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Certified organic poultry farmer in SE Mass

Trip, Continued
Our lifetime passes allowed us to free entrance to the Petrified Forest, Giant Sequoia National Park and Custer's National Cemetery. The $10.00 I spent on this pass is a lifetime pass. It saved us at least $60.00 on entrance fees. It is only good at National Parks, not State Parks and the person who the pass is issued to must be in the group and show a picture ID. Another wonderful thing we had with us was my Handicapped Placket for parking in Handicapped areas. This was what A needed but for some reason, she has never applied for one. I got mine since my doctor's diagnosis was adequate, altho' I did have to bother her for a letter to the RMV. But it was worth the trouble!

It wasn't often I needed to use the placket, but when I do, it surely comes in handy! There are days when my hip or back is bothering me so, I can't walk far. I have actually used the electric shopping carts available to customers at the entrance to stores. 

Back to the trip...July 9, we drove north through CA. Alongside the highway you could easily see the burnt hills from recent wildfires. Once again, the contrast between the blackened hills and the golden of the dry grass was very obvious. Some of the fires had licked the edge of the highway, the emergency trucks had left their tire tracks etched in the burnt ground. 

As we traveled north through CA towards the Giant Sequoias, I saw numerous (and I mean NUMEROUS) orange groves with irrigation lines set up at the bases of the trees. Some of the ends of the lines had popped off and water was puddling in the sandy aisles, left to water nothing. At one point, there was an adobe castle in the middle of nowhere. It was a huge, Spanish affair in the middle of brown grass. It seemed to be ridiculous, there in the middle of nowhere, huge and forlorn. 

A was driving that morning. We had looked at the map and she knew that there would be a turn that said "Sequoia National Park" We had noted the mileage to the turn off. I had my ear plugs in since she had her music on...louder than I could stand. I was sending pix on my iPhone and was busy for about 20 minutes when she shouted out. She said she saw a car hit a dog right in front of us. I didn't see it because I was looking at the mile markers on the side of the road...and it seemed to me we had missed our turn-off...again. 

I don't recall if I mentioned how many times A said she knew the way, could read maps, could read directions. Altho' she bragged about her abilities, her inability to actually read road maps and road signs was poor, at best. When we were headed to the Petrified Forest, she cost us over 60 miles of back-tracking b/c she couldn't understand the directions in the AAA road guide. I must say, their directions left a LOT TO BE DESIRED. But north is not south and east is not west. And she mis-directed us on several other occasions. Seems she doesn't pay attention to her surroundings or to the written directions. I believe she cost us over 250 miles of back-tracking. Frustrating when we were so tight for gas money!

We saw a gas station with a convenience store, so I went inside to ask for directions. The gal at the counter gave excellent directions and we had lost only about 30 miles. A continued to say there was no sign for the turn-off, but I knew better. She had her music on, was dancing around in her seat and wasn't paying attention...again.

We arrived at the Giant Sequoia National Park. The line was long at the gate, but there was one lane for "prepaid passes". We had no wait there! We drove up to one of the larger parking areas and used the Handicapped placket to park. A wasn't very "social" at that time. I'm sure she was feeling the sting of my words about her not looking for the turn off and what her lack of attention had cost us. 

I got out with BB the dog and we walked around the area. There were busses taking people on tours up to Morro Rock and other places in the Park. Right off the parking area, there was a paved road, leading up into the forest. BB and I took a walk up there. A stayed in the parking area with Angel. As I walked up the paved road up the hill, I saw a cabin. Probably a two room cabin with a porch. It was dwarfed by several Giants. In my picture, it looks to be the size of a fairy house next to the trees. 

BB and I went back to the parking lot, met up with A and Angel. We walked to one of the Giants and A took my picture with BB & Angel. She declined to have her picture taken...

At the entrance of the parking area, there was a Park Ranger, a young woman who had a wonderful sense of humor. I saw this when I watched her repeat the same directions over and over to passing cars & pedestrians. I asked her if we might be able to drive up the paved road and she said it was for handicapped only. I mentioned my Handicapped placket and she told me to "Go right up"...so we did. Morro Rock was at the top of the road. There were emergency vehicles up there, taking someone out who had either a heart attack or heat exhaustion while climbing the 900+ steps up to access the top of Morro Rock. It was very hot and close that day, so I could see how this could happen. I decided I wasn't going to climb up the steps and used the toilet. They were of the rustic type, probably pumped on a daily basis...and no running water. A declined, she didn't like those kinds of bathrooms. I thought that was amusing since she shit in a plastic bag at her home...and thought that was OK!

We left Morro Rock behind and headed north towards Oregon. I don't remember where we stayed that night...late in, early out.

July 10, we headed up through north CA and came across Diablo State Park. It was a Monday and there weren't any attendants at the gate. We drove through and up into the mountains. The hills were brown from drought, some green trees were struggling to live. Most were scrub trees. We stopped at a turn-out and we could see the valley to the south. The hills were brown as far as you could see! Drought was here. I drove up into the state park and pulled into a parking area, heading for shade. A asked me why we parked there...I told her we could park in the sun and roast, but I chose the shade. 

I suggested she should take one of her folding chairs out and have a rest, I was going to scout out a place to pee. And off I went, leaving her with the dogs. I found a private place to relieve myself and then had a look around. I discovered some interesting rock formations above the parking area. Some were "grinding stones"", holes made in the huge rocks by the early natives. They used the holes in the rocks to grind acorns into flour. There were also some huge holes made by water and stones stuck in the holes. As the water churned, the stones turned in the rocks and made huge indentations. Some large enough to fit a person should they need shelter from rain or wind.

I went back to the car. A was just standing around...so we packed it in and left. I drove out of the state park...seems she now understood how much her driving scared me and didn't argue when I asked to drive. Several times, cars passed us as we took our time (and observed the speed limit) driving out of the state park. 

