In a week, I will be leaving the old New England farmhouse which, during the past quarter century, has been my only home, to spend several months in the California desert.
My upcoming journey from point A to point B will take place over five six days, four five nights, and approximately 3,000 miles in a 2012 Prius C with a dog and cat as traveling companions. This is our story. One dog. One cat. One bold crone. (At 62 years old, I am admittedly a very young crone, but unquestionably no spring chicken.)
If you would like to follow along, the place to do so is here. Check back for updates or subscribe to the RSS feed and be notified of new postings. See you on the road! 🌵OBC🦉
It might have made sense to adjust my circadian rhythm to West Coast time when I moved to California for the winter, but that’s not what happened.
To be fair, I still am working full time for an East Coast company, so as far as my workday is concerned, 6 to 2 is the new 9 to 5.
Fairness aside, it is somewhat strange to wake every morning, even on weekends, in deep darkness. And of course, my animals’ daily rhythms mimic my own. Not necessarily in terms of sleep — let’s face it, they sleep all day, no matter what! But in terms of feeding, and toileting, which in Timi’s case requires walking, which brings me to this morning.
Around 4:30 AM as I was stretching and yawning in bed, Timi made it clear he needed to go out. Still in my PJs, I bundled up California desert style (down vest, scarf and hat, UGG boots) and out we ventured, into the 48° darkness.
Having seen it rise the previous night, I knew the moon would be full, so naturally I looked for it. (One of the greatest advantages to waking up extra early is the opportunity for pre-dawn sky viewing.)
Sure enough, there she was, saucer-round and spotlight-bright, going down behind the San Jacinto Mountains which flank this valley and are thrillingly located right across the street, on the other side of Highway 111.
I did not have my camera with me, or I would have snapped a photo for you. Instead, I allowed myself to be present in the fleeting moment of moonset, bathed in silver light. Then I came home and found, lying on the plush grass under our lemon tree in the darkness, what appeared to be an orange. But it was not an orange. It was a giant lemon! A lemon so ripe, fat and juicy it had grown nearly as round as the full moon.
This reminded me of an old story. I was a little girl, only four or five. My dad and I were driving into New York City in our 1956 Ford Thunderbird—gunmetal gray, with white and red interior—having one of our deep conversations. Apparently, I’d been noticing how the sun moves across the sky and I was curious about day and night, so Dad was explaining how it all worked.
“Imagine the sun is a lemon,” he began, “floating in the sky.” He held up his hand as if to place a lemon in the air, and I imagined it suspended there. “No—imagine the sun is an orange,” he re-suggested, thinking it a better solar representative. “The sun is an orange, burning bright and round.” Following along intently, I now imagined the orange.
Dad then went on to choose an apple for the earth, hung it in the imaginary sky near to the orange, and explained how the orange never moved, but the apple was spinning. It spun around once a day on its “axis”, and depending which side of the apple was facing the orange, that side would be in daylight. The other side would be in night. As the apple (Earth) continued to spin, its dark side would eventually turn to face the orange (Sun). That is why to the teeny tiny people living on the apple, the orange appeared to be “coming up,” even though it truly wasn’t moving at all!
I paid really, really close attention to this entire lesson, and when it was complete, I understood! The sun stayed in place, the earth turned, and as a result night and day occurred! However, one question remained.
“But, Daddy—What about the lemon?”
What about the lemon, indeed! My father burst out laughing. He loved this story so much that upon our arrival, he told it to the friend we’d been on our way to visit in New York. This friend loved the story so much, too, he soon sent me an unexpected gift: a realistic cardboard solar system mobile from the Museum of Natural History. This extraordinary present was assembled and hung from the canopy foot of my fourposter bed, accompanying me through childhood. I have not seen it in many decades, but I remember it well.
Meanwhile, I have a new idea. Tell me, what do you think? The lemon can be… the moon. 🌵OBC🦉
P.S. Tonight, the full moon will pass in front of and “occult” (block out) Mars for about an hour and a half. Watch this celestial dance live and close up on the Rancho Mirage Library and Observatory YouTube channel, beginning at 6:15 PM Pacific time (9:15 PM Eastern)!!
