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Archive for March, 2009

Road trip gone awry: Mardi Gras

When we got to New Orleans, we checked into our Super 8 motel in Metairie, which is sort of a suburb of New Orleans. When I had originally looked for motels for the trip, I had discovered that New Orleans motels were either very expensive or totally booked through Mardi Gras and the couple of days after. My friend didn’t tell me, “I want to be right in the thick of Mardi Gras, no matter the cost,” so I looked at surrounding areas for a good deal on a motel. I found a Super 8 by the freeway in Metairie that was reasonably priced (considering how high everything was for the first three days of being there) and not as far away as some of the other outlying towns. I checked with my friend before I confirmed the reservation, telling her we could catch a cab to the heart of New Orleans, or maybe a bus if we were lucky, because the downtown motels were so expensive, and parking in New Orleans will generally get you a ticket, your car towed, or your car broken into. She agreed and I confirmed the reservation.

I wish that I would have given her a range of options to choose from, thereby making it completely her choice, with me just doing the legwork and confirmations. I knew she was very car-oriented, but I thought that my comments about cars in New Orleans, backed up by comments from every other person we talked to, would make her realize that blowing money on a couple of cabs to get us to and from the heart of New Orleans was actually money well spent, and money she had saved on the motel cost. Stupid me. I should have just booked us downtown at high prices, where we could have walked or ridden the streetcar everywhere. I’ll get back to that issue in the next installment.

When my friend checked us into the motel, I told her to ask the clerk if she knew about the Metairie Mardi Gras parade. I had been told by friends that Metairie had one of the family-oriented parades, which sounded to me like less hassle, less chance of pickpockets or muggers, and no issues with driving or catching cabs for the parade. Sure enough, the clerk told my friend that the parade was in the morning, just on the other side of the freeway. Perfect.

I was thinking in the back of my mind that if we weren’t too tired from the parade, we could then catch a cab downtown to look for an authentic New Orleans restaurant in the evening. And I had planned to contribute some of my small budget to help cover the cabs, which I had mentioned at least once when I was talking about cabs.

So we decided what time to go to the parade the next day and then relaxed in our room, drinking beer and eating out of our cooler instead of going out for dinner, because it had been a long day.

The next morning we excitedly got dressed and ready to go see the parade. The motel clerk had said we weren’t supposed to walk across the overpass, which wasn’t true, but since there was plenty of parking in Metairie, and we ended up with lots of beads, it was a good thing that we decided to drive across the freeway and park.

The crowd was already large, and many people were already set up along the parade route, even though the parade wasn’t scheduled to start for another hour. It was like a giant tailgate party, with families barbequing and setting up their viewing ladders. I had never seen such ladders before, rigged up with a seat on top and painted bright Mardi Gras colors. Kids ran every which direction, whooping and hollering, while teens roamed in packs.

We decided we had time to walk along the parade route for a while before the parade started, so off we went. We ended up walking most of the length of the route, mostly because my friend just kept going. We did get to see the sections of the route that were set up as private viewing stands for people who buy “season tickets” to the parade. We passed a costume contest just as a tiny little girl dressed as a pink bunny was on stage. I snapped a couple of pictures and we continued on. Eventually I started saying maybe we should try to get back closer to the starting end of the parade and look for a place to stand somewhere in the middle section. We gradually worked our way back toward the middle of the route and found a good place to stand as we saw the first parade floats coming our way.

Then came the bead frenzy. In the family parades, that consists of jumping up and down a lot, screaming at the top of your lungs, and waving your arms. No need to flash boobs for beads in Metairie. So we jumped and yelled and grabbed beads for maybe two hours, with me putting all of them around my neck and my friend putting them over her arms and finally into plastic bags. Eventually, as the main fancy floats faded into the distance and gave way to an endless line of bead-throwing trucks, I suggested that we start moving along the route toward the beginning and the car, so that we wouldn’t have so far to walk at the end. So we would walk a block and then stop again for some more yelling and jumping and grabbing beads. Gradually, as we got closer to the starting point, we were able to see that the line of trucks seemingly had no end. Later we found out that that part of the parade was called the truck parade, and it went on for a good hour past the float parade. Finally we were so overloaded with beads that I could hardly walk and my friend was practically dragging her bag like a tired Santa. I suggested we move over one block to head for the car without having to wade through so many people, especially since we were behaving like Pavlov’s dogs every time another truck passed.

