Tag Archives: Road Trip

Our rendition of “National Lampoon’s vacation”

Do you ever have that strange sensation that you might be headed in the wrong direction, that something “not so good” is just lurking around the corner.  Remember National Lampoon’s Vacation? here’s a trailer to help jog your memory and set the stage for the rest of this post.

That was the feeling I had the entire week of our 4th of July vacation.  It has nothing to do with the company or the plans, it was just one of THOSE weeks.

To begin we got a phone call late Friday night  (July 1) that my in-laws were hit with a really bad storm.  There were trees and power lines down all over.  Ok, we’ve been there before- our house was hit last summer with straight line winds over 80 mph.  Over a 1,000 trees were uprooted and down all over town.  Our plan would remain the same.  After my photography shoot, we’d pack up and head out.  Our plan was to trailer the motorcyle up with family in-tow in the truck.  We’d arrive at his parent, settle in for a couple days.  On Tuesday, the husband and I would take the motorcyle Up to the shore of Lake Superior, ferry over to Madeline Island- do some exploring and just relax and enjoy life.  We get 10 miles from home and the first of many phone calls takes place.

Let me give you a little background.  My in-laws are retired and now live in a trailer in a campground year-round in Northwest sticks of Wisconsin.  Over 70% of the population are vacationers who camp or have cabins along the many lakes in the area.  Most of the housing is RV’s. At 11 AM (Little man just fell asleep and the dog settles in ready for the 5-hour trip) we learn that the entire area has no power, the one grocery store has been raided of ice and bottled water from frantic people trying to figure out how to make it through the weekend.  Rembmer it’s 4th of July weekend- the population quadrouples due to the number who come up to camp for the weekend.  By the sounds of it, the power company has it’s work cut out for them and are giving estimates of 3-7 days before the power returns.  So we make a few modifications to the plan- we make some phone calls to my family members and borrow a generator for the week.  We get it loaded and are back on our way (12:45 PM).

About 20 minutes later, Brent pulls over on the highway.  “I think I just blew a tire on the trailer.”  It’s confirmed.  Proceeds to change the tire- and I must say he was pretty speedy- everything said and done in 20 minutes.  He returns to the truck.  “We have a problem, the tire pressure on the trailer tires is REALLY low.  We need to find a place to fill them ASAP.  I don’t have another spare and we might blow the other tire any minute.”  {Great} We are 10 miles out of the nearest city.  The next exit is 2 miles up ahead, but from my knowledge they don’t have a gas station.  Regardless we pull off and we pull into a boat repair shop- we get lucky.  They are open and they have an air compressor.  Back on the road at 1:30 PM.

We drive about 40 miles and little man wakes up and is ready to get out.  He’s not happy!  We decide to pull off and quick do a bathroom break and grab a snack at the McDonald’s (I know it’s not healthy but I can always count on having a changing area in the bathroom and sometimes even a play area to burn some energy).  As we are unloading, Brent checks the trailer.  The other trailer tire (the one that wasn’t replaced) has no berrings (I’m not very automotive-parts-savvy), basically the wheel is about to fall off.  It’s now almost 2:30 PM on Saturday of a Holiday weekend.  Any automotive parts store that might have been open, is now closed or close to it.  We spend over an hour at McDonald’s while Brent tries to get the parts to fix it himself.  Thankfully this is one of the McDonald’s with a playground.  Little Man is content.  On a normal day we are a little over an hour from home.  The trailer will not make it very far, nor are we having any luck trying to fix it yet today.  We order some food, ponder life, I walk the dog, little man continues to play.  We decide to ditch the trailer.  Brent will ride the motorcycle the rest of the way and we’ll hope that the trailer will be in teh parking lot when we return.  This means I will have Little Man and Diesel in the truck by myself for the remainder of the trip (almost 4 hours).  Caleb already took a 2 hour nap, and usually that’s all he’s good for.  I also had surgery on my right shoulder almost 2 months ago and far from mobile when it comes to reaching out to the side or front.  So we turn the passenger airbag off, move little mans car seat to the front and we hit the road AGAIN (Time is now 3:45 PM).