We headed north...towards Oregon. 

July 13, we saw the Monticello Dam, built by the Dept of the Interior in 1957. It was a spectacular dam, closing up a gorge formed by a river. The water was aqua green, there must be copper minerals in the gorge to color the water in that way. 

As we headed towards Oregon, we saw the Solar Living Institute sponsored by Real Goods. I had to stop for a visit. Real Goods got their start up in the Burlington, VT area many years ago but moved out west due to better customer base. The place was expansive and wonderfully designed. There was a visitor's area with picnic tables and benches and a play area for kids. All was shaded by grape vines and the grapes were very obviously ripening on the vine. In all the travels through CA, I had not seen one grape on any of the vines we passed!  Yet, here they hung in the shade of their own vines, creating a haven from the sun! I visited the ladies room, constructed from recycled materials. Composting toilets, water from collection barrels provided washing water. It was a wonderful visit. However, I had little money to spend on anything, so I left with a few post cards in hand. A stayed in the car with the AC on.

We got to the Oregon Coast just at sunset. I parked and got out to take some pix. I think A stayed in the car. She wasn't happy to stop since we were now trying to make up time lost in Santa Fe due to the car's AC repair. We drove until very late that night, traveling through the Redwoods on a narrow, two lane road. I drove...and pulled off to take some night time pix of the Redwoods. I was sad that we missed the splendor of a day light viewing, but this is the way things went with A. No plan, just by the seat of our pants. 

I will close for now. I harvested many Chicken of the Woods mushrooms yesterday and want to clean and cook them this afternoon. You will forgive me for wanting to harvest & preserve food for winter. More later...

Trip, Continued
The Grand Canyon was one of splendor and grandiose, beyond anything I had seen before. Pictures do not do it justice, it is magnificent beyond belief. The one thing I saw in the "man made" part of the visitor's center was a cement circle in the middle of many tiles with decoration from native tribes, the inscription said, "Tribes Call The Canyon Home" with a hand print included in the circle. It was touching. Around that man-made area were large stone formations. They were like thrones for giants. There were many visitors that day, I heard it wasn't so busy since it was overcast and rain threatened. I was glad for that weather forecast! It was so crowded, I didn't go into the visitor's center, but I did use the ladies restroom. The line was only about 12 deep for all the stalls. The restroom was clean, even though the toilets were not modern...seems there is no sewer service in the middle of the Grand Canyon! 

That night, we stayed in Arizona, at the border. The next day, we headed into CA, through the southern part of the state. We stopped in Fresno, CA for gas and a break at a park. It was obvious that irrigation was used, since there was green grass at the park where the local students played ball games. It was very hot, 106 degrees at about 7 PM. I saw to the south many wind turbines on the hills behind us. The hills were all brown...and nothing much grew on them. A wonderful place to put so many wind turbines! There were hundreds of them, on the peaks of the hills and in the foothills. All were turning in the wind. 

That night, we stayed in a roach motel...the room was OK...we snuck the dogs in and out again. The fridge in one corner of the room was sending out a lot of heat...I looked at it and saw the door was open and the entire inside freezer area was coated with inches of frost. I took two towels, put one inside the bottom of the fridge, one on the floor in front of the fridge and pulled the plug. I turned the AC on (they never turn the AC on for you) and we went out to find something to do for an hour or so. We found another park for the dogs to walk, but it was still hot. 

When we got back to the room, the fridge had defrosted (how could it not? it was soooo hot in that corner!). I cleaned up any water from the defrosted freezer, closed the door and plugged the fridge back in. During that process, I moved the fridge and a plethora of roaches came scurrying out from under the fridge. I did the Mexican Hat Dance again...as I did in Flagstaff, AZ when I cleaned out A's car in the morning before we left Flagstaff. 

We slept, ate breakfast (A normally goes to the provided breakfast at the motels, I don't). The way the motels store the food makes me uneasy. Cereal is in large dispensers, all available to insects. Fruit is not put into any kind of bins, but left in baskets for the night. If there are roaches on the rooms, there will be roaches in the food storage areas, too! Besides, there wasn't a decent cup of coffee in the whole southwestern area! While she had her breakfast, I would pack up the room and get things ready.

Some time beforehand, we had decided since she didn't know how to ready anything to travel, her job would be to put ice into the coolers for the days travel. I discovered her ability to do this also lacked in quality. She didn't seem to know how to close a zip lock bag and the ice melted into the cooler anyway! So, I always checked the bags (ice was double bagged) after she got the ice into the bags. She was insulted, but by this time, I didn't care about her feelings. Seemed she was completely ignorant of what she was doing most of the time and how it influenced my safety. 

Sneaking the dogs out of a motel room would be easy if they were both BB's size. I could carry him and easily conceal him. Angel was another matter. She was a mixed-breed Border Collie and weighed about 48#. We were careful and never got caught. But I was always so nervous when we were doing this. Especially concerned they had our (or my) debit card on file for extra fees to be added on later. 

We traveled north through CA that day, headed towards the Giant Sequoias. 

More later...
Trip, Continued
Here I am to continue this saga. But seems the  Arial font is not working, but I will continue since today is very stormy and windy. BB the dog won't go out to do his business, so I will write instead.

As far as the financial situation, A has paid back almost all the money she "borrowed" and used during the trip. The lack of my regular funding has caused me some strain since I had to pay my car insurance the first of August or there would be added fees (monthly fees as well as loosing the discount for paying the total when due). In order to avoid these fees, I pay all my auto insurance at once.

Now that I have started working on this blog, BB the dog has woken up and is asking to go out. I know he will change his mind as soon as I open the door, but I will sign out for now and come back later. It is just too stormy outside to do anything else but blog!

Well, I just typed for two hours and when I set the post to be visible to the public, the internet connection wasn't connected...so I lost all the story I had written. Tired now, need to have lunch and take a break. If I feel up to it later, I will re-write and try to post.


