Wednesday, May 05, 2010

My Life as a Road Warrior

I may as well admit it ... I am a Road Warrior! Not that I set out to be one, but there was one thing and then another ... soon enough I was a full-fledged member of the million mile club ... an offical Road Warrior.

My first "move" away from home (my hometown) involved a town 60 miles away. I was so afraid of traveling that far that I made it a practice to know exactly which mile markers I was between ... you know ... just in case ... there's just no telling what could happen to someone traveling so far!  Then I moved 8 hours from home ... catapulting my traveling life into high-gear (a term my mother likes to use when she needs extra emphasis for something). Years later, a move from Iowa to Indianapolis stepped things up a few more notches! Then there was the year when I stayed in Indy (until our home sold) while Bruce and Katy got our life in northwest Iowa started (trust me ... there were lots of trips that year!) After I joined them, I worked as a consultant for a company 2 and a half hours from Storm Lake ... now THAT was a commute! These days we have children (who, by the way, have our grandchildren!) living on each of the US coastlines and one holdout still in the midwest ... living in a vehicle has managed to become a way-of-life!

I tend to be a singularly-focused person ... getting so wrapped up in the moment (or task-at-hand) that I lose track of all else. Recently I got to thinking about how this attribute has created some interesting (and scary) moments along the path to the Road Warrior Club!

My sister, Sandy, once rode with me on the way back home many years ago. After picking her up in LeSueur, MN, I focused so much on our chit-chat while I was driving that eventually I had to ask her if she knew the name of the town we were approaching (it was after I couldn't use any landmarks to try and guess, and obviously I hadn't been reading signs). She thought I was kidding because we were only 5 miles from mom's house! How can you not know you are approaching your destination? Well, it's easy ... if you are me!

On one of my trips from Storm Lake to Indianapolis the year we first bought the acreage ... I found myself reading a sign for Indiana's Exit 4 (our favorite exit for gas and refreshments along the I-74 route). The problem was ... the last stop I'd paid any attention to was the I-80 Truck Stop in Davenport, Iowa. My auto-pilot was apparently ON through the entire state of Illinois! You can bet I was thankful I hadn't run out of gas!

Then there's the trip north from Storm Lake to Alexandria (MN) one year when they were tearing up Hwy 71 and toally replacing the road (that means they totally remove everything ... all the way down past the road bed!) ...  I'd gotten so engrossed in a conversation with my mother-in-law (the co-pilot) that I simply went around barracades were meant to protect drivers from the dangers of a "missing" road! I didn't pay much attention to the decreasing quality of the road until it was impossible to not notice, "My goodness! This road is crazy bad!" I said.  To which, my rider replied, "Yep. That's probably because way back there you went around a sign that said, Road Closed!"

I don't know, but I'm guessing that the knowledge of these events is largely behind the fact that my sweetie doesn't ask me to be a "relief-driver" on our recent long trips to Birmingham? What do you think?

Monday, May 03, 2010

Where DOES the time go?

Today is our 25th Wedding Anniversary ... wow ... who would have thought so many years could fly by so quickly? Even worse is that I (ME!) can even say that! I'm starting to sound more and more like my Grama! Oh me Oh my!

I made this "card" for my sweetie ...
Bruce and I with The Fabulous Mr Elijah Brown on our recent visit to Birmingham (Left)
Shoppers at the auction looking at the stamping/scrapbooking supplies (Top Right)
Fire pit at the north end of garden with a couple waiting for woodburner or Cub Cadet mower to be sold. (Bottom Right)

Lots to do ... heading up to my hometown for the weekend! We have a family baby shower for Jason & Paula (my nephew and his wife) ... pretty exciting! I'm happy to have one last chance to make the pilgramage from Storm Lake to Alexandria and plan to take the time to stop along the way and take photos of some of my favorite scenes!
As Red Green would say, "Stay safe ... Keep it between the lines!"

