Sunday, June 08, 2008

Falling Off A Cliff - Part I

31 May 08

All my material things are finally on the truck and away from my current existence. It's kind of liberating. No, not kind of - VERY. And you know, if everything disappeared and I never saw any of it again, I think I would get over it pretty fast. Especially since it's all insured for replacement value anyway. I'll bet I couldn't even name half of what's in those boxes. The only thing I can think of that's not replaceable is my photos, which I probably should've packed in the Jeep, but too late now. Just a few loose ends to tie up, and I'm off to California.

Last one to leave NJ, turn off the lights, ok?

~*~

6 June 08

Okay, well I ended up leaving on Sunday (a day later than planned) because those loose ends took longer than anticipated to lock down. I'm happy to say that I only created ONE bag of trash, and a small pile of wood (dirty chinnie shelves), in this move. I think about the incredible mounds of stuff I see on the curbs of other people that are moving, and I'm damn proud of my one bag, even though I wish it could've been nothing at all.

I was late because I had to finish taking things where they needed to be so they wouldn't become trash. I sold, donated, or gave away half my possessions (or at least it seemed like half). I recycled everything plastic, glass, cardboard, paper, or otherwise that I could. I packed using my clothes to wrap breakables so I only used one box of packing paper (and that paper will be recycled for packing eBay items when I reach San Diego). All my boxes were recycled from other people's moves (and will be offered for free on craigslist in hopes they can be used again). The only thing I couldn't really avoid buying new was tape. Compared to others, I'd say the footprint from this move will be minimal. Yay me.

The night I left I only made it about 100 miles out to Drums, PA. Unfortunately the hotel where Mom reserved a room for me on her travel points wouldn't let my animals in and I had to leave them in the car overnight. Normally I would've never done that, but the temp was in the 50s, it was 2:30am, and I was exhausted. I mapped out a route for the next day, checked pet-friendly hotels for the following night, slept for only 2 1/2 hours, then took off again around dawn so the heat wouldn't kill everyone waiting in the car. I was SO tired, but I had adrenaline and eventually caffeine on my side. It was a shame I couldn't stay at the hotel longer because the room was really nice.

I drove 12 hours on Monday, about 600 miles, to the edge of Indianapolis. Mom called ahead to reserve a room at the Super 8, where the door goes directly into the room. Much easier to sneak animals in that way. The hotel turned out to be scary though: the neighborhood wasn't great, my white suburban ass was a minority among the other guests, and cops came by to investigate what I think was a potential drive-by at one point. Woo hoo. Nothing like adding a little element of danger. On the upside, it makes the story more interesting now that I'm safely away from there, and it was an opportunity to practice faith and staying present in the Now.

As I was trying to fall asleep that night, I thought about how amusing the contrast between the two rooms was. The first night it was a beautifully appointed suite with 12-foot ceilings, frig, nuker, coffee service, marble bathroom, etc. I wish I could've enjoyed it for longer. The Super 8 was down and dirty, but at least I knew the animals wouldn't die if I overslept. The Goldilocks analogy came to mind: this hotel was too beautiful, this hotel was too skanky, but maybe the next one would be just right. Haha

I woke up Tuesday morning kind of suddenly before the alarm even went off. I took a much-needed shower and while I was getting dressed I heard rumbling noises. At first I thought it was the people upstairs, but after a couple more times I drew back the curtain and sure enough, the sky was looking nasty and offering some very impressive lightning even though there was no rain yet. I was suddenly overcome with a panicky sense of urgency to get out of there. I skipped the hair drying and most of the makeup, threw everything back into bags haphazardly and loaded the car.

The rain was really coming down by the time I was on the road, but I had to stop on the far side of Indy and get gas because I skipped filling up the night before in the interest of safety. Since I was under a roof while the car sucked down breakfast, I took the opportunity to clean up the chinnie cages. I wanted to do it before I left the hotel, but I felt such a strong sense to get out of there I didn't take the time.

Back on the road the sky looked clearer, but when I called Mom to tell her I was on my way she said weather.com was reporting tornado warnings for the area I was driving in. She said there were two big storm cells and I was probably between them, but that I would probably drive out of it at the Indiana state line. I knew that was only 40 miles away. I was hoping if I went really fast maybe I would scoot between them without seeing the second cell. Fat chance.

Things got dark and ugly again in about 15 minutes and I really concentrated on creating a reality where my car, and all the ones around me, ended up safely on the sunny side. There were some truly ominous clouds swirling overhead. I dealt with some rain, but it wasn't too bad, and soon enough the white muted ceiling looked higher and much less threatening. I passed into Illinois shortly after, so I called Mom to tell her I thought I was out of the worst of it. She agreed after looking at the maps online, but my optimism was short-lived.

About 20 minutes later it started raining again and the wind picked up A LOT. It got bad fast. It was hard to keep the car on the road between being blown sideways myself and dodging the semis that were having the same trouble. I could barely see the lines even tho the windshield wipers were going as fast as possible. I looked to my right and the sky was green. On my left I could see the edge of the front, rolling black against the white light below, dripping wisps of clouds like Spanish moss. I've seen enough of the Weather Channel and heard enough from Katy, who has wanted to be a storm chaser since she was 8, to know this means a tornado is likely to form.

I did say this was going to be an adventure, but this wasn't quite what I had in mind.