The drive goes on with little excitement.  Little man seems pretty content looking out the windows, eating puff corn.  Sometimes as parents we make poor decisions with our children in order for our sanity to take priority.  I would let little man have anything he wanted on that ride, as long as I could reach it.  At one point I literally prayed that we wouldn’t run out of puff corn.  Not one of my proudest mommy moments, but I was desperate at this point just to get there.  I already worry about my husband on the motorcyle as it is, with the batting record we were pulling, nervous would have been an under-statement.  Within 45 minute of driving, Little Man falls asleep and life almost seems peaceful.  I guess I spoke too soon.  As he we hit the split to head north (opposed to the westward direction we had been traveling) I notice a state trooper flying up behind me weaving in an out of the lanes.  I slightly panic.  Occupying a dog, & Child while driving alone is task by itself.  Add the driving with one arm dimension and I fear that I may not have had the best driving skills.  I begin to slow down, figuring out how to keep the 100-lb dog in the backseat calm as a stranger approaches the car, which would then wake little man up in a screaming terror.  As I slow he goes around me and pulls directly in front of me- pulling my husband over.  I slow and pull over in front of them- thankfully I reminded my husband to grab the cell phone before ditching us in the truck so I could at least talk to him quick since the officer returned to his vehicle.  I should mention that anytime we slow or come to a stop, Diesel thinks it’s time to get out.  He’s beginning to pace and whine.  I decide to go up ahead to our typical Wal-mart stop as we need to start hoarding “no-power supplies” such as ice, gallons of water, matches, candles, I even pick up some solar lights for outside.  We are all awake and eager to get out.  I put Diesel on a leash and we walk over to the grassy walkway area at the back of the parking lot.  Brent meets up with us a few minutes later.  We head in to get all the goods.  One problem- no ice.  We are almost 100 miles away from out final destination, and with all the chaos up north they ran out of ice at 3 PM, it’s 6:30 PM. They provide a couple recommendations and we start this fabulous little scavenger hunt.  Luckily we were successful nearby and buy 40 lbs of ice.

The last leg of the trip is never my favorite- especially this time of night.  It’s north woods at dusk, which meant the wildlife head to the streets.  Amazingly little man falls asleep one more time and I feel pretty darn lucky.  We arrive at our destination at 8:45 PM (almost 10 hours later, what’s typically 5 hours) unscathed, just added a generator and lost a trailer.  Within minute we hook up the generator to the water pump and freezer, and his in-laws are pleased to flush the toilet for the first time in 24 hours.  Several had already attempted bathing in the river or reverted to baby wipes- so the thought of a shower seemed like a delicacy.

While our vacation was far from our expectations, my in-laws were grateful for the help as we cut up the 10 down trees- one that damaged the roof,  hauled and burned tons of brush, and baked in the 90 temps while working.  I will say the 1 1/2-day getaway was blissful.  My husband surprised me and rented a cottage on the lake with whirlpool tub. Kind of high class for my tent camping standards.  It was so delightful- Bayfield, Wisconsin is an absolutely gorgeous area.  Kind of Door County without the fluff is how I’d describe it if you are familiar.  I have a few posts coming to acquaint you 🙂

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Road Trip: Day 3

Brent and I awoke Wednesday morning (Now 3 weeks ago) after one ridiculously amazing night of thunderstorms.  While we remained mostly dry inside the tent, the same wouldn’t be true outside.  Occasionally we would get a 2 min break in the rain.  The Internet in the lodge and weather channel all predicted showers throughout the day.  We threw a little pity party for ourselves and then we were notified that we are in the mountains.  I know you are probably like “wow, idiots you weren’t aware of that” Yes silly…we knew we were in the mountains, what we didn’t realize is the weather forecast doesn’t change much because the mountains tend to interfere with the weather patterns so in order to maintain a somewhat accurate forecast there is a chance of showers about 75 % of the time. 

We pulled ourselves out of the puddle of tears we’ crying because it was raining on our vacation (really we weren’t crying).  Rather we rustled about frantically to get as much ready as possible in the 2 minutes of slight drizzle.  Thankfully, we invested in some fancy rain gear for bikers, thus now was as good a time as ever to try it out.  By 9 am I had eaten 3 times and was still hungry, I was dressed in a few layers and constructing a way to take pictures on the back of the bike with a 30 foot lens, and prevent the camera from being damaged in any downpours along the way.  We were off and riding before most set to ride do a loop of a about 200 miles before the day end.  We would head south through the Cherahola Skyway- which is a 2 lane highway through the mountains, with a fair share of bends and twists in the path.