Trip continued...
My last post ended as we arrived in Norman, OK, just south of Oklahoma  City, OK the evening of June 24th. My traveling companion  had family close to Norman. She had arranged to meet up with family for her birthday, June 25. She went out to run some errands that morning. Her family was to meet up with us at a previously chosen restaurant for lunch to celebrate her 69th birthday. I was in the motel room with the dogs, resting...there was a knock at the door and I assumed A had forgotten her key card or the key card wasn't working...something I was to discover happened often.

I opened the door but it wasn't A. A woman asked for A. In the process of telling me who she was, A's dog, Angel bolted out the door into the parking lot. It happened in a few seconds. I ran out to try to call Angel, but she was searching the parking lot for A or  her car. Then Angel started to go back towards the open room door...but A's brother Steve approached Angel just as I told him Angel was afraid of men. That was all it took for Angel to bolt. She ran off towards...you guessed it, the interstate. There was no fence between the motel and the interstate...and Angel disappeared down a swail and we couldn't see her. Everyone was looking for her without success. Steve offered me the use of his car to look for Angel, but no luck.

I called A and told her to get back to the motel room ASAP. I invited everyone inside the motel to wait since there was little we could do at that point. Of course, I felt responsible for the event, but there were some questions that were unanswered.

Why didn't A tell me her family was coming to meet her at the room? I would have been more prepared when answering the door. Why didn't A tell me that Angel might bolt out the door? This was the start of a long communications gap between us. A continually kept me out of the loop on information that was important for my well being and our ability to figure things out.

After some discussion, A decided it would be best to go to lunch. We had a nice lunch (which A paid for, a hefty tab since there were eight of us eating at a moderately fancy restaurant). After lunch, we took some pix and everyone went their separate ways. A and I headed back to the motel area to search for Angel.

Right around that time, I had a shudder...and thought to myself, "Angel just got hit on the highway". A insisted the whole time the dog wouldn't go onto the interstate. In my heart, I knew that would be where Angel met her fate. We drove around behind the motel in a nice neighborhood area, stopping to ask folks if they had seen the dog. No one had, but one woman said she would post it on her neighborhood watch Facebook page. It was then I suggested if A had any pictures of Angel, she should post "Missing Dog" with Angel's pix on Facebook.

Within 20 minutes, she got a call from a local shelter. They had Angel! Amazingly, Angel was alive and seemingly well. Could we come pick her up? Of course!!!

One thing I had recommended that A do was to put her phone number and HER name (not Angel's name) on the dog's collar with a Sharpie marker. Seems that A had put in the WRONG PHONE #!!! How do you do that? Not paying attention, I guess. Something I was to learn A was very capable of as we continued our trip west.

When we picked Angel up, she was in fairly good shape, or so we thought. Angel limped to the car and I picked her up, put her in the back seat. A was so grateful to find Angel, she made a donation to the shelter. We headed back to the motel, but I had an uneasy feeling about the dog.

I examined the dog and discovered several bumps & bruises, found her belly area was covered with road rash, a scrape over one eye and her foot pads had been torn off from some of her feet. I was concerned about the road rash, so I suggested I clip the hair off her stomach area so we could define how extensive the road rash was.

When I packed for this trip, I took BB's grooming clippers because I knew he would need a clip before we reached home. I also packed an extensive first aid kit with many homeopathic remedies. I got out the clippers and began to clip Angel's belly. She was so good, it was as if she knew I was trying to help her. As I clipped, the extent of the road rash became apparent. Much more than originally thought. I kept on clipping to expose more road rash. Then I discovered a large gash, probably 5 inches long, right in the groin area. It was in a very bad place and I knew I couldn't repair it. So off to the emergency vet we went...at 9 PM on a Saturday night. $$$$$$$$

When we arrived, the truth of the money situation was exposed. A had only $400 in her bank account till the next Friday, Oh dear!!! I had no cash money (which was to be for emergencies such as this), little money in the bank, at least not enough to pay the rest of the bill. The situation became clear to me then. A had lied about the money she had for the trip!

She made some phone calls to her family and her son said he would pick up the rest of the remaining bill after A's $400.00 deposit on Angel's surgery. We left the dog and went back to the motel for the night. I had a stiff drink!

The rest of the night, I didn't sleep very well. The money situation was on my mind as well as the communication gap between A & myself. I questioned her about why she didn't feel it was necessary to inform me of the change of plans about where she was to meet her family. She said she didn't think it was important. Of course, I thought it was! I asked her about the money situation...and she said she had money coming in for the next month, only it came on Fridays into her direct deposit. When I asked her why she didn't think this was important, she shrugged. No answer...

Sunday, we went to pick Angel up at surgery. The entire bill was almost $1,000.00. The vet wanted to do additional tests, of course, but I told A that was unnecessary since I had examined Angel and she didn't seem to have any broken bones or cracked ribs. I lifted Angel into the car and out of the car back at the motel. I had to do most of the heavy lifting since A was so FAT and out of shape with a bad knee...More on her fat situation later...

We had planned to travel further west on Monday, but I suggested one or two more days in Norman to allow Angel to recover. So, we stayed.

I went to a nearby health food market to buy some Arnica tablets and some Calendula ointment to treat Angel. I paid for all of this and more...

I took over taking care of Angel since it seemed that A was incapable of following through with my instructions. Such as not allowing Angel to lick her stitches or her paw where the vet had put in one stitch. Also, the affected areas needed to be cleaned every day prior to applying any salves or ointments. A just didn't get the idea that areas needed to be cleaned. And she didn't get that Angel shouldn't be left to lick her stitches out.