So we moved off the route and continued at a quicker pace toward the car, staggering under our loads of beads. That’s when my friend stopped and said her feet hurt. I looked down at her feet and finally realized that she had made a very poor choice of shoes for walking and standing for hours. They were little slip on sandals, and they had been rubbing her feet raw to the point that the tops of her feet were covered with nasty blisters. So we slowed down a bit and she took her sandals off to walk along the sidewalk barefoot. As I suspected, we had walked a very long way from the car and it seemed as if we would never get there. At one point my friend said that she wanted to stop and have me go get the car and come pick her up. We had already had to meander a bit because of dead end streets, and I wasn’t comfortable with the idea of continuing on, finding the car, and then trying to find her again on strange streets, many of which were blocked off for the parade or were one way. She wasn’t happy with that, but I told her I didn’t want to spend the next hour wandering around looking for her so let’s just keep moving. So we did. At one point, when we were finally almost back to the beginning, we encountered more dead end streets, and I suggested walking back over to the parade route for the final few blocks. When we got back to the route, we found a new craziness in the form of the big clean up. Water trucks spraying water everywhere, bulldozers literally scraping up parade debris, dozens of workers with hand held blowers, police cars driving the route and getting people off the debris-laden street. It was crazy, like a giant bead truck had blown up and thrown beads everywhere. We picked our way down the street and finally found our block. With great relief we piled into the car with our giant piles of beads and headed back over the freeway to the motel.

We spent the next couple of hours sorting our beads, giggling maniacally, drinking beer, and congratulating ourselves on not having had to flash a single boob.

Finally we were faced with what to do about dinner. My friend was really set on “authentic” New Orleans food, but she had done NO research on area restaurants, AND when it comes right down to doing it, she hates to go any place spendy, which is what most well known places are. I had mentioned to her that my friends and I had found lots of little dives with good food the last time I was in town, but that we were in the heart of New Orleans and just stumbled onto them when we were wandering around. We both decided we were too worn out to go into New Orleans proper, especially since now my friend couldn’t walk with all her blisters. She decided she wanted crawfish ettoufee. Fine. Sounded good to me. I just wanted crawfish or gumbo. So we got out the phone book and started looking for restaurants in Metairie. Since Metairie is just a family-oriented suburb of New Orleans, there weren’t that many places to choose from that were listed in the phone book with information about their food. We settled on some place a couple of miles away that was supposed to have good seafood.

The place was easy to find and we got seated right away. We passed a table on the way to our table, with a guy consuming a giant pile of boiled crawfish. I almost grabbed his plate. My friend started commenting that the place seemed a little bit like a New Orleans version of Red Lobster. I said I didn’t really care, since the crawfish looked fresh and the servings looked generous. My friend ordered crawfish ettoufee, and I ordered a combination of crawfish ettoufee and fried crawfish. It was delicious, and since I hadn’t eaten either dish before, I certainly wasn’t going to assume that some place more “authentic” would be that much better. I was happy and full.

We headed back to the motel room, noticing when we did a u-turn that there was a Cafe Du Monde just down the street from the seafood place. Cafe Du Monde is famous in New Orleans for its chicory coffee and beignets. I had been to the original one next to Jackson Square down by the French Quarter, but I hadn’t realized that they had other outlets too. Score! Close to our motel and no giant crowds of tourists. So, tired, full, happy, and knowing where we were having breakfast in the morning, we collapsed in our room, played with our beads, watched coverage of the other parades on the television, and went to bed.

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Because I had trouble tearing myself away from my friend John, we got a late start on our next day of travel. I also failed to take into account that we were going to cross another time zone, and I didn’t realize that the hot spring resort we were headed for closed its gate at 8pm due to isolated roads near the Mexican border and the abundance of wildlife on the road after dark.

I had noticed over the previous days of traveling that my friend seemed uninterested in consulting maps or knowing where she was. It hadn’t been a big deal because we were traveling on roads I am quite familiar with. On this particular day, I was somewhat familiar with the road as far as El Paso, but that was as far as I knew it. Once we were in Texas, we were in unfamiliar territory. That’s when my friend’s aversion to maps and location began to be a problem, especially since I did more driving that day than she did. When I was riding shotgun I would check the maps and mileage and try to remember as much as I could. When she was riding shotgun she pretty much refused to look at the map at all, because that involved getting out her reading glasses. In fact, I don’t think she looked at the Texas map even once that day.