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Almost Home

Our drive home is getting interesting. We pushed ourselves to drive as far as Memphis, TN today. Using my little Verizon MiFi connection and the Mac laptop I tried to locate a motel that wasn't charging an arm-and-a-leg for a room tonight (goodness knows we need all of our limbs, as rickety as they are!) ... to no avail. So Bruce decides to find a WalMart, buy a clearance blanket and just sleep in the Tahoe (isn't he romantic? Gotta love my frugal little Norweign!)

After some heated debate about how to get off the freeway and over to that WalMart on our left ... we find a comforter on clearance (imagine that! at WalMart? really? ... bwahhahhah) and eating a bad-for-you-and-the-world-McBurger we discovered every checkout station was at least 6 people deep. What in the world was going on? It's 9 p.m. Why would there be so many people at WalMart with their carts packed full rushing the checkout? Bruce cleverly decides to checkout in the jewelry department (he might be frugal, but he's also clever!)  I decide to ask a store clerk why the place is packed.  She tells me there's bad weather coming and folks are stocking-up.

Curious, we decide to hustle back to the Tahoe and check out the NOAA website's Doppler ... sure enough! There wass a severe weather warning covering the midwest ... all of it ... from Texas to Memphis, Tennessee to St Louis, Missouri to Des Moines, Iowa to Minneapolis, Minnesota. Well! That pretty much covers our path home!  YIKES! We decided, tired or not, we'd better skeedaddle!

About 2-3 hours down the road we began encountering some rain and even more wind than before. Forecast was calling for winds up to 75 mph, softball sized hail, and possibility of tornadoes. Bruce was way past tired and from the looks of the Doppler we were north of one tornado warning and south of another ... a "sweet spot" so to speak. It seemed like a good time to pull of the freeway and see if he could find cover (didn't want to have hail damage the Tahoe or the nice enclosed trailer he just got.)

This is where we begin to see God's hand covering us in a tangible way (as if getting us out of Memphis before it flooded wasn't enough)! At the end of the exit ramp guess what we found!?! A vacant BP gas station ... you know what they have don't you? BIG, strong awnings (where the gas pumps had been)! Woohoo! Bruce pulled in so the entire rig was under cover and we settled in for the night under our new blanket (for those of you that don't know our family's reputation ... we are known for all the quilts we make ... if you are in the family you've no doubt been blessed with many a blanket-gifts! Our motto: No family member should ever be cold due to the lack of a good, warm blanket made with lots of love by another family member!) As we settled in, we both gave thanks to God for the protection!

Six hours later, stiff from our nap in the back of a truck (we had an air mattress with us, but no power inverter to blow it up ... the plan was to only need it while at Paul and Andrea's ... who knew we'd be sleeping in our vehicle?!) Bruce decided to get out and check our rig ... make sure everything was in good order, then drive across the freeway to the other side where there was an open Shell station.

Nothing. That's what he got when he turned the key in the ignition ... nothing. The Tahoe was dead ... no battery power. Ugg! I guess leaving my Mac connected all night long was a bad idea ... oopsie! Apparently its an energy hog even when it's in sleep mode!

Just as he got his hat and coat on, in preparation for a nice long walk over to that Shell station, a car pulls up next to us. Bruce cautiously walks over and taps on the window (scaring the poor lady half out of her wits!) Turns out she was there to meet up with her carpooler (What do you think? I say she was actually an angel.) She happily jump-started our vehicle and then refused to accept any money for her help. God is GOOD, All the Time! Talk about provision!

The rest of the day was uneventful. The storm system was behind us and to the east ... not in our path! We made it to Kansas City with enough time to enjoy a wonderful dinner at Red Robin, meet Katy's latest beau, Todd, and then enjoy a movie together.
We finally got to meet Ms. Izzy, Katy's new kittie ... a ball of bouncing, running, climbing, and fighting fluff! She's adorable! I do believe that MC was quite happy to see us again ... she came right over for a leg rub and plopped herself down, rolled over and begged for a tummy rub. Later, during the movie she found her favorite snuggle spot ... Bruce's tummy when he's all sprawled out in a recliner!