One of the things the vet suggested was "the Elizabethan cone" to prevent Angel from licking. A refused to put it on the dog when we left for any amount of time. I could tell if Angel licked, but A was clueless about the importance of not allowing this to happen. At one point, she wanted to toss out the cone. I forbade this, suggesting it took little room in the car and she should donate it to the local shelter when she got back to Memphis. I packed it flat in the back of the car and it took no room compared to the 40 tee shirts, multiple pairs of pants, unused file box, two chairs and cribbage board.

So, every evening, I washed Angel's belly & stitches, her feet and other areas that needed to be dressed with Calendula  ointment or Silver Salve. I bought a small spray bottle and put Arnica tabs in the water to treat Angel's feet with as a wash. Then I put Calendula ointment or Silver Salve on her feet. Poor girl, she couldn't walk without limping. One of her front feet was very swollen, I suggested she had sprained it. The Arnica spray helped as did the Arinca pellets, but A was lax about giving them to Angel. I was to find out just how lax A was in her every day life soon...

One thing we did while we were in Norman (against A's will) was to clean out her car. We drove to a place where there was shade in a parking lot...it took us almost three tries after I located the spot since A didn't think the spot I chose was to her liking. But we finally got there. I let A park the car but after several tries, she was unable to get the car into the shade. WHAT??? She couldn't park her car, couldn't back up, couldn't follow directions! So, I parked the car in the shade while she watched.

I opened the back of the car and took out the two chairs A had packed, "to sit in and relax" is what she said. Let me tell you, there was little relaxing on this trip!!!

I started to take everything out of the back of the Honda CRV.That was when I discovered all the stuff she had packed that she probably didn't need to bring. The stuff that was taking up all the room in the back of the car and...are you ready for this???

She had ROACHES LIVING IN THE CAR!!! OMG! Not just dead ones or parts of dead ones, but LIVE ROACHES!!! Needless to say, I was pretty much off my rocker when I saw this!

She sat in one of her chairs to "relax" while I pulled everything out of the back of the car. I discovered she had brought 40 tee shirts, "So I can have a choice", over 200 CD's, again, "So I can have a choice" and a cribbage board, not to mention many other things that she wouldn't use or didn't need on this trip. By the time I got done with taking all her stuff out of the back (mind you, I hadn't addressed what she had packed behind the front seats on the floor of the car), I was so mad, I was spitting...literally. Almost frothing at the mouth. And the roaches were EVERYWHERE!

I killed probably 200 of them as they scattered after I took out the (stinking, hair riddled) cover she had over the back of the car to "Keep the dirt out". It was apparent she hadn't cleaned the car since she bought  it three years ago. Lost straws, napkins, you name it came out of there. I filled up two plastic grocery bags with trash...against her will. She said we could need them later! But they were full of roaches (I call it roach pecker tracks), I said as I crammed them into the bags. She protested and I ignored.

It took us about two hours to clear out the debris and re-pack the car. She had one small suitcase that had...are you ready? Six pairs of pants in it. Add that to 40 tee shirts, the cribbage board, a file box, a laptop she didn't know how to use and other unnecessary things.

I could see there was really no room on this trip for me, never mind my dog. This eye-opening experience really changed how I thought of A. And her lack of ability to prioritize things. Like making room for her friend on a cross country trip. Like being open about her living situation, having no operating toilet, no operating drain in the bathroom sink and lastly, all the roaches in her house. She was living some kind of delusional life and had dragged me into it.

When we returned to the room, we discovered Angel had been licking the whole time we were gone. Fortunately, she hadn't torn her stitches out. But she needed to be washed to remove the protein from her skin and new dressings applied. A didn't see the need, saying that "dog's saliva is clean" and there wasn't any reason to clean Angel's skin.

I was to learn that A didn't wash her hands after using a public toilet, she drank water after the dogs had drank from the same container (EWE), saying "A strong immune system keeps one healthy". But I disagreed...

We set out for New Mexico on Tuesday (6/27) morning. We located parks where we could walk the dogs in the mornings and every evening if possible. Since Angel was so disabled, we didn't feel it was necessary to locate anywhere to walk in Tucumcari, NM. I wanted to stay there since the song "Willing" mentions that town as well as others. We checked into a Super8 motel late in the afternoon. I was able to walk BB the dog around the grounds. This particular Super8 was pretty clean in the rooms, but the grounds had a lot of trash lying around. Broken furniture behind the motel, the dumpster had a lot of old construction materials piled up behind it, the dumpster was without a lid. There was an apricot tree right by the walkway, fruit lying on the ground, attracting Yellow Jackets and wasps. Dangerous for guests.

We stayed one night (I paid, of course) and left for Santa Fe the next AM (6/28). We chose to drive a secondary road north rather than to take the highway. There was a wonderful lake north of Tucumcari and we stopped at the park for lunch. I met a nice fellow there, he ran the visitor's center. Nice bathrooms, clean and modern. A was hot, even in the shade, but when wasn't she hot? Carrying an extra 150+ pounds would make most hot!

We ate lunch, packed up and headed north towards Las Vegas, NM, the nearest large town. We stopped for gas (I paid) and consulted the map for the best route to Santa Fe. We booked a room. We sat (with the AC blasting to keep A cool) and figured out the route.

When we left Las Vegas, NM and started driving again, I noticed the AC wasn't pumping out the cold air as it had been through the desert. I didn't mention it...but A noticed it right off.

Seems she had a problem with the AC in Memphis the same day she got the car back from the body shop. But it worked OK the next day and she dismissed any problems. When she told me this, I said that mechanical problems in cars don't heal themselves like cuts and bruises do. She denied anything could be wrong.

We checked into a Super8 motel on Cerrillos Road early evening that night due to A's bad choices in the route. It was late and I was tired. We found a close-by place to walk the dogs. A was not walking very well and Angel was still recovering, so they pretty much went to the car after Angel did her business. I took BB the dog for a pretty stiff walk, knowing he had been bored to death during the ride north.

The next morning (a Wednesday), I suggested A try to find a dealer to look at her AC.

