Mittwoch, 21. Dezember 2011

"It has cancer in it"

This year's celebration of "Sinter Klaas" was different at the massive Mijnssen house in Zug. It was not catered, but a pot-luck affair. We all learned how to use the foot-pedal operated player piano (still don't know why this was neccessary). We did Secret-Santa. Instead of the same story I've heard for the last 7 years from Ivo's uncle Nick, I heard insensitive laughingly-delivered questions about why we were there with a puppy and not a baby. And there were cousin's girlfriends!
I was in charge of secret santa, so it was no secret to me. Not because I saw who got who, but because after the website emailed everyone about whom they would gift, I got emails asking "why the hell did I get _______". At the party I realized that they all thought the idea was my fault. They didn't realize that I took it on two months after my father-in-law had had the idea.
I got the aforementioned Nick's new wife. She works in cinema and is German. That's about all that I know about her. I got her the film "Beginners" I love this film and I'm proud of the contribution that my brother made to it, so I thought that it would be a heart-felt effort that she may appreciate it. She opened it and seemed intrigued and I said "It has cancer in it!"
When I saw Beginners and the (*spoiler alert*) mother died of cancer, I started bawling. It was a matter of timing. Now, when there's a cancer death in a film, I warn people, in case they have the same kooky reaction that I've recently acquired.
Last year, when mom was deeply in chemo, she and I were talking about favorite cheesy holiday movies. We talked about how Love Actually and Elf still choke me up every year. We talked about the sweet comfort of Home for the Holidays and the cheer that It's a Wonderful Life brings. Then we talked about a movie that we both love and feel differently about but will likely never watch again: The Family Stone. I have loved this movie since I first saw it and rent it every year. There's Deafness, adoption, in-law trouble, over-bearing family with no boundaries, a great cast with great banter. It's a treat; a treat that I will likely never watch again. The subtle and under-lying plot point that Diane Keaton (the cast's mother) is dying of cancer has now spoilt this movie for mom and I. It's all about carrying on traditions when someone dies; at least it is now. It used to be about the awkwardness of trying to incorperate onesself in old family traditions. Now it's about moms having cancer.
Marion liked Beginners and I got a subscription to the New Yorker. All the cousins (and said girlfriends) left on a train to Zürich for drinks. The idea had been mine. The cousins had only ever seen one another at big family functions and had never had any contact beyond the watchful eyes of their parents. I thought that they might enjoy shooting the shit in a more comfortable atmosphere. I wasn't feeling well so I stayed behind to get a ride home from my in-laws. There was talk of the next year's Sinter Klaas party and what people liked and disliked about the new aspects of this years. Ivo's grandmother implied that we needed to start thinking about how we will plan it and celebrate when she's no longer there. I guess that's true of all family traditions. Nothing is ever exactly the same and the cast changes.

Montag, 12. Dezember 2011

tunnel angst

I likely chose the wrong country to live in, given the fact that I dislike driving through tunnels. Here in Switzerland, tunnels go through mountains at crazy long stretches. Old and new caverns are born through massive amounts of rocks. (The drill is crazy impressive.)
When driving through tunnels, I like to keep the radio on. When the static gets lets staticy, I know that I'm nearly through. The fear is that I'll get stuck in traffic and the tunnel will collapse, or that in the traffic I'll asphyxiate on fumes. Truly unreasonable fears, I recognize, but they're there and I listen to the fuzzy radio and look for the light at the end.
There've been a bit of silly stresses recently. In the time when Ivo and I would have been basking in our newly set up apartment, we've been dealing with mine and our new puppy's health issues. The lil' fuzzball needs an inordinate amount of attention at a time when I'm less than %100. It's all a bit much and poor Ivo is a victim in his healthy ability.
Penny's stitches come out Friday, I'm getting care like crazy and the fuzzy radio is coming clear. We're nearly through the tunnel. In the meantime, I'm so grateful for Ivo's and my loved-ones patience. 

Dienstag, 29. November 2011

RIP Cimzia

We've had a great run. Cimzia has given me great health for over a year now. After Humira stopped working, which had replaced the Remicaid that I became allergic too, Cimzia swooped in and saved the day. My doctor was SO disappointed last week, that I almost didn't want to see him today. Today he seemed a bit more cheerful. He reminded me of my luck that Cimzia saw me through my time in the States and is grateful that he and I can navigate the transition to the next step together.
When I first began Cimzia, Ivo had asked the dreaded question that I would never have asked a doctor, "what if that stops working too? What's the next step?"
Dr. Schultess' answer was that nerds were hard at work so that we could hopefully have an answer to that question. Today, after nonchalantly inviting me in the back for an unexpected scope, he seemed encouraged that a med that is in the later stages of testing at the Uni Zürich might be an opportunity for me. He doesn't want to cancel my next injection until he sees the results of today's MRI. Time will tell, but I remain disappointed that my body is done with Cimzia. It's been a remarkable and helpful medication.
C'est la vie.

Samstag, 26. November 2011

good cop - bad cop - silly pup

In Öhningen on an early walk, an older jogger made his way toward us at an admirable pace. Penny's reaction? She looked right, looked left, hid behind my legs, and ran backwards, right out of her collar. It's scared me that she could be so scared. We didn't know each other well, but she seemed to trust me enough to stay with me in this moment. Then, when the jogger had stopped, she wanted to love him forever.
Last night, Ivo seemed to think that I was over-reacting while he led her around our neigborhood. I kept urging him to be careful and he thought I was being over-bearing. So we walked on, met his friend, walked on, when suddenly, out of nowhere, a couple was s-t-r-o-l-l-i-n-g towards us with gorcery bags. Penny flipped out, backed out of her collar and started running away. Thankfully, the couple stopped and Ivo was able to nab our confused and fearful pup.
Today we got a harness that fits (the other one was too small for her floppy body) and all is different. She can still hide behind my legs when she enounters something she's afraid of but she can no longer back her teeny head out of her collar. Phew
Things my pup is afraid of:
Construction machines
Parents with children on their shoulders
Loud cars
Old dogs (not so much young dogs)
Teenagers (she will not head in any direction where teenagers are hanging)
Luckily, she sleeps happily on her bed so soundly, that she is all groggy and snorey when it's time for our morning walk. That's a plus.

Freitag, 11. November 2011

Impatient for the pup

The pup has been delayed, due to a dilligent veterenarian who wants to make sure that her leg is 100% healed. It is good that Penelope can heal and be safe and sound before coming to a new home. It is good that the kitty can have a chance to settle in a bit more before introducing a puppy. It is good that we will not need to go to Lyon the morning after a wedding. These are the things that I said to Ivo after recieving the email from the breeder, in the presence of the in-laws. I may have needed a moment to let these truths sink in and begin to believe them. I did not get them. Interrupting this adult thought-process, my mother-in-law decided to tell me about how to treat my cat. Adult me vanished. Lil' kid me wanted to stamp feet and have a proper tantrum and say "I want! I want! I want!!!" I want my puppy.
The first dog that I ever owned was a Beagle/Terrier mix named Bwick. Bwick the unloved. Bwick Mc Bwickerson. When he was fancy, he was Sir Bwicky Trawler. Bwick was the name of Ben Stiller's charachter in the film If Lucy Fell. I didn't choose the name because my pup was crazy and eccentric (though he was. He was 8 years old and had been raised spending 23 hours a day in his crate before I adopted him) but because the Bwick character is rejected; liked but not loved. I loved Bwick and very importantly, Bwick loved me.
I got Bwicker after a bad breakup with lots of pain and betrayal. I wanted someone to love and who loved me and I deseperately needed to be needed. Bwick filled the bill. I loved him, from his ginger beard (strangely a feature he had in common with the ex) to his powerful lil' tail.
Now we're healing from the first failed adoption attempt. We gained a whole lot of knowledge and I like to think that I've gained some patience. As we slog through the bureaucratic process of re-entering switzerland. Ivo scoffs at parts of the process, but I try to stay chill, storing up calm in the face of paperwork in preparation for the horribly impersonal illogical adoption process here later. Ivo and my relationship is stronger for having undergone the last process, which is good, because we have to answer questions about it in order for me to get my resident alien card.
Nevertheless, the big hole in my heart that I'd hoped to shrink a bit with a needy, warm, loving, sweet pup is still VERY tender and my patience is being reserved for our Kinderwunsch and too small to sustain a baby wait and a puppy wait.
That said, Kitty is really thriving every day in our new place and I am grateful. We will soon have a puppy and I am grateful. I am healthy and happy, as our my family and loved ones and I am grateful. I am at home again and in the company of the world's best partner and I am grateful. I have fun new projects on the horizon and I am grateful . . . and  a little impatient.

