Saturday, September 30, 2006

The Trek Out West - Part 2

Felicity commented "I love...seeing a part of the world I'm sure I'll never get to see..." I've enjoyed her blog and others for the same reason - she's lived in such interesting parts of the world, documenting the local architecture, culture and scenery for the rest of us to savor. It inspired me take more pictures along the way to Idaho than I might have otherwise so I could share the experience here. And so, it's on to day two of the trek out west.

It was another relatively cool day - 60's F, at least for the majority of it. I expected the scenery to be quite boring going across North Dakota. I'd not been this way before and figured it'd be flat and featureless as the Eastern part of South Dakota just below it. Instead, it was more rolling marshlands - lots of water - and surprisingly beautiful. At one point my friend inquired if anything I was seeing was inspiring me (yes, she'd heard my stories of how I'd discovered just how much my daily walks in the woods had influenced my art). Honestly, I had to answer, "Not a thing!"

The farther west we went, the more rugged the country became when suddenly we see this:

This is the southern unit of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park and very much like the Badlands and Painted desert of South Dakota which both of us had visited, but neither of us had any idea that North Dakota had something similar in its own Badlands. Roosevelt said of these lands,
"I grow very fond of this place, and it certainly has a desolate, grim beauty of its own, that has a curious fascination for me."
Now, we were on a bit of a deadline. We had 4 days to make it to my friend's house in Walla Walla so she could be back at her job teaching by Tuesday. She was pushing it a bit to take three personal days right after the school year started up. It wouldn't be pretty if she missed another day, so it was agreed this trip would not include sightseeing. However, we both looked at each other, and I said, "I don't care, I'm getting off at the scenic overlook." Here I am, windblown and posing like a typical tourist.

It's hard to get a sense of perspective from the pictures - but it really was quite impressive. To give you an idea, in this picture, there is a cowboy rounding up a group of cattle at the base of that mesa.

Here' I've zoomed in on them:

This link explains the red color - something we'd never heard of before. It's actually iron oxidized from burning coal beds ignited by lightning.

After walking along the extensive overlook and reading the explanatory signs, it was back in the car and off to Montana. Western Montana is still rather open country but mountains are starting to rise up and pine trees become more common.

We could see areas now and then where wildfires had burned near the interstate and knew that there was a very large fire burning on the other side of Billings, our destination for the day. The closer we got to Billings, the more hazy it got - smoke from the fires.

We had great accommodations that night at the Cherry Tree Inn, and I finally saw something to inspire me in the parking lot!

We capped off the evening with a great steak dinner - Montana is cattle country and the beef is excellent. One wouldn't think there'd be much difference, but Midwest beef has a different taste to it. Not better or worse, just different. Tonight's dinner is the beef I grew up on and have missed during my stint in Wisconsin.

End of day two.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Trek Out West - Part 1

Time for a travelogue. September 6th found the movers packing most of my stuff in preparation for loading the following day. After they left, I looked around and thought, "Here it is, my life reduced to boxes." Part of that felt good - released from the burden of material belongings. Part of that felt very strange - all that made this townhouse distinctively me was gone.

Early on the 7th, they returned to load it all into the big big truck. This makes my 13th move since college - oh, I hope that's not unlucky. Most of those moves were made with a U-haul truck but this is my third time being moved by the pros. It's expensive but worth every penny, trust me. I've taken a picture of every moving truck along the way, so here's the latest - one I shared with other people in transit.

I let the movers take more than I normally trust to strangers - well, these guys didn't feel like strangers since they were the same company that had moved me twice and good friends of a friend. Just didn't have the room in the car after loading all my financial papers, first night/first morning things, computer discs, food box, oh, yeah, and luggage plus the dog. I included a satchel with some hand sewing and a book just in case, but for the first time ever I did not take my trusty old sewing machine along with me, but let it and the newer one out of my sight and care for the duration of the time in transit.

My friend from Walla Walla arrived late that night and we stayed at a motel in town. Mmm, me, homeless, I thought, since I hadn't signed the lease on my rental on the other end. Well, the dog and I can always sleep in the car and my friend did offer me a place to stay in a pinch.

We didn't get the earliest start the next morning. Her 11:30 p.m. arrival didn't hamper our staying up to gab until after 1:00 a.m. We kept reminding ourselves that we had 4 days trapped in a car together, so plenty of time to catch up, but we couldn't seem to stop yakking. After a few last goodbyes and a swing past the property where we'd built our dream house only to have to sell it, it was off to Minneapolis and points west.

Ah, points west...not the most inspiring vistas in that part of Minnesota. Flat, flat, flat, and one would wonder what made anyone stop and decide to live here. Well, the farming probably, and look at those giant hay bales.

Eventually, though, we started to see a bit of topography and some water. After all, this is part of the waterfowl migratory route. There were tons of birds in the tree in the second picture below but we couldn't tell what they were.

My friend and I divided the driving time fairly evenly, and she was in charge of how far we needed to get each day. Here she is, determined to make it to North Dakota before stopping for the day.

At one point the clouds moved in and it looked like we'd get a good dousing, but it didn't happen. Oh, look - we're nearly to North Dakota, and with very little traffic around Fargo and the road construction crews gone for the day, we were able to reach Jamestown, ND by our predetermined must stop time of 6:30.

Very tired, very freaked (both the dog and I), and thinking, Oh, My, God, what have I done, I was lucky to have my friend along to remind me of how exciting this was for me and to get me up and out to a restaurant for dinner. Several beers and a hearty meal later, we staggered back to the hotel and collapse for the night.

End of travel day one.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Hello Idaho!

Yes, I've traded the land of cheeseheads for the land of potato heads. Well, actually, the state motto for years was "Famous Potatoes" (and perhaps it's still on the license plates - my attentions have been elsewhere) and postcards like the one above abound.

Although I've been in my new place for over a week, the computer didn't get unpacked until last Thursday and internet access didn't get restored until Friday. I'm having a bit of a problem with outgoing mail which means I wasted tons of time on Friday trying to resolve it myself before giving up. It's that love/hate relationship we have with computers: when they do what they're supposed to, we love 'em; when they balk and we can't figure out why, we hate 'em.

I'd like to report that things have been going along without a hitch, just like they did on the drive out, but truth be told, the place wasn't 100% ready for me to move into. No cleaning service had been called in and lots of little problems followed by a lot of finger pointing between the two parties responsible. So instead of being all unpacked, I've spent the last week on the phone, conducting walk-throughs, complaining, and finally sucking it up and starting some of the cleaning myself so I could at least get the kitchen set up. Still some drawers to clean there but as of last night, almost all of the kitchen things were unpacked.

The weather the last few days has been up in the seventies which prompted me to take screens down to hose off and start washing windows inside and out. With all the lovely views, clean windows are a must! Unfortunately, this is an older place, with some double-paned windows whose seals have leaked to cloud the glass between the panes where they can't be cleaned. Still, they let in lots of light and the room selected for my studio is the best room in the house. I didn't think I'd be able to see the lake from inside the house, but I can. The big window in the studio overlooks a field, the lake and the mountains beyond. I can't believe how lucky I am - which makes the problems with the house easier to take.

Haven't downloaded pictures from my camera yet, but will try to get some of the trip out and shots around the place posted before too long. In the meantime, the big maple in front of the house is starting to turn. I snatched a few leaves off the lawn this morning and scanned them - as if I don't already have enough pressed and scanned leaves! However, I didn't have any authentic IDAHO leaves in my collection, so here they are. I'm thinking that my first project once the studio is minimally set up will have an autumn theme for sure.


Wednesday, September 13, 2006

In Transit

I made it across country - well over the 1400 miles the movers said it would take. Granted, my traveling companion and I took a few side trips and instead of ending up in Sandpoint, headed for her home 5 hours further down the road. So I have had a few days to decompress from the 4 day drive, and the dog has had a chance to stretch her legs and wade in my friend's creek. Happy campers both of us.

But tomorrow it's back to business. I heard from my mover this morning who was calling from Billings Montana. He'll actually be in Sandpoint tomorrow and so will I to pick up the keys and see if this new place of mine is as wonderful as I remember it. A few more days and the computer should be unpacked, internet service resumed and with any luck, pictures of the trip on the blog.

But for now, consider me arrived safely in the Pacific Northwest - and happy to be here!

Monday, September 04, 2006

Goodbye Wisconsin

Time to face reality - in a few days the movers will be here and by Friday I'll be heading down the road to my new home in Idaho. Still a ton of things to do in the next few days, so I guess I better put the blogging on hold til I get set up on the other end.

Goodbye Packers, goodbye cheeseheads, goodbye tornados! It's mostly been fun...

Saturday, September 02, 2006

A thought for the day

"Many people go throughout life committing partial suicide - destroying their talents, energies, creative qualities. Indeed, to learn how to be good to oneself is often more difficult than to learn how to be good to others."
Joshua Liebman

Yesterday I think I was trying to be good to myself. Spent a lot of time out shopping without thought to all the things I should be doing back home. I still got plenty done later in the day. I did find my self a bit impatient though. Normally, lines at the check stand or products not on the shelf don't get to me, but nearly everywhere I went it was the same thing and I caught myself mouthing a lot of indignation. Hey - I've got limited time here - I can't come back later.

Then today, I called to get my phone service stopped next week, only to hear the customer service rep say, ok, your order is processed. She hadn't asked what day I wanted it stopped and put it in for today. Argh! She admitted she usually doesn't work customer service, put me on hold, then came back on to say it had been fixed and changed to the later date. Thanks.

Instead, my lines were dead. Although I explained the mix-up, this new rep said, sorry, the order has been processed and it says for today. When I asked about getting the service back up, he spouted the company line of $59 dollars and 7 to 10 business days to resume service. Oh, NO, you don't - I fairly shouted. This was your error, not mine and I need my phones on now! I want to talk to a supervisor.

I could hear him madly typing away on his keyboard, then he put me on hold - for what seemed like forever. (Oh, you may be wondering how I called them back - thank you neighbor for use of your cell phone...). Then he was back. Apparently he'd checked out my story, perhaps even talked to a supervisor, and was now apologizing for their error and telling me the phones would be on later today. And now they are.

It felt like a continuation of yesterday's irritations - more people messing up on the job and making my life miserable.
This is what I get for trying to make arrangements ahead of time, I chided myself. But hey - it's ok now, I'm that much farther down my list of things to do, and it is a beautiful day out today. Time to lighten up!

Friday, September 01, 2006

New Shoes

Ok, so maybe I'm taking this going-to-live-the-artist's-life thing too seriously, but when I saw these shoes, all I could think was these were the perfect shoes to be seen wearing while walking the streets of Sandpoint. If these aren't quilt artists shoes, nothing are!

Their hefty price made me put them back on the shelf until I saw if any birthday money came my way. Thanks to the generosity of my mother-in-law, I was able to go buy them today. Thanks!