She needed to go to an ATM to get some $$$. We had the windows of the car open as we drove down

Cerrillos Road and stopped at a traffic light in a line of traffic. While we were stopped, I suggested (as A had suggested the day before) that maybe the AC would work now that it had had a rest.

A let her foot off the brake as she looked down at the AC control knobs and  promptly HIT THE CAR STILL IN THE LINE OF TRAFFIC IN FRONT OF US! The car was brand new and registered in Texas. I know people from Texas and they ALWAYS call the cops and insurance companies. This was a BAD thing since A had seven (yes seven) points against her license due to an accident last winter (she claims she fell asleep while driving, I don't believe this for ONE MINUTE since I had been a passenger in the car while she drove from Memphis). I got out of the car right away. I was shaking, I had to sit on the stone wall next to the car. Of course, the police came, the fire department, too. I was OK but shaken up. I was glad we had left the dogs in the motel room. The police told us we had to move the cars out of the road since we were blocking traffic. The fire truck left as we headed around the corner to park in a nearby parking lot. Information was exchanged, the police left and I drove the car for the rest of the day.

How does one sit in a line of traffic at a stop light, then start moving without being sure the way is clear??? And I knew she blamed me for "distracting" her. "Be Prepared For Everything" so I was told when I was learning how to drive (many, many years ago).

I realized if I wanted to be safe, I would have to do more driving.

She was preoccupied with other things most of the day, I stayed with the dogs in the room and rested. I needed to rest after the accident. Also to keep an eye on Angel and her licking. At about 4 PM, A decided to take the car to Auto Zone to have the AC diagnosed. Auto Zone won't diagnose anything unless the Check Engine light is on, so she discovered. It was about 4:30 when she got back from the fruitless Auto Zone trip. She looked up some dealers in the area and made an appointment for Thursday morning. All the time she insisted they would have all the necessary parts to repair the AC in stock. A ridiculous thought since there are thousands of different models/makes of cars on the road!

Thursday morning, she drove over to the AC repair shop. They drove her back, in her car and dropped her at the motel. By 1 PM the owner of the repair shop was on his way to pick her up. Diagnosis: condenser, compressor & a switch needed to be replaced. Since A had bought an extended warrantee for her car, it would be covered except for the $100.00 deductible. However, since it was a Thursday, the parts wouldn't be in for a few days...they had to be ordered. And we were looking at the 4th of July weekend...Monday & Tuesday. The car would be fixed on Wednesday. That would make it over a week in Santa Fe. Did she say I was right about the parts not being in stock? Of course NOT.

On her way back from the AC repair, she ran some errands (she didn't feel it was necessary to tell me she would be gone for several hours. Lack of communication again). When she got back to the motel, she told me that she had found the park. We took the dogs and went for a walk in the park.

It believe the park is called Freddie's Field. Seems as Santa Fe expanded in the 80's & 90's, Freddie stuck to his guns and wouldn't give over to developers. He continued to cross his dairy cattle twice a day across a main road to and from pasture. He finally gave up around 1993. Town of Santa Fe bought some of the land, other land was developed. The park is on (what is left of ) the Rio Grande River, now actually just a small stream.

BB really liked the park. A had a hard time walking Angel, both were kind of limping along. I tried to stay with them, but it was just too hard, so BB and I went our own way along the circular, paved walk way that was about 1/3 mile. There were many interesting things going on in this park! There was a play area for kids, picnic tables, many different medicine wheels (created by native americans) and a foot bridge over the Rio Grande River.

The second day we went, I took BB down to the river bed. The stream was lovely. BB waded and had a good drink. I told A of the access to the river and she hobbled down to the riverbed. Angel was so happy to wade in the river! A took her off leash (against my better judgement) and sniffed her way around the tall growth. I was nervous when she went out of sight, but she did come back when called (if a bit slower than I would have liked). BB actually laid down in the stream!!!

When BB was small, someone thought it would be funny to throw him into a swimming pool. BB doesn't have any fat on him and he sunk like a stone. He will forever be afraid in large bodies of water, but had no fear of this water! He loved it!

I tried to take BB twice a day to the park for a good walk. Sometimes A came, sometimes not. Angel was slowly recovering from her interstate incident and was able to walk without much limping, altho' her front paw was still a bit swollen. A couple of times, I took Angel and BB for a brisk walk since A was unable to walk at any pace fitting for a dog-walker. A only let me walk Angel a couple of times...maybe she thought I was abusing her dog when walking at a brisk pace? Who knows...

I had a friend who moved to Santa Fe several years back. I located him and he was working on the pedal tours at the Santa Fe Plaza. We headed over to the plaza to see Mike. We had a good visit, but I had no money too pay him for a pedal tour. I felt badly not to be able to support him in his work. But we had a nice visit anyway.

Santa Fe is an amazing place. All the stores are of the same design...adobe. Homes are pretty much the same. Everything is geared towards the landscape and staying cool. But it is very built up since the 1970's and is part of Urban Sprawl now.

Sunday, we decided to take a trip north to Taos to see the Pueblo.

A drove since I figured she really couldn't do much damage on a secondary road. Was I wrong!!! The road was windey and the lanes were narrow. At one point, she crossed over the oncoming lane into a turnout on the other side of the road, almost colliding with a truck coming the other way. I think we missed an accident by 15 feet. I screamed out loud, I was so frightened. She acted like nothing had happened, saying she wasn't in the wrong, we didn't have an accident. OMG! I thought she might have a death wish! And wanted to take me along with her!!! She absolutely denied doing anything wrong! I was in disbelief! I drove the car when we left the turnout.

Earlier, we had stopped to gas up the car. I went to the bathroom but A denied she had to go...but she had to drop her pants and go at the turnout...and she isn't an easy thing to hide behind rocks, no matter how large the rocks are. How embarrassing for me! And bare-assed for her...she had just finished pulling up her drawers when another car pulled into the turnout.