Just as we turned onto the route (which is approximately 40 miles from camp) we saw a glimmer of hope!

IMG_0850…heaven!

Since we were actually seeing mountains and not fog or rain we took a little advantage of the photo op and posed in our ridiculously dorky-matching rain suits each taking a turn with the mistress.
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That wouldn’t last long- soon the clouds surrounded us and seeing 10 feet in front of us was becoming more and more of a challenge. Added to that we were being pelted with raindrops the size of lemons. I may still have a few welts to prove it.  I don’t have pictures of the roadway, but there really isn’t any place to stop for cover.  So being the die hard bikers that we were,we continued on!

We had heard from some folk back at camp that there was a really cool waterfall (Bald River Falls) just as we were getting off the Cherahola Skyway.  They took a trail down into the little stream bed and climbed on the rocks.  We were pretty excited to check this place out since I have an obsession for waterfalls.  However things were quite different then described.  IMG_0858
Apparently this waterfall is usually about a third of this size.  The stream that was described was now a raging river with rapids and all, the waterfall completely covered all of the rocks…as you can see there were to many places to get down in there and climb around.  Not to mention we were still be stalked by a nagging rainstorm.  Rocks+wetness= bad idea for a pregnant woman to go hiking around. Really I’m not losing my sense of adventure, but Brent advised me to find my better judgement and I obliged.

Not 2 minutes after we were back on the bike to continue the next 120 miles of our loop the rain stopped an it was so humid it became hard to breathe.  Strangely I began to FREEZE! I think all the wetness combined with the altitude of the mountains was messing me up a bit, or it was my body going into shock after not being fed for almost 3 hours!  Coming down a bit out of the mountains we caught a fabulous little diner along the raging river with patio, and amazing food.  A diner that serves Grilled Cheese and hot chocolate is a diner after my own heart. 
IMG_0877So we sat and chatted with a couple who had retired and moved to the area.  Appears no matter where we go, someone else is always from Wisconsin.  The couple had retired and moved down here and both were first responders.  They went on to share a few stories of all the major accidents in recent years.  Made me a bit reluctant to get back on a ride another 3 hours.  But we did. 

Next up was “The Dragon.”  This little devil was what drew Brent to this area.  As we headed on our way things the skies cleared and things heated up a bit.  I ended up falling a sleep on the back of the bike for a bit- full belly and sunshine somehow always leads to a nap in my world.  I woke up sweating.  The raingear  we were still adorning was doing a great job of keeping water out, but it also happened to be really good at keeping heat in.  With the added pleasure of the sun on our all black costumes- I was scorching hot.  Not by appearance I assure you, just body temperature. 

Then it was here…the next 11 miles we would experience 316 turns, nearly all of them were near 120 degree turns. IMG_0880IMG_0881IMG_0883IMG_0891

…you get the picture.  Major bends with no clear sight of what’s in front or in back.  No guard rails and major “cliffs” usually 50 feet or greater on the edges of these roads.  The speed limit was now 25 but apparently that is something new, as just last year they reduced it from 55 mph.  Even at that rate were passed by a few crotch rockets.  That might have something to do with this:
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all the unfortunate (or stupid ones) who laid their bikes down and in doing so donated a piece of it to the tree of shame.  You might notice there is quite a bit more plastic than chrome on this tree…one more reason I think crotch rockets are stupid (an that’s the nicest word I could find).  Throughout our stay heard of MANY who had died in recent weeks.  In fact while we were there a fellow camper laid his bike down and broke an arm, collarbone, and several ribs.  He ended up being hospitalized for most of the time we were there.

The publicity behind “The Dragon” started in the early 90’s when this place
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put it on the map by establishing several “races” of which the record stands from 1996 of a crotch rocket doing the full 11 miles to the other side and back in 11 minutes.  I should note this was all done “unofficially” meaning the road was still open for traffic and the little racer dude never knew what he might face around the next bend.  That was enough insanity for me for one day.

Just down from Deal’s Gap resort is “The Fugitive” dam.  If you ever watched the movie, this would be the dam that Harrison Ford jumped off to escape those who were chasing him.
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And to round out the loop we have a few shots on the way back to our campground…
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once back at camp (around 5 pm) we made dinner for the slightly famished woman on the trip.  Being the luxurious campers we are we pulled out the camp stove and cast iron post and made one of mom’s quick dinners of Cheesy Chicken broccoli and rice- which hit the spot!  We did manage a quick trip in to a town in the opposite direction due to my husbands inability to relax for more than 5 minutes.  Noting real exciting there to report other than on our way back towards camp we were stopped by a State sheriff who just wanted to check that Brent had a license.  Seemed odd, but that was an easy enough test to pass. 

