Friday, April 1, 2005

A Memory for the April Fools

Back in the summer of 1978 when I was 17, I went on a vacation in the Colorado Rockies with my parents. I always hated these kinds of trips because we always seemed at the mercy of my dad...he was the one with the itinerary, he was the one with the pocketbook who paid for the scary motels. This time, my body just rebelled. I remember looking for rocks around some old mine area near Creede (I think), and starting to feel a bit sick. I think my mom blamed my getting sick on my own self...I forgot why she was blaming me for getting sick, but I fail to see how it was my fault. I got worse throughout the day, but don't I remember what happened. All I know is that we made it to Gunnison in a strip-down modern motel with kitchennette so that my mom could cook horrible food for the very, very sick me because I was obviously in no condition to go to restaurants. This is around the time the then pope died, and of course, Mr. Catholic just HAD to watch all the dead pope rituals and stuff, and his wife just had to go along with him because that's before she rebelled against it. I, of course, had been rebelling probably from toddler-hood, the first time my dad ever took me to the University of Notre Dame and I got my first glimpses of flocks of human-sized penguins strolling along the campus, not to mention when I was around six and I had tried to kill my guardian angel, not to mention all the incidences during adolescence of feigned illness on Sunday morning so that I could just stay home and be a kid for a change. But I was really, really, really sick, throwing up constantly, not to mention a dreadfully sore throat. All I wanted was comfort TV, some old sitcom rerun, something soothing and lighthearted. I was really sick, dammit (later, back in Ft. Hell, I had to be treated with antiobiotics, even though the doctor claimed it wasn't strep). But no, we HAD to watch the dead pope crap. All that chanting noise was interacting with my already-hyperactive fever dream mechanism. If there was a hell, that's where I was... in a dimly lit cheap room-by-the-week kitchenette motel in Gunnison, Colorado with my parents, a gazillion cardinals and a dead pope.

I think I'll party this weekend.

And maybe a little comfort cable TV-watching for good measure.

Posted by Ann on 04/01/05@01:49 PM CST ..::Link::..Whisper or Scream?

So, just when are...

new streets in new housing developments going to be named after rock stars? I ship out items to people daily, and there's some whacky street nameage going on in this country. Just waiting for the rock stars...

On a similar note, it's weird that people think I live on a street named after a recreational vehicle. I guess they don't know much about the Native Americans from this part of the world. Likewise, it's funny that a bunch of white people at the end of the 1800s named a street after a "Native American tribe" thinking it was a compliment, but what they didn't know was that it was a derogatory term that one tribe called another tribe. Piss Water.

So Tim asked us if we could do his taxes. With two weeks left before filing time. And he hasn't seen us since...oh, before Christmas. And we'd get to do this when? With what time? And he'd repay us how? And he has what to do with himself all day? Yeah, right. I don't think he was any too pleased when we told him no. Each year it's gotten progressively later and later with less and less time for us to do it and NO preparation on his part so we'd have to wait and wait for him to get his act together with his paperwork. This year we finally thought he'll just give it to his parent's accountant--toss it in with their taxes or something. But no. I mean, if I was a bored as he claims he is, I'd learn tax law myself...and I hate the stuff. What is so hard about doing your own taxes when your only write-off is your property taxes and mortgage interest? What is the big mental block here? It's not like our taxes where I'm self employed and have all this CRAP I have to keep track of. And what's so embarrassing about asking your parents to take care of it? It's like he's embarrassed to show them how much money he doesn't make. Screw it...I'd WANT my parents to know how much money I don't make so that they don't have a false sense of anything.

Trying not to get my blood pressure up....it was 118/80 at the eye doctor's the other day...and I even have white coat syndrome. I bet that's ruined now after the Tim 'n Tax incident.

Posted by Ann on 04/01/05@10:28 AM CST ..::Link::..Whisper or Scream?

Sunday, March 27, 2005


I returned from my trip on Wednesday, and I've been too busy to write. All my photos are still on Stan's computer too. I started a journal while I was on vacation, but I think by the time I got to Roswell, I was too tired to keep up. It was a "power trip"...heh....you know, non-stop from 6AM to 10PM, day after day.

