Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Missouri: Jefferson City: A Blessings Box

 

Blessings Box. Jefferson City, Missouri. September 2022. Credit: Mzuriana.
Blessings Box. Jefferson City, Missouri. September 2022. Credit: Mzuriana.

The Blessing Box is a concept new to me. Saw one for the first time on my new daily walk route here in Jefferson City. 

 

Blessings Box. Jefferson City, Missouri. September 2022. Credit: Mzuriana.
Blessings Box. Jefferson City, Missouri. September 2022. Credit: Mzuriana.

 

The Little Free Libraries are, of course, legion. Here is a locator app, even, that maps the little libraries. 

Which reminds me today of BookCrossing, in which one releases a book into the wild, for a random reader to pick up, read, and perhaps re-release in a new location. I did this for a number of my vintage paperback science fiