Ramblings

ON MY WAY TO FINDING A WEATHER station in Las Vegas, the new home of a friend of mine, I got sidetracked. I did find the proper station so I could follow the weather patterns, but also found myself reminiscing over long ago family trips.

Probably long before the “new” Highway 101 and 5 were well established, my dad used to drive us up and down the old two-lane Hyws 101, 99 and 395 to take us on our holiday-to-the-relatives and our annual vacations. In my wanderings with the map, many memories were triggered. So many. In the past, I’ve actually retraced—or at least tried to retrace my dad’s paths … trying to find any bit of the old roads. Using key landmarks helped, but even those finally disappeared in the name of progress. But lacking landmarks doesn’t stop me. I love poking into the corners of my past.

One path I have not tried—and there are so many memories attached to this route—is Highway 395. June Lake is somewhere off of Hwy 395 and there are some fond memories from that area—both with me as a kid and as a young wife with my husband and my youngest brother. My weather station hunting had me deciding to trace the road on the map to see how feasible it would be to make a trip. It begins just west of Hisperia in the high desert of Southern California, which is about 40 miles south of Barstow. It traverses the desert along the eastern edge of California and up into the mountains, jogging in and out of Nevada several times on its way up into Oregon. It dead ends the small town of Riley at the junction of Hwys 395 an20 (which travels east to west). Well, that’s what I thought. I went back to verify the name of that little town … and after a lot more searching, found that it actually dead ended in the city of Spokane, Washington near the surface streets of S. Lincoln St. and W. 4th Ave (sharing Hwy 90). Mind you, my recollections are that my dad only drove the California section—and only parts of that. I may be wrong … but I won’t know till I look at the map in more detail (was using my smart phone’s map app first, then focused on the route only, once I switched to the laptop computer)—I wasn’t looking at what was around the route.

But the entire route, my friends, is not a quick little jaunt—that amounts to a 1,170+ mile drive! So, if I decide to make it an adventure, I’ll probably stick to the California section. As it is, that will take quite some time—perhaps three separate trips. And, with winter setting in soon, the majority of it will need to wait til spring and summer—I do not have a snow-worthy vehicle. Sure—I’m capable of driving in snow … and I could get chains for the snowy bits, but I’d rather not deal with that much cold and be putting my safety in other driver’s hands (I know I can drive in it, but what about other tourists?) …

So, I will be writing a travel blog sometime next year (maybe) about mapping out the route, packing and the actual trip (I’m sure there will be plenty of photos to insert)—in addition to my “regular” trip blog about another travel across the Pond … this 2018 trip may be my “Swan Song”—the last trip to the UK and abroad, so I’m going to do it up right.

I’ve done so little traveling of late—I am getting restless. On Black Friday, I turned my errand-running into a driving adventure  I took back roads and routes I’ve seldom (if ever) taken to get to my destinations and had a blast—and the weather was magnificent. I’m thinking I need to do this more often—even once the rain begins to be a nuisance. Perhaps once a week will suffice. I’ll have to play with timing to see how it goes—I’m a big fan of spontaneity, so who knows when my next jaunt will be (insert huge grin …)

May your Friday, your weekend and the whole of next week be blessed with spontaneous happenings.

 

Memories …

MEMORIES CAN BE GOOD … OR THEY CAN BE ones we don’t particularly want to remember because they are so terribly wrong and/or bad. But, no matter what memories there are in our lives, they are what makes us who we are, whether we like it or not.

Last Friday, I was trying to get my head into the “blog space” of getting my current one finished when my mind flooded — literally flooded with memories. What brought it on? The simple act of slicing up an orange. Oh, so many memories. It was like the domino-effect of one memory on top of another, cascading in my mind. Good memories, mostly, but some sad memories came too. Because, that’s life. The memories centered around my dad. As he climbed the business ladder as a chemical engineer into management, he managed to keep our lives rich in family things, like simple meals: sliced oranges (yup, remember, this was the trigger) with powered sugar, usually followed by eggs and bacon, or cornmeal mush, and fresh squeezed orange juice with our breakfast. Or there were the family vacations he was able to squeeze into his busy schedule: camping trips to the Sierras, to Trinity, Twin and June Lakes areas, to Tuolomne Meadows (my personal favorite destination); a trip up into Oregon and another time through Four Corners and the desert and mountain states … the list goes on. I caught my first fish (later — much later — I was told they’d just stocked the lake … sigh) on one of those trips; watched my dad as he floated a the highly saline June Lake, spouting water like a whale … all fond memories.

But, I also remember taking care of him as he slowly and painfully lost his battle with Alzheimer’s Disease. The agony he (repeatedly) went through when he found out mom died (how does one deal with this while you yourself are trying to deal with it??). I finally stopped telling him when he’d ask. I couldn’t stand seeing the fresh pain that stabbed him in the heart each and every time he heard of her death; discovering he felt abandoned — he thought his mother had deserted him (she died from an illness when he was very young and he said no one ever told him — not sure this is true, but not important … he did feel abandoned) and trying to help him understand that. Falling then being stuck in a wheel chair as his fractured hip healed, he could not understanding why he couldn’t get up and walk around like he used to … and calling me his wife — I learned to constantly give him verbal clues (“Daddy”) to help keep it straight in him mind what my role in his life should be. Other things like his wandering off — scaring me half to death when I found out he’d somehow managed to get across the freeway with his dog to buy a leash; his time in the hospital with “good-intentioned” doctors and staff that didn’t know how to handle him (wanting to restrain him!) — or properly medicate him when medications he’d been taking ulcerated his stomach. These are part of the sad memories of my dad, but each experience (and how I handled them) has helped shape who I am.

I am a better person for having encountered each experience:  each has helped to shape how I respond to new experiences; how I handle encounters with people — of all sorts; how I live my life. Through them all, having a good foundation (thanks to my parents) — something to fall back onto when things get sketchy — is paramount. First and foremost, my dad was a stickler for attending church. We all grumbled (to varying degrees) about it, but we learned about God and what an awesome pillar of strength He could be if we allowed it. For that, I am forever thankful.

That one thing — having God to lean on — and each experience building upon the next helped me through the deaths of my parents and my husband … and through all the ups and downs in life.

I was too young when my first grandmother died — I don’t even remember being allowed to attend the funeral. When my grandfather (her husband) grew ill, I was not allowed to see him in the hospital, but when he died, It was felt I was apparently old enough to attend the grave-side burial services. All I remember is sitting in the back with my cousin, goofing around and giggling (and being shushed by my mom) — obviously not old enough for the proper decorum. With the death of my dad’s father, then mother, I was much older and the gravity of their deaths was felt deeply. As my aunts and uncles passed away (both before and after my parents and husband’s deaths, each one was a blow, but God helped ground me, helped get me through. And before his death, with each of my husband’s catastrophic illnesses, again, I remained calm (people kept commenting on it and I was beginning to wonder if I was not engaged with the gravity of the situation, but finally realized it was simply because I leaned on God for my strength — and that was a good thing). I was able to come through to the other side in one piece, at peace … and refreshed.

Repetition, life experiences and leaning on God. Yup. That pretty much sums up how we build our lives. Well, it’s how I formed mine, at least. And, it seems to be a good formula for me.

…And in light of the news from today: the loss of an icon, Leonard Nimoy … a all-time favorite of mine, that’s what I’ll be doing — definitely shedding tears, but mostly, praying for his family and friends and leaning on God

May your life be peppered with ups and downs, triumphs and defeats, creating the strong, vital character that is you. Hopefully you too have someone to lean on to make it through to the other side, in one piece and at peace.