Late in the day, when it became obvious that we were running late, I decided to use my friend’s cell phone to call the resort and let them know. That’s when I found out that they close their gate at 8pm. I could tell that we were not going to make it in time, so I asked the resort owner about motels where we could stay. She told me that there were maybe three motels in Marfa, the town where we were going to get off the main highway and take a smaller highway south to Presidio, near the Mexican border. She said the motels in Marfa were a little expensive. I asked about Presidio, because it was the last real town before the resort. She said she had no information about motels in Presidio, so I thought it would be a bad idea to drive all the way down there and not know if there was a place to stay. She then said that the next town past Marfa, on the main highway, had lots of motels, with several being reasonably priced. That town, Alpine, was 25 miles past Marfa, which meant we would have to backtrack those miles the next morning. I knew that, because I had consulted the map numerous times during the day. But, being quite tired and forgetting once again that my friend had not bothered even once that day to look at the map and locate our route, I failed to specify that Alpine was NOT on the road to the hot spring resort, but on the main highway that we would be coming back to after our hot spring visit. I told my friend all the other information and she agreed to go on to Alpine without bothering to look at the map.

Yes, I wish that I had been more specific, because my friend pretty much blamed me for us having to backtrack 25 miles the next morning. But, damnit, I had shown her the printout of the hot spring route previously, and had mentioned several times that it was in the travel folder I had right there with the maps. The printout clearly showed that the only towns on the way to the hot spring, once we turned off at Marfa, were the larger town of Presidio and a tiny wide-spot-in-the-road town called Ruidoso, which was right before we got on the dirt road to the hot spring. I honestly didn’t realize that my friend had not once actually looked at the route and had absolutely NO idea where we were.

So we drove to Alpine, found a motel, and called it a day. I knew that the next day was going to be a long one because we had planned to be coming from the hot spring back to Marfa and then continuing east to catch the Interstate to San Antonio. Having to backtrack the 25 miles AND drive the two hours to the hot springs AND use the hot springs AND then drive back to Marfa and beyond was definitely going to add many hours to our day. The next morning when I laid all of that out for my friend, who STILL did not pull out the map and look at what I was talking about, she first got mad at me for the 25 mile backtrack, because she thought we were 25 miles INTO the drive to the hot spring. I told her it was going to be a long day and we needed to hustle if we were going to get there, enjoy the hot spring, and still get to my friend’s house in San Antonio at a reasonable hour. That’s when she brought up her ridiculous suggestion that later in the trip she said she didn’t suggest. Since we had missed our chance to spend the night at the resort, she suggested that we spend the next night there and then drive all the way to New Orleans, skipping the stopover at my friend’s house in San Antonio. I told her that was impossible because the drive to New Orleans would be over a thousand miles, and I also said that my friend had planned for our visit and was fixing us dinner, etc., and I thought it would be rude to cancel at the last minute. She completely forgot that conversation.

Anyway, off we went early in the morning, after a fast stop at a McDonalds for coffee. The drive was beautiful, and the resort was a pretty little place very much in the middle of nowhere. We were literally across the river from Mexico for part of the last section of paved road. We got an hour of soaking for a great price, and I used their community kitchen to make us some good coffee for the long drive ahead.

We hustled out of there and began the long drive to San Antonio. When we finally got to I-10, I called my friend and left a message on his voicemail, telling him we were running a good two hours behind and would probably show up around 7ish. I felt bad, because he was going to make us catfish and we were going to drag in really late and tired. Turns out he had been having trouble with his voicemail and didn’t get the message until just after 7pm, just about the time we arrived. Because he hadn’t gotten the message, and we hadn’t shown up around 5 when we’d said we would, he wasn’t sure if we were coming and had gone over to his fiance’s house a few miles away. So we arrived to a dark house, had trouble spotting the driveway in the dark, which set off my typical can’t-see-in-the-dark panic, for which I had to apologize to my friend a few minutes later (aaah, turn there, turn there, where is it, you missed it, turn around, ahhh!). We found a dark, locked house with a note on the door to call my friend when we arrived. So, as we were sitting in the car calling him, he pulled up, having finally gotten the voicemail message.

