Commentary Miscellaneous

cross-country road trip revisited

one year ::::

jellyfish – by grub, age 4

It has been a year since we first moved to Georgia. And currently I’m not even there, wrapped in the cool fog and sea breezes of coastal Maine celebrating my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary! Moving from California to Georgia, we left many good friends, my twin brother, and left a great neighborhood community. We celebrated two of my three babies being born in California. To honor our move, here are some memories from the trip that I journaled on my iPhone, in writing and in photos:

End of Day 1: We stopped in Barstow, California. 20% of roadtrip done. I’m too sad and excited to make commentary on what I see out the windows. #goodbyetwinbrother


wind farms aplenty

End of Day 2: I follow the long colored boxes of trains in the dusty brown expanse of the Mojave desert. There are the haunting wind farms along Highway 58. Tufts of sagebrush color the dusty brown. As we enter Arizona, sage brush vanishes in favor of dark green stout trees. The heat is climbing, the car windows hot. We stop at Ashfork Texaco, which is also a laundromat. “We have ammo” a sign on the door reads. In the gas station bathroom, there is a list hanging on the toilet stall of ice cream and prices. There is an older woman, wind-blown and weathered like the desert, sitting outside, who says hello. Her companion, a stringy-haired blind tween girl, sits looking extremely bored. It is all a strange exchange. #sowhite #toomanyguns #letsgetouttahere

Further in Arizona, the stony tableaus of sandy hills are dotted with squat bushes, the western hills climbing into New Mexico. It looks less barren than yesterday, but still evokes the same feelings of stagnation, dust, and rich history. The rural towns reek of this stagnation, with no chance of upward mobility for most people. There are countless roadside stops advertising for “Indian” wares and casinos. Homes are less than modest, with scraps of yards filled with rusty pieces of farm machinery or cars, all with a layer of brown dust. We are staying in Winslow, Arizona tonight. The cat is faring well. The kids are slowly crumbling as the novelty of the drive is wearing off quickly.

Audio: cue any Eagles’ song. Visual: grimy pool, desert land, mom ‘n pop coffee shop.


the mojave

End of Day 3: I strained a muscle last night, carrying Sky-Girl. I am popping Ibuprofen, with a bit of relief. We stop at the Dairy Queen in Paraje, New Mexico. It really is the worst DQ I have ever tried: short-staffed, terrible food, long wait times. I had a headache at the end of it. We are staying in Santa Rosa, New Mexico tonight. Sky-Girl was fairly cheerful for the day. Grub and Peach = Jekyll and Hyde with a dash of dirty fingernails and snarly hair. Our first rainstorm in a long time. The cat has not nervously urinated all over the car.

Audio: anything classic rock. Visual: brown dust, everywhere ‪#‎dodgingbullets‬ ‪#‎newmexico‬ ‪#‎drought


End of Day 4: NM –> TX –> Moore, OK. We crossed another time zone and two states. We had a major blow out near Shamrock, TX….not a tire. Poor Sky-Girl had poop everywhere! And clean up in a tightly packed SUV required some ingenuity. The hot lick of humidity that will follow us into Georgia gives my skin a healthy glow. Purchasing two Kindle Fires for the kids has been hit or miss (there is still fighting about WHO will use the NEW one). Sky-baby is used to the driving routine but has her moments. So long as I am feeding her snacks or handing her toys constantly, we are at a quiet hum. I desperately need to shave my legs.

Audio: cue Emmylou Harris’s  Red Dirt Girl. Visual: The landscape turns from beige and dusty green to lush farms dotted with swaths of red.


End of Day 5: Peach found a wheel bug (Arilus cristatus) on our car in the morning as we started loading in Moore, OK. We’ve tallied 32 different states in the license plate game and passed Toad Suck Park, near Conway, Arkansas. I forgot how much I missed the outdoor sounds of a hot, humid summer. Ah, the cicadas are singing. We are staying in Lonoke, Arkansas.

Audio: cue Johnny Cash; my earworm for the day was  Walk the Line. Visual: Arkansas greeted us with drizzle, lush grass, and forests.


brown-eyed susans and brown-eyed sky-girl

End of Day 6: We welcomed the rain; it seems all the more celebratory after experiencing the California drought. We stopped for a wonderful home-cooked lunch from friend D and her docile Great Dane Freckles, then drove onto see another family for the night! Never have I been so glad to eat home-cooked food. The kids are playing: energy diffusion! ‪#‎drinkingbeer‬ ‪#‎drinkingwine‬ ‪#‎onemoreday‬ ‪#‎debtalanisawesome‬

Audio: Deb Talan’s Simple Life.  Visual: We traversed more lush green terrain falling into Tennessee.


finally out of the car with friends

End of Day 7 and the trip: We had two wonderful home-cooked meals yesterday, drove through four states, and finally visited our new home. On our way, near Rose Hill, Alabama, I was convinced that the apocalypse was near: all three kids and the cat were napping at the SAME time. It was an hour of sudden boredom and quiet for me. Our furniture and effects don’t show up for two days so we are staying with Eat’s cousin in the ‘burbs.

Audio: Cue Catfish Jenkins’ song The Wishing Time ; the Vulture  album from the band 3 lb thrill; the Demolition  album from the Umajets; anything by Josh Clayton-Felt. Visual: Our front room spans the width of the house. It is a stone floor, one that you might find in a wildlife preserve welcome center. Our car smells like an animal’s den, so it seems appropriate. My unshaven legs don’t seem so bad. I’m more focused on finding a carpet store.


And since then, we settled. Eat ran off to work, Grub with the cousins for the day, and Peach, Sky-Girl, Bebo the cat, and I welcomed the disgruntled movers in July heat. There were only two of them; unloading the boxes and bringing them into the house took ALL day without a break. I heard a loud shatter and tinkling midway, realizing later that the movers had dropped my kitchen glassware. No more mixing bowl. Mugs shattered. Drinking glasses in shards. Another box ended up on the street, toys strewn every which way. No mention of either box from the movers. I just happened to walk outside for the toy box, as they were casually putting the box contents back in and ignoring me. It irritated me.

My memory was also refreshed of the fauna of Georgia, being visited by a five-lined salamander, numerous cockroaches and camel crickets, and endless stream of sugar ants in the kitchen, nine mice, and four rats, all in the course of 4 months. Too many unwanted guests. I just wanted to get settled without needing peripheral vision to keep track of the visitors. Human visitors, however, were key to my getting settled and grounded.

These scenarios are how I felt for the first few months, besides the time with Sky-Girl. There was a ground fracture, a tectonic move of my foundation in this move, my vision unfocused. My job gone, unlikely that a new one would be as wonderful, a husband gone in remote Africa for a month working on Ebola, kids missing him, and in-laws and parents making their rounds to help, with various creepy-crawlies. It was as though one leg was shorter than the other; I could stand up but felt like toppling over. My bearings have righted, somewhat. Our rocky patio floor is not housing so many insects. Our cat died and we got a kitten to help keep the mice away. We have carpets. I’m working on a job. We have a vivarium of frogs. There is a fat guinea pig. The kids are happy. We like our neighbors. We eat wonderful food. We are healthy. We are keeping up.

Back next week with some flowery or creamy dessert….almost the antithesis of this post.


One year ago: goodbye, california! (how appropriate!)

Two year ago: mummy’s fudgy chocolate oatmeal bars (and Sky-Girl’s arrival)

Three years ago: grilled halloumi cheese with apricots and mint  and  thai iced tea

Four years ago: skyr  and  cranberries all around



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