Monday, May 31, 2010

West Coast Vacation-Day Two

The day did not begin auspiciously. I woke at 6:10am and promptly took Kelsey out to do her thing, brought her back in gathered up the truck keys to get out her breakfast (and mine) only to discover when I returned to the room that I had neglected to pick up the room key card! A walk to the office netted me another card-that problem solved. Next, I set off the smoke alarm in the room with my toaster! After airing out the room for the non-existent smoke I ate my breakfast spilling yogurt on my shirt. That cleaned up pretty well, glad it wasn't toothpaste that stuff doesn't just wipe off! Got ready to take Kelsey out for another walk and load up a bit only she wasn't in the room! At some point she made a break for it. A search in a panic turned her up sitting beside a silvery-gray pickup truck, unfortunately it wasn't MY silvery-gray pickup truck!

Finally on the road much later than planned we headed west from Hays, still on Interstate 70. West of Hays the land gets flatter. Some people say that Kansas is flat and boring but I don't think it's flat and perhaps monotonous would be better. You drive up long shallow grades, there are no road cuts and you always go over the crossing highways (elsewhere they mostly they go over you.) I always have the sensation that the road is going up, I don't know if it really does or that I know it must to get from Kansas City's elevation of 882 feet above sea level to Denver's "mile high"! There is still wheat, and cows plus now there is hay! Also now you begin to see the great irrigation systems used out here. The further you travel west of Longitude 38 the less rain there is and here in western Kansas they use great wheeled systems that revolve around a central point creating perfectly round circles of hay or whatever. Gives new meaning to the words "crop circle" doesn't it? My Mom used to be able to name all the towns in this part of Kansas: Russell, Hays, Ellis, WaKeeney, Colby, Goodland--somewhere in there is Quinter. That's how often we drove through here on our way to the Rockies. I have to say that if you've ever had the yen to see the world's largest prairie dog or pet a living six-legged steer this is the place! Somewhere between Colby and Goodland you cross over to the mountain time zone--I missed the sign put I know it's there! It isn't long after Goodland until you cross the state line into that magical place, Colorado. There is a nice wooden brown and white sign saying so in very large letters! There has always been such a sign except for a few years in the 1990's when they put up a more modern-looking multi-colored sign (Colorful Colorado is their motto, or was) no one liked it, everyone complained so the now this sign was put in and is much more like the oldest. Everyone is happy. :) The land begins to get less flat and takes on a silvery sage green. I no longer just feel I'm going up, I am going up! Here we get to add Barley and Oats to the crop list (I only know this as I saw a feed store sign offering certified seed for that, goota keep your eyes open.) There are more horses here as well, more and more hay and cows the further west we go. Just before you arrive in Limon you top and hill (which doesn't seem all that significant) and BOOM there's Pike's Peak! Some times it's so hazy you can't even see it but today it was glorious! This next section of highway has a lot a memories attached to it. Before we had an air-conditioned car I can remember by mom's skirt floating up on the breeze from the car vents and her laughing and laughing, she always said she felt "beat to death" by the wind! About this time we usually got punchy and would laugh at anything and everything, once my middle brother had a set of toy wind-up teeth and he wound them up laid them flat in his hand so they'd chatter, pinch his lips together to hide his teeth and point to his mouth as we passed other cars. I don't know if the other people even noticed but I'm still laughing! Back then this stretch of Interstate wasn't complete so we ground along on two-way roads with a long way between gas stations! When I was learning to drive Dad let me drive here (after interstate) as there was no traffic to speak of. Now it is a busy, busy road. All along the way the front range of the Rockies rises above the horizon only to fall again depending on whether you're at the top or the bottom of the hill. Next, you have to drive through Denver-a BIG city with lots of highways going lots of places, luckily I get to just keep going, whew! Now you are in the mountains, really going up until you reach the Eisenhower tunnel then its a steep grade down into Dillon. Again I think how green it is and how much snow is left in the "high country" then I realize that I haven't been on this part of the road except in the late summer or winter and this is spring. Next up is Independence pass, also known as Vail pass hitting over 10,000 feet in elevation, somewhere in between you cross the continental divide and the streams begin running to the west instead of the east, it's kind of odd to see. I keep seeing all the patches of ponderosa pine killed by some bug and aspen trees (killed by no one knows) and thinking of forest fire. This is fire country, all those dead trees provide a lot of fuel for a lightening strike or any of the other ways forest fires can start--I think it would be catastrophic. As we head down the western slope towards Grand Junction the land begins to change again, fewer and fewer trees more buttes and mesas until you reach the start of canyon lands. But that is for tomorrow.

