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Filtering by Tag: travel

CRAVINGS

Cindy Maddera

I woke with a start in the early morning hours to the loud crackling booms of thunder and listened for the rain. I don’t know if I will ever get used to it, the way the thunder crackles, like breaking wooden bats. Thirty something years of hearing the thunder roll in over the prairies and pastures tuned my ears like tuning forks. It became a lullaby even though I knew that thunderstorms could change quickly into a tornado. There were no flashes of light to warn of this cracking thunder. That’s different too. Spring thunderstorms are usually accompanied with fantastical displays of electricity. Here, not so much. The lightening is subtle. I closed my eyes and drifted back to sleep only to jolt awake at the next crack of thunder. This is how I would spend the next few hours before sunrise, sleeping fitfully between breaking baseball bats.

Sometimes I get cravings. Not for food. Though I do think fondly about Indian tacos on occasion. It’s just a very rare moment when I think obsessively about a certain food and think “I HAVE TO HAVE some cheese!” I tend to crave moments and landscapes. I want to be in other places, fully immersed. It could be standing on a thick bed of pine needles in the middle of a forest, surrounded by pine trees so tall that it makes me dizzy to look up. Sometimes I think that if I don’t feel sand squishing between my toes and the crisp damp wind hitting me from the ocean that I will shrivel up and disappear into nothing. Sometimes I am surprised how much I crave open rolling fields with tall prairie grass bent from the wind. I think about all of those times I carved out a shelter in the tall grass and would spend the day huddled there sitting on an old quilt. I would have a stack of books, a jar of water and a kite that I would get going so high up in the sky, I was almost certain it was in danger of colliding with an airplane.

I never expected to crave the landscape of the places where I grew up, where I lived for thirty five years. The monotony of prairie and urban sprawl and trees that lean to the east sounds like something I have seen enough of. Except, there is something to that not quite flat land that sort of slows the beating of my heart. I feel my thoughts roll out and float away on the winds. Traveling down the highway, there will be nothing but the land stretched out for miles and for a moment you can pretend to be the only person on the planet. I crave these moments of isolation and solitude provided by the vastness of this landscape. Right now, I’m craving warmth and sunshine. Dry cracked red dirt. Bare feet on a warm back patio. Tracing lines of condensation running down a cold beer bottle. A thunderstorm I can see coming from miles away.

Right now, I am craving a road trip.

THINGS I'VE TAKEN CARE OF

Cindy Maddera

Some times, as I make that long drive from Oklahoma City to KCMO, I start sobbing. I say some times because really I only do this when I've made the trip alone. It's just too many hours of endless road time trapped with my own thoughts. I know that I could listen to books or podcasts, but my brain still wanders off. I start crying. I cry about how much has changed. I cry about how much has not changed. I cry about how I never feel like I spend enough time or see all of the people. I cry because I feel guilty for not making enough of an effort to see all of the people. I cry because I'm tired and probably slightly hungover. I cry because I've stretched myself too thin. I cry because Chris isn't with me. 

Old life. New life.

I spent a weekend visiting friends in OK recently. I drove all the way down to Chickasha first, helping Misti with the finishing touches for the Listen Local event at our college and meeting Amy for dinner. The trees on the oval are now towering beauties. Buildings that were once closed are now open. I don't recognize any of the professors in the biology department. I ran into my old chemistry professor by chance and he told me he had retired. He new me instantly, told me I still look the same. Maybe that's what happens when you step back onto the campus. You morph back into the person you were then. I certainly saw everything as it was then. Same sidewalk Chris and I walked  a billion and one steps on as we traveled back and forth between dorm rooms. I spent most of that weekend with friends I would not have had if it hadn't been for Chris. Friends that Chris made into our family. He's the glue. I've noticed places where that glue has started to weaken and I feel responsible, like I need to reenforce those weak spots. I could be better at that some how. 

I am a filer. I talk about getting things organized, but I already have things organized. I just feel they could be organized better. My photos fall into the need better organization group, but if you ask me for the instruction manual to the fridge I can pull that right out of the filing cabinet for you. I like to compartmentalize shit. I don't just do this with the tangible. My life before Chris, my life with Chris, my life after Chris...these all have their own shoebox stacked inside my brain. Things happen, like earthquakes or bicycle wrecks, and boxes get jumbled and messed up. That shit spills out. [Off topic but speaking of earthquakes. I either had an encounter with a poltergeist or an earthquake while I was sleeping over at the Jens.] Some times the things I put into boxes do not stay in their boxes. Compartmentalization is hard. Thus the sobbing.

I came across an envelope containing Chris's driver's license and a death certificate as I was cleaning out the mail catcher on my desk. They were gathered in one place with the intention of fixing his Facebook account. A year went by. Then another. Time passing. I picked up that envelope and thought maybe I should finally do something about that. So I did. Chris's Facebook page is now a memorial page. This is me, trying to reenforce some weak places. 

