Monday, December 21, 2009

Home Again

Happy Winter Solstice! Yeah! The days will start heading toward the light again. Just in time, I say.

Zory decided she'd had enough of my adventure. She was unsettled and quite unhappy in Sedona so I folded the tent and headed east. Sunshine deserted us in mid-Texas. Skies turned more leaden with each mile. By sunset, we were in Kansas and the grey merged to black. Seemed fitting for the return to KC. I am missing the southwestern sun a great deal.

The plus side is that it's great to see friends. Zory is absolutely happier and that's a good thing:-). We're having a lovely day helping Laura bake cookies, a lovely diversion to keep my thoughts from travel.

Although I did find Santa Fe very inviting, I'm not ready to make the final Home decision until the southeast has been given equal time. The next few weeks are filled with holiday activities including some travel to visit friends and relatives. After that, it's back on the road again, this time sans Zory. It was a delight to have her with me even as unsettled as she was toward the end. I'll miss her on the next leg of the trip but also know that I'll get a lot more photography in and will be more willing to explore back roads.

I'll update with departures and arrivals as soon as I figure them out. Till then, a few random thoughts for the shortest day of the year: even without happy childhood memories, the smell of cookies baking is a very happy experience. What exactly does one get from the knowledge that one’s car can beep annoyingly upon locking and unlocking? The Chiefs suck. Thank goodness it's basketball season. Go Hawks! How many football bowls games are there?! I think the football powers that be have lost their way.

Finally, I'm open for suggestions and ideas for the next trip. Any places in particular I HAVE to see/visit? At this point the trip is encompassing North and South Carolina but Kentucky and Tennessee are possibilities.

And now, all the best to you and yours during this holiday time. Thanks for lending support for this journey of mine. More SOON!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Time to hit the road again

It's nearly evening in this land of glowing red rocks. Zory and I are enjoying cocktail hour complete with hors d'oeuvres. OK, I lied. I'M enjoying cocktail hour. Zory is hiding under the bed. Had a wonderful day hiking and taking hilarious pictures and being in awe of this area of Sedona. Last night I was trying to figure out how to make a living here because this is an absolutely astounding area. Blasts of energy swirl around in the oddest places. The sunshine is healing. The red rocks of Sedona are filled with other worldly presence. I am so glad we came.

But as of this afternoon, I know this is not the place for me to live. Come to heal and hike and learning? Absolutely. Put up with the windy roads and construction and round abouts? Nah. The homes on the hills do not blend in with the landscape no matter what the building codes. Color and curved buildings do not make landscape art.

So off Zory and I will go tomorrow. That is IF I can get her out from under the bed. She has been there almost constantly since we arrived in Sedona yesterday. Verrry odd! She has been terrific up till this. Even sitting eagerly on the edge of the bed when I'm packing each morning. But here, she's not happy. Sigh!!! I thought she'd be as goofy about the place as I am but no. I'll let Zory have her own sensibilities about life as she does for me.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Next stop: Sedona AZ

Zory and I slipped out of Santa Fe this morning in the chill early air. Arrived in Flagstaff this afternoon to more snow than I've seen so far this year. It's piled high in the parking lot and consequently, cold air abounds. Wishing I had Zory's coat!

She continues to be a great traveler. She sat for a while in the rear window today but for the most part snoozed happily in the back seat. Which left a lot of quiet time for me to ponder the wide open spaces between the impressive rock formations. Mesas are awesome. Blue skies are what my spirits needed and I've got that in spades in this part of the world.

But now what? Tomorrow will tell. On to Sedona, home of super vortexes and energy powerfully present. Will be interesting to see how Zory reacts to the region. She was visably moved as we drove through the red rock mesas south of Roswell. She is an amazing creature. So glad she's along to share this experience. Wish you were all here too. Such beautiful country.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Time Warp

Hey! Where did the week go? I've lost days in the heart of New Mexico. It is BEaUtiful here. Everywhere. Zory and I have driven through some of the most compelling sites. Even though I live on the Plains where there are plenty of wide open spaces, there is nothing to compare to mesas and mountains and clear high altitude air to help one realize the insignificance of Self and the awesome power of Mother Nature.

So here we are in gorgeous New Mexico. Santa Fe to be precise. We've treated ourselves to a cool B & B just off the Plaza. Besides the cozy Santa Fe decor, we have a fireplace. Zory is snoozing contentedly as I watch my fav Sunday morning shows and sip coffee. Yes, my Green Mountain. Having the Holiday Blend today. Wish you were all here to share.

