Wednesday, August 4, 2010
That's about all I have for now. More to come later. Perhaps not only will I continue to see what the world is all about, but I'll find the time to update this blog more often. Lord knows I have a lot of stuff to say (for a somewhat quiet person). Lots of thoughts about my Dad, life in general, and oh those Famous Amos cookies....
If you are a road warrior like me, check out www.gowestusa.net (especially if you love the west like I do). Lots of great trip ideas if you happen to be heading that way. And if you are...let me know cause I wanna join ya! I'll bring the cookies!
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Thursday, June 3, 2010
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Friday, May 28, 2010
I have to say, this trip has been one of reflection and quite emotional. It's only been about a month since Dad has been gone. Throughout this journey I have been reflecting on the many familiar places and recalling memories of the many trips we took through here when I was a kid, and the last trip we made as a family back in 2008. We had so many different vehicles over the years, from the LTD ex-police car to the many vans, motorhomes, and station wagons. We always stopped at the gas station near where the railroad tracks pass over highway 308 in Denton, TX. This was always the spot that I remembered as the "beginning of the adventure" for here is where we bid adieu to the interstate for a long, long time. Hundred and hundreds of miles of two lane and four lane highways, all the way to extreme northwest New Mexico where we would jump on I-25 and head into Colorado. When I passed that station yesterday what I saw was a dark, closed station with no one around. But what I saw in my mind was my Dad pumping gas into the old Rockwood motorhome while I waiting inside for him to come pay for it so I could get more junk food that I didn't really need because we had plenty already. I remembered riding in the bed that was over the van chassis and looking out onto the plains of Texas, waiting for a train to pass to add some excitement to what, at the time, was pretty boring. I certainly don't think the same when I make the same drive now. I was looking for the picnic area just before Decatur, TX but I think it is gone now. They are widening the road to a divided, 4 lane highway instead of the old 2 lane it was forever. I was heartbroken to see that it appears to be gone (I'll check when I pass in daylight on my way back). I remember so many stops there to eat lunch. We even stopped there in 2008 and it looked the same to me as it always did. To me, it was a sacred place and if it is gone I will feel as tho a small part of me has gone with it. Driving through the small towns along Hwy 287 I recall the places we ate. I'm sure we hit every Pizza Hut and Dairy Queen along the 400 or so miles of it. Another special place for me is the park In Dumas, TX. We used to take a break from the road, eat some sandwiches, and swing on the swings. It was a nice chance to run around a bit before the last push onto New Mexico. I remember looking out the window from my high vantage point in the motorohome; the bed above the van-front end in the class "C" Rockwood. This was the best seat in the house. I could see so much from up there; the rows planted in the farmland that made patterns that seemed to "flicker" as we passed them at 65mph; the old farmhouses off in the distance; the never ending highway that seemed to fade into the horizon as the heat from the blacktop blurred the line between land and sky. One of the biggest thrills was waiting for Capulin Mountian to come into view from behind Sierra Grande. As the highway snakes around this mountain, which by the way is the largest "single" mountain in the U.S., it strategically hides Capulin until you get to the northwest side. The very top of Capulin is the first view, and because of my vantage point I was able to see it first. As we rounded the mountain more and more of Capulin is there until alas, the whole beauty of this extinct volcano is there for the weary traveller to see. We always stopped and took pictures even though we had taken then from the same spots so many times before. As we came upon her today I felt the same anticipation and excitement as I always had. I was waiting to get that first glimpse of her summit and as usual, she was there as she has always been. I drove up to the top and looked out at the Rockies in the distance and remembered seeing this same view through these same eyes that were a bit closer to the ground back in the days (hey I was short, what can I say). But a piece of me was missing. This was the first time I had been up there without my Dad. Mixed emotions to say the least, as this has been as much a travel back in time as it has been a new adventure. Knowing my Dad had seen these same sights for 35 years in a row and how it never got old to him makes me appreciate these same sights today and that is never gets old for me. He loved this and I have acquired that same love, although it took me years to realize it and see everything around me, not just look at it. So tomorrow again I am going places that I have not been to without my Dad being present. Having Danny along is a big help as we talk about things and it keeps my mind occupied. And, well, I guess I'm not totally without my Dad on this trip. I am wearing a ring of his that his mom gave him when he was 16 years old. It's a small ring with a "C" on it, but it is larger than life in meaning to me. I'm off to get some more sleep. Thanks Dad for introducing me to the beauty that this wonderful country has to offer, and for the years of great memories we had exploring it. I will pick up where you left off and continue the journey...