Dienstag, 8. November 2011

constitutionals and constitutions

So, I won't need to learn about the Swiss constitution for a while. Turns out that I have to be registered in the country for 5 successive years before I can get citizenship. The year unregistered has erased all of my integration apparently. Meanwhile, Ivo will let me contribute input for our voting here and I can continue to scoff at laws here like a foreigner. Actually, it's pretty Swiss of me to act shocked by Swiss bureaucracy. One of the first things I heard from a Swiss person on the trip home was the swiss flight-attendant being self-deprecating about her people. It's a national past-time, as is emigrating, so....
Apparently as of Dec 2010 it has become law in Zürich that all pups under 16 months go to obligatory obedience school (Hundeschule). I'm actually quite excited about what the course will do to make me a good pup-owner, but the fact that it's obligatory turns me off a little (also a typical Swiss reaction).
In addition to pup school, I've registered for a Swiss sign language course and a certification course as an English teacher. Add to that my pal Olivia and my plan to breathe new life into the women's intramural football league and I have just about filled my schedule enough to outrun any grief about the adoption until we can resume the process in March.
While we've been moving into the apartment - setting things up and rediscovering things in boxes - our musical choice has been telling. I play a number of torch songs and break-up songs and feel comforted (I was talking to Ivo about the fact that friends of mine who have never wanted children before and are now finding themselves pregnant make me feel a bit like when your ex is happily in love with someone else) and Ivo plays artists like Springsteen and Niel Young. We're both like teenagers blasting music to heal our wounds. Meanwhile our parent-figure is downstairs. An old fellow who spends his retirement being a nosy parker round the building lives below us. I'm trying my best to lay down carpets and muffle any excessive sound that may annoy the old curmudgeon.
Tonight is our first night in our new place. We've not yet bought enough lights for the rooms, we've no phone, internet or cable, not everything is yet set up, but we've made a lot of progress and I've just been to the farmer's market for omelette ingredients. We'll bring Deliah over tonight (if she allows us to touch her - though we've been blacklisted by her for the last 24 hours) and make a go of it in Bertastrasse 84.

Freitag, 4. November 2011

feelin' my feelin's

The trip to the airport was jolly but I didn't want it to be too jolly. Ivo wrote text messages to lovely friends in/from SF to thank them for making our year that much better. Then we got to the airport and it was as if a switch had been thrown. The airline took our bags and with it Ivo's baggage. He was light and happy and ready for the next step of the adventure.
I was not.
When we waited for the plane, Ivo waited in the business class lounge, I sat by the gate and finished up the work I'd not done that day while cleaning. We just read the words that I wrote at that gate and they are cynical in the extreme. One line that made Ivo and Pete wince was a flash flood warning "the waters can quickly rise to a wall of 10-30 feet of water, washing pointy plants, debris, animals - alive and dead - and it goes without saying -  you cyclists." (though of course it was written more eloquently in German)
We got in the plane and I felt as if I was traveling with a stranger. Ivo was so ready and still so jolly. He accepted champagne from the flight attendant, intent on enjoying the upgrade that our frequent flyer miles had earned us. The whole point of the upgrade was to have a bit of respite after all of that craziness of moving. I couldn't enjoy it. I couldn't find respite. I took a glass of water from the flight attendant and would like to have ordered a crust of bread for dinner for good measure.
Thankfully a good talk about all of the complex emotions, the relief and fear helped sort me out of this obnoxious funk and I was on board (no pun intended). I downed the last of Ivo's champagne and began to let go a little.
We've been here for two days and the letting go and holding on and letting in has been a gentle process so far. the first night we watched football, ate pizza and had a walk around the neighborhood. A news interview about whether or not cell-phone use should be banned for prostitutes during sex acts let us know we were home in Zürich. "Texting is one thing, but maintaining a conversation during a sex act...."
Yesterday was beauracracy and not nearly as terrible as it could have been. We had an evening of nephews and niece (one nephew visit was virtual). Today is moving and dinner with the Oma-in-law.
I'm excited for what this new version of Zürich holds for me. Though, less interested in the cell-phone-sex-act debate.

Dienstag, 25. Oktober 2011

I'm goin' to a town

When I first moved to Switzerland, I was following a boy. 6 months before, we'd had a house-warming party together in an apartment that was not mine. I'd taken a German course and could successfully order food in a restaurant and send it back if I so chose. Ivo came to pick me up and we had to go to New York to get my visa in time. He also lost multiple games of cribbage to my mother and asked if he had her blessing to propose to me.
My brother had approved of my plan to live in Switzerland. (I may have told him while we were strolling along the Rhein on a goregous summer day - a little unfair.) My sister was encouraging sight-unseen, but both asked how many states in the US I'd been to and how well I knew the home that I was leaving.
This year has given me the gift of seeing  more of the middle of America than I'd ever seen before. I've learned that I'll never be able to appreciate it's diversity, expanses and different community full of incredible people.
The experience of writing our guide book is also extraordinary. When writing about religion and weapons in Texas, I wound up stumbling on the same information that Ivo had used in his section about drought. Without knowing that the other was using it, we both wrote about the governor of Texas having a day of prayer to stop forest fires. Only I, however, had included the fact that that same governor had cut the budget for the forestry service shortly before. So, I'm writing about this country that has a new place in my heart and worry about being too negative when describing it for Swiss readers.
It's not only Rt 66 that has made America over in my eyes. The United States is now home to my favorite little person, my nephew Simon. I now want all sorts of good things for his homeland and the people in it. I want to come back and connect to it in a new way now that he's here, growing and changing every day. I'm also headed to Switzerland in a whole different way. I'm dragging my husband back, excited to move to a place that I know and love (he's less excited, I think). I'm looking at sports teams to join, excited about adopting a puppy, beginning the citizenship process and returning to a community and making one of my own.
I notice a change since returning from meeting my lil' nephew. The way that he came to the world was a path of unexpected twists, turns and surprises. It was also traveled by peaceful loving people. Suddenly the unexpected and twisty things to come seem less scary. There's a new peace thanks to the lesson that this teeny person has taught me. 

Samstag, 15. Oktober 2011


when you're in love for the first time, you imagine the feelings being a first for the world and not merely you. I imagine it must be the same for mothers. It's so out-of-this-world new, it must seem as if no one could have possibly felt these feelings before.
I've known a lot of mothers and I've known a lot of babies. I know that new mothers like to stare at their kids alot. I'm in New England hoping to do enough of the boring daily tasks so that my sister and brother-in-law can get enough time staring at the person they made. Even making that plan and knowing that fact I am still sat here, hearing my sister say things like "I just can't stop looking at him" and feeling as if there has never been a bond like theirs. Seriously. This kid IS the most beautiful in the world, his mama DOES  love him more than anyone in the world and there has NEVER been a baby as sweet as this one. I'm the AUNT and I'm feeling this way.
What can I say? I'm in love.

Montag, 10. Oktober 2011

Adventurers all

An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is an adventure wrongly considered.
G. K. Chesterton
 When I get lost in the car I call it an adventure. I learned this from my step-mother and some people like the concept less than others. Perhaps it's not the concept but the squeak of "it's an adventure!" as the driver executes a 3-point-turn about, hoping to once again find the way
Last night, Ivo admitted the difficulty he was having at explaining our (as yet) unsuccessful adoption attempt to people who had (lovingly) optimistically expected us to return to Zürich a family of 3. "That's why I've written those sad blog entries," I told him. "I was hoping that they could do the job and prevent the pain of explaining it more than once."
In truth, I'm also afraid of a family-that-cried-baby situation (like the boy-who-cried-wolf). That our loved ones will have a hard time maintaining hope for us now that hope didn't help this time. But, it's an adventure! 
Our social worker often tells us to tell her the story of our current experience. I think that she's trying to get us past the pain of the immediate situation and remind us that in future, the sting will be less and aided by the new experiences and knowledge we'll have then. It's also going to be the story we tell our future child. 
I told Ivo that fairy tales and children's stories have wonderfully paved the way for this. The little bird has to ask a number of people/animals/vehicles, before he finds his mother. Goldilocks has to try her first two options before lighting on the perfect chair for her tush.  So too will our child know that  we first looked this way, then we looked that way and then we found the right path that would lead us to one another. 
In the meantime, this chapter of our search truly is an adventure. Though we'll likely return without a child, we'll also be returning home with full hearts and memories of an incredible year. We got to visit with my family more often than before. We jumped out of a plane, Ivo ran a marathon, we traveled Rt66, we stood inside a Redwood tree and saw naked wrinkly old men next to little girls dressed as Ariel. We met incredible people and met new sides of ourselves. We cried together with the physical hurt that the adoption process can sometimes cause. 
In November, we'll be back in Zürich and will even be a family of 3 (once we've picked up our lil' basset hound puppy). Switzerland won't let us have a home study until our marriage license is 5 years old, so we'll have until March to decide which route is best for us (US or Ukraine) and then we'll get back on that horse, all the more ready and knowledgeable about what to expect from ourselves, if not from the Swiss bureaucracy.