Having lunch with high school friend Susie and then a bit of a walk-about of the historic Santa Fe Plaza. Even though some more snow is in the offing, it's fairly balmy at 40 degrees right now. Probably heading out tomorrow for Sedona but will wait to see what Mother Nature dumps on the region today.
For the past week Zory and I have simply been traveling. We've driven through timeless beauty and pondered our lives. Much pondering. Little resolution other than to acknowledge that no matter how beautiful the area, I am still pulled to ocean and warm breezes. However, Santa Fe, with its rich history, arts and sense of community has moved right up there with Anna Maria Island as possible future home of Zory and Macy.
I realized that although there is definitely winter here, I am not feeling the arthritic aches of the humid cold of KC. The altitude and dryness take some getting used to but think it may be worth the effort.
None-the-less, I've still got more traveling in me. Sedona is next up and then, who knows? I need to get my feet on some sand soon.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

And we're off!!

Saturday, December 5th, 4:14pm CST

Zory and I pulled onto I35 south out of Kansas City with no particular destination in mind. I was looking forward to a lovely sunset to be viewed across the open prairie. Instead, the clouds rolled in and the sun set without our admiration.

I stuck to the original plan of driving through the Flint Hills even though it was dark and no hills, flint or otherwise, could be discerned. Still, it was grand to be driving and on our way at last.

I was able to listen to much of Prairie Home Companion although I had to turn it off during the Lake Webegon news. Does anyone else have problems with Garrison's whistling delivery? No matter how I set the controls, every "s" came through with stinging shrillness. New dentures maybe?!

But then it was time for the Nebraska-Texas game. Listened in wonder at the 1st quarter. Not only did Nebraska hold their own, they actually scored. Even with the bizarre calls by the Refs, it was a fun listen. As we progressed farther west into the southwestern part of Kansas, I began to lose the signal and decided to find a motel for the night and hopefully a restaurant with the game on.

Stopped in Kingsley which apparently has only one motel which turned out to be the worst hole in the wall motel ever. VFW hall next door provided friendly burger and tv with the game on. I won't go into great detail on the motel except to say that I should have listened to Zory. She hated it. I hated it but figured one night wouldn't be that bad. But it was and finally, after constant outbursts by my feline friend, we packed up at 5am and hit the road south.

Yes, I did leave out the end of that game. Sorry, Cousin Alex, I think Nebraska was robbed!

By 8:30am we'd left Kansas and Oklahoma behind and were just about out of Texas too. Another cloudy day and no sunrise to cheer us on but the important thing was that Zory had settled down and we were traveling south.

With the wide open spaces around us, I got into driving mode and Zory caught up on her sleep. Stopping for gas and coffee gave me a moment to ponder a destination for the day. Nothing called loudly so we kept driving. Amarillo was our 1st destination and then across to New Mexico.

As I hit the New Mexico border I stopped at the Information "booth" to see if anything there would inspire a new direction. My friend Susie would have been proud to see how many maps and brochures and catalogs I walked out with. Sitting in the car, Zory and I sorted through the stack and decided to explore Route 66. As we buzzed on and off the old historic route, I checked out several little towns, looking for just the right spot to hang out for the night.

We found it in Santa Rosa, an incredibly friendly, happy little town. I love that it has a ton of water around it from spring fed lakes to the famous Blue Hole, a paradise for all you diving friends.

Zory and I settled in to the local Super 8, a very cat friendly facility. I switched on the tv to check up on the impending storm that had been so much in the news. The storm was still a couple of days away but blowing right through the route I was going to have to take. No matter which direction we chose, there was going to be snow so I decided to take a breather and settle in until the storm passed by.

As of this morning I'm so glad we stayed put. The winds are incredible. They blew in after a furious dumping of snow, complimented by thunder! We went for a dusting at 6 this morning to about 3" and a lot of ice from the wind. To the west, lots more snow and ice. Think we'll just sit it out here and move on tomorrow after the roads have cleared. According to all reports, the winds are so strong that the snow will blow out of the area shortly.

Glad I got out yesterday for a little drive about. Went down to Fort Sumner to explore the sad history that occurred there. Driving back, the sun peaked out briefly across the beautiful landscape of red soil, distant buttes and scrappy plants that grow in spite of the environment.