Anyway, here's what we did to sum it up. If I have time, maybe I'll add pictures later:

Monday, March 14: Woke up 4:00 AM and left the house by 5:00 AM. Frighteningly early. Oddly enough, I love travelling at this time. Notice I didn't say DRIVING at this time. That is reserved for Stan. I'd be too much of a blind basket case to do that. The reason we got up at this absurd hour was so that we could go to the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha at a not-too-late hour on the way. Reason? to see the desert dome. Actually, was much more impressed with the aquarium. Naturally, after that, stopped off at The Coffee House, the best coffee ever, in Lincoln, NE. Got a huge Chai which I burned my tongue on. Ended up in Kearney, NE at a Day's Inn. It had Cable Internet, which was wonderful. It had that weird corporate bed un-fitted sheeting thing going on though, just like the Comfort Inn we usually stay at in Lincoln for our annual fall trip. Why don't they get fitted sheets? Other than that, it was good.

Tuesday, March 15: Travelled along Highway 30 throughout Nebraska. I love that route...all the small towns, all the crumbling former motels....all the grain elevators. It parallels the interstate, so when you have to take a restroom break, it's just a few miles over, but unlike the interestate, there is visual interest to keep your mind alive. Got to Ft. Nightmare at a reasonable time in the afternoon. Went to various greenhouses to stock up on some cactii and succulents while we had the chance, plus Whole Foods to get some health food junk food road food (like, all natural corn chips, and crunchy baked peas...is it healthy? Is it junky? It's sure better than Cheetos). Ate dinner with my parents, endured some over-cooked lamb (which would've been good if wasn't cooked in the model of mid-century school of cook-your-meat-to-death...geez...this is like Norma Jennings and her mom-the-food-critic in reverse), showed them some pics of the HD Zoo. No big whoop.

Wednesday, March 16: Left Fort No-Fun. Decided the trip down I-25 hitting Denver in morning Rush Hour just WAS NOT WORTH IT. Took Colorado 14 out to Ault (towns along Highway 85 in the northern part of Colorado like simple, short monosyllabic names like Ault, Carr, Pierce, Nunn. Not until you get towards that there big fancy city Denver do more syllables evolve....like Brighton, Ft. Lupton and Commerce City. So we headed south on Highway 85, which is to I-25 what Highway 30 is to I-80. Lots of grain elevators, lots of mid-century abandonment, lower blood pressure. Amongst the bad truck stop diners was a gem, a little drive-up java-thru somewhere south of Greeley. We got yummy, yummy coffee. I brought out the Boursin Gournay Pepper cheese (click the link, Stan, don't all the women look like Clyde? I'm sorry if I've scared you off that cheese for good now, it was not my intent) and applied it to mini hard toast rounds that we got at Whole Foods the day before. Fed said cheese to driver Stan by hand. (that's a weird sentence...sort of Gordon Cole-esque). It was decadent luxury. Instead, we could be drinking bad McDonald's coffee and eating breakfast burritos and cursing down I-25, but no, we were blue highway cruising indulging in a mobile yuppie picnic. I felt guilty for the yuppie aspect, but not for the others.

When we got to Brighton, we saw a sign for E-470, Denver's new toll highway. We snickered at it. Then we thought, hey, we should try it. What, and pass up seeing the lovely, well-maintained high class Commerce City (if you have ever driven through Commerce City, you know I am being uberironic). We gave it a shot. Let me tell you, E-470 is worth every penny if you are bypassing Denver. Every penny. It's Kramer's two lane comfort cruise! It was about $7.00 or so from Brighton to the end of the line (just south of Denver around Parker). There is no mousetrap, there is no high blood pressure. Just a toll booth every few miles or so. And since toll roads are an anathema in the west (and in Wisconsin, for that matter), few travellers utilize this new route. It was wonderful.