Freitag, 7. Oktober 2011


October ....
Let’s see, We left on the first, after a day spent at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass. It was a Saturday and we left the house in a bit of a snit due to a difference of opinion on whether or not someone should be ready earlier, if one knows that the airport shuttle will arrive earlier than scheduled, possibly encourage this unforgivable behavior of arriving too early. Then we arrived at the airport perfectly on time for a 4 hour delay.
We eventually arrived in Honolulu – a fantastically 60’s affair that is not at all shabby in it’s passé-ivity – and headed to the car rental place. This trip is a celebration of my youth, I suppose, or so Ivo continues to boast, and so we asked if they had any convertibles available for rental. I took the first shift behind the wheel of our white Ford Mustang and my foot has never felt heavier in my life. Suddenly, the speed limit seemed to be mocking me. For the first time in my life, I wanted to watch one of the Fast and the Furious films. I had a scarf wrapped round my hair, the car-rooftop down and a sudden thirst to drive really, truly fast. I’ve always thought that the car-racing arcade games had it all wrong. The out-of-control feeling on curves and the unrealistic resistance of the gas pedal never made sense to me, until I drove our Honolulu rental car.
Please pardon the digression- We spent our first two nights in the Ilikai hotel. Our room was high up and we had a gorgeous ocean view. After a swim in the pool  - in the company of many wet children and dry adults – we freshened up and went to the “Top of the I” (this is the rooftop bar behind the main character in the beginning of every episode of the original “Hawaii 5-0”). After a few sips of my non-tropical martini, I began to see lightening. This turned out to be camera flashes, but never mind.  We then went downstairs to a burger-joint, tipsy and jet-lagged, and did our best on some burgers. The evening ended with surprising fireworks.
Next day - - let’s see, that’d be Sunday the 2nd - - we had macadamia nut pancakes and papaya with lime juice (a fruit combination that I’d never had and that is out of this world), we set off for a hike on the Diamond head. It was a lovely, comfortable, paved hike that included 207 steps and led us to the edge of a massive crater. The crater is perfectly round, the result of an explosion over 300,000 years ago that blew the top off of a hill. The view is magnificent and one can see a lighthouse, all of Honolulu and the mountain-side of Waikiki.
After our hike we got veggie sushi and spinach wraps at a local place and headed back to the hotel. A dip in the ocean ended our day and we got ready for drinks with acquaintances Scott and Abby.
Ivo met Scott this summer at a wedding and instantly, they spoke happily about the military, Europe, history and Hawaii. Scott met our mutual friend Harris (the groom at said wedding) during his year abroad in Bologna. They were instant friends and have had a close long-distance friendship ever since. Abby and Scott also met in Bologna (just as Harris was leaving) and the two have lived in various cities since. They live in Waikiki and gave us tips on planning our trip before we arrived. They remain a wealth of information and we had a lovely night with sunset cocktails and vegetarian Chinese food in Honolulu’s Chinatown, finished with a driving tour of the city (Scott and Abby endorsed our car rental choice.)
This morning - - aha! It’s Monday the 3rd! - - we jumped in the ocean, checked out of the hotel and headed for a breakfast at a restaurant right on San Souci beach, that included Poi pancakes! We then headed to Pearl Harbor, which turned out to be a bit trying. Part of the difficulty at the monument was my exhaustion due to a night dealing with the results of having eaten something un-friendly, part of it was the simple gravity of the site. We bought tickets for the tour of the USS Arizona and spent the intervening two hours nd before our tour heading to the Punch Bowl Crater Memorial Cemetery.
The military cemetery is predictable in the sad monotony of the white grave stones, but the stones are flat and flush to the ground, unlike other American military cemeteries I’ve seen. Behind a large female statue of victory, alternating murals and script depictions of the “war  against  Japan” and “America’s entry into World War 2” curve around a marble wall, framing the unusual doors of a memorial chapel. The unusual doors are gates with strange colored glass heads inlaid. The chapel contains a simple cross, a few rows of pews and some palm trees. In the courtyard of the memorial, trees are grown and cut into halos (a fact that was indicated to us by Scott, via text-message). We returned to the Arizona memorial, a bit sun-sleepy and frazzled from parking difficulties and entered a movie theatre, where that actress from Grease and the West Wing told us the story of the lead-up to and results of the surprise-attack on Pearl Harbor.
After the film, navy employees took us past markers for 2 of the sunken battleships, to the bright white memorial that arks over the sunken USS Arizona. The memorial is beautifully constructed but incredibly eerie. After acknowledging how similarly Russians and Americans commemorated their wars during this same era, Ivo found a quote etched in the monument redundant. As is often the case in dungeons and other places of suffering, Ivo suffered a unique unease. Truly, it is horrifying to stand on this bridge, of sorts, over a tomb for some soldiers and an unrequested resting place for others (survivors of the USS Arizona can request, and are often granted, burial within the sunken ship, alongside their fallen comrades).
Upon disembarking the shuttle boat, Ivo texted with Scott and he came in an official vehicle to pick us up and take us over to Fort island across the harbor. The bridge to the island is guarded and only authorized people may enter, but the guard didn’t blink when Scott showed his ID and drove us over to a place we clearly didn’t belong. He pointed out the buildings that still stand as decaying memorials in their own right, from before WWII. He showed us the air field that we’d just seen on-screen, where airplanes stood in rows, completely disengaged, in order to prevent sabotage. He told us about the foiled plan to put solar panels on said air-field, due to the nearly obsessive protection that the whole island has. He pointed out Building 26, where my father had crawled into cement Torpedo tube replicas decades ago, when training for the navy. He drove us past navy housing and dry docks. He showed us the underside of the rusted-out USS Utah, a battleship that remains upturned since it capsize back in December 1941.
After our tour, we headed north, with a snack of Poi bread that I’d bought at a farmer’s market in Waikiki. We stopped at a Jack in the Box for an emergency late burger lunch for Ivo and a small ice cream snack for me. We continued north-northeast until we reached Ke’ike beach, or what heaven might resemble if there is such a place. Our bungalow is fantastic and quiet, joined with other fantastic and quiet bungalows. A kitchen offers the promise that, yes, after a mere trip to the local Food Land, we will surely not stray from our corner of paradise. A 30 second walk leads us to a roaring ocean with insane under-tow and astonishing swathes of unfathomable blue water. Palm trees beyond our “lawn” hold hammocks and neighbors talk in the hushed tones of amazement and relaxation.
We ran in and out of the water, diving over the powerful waves, as fast as we could possible get our swimsuits on. Rain came and drizzled and then intensified as we guffawed at the perfect scenery and our undeserved fortune. We rolled and tumbled in the waves, shaking free the sadness that our Pearl Harbor tour had made, putting it in it’s proper place of reverence as our hearts expanded to admit a whole new version of how beautiful the world can be, despite the horror that comes now and again.
Tomorrow there are plans to see turtles. Before we leave, we’d like to go to the cultural center to see a Hula exhibition. All of these plans seem dangerously tentative when the crashing waves keep calling out an alternative plan and the hammocks sway alluringly.
-Jessica Mijnssen – 3 Oktober 2011
5 Oktober
I know the date today because we’re leaving tomorrow, sad but true. We’ve been living the heck out of these past two days, however, and the 5th is not even done yet (there may even be Tarro burgers for dinner).
After a post-waking swim and a lovely breakfast (love that papaya), we went for a walk along the beach. Normally when I walk along the beach I stick to the hard-packed sand at the water’s edge. Here at Ke’iki beach, there is no such thing. Beside that, while breakfasting, a lifeguard drove up in a 4x4 to pick up warning signs and orange flags that then (as now,) dotted the whole of the beach. The signs come in two varieties: Warning Shore Break and Warning No Swimming. The shore break is the bit that keeps us from skirting the hard-packed sand, so we trudged through the deeper stuff until half way to Turtle Bay. Along the way we spotted lovely shells, litter (which we picked up, tongues clucking) and surfers defying the warning signage. When we returned nearer the bungalows, the lifeguard was back and I asked him to clarify what our particular shore break caution meant. He explained that the waves are cresting late and powerfully and that people prone to panic should probably avoid the waves today. Others would do well to keep a cool head and be mindful of the crests when swimming out to the safer, calmer water beyond. I’m prone to panic, but can strangely keep a cool head in the moment (pre-panic is my poison. Freaking out in preparation for a thing is typically my failing). I told him that I thought we could handle it, as I’d been washing machined when trying to ride a wave during our early morning swim. I didn’t injure myself but got a nose full of water and my hair was thick with sand. “There are some rays over there if you want to check them out” the lifeguard said, unimpressed with my tales of daring.
Indeed there were Manta rays of various sizes swimming right in those dangerous waves. It took us a while to see them and suddenly they were there, one atop the other, both waving their fins madly, looking to we dumb humans as if they’d surely wash ashore, yet maintaining position as they….well….you know. We jumped in the water to cool off from our walk once the rays had been dispatched from their duties. We had lunch and lazed a bit and then Ivo began gathering info for snorkeling. The intimate view of the rays had been sufficient motivation for us to tear ourselves away from our corner of heaven, but my preparation panic needed to be satisfied first. I needed questions answered and was thoroughly wrought by all of the theft warnings I’ve been hearing/seeing since we arrived in Oahu. We put together a plan involving taking no valuables save a credit card for the snorkel rental which we could secret into my bag that folds into it’s own pouch and a rental place 7 miles away near Hale’iwa. We hit the road and not ½ a mile away noticed a closer snorkel rental place directly opposite Shark’s Cove, where we’d intended to snorkel. We drove our car back to the bungalows and walked back to the snorkel place and then happily made for the cove with nothing worth thieving in our possession.
I often find snorkeling unnerving. The sudden redundancy of sky and sea give me agoraphobia. In the protected cove the currents were still relatively strong, owing to the same storm that had our local lifeguard posting flags. We followed the snorkel-shop-guys instructions and belly floated as soon as possible, not hassling the rocks or coral with our sensitive feet. The activity and beauty was instantaneous. Not a foot from the safe sand was a whole micro-universe of sea life. Nestled in the clefts of the coral, poked ¾ of purple and white urchins. Cerebral-looking coral puffed up here and there and absolutely everywhere, brightly colored fish of all sizes greedily fed on the living reefs. It was incredible and intimidating. There was too much to see and I felt the agoraphobia coming on, but then Ivo took my hand and for an hour and a half or so, we flew above the secret world beneath the water’s surface. Now and again, Ivo would dive down and I’d wait above, watching his silvery bubbles and the brave fish that stayed-put around him. My favorite fish were the electric blue and yellow ones that matched my sun-cover shirt and an out-of-this world rainbowed fish that looked like a 3 year old’s drawing of what a tropical fish should resemble.
After our snorkeling, we played cards, had a beer/cider respectively and watched the Diamondbacks end the Brewers suffering and then grilled on our little Weber right there within sight of half of the expanse of the Pacific.
An evening discussion of some plan in SF or other took us away from Hawaii for a moment. Luckily, we realized our folly and returned to the present, ready to enjoy what time we have here.
Today, the flags and signs are up on our beach again. The popped up as we were snorkeling around the Ke’iki beach itself. Initially, it appeared that the strong tide in front of our bungalow had left the sea floor empty, but with patience we began to see more of our hungry little buddies, nipping at the reef, deep down below where we’ve been floating and laughing regularly in the early morning and throughout the day. The tides are truly intense and after an hour of kicking forcefully to stay in one place, we removed our fins and safely made our way past the breaking waves. Again (silly) I thought of Finding Nemo while snorkeling. At the edge of the reef, way out, was where we found the most dense schools of beautiful fish. The blue expanse beyond the reef gave me pause, but the fish distracted me helpfully.
We have plans to see an ancient temple and a waterfall this afternoon, but the hammock and close-by beach may prove too alluring. We’re nearly out of groceries, however, so we’ll need to leave the Ke’iki at some point today. Maybe we’ll go to the nearby restaurant where they serve Tarro burgers.