The day ended as oddly as it began, with a 5 minute call to tech support to get connected to the internet!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

West Coast Vacation-Day One

So about 11am I finished packing up the truck, hugged Rob and Tanya goodbye and sent all the kids a text saying "I'm Off!" At the last minute I decided to take Interstate 70 as far as it goes to the west. I've driven (or ridden) I-70 through Kansas hundreds of times in my life and I never tire of it. Most people think of Kansas as flat and boring but I think it's beautiful (if it weren't for those Jayhawks I could live here!) I meant to take photos but I got caught up in driving and remembering other trips on this same road so no photos, maybe I'll do better tomorrow, maybe not. You'll just have to use your imagination (and a link or two I found).

I-70 goes right through the center of downtown Kansas City, it's often very congested but today it was clear and quick (thanks to it being Sunday and the Memorial Day holiday weekend.) Before I even got to the toll gate for the Kansas turnpike I was amazed at how green it is, how tall the grass (the goats were almost lost in the tall grass) and how much water was standing. It's been dry a few days but there has been so much rain this spring it will take a while to dry out. The far eastern part of Kansas looks a lot like Missouri-gently rolling hills covered with trees and farm fields but just west of Topeka you enter the Flint Hills and soon the trees are seen only in the deep ravines between these flat-topped hills piled one atop another. It is cattle country, mostly the Black Angus are visible in the green, green of the hills. The highway always seems to be rising until one crests the ridge and then you can see for miles in all directions-amazing. I remember riding with my Granddad one year at night when they were burning the hills (A controlled burn helps the grass grow better and humans have been doing it since they arrived on the plains.) It was amazing to see this snaking line of fire inching across the hills, the smoke was pretty potent too! Granddad liked to talk. I liked to listen, much to his displeasure! He told me they drug hot coals behind a horse to get the fires started, he'd done it down in Oklahoma I think. This drive has been full of memories of Granddad, Mom and Larry, you'll hear more. Finally, you go up and up a huge (seems like) hill and when you top the rise and start down you can see Fort Riley, the home of the US Army's Big Red One. I'm sure some of them are standing watch in Afghanistan and Irag and who knows where else. (Thanks guys!) Past Fort Riley I stop at the Cracker Barrel in Manhattan for my first souvenir , the Best of the Best Cookbook of the Great Plains. Also got gas--it was hot! The big hills are behind us and the trees are back. The next place a tourist might want to stop is in Abilene, the home of Dwight D. Eisenhower, army general and 34th President of the United States. Most remembered for his creation of the Interstate Highway system. Thank you IKE!! Larry and I stopped there last January and toured the Presidential library which we enjoyed but which crossed-my eyes with all the World War II stuff! On to the west! Before you reach Salina cattle country begins to give way to plowed fields. Black Angus give way to Herfords and I see the first wheat. The wheat is turning gold nearly ready for harvest as this is winter wheat, planted last fall. It is beautiful waving in the wind and making me think of the line from the song "America the Beautiful," "Amber waves of grains." Impossible for me to capture on film. It is always windy in western Kansas so they "harvest" the wind with wind farms. Some towns, like Greensburg, produce 100% of the electricity the town needs 100% of the time. On sunny days the wind turbines are almost beautiful against the blue, blue skies but today it is cloudy and hazy so they appear like huge skeleton trees with odd branches at the top. Eerily beautiful. Next you enter post rock country, when Kansas was opened to settlement and easterners came to the plains there wasn't enough timber to build homes, churches or fences. Dugouts of sod are made for houses, dirt for floors and grass growing on the roof. But here they use what they have a lot of, rock. At one point all the fences were made of this tan/yellow limestone that was hand-milled and used for churches, homes, even courthouses-so much work! I like the fences, especially with wheat waving behind it. At Russell, home of Bob Dole (former US Senator and Presidential candidate), You see oil wells still pumping oil from under the wheat fields, they remind me of those silly bird toys that perch on the edge of a bowl and dip their beaks into the water. In March of 1992 while we were moving to Denver our little J-car broke down just east of Russell, this being before I had a cellphone Larry drove into town and found a mechanic with a tow truck to haul us in. The mechanic recommended that we drive on into Hays as the motel there had an indoor swimming pool. So we loaded all 6 of us and the dog into the van (missing the center seat) and drove into one of the best times we ever had! We love Hays! The next year when Larry had been transferred back to KC and had taken the two middle (and unhappy) children and gone back while I stayed in Denver with the bookend kids to sell our house we met in Hays for a weekend together, I've met my friend from Denver there, last year when discussing what we would do for Thanksgiving one of the kids said "Go to Hays." Did I mention that We love Hays! So that's today, I'm in Hays.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Wednesday, four (or maybe 3) get-ups before Vacation!

