Friday, June 24, 2016

Route 66: Day 4 - The Big Blunder

When I checked into the motel in Springfield last night they told me that check out was at noon. It's usually at eleven, so the extra hour stuck out and it was at that moment that I decided to sleep in late this morning.
I ended up getting up at about 9:15, but taking my time with my fixes of coffee and social media. I also paid my bills online and mapped out a plan of attack for the day.
The storm could not have come at a more opportune time. It was storming from the time I shut the door with my dinner last night. Still plenty wet with dark grey skies and about 71 degrees. The rain wasn't hard anymore, but it was still raining big drops in Springfield.
As it happens, I had just run out of coffee and had been long out of canned and/or dried meats and was nearly out of coconut oil, so I was hoping for a chance to go to a store. In this lovely weather, I could easily leave River in the car for twenty minutes while I shopped at a natural food grocer I found online.  Mama Jean's Natural Market in Springfield.
I love to shop at stores that have already done their homework, as opposed to a store that would sell just anything. I appreciate the ease with which I can choose. I don't have to look at the back and wonder what the heck kind of bad stuff is in there if the store I'm shopping in is committed to only stocking foods that meet a high criteria of natural healthfulness in their food products. So I can walk down an aisle and quickly grab things I like as they catch my eye. I could also fill up my water jugs so I was set, and River was perfectly comfortable waiting for me.
Next, I set my navigation to take me to E Kearney St. because I had read that Route 66 runs along it in Springfield.  And it does! So I got on and my journey begins.
I felt like I was getting pretty good at it as I watched for those blue markers and twisted and turned my way through the scenic city streets and country roads.
Right away I saw something that made me want to stop. An official Route 66 'Roadside Park'.
A lovely mural on the wall across the street says "Get Your Kicks" and has lots of cars and 66s. 

The Route 66 bike rack

It looks like they're planning to build a few picnic tables. 
And maybe that building is going to be a restroom, 
But this caught my eye...

That clock tower looks like it might be made of those glass solar panels.
The MO Dept of Transportation is also planning to use those same panels at the rest area I visited yesterday.  It seems like Missouri is pretty serious about their Route 66. 

So the rain has stopped by now and the temperature is a perfect 72. The grass is lush and cool and wet and River just wanted to keep lying in that grass. 
I also noticed that Springfield calls itself the Birthplace of Route 66. 

I made River's driving area all inviting and tried to coax him in but he just wanted to stay in the grass.
I finally got him in and we took off, following the route through the guided tour of Americana. I thought of Route 66 as The Disneyland of Road Trips. Making it seem all the more surreal, so many business use that iconic sign on their signs. Hair salons, auto detailing, pawn shops, cafes, RV parks and smoke shops all join in on the historic celebration.
I passed another place where I had to make a choice between going straight, to follow Route 66, or to turn right to follow Route 66 1923-1928. Again I chose to go straight.
At some point later, I found it odd that as the Route 66 marker told me to take a left, I also saw a road sign indicating it was 25 miles to Conway in the direction I was turning. And I remembered that I was in Conway yesterday. That's where they're going to put the solar panels by the end of the year.
I wasn't sure what to do. I also noticed that I was traveling in a north east direction, which was also not a good sign. I figured I maybe connected to that 1923-1928 route as they re-converged and I was starting to head the wrong way.

It was then that I noticed a blue marker in my side view mirror. Facing the opposite way as me and indicating to make the next right turn to continue on the route. That wasn't the direction I thought I came from, so I U-turned as soon as I could made that right turn and saw a sign confirming that I was indeed back on track, heading the right direction on Historic Route 66.

After a while longer on the route, I saw another even more disconcerting sign.

Welcome to Springfield?! Wha...
I must have taken off in the wrong direction from the start this morning when I left Springfield and then drove along the route, not recognizing any of it because I came into town via the Interstate last night. So I learned a lesson about how the route runs both directions, and that adds another layer of complexity to the game.

I was literally laughing out loud as I was figuring out what had happened. And it was getting late, so I set my navigation to the Petco in Tulsa; the nearest place I knew would have River's brand of food. So it was nearly three in the afternoon as I got on I-44 West and drove past the motel I woke up in six hours prior.

I stayed on the Interstate for a while, but I have my navigation set to take me on the scenic route whenever feasible. And so somewhere in Oklahoma, about an hour outside of Tulsa, Babe tells me to pull off the highway and get onto the frontage road.

