Sunday, November 19

Travel Blogging in God's Country

11-17-06 Friday night

Sometimes opportunities come out of nowhere, and you just have to act on them quickly, before reality reasserts its normal rut on your experience.

A new friend invited to me to visit her up on a mountain in Colorado, and chancing that she was cool (don't laugh -- I have met many people that I met via internet over the years, and most were awesome, with a few cool but offbeat, but at least one was downright frightening) -- I said yes. I've been really excited about it. She seems very nice, and I'm interested to know her better. I'll be working FT at least while there, plus probably some webwork while there on her behalf, but just getting out of my normal life for awhile has got to be great, never mind the bonus of meeting a new friend.

I chose to take a train, which makes my travel plans into a 48 hour "trains, planes and automobiles" comedy of travel. I think it would have been easier to get to Bangladesh than this approach to getting a couple states away, but there is no lack of interesting people, sights and experiences met when traveling. My grandfather loved the train, rode it all the time, all over the country. One of the major newspapers -- LA or NY times, I forget which -- once did a major article on the passenger trains of the US, and featured him, playing his harmonica with songs from the 30's and 40's.

I lost my Organic Coconut skin cream to Homeland Security. This was a clear and present danger to the puddle jumper taking me from Joplin to Kansas City Missouri. I wished I could talk the woman doing the search into just taking it for herself -- it's good stuff! Bummer it just goes in the trash. There's a list of stuff you can't bring no matter what (perfume, hair spray) and a list of what you can bring but no liquid/cream more than 3oz (even nearly-solid stuff) and the sum total of all of 'em have to fit together in a single 1qt ziplock.

I nearly lost my sweetzfree (super concentrated liquid splenda, the only lowcarb item I brought with me), and that would have been a tragedy indeed, given it's like $64 for 4oz of the stuff -- if lowcarbers were teens, people would be shooting each other over this stuff in bad neighborhoods -- but I got to keep that when I explained it was needed for my medical condition. Hoping to bolster that idea, I dug out my never-used asthma inhaler (brought in case the elevation change was a real oxygen issue by chance). Medical condition, snort! This was not a lie but definitely requires some creative interpretation of the truth to come up with that. It worked. I was proud of myself for thinking fast.

Had a nice talk with the security folks before it was all over. They were cool and we laughed a lot. Pretty boring at their little airport.

The sunset was so awesome from in the air!

Had a great conversation with the woman who ran the cab service at the airport, she was super nice. A guy who was there waiting for his girlfriend to pick him up. I joked, "Women are always late!" He laughs, "I know!" and at the same instant, the woman in the office and I said, "Yeah, but don't tell HER that." Haha! Apparently even women know women.

The three of us had a great talk for about 20 minutes about how we'd all lived around the country in half a dozen states, and how stupid it is that people on the coasts always act like anybody inland or anybody with a southern accent must be a moron, a horrible pervasive prejudice the media keeps perpetuating that is ridiculously untrue. Yes there are the stereotypes but there's as many stupid people in California where I grew up as in Arkansas, I am willing to bet on it.

The cabby who drove me to my hotel was a fabulous guy, philippino, a vietnam vet and desert storm vet. His dad was a POW to the japanese in WWII, was in some famous 'death march' I can't recall the name of now. We talked for the whole 35 minute drive. I could have happily bought him dinner and listened to him tell me war stories all night.

My hotel room felt about 1.7 miles from the elevators -- my bags, stacked, pulled on a rolling checked luggage bag, are super heavy, especially on carpet. By the time I reached my room, panting and dragging it laboriously every other step, I'd started feeling like Robert Deniro in "The Mission," dragging insane amount of rocks in a bag up a mountain to do penance. I was doing my penance on the 17th floor of the Hyatt in Kansas City with two bags filled with two laptop computers and enough clothes for Nanook of the North, as my friend put it.

But my room had the softest bed I ever felt, and enough pillows for the seven dwarves. And it was so kind of them to supply me with a yummy smelling 'white ginger' shampoo, conditioner, soap and body lotion, all in trial sizes that fit into that quart-size ziplock. ;-)

A couple days before I left I started developing an abscess on a tooth I need a root canal on, so by the time my journey started I was in so much dental pain it was just stupid. I didn't bring any drugs -- because I'm insane and moronic, is my only explanation for not bringing pain killers when I knew what was up. Massive drugs had kicked in about an hour before I left, is the only reason I can imagine I wasn't more concerned about it. The pain's barely tolerable, but if I yawn or chew, it's horrifying.