WHAT DAY IS IT?

Cindy Maddera

We're back and I have vacation hangover in that confusing discombobulated (spelled that right on the first try) way where you don't know where you are or what day it is or what the hell am I supposed to be doing right now. We traveled in total, somewhere around 1,743 miles over 10 days. Is that right? Yeah...I think that's right. During most of that time, we had very sketchy cell service. While we were in the mountains, we had zero cell service. I spent part of this morning skimming through emails because I had just as many unread emails in my inbox as miles we travelled. That did not include my inbox for work emails. 

Sorry...I just fell asleep for about ten minutes.

Any way. I have thoughts and stories to tell from our trip. I just need some time to organize it all. I can tell you that being without electricity and cell service for three days was the best part of our trip. I actually spent time journalling and drawing pictures to illustrate our daily activities. I did a lot of practicing the art of being still. There was a nice family from Edmond, OK in our campground with kids near the Cabbage's age. We handed her a walkie-talkie and set her free. At one point, she was actually playing in the dirt, scooping it up into a mound and decorating it with sticks and stones. We sat around the only campfire we were allowed to have during the whole trip because of fire bans. We gazed at stars. And the whole time, I had no idea what was happening in the world outside of our campground. Sometimes, a little oblivion is blissful.

The world came back to us when we came down the mountain and into Pueblo, CO. Anthony Bourdain was found dead in his hotel room. Harvey Weinstein pleaded 'not guilty' to sexual assault charges. Becky DeVos said that the Federal Commission on School Safety would not focus on the role guns play in school violence. A dead whale was found to be full of 18 pounds of plastic. Donald Trump continued to use Twitter to show how gross and ignorant he really is. Same old, same old. Of all the news, it is the death of Anthony Bourdain that hit us the hardest. He made me want to visit and explore places that I would have never even thought to visit and explore. His show educated us about our connections to cultures and each other through food. His voice and his way of telling stories will be missed. 

I have stories to write down. Some are tinted with sadness. Some are laced with joy. But they need some time to brew before they make it here. 

KEEPING HOUSE

Cindy Maddera

We leave Friday morning for our grand camping adventure. Today is Wednesday. Sometime between now and Friday, I need to have my things packed, help make sure the others have their things packed, and the dog needs a bath. These are things that need to be done along with my regular daily things like work (I have a stack of papers to read) and teaching yoga. I probably should do a load of laundry as well just to be sure I have enough underwear. Oh...and clean the blood off the rug where the cat murdered a rabbit last night. The things that I need to do are pulling me away from keeping up with my regular scheduled programming. 

Today I should be telling you about something yoga related. I recently made a purchase that I should have made years ago. I finally broke down and bought a travel yoga mat. I have resisted doing this for years for a number of reasons. First of all, I love love love my Manduka eKO yoga mat. The top layer is firm and I have never had a problem with slipping while on this mat. The bottom layer is squishy and provides a nice cushiony support. Some of you may have looked at the price tag for this yoga mat and gulped. Trust me. I did the same thing the first time I bought this mat. I am now on my second eKO. The first one lasted me almost eight years and is still actually a good mat. It has one spot where the top layer started separating from the bottom layer and I decided that I just needed a new mat. That first mat saw me through yoga teacher training, teaching six hours of yoga a week, a daily personal practice and the death of a husband. I still have this mat. Michael uses it. 

Another reason why I have resisted the purchase of a travel mat is because I am cheap. I see no need to purchase something else when I already have something that performs and works well for me. Except, and this took me some time to figure this out, my eKO mat does not work well for me when traveling. It is big, bulky and heavy. It does not fit in a suitcase, or it does, but it takes up too much space in the suitcase. It barely fits in some overhead compartments. As a result, I end up leaving my yoga mat at home and then I don't do yoga while I'm traveling. Yes, I know I just did a post about not needing your own mat to do yoga, but this is a skill I have only recently acquired. When I saw that I could get a Manduka eKO Light on sale at REI, I snatched it up. I thought "You know Cindy? You have been practice yoga for twenty years. It's time you treated yourself." and this is what I did. The eKO light is basically just the top layer of the eKO. It rolls up skinny and is already shoved under the dinette in the camper. I can't wait roll it out during this camping trip. 

People frequently ask me about yoga mats. How much money they should spend? Who makes the best mat? If you are the kind of person who only steps onto a yoga mat two to three times a week while you are at the gym, then one of those $20 Gaiam mats are perfect. These mats are easy to clean. I used to just throw mine in with towels in the washer and then hang it on the clothes line to dry. These mats, when clean, also grip well and provide some cushion from the hard floor. The more you use a mat, of course, the more you see wear and tear. When you find yourself wearing out the $20 mat more frequently than usual, then you should consider upgrading. I don't know who makes the best mat. Like I said, I really love my Manduka, but I read a lot of reviews before I purchased that mat. Just do your research. If you spend $100 on a mat, you want to be sure that it is going to be durable and last you. I found reading reviews helped me choose a mat that is all of the above. 