There was residual snow around Trinidad and south into New Mexico from that nasty storm they got a few days before. I'm glad we missed that. It was pretty desolate and lonely driving down into NM, but when we reached our junction at I-40, it changed. Road construction brought everything to a standstill. It was hell, sandwiched between semis. We got off in Santa Rosa to find a McDonald's and use the restroom, as did most of the other people travelling on I-40. I guess the main street in SR is part of Historic Route 66. Maybe some day we'll travel it the full way, but that day we took a highway south toward Roswell. And that's when the agoraphobia set in. When I first heard of agoraphobia, I thought it literally was fear of open spaces. Well, yeah, open spaces can be creepy, anyone who ever travelled up into northeastern Colorado would know that. But then I had a friend who had agoraphobia, and he couldn't leave his house. Well, having to STAY in your house would give ME the creeps, so I knew for sure I didn't have agoraphobia. Not until I hit the eastern central plains of New Mexico. It gave new meaning to the word desolate. I literally felt panicky. There was nothing. Nothing. Nothing. It was like being on the moon, but with atmosphere (atmosfear) and no craters. And some short ground covering. But that's it. No rock formations, no houses, no structures of any kind, no cattle even. Not even other cars on the road. This was hell. 90 miles of it. Arrived in Roswell after sunset. Stayed at the Frontier Motel. For 4 nights.

Thursday March 17: Woke up early in the morning by the people next door. Woman kept coughing. They kept the tv on all night. I resorted to ear plugs, which I hate, but they really did work. I didn't want to stay the following night if the other people would also be staying, but the hotel owner said they weren't. I had cable internet access and it was a big room. I really didn't want to relocate. We went to the Living Desert which is south toward Carlsbad. It was more man-made than I thought it would be, but a nice walk nonetheless. Lots of Opuntias. Had to endure busloads of schoolkids, but it could've been worse. Do kids really learn from field trips? I think not. Most of them are too concerned with who they're going to sit with on the way home, or if they'll be made fun of on the bus. Anyway, that's the way I was. Field trips were no fun. We got back home, took a short rest, and then went to the UFO museum. (Of course! What would a trip to Roswell be without seeing the UFO museum?!) Since it's a free museum, it's not the greatest in presentation. Soooo much stuff to read...so much eyestrain. We just walked around and looked at pictures, I know, very lame of us, but it's not exactly as if we're big UFO conspiracy buffs...sorry Mulder. That evening we did laundry. For some reason, Stan thought the washing machines had female names, like Lucille, Gladys and Mabel. Very surreal. I think that would be charming though, to have a very kitschy-decorated mid-century laundromat, and each machine had an equally-kitschy mid-century female name, so you wouldn't forget which machine you stuck your load in. ("I stuck mine in Betty Lou!") And the machines wouldn't all be white...some would be turquoise, and pink, and gold. I want certain retro elements to come back, dammit. I want retro motels, with all the contemporary comforts and conveniences of a nice quality hotel (internet access, cable tv, clean, quiet and comfortable) with the aesthetics of the open road mom and pop highway 66 era moto-court: blond furniture in boomerang and kidney bean shapes...funky starburst clocks, chrome dinettes... I think this guy would want the same thing...isn't that site WONDERFUL?

Who killed modernism, and why?

Can somebody please bring it back, at least in style?

Yet, I digress.

That night, the sleeping was pretty good.

Friday, March 18: Carlsbad Cavern. Took the walk-in entrance. Unless you are a well-conditioned cross-country hiker, you will take my advice and NOT DO THIS. By the time I got to the bottom of the cavern, blisters were about to pop on all toes. My feet were sore and Stan's legs were sore (and he walks around a lot at his job). Now I don't know if they let non-disabled people routeinely take the elevator down, but they should. And if there is a next time, I am begging them to let me take the elevator down. I mean there's a lot of things to see on the way down, but the best part is the Great Room, and by the time you've arrived, you're too sore to enjoy much of that part. Something about the way the trip down is at a constant incline makes your feet and leg and toe muscles grip in ways that they are not accustomed to on level walking (or even stair climbing) which is why we were in so much pain. Yes, I know that previous sentence has poor grammar, but I am feeling the pain from the walk still, which fries my brain.

Carlsbad Cavern boasts that you can eat 750 feet underground at their cafeteria. What it doesn't boast is that this is the absolute worst food available at any national park anywhere. (Worse than the chili dogs and nachos atop Rocky Mountain National Park!) However, by the time you get down there, you're so hungry you don't care. My ham sandwich was fine, by the way. But Stan's Reese's peanut butter cream pie or whatever that piece of whipped Crisco was, was dreadful. I told him he should've had the big pretzel.

