Thursday, March 23, 2017

On leaving one's child 3000 miles away

This portion of This Crazy Trip has been put into place because Matt wanted to move to California to help a friend raise and show her Siberian Huskies and to take care of, as she said, "about 92 Ball Pythons." Matt is our youngest child. He's 22, not a baby and yet, hasn't really been an adult yet, I suppose. Letting him go has been hard and yet, I'm proud of him for deciding what he wants and going for it.

Yesterday, we drove the final 631 miles of our trip, leaving Kassy and the boys in Arizona and driving through southern California and up through the Inland Empire to Winton, near Merced and Fresno.  That is where I stepped out of the car and left my man-child in the hands of other people. 

I'm filled with sorrow and happiness.  I'm filled with pride and despair.  I'm looking forward to hearing his adventures and trying to figure out how life will go without having him around all the time. 

This was the purpose of our trip and now that its here, I'm very grateful that my sister Linda was here to pick me up.  She hugged me and bought me ice cream and got us a hotel room so we didn't have to drive two more hours - plus she had clients to see in the area, so that was good.  And now I have four days with family and friends in California before hopping on a train that will start me on my journey home.

Our last travel day was filled with beautiful scenery, massive rain storms (who says it doesn't rain in California? It does this year!!) and recollections of home.  Matt got sillier and giddier the closer we got to Winton.  We listened to the same songs over and over again on the Alt Rock station on Matt's XM radio.  I'm not sure I'll ever get Silvertongue by Young the Giant out of my brain. LOL

But as we drove further north, especially driving through the Tehachapi area, it felt more and more like home to me.  I recognized more places that I visited as a child.  I felt more relaxed and happy, brushing away the realizations that I was leaving my baby there in a few hours. 

So, as we got to Winton and I met Krystal and her family (including the four-legged and slithery ones), I enjoyed talking with them and learning more about them.  I felt comfortable with them.  I felt like they cared about their animals and were knowledgeable about caring for them and showing the dogs.  And then, I found out that they were also Latter-day Saints!  How could Matt have kept that from me?  It was weird, but as soon as I knew that, I knew more about the kind of people that they are and my heart was eased.  Matt got in trouble for not telling me that from all sides.  LOL

So, today, even though I'm tearing up a bit now writing about it, I'm happy for him.  I like Krystal and Laura, her mom; and her daughter Klarissa and her sister Maleeseea (sorry if I butchered the spelling there.)  I hope and pray that this move will be a great one for them and that Matt will find what he needs for his life here. 

Letting go of my baby is hard.  Watching him step out and grow up is wonderful. 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

This will be a long one!

Hi all,
We've been a long way since my last post two days ago. We've left rocks in Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and I'm getting ready to go put the Arizona rock at a shopping center in Prescott Valley, AZ.  :)  It's been fun to get feedback on the photos I've posted on Facebook.  I still can't get my phone and blogger to see each other.  Blogger only sees photos up to 2015 for some reason, which doesn't help at all!

After leaving Indiana, where Matt drove across nearly the whole state, I drove across Illinois and into Missouri.  We thought about putting the rock near the Arch in St. Louis, but decided not to deal with the traffic.  Next plan was to put it in Columbia which is two hours down I-70 and which is where my husband Bob is from. As soon as we got close to Columbia it started POURING down rain!  It continued until we got out of Columbia and were only a couple of miles down the road.  It was so funny - it was like a bucket was turned over above Columbia.  So, we continued toward Kansas City, another two hours away.  Matt decided he wanted some good KC Barbecue and I know that Jack Stack Barbecue is one of the best, so we stopped there before going to my in-laws house.  However, Jack Stack is in Overland Park, KANSAS, so we put out the Kansas rock before we put out the Missouri one!

We stayed with my in-laws that night and got to play our normal Chicken Foot Dominos game which is always a lot of fun with a lot of teasing going on.  I love Nancy and Dave and am thrilled to have had the most wonderful in-laws, including Bob's Dad Thurman who passed away many years ago. 

The next morning as we were leaving KC, I saw some signs on the side of the road where the Oregon Trail crossed the area.  Back in 1805, my great-great Grandparents, William M. Bland, Belinda Long Bland and their family crossed the plains in a covered wagon, leaving from Springfield Missouri and heading up to the Oregon Trail.  That means that my great grandfather, Thomas Warren Bland, Sr., had walked the very spot when he was five years old. (I'm pretty sure he was five, he was very young - I'll have to go look it up.)  It made me choke up, thinking of their little family of boys walking all the way to Oregon!  They had two wagons, one for the people and one for the food and belongings, however, Belinda was very pregnant when they left and had her son Isaac as they crossed Nebraska, so she was in the wagon much of the time.  I can't even imagine. It made me very grateful for our air conditioned car since it was 88 degrees in KC that day. 

