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that global ...

Tuesday, August 14, 2018
... positioning device a friend gave me several years ago seems to not be so remarkably accurate. I know they need to be updated periodically, to guide wayfaring travelers to their destinations. Upon receiving the gift, I did not understand that to be true. Thinking the world 'as we know it' is fairly well-known. Believing most places are fairly stable, well explored and charted by centuries of cartographers (or now: google-earth) for getting us where we want to be.

I have gradually, grudgingly come to accept that things continue to evolve: even in places we consider familiar, something unexpected can pop up and throw your navigational skills for a loop. Though my GPS device was programmed, and provided with the most up-to-date maps available (back in 2012) there are streets, buildings, possibly even towns newly incorporated that did not exist those few years ago. It is a difficult thing to confess, as my family continues to incrementally push, pull, and prod me into learning new skills and mastering technology, but it is apparently time to get that 'thing' on your cell phone that can figure out where you are, and how to help you get to where you want to be.

I was driving in what was a familiar area of town, the place where I have lived for many years, and discovered a new street. There are many thoroughfares in this place I have yet to travel, parts of the town I have never seen, but this one was right here. In my vicinity, less than two miles from my house. A great, wide, four lane road, with grassy median filled with landscape plantings: oak trees, crape myrtles, ornamental grasses, all well maintained. Huh? How long must I have had my head in the sand to not notice all the big yellow equipment and paving machines necessary to build a street with all that infrastructure: bridges, drainage, underground power supply, sidewalks, curbing, miles of asphalt.

This grand new discovery connects two roads I have traveled innumerable times in the years of residence, so I am doubly surprised to find something so nearby, conveniently located: both new and foreign to me. Hard to believe I was doing such a poor job of paying attention - when I think of myself as aware, cognizant of my surroundings, especially attentive to what is going on in my neighborhood, after a burglary/home invasion a couple of years ago. But that construction crew who likely took years to complete the project slipped that one right by me!

here you have...

... more than you ever wanted to know about Arbor Day. Due mostly to my being assigned to give a thirty second talk at a meeting today. A year or so ago, due to not having my plate overloaded with volunteer activities, I took up a position with a local environmental organization. I got myself officially sworn in as a board member of Keep Columbus Beautiful last August, and have been actively involved in a number of community wide events. Participating in various programs to promote awareness about litter, water preservation, recycling, efforts to keep the community clean and safe for man and beast.

The first board meeting kicking off a calendar full of opportunities for involvement occurred today. I was volunteered to share a little info. about Arbor Day. Here is what I discovered: for your edification when you find yourself inveigled in the next trivia competition. The name comes from the Latin word for 'tree', and was begun in Nebraska by a Mr. J. Sterling Morton, who was the editor of a local newspaper (a perfect bully pulpit for espousing any cause, right?) He and his wife bought 160 acres of land in very flat, nearly treeless Nebraska City, and decided to plant trees. According to Wikipedia, nearly one million were planted, though there was no time frame given for this forest-full of saplings to have appeared. He was also influential in promoting Arbor Day in Europe and Australia.

Now you need to be aware of something positive about President Richard Nixon. I know: a sad case, with not much good to glean from his time as our leader. But he did:ensure the passage of The Clean Air Act, The Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act. And signed the bill that created the Environmental Protection Agency. Sadly, most of these new laws came into being as a result of thousands of people participating in hundreds of protests about damage being done to the land, water and air we all depend on. Nixon also declared the first Earth Day in 1970, with that particular date of April 22 being the birth date of Mr. Morton- everything that goes around comes around, right?

Morton died in 1902. His life and legacy are commemorated with a statue  in Washington, D.C., dedicated to the 'Father of Arbor Day' in the National Hall of Fame. I am sure he lead a much more interesting life, with ample details of his upstanding citizenry, and various calls to action published to inflame the population of Nebraska City, NE. That is for you to google up on your own...

flyin' back..

Friday, August 10, 2018
... to ATL on Thursday afternoon.  Took much longer than I had planned, but I got down, and out (of the terminal) and safely back home, in time to fall into bed, exhausted from travels. I decided it would not be judicious to set my watch for Central Standard Time adjustment when we crossed over, so left it on Eastern Daylight. Also left my appetite on Georgia time, to avoid confusing my taste buds.

When I woke up Thursday morning, on the edge of wakefulness, I began to ponder the day and realized I would be leaving St. Louis at 4 o'clock Eastern time (according to my un-adjusted watch), instead of the 3:00 that was the official departure time. Even so, I did not want to chance getting stuck in a long line going through the x-ray machines and being processed by TSA. We decided I should get there by 1:00 for a 3:00 flight. I am still surprised I got through the inspection process in record time, did not know I was 'pre-checked', or that the lines would be astoundingly short compared to tedious congestion of Atlanta. Plus I kept on my shoes, not required to separate out any belongings: computer, personal items, things they are so hard-nosed about in other airports.