Lately, It's just seemed like to much trouble to sign in on blogger! It isn't any harder than it ever was I'm just busy. I leave for the west coast, and points between there and here on either Sunday or Monday. Of course, I have a list containing at least a hundred things to do before I go! Some of them won't get done but most will. The main thing is getting my house and truck ready. The truck got new shoes (tires) all around, alignment, brake pads, and oil change--it's mostly ready, need to load things to take to Steve, etc plus wash and clean out the front. The house is getting there and will be good when I get the boxes I've readied out in the back end.

I have a Dr's appointment with my ortho on Friday--my hip and knee are 90% okay and we won't do anything more until I get back but she wanted to see me two weeks after the shots. Plus I have a bunch of errands and shopping to do that day.

Saturday, my family is meeting in Higginsville for a picnic at the Confederate Memorial State Historical Park. Then we will take flowers to Larry, as a group. I think it will be hard but still enjoyable. The boys will keep us from being morbid, they are always good for a laugh!

On top of the "gigantic to do" list my allergies have made themselves known-too much rain=mold. AND we went from the heater to the air conditioner in 6 days!

I hope to send a daily "travelogue" of this upcoming trip. After 10 days travel and visiting in San Diego I'm taking the Pacific Coast Highway clear up the coast to Washington state, then east to visit a cousin on Lake Roosevelt and from there home through Montana and the Dakotas. I'm in no rush just plan to amble along and see what's to see.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Home again.

Today I had Kolby, the little sick guy, he slept until 1:15pm then played happily. For the first time he played ball with Uncle Rob. Kolby is always very interested in Rob and just lights up when he sees him but cries if Rob talks to him or touches him, so playing ball was a very big deal. I think it won't take long for Kolby to be looking for Rob if they play ball every time he sees him!

For some reason, Simba the cat, loves Kolby. Kolby can touch him in just about anyway without Simba complaining at all or leaving. Kolby is usually gentle but gets carried away so I'm always close by. It's odd, Kolby grins at my other cat, Mika, but never touches her. This is probably a good thing she isn't as baby friendly!

Beth picked Kolby up just as Rob and Tanya got here with Brayden. Monday is his night to be here to play, alone.

I had a very nice time out in the camper last weekend, except for the rain. To already saturated ground another inch or so was added on Saturday and it was cold! There were puddles every where, enough so that the planned graduation cookout was moved to Zio's Italian restaurant. We did have snacks and cakes later. I had made a Grasshopper cake (crushed oreos, mint chocolate chip ice cream and cool whip) so even though we had a bonfire going and at least three layers of clothing, sitting under dining canopies to stay dry(er) we ate ice cream! And like it.

I was able to back the trailer in without getting nervous, it took a few tries and it wasn't straight but I did it. I also hitched up alone. Even so, I've decided to sell it, it's just too much work and expense for little ole me (and the dog!) I have been waffling back and forth between selling and keeping unable to decide, but that's over now. I have found it very hard to make decisions so unless it's critical I just put it off--eventually the answer just comes to me. It seems to be working for the moment.

I spent some hours out there working on the Town of Kansas stuff, reading, sorting, a little input. Someday the research will be done and I can write. I'll be ready to write the section on John Calvin McCoy soon, there's been so much work done on him and there's a lot of his own writing around so I only have to verify etc. Much easier than some of the oth

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Weekend plans

I haven't been posting much lately, guess I don't have much to say!? I have been doing some research, some sewing, some house cleaning and some yard work( those darn acorn trees!) so I'm busy. My knee and hip are much better since the cortisone shots last week, I am returning to stretching and (if it ever stops raining) walking. Today, I am taking the camper out. I'm headed to Clinton lake for the weekend with Beth, Lucas and boys for Lucas's college graduation! I have yet to take the trailer out alone because of backing it up so this will help get my confidence level a little higher. It should be fun, unless it rains all weekend. It seems to always rain when we go camping together! We will be beyond Wi-fi out there so no posting until I get back on Sunday. Hope to have photos. Enjoy your days!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day!

Blessing on you all!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Things that make me happy-post one

When I re-did my bedroom last fall I hung crystals on the pull down shades at my windows, they add a pretty touch and bring glass (which I love!) into my room. After dinner last night I went in there and found tiny rainbows dancing all over my walls! The sun was shining through the crystal on my west window and the wind was blowing so they literally danced over the walls. I smiled, BIG!

May finish number one!

More years ago than I can remember exactly Rob brought Chad home from school (they might have been 12?) and into our life. I have a bunch of "adopted" children who call me Mom or Mama Gail and Chad is one of those. He will soon be the Daddy of a little girl! I made this quilt for her. I learned some things on this one, NEVER make a quilt with long skinny pieces that are supposed to be straight! I will look at patterns much more carefully from now on!

May finish number two

This is the bear I dressed for Chad's soon to be born little girl. Hope she likes it!