Eastern Utah
EMAIL ME AT: mgypsy97 at aol dot com

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Identifying flora and fauna

I know from reading blogs that many RVers are avid birders. Judy who writes "Travels with Emma" is an avid birder, but also seems to know all about plants and animals, wildlife habitat, etc. I go through spurts where I want to know all about the birds and plants of a particular area I'm in, and then like a Gypsy, I'm gone and move on to another locale. I have been trying to think of a flowering tree I had all along one property line of my place in North Carolina. It's been weeks, and I think "it begins with an "M"; but no, it might begin with a "C". Tonight I just did a google search for flowering trees of the southeast, and it jumped off the screen at me: CRAPE MYRTLE. I think this is the time of year my trees bloomed, and they were beautiful.

I'm a little despondent about how difficult it is going to be to take all my belongings back with me. They just won't fit! I retrieved a canvas carrier from the Asheville storage but wouldn't have a clue how to strap it securely to the top of the Highlander, or what I could put into it. I remember when I got it I was preparing to travel back to Asheville from CA after Bill died, and I had to drive like a bat to get to the funeral in Cincinnati on time. To add to the challenges, I-80 was closed for about 36 hours at Rock Springs, Wyoming, and I had to spend two nights in the last motel room in town, at the LaQuinta. I know one of the items I had in the carrier was a printer I bought in Sacramento, still in the box. One of my sons set it up for me, so maybe Mike will do the same for this trip. It cuts the fuel economy which I don't like to do, but I also don't want to leave anything here if I can help it.

Both the membership card and the Triptik reached Ara today, so I can travel without worrying about that. I have done what I can and now I have to let go. I know it will be even harder for my daughter, but when you raise a child to be independent you know the day will come when they spread their wings and fly off on their own adventures.

Now if I could just figure out where to build my next little nest.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The countdown begins

Just 4 more wake-ups! I've been doing a little packing and rearranging, but I just know that not everything will fit into the Highlander. I have the important stuff - the dog's space, food, etc., ready to go though.

I had my final appointment with the cardiologist this morning, and I don't think he was happy with me going back to CA. Also, I quit taking the blood pressure meds he prescribed and went back to my old ones, but dang, the pills he gave me made me dizzy all the time, and waves of nausea would come over me day and night. It is also when my blood pressure plummeted, so I don't feel bad about quitting them. He did say I should have an MRI on my carotid artery, and a doppler something-or-other on my lower extremities. I might do that when I get back to CA, but I'd like to get off the medical roller coaster for a while. This would be so much easier to contend with if I could smoke a cigarette now and then, but I never did "now and then" - it was "all or nothing".

I've been watching the weather channel, and there seems to be a lot of rain in the area I plan to travel next week, although it should have moved well to the east by then. Something else will probably come along and I suppose I will be facing the heat and/or rain for the trip. Better me than my granddaughter driving east. I need to remember to tell her not to use cruise control if it rains. I sometimes laugh at myself for all the little things I want to tell her, and which she is probably well aware of in the first place. I should just keep my mouth shut, but a fussy grandma is the price she has to pay for the AAA membership.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Problems with Google

I decided to clean out the trash in my google mail, and came across a huge number of emails written in Russian (or at least in the Cyrillic alphabet). I didn't put them in the trash, so my Mac must have automatically sent them to the trash for me, and none of them had been opened. I clicked on "Report as Spam", and got a message back asking if I wanted to report the mail as spam and quit the google group. Well I have never subscribed to a single Google group, much less one in Russian, so I clicked on that option. I immediately got a return email, written in Russian, and obviously instructing me to click on a link to complete the cancellation. At least that is what it looked like to me and is the usual procedure when quitting a group or mailing list.

I am not clicking on any link that I can't even understand, so I tried to notify Google. That would be like me trying to notify the Pope that his tiara is a bit crooked - I don't imagine he is taking emails either. So how to I get Pope Google (or King Google as it may be) to hear my complaint? There doesn't seem to be any way to contact them unless you are reporting a bug.

Has anyone else been plagued with emails in another language? My only guess is that I've received emails in the past from folks whose accounts were compromised. I didn't ever have a problem myself because I normally don't click on links in mail that has no message but only a link. When I received the first couple of them, however, and trusting the sender, I did open them. That was a couple of years ago and to my knowledge I've never had my own account compromised in that manner.

Google is becoming more annoying to me every day, especially when it comes to Blogger. I read lots of blogs every day, and when a blog refers to a photo it's a 9 out of 10 chance it doesn't show up on my screen. Just the text, but no photo. I have always thought it might be a Mac problem but I now think I'm being too generous to Blogger. I have been told that Blogger is not a part of Google, but it's hard to believe since they are so much alike.

Am I the only person to have these problems?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Something new every day

I made the comment to my 5 year old grandson that I learn something new every day, and of course I had to explain it to him until he was satisfied he knew exactly what I was talking about. Now he repeats it back to me at times.

That is the way I felt when I read some of the comments to yesterday's blog, especially one from Anonymous who said that if I touch the moving car on my GPS screen, it will return information about my present location as well as links to the police, fuel stations, etc. I had absolutely no idea about this, and I am very grateful for learning about it. I will pass it on to my granddaughter as well.

