my dear Uncle with stories of Deployment and being in the Army, along with a full recounting of my trip so far. It was fun to visit.

My next stop is farther South. I reach Georgia without any other incident, except that the GPS told me that my High Priest’s address didn’t exist (even though his home has been standing since the 1950’s). The lights are on and there’s warm food waiting for me. A little visiting and we’re all off to bed. The next morning it’s a slow start and easy company. I get to sit with my good friend, his wife, two cats, and dog. We have Circle in the evening, and then most of the Members come over for festivities. There’s a five foot fire pit in the backyard, with plenty of food and drinks to go around. The next day I’m off to Savannah for the first time. I see Historic River Street and eat at a rather lovely restaurant, and visit a few nice shops. Then back to the house for more fun and easy company. It’s a repeat the next day, with a trip to the Bonaventura Cemetery. It was a wonderful and quieting experience; the attention to detail with many of the grave markers is astounding. We then drive around some of the famous squares, and head home for more fun and fire, with fried gator and BBQ chicken. I fall asleep somewhere other than my bedding, and no one occupies the rather large couch I had been sleeping on; one of the young men tried, but a small child told him no. This dear child has been dead for a number of years (I don’t find this out until the next evening, when I try to get to bed early for my drive to Oklahoma). My last day is spent being lazy around the house, sharing computer files and doing laundry. It’s up early and out the door for a long drive to Cabot, Arkansas.

I only stay one night in Arkansas with an amazing, beautiful, and intelligent friend of mine. She’s having her own Transitional Period right now, and it was refreshing to reflect upon all of our similarities and differences in how we are handling our situations. Our lives are both moving forward at such speeds and there are so many directions that we can go at once. We were able to visit for most of a day, and it was nice to treat my dear friend to lunch. I leave for Catoosa, Oklahoma, during the mid-afternoon, trying to avoid most of the rush hour traffic.

I pull in far too late for comfort, and have an issue shutting up, since I am so strung out from the road on have been drinking caffeine. My dearest Gnomeo has no qualms about entertaining me until I get the jitters out of my system. Off to bed and up for adventures in Tulsa the next day. We went to a fabulous bookstore and metaphysical store, met up with good friends that I missed dearly and had an amazing dinner at a fabulous pub. We rounded out the evening visiting and having a relaxing time. I have missed my friends and I promise I am going to visit my Tribe more often, as spread to the winds as we are. I ended up being very sick and congested the next morning, and had a serious sinus headache all day. I had a lovely visit with the Big Blue Whale from Old Route 66 tourism days. It makes me wonder what else is left on the side of the road, once loved but now abandoned. Had delicious Thai food for dinner, and now I am anxious about driving part of the way to the Grand Canyon in the morning. It is now seriously past my bedtime and there is a long lonely drive ahead of me.

Blessings and Well Being to All!

A Long Haul and Expedition

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Waking up is hard for me, because my sleep is so dysfunctional. Its hard enough to get to sleep, and because I’ve become such a light sleeper, staying asleep is it’s own challenge. The act of getting out of bed is one of those things that I have never looked forward to to begin with, and now it’s just a groggy exercise in movement and exasperation. I had wanted to be on the road by 9 AM, but that didn’t happen. I got out of bed around then, and didn’t get on the road until  about 10 AM.

