Muddy horses

This series of posts is brought about by my attempt to relive what I did on my road trip which lasted from December 8, 2013 to May 3, 2014. I’m attempting to sorta keep pace with myself last year.

 

I cruised into Christenburg, Virginia, hunted up a small church on a side street, and arrived just barely in time for a Toastmaster’s meeting. I participated in the meeting and had a good time but I had missed out on the pre-meeting gathering and couldn’t stay afterwards because I had to connect with the Airbnb host who was expecting me deep in the mountains.

She was a veterinarian’s assistant for large animals and had a couple horses. On the Airbnb ad the place looked comfortable and I liked the idea of spending some time with some horses.
I called her and she said the place was kinda hard to find and since her and her boyfriend had yet to eat dinner, did I want to meet in town for a bite first?
Sure! Awesome!
I’d been renting out my extra bedroom on Airbnb for a few years. I didn’t find it uncomfortable at all to invite strangers into my home. In CT I had been feeling a lack of worldliness and I’m pleased to say that opening my home to travelers was a wonderful experience. A German couple, an artist from West Virginia, a grad student from Oxford, a chain saw carver, cross country cyclists who arrived in a rainstorm, a young Russian man who’d just landed a great job here and was looking for an apartment to bring his family from Russia. I found it wonderful to sit and chat with these folks, or go out to dinner on a couple occasions, so I was delighted with her invite.
Only one time with an Airbnb guest did I have a poor experience. A lawyer father of a Wesleyan student.
“A single woman living alone here?”
I was trying to show him around the house. He starts peeling off his shirt.
“Oh I hope I don’t make you uncomfortable, I have to change quickly and be at a function. I’m sure if I have any questions I’ll find you. And if you need to find me my door will be open all night if you need anything.”
Yeah. Unh. Thanks.
He called a couple hours later, said he’d be out late and asked if he could stay an extra night. I told him no. I couldn’t accommodate that.
I slept with a milk crate in front of my bedroom door, with a vacuum cleaner balanced on top of it. I didn’t actually expect any trouble from this guy. He was just sorta creepy and smarmy. He and all his stuff were gone when I woke up.

Virginia Tech town. My host and her boyfriend were friendly but extremely spacey, both of them. Conversation was punctuated by dreamy stares. After a decent dinner at a student hangout I followed them up into the mountains. I had a few moments of – what the fuck am I doing?stardust
I called my then boyfriend, made sure he had the exact address, and if he didn’t hear from me in the morning he should do something about it. I dislike fear when it shows in me. What do I have to be afraid of?
Seriously.
Maybe you’ve not seen the meme, but it’s true –
Stardust. That’s all.

There wasn’t much to see of the place, it was dark. The horse pen did come pretty close to the back of the house. And two of them came to say hello. As they did I noticed they were standing ankle deep in mud.
Inside the room was comfortable enough but it turned out the internet wasn’t working, nor was there any cell service. I sat on the couch for a while with them and watched the local news. Snow coming. Overnight. Or starting early in the morning. Yeah. Deep in the mountains.
I half joked that I should leave now before I get snowed in. They made plans for how to deal with a morning of snow and assured me that I could stay a second night free if I got snowed in. I had zero desire to do that. I felt like I was running from snow. Like this send off onto my journey had a weather push that was still going on. And with no internet???

The place looked dingy in the daylight. The entirety of the horse pen was mud. It was still grey above, still threatening snow but I was getting out early enough. The horses looked tired and looking at them tired me. I wished them sunny skies and less mud as I backed out of the driveway.

I left early enough to have lunch with my friend Deb in Mooseville, NC and then I went on to Anderson South Carolina where I spent my first night in a hotel. I rather enjoyed it. Upscale wanna be highway-side food just steps out the door. Clean comfy room. It was a nice place to bring all my shit inside and rearrange a bit. I was excited about tomorrow’s itinerary.
And here’s two blog posts from last year about the next few days…

I Visited The Georgia Guidestones Today (One year ago Today!!!)

Atlanta Whirlwind

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It’s my anniversary

12-8-2013 Deer Park

One year ago today my car sat parked up on the lawn outside my front door. It was cool and sunny in Connecticut but apparently there were some weather issues to the south. Rather attention grabbing weather issues.

I was preparing for a mad dash to Baltimore as the first leg of my journey. I had picked the date rather arbitrarily. It was a Sunday. I would leave at noon. But with reports of Baltimore having snow currently and, more of concern, by early evening it would turn to rain that would freeze on contact. Baltimore drivers were cautioned to avoid driving if possible. And I wanted to go there?

