Tuesday, June 26, 2007


The movers came, the movers went. They got started 5 hours after their scheduled arrival time.

Casualties: one whole side of an antique glass china cabinet; the top of an antique end table; sections of hardwood floor; sections of hallway into my condo; my nerves.

Things that stunned me: they didn't have boxcutters. Our only tool was the knifelet on my corkscrew. They brought in boxes willy-nilly, and THEN wanted to try to fit furniture in, in spite of my voiced concerns that there was going to be big trouble. Ultimately, they had to take boxes back out into the hallway to get the furniture in. They brought a leather recliner and dining table and chairs in that didn't belong to me, and then seemed mad that I wanted them to take them back out.

I have no idea how to deal with the china cabinet, still filled with glass.

I live in fear of starting to open the boxes marked "fragile."

And I want a big old prize for not indulging in felonious behavior when one of the guys, upon leaving, leaned on a stack of boxes, grinned, and said he was going to come back in a few days so I could play the piano for him.

But at least it's all here, and my king Tempur-pedic is made up and ready to welcome me, after a week of sleeping on a twin air mattress--which I can only liken to trying to relax and sleep on a Pilates stability ball.

So I'm crawling towards the finish line to my new, my real, home.

; )

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Travelblogue, Final Day

The morning began early. I had slept well, having rid myself of yesterday's headache and having upgraded to a Snob Level hotel. After a quick shower and cup of coffee, I hit the road.

Montana was lovely, but I must confess my delight when I rounded a bend and a huge sign declaring "Welcome to Idaho" turned out to be the opening act for a series of beautiful postcard-worthy scenes clear to Coeur d'Alene. Unfortunately, road construction (and the winding nature of the roads even at their best) made it hard to capture any postcards of my own.

Once in Washington, I passed through Spokane. Uh-huh. A mall. A hospital. An Applebee's. 100 car dealerships. Done and done.

On the other side of Spokane, however, I started to worry that I had some sort of fatigue-induced dementia. What had been lush, green pine and spruce forests in the mountains turned abruptly into something that looked like a mars-scape. Really, I fully expected that little satellite/robot/ATV thingie (what was its name) to appear over one of the craters on this brown, arid desert. Flat. Did I say flat? It was, except for occasional rock blemishes on its otherwise FLAT complexion. I saw a cow. I have no idea what it was eating. There was nothing but dirt and rocks and some scrubby flora that couldn't possibly have been edible.

Finally, there were some irrigated fields in with the dirt plots, and on the horizon I saw what I thought was smoke billowing from a series of smokestacks. As I got closer, though, I saw that they were not smokestacks at all, but dirt devils. A whole troupe of them, cavorting and whirling on their dusty dancefloor. Stunning.

Sign, but not my favorite: Leaving Apple Maggot Quarantine Area (I didn't know I was in one. And what is an apple maggot?).

Once I approached Ellensburg, the Cascades were ahead of me, and then the adrenaline kicked in. I was only 100ish miles from Seattle, and I was ready to be done. I raced up and down mountain passes, taking a few random shots from my camera held up (I have some lovely studies of my dashboard, the empty water bottle--a few mountains, too).

I didn't even stop to go to the bathroom, which I had needed to do for the last couple of hours. That was a mistake, seeing as how I could NOT get to the entrance to my parking garage from the freeway exit. Oh, I knew how to get there--I was within spitting distance 6 or 7 times. I saw it from a number of angles. But between the construction of the light rail line by my apartment and the relentless NO TURNS and ONE WAY signs, I was granted no mercy by the Arrival Gods.

I finally made it, although I'm convinced it was via Vancouver.

And here I am. Everything is out of my car, and I'm sitting on the floor of my apartment on the 10th floor. My furniture won't arrive for a week, but I bought a corkscrew and a bottle of Ursa wine (a local Baer Winery red that I love), I'm tapping into someone's unsecured wireless network, I've christened my shower (oh, that was transcendent), and my inflatable bed is inflated and ready for me.

I am home.

