Eastern Utah
EMAIL ME AT: mgypsy97 at aol dot com

Monday, April 30, 2012

One more dumb thing!

I did it again - I fell this morning. My oldest grandson (5 yrs old) was late getting up so I went upstairs to coax him to get out of bed and ready for school. I was teasing him and asked if he wanted me to carry him downstairs (about 65#). He shook his head yes, and I was surprised I could even lift him up, but I did. Made it down to the last step, and I don't know if one foot slid off the step or if my ankle twisted, but I fell, holding Josh. He was ok, and I figured I'd be ok (I am), but it is so embarrassing to do that. Old people fall, and I'm not old yet!

This is the 3rd time I've fallen after making a dumb decision - 1) lifting a full propane tank up and into a mounted truck camper; standing on the open tailgate of my truck and taking a step backwards; and now this. I hit my head on the hardwood floor this time, which was not as hard and the desert floor, or the pavement at the recycling center. It doesn't hurt so I guess I'm just fine and just bruised my ego.

Thanks to all who responded to my dilemma with an old dog. It think you all are correct - she is just getting old (although she hasn't fallen yet) and is not as interested in people as she once was. She is good with all my family, which I appreciate, including my brother and his family in Milwaukee. I should be glad she isn't demanding and is so easy-going. A few days ago she rared into life and barked loudly and lustily, something I haven't heard from her in a while. Something had gone through the yard, and she doesn't bark at the deer so it must have been another dog or a fox. It's good to know she can come alive like that when danger is near.

Thanks also for the comments on Blogger vs. Word Press. I haven't really used the new Blogger interface except for one day when it appeared and I didn't like it at all. I did notice that photos loaded easily and lightning fast, which is a real plus even though I don't post as many pictures every day. I think I just don't care for what I remember to be a blank screen, and I feel the same about Gmail. Of course the screen isn't entirely blank, but I like lines delineating the different areas on the page, and I like words for actions rather than icons. There is nothing more aggravating to me than to have to scroll over a bunch of icons that don't look like anything in order to read what they are. Leave the icon, but also leave the word or at least a hint. In the meantime I have another option if I want one, and I'm sure I could find more but it takes some looking.

I have a whole list of errands to run today, so I'd better get moving - after I finish the last delicious cup of coffee in the pot!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Old dogs

Lady has had lots of interest and attention from little people this weekend. She is used to my grandsons, and they are very careful to be gentle with her, understanding that she is old and doesn’t like to be rough-handled. But some of the visitors are either very young or have active dogs in their own households, such as labs, and I’ve been hovering to make sure no one pokes too close to her eyes, messes with her paws, etc.

I notice that she looks away when they are trying to play with her, and doesn’t seem to engage at all. In fact, with most adults who are new to her she will want to check them out but really doesn’t want to engage. She loves my daughter-in-law, but with most other adults she just doesn’t seem to want to be bothered. I was wondering if anyone has had this experience with their dog(s) or if someone knows a lot about dog behavior and can comment on this. She is always gentle, never acts like she is going to react, nor does she ever growl. Because she has never lived around small children it makes me nervous and I want to protect the children as well as the dog. I don't remember her being like this when she was younger.

A note to Dizzy, I tried writing the above paragraphs in word, in an enlarged and bold font. When I pasted it into Word Press, the result was what I normally get from WP - smaller font & lighter print. So it's not going to solve my problem with blogging in WP, and I would guess that only paying the premium will allow me to change the look and size of print.

What a beautiful day today has been! Although it has never gotten above 61F, the sun is shining and it feels good being outside.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Trying Word Press

Since I received the dreaded notice that Blogger is switching permanently to the new interface during the next month, I decided it was time to get serious about looking for an alternative. Thanks to Barbara of Me and My Dog I re-read her post about switching to Word Press and decided to try it. Exporting the posts and comments from Blogger was easy enough, and they were soon available in Word Press. When I attempted to do some tweaking, however, the glow soon faded. For example, an important thing to me is to use a slightly larger font size, and to use the bold feature. My eyesight isn't what it once was, and although I know a lot of readers can see much better than I can, I think there may be enough seniors out there who appreciate an easier to read font.

Everything in Word Press, including all the helps and instructions, seem to be in a grey color print rather than black. I have tons of trouble with that. I found that I can customize the fonts, but at a charge of $30 per year (I'm writing this from memory, but I'm nearly sure that's what the charge is.) There is probably a big advantage in paying for the premium subscription rather than using free, but I don't feel my blog warrants the cost. If I had a business going on the side, or maybe if my focus was a bit different, it might be worth it. I'm just writing a plain journal-type blog, and those who find some of what I write to be of interest will read it. I have a site meter widget but find that I rarely look at it on a daily basis, so I'm not writing to rack up the number of readers or comments.

Which brings me to another point I'd rather not even discuss, but I feel I have to say it even though it probably won't change anything. That is, I am well aware that not everyone likes me or my blog. So DON'T READ IT! Is that concept so hard to comprehend? I know several of us have been plagued with comments that are full of ridicule and sarcasm, and I don't understand why those commenters can't just get a life and read only blogs they enjoy.

Back to Word Press vs Blogger, I think I could make the switch except for the cost of making it easier to read for me and whomever else out there appreciates a bit of help. At least I now have a duplicate blog with nearly all my posts should Blogger decide to delete my account. I have heard several folks say they went to their blog one day to find it had been closed or deleted by Blogger, and I sure don't want to lose my several years of efforts in that manner although I can't imagine why Blogger would even do that. I do back up my Blogger account from time to time, but I'm not sure how I would go about opening the backup into a form that is readable unless it would be to import it into another blogging program.

I didn't go to soccer this morning and I feel bad about it, but I am cold and it is windy outside. I have been cold the past few days, and sometimes have trouble getting enough air into my lungs, so I'm staying out of the elements for today.