We were welcomed yet again by a soggy campground that was now seeping into everything.  Life as we knew it was becoming very MOIST.  With that I’ll leave you for now. 

It might be a few days before you get to hear about day 4 and 5…there is so much yet to share! I’m travelling and don’t have the pictures uploaded to help tell the story. Don’t you fret, there will be other non-related vacation posts coming in the meantime. 🙂

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Driving Sideways

All of the events in this post true are based on real-life events.  Consider this a warning of an absurdly longer than usual post, and apologize for the delay as promised in an earlier post.

While yesterday I felt as thought I was literally driving sideways, combating 54 mph wind gusts that would also modify our glorious spring temperatures back to frigid (windchill of -9 degrees), this post is actually to give you a BOOK CLUB update and real life interpretation of the book.

Our March selection for book club was in fact: Driving Sideways by author Jess Riley.  Let me provide you with some brief history.  I first heard of Jess in a previous job when she was hired to work on a grant proposal.  Months later I received a random email regarding her upcoming book which was in the process of being published.  Hmm, the things you learn when you least expect them.  I filed the thought somewhere deep in the crevices of my brain until a later date which happened to be in December of last year.  Jess’ face started popping up in and around convenient places of my life. The reminder of her face kept intriguing me to buy her now released book.  Coincidentally at our December book club meeting, a fellow book clubber noted that a local author would come to our book club if we read her book.  Well, the only local author I know is Jess Riley…..and somehow I recalled her book Driving Sideways. (Want to see our stellar selction of reads for 2009?)

I finally got around to finding out what her book was about…and let’s just say she had me at “Road Trip.”  While I ganderred over the synopsis of the book…oh here let me enlighten you…
 Driving Sideways tells the story of Leigh Fielding, a twenty-eight year-old kidney transplant recipient who—six years, hundreds of dialysis sessions, and a million bad poems after being diagnosed with Polycystic Kidney Disease—finally feels strong enough to pursue a few lofty goals she’s been mulling for years: find herself, her kidney donor’s family, and the mother that abandoned her over twenty years ago. And what better way to do just that than a solitary road trip across the country? Well, maybe not entirely solitary, because Leigh suspects she may have inherited more than just an organ from her deceased donor. It’s this sneaking suspicion that takes her trip down some unexpected detours—and the juvenile delinquent who blackmails Leigh into giving her a ride is only the beginning.

It didn’t take long to find myself submerged in the book, recollecting fond old college memories.  The randomness and event filled sarcasm made me ponder the days of road trip bliss.  My partner in crime may not have been a juvenile delinquent who bribed me for comradery, but rather my best friend (Meg’s for those who are familiar).  And while I may not have sported a new kidney or kayak…we were fully equipped with a bobble-head-iguana to provide his keen sense of direction (Note: this was before the modern technology of GPS an maps apparently).   The bobble-head-iguana may have been christened many names through the years, but began his navigational career known as “York.”  We’d ask York if we should turn at this exit?  If he jammed out with an up-and-down bobble of the head we followed his cue.  Unlike little naive Leigh, I was not embraced by finding a gun en tow by my passenger;  Rather a miniature sized Louisville Slugger bat, measuring all of 12 inches and 1/2 inch diameter.  I was informed it was meant to “keep the elderly rapists away.” We continued on…ho-hum.  Along the way we were graced with rancid smells of dead bodies…conveniently we covered our top lip and nose with the only thing we could find to offer a scent better than decaying human matter (or swampy landmass)…Lubriderm Lotion.  Okay- are you picturing this, Lubriderm Lotion enmass covering the top lip of several college chics!  It was a sight that sent our guts into curdled mass of laughter still leaving others to wonder WTF (that is What the Fu*k for the Text abbreviation illiterate)?Alas we reach our destination, and acquired some amazing artifacts of our existence.  Only in Lawton, Oklahoma can you walk into a random bar across from our hotel and have them spend hours finding gifts to give you because they love the Packers (ie- tshirts, beads, a neon Miller-Lite bar sign).  Our adventures may included a few signs to fellow-passers-by notifying them of eager blinker remaining equipped.  And while didn’t have fortunate experience to exclaim Leigh’s notorious quote: “Go ahead fucker, make your day!”  we were able to log a few other remarkable quotes: “I want to see some fucking Amish,”  “(Gasp) That’s a real-live hitch-hiker, I’ve never seen a real-live hitch-hiker.”    Sigh…such fond memories.  As you can see this book was meant for me!