As I drive along that road I start to notice that many of the business are using that iconic logo again. I've been on segments of Route 66 that look exactly like this, so it could very well be it. I kept looking for a sign marker, but none were showing up.

Funny enough, I was actually on OK-66, so I wondered if the businesses were taking liberties by calling themselves the Route 66 hardware store or gas station. But then I saw a big, official looking building that was some sort of Oklahoma Route 66 Visitor Center. So I figured I must be on it. I was used to how frequently the markers came around in Missouri, but they clearly weren't as diligent about marking the road in Oklahoma. In Chicago, the Route 66 marker signs were dark brown, but outside the metro area, within Illinois, they were a faded brown. So much so that I started seeing them as lavender. And then, when I got into Missouri, the signs were bright blue and much more frequent.  When I finally did see one in Oklahoma it was a light brown. The whole day, I saw only three of those official brown DOT signs saying Historic Route 66. If I were making an effort to stay on it, rather than just being on it co-incidentally again, I might be getting frustrated at the lack of communication.

Instead it was fun to relish in all the 66ness. US-66, OK-66. June 26, 2016...
66 MPH
It took me through some pretty awesomely, desolate old towns. 
Like Afton, OK: Ramshackle and abandoned, weathered and jerry rigged, the whole town was like from an old western. 
Or Arcadia, OK where I saw the worlds largest pop bottle.
Or Sapulpa, OK where they have the Heart of Route 66 museum.
And in all of these places, I saw nary a marker. Even Sapulpa, who you'd think, being the heart of route 66, would have some signs.
Maybe they feel that calling it OK-66 is sufficient. 
I did love this sign, painted on the wall in one of those towns. Check out the phone number!
So I made it to Tulsa and got River his food, and then got right back on Route 66, aka OK-66 most of the rest of the way to Oklahoma City.  For the last five minutes, I got on I-35.

It was late when I finally checked into the motel room in Oklahoma City. They didn't have any more ground floor rooms, so I got a third floor room. And the ice machine doesn't work, but I can walk over to the Days Inn and use their ice machine because they have an agreement. But, he assures me, the ice machine just broke down today.

I'm glad that I had shopped today because there is scant to choose from here and it would have been a fast food night. But instead I got to enjoy some of my fermented vegetables with a tuna sandwich and some macaroons for dessert. 

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Route 66 - Day 3: St. Louis to Springfield, MO

On our walk this morning, we couldn't venture too far from the room since the door latch had stopped working the night before and I couldn't shut it.  River showed me how to make the most of what grass and plants we could find while keeping sight of that door.

And I formulated a plan of attack for Route 66 today: I learned that it passed right by the St. Louis Gateway Arch, so I set my navigation with two addresses. One was the address for the Arch and the other was my final destination at the motel in Springfield. I planned to use the navigation to find the arch and then get on Route 66 from there sans nav. Theoretically, I could do that all the way to Springfield, or, if I get lost or bored, I could quickly turn the nav on and be guided to the motel room.

I found the arch and was delighted to discover that there was almost no traffic in downtown St. Louis. It was very peaceful compared to New York and Chicago and the arch itself was a lot bigger than I imagined.  Even as I see this picture I took, I now know that it looks and feels much bigger than it looks in the photograph.

But there was no sign of Route 66 anywhere. I decided to fill up with gas and ask the clerk how to get there. I figured anyone in town would know exactly where to go.  "How do I get to Route 66?" I asked him as I was paying for my gas.

Puzzled, he looked sternly at me and asked "Phillips 66?!" (This was a BP Station)

"No, I said, Route 66, the Historic Highway".

"Where you want go?" He asked impatiently. When I told him Springfield, he asked the requisite question, MO or IL? (I should've caught on to that one by now after how many times I got asked that last night.)

When I told  him MO, he started to rattle off a bunch of highways, and I stopped him saying, "No I want to take Route 66." By this time another guy was standing behind me in line, so I asked him, "Do you know how to get to Route 66?"