When I posted my pictures several weeks ago of the space shuttle Challenger, I had no idea that NASA would be sending shuttles to DC, LA and NY. I just felt a push to scan and post those pictures. The shuttle flew into NY yesterday and though I didn't get to see it, they showed a few seconds of it against the NY skyline on the news.

I've mentioned that I'm not all that interested in planes, but I had another experience back in the 1980's when the Concorde flew into San Francisco. I was at the annual Corps of Engineers picnic which was held in a mid-town park, and all of the sudden I looked up to see an immense plane flying so low, and so slow, and so quietly, that it was almost surreal. I think they had to take measures to avoid the sonic booms and noise while going into SFO, which is 100+ miles from Sacramento. It was a beautiful sight, like a gigantic bird soaring just above the treetops.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Not much luck today

I set out this morning to find another historical site in the area. I had a difficult time finding it and ended up driving up a winding road for several miles and then back down again. The site turned out to be exactly where it should have been, and that is where I made the turn to go up that hill. I drove onto the grounds but found it is only open by appointment until the summer months.

I then went to a nearby kennel to see if it was a place I might want to leave Lady for a few days. One of the employees took me on a tour and showed me their kennels, runs, etc., and I decided to go ahead and set up her 4 days stay when we drive to PA for the graduation. I had Lady in the car and even brought her into the building so it would be familiar when I bring her back. It is a load off my mind to have that taken care of. I used to use a kennel in Hyde Park, but I don't think the owner liked Lady very much.

A trip to Walmart to buy a new band for my wristwatch rounded out the morning and I just decided to come home. It has been sunny for most of the day but very windy and I feel cold even though it is 45 degrees outside.

So that's it for a few days. Maybe I'll explore some more next week.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Hyde Park and the FDR Home & Museum

Lady and I left for Hyde Park at about 9:30 this morning. It was a nice drive along the Albany Post Road, and the traffic wasn't bad even through Poughkeepsie. It is about 20 miles from here, so we arrived at a very good time. I hit the Visitors' Center and stamped my passport book first, then spent some money in no time on a few items in the shop. They have so much there I think I could spend several months' retirement money in no time at all. I got myself a t-shirt, a guidebook of the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area, and a couple of books for the kids. This is the V.C.

I presented my American the Beautiful senior pass and got free admission to the Home Tour & Museum. On the way to the home we stopped at the Rose Garden (no roses blooming yet) and Presidential grave site. The marble stone isn't set on the graves, but in back of them. You can barely make out the mounds of earth under which lie Franklin and Eleanor; Franklin's is marked by the flag.

Behind the grave marker is a sundial, barely noticeable here, under which are buried two of Roosevelt's dogs, including Fala, "The First Dog".

We passed the Coach House, although I didn't go in and explore. After the house tour I wanted to go back to the car and let Lady walk in a nearby field for a few minutes.

I loved the house! It isn't pretentious, and looks like it would have been a comfortable place to live. The huge library with lots of comfortable furniture was the President's favorite room, and I think it would be mine as well. So many homes that are turned into museums have uncomfortable looking furniture that you wouldn't dare sit on, but this one gives the appearance that life was actually lived there. Outside the kitchen door is the wash house, and I took a picture of probably what was the coal cellar - does anyone remember those? They had to heat the water for all the laundry such a house would generate.

The Museum and Library are currently under renovation both inside and out, but visitors are still allowed access - soon they will have to close it temporarily to finish renovations inside the building.

Here are a few more pictures of the grounds.

And this is the nice field enjoyed by Her Ladyship.

Speaking of the old girl, she is doing quite well. Still doesn't like to jump in or out of the car, but is much better at the stairs, as well as in getting up and down and walking about.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

A day trip south

We drove down to Sandy's parents' home today for "lunch" which turned out to be a full dinner. Her dad's sister was visiting from Puerto Rico, and many of the foods they have been serving this past week are the things they ate back in Portugal. I love the cooking too and enjoyed every bit of it - oh so many dishes, vegetables and meats, and then followed up with several desserts. I always love the espresso with a drop of sambucca at the end of the meal. Sandy's aunt has traveled and lived all over the world as a military wife, and now her daughter has been with the government in numerous parts of the world. As a traveler, although not nearly so well traveled as they are, I loved hearing the stories of the countries they've been in. It's too bad I won't fly any more because there are so many places I didn't get to. I am very happy seeing more of the U.S. the past few years though.

It has rained steadily all day, is forecast to continue for the next week, and the temperature has dropped at least 20 degrees. I'm glad my daughter-in-law was driving.

We talked to my son earlier today via Skype. Sandy showed me how to add him to my list of contacts. I have several people on my list, but only two actually can connect. I don't know the first thing about it, nor do I understand how to fix the contacts that need fixing.

I'm going to bed early tonight. I ate so much today I will actually waddle towards my bedroom!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Saturday Soccer

This is Saturday so it must be soccer.
And in hopes I'm on a roll here, I will try to download a picture or two of the T-Ball game a couple of days ago.
I really don't know what to do about blogging. I don't like the new version even though it looks like it loads pictures more reliably and faster. I tried to back up the blog so I could import it into another format, but was unable to figure out how to do it. I am still looking at other web programs, but they all seem to have their learning curves, and freewebs, which I used for my Appalachian Trail journal, either won't let me create a second blog or I just can't figure it out. I don't find anything challenging about dealing with new looks and new programs. I've recently cut back on computer usage and would like to keep it that way. So I might just continue posting from time to time on Blogger if I can't find another program, but I'm not sure about anything at this point.

