Friday, December 9, 2011

You talkin' to me?

Bits of talkytalk at our house recently:

Ameranth (checking on her new recipe in the oven) : "Yummy smell! And it even made extra muffins!"

Me: "You mean extra muffins just spontaneously appeared as it baked? That is a good recipe!"

Ameranth: ".......yeah"


As I passed by Ameranth on the way to the bathroom, she's explaining how she asked her Internet friends for soup recipes.

Me: "Hold that thought"

As the door closes, I hear : "oh, that's not going to happen"
Spoiler Alert!

Last night J watched the movie Hanna, and I came into the room for the last 45 minutes. The title character is a young girl who (from what I saw) is on the run across Europe trying to evade bad guys and get to her supposed father. Bred in a lab and trained to be a fighting machine, she lives (although her father kills and is killed) and the final scene is her finishing off the bad guy boss lady.

J explains the significance of the scene, which echoes the beginning scene, and he states that it was a good movie.

Me: "But what happens now? Everyone she knows is dead- how will she live? What will she do?"

J looks at me in astonishment " I don't care"

And that is why we don't usually watch movies together.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Dumb Luck

This is my desktop background right now. I really like the bright colors and the way the colors fade slightly from the upper left to the bottom right. Not tooting my own horn here- between bifocals and sun glare, I just pointed the camera at what I hoped was the cactus flower and I got lucky.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Travel Tidbits

Here are some random photos from our road trip. Things I can't see fitting into a "regular" post except maybe "each of these things is not like the others", to paraphrase Sesame Street.

How frustrating is this? Riding in the car and getting a rogue tab that refuses to do its job. I used my handy-dandy Leatherman tool to beat the can into submission.
Too bad it was dark when I found a place to sleep my first night out. I chose the Dutch Motel, then the next morning saw a beached steamboat across the highway at the Scottish Inn. Maybe that was the motel. I'll never know.

This "love you" was in the sand outside a New Mexico rest stop.  I have nothing to add.

Ameranth and Anna- just a pair of rebels!

This crack is one of many resulting from the drought in Texas. #2 had to put a board across one of the larger ones near his house.

I just like this speckled cow. She had the biggest horns, and definitely kept her eye on us when we got out of the truck. I kept an eye on her as well!

A little too happy, you think? This was just in Utah and we had at least another week ahead of us. I wonder why we didn't get a happy face from Sally? She may have been ignoring us, or just checking on Bertie.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Travels with my Aunt

I was lucky enough to have my aunt Sally volunteer to ride with me when I drove out to San Diego to pick up Ameranth last month. So I headed south first to Pensacola to pick her up, after a two hour detour in Alabama to visit a former neighbor of ours. It has been 10 years since I saw her (the neighbor, not my aunt) and I wasn't about to get that close and not stop by. That same reasoning led Sally and me first to Texas to visit my brother and see his small ranch. And that really was right on the way west.

Sectaurs had offered the use of his GPS and thank goodness he did! I hadn't stopped to think that all my previous trips had included a human navigator as well as the driver. I was a little wary of the device and its British lady voice that I dubbed Alberta (because she seemed cold and distant-ha) but Sectaurs was right about the placement of the map being very similar to that of  one in a video game. I grew particularly fond of the speed limit info she displayed, especially since the light bulb behind the speedometer konked out on us midway through the trip.

The first day covered familiar territory and I had no trouble until I was driving through Hartford. I had glanced at a map and discussed with Ms. M which roads to take to avoid driving too close to NYC. Alberta seemed to be sending me south when I wanted to go westward. I took the plunge, rejected her turn and got my first cool "recalculating" as she desperately gave me alternate paths to go her way. I won that battle and the pink route line went my way. Shortly after that I saw signs for the Tappan Zee bridge and couldn't remember if that was the way I wanted or not. Pulling over to check the map proved the GPS was right so we were even at one each. She became Bertie and we settled into a good working relationship for the rest of the trip. I miss her now.

Sally insisted that she was 'just along for the ride" and that I decide the route and the stops, etc. She and her late husband had driven out west several times and she had been the navigator and liked having the atlas open on her lap. I liked that too, since it gave me the 'big picture' of where we were.  She was familiar with the roads and a little doubtful at first about some of Bertie's choices but in the end she was trying to justify needing her own GPS.

