Friday, October 26, 2007

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jog

I am home from my Wonderful, Magical Road Trip and can say categorically it was the freest, most enjoyable, most interesting vacation I have ever taken-even better than the narrowboat holiday that started in Wales and ended with a week in York that Rene and I took in '02. And I thought nothing could beat that trip.

I admit to starting this Road Trip with a bit of trepidation, after both Peggy and my stalwart daughter Meg told me they could never embark on such a journey. I was not worried about the miles to cover or meeting people I had invited myself to visit, but of the times in between, when I had days and days alone. Loneliness was my main fear, and, to my great pleasure, I rarely felt more than a few tweaks of loneliness the whole 2000 miles!

I can honestly say the trip was so much fun that I'd leave tomorrow to do nearly all of it all over again, if I could. Unfortunately, I can't. The trip which went so smoothly for 23 days, ended with a bang the 24th day, on Rte 115 near Brodheadsville, PA, when I smashed into someone who had stopped while I glanced off into the woods, and totaled my car. Yeah, Bummer.

I've never been in such a crash before. I was well seat-belted in, and the airbags went off. (I never knew the one on the driver's side was pink, the one on the passengers side was green.) Smoke and powder filled the car, the woman whom I hit leaped out of her car, which did not look too badly damaged, and can roaring over to scream at me. By that time I was sitting half out of the car, saying softly, "I'm having chest pain, could someone call an ambulance?" Good strategy, cooled her jets fright down. I asked if she was OK, she said yes, but her puppy was upset, at which point the ambulance arrived and took me away.

I am fine. The chest pain was from the seat belt, not my heart, and while I spent rather too long on a backboard-nearly 4.5 hours!-they finally decided I was free to go, and I called a taxi and draggled into a nearby hotel, asking for soup and a room near an ice machine. I must have looked baaaad because they practically ran to get me settled. The next two days I was really, really sore, but have recovered well. Meg came to get me, and, though we argued all the way home (too much stress and pain, not to mention pain meds, on my part) I arrived safely and have since recovered.

The difficult ending did nothing to dampen my spirits about the rest of the trip, however. I loved it, Every day, the people I met, the back roads I took, the time alone and with my friends, all of it was fun and fascinating and even educational at times.

I believe I left off recounting my trip 'way back in early October when I was visiting Judi and Virginia, and our time at the Zoo. The one thing I forgot to say that besides the wonderful Octopus, I also got to see Judi's mural up close and personal. She painted it years ago, and I remember reading about it for a long time while she worked on it, and seeing the pictures she posted. I only want to add that it is more wonderful in person than in pictures, for I could look at each little bug, each special tree, animals half hidden in grasses, oh my! I felt the history I had read about in her journal all those years ago come together with the present in such a special way. Another gift from both of them-time and space to look and enjoy.

I will write more about the rest of the trip, my time with them, in Charlottesville with Mr. Jefferson, with Kas and her family (yes they are as wonderful, crazy and busy as her journal indicates, and I now consider them family, in a very special way), with Alpha, my friend Persephony's daughter, with my god(dess) son Ian, and with Martha, Adam's mother. (Adam is Meg's fiance.) I'll also tell about my continued relationship with Gertrude, my GPS unit, for she has now become another kind of family member-a pushy one!

I will slowly catch up with my journal reading, although some of it has already gone west. I had 876 e-mail when I got home and was a bit overwhelmed. Now I am trying to figure out how to afford and buy a new second hand car (UGH, one of my most hated time wasters, but necessary for life today, I guess.)

Many Blessings, Margo

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Road Trip, Entry Four 10/15/07

Road Trip, Entry Four
Today I am in Pittsburgh, PA, visiting Martha, Adam's mother. (Adam is Meg's fiance). I arrived yesterday, and, after supper tonight with my God(dess)son, Ian, I start the journey homeward. Alas.

I spent last week with Kas's family (Hestia's Homeschool for Wild Young Women)and what a week it was. Kas, her husband David, and the three girls, Mandy, Tabitha and Shelby, are every bit as wild as her blog would suggest, and perhaps even more so! I had a really wonderful time there, though I did struggle with a bit of exhaustion. Kas is as busy as her blog indicates, then multiply by 9 or 10 times and one arrives at the true measure of her life. And each girl is more interesting than the last. Dave lives quite calmly in this sea of estrogen and busyness, sleeping by day and working by night!

I will, of course, write more about my time there, as well as finishing the story of my visit with Judith and Virginia, not to mention my days sightseeing in Charlottesville, VA, but not today. Today is for resting and trying to prepare for the rest of my trip-including a visit to Becky and John and the two boys in NJ on my way home.

I expect to be home by the end of this week, then, after a few days of total crash time, start working on picking my regular life up again. I'll be very glad to see Myla, Meg, Adam and Roxy again, but not half as glad as Roxy will be glad to see me!