Friday, April 20, 2012

I have been thinking about the route I took through western NY to get here, and how it is steeped in Revolutionary War history. You can look into the trees, hillsides, meadows, and forests and just imagine what it must have been like back in those days. Even here in Dutchess County, which sits between the Hudson River and the state of CT, are numerous traces of history, including the Old Post Road. I am planning to try to follow it one of these days, at least as far as Hyde Park and the FDR library and museum. There were several Post Roads - one ran from Manhattan to Boston - and ran along old Indian trails in some places, through dark forests. It must have been frightening to a man who rode a horse carrying the mail from NY to Boston, or in the case of the one here in this county, it once connected lower Manhattan with Albany. I've also been interested in some of the names that seem to get a lot attention from visitors, for example, Fishkill, which is either a Township, Village, City, or Hamlet, and I can never remember the difference. In the case of Fishkill and E. Fishkill, it may be more than one of those definitions. The word "kill" is the Dutch word for stream or creek, and fishkill was originally called vis-kill by the Dutch. I've also gone through Beaverkill, Wallkill, and while I didn't go through it, I have heard of Peekskill. Peek may have been a person who owned the land on which that particular kill ran through, or maybe not. It is interesting that the organization PETA was trying to get Fishkill renamed to something less offensive in their eyes, but I don't think that would go anywhere. It is a perfectly good name and if anything, there should be more publicity on the meaning rather than just ditching it. Last night I attended a T-Ball game that my oldest grandson played in. It is so cute to watch, and I remember when his daddy and his uncle played. There are really no rules and the coaches just introduce the boys to the concept. Each team puts all its players up to bat, they swing until they hit the ball and then advance base by base, but usually just one base at a time. No home runs. The outfielders all converge on the ball and probably never get it to first base. When each player has had a turn, then the other team does the same thing, and this goes on for 3 "innings". The outfielders switch positions as the game goes on so each gets a chance to see the game from different vantage points. Also, no score is kept because, of course, they all score a run. I am now switched to the new and improved blogger, and have made several attempts to load some pictures but to no avail. I am fed up with Google, and I don't care if anyone disagrees with me or not. After I published I took a look and it seems they don't recognize paragraphs, but it is just one long rant. I wish someone could tell me how it is improved. Lady is perking up, by the way. She is still an old dog, but she seems to be doing a little better - the two grandsons are trying to make sure she is getting exercised and brushed. And this morning we met Bosley the boxer who lives down the street. He and Lady just checked each other out, but I think they might become friends.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Springtime in New York

It is so nice to be back in New York, where today and tomorrow will be in the pleasant sunny 70's. That is my kind of weather.

I luxuriated in the shower this morning - my son and d-i-l have a water softener and the water is pure bliss. I know a lot of people complain about feeling like they still have soap on their skin, but it's difficult to get used to "clean" after using water that leaves mineral deposits. I especially love washing my hair in soft water, and have a load of laundry going right now - it makes a difference in that as well.

Walking Lady was so pleasant - the road is rural and surrounded with trees, a creek, hills, and in general, is what you should think of when you think of New York. Most people just think of New York City, which is a wonderful place like no other in the world, and I hope I can get there for at least a day this trip, but most of the state is entirely different. I could easily live here if all my kids were close by.

I fueled up the car this morning and was able to compute my mileage for the trip - 29.4mpg. I had sort of hoped it would top 30, but found that most of the way across country the fuel has ethanol added. Plus, I understand that some states add something during the summer months that reduces mileage. I don't know what it is, but I sure hope it is a plus for the environment if it's going to lower my miles per gallon.

My trip odometer has 3035 miles on it, but the actual trip was 3016. I reset the counter to zero the night before I left CA after fueling the tank. I used 102.6 gallons of fuel which cost me $445.67; lodging for 6 nights was $242.97. I spent 3 nights at my brother's house in Milwaukee. I think the tolls cost me $21+, but I can't see the breakout for some reason. I checked this morning but didn't write down the amount posted against my again because it still didn't have yesterday's bridge toll of $2.50 included. $21 plus change sounds right. I would have to go back to last year's entries to see whether I mentioned tolls, but I'm almost sure they were in the neighborhood of $35. The I Pass is well worth using no matter if the cost is the same as throwing money in at all the toll booths. NOTE: I checked and rechecked my figures but won't say unequivocally they are exact. An accountant out there will undoubtedly find a small error, at least I hope it's only a small one.

I see that google has made good on its promise to force everyone to use it's new and improved look. I have either deleted or forward to my aol account all but 3 messages in gmail, and deleted all the trash, sent mail, etc. I'm fed up with google and wonder how long before blogger does the same with its new look. You would think at least they would get feedback from the people using their programs, but they don't, nor does anyone else with a website. I love my credit union and have been with them since I was about 18 yrs old. For years they did their own website and account monitoring program, but now they have an outside company doing it. Of course they have to constantly change it to prove how diligently they are working. I hate it. I guess if I signed on at this point I wouldn't know any different, but they should take into account the preferences of people who actually have to use the program.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Arrival in Dutchess Co. NY

As much as I wanted to sleep in this morning, I couldn't sleep. I got up at 7:30 and with all the slow motion I went through, left the motel at 8:45. I arrived at my destination at 12 Noon. I brought a lot of my things into the house, and took a 2 hr nap this afternoon.

The drive from Binghamton goes through the Catskills, is scenic, and not heavily traveled. It is a divided highway (Rte 17) which is eventually being incorporated into the interstate system. The interstate part has a 65 mph speed limit, but the state speed limit is 55, so I was constantly resetting my cruise control. Most NY drivers move along well in excess of the speed limit, but I did see quite a few pulled over by the state police. I am certainly not about to get dinged for speeding!

I met one of the neighbors walking her Yorkie, Vickie (for Victoria's Secret) when I took Lady out. I swear the dog is in a yorkie costume, but she can't be that breed because she didn't bark once! At first Lady didn't want anything to do with her, and Vicki sort of was afraid of Lady. I think they might become good friends eventually. A man further down the road walked out into his front yard with his Boxer, but we will take one dog at a time.