After rounds of greetings and bringing in baggage, he discovered that the catfish he was thawing was still frozen because he had put it in the fridge when he wasn’t sure we were coming. So he offered some frozen pizza and beer, which we gratefully munched and swigged. He said that his fiance and daughter and step-daughter-to-be were on their way over to spend the night too. So we got introduced to the whole charming family, including Lizzie the dog who had been there to greet us. We got our beds set up in the office while the girls were busy setting up their slumber party in the next room. Because my San Antonio friend was selling the house to move into his fiance’s house, it was only partly furnished, and the girls brought a blow up bed to sleep on. After some beer and conversation we all retired early, as we had over 500 miles to go the next day and the girls had school, and the fiance had an important meeting.

I got up early when I heard rustling downstairs. I found my San Antonio friend fixing coffee and breakfast for everybody. He made breakfast tacos, and they were yummy. He said he always makes breakfast for his family and was wrapping up a couple of tacos for his fiance to take with her. My road trip friend doesn’t eat breakfast, so I took the couple of wrapped tacos for her and put them in the car for later. We all watched Lizzie chase deer out of the yard a few times, then hugs all around, fill the thermos with coffee, and back on the road. My friend told us how to avoid San Antonio on our way out, and in a short time we were back on I-10 east of San Antonio. It was a pretty day, nice and warm, and we got to New Orleans around 3:30 in the afternoon.

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Dragging my feet

Yes, I am going to finish the New Orleans road trip story soon, but I’ve been dragging my feet because of the negative feelings it brings up. But I started this blog to deal with my feelings, so I can’t back out now. I’ll get the next segment out in the next day or so.

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As I mentioned in my as yet unfinished tale of the New Orleans road trip, I was surprised not to see my friend’s dog, Oprah, when we pulled up at his house. Instead, we were greeted by Suki, a beautiful white dog with a charming personality. I asked my friend John what had become of Oprah. He looked very sad and angry and then told me the story. When we lived in the canyon, I dubbed my husband’s boss the EPM, which stood for evil preserve manager. He wasn’t just a horrible boss, he is a horrible person. His nastiness could easily fill pages in my blog, should I eventually choose to write about him. His nastiness as a boss can be summed up in a quote from the person who replaced my husband when he quit, and who only lasted nine months before leaving: “If I wanted to get yelled at every day at work, I would have stayed in the Marines.”

I didn’t give him his EPM moniker just because he was a horrible boss to my husband, but because he is evil. He is a very bad person. In so many ways. But this post is just about one evil thing he did. He killed my friend’s dog. I will never forgive him for that.

John said that the coyotes had been up to their usual tricks, trying to lure the EPM’s dog out to kill him during the night. That’s pretty much SOP for coyotes, as anyone who lives around them knows. The EPM could have easily solved the problem by either keeping his dog in at night or building a fence around the yard. But those solutions are too logical and not nearly evil enough. It is important to note that this occurred on a nature preserve, where native plants and wildlife are protected, which is supposedly the job of the preserve manager. But the EPM, among his many and various faults, believes that he is God, and thus he gets to decide who/what lives or dies.

The EPM decided that the coyotes should die. And he chose a horrible way to carry out his death dealing. He chose poison. Poison does not discriminate. It kills whatever consumes it. If someone puts out poison-laced meat, any and all meat eaters in the area may eat it and die. That’s exactly what happened to Oprah. She ate some of the poison-laced meat and died a horrible death, bloated and writhing in pain. She was an innocent, sweet dog. She loved bones. I used to watch her run merrily around John’s yard with her latest bone when we were over for summer chips and margaritas. No more Oprah and her bones. And the EPM lives on. I now heap more curses on his head. In addition to wanting him run over repeatedly by a large truck, bitten by a thousand rattlesnakes, attacked by zombie chickens, kicked in the head by one of his precious cows, shot by the woman employee/girlfriend he emotionally abuses, drowned in a monsoon flood, and buried by a rockslide, I now add being eaten alive by coyotes after he falls and breaks a leg in a ravine. There is no death too painful, too long, or too horrific for that evil man. I suspend all buddhist niceties when contemplating a horrible end for a horrible man. One day he will get what he deserves. And the world will sing, and the sun will shine brighter, and the animals will dance.