As I drove, I passed sites that I knew my friends would have stopped to visit. I pondered this. It's not that I don't enjoy visiting historic sites or fun museums like the Route 66 car museum. But I enjoy driving more. No, I NEED my driving time more. It's my head-clearing time. I used to drive so much more and realize now how much I've stuffed away by not having my process-clearing drives. When gas got so high, I curtailed my roaming. Now I realize that it was cheap therapy, even at $4 plus a gallon.

Today’s processing is about the form of this trip. I feel such freedom and am so grateful that I can drive off into the sunrise without guilt. But I also realize that even a life of freedom needs structure and purpose. My stated purpose, of course, is to find my Home. I already know that this part of the country is not it. The landscape is breath-taking but does not call to my soul. None-the-less, the secondary purpose has been to explore this beautiful country. I haven’t spent any time in the southwest since high school. I’d love to revisit some of the incredible canyons that I first hiked while on an incredible high school biology trip.
First stop will be Santa Fe to visit all the places that have been recommended and to spend time with high school pal, Susie. (Yes, another Susie.) From there, I’m thinking north to Bryce and Zion National Parks. Maybe a little Grand Canyon?
The sun is finally out, shining out from the storm clouds and inspiring hope in those of us embarking upon the stormy roads. Think I’ll suit up and take a walk to see how the roads look and the wind feels.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Set Back

Well, Zory and I have hit a bit of a snag. She's had an ongoing issue with crystals in her bladder that I thought was cleared up but seems to have flared up again. We'll consult with our favorite vet to see what he has to say and then make a decision about whether to stay on schedule or wait till we've gone through another round of antibiotics. Poor little cat! Not only does she have to put up with this condition but also with me shoving pills down her thought. It is not easy being my cat:-(.

But once we get the green light, we'll be off. The car is nearly packed. It's been carefully checked over by my trusted mechanic. And with the cold weather descending on Kansas City, I am ready to hit the road for points south. Considering the weather in New Mexico right now, I'm wondering if we shouldn't head to Florida instead!

Stay tuned. More as we know it tomorrow...

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Things are coming together

The countdown has begun. Six days till Zory and I back out of the car port and head for the Flint Hills and points southwest. We've survived Thanksgiving which was complete with a turkey breast prepared superbly in traditional fashion by Mary and Julie, 6 pies (Thank you, Linda for the yummy cherry and Kentucky Bourban chocolate pecan, the top vote getter) and a delicious cheesecake made to perfection by Emily, doing her 1st solo using her grandmother's recipe. Then there was the rest of the spread. Enough food to feed an army and I must say our little troup of 6 did an admirable job. Well, OK. Lanie helped A LOT! It was great having brother David in town to join the feasting. He and I decided pizza was the answer for food on Friday!

Now that things are moving away from turkey, I'm back to sorting and planning. Took absolutely everything out of the car and then went off to the clean-it-inside-and-out car wash. My shiny and extremely clean car is now ready for serious packing. But there's the rub. What clothes to take? What I'm seeing on the various websites I've checked is that the weather will be about the same as here. That makes choosing fairly easy but the packing of the bulkier clothing is the issue. Good thing this isn't a formal tour! For those who I'll be visiting along the way, hope Travel Casual is acceptable:-).

I'm starting to work on possible routes so I can get my spiffing GPS programmed. In addition to the really cool GPS, Mike and Dee gave me a nifty compass. Thanks to David, the compass is up and running. I may not know where I'm going but I won't be lost getting there!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Zory joins the fun

Wow. Time is flying! I've been a bit rattled these past few days as the enormity of what I'm undertaking is sinking in. But also feeling energized and ready to get this show on the road. I've begun making my lists of things I THINK I need. Next comes the reality of what will actually fit into the car.

I've also decided to journey with my little Zory. She's a sweet 2ish black Manx who came to me earlier this year. She'd been abandoned by a creep who shouldn't be allowed to have pets. She was rescued just in the nick of time by a wonderful woman who got Zory to a vet. After the vet saved her life, Zory went to recoup with the woman's parents. They nursed her lovingly back to health but since they already have a full menagerie of dogs and cats, they began searching for a home for this sweet creature. Huge thanks to Lynn and Bill for their loving touch and that of their heroic daughter.

Because of her traumatic experiences, Zory is still pretty skittish around other cats. She's intimidated by my other cat, a 15 year old nearly blind and deaf declawed tuxedo kitty. I've thought a lot about the impact of my being gone for a month on both of them. Macy will probably not notice. As long as there is food and water available, she'll be fine in between her naps. Zory however, is still young and full of energy. She and I have really come to trust each other. I am so lucky that I have a great friend, Laura, who is in town working at the Missouri Rep on their Christmas show. She will be staying at my place and able to care for Macy. But she'll be working long hours and I was concerned that all that extra energy of Zory's might find it's way into less than desirable activities. So I was explaining about the trip to Zory and asked her if she wanted to come along. I swear to you she said YES! Absolutely. Don't even think about leaving without me!