I recently became acquainted with what I could find out by touching the direction at the top of the screen, as well as the block in the lower left corner of the screen. Now I can go back and forth between distance-to-go, estimated-time-of-arrival, direction-traveled, etc. And I found by touching the top of the screen I can see the complete directions for the entire trip. Now I have something new to try. I always knew there was much more to the capabilities of the GPS than I was taking advantage of. I will probably never use the points of interest to any great extent, but what I learned today from Anonymous could be a great help in the future.

I would also like to say thanks for the comments about driving around Indianapolis and Columbus, and I will keep these in mind as well.

I'm just back from the dentist wearing a new partial denture, which I don't believe I will ever get used to, but I'm going to try. I'm so thankful I lived as long as I did without having to endure it. I haven't tried to eat lunch yet, but talking is going to take some getting used to. I may never smile again!

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Gypsy Granddaughter

Today I am doing what gives me more energy and satisfaction than almost anything else. That is, I'm planning a trip! I spoke with my granddaughter today, and she told me she will probably be driving a car back to school - Sacramento to a small town in central Pennsylvania. A good friend of hers will drive with her and fly back, and there is a possibility her boyfriend will fly out to Sac and drive back with the two girls.

So I called my AAA membership and had her added to mine. They agreed to send her temporary card out today, and since my current membership runs to November, I won't get charged for her until the renewal. Then I started looking at routes and running mapquest for the initial mileage figures for various routes. When she decides basically how she wants to drive it, I will then call the Sioux Falls AAA and have them prepare a classic manual triptik for her.

I think they should stay on or close to the interstates, for safety as well as access to fuel, rest areas, food and lodging. I explained that she can always look at the map for a parallel stretch of highway, and get off the interstate for a few miles. That works exceptionally well in states such as Nebraska, where the roads are fairly straight and a parallel road is about 10 miles away, with a lot of connecting roads along the way.

Mapquest first showed a route that follows I-80 across the country, but that entails going around Chicago, Toledo and Cleveland, which are also toll roads with road work in many sections. So I thought they might drop south a bit from Davenport and through Indianapolis and Columbus, and then straight over into PA. I remember Indianapolis as being easy to drive around, and Columbus being pretty congested and the roads more confusing, but it would be a definite step up from the Chicago area.

Sooo, my little gypsy girl is gonna love it, I think. I will have all sorts of advice for her and she will humor me by actually listening to it, and then probably doing what she thinks best at the time. I get so excited and energized by this sort of thing that I probably won't sleep much tonight. It will be a great experience for her. By the time I was her age I had driven several times from Cincinnati to Washington, DC, as well as a couple of times to New England, and that was long before interstates. I know she will love it.

Meanwhile I haven't made any inroads into my own packing, but I did buy Pop Tarts for breakfast and snacks along the way. I need to vacuum out the pop tart crumbs from my recent trip to North Carolina. I've also made lists for foods to carry along in my cooler for snacks as well as in the motel room or campsite. I hope I can do some camping along the way, and I think my granddaughter and friends will definitely like to camp now and then.

We had rain off and on all day and I think the high got up to about 71 degrees, which was a welcome change. The temps will go back up into the 80's starting tomorrow, but this is a promise of better weather ahead.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Needless Worry?

Just a quick post to say I think the fawns are ok. Sandy's parents have been here for the past three days, and we have watched the comings and goings of the baby deer with much worry. I think her father figured it out though - the mother was ready to mate and wanted the kids out of the way for a while, so she sent them down the hill to wait in the shade by my car. The two little ones would always go back up the hill alone in late afternoon. They haven't been back today, and Edgar thought he saw them with their mother this morning. So I probably needn't have worried, and I hope the mystery is solved.

Friday, July 22, 2011

At a loss for words

It reached 102 degrees today and I haven't felt like doing much of anything. The days preceding this one have been getting steadily warmer, and blogging is the last thing I've wanted to do, plus there isn't much to write about.

Lady just threw up on the carpet.

Two fawns have been on their own the past couple of days, and I think they are the same ones I took pictures of, with their mother, about 3 wks ago. There is no mother in the picture the past two days, and the babies come down and lie in the leaves and grass next to my car for much of the day. A couple of times the smaller of the two has started toward me when I'm taking the dog down the driveway, or else she just looks at me very closely but doesn't bother to get up and run. I always talk to them in a quiet voice - "Hello sweetheart" - and I am glad they don't seem to be frightened of me, nut maybe they should be frightened of people and dogs. At about 6 pm both days the two fawns make their way up the hill for the evening. When another deer goes through the yard it completely ignores the two little ones. It breaks my heart. Without another deer to care for them and about them, they can't make it. To add to their troubles, there are coyotes in the neighborhood, or at least one coyote has been seen.

We should be getting a break in the weather after the weekend, and I hope I can come up with something to say. There are about 10 more wake-ups until I leave, and I'm about ready to go. It just confirms that I can't stay in one place too long.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Routing problems

I think a big problem I have traveling in a car as opposed to an RV is the fact that I can't always find a reasonably-priced, pet-friendly motel along the way. Motel 6 has very reasonable prices, allows pets, and never charges a fee for them. The trouble is that they are almost always along the interstates.

In doing a search in the area of UP Michigan, the pet friendly motels and inns often charge up to $20 a night extra for a pet. There is bo way I will pay that much for a dog who only sleeps in the room, doesn't bark, doesn't chew on furniture, and stays off the bed.