No one I know has ever said anything about the Illinois and Ohio Turnpikes. It’s a frustrating and tiring ordeal. As I drove along, one concept that significantly reached me was the entirety of the desolation along the highway. Seventy miles between rest stops, and possibly two exits in between. All but a handful of the stops I passed were toll roads going off. Even just to get to a gas station. I probably paid about thirty dollars to get across Illinois; its abhorrent. Ohio is worse: there was snowfall, and a time limit. I mean it when I say snow: white powder falling from the sky obscuring vision anywhere from the front of my car to the semitrailers two miles ahead of me. I prefer having Trailers on the road; they keep the idiots mostly behaving (out of fear from an exceptionally larger vehicle) and they keep traffic moving at a steady pace. One new thing I have come to appreciate is that Trailers decimate any sitting snow on the roadways, which means my car doesn’t slip and slide to hell and back. The downside is that they kick up this snow onto the windshields of everything smaller than they are, which reduces visibility even more. The largest part about driving in any conditions is confidence: you cannot afford fear behind the wheel. Caution is another matter entirely. Most drivers are either afraid or have no confidence while driving near a train of Trailers. It gets frustrating while trying to maintain speed and get out of their way to have people who cannot make up their minds if they are in the way or if they really want to get away from the Trailers. I got stuck behind one SUV-type vehicle who slowed down so far that the Trailers got ahead of us, then he stayed in the way so the rest of the drivers behind him had to get into the slow lane on a two lane road to get around. In the snow where it’s coming down with a purpose and we can all barely see 150 feet. It was horrendous. Once I finally made it to Pennsylvania I was nearly run into a road barrier by another SUV-type that couldn’t decide which lane they wanted to be in. I cannot stand people who decide that it’s their right and prerogative to drive with one wheel over the dashed white line; I’m beginning to believe it’s a mechanism to deter other drivers from being too near, but I think it can also be an idiot driving drunk. It causes me to have nightmares about being on the road. Especially since we were high up on a mountain. Driving through  the northern Appalachians to get to my friend’s house was a harrowing experience: road construction, snow/ fog patches, and idiot drivers are a bad combination. The only real plus side to all of this was that I didn’t get pulled over at all. The highway patrol was either not there or they were facing the other direction. This duly worked in my favor, as I was speeding, because I simply wanted to get to my destination.

As I pulled up the winding, mile-long driveway, I was eerily reminded of Ichabod Crane; the scraggly trees, dark and lonesome roads, sparsely populated farmland, and few or no bridges to stop the Headless Horseman. I am barely ten miles east of Pennsylvania Dutch settlements, which is the background that particular story originates. I find warm lights and a good friend at the end of the drive, with a bed ready and good food waiting. I have half of the next day to relax a bit and unwind from the road; I didn’t even leave the house, which is nearly as old as out dear country. I spend the day being lazy and in meditation. My second day, however, was an entirely different story. Up by around midday, I had a small lunch, and went outside, armed with my camera, a mason jar, and my pendulum (chambered copper and a clear quartz on a six inch silver chain). Along the driveway, off to the left, to the Well and the Spring House. As long as this house has been standing, the Spring has never run dry, even in droughts. A small, cement structure was built around the outside of the original stacked-rock Spring Site, and a door was added, making a small shack-like House for the Spring. There were a myriad of brightly-colored birds chirping at me in their song-language, possibly telling me that I am intruding in their territories. There were also two whitetail deer that scampered off into the brush when I walked up; the ground is still half frozen, and even in moccasins I would be too loud for them. As I approached the House I was struck by the significant vibrations in the area, and I personally believe that where there are natural Springs, there is a convergence of magnetic Ley Lines, which is in part how the science and art of Dowsing works to find water. I needed to take off my shoes and socks to get into the House, which was only cold for a minute (it was twenty-six degrees outside, but the water was at about fifty). Barefoot and shivering, I went into the house and balanced on the loose rocks next to the East wall to get to the back room, where the original two Springs bubble up from the ground. I could barely see, and could not touch the water in the back, because the wall was too high. As I stooped to gather some water from the pool in front of the wall I thought about all of the things that are magnetically and gravitationally connected in this world. The magnetic poles are dependent upon the gravitational rotation of the Earth around the Sun. Without the Axis in a semi-fixed location, the magnetic bands that stretch along the Earth’s surface from North to South would not be mathematically plausible, because without the fixed location the magnetism would possibly dissipate shortly after leaving the poles; the connectivity is important to maintain the Lines themselves. Without Ley Lines, there would be no Magnetic Navigation, Dowsing, Migrations, or possibly even Cardinal Directions, because there would be little to no way to detect or chart them. Leaving the Spring House, my bounty in hand, I spot the two whitetail deer off in the bracken to my West. As soon as I make a sound, they’re off like shots into the distance, tails flashing like snow in the underbrush.