There's my unsolicited advice on yoga mats and I am not being paid by Manduka or Gaiam to write this entry. We will be on the road Friday, so I'm just going to say. I am thankful for the reminder to treat myself. I am thankful for new adventures. And I am thankful for you. 

See ya in a week or so. 

 

TOURISTS AND MEMORIALS

Cindy Maddera

There were two places on Michael's list of things he wanted to see in New York that made me pull a face when he said he wanted to see them. One was Times Square. I will admit that I like my fair share of super touristy things, particularly the kitschy stuff, but Times Square is the worst. It's loud and crowded and there are too many TV screens with bright lights flashing advertisements. I believe that actual New Yorkers avoid this area like the plague. We shuffled through on our last evening in the City and Michael now agrees with me. You have to at least experience it once. Every time I think about Times Square, I remember the time that Taluara and I had to walk through to get to a ticket office. A woman stopped Talaura and said "Excuse me, but can you tell me how to get to Times Square?" Talaura replied with "look around, you're here." Then the woman said "No, no...the place where they drop the ball at New Year's" Talaura made a face and then pointed all around "Here. You are in that spot." and then we muscled our way on through the crowd, sighing with relief on the other side.

The second thing on Michael's list was to visit the 9/11 Memorial. Though I have heard that it is a beautiful memorial, it was just something I didn't care to visit. Still, I put on a brave face and went with Michael. That day started out really well. We had a breakfast of lox and bagels at the Chelsea Market. We took a cab from there down the World Trade Tower and stood across the street for bit so I could take pictures. There was a man with a thick German accent waiting with us at the cross walk on that side of the street. He asked me what camera I was using because he was going to let me use his wide angle lens. Unfortunately we did not have compatible cameras, but I was floored that he was just going to offer up the use of thousand dollar lens to a complete stranger. We finally crossed the street and headed over to the memorial.

We stepped up to edge of the memorial and immediately iron bands wrapped around my chest and started to squeeze. I turned on my heel and managed to gasp out "I can't" as I stepped away from the edge of the memorial, leaving Michael standing there slightly at a loss. He asked "are we leaving?" I replied "No. You look and see what you need to see here. I'll just stand over here because I cannot look down into that." By this point, tears were streaming down my face even though I was trying to keep a lightness to my voice and not make a scene. Michael walked over and put his arms around me and we stood like this for a few minutes while I composed myself. I noticed a couple standing with their backs to the memorial, smiles on their faces with their selfie stick raised high. It all made me slightly nauseous and Michael said "let's move on." So we left the main memorial and headed towards a building that looked like it was made of whale bones called The Wings of Hope. Once we were inside, we quickly realized we were in a mall and this left a bad taste in both of our mouths because we thought we were walking into a memorial of some kind. We quickly moved on to look at the Brooklyn Bridge.

The other night I dreamed that J was still alive. He'd been lost in Iraq all this time and when they found him, he was sick. Sand had coated his lungs and he couldn't breath. I was trying to make it to the hospital to talk to him before the doctors intubated him. I woke up with a start, my heart pounding in my chest, my checks damp. I was disoriented and even thought for a second that it was possible J was still alive somewhere in Iraq. Except it's not possible. I remembered my brief glance down into the 9/11 Memorial and how in that very brief glance all I could see was ash and bodies and how this one horrific event changed the molecular structure of the whole country. The impact would have seismic waves that would last and will last for years.

Like a never ending tsunami. 

WHERE'S MY CHEESE

Cindy Maddera

There are only two people at work this morning: me and one of my bosses. Everything got coated in a layer of ice yesterday and today there might be snow. Schools are closed due to weather. Many people are out with the flu. I left for New York with a tiny cough that turned into a big cough with a fever. So I spent two days of my trip downing cold/flu medicine and pretending that I didn't really feel that bad. After taking Sarge on a really long walk on Friday, I gave up with the pretense and laid on the couch for the rest of the day. I was feeling a whole lot better by the time Michael showed up late Friday night, even though I sounded terrible. Sure, there were many times over the following two days where I was forced to breath through my mouth and I had to, at times, resort to using napkins for Kleenex. 

Today, I am back to the daily grind and I am a little bit lost. I've had to look up the day's date four times this morning. I've probably asked "what day is this?" twenty times before noon. I have a whole lot of pictures to sort and edit. I have a whole lot of brain thoughts to sort and edit. I have a whole bunch of new pins to attach to my backpack. Here's the abridged version of two days in New York, until I can get all of those other things taken care of.