I am tentatively planning to drive across New York and through Erie, PA, Cleveland and Toledo, OH, and then up through Michigan, west following the shores of Lake Superior, and then passing through WI and MN in the northern part of the states on US highways. When I get to Fargo, ND I will decide from there, but in driving to NY I really liked US 12 and would like to follow it all the way west this time.

I've seen enough of the south and middle of the country over all the years, and as far north as I-80 which I could probably travel on auto pilot. Driving to New York in May I really liked Idaho and Montana, and vowed I would be back. In May I had problems with the wind and thunderstorms, but in August I am afraid I will be hit with the heat. Too bad because there is no way I can get back to avoid the high temps in August.

So I am still left with the problem of where to stay at night along the way. I like to have several possible stops lined up each day so that i have a choice of when and where to stay the night. I could never plan a 3600 mile trip where every stop was already decided in advance - I like to be more impulsive and spontaneous, although it causes me some frustration and worry that I might not find something this time. I did that when I had the 5th wheel, often wondering if I would ever come to a suitable campground. I guess I still have the tent option this trip.

When I wrote yesterday's post I should have clarified my statement about what makes life worth living. I mainly write about my own thoughts and feelings - it IS my blog after all - and when I think about what is most meaningful in my life it is my children and grandchildren at the top of the list. If I was happily married or in a partnership, or if I had no children, my answer might be different. I realized a long time ago that my four children are my treasures in life, and nothing in the world has given me greater joy, satisfaction, grief and heartache than those four. Now I have grandchildren and the feelings are exponentially multiplied. I make no apology for my feelings, nor would I call anyone to task for a different way of thinking. And I certainly didn't mean to imply that there is nothing else that makes life worth living - I was stating what comes first in my life. YMMV! (Your mileage may vary.)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Making plans

I have been busy with the AAA maps and mapquest.com today, and think I have come up with a very interesting route, one that will go through some territory I haven't been through before. I will try to mix it up between US highways and interstates, plus maybe a few state routes thrown in. It looks like Monday, Aug. 1 is my estimated date of departure. For some reason I have always tried to begin a trip on a Tuesday, but broke out of that mold with my current trip and it has worked ok.

I've already asked my son to pack the car for me. I could do it and do a decent job, but my kids got their excellent skills from their dad, so why not let them do it. I'm also going to get my oldest grandson to "help" and observe, because he will have to carry on the tradition some day.

I will be seeing the internist tomorrow and hope I remember to ask for a copy of all my blood test results. Many doctors now hand you the results automatically, but I even have to ask what my blood pressure is with this one - he doesn't even tell me unless I ask. And he's a fairly young doctor! One more dental visit, and one more time to see the cardiologist and I'm outta here! Then I will have to go through so much crap just to have the next cornea transplant - EKG & bloodwork. I hope Medicare stays around for a while.

I'm feeling too good right now to be too aggravated about the medical system, but there could be a whole lot of improvement in the way things are done.

I have mentioned at least a couple of times that I might end up looking for a small Class C, or a B+ RV. I'm determined not to get too excited over the idea right now, but want to take my time looking and making sure I can live with whatever I choose to buy. Or maybe I won't buy anything at all - there is uncertainty in the country and the world right now, and uncertainty in my life as well.

I do know that I will continue to travel, I hope until I die, because for me that keeps life exciting. The kids and grandkids make life worth living, but the excitement comes from seeing new places. I won't ever be a tourist, or a museum goer, or look for local cuisines, etc., but I enjoy traveling in my own way and at my own pace. I'm well aware that I don't have the same ideas about how I want to travel as most people in the RVing world, but if I'm happy with how I do it, and I don't have anyone traveling with me to have to compromise with, then I'll just do what I like and what works best for me.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Highlander on a trip

I just filled the tank and figured out my overall mileage, which was 27.5 mpg! I am very happy with that, and that includes a lot of miles driven around Asheville.

The price of gas varies widely - Virginia is the lowest I've seen in the east at $3.49/gal, and New York is by far the highest at $3.99. It was a few cents cheaper when I left here, but seemed to go up between arriving yesterday and going out this morning. I don't understand why the speculators should make so much money on oil released from the national reserves. Maybe someone can explain it. This isn't oil we have to worry about getting from the Middle East, but is right here in our possession and the way I see it, the government has already paid for. So who is walking off with such a nice profit? I'd rather see it go to the government than the oil speculators. I may be in the minority here, but I don't mind saying I wish the basic price of fuel was regulated nationally, with the states adding their taxes. We expect the states to keep the interstates in good repair (which doesn't always happen) so they should get the $ from tax on each gallon of fuel. But the hourly change in price at the pump shouldn't be controlled by speculation.

I don't like to write much of anything political, mainly because I know I'm in the minority and will piss a lot of folks off. I'll let this sit for a while and see if I still want to include my thoughts before I hit "Publish".

I noticed that while driving the Highlander to and from Asheville, I tend to drive faster than when I was driving the Ford 1-ton. I'm not sure why that is, as the Ford certainly had the power and speed when I wanted it. The SUV handles so well and is so easy to drive, plus being more comfortable to sit in for a long time. I would like to find sheepskin covers for the front seats, but it looks like I will have to order them online, which I would rather not do. I can't figure out why they aren't available locally.