Donnerstag, 29. September 2011

abandon all hope ye who enter paradise

We're not abandoning hope, but leaving some dreams behind and heading to Hawaii to lick our wounds.
This week, Ivo got word that his grant proposal has been rejected. He's a trooper and after barely a day of being disappointed (and some Jessy-made brownies) he was already thinking of new opportunities and options for all of that work that he did. A phone call to his advisor this morning fed the flame of his determination.

This morning, we had our 2nd to last phone call with our social worker at OAFS. We all continue to stay hopeful that we'll get the call from a birthmother in October (after all, Ivo's schedule just opened up big time) but the pain it's hard to ignore the window closing on our opportunity to be chosen by a birth-mother in the States. This means no child for another 2 years at best (thanks to Swiss beauracracy). We continue to remind ourselves that we know where this road ends, but not how it looks, but things pop up and remind us that we'd hoped to return to Switzerland with a kid. More than anything, I'm nervous because I know that we will not be adopting from an agency as hands-on, involved and caring as Open Adoption and Family Services.
In the meantime, we get a very special episode set in Hawaii. Our cup runneth over even despite the baby-sized hole in it.

Mittwoch, 31. August 2011

Objects in the Rearview Mirror

When I ride backwards in busses and trains, I get ill. Despite this fact, if I'm riding up Nob Hill in the morning, I always want to ride facing backward. Sure, I'm nauseated after the fact, but I love seeing the foggy Bay Bridge framed in the window.
My friend Olivia has allergies and gets ill easily, but she doesn't mind sitting backwards. This summer she did a bit of looking backwards metaphorically as well. At the end of her trip through South America, she turned 30, before returning home, returning to work and the rhythym of life she has found.
I'm feeling a bit reflective myself, but it feels the thing to do when beginning a new decade.
These past 10 years seem an eternity, but really, they're just half my life. I really like where they're ending vs. where they began.
This morning I jumped into looking forward and that doesn't make me ill, but apparently makes me cry. Not in a bad way just in a "oh my!" kind of way. Our young, handsome, fecund architecht kept talking about how his young family have their apartment, in order to help us think about what we want for our apartment. Oh, sweet André, no worries, there have been conversations, interviews and things typed up about how we anticipate raising our family.
The beginning of the month often makes me sad. I think it might be similar to getting one's period for a woman who is trying to start her family naturally. Our time to be chosen is running out and the fantasies of the last month fade away. This month feels different, however. Not because we only have two months, but because we still believe. "We Believe" does not mean, we believe that we will be chosen in the next two months (though we hope and believe that that is true) but that we believe that we will have a family some way. We feel confident that we will be able to find a way to internationally adopt with as much openness and good conscience as is possible.
Until then, there are videos of bassett-hounds to look forward to and motion-sickness wristbands for looking backwards.

Donnerstag, 18. August 2011

Two Opinions Diverge in a House.

We've divvied-up writing assignments for our Rt 66 book and are now on State number 2. State number one was easy. I laid alot of groundwork with information on public transport and differentiation guidelines for hotels/motels. Here in Missouri, Ivo is waxing romantic about the Jesse James and other fun history he's discovered and fallen in love with and discribing the less flattering sides of American history. Meanwhile, I'm writing what feels like an obituary.
I had fun writing about the cicadas and telling the history of the comical Burma Shave sequence ads, but even the latter began to show the mournful nature my contributions to this book have taken.  Even while on the road, Ivo saw beauty where I saw a a grave-sight. He wanted to photograph the dillapidated towns, while I wanted to cover them in proverbial shrouds. Like some sort of confused  Ebinizer Scrooge, I was unsure if this was a vission of what was or what is still to come.
I'm currently writing an "info box" on food. As the writer who has searched, researched and contributed lists of every possible farmer's market and organic food store, I am also the person to write about why one may need to stock up at these points. Writing about food deserts and the evolution of the diet in these economically depressed areas that surround the old "mother road" is a bit gloomy. I'm unsure of how factual I need to be and how negative I should let myself go.
Here in the Mijnssen home, Ivo's singing "American the Beautiful" , while I'm moaning the tune to "American Pie".

Montag, 15. August 2011

Lame meditation on Love

Today at my UU church, the man in front of me turned to make sure that he was not in my way. (He stands 7 foot tall). The fella behind me complemented the lady behind me on her necklace. The woman in front of me smiled when she recognized me from the food pantry and then the interim minister preached about our covenant. He's new here and wanted to discuss the phrase: "Love is the spirit of this church and service is its prayer", which  is what we say at the beginning of every Sunday.
The minister is engaging enough, but my mind started to wander. I started to think about love. My mind quickly flitted over the first boy I ever said "I love you" to. He was of no real consequence. My siblings called him "hair-band" and I didn't really love him, as much as the new role that he gave me as someone's girlfriend. In my family, we tell one another we love each other each time that we speak and it never seems to dillute the strength of the phrase. But my sister warned me about saying it to just anyone, specifically to hair-band, as he might get the wrong idea.
My thoughts on love quickly turned to a man who sits on the corner of Clay and Battery streets. The first time I passed him on the way to get coffee, I thought that I'd misheard him when he said "I love you", but he'd said it so genuinely that I knew what I'd heard. Thereafter, I would see him and he would say "I love you" and I would mumble some sort of thing like "aaaww". He never asked for anything and I was always on my way somewhere and he would say "I love you" and I would smile.
One day, on a different street corner, I saw that man coming out of the pharmacy that I was headed to. He staggered a moment and I felt scared for him. After all, he loves me.
I began to think about that man, and the churches covenant and I began to think of "I love you" as another way of saying "I see you". Having love in one's heart and showing it to strangers and friends means that one truly sees them and hears them, I suppose. So, thanks to that mind-wander, I know now what I can say, to that man who offers me a heart-felt "I love you" many mornings. I needn't be embarasssed or think it insincere. I can answer "I see you too."

Montag, 1. August 2011

_____ weather for a _______ holiday

My mother is coming for a visit and I'm excited and nervous. We have all manner of things planned and we've had practise showing off our city. One things that we still seem unable to do is helping visitors know what or how to pack. I told Olivia to expect gray, fog and cold temperatures and then we had an unexpected warm, sunny week.
With Jonas and Oli, so went the gorgeous weather. It's been cold and foggy, with a few hours of afternoon sun in the afternoons, but here comes August. "July gloom" should soon ebb away. This does not mean that we will be any better at working out how to dress for the day. We've got to wear our light layers and inevitably wind up over- or under-dressed.
Tomorrow is first of August, the swiss national holiday. As will recurrently be the case in my life, I'll be in another country while family is joining together and celebrating some tradition or other....

Donnerstag, 14. Juli 2011

Warning: lame ahead!

Our adoption case-worker recommends finding little things to look forward to. Things that have nothing to do with adoption. It's good advice and makes sense and the year we've been having in the States has provided plenty of those. Some are silly adventures, like Rt 66 and sky-diving. Some are meaningful things, like the birth of our nephew this week in Aarau and the coming birth of our niece or nephew in Boston. We are reminded that waiting to adopt is a part of us, but not all of us.
I'm finding that I have a child-like response to these exciting adventure things: a proverbial grabby hand of "ok, that happened, now I want what we're really waiting for." Luckily, the meaningful things are so worth waiting for and I can't wait to meet Luan and my future niece or nephew.
One of the more frivolous waits have been in anticipation of Harry Potter. As lame as that is, lamer still is that I'm gonna blog about it.

When Harry Potter began....well I have no idea when the first Harry Potter book was released because I was utterly disinterested. By the time I was forced to read it for an assignment in my "Literature of Imagination and Fantasy" course, it already had a cult following. Up 'till then I thought, "I like that kids are psyched to read, but this fandom is a bit crazy."