But for some unknown reason the flight was about twenty minutes late boarding, meaning we did not get off the ground nearly as soon as anticipated. Even with the time-traveling of flying back into history by crossing into a different zone, the expected arrival time for landing at ATL was 5:30. There was serious weather occurring as we neared north Georgia, causing the flight to circle for about thirty minutes. I told a seat mate it reminded me of the time I was coming into Atlanta in bad weather many years ago, when we were forced to circle above a thunderstorm. We were up there for so long, the flight was diverted to Chattanooga to refuel. It was a safe landing, as the weather had probably blown out into the Atlantic Ocean by the time we got back to take our place in the landing pattern. I can still be thankful we did not run out of gas while at 20,000 feet.

My daughter, who was not charging me for long term parking while my car was at her house, met me. We had a bite to eat, and I got started home. The parking lot at the airport is a huge mess. I feel like I drove for miles up and down lanes, past concrete barriers, following orange directional arrows to get to the toll booth, insert my ticket and be on my way. Rained all the way down the interstate, but otherwise an uneventful return to fall into bed and sleep like a stone.

postcards from...

Thursday, August 9, 2018
... the corner of Kentucky when we crossed the little pointed part on the far south west edge. After leaving Nashville, aka Music City, heading northwest to get to St. Louis by the end of the driving day. The weather looked perfect for continuing the road trip, as we boxed up the cats, our belongings and were ready to load back into the Honda to travel on towards our goal of St. Louis. We ate some seriously over priced oatmeal in the hotel and went to collect the animals and luggage.

I am standing just inside the Hilton hotel, with the luggage and pet carriers on a trolley, waiting for the cousin to go out to bring the car up. As she neared the door,  I pushed the rolling luggage carrier out under the covered portico. Suddenly, and I do mean suddenly: a bruising storm blew up. High winds, heavy pounding rains, out of nowhere! Punishing winds, that might be considered what people in the airline industry call wind shear -really powerful, out of a clear blue sky, profoundly unexpected along with sluicing rain gushing from what had minutes before had been a cloudless sky.

We got back on the right road, in that driving rain storm, that was rapidly blowing through.  Dissipated just a few miles as it moved east, with the sky returning to it's previously bright, sunny clear state. No more blustery drenching rains the rest of the day, so it was pleasant traveling through the fields of soybeans and corn as far as the horizon.

I told my cousin about the little guy starting back to school, needing people to send him postcards from different states. Apparently some sort of summer break lesson in geography, as I think he was given a map of the US to mark states off as cards were delivered to his home address. His grandmother got people interested in supporting the project, so I brought along the mailing address and a few stamps. When we stopped for gas in that little far corner of Kentucky, I bought postcards, and wrote one right there on the spot. The cashier told me if I would stamp it and give it back, she would put the card in their outgoing mail. Vasa has a card coming from Kentucky!

I mailed the rest of "I'm in Kentucky" cards at a post office in Illinois. Did not stop to buy more, so hope I can get one today to send to him before I leave Missouri. A new navigator will take my place riding shotgun after they drop me off at STL Air today. I will present her with stamps and the Columbus address to send more cards to the little guy who is trying to check off all forty-eight states on his US map.

there was probably....

Wednesday, August 8, 2018
... no mention of the fact that there are two cats involved. The felines have done pretty well, cooped up in luxury carriers while traveling cross country. When I got to SC on Tuesday, they were already in the car, ensconced in the back seat, conversing through the mesh of the collapsible container. They are most definitely indoor cats, likely only experiencing the outside world through screening, or on the occasional trip to the vet. Content within the limits of their known world, therefore easily distressed when forced into confinement to experience the jostling movement of hours of travel.

I can imagine you would feel like a terrible parent should you even consider the possibility of providing some sort of anxiety-reducing substance to make the travels easier on all parties involved. But then - on the other hand - it would profoundly stressful to a spend hours in a vehicle with vocal felines expressing their displeasure with confinement. Remembering traveling with small children, considering the prospect of great distances with the plan of being ready to leave home, start the drive at their bedtime. Driving in the dark is no one's first choice, but the trade-off  of blissful silence in the back seat is most appealing. Less traffic after the sun goes down, and tranquility in the rear of the vehicle.

