A Walk in the Park

Mountains Meta, Wolfson Park, Rancho Mirage

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.

Surveying “The Wash”

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.

Wolfson Park Entrance/Exit

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.

Waiting for the Light on Frank Sinatra

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!

Wildcrafted Dates

I wrote about dates and how nutritious they are here, in one of my previous blogs from another lifetime.

Roadside Date Palm, Rancho Mirage

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.

Happy 2-week Anniversary to us! 🌵OBC🦉

OBC Back at the Ranch

Timing is Everything

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.

Heading West at Dawn, Upstate NY, Tuesday Nov 8, 2022

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🦉

Day 6: The Home Stretch

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!

Timi & Clyde, “Enough With the Schlepping!“
Checking Out, Ramada Inn, Kingman AZ

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.”

Clyde and Crate

“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.

Needles Over My Shoulder

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.

Final Odometer Reading, Rancho Mirage, CA

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🦉🧡

Day 5: Crossing Arizona

Painted Rock, Northern Arizona

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.

Approaching Flagstaff, Elevation 6,000 Feet

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.

Ramada Inn, Kingman AZ
Arizona Sunset

Dearest Friends…

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✨

Day 4: Land of Enchantment

Trucks, I-40 New Mexico

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🦉

Scenic Rest Stop, Northeast New Mexico

Halfway There

Just About Smack Dab in the Middle

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🦉

Hump Day

Missouri Skyline

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.

Grand Falls, Joplin MO

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.

Pink Rock Shore at Grand Falls

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.

American Icons, Oklahoma City

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.

Sunset Near my Holiday Inn, OK City

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🦉

Quick Pet Update

Timi Hendrix and Clyde “Chillin at the Drury”

First off, the big news is Clyde peed!!

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.

And indeed, we are… 🌵OBC🦉

Day 2: Blessed by a Lunar Eclipse

Blue Sunrise in Upstate New York

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.

Playing Tag with a Yellow Truck.

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

And…we’re off! Twice!

Our exciting first departure at 6:20 AM!

Day one was full of surprises. I had the car all loaded up by 6:20 with Timi in his travel crate behind my seat, and Clyde in his travel crate in the way back… or so I thought. We took off in the dark and Clyde was being awfully quiet. I figured it was the gabapentin kicking in, but felt like I’d better check. So after driving for nearly one hour, I pulled into a Rest Area to make sure he was okay.

Imagine my surprise to find Clyde’s crate was empty! Only then did I notice the partially unzipped side door. (I had put him in via the crate’s front door.) Evidently Houdini Cat had slipped out the back before we ever drove off.

Moments later I received a text from my next door neighbor alerting me that she had just seen Clyde through her window, wearing his harness and dragging his leash behind. 🤦🏻‍♀️

Long story short, I turned around at the next exit, drove back home, picked Clyde up at the house (by this time he had pulled a Peter Rabbit— somehow slipping out of his harness with attached leash and losing them both), and departed for the second time, at 9:00 AM.

Departing Odometer Reading, Take 2 (at least it stopped raining!)

A quick stop at the pet store to purchase a new, more secure (I hope) harness-leash combo, and a new, more secure crate (he tore open a hole in the first one, en route to the pet store!) and finally we were on our way.

Seven hours and 469 miles later we arrived at our first pet-friendly hotel of the journey, located in Dunkirk, NY—a town right next-door to Fredonia, NY where, random memory alert, I think my brother went to prep school a million years ago.

Hoping for a good nights rest in preparation for a big 10-hr day tomorrow. That’s all for now. See you in St. Louis!