He insisted that there is no such highway in town, but I insisted that there was and that it goes right by the arch. As I was explaining that to both of the men that you can't see it on the map because it's a ceremonial highway, a voice popped up from behind the chips, "Ah yes, that's the historic highway Route 66." So I perked up and scooted over to his direction and asked him to tell me what he knew. He was fuzzy on details but seemed to think that it went along a street called Gravois St. I got excited and got directions to Gravois St and was about to leave when the first guy, behind the counter, he cautions me that there are a lot of stop lights on that road and it would take forever to get to Springfield that way. I quickly gave him a run-down of what Route 66 was and how it was a part of American history and was at one time the main way to drive from here to the west coast. I was excited. He pretended to understand and waved me along, and I was off.

I did find Route 66 on Gravois and ended up following it for about the next 100 miles.

The markers are not blatant. Blink and you could miss them. And they aren't all that close together, either, so even when actually on the correct route, I could drive for ten minutes without confirmation that I'm on the path. Watch this short video. At some point, I pass a Route 66 marker. See if you catch it.
Did you miss it?  It shows up in the second cluster of road signs. The first cluster of three signs are white, but the Route 66 markers are blue. There are two of them here, which adds to the confusion here. Usually there is just one, with an arrow showing that you must turn on the next street to continue following the route. But in this case, I saw two signs and was most confused. I actually turned around to pass it again, and I got it on video. So, there's one with an arrow pointing straight forward indicating Route 66 goes straight, and the other with an arrow indicating to make the next right turn to follow Route 66 -1936 and 1945. (I don't know the correct years, but guess it means 'as it was recognized between those years'. I chose to go straight and it took me onto Interstate 44 for about ten minutes.

I've decided that Route 66 is not a highway at all, but literally a route. It's more like a guided driving tour through America. It takes you over highways sometimes and rural country roads sometimes. Through small towns and big cities. At one point it was on a frontage road to the Interstate and every few miles would hop over a bridge and be on the other side of the highway. There were moments today that seemed frozen in time and exactly how I thought it would be to drive on Route 66.

I saw some pretty cool sights, like a ghost hotel and a trading post shaped like two teepees and long-abandoned gas stations overgrown with grass through the cracked pavement. Lots of businesses adopted the name Route 66. Places ranging from diners to art galleries to real estate offices. I sort of wanted to stop at them all. I saw an closed down Toy Museum that was pretty sad. And I think I might have seen the world's biggest rocking horse.

But I didn't stop at any of these places. I admired them as I passed. When I saw the sign saying Route 66 Visitor Center, that intrigued me. I exited the highway there and it lead me to a very cool place where the route actually stops because the road is out.

Hard to tell in this picture, but it's a bridge over a river with the asphalt part of the street missing. I didn't actually go into the visitor center because there was no shade for River in the parking lot. It was over 90 degrees and stiflingly humid this day.

Right next to the visitor center was a couple of parks. We went to both of them. One of them, called West Tyson County Park was lush with green trees and grass and River and I found a dry creek bed to explore.

And the other one was a huge park, but access to it was hindered by that out bridge. So I just took a picture of River by the sign and we got back on the highway.  Just being outside for those brief 15 minutes and River and I were panting and sweating liberally.

Back on the winding road, we passed through cute towns like Pacific, MO which calls itself "Train Town USA" and Cuba, MO which calls itself "The Mural City". I couldn't figure out why until I noticed on almost every block there was a giant mural such as this one.

those aren't real people, they're painted

When I stopped to get lunch, I passed right by Six Flags over St. Louis. I would love to take a tour of all the amusement parks and roller coasters in the USA. But file that under "Things I'll Do After River Dies". He would not enjoy that.

After about three hours, I had only gone about 100 miles and I was tired of searching and turning, so I turned on my navigation, hopped over to the Interstate and headed straight for the motel. I Route 66'd all the way to a town called Ralla, but from there into Springfield it was all I-44. Now that I see it on a map, I'm surprised to learn that 75% of my drive time was devoted to the first half of my total drive.

I kept seeing signs to Joplin and remembering that I had seen a documentary about that town, but I couldn't remember what it was. I thought it was a flood or an earthquake or a big storm; some natural disaster. I just looked it up, and it was a tornado in 2011. It was a spectacularly unheard of big and powerful tornado, if I remember correctly.  I didn't make it to Joplin today. 

Our last stop was at a rest area in Conway for River's feeding time on the grass. I was dripping sweat within just a few minutes of being outside. It was only like 91 degrees, but SO humid.  I kept it brief and minimized the amount of running. When the weather gets like this, it gets increasingly harder to get River to jump back into the car after we've been lying on the grass. 