Two weeks ago today—practically to the minute (!)—on Saturday November 12, 2022, the OBC Caravan arrived in Rancho Mirage.
Since that date, Timi Hendrix and I have taken many walks in the immediate area of our new home and around the perimeter of our new gated community, always staying within the walls. The idea has been for him to learn the scent and extent of his new territory.
Today, after 14 days of this intensive “territory training”, we ventured beyond.
Just behind our complex is a lovely trail called the Butler-Abrams. It runs alongside a sandy culvert known as The Wash. In the event of flash flooding, this is where water will rush down from the mountains like a river. It hardly ever rains in the desert, but I guess when it rains, it pours.
Timi and I walked beside the wash all the way to Wolfson Park, then looped back on Frank Sinatra. Many streets here are named for 20th century performers and politicians who lived and golfed in Palm Springs—Dinah Shore, Bob Hope, Gerald Ford, etc.
Near the end of the walk, I noticed some dates on the ground, freshly fallen from date palms lining the sidewalk. I collected a handful to bring home and enjoy (after washing them and checking for bugs, of course.) Delicious!
I wrote about dates and how nutritious they are here, in one of my previous blogs from another lifetime.
Altogether it took about an hour to walk the Butler-Abrams loop—a perfect length of time. Timi was very well behaved on his leash all the way, and friendly to every dog we met on his exciting first foray outside the complex.
Today is Tuesday, the 22nd of November, a date which looks very cool written out as 11/22/22 for all you Magic Numbers buffs, and as 22/11/22 for the even cooler Euro crowd. But I digress.
Two weeks ago today, under the dark light of a full moon total eclipse, I was waking up at a Quality Inn in Dunkirk NY. Some of you may recall the travails of the previous day when clever Clyde, the cat, delayed our departure by three hours. We had been headed for Cleveland on Day 1. We weren’t supposed to spend the night in Dunkirk/Fredonia (two towns joined at the hip) at all, nor be departing from such an eastern point on Tuesday, November 8th. I ended up spending an exhausting 11 hours on the road that day, making up time lost by errant feline. It was a very long day, but at least the weather was clear.
Well, get a load of this:
This past weekend, a mere ten days after I passed through the region, this happened. Talk about a delay! A record-setting snowfall led to a State of Emergency with travel bans issued for Erie County and surrounding areas. The entire I-90 was shut down—all the way from Buffalo to…wait for it… Dunkirk/Fredonia. My exact route!
Seems a bit surreal, writing this from the California desert where a “cold snap” has been keeping daytime temps in the low-to-mid 70s. But back in upstate New York, things got pretty messy. Hardworking crews are still cleaning it up.
“The heavy snow made for dangerous travel conditions, according to the state Thruway Authority…More than 1,000 state Department of Transportation employees, state troopers and National Guard members are on the ground in Western New York and in the North Country to address the lake-effect snow.“
Guess I was playing it risky by waiting a full week into November to commence my cross country sojourn. Next year, I’ll plan for October. Hate to miss the leaves, love to miss the blizzards. 🌵OBC🦉
Woke up around 3 AM on Saturday morning, my final day on the road. Maybe this extra early rising was due to final day jitters. Maybe the train tracks running directly behind the Kingman Ramada had something to do with it. Either way, up I was. Let’s just say it was a long wait until sunrise. But sunrise finally arrived. By 7:30 we were on the road. Goodbye Arizona; California here we come!
Drove through a pretty stretch of AZ before reaching the border and crossing into my new home state via an agricultural inspection check point where I was asked if I was carrying any fruit, plants, or animals other than “the dogs”.
I pondered for a sec before replying, “Well…I have a banana from Love’s [preferred service station plaza], and that one [pointing at Clyde’s infamous crate] is a cat.”
“Bananas and cats are not what we’re looking for, Ma’am,” said the lady, waving me through. (I wonder what they are looking for?! Anyone know?)