In the hopes of figuring out why I would choose, on some level, to be in severe pain during my first visit anywhere in eons, I did several archetype meditations last night. Great. I may be in agony, and not sleeping, but I am spiritually evolving. Into what? I keep forgetting that when I ask for things like 'to evolve', I'm in that situation Lily Tomlin once joked about in a stand-up routine:

I always said that I wanted to BE someday.
Now I see I should have been more specific.

Saturday 1:30pm

My little girl borrowed my hairbrush and did NOT put it back in my bag as promised. So right now I look like a homeless person. Or a feminist. (I joke about that because I once read a feminist magazine and the pics of the women in the editorial section looked like they apparently considered even hairbrushes a genuine affront to female dignity.) I can't believe it. Finger-combing is not going to work for what I did to my hair last night in rote rocking trying to tune out the pain with music and daydreams. Good thing it's cold and I can wear a hat!

The cabbie the next morning was from East Africa, here on student visa for mechanical engineering. We talked about the internet and he spent the first half of our journey looking back at me and trying to talk me into sitting in the front with him. Oh brother. We stopped at a huge, lovely grocery store so I could get some things. This place was the size of super walmart nearly but all groceries. They had like 5 entire double-sided aisles just for medicine! I felt like that old Soviet MIG pilot who defected here said he did when he went in a grocery store for the first time. I was in a hurry and needed 10 minutes just to read all the options for pain killers, sheesh.

I got medicine, yay. I forgot the brush.... ergh! No lowcarb slimfast there either. Well maybe they had the brush but I would have needed a dogsled team to get to the far side of the store and make good time. Ah well. I got some lowcarb wraps and a few tiny avocados. I thought maybe I could make like an avocado rollup or something, if there was no other LC food available.

The checkout clerk was great, we got talking about the airlines and trains and then about hair care and people in general and I think we could have talked and laughed all day, she was really nice.

I was marveling over how nice everybody I had met, even briefly, was, as I walked back to the cab. On the way to the train station the cabbie told me his favorite part of the internet was sex sites and he really likes ... yes, here it comes... "big women."

He looks at me significantly.


Well, better that sort of attention for my weight than the negative kind I suppose!

The train is sometimes frightening, the way it suddenly jerks to the side out of the blue like you've just jumped a track or something, and the speed/sight/sound of another training passing by in the opposite direction only about 2 feet away is startling. I tried to sleep, as thanks to my tooth I got almost none last night, but I was right by the door going into the lounge and dining area so it was unworkable.

It always seems such a bummer to me that adults don't seem to have the same friend-making traits that kids do. When you get older you can't just go knock on a door and go 'hey, can the kid with red hair come out to play?'

I meet so many people when I travel that I figure I'd be great friends with if they were anywhere near me. Yet I seem to have so few people physically near me I relate to at all. I don't get that. I always enjoy new people. I figure it's something I 'create in my reality' that all the people I relate to are, by some mandatory rule, far away from me. You know, that subconsciously I must push myself away from people locally like for personal safety zone reasons or something.

I mean, sure. I could have a conversation with a table lamp, as an old friend of mine once said, and I have had great long talks with stock clerks at 3am, most people are nice if you're nice to them. But somehow traveling is different.

When I travel, it's as if every person I meet is a novel, interesting book I haven't yet read. I'm delighted to open them and learn something about them.

So it was 7am and I finally had drugs for the dental pain. But at that point, after doing without them for about 18 hours, I didn't want to take them. It had become an issue of honor. If the buddhists can deal with pain with stoicism, so can I. Ha! I am invincible!

"I will be Aes Sedai," I told myself. "Like the cold, I will simply "ignore" the pain." And surprisingly enough, this kinda worked. I had to really specifically do it though, I mean, it took really focused attention. But I found when I really put my attention on something else and excluded that to the degree possible, I would realize quite a long time had passed without me thinking about it, where before it was occupying me totally with misery.

Until I had to breathe freezing air outside for awhile. This so amped up the pain that putting my attention pointedly elsewhere wasn't working very well anymore. I need more practice. (No, guides, that is not a request!)