I have to say something about the "safety corridors" - they are NOT any safer than any other stretch of highway. I try to observe the 55 mph speed limit for 35 miles, especially the sections where "Fines doubled next # miles", but I began to realize I was just making it less safe for myself and others on the road. No one drives 55, and if they have to scramble to get around me they are not driving as safely as they should. I ended up just trying to keep up with the traffic, but I don't like it. I certainly feel more in control and safer when I'm driving 55-65, but I can't do anything about others on the road so I may as well enjoy the speed and handling of my vehicle.

I saw a flat bed truck behind me that was carrying lumber which was laid side to side rather than lengthwise in the truck. I notice the lumber had slid across the bed and was sticking way out on one side. I can't believe the guy didn't get off the interstate at some point and get it corrected, but he bumbled along. Then I saw in the rearview mirror that he was passing a big semi, and I thought to myself that he was going to damage the semi with that lumber. It hit the truck's side mirror which I saw fall off, but of course he kept on going, while I concentrated on putting some distance between me and him. These things sure add to the tension of the trip.

I was cold when I took Lady for her first walk this morning, and two hours later I turned on the A/C in the car when driving to get gas.

I put one of the PetRide covers into the back seats this morning. It is simply a huge piece of black canvas with straps that can be wrapped around the head rests to hold it in place. There is nothing I can see that will secure it where the seat back meets the bench seat, and nothing to keep it from moving around. I had been using a large fleece throw to cover the area where Lady rides, in hopes of catching much of the dog hair. I took it outside to shake it out, and there was quite a bit of hair that flew off. I doubled it over and put it on top of the black canvas seat section. She will have it all balled up in no time, as she rides for a while, then stands up and turns herself around three times, then lies down again. So much for keeping anything neatly in place. As much as I enjoy having her around, life would be so much simpler without her. Many of you will think that is heresy, but it is simply the truth from my point of view. After years of taking care of children I now have another big child to take care of at a time when I can barely manage for myself.

It's hard to believe that the time is nearly here to start planning my trip back to CA. I realize it will be necessary to get a place to live with a 6-month lease. During that time I'll try to figure out how I can travel when I feel like it and not have to worry about motels that will accept dogs, constantly keeping ice in the cooler, and not getting a balanced diet because I can't cook anything for myself. I wonder if a small Class C can pull my Highlander. I really hate to have to tow anything, but I'm not ruling it out, especially since this is merely in the thinking stage.

I notice that I rarely need to nap during the day since I've been on the iron supplements, but today I am wiped out and can do very little. It must be tiredness from the trip, and I hope it doesn't last long.

Friday, July 15, 2011

I'm back in New York

And I am really tired. The tension of driving all day and 400+ miles in Friday traffic has taken a toll and I am bone tired this evening. I was able to successfully extract the rocking chair from the back of the SUB, and it came out so easily I wondered why I was so worried about it.

The Pet Ride seat covers arrived and were waiting for me. I knew that I paid for one and would get the 2nd free. BUT WAIT! I also got two additional pads at no additional cost, BUT WAIT - what in the world am I going to do with 4 doggie seat covers! I'm looking forward to trying one of them, and wonder how my belongings will fit in the cargo space. I will still have the front passenger seat and floor for things I need to retrieve quickly.

Lady and I are glad to be back safely. We both agree it's much more fun to drive in the early spring, late fall, and winter.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Harrisonburg, Virginia

This is a college town in the Shenandoah Valley - James Madison University, or JMU as it is always referred to. The day was beautiful and sunny, but the traffic was horrendous. The traffic stopped abruptly at one point with signs saying "Accident Ahead". Once we finally got moving, there was no sign of an accident although road crews were working on the right side of the roadway - you'd think an accident would be pushed to the median. I did notice two ambulances going southbound while waiting but no signs of an accident were evident. In a situation like that you just turn off the engine and roll down the windows. Young boys were throwing a football back and forth, and a couple of them climbed a hillside to relieve themselves, although they didn't really go far enough. The traffic was totally stopped for over an hour.

I didn't feel all that great from the time I got up this morning, so I was glad to make it this far, about 365 miles. That will leave me the bulk of the trip tomorrow. I definitely think I won't do much traveling from July through August after this trip. The highways are clogged! In my memory I-81 has never been this heavily traveled, and I've driven it too many times to count.

I walked a couple of blocks up the street to a shopping area with a Walmart to get my film developed. Some of the pictures turned out quite nicely, but when I put the CD into the drive nothing happens. It doesn't even register that the drive is in use. I wonder if Walmart gave me a blank CD, although I would think I'd get some sort of message asking me what I wanted to do if that were the case. So I paid for a bad CD.

I will be glad to get back to NY and get the rocking chair out of the cargo space. It really impacts on Lady's available space. I don't know if I mentioned that I had ordered a product called "Pet Ride" or something like that. It is a covering that is spread over the back seats and attaches to the headrests so as to stay in place, and the pet can lie on the back seats without getting dog hair all over the upholstery (HAH!). I don't believe it will catch all the pet hair, but I'm hoping that by pulling both seat backs up I will have adequate room in the cargo space for all my travel items - luggage, cooler, etc. She won't exactly have a wide space but it will be long enough for her and I think she can stand up and turn herself around when she wants. That's the theory anyway.

These motel TV's leave a lot to be desired, or maybe I have gotten used to all the channels available on Mike's TV. I will sort of be glad to get back to "normal" with no television at all, as most of the programming is stupid, depressing, or nonsense (as in the case of kid's tv). I can remember when my children were little I watched Sesame Street & Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood with them, and sometimes during the summer we would watch Captain Kangaroo. As they got older they watched the Brady Bunch and a couple of other so-called family shows. Now you would be hard pressed to find any programming that is worthwhile. I don't like being old but I'm sure glad I don't have the responsibility for raising kids today.