Indiana is very flat and open, and I know if you're caught outside in this kind of weather, the safest place is under an overpass. I pulled under one to call Mom and have her check the maps again. She said there was definitely a red dot right over me. I weighed continuing forward against riding it out under the bridge, and decided I couldn't just sit there, so I pulled back onto the highway and did a lot of praying.

At one point I looked down and saw I was going 80 mph as I moved back over to the right lane after passing a big rig. To my surprise, a State Trooper shot past me on the left. I was so focused on just moving forward, I didn't even know he was behind me, but I don't think either one of us cared much that I was speeding. It felt like everyone around me was running for their lives. Perhaps we were. I still found the bright side though: I'd forgotten to clean my windshield when I got gas, and at least all the bugs were now history courtesy of Mother Nature's car wash.

Despite trying to keep it light, I was good and scared. I've never experienced extreme weather like that. It certainly gave me a greater appreciation for, and perspective on, Katrina survivors. I was literally shaking, my heart was pounding, and a million thoughts were vying for attention in my head. I was trying to formulate a plan of how I was going to save myself and six animals if it came to that, at the same time I was renouncing such negative thoughts. I was concentrating on staying in my lane, praying I would come out from under the cloud any second, and at the same time my brain is thinking, "Well, if it's true that whatever you're experiencing is what you need to be experiencing in that moment, then I guess the best thing is to just stay fully present." I dunno how you could NOT be fully present in that situation though. I was living moment to moment.

I did drive out of it in about 10 minutes. The good thing about really awful weather is that it's short-lived; I just didn't want to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Once I was sure Dorothy and Toto were not coming to get me, I couldn't resist taking some pictures even though they don't accurately portray the full wrath of what I drove through. I have to say surviving the storm cell left more of an impression on me than seeing the Grand Canyon years ago.

Anyone from the Great Plains states reading this is probably shaking their head going "Amateur!" I guess people get used to it or there wouldn't be such a population in the Midwest, but DAMN. I was grateful I will most likely never pass through there again.

~*~

8 June 08

I hear the Midwest and now some of the Northeast is STILL dealing with those storms I drove through. I'm glad to be safe here in the hills of New Mexico.

I arrived at my mother's house late last Wednesday night. It was another 700+ mile day that day, and I've never been more glad to see Albuquerque. I can't put my finger on why, but I've always loved that city. It feels like home. I wouldn't be surprised if I live there someday, but I know it will be far in the future! I'm not anxious to move again.

I had a lot of doubts about whether I was doing the right thing as I left NJ. I pushed them aside and told myself to stop being a pussy and just keep driving. As I left ABQ and headed up towards the Four Corners area where my mom lives, I experienced a wave of relief. It was the first time since last Sunday that I felt like 'Hey, this might work out afterall. Maybe I did make a good decision.'

My family has convinced me to stay and visit for a week before traveling on to San Diego. I'm anxious to get to the goal and find a place to feel settled again, but I'm trying hard to also learn to enjoy the journey and not just the destination. That's something I haven't been good at so far in this life.

Had a great visit with my aunt last night. She's the one that's taught me everything about Reiki and healing energies and things not of this realm. We talked for almost 8 hours and had no idea where the time went. Neither one of us is good at living by the clock anyway, so I'm not surprised.

Today we had a family dinner at my grandparents' house. I forgot how much I missed those from when we all lived in Arizona. Tomorrow we're visiting Durango, CO. I've been there before - it's an awesome little artsy mountain town - but it's been years. I'm hoping to get some good pics to share. You can actually see the Rockies from here on clear days - it's AMAZING. I still can't believe how big those mountains are every time I see them.

My Mac refuses to play nice with Mom's AirCard network (when you're this remote, that's the only net access you get besides dial-up!), so I haven't been online hardly at all. In some ways it's been super nice, and in others a bit annoying because I'm having a hard time getting email, updating the blog here, and checking the virtual places I normally haunt. The balance to those minor irritations though is the sky at night.

Oh. My. God.

You would not believe the stars out here. I wish I had a camera capable of taking a picture of this. (I tried with my little digital and of course it just came out black.) They go ALL the way to the horizon and you can even see the gauzy light of the Milky Way. I could look out at that all night. I feel so lucky, and so small. It's truly AWEsome.

More when I get to San Diego. We leave on Wednesday morning.

I can't upload pics to my server from here due to lack of FTP on the machine I'm using, so I'll try using Blogspot's pic thing, but if it doesn't work, then pics will be added properly once the Mac finds a network it doesn't hate again.

2 comments:

Chucka Stone Designs said...

Holy random and insanly adventerous trip so far batgirl :~D

Wow I am impressed -- you've already lived through a tordano (this was my favorite line dripping wisps of clouds like Spanish moss, so visual!), a drive by and like 1500 miles of driving in 3 days...wow you are a trooper!

My sister used to live in AZ at the foothills of the Catalinas and I remember how impressive the stars were out there at night. I never stayed out very long though because I am small and probably tasty to coyotes. One of my favorite trips out there was when we drove from her place in Tucson to Matt's dad's in Palm Springs and we went at night. Talk about NOTHING!! When we saw Blythe at night it was like seeing the Vegas strip rise up out of the mountains. Driving back through during the day a couple days later really put that 8500 person population town into perspective lol. We had to stop for lunch. It is right on I-10 if you get a chance check it out, very cute desert town :)

Enjoy the next couple days & nights with your family as well as the remainder of your journey to SD!

Safe travels :)

Chucka Stone Designs said...

insanely

Jason would hate me lol