I don't mean to be overly dramatic, but I read the first Harry Potter in the autumn of 2001. I include this information because, while the media was full of "witch-hunts" and terror, I was reading about "death-eaters" and a man who must not be named (meanwhile, the media's main villan could not be named often enough.) I enjoyed the fantasy and the idea of magic in the book, as I was entering my twenties and nostalgic for my childhood.
I may well have left the series unread, save the first volume, had I not been stranded in West Warwick. I was house-sitting an car-sitting and the car had to go into the shop and the weather was awful. In an attempt to keep myself entertained, I nabbed the 2nd Harry Potter book from one of the younger resient's rooms and read it completely. Those three days house-sitting, I devoured books 2 and 3, Neverending story-style: barely remembering to eat and sleep. I was hooked.
I don't remember the circumstances surrounding Books 4 or 5, but I do know that I waited in line for book 6 at midnight. It was an on-campus bookstore and I was terrified of being spotted by an undergrad. I was TAing a class about Myth and was sure that I'd meet one of the students in costume. I didn't. I also didn't get my book, as the bookshop closed their doors and said to come back next day. But I couldn't  come back! In 3 hours I was meant to be en route to New York in order to fly to Zürich for a month. What could I do?! Luckily, JFK had a stand just opposite the entrance just selling Harry Potter and the half Blood Prince books and I bought one and began to devour it straight away. Best international flight ever. (Despite the polish man next to me getting drunk and spilling red wine on my jeans.
While I was in New York and pleased as can be, my brother was in London chapperoning a teenaged theater group. These teens insisted on waiting on line at midnight at the bookstore for Harry Potter. While I'd been ducking my head to avoid being spotted, he had to shield his nubile charges from pub-destined Londoners who will assume that any "queue" at that hour is for a club.
Book 7 was released on July 21st 2007 and the only reason that I have that memorised is that it is my wedding date. At said wedding, both my mother and father told me separately "you know it's quite a compliment that so many people are here..."(I'd  imagined that they meant the distances people traveled to celebrate our union) ".....and not holed-up somewhere reading book 7!"
I'm excited for the film and even though I'll go see it with a fella who's never read any of the books, he can be counted on to see the films and enjoy himself.
(Afterwards, I imagine that I will feel satisfied and happy - - that is until I put out my hand, wanting what I'm truly waiting for.)

Freitag, 24. Juni 2011

Back in SFCA

Our arrival in San Francisco just about coincided with the re-opening of the California St. Cable Car line. This means that one of my favorite schadenfreude occupations is gone. As this cable car is my route home from my super market, I rode the temporary shuttle often. Nearly every time I rode it, a gaggle of excited tourists would be waiting at a shuttle stop and stare askance at the ugly grey electric bus that approached the cable-car sign and opened it's doors. They would hesitate and then the driver (who often seemed less than pleased to be driving the bus instead of the cable car - - except when it was raining) would ask "You waiting for the cable car?" The tourists would nod excitedly, clutching their maps and travel guides. "You're gonna be waiting a long time! Haw! Haw! You'll be waitin' 'till June! Haw! Haw!" I would chuckle as well. Poor folks. What are they doing in that neighborhood if not for the thrill of riding that fabled San Francisco treat *ding ding*?

Now that I'm back, it's Pride month, it's summer time and apparently, the active cable car has not put an end to encountering the pain of visitors. The number of people chugging up Nob Hill has increased at least 3 fold and so now, whenever I head east from my apartment or arrive from the west, I encouter winded tourists. They reach the corner, almost, but not quite done with the blasted hill (the last street is the real killer). Often there are sharp words. One family member pants and then expreses their hatred of this idea in whatever their native language is. Poor sods.
I've just been touristing all over, so I don't feel bad smiling at these peoples frustration. It's a smile and chuckle of kinship. "Been there, brother." I think. I don't merely mean the trip we were just on where I pronounced things in a way that was comical to locals, or where I had to learn the value systems for certain types of etiquette. I mean that I have literally been there, on that corner of Pine and Powell, looked uphill, cussed under my breath, turned to my partner and said "naja, warum haben wir die Strasse gewählt?!?!?!"
Now we feel more or less at home here. Just in time to make preparations to leave. But before we do, we will wring this town of all the fun it offers. We'll enjoy it's parks, jump out of it's planes, see it's free movies in the parks, see it's fireworks, bathe at it's beaches, celebrate it's uniqueness.
Until then, I will unembarassedly continue my habit of cheering people as they climb the hill "Almost there! You've almost made it! Not much further now!!"

Freitag, 17. Juni 2011

The journey is the destina--blah blah blah

Wednesday June 1st we started our trip. We disagreed about how to get to the car rental agency, we got stuck on one-way streets and I zoomed past the first Rt 66 land-marks before Ivo could photograph them. It was noon and Chicagoans seemed serious about getting to lunch.
Today, June 16th, we ended our trip. we disagreed about how to get to the Santa Monica Pier, I zoomed along the harbor before Ivo could enjoy any sense of ceremony and we crawled along LA noon-day traffic, not basking in the glow of the trip but herrumphing about how it ended. The glow came later when traffic thinned and we approached LAX and before-hand as we had crawled through traffic from San Bernadino to LA all morning long.
Beginning and ending aside, our first road-trip has been a bit of a success, I think. Over the next few weeks we'll organize notes, do some more research and get to remember the good bits. Some parts will benefit the cyclists who might read a guide book: the big blue whale in Catoosa, the cute little unexpected sandwich shop in that town in North West Oklahoma, the crazy old guys who talk for an age about old stuff. Some parts will benefit our future selves and our future child: the emotional roller-coaster of our first screening call, the amount of compromise and communication required in getting across the country, the readiness for adventure together.
So now I'm back in San Francisco and practising some of the things I learned from the trip: the importance of relxation, the importance of hydration, the importance of not taking non-fried non-carnivorous food for granted and the importance of not taking Ivo's presence for granted.

Donnerstag, 16. Juni 2011

From Needles to San Bernadino

After a jump in the Colorado river and a stew in the bath water that was the motel's pool, we enjoyed all that Needles had to offer and skiddaddled. (For fun, try googling food or lodging in a town whos name is also drug paraphernalia.) As we left, we were concious of the fact that today would be our longest stretch through some of the roughest and least-traveled land. We were also conscious that I needed to get home to San Francisco sooner than I'd planned. To be sure, my body has held-up admirably, being as it is without lower-intestine or gallbladder. The diet and climate alone should be taxing and the fact that we hiked in Grand Canyon was a thrill, but it's decided that that's enough so I'm headed to my doc for some checking up and home to my cozy bed. That'll do, I think. That'll do.
Man it's hot here. How hot is it, you ask? It's SO hot, that at the gas station, they'd taped a dish towel to the door-handle to prevent burns. It's so hot, white lizards dart across the road to spare their poor toes. It is hot. But, of course, it's the Mohave desert!
We stocked up on water but stopped at every available rest stop we encountered. We can pretend that the stops were for the future cycling readers, but....well, we stayed very hydrated. Many of the towns were mere graveyards, memorials of the places they once were. Some were worse off than others. One was simply a stone wall and foundation.
When we came across the Bagdad Cafe, which we should have left to photography subject status, we instead, like so many French and Japanese tourists (we're told) went in. The place stank of rancid grease. This was similar to the nasty cafe we'd encountered in St. Clair, MO. It reeked and was the only place for miles. Ivo ordered a grilled cheese sandwich and potato salad (he still seems well enough) and I had a pop and tried to organize my plane ticket home. I was spared grilled cheese yet again, thanks to veggie snacks in the back-seat. (I could be a girl scout, I'm so durned prepared.)
I hadn't slept much last night (a side-effect of my body's need of a tune-up) and was a bit punchy. Ivo had done the first leg of our journey and once I was positioned behind the wheel, there was sillyness. There was singing with the radio, conversing excitedly to the few cars we finally encountered once we hit and passed Barstow. There was reminiscing about the towns, people and times we'd seen, met and had along the road. It was a good day.
Around the time we started seeing LA smog roll over the San Bernadino mountains, things had soured. We were tired and hungry and the approach to Rialto was so uniquely unlike any of the others we'd experienced. Where we'd limped along small streets in towns with nary a stop sign in the past, we were now zooming and edging and curving past train tracks, strips of businesses and cars, cars, cars. Strange that we were so put-off by cars on the last day of our Rt66 roadtrip. More than anything, the sense that it would soon be over got to us. It wasn't ending with a bang or a wimper, but with pollution and honking horns and an unexpectedly early separation.
But wait, it's not over, we're not at the finish line yet! Our bathing suits hanging in the bathroom are wet with pool water, not the salty water of Santa Monica! (Note, they won't be tomorrow either, I will only commit to toes in the water, thank you.) We still have tonight and the last short stretch to go.
I'll probably write tomorrow's entry from San Francisco, so for now, in a cement wig-wam in Rialto CA, the adventure goes on.
Tomorrow: Los Angeles.

Mittwoch, 15. Juni 2011

Blues to Colorado River - I mean Seligman to Needles

After the Grand Canyon, we headed off to Seligman, AZ. It's a crazy little town that is a protected historical landmark, thanks to the 10 year battle fought by a guy named Angel. We've heard this story in bits and pieces and now Ivo's heard it from the horse's Angel's mouth. 
We stayed in the Canyon Lodge last night, which is owned by a German who's been living in the States since he visited in the late 80's. He speaks a funny "Gerglish" where he sentences are made of mixes of almost-english-accented-German and German-accented-English. His motel had themed rooms and we stayed in the Las Vegas room and had dinner at Lilo's restaurant, which is owned by another German ex-pat. There, we ran into two Germans on a big American holiday, which they will end visiting both of their daughters who nanny in the Pacific Northwest.
Ivo began his day comforting me and then had an old-school shave from the Godfather of route 66 himself, Angel. I had a mixture of Grand Canyon hangover and sadness at the adoption non-placement last week. The gorgeous views and incredible hikes at the Grand Canyon were hard to leave and they'd been such a wonderful opportunity for us to heal. Leaving it behind was hard, but this whole trip has meant leaving one thing or person or another behind, so we carried on westward. 
We stopped at the Grand Canyon Caverns, so called because the air within them comes from 40 miles away in the Grand Canyon. Ivo and I bought tickets for the tour, despite my fear of tunnels. I kept thinking, Ivo, the fellow who is.....weary of heights was a trooper at the Canyon and has agreed to go sky-diving with me next month, so I can walk around caverns 210 feet below ground for an hour and a half. 
The caverns have a weird story, they also house a "hotel" room, meaning that one can sleep in this weird little set up there: a bed, sofa, and small water closet, for $700 bucks a night. There is also a room that houses food and water from the Kennedy administraion and a brand new shipment of survival supplies from, thanks to the Cavern's main investors. There are also the mumified remains of a bob-cat who fell down there and some pretty rocks and crystals. 
We continued on the road and saw incredible views. Ivo drove us up a desert mountain and I drove us down. We stopped in Oatman, a town where donkeys roam free. They're descended from donkeys who were the towns only residents for quite a while and who were protected once people came back to the town. It was odd--and poopy. 
Our day ended over the border in Needles CA. It's meant to be the hottest town in the US (temperature-wise, that is. This town is fairly sleepy otherwise). We jumped in the Colorado River to cool off and were still marveling at the heat coming off the pavement after dinner. 
Tomorrow we'll add 250 miles to the odometer and be just outside LA. I'm ready to go home to San Francisco, but tonight at dinner Ivo and I did a bit of reminiscing about some of the towns we've seen and the people we've met. This has been one hell of an experience.