Favorite sign: City of Seattle

Monday, June 18, 2007

Travelblogue, Day 4

I had an uneventful departure from Sheridan, WY, after a night in a motel room that confirms what I already feared: I am a snob. Well, it's not so much that I'm a snob--which I'll own--as that I don't like paying snob level prices for crappy accommodations. Are you buying it? ; )

The scenery was lovely, very Brokeback Mountain. In fact, I actually saw two cowboy-hatted guys on horses, perched on the ridge of a mountain, with cattle spread out on the hill below them. I had a visual, but I made it go away when I almost ran off the road.

First stop was Bozeman, Montana, where I had a passable lunch in a passable chain restaurant, and drank passable iced tea and copious amounts of water.

Next stop was Butte, where I burst into a Perkins with a bursting bladder and a raging headache. Dehydration? Altitude (I was on the Continental Divide, after all)? Lack of caffeine? To cover all bases, and after visiting the facilities, I drank more water and a cup of coffee. I had a waitress who was MAYBE 20. Heavily made up and world-weary, she asked how the coffee was, HON. I didn't have the heart to tell her that I was twice her age and that I should be calling HER "hon" and not vice versa. 20 is too young to trot out the "rode hard and put up wet" schtick, but I figured she was moonlighting at Perkins while trying to break into acting. She was probably just working on a 1940s diner waitress character.

The approach to Butte was fascinating. Huge mountain faces covered with round and oval, smooth, somewhat elongated boulders. They looked like they had just been stuck on the side as decoration: geological gumdrops on the side of a mountain cake. I also got my first whiff of evergreen. Followed quickly by Eau de Skunk.

By this time I was starting to realize that several days on the road were starting to wear on me. Sure, the vistas were beautiful. Of course, it was humbling to see nature's rich pageant. But people, I'm an extrovert! I was starting to talk to my steering wheel, shout laments to deer carcasses as I whizzed past them on the side of the road. This scared me.

I decided to call it a day in Missoula, Montana. I splurged on a somewhat nicer room than last night, where I plan to take a bath in a real bathtub, order up a glass of wine, and look forward to the last day of driving. Tomorrow I should be fresh for the views across Idaho and into Washington, and then...finally...will roll into my new hometown before rush hour.

Favorite sign today: TESTICLE FESTIVAL, outside of Missoula. I missed the dates, because I was so taken aback by the cartoon bull, eyes wide, mouth agape, standing upright and using his two front hooves to protect his naughty bits.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Travelblogue, Day 3

Away, I'm bound away...across the wide Missouri...

It started with the Corn Palace and ended with me leaving my suitcase outside my car in front of my motel room. Happily, the sandwich delivery guy in Sheridan, WY noticed it and brought it in with my sandwich. Even more happily, the populace in Sheridan, WY is honest and let it sit out there for over an hour.

But along the way, it was all about songs. As I rounded a bend in Chamberlain, SD and gasped at the flat landscape now descending into a valley, and beheld what I thought was a lake--but was, in fact, the Missouri River--I broke into Shenandoah. Then, in the Badlands, I saw the buffalo. Oh, give me a home, where the buffalo roam, and the deer and the antelope play... And finally, sitting in the Badlands Bar in Wall, SD, in a leatherette booth with a cheeseburger and iced tea, looking up the length of the dark bar and back to the pool tables, all packed with tourists and locals, and considering the image of Jenifer in her solitary booth with her bookish glasses, solemnly squirting bright yellow mustard onto her sesame seed bun, I burst into one of these things is not like the other... OK, well, that one I sang in my head, not wishing to have the Harley guys swagger over for a confrontation.

I can safely say that the Corn Palace and Wall Drug gave me my fix of Americana for the year. Holy moly. Now I know why we're in Iraq, because the number of RVs I saw today alone necessitates all kinds of oil. It was enough to make me want to turn around and head back to the Corn Palace, to beg them to convert that thing into ethanol, and fast.

Beautiful, dramatic thunderstorms as I crossed into Wyoming, and the 7,340 bugs that met their end on my windshield as I crossed the prairie were washed away.