Once in California, my GPS (did I mention I want to marry my GPS?) connected me from Interstate 40 to Interstate 10 via an absolutely gorgeous stretch of US Route 95. This simple 2-lane road passes through the most beautiful sandcastle mountain range I’ve ever seen. I think it may be called “The Needles” but I’m not sure—at any rate, from Needles (the town) to Blythe I was in total awe and so, so happy to be on a quiet road with hardly any other cars around, serenely rolling through magical fairyland.
Alas, pleasant US 95 ended and I was back on crowded superhighway for the final stretch of driving before OMG, getting off the highway FOR REAL, and landing in a place I actually recognized! At that point it started to hit me, what I had just accomplished. I drove myself and my animals ALL THE WAY across the country! Me in my little Prius, bopping along for 2,919 miles.
As I pressed “End Route” on the GPS, I started feeling pretty emotional. Turned on the radio, found the local classic rock station and a great tune was playing: Werewolves of London by Warren Zevon, followed by the live version of Start Me Up. Wow wow wow. Total elation. This Odyssey (thank you, Sarah, for naming it as such) has been completed. We made it. 🙏🏼🌵OBC🦉🧡
Today was one of the most challenging drives of the trip while providing some of the most breathtaking scenery. The challenging part involved weaving my way through mesas and mountains and buttes—oh my! So much looming on all sides, so much willing myself to keep eyes on the road and vertigo at bay. It’s not that I am afraid of heights. It’s a sensation of fear that comes from cliffs and looming walls of rock. Maybe it’s just too dramatic for me. But beautiful all the same.
After hearing last week it had snowed in Flagstaff, treacherous road conditions reported, I developed concerns around this particular leg of the journey. Fortunately, the weather in Flag during the past several days cooperated with my wishes. If it had been otherwise, I would have taken a different, inconveniently longer route through Phoenix. But I couldn’t imagine clearer sunnier skies, and thanked god for them several times during today’s long and winding road event.
Finally about 140 miles past Flagstaff, the “kids” and I touched down for our last night on the road. This time we landed at a funky Ramada Inn on historic Route 66 in Kingman, AZ, where we were treated to another glorious sunset.
I can’t tell you how much it means to me to have your support and virtual companionship as I am traveling across the country . Thank you with all my wild heart for your love and care. It wouldn’t be half as fun without you! 🙏🏼❤️🌵🦉🌞✨OBC✨
Made it into magical New Mexico today, from across the Great Plains of Oklahoma and the high plains of the Texas panhandle where majestic wind farms tower over diminutive fields of cotton.
But first, the OBC caravan had to leave the country-urban sprawl of Oklahoma City. Daybreak through the windshield showed a pearly round moon tumbling down the western sky. Under a light mist with foreboding dark clouds ahead, traffic slowed. Thankfully my prayers the storm would lift were answered, and I was not obliged to drive through heavy rain—or any rain at all. Strangely, the damp pavement under my tires distinctly sounded like a Native American chant. I could hear it not just in my head, but in the car: a tune I almost recognized which kept repeating. I remembered I was in Cherokee Nation territory, and I recalled the suffering of all the people driven from that land. Tragedy.
Later, driving through the Great Plains I remembered the buffalo, once plentiful in that vast windblown space. It was almost as if I could see their humped backs and shaggy brown bodies, just as I had surely heard the singing earlier, rising up from the paved earth, transmitted through my tires. Were these phenomena hallucinations, or imaginings? Past life memories, perhaps? Or could they simply be quantum field experiences of multiple timeline perception, inextricably tied to the land? The latter is probably the most logical, scientific explanation. What do you think? Has anything like this ever happened to you? I’d love to hear in the comments below.
