Friday, October 24, 2014

Two cats, one car, three days

Well, I made it home just fine, and in three days, not the four I'd planned. The cats were good as gold the entire trip, the rental car got good mileage, and I didn't crash or nothin'!! I'm just a girl and I did it on my own!! You wouldn't believe the number of people who were incredulous I made the trip by myself.

The first day I was out of Madison at 5 a.m., doubting the GPS for about the first hour because it lead me down county road after county road in the pitch dark but it sure enough got me to Kansas City, where my friend Cheryl lives. I was in time to watch the Royals win the fourth game of four in the playoffs. I'm so out of the loop on any kind of news that I 1) had no idea the Royals were in the playoffs and 2) that there were even playoffs going on.

The GPS took me off the freeway, predictably empty mid-day because of the ball game, through this neighborhood and that, and when I made the turn onto her street, I laughed out loud. Yeah, she lives on this street. I sure know how to pick my friends.

The original nineteen homes were built between 1897 and 1917. The entrance, or gate as I called it, was made in 1897 of white Arkansas limestone. Until 2001 this remained a private street, often referred to as "Lumberman's Row" because of the lumber and construction tycoons who lived there. It is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Cheryl doesn't have the biggest home on the block but it's surely the prettiest. Her living room - it's like being in a tree house, with the light coming in all those windows, filtered through trees on the brink of color change. The guest room is downstairs and comes complete with a massage chair that was just what I needed after the past couple of long days. Her home is as welcoming as the nicest B&B I have ever been in. I wanted to camp out until they threw me out.

Before a marvelous dinner that involved sundried tomatoes soaked in red wine, we strolled the neighborhood, where she has lived for 31 years.

I wish I'd taken more photos but I felt like such a voyeur, gawping at all the big houses. Here's what I did get, this first one with a wonderful deep porch.

The arched shelter over the front door is glass panels, fringed in front with more glass.

My favorite thing on this house is the wide dormer; it entirely makes the house. The stone is also very nice and is used on another house across the street.

Pretty, with the kind of porch I wish I could tack onto my movable house.

What do you do in all those rooms?  But I have to say I really like the second-floor rooms surrounded with windows.

More of that pretty stone.

The next morning I was out the door by 6, fortified with two cappuccinos made by Cheryl's husband, and aimed for Dalhart, Texas but once there I kept on going. The hotel I had booked was ickily less than desirable, it was only about 2:00, and was much too hot to leave the cats in the car, so I kept driving until I got to Albuquerque, about 850 miles that day. The next day was an easy 450. Because I prepaid for gas I took the rental into the Tucson airport on fumes, very good planning on my part, if I may say so. Insurance on the rental car was $50 a day because I don't have personal car insurance, mostly because I don't own a car, so I also took the car back pretty grimy and cat-hairy, what I thought was a fair exchange. The long day on Thursday saved me a day and about $400 in travel costs. The entire trip was much less arduous/miserable than I expected it to be.

I missed being able to stop wherever I wanted, the national historic sites like the Amana Colonies and Chiricahua National Monument, and museums like the Negro Leagues Baseball and American Jazz museums in KC. But I did make a stop in Hatch, New Mexico for a ristra. When I first went to Arizona via New Mexico a year and a half ago, I drove through Hatch but for whatever reason didn't stop. This time I pulled over at the first roadside stand and bought a small ristra of adobo chiles from this man. I've already used chiles from it twice.

There is nothing like getting out, getting away, to appreciate our beautiful country. 

From the plane window I saw sinuous curves of lakes;  fingers of rivers and streams meandering for miles; shadows of clouds passing over the landscape in so similar a color to the water that it took a second look to see which darkness was which; starkly angular lines of plowed and planted fields; the soft roundness of treetops turning color; identical Monopoly houses lined up one by one; sheep grazing on emerald fields.

On the road, crisp autumn colors against an improbable blue sky reminded me of going to a cider mill when I was a girl; there were achingly beautiful shortening days with the snap of early morning cold that is so distinctively autumn, so indicative of winter on its way; rolling rows of dull gold harvested corn in fields of dark, rich soil. 

I love a road trip.


Thought of the day:

You got to be careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there. - Yogi Berra