The neighbor gave me a lot of info about the tick problem in this area, and I have ordered a collar from CanadaVets that paralyzes the ticks and makes them fall off. The northeast is heavily infested in ticks, in part due to the development of what were once rural areas. Now they can't burn leaves or brush, and the ticks are never controlled. I have always been pretty unconcerned for myself regarding ticks, but I think I might become more aware - usually I just scratch my scalp and brush through my hair, and let it go at that. I brush the dog after her walks and hope that dislodges any of them before they have a chance to burrow, plus she is on Frontline treatment for fleas and ticks.

The adjoining property is an 80 acre parcel, entirely in woods, with a sizable deer population. The deer walk through the yards usually twice a day, eat any flowers you might want to grow and are generally just a cute nuisance. They carry ticks, so while they are still cute, they are way more than a nuisance.

Debbie also recommended a local vet in case I need one, plus gave me the location of a locally owned store for pet products. I will call the vet tomorrow to find out about boarding Lady for the graduation weekend in PA.

I'm ready for another nap, but my grandsons will be home soon so I'd better be quick about it. The only info I can remember about the trip is that I drove 3,035 miles from home to here, and took 10 days to get here, requiring six motel stops. I am so tired of driving, but will go to a nearby station to top up the gas tank tomorrow. I think I did pretty well on mileage.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Binghamton, NY - Last stop

Last night I turned off my computer, the TV, and the lights at shortly after 7 pm, and didn't get up until 6:00 this morning. I had planned to take a shower in the morning, but couldn't get myself to step into that tub. It just didn't look like it had been rinsed properly, so I decided to forgo it and have a nice warm shower tonight or in the morning. Left Toledo at 7 am and after a quick stop for gas I drove pretty steadily with only short rest and fuel stops.

Ohio has beautiful roads, especially the Ohio Turnpike. But they have section after section designated as road work areas, with a corresponding reduction in the speed limit. I only saw one crew actually on the road the entire way across Ohio; most were in the median, which was protected by concrete barriers between the median and the roadway. Even at that there were few crews or machinery in the median. I just don't understand it, but having driven safely from California to that point, I didn't intend to get a speeding ticket so I slowed down when they told me to.

Actually after I got away from the Toledo and Cleveland areas there was very little traffic. I was happy to enter Pennsylvania, which is beautiful in any season. The trees aren't yet in leaf but I did see some with buds that were ready to turn. I love the way the trees are close to the road, sort of up close and personal. In New York, they are set back on the rolling hills for the most part. Both states are gorgeous! New York's road are smooth as well, except for a couple of counties.

Lady ate her food last night, probably since I added a bit of wet food to the bowl. A few nights back she managed to lick the kibble clean and then left it, so she had dry food until she finally ate it the last night we were in Milwaukee. First thing when I get to my destination is to find someplace I can buy Cosequin for her. If I can find a Petco I'll compare the price of Cosequin to the pills I had been giving her - I know they work and won't try anything else unless it is cheaper. The poor thing can barely bend her back legs, which makes it difficult to do much of anything.

The I Pass has been wonderful. One real advantage is that your pass is charged less than you would have to pay at the toll booths. I just checked my account but they haven't yet posted the Ohio Turnpike charges, so I will share the total when it is all in. I get to use it once more, at the Newburgh Bridge in NY.

Fuel has been under $4 a gallon all the way to NY, but the lower prices are over and done with for now. I hate to think of what it will be by mid-summer. I also notice the motel charges are way lower than last year when I traveled in April, and I would expect them to be higher in summer as well.

I have a very comfortable room here in Binghamton, and the shower was the first thing I checked. I actually had to enter by an end door, but the rooms have double sliding doors and I parked directly in front. You can't lock them from the outside, so I don't walk Lady very far. It sure is convenient when bringing things to and from the car. Great trip so far, and I only remember the good parts!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Toledo, OH

Although I wanted to drive as far as Lorain, OH (Cleveland) this afternoon, I waited until the biggest part of commute traffic was gone this morning, and got a later start than usual. It was nice though, because my niece came over and she, my s-i-l and I had a nice time to talk. My brother went to work earlier. Also, I moved into the eastern time zone so I lost an hour. So here I am at the same motel I stopped in last year on my way to NY.

The weather has been pretty good - once in a while a few rain drops, but mostly clear and windy. I could barely make it from my car to the motel entrance because of the wind, and I will have to go out again with Lady and to get a few more items from the car. The wind is causing high pollen counts and I can sure tell it!

Lady finally ate supper last night after refusing to eat for 3 days. She has a really difficult time getting up and down as well, and the first thing I will have to do when I get to NY is to get her something for achy old doggie joints! I was getting a little concerned about her not eating.

I am SO glad I got the I Pass, and can't believe how many toll booths there are along the way; I had to stop at all of them last year and it is so nice to just drive on through.

I'm almost too tired to write down all the daily trip info, but I don't want to let it get away from me as I've kept up with it so far. I'm so thankful I made it around Chicago, and hope Cleveland will be relatively easy. That should be the last large city I'll have to deal with this segment of the trip.

Coming through Northern Indiana I get a little pang of nostalgia when I see the RV manufacturers along the highway, but not much (nostalgia, that is). Every time I think about it and wonder what it might be like to try it again, I realize it is not for me. I sure am glad I tried it for a couple of years, although I'd like to have the money it cost me - even just the depreciation amount. I hope all the RVers out there have some great trips this summer.