Finally, at Springfield, I checked into the Motel 6. And like at the last location, also in Missouri, they were exceedingly friendly. And it seemed, genuinely friendly, not just customer service friendly.  I do get the feeling, in general that the people in Missouri are very warm and friendly. I've had several conversations with strangers since being here, and I'm not actually the type to strike up conversations. 

But here's something I noticed about the drivers in St. Louis. I'm driving down the street and they are waiting in a driveway to enter the road. As I approach them, they obviously want to pull behind me into the flow of traffic, but they start to inch out from the standstill before I've fully approached them. It always makes me feel like they're going to pull out and cause me to collide with them. It happened to me three times in St. Louis and I don't encounter that behavior anywhere else. Most people wait until the last car has cleared before starting to accelerate onto the main road behind it.

I did my laundry and walked River around the property. 

The wind started to pick up during our walk. And the wind had a lovely, ominous cool swirl in it. Much of it was just the hot humid air, moving around, but occasionally I felt a vein of cool wash through. And I saw some big dark clouds in the direction that wind was coming from. The wind got more and more swift and the sky more and more dark as I wrapped up River's walk and quickly drove to the BBQ place to pick up my dinner. (read more about that here). I sat on the covered patio outside with River and ate. But still no rain. I got back in the car and the sky was fully grey and the wind furious. We were both safe inside the room for no longer than ten minutes when I heard a sound as if River were peeing on the floor. But he was just lying there. I looked out the window and torrents, lightning, thunder, big puddles in the parking lot. Sheesh. I'm glad we missed that. I plan to stay holed up in the room tonight, and see if this has passed by the morning. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

My St. Louis Sojourn

I got into the Motel 6 late, after a long day of teaching and exploring in Chicago.

As I drove up to the property, I was immediately concerned because the outside was completely unlit and free of signage. The dark glass windows and blank walls sent a message more akin to "Stay away!" than the usual "Welcome" I'm used to feeling from a Motel 6.
This picture was taken the next morning. That night it was all dark. 

I saw some movement inside, so I parked and we entered. I walked in as a man was embroiled in a passionate conversation on the phone regarding the desk clerks inability to process his reservation due to a downed computer.

He then proceeded to berate the motel and inquired if the owner was a 'dot head'. I couldn't help but physically react to his overt racist remarks, and he took that as an invitation to rope me into the fiasco. I told him that I knew what he meant because I've thought myself that the culture that they come from in India might be very different than ours. They seem to tolerate a very high level of filth and a low level of maintenance in their properties. They have no qualms against being rude and short with their customers. I hate to hear myself say these things, as I tend to cringe if I hear others speaking in such a way. But I've only had a handful of really upsetting interactions in all of my stays at Motel 6 and every time it has been with an Indian owner. That said, I still don't use racial epithets and I do my best to avoid speaking in sweeping generalizations.

As he got on his phone looking for another Motel 6, the clerk turned to help me. I had two nights reserved, which she quickly found and processed. I was paying cash so it all went through immediately. I had a moment of hesitation, where I almost said, "Let's just pay for the first night and see how it goes." But I didn't. I am not bothered by unkempt properties. I am more motivated by being able to stay put whenever I can. I also go into these properties with very little to no expectations of quality, so I'm never disappointed and often delighted by whatever surprises are in store.

This place was RIGHT by the airport. So close, in fact, that one of the directions that the navigation gave me was, "Turn left at 'Car Rental Return'".   The sound of airplanes is not a problem. They are infrequent and don't seem to go over my room. I hardly hear them.

Inside the room was fine. Outdated decor, but all the necessaries were there. I didn't get an ice bucket, but I always travel with my tupperware, which I often use to get ice when it isn't River's water bowl. And the batteries in the TV remote control don't seem to be working. Again, not really an issue with me, as I don't tend to watch TV. I was going to put it on to hear some voices before falling asleep last night, but when the remote didn't work, I just turned off the lights and went to sleep.

It was so nice to sleep in. I love sleeping late and having no responsibilities. I had a class scheduled for the evening, but my day was free. I was awakened by River, shaking his ears and then starting at me (his way of telling me he needs to go outside).

We took a walk around the grounds and I enjoyed the hot sun. It wasn't yet too humid.