As we drove up the road, we came upon a visitor's center run by the National Park Service and I decided to go inside. A wasn't very happy that we were stopping again. What a nice place, run by two young park service rangers. There was a lot of history there, some nice post cards and we were able to buy lifetime park passes (for seniors) at a cost of $10.00! What a deal! If we hadn't gone in, we would have missed this opportunity since the cost of the passes went up to $80.00 just recently. This pass allows me to get into any National Park for free...and anyone in the car with me has a free ride too!

We had a late start that morning and ran smack into traffic in Taos. After being in traffic for about 45 minutes, we headed out to the pueblo. There were road detours on dusty, gravely roads and when we got there, they were closed for a funeral. Disappointed, but we trudged on. We decided to go to the Rio Grande River Gorge Steel Bridge, probably 30 miles west of Taos.

What a bridge it was! 680+ feet above the bottom of the gorge, the bridge spanned. We parked the car and walked out to the bridge, then walked onto the bridge. There were walkways on both sides of the bridge, traffic flowing as we walked.

My vertigo kicked in and I was pretty shaky while on the span. I thought about jumping off since it seemed I was in a bad situation on this trip. If it wasn't for BB the dog, I might have jumped...

There was a painted up hippie-type bus at the parking area by the bridge offering cold drinks. I offered to pay for drinks (I knew A had no money). Of course, she got the MOST EXPENSIVE thing on the menu. I got an iced coffee, extra cream, no sugar. Was the best coffee I had since leaving Mass on June 22. The gal who ran the bus said she had a place where she rented renovated school busses nearby. She advertised on airb&b. When we left the bridge, we went searching for the bus-hostel/motel.

Instead, we came across the Earthship biotecture visitor's center. I got very excited (something that had NOT happened in a positive way since I left Mass) and we went into the parking lot. A decided she would stay in the car, she was probably trying to find some $$$ to pay for the motel & car repair. I had the most wonderful time exploring this place. The structures are buried into the earth and all kinds of recycled materials are used to build the homes...tires, aluminum cans, glass bottles. The structures are made of adobe or cement and the temperature remains at a steady 70 degrees all year round. This means no AC or heating expenses. They are self-contained, meaning no utility bills. No water, sewer, electric bills. The water is collected from the roof and goes into cisterns inside the buildings. Water is used three times. Once to wash (dishes, clothes, bathing), to flush toilets, to water the gardens (all inside the buildings). They all have septic systems that return the purified water to the ground. Solar panels and wind turbines provide energy to run appliances. Many of the appliances run off LP gas instead of electric. It is pricey to build one of these homes, but if you don't have any expenses (after property taxes, food and clothing), it will pay off. You can find more at earthship.com, I think.

We never found the place where we could rent a refurbished bus, but we did get lost (A's directions again) and ended up in Carson, NM. I have a friend who inherited some land from her parents in Carson, NM. Seems there is/was a huge land scam going on with this property. In the 60's & 70's, someone surveyed and sold off lots of land for little money. Now, it seems the US government owns the land and one can't get a clear title to the land, even if you bought it. It is abandoned. No utilities, no roads, no services. It looks like a ghost town. There are torn-apart trailers sitting in the middle of nothing. My friend wanted to sell me her inherited property for several thousand $$$. Nothing there to buy!

It turned out to be a good "wrong way" drive for me so I could actually see Carson. I won't invest there!

On Tuesday, we went to the Georgia O'Keefe museum. The museum was outstanding. We went to the Georgia Cafe for supper after the museum. A, of course, over-ordered and she took food home. The prices were steep, but the food was very good and she paid. The museum, along with meeting up with Mike was the highlight of the stay in Santa Fe.

I will say the Super8 on Cerrillos Road was a very nice motel. The staff was so helpful and pleasant. Bud, the main guy at the front desk told me he is from India and most of the staff working there seemed to be his family. Bud had a dog, his name escapes me right now, Dodger or something like that. Bud was good to his dog, playing ball with him in the  parking lot each afternoon.

The one thing about that place was that no one picked up after their dog...maybe including Bud. After the holiday weekend (don't forget it doesn't rain in Santa Fe till November), it was pretty poopy in the parking lot area. Mostly in the areas landscaped around the trees. And there was a good deal of trash that escaped out of the overfilled trash container by the door of the motel. There was a very nice sitting area outside where several times, I got my Vitamin D in the afternoon while I had a smoke. Also, in the evening, when it was cooler BB and I would go out and sit there.

During my evening walks at Freddie's Field with BB the dog, I saw two women walking. I assumed they were mother & daughter. By the second evening, after saying Hi to them on our round abouts, I asked them where we might find a good Mexican restaurant nearby. They said Valentina's was just a few blocks away. It took two days before we found it but the food was wonderful. The afternoon we ate there, they had a local band playing Mexican-style music. Wish I could remember the style, but it escapes me right now. The singer had a voice that would knock you off your chair! and the instruments were authentic. We had a great time. I paid.

The car went into have the AC repaired on Wednesday (7/5) morning. Since the repair wouldn't be done till after 5 PM, we stayed Wednesday night in Santa Fe. I paid $100.00 on my debit card for the repair. We packed up the room on Wednesday evening so we could get an early start on Thursday.

Thursday (7/6), we headed towards CA via Arizona. A drove most of the day, I spelled her for a bit. We were mostly on interstates. At about 6:30, we came to where we could get off the interstate to see the Petrified Forest. A was reading the directions from the AAA guide. Once again, she turned us in the wrong direction. That wrong turn cost us about 60 extra miles and probably over an hour and a half extra driving time. And gas money we really couldn't spare.

We got to the Petrified Forest at about 7:30. There was a visitor's center with a self-guided tour behind it. A stayed in the car with Angel, probably trying to find money. I took BB the dog out for a walk. Boy, was it hot! And windy! We walked among the fallen stone trees, up the rise and down. The view was stunning. It seemed it was raining "over there"...but not where we were, high desert. Strangely, I felt more at home here in the desert than most places except for Santa Fe.