I get myself back into my friend’s house long enough to thaw out my poor frozen toes, and then I take off to the house’s West side, and into the frozen Swamp that lies there. Its quiet and still, with the only sounds coming from birds and the small creek that runs from North to South by winding its way along the property line (there is partially buried barbed wire amongst the trees and rock wall, so I must tread a bit carefully). I spot the two deer again, for the last time. They did not come back to investigate me again in my meditations. I wander along the creek’s edge, because it is dry, and the Swamp is only barely covered by the thinnest layer of ice, and I don’t feel like taking a frozen decomposing forest bath. I circumvent the Swamp, thinking about the Spirit of Expedition, and how it has driven Humanity to learn and discover new things in the adversity of danger and death. I face neither of these things here, only scratches from wild thorn vines and dead tree wood. About a mile and a half on the creek turns suddenly Westward, and there is no more trail. I have to push my way through the underbrush, because going back would be tedious, and I can see the bottom of the Hill that makes up the front yard of the house (the house itself faces south, and there is large open fields to it’s front and East sides). I clamber over fallen trees and through more varieties of thorn vines, over skunk cabbage  and around the thawing mud. It takes a full thirty minutes to reach the Hill’s base. I head West toward the small pond, which is the final destination of the ample water from the Spring uphill from the house. The ice around the banks is about an inch and a half thick, which is not enough to support any weight, but difficult enough to break with the walking stick I had picked up (a nice large piece of birch, an inch in thickness and about four feet high). Across the fence on the far side of the field is a Dairy Farm, and I was serenaded by the mooing of many cows, which was actually quite relaxing. The sounds from the impact of my stick upon the ice was strange and beautiful; it had an echo, and was deep and resounding, but short.  I broke part of my stick off in the water, and decided that my expeditions were over for the day; once one becomes destructive, one can no longer make forward momentum in their project, and need to rest a while. Back up to the house for lunch and planning this weekend out, and a short nap, just to be flat for a while.

My dear friend who I am staying with was home perfectly on time for dinner, which was Belgian Waffles and maple syrup, followed by chicken and rice soup with Mexican Hot Chocolate (a hearty drink, made from salted almond and spiced chocolate, grated, melted into below-boiling but still hot milk, stirred with a special stick used to make it frothy and light). It is nearly bedtime now, and I am so tired and stiff still from winding my way around part of this rather beautiful property. I am saddened to be leaving here: the isolation of this small farming community allows for the expansion of the mind and senses; I have not had any real stress or worry being here, beyond that which insists it’s importance over this small box where I spend so much time planning and re-planning, connecting to and observing the larger world. The temptation to stay and ignore this little box is great, but I have given my word that I would be elsewhere, in places full of noise obligation. I will keep my word, but I will not lose the peace and quiet that I have rediscovered here.

Brightest Blessing and Beautiful Days.

Snowflurries in Chicago

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A week in Iowa, with family I see not often enough. An Aunt that I’m having an amazing time reconnecting with; a Cousin who is such a sweet young angel with so much potential; Great Aunt and Uncle that I had heard stories of but I’m barely just getting to know. These things are both fun and difficult, because families are difficult, especially when they barely talk for nearly ten years. Sometimes its hard to talk to people when you have been disconnected for so long; there are a number of conversations that I would have loved to have had with my Aunt that simply never made it out of my mouth.

With a few blessing and some delicious snacks, i left my Aunt’s house New Year’s Eve, for Joliet, Illinois. I spent the evening alone in my room with some breadsticks and my computer, waiting for the drunk people at the end to finally stop partying. I had a date, you see…

Noon on the First of this New Year, I am in Chicago, a fortyfive minute drive. I have come to see the Field Museum. There is a special exhibit about whales, chocolate, being a bug, and Tibet.