A few hours later, that's a different story. I was working on the computer and River interrupted me to let me know he needed to go outside. When I took him out there, he didn't need to pee or poop, but as soon as he was in the sunshine, he plopped down on the hot concrete and soaked up the sun.  He didn't seem to mind that the temperature had since risen to 98 degrees and the humidity was in full force.
At lunchtime, I asked Siri to direct me to "the best burger in St. Louis." A question, when posed appropirate to the city I'm in, always gets me a good response. Sometimes, I see Burger King, but then I rephrase the question, being sure to add "best" and that's when I get information on good, local eats.
Today, he directed me to The White Barn, which was about 15 minutes away in St. Louis proper. Totally worth the trip. I blogged about it here. But if you don't want to go there, just trust me that this was probably the biggest burger I've ever seen. I had to remove the center bun just to get it in my mouth.
I needed a nap afterwards

Soon after, I got showered and put on my tie dye to head up to Gaia Studio in Evansville, IL where I was teaching Woodstock.

On the way to class, a few blocks from the studio, I saw a surprising road sign indicating the street I was about to turn onto....
Route 66

So what do you know. It's funny how unassuming the route is. When I was on it yesterday, too, it seems like such a non-event. It's not even really the name of the highway I'm on, either. It's like honorary or ornamental.  So, as quickly as I lose it, I seem to find it again.

And I followed it to the studio where I set the mood by playing not music before class, but a soundtrack of outdoor sounds that I have for calming. I wanted to set the mood that we were outside. This class was on fire with FreeDancing, so it was an easy class for me to teach, and it went wild.
There were several students in class that hadn't ever taken Nia before but came tonight because of the Woodstock theme. Some of them were decked out like hippies, too. It was awesome. They gave me an hour and a half, so I added in some of the songs that I have from co-teaching The Woodstock Experience with other Nia teachers adding their stuff in. I was trying to emulate what Janet Hollander did with a Crosby Stills Nash & Young song, but it didn't coagulate so I called it a FreeDance. haha

It happened to be my host and producer, Sally's birthday today so afterwards she had a reception with champagne, cake, cheeses, crackers, fruits and this herbal water she made with peppermint and lemon balm. I drank a lot of that. 

While I was in the room with the refreshments, River was still in his crate in the studio. He was put in there at least two hours ago by this time, but he's quiet. At this time I see two musicians, a man and a woman, carry a lot of equipment into the studio and start setting up. One of River's triggers is often having new people come into the area; especially men. And if they're carrying big things, then that, too could be a trigger. But still he's quiet. 

I'm continuing to nosh and socialize as they begin to play. It's just a guitar and two lush voices singing soulfully. People began to gather and sit, some were dancing. I watched in amazement as River soaked it all in. Not fussing in the slightest, but engaged in the activities. 

After a while I heard reports that he was beginning to scratch at the floor of his crate. So that was my cue and I packed him up and took him out. He ran to the nearest tree. After that, I propped him up on the stone obelisk at the bottom of the staircase and a series of dog fanciers came by to gawk and him. One brought him a bowl of water and we talked for a long time about plantar fasciitis. She was wearing thongs on her feet, poor thing. 

And then I took Route 66 home again.... hehe.... only for those few blocks. 

When I got back to the room, my door stopped functioning. Luckily I got in, but now it won't close. It closes, but the latch doesn't catch so it drifts open. It's crazy. I called the front desk and he said he could change my room, but I didn't want to go through that. He suggested I use the deadbolt. I tried it, but the deadbolt doesn't work, either. It comes out when I turn the knob if the door is open, but when the door is shut, it won't turn. It isn't aligned with the doorplate so it doesn't go into the hole, it's blocked. I will just sleep with the chain on the door I guess. I'm not worried at all with River here. No one's sneaking in on us, I guarantee that. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Woodstock Win and Route 66 Fail

Today started off on a great note when I saw a message on my phone from someone telling me that my posts and my enthusiasm for life makes her smile. So I smiled.

And then I packed up the car and River and I went to Naperville for Woodstock Experience at the Alive! center. Kendra was my host and she found a fun venue. We got to play with the kids' balls and the hula hoops. They really helped us get into the playful spirit of the free dancer. This was the smallest Woodstock class I've taught, but we went to some playful and joyful places I haven't been to yet with this routine.

After class, I spotted a cool looking hoodie with the logo for the Alive center on it just as Kendra was handing me my pay. So I went with an impulse and bought it. I wore it the rest of the day.