Two weekends ago I watched Book TV at Mike's, which turned out to be a 2-hour feature on Ernest Hemmningway, and was presented from his home in Key West. This past Saturday the same program featured John Steinbeck (my favorite writer), but I never did figure out how to record it. I have enjoyed the Book TV channel as well as the Science channel and History channel.

I brought the USA map into the motel room this evening, so I think I will take a look and see if it is possible to avoid most interstates going back to CA. It's not easy until you cross the Mississippi River, but I'm going to try.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Mission to Asheville accomplished!

I went to storage about a half hour early so that I could get all the boxes loaded on carts. It was extremely tiring for me as there were 23 boxes, some pretty heavy. The driver arrived at 2:00 pm, and I quickly got the carts moved to the back entrance and the loading dock. The driver just moved the carts into the body of the truck and then unloaded all 23 boxes in about 10 minutes. It's a good thing about the loading dock because the truck didn't have a lift gate, which I was being charged for. A call to the shipping service took care of that, so I will watch my credit card bill to see that the charge is removed.

As I was waiting for the driver to arrive I wondered what in the hell was so important in the entire shipment. I should have donated it all to Goodwill! I promise myself I will never move my belongings again, above what can fit into my Highlander.

One thing I discovered in the luggage I retrieved from storage was a notebook wherein I had made a list of pros and cons for selling my house and buying an RV, back in late 2008. Some of the items on the list were so naive, and some were pretty much on target. I'm a lot more knowledgeable now, although I don't know if being wiser is the same thing.

I went to four different places today in search of a 1 hour photo developing service. Walmart let me down again - they have removed their photo processor. Rite Aid's processor was broken and being serviced. Two other stores didn't even have a photo department. So I have to wait for the pictures to show them on my blog - maybe I will stop at Harrisonburg VA tomorrow evening, and the Costco is just a few blocks away.

In the meantime, I took a picture of kudzu which some of you may not be familiar with. Sometime around 1876 the plant was imported from Japan to be used for ground cover and erosion control, and was planted throughout the south. It has taken over, covering over 7 million acres in the southeast, and is a good reason why we need to avoid bringing in outsiders to our area - invasive plants (and fish & wildlife for that matter) harm the local flora and fauna and in many cases eradicates it entirely.

Here is kudzu. The tall skinny object in the photo is a huge light standard on the motel property, and as you can see the kudzu doesn't discriminate - it covers everything. Click on the photo to enlarge it.

I am so tired I don't think I can stay awake until dark. I hate to take a nap this late in the day, but I'm nodding. Lady stayed in the cool, air conditioned motel room today. She still has a slight limp, but I think she is doing better. I hope she is just about over whatever it is by tomorrow because it is difficult enough for her to jump up into the vehicle, and even harder to jump out.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Busy morning

I dropped Lady off this morning, and asked the vet to check her front left paw. When she was out for her morning walk she took off at a sprint, and either hurt her paw or her leg bone. The vet couldn't find anything wrong with the paw, and while he had her on the table (and muzzled) he cut her nails. It only took one assistant to hold her, and she was the best I've ever seen her while getting clipped. Not that she liked it, or that she didn't try to squirm off the table a couple of times.

I spoke with the vet about her arthritis and ended up buying a product called Dasuquin. The stuff I've been giving her, which I usually get at Target, hasn't seemed to be much relief, so I will try this new (and very expensive product). After reading a comment from Penny to my blog yesterday, I have also decided to add some wet food to her diet. She will certainly love that! I also need to reduce her dry food intake to try to slim her down some. I didn't realize how overweight she was getting to be, and that has to contribute to the pain and stiffness in her joints.

I then stopped at the local AAA office and found they actually do the classic manual Triptik. I ordered my last one from the Sioux Falls, SD office, and there are hardly any AAA offices left that do that kind. The computer version is absolutely useless to me as it is too small for me to read, and it doesn't give even half the detail that the old one does. I waited while the agent prepared one for me for travel back to NY, and also requested some extra pages for keeping track of mileage, expenses, etc.

Then it was on to Earth Fare, the organic supermarket I used to patronize. Unfortunately I couldn't buy much since I don't have either the space to carry it or the refrigeration. I did get some bioflavenoid capsules that are difficult to find - they reduce the bruising that accompanies daily aspirin intake.

I stopped at a UPS Store to see if it would be possible to ship the rocking chair via UPS. Right now it is wedged into the back of my SUV and takes up way too much space. The UPS man explained why it would probably be best for me to just transport it as I have it right now. I'm beginning to wonder about the wisdom of keeping it, and if I hadn't already told my granddaughter I was bringing it back for her I would probably drop it off at Goodwill.

A few other quick stops were on my agenda, and I was back at the motel by Noon. I will have plenty of time for a nap before I need to retrieve Lady. I should have a relaxing morning tomorrow since I'm not boarding her and will just leave her here in A/C comfort. Maybe I'll go back to Huddle House for breakfast - I've only eaten there twice since I've been here.