Favorite sign of the day:


Tomorrow, the BIG mountains.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Travelblogue, Day 2

Up early, greeted the day with a goodbye to friends over breakfast at our local dive--the kind with old men, regulars, who drink coffee and play checkers every morning of the year.

Mid-pancakes, I get the cell phone call I hoped I wouldn't receive THIS time, even though I believed, in my cynical heart of hearts, that I would: the driver slated to pick up my worldly possessions "filled his truck" elsewhere and wouldn't be coming. My moving "consultant" (give me a break) suggested we just leave the packed goods in my house and load them when the next available truck was coming through. I pointed out to him that I had hotel reservations tonight, had someone scheduled to help me with the final cleaning, and was due in Seattle mid-week.

He pointed out to me that the only option would be to bring a local truck, load my stuff, take it back to their warehouse, offload for the weekend, and then re-load when they got a westbound truck. Such a lot of toting and lifting! I pointed out to him that I sort of considered that HIS PROBLEM AND NOT MINE. He started to point out to me that...STOP RIGHT THERE...I pointed out to him that he had best STFU and get moving. OK, I didn't really utter THAT, but let's just say that he knew from the steel edge in my voice to drop the phone and run, not walk, to gather his strapping lads and burn rubber.

[goodbye to my breakfast friends...my 90 year old friend brought the little figurine I gave her to remember me by, and set it on the table during the meal.]

So they came, they loaded. In the meantime, 3 more friends showed up to hold vigil over me and my fury. We were standing around out in the garage, and one guy brought out a bookcase from my study. The one next to the couch, where my cat had slept for many years of his 19-year old life, just ended in January. When the breeze hit the bookcase, the bottom shelf released tufts of his hair. They lifted up, floated in the sunlight, and then drifted away on the breeze. My friends became reverent, silent. I felt all the emotion from the past weeks of packing, of saying goodbye, of deciding to leave, of letting my feline companion go, of my whole life, of the life of all humanity...it all broke open and I sat down on the garage floor and wept. And wept and wept and wept.

After the movers left, my cleaning lady came over and helped me do the final run-through. Wiping out refrigerators, vacuuming, mopping...every pass of the rag an incantation: please let this house sell, please let this house sell soon.

Lunch with more friends. Standing outside the cafe, each one of us saying how we don't do goodbyes. So we didn't. Quick hugs all around, "see you during the holidays"--and we all turned on our heels and dispersed. Quickly.

Back to the house, the final walk-through. My best friend came, finally, to retrieve his vacuum cleaner. No words. Just tears and embraces.

The drive out of Minnesota and into South Dakota was marked by a timely phone call, great billboards, thunderstorms dancing all around me, Prairie Home Companion on the radio, and a bizarre sculpture of a longhorn bull rising up over the prairie.

I'm in Mitchell, SD. Tomorrow morning: the Corn Palace.

I am untethered.

It's OK.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Travelblogue, Day 1

So my house is all packed up.

After weeks of sorting, donating, discarding, procrastinating, sorting, and donating some more, the Professional Movers were to show up this morning bright and early to pack my dishes and such.

Now in the advertisements, these PMs are always crisply attired young women, with ponytails and sunny smiles, bearing pristine sheets of packing paper and tape guns.

What did I get? Cartman and Butthead, in sweat-stained baseball caps.

Highlight: my half-filled garbage bag on the kitchen counter, containing sandwich bits, cherry pits, the contents of the refrigerator crisper, and bacon grease (yes, I'm originally from the South, and we always have a jar of bacon grease in the refrigerator for seasoning greens) disappeared midway through the proceedings. Of course, Butthead packed it. He was incensed when I made him open up boxes to find it, and acted like it was MY fault for not identifying it with the rest of the "do not pack" items. EXCUSE ME? Do I really have to NAME a bag of trash as a "do not pack" item???

Now I'm in my room at the Americinn, where I will shower, then have The Last Supper With My Friends.

Back to the NoLongerMyHome house tomorrow morning to oversee the loading of my worldly possesions, then westward, ho!