Perhaps you could sense my urgency to meet the real-life author….literally, I needed a diaper.   I was so enthralled, to hear how many of the events in the book were true.  She really did have a friend who sat down in a vitamin store all yoga-like,  pull out her crystal pendent to determine which vitamins to buy.  Not to mentioned she came equipped with angel juice to deter the evil spirits.  Whoa! This was getting even better and better.  The stories of not-so-celebrity author status and woes of publishing a book still kept me interested in the process.  As the night digressed I realized it was time for me to make my way back through he foggy roads and attend to snuggly sweet nothings in my dreams. 

On my 20 minute drive home, As I pondered the read, and the real-life-author-meeting-experience I realized it was the perfect twist of fate I needed.  It would be time for me to return to my creative outlet which I once began several years ago.  Much to my lack of motivation or belief in my writing abilities, I turned to blogging in recent years to fill the void.   I had, however, started a manuscript several years ago.  I thought perhaps it was time for me to return to the idea of writing a book.  Or at least blogging!

Moments later my decision established in concrete, while I cruised passed a man doned in a hooded-sweatshirt aside the road with an outstretched arm and extended thumb.  Gasp ” a real-life hitch-hiker-in Wisonsin.”  The statement promted a speed-dial to Megs, who I’m sure was fast asleep in the comfort of her New York bed.  Who knew I’d experience a rel-life-author encounter, and a real-life-Wisconsin-hitch-hiker all in one night.  I guess it’s a sign!

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Apparently people like Oprah and Free Scrapbooks…

…cause it was by far the most DEMANDED post I’ve ever posted.  And while Oprah’s little deal she offered has now expired (although I am all in favor of 700 free things to be free for scrapbooking, cause I think we’d all be in a happy place with free scrapbooking stuff…oh and a week and a half of vacation to create) I thought I’d post a few of my creations that are totally Oprah worthy

Cough…

Or whatever. But since the weather is cold and snowy and the sidewalk is covered in ice…I’m going to take myself back to some nice vacations (since I don’t have kids, most of my scrapbooks evolve around my trips).

Exhibit A-  Our trip out West on the Harley, not once but 2 summers to Sturgis.  The first year was just a tease. The next summer we extended our trip by another week and another 1000 miles 🙂  I also have issues.  I need to organize my albums in chronological order, or in themes.  Oops, OCD but ONLY with scrapbooking.  Sometimes I make myself want to puke over how ridiculous I can get.  Either way you will also notice my need to include MANY picture into 2 page layouts

btw…I do all my pages as 2 pages layouts, it’s to the point that I ALWAYS buy 2 pieces of a piece of paper I like so I can make sure I can coordinate the papers…before I even know what I’m going to do with them…

Here is a really crappy picture of a layout with 16 pictures (Needles’ Highway) of our trip out west on the Harley (aka “the Mistress”)

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Staying on that theme of our trip out West, here’s a few more layouts.  Please keep in mind, I suck at taking pictures of layouts apparently, so some them you will see one layout with pieces of the other page creeping into the picture; some pictures are a bit blurry so I try to refrain from triggering a headache for you whenever possible.

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A little more detailed picture of the previous layout posted above
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There was a little bit of this….

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 A lot of this…(I apologize for any near porn that may have snuck into this layout posting).

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Okay …let’s go to someplace more festive. 
Exhibit B… How about New Year’s in New York City

2008-026 Miss you Megs 🙂

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As you can see there is some work that needs to be done on that trip yet.

Exhibit C: I thinking a nice beach location would be nice right about now.  I bring you North Carolina
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Why don’t we wrap this post up with some of the amazing little details at Duke University.

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Thankfully we’ve added a rider onto our homeowners insurance to cover the costs of my scrapbooking paraphernalia in the event of a fire!  My creativity supplies are currently sprawled amidst 3 rooms…gotta run I might be able to squeeze in a layout before bed!

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