Signs can give you a feel for a place.
I just got home from an amazing trip to coastal and central Oregon, and brace yourself, it has inspired no fewer than 15 ideas for blog posts. But don’t worry, if you’re not a travel enthusiast, I’ll be spreading them out over the next month or so, so as not to drive you off. (I’d miss you guys!)
One of my favorite things about traveling is seeing the strange signs and t-shirts I encounter along the way. They can really give you the feel for a place better than anything else. (If you use your imagination, that is.)
The best sign I saw was across the road on a busy highway. There was no convenient place to pull over or turn around for a picture without risking life and limb, so, this blog never being far from my mind, I had to content myself with a note. The sign stretched the length of a long, rustic wood building, and it said, simply, “A large variety of wood!”
I couldn’t tell if the place was open or closed. There were no cars in the parking lot. The windows were small and dusty. Was the owner selling firewood? Driftwood art? Elaborate sculptures carved from logs? Furniture? Or something rated x? I have no idea. I’ve got to say that for some reason it makes me really happy that this place exists. But I’d suggest that the proprietor might want to expand upon his signage or his displays just a tiny bit so that passersby would know if they are a part of his target market, because I’d be afraid to stop without knowing. Just sayin’.
In no particular order, here are some of the signs that I found pic-worthy along the way.
This place will merit a blog post all its own. We saw a lot of evidence of how hard it was to travel around here back before there were paved roads and Starbucks every 500 yards, but this one pretty much says it all.
This one was taken at Crooked River Bridge. I will attest to the fact that 300 feet is a really long way down. I know, because I got a wicked sense of vertigo while checking for dog carcasses. I’m happy to report that I didn’t see any. A few thoughts on this sign: It seems like there’s more concern for the dogs than the children. And there was a high wall blocking you from the precipice. It would take some effort to get your dog to launch itself into that abyss. Hysterical sign maker? Or is there a dark side to Oregon that they aren’t telling us? Hmmm…
This one made me laugh. It was at the High Desert Museum in Bend, Oregon. That amazing place also merits its own post. But after the last sign, I thought I should show you that Oregonians have a sense of humor, too.
This one made us do a u-turn. So, you go to the state park, and then you recycle yourself, big time. Glad to hear that Oregon takes the environment so seriously!
Now this, at the Tillamook Creamery, (which will also get its own post) is my kind of sign.
And I’m leaving you with two t-shirts that I would have bought, because I have a twisted sense of humor. But I already have way too many t-shirts. Carrion, dear reader. Carrion.
Like the way my weird mind works? Then you’ll enjoy my book! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5
I’m in a state of transition and that’s putting it mildly. New job, new (to me) car, new city where I have never been and know not a soul. An epic drive across the country, seeing places I’ve never seen. Hurtling toward the unknown. What an adventure. What a trip!
Most of the time I’m excited. Friends have told me I’m brave, and that they admire me for doing this. But I have to admit that sometimes I’m scared shitless. All this change all at once can crash over me like a tsunami, and I panic. I doubt. I basically freak out. What the hell am I doing?
The other day I said to a friend, “Please remind me I’m not crazy. I feel like I’m jumping off a cliff without knowing what’s at the bottom.”
His response to me was, “Well, seems to me like you already know what’s at the bottom. This is more like ascending a cliff than jumping off. So put on those rock slippers, woman, and get to climbing!”
And just like that, my view of the situation was reframed. At least until the next tsunami. This is a wise friend, indeed. His name means “Sacred Lion”. His mother named him well.
[Image credit: ireminisces.com]
My departure from Jacksonville was a strange one indeed. The night before, after having a lovely dinner with one of my dearest friends in the world, I came home and started loading a bunch of last minute stuff in the car. I thought I had closed the door to the house behind me. I really did. But when I looked up it was open and my dogs were nowhere to be found.
I spent the next hour walking the neighborhood in tears, hollering their names. Of course I went to the extreme. What if I couldn’t find them by morning and I had to drive away without them? But then just like that they wandered up to me, looking very perplexed that I was blubbering on the street.
We got back to the house and I guess about two months of accumulated stress and anxiety decided to come out all at once and I just fell to pieces, and finally went to bed utterly drained.
The next morning I packed all the last minute stuff and did all the last minute cleaning, and another dear friend stopped by bearing Krispy Kreme doughnuts. This used to be a strictly Southern thing, so I didn’t have the heart to tell him they have them in Seattle, too. But it was good to see him. He was sick as a dog, and had dragged his wretched self out of bed just to say goodbye one last time. That’s a true friend.
When he left I told him I loved him and he said he loved me too. He said, “You are going to have an amazing life.” I got tears in my eyes.
It’s funny. All my friends seem to fall into two extreme camps. Those who can say I love you back, and those who get uncomfortable by the whole concept and can only respond with a smart aleck retort. (You know who you are.) The thing is, I know they love me. They show me in so many ways. But it would be nice to be told. Ah well.
Anyway, after he left, me and the dogs hit the road. It felt kind of abrupt. After a month of long, drawn out preparations and hurdles and arrangements and stress and anxiety, suddenly, BAM! We were on our way. Just like that.
And as I drove out of Jacksonville, my home for 30 years, I felt oddly indifferent. First of all, there is no “You are now leaving Jacksonville, please come again” sign on the interstate, so I didn’t have a definite dividing line. Second, it’s the people who make the place, and I had been saying good bye to the people for weeks. So the geographical change didn’t have the impact I was expecting.