Driving through Kansas on the Kansas Turnpike, we saw some smoke off in the distance.  It was billowing and spreading across the sky, so something had been on fire for a while.  There were many signs about controlled blazes in the area, so that's what we figured it probably was.  As we got closer, we saw huge flames coming from a stand of pine trees, and we didn't see any trucks or people nearby, who would have been present for a controlled burn.  So, I called 911 and told them about it.  I told him it was at mile marker 60, so while he was trying to locate it, I explained what we'd seen and said that it was next to a bridge or overpass.  This perked him up.  "It was by a bridge?" he asked. I replied yes, that the bridge was 57 point something, (since they all have numbers on them) but that it probably didn't help much since they all had similar numbers and I didn't know the rest.  "No," he replied, "that helps a lot!"  Oh good!  I hope they caught it before it burned too much more!

As we drove south to Oklahoma, (which does NOT have a state sign on I-35! grrr,) we set up to meet with a friend of mine, Matt East, for lunch in Moore.  Matt and I were both jurors on a photoshop, photography and writing website called Worth1000 for many years.  I've known him over 10 years but until that day, hadn't ever met him in person!  Since he's now online friends with several of my family members, we decided to adopt him.  LOL  It was great to meet him finally.

We continued through Oklahoma and were planning to stay in Amarillo, Texas, but decided to continue on a bit farther, and ended up staying in Tucumcari, New Mexico last night, driving straight into the sunset as we drove west. I tried to drive behind semi-trucks as often as possible to block the sun in my face.  Didn't happen often enough!  We got up this morning and left with the sunrise, which thankfully was behind us. The temperature hit 100 degrees while we were crossing from Oklahoma to Texas.  Super hot for March!  The other thing that amazed me was the sheer number of wind turbines across southern Oklahoma and the panhandle of Texas.  Absolutely incredible.  I wonder how much it saves on electricity and fossil fuel for the states?

So, early this morning we left Tucumcari, New Mexico and traveled toward Arizona.  I love the stark beauty of New Mexico.  I am positive that Matt was a little fed up with me continually saying, "Oh my gosh! Look at that!  So gorgeous!"  ha!

My friend Mary Catherine messaged me from where she currently lives in England to tell me about a restaurant to try in Albuquerque which just cracked me up that we have the technology to do such a thing!  The lady at the gas station where we stopped agreed that they are terrific but then warned us that there's a lot of road construction in that area and it's taking a really long time since it's down to just one lane.  We decided to sadly miss going to Frontier Restaurant for a burrito, left the New Mexico rock in front of the Hobby Lobby that was nearby, got back on Route 40 and continued heading west.

I stopped for pictures at the Continental Divide in NM, then as we continued through Arizona, I tried to talk Matt into standing on a corner in Winslow Arizona so I could take his picture.  In typical Matt style, he lowered his head, looking up through his eyebrows and slowly asked, "Whhhyyyy?" I played "Take It Easy" for him and he still didn't think it was funny.  So I said that *I* would stand on the corner and he could take MY picture.  No. Then he continued, "And that's probably the stupidest thing you've wanted to do on this trip."  Sigh.  I thought it would be funny!  We kept driving.

We were about to run out of gas at one point, just before getting to Flagstaff Arizona.  We could have made it but the drive through the mountains was eating more gas mileage than the drive on the prairies.  So, we stopped at a little place off Route 40 and paid thirty-five cents more a gallon for gas than we had been paying!!! Yikes!  There was a very gaunt couple sitting next to a wall with their dog and some meager possessions with a sign saying, "Very Hungry."  They looked it.  I asked Matt if he minded if I gave them our snacks.  He said that was fine, so I took a bag of juices and snacks and told them that it wasn't much but they were welcome to have it.  They were thrilled and the small bag of Doritos and the box of Pepperidge Farm cookies were gone before we'd finished pumping gas.  It made me happy that I could help a little bit.  I tend to be hesitant sometimes because the people don't really look like they are really in need, but this couple very much did. If the gas station had had food, I would have bought them more.

So, we snuck up on Kassy, since she thought we were coming tomorrow.  She was still in California this morning and is hurrying home so we can see her and the boys. We'll have time to have dinner together and have hugs and that will be about it.