I took lots of pictures. But they're still on Stan's computer.

After we got back to the Frontier, I took a shower and went to bed. Too tired and sore to do anything else. Fortunately, the blisters decided not to come to a head and receded into the lower recesses of my toe skin, perhaps making calouses some day. Carl and his woman were in the room next door that night. She giggled a lot. I used earplugs, but they weren't as bad as the first couple.

Saturday, March 19: Headed west through the mountains to see White Sands. The mountains...Mescalero Apache territory...were pretty. It started to snow, but it was warm, kind of like a reocurring dream I'd have. Drove around in the White Sands. There's really not much to do there, just drive around and play in the sand. Some people were sledding down some sand dunes like kids after a snowfall. It really did look like snow, a warmer color of snow. A warmer dryer snow. It felt so good to take my shoes off and walk in it. Very therapeutic after yesterday's hike. It felt soooooo good. After that we headed north. We found nut farms all along Highway 54, and decided to tourist, stopping in at Eagle Ranch Pistachio farms and buying a 5 lb. bag of lemon-lime flavored pistachios for the road (that should last us another week or so....). The gem of the trip was the Three Rivers Petroglyphs site. One could walk around for ever discovering images on the rocks. We took so many pictures that we ran out of flash card. Well worth it though, even though after climbing around all the rocks and Carlsbad the day before we were now REALLY SORE! Further down the highway back toward Roswell, we found a vendor selling pinon nuts from a roadside stand which was just a table. We bought a bag of roasted unsalted in the hull/shell. They were wonderful...much better than the kind you buy in stores.

We went to bed at some extremely unnatural time, like 7 pm because the following morning we had to be in Causey, New Mexico by 7 am, which is a mile from the Texas border. I can't remember what was next door this time, but I used earplugs and took a sleeping pill. This was our last night at the Frontier.

Sunday March 20: Stan wanted to wake up at 4 am, but I got up earlier than that because when I know I have to get up at an ungodly hour, I can't sleep very well because I'm afraid I'll oversleep. This was the day we dig cactuses on the ranch, and Laverne wanted us there by 7 am because she had to go teach Sunday School after that. We didn't want to miss out, and it was ok with her if we came earlier. We travelled east into the night at this riduculous hour...only truckers out on the road. The blackness saved us from any scary agoraphobic moonscape of nothingness. As we hit some local country roads, the sun came up. And we were travelling directly east, into it. There were no buidings, no mountains, hills, no trees to block our site. It was just road and sun. I don't know how Stan managed it...I'm sure I lost a few retina cells. Laverne penned up her small herd of cattle so we could graze on her acreage, and she headed off to church. Stan did most of the looking, I stayed in the car and...well, I was bored, mostly. I ate some pistachios. I looked at maps. I made a list of female washing machine names. I called my mom. I ate some pinon nuts. Stan wasn't finding any cactuses, so he drove to another part of the ranch, where he then found about a dozen big-sized horse cripplers and a few smaller cactuses (echinocereus? and opuntias). I tried to help him look for horsecripplers, but between my bad eyesight, the wind, and my inability to stay out in too much sun because of my medications, I was pretty ineffective. I felt bad, especially since usually I can find SOMETHING. I was the one who found the huge whelk shell on Block Island. I was pretty bummed. But I guess this cactus mission was his baby afterall. All I found was some Cholla skeletons (wood) which we'll use outside in our attempt to southwesternify our little piece of Wisconsin. Although we were one mile from the Texas border, we didn't go into Texas. I'll let you interpret that as you may.

We headed west again, stopping off in Roswell one last time for a Subway sandwich. We drove and drove and drove across the windswept hills of central New Mexico. At least this geography was varied...opuntias, rocks, basalt formations, and I even saw an antelope. As we approached I-25, the sun started to set (we're driving into the sun again...sigh) and the montains turned a color of purple I have never seen before outside of an artist's rendition. The clouds were pink and blue. It was amazing. Unfortunately, I didn't take a picture--long story. We found ourselves an Econolodge in Socorro for the cheapest rate so far. Although it didn't have internet access, it was a wonderful, clean, comfortable, contempoary room with a king size bed so we could snuggle together at night (first time in a week of two double-beds and my parents single futons!) I slept well, despite the ferrocious winds at night.