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The drive out to New Orleans was actually my favorite part of the trip, even though it was more rushed than I would like. I was disappointed about the nasty winter storm that rolled into the west just as we were leaving. It forced me to change the itinerary for the first two days of travel. It meant that we missed one of the best hot springs in the country, missed traveling on Highway 50 in Nevada, and missed getting to see Dogtown at the Best Friends Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah. Also, due to the last minute nature of the storm, I forgot to go onto Mapquest and get the mileage for the first day of alternate route. I just guessed that we could make a certain location (with free camping), based on how far I’d gotten by myself in the past, and figuring in a few extra hours with a driving partner.

As the day wore on, both of us realized that we had too much mileage for one day. We decided to stop in Barstow. Even that was a bit of a push. We probably should have stopped in Bakersfield or Mojave. I accept some of the blame for that first long day, but my friend could have gotten out the maps and done some figuring to help decide to stop sooner if necessary. That would have been useful. I could have done that too. Neither of us did it because we were jazzed to have started the road trip and were just trying to put on some distance. Okay, so no big deal. We overdid it the first day but had a relatively short drive the next day, around 300 or so miles. At one point, my friend commented that we really could go farther than that, but I reminded her that there wasn’t any free camping past where we were stopping, and that we had already had to stay in a motel once after driving a very long day. And come on!  The weather where we were stopping was warm and sunny, the camping was pretty and free, the nearby town of Quartzsite was interesting and worth a stop, and we weren’t slated to get to our next destination until the following evening at dinnertime. So we stopped and set up camp, took a pretty walk, flew a kite, and then decided to go into town for dinner. I would have been happy to cook dinner in camp, because we had plenty of food and I like cooking while camping, and it was my contribution to the trip since I didn’t have spending money. But my friend seems to have some weird aversion to people cooking. It’s not like I was asking HER to cook. I was going to do it all. But she wanted to go to town so I said sure, since I think Quartzsite is adorable, and there are a couple of good eating places there.

We settled for pizza at Silly Al’s. The place was packed. We ordered the Mediterranean pizza and some beer. Had a great time and then headed back to camp. It was too late for a campfire at that point, so I decided to save my bag of firewood until the next morning, because I like a nice warm morning fire to sit around and drink coffee while the dew on camping gear dries in the morning sun.

I didn’t make my bed properly, so I didn’t sleep as well as I would have liked, but that is kind of typical on the first night of camping for me anyway. No biggie. My friend started saying we should hurry up and pack to go. I said, “What’s the rush? We have a relatively short distance to go and aren’t expected until dinner, and the tent needs to dry out.” She said that she had found a hot spring on the road between Quartzsite and Phoenix and wanted to check it out. I was surprised about the hot spring because I had never heard of it when living in Arizona. I commented that being a developed place it might be over our budget. She wanted to go, and I said that at the very least we should at least stop and check it out for coolness and price. And we had plenty of time anyway. So we added a stop to our daily itinerary.

I got up and started the campfire and put water on the stove to boil for coffee. My friend got up and started pulling a couple of pieces of firewood off the fire, saying we shouldn’t burn it up so fast. I told her that I wanted a big warm fire, which is why I had put all the wood on, and that we didn’t have time for a long, drawn-out smaller fire that we would have to use our water to put out. I told her there was just enough wood for one fire and that I didn’t want to haul around a lone piece of firewood that wasn’t enough for another fire. She seemed faintly annoyed (two control freaks fighting over fire). I ignored her because I was the one who had brought the wood, gotten up to start the fire, and was making coffee for both of us.

I also took the opportunity to reorganize the trunk, since the big bag of wood was gone and we had lots of room to spread everything out. That’s just standard for me on a road trip or camping. Keep your stuff organized, figure out what you need up front for the day, etc. My friend drank coffee while the tent dried. I made more coffee. We rolled up our bedding and got everything out of the tent so she could put it away. I had some cereal for breakfast. My friend doesn’t eat breakfast. I finished repacking the car while my friend drank coffee and waited for the ground cloth to dry.

Other than momentary annoyance at my friend trying to deconstruct my fire, I was perfectly happy that morning. I like being the organizer when camping. Ever since I once let my husband pack the car for a trip, and it took me three days to find some of the stuff I needed (he even put weird things in the cooler), I’ve been kind of picky about doing the organizing myself. And my friend seemed perfectly happy to drink coffee and enjoy the sun.