  • Steps taken over two days: 46,833.
  • Ethnic foods consumed: Indian, Thai, Chinese, Italian, Jewish Kosher Deli, American (?)
  • Things we saw: The Museum of Natural History, Central Park, Central Station, Tiffany's, St. Patrick's Cathedral, Chelsea Market, 9/11 Memorial, St. Paul's Chapel, Jacob Mould Fountain, New York City Hall, The Brooklyn Bridge, Stone Street, African Burial Ground National Monument, Trinity Church, New York Stock Exchange, The Charging Bull and little girl statue, Federal Hall, Battery Park, Castle Clinton National Monument, The Statue of Liberty, The Stonewall, Theodore Roosevelt's Birthplace National Historic Site, Washington Square Park/Arch, The Strand bookstore, The Flatiron Building, The Empire State Building, Times Square. I'm sure I'm missing something.
  • The number of National Park Stamps acquired: three
  • Pairs of pants purchased: one
  • Pairs of arch inserts purchased: one

I think we did a good job of cramming in as much as possible over the two days of our visit. And once I'm back to a state of mind where I can remember what day it is, I'll tell you more about it. 

747

Cindy Maddera

CBS Sunday Morning had a segment about the 747 airplane being retired from commercial use last week. It's not the first story I've seen or read on the subject. The New York Times ran a nice article about the Early Days on the 747 back in October. The segment on CBS Sunday Morning also talked about the early days of this plane and how no one believed it would be able to get off the ground. It talked about different airlines competing to have the most interesting lounge in the upper deck with bars and even a piano on an American Airlines 747. The 747 was the cruise ship of the skies. 

Way back when I was little and we took that first trip to Hawaii, we flew on a 747 across the Pacific. The memories of that trip are hazy, particularly the actual travel parts, but I do remember being really excited about flying in a 747. I was wearing my nicest church dress. It was one Mom had made for my sister as a Christmas dress and had a layered ruffled skirt. As would be the case with most of my clothes, the dress became mine after my sister out grew it. Mom replaced my sister's dress with a matching dress of the same style, just a different color. Dress clothes were required attire for flying on the stand-by list because you never knew if that open seat was going to be somewhere in coach or up in first class. This was the late 70s, early 80s. People still dressed nice in first class and people still smoked on airplanes. Airlines started phasing out the lounge part of the 747 in the late 70s in order to make room for more seating, but this particular plane still had it's lounge. 

I have fuzzy memories of my sister holding my hand as I followed her down the long isle to the spiral staircase that led up to lounge. The stewardess standing at the bottom of the stairs looked at the wings pinned to our pretty dresses. We always got new wings whenever we flew, even though pins were only meant for first time flights. There was always someone working on the plane who knew Dad, either a pilot, co-pilot or stewardess. Dad knew everyone. There were benefits to that, like wing pins and extra peanut snacks. One time while traveling in first class, my Mom admired the salt and pepper shakers and the stewardess wrapped them up in a napkin and gave them to my Mom. The stewardess on this trip bent down to eye level to talk to us and then pointed up the stairs. She was letting us take a peak. I trailed behind my sister up the spiral stairs and we peaked through the rails. I only remember seeing feet. Shiny loafers. Black dress heels. Fancy cowboy boots. The lounge was dark and filled with cigarette smoke. I remember hearing music and the clink of glass. All of these images where absorbed in seconds before we hurried back down the staircase, giggling, running back to our seats. 

Really, I don't remember a single thing about our flight back home from that trip. I only remember the flight over and I don't think I ever again flew on a 747. The plane Mom and I flew on from Chicago to Heathrow was a big plane, but it was not a 747. It's a shame to see it go. It's a shame they got rid of the lounge. I don't miss the cigarette smoke though, but the whole idea of a lounge on an airplane seemed to make travel a decadent treat. Not the hassle it has become with long lines and very little leg room and the feeling of being squashed into a tin can. The 747 is one of those planes that made the traveling to the destination part of the adventure. I wish I could have ridden on one just one more time. 

 

THANKFUL FRIDAY

Cindy Maddera

The other night, all the dogs around us were barking like mad, including Josephine. I went out to see what the heck was going on and discovered an opossum on our neighbor's back porch. Also, the dog that belongs to one of the houses behind us was in the yard with the opossum. Josephine was barking at the dog who did not belong in that yard and the opossum who did not belong in that yard. Michael went next door to tell the neighbors that there was a large dog in their backyard and maybe to not let out their little Yorkie until things got sorted. No one answered the door. We closed up the dog door to the kitchen and I carted Josephine off to bed. She continued to growl for a good ten minutes at the crazy barking that was still going on outside. 