Driving around Asheville makes me remember why I love it here. It was my favorite of any place I've lived, but of course the places lived while raising my children are dear to me in a different way. Asheville represents the best of anywhere - beautiful scenery, excellent traffic conditions, civilized, friendly and polite people who act like they are genuinely interested in you, and many more wonderful things. I'd move back here in a heartbeat if I was a few years younger, but even though I want to live on my own, I want to be near family in case of an emergency. I guess that's how you know you are getting old - when you worry about emergencies.

My camera needs new or recharged batteries, and I left the charger back in NY. I have been unhappy with it the past few times I've used it, so I might just buy a new charger while I'm here.

I hope you all are able to find some relief from the heat. It hasn't been too bad here, but much hotter than I prefer. I wonder what winter will be like.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Mostly finished

Denise and I finished the repacking this morning and lined up the boxes in storage until the shipper comes Wednesday.


I don't know why the two lines of code are visible in the blog, and I don't know how to get rid of them.

We worked until about noon and stopped for lunch.

Denise then checked out of the motel and started back to Durham. I took a lot of stuff to a Goodwill drop-off point and then came back to my room for a nap. I picked Lady up at about 5 pm, and she will spend the day there again tomorrow. I've decided that I don't need to make any more trips to storage, so I'll just keep her with me on Wednesday and leave her in the motel room while I'm meeting the shipper. She sleeps all the time anyway and I'll leave the A/C on for her.

I was shocked when they weighed Lady this morning - she weighs in at 87-1/2#, which is the most she's ever weighed. I don't understand what it could be except maybe the boys are giving her too many treats. She doesn't overeat - at least I don't think she does. I set down a bowl of food a day and she eats it when she wants it, usually during the night. I know the extra pounds aren't good for her bones, and she sometimes goes down to the floor very slowly as if she is in pain or else her joints are stiff. Poor thing.

And here is a picture of Napoleon:

I will probably turn in early this evening as I am still tired. I think I am losing my voice, which could be the air quality and allergies, or that I've talked too much over the past couple of days. Probably a little of both.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Checking in

I am too tired to write much, so I will try to do better tomorrow, plus add some photos.

The storage items are nearly ready for pickup, and I can give most of the credit to Denise. She has worked tirelessly, and managed to carry all the really heavy boxes to and from the motel to the storage facility. I could never have accomplished this without her help, and I am realizing it now. Our opportunity to visit with each other has been wonderful - as I mentioned, she is much younger than I am so I didn't every really get to know her except for a few years ago when I had a big Thanksgiving dinner in Asheville, and she came with her son, Adrian. I hope we can get together more often in the coming years, as well as travel together now and then.

More tomorrow . . .

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Finally made it to Asheville

I left the motel early this morning, like at 6:30 a.m.. I wanted to get at that lock early so I would have time to do something about it if the key didn't fit. Well, didn't fit! I quickly called "my" locksmith here in the Asheville area, Steve Fox whose business is aptly named "fox on the Run", and he came over to the storage right away and opened the lock so fast I couldn't believe it. He also gave me a used lock (that works) he had on hand so I wouldn't have to buy a new one for the few days I'm here. If anyone in the Asheville/Swannanoa/Black Mountain area needs a locksmith I can recommend Steve without hesitation. He also works with lawn mowers, weed eaters, etc. He's honest and the charge is reasonable. That's my plug for today.

I decided to take I-81 to I-26 and into Asheville that way. I normally go down I-77 and then west on I-40 from Statesville, but I knew that 77 would be socked in by fog and mist in the vicinity of Fancy Gap. I should have gone through Fancy Gap. The GPS, which I was beginning to like, routed me on I-381 to I-26. I figured I-381 was an interstate the 26 miles to I-26, but NO. The interstate part of it ends after about a mile, then you drive through Bristol VA/TN (one side of the street supposedly is in Virginia, and the other side is in Tennessee). I ended up going 26 miles on a regular highway that went past Walmarts, Lowes, auto dealers, gas stations, and every fast food chain you could name. Then when I finally arrived at I-26 the speed limit was 55mph. The worst is that I could have stayed on I-81 for a few more exits and then picked up I-26 where they intersect. A GPS isn't much good if you have to check them before going anywhere you need a GPS. I think I will write a letter to Garmin.

The plan is to enjoy visiting with my cousin for the two days she is here, and if I can get a bit of work out of her I will be pleased. You know these young kids though, they love to stay up late and sleep in late in the morning. (She recently took an early retirement from a career with the EPA). I hope to bring a few boxes at a time to the motel and sort through them and repack the boxes. I took a quick look this morning and I think I will be able to get it done by Wednesday afternoon.

It is warm here - not uncomfortable to me although the dog can't stay in the car for long. I found a bit of shade at the storage and opened all the windows, and did the same at a few other stops. One stop I've been looking forward to is breakfast at the Huddle House. Since I wanted something quick so as not to be reported for dog abuse, I only ordered the biscuits and gravy, but the next visit there I intend to get the bacon and eggs, and best of all, the grits! (Sorry Canadians).

I drove by the vet's office that I used to take Lady to, and stopped in to see if by any chance they board dogs during the day. I am in luck, and I have her scheduled for doggie daycare on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday! I haven't told her yet but they are going to clip her nails as well, and I won't have to watch. It has always taken 3 people to hold her down, and one to cut the claws. I just hope she's chilled out a little since she's gotten to be an old Lady. I had considered the possibility of boarding her for at least a day, so I brought her shot records with me. Good thinking, Marty!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Now I remember

I remember why I never travel from about March through September. The traffic is insane, and especially today on I-81. I have never seen it this crowded, and I have traveled it for years. There was continuous traffic in both directions, and while the southbounders didn't have any come-to-a-halt traffic jams, the northbound had 4 of 5 of them - serious ones! I will be looking for an alternate route back, although I-95 is worse so that isn't an answer.