I am 600+ e-mails behind, so I expect it'll take me a bit of time to re-join the world again, but wanted everyone to know I am alive and well, and still traveling happily onwards.

Blessings to All-I miss what's going on in everyone's lives, and look forward to catching up!

Road Trip # 3; Another Library 10/5/07

Another Library, another entry! I am on Rt 52 in some small town- I don't even know where exactly but on a scenic road on the Ohio River- and I saw the universal library sign and my car simply turned involuntarily! One of the things that hit me is that I have not been afraid the whole trip (so far!), thought I have been careful, of course. Last night I stayed at a large trucker motel ($43.50 with AAA discount) where I can assure you I was the only single female late middle aged traveler.

I realized this when I walked across the parking lot to the Lounge for dinner. The first sign that greeted me was "No Fire Arms Aloud." Of course I wondered immediately if silent firearms were permitted, or if firearms with silencers were okay. The next sign informed me that Men and Women must were shirts, shoes and no short shorts. Somehow, in this overwhelmingly masculine world, men in short shorts seemed unlikely.

The music was LOUD but the food was good. On the way back across the parking lot two groups of men, in their twenties and thirties, invited me to join them for beer, but I cheerfully declined. Marc is right, I am now dating my GPS system exclusively, despite her no-nonsense voice and her frustration at my unwillingness to stay on major highways. (See MakeMarc's comment to last entry).

I don't know why the print changed, either, but, oh well, every machine I touch seems to have a mind of its own these days, even my car! She is running well, but only wants to go slow up hills and mountains in no passing zones when we have a huge truck behind us. The rest of the time she wants to speed up hill and down dale!

Now, back to Judy and Virginia. I have been reading their journals since early on in J-Land history, and had gone back to read all the earlier entries when I stumbled upon them. When they picked me up at the Hotel Friday night I had thesame reaction I did with Mortimer, within ten minutes we were talking, and really never stopped till the dropped me off Sunday afternoon.
It's nice to be with a couple who takes care of each other, but don't seem too joined at the hip. Judi worried about Virginia getting enough to eat (she's a vegetarian who does not like vegetables), and Virginia worried about the Art Center taking advantage of Judi's willingness to be helpful, but neither in a neurotic way.

Saturday morning we went to the Zoo-my one request-and after checking out the tigers and lions, headed right for the Invertebrate Exhibit, where they volunteer. They were really just showing me around, but fell into their interpreter roles immediately, both for me, and anyone else in the vicinity. It was fascinating, and I learned a lot. I had no idea invertebrates make up most of the creatures on earth! Though I live near Mystic Aquarium, and some of their specimens actually came from Mystic, I had never heard most of what they patiently explained.
Then we went behind the scenes and hung out, meeting a couple of the scientists who are the exhibit keepers, hearing bits of zoo and then, as a total highlight of the Zoo visit, it was time for Judi to feed the octopus. What a creature, a specimen in his (her? I can't remember!) (NOW I KNOW IT IS A SHE, so ignore all the masculing pronouns, please)prime! I had watched him being fed earlier from out front, watched as he rose to the top of the tank, spreading his tentacles wide, perfect suction cups down to the very end of each arm, opening his mouth-a beak in the center of his tentacles-to engulf the shrimp offered to him. I found him to beamazing.

Then Judi invited me up the steps to the top of the tank, where she was going to give him another shrimp, this time in a tube like toy, so he would have to work a bit for his food . We hung over the top of the tank and Judi gently rippled the water. He came right up to her, tentacles reaching out to embrace the tree-like trunk in the water. We both gently poured water on to his exposed body.

Slowly he pulled his head out of the water and onto the trunk, and lay there looking at us, while his arms delicately moved to hold onto the branches for balance. Each suction cup down to the very end was perfect, his skin turning colors , from grayish to orangey to reddish, as he balanced on the tree limb and looked at us. I began to cry.

Judi gently let the toy down into the water, where he grasped it, fished around the tube with his agile tentacles, extracted the shrimp, ate it, then when we stopped plashing water onto him, let go of the tree and re-submerged to look out at the crowd which had gathered below. (Yes, he can see them.) It was such an unexpected connection with a sea creature that I was moved beyond all expectation. In fact, it was the biggest gift the two of them could ever have given me, and I will treasure it as such.

More about my visit with them, and Charlottesville eventually, but tomorrow I get to meet Kas and her family and I am so excited! I will try to keep in touch.

Many Blessings, Margo

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Road Trip, Still Alive & Having Fun 910/03/07

I am alive and well and still traveling, now in West Virginia, on my way to Kas's home in KY. I have not written at all because Adam, my future son-in-law, fixed the computer he leant me to be so carefully protected that I can't get on line anywhere. Not his fault, he didn't know it would be this way, but I can't even get it to work in a big book store or little Internet cafe! I am now in the library of White Sulfur Springs, WV, taking time off the road to let you all know I'm doing fine.

