I like to travel, it's true, but I have not been away from home for more than a week in many, many years. The last time I believe was when Skippy was in kindergarten and we went to the East Coast of the US. And before that...our honeymoon. Otherwise it's been long weekends here and there as we could fit things in.
I spent pretty much the first twelve days of this month away from home, on a journey. The plan was to drive a few hours and land somewhere in Iowa on the first day, then drive a bunch more hours and land at a college friend's house on Saturday and THEN, on Sunday, drive a butt load more hours and land in the middle of the Rocky Mountains sometime before sunset, because mountain roads are twisty and narrow and people from the Midwest should not drive them in the dark.
In those 12 days I discovered five things about myself and about traveling across the middle of this great country. And now, I'm going to share them!
5) The real benefit to going to college:
I love Face Book most of the time, and never better than because it connects us with friends far and wide, people we'd otherwise probably lose touch with or keep on our Christmas card list (if we were organized enough to have a Christmas card list.)
This was very true on day two of our trip: We were able to visit, catch up with, and camp out at a college friend's home in Kansas. Thank you our friend E and her wonderful family, and of course, her dog, Faith, who was just smart enough NOT to be taken in by Hubby's best charms! It was great catching up, and even better sharing dairy free Martguerita pie! Thank you!
And that ends the nice portion of the blog.
4) I'm not sure that's food...
When traveling Hubby loves nothing better than to eat at places with "local flavor." Now, I'm on board with local flavor. I've come to love things like grits (Do not eat grits if the person serving them to you doesn't call you "hun.") and other things that might surprise people, but on this trip I decided to try something called fried mush.
"Fried" is a word I enjoy when used in conjunction with food. "Mush" well, that's another story. I've eaten things I've described as mush, but not actual, real mush. So, when seeing this gem on the menu at a diner I had to give it a go, thinking that the joy I get with "fried" would outweigh the hesitancy I had with "mush."
I'm not even sure what I ate was food. I'd call it greasy sawdust. It was greasy and dry at the same time. Now, Hubby liked it slathered in butter and syrup. But I guess if I'm going to pile on butter and syrup I'd prefer something that maybe HASN'T also been in the deep fryer. I mean, even I have my limits.
"Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore."
Ah, now that's a classic movie line, right? And we all think it means that Dorothy was in unfamiliar territory and was nervous about her new surroundings.
After driving across Kansas the long way I'm here to tell you, we were wrong. Dorothy didn't mean she was scared because she didn't think they were in Kansas anymore. I believe her line was shortened. What the actual line was is this: "Toto...THANK GOD, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore."
I've driven across Nebraska many times. I've ridden the train across Montana. But nothing prepared me for the complete absence of people and, you know, people things like buildings and rest stops, that is Kansas (and, for those of you who think it's over once you cross into Colorado, nope. The flat, barren, no people, no houses thing goes on and one for several more hours)
Sure, I mean, I was blown away by the vastness of the sorghum fields (it's a thing, look it up) in western Kansas, but after about seven hours of that, you sort of start looking for any signs of life. And you're not gonna get it in Easter Colorado. Nope, the sorghum fades away to fields of pretty much nothing. Nothing, nothing, nothing.
AND THEN: BAM.
And of course we got a bit of a late start and dillied when we should have dallied which put us in the middle of those twisty, turny narrow roads in the dark. And yes, Sarah did have a panic attack, Hey, you sit in a car for 12 hours and then climb 10,000 feet and see how calm and collected you are as you see wildlife of all kinds sitting there in the ditches along the roads, just waiting to jump out and kill you!
And speaking of trying to kill us...
2)The air is trying to destroy us all.
Seriously, the air in the mountains wants to kill humans. It's thin, there's not as much oxygen at 10,000 feet as there is at say, normal human living levels. I spent most of the time we were at our destination in the mountains (yes, enjoying the lovely scenery and the quaint town, and the fun company, and all of that was great.) trying to catch my breath. And this isn't a fluffy thing. I mean, it is, but I can walk three or four miles at a shot in my home town and the worst thing that happens is my right foot starts to hurt like the dickens. I couldn't walk from the bed to the bathroom without gasping for air and the day we went up higher....like above 13,000 feet, I nearly blacked out. Someone in our group said, "The air up hear is thin." And my response: "Yeah, but I'm not."
Even oxygen deprived, I'm still funny.
But the lack of O2 is not the only thing about the air that's trying to kill people. It's dry. It's so stinking DRY. Humidity in the lowlands of Denver was a mere 15%. (Where I'm from a super dry day is more than twice that.) I spent several days unable to swallow because my throat was so sore from the dry and my nose...well, it took my almost a solid week back home for my nose to stop producing these delightful, red snot rockets every time I used a tissue. I'm not kidding. I doubt I'll complain about it being humid here again. BRING ON HUMID...I WANT TO LIVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
But...even in a state far, far away from my own home, I found my people. No, not Green Bay Packer fans, although we did find a very nice lady at a diner in Kansas who swore up and down that the Packers were her team (WE ARE EVERYWHERE!) instead...I found...
1) Smart alecks at the airport.
I flew back from my journey with my children. Both of them are much better travelers than I am, both of them having flown several times in recent years. My first flight in over a decade was to Vegas and back in May with Hubby. The last time I flew with the kids, I was holding their hands and giving them juice boxes to keep them calm. This time around, they guided me through airport security, complete with drug sniffing dogs (DO NOT PET THE DRUG SNIFFING DOGS). By the time we neared our gate, my whole head was clogged with bloody snot rockets and my throat felt like I'd swallowed a broken Coke bottle and three sharp knives.
We stopped at one of the shops to see if we could find a certain decongestant, one that had given me a tiny bit of relief while still high up where the air is not even air. I purchased a single pill for far too much money. While making the transaction, I said, "Skippy, please remind me that my boarding pass is in my wallet."
Skippy and Peaches looked at me and both said at the same time, "Your boarding pass is in your wallet."
Didn't I raise fun kids?
But that's not where this ends, no, then the cashier said, "Ma'am, your boarding pass is in your wallet."
AND THEN, some random woman who wasn't even inside the shop, she was waiting for someone else, tapped me on the shoulder and said, "Your boarding pass is in your wallet."
At this point I was laughing,and gasping for air, and trying not to blow bloody crusties at anyone because hey, this was funny, and then the guy behind me said, "I was going to tell you where your boarding pass was, but I figured I'd give you a break."
My people. Even in an airport many miles...okay one mile....above my own homeland...my people.