I wanted to visit my childhood friend Donna. Perfect yes? A little check in with my past as I stepped into what some friends called, lovingly, my mid-life crisis. Five and a half hours. A good first day’s drive.
Do I delay? Is it smart to drive into guaranteed frozen roads? Funny question. Is anything about this road trip “smart”?

The weather system, moving north, would be here in CT tomorrow. If I didn’t leave as planned I’d probably not leave tomorrow either. I asked the cat’s opinion and got nothing.
Okay. Well. Maybe I wouldn’t get as far as Baltimore but I could get somewhere. Drive as far as is safe then get a hotel. No procrastinating on this. I shall not be stopped by weather. Sheesh. Part of the whole point of this trip is to get away from the winter weather.

I threw some final, questionably necessary, items into the car, locked up the house for the house sitters arrival later in the day, said my goodbyes to the lovely seven pound elephant Miss Voodoo, and went to say goodbye to Vette and Rob at the Wadsworth Mansion Xmas craft fair thingy.
And that was it.
I was on my way. On the road again!

It was smooth sailing right onto and over the George Washington Bridge. Splendid day for the start of an adventure.
And then it started to snow. Pretty at first, I drove right into the thick of it. By the time I reached Elizabeth, NJ there was two inches on the ground. As I moved south the snow piled up quickly. Driving started to become treacherous in spots. Somewhere this side of Philly an 18-wheeler nearly ran me into a bridge abutment. That was a bit nerve wracking. It was kinda sleety. Traffic was slowing down.
What was I thinking? How many people are pulling over now to grab hotels and wait it out? Ugh.
How much farther to Baltimore? I can do this… Donna was on alert that I was attempting this. I texted and told her I was still on the way as far as I knew.
Traffic stopped.

I looked at the map again. I was hours behind schedule already. This little jaunt to Baltimore was becoming an ordeal. I looked at the map again and saw Newark Delaware not too far ahead of me. I had a friend there. A friend I’d known for years but had never met face to face. We were both in an online book group many many years ago.
The book-a-week group had always been a favorite of mine. Members read anything at all with the mere goal of trying to read 52 books each year. Then we’d write blurbs about what we’d read. I got many great unexpected reads from years spent reading with those ladies. The group kind fell apart when our beloved leader Donna got a nasty brain cancer and left this plain of existence. (Although I had never met Donna either, we were close. I still miss her.) She was our center and without her we drifted apart. I kept in touch with a few of the members, and facebook brought a few others back into my world. I always expected I’d meet Kari someday. We clicked right from our first emails. And she had extended an invitation to me to stop by. I figured I’d do so on my return. But. All this snow…
Wonder if she’s home? Wonder exactly how far it is? Wonder if she’ll let me crash there? I don’t have her number do I?
Traffic absolutely crawling. Snow and sleet and other icy particles collected everywhere.
I opened facebook to send Kari a message. It was the only way I had to contact her. I sent her my number and said “Text me, I’m stuck in snow traffic.”
She called right away!
Ha! She was stuck in snow traffic too. Had gone to a funeral today in Wilkes-Barre and was now trying to get home. Different highway. Same reality.
Sounded like we were both about the same distance from her house.
Of course I’d be welcome!
There was a big rest area just before her exit. We’d keep in touch and meet there.
Text message received – “I’m here.”
“What do you drive? Where are you parked? I’m two miles away.”
Cars are crawling into the rest stop and there’s no parking in sight.
But look! There! Through the slapping of the wipers, there’s a person standing outside a car widely waving arms! What a fantastic sight! Yay! Kari! You look like a crazy lady! Hello friend!
I have the biggest grin on my face reliving the moment.
Who would have ever thunk this is how we’d meet? Ten inches of snow on the ground. Sleet pelting our faces. A quick hug and a “follow me to my house” shouted over the general roar of the highway and the sleet.
Fifteen minutes later and we were warming and drying at her kitchen table.
A half hour after that we were out in the world again at a pub for some late night drinks, some warm food and to finally get to know each other.
The late night snow silence of the University of Delaware and the fire-warmth of The Deer Park Tavern were so far removed from the life I’d been living for years. I was elated to have launched. And to have landed, not just safely, but oh so enjoyably.
Thank you Kari!

(Alright here’s the deal folks. I’d like to think I’ll spend the time to relive my journey in a way I didn’t have time to write as I did it. Plus I should be writing and I haven’t been. I’m rusty. Bear with me.)
(Oh and hey. It’s not the first time I’ve written this story. Look there if you want to see pictures, or to see how I spent the next morning with Kari.)