When everything was dry and packed, we headed out to Quartzsite to stop at the local bakery for goodies. Then we headed down the road to go check out the unknown hot spring. Given its proximity to Phoenix, I was worried that it was going to be one of those upscale resorts that are expensive and require swimsuits. Both of us were pleasantly surprised to find a pretty little “hippie-ish” hot spring. It was reasonably priced, well-designed, friendly, and naked. My friend paid the hourly rate for both of us (remember that I was making this trip with extremely limited funds), and we had a nice soak. I think we even went over our hour, because the management is pretty laid back.

It was a great continuation of a really nice morning, and it also delayed us enough that we would arrive at our friend’s place only slightly earlier than he expected us (our original route would have been a long day, due to a scheduled tour of Dogtown, with us arriving at our friend’s place after 7 pm).

My friend was driving when we went through Phoenix and I should have quickly gotten out the map to double-check the route through town. I told my friend we were looking for the signs for Highway 60 to Mesa and Globe, and that I thought it was a straight shot across town without having to turn off. But she spotted a sign that said Mesa and shot off down that exit. I knew that was the wrong way, and was annoyed that she was ignoring her navigator, but I suspected it was one of those outer loops that was going to circle around the middle of Phoenix and end up back where we wanted to be. That’s exactly what it turned out to be, and we only lost a few minutes on the circle around, without having to take exit ramps and reverse ourselves. Again, my only problem with that incident was that it showed my friend’s tendency to make snap decisions about direction that are not based on a map or a navigator. When you have a navigator sitting next to you telling you where to go, you don’t just “decide” to go “that” way and ignore your navigator. Bad driving policy. The whole point of having a navigator for large cities and major route changes is so that the driver can focus on driving and the navigator can focus on route. Safe and efficient.

Anyway, we got through Phoenix and headed out Highway 60 toward our destination. The rest of the trip was uneventful. When we were almost to our turn onto Klondyke/Aravaipa road, for the last hour of dirt-road driving, we stopped at a rest area and switched drivers. I drove the dirt road section to our friend John’s house. It was pretty annoying because the sun had set just low enough that it was reflecting off the windshield and leaving me almost completely blind. I had to slow down numerous times because I couldn’t see at all. We also should have given John a quick call when we turned off, because cell phone reception disappears just a short way down the dirt road. We forgot, so he was surprised to see us pull up a couple of hours early.

John had turned on the glowing red eyes of his metal dinosaur near his driveway, and we cheered to see it lit. We were greeted by a beautiful white dog, and I wondered where Oprah was, the dog he had had when Steve and I moved away. Big hugs all around, grabbed a few beers out of the cooler, and went inside to gab while John’s spaghetti sauce finished cooking.

John was our best friend when Steve and I lived in Aravaipa Canyon. He has lived in the canyon for 18 years or so. He’s retired from the Navy, is very intelligent, has a degree in English Literature, and is a retired mechanic who creates art from car parts. In addition to selling some of his art work, he makes a small living in the canyon repairing and selling tires for the locals and the hunters. He has a photographic memory and loves to play Scrabble. He was appalled the first time Steve and I invited him to dinner because he found out we didn’t own a Scrabble board. He taught us to play Euchre, and we whiled away many summer evenings in the Arizona room (that is what screened porches are called in Arizona) at our house, playing cards and drinking beer. John has kept track of all the little details of seasonal changes in the canyon since he has lived there, and he will happily dig through his notes to tell you when the last frost of the previous winter was, when the first scorpion showed up, when the first rattlesnake showed up, what the hottest temperature was the summer before, how much rain the monsoons dumped, etc. I miss John a lot. He was a wonderful neighbor.

John does have one interesting propensity though, that has gotten him in trouble before. He adores skinny women. Young, old, or in between, doesn’t matter. If they are skinny, he wants to marry them, or at least have sex with them. One of our favorite stories about John is about the time he asked the only single, skinny woman in the canyon for a date. He and Cheri were friends, as is pretty much anybody who lives in the canyon or the nearby valley. There are very few young, single women in the area, so they tend to be constantly asked out by the large number of single men living in the ranching community. Cheri is a bit prickly in general, but overreacted a bit when John asked her for a date. She pulled a gun on him. He took that as a no. People still bust up when they tell the story. He said he would have happily married her and taken care of her. Intelligent men can be so dumb sometimes.

When Steve and I still lived in the canyon, my road trip friend came to visit us. Because she is quite slim, John took an immediate hankering to her, and asked if she wanted to have sex with him. She turned him down and took it pretty well, reminding him that she was married. I think I may have warned her ahead of time about his attraction to slim women. So what did he do as soon as we all settled in his living room with our beers on this trip? He asked her again if she wanted to have sex with him. I busted up, she said no, and he said it was worth a try to ask. Classic John. We all had another beer and chowed down on his great spaghetti.