I must have drifted off at some point, but I woke up to strange sounds that I thought were coming from our basement. It sounded like Michael had taken something down into the basement to kill with a hammer and I could hear him pounding whatever it was. Then I realized that all the dogs had grown silent. I decided that Michael had grabbed the opossum and had dragged it into the basement to murder it just so he could get all the dogs in the neighborhood to shut up. I rolled over and went back to sleep, obviously not disturbed that Michael was murdering something in the basement. He's had to do it before when Albus has brought in half dead rats. 

The next day, I asked Michael about the basement and the murdering of an opossum. He looked at me like I had lost my mind. I described to him the noises I had heard and he said "Do you think that maybe the hammering you heard was really the sound of me breaking up almonds?" Apparently murdering an opossum sounds just like beating up a bag of almonds with a rolling pin. Michael also told me that the police showed up to deal with the dog. We don't know what happened to the opossum. I'm just thankful that Michael didn't murder the opossum. I am also thankful that dog was returned to his own backyard. 

This all seems like an odd moment of gratitude, but my brain is so scattered right now. I tend to get a little anxious before I travel. It's not the flying thing. It's all the packing and getting to places on time that gets me. Did I pack enough clothes? Did I pack the right kind of clothes? Is my baggage going to make it to my destination? That's not really a worry this time because I have a direct flight, but you get the idea. I always feel underprepared. I should have picked out all of the things I want to see at this conference by now. I should have studied a map of San Francisco. I should have done some research into food and yoga places, because San Francisco is the home of Yoga Journal and crazy hippy health foods. Right now, I've decided to leave it all up to chance and just be thankful for the opportunity to go.

I am thankful for snuggle weather where the cat snuggles in on one side of me on the couch and the dog snuggles in on the other side. I am thankful for baked potatoes and macarons. I am thankful for you. Have a lovely weekend and a spectacular Thankful Friday! 

IN DEFENSE OF PAPER MAPS

Cindy Maddera

It happened to Talaura and I when we were in Maine. Most of the time we couldn't get a cell signal while we were out driving around and we'd get stuck waiting for google maps to load so we could figure out where the heck we were. We finally gave up and bought an actual map. You know (or maybe you don't), the paper kind of map that teaches you patience when it's time to fold back up. For those of you who have no idea about paper maps, I am real sorry. My dad had paper maps stashed everywhere. He had a large basket stuffed full of them next to his recliner. The glovebox of his truck was like one of those gag peanut cans but with maps instead of springs. Every truck pocket was jammed full with paper maps and the dashboard would also be littered with them. It drove my mother crazy. 

Michael and I had the same problems with cell service and maps while we were in Wisconsin. Also, that area had gotten a storm a few days prior to our visit that caused flash flooding. Roads and bridges had been washed away. So there was this square of odd and confusing detours that took you down tiny roads that were sometimes paved and sometimes gravel. I took our paper map in with us when we stopped at the Northern Great Lakes Visitors Center and the rangers there were able to highlight a route for us that would take us around closed roads. Sunday morning, when we left Randy and Katrina's, we decided to stay on Route 66 as long as we could and avoid the interstates completely. After looking at maps on my phone for about ten minutes, I said "I don't want to do this one my phone!" I was tired and part of my brain was still gunky from all the limoncello I'd had the night before. So, Michael pulled over and bought one Oklahoma map and one Missouri map and then we proceeded to take the longest possible way home.

It was glorious. We traveled along most Route 66 all the way into Baxter Springs, KS and then followed Hwy 69 up through Kansas and on into the city. We stopped at a roadside fruit stand and bought fresh corn and peaches. We wandered around Ed Galloway's Totem Pole Park and admired a corvette club traveling through from Illinois. We saw a bicyclist pulled over near an old ranch. We noticed that the cyclist was prepared for a long haul with large saddle bags and a small trailer. We turned around to check on him because we'd just heard the weatherman say something about a heat index of 102. The cyclist was an older Japanese man who did not speak much english. We made sure that he was OK and that he had enough water and then we left him there wishing we'd asked him way more questions. It's my biggest regret of yesterday. I regret not getting his picture. I regret not finding out where he was on his trip. Did he start in California or Chicago? I really regret not getting his story. 

We travelled on to Baxter Springs where we stopped in at the Historic Vintage Service Station to buy a pin and a car sticker. We spent some time talking with Dean "Crazy Legs" Walker who was manning the station. He told us how to get out to the Rainbow Bridge and about where to see the original tow truck that inspired Mater. We drove out to the bridge and took pictures and then we headed north towards Ft. Scott. We stopped at the Fort and got stamps in our National Parks Passport and all along the way, we discussed the logistics of doing a scooter trip of Route 66. Michael kept talking about needing some sort of support driving team for parts where we can't ride on 66 and how we'd have to do it two trips. I think he's making it more complicated than it needs to be. We pack light, rent a Uhaul to get us to Chicago with the scooters, ride the scooters to California and the rent a Uhaul to drive them back to KCMO. Done. If that guy can fit all the things he needed for the trip into a tiny bicycle trailer and two bags, we can fit everything on the scooters. 