After we left the Petrified Forest, we needed gas to make up for the lost miles of driving. We went to a gas station/gem shop. A went inside while I stayed with the dogs, too hot to leave them without the AC, which was working fine after the repair.

Outside this gas station/gem shop were many life-sized sculptures made of steel in the shape of horses & people. I went outside to take pictures. It was amazing, the construction of these sculptures! They were riveted steel and so life-like! Horses, mules, native americans, cowboys and even a few cattle! I do wish I could figure out how to upload these pix onto this blog!!!

We found a motel to stay at, maybe it was Williams, AZ, I don't have the receipt for that night, I just remember I paid for the room. We snuck the dogs into the room and out in the morning. The room was nice, clean with generous towels.

My biggest challenge was re-packing the car every morning. Since she had so much stuff and it was not really contained in solid containers such as suitcases but in recyclable grocery bags, everything of hers always fell out, fell over, was just too much stuff. Every morning, I faced that chore and it made me MAD. It set a very bad tone for the day...

July 8, still in AZ, heading northwest. We were about 50 miles from the Grand Canyon when I said what a shame it would be to get this close and not see the Canyon! So we headed towards the Canyon. With our life-time passes, we could get in free. It was after 5 PM when we entered and we found a good spot to park close to the paved walks into the canyon rim.

Unless you have seen this in person, one can't take in the immensity of the Grand Canyon. It is massive, huge and goes on as far as the eye can see. The colors are striking. The trees, albeit few, show the affects of wind and it was windy that day! Fortunately, it was also cloudy otherwise we wouldn't have been able to spend so much time there. We were allowed to take the dogs (on leash, of course) with us and I walked along the rim, just amazed at what I saw. Again, I wish I could put the pix on this blog..
August continued...
In late April, my friend who lives in Memphis and I reconnected after 20 years through Linkedin. She told me she was taking a cross country trip by car to see her son who lives in Olympia, WA. We discussed her impending trip and she said she needed a traveling companion, who better than the "practical friend who would balance out the trip". I had wanted to see the Southwest since my trip there in 1979 and had a spiritual experience while traveling in southern Colorado and into Nevada's badlands. She said she had plenty of money and I wouldn't have to pay for anything. I questioned her about money very closely and she assured me she could pay for my airline ticket as well as any other expenses on the trip.

I had some money saved. I could either take the trip or stay where I was and spend the money on everyday things. I decided I could afford to take the trip but would pay for my own airline ticket. BB the dog is a service dog and would fly with me in the plane.

He was so wonderful during the flight, everyone fell in love with him...Mr personality plus! He is such a social dog, loving everyone he meets. He sat on my lap for most of the flight except when he sat on another passenger's lap. The flight attendants were very impressed at his manners.

I had taken measures to be sure there was a wheelchair for me where I would enter the airport in Providence. Sure enough, there was a wheelchair and someone to push me to the gate...at least in Providence. When I had to leave one plane to board another in Baltimore, the attendant left me at the bottom of a huge ramp and pointed towards where I had to go. I pushed up the ramp and located some men in uniform who answered my questions about the direction I needed to head. At the same time, a young man came along and offered his services. I accepted, realizing he does this for money...but that was OK.

We headed towards the food court area where I bought us both something to eat. He told me his name was Roland, if I remember correctly. We ate and talked for an hour since I had a two hour layover. Then he "drove" me to the gate for boarding the next plane. All was easy since I had made all the necessary arrangements.

At the airport in
Memphis, my friend (let's call her A) of 31 years picked me up after I landed. I had BB the dog and three pieces of luggage, my laptop backpack, one small piece of leather duffel type bag and a large suitcase. I had packed food and all necessary traveling items for BB the dog and enough clothes for me to wear for a week and necessary toiletries. I was hoping to go to the local thrift shops to find some summer shorts before we left on our trip.

But when I got to her house, I got a real shock. She had three dogs and a cat. She hadn't cleaned her house in YEARS. The animal hair was all piled inches deep up along the baseboards and furniture. The smell was pretty awful. There was no place for me to sleep except for her bed and her three dogs shared that. All her bedding was coated with dog hair, even though she said the sheets were clean. The bathroom was filthy and her kitchen was piled up with dishes in the sink that had been there for probably a year. Her spare room was piled up with stuff that hadn't been looked at in a LONG time. Nothing showed any signs of organization whatsoever. The worst thing were the ROACHES. They were everywhere you looked.

I should have asked to be taken to a motel and booked a flight back to Mass, but I didn't want to loose this chance to go out west...and she had been a good friend when we both lived in Vermont, so I rolled up my sleeves and tackled cleaning the kitchen. As I cleaned years of filth from her counter tops, cabinets and washing machine, I began to remember how she was 20 years ago. She lived in a town close to Richmond (where I lived), with a roommate named Catherine. They were lovers. Catherine was always on A to do her share of the housework...vacuuming, dishes, laundry, picking up all the stuff that A always brought into their house. And A always left the work to Catherine and went off to "have some fun". Seems I recall that A never did her share of the work, leaving it to Catherine. And now I was looking at the results of someone who only wanted to go off and "have fun".

For two days, 12 hours every day, I worked on her kitchen & bathroom. She had neglected to tell me that her toilet didn't work...and I had to shit in a plastic bag and take it out to the trash. I worked on unclogging her toilet for about six hours. She didn't even know how to use a plunger! She said she had been washing the floors (where she had washed was a mystery to me) and was pouring the dirty wash water down the toilet and that's when it started to clog. I asked why she didn't pour the water outside? Never occurred, she said. Such a smart woman with such few practical abilities! When I asked her if she could have possibly let a wash rag go down the toilet, she denied that could have happened...but I now know better! When I asked her why she didn't get a plumber, she said she didn't have time, money and was OK without a functioning toilet. And she thought it was OK to invite someone to come to her house when she didn't have a functioning toilet? Something isn't right here...