I was feeling pumped. We had a great class and now I was going to begin my long awaited journey along Historic Route 66 from beginning to end. The weather was gorgeous. It was 78 degrees and low humidity. I was told to expect rain, but I laughed at that notion, telling them that I always brought nice weather with me. (I wish. I didn't tell her about the pounding I took in Indiana yesterday!)

I didn't really have a plan. If you could call it a plan, it was to look up on the internet where the route begins and then go there and follow the signs. But it didn't turn out to be that simple. The starting point has been moved a few times and now there is dispute as to where it really begins. I decided to choose one of the beginnings and go with it. I set my navigation for that intersection.  And it wasn't quite where I pictured it being.
approaching Downtown Chicago

But finally, in the midst of the hustle and bustle of downtown traffic, I spotted my first evidence.
A sign!
I took a turn that I thought was what I read to do and I didn't see any signs for a long time. I drove and drove south until I was going through a bad neighborhood. So I stopped and checked a different source to try to find the beginning of the route. I reset my navigation and went back in, it basically took me back to the same place that I was before. And I was getting ready to take that same turn I took before, when I saw this disconcerting sign.
By that time, as you can tell here, I was pretty frustrated. Also the humidity seemed a lot higher than it was out in the 'burbs.
So at this point, I was feeling pretty low, obviously. I set my Nav for the quickest route to St. Louis and even that was no joy. Just getting to the onramp, going through the city was crazy. Much like New York and San Francisco, not a good driving city.

Chicago is a beautiful city and seems like a lot of fun. I've been here in the past, but I never seem to stop and enjoy this city. I tend to get in, do my thing and get out. One of these days I should stay and walk around, or take a train or whatever you do in Chicago.

But on this day, I just wanted out of there. Imagine how fumed I was when the Interstate looked like this.
I drove in a terrible mood for a while and planned the dismantling of the whole remainder of my trip. I was ready to go crying home with tail between my legs.
And then the traffic cleared and I was moving. And then I saw a sign to take this exit to get on Route 66 and I perked up.  I took that exit.

I took the Joliet Rd exit in Romeotown and got on IL-53 (or something like that) which was also Historic Route 66. So I followed that for a while and it was charming and pastiche and yeah, I turned a lot. And it took me all the way to the town of Joliet where I lost it again.

But in making that "wrong" turn, I happened upon a serene park with grass and lots of shade. It was near some water and there were no people in it at all. It was perfect.
 He wanted to jump in that canal, but it was too far down.

 That is one crazy pup. Cool drawbridge in the background.

Children of Peace Mosaic

We hung out in that park until my attitude adjusted and then I got back in the car.
Plus how can I stay mad with this mug in the back seat?

It was about 5pm by this point, and I had been in the car a long time, not going anywhere, so I just stayed on the highways. At one point along the way, I did see another option to get off and switch to Route 66, but I carried on to St. Louis.

I haven't given up, though. I'll do a bit more research as I'm staying in St. Louis two days and I'll do my best to get back on the the route.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Summer Storm in Indiana

I started this morning on a high note: waking up with the sun on a massage table in a healing and movement arts studio.

I had my coffee there in the space and was just driving out as the first teacher of the morning showed up for her class.

Before my appointment with Mini, I had enough time to re-stock on River's food at Petco and refill with water, this time at Walmart in the hopes of a better situation than at Kroger. Alas, this Walmart was similar to the Kroger stores in that I had to wait in the cashier line to pay my 37 cents. If I wanted a Pepsi, I would be able to get those outside in a machine. Also if I wanted a DVD or to refill my propane, I could do that outside the building. But for water, I have to go the center of aisle 3 and wait in the shortest line I can find.

When I got to Mini I let them know that, as luck would have it, my service light went on that morning. So if they had the time, they could take care of that and save me a trip later down the road. They were able to do that for me. River and I hung out in the lounge until the television and air conditioning drove us outside. We played around outside until the heat and poor air quality drove us back inside.
Finally, they were done and we paid and hit the road.
US-33, US-224, US-30, I-65, I-94, US-6, US-34

I thought it was going to be a basic drive. I was going to cut through Indiana on my way from Columbus to Chicago. But Indiana bitch slapped me as I passed through and said, "oh no you don't!"

It started out fine. We stopped in a place called Fireman's Park and had some exercise and a stretch in the shade. 