Everybody should be able to take a Road trip in late middle age, or early old age, or what ever I am at a somewhat disabled 58. I am finding out a lot about myself and the friends I have visited.
Who knew Mortimer is an expert on Atlantic City and its history? I learned so much following this sweet man down the boardwalk, around the streets, and into his beloved bar. Seeing Studio Six was fascinating, and " Mortimer's Dressing Room"-a cubby by some stairs-where he dressed for his shows was great. Even having drinks downstairs on a dull night was fun for me. And what a good person the give up his weekend evenings to tow a walker-bound woman around his beloved city, plus take me to the bar two nights in a row. I miss him and wish I could have stayed longer. I look forward to talking by phone, as well as e-mail.

Then I went on to the Washington area to meet Judith Heartsong, and her partner, Virginia. I cannot do that visit justice sitting in a small library in a small town in WV. Briefly, we went out to dinner Friday night at a great vegetarian restaurant, went to the Zoo and Great Fall State Park (the water was very low) on Saturday, then to the Official Opening of VisArts, the art center Judi has volunteered and worked for, and where she and her present boss will have an office. Then we wandered around the area for a while, ate lunch/dinner and they dropped me off at my hotel.

That is a brief outline that does no real justice to our time together, and I will eventually write more about these two wonderful women, who enjoy each other's company so much, and were kind enough to give me a precious weekend of their time. I loved my time with them.
On Monday, Oct 1, I drove down Skyline Drive to Charlottesville. I promise to write more about that experience, too, eventually, and my visits to Monticello, Mitchie Tavern, Ashlawn and the University of VA, which Jefferson founded, and from which my father graduated from Law School not long after I was born (1949).

Today, Thursday, I am making a slow journey towards KY, stopping a lot to stay awake, out of too much pain, and happy. Some of the things I have learned are that I can travel and sightsee quite well by myself, thank you very much. Though it hurts a lot at times, I can push myself to sightsee, and visit and walk with either cane or walker quite far(well, a couple of miles) though the cane-which is easier in public-makes my shoulder and arm hurt more than the walker.
I have also realized that all those years at home and alone have given me the ability to be alone, and on my own, without feeling lonely or lost, wherever I am. This was something I wondered about before I left. Also, I don't panic when I'm lost somewhere. Of course that could have something to do with my GPS system, which is helpful up to a point. It (or she, as I think about her, because of the calm but declarative female voice in which she gives directions aloud) does not like it if I leave the route she has chosen for me, sometimes sounding rather testy when I don't follow the directions she keeps trying to give me!

Come to think of it, maybe anthropomorphizing my GPS system proves that I've totally lost my mind, especially when I admit I occasionally talk back to her! Oh well, I'm out here having a good time, and this kind of trip is kind of crazy, anyway. But I don't have to tell you all that I boarder on crazy most of the time, anyway!
Will write again eventually.

Many Blessings, Margo

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Road Trip, Part One, 9/27/07

I am definitely on my journey, staying in Atlantic City in the Resorts Hotel. Despite living half way between two of the biggest casinos in the Western Hemisphere, I had never stayed in a casino hotel before, and it is very grand. My room is as big as my living room and dining room combined!I am trying to pick out one piece of joy for each day.

Monday it was crossing the Tappen Zee bridge, which is sowide and amazing with the sun glinting off of it. I could picture Dutch settlers moving up river into the wilderness and grinned like a fool. Tuesday's joy was standing in the Atlantic Ocean, as the tide came in washing oven my feet and legs, then digging a hole around my feet with the backwash. I kept moving sideways so as not to roll into the surf, shallow as it was.Yesterday, Wednesday's joy was meeting Mort.

For those of you who read his journal, he is just as he portrays himself: a nice guy, a gentleman, the kind of man who would use his two days off the show me around the city. We started talking the moment we met, and did not stop for hours! Last night we ate in the Rain Forest Cafe, looked at lots of sights, then he was kind enough to take me to show me the bar complex in which he works. The man had gotten off work at 9 AM that morning, slept a few hours, then took me back there 12 hour later, on his night off because I asked. A nice guy.Today, eventually, we will get together, and he'll show me more!

Tomorrow I head for the DC area to meet up with Judi and Virginia. Am really looking forward to it.I am finding the long distance driving difficult-I have to stop a lot, and listen to the guided imagery tape on relieving pain that Robin gave me, It slows me down a lot, but I'm going to be okay, which has been nice to learn. I must make this short-I am using the hotel computer, because my borrowed one wouldn't work here with their system. It is Adam's computer, and he set it up to be very protective of it, which is fine for him, but frustrating for me!

Blessings to all, Margo
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