It took longer to cross the Texas panhandle than the panhandle in Pennsylvania because, wait for it… everything’s bigger in Texas. (Sorry.) Near the end of that great state, about 15 miles from the New Mexico border, I was startled by a sudden change of scenery. Literally drove over a hill, and as if a magic wand had been waved, flat plains were instantly replaced with distinctly western motifs. A distant mesa, a pyramidal butte, scrub oak, sagebrush, sand. My heart leapt! Timi, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore. Here he is gazing East into the wind, a moment of farewell. Westward ho! 🌵OBC🦉
Waiting for the sun to come up here in Oklahoma City so I can head on out I-40 West, a new I. Three states again today…
So, here’s my big news. Looks like I crossed the seam! The seam in my 2023 Rand McNally Road Atlas, that is—a thoughtful and much appreciated gift from my dear friends, the Aunes. I’ve been using it every day. Indispensable! Because you know what they say: There are Maps. And there are Rand McNally.🌵OBC🦉
Day three of this journey traversed three states—from starting out in St. Louis, Illinois, to continuing across the entire state of Missouri, and ending up in Oklahoma City. Today’s car to truck ratio on the road was about 50/50, more balanced than yesterday, but the gruesome deer carnage on I-44 approached that of I-70, a gory truth I refrained from mentioning before.
In Joplin, Missouri we visited Grand Falls, a somewhat less than grand dam with an unusual and stunning stone shore, all conveniently located only a couple miles from the Interstate.
Dense cloud formations billowed above Missouri and Oklahoma, causing the long straight highway before me to shimmer for hours in the low and muted sun. Strong winds buffeted my car, also for hours. You know that song about Oklahoma? They weren’t kidding. To be honest, I found it quite tiring, being buffeted around all day. Fortunately, it was a short one, with only 7 1/2 hours or so of drive time.
The big windy sky was still blue at 4:30 when we arrived the hotel, but soon it grew luminous gold and pink. Which is how I wound up not at the love truck stop enterance at sunset.
PS I have decided to add another day to the trip, in order to keep my daily driving time at 7.5 hours max. I need to stop more often than anticipated, for the pets and to ground and refresh myself between 2-3 hour stints hauling ass on the highway. So, instead of being hump day, today is actually a halfway point. Three days down three to go. See you in New Mexico next! 🌵OBC🦉
He’d been “holding it in” ever since we left Monday morning, and frankly, after two days I was concerned. But at some point during last night’s wee hours, the travel litter box was employed. What a relief for both of us.
Yesterday I think Clyde was still a little groggy from the gabapentin, which I only gave him the one time. Both he and Timi were very quiet in the car yesterday, sleeping for most of that long haul. Today will be shorter, but it’s still 8+ hours to Oklahoma City. I think some kind of rhythm will be established in their minds today, it being Wednesday: Day 3. They are both very smart animals. They know we are going somewhere.
Today’s travels began in the eerie darkness of a full moon total eclipse. So how fitting to be skirting the edge of Lake Erie at 6:30 AM. Our little hybrid caravan passed quickly out of New York State into the neat square tip of Pennsylvania. An hour later we were entering Ohio, heading toward our first Interstate exchange: quitting I 90 W for I70 W via numerous connectors and a detour.
In 10 hours total of driving time, the main vehicles sharing the road with me were trucks. I spent a lot of the day passing trucks and allowing trucks to pass me. Amicably taking turns. When driving through broad fields in wide-open space, it made for a pleasant pastime.
The most beautiful and uplifting sight on the road today, however, were not trucks, but several flocks of birds flying in vast ellipsis swirls, flowing with the grace of one unified organism. Isn’t there a name for this phenomenon? If anyone reading this remembers, please let me know below in the comments!
So yes, between the birds and the trucks and the pitstops for walking and watering pets, not to mention refueling, we crossed 5 states in 11 hours today—from New York to Pennsylvania and then Ohio, south and west through Indiana and finally Illinois, where at last we landed at a Drury Inn & Suites in Fairview Heights (outside of St Louis).
Dinners have been eaten, AMC is showing Jaws, Timi is resting next to the bed and Clyde purrs by my side. Two days down, three to go… Sweet dreams to all🦉🌵OBC