Dienstag, 14. Juni 2011

Rt 66 Grand Canyon edition

Day 1

I don’t have internet and am writing these entries on Word. I’m fearful of making my posts too big and have broken them up. It’s Sunday, June 12, 2011 and I am sitting in a cabin on the south rim of the Grand Canyon and I have to say, this path is pretty damned fantastic too.
Once again we had an early start, considering time, temp and sun position. We hit the Flagstaff version of Whole Foods and then hit the road. The road was uninteresting in comparison to the road leading to Flagstaff. Last night we were so shocked and welcomed by the slowly thickening wooded areas as we climbed out of the desert and up to a new altitude. Perhaps I’m wrong and it was just the crappy drivers that detracted from what may have been a perfectly lovely stretch. Perhaps it was the anticipation of the canyon to come that made the road uninteresting.
It occurred to me while eating an early lunch that this experience reminded me of Disney World. I still vividly remember the first time I stood in front of the Epcot globe. Most likely I was imitating a Disney world ad I’d seen, but I was beside myself. When we drove into the park and Ivo gasped at a quick glimpse of the canyon through the trees, I shut my eyes tight. I didn’t want to see it in dribs and drabs. I wanted the whole damned canyon! Well, that’s not true, I didn’t want to see it from a chopper or a plane or high up, but I did want a big, full in the face all at once viewing. Ivo, ever considerate, offered to lead me to the canyon with my eyes closed. Damn that fella is cute! I thanked him, shut my eyes and held his arm.
“You can look now” – BAM! I guffawed! I laughed a big barking laugh, like someone had knocked the wind out of me. It looked unreal; truly fake! It was as if Ivo had pulled down a picture of the canyon before my face. But when I looked left and right and saw the dimensions, the shapes and the depths, I was truly blown away.
We hiked 5 miles of the south rim today, to blow our minds in big doses and get used to the altitude. Tonight we’ll have an early dinner and watch the sunset before heading to bed. We’re taking a sunrise hike tomorrow in the morning, before heading out onto that mother road yet again.

Day 2
This morning the sky was already glowing, when we emerged from our cabin before 5am. With coffee and and yogurt and banana and Gatorade and granola bars respectively, we sat on a stone wall to watch the sun rise and chase new shadows around the rocky formations. Once we couldn’t stand the chat next to us, between two Australian women about wedding dresses, we went down the path to find better view. Last night, we’d waxed pretentious about the early morning hikers we might encounter on the Bright Angel Train at sunrise. Before we’d even finished our breakfast, large groups of loud people had passed us by with massive rucksacks.
We got ourselves ready and headed down the steep trail that snakes down from this part of the south rim. We encountered a few lone quiet hikers, one of whom was backed against a wall and said, apologetically “there’s a deer down there”. The tone was a result of her shame that she had scared the deer off the trail. By the time she hiked on and we caught our own glimpse, the deer seemed quite please with herself, poised as she was to enjoy a good nibble from a big green bush.
Many people who know me will be unsurprised that I was moved to tears twice, while hiking down. (That’s right, I’m a crier. Sometimes I can postpone a joy cry, like when I was asked to be god-mother of my niece Anouk, but more often I choke up and warn people around me “they’re happy tears.) These were those unique tears that I sometimes get in the mountains. They’re similar to my happy tears in the way that my heart just feels so full it needs a release. The whole way down, each curve each view each sound and sight made me so grateful and so happy.
Ivo and I are big-mouths. We’ll talk for days if allowed. We can’t stop chatting - until we do. When hiking, it’s not the breath-taking views that shut us up. We’ll talk with dry mouths and lungs that have been evacuated from astonishment. But in all of our languages, in our mental dictionaries, in our abundance of words, we are initially struck dumb and then struck stupid. We gasp, pause and then one of us will inevitably say “Fuck” or “Shit” or “Woof”.
Aside from being rated R for strong language, our hike was incredible, from start to finish (there again! “Incredible.” Words feel so useless in describing some of the beauty we’ve encountered on this trip.)
We met a honeymooning couple from Holland yesterday. Afterwards we joked about our honeymoon in Croatia, our lessons in kayaking, our quitting smoking and Ivo’s body rejecting my birthday dinner. Our trip is not a honeymoon or a babymoon, but it is an incredible checking-in for our relationship, and I’m grateful for that too.
I don’t know where we’re headed today. I’m not too bothered about it. I’m glad that our crazy-early hike has given us a chance to explore the other part of the south rim before we depart. There is desert to come, a jump in the Colorado in Needles and at the end, “home”. This trip is flippin’ nuts.

Gallup NM to Flagstaff AZ

We left Gallup bright and early and headed out on the road, and what a road! No highway for us, no sir! We were on a long curvy rural route. We rolled through gorgeous deserts, turned through hills with vegetation where Donkeys grazed free at the side of the road. We were giddy at the sight of the prairie dogs as they bounded away from our car, the likes of which they don’t often see. We gasped at incredible views, we talked over each other, describing things. Then it was rough road. Then it was dirt road. Then it was a closed road: private property. We turned around and headed back the way we’d come. New views were presented to us and despite our disappointment, we were able to remain grateful for the gorgeous little ride we’d had. (This serves as a metaphor for the previous mentioned adoption-placement that wasn’t.)

We were only a little touchy because our big destination for the day was the painted dessert. The clock kept ticking, the sun kept rising and our ability to enjoy the dessert without the mid-day sun beating down on us was quickly disappearing. We found the correct road. It was a far less attractive stretch and the speed limit was slower. Ivo asked if I wanted to just get on the highway and forget the “mother road” (no seriously, that’s the name of Rt 66!!!!) in order to find a rest stop sooner. He’s so sweet, but this stretch is SO desolate that we really did need to record any and every water stop for potential cyclists. We kept cheerful and our c’est la vie attitude and headed into Arizona. Heading into Arizona also means heading into a new time-zone!! We were so thrilled! We wouldn’t wander the dessert in the scorching heat after all! Halleluia!
The desert was incredible. We decided to drive the 28 miles, stopping at certain panoramas and do a small hike around the blue mesa. It was like “being on the moon” (to quote a ranger at the end of the park). The massive boulders and conglomerations (those tumor-looking bulgy rocks) were incredible. We were in the portion that is blue and purple, having driven through the pink and red portion. The sights, soundlessness and smell can never properly be described here. Likewise, our photos fail to do it justice.
We took another little jaunt to see the oldest, largest petrified tree there. It’s amazing how different the petrified trees and logs look here, compared to the ones in California. (As I write that sentence I feel that my cup runneth over again and again. I am so grateful.) They are far more colorful here in Arizona, but it feels as if everything is potentially more colorful here. The beige expanses can reveal these gashes in the earth that are so vibrant and scarlet that I can’t believe my eyes. I’m in the desert and I’ve never worn my sun-glasses less (sure, I wear my sunglasses too often). I shade my eyes with my big silly hat and try to limit anything that may detract from the natural palette all around me.
From the painted desert, we headed to Winslow AZ (yes, like the Eagles song). We were on a wait-list for a hotel there and were getting nervous. Booking a room for a Saturday night in summer was becoming difficult. When we arrived in Winslow we saw why. There were a few run-down motels, but otherwise, the only businesses that seemed to be doing business was the hotel with it’s wait-list, it’s restaurant and a Laundromat. I went to do laundry and Ivo went around town searching for any other opportunity. There were none, so we booked a room in Flagstaff and decided to push on another 60 miles or so. We were so relieved to have a room booked that the trip to Flagstaff was a joy. We had a beautiful day behind us and our evening was looking good.
We even had time, energy and interest to go look at a massive meteor crater. Um…it was big….and round…but c’mon! I’d just seen a PAINTED DESERT! Seriously it was impressive and incredible to consider. I’m glad that we had a chance to see it.
In Flagstaff, there was tequila. That is all.

Samstag, 11. Juni 2011

Albuqurque is NOT my favorite....