But I did observe a tradition I always observe when crossing my home state line. I take a deep breath and I blow all my worries and cares and problems over my shoulder. I leave them in Florida. And this time, I also symbolically blew away my bad habits and grudges and things I’d like to get past as well. (Floridians may want to wear a gas mask for about a week, because it could take a while for all that stuff to dissipate.) Crossing into Georgia, I felt rather cleansed. Lighter.
In Georgia I stopped for gas, and a rather rough looking motorcycle gang pulled in behind me. I’ve never had a problem with bikers. They don’t bother me, I don’t bother them. But this time I took my dogs out of the car and was walking them on a patch of grass, and one of the scariest looking guys comes up and says, “Oooh! Can I pet your puppies? Are they friendly?” And we had a nice long chat about his 10 Chihuahuas and about Seattle. As he walked away, awash in tattoos and leather, he wished me a safe journey. It’s funny the people you meet when you travel. (That’s also a reminder about not judging books by their covers.)
So the first leg of my journey was a short one. 245 miles. I’m now safely ensconced at my sister’s house. I wish all the legs were going to be this short. Next stop, Paducah, Kentucky!
Check out Part 2 here!
The clock tower near my sister’s house.
[Image credit: panoramio.com]
I have a European friend who absolutely hates the way I plan my vacations. I tend to cram as much into a holiday as I possibly can. I view them as a smorgasbord, where you only take little tastes of a wide variety of delicacies. I spend a lot of time rushing about, seeing as much as is humanly possible. Unfortunately that means that I rarely experience anything in depth. She, on the other hand, likes to go to one place and sort of settle in for a 5 course meal. She will savor a place, really know it, and come back all the more relaxed for the experience.
It’s not that I wouldn’t love to travel the way she does. Maybe if I were based in Europe, where different cultures are but a short train ride in any given direction, I would do so. But here in America, just getting to another culture takes a lot of time and money, neither of which I have in abundance. I never know if my current trip will be my last, so I have to make the most of it.
Neither travel style is superior to the other. It’s just different. I enjoy the random situations that crop up during my zipping from point A to point B. Often those are the most memorable moments of the trip. I’ve met some amazing people and have become stranded in some amazing places. I love having a million stories and even more memories. And I do have the scheduling challenges of crammed itinerary down to a science. I think I’d be an excellent candidate for the Amazing Race, because I may not have ever raced around the world, but I’ve definitely raced around several countries.
Maybe I’m commitment phobic. I don’t want to get too in-depth in a country. I don’t want to get to know people, meet families, become a regular at restaurants and learn the routines of a specific neighborhood, because if I do that, I’ll fall in love with them. There’s too much of the world to see, so I know that with every given trip I’m seeing a place to which I’ll never have a chance to return. What’s the point of falling in love if it means you’ll only pine away for something you can’t have for the rest of your life?
No. It’s better this way. I’ll be pleased to make your acquaintance, dear country, but I’d prefer that we don’t get on a first name basis. Kiss me if you will, but nothing below the waist, please. That way we can part as friends.
I live to travel. Over the years, as most people have, I have suffered the consequences of forgetting some crucial item, or forgetting to do something critical. This can put a damper on any vacation, so after years of holidays, I have compiled a master packing list.
Whenever I’m about to take a trip, I pull up this list on my computer, make a copy of it, and delete those items that don’t apply to this particular adventure. Then I can be sure I have everything I need.
So, without further ado, here’s my master packing list, for your future convenience.
Master Packing List
- Note: Capital One credit cards are the only one as of 2009 that do not charge foreign exchange fees.
- Always plan to arrive at the airport at least 2 hours ahead of flight.
- Call overseas Immunization to find out what shots are needed, and get Diarrhea Prescription.
- Call credit cards and notify them that you’ll be making charges out of town.
- Give people info on how to contact us in an emergency.
- Upon return, pack souvenirs separately for customs.
- Get Gas for Vehicle, top off fluids, & Check air in tires.
- Obtain a small amount of foreign currency, Int’l Drivers License, Int’l Student ID, and Visas.
- Think of irreplaceable items (Medicine, Camera, Eyeglass Prescription, gum for plane, etc.) that you need to pack on your carry on, and pack accordingly.
- Confirm PIN numbers for credit cards and bankcard.
- Get books and books on tape from library.
- Arrange for Dog Sitter.
- Many international airports have a Cooks, where you can exchange money.
- Put temporary hold on mail. Confirmation # _______________
Last Minute Stuff:
- Double check for Tickets, Passports, Credit Cards, ID, Cash, and License.
- Pack Deodorant, Alarm Clock, Pillow, Blanket, Toothbrush, and Cell Phone with charger.
- Make sure that there is nothing in your luggage that would disturb airport security.
- Pill and feed dogs.
- Put water in thermos, and water for dogs.
- Remove perishables from fridge.
- Get ice for cooler.
- Change Phone Message.
- Leave Money, Key, Vet Records, contact info, and Instructions for Dog Sitter. Also change sheets and put out fresh towels. Leave lights on for dog sitter. Confirm receipt of key and arrival time.
- Dispose of any trash or recycles.
- Adjust Thermostat, and make sure burners are off and faucets aren’t dripping. If no one is going to stay at the house, shut off as many breakers as possible. Unplug things.
[Image credit: kaleidoscopeadventures.com]