I looked for pictures for this post, and am sadly lacking ones with humans in them. I waited for Sally to turn around at the beach, but had to settle for this one.
She was looking for rocks, which she does everywhere, mailing them home to herself in those flat-rate boxes. I remember thinking "Great, we're waiting for Ameranth to show up, and Sally's going to fall off these rocks!" But she didn't.

Here's another shot of her in the background in Texas. #2's driveway is paved with sandstone (I think) that is chock full of fossilized seashells and Sally was checking that out.
We had a lot of fun, getting pretty silly sometimes. Our drive was carefully planned so that we had plenty of gas and no reason to have to stop in El Paso. Although we laughed at ourselves, we were a little nervous and cautious about where we stayed and being in a motel before it was too late at night. I think it was crossing into California where we passed through a Agricultural Inspection station. A stern lady asked if we had any fruit in our cooler, but the grapes we had were okay. We confessed to having an apple and orange and were told they had to be checked. Of course, I couldn't find them. Finally I handed them over, she confiscated them and we were free to go. 

A few miles down the road and still joking about the fruit lady, Sally pointed out that we were very close to the Mexican border, according to the atlas. Looking to the left, we could see a long fence wending its way across the sand dunes. We wanted a picture, but the numerous signs citing emergency stops only easily convinced me to keep driving. But when I saw an exit and overpass, I thought that would be a good way to get closer for a photo. We saw a closed gate and a sign stating that the road ended and all vehicles needed a permit to go farther. Of course, I turned around, but since Sally was chiding me for not going closer, I stopped and told her she could get out and get the picture if she wanted. She did.

If this picture were larger, you could see that the white Border Patrol vehicle that was parked at the gate is now driving towards us. Sally hopped in the car and we took off. Slowly. I stopped at the sign and carefully turned onto the highway. No need to stop me, officer, I have no interest in the border fence, none at all. He followed us. We were very relieved when the car passed us....until I saw the sign for the upcoming border stop. Laughing nervously, I said he was warning them about us and Sally wondered who we should use our one phone call on? We drove up to the heavily armed soldiers and waited for the interrogation. What we got was 'Have a good day, drive through'.  Whew!

A few miles later, Bertie took us through the desert west of San Diego, after we checked that we had enough gas for wherever she was taking us. Another few miles us that road, we surprised several men lounging at the side of the road at another border checkpoint. One came over and said pleasantly that we had snuck up on them since they hadn't heard us coming. He commented on my Maine license plate and asked where we were going. When I told him that I was going to San Diego to pick up my daughter, who had walked across the country, he straightened up and asked sharply, "She walked across the border??" No, no, let me give you her card and I hastily explained what she was doing. So, sorry Ameranth, if you ever get a call from the border patrol, it was my fault.

We stopped later when I saw a wind sock in the middle of the desert and wanted a picture. Sally hunted for rocks and I worried about rattlesnakes under the bushes.
The plane circled a few times while we made up stories about aerial surveillance but it landed with no attempt at contact with us. 

 I did get one of the 3 4 of us later in Zion Park after we escaped certain death enjoyed the drive through the canyons and switchback roads.
Jumping ahead in our trip (yes, Grampa, I'll write more another day) we drove to Kalispell MT where we left Sally to stay with her younger son and his family before she flew home. It was nice to get a chance to go there since Ameranth was a baby the last time I saw Steve, and I had never met his wife and son. But thanks to our family emails I felt as if I knew them and it was a fun visit.

Thank you Sally for coming with me- you made what could have been a very tedious drive a lot of fun.

Saturday, November 26, 2011


I'm back home again. Well, okay, actually I've been back since Tuesday night, but I've been busy relaxing, then having Thanksgiving dinner here and enjoying our company, who all left this morning. Back to relaxing, right?

But no, my father sent a gentle reminder that he has had no new reading material here lately, so I figured I'd indulge him with a post.

My road trip was hectic, tiring and extremely enjoyable. Between Nov 1st and 22nd, I covered almost 9000 miles, through 31 states. I drove down to FL, where my aunt Sally joined me in visiting my brother and sister-in-law in TX and then out to San Diego to greet Ameranth and Anna as they finished their 6 month walk across the US.