But then, it never had a chance. Not only does it include those blasted highways, which interrupt our slow crawl along RT 66. These highways contain lay-racers: cars swerving back and forth across the fast-paced 4-6 lane highways. The other detracting quality is not the city’s fault. We were not allowed to leave Albuqurque until we’d heard from our adoption agency, leaving the diverse city the role of improbable prison.
Back in Tucumcari, we’d had a “screening call” from our agency, for a “last-minute placement”. This means that a baby, born that day, was meant to be placed for a last-minute adoption before being discharged from the hospital. We confirmed that our profile could be shared with the birth-parents, and the next two days of our trip involved a regular reference to the fact that we may become parents on the 10th of June and all that that entailed. The uniqueness of sudden role-change and the details and neccessities in assuming this role was always on our mind. In Las Vegas NM we received an email about the baby’s health and in Albuqurque, we waited to discover which incredible adventure we would be pursuing.
We did enjoy Albuqurque. It was such a change from Santa Fe and it’s insane number of small art galleries. It was also different from the small, sweet, lush town of Las Vegas and is the opposite of Tucumcari in size. New Mexico has been incredibly diverse, but we’ve been glad for the American Indian (Native American?) representation here. We’ve gone from the part of the country where plaques and museums talk about kicking the nation’s out of the east, to a part of the country dappled with reservations, cultural centers and ancient sites.
Yesterday we visited Bocca Negra and took the short stroll up the messa to see the gorgeous Petroglyphs in the volcanic rock. These were so different from the Petroglyphs in Norway, far younger and telling a different story. It was beautiful. We next headed to the visitor center and fell in love with the “fetishes” or small carvings that some Pueblo artists make today. We were then enticed to visit the Pueblo Cultural Center in town and as we excitedly found seats in the center’s courtyard, Ivo’s phone rang. The birth-couple are still conflicted and unable to make a decision. They have been discharged with their baby and will take the weekend to be counseled and decide how to move forward. Ivo hang up the phone and we returned to the courtyard and our adventure across America. A Pueblo family performed the dance of the deer and we stood for a moment, feeling the mysterious nature of life.
As we moved on, we left the city and returned to the quieter stretches that make up RT 66. The desert out here is incredibly gorgeous. Every blink interrupts a gorgeous view. We passed the continental divide and watched as the smoky sunset made the horizon glow.
We’ve continued on to Gallup, where we were ushered-in by drunk drivers on the road. We passed the casinos and motels in various states of disrepair, past the airport and on to a motel outside of town. Today we will head to the Painted Desert and Winslow AZ, where we will make good on the celebration of our two-person family. We sleep through the night and will go out late and do other various, non-kid-friendly activities and cherish this incredible travel opportunity that we have.

Freitag, 10. Juni 2011

So much beauty

There is so much beauty in New Mexico.
We continue to enjoy the diary entries of cyclist Dres and had an ETRAORDINARY time in Tucumcari. We stayed at a mom n' pop motel where all of the guests sit in front of their rooms at night, talking until late. It was on a strip with lots of old time-y businesses that are still running, which has become a rarity on our trip (causing me to say "just like the pixar film CARS!" far too often).
We traveled early in the morning and rewarded with cooler temperatures. The first leg of our journey contained alot of smoke blowing in the wind. We then climbed to higher altitudes and visited the beautiful town of Las Vegas, NM. The town is apparently a favorite of the Cohen Brothers. It was featured in "No Country For Old Men" and "True Grit". The temperature and vegetation were amazing up there. The businesses were thriving and I bought a big hat at a Dry Goods store. There was a park and a cute post office where we posted some postcards.
We then descended, Santa Fe-wards. On our way, we visited old Peco ruins. We had a beautiful walk and enjoyed the non-burning aspect of our surroundings. (Yesterday was cruelly hot and dry.)
We arrived at Santa Fe in the early afternoon, ran some errands and went swimming. Plans for tomorrow are still tentative. Arizona is still unclear.

Donnerstag, 9. Juni 2011

Amarillo to Tucumcari

Wow. If I learn anything else, my head may explode.
I never realized how much this road trip would teach me about myself and my partner and this land I'm from. I was naive I suppose.
There is a fire raging in the desert. The big scary desert that scares me is on fire and it made me a bit kooky this morning. Suddenly this morning, I wanted, I needed to control everything. Nothing could be left to chance. Everything had to be planned. And even then I was certain that it would all go wrong.
As is my habit, I looked ahead on the map the night before and started googling vegetarian restaurants and researching accomodations and trying to figure out where we would stay. I had ideas and was ready to barrell through the landscape and make up miles to save up for the Grand Canyon. I won't bore you with the details, but a number of conversations took place between Ivo and I, debating the route. Ivo chose Tucumcari. We are in Tucumcari. We are both happy.
We started our morning with a cultural shock. After our evening in Amarillo, ecountering people who would be equally at home in the AS220, we met our inn-keeper. Ivo described her later as "a fairly typical soccer mom". I founf myself being overly agree-able with her. It was strange. We'd been alone in the B&B the whole night and suddenly there was this chatty woman in the kitchen, making us breakfast as we sat at the kitchen's island and telling us everything that we would ever ever ever need to know about her or that house.
Hers is the B&B that Oprah rented while she was in Amarillo for 2 months, during her defamation lawsuit with the Texas Beef Growers. The B&B belonged to someone else at the time, but she was able to tell us that ours was the room where Oprah's bodygaurd had stayed and that the room next to ours was the great lady herself's.
After swooning and learning and nodding our heads, we shoved off for the Toot and Totem (lovingly referred to as the "Fart and Fetchum" by locals). We got the cars fluids checked and filled and then mozied off on a massive detour to America's 2nd largest canyon. It was gorgeous and it is a real shame that we didn't have the time or provisions to enjoy it more. We rolled back toward Rt66 just in time to see the Cadillac Ranch. I'd been conflicted in wanting to vandalize the famously vandalized cars and then feeling wrong spraying paint on something that is not mine, in a gorgeous desert. Luckily, there were two young men sitting in a pickup's shade who were there to repaint the cars a base color. They were being paid to prepare the canvas, so to speak. In truth, they'd just finished when three vans filled with day-camp children pulled up with 50 kids and as many spray cans and ruined their work. They assured us that they were going to cover it soon anyhow and to go ahead and paint. In fact, if we wanted, we could take a can of their paint and cover the youngster's artwork. We did so and it was kind of fun.
We skeedadled and were excited to move along to the 2 towns that each claim to be the official mid-point of the Rt 66. In truth, we celebrated the half-way point exactly between the two towns. As we continued to the 2nd of these towns, ready for the Midway diner, we saw a young cyclist chugging along the shoulder in the midday heat. We stopped and offered him water and asked how he was faring. "Google maps lied and I'm trying to get to a diner" We promised him that it was just in 4 miles and offered him some trail mix. He declined but seemed pleased for the info and glad for the chat. We've read again and again how Dres (the guide's cyclist) felt the lonliness of the road and so instantly said "You'll make it in no time. We're headed there now! Join us for lunch. We'll buy you something and you can tell us about your travels!"
He did. He made great time and arrived hungry, thirsty and chatty. He's left Ohio a few weeks ago with a class-mate. The class-mate became woozy in Springfield MO and met with a terrible accident that landed him in hospital. The class-mate called for an update at the end of our meal and said that he'd been declared fit to travel and was flying home to Korea to spend the summer with his parents.
Ethan, our cycling lunch-companion is a 20 year old student in Worcester, OH. He decided to ride from OH to LA, loosely following RT 66, when he heard that some childhood friends from China rode from Hong Kong to Paris last year. (He commented on the power of a good passport.)
He was lonely and having a hard day today. He can't believe that he's still riding in vegetation and how expansive and "boring" the landscape is. "There is nothing in Texas! It's boring!"  I can only imagine  his frustration: He's 20, he was meant to be cycling with a friend, he's not romanced by the landscape, this is just a challenge and it^s challenging as hell. His Kindle goes untouched, he writes nothing and takes no pictures. He rises early cycles until midday. Takes shelter wherever he finds lunch and hits the road again after 4pm. He sleeps where he can and sleeps instantly after cycling. He was equally young and naive and prepared and earnest. It was really nice to meet him and to hear his story while Ivo reads Dres' story allowed and we live our own story. We exchanged contact information and I fear my motherly-tone when I warn him that they are now evacuating Luna and that the smoke is coming on the wind up into our path in New Mexico (if he hasn't noticed the dryness, scratchiness and mesquiteness of the wind already)
We're in a fairly classic-kitchy motel. Having cut our day short at 100 miles (not counting canyon detour). We'll head to the PowWow Restaurant down the road for dinner and have been told by the motels owner that the guests typically sit in folding chairs in front of their rooms, of an evening, swapping stories and drinking beer. It all sounds wonderful and I'm gratedul for Ivo's planning - and mine - and ours.
Tomorrow's destination is Santa Fe. It's North-west of here, which should mean that we're further away from the Arizona winds. We'll leave early and try and avoid the hottest parts of the day.

