I am on quest to reclaim my life, one mile and one photo at a time. My goal is to share all the good and bad in a way that is both heart warming and humorous. Buckle in and enjoy my tales of travels and life's trials and tribulations. All described here in detail and photos because seriously, I can't make this shit up. I'd love to hear from you. email me – firstname.lastname@example.org
The days certainly seem to pass faster as you get older and I think I have figured out why. One is mathematical and one is practical. Mathematical reason – when you are 5 years old waiting for Christmas to come again, it is literally 1/5 of your life until it’s Christmas again. When you’re 42, it’s only 1/42 of your life, so proportionally, each year actually does become a smaller and smaller portion of the life you have lived so far. Practically, as you get older, there is SO much more to do and worry about. I mean as far as a ten year is concerned, toilet paper, food, clean clothes and the like are things that just appear.
So since I’ve become a world traveler, I’m much more open to the idea of going places on the weekend and this weekend is no exception. This weekend I’m going camping with Bailey and my friend Jenny and 2 of her 3 kids. And by camping, I mean real camping, no electricity, camp fire, the whole nine yards. And somehow, the weather looks to be perfect and there is a meteor shower this weekend so score!
Since the hobbit house incident the other night, I’ve been pretty good. Now I’m very impatient though to get this house in order- literally and for all of his things to be gone so I can move on. I don’t know how people get divorced and let it drag on forever. I realized yesterday it’s been over 3 months since we broke up. Enough is enough already. I’m not going to say that the whole relationship was a waste because at the beginning, we were happy, but I feel like the last couple years were based on things he said when we broke up so please, quit sucking up more of my life. Plus, I really need his stuff gone so I can send the invitations out for the celebratory taco extravaganza on Saturday October 21st. (hint – pencil that day in people)
I love Pinterest and I compulsively save inspirational memes to my phone.
Here are some of the latest and greatest – they are all different ways of saying the same thing – I’m ok. I’m enough. I’m happy. And I am a work in progress. that really likes squirrels.
So I’m slowly re-acclimating to”normal” life which really isn’t normal at all since I’m still cleaning up the messes left from the break-up. You know, like how we still technically live together and all his stuff is still here. In piles. Everywhere. Other people’s messes are so annoying. I can deal with my own piles and messes because any minute now, I’m going to tackle them gusto and be perfectly organized. Not so easy with someone Else’s “treasures”.
This past weekend I went to see my parents for the first time since my trip. I needed deliver a wide variety of souvenirs and claim some important documents I had left there for safe keeping before my trip. I did however leave the DNA sample behind. Doesn’t every parent need one of those? Not to gross you out too much but lets just say mine was a result of wearing those special foot peel chemical baggies and it was like the size of a fifty cent piece.
I took Bailey with me because he had a birthday on Sunday and I never miss his birthday. Before we went to my mom and dad’s we stopped at my sister Jamie’s house and saw her kids which are really adorable. My favorite part was lunch time when poor little Alice was so tired she fell asleep mid lunch. She literally falls asleep chewing and then wakes up looking for another bite. It is so adorable to watch. Apparently this is her thing. Earlier in the week, she feel asleep snacking on a graham cracker; woke up three hours later and started chewing without missing a beat.
When we finally made it to mom and dad’s, the clouds cleared and it was a perfect day for swimming so we all suited up – even three year old Eddie and headed out. I think we all know how I feel about pools. So it was a great afternoon. After swimming there was pizza and cake for the birthday boy and then the two of us headed over to Jessica’s house for the night. Best part – once again this girl used sunscreen this weekend and did not burn. I don’t want to jinx myself, but I am thinking I might be able to make it a whole summer without a single lobster incident. Keep your fingers crossed.
Sunday morning, after my sister’s special scrambled eggs with goat cheese and fresh cut chives, ( that is the only reason I sleep at her house – she doesn’t even have WiFi) we headed back to the pool for some “splashes and kicks” before heading home to get Bailey back to his mom’s for a surprise gathering of some of his buddies for pizza, cake and general teenage “hanging out” I’m not going to lie, I stayed for most of the party and was relieved when I escaped.