One of the things I love the most about museums is the way people move through them; you can tell the type of person they are from how they speak to their companions, but that doesn’t matter when they are going through an exhibit, because they will always to one of two things: they will bump into you and apologize, whether its a gruff ‘sorry’ or a profuse ‘oh mah gawds are you ok” its the same reaction; or they will try to not be touched at all in the tiny spaces and not say a single word when they make any sort of contact, accidental or otherwise; several people tried to sneak past me while I was reading a description of Aztec-styled chocolate drink, and none said anything. The best place to watch this dance of to-touch and not-to-touch is from above. I stood on the upper level looking down at Sue, the T. Rex, and her flock of adoring human animals. It was as though I could predict which ones would scurry fitfully past, and who would try to be in their way.

Another thing about museums: you remember just exactly how small you are, and where your ignorances lie. The reconstructed tomb and Memphis market of ancient Egypt were almost boring, I have seen so many. Once you’ve seen one taxidermied animal, there aren’t many you want to see. The Whales Experience was truly a gift: sacred animals on display as a notion of international conservation (the Sperm Whale had stranded itself, and belonged to his tribe, and this was to educate us about the threats to marine life) and collected artifacts that allow us to look into another culture’s way of life. Cocao makes men just as crazy as it does women when they don’t have it: the seeds were part of the currency for the central-american tribes, and the Aztecs conquered areas just to have it shipped to their city where it doesn’t grow. Its astounding the things that a civilization will do for a commodity that select few are allowed to enjoy. There are so many correlations between the US and the Aztecs that I’m beginning to wonder of we are not more like them and not the Romans; there is a serious difference in how hard a distinction that makes, whether or not we are civilized and depraved or simply conquering for the blood’s sake. Depending on when you view us the answer is not so clear at all. I’m still undecided, and I think we need some other civilization to be compared to, as neither of these had very good reputations at all. You are who you act like, no?

As I left the museum, I felt refreshed and open. The long halls of herd-earned knowledge, the glimmering gems, the painted displays, they have a wonderful calming affect upon the soul. Driving towards the skyscrapers of this exceptionally windy city, i saw ahead of me white streaks across the road. Cold, hard snow. It blew across the ground, unable or unwilling to take purchase on the cold cement that is Chicago. It was beautiful too see when the city blocked the wind. I gave up on finding the Thai restaurant my GPS told me was in the area; the buildings blocked its signal, so I drove in a few circles, and the drivers around me were making me crazy. They would hump the white line while waiting for the light to be green, and tried to crowd you; there were so many honking horns and middle fingers all around…

I left Chicago in a hurry to get back to my hotel. the Windy City leaves no wonder to its name: once out of the City, you are subject to the winds abuses, which are many. My car was like a ping pong ball between my two white lines, while my vision was fighting with my mind about how to handle driving with the snow that thankfully didn’t stick to the ground. It was as harrowing as paying $3.60 for gas. I had to go to a small town named Oak Forrest, to the Circle K/ Shell, and paid $3.32, the cheapest in this area by about $.10. Good grief!

As I write this, I have my first Long Haul ahead of me. Twelve hours to Chester Springs, plus stops. Its going to be a long day, and I’m going to get either very bored or very frustrated. This though will help me set pace for the rest of this trip; I will be able to make adjustments to my schedule as needed. I can only hope there are more and better radio stations to the East, as all of the ones here are terrible, and my CDs don’t give me the weather or the traffic. We will see if they Faery can keep herself focused on the road this long…

The first few hundred miles…

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I don’t like long, drawn out, and repetitive goodbyes. Forgetting things is normal, and if I didn’t remember it, I can have it sent to me. I do not turn around. I do not say farewell more than once for the same journey.

I left town without seeing very good friends of mine; I forgot a very important couple of articles at the start of my journey; I almost walked out leaving the spare keys. Anxiety is an issue for me, I become short tempered and caustic. So off I went.