Mittwoch, 8. Juni 2011

oklahoma to Texas (as much as I have time to write today)

Instead of an evening in blogging, we went to dinner and a movie tonight. It was the right decision.
For now, I'll simply record first impressions of Oklahoma to Texas.
The transition from ruby red dirt with green crops and trees to stretching acres of dry land with yellows and browns has been impressive.
In Texas I became dehydrated for the first time. We found a charming sandwich shop in western OK.
Ivo did the lions share of driving.
The website led us to a vegetarian cafe for dinner, which happened to be the HQ of alternative culture in Amarillo TX. Bikes were parked in the cafe, but needed to be moved for a yoga class, which took place a mere 3 feet from the bar, where they'd made our yummy veggie chilli-covered dinners. We forgot about the black bean hummus, but have been told to not make that mistake in our travels in future. Ivo got some great info about cycling in Texas and we got a tip to go see the canyon south-west of the city. "2nd largest in the States". It's meant to be beautiful.
We've been warned about snakes, warned about storms and are planning a trip to a full service gas station to have our fluids checked. I'm a bit nervous.
Ivo and I continue to believe that cycling through texas must be far too challenging for most. It's tricky enough in a car!
Today we'll drink more water, keep our eyes open and head for New Mexico and a new time zone. (Sleepy Jessy was wrong in the last blog, turns out)

Dienstag, 7. Juni 2011

Let's see, where did we leave off

Last night there was a lovely hotel room and vegetarian food to be had, so there was no blogging.
We saw and missed more things than I can remember. Missed: Giant Praying hands. Saw: Giant Blue Whale in Catoosa. Missed: services in a southern baptist church. Saw: Sunday morning in a laundromat between WalMart and McDonalds in Kansas. Missed: too many other things Saw: our first confederate flag.
More of Kansas and the start of Oklahoma will hopefully come to me, but for now, I'm still reeling from this full-ass Monday.
The day began with fresh fruit, yummy yogurt and spelt muffin. (God bless Tulsa!)
OH! Sunday lunch was in a super sweet family restaurant where there were weird signs in the ladies powder room (ie if at first you don't succed, try it the way your wife told you to do it) and a kind waitress.
I then realized that I was frightened of traveling through Oklahoma city, which was strange, but easy to avoid on Rt 66. We traveled along, seeing lovely things and then had our phone date with our adoption case worker which was very strange. She told us that noone has requested our profile yet and I don't know how I feel about that.
Then we met the author of our Turn-by-Turn Rt66 EZ Guide in Chandler, OK.
We also saw some insane destruction from the tornadoes in El Reno, OK. Where a metal barn roof had torn away and been wrapped around a tree. Things were strewn everywhere and it was very sad.
The big things that struck me today were the following:
-Oklahoma is gorgeous. The red earth that borders the green plants; the vast stretches of gorgeous land and the beautiful animals that graze it are breathtaking.
Reading the words of the cyclist who wrote his account for the cycling guide book makes me sad. As -I'm falling in love with a part of the country I've never known, he's presenting a stereotype based on his experience, which seems, at times, colored by his mood or level of exhaustion.
-5 days in a car with one's partner requires a walk or moment alone now and again.
-I'm incapable of anticipating what tomorrow will bring on this trip, which creates an incredible freedom to which I am unaccustomed.
I'm a bit exhausted and believe that I have exhausted all that there is to see in Weatherford, so I'll go to bed. Tomorrow there will be a new time-zone, a new states and who knows what else?

Sonntag, 5. Juni 2011

Forgotten bits of MO and some more of MO

In Missouri, we were late. We were staying at a BnB and I was nervous about arriving late. I'd gotten it into my head that because they were comp-ing the room, I had to be a super guest. Luckily, nerdiness got the best of us and after Cuba we were Marshfield-bound.
Once we got to Marshfield, however, the town hall was nowhere to be found, which meant that the Hubble replica on it's lawn (in honor of it's Marshfield-born inventor) remained hidden as well.
"We'll just ask someone where it is," Ivo said, confidently, despite the fact that we have only very rarely seen any pedestrians at all since leaving Chicago. (I blame the unseasonable scorching heat.)
As luck would have it, a teenaged girl was emptying her mail box at 9pm on  a Friday night, and we were able to ask the way.
"Do you know where China Gardens is?" She asked. As Ivo said "No" I said "well....." Of course we don't know where it is, but she'd said that it was up the road and how hard can it be to find  a chinese restaurant in Marshfield, Missouri?
She hesitated "We haven't lived here that long, so it's hard to say..." She said and then went on to say "Just take a left down there and it's right by the storm sirens."
"Thanks!" we said and pulled away, realizing only once we were back on the road that we have no idea what a storm siren looks like. Truthfully, any other ethnic food restaurant would have been a better landmark for us.
Thanks to a large gun on the corner by the town hall, we found the Hubble, got back in the car and zoomed on to the BnB, where our room key with detailed instructions awaited us in the mailbox.
The jacuzzi in our room helped our road recovery and the place was really sweet. Unfortunately, our interview with the Missouri Rt 66 historian was cancelled, due to his being out of town. (We'd arranged it through the BnB owner.) Fortunately, we met an unlikely historian on the road.
We'd been determined to stop and get out more today, setting a shorter goal than we'd done the past few days, with the intention of making Baxter Springs KS for the night. Our first proper "should we take a photo? - do you want to get out?" moment was an old kitchy gas station that's no longer in operation, but where owner Gary sells a few Rt66 guide books. We stayed for more than an hour and a half and though Gary tended to repeat himself, he was an amazing wealth of knowledge. A kind-hearted, self-described "hill-billy" he gave us free cokes, took our photos and told us how the road was meant to be enjoyed. I felt so guilty every time I thought "So, guess we'd better be pushing off" because he inevitably was about to start a tangent about how city people rush around.
We recorded him a bit. He has a lovely accent that must reflect his childhood in the Ozark hills ("married at 16 years old. 'Bin married 50 years. Everyone was impressed that she's not even a family member.") He didn't just make fun of himself, however. He spoke of going off to California and "following his" (non-disclosed) "dream". "I just kept hard at work, never looking up at the sky and then one day, I looked up and said 'hey! there's a blue sky up there' and there was a cloud up in that sky and I thought 'I used to make dogs outta them' ya know or men, or shapes or whatever."
Back on the road we had no luck at all finding a decent lunch place and settled for something unsatisfying in Carthidge. (Luckily, a trip to an organic market had provided us with road snacks.)
After entering Kansas and an inpromptu meeting with a parade (Ivo expected the worst when he saw a bunch of cop cars, with lights blazing, blocking an intersection, but we'd just left Joplin, so...) we drove down a major strip until we curved left onto a quieter stretch. There, we found a simple white bridge. Over the main road there was a simple stone barrier, but if one forks a foot to the right and rides the actual RT66 (much of our trip involves riding slowly on a road just north or south of a road everyone else is using) they ride over a large solid white bridge that has a big satisfying arch and takes one over a sluggish muddy river. Having missed the Rt 66 fork and passed over the boring bridge, we parked at the road-side and walked across the white bridge. There, we heard the burp of a bull frog and stood still, looking onto the water. There we saw a swimming turtle and in the tall grasses, some sort of mole or beaver or something snacked on the foliage. It was idyllic.
Now we'e in Baxter Springs, which means that every time Ivo leaves the Inn, he returns with stories of other banks that were robbed and other bandits that were famous in the area. We walked around the town this afternoon and read the yellow plaques that, more often than not, describe that the building that once stood there burned down and was replaced by this brick structure.
We're staying in the Cafe on the Route Inn. It was formerly a bank, once robbed by Jessee James. We're in Cherokee county, folks and we're staying in a former bank. the hotel is as stark as last night's BnB was busy. White walls and bed sheets are where the Walnut St Inn would have put fancy cushions and lace doileys.
Tomorrow - Tulsa and this vegetarian's salvation. Halle-frickin'-luah.

Samstag, 4. Juni 2011

Forgotten bits of IL and some more of MO

I feat that not blogging after day 1 on the road left bits of Illinois forgotten. So, quickly: There was a giant holding a rocket, yummy milkshakes and escarole soup, rivers, flat green gorgeous landscapes, big neon signs, giddy laughter in Normal, singing of Ben Folds in Effingten and new understanding of John Hughes in Sherman.

The other day, Landon said "I see a lot of grilled cheese sandwiches in your future." Oh, my cocky ignorance of Wednesday.
Yesterday's lunch was grilled cheese in a last minute - discovered GREASY spoon that stank of rancid grease and cigar smoke. It was in one of our guide books and there was nothing else around. So, if you're headed to St. Clair, pack a sack lunch.
Yesterday was another gorgeous day and it had an amazing start. We had breakfast in a cafe that is part of a green house. Enjoying berries in the company of greenery will be saved in my brain, to be called forth in the desert. Moments that are more challenging (ie hungry, cranky and without option in St Clair) can now be soothed with memories of the City Museum in St. Louis, MO.
I'm a bit of a wimp or a worrier, so the first sight of the museum, fenced by cement fangs and boasting a maze of chicken-wire tunnels outside the building that lead to school-buses positioned on roof-edges and an old gutted airplane, suspended, who knows how.
Inside the museum are chaotic, wet things, smooth things, rough things sounds. Children run, crawl and stare in awe. We walk through a room of sea creature sculptures and turtle tanks and up to stalagtited and stalagmited cave-like rooms. We climb stairs to a sudden smooth, still, empty room and walk past a soda bottle wall through two massive vault doors.
A man struggled on a wooden wheel, so I jumped in to help. Unfortunately, two other men jumped in at the same time and the wheel's momentum knocked me down. It had to happen. This place screams danger. (The paper wrist bands warn you of your own responsibility for your personal safety.) We wandered through an indoor carnival of sorts, slid down a long slide to find another cave and then ascended 10 stories of spiral steps next to "shoe chutes" left from the old factory, accompanied by an unusual organ. At the top, we slid down a twisted slide and I don't know when the dizzying, joyful laughter that followed left me in love with the City Museum.

On the road yesterday, lessons were learned about driving and navigating and less silos were seen as on previous days. There were many beautiful bridges and a crazy beautiful stretch of road called "Devil's elbow."
One of my favorite parts of the road was when Ivo nervously said "is that the car?". He turned down the radio and lowered his window to listen. "No." I said "those are the Cicadas!" We'd just been discussing the Cicadas and I thought that he knew that the increasing and decreasing rain-stick sound was those very insects. A number of them wound up on our windshield yesterday and their music was our soundtrack the whole way across Missouri.