I don't know if I'll be in PA or NY tomorrow evening, as I'm still making up my mind which route to take. At any rate, I hope to be at my NY destination on Wednesday. I know one thing - I'm buying a pillow to sit on for the trip back!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Milwaukee, WI

I left Altoona, IA in a terrible rain, before daylight on Friday. There was very little traffic and in fact I drove for long periods of time without seeing another vehicle in either direction. I am so glad I went through the midwest without delay because I see that the weather there has turned from bad to worse. The light traffic lasted until I got into Illinois and then it was tense driving the rest of the way.

I stopped at the Illinois Welcome Center and almost wished I hadn't! It was a full mile back to the rest area, around winding roads through the woods. I finally got there and found a very modern wooden building that perfectly fit in with the surroundings, but it was unmanned and I didn't meet a soul there. Since it had been raining heavily when we left the hotel and it was very early morning, I just put Lady right into the car. When we stopped at this lovely rest area I finally let her wander around and sniff the grass for a while, and then it was back on the road for a tense couple of hours drive.

I took a couple of photos of the Mississippi River from the rest area, but since it was raining I didn't walk down to any closer views.

I am enjoying the visit with family, and the drive to Chicago yesterday where we visited my Aunt in the rehab center, and then on to my cousin's house in Bensenville. My aunt is 85 and has just had a leg removed because of a blood clot. They are trying to get her strong enough to be able to use a prosthetic leg, but I heard from my cousin that the doctors think the other leg doesn't look good, so I think she is in for a difficult time.

It's great to relax in the evenings and just catch up on what has been happening in our lives. When my brother and s-i-l return from church this morning we will meet my niece and her family for a breakfast at a local restaurant, and then I will need to get prepared to leave tomorrow for NY. I think I will run into more rain tomorrow, but I'll just deal with what comes.

Yesterday while we were still in Illinois we found a place that sells the iPass, and I bought one since it can also be used on toll roads in Ohio, Indiana and NY. That will avoid all the toll booth stops, and I can top it up online or by phone if I need to. Any remaining amount doesn't expire and can be used on my next trip.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

East Des Moines (Altoona) Iowa

I have been driving in rain almost all day, much of it torrential. Fortunately there wasn't any traffic on the road until I got to Lincoln & Omaha, NE, and most of the way through Iowa. I am so tired I think I will close the curtain and fall asleep before it even gets dark outside!

I have spent a total of $6 for coffee so far this trip, but I have now run out of food. Since the motel is next to a Flying J, I decided to walk over and see what I might be able to find to bring back to my room. Nothing! Adjacent to Flying J is a Max's Diner. When I passed it on the way over I got an earache from the loud 70's/80's rock blaring through a loudspeaker. Since I couldn't get anything to eat at Flying J, I wandered into the diner and ordered a senior hamburger. I rarely buy a hamburger, preferring to know where the beef came from and what, if anything is in it, but about once a year I usually break down, especially on a long trip. (I sincerely hope there is no pink slime added.) While I was waiting for my order I was still subjected to the same rock that is playing outside, toned down a bit, but also TV screens in every direction. So the visual garbage on TV, plus the audio crap playing over the loudspeaker, made me glad I could just grab the food and go as soon as the order was ready. Sorry, but I don't like to see TV images in a restaurant (or even a bar, for that matter), and I don't really care for someone else picking their choice of music to blast out.

That rain today really has my nerves frazzled, so I won't take any more chances on saying something I shouldn't. The hamburger was pretty good, by the way.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

North Platte, NE

I was glad to finally end the travel day and relax. The traffic was fairly light except for around cities. I ran into 30-40 miles of dense fog in eastern Wyoming, and visibility in much of the way was about 3 stripes in the middle of the roadway. I can't estimate length in feet or yards very well, especially when driving. Fortunately there were few vehicles to be seen until I got close to and drove through Cheyenne.

I've noticed from when I passed Reno that trucks were driving no faster than 65. It finally dawned on me by Wyoming that they were slowing down to maximize fuel efficiency. I have been driving most of the way at 67, and hope my gas mileage is good overall. My last tankful got me 28 mpg, for which I'm grateful.

After 3 days on the road I've figured out why I'm not very enthused so far - I have traveled across country many times completely on interstates, but during the past 3 years or so I've driven on US and state routes where possible. The interstate scenery is so bland compared to the local roads, and I hope to return to the two-lane highways for much of my return trip.

Passing all the wonderful rock formations in the west I wish I had taken a geology course or two. I was going to do that when still in Asheville, but when I went on the road it became an impossibility. I would never take an online course because I know myself well enough to realize I need the interaction with teacher and other students to do well in and enjoy learning. Maybe someday.

The Motel6 in Wells, NV had free wifi that was fast and consistent. The motel at Rock Springs wanted $4 for wifi, so I used my mi-fi which could barely do the job. Tonight I'm using my mi-fi and it looks like it will do well. I will probably have good connections from now on - they are generally better in the east than in some mountain regions of the west.

This motel has indoor corridors which I dislike, but the desk clerk put me in a room near an outside door and I am parked close to the door. I made several trips to and from the car, but as soon as I get my shower I will start taking some things back so I don't have such a hassle in the morning.

Regarding the radio, I got Wyoming NPR all the way through the state, and Nebraska public radio in this state. With the exception of a political segment of about 15 minutes when I turned it off, I've had interesting commentary and music most of the travel day. I will look for some CD's when I get to NY, but for now I think I will stick with the radio from time to time. I couldn't stand constant music or talk for the entire trip, but once in a while it's nice to have something to listen to for a little while.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Rock Springs, WY

Yesterday I would have bet $100 dollars that this would be my last cross country trip. This evening, at the motel room, I have maps laid out over both beds in the room, so I can see possible routes. I was thinking about altering my route somewhat, but I see that it is actually the most direct and best way to travel, this time. But while I was at it, I've found a route I will try to take "next time". I hope there will be many more times.