Monday, March 21: We ate at some modern coffee shop restaurant next to the Econolodge. The name escapes me (I want to say El Camino, but that can't be it, can it?), but it definitely was one of those mid-century relics. We headed north on I-25 to see Mesa Gardens that Stan does business with in the cactus world. After that, we headed to Fort Hell. We had nice weather in New Mexico, but as we approached the Colorado border, it got bad. It cleared up mostly around Walsenburg, but watching the storms form over the front range was amazing. We took E-470 again, avoiding the high blood pressure. We got in late, after 8 pm. My parents were bummed that we didn't have time to talk, but we still hadn't eaten dinner. We got Creamations at Avo's around 9 pm. Can't take a vacation and go through Fort Fiction without stopping to have Creamations at Avo's. I'm sure most people reading this have no idea what I'm talking about. But if you do, aren't you lucky.

I had a problem connecting to my mom's incredibly slow dial up that night, and didn't get to bed until 11 pm or later Colorado time. This is what happens to me when I'm deprived of sleep and travel too long...I can't perform normal functions, that, had I been there around 5 pm, I would've performed seamlessly. I finally configured my computer to connect via PPP. I don't know what I was doing wrong.

Tuesday, March 22: Left Fort Bad Teenage Memories. Got coffee at Starbuck's. Decided not to take I-25 to I-80 (an awful, desolate stretch of wrist-slashing prairies, winds and bad snow squalls), but to do a southern route of Highway 34 to I-76. That was MUCH better, and I think we'll take this route on future trips as well. Took Highway 30 again through a somewhat snowy Nebraska. Stopped to get Chai (and ground bagged coffee for home) in Lincoln at my favorite coffee shop, which is located on P street, which is a really funny place for some place that serves coffee to be located, even if it is funny in a bathroom humor sort of way.

We travelled into the night and into Iowa, trying to find a very nice and reasonably priced Super 8 that we stayed at 8 years ago in some small eastern Iowa town that began with A. Unfortunately, either the town, the hotel, or the super reasonable pricing doesn't exist anymore. Instead, we found a motel we stayed at 7 years ago, in some other town that began with A, which was much worse. It was freezing. I wore a sweater to bed. It had a krinkley mattress cover, which we removed. Other than that, it was OK. It was quiet, at least. Probably because whores got tired of krinkly mattress covers. I didn't say that.

Wednesday, March 23: The hypothermic conditions of the room gave me a pretty good night's sleep for a change! Actually it had warmed up well by morning. We headed east to another Iowa town that began with A, A for Adelle, the cactus-loving trailer waif played by Juliette Lewis in Kalifornia, but this was Adel, Iowa, with the big cactus greenhouse at Harvey's, which is now a I-80 staple, just like the Coffee House in Lincoln. Have to stop at Harvey's when you go through Iowa! Got breakfast somewhere near DesMoines at a Village Inn. The ABSOLUTE WORST COFFEE I'VE EVER HAD. I couldn't finish it...I had to get an orange juice instead.

It was somewhere along this trip that I decided to hell with the yuppie pretenses that we tried to avoid, if there is a plug-in-to-your-cigarette-lighter form of travel coffee maker, I will get one. I do not want to have to be subjected to bad road coffee from Village Inns. I don't want to do business with MacDonald's. I don't even want to pay Starbuck's prices. I want to bring along our own good, high quality coffee and have it available when we need it, not just when we happen to be in an urbane college town. Call me a coffee snob.

We arrived in Madison and picked up the dogs, who had lost some of their vocal abilities during their 10-day stay in Puppy Prison.

I still need to water most of my plants and feed the newts and do some projects I haven't gotten to. And now I have all these ideas for dingbat fonts, but no time. Maybe some day.

Posted by Ann on 03/27/05@01:35 PM CST ..::Link::..3 Screamers.
By Ann @ 01:49 PM CST:04:01:05 ..::Link::..Whisper or Scream?

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April 2005



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