Having her along is what is causing the rethinking of the packing of the car. The golf clubs will most likely not make this trip. They'll give up their place to provide privacy for the kitty loo and other important kitty items.

And now back to everyday reality. I'm off in search of a mince pie for Thanksgiving dinner. Which reminds me that it is Thanksgiving week and I have so much to be thankful for and so many people in my life who are making this trip possible. Thank you Laura, for being willing to stay in my apartment and care for sweet Macy. Thank you Dee and Mike for the FABULOUS GPS! Wow. So cool. I love it when it says: Make a U turn NOW!! :-) And thanks to you two also for the much needed compass!

A thousand thanks to all of you who are following this journey and for your thoughts and comments and encouragement.

Thanks to Linda for the luscious Thanksgiving pies. (Wish I'd thought about the mince when I "ordered" the Kentucky bourbon chocolate and the cherry pies!)

Thanks to Kathi and Susie for your support and belief in me and for helping with getting the GPS up and running.

I know there are more thanks to give and I shall continue to do so daily. And now, off in search of that mince pie!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Sorting and Packing

I've only got 2 weeks left before I depart on my epic journey to find my Home. I've been gathering items for the car and planning for what I want to take along, what I think I'll need and what optional items may go if there's room. Over the years, I've done a fair number of road trips but none this extensive and intentional. Even as I am sorting items to pack, I'm rethinking and reassessing. There are certain things that are a given for me. My coffee grinder and beans from Green Mountain Coffee. (You can see the link on the right side of the page for this terrific company. Organic and free trade coffees are their specialty. Been buying beans from them for years and have never been disappointed.) My martini shaker and a corkscrew are givens. After these items, we get to the practical and boring. Many friends have expressed concern that I'll be traveling over Christmas. This has brought up some interesting discussions around what the holidays mean to us. For many, family gatherings are the center piece of the holidays. Some look forward to this shining moment all year. Some don't find the prospect all that exciting. I'm curious how the rest of you feel about being "home for the holidays". Do you think I'm nuts for traveling during this "special" time of year? Any random thoughts about it for me to consider? All input is welcome! I've been checking the weather averages for my trip. Although the temps in most places on the route aren't that much better than Kansas City, there is considerably more sunshine where I'm headed and that is a very good thing. And now, back to decisions and sorting...

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Planning Continues

Thanks to all who have added new destinations for me and more importantly, encouragement. Wish I could hit the road today. It snowed here in Kansas City last night and for those of you who know me, this weather begs my refrain of: I HATE WINTER! But the chill is lessened by the anticipation of the trip to come.
Originally I had thought I'd travel to Texas first to visit dear friends and relatives. I'm thinking now that Texas will be a trip unto itself. There is SO much to see and explore in Texas as well as New Mexico and Arizona. OK, each state has it's allure. I'm thinking a month is not going to be enough time to cover the territory I've tentatively outlined. So much to see! So little time. Life is Good!
I'm weighing options for a southern or northern route to New Mexico. Any thoughts for me on roads less traveled?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Journey Begins

Very soon I shall be driving away from Kansas City to begin my journey to find my Home. I've never had a place that claimed me as a true resident. I've created happy spaces wherever I've lived but now I'm searching for that happy space where I can settle and remain for the rest of my life.
I want sunshine. I want like minded individuals and good restaurants nearby . A strong arts community is a must. I want a community that values life and our beautiful earth. I'd really prefer no winter, certainly not temps below freezing for any length of time. And no ice! I've had my fill of ice storms in KC.
I have spent the past two years searching for this magical location but seeing a web shot of a place and reading a pr description does not give one the true sense of the place. I decided the only way to feel the soul of a location is to visit for more than a few days. Hence, the need for a lengthy road trip.
I leave early December. First area of exploration is the southwest. The only locations I've got as absolutes are Santa Fe and Sedona.
I would love to have you journey with me. Do you know of unique places I should explore? Restaurants that are worthy of a stop? Hikes I must take or best locations for photographs? I should add at this point that I'm a 60 year old single woman so I need to factor in safety in this journey.
I have no set plan nor specific dates for this journey. My only set goal is to find that one shining spot that will call out to me and say: You're Home. Welcome.