I love the size, visibility and features of my new Garmin. I dislike the voice even more as I use it. Also, Virginia has raised the speed limit to 70 on most of I-81, but the GPS didn't recognize it, so it must be pretty recent. I used to drive 70 and above on this interstate, but I had an epiphany a number of years ago and decided to set the cruise on the legal speed limit and not vary. I figured it would save me from the Virginia State Patrol who have figured out ingenious places to hide so as to snag the speeders. I also realized I would save on fuel mileage (and was surprised at how much I did save), and be less stressed which might add some years to my life, or at least make me more mellow. I could never drive the speed limit today because the traffic would hum along at a decent rate and then slow down 10-20 miles an hour for a while, for what God only knows!

Speaking of fuel mileage, the Carfax report gave the Highlander an estimated 17/23 mpg. Calculating the figures for my first tank of gas on this trip, at a sweet $3.459 a gallon, I got 28.7 mpg! I think I can even do better where the traffic speeds aren't so erratic, but I'm really pleased with the 28+.

About 40 miles into Virginia I fell in love with the state all over again, especially the drive through the Shenandoah Valley, with the mountains to my left. One mountain in particular, Massanutten Mountain, appears as one unbroken mountain ridge for miles and miles. About the time you reach the southern end of the Shenandoah, you see the beautiful blue hazy Blue Ridge. To think I walked most of Virginia, plus all the miles the Appalachian Trail meanders from Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and into Virginia.

The Highlander is a georgeous vehicle for travel, although I wish I could sleep, eat, take a shower, etc., in it. Then it would be perfect! I was stunned at the smooth ride and the power to accelerate when needed. The way I configured the seats and all the luggage, Lady had a nice space for her bed, and she was able to stand up and turn around once in a while to keep her legs flexible.

I will have a relatively short drive tomorrow and hope to get to Asheville in plenty of time to try the key in my lock, and to call a locksmith if it doesn't work. I also made sure to bring some WD-40 to lubricate the lock, which hasn't been used in well over a year and a half.

As for the weather today, big raindrops fell just at the time Lady and I were getting into the Highlander, and occasional showers, some very heavy for short periods of time, fell throughout the day. Most of the day was overcast so I didn't worry about pictures, but I hope to get some decent photos in the Asheville area. It might be the last time I visit that city, and I'm really looking forward to it.

Thanks for all the good travel wishes. Even with the heavy traffic and sometimes-rainy-outbursts, I think I did pretty well. I am definitely feeling better than when I left California, so for that I am grateful. I have a ways to go though.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The road is calling me

I will leave for about a week in NC tomorrow morning, and I'm not sure how I can sleep tonight. I get so anxious before a trip although this hasn't been too bad, maybe because it is such a short trip. I have the car about half packed, with the rest of the stuff ready to go in the morning.

I'm excited that my cousin Denise, along with her dog Napoleon, will be meeting me on Saturday and stay through Sunday evening. I'm looking forward to seeing her again - the last time was back in 2006, and I will try to put her to work helping me get the storage contents ready to ship. I have a key to the lock on the unit, but I'm not sure if the key I have is the right one to that lock - I'll find out when I get there and hopefully I can get a locksmith to come and cut the lock if I can't open it.

Lady knows something is up and she is ready for whatever it is. I just hope we have some decent weather, though it's likely we'll run into rain along the way. I hope to get some pictures, but haven't had much luck this trip with taking good pictures.

The visit with the Doc this morning didn't materialize. I'm not sure what happened because I definitely wrote 9 am on July 7 in my calendar, but he wasn't there today. He comes over from Long Island one day every other week, and this was an off week. I will try to reschedule when I get back from Carolina and before I start the long trip back to NY.

I will be somewhere in Virginia tomorrow night, so I'll sign off from New York until then.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Storms in my path

I just found out from the Weather Channel that severe storms are predicted in the Roanoke VA area, which is in the vicinity of where I planned to stop on my way to Asheville. As it stands now I will be leaving on Friday morning and getting into Asheville Saturday afternoon. The shipping company is scheduled to pick up my boxes on Wednesday, and I'm hoping I can get everything done by then.

The company emailed me the bill of lading which I'm supposed to print and give to the driver, but since I don't have access to a printer I'm not sure how to go about doing it. I'm hoping I can take a copy of the paperwork on a flashdrive to a place like Office Depot and get it printed. Also, I plan to get the rocking chair back to NY if I can and store it in Mike's basement until Ara's next school term in September.

The shipping isn't going to be cheap, but it will be approximately what I would pay for another year's storage so I don't want to wait any longer.

The paperwork came through that allows me to affix my SD license plates to the Highlander. I didn't want to travel out of the state with the NY "In Transit" paper in my rear window, and I'm happy to be legal now. The two grandsons "helped" Mike put the plates on the vehicle. They keep wanting to get into the front seat but I'm not letting them into the car at all. It would be different if I knew where everything was and which buttons and switches do what, but I don't want to have to pull over on the highway to figure out what is going on. Additionally, it will probably be raining all day Friday and into the night. I wonder if I should even bother taking the tent. I've spent the last two days researching campgrounds but it looks like Central Virginia is going to get even more rain, and the ground is already saturated.