Further down the road, River was gazing lazily out the back window as I drove through the heat. 

It was hot and sunny all morning and most of the day. And in fact, when we were in Markle, I had one of those weather related moments when I thought, 'why does anyone live here?' And very suddenly, the sky got dark and the lightning started. Almost immediately, I found that a road was marked as No Outlet and For Local Traffic Only. Bridge Out Ahead. As I floundered to find a detour, since my Mini Nav was unable to receive traffic information in that location, the wind started up furiously.  I was seeing lightning every few seconds, and it didn't seem far away. It was on both sides of me. 
I drove in a general north westerly direction, knowing it would get me closer to my goal. Finally, Mini calibrated and I was in business again. 
Except by this time the rain had started. Zero visibility rain and me on a farm road with no place to turn off. I turned on my hazard blinker and kept going. At times I wondered if my windshield wipers, which had JUST been replaced by Mini, were working at all. They were, but the rain was too fast for them.
It takes a lot to shake me. I'm pretty optimistic and confident, but I was worried for a while that I wasn't going to make it to Chicago. I wish I could have taken a video or at least a photo of what it was like, but driving through it was foolhardy enough! I don't need to be messing with my camera at the same time. Once it settled down to manageable proportions I did snap this one, which looks placid by comparison.

Within two minutes of my taking this photo, the skies were clear and it was soon hot and muggy again. 

The first evidence that I had made it to Chicagoland was a sign welcoming me to South Holland. The sign also boasted "Voted the most liveable city in Chicagoland."  I was surprised that I was already there, when my navigation showed that I wasn't due to arrive at my destination for well over another 90 minutes. 

But that indeed turned out to be the case. And not because I hit heavy traffic, but because I didn't take the toll roads. And Chicago metro area is vast and spread out, like Los Angeles. 

I got to my motel room and wanted to find an interesting restaurant that would deliver to my room. I had had my fill of driving today. But I couldn't find anyone to deliver, so I had to go pick up a burrito for El Burrito Loco. It turned out to be quite a delicious burrito with steak "Tampiqueña". The guacamole was good and fresh and there was no rice. That's a good thing in my book. 

I'm glad to be here.  And I'm also glad to gain and extra hour on this, the longest day of the year.

Happy Summer!! 

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Healing in Ohio

As I sat down to write this, I had to take a moment and enjoy the sheer pleasure of sitting in this chair! I'm at the Mandala Center for Movement Arts and using Trish's desk. I'm more used to cramped conditions and makeshift workstations and/or sitting in my car. Unlike any of those things, this chair seat tilts forward so that my pelvis tilts forward and allows my spine to enjoy all its natural curves. It felt so good I just sat here and felt so good that both of my fists made it up in the air above my head without my even doing it. The pleasure itself rose my arms.

Here is the wood screw that has entered into my life. I'm going to call him Chip. 

Because of Chip, I decided to stay in Columbus rather than continue onto Chicago. By sheer luck, I happened to have two days free scheduled for Chicago. But I didn't feel comfortable driving there with Chip along, so I am staying here.

Today started with a search for water. I was hoping to find a dispenser that I could use coins in, but the only places I was finding required going into the Kroger store, filling up, and then waiting in line to pay the cashier thirty nine cents. I hate to do it that way because I leave River in the car.  I try to find shaded parking if I can, and I make sure that the air conditioner has the car cool before I stop. I leave the windows half open to he can stick his head out but he can't get out. He oftentimes will bark when I do this, so it's good to hear that he's still alive while I'm in the store. 

After getting water, I went to get some barbeque from a chain called City Barbeque. I'll add that to my Burger & BBQ blog. I ate on the tailgate of Babe while River politely watched and pretended not to. 

We found a park called the Highbanks Metro Park. It's a really cool, big, park with vast expanses of nature and several trails and picnic areas and grassy places to play.  Some places had jungle gyms and others had workout stations. The maps shows that it runs alongside a river, but I never saw any sign of it in the park. 
We met Trish in the park. She came to hand me the key to the studio. And she also gave me some more money. Once she had gone back to do the books, she found out that the head count didn't match the income, so some people had snuck in without paying! (I'm secretly celebrating another notch in my belt for the Woodstock Experience). She also felt she wanted to help assuage my tire woes, so she 'rounded up' and gave me a generous tip, as well. 