Matt wants to drive the nearly 700 miles tomorrow rather than stopping another night.  We'll see if we can do it!  He's driven about 400 miles of the 2100 that we've come so far.  So, if my behind holds out, we'll give it a shot.  Long day!

I had a mental list of all of the plusses and minuses of the trip so far.  Sadly, I don't remember much of any of it.  No funny names.  No great thoughts.  Just a lot of driving with Matt.  I'm enjoying being with him and that's enough. 

Take care! 

Saturday, March 18, 2017

We are on our way!

This morning Matt and I left Maryland heading for California. We dropped off rocks in Maryland, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Indiana. It was really fun to be there as people found them in WV and IN. I didn't expect to see that.

I posted pictures on my Facebook page (Judi Bland Stull) and haven't been able to get them to post on here yet. I will, just not today. So, here are some thoughts about our first 600 miles:

1. There are some really funny place names.
       My favorite city/town name for today was Big Otter, WV. Matt apparently read an article about the towns in each state that have the dirtiest names. Strangely, we stopped for lunch in the one for Kentucky. Morehead. It never, ever crossed my mind to think of it that way! Lol Another good one was Hurricane, WV - no bodies of water are even close, so how in the heck did it get named Hurricane?

2. The second was my deep thought for the day.
       As I was driving through the Appalachian mountains this morning, the road twisted and turned, bringing the sun to my left or right or behind me in turn. It made me think about how, when we have a goal in mind, we don't often travel from Point A to Point B in a straight line. We twist and turn and it may feel like we are going in completely the wrong direction, but if we are focused on our goal, we will get there in the end. So much of my life has been to just have faith that I'm going the right direction, trusting the Lord to be my roadmap and compass and knowing that He is steering me in the right direction. Sometimes my detours feel like I'm going the wrong way and as I keep my eyes on the end goal, I will eventually get there.

3. I love my son.
       Of course I love all of my sons. That's a given. I just was struck today with all of the long trips Matt and I have taken together. We travel well together. I like that. Having him move to California is tough and I'm really going to miss him. I keep trying to remember that I did this very thing to my parents when I met Bob, got engaged 5 days later, then moved from California to Missouri two months later. Maybe this is payback? :)  Either way, I love Matt and am so glad we are getting this 5 or 6 days together. It's a balm for my heart.

As always, have a terrific day! Talk to you all soon and will hopefully get some pictures together when my phone and the blog talk to each other.

Heading out in the morning!

My shortened version of This Crazy Trip begins in the morning.  Matt and I are both packed, we have snacks and juice, and a travel plan.  At some point, I'll get to put rocks out for Maryland, West Virginia, and Kentucky tomorrow.  I'll post hints and pictures as we go, so hopefully someone will find them and share it on here or on Instagram!

Monday, March 6, 2017

State Flag Rocks!

Since my youngest son, Matt, has decided to move to California, we are taking an abbreviated version of This Crazy Trip.

I returned all of the money I received from my GoFundMe account, thinking that I wasn't going to be able to go.  It was the right thing to do.  And now, I do get to go, at least part of the way.

We are leaving Maryland on the 19th of March and will travel through West Virginia and stop in Kentucky for the night.  On the 20th, we'll travel through Indiana and Illinois and will stay with my in-laws in Missouri.  The 21st, we'll travel on through Kansas and Oklahoma and will stay in Texas.  The 22nd will include New Mexico, and Arizona, where we'll stay with my daughter-in-law and get to see the grandkids. Then the 23rd will bring us to California where we will travel up to the Merced area.

On the 24th, I'll leave Matt there, will probably cry for the rest of the day and will spend the 24th through the morning of the 27th with my sister, Linda near Sacramento.   The 27th, I'll catch the Amtrak train, the "California Zephyr" heading to Chicago.

That train stops in Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, and Illinois.  Then I'll switch to the "Capitol Limited" train with stops in Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Washington, DC. So, I'll be able to put out rocks in at least 12 states.  I'm bringing the ones for the train trip also, just in case I can leave them in the other 7 states and D.C.  I'm not sure how long the stops are in each location.

So, keep an eye out for the State Flag Rocks.  If you've found one, please take a picture of it and tell where it was found. Use the hashtag #ThisCrazyTrip in your post. You can either keep the rock or hide it somewhere else in the state for someone else to find!  I'm excited about doing this!  It's not quite what I had in mind, since I won't be staying with many people.  I am happy to be spending these days with Matt, though.  And I've never been on a three-day train ride before!  Should be a fun experience.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

GoFundMe account is open

Oops, the link doesn't work.  It's a widget, not a link. LOL  Look for the widget on my page!