Eventually I found myself thinking, I am not buddhist, I don't want to be a buddhist, and most of the Aes Sedai are control freak bitches anyway.

So I took the drugs.

I arrived here via train, coach seat, in Galesburg, Illinois, which appears to be a city with a claim only to "not being chicago, nor much of anywhere else for that matter". (It's probably a very nice town. I just didn't really get to see it.) The rail station is very small. Four doublesided hard wood benches, and a 2-person ticket window. Three channels on the TV, though I did talk the woman into putting it on PBS instead of some infomercial channel at least. It's a 4+ hour layover here waiting for my next train, which is nearly 24 hours on until I arrive at my destination. I can finally sleep I hope! I was sitting in the waiting area for about 1.5 hours, and I kept falling asleep sitting up. I was afraid I'd start snoring in front of everybody or something. How embarrassing that would be!

I finally decided I'd rather sit outside in the cold. After sitting out here for about 10 minutes, I started looking calculatingly at the movable picnic tables. I wondered if I could move one over to a bench and get out my laptop and put on it. Not much battery left, but my boredom and discomfort was getting pretty serious. Then I suddenly realized that on the brick wall next to the bench I'm sitting on, is this tiny metal case. I open it up, and sure enough! -- it was an outdoor power outlet. I grabbed a rolling luggage cart just sitting around, which had an area high up perfect for setting my laptop on, plugged my computer in, and so I've been typing instead of snoring. I decided to turn the music on audibly, so I put on classics like Sarah-Lena and Sinatra so it wouldn't be offensive to others. Thanks LD for the great old music! It actually made things much more festive.

I'm starting to freeze though! And my tooth really hurts. I am now seriously overdosing on ibuprofen, so eventually the pain will be tolerable but I'll have the jitters or whatever odd thing happens when you OD on that kind of medicine... but I'm happy.

I like traveling.

Saturday 4:40

I'm in a train again, this time in my 'roomette'. There's a plug in here, a sliding door and dark curtains. Cool. WAY more comfy than coach, gods.

Back at the station, I met a seriously bearded man who'd been in the army from 71 to 91, comes from a family of railroaders, grew up in the dry area of CA. Currently does construction. We talked about world events and life experiences and his new Scot clan kilt, while we froze outside for over an hour.

I went in to get my hat, and on returning outside, met another man, a guy in his late 50's with white hair who reminded me of a lot of vietnam vet marines I've known around his age. Funny... turns out he is a former marine (linguist/intel), served from 59 to 79 (can I call 'em or what?) though most of that as just a simple comm guy; we talked about languages and world events for awhile. He speaks swahili, japanese, english, and something else I forget. We had a talk about modern jihadist issues and the 'nature of things' you can't fix but had better not ignore either. Nice guy. He is in a room a couple doors down from mine with his wife.

Saturday 5:17pm (central anyway), somewhere in Illinois. I think.

It's dark outside, and with the light off it's pretty black. I'm thinking this ought to do very well for meditation tonight. Some Narnia soundtrack and some more archmeds.

The seats in the roomette are 1.5 times the size of the coach seats. there are two which face each other in a tiny room, with a table you can optionally pull out between them, and the whole outer wall is window. There are a couple hangers and a rod that would hold more. Washcloths in a top area, a hidden trashcan. A couple shelves that are the carpeted steps to get to the top bunk I guess, when it's pulled down. Apparently when you want your chairs made into a bed you call the rather hassled seeming attendent, who is very charming, but breathing nearly as hard as I do with running around. (Apparently trains don't have the rule planes do that you must be a barbie doll to be an attendent.)

For dinner I had roast chicken with green beans and a salad. The chicken was pretty yummy. I didn't eat the salad as they only had ranch which was sweet. I will never understand why today's world has this obsession with making salads into desserts. Give me real blue cheese or the old fashioned ranch or I'd rather starve. If I want something sugary I will have a dessert! But she left me the silverware, salt and pepper, so later on (as I'll probably be up most the night given how awake I am right now) I can put some avocado on lowcarb wraps and roll it up -- my plan from this morning. I'm listening to Gwen Stefani's "What are you waiting for" which is enough to keep the dead awake. I'm totally rocking out with headphones... innocent from outside my door.

