Friday, March 30, 2012

Road Trip in Record Time...ew

Well, we just spent 7 days driving from one corner of the country to the other (almost. Oregon isn't quite the opposite corner). And back!

I don't ever want to do that again, really.

Jamie drove most of the way, with his mom and I taking shifts while he slept, or tried to. The first time he relinquished the wheel on the way to Florida at about 2am, we were stopped by Utah police and had a very nervous few minutes which of course seemed much longer than that. Jamie's mom was driving, the first time she'd been behind the wheel of this particular car, and as I understand it, she had to merge to the left to avoid the flashing lights of an emergency vehicle on the right shoulder. She didn't have space, so she had to wait for the guy on the left to hurry up and pass, while the speed limit was dropping and she was behind a semi truck. From what I understand, the police officer that pulled us over said that she ALMOST went over the solid line when she changed lanes, and that she was following closely.

In an unfamiliar car (I think we'd gone only 30 miles from the hand-off, and you can't learn a car very well going one speed on a highway in pretty straight lines) I don't think she did anything wrong at all. I believe instead that there might have been some poor hopeful guesswork going on when the guy saw Washington plates on our rental car. Perhaps he thought he'd get lucky and nail a drunk driver, but his questions led us to believe that he was hoping for a drug bust. He ended up asking Jamie's mom to come back to his police car with him, which freaked all of us out, of course.

Luckily, another officer pulled over as well, and this one was a little more chatty. He got more details on our situation from Jamie and I than the other guy had, and got our licenses, which he then walked back and waved at the guy in the car with Jamie's mom. The first guy didn't take them, but after that they wrapped things up. The jerk, for I am entitled to my opinion that the man is a complete jerk, wrote Jamie's mom a warning for Failure to Operate in One Lane (she only ALMOST went over the line, so that's not fair) and Following Too Closely. Or however they are officially worded. I think it's bunk, but whatever. Jamie took the wheel again for another long while, and then he gave it back to his mom far away from Utah.

I got to drive what was affectionately called the "early morning bus route" hours. On the trip to Florida, this meant the wee hours of the morning from about 3am (I get up at 5:30 to get ready for work, not that different) until whenever Jamie felt rested enough to take back the driver seat after the sun came up. On the way back, Jamie's mom didn't manage to rest enough to be able to safely drive for very long, so both times when we shifted to her, we shifted to me fairly quickly. With 3 drivers, there is no point in getting embarrassed or trying to prove anything, just pass it on and be ready to try again when the next person flags. Jamie ended up doing nearly all the daytime driving, and me nearly all the night driving.

Coming back to Oregon, I got some really dense fog to make things difficult. I found a pair of steady brake lights that didn't act idiotically, and I followed them pretty intently through the mountains. I was able to keep up speed while feeling safe enough. Otherwise it was the kind of heavy fog that I would have driven 30 through the entire way. It was a lot of fog, so I'm glad I didn't. That little white car seemed to know the curving up-down mountain road well, so thank you little car!

I was also proud that my efforts to give everyone a smooth napping experience made a difference. I tried very hard not to go around turns too sharply, to make them smooth and easy, not accelerate or slow down suddenly. Not hit any raccoons (The last road trip we had, I hit a raccoon and there was a loud bump. Jamie of course woke up thinking we were dying- I didn't get to drive again because he never went back to sleep- that trip wasn't as long as this one). Most of all, I stayed carefully centered in my lane to avoid the rumble strips. I hate those things so very much because they work very well in a small car. BBRRRRR, VIBRATE VIBRATE YOURE GONNA DIE BRRRRRRRR!!!!! So yeah. I don't like them. For my efforts, I think everyone got at least a few hours of solid sleep- as much as you can with 5 people, a pit bull, a poodle, and a cat crate stuffed into one moving car can. Everyone made a small comment at one point or another that made me feel very good about myself, even though I was only driving for a small part of the whole trip. Yay me!