Then I looked into her tub/shower...what a freaking mess that was! And her bathroom sink didn't drain right, the water went from the drain onto the floor. Things got worse the further I looked!!!

A had stopped using her kitchen sink and washed dishes in the bathtub. She used a metal bucket but didn't bother to remove the bucket from the tub. The bucket rusted so badly in the tub it had rusted to the porcelain! Of course, there were no cleaning items in the house...no Mr. Clean, no sponges, no cleaning cloths. She washed her dog bedding with her bath towels and everything was full of dog hair.

At one point, we were sitting in her living room. She had covered her couches with sheets since she knew how much I hated sitting on dirty furniture. Over her coffee table (which was covered with inches of papers, none organized) were small gnats flying. I suggested there must be some food under all the papers that were feeding these gnats. She denied there could be anything since she had cleaned off the coffee table a day or two before. I told her she was wrong...and when I was in the bathroom trying to unclog the toilet, she re-examined her "cleaning" of the coffee table and actually stacked her papers on the table. She found some food in a zip lock bag where the gnats were living and breeding. So much for her ability to clean anything!

The roaches were throughout the house. I knew I had to be careful with my things and close up my luggage every time I opened them to get something out. My dog was terrorized by her big dogs, not because they were aggressive but because there were three of them, they were big and he has had some negative experiences with big dogs. Fortunately, the neighbor was a "collector" and had just found a nice dog kennel and brought it home. I asked if I could borrow it, he said yes. I put BB in the kennel with water and his blanket. He felt safe and secure inside the kennel. One less thing to worry about.

The first day I was in Memphis, A asked me to borrow $100.00 for her eye exam. The second day, another $100.00 to pay for her glasses. Then $200.00 for "expenses", some of which were cleaning items. Then she didn't have enough money to pay for all the car's repairs, I put the $270.00 on my debit card. Then it was another $575.00 for the brakes in the car. All the time, she is telling me that her "money is coming from my tax return and she had money coming from her wages from school". Her tax man had her taxes since the first week of May (or so she said). I had brought almost $1,000.00 in cash with me and she went through it in 48 hours! I was beginning to wonder what was in the future during our trip.

I was possessed with cleaning the tub and bath enough to where I felt safe to step into the shower. Her shower head sprouted water all over the wall, I tried to fix the leak with some teflon tape but that didn't work. I tied a piece of towel over the leak so the water didn't squirt all over. I used straight CLR on the tub to get the grime off and left a hand towel soaked with CLR on the rust stain on the bottom of the tub to try to remove the rust stain. I wanted to wash the bathroom floor but was just too busy in the kitchen.

When I was cleaning houses in college, that would have been in the early 1980's, I was making $12.00 an hour plus bonus. In 2006, I was making $25.00 an hour. I worked in her house for 24+ hours...I figure she got about $600.00 worth of cleaning and repairs from me in the first two days...not to mention all the money she borrowed.

We did go to Whole Foods to buy supplies for the trip. I spent abut $130.00 there and another $40.00 at Kroger's. We went to the local Goodwill where I found a nice skirt but no shorts. She found a nice piece of luggage, the kind to put suits in and it folds up to carry. That was $12.99. She said she could put her nice blazers into it to keep the dogs' hair off them so she didn't have to de-hair every time she wore them. If I had known she was going to bring 4 BLAZERS on the trip, I never would have paid for it!

We were supposed to leave n the wee hours early Friday morning for Norman, OK. but it rained heavily all Thursday evening. A packed the car, she insisted. I should have been suspicious, seemed she was spending a LOT of time packing the car. But I was working in the kitchen and trying to get the bathroom clean so I could get the (roach pecker tracks) dirt from her filth off me.

We decided to get some sleep and leave Friday morning. We got up, I took a shower and then got my luggage ready to put into the car. But the car was full!!! There was no room for my luggage!!! She had so much stuff in the car it wasn't even amusing!!! She insisted on bringing two folding chairs; none of her personal items were in a suitcase, but in recyclable bags that one takes to the supermarket. I was astounded! We "rearranged" the back of the car and managed to shove my luggage in, leaving a small area of back window open for rear-view. Safety reasons, she said...

One thing she had in the back was an old Coleman cooler. We did need a cooler for the trip so we weren't eating out all the time. I couldn't afford nice restaurant meals every day nor was I prepared to eat from fast food places. So, I wanted to have good food available. Even good peanut butter and jelly is better than MacDonald's! She had bought 10# of ice and opened the bag, poured the ice into the cooler and had all the food in the ice. In theory, this is fine, but anything that isn't in a jar, can or sealed zip lock would be ruined...a $5.00 loaf of bread for example. I had to show her how to put the ice into large Ziploc bags, squeeze the air out and then put that bag into another Ziploc bag. She had only cheap zipper bags, so of course, they leaked...and I discovered she was unable to close ANYTHING.

It was then she told me she had a problem with her registration on her car. Seems there had been some kind of hold on her registration that had to do with some financial issue. But she assured me it was all straightened out. When we got to the Registry, the wouldn't give her the registration renewal sticker. So, we just took off...she assured me that the registration was paid up and I had no other option at that time.

We headed to Norman, OK where she was to meet her family. BB the dog was in the back with A's dog Angel, who by the way hadn't been groomed for many years. Angel was a sweet dog but had some issues that would come to light in the near future.

As we got close to Norman, we ran into some serious rain. Seems it was a good thing we delayed our trip by 12 hours for there had been so much heavy rain that many of the roads had flooded, including the interstates. We arrived in Norman at about 7 PM and checked into our first Super8 motel. This was one of the good motels...there were many others, many better, many worse.