I miss not being able to get on the internet. Probably best I can't though. That's half the idea of a vacation of sorts, just a little. I won't be on the net as much.

I hope to do a couple RV sessions before I get off this darn train. I miss viewing horribly when I don't do it for awhile and I've been way too busy the last week. It's like there is some inner part of me that I never get to touch except when I view, and we pine for each other like separated lovers when I don't view enough.

9:54pm Sat

I was watching the 13th floor again. I thought of something I never have before when watching it.

I was thinking that in that movie, the many worlds of simulation, could be an analogy to the many probabilities or even 'identity-lives' that we go through in our worlds. In the woman's world, her father and husband and she built a phenomenal science experiment. The father remained true; the husband became a psychopath. The situation exposed a flaw in his character. In the doug world, the husband and father combined in a different time and situation again succeed wildly. In that world, the husband remained true; the father became again a bit of an abuser (though not nearly so badly). Out of the thousands of simulations the woman's family had created, only in that one had doug and fuller succeeded in what they did. Who knows what the circumstances, times or lives were in others, of course. But it got me to thinking.

Who is to say that maybe the reason for what we experience and bring back to the collective, is to find those lucky chances, those one in a thousand, a million, combinations of a man and a time and a circumstance and a character that suddenly give rise to someone like Ataturk or Bose or Ghandi or George Washington Carver. Maybe it is those rare moments of genius, of insight, of ability to change a world, that all of those lives are for. Maybe the life where it really works is the discovery, just like doing a zillion scientific trials.

Maybe all the other lives that we don't make into something exceptional are just statistics. Just extras. Just the control group. Their experience counts. It goes into the collective. But its value is primarily just as part of the search for the successful experiment.

It makes me think of Urantia and the idea of building souls, of them having different qualities. And of Grosso's concept from one of his books that we are responsible for growing and improving the soul that we've got, that they are not bestowed as static perfect things but are inherent as created by consciousness---ours, once we are part of them.

3:02pm Sun

The train is delayed yet again for broken tracks. So I'll be getting in late.

Someone in this tiny town we are stopped near, waiting for the track fix, has an unsecured wireless network! I figure I don't care if they read my email and internet, I'm delighted to be able to get online for a couple minutes!

Colorado mountains are God's country, no doubt. The beauty going past me has literally induced awe more than once. I discovered my omelette had grown cold while I sat here with a fork in hand and my mouth hanging open in sheer admiration.

These incredible layers of geological sediment, thrust up thousands of feet into the air diagonally and even straight up vertically -- to imagine the chaos that must have created these mountains boggles the mind. They are rich with the colors of untold minerals and the most stubborn fir trees growing in nearly solid rock I've ever seen.

The snow is on the ground now and the rivers are half frozen and half running. The sun is shining, the sky is blue, the snow is white on everything, and it is so beautiful my heart aches for it. I could live someplace like this. No problem. It reminds me just a little of Ojai, where I was born and where my heart will always reside, or the version of it before it overdeveloped anyway; literal forested mountains, like high ozarks must be as well, like the blue ridge are as well. Who could see such beauty and not thank God for the honor of being alive here?

It's time for me to go now, as I don't know how long I'll be connected. I was going to blog this on a different blog, but for some reason couldn't get access. This isn't really about lowcarb but perhaps it won't bother anyone too much here.

Speaking of lowcarb, my eating has not been terrible but it hasn't been good, either, on this travel, and I am SO bloated in response to carbs/sodium I don't normally have, and lack of motion! I can hardly wait to get to the B&B so I can spend a few days drinking enough water for a river. Which reminds me I cannot even FIT into these bathrooms on the train. Well I can. But then I can't move. I have managed to put off going, aside from one #1 last night, since I got on the first one yesterday at 7:45am! I'm begging my body to hold out for me until I reach my destination. Which I hope will not be more than a few more hours!

Will blog more once I finally arrive. I have nothing LC with me except sweetzfree (liquid splenda), so it'll be a challenge to put stuff together from scratch with none of my 'special ingredients' and only occasional kitchen access. Challenges are good. I'm sure it will make me appreciate how much easier it is with all the stuff I have at home!

Off for now!

1 comment:

babe said...

sounds like quite a trip!
and re: your cab driver's father - it prob was the bataan death march