As it turns out, I think Chip will be good for me. I needed a day to sit in a nice chair and a night to sleep in a healing environment. Mentally, I was able to relax today. I didn't have to drive or teach. I had the bulk of the day to 'be' at the park. River and I spent very long moments sitting in many different places. We went for short walks, but it was mostly about NOT moving today. I stood most of the time, but I sat on a rock for a while and at a picnic table for a while. There was a nice breeze and low humidity. It was in the high 80's and very comfortable. I was so relaxed.

Through the glass door of this office, I can see that the sun has set and the light almost gone from the sky. There are fireflies dancing on the small lawn out front. With a lingering essential oil scent and signs on the wall reminding me to breathe and count my blessings, and with a massage table to sleep on, I think we'll have a nice night here.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Pennsylvania to Ohio

I woke up early to prepare for a long, possibly dangerous drive. My plans included driving about five hours to teach a playshop and Nia class.
US-22, I-70

I prepared for the day in the usual manner except that I also inspected Babe's left rear tire and found it visibly flabby and with a screw in it. Phillips head. It wasn't fully deflated, so I could drive on it, which I did to the nearest gas station. I found one that had an air hose and filled it up.

It stayed at the proper air pressure for about an hour and then I got a warning that it was low again. So I stopped again, half way to my destination and over inflated it this time, so I could get more drive time out of it.

Something exciting happened just about the time I got the low tire pressure warning. My trip odometer turned over!
Sorry, it's blurry. I was watching the road.
you can see my low air pressure warnings in orange.
the trip odometer is in the lower right corner
it reads 9999.9
The total mileage on the car reads 37697
above the red line is the date 06/18/16

So that means that since I left home on April 30, I have logged over 10,000 miles. So far I've been out seven weeks, and this is a five month trip, so I'm about a third of the way through it. This poor car. I put her through so much. I'm happy to get away with just a screw in the tire once or twice.

In the meantime, we didn't forget to stop and enjoy life. I passed by Piedmont Lake and it looked like we could get good access so I couldn't resist stopping to check it out.

Today, I was surprised that I drove through West Virginia. I didn't realize it had that peninsula-like appendage on the north.  I'm not going to include it in this map of places I've been to so far on this trip. Similar to New Mexico, I may have driven through, and even stopped to get gas or play in a park. But if I didn't really stay there for any length of time, to sleep or to work, I'm not counting it as a visit for my purposes.

Last night I watched a little bit of television before going to bed. One of the things I saw was about this giant basket shaped building. The blurb I saw said it was build by a big basket company that was doing well at the time, but since then have cut production and staff by about 80%. So now the monstrous basket is largely wasted space and they're looking to sell it. But nobody wants to buy a big basket. Anyway, I thought it was a random story.

And today, I hadn't thought again about the basket, and probably never would have if I hadn't driven by the building today!
giant basket in Newark, OH

We arrived at the Mandala Center in plenty of time for both of us to eat and then made our way into the building, where a crowd had been gathering. We had a very brief (half hour) mini FreeDance Playshop as a precursor to the Woodstock Experience routine. And WOW, did they take to the Anything Goes focus of the routine. It was so much fun, and on rare moments we were doing movements in unison, but those were quickly broken up by me or someone else in the group deciding to do something else. It was truly about as FreeDance as you can get within the context of a classic Nia routine.

After class, I tried to rush off to Mini of Dublin. Not in Ireland, but the suburb of Columbus by the same name. It was fruitless in that I wasn't able to catch anyone from service before quitting time, but it was helpful in that I was able to be sure they have my tire in stock and reserve it with my name on it for Monday.

I could maybe have gone to another tire shop to get it fixed, but I want to stay within the Mini family, since I'm under warranty and a maintenance agreement. They're closed on Sunday so my appointment is for Monday morning.

While I was rushing around after class, River remained supremely calm.

I had intended to leave for Chicago and spend the next two days there, but alas, this is more pressing, so I will change my plans and stay in Columbus until the tire is replaced. I'll leave for Chicago right from Mini of Dublin on Monday. It was a good thing that my next class, in Chicago, wasn't until Tuesday morning.

My producer, Trish, was kind enough to offer that River and I could sleep in the studio on Sunday so that I could save money on the motel room. I'm thinking I'll take her up on that offer. It might be a different kind of adventure to sleep in the Mandala Center for Movement Arts.