I’m going to stop on that goofy note and continue this story in the next post.

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the world sucks

Pure emotional post. This world sucks. I’m going to bed. The sun had better shine tomorrow if it wants to live. Fuck this planet. Welcome Killer Klowns from Outer Space.

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Last November a friend asked me to go on a road trip with her to Mardi Gras in New Orleans. I told her I couldn’t afford it, but she said she would pay for everything. I really sorta kinda wanted to turn her down, because I had my doubts about our compatibility on an extended road trip, complicated by the idea of being beholden to somebody on a trip that I couldn’t afford. On the plus side, my friend can be quite fun, and I knew that I’d be going crazy getting through the winter with mom. I didn’t know then that I was going to bolt for the desert the following month, thereby reducing my need to bolt again in late winter. I also knew that I was the only friend who was actually free to travel with her for several weeks (chronically unemployed is my moniker these days), and I felt bad that she might have to drive all the way to New Orleans and back by herself. Knowing my friend’s propensity for getting lost (map? I don’t need a map), and her tendency toward lack of caution, I felt a little worried about her making the trip alone. So I said yes, for all the wrong reasons.

Your traveling partner really is the most crucial element of a road trip. Often, friends and relatives do NOT make good road trip partners. I’m very lucky that my husband has been my ideal road trip partner for many years. We mesh well on the road and rarely have issues. I knew there were going to be major issues traveling with my friend, as did my husband, but having spent some extended time with her last year, I felt that I could handle it. I hoped that I could handle it AND manage to have fun.

My friend and I differ in very basic personality traits. I’m a planner, and I’m very organized. I like to have a basic idea about where we are going, where we are staying, and what we will need for the trip. Although I like to take a lot of stuff on road trips (husband calls me a maximumist, I call him a minimalist), I’m an expert at keeping track of the stuff, packing it, and using it when necessary.

My friend is my complete opposite. She lives spontaneously, moment to moment. She doesn’t exist well in the current moment though (something I’ve been working on a lot this past year), and always seems to be looking down the road to the next moment the second she arrives at the current moment. Not planning for the next moment, merely moving constantly toward it, and the next one, and the next one…

She is most definitely NOT a planner. Planning is irrelevant in her world. You just do and go, and go and do, even if you have no idea where you are going or what you are going to do when you get there. Since going on a 2-3 week road trip actually does take some planning, especially if you are going to a city for an event, I offered to help with hotel reservations and the route for the trip out. My friend took me up on my offer, so I arranged the hotels and route. I checked with her concerning every arrangement I made, to make sure my arrangements were okay with her. I got the usual breezy, “fine fine fine” from my friend. She said she would plan the route back home, since that leg included visiting her cousin in Colorado. I figured that would mean some chaos along the way, but thought I could handle it. My job was to get us there and make sure we had a place to stay.

Most people, when planning a big trip to some place they have never been, will read up on the locale, research it on the Internet, or buy a good travel book for the area. These days, probably all three of those. Not my friend. She apparently did NO research, did NOT look into the local attractions, didn’t even read up on Mardi Gras.  To make the most of their trip, most travelers generally make an effort to know how the area is laid out, where their lodging is in relation to things they want to see, and whether there are specific dates and times for local events and attractions. Most people read up on the local cuisine and research a couple of restaurants they don’t want to miss. This is all typical preparation for an exciting trip, at least for most people who want to get the most bang for their buck and have a memorable trip. Well, not my friend. As far as I could tell, the sum total of her research was to find out which day Mardi Gras fell on.

I had been to New Orleans before and thoroughly enjoyed myself. I told my friend that MY favorite things about New Orleans are the food, the Garden District, and some of the local voodoo history. I had no agenda for telling her my favorite New Orleans activities, other than to give her a starting point and let her know what we might enjoy doing together. I had no idea that my list would become THE ITINERARY because my friend hadn’t bothered to look up some things that SHE would like to do, other than “Mardi Gras.”

I will tell this story in parts, including getting there, being there, and leaving there, as well as the high points and low points. For a little foreshadowing, I’ll tell you that the trip ended abruptly for me when I got on a plane in Albuquerque and flew home. So much for “handling it.”

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