I set the GPS to avoid the toll road between Topeka and Kansas city, taking smaller highways North and East closer to my destination, which cuts my drive time by two hours from Ft Riley to Iowa City. I saw many very small communities, and a number of hawks and falcons feeding along the roadside, fresh catch from the tilled farmlands that wont be planted until next season. I had an argument with a friend of mine via text message (which is not recommended, and I would have rather called so that my humor would have been conveyed the right way, but that is made ever difficult by people when they don’t pick up the phone) and I wish I hadn’t. I need the people I care about because they are precious few and I don’t gather loved ones like wildflowers; they are my special roses that I tend for. However, with the wide open road ahead of me and skies above me, with no one else to listen except my radio, I finally vocalized what I knew was in the back of my head all along: I need to leave my roses to bloom as they will, and allow Nature to take Her course to nurture and neglect as She sees fit.

My place is not between the thorns of my roses.

About 100 miles from my destination my car overheats, and I must pull off and let it cool. it still smell like burning oil, but my Father says that’s normal because changing the head-gasket on a car is a messy job, and I need to degrease my engine, otherwise let it all burn off (which is not something he recommended). I finally pull up to where my Auntie is staying around 7:30 PM. Its a nice place that she dog-sits at every once and a while for friends of hers. I sleep in the next morning, shower, and when she comes back from Meeting, she has our sixteen year old Cousin with her. My Cousin is a sweet, bright young lady, and even though we don’t get to see each other much, I love her very much. She has great potential to achieve anything she wishes to pursue, but is plagued by normal teenage worries. In the two days since, we’ve been able to spend some time together, at a small get together and a day-trip to the Amana Community here near Cedar Rapids. Since we really don’t have anything else to do this week I plan on having a couple more “girl’s trips” with the three of us.

Also this week, I need to make the rest of my plans for this trip of mine. The two next goals are New Year’s Eve in/ around Chicago, Illinois, and my friend’s house near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, before he goes off  on the fourth of January. The next handful of stops include talking my friends in New Jersey to meet me halfway between PA and NJ, and then to Washington DC, to see more people and more museums. From there, I go to Nashville, Tennessee, to try and talk to my other Aunt and Uncle on my Mother’s side. I also plan on a short day trip to Memphis, to see Graceland. South again through the Carolinas, to Georgia. I know a few people there, and wanted to see them all before heading to Savannah. West then, to New Orleans; visit there before Mardi Gras, and turn again Northward to Ft Polk, and see friends from this past deployment. Then to Tulsa, Oklahoma, for more people, and through OKC to get to the Grand Canyon. Serious South-West from there, to San Diego, California, to visit my Father’s oldest brother. Turn North again to Santa Monica to visit my youngest Aunt, then drive HW1 to Monterrey/ Santa Cruz, and I’m Home. I’m allowing myself about a week to two weeks to make sure everyone sees me, and to get my paperwork, finances, and life in order, then I’m off again: this time to Hawaii, to stay with my Godsister while she waits for her knight in shinning armor to come home. This is going to be a fun month to be sure.

My time along these American roads will be spent alone for the most part. I have yet to find anyone else with some spare funds or time to join me on this Journey of mine, and I’m beginning to think that it might be a form of Providence that I learn to be with myself. I have spent very little time being me with myself alone these last four years; I seem to be a stranger in my own mirror, and that is not an idea that I want to live with. I am finding myself with these miles, and I might be the luckiest girl alive to know the freedom that comes with being able to simply turn my car to whichever direction my imagination fancies. I will be able to figure out what it is that sparks that drive in me, the creative and artistic abilities that have been unfed and neglected for so long that they are hardly recognizable. I am allowing myself the freedom to find the passion in my heart and the flurry in my mind that makes every living day sparkle and shine as the stars on a clear night. This will be my epic adventure, my story to show how the coming of age is much older than it has become, and that it is never too late to make good on those promises you made to yourself as a child. These ramblings, my recollections, my gift to you viewing my crossroads from your life are meant neither as a political, social, or monetary commentary. This is me growing up again, after again and again being an adult in a room full of half-children and the mentally elderly. This isn’t saying that everyone I have known isn’t who they are meant to be; this is me saying that I have had precious little company to help be climb this rockface.

So here I have already started. Headstrong and headfirst into the wild wild wild unknown of what I see before me…