Thursday, September 1, 2011

I am Strong. I am Invincible.

I am strong. I am invincible…. Actually, I’m pretty ‘vincible’ but I tried this summer to be less so. These are two of my sisters, as we took a walk on the "boardwalk" at the Resort in Coeur d'Alene on a choppy day. But first I had to drive there.

My first accomplishment was replacing two bathroom faucets. For the handy folk out there, this may appear a no-brainer and, in fact, I found it was not technically difficult since I simply reversed the process after removing the old icky faucets. Learning the function of a simple basin wrench? Priceless. Learning that the issue with retrofitting of fixtures is not the actual installation but GETTING in there? Also priceless. Laying there. Crawling. Sprawling. Reaching up while laying, back arched, over the edge of a raised cabinet. Reaching around existing pipes. I can see that new installation would be FAR easier. It probably took me hours longer than it would have taken Mark but I managed it. And now I know I can. BooYAH!

Going from my father’s house to my husband’s at 17 makes one the perennial passenger. My mom didn’t drive until she was nearing 40, not long before I was born so I don’t know that I ever recall her driving with my dad in the car. Heck, if there was company, my Mom took the back seat, deferring her passenger seat to a male guest. Don’t most families leave driving to Dad? I take the wheel occasionally with Mark in the car but distance driving, except in the exceptional cases, is left to the man and I seldom go any distance driving by myself. All this leaves me with little experience navigating in unfamiliar territory. I did drive to Santa Cruz from Carson City twice to visit my folks but it was a 7-hour drive and easily done in a a day. No overnights. I've even made this same drive to Idaho but had the kids along to navigate and keep my occupied. Never alone.

This summer I changed that by setting a course for northern Idaho, fourteen hours away, and driving myself to visit my family. Just making the decision was huge. Then I had to ponder my choices and decide on a route. In hopes of commandeering a spare kayak for a jaunt, I also loaded all my paddling gear. I synced the iPod, packed some snacks and set off. The world was my burrito.

It's odd that there's a real difference between traveling as a passenger and driving on a trip like this. No conversation. but LOUD singing. Although you can't watch the landscape as much as when you're riding shotgun, you see fewer things but you see them differently. You have to pay real attention to signs, both speed limit and directional. And traffic. The real joy would be stopping when I want and taking pictures. Mark is not unwilling to stop but...lets just say I hesitate to make him pull over after passing a caravan of Winnebarges on holiday, knowing he will have to pass them all again after I take a picture or two. But, by myself? Eh...I probably didn't do much passing and don't mind doing it again. So I stopped. I stopped along 199 to enjoy the turquoise waters of the Smith River. On the second day of travel, having spending the night in a Pasco motel, I stopped to watch combines working the wide open fields in southern Washington. Honestly, this area is mostly bland desert but there were stretches of ag land, tended to by behemoth sprinklers that catch my eye every time we head this way.
While in Idaho, I stayed with my sister. Wine was consumed. While wine was consumed, we sat and pondered the birds in her cherry tree and realized there was an abundance of cherries in that tree. She fetched the ladder and a bowl and I climbed. We picked bowls full before the birds beat us to them. I did not fall out of the tree. To celebrate, more wine was consumed.I borrowed my sister's kayak and joined my sister-in-law and the Coeur d'Alene Canoe and Kayak Club on an evening paddle up Wolf Creek, off of Lake Coeur d'Alene. Pretty area, known for resident eagles though just one golden sat atop a tree watching us. Nice people and warm enough to paddle in tank tops at 8:00 at night.
On the way home later in the week, while cruising south on 395, somewhere in the dreary miles of middle Washington, I spotted this train. We were headed the same direction but it was going backwards. The first time I spotted it, it was heading through an ag area and I thought a photo in order. Think about it...the perfect opportunity to catch the front if I got ahead of the it? So, I scurried on ahead to find a good spot to pull over and wait. I grabbed my camera, jumped from my car waiting for it to pass and ...CRAP, dead battery. Argh! I change the battery but the train has continued on. Backwards. The direction I'm going. I charge along, finding spots to pull over but too much junk to make a good photo. Finally, my last opportunity before it ducked to somewhere away from the highway, I pull over, take my last shot at it, surrounded by sagebrush instead of grassy fields but, still, not bad. For a train going my direction.

In Springfield, on the way home, I, booked a room and found I was just around the corner from the Hop Valley Brewery so I wandered over for a plate of catfish and a pint of Stout before hitting the hay for the final six-hour push home in the morning. All in all, a great trip. I found that I CAN do this. I drove without getting flipped off once. I pulled into motels without prior reservations. I didn't get too lost and, when I did, found my way again. I successfully located a number of card-locks so I could save a little on the fuels costs of a 1600 mile trip and THAT is no easy task since card-locks are not generally located in easily accessed parts of town. This may not seem like much, but this was an important accomplishment for me.


Monica... That One Girl said...

I'm proud of you, mama. The trip sounds like it was incredible. I still wish I could have gone, but I'm glad you did it on your own and showed those 1600 miles who's boss.

Kym said...

The plumbing thing would scare the heck out of me!

The Editors said...

Ahem...Where have you been, young lady! There's a new blog in town and you're missing out.