Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Chronicles of A Left Turn at Albuquerque

I woke up Thursday morning ready to finish packing and get going. All the stars in their courses were set against me, as usual.

Overnight the kitchen had exploded and #1 Son's room had barfed all of his dirty laundry into the laundry room.

I knew I could have simply packed and left, but the mommy in me could not get away with that.

I started a load of laundry, got the dishwasher going and kitchen tidied and got packed, even cleared out the email.

By that time, Sweetie was up, so I fixed his breakfast and unloaded the dishwasher and he helped me put some stuff in the van before he left.

Bigger Girl and I got the clothes on the line, and I told her to take it all off before she left for school so that it wouldn't get rained on in the afternoon. I also told her that anything still damp at that time would need to be hung over chairs or on the rigged hanging areas of the laundry room, and tossed in the dryer to totally finish after she got home from school.

Then I went in and kissed my sleepyheads -- I knew better than to wake #1 Son and told him goodbye the night before -- and got out of town.

Was it 6AM? Of course not, it was almost 7:30AM. I guess I was lucky.

The traffic was actually not too bad getting out of town, I have seen it much, much worse. Crossing the bridge I was going the opposite way of everyone else, so that worked out easily. I didn't get far before I realized two things.

First, the folly of my usual ways hit me and the regular coffee I had saved in the fridge to have as my morning portion had run through me already, along with the water I had consumed. The fact that while consuming that coffee I had failed to fully secure the lid of my travel cup and was wearing a portion did not help my mood -- I want to make a nice impression on the people I will be meeting at the other end of this trip, and I am not even out of West Baton Rouge Parish without being a mess. (They will easily understand why I am "messy" mimi, I guess.)

Second, Sweetie had run a couple of places in the van I didn't expect, and I was starting this trip with less than a quarter tank of gas.

So, I stopped, paid for some gas (tightwad that I am, I plan to buy only as needed, in spurts), and used the rest room, used the paper towels and some water to get the coffee out of my shirt, and went on my way.

The gray skies lowered and there were wisps of fog on the Atchafalaya bridge, but it ran quick with little traffic.

I got as far as East Crowley before the urge hit me again.At this rate, I knew I wouldn't make it to San Antonio before dark, but I stopped. And since by this time I realized I had forgotten to bring my apples, and since my bananas that I had bought from Sam's had already gone bad and I had to toss them before beginning the trip -- remind me to write a complaining post about the bananas at Sam's Club some time -- I stopped at the Wal-Mart in East Crowley to buy both and use the can.

In the Wal-Mart, my phone started ringing. Yes, already. It was Sweetie wanting to reassure me that he had gotten some items signed for the cat rescue fundraiser, and was getting them back to the lady who needed them. I praised him to the skies, made him hold on while I spoke to the cashier (the person in your presence is the more important!), and reassured him that I would be careful, etc.

Then I washed the whole bag of apples I had just purchased, used the restroom myself again, and got back on the road.

Driving alone for long distances without things like Ipods gives you lots of time for both thinking and searching for radio stations. I did bring my favorite CDs that I own -- the 12 Yats stuff -- but I did a lot of radio station surfing. One gem I found was KBON out of Lafayette, LA. I have never been able to get enough Cajun music. I usually have to make do with the one hour a week I get on the Clarence's Cajun Saturday Night program, which I only catch if I am in town and not at a football game, of course. I enjoyed that station for as long as I possibly could.

My next stop was at the Texas Welcome Center. These are usually great places to use the facilities and get information. so I used the facilities and went inside to ask about construction along I-10 in Texas, if there would be any particular places to look out for, etc. The lady was nice, and helpful, and printed out a small list and told me these few short streches were all I would have to look out for. I resisted the urge to pick up a free map, knowing full well that when I went home it would be added to the piles of things that languish in the library, to be torn up by the children. They never pass up the opportunity to aquire such things, and promptly spend so much time playing with them that I find tattered maps in and among everything else, so I passed.

Thinking there would be little trouble on the road, I made my way back onto the interstate.

The first thing I noticed about road construction in Texas, which began just a few miles from the welcome center and continued for what seemed like forever, is that they have many, many signs telling you of the consequences of speeding in those areas. These are written in small print that you can barely read, especially when you are supposed to be watching the road.

The second thing I noticed is that, while they are specific about the consequences, they seldom actually post what the new speed limit is. Those signs are also very small and easy to miss, so I had to guess how slowly they wanted me to travel through the several long miles of construction I faced just this stone's throw from the border. I finally saw a small orange sign with a number sticking out from a pole that held huge warning signs, and used that as a guide.

Third is that it does not mix well with gray skies and gray highway and it makes one small town blur into another. There are no sights to see when you are too busy making sure you don't hit or get hit in narrow lanes between the orange cones and the gray concrete barriers that block all but the billboards and very tall "McSigns" of the usual chains that tower above every town across the land.

So my first memories of this drive through Texas is not what you typically think of when you imagine Texas. I resigned myself to a Gospel music station that was rather soothing as I concentrated on getting to and through Houston, the Big Worry.

Today is:

British Footfair Fair

Feast of Soma, India (god of ambrosia and immortality)

Festival of Maheo (Cheyenne god of the void)

Festival of Tereteth, Micronesia (goddess of the coconut toddy and Yap Island)

Independence Day, Botswana

Medetrinalia -- Ancient Roman Calendar (goddess of medicine)

National Mud Pack Day

National Mulled Cider Day

National Women's Health and Fitness Day

St. Gregory the Enlightener (or Illuminator; patron of Armenia)

St. Jerome's Day

St. Otto's Day

Birthdays Today:

Eric Stoltz, 1961
Fran Drescher, 1957
Marilyn McCoo, 1943
Z.Z. Hill, 1935
Johnny Mathis, 1935
Angie Dickinson, 1931
Truman Capote, 1924
Deborah Kerr, 1921
Buddy Rich, 1917
Rumi, 1207

Today in History:

Rambam (Maimonides) authorizes Samuel Ibn Tibbon to translate the Guide of the Perplexed from Arabic into Hebrew, 1199
Guttenberg's Bible is published, 1452
Anesthetic ether used for the first time by Dr. William Morton, who extracted a tooth, 1846
The first Portuguese immigrants arrive in Hawai'i, 1878
The first manned rocket plane flight, made by auto maker Fritz von Opel, 1929


  1. My favorite thing about texas rest-stops, if I remember correctly, is they often have internet access!

    As I recall from our last road trip, Texas goes on forEVER, so it's a good thing they have decent rest stops.

  2. Too bad about the drive through Texas. Sometimes the orange cones seem more like a target!!!

  3. There is construction between home and the city where I am working. It seems to have gone on ALL summer!! They don't seem to be actually DOING anything, but they have all those signs warning of dire consequences if you exceed the posted speed limit of 30 km/hour. That is about walking speed.... sigh. (roughly 19 mph)