After all the excitement, it was nice to be home with the dog and relax. I’m not going to lie though, it’s sometimes weird being home alone all the time. I mean, I was home alone a fair amount before when He was on the road, but we usually spent the weekends together. Here’s the thing that we don’t talk about – I mean- in theory, it’s a great idea to just have to worry about yourself but after so many years of worrying about someone else, I’m just not good at it yet. I’m not saying I won’t get there but like my mom keeps reminding me, I’m just making new habits to replace the old ones.
But you know what got me today – I keep reading all this hype about AIRbnb and so I went on the site to check it out. (side note – there are some cool places) Anyways, I was looking through 5 star listing or whatever and I saw the most amazing Hobbit House in Washington state. It was so neat and the thing is, I didn’t really even like the Hobbit/Lord of the Rings movies but I watched them with him because he liked them. So of course, my first thought when I saw it was that I should tell/show him about it, but he’s not that person anymore. He’s not my person. And I was pissed because it’s been like 3 months and a stupid hobbit house made me cry.
So if this ever happens to you, just know that feelings come unexpectedly in waves and just when you think it’s over, something will smack you in the face and remind you that you need a little more time. You still know you’re ok but it is just going take a little longer to put all the pieces back together.
So I woke up Thursday morning in disbelief, I mean, how could it be time to go home already? But sure enough, a month had past and it was time to pack up the sweet rented ride one last time and head for home. I’m not going to lie, I was slow leaving the hotel, I mean, I worked and stuff while on the road, but who wants to go back to real life?
I had one last decadent hotel breakfast and I’m not going to lie, I was surprised they didn’t break out the bacon in honor of my last day, but oh well. After two trips with a full bell man’s cart to the car, I was loaded and on my way. But before I could get on the highway, I needed to deal with some low air in a tire. I know that might not seem like a big deal to you, but putting air in the car tire is not something I am good at, I would go so far as to say I stink at it. I have tried many times with not a lot of success. It’s just not in my wheel house. So this was a problem for like 3 days and Dennis kept saying – Just go to Discount Tire – they’ll take care of it. So finally I went to Discount Tire. I didn’t even have to get out of the car. They have a guy who stands there under the free air check sign filling up tires all day. It was awesome. Then I got gas and since I was by a grocery store, I decided to get some snacks so I could avoid some drive through on the way home. I’m not even going to deny it- I bought cheese cubes, sliced cheese and cheese puffs and a few other things that go with cheese like bread and salami and peanut M&Ms. I guess I was missing America’s Dairy land. LOL
I had 2 different ways I could go home – I figured I could just do it all in one horribly long day or I could take my take and split it into two. I opted for the later and booked myself an awesome free room at the Quality Inn in Lincoln, NE. No disrespect to the hotel but there was clearly a reason it was only 8,000 points. It was clean and the room was big but the bathroom was SMALL and the whole place could really use some updating. I was on the 4th floor and had patio doors to a tiny porch. I took advantage of the view to snap some photos of the nicer hotels I could’ve stayed at. Also, I took a picture of the top notch security device on the door. ( Don’t fret – it was on the patio door and there was also a bar)
Also – since I only had about another 8 hours until I was home, I am proud say that in true Ross Gellar spirit, I did not check out until 11:52, but I forgot to take the toiletries! After some awesome all day McDonald’s breakfast, I was on the road. Funny story – I walked out of my room, thinking I wanted McDonald’s breakfast and was hoping there would be one an exit or two up but no, I looked up and there was one right next to the hotel. How lucky was I?
I hate to admit this, but as I got closer to home, the more I didn’t want to go there. I mean, I know that Bailey was excitedly waiting for me but I so many things had changed. I mean who wants to leave going from awesome place to awesome place with amazing people back to real life with a dog, dishes and cat poop? I really mastered dawdling though. I sat in the sun for about 20 minutes on a bench at a rest stop in Iowa much to the confusion of many. I stopped at the first Culver’s I encountered for an ice cream. I stopped at Steve’s sister’s house that was on the way “to go potty” and ended up staying there for about an hour and half.
I eventually pulled in at home and Bailey literally came running out and all 160 some pounds of his almost 6 foot tallness went to hug me and jumped up and wrapped his legs around me and almost knocked me over. This was after the dog tried to french kiss me. I think I was missed. LOL
I eventually made it to bed in my own bed and that was nice. I also really enjoyed showering in my own bathroom in the morning before meeting up with my girls for lunch on Saturday.
I would be lying if I said this last week had been easy. The first day or two I still had my best experience in the world high, but then real life set in and that was a bit depressing. I realize it still might take me a minute to get my heart back in order but I can tell you this for sure, if I ever start to doubt my awesomeness again – all I have to do is say to myself- I camped at the Grand Canyon – all by myself – who does that? I’m fucking jennifoster and there is not anything I can’t do.
Just because I’m home doesn’t mean you should stop reading – I think things are just about to start getting interesting.
So after Sunday Fun-day, it was time to get to work. Monday was pretty low key. I stayed at the hotel and worked most of the day except for a short break in the pool while the sun was shining. I went to the pool about lunch time and there were no kids there yet – score!! There was only one other person in the pool – a nice grown up lady- yada yada – we’re facebook friends now! How cool is that???
Tuesday I went up to Denver to a job site with one of the guys from work and worked along the way – solved a problem in the car at the job site- and got to go out to lunch with a great battery guy in Colorado I talk to all the time but have never met in the real person. Oh and I ordered Catfish for lunch that day – how cool – I like it but never order things that are different for me.
After lunch I headed back to the hotel where I realized I left my phone in Dennis’s truck. I went over 18 hours with out my phone. It was weird, but I survived.
For dinner that night Keith wife, Heather! took me for Margaritas and Mexican food to this really cute place in Manitou Springs. Two take aways from this – 1- Mole is good. 2- two big margaritas at 6000 feet above sea level is not a good idea. I was so tipsy I thought I might puke. Seriously?? I am definitely a cheap date in Colorado. I am pretty sure I was “asleep” within about 8 minutes of returning to my hotel room. The good news is that I did not feel too bad in the morning.
Wednesday morning I got up, retrieved my phone and headed up to the far north end of Denver alone to meet with some customers that we do work for. They were a super group of guys and it was great seeing their place and getting to chat in person. We all had lunch together before I headed back down to Colorado Springs to do some quick work and start packing because I was heading home in the morning. I had dinner that night at the Saltgrass steak house with my work guys, said good bye to them and headed back to the hotel to finish packing up my stuff. I will of course deny any reports of my crying as I left the restaurant. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it! I headed back to the hotel and got ready for the journey home.
I arrived in Colorado Springs late Thursday night and was so glad to go to bed. I woke up earlier than I thought I would Friday morning because I was anxious to get some things done like work and looking at all the treasures I had amassed so far. My hotel had an awesome breakfast buffet each day and so I went upstairs (I know, weird, right? – turns out the hotel was built into a hill) and found scrambled eggs, fresh fruit, bacon and all kinds of other top notch breakfast food except bagels waiting for me. I mean both raisin and rye bread was available for toasting.
After a pretty low key – normal day I went over to meet up with the guys I worked with at one of their houses. It was amazing to see them and their families and I just had the best time. It was hard to believe it had been over 6 years since we had all been together in person. We were fed steak on the grill – which was amazing, red velvet bundt cake – also amazing and I brought the blackberry moonshine I bought at Peach World in Georgia. It was a comfortable night with good friends and just another amazing time during a great journey.
Saturday I took care of some business and relaxed, eventually venturing out to Redbox to rent that movie Chips. It was ok. Not worth the hour I put into finding it online, getting dressed and then trying to find the location where it was. Oh well, it was another adventure.
Sunday morning I got up kind of early and met Dennis and Lance for breakfast before we all piled into Dennis’s truck for the drive to the top of Pike’s Peak. It took about 3ish hours to go up and down. Pike’s Peak altitude at the top is 14,110 feet above sea level. You get there by taking a very steep, narrow road that in places does not have a guard rail on the passenger’s side and very steep drop-offs. All in all though, I think I was a good rider given the situation. I did ok with the altitude until we were about 11,000 feet or so and then I got dizzy for a little bit but then it passed. It was super neat as we climbed feeling the temperature get cooler and watching the changes in the trees and plants. Even though there was a sign at the gate about big horned sheep and lambs – they once again alluded me and I am still on my quest to see the mountain goats and big horned sheep in nature. ( by nature- I mean not stuffed at Cabela’s) We eventually made it to the top, took the obligatory pictures in front of the altitude sign and I scored some more crushed pennies. It was a little hazy that day, but the view was still amazing. And it’s one more amazing thing to add to my list of successes on this trip.
On the way down, the park service makes you stop and they check the temperature of your brakes to make sure that they are not too hot. Brakes that are too hot are likely to fail and that could be bad.
After we made our way back down to Colorado Springs, I returned to the hotel where I’m not going to lie, I really wanted a nap. But it was a beautiful day, so I suited up, literally and took my nap next to the pool ( in the shade) and waited for all the kids to go home and then I got in the pool. It was so nice and relaxing. What an amazing day!!!
So after I left the Olive Garden in Flagstaff, Arizona, I gassed up the car and headed towards Colorado Springs. My faithful car navigation system took me back out of the Arizona the same route I came in and I was able to stop at some places I hadn’t on the way to the Grand Canyon because I was in a hurry.
First of all, Arizona is gorgeous and there are a lot of billboards for shops being run by Navajo Indians. One of the things I wanted to do on this trip was go to Sedona for crystals but I didn’t have time for the detour, so instead I was lured into a Native Indian Store that included the words rock shop on all their signs. I was looking for quartz, specifically pink quartz and ended up with that and a few other pretty things. When I was there, in the spirit of trying new things, I bought and ate an Indian Taco/burrito. Basically, it was Indian Fry bread with pinto beans, ground beef, tomatoes, onions, lettuce and a little cheese. It was good but a little bland and you know how I feel about sour cream. I think if I had a chance to eat fry bread again, I would order it with cinnamon/ sugar. Now I didn’t know what fry bread was until I ate it this day. It’s basically kind of like a pita that is deep fried and puffy and delicious, but a little lighter. It’s hard to describe exactly but I think you get the idea.
With my Indian Taco in hand, I got back on the road but stopped a few minutes later at the last rest area in Arizona to throw out some trash, eat my taco and get re-situated for the ride. Also, I took advantage of the moment to snap some pictures of the awesome landscape.
While I was sitting at the rest area, an ambulance and some police vehicles approached and it appeared someone was having a medical emergency. This area of Arizona was rather sparsely populated and I could go 20 or more miles between exits. While I was driving I got to thinking about how those of us who live in the more populated areas take some services for granted. Where I live, I know that I can call 911 and have a police person, fire truck or ambulance at my house in probably about 5 minutes. I think sometimes we forget that others don’t live that way and how lucky we are to have these things so nearby. I am not trying to hit a political hot topic here, but it also made me think about gun laws. Whereas people who live in cities have paid protectors readily available, in the more rural areas of the country , they do not and need to be more self reliant. For someone 45 minutes away from the nearest town ( Sheriff) guns take on a whole new importance. For me it was interesting to think how I had never considered before really how within our Country there are some many different ways of life and while doing things a certain way in my neck of the woods – it may not even be possible to live that way somewhere else. But that is the great thing about traveling. You are exposed to different cultures and worlds outside of your own little circle. Hopefully, we can take those experiences with us and be kinder, more gentle human beings.
I think this may have been where I thought another sing along was needed.
Off my soapbox – after leaving the rest area, I focused on finishing out my trip to Colorado. I mean by this point it was like 4 in the afternoon already and you guessed it, my arrival time was estimated to be well after midnight. So with the hammer down, I road across New Mexico and headed north into Colorado. I could not believe how desolate I25 was when I came into Colorado. Exits were easily 50-75 miles apart and even then, there weren’t services readily available (read through the lines – McDonald’s). I excitedly exited at one exit because the blue sign said there was a McDonald’s. As I pulled on to the exit ramp, the blue sign with the arrow said 5 miles under McDonald’s. I got back on the freeway. I feel 5 miles into town is a misleading on the blue sign on the side of the freeway that says food. Just saying. I ended up stopping at a rest area to take care of business. This was the only time I was a little freaked out – it was kind of dark and there were really no other people there. I moved swiftly like a ninja to the bathroom and got back into the safety of my locked car as fast as I could. I’m sure there was nothing to be afraid of but it was dark and I’m a safety first kind of girl who has watched too many Lifetime movies.
On my way into Colorado, I talked to one of the guys from work about what was ahead of me, mountain wise. He was like oh – there’s just one small pass, no big deal. HE IS A LIAR. I think I went up and down over 2000 feet and it was curvy and dark. His “little pass” was nothing but. However, like many other times on my trip, help was on my side and there was construction. Now you are probably saying to yourself, how was construction helpful. Let me tell you – the speed limit was reduced from 65 to 45. Score! However, I should probably still apologize to anyone driving north on I-25 from the Colorado State line to Colorado Springs on July 6th. I was a little “cautious”.
I finally get over the pass and head north. As I drive through Pueblo, there were like 20 police cars, lights ablaze at a Love’s gas station. I wondered what all the fuss was about. Love’s has good jerky, not donuts. The next morning I was watching the news and it turned out they thought the guy was going to try to have a bomb scare at the Colorado Springs Airport or so his people thought- you can read all the details here: http://www.kktv.com/content/news/BREAKING-Man-claims-to-have-explosives-arrested-at-Fountain-gas-station-433046763.html
Finally, about 12:30 am I made it my hotel in Colorado Springs. I was exhausted. I told Mr Check in guy that I had driven all the way from the Grand Canyon – but he just kept talking. Remembering my nights at the front desk at Liz Waters dorm just waiting for the janitor/security people to come through to talk to in order to stay awake, I politely engaged in small talk longer than really needed but such is a life. I eventually was granted access to the magical world that was the nicest hotel I was ever provided with and made it to bed a short while later after only carrying in the essentials.
In case you were wondering or have somehow forgotten, I still have a sprained (aka hurting) ankle during all this. However I made it to my made bed with the freshly changed sheets and quickly fell asleep with another travel day behind me and happy to be in a while place for a few days.
So I rolled into the Grand Canyon about 7 or 8 pm local time. Apparently they are on Arizona time and I wasn’t aware and I had lots of trouble when I was there knowing what time it was.
When I got there, I was greeted at the gate by a lady park ranger who took my money. There was no one in line behind me so we chatted a bit and I told her that I was there alone and she was impressed and told me she lost her husband 4 years ago and wanted to travel too. I suggested she start small and just do it!!!
After I paid my $30 park fee, I headed in to register for my campsite. While in line, there was a lady elk eating grass nearby. Super cool. Actual conversation while park check in guy:
Him (older fellow): Just one car?
Him: Just one tent?
Him: Just you?
Him: Well, enjoy your visit.
He handed me a map and I was on my way. I found my site and had to go the bathroom, so I headed to the bathroom which was one campsite away and was pleasantly surprised that it had flushed toilets, running water and toilet paper without wood chips in it! Score!!!