It took us 44 hours to make what Google claimed was a 48 hour trip to Florida. Since I don't think that Google gives you any extra time for fuel stops, this was impressive to me. On the way back, our stops were longer for more people to stretch and use the restroom, plus the animals, and there was usually some rearranging going on. Whoever sat in the front passenger seat was the next-most comfortable other than the driver, but they had to carry the bag of foodstuffs in their lap. Depending on who was driving, the back seat people had a huge cat crate on one side, a pit bull on the other, and there was a stupid hump for the middle person where feet couldn't be placed anywhere comfortable. Being smaller, I ended up in the middle most of the time except when I was trying to rest, when I got the front. In general it's not something I want to try again anytime soon. Still, we left at 5pm Saturday from Florida and arrived at 6:30 on Sunday I think. Jamie made up a lot of time by speeding, hehe. We had time to unanimously fall into sleeping arrangements before we had to return the rental car Tuesday at noon.

The bad part is that our little rental house is not ready early as we had hoped. Actually, we should be able to start moving things in today, which would be great. As always, I am reminded of how awesome our friend is as she has crammed 3 additional people and another 3 animals into her tiny 2 bedroom home "for temporary". Once we get our little rental, the Pathfinder games will be hosted there and they can have the alone-time that has been lacking since June last year. I love you, Tig! <3

Thursday, March 15, 2012


Since my last posting, any semblance of routine has gone out the window, with exception that school children still come and go on a schedule, which means I am in a bus driving them on a regular basis. That's about it.

It did not take very long since my mom-in-law Maryann arrived on March 4th (the Sunday before last) to realize that it was a good thing we had not purchased her round-trip airfare. She wants to stay! This is both a good thing and a bad thing. The good of course, is that I love my second mommy and want her close by, along with her boyfriend, and we might even be hauling Jamie's brother out here for a new start and good times. But the bad part is, Jamie and I hadn't gotten a rental of our own a month ago because we had decided that Klamath Falls isn't the one place we think we'd like to settle into and stay forever. Our friends and roommates kindly agreed to let us stay with them the rest of the year until summer when school and work ends and we'll move to Colorado. Now, the search for a rental resumes, but with more people and pets to consider, for a short duration and unknown long-term plans and goals after that.

The other good news is that I get to go to Florida! Originally, Jamie's dad had been planning to buy us tickets to come and visit during Spring Break. Life happened, and instead our visit had to be canceled. Instead, Jamie and I had enough money to bring his mom to us for a visit, and we didn't have to wait until Spring Break to do it this way. With us going to retrieve the rest of the family, I still get my visit! It turns out after several days of research and poking Google repeatedly that renting a fuel-efficient car to drive to Florida and back is the cheapest option. Our black car, while awesome, is not a sipper of gasoline but a chugger, and of the expensive stuff too. So travel seems to be arranged and ready to set in motion.

As for where to put everyone, we have a really nice place hopefully secured. This house wasn't even listed anywhere. We spent all morning yesterday driving around looking at my list of 22 potential candidates scoured from craigslist, the nickel (Oregon's Pennysaver) and newspaper classified ads. Of those, I don't think we found a single one worth anything. Several homes were not something we liked, lots of them were overpriced for what they were (this coming from a beachfront-dweller used to stupidly-high rent even!), and some were ruled out due to having no yards for the puppies, or being way too close to neighbors who would be nosy. I had to go to work before we had finished looking through the list, but it wasn't looking like a good situation.

When I was done with my route, however, I hopped into the car with good news waiting for me. Jamie and his mom had looked at the other places and were sitting dejectedly at a light waiting for it to turn green, when Jamie saw a real estate place and decided to walk in. I'm not sure on all the details, but they took me to see a really cute place which is absolutely trashed from the last renters. In the next week it should be cleaned and ready for us to move in (we hope, nothing is final). I hope we get it, and this house was affordable, with 3 small bedrooms and a decent patch of grassy yard as well as a sort of garage-shed. It had a lot of cute touches of "personality" such as built-in shoe racks in the closets, neat cupboards and such, and a simple compact layout. The house looks tiny, but seemed roomy inside. I admit, I'm not doing a very good job of not getting my hopes up.

If everything does work out, we'll have keys in-hand just before we leave on our retrieval mission.

We had a lovely time at the Lava Beds last weekend also, but that will be a tale all on its own. For now, here are some pictures from the 4th:

Welcome to Medford.