It took us about eight hours to get home yesterday when usually that's about a four hour drive. We were exhausted by the time we made it home and in the back of my head, I was a little annoyed with myself for not pushing to get us home sooner. I'm behind on laundry and the bathroom needs to be cleaned. We both had things to get ready for work the next day. Instead, we moved at a snail's pace.

And we had the best day.

THANKFUL FRIDAY

Cindy Maddera

I've started something big and it wasn't even all that hard to do. All I had to do was send Michael a couple of images of various popup trailers with toy hauler attachments and he was hooked. I let him drag me out to the suburbs on Saturday so we could go to a couple of RV dealerships. I thought it was the least I could do since I planned on having him assemble all the shelves and boxes we bought from IKEA that day. The first place we went to made me angry. They didn't have anything on their giant lot that we were looking for and we were inside the office area for over ten minutes before someone asked us if we'd been helped. I told Michael that if it had been up to me we would have left ten minutes ago, but I let it go because Michael has questions and is new to the world of RVs and campers. The second place we went to had exactly what we were looking for on display inside an air conditioned building. If Michael had a hitch already installed on his truck, we would have purchased it right then and there. 

Every day since, Michael has talked non stop about the popup trailer, where and how we can store the popup trailer, how the toy hauler addition might add too much weight to the popup, the possibilities of getting both scooters in the bed of his truck and racks for the day we get kayaks. When he's not talking about those things, he's talking about where we are going to go next. This is my favorite part. Michael really hasn't seen much of this country and he's realizing just how much there is to see. Though I was dragged all over the southern half of the United States in my youth, there's still plenty of great landmarks in this country yet for me to see. I had no idea that when I wrote that entry a few weeks ago about traveling that I was planting magic beans. And oh boy, how that beanstalk is growing. That trip to Wisconsin was just the sprout of the beanstalk. I am thankful for what this magic bean is growing into and it's not just growing into the shape of a trailer. This magic bean is growing into a world of adventure and I am thankful that those vines have tangled Michael up with it. 

I am sure that Michael will spend the weekend discussing trailers and hitches with my brother, who is a good source of information on these things. We are traveling to OK for my great-nephew's wedding. My GREAT-nephew is getting married. That tiny little goofball who couldn't keep his balance in the crooked house at Silver Dollar City and kept falling over because he was so small is getting married. Realistically, in a year or two, he and his wife could have a baby. That would mean that my brother could be a great grandfather by age fifty eight. Good Lord, I can't even. It makes me feel a hundred and eight years old even though I've had two people this week tell me that they thought I was thirty one or thirty two. (I am thankful for those people.) I am thankful for the kind of young man Jr has grown into. I am thankful that he is happy. I am thankful for the time I'm going to get with my family this weekend.

I am thankful for the collard greens from the garden. I am thankful for a clean house. I am thankful that Josephine is back to her 100% crazy running foolery self. I am thankful that I finally finished the first season of Stranger Things because I could not take much more of the anxiety it was causing me. I am thankful for magic beans and I am always thankful for you.

Here's to a weekend of celebration and a wonderfully Thankful Friday. 

 

WANDER FEVER

Cindy Maddera

I know that Friday entries are usually devoted to gratitude and this week I am very grateful for a number of things. It's just that I have other things on my mind these days. The clutter in my head makes me want to get on a bus and go for a really long ride. After we left the REI store and the couple with the great teardrop camper on Monday, Michael and I headed over to a grocery store for no reason in particular. When we came out of the store and there was a guy sitting in a VW Westfalia camper van parked right next to our scooters. He was very nice as I invited myself to stick my head in the window and look around. 

Later on over dinner, Michael and I discussed what kind of traveling setup we should go with. Do we get a camper? If we get a camper, how do we haul the scooters? What kind of vehicle should we get to pull everything? Finally at some point in the discussion of camper vs motorhome, I said "I don't think the vehicle matters. I don't think that's the point. It's the journey that matters." I just want to go. I just want to get in the car and go. I don't want to have to think about it. I. Just. Want. To. Go. Yesterday, my friend Scott posted something about raspberries being ready for picking and come on over and get some. They live in Utah, but I couldn't think of anything more that I wanted to do. Before I knew it, I was looking at a map and driving times. I just suddenly, so badly wanted to, no, needed to squeeze Shelly and Scott's faces between my two hands. Which is ridiculous because we haven't seen each other in ages and our only contact is through Instagram and Facebook. 