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Sunday, May 23, 2010
Saturday, May 22, 2010
Friday, May 21, 2010
So today started out with a trip to my old stomping grounds in Chalmette, La. I didnt venture too far in, just to the funeral home and to Discount Tire to get the tires rotated and balanced on the Avalanche for the upcoming road trip. Ate at Wendy's (spicy chicken nuggets are the BOMB) and headed back to the North Shore. All that rain we had on Sunday and Tuesday seemed to do nothing for the flowers in the garden so I watered them before they hired a lawyer and sued me for abandonment. But then again...damn...it's Friday so I guess they could use a little attention. Looks like the grass can use a cut too but that will have to wait. With the watering out the way I stopped by my Mom's to drop off some paperwork and headed to get the oil changed in the truck. Two things done before the road trip and now it's time to head over to the Beach House bar in Mandeville to get together with the guys. Of course, I HAD to bring Masayuki along for her first night out in 6 months. She's been couped up in the house so I had to get her a night on the town before she hired a lawyer and sued me for abandonment too. And what a fantastic night it was. The 6 of us went to school together...and not just high school. Throughout points in elementary, middle, and high school we were together, and now many, many years later here we are all having some beer and talking about where our lives have taken us since way back then. Band practice has given way to jobs, wives, ex-wives (not you Shawn) and grey hair (well, just me). It was an absolutely great night and I'm looking forward to the next go round (who's buyin next time?). And damn...the Beach Burger with bacon is slammin! Masayuki really didn't have much to say...could be because she spent most of the night in my camera bag. But she really did enjoy being in Chris' hand for a few minutes. Most action she has had in a long, long time (that I know of). Could be like Toy Story...when I leave for work she could be partying with the Precious Moments dolls. I did notice that some of the vodka was missing....hmmmm...
Thursday, May 20, 2010
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
So this was supposed to be posted last Sunday night...however me and anything that requires a password cannot play nice lately. So...now that cooler heads have prevailed...on with the show...
The whole house shook...my first thought was that someone ran through the fence and into the back of the house. I jumped up and soon realized it was a rumble of thunder that woke me from a deep sleep in about 2 milliseconds. Having your backyard up against a busy street with trucks that rumble down the road, you get used to hearing the rumble but not where it sounds like the windows are about to shatter. So after I got my heart out of my throat I sat down and listened to the rain and watched as the lightning flashed through the blinds. Thunder right after so it was a bit unnerving. What do I decide to do? Great day for a drive out in the country. A friend of mine told me about an area around Philadelphia, Mississippi that had a lot of old barns and houses, things I really like taking pictures of. So I figured why not, even though I knew I wouldn't take many pictures, if any today. So I gathered up my gear, set the trip odometer to 0, and set out on the road. Of course I had to stop at the gas station right up the street and get an Icee. They have the best around. I always have something to drink with me when I go on the road...whether I am thirsty or not. It's like I think I'm gonna get dehydrated or die of thirst, or just habit. Not quite sure yet. So I head out, driving up north towards Franklinton and there are not too many people out today. Gee, perhaps it could be the torrential downpour but who knows. As I am gettin into Miss. I'm seeing a couple old gas stations and mark them on the GPS to come back on a better day. All the while I'm getting my orientation right...this one is on the east side of the road so I should come back in the evening for the best light...check... As I am driving up Hwy 27 I see a group of motorcycles. About 12 in all driving down the highway in the pouring rain. Of course my first thought is "are they crazy?!!" But soon after saying "wow" a couple times (I think I may have even said it out loud) I start to think...maybe they are just doing something they love to do and who am I to think they are crazy? Just because I wouldn't do it doesn't mean that someone else wouldn't. People may think I'm crazy for driving my truck in the pouring rain, listening to Armin Van Burren's "A State of Trance 2010" while getting excited about finding abandoned buildings when most of the "normal" people would not go out if they didn't have to on a day like this. So it made me think about something...who figured out that a "day" is not actually a full 24 hours long...it's 23 hours and 56 minutes? And who's idea was it to add all those minutes up and give us February 29th every 4 years? Wow. 464.9 miles later I am home. Some observations on my trip:
- I saw lots of potential photographic subjects, but I already knew the weather was not going to cooperate. One of the very few shots I took is of the lonely railroad tracks posted here. I stood in the rain a few minutes thinking about those that have travelled up and down these tracks...
- There are a lot of chicken farms in Miss. And I saw where farmers proudly display who they are affiliated with...Tyson...Sanderson Farms...etc. Then I wondered. If these competing farmers should have a dispute, do they egg each other's houses? I mean, they don't have to drive down to Winn Dixie and buy a dozen eggs like we do. They have all the ammunition in the world and it is reproduceable.
- The church building business has to be lucrative. There are churches everywhere. There were a couple spots where I could have stood in the same spot and thrown rocks and hit 3 different churches. Well, maybe thats not fair cause I can throw rocks pretty far. But anyway, you get the point. And the parking lots were all full. I could have stolen all the pink flamingos off front lawns that I wanted to and no-one would have ever known.
- Since we are talking religion, I found myself driving alongside a hazardous materials truck on I-59 heading home. I was nervous enough...then when I saw the vehicle number (for the company I suppose) on the back of the cab...it was 666. Well, with all the lightning and stuff from earlier on my mind, I gunned it. I didn't want to be anywhere around that thing. Then I thought...perhaps the place where they pump down the chemicals that keeps hell burning must be somewhere in southern Mississippi. If I had that exact location...hmmm....maybe I should have just followed him.
All in all it was a great trip. I was able to relax (which is usually the point of me getting on the road anyway) except for the whole Devil's truck thing. There were places where I crested a hill and I could see for miles around. It was really beautiful in spots. Oh, and the tip was a good one. There were some really good photo ops so I'll have to head back on a better day. Another tip I was given...don't eat at a particular chicken restaurant up there. I won't say the name of it...but the initials are KFC. She found something in her food...perhaps from a pissed off farmer?
So check out www.roadsideamerica.com. One of my favorite websites. Remember the muffler man? Find out where there are some left...fun!