With forethought, she was equipped with drugs to sedate her feline family Prepared to squirt a small dose of liquid Rx into each one to help reduce apprehension as they travel cross country. My guess is the total drive is nearly 2000 miles - a long way for a pair of cats to be confined in travel containers in a small car. With hours of plaintive calls for rescue if they have not been given medications to make the trip  easier for everyone. It's not my 'call', but I would err on the side of providing the drugs to ease their fears and make the trip less stressful for all.

Traveling miles from home, crossing the continent as settlers in Conestoga wagons did centuries ago, it seems imperative to avoid any of the pitfalls you have the ability to envision in advance. Even with road maps, GPS, knowing the path to your destination I am all for making it as simple as possible. Like the voyagers of yore, there is still a degree of stepping into the unknown into that part of the geography labeled as: 'there be dragons here.'

Her household goods were loaded last week, left in the moving van making a ridiculous, pointless, absurd detour to Baltimore to get to Montana. We will cross the Big Muddy today, after passing though Memphis, and head northwest towards St. Louis. Following the path across the states, cruising the four-laned highways, viewing the passing beauty of America.

and then, after that...

Tuesday, August 7, 2018
... aggravating day of south GA heat, humidity and stress, I drove 240 more miles to Decatur. Where I spent the night, to get a ride to South Carolina this morning. As I travel with my cousin who drove entire length of  Tennessee today. I remember  many years ago, traveling with small children who would get antsy after fifteen minutes in the back seat, asking 'are we there yet?' and 'how many more miles?' Going on a family vacation and driving across North Carolina the long way from west to east. Looking back it seems like it took several days, but I know we surely did it in only one.

She is driving to Montana. I am not. Not driving at all, and most definitely not going all the way to Montana. Though I am sure it is beautiful there, and the scenery on the way magnificent. Viewing miles and miles of flat as a pancake heartland through the Dakotas and Nebraska. Breath-taking mountains in the distance as you motor across the plains and approach the Rockies. Miles of open grazing lands across the prairies of wild grasses now federally protected in the mid-west. Snow-capped heights and a million shades of green as you travel through national parks and protected forests.

Traveling on to St.Louis tomorrow. More adventures await...

it was exhausting...

... but very satisfying in a perverse, demented sort of way. I spent the day on Monday hauling my auntie from one appointment to another, in the miserable  unrelenting, blistering south Georgia heat. I've started to wonder, question how people survive in such weather, and think of living in a house that was cooled by an attic fan, with windows open all summer. How did we survive? I guess we just didn't know any better in the days before the marvels of HVAC.

When I got out to the facility where the auntie lives, she was sitting in a chair, with a wheelchair available, so I assumed she could not walk, and needed wheels. I must have completely Lost My Mind as I rolled her out to the car, put the folded chair in the back and carted her around ALL day long in that forty pound piece of weighty equipment.Wrestling and cursing, sweating and swearing all day, time after time, as I struggled to fold and insert it back into  my car.

The auntie had three places she had to be in the course of the day on Monday. First we went for a followup visit with the Orthopedic doctor, who put cortisone in her knee about a month ago. The fact that she is actually no longer ambulatory pretty much makes any possibility of joint pain a moot point.  If she isn't walking anyway, not much concern about her knee hurting. Causing me to think that there was not real reason to keep that  appointment that was made  weeks ago. But I thought: if we need to get back in there for some other reason in the future, better we should leave on good terms.

A couple of hours to kill caused me to go to the newly opened community library. An attractive, well appointed spacious facility with lots of empty shelving, so they have room to grow and expand. I was happily typing away, having left the auntie near the entrance where she could observe little people coming in and out, be amused by their antics and activities. She started  shouting after about thirty minutes, loud and disruptive, demanding to leave, so I quickly hustled her out and back to the car.

We killed a little more time as I struggled with the folding chair more getting in and out, her in and out to go to get some fast food lunch. Then on to the second appt. at 1:00. Where the Dr. decided we needed to come back at 2:00 for a chest xray. More in and out, to go to the drug store and get Rx filled, then back to family practice office, before she had to be at a dental appointment at 3:00. Man! That big, awkward wheelchair is a major pain in the butt - but I could not have gotten any thing done without it, as she cannot get around under her own steam at all.

I was hot, cranky and frustrated with that dang (essential) chair, as I wrangled it into the back seat repeatedly, muttering to myself :'I am not doing this again!' I am not doing this again!' While continuing to do it over and over. I actually stopped at a thrift shop to ask if they had transport chairs, with smaller wheels that are much lighter, designed to fold, more compact for travel. No such luck. But they have my number, I'm on the list. I am not doing that again!