I've never been to Utah. I'm sure there are stamps I could get along the way. Did I tell you guys I lost our National Parks Passport? No? Well, sometime after getting the last stamp in Acadia and dropping off the rental car, I lost our parks passport and I'm really sad about it. It is just so unlike me to lose something like this that Michael and I have both been a little stunned and just expecting it to appear on my desk one day. I don't think that's going to happen. My wanderlust is not coming from guilt to reclaim some stamps though. For as long as I can remember, this has always been the time of year when we'd load up the camper and head West, into the mountains to escape the Oklahoma summer. This is road trip season. It has been imprinted into my DNA to long for the open road and to throw everything in a car/van/truck and head West or anywhere really. 

I can't understand why I haven't figured out a way to make it easier to escape for a weekend at least. The car should always be packed with a tent and a sleeping bag and the plastic tote containing all the cooking supplies. Instead the gear is spread out and scattered between the garage and the basement. Now I'm thinking that this is how I should spend my time this weekend, gathering supplies and preparing for a little spontaneity in my life. I have to plane out spontaneity. I want to be surrounded by forest. I want to sit for hours listening to the sounds of a stream and maybe even hold a fishing pole in my hands. When's the last time I did that? I can tell you. August 2006. That was the last trip I took with my Dad to Colorado. We all thought if we fled Oklahoma that year, we could escape the horrific memories of the year before. Of course we were wrong because those horrific memories continue to haunt us in different ways and will for the rest of our lives, but we finally saw a bear. So..that was something. 

I guess if this was still a Thankful Friday entry, I'd be thankful for that last trip to Colorado. I'd be thankful for catching as many trout as I could eat and then some. I'd be thankful for that moment in the middle of the night where I got up to go to the bathroom and as I walked back to my tent, I looked up into the night sky. The view of the universe made me dizzy, like sitting in the front row of an IMAX screen. I'd be thankful for being able to witness those two little otters playing in the street and thankful that we didn't hit them with the car. I'd be thankful for that bear. I'd be thankful for Dad imprinting traveling across the country into my DNA. I'd be thankful for the time.

THIS IS HAPPENING

Cindy Maddera

I woke up Sunday morning and turned on the TV for CBS Sunday Morning and got nothing. I down graded our cable plan weeks ago to just high speed internet. We knew this was coming, but I just didn't think it would be so sudden and dramatic. We have to hook up an antenna to get the local TV channels. In the meantime, I ended up watching CBS Sunday Morning through the CBS News app on the Roku. When the show ended, I sat on the couch with my coffee mug and thought "now what do I do?" Turns out I've been devoting a lot of my Sundays mindless watching crap on TV and when I no longer had over three hundred channels to scroll through, I didn't know what to do with myself. 

I really have to pack. I've really done nothing but clean the trash out of my backpack and I'm leaving tomorrow morning for Cold Spring Harbor to attend a conference on nuclear organization and function. I keep saying this to myself over and over because I think that maybe if I say it enough times I'll actually be smart enough to attend this conference. I am feeling intimidated by my conference selection. Then I remind myself that I am not presenting a talk or a poster. My whole job is to go and learn. Relax and learn! That's really about all I can do. It's in a pretty isolated area and is very much a sleep, eat, conference kind of conference. I'm still a little anxious about it and I am having a hard time planning out my wardrobe because I don't understand weather. But also because I'm not just packing for this conference. 

I am also packing for a few days in Maine. Friday morning, I'll leave from the conference to meet Talaura at JFK . From there, we'll fly to Portland Maine where we plan on Thelma and Louise-ing (minus the dramatic suicide) up the Maine coast. My goal is to eat a scallop the size of my hand and take some pretty pictures. Maybe I'll work on acquiring a Maine accent. It's moose season, so I'm expecting to see a moose and I might even step into Canada. I've packed my passport. Hey! That's one thing I've packed. I'm still trying to figure out how to pack shoes or what shoes to even pack. 

I don't really know what if anything is going to happen in this space this week. I may get a chance to tell you about the AIDS Walk and how it rained like usual, but then the sun came out just as we all started to walk. I may mention something about how we had to pick something we all wanted to watch from Netflix and the Cabbage saw the Anamaniacs and said "Oh, I love the Anamaniacs!" This is probably my most favorite thing she's said in forever. I don't know. I don't know if any of those things will get blogged about. It all depends on free time and brain power. I just thought I'd give everyone a heads up in case a week goes by without me posting here and the few readers I have get all worried about me. Don't worry about me.

LOVE THURSDAY

Cindy Maddera

In two years, Michael will finish his Masters. To celebrate, we've been planning a big trip to Italy.  It is pretty much all Michael talks about. It started out as a one week trip that has now grown into this grand adventure across Europe. We talk about flying into where ever is cheaper and spending a week backpacking like young college students, slowly making our way into Italy. There's a villa that sits somewhere between Florence and Rome that provides Vespas and maps for all the guests. We talk about spending a week riding scooters all over the Tuscan country side. The last week will be spent eating pizza along the Amalfie Coast. Of course, this is the current plan. Most of that right now is just dream planning.