Last time I was in Rock Springs was during a storm when I-80 was closed down. I think Rock Springs looked better under a cover of snow. There is a town somewhere in Wyoming along I-80 that I remember thinking was beautiful. Maybe it was Cheyenne?

I found an NPR radio station this afternoon that came in pretty clear, but the topics got me aggravated enough to want to call in or email the program. One was about teachers and how one has been disciplined for having a picture on Facebook having a glass of wine at a dinner. I can't believe it - it IS legal to drink a glass of wine with dinner as far as I know. I never did know much about using FB when I cancelled my account, but it seems that a friend (or anyone) can post a picture of you. I think it has gone way too far, and I'm glad I'm not part of social media (except if you call blogging "social media"). But that doesn't even mean that someone couldn't post pictures of me if they decided to. One teacher interviewed said he had to use FB because he doesn't hold class every day, and his students don't talk on the phone nor do they email - they text and use FB. Well, if they wanted to pass my class they would just have to get over it and get an email account!

The other thing that irritated me - and I care very little about sports - was the recent deal with the suspension of the Marlins' manager for a remark he made. The Cuban revolution happened over 50 years ago, and I think the Cubans in Miami should try to get over it! If they are citizens here then they need to recognize the constitutional right of free speech.

Maybe I need to go find some CD's, because radio, when it works, isn't working for me! It's a long trip, you know, but I suppose getting aggravated is better than straying over the rumble strip in the side of the highway.

I did get one photo from a rest stop in eastern Utah

The motel in Wells was really nice. Even though it faced the interstate, I couldn't hear a thing once I closed the door - from highway or local traffic. The one I'm in tonight is comfortable and even has Pergo floors which I really prefer to carpet, especially in commercial lodging, but I can hear road noise. It's not interstate, but just town traffic. I will no doubt sleep well tonight - the drive during the day makes that likely. Tomorrow will be about 100 miles longer, so I'll go to bed early.

Tune in tomorrow!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Wells, NV

I left home at 7:15 am and arrived here in Wells at 3:00 pm. It was a tiring day for some reason - I-80 to Reno was aggravating because of a few drivers on that roadway, but the road surface was better than I've ever seen it. The aggravation came when I was driving in the right lane and cars approach in the left lane - most go past me and there is no problem. If I am coming up behind a vehicle that is going slower than I am then I need to pass, but inevitably one of the guys in the left lane hovers too close for me to cut in, and long enough for me to have to hit my brakes. It happened several times and I wonder if it is a deliberate thing. I shouted a lot of 4-letter words in that 100+ miles.

Reno and Sparks, NV are always a bother to get through, but once you leave Sparks behind there is very little traffic on I-80 through the rest of Nevada. I made a couple of rest area stops as well as to get fuel. For some reason Nevada hasn't held the enchantment for me that the last several trips through it have had.

For several days before I travel I notice that I become very unsettled, unfocused, and distant. I should say that I do this when I travel alone, which is mostly how I travel. This time the pre-trip jitters were probably worse than normal, but I thought once I got on the road things would be as always. I wonder if I'm just tired of traveling alone. I really don't want to be bound to compromises with anyone, so it's always best when I'm alone, but I am tired of it. The thing is that I HAVE to travel. When the song of the open road plays over and over in your mind, there is only one help for it, and that is to pack up whatever vehicle you travel in, put it in gear, and take off.

Whatever it is I hope I wake up with a different attitude tomorrow. I will be driving through Salt Lake City, an ok city but one that I have never liked to drive through. I think it is a combination of traffic and the signage that has always bothered me. Oddly, about the only city I have always enjoyed driving through no matter what the traffic is like, is Albuquerque. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that SLC will be a breeze to get through.

I had breakfast at son Joe's yesterday morning, and dinner at daughter Jeannie's house. Having had brunch on Saturday with Steve and his family, I have had a chance to be with all 3 of my California kids before my trip.

I didn't take any photos today as the light just wasn't the best. The Sierras were a big disappointment - not a heavy snow cover in the mountains - and Nevada has been in a haze the whole way through. Scenes that used to perk me up looked like they were behind a fog curtain, so there is no reason to waste the time to try to take pictures. I have three cameras with me and hope I get to use them. Maybe Utah will deliver! (But not SLC - I just want to get in and outta there.)

Maybe I'll cheer up before I post tomorrow. Music today would have helped but I forgot CD's and cassette tapes I intended to bring along. I scanned the radio several times, and usually only two stations came in clear - both of them preachers. I'd rather listen to the silence!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Bluegrass Brunch, 2nd post 4/7

The brunch was good, the bluegrass was good, and Liam was a good boy. Well, until he started throwing the crayons, but other than that he was great!

See ya later

I probably won't be posting until I get to my first overnight stop on Monday, and that is providing the weather gods are smiling on me!

I'm meeting my son & his family for bluegrass brunch, and if I remember to take some pictures I'll try to post them later today. Then they are coming back here with me and he will pack my car; my daughter and her family may join us this afternoon. Where, oh where will I seat them all? I need to buy some folding chairs but there really isn't much place to store them.

Tomorrow my daughter is having dinner at 4pm, and I will probably do a last load of laundry in the morning so I can leave an empty laundry basket. I wanted to run the steam cleaner over the floors, but that involves a lot of furniture moving, plus trying to get the mounds of dog hair that hide under everything prior to running the steamer. I think I'll finally be able to relax when I'm driving 400+ mile days and settling in at a motel every night.

I'm hoping I-80 will have clear roads from here to Reno, and especially up around the Donner Summit. I don't think they get snow up there unless we have rain down in the valley, and we've had a couple of clear days. I don't have chains and don't intend to buy any as I don't partake in winter sports. If the roads are snowy you have to have them or they won't let you through. I could run into those situations from here to the eastern side of Wyoming, so I might as well not worry about it.