I see the cardiologist tomorrow and hope I don't hear anything I don't like. I'm NOT going to take any more prescription medicines, and I will have to tell him that I scrapped the crappy blood pressure medicine he gave me a month ago. I'm glad my appointment is early - 9 am - and then I will get it over with and concentrate on getting to Asheville. I have my clothes packed but need to get the cooler ready and then decide about the tent. I probably shouldn't take any more than absolutely necessary since I'll likely be hauling back a rather large rocking chair. Poor Lady.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Shipping Service, 2nd post 7/5

In response to a request from Teri, who didn't leave an email address so I could reply, I want to say a bit about the service I referred to in my post today. Here is the link to the company: TransitSystemsInc
The person I spoke with explained the options - I could use motor freight, which is cheaper, but any furniture would have to be bubble wrapped for them to include it. They also can provide professional movers to come in and prepare items for shipping but it costs more.

My sister sent some furniture from her house in Clermont FL a few weeks ago, when she sold the house and moved back to CA. She seemed to be satisfied with this company, and the items shipped here arrived in good shape. TransitSystemsInc was the first name to appear when I googled moving companies, and I later found out it was the same company my sister used.

You can request a quote online but I called the 800 number as I prefer to speak to a person. I didn't have a clue how heavy my shipment would be, but in talking to me about what was included the rep came up with an estimate, made the quote and gave me a quote #, and answered my concerns and questions.

My 4th of July

The holiday turned out to be a gorgeous day, weather-wise. The high was about 83, but it never felt really hot because of big puffy clouds overhead providing periods of shade, plus a nice breeze throughout the day.

We went to the town of Poughkeepsie fairly early while it was still cool, to take the walkway across the Hudson River. Sandy and I took the two boys and Lady. I was concerned about Lady being around so many other dogs as Sandy had told me there were always lots of them. I need not have been worried - I have never seen so many well-behaved dogs of all breeds and sizes. Even the Yorkies were not barking, and there was no barking or snarling of any kind, nor any kind of aggressive behavior. We met a beautiful golden colored pit bull who was just as calm and enjoying the stroll as any other dog on the bridge.

On the approach to the bridge is a doggie clean-up bag station that provided plastic bags and a place to dispose of them. There was even a pet watering station that was filled with cool water for the dogs.

It is about a mile walk to the middle, which is as far as we went, plus the mile back. We took our time and all enjoyed the morning's excursion, after which we had lunch at a place with an outdoor covered patio, so we could bring Lady out of the car and let her sit with us while we ate. I came home and took a nap, but I think the boys never stopped to rest at all.

A couple of hours later, we went to the "beach" which is nearby. It was once a quarry as I understand it, and the workmen found a spring and just let the quarry fill with water. It is well kept by the county (I think) which charges admission and provides lifeguards, as well as enforces enough rules that it is a nice and safe place for families. (My senior status got me in free, and Justin was also a freebie as he is still 2 yrs old) I was surprised at the make-up of the crowd - many of the families were multi-generational which is so nice to see. There were various game areas, for volleyball and other types of play.

The pictures are hazy because the morning was hazy. I took a lot of pictures with my Minolta fiim camera, and I'm looking forward to finishing the roll so I can see how they turned out. My experience has been that the color and definition is so much better with the film, although a hazy day is a hazy day. (I know that about 99-9/10 of the people love digital cameras and wouldn't use anything else, but I can't see what is on that screen, no matter what I do. I prefer looking through the view finder, and I prefer the resulting photos as well. So I am not looking to debate the merits of digital.)

A sign at the beginning of the walkway across the Hudson River:

Looking up river:

Looking south and the Mid-Hudson bridge across the river:

When I was waiting to get my rig in the fall of 2008 I bought my first GPS. I tried to figure it out and after a few frustrating minutes I put it back into the box and into the console of my Jeep. While driving through Poughkeepsie I happened to get into the wrong lane and found myself on the Mid-Hudson bridge. I crossed the bridge and as soon as possible, pulled off the highway and into a parking lot, where I was determined to get the darn GPS to work for me. I've been mostly happy with it ever since.

Poughkeepsie, NY:

At the beach:


Now that the holiday is past and everyone has gone back to work and to daycare, I have been looking into a shipping company to have my things moved from the Asheville storage to CA. I may try to get the rocking chair back to NY and store it in Mike's basement, as that will be the biggest problem if I use motor freight for shipping. I even looked into renting a U-Haul moving truck and a tow dolly for my Highlander, but that costs more than the freight charges, and they would only allow me 9 days and enough miles that I would have to take the shortest route across the country. So that is not a viable solution. I'm sure I will figure out something and probably at the last minute. They need 24 hours notice for motor freight, and if I can get rid of some of the contents I think it will be ok. Some of the boxes contain files of genealogy material and are very heavy.

The gentleman I spoke with said there will be 1 guy on the truck and I should have someone there to assist him if there is any heavy furniture. A liftgate truck is $72 extra, and while it would be easier I'm still undecided about it. I figure I moved every single item into that storage unit, and then after a year I pared down some of it and moved it all myself to a smaller unit. I am certain there isn't a box I can't manage myself, and I may break some of the heavier ones down into two separate boxes. I should have taken care of this situation a while back, but since I didn't I'll just have to buckle down and do it now.