Her airplane is the tiny silver one. 
Her first airplane took off late from Florida, she missed her connecting flight in Denver, and spent the night reading (and rereading) a small book. She then got a flight to San Francisco instead, waited a couple hours more, then took the silver plane to Medford, Oregon.

First thing we did was go to Olive Garden for lunch. This drink on an empty stomach makes for a funny mom!

Yay, she's on the ground!

We were very happy to not have her stuck in Denver still.

Also very happy to have Chinchillas! (Enchiladas. Which, even if I follow the recipe, will never be a proper substitute for the real thing, even if the bottoms burn from altitude differences)
Look! I remembered to get the camera out before I ate it all up!

Today is Thursday, but there is no school tomorrow due to the end of the grading period, yay!
Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Small Successes

While most of my life up to now is pretty routine, sometimes there are things that happen that just make you feel like a million bucks.

Recently I have been accepting car rides to work for various reasons. One morning there were truly slick conditions and Jamie drove me, much to the relief of my coworker who is normally the one offering to take me home. One morning I was simply lazy. Maybe Jamie wanted to go grocery shopping after I got off the afternoon route, or go to lunch beforehand. He finishes class at 12:50pm and I don't need to get to the bus until 2:15pm, so most often we would go out and simply not be back at 1:30pm when I'd like to get ready to leave with my bike. So I haven't been riding as much as I possibly could.

Once you stop, it's easier to be lazy and accept more rides.

Well, yesterday I absolutely felt like I had to ride. I'd driven myself to work due to a dusting of snow (Zoomie's studs were removed and I had left poor Chainless on the college campus after pedaling there with rescue lunch for Jamie when the card machines broke). I drove myself home, and instead of riding with Jamie to class and pedaling Chainless home, we had the bike rack on the car. I can't remember why. Yesterday's snow dusting melted very quickly, leaving dry inviting roads and warm sunshine. I regretted not riding in, because I could not ride home.

That afternoon called for 25 mile-per-hour winds, with gusts at 35mph. Certainly it was bitterly cold in the breeze, and there were clouds nearby dropping more snow dust so that it appeared to be snowing with clear skies above us. A trip to the grocery store needed to be made for a forgotten ingredient, so the car was being used anyway. Instead of allowing myself to be driven to work, and then a special trip being taken to come pick me up, I made myself not be lazy. I put the bike rack on the car (after debating with myself for several minutes, walking outside and then inside, wondering if it was worth fighting the wind and if I'd have to admit defeat due to real snowfall.)

Finally I told myself I was being a wussypants, I was already coping out a little bit due to not riding TO work, I wanted to ride, and this morning had been gorgeous. Just because I missed the great weather this morning didn't mean that this afternoon might not turn out just as awesome. I hefted Zoomie up onto the car myself. She's a bit heavy and in the driveway, the rack is higher off the ground than usual too.

Well, I'm glad I took Zoomie! Not only was it funny wheeling Zoomie through the door to the sounds of the cassette clicking merrily along and my coworker shouting "what is that bicycle doing here?!", but the ride home was challenging and I did it. The wind was blowing steadily from various directions, and was a direct headwind going down the hill from work, and up the small bridge hill. But boy was I flying down the curving road after that! I hit 5th gear to cruise in most of the way, and 6th on the tiny downhill dips. Zoomie's streamers were flying nearly straight out in whatever direction they were pointed in. It was a major fight part of the way, and then an exhilarating race the rest of it, with legs suddenly freed of the working against the wind.

I'm glad I rode. I didn't have to, and it wasn't the most comfortable or pleasant experience ever, but I feel like I conquered something major, and that is a great way to feel at the end of a workday. I earned that lasagna for dinner! It's the small things sometimes that have a major impact.

Other small successes- My mom-in-law survived a flight delay causing an overnight layover (instead of 50 minutes) in an unfamiliar and strange airport all alone, and made it here to Oregon for a visit! Up ahead are yummy meals*, fun winter revisits to some of the local attractions, and of course quality time spent with part of the family. Yay!

*If I can not scarf them down before remembering a camera, I'll even post pictures!