It's amazing the grand feeling you get just before striking out on a long trip, and especially a driving rather than flying trip. No jet lag for me!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Driving in mountains; printer back in service

Since I'd like to drive through the Cumberland Gap this trip, I decided to take a look at the Mountain Directory East. The Gap itself is no doubt well graded and easy to drive, but some of the roads I will take to get there are another story. Although I don't think I will drive KY-160, the Directory reports "2 miles or more of 12%, both sides of hill". WOW, is all I can say! Such a big deal is usually made of grades that are 6-8%, and I can't even imagine a 12% grade, unless maybe it would be like some of the hills in San Francisco, which I drove back in the 1980's. It is scary when you reach the top and see only sky until your car begins to tilt downward, and then you see an unbelievable drop that you have to follow through with if you don't want to hang suspended at the top. It gives you a rush, that's for sure!

I'm taking Mountain Directory East with me this time. I'd love to have the power of the diesel, but wouldn't want the width of an F-350 with duallies.

As I mentioned, I have been experiencing problems with my two printers - the monochrome laserjet (my favorite), and the all in one color inkjet (which I've never found satisfactory). I recently installed new toner in the laserjet, but then began to get a message that there was a problem with the drum. The printer is cheap enough that it would be a waste to spend money on a new drum, so it sat idle for a while.

I went to Walmart this morning to see if a transitions coating could be added to my glasses - it can't - and then looked for black printer ink for the color inkjet. The printer tells me I need to replace the black ink cartridge, while the guide showing ink levels indicates a black cartridge that is 3/4 full. Walmart had nothing for me, so I drove to Staples, and then to Costco, and found nothing.

I came back home and decided to remove the drum and maybe shake it a time or two to see if it would work. It shouldn't need replacement this soon anyway. So I opened the back of the printer and found a jammed paper, which I removed, and the printer worked fine after the jam was gone.

As far as my glasses go, I have 60 days to return them and get replacement lenses, for which I would just pay the difference. Since I got an extra discount of $35, I wonder if I would pay the difference between transitions and the original price of my lenses, or the difference between transitions and the price I actually paid. The optometrist told me I can go to any Walmart Vision Center and make the change. I don't care much at all for the Walmart near where I will be in NY, although their Vision Center is ok. I may just stay with what I have and quit trying to change things. There is a reason why I chose the lenses I have rather than something else, so I shouldn't second guess myself.

I took some pictures of my kitchen last night to send to my oldest son. The overhead light makes most of them have a yellow cast, but the first picture is more accureate as to color. I should have turned off the overhead light and retaken the pictures, but I was too tired for that.

Yesterday I bought a few things for my trip at the grocery, including two 1-gal bottles of spring water. The bottles have a plastic strap on top making it very easy to pick up and carry them. I don't like to push a cart to my car and then have to bring it back, so I carry my purchases to the car if possible. I picked up the lightweight grocery bag in my left hand, and the two bottles of water in my right. By last night I could barely move my right arm, and even went to sleep with the heating pad on it. This morning it still hurts, and I'm faced with a choice of toughing it out or taking an ibuprofen, which really irritates my stomach. So far I'm just bearing the pain. I hope it goes away before I have to start carrying things into motel rooms!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

New glasses

I am wearing my new glasses and I think I'm really going to like them. It takes some getting used to as I am not accustomed to wearing glasses for anything but reading. I notice, however, that objects in the distance have a great deal more clarity with the glasses than without. It is also nice to be able to read, and then to walk into another room without having to constantly remove and replace the glasses.

I no longer needed glasses for anything other than close-up reading for about the past 4 years, and I know if I get used to these it won't be long before I am wearing them all the time. I hate the thought of it, but . . . I sure wish I had gone ahead and gotten the transition lenses that get darker in the sunlight. I don't suppose they can add a coating after the lenses have been cut.

I had asked Donald to print my emergency info since my printer says it is out of black ink, although the ink chart shows the black cartridge to be 3/4 full. I had to download a printer driver from the internet in order for it to even communicate why it wouldn't print. The printer will be the next item to go to Goodwill, while I keep searching for a decent printer that just prints. The printer I have seems to have more buttons and choices for faxing than anything else. A printer should at least be able to print. But what does a low-tech person like me know.

I am accomplishing a little at a time, although I don't see how I can be ready to leave before daylight on Monday. I tried to set up the tent just for practice and to make sure I have all the poles, but there is no place outside, on the driveway or otherwise, that has enough room. I am sure it will all come back to me, as it is a pretty easy tent to raise, except for the height of it which makes me have to stretch to secure the poles at the top. I'm hoping that I can spend a couple of days at Cumberland Gap National Park on my way back, so I'm taking the tent and a sleeping bag. I don't want to have to cook, but I think there are some small towns in the vicinity where I can have meals. Morning coffee 1st thing is what I would miss, but I'll have to see how the packing goes. If I can get one of my kids to pack, they have the organizational skills to neatly fit everything into the car. I can do ok with it, but I love to watch them do it - they are so superior and they know it! It's like a game to them: "What, Mom, is that ALL you have to pack???"

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Leaving soon?

I decided today to possibly leave early Monday morning, maybe before daylight, and get a start on the traffic. I am not sure yet whether to go I-80 or US 50E - I'd much rather drive on 50 but the roads could be bad the closer I get to Lake Tahoe. And then there is always the crazy traffic around sll the condos & resorts. My aim is to arrive in Milwaukee on Friday, and spend the weekend there with family.

I was just taking my time with all I have to do before departure, so now I need to hustle! I vacuumed the car this afternoon, but forgot to do the cargo area and it probably needs it the most, so I'll have to drag my small portable vacuum out again, maybe tomorrow.

I also started to pack, and I think I'm taking too many clothes, but I can't decide what to leave out. It's one thing when you are going on a 2-week vacation, but I'll be away for way longer than that.