It was starting to get dark, so I set up my tent, semi – successfully pounding in some stakes with a rock, blew up my air mattress, put on my strawberry sheets , cracked some glow sticks for ambiance and settled in for the night. After eating sandwich, I was ready for sleep. I listened to some Enya since the WWW was non-existent and fell asleep quickly but not without making sure my keys were handy in case I was scared and wanted to hit the panic alarm. I slept like a 15 year old that night. I don’t think I moved at all and slept for a long time into the morning. By the time I work up, many of the people had already headed out for the day.
I was kind of slow to get moving and was just sitting in my comfy chair enjoying the day, thinking about my plans and checking my eyelids for holes. I opened my eyes and realized I had a visitor. A beautiful lady elk.
After that excitement, I gathered up my park map and headed over to take a shower at what I thought was 1 pm. I got there and they went to close the shower for the noon cleaning. That is when I realized I was on Arizona time. I waited and then spent $2 in quarters for 8 minutes of a fairly decent shower. I was ready to see the Canyon.
I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves. As if you had to ask, but no, there was no hiking.
My second night camping was just as successful and I slept well in my little tent. The worst part was having to get up off the ground quickly with the sore ankle when I woke up to go to the bathroom. I wasn’t really scared ever and felt quite safe. The camp sites were close to each other and all of them were occupied so I think that added to the security of it.
When I woke up the second morning and came out of my tent I was promptly greeted by the site of one of the Asian fellows camping across the “road” scratching his bare ass. Forever. I could have done without that experience. Eventually I got moving and made myself a decadent breakfast of 2 cups of Starbucks Caramel Latter and apple cinnamon oatmeal thanks to a borrowed backpacking stove, and after another $2 8 minute shower, I headed back to the populated world.
I eventually made it to Flagstaff, Arizona and decided I needed a moment to spend with the WWW and catch up on work emails and the like, so I treated myself to sit down lunch at the Olive Garden. They had fantastic WI-FI and I didn’t have to share my bread sticks with anyone! After about an hour, I felt back in touch with the World, finished my spaghetti and headed back out on the road for the trip to my final destination, Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Overall, I think the Grand Canyon experience was amazing and am so glad I did it. The only moment that paused me was when I had lunch alone at the Desert View snack bar and was surrounded by families. But then I realized, I only had to pay for one hot dog and the cheapskate in me was quite pleased – so I splurged on the souvenir soda cup. LOL
When you tell people you are going on a big trip to heal your heart, there are comments mentioning the book Eat, Pray, Love. I’m not going to deny it, the idea of an amazing trip did come a little from the movie/book.
I didn’t specifically set out to do those three things because that is pretty cliche. But I would be lying if I said, I didn’t go through all three of those actions. As I’m rounding into the last week of my trip, I can’t help but think about all the amazing experiences I have had.
Now, I did eat on this trip. I tried new things and found some new favorites. I went to White Castle for the first time, had the famous Skyline Chili, Shrimp Ceviche, an Indian Taco and some other things I am sure I’m forgetting. I also am less serious in my relationship with Diet Coke. I’m not saying we’re breaking up, but we’re definitely seeing other people.
While I haven’t been to church, I have definitely been praying and am sure I have been the beneficiary of other’s prayers. Every time I have asked for help, I have received it in one way or another and I definitely feel like someone is looking out for me.
Lastly, Love. I know that when people think about the book/movie and they talk about love, they are looking for a great love affair. I can tell you, not just because my mom might actually read this, but truthfully there have been no flings on this trip. However, I have never felt more loved in my entire life. My friends opened their homes to me and took care of me most graciously. I felt my friends cheering me on through their calls, texts, Facebook posts and all the likes on the blog posts. My family has encouraged me every step of the way, my dad even made sure I had a pocket knife for camping.
This afternoon at the hotel, I sat at the pool, in the shade, and dozed off. By myself. And I was content. I’m not going to say my heart is completely healed but there is so much truth in the statement that Life is about the journey and not the destination.