I did not know that geese don't sleep when it's dark like most birds. #2's 30 geese live outside his door and honk quite a bit throughout the night, and day, for that matter. He explained that they are on roughly a six hour cycle and pointed out that they were all sleeping at 2 the next afternoon. I found myself regarding them with the same irritation that new mothers have towards their napping darlings- "Why now? Why not when I want to sleep too?"- except minus the love. 

He also raises beef cattle, and they were more interesting- especially the new calf, and his longhorns.

On we drove, enjoying the decorations found on southwestern overpasses and welcome centers.  I had to go back with my camera when I visited this Texas rest stop. 

This was the New Mexico welcome center and I did check for snakes, although I am sure it was too cold for them to be a danger to me.
I also wondered about this shrine-like collection of plastic flowers. Did someone face the ultimate penalty for overstaying here?

Trying to make good time on those 80 mph speed limit highways, we found ourselves looking for a motel in a long barren stretch of Arizona one evening. We came to Gila Bend and spied this possibility.
This Space Age motel had a very quirky '60's theme but alas, the man ahead of us snagged the last room. (at an overheard room rate that made us rethink whether we would have stayed there anyway). Going back to the tourist info station at the end of town, we were told that lodgings were scarce due to a construction boom and Prince Harry being in town. Smiling politely, we left the crazy lady and drove on, discovering the next day that the Prince really was in the area, for military training.

The next day we took a secondary road though desert west of San Diego and met Ameranth and Anna where they had been staying with Sally's granddaughter and her family, waiting for us. It was funny to see Anna leaping in excitement when she recognized her (Ameranth's) car, and she was beside herself when I got out. I think she was done with the walking and ready to ride!
She did have a few more days to go, but finally it was Nov. 11 and the last 5 miles of the Big Trek.
Sally and I drove to Dog Beach and waited for them to get there.
Ms. M had sent their info out to local news stations and one came down to interview Ameranth. My cousin saw it on her news that night, but we haven't been able to find a link yet. It was very exciting to be there when Ameranth finished and Sally and I were so glad we made the trip. We talked to a few dog owners as Ameranth approached and they joined in the cheering and congratulations. Lots of fun, and what a sense of accomplishment! Go Team Adventure!!

I have lots more to write about our trip, but this is enough for one day. 

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween

Well, at least taking them down and putting them all away will keep him busy while I'm gone!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Ending October

This is what we woke up to this morning:

Yes, that's about a foot of wet, way-too-early snow. The leaves are still on the trees, for heaven's sake!

Oh, we also woke up to no power. And 3 house guests. The good news is the guests were our children, so the no water, no flush situation was slightly less awkward.

Plus, we were enjoying the socializing so much that we totally blew off the whole stocking-up-on-water, and parking-the-cars-in-the-appropriate-order-of-removal-in-the-driveway aspects of storm preparation. I don't know what we were thinking.  I really hate shoveling that has to be done to get cars out today when I know the snow will melt by tomorrow. We did have enough gasoline for the 10 hours we needed the generator today.

Oh well, it was a nice weekend anyway. Sectaurs is lending me his GPS for my trip, I am going to visit friends of ours in Alabama that we haven't seen in 10 years, and when I get to Florida, my aunt will join me for the trip out to San Diego. And the weather better should be much warmer! The only downside is missing J for the 3 weeks I'll be gone.

I'll be leaving Tuesday, so tomorrow will be dedicated to laundry, packing and panicking.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

I'm gonna do it!

After much deliberation, I have made my decision- I am going to drive out to San Diego to see Ameranth finish her walk. And then bring her back home. Because otherwise I think she might wander about there for a while.

Work is slow, so I can take the time off and J nobly says it's all right to leave him alone for 3 weeks, although he is not very happy about it. But Boomer will keep him company. I plan on leaving early next week, to be sure that I get out there before Ameranth hits the Pacific Ocean.

I got a lot crossed off my to-do list today: Two new tires installed; oil change scheduled for tomorrow; some Swedish Fish and Lifesavers bought for snackage, found (empty) gel caps so I can taper off one prescription and on to a more affordable choice; got some maps from AAA; checked insurance coverage for Ameranth driving our car, realized that I needed to pickup an absentee ballot and did so, and ta da, bought a cell phone!

I know, who doesn't have cell phone in this day and age? Us, that's who.