I doubt that I will do any more scanning before I leave, but I might.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Good things happening

Nothing like winning a lottery, or even anything most folks would think twice about, but good things are happening to me. Following on yesterday's electric bill of $13+ for March, I picked up two refills at Costco this morning. My blood pressure med usually costs me about $.84 for a 90 days supply, but this morning it was a whopping $.12. That is for 45 pills that I cut in half, which makes a 90 day supply. The other prescription was in the neighborhood of $54 last month, but I can't find my receipt for it. Today's refill was under $23. Every little bit counts when you are embarking on a long trip.

I also took my Highlander for an oil change, which was 1000 miles before a change was due, but I want everything to be OK before I leave.

I would like to post some more TDY pictures, if you can stand it.

The first picture is from a trip to Jacksonville, FL in Dec. 1985, and was taken on a little side trip to St. Augustine and the Fountain of Youth. I could just see the years fade away!

The next few pictures are from a trip to Wilmington, NC in June 1987, with a side trip to Cape Fear.

I don't know enough about ships to tell you what this is, but I think it is named the USS North Carolina or something similar. The woman in the picture is one of the team members.

And here I am:

In January 1988 I attended a class at Ft. Lee, Virginia, and this was my "classroom".

I managed to get in a side trip to Colonial Williamsburg, and spent some time in the stocks, and then another day to Washington, DC.

Tomorrow or the next day I might continue with Ireland, or a TDY trip to the Northeast, and Boston, Cape Cod, Vermont, etc. Or not.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Misc. travels

I decided to take a break from Ireland, and go back to some of my TDY trips when I worked for the Corps of Engineers. I've already posted entries on my trip to Japan and Korea, but want to try to go through some of the trips in order that I took them. I can only go by the dates printed on the back of the photographs themselves, but I do recall that Omaha, NE was my first TDY, in July 1985. TDY is a military acronym that stands for "temporary duty", or "business trip" in civilian-speak.

Our business was conducted at one of the COE offices in downtown Omaha, but over our first weekend there we visited Offut AFB, which was a SAC base back then. I don't know if it is even still in existence, with all the base closures over the past couple of decades.

I found this item at the Museum on base, and painted on it are the words "Thermonuclear bomb". I got chills just looking at it.

The highlight of all my career with the COE came right here as we were leaving the base. Over to our left was an immense field, and we saw in the distance an odd looking aircraft coming down the long runway. We stopped the car and I got out to take a picture. It came up to the fence alongside the road, slowly turned around, and then took off in the direction it came from. Yes, it was the space shuttle "Challenger".

The disaster occurred in January 1986, so the Challenger had about 6 months left to live.

My next trip was to Baltimore in October 1985, and the only picture I can find is one of the Inner Harbor:

I visited the Baltimore office several times but didn't take many pictures. One weekend I walked with another team member from the Inner Harbor over to Ft. McHenry. This photo doesn't do justice to the flag, which is probably one of the largest I've ever seen.

I spent two weeks at Ft. Worth in May 1986. On the weekend I visited Southfork (the Ewing ranch) and the Ft. Worth Livestock Exchange.

One of the last evenings in Fort Worth was spent browsing Shepler's, and I found a prairie skirt and cowgirl boots with my name on them - fortunately I turned around and walked out before I made a complete fool of myself!

Back in the here and now, I just got my statement of rent for April which I need to go to the office and pay. Included are charges for all utilities, and in the past month my electric usage was 156 kwh, at $13.26. Not bad, as I have really been trying to remember to unplug the microwave and other phantom electric users unless I need to use them.

I am thrilled to know I'm not the only person in the world who could lose her glasses when they are hanging from her neck! I enjoyed the comments and shared experiences.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

A short break

I visited my daughter and her family today, so I took a short break from scanning Ireland pictures. I watched her slideshow of pictures from the recent wedding of my niece in Orlando, plus many photos from the visits to Disney, Epcot, and all the related Disney parks in that area. I visited Epcot Center back in the 1980's, but it was different then, and didn't have all the disney figures spilling over from the Magic Kingdom. I enjoyed watching the pictures and the happiness on my granddaughters' faces.

Yesterday Steve put the new light fixture up, and I love it. It's so nice to have light in the kitchen at a flick of a switch, but the ceiling will have to be touched up with paint. Because of the the location of the fan's electrical connections on the side, it was set in a different spot than the light fixture that has the electrical connections in the center.

Now the dishwasher is working but I need to replace the lower rack soon. I considered replacing the disposal that doesn't work, but decided to just remove it completely. I bought the pipes and such to do a better job on the under-the-sink plumbing, and Steve will do that soon.

I wonder if someone can tell me what these flowers are. They grow wild and close up overnight, looking in the morning like kumquats, all folded tightly! I usually don't think to take the camera in the morning.

Jeannie had emptied my large suitcase so I brought it home with me today. I have some of my summer clothes ready to pack, and will get started soon. She still has a smaller suitcase, and I'll probably put clothes in it that I will need to access along the way. Last year I figured out it worked best to transfer the clothes I would need the following day over to a smaller backpack, and not have to deal with taking a suitcase into the motel. I always try to get a room at a motel with individual entrances right off each room. It is so much easier than having to make several trips through a parking lot, into a side door or the lobby, and down the hall to the room.

I'm having fun going through old pictures and I won't even have the opportunity to touch the surface of the thousands of photographs I have. Maybe I'll scan a few more this evening.

One last story, on myself. You might remember the problems I've had with keeping track of my reading glssses, and that one of my sons gave me a chain to hold them around my neck. Well this morning I couldn't find my glasses before I left for Jeannie's house, and I searched every room, some of them twice. I eventually found the glasses - hanging on the chain around my neck!