I've had so many topics running around in my head for posts lately and haven't been able to get even one of them written.  I'll be back, hopefully later today, to get the rest of them written.  In the meantime, here's the Go Fund Me widget for my account.  :)  Can you help with my crazy social media experiment?  Will you sponsor me for a tank of gas or a breakfast burrito at McDonalds?  Anything will help.  Thank you so much!! I can't wait to see all of you!

Friday, September 9, 2016

It's ON!

Hi Friends!  I am working diligently to get This Crazy Trip up and running.  Since I decided to leave in January in the hopes that people would be more interested in loaning me a car or camper during the "off season," I'm having to revamp the whole trip from the one planned 2 years ago before surgeries.

I'll be starting off to the South, for one thing, instead of to the North.  Many of the people I'd planned to stay with have either moved and sadly, a few have passed away.  With my mom feeling frantic about me sleeping in a tent (especially at Yellowstone) when I don't have a place to stay, I've been working on getting a small camper instead of a car, so I can just stay in the camper.  That means, though, that my gas prices are going to be higher.

So far, I've written down every person I know who is in each state, categorizing everyone as either "1" - they said I can stay with them, or someone I don't need to ask
"2" - people I would feel comfortable asking if I can stay
"3" - people I'm not sure I know well enough to ask
"4" - single guys, Public Figures that I'm friends with, or others I wouldn't feel comfortable asking to stay with, but that I'd still like to meet or at least say "hi" to.

I've also compiled many lists from all over the web which I'm mapping:
The Oldest Restaurant in each state
The Best Restaurant in each state
The One Thing to Do In Each State
33 Most Beautiful Places in America
The One Can't-Miss Event in Every State - which was from 2015 and sadly, I believe only one of
         them is between January and May
A State by State Guide to the 50 Coolest Things to do in America
The Best Ice Cream in each state (which my body won't allow me to do now)
Fodor's 20 Places to See in the U.S. Before You Die
The Most Beautiful Spot in Each State
U.S. Landmarks to see according to that "perfect trip" meme
Strange Roadside Attractions in each state
The Weirdest Roadside Attraction in each state (some of which are the same)
50 Natural Wonders
and the National Park Service guide to parks.

I've also added in all of the U.S. Temples for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and all of the restaurants mentioned by Diners, Drive ins and Dives.

Right now, I'm color coding a map for each state with all of those items and all of the cities where my friends live so I can mark my exact (or nearly exact) route and know how many miles I'll be traveling.  I'd really love to not travel on Sundays, if at all possible.  The only practical way I can do that is if I can have someone loan me a camper instead of a car.

I've also started writing to the U.S. Senators for each state to see if I can come talk with them here in DC (or someone from their offices) about their states. I'd like to know if there's anything I'm missing that I really should see, or if there's something they'd want me to note and write about when I visit their state. Not having any responses so far, except to see on a couple of their websites that they only make time for their constituents.  I know the new session started this week, so they're likely to be swamped and with the election coming up, I may not be able to visit with anyone.

I've got my packing list done, for with a camper or with a car.  I've got 4" white quilt squares from my fabric stash that I'll have people write or draw on.  And I've got blank journals for my notes and for the people I'll visit along the way.

Next on the list are to:
Send letters to all of the restaurants on my route to see if they'll comp me a meal when I'm there
Send letters to the places I'd like to stop that aren't already free to see if I can get free entry
Go to the Bank on Monday and open a new account that's just for this trip
Check out GoFundMe to see if that's a viable option for getting help paying for gas and for food that's not comped
And contacting the National Park Service to get an Annual Pass for free.
And I'd really love some instruction on how to better use my cameras and to put pictures on this blog correctly.

I contacted Cruise America today to see about getting a camper.  I figured it would be best to use a national company who would benefit the most from me "advertising" them all over.  If that doesn't work, I'll start contacting local car companies and rental agencies.  No luck with getting a car through Priceline.  They were offering cars for $5 a day - that didn't seem such a stretch to be FREE for a day. LOL  I'd also contacted a couple of rental agencies when I started this and wasn't successful, however, maybe they'll have changed their mind by now.

So... that's where I stand.  Still definitely in the planning stages and a huge jump further than I was last week.  I'm getting excited!! Bob's getting more morose.  LOL

Stay tuned! It's coming together!