 Although J has been craving one with all the bells and whistles, we just didn't need one, until this trip came up. So I now have a pre-paid, least you can get, basic cell phone which the nice lady at the store set up for me. I had to sign an agreement that I wouldn't use it for terrorism and I told her I would barely be able to make a phone call, so no worries about that.

I have a loose plan- drive south to FL to visit an aunt, then head west. My brother lives east of Dallas, so that will be another stop, then depending on the time frame, I may be able to visit friends in Las Vegas before intercepting Ameranth and Anna in CA. I am looking forward to my part of her adventure!

Oh, and there was a very cool article about their trip in our paper yesterday.

Friday, October 21, 2011


My new bookshelves are done (except for some trim, as usual).
The bottom shelf is large for all of those awkwardly sized books that never fit anywhere, most of which are still downstairs. We thought we were so smart, using one of my hardcover books to measure and decide how tall to make the other shelves. Unfortunately, it turned out that I did not use the largest ones I have, sooo I had to juggle collections according to where they fit, not by genre. J and Ameranth were really pushing for neat divisions.
I did discover a few more duplicate copies which will go to the library book sale next week.

We also have our front lawn back in place, and the excavator man was kind enough to place the huge rock in front of our steps for us. It's been raining since, so we haven't neatened it up yet.

Work is very slow for me right now, since new training classes have to get their hours in and business doesn't usually pick up until mid-November. So, I have been thinking of driving out to meet Ameranth as she heads for the west coast and the end of her walk. I'd like to do it, but am weighing cost, driving time, etc. 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

My Girl

I have a lot of time to think while working and today it was about Ameranth and her journey across the U.S.,  projected to end on November 12, on a beach in San Diego.

From Friday's email from my father: "My summer's escapade, following her on Facebook and twitter, will soon be over! I must find something else to rush to the computer for! It has been as enjoyable for me following the twists and turns, the ups and downs, as I imagine it was for her to be actually experiencing the journey."

I am sure we are not the only family members or friends who feel that way.  Over the past 5 months, I realized my attitude has changed from "Wow, walking across the country is a neat idea, but do you really want to do that?" to taking it nearly for granted that she is making the almost 3000 mile trek. Walking. From Maryland to California. 

Ameranth started the journey expecting to have a good time and meet friendly people, and she has. Others have told her that her good experience is due to her being female, so people are nicer to her. I believe it's her attitude that is responsible for the positive interactions she has. She used to have crazy-colored hair and  a lip ring, but removed the ring and let her hair grow out before she left, to help that important first impression. She didn't consider that "selling out" but common sense. And, despite this trip, she has a lot of common sense. 

She's been vegetarian for 10 years, but let that go too, starting with not hurting an elderly lady's feeling by rejecting her pasta and meat sauce, and realizing that she needed to eat differently (for now) for more energy and making the most of limited choices. 

I have been amazed (and impressed) by this trip. This girl who went into our basement for the first time last year (we moved here in 1987) walked through this tunnel, among others. 

This girl who is afraid of the dark not only went through those tunnels, but 'stealth' camped by herself along trails and cornfields when she couldn't get any yard camping.  And speaking of yard camping, this girl who would have her English papers done, but would turn them in a day late and lose a letter grade so she wouldn't have to read them out loud in class, walks up to strangers and asks if she can sleep in their yard. In most cases, they offer a spare bed, a hot meal and a shower. Of course, the shower may be as much for their benefit as hers. 

This girl who loves her computer, TV shows and video games has walked 20 and 30 miles a day, in heat waves and snowstorms, dodging thunderstorms and tornado warnings. 

This girl who has ADD and gets sidetracked oh so easily, planned her route, finances and supplies, and has dealt with any problems as they arise, including Anna wearing down the pads on her paws, and the added financial cost that has caused. This independent girl decided to team up with another walker for safety over the Rockies, and through the desert, although it meant changing her route and walking style.

This girl shouldn't be called a girl any more, but I'm her (very proud) mother and I can do that. Now, just one more month to go and she'll be walking right into the Pacific Ocean. Then who knows what she'll be doing after she gets home again? 
(Of course, she has to get home, and this girl hasn't figured out how she's doing that yet!)

P.S. If anyone lives in the San Diego area, Ameranth would love it if you came down to the beach to welcome her to the finish line!

*All photos except the green hair one, are from her Adventure Awaits  Facebook page and you should definitely check out all of the photos there.