Dream planning is part of the fun though. The other night Michael was trying to find the cheapest place to fly into right now and he came up with places like the Netherlands and Sweden. I immediately envisioned us dressed in sturdy wool coats with red stocking caps on our heads and large army like backpacks on our backs. We would prop our heavy hiking boot laden feet up on the empty train seats across from us and lean against one another with my head resting on his shoulder. I know this is all wrong. We will be travelling in the summer time and I will not need a heavy wool coat, probably just a sweater, but there we were riding the Euro Rail down through Sweden into Germany where we'd stop for a beer and a pretzel. Next stop would be France and maybe even a day or two in Paris so that I could stand at the top of the Montmartre Steps like Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face with my arms spread wide, singing "Bonjour Pari!" and then we would be off to Rome and the rest of Italy. I see us zipping along on our scooters past fields of grapes and little farms surrounded by long-eared goats. I'm going to eat so much bread and cheese.

There is a very real fear that Michael will lose me to the Amalfie Coast. There is a very real fear that I will lose myself to the Amalfie Coast, deciding that this is the place I need to be for the rest of my life. Michael mentioned putting his name on the deed to my house so he will at least have a place to live when he comes back to the states without me. I told him we should just plan on buying a retirement home there and be done with it.  He'll get a little fishing boat and I'll get a couple of goats. We'll eat fish and goat cheese and grow pots of basil and rosemary. I'll wear a giant sun hat all the time. In the meantime we are learning Italian. Michael is ahead of me, already  moving onto phrases while I'm still working on plurals and food. Last night Michael handed me a fork, to which I responded with "grazie." He responded with "prego!" Then he handed me a plate of food and again I said "grazie." and again he responded with "prego." So we had a whole conversation in Italian. 

Dream planning sounds like I think that we may not ever really take this trip. That's far from true. I know that someday we will go to Italy. I don't know if it will be the three week grand adventure just like the one we've been talking about, but I do know that it will be a grand adventure of some sorts. Dream planning a vacation is very much like planning your dream house. It may be a little bit crazy and over the top but who cares? It's YOUR dream. We could go on this trip in two years and not end up doing half of the stuff we talked about, but at least some of that dream is going to come true. So why not dream big?

Dream big for today's Love Thursday.

LOVE THURSDAY

Cindy Maddera

I've been dreaming of a getaway. Every email that's come in promoting a chance to win a trip to Peru, Paris, Thailand, Any where, I have diligently entered. Last Saturday, we took the Cabbage up to a farm just north of Kansas City. Kansas City is strange. It is a city, urban sprawl and everything, but just barely another five miles north, south, east or west of it is all farmland, rolling hills and forests. It's like you hit an urban sprawl wall and just on the other side is corn fields. So, any way, Saturday, 45 minutes north of us, we were frolicking on a farm, riding ponies, picking apples, and feeding chickens. Then we were loading up a wheelbarrow with pumpkins. Or I loaded up a wheelbarrow with pumpkins while Michael looked at me with raised eyebrows and the ticker tape of "really?" running across his forehead. What? The Cabbage picked out the tiniest pumpkin. I can't carve that! 

While we were in the apple orchard, the Cabbage and Michael ran off hunting apples as I strolled slowly along the path with my camera. It was nice in the orchard. Warm. The trees blocked the cold wind. The sun was so bright it made everything look techno color. I inhaled deeply catching the smell of farm animals and rotting apples, which doesn't sound pleasant, but really is kind of nice and I thought "wouldn't it be great to just spend a weekend strolling?". I got home that evening and looked into some bed and breakfast places in that area. All of them are booked right through Thanksgiving. 

It should come as no surprise that this urge to pack up some bags and a good book and running off to some remote area should hit me just as construction begins on the bathroom renovation. I greeted the guy in charge of construction Wednesday morning (he was an hour late) and left him with a key. I headed to work with a knotted stomach. Talaura and Michael both did their fair share of talking me down and assuring me that all would be fine. All will be fine. It's going to be just fine. But honestly, I've had this travel fever for some time now, way before we signed up to have the bathroom remodeled. 

There's something about packing and preparing to go to someplace new. That anticipation of what's to come, the excitement of staying in a new place. Jumping on a hotel bed. Eating vacation food. All of those things are lovely things that I am craving. So for today's Love Thursday we are going to play a game. We're going to pack a suitcase for an adventure. You can go anywhere. I'm going to pack jeans, comfortable walking shoes, layering t-shirts, a comfortable sweater, maybe a nice skirt and sandals and a rain jacket. My passport is tucked into the side pocket of my camera bag. I've downloaded a copy of Rick Steve's guide to Italy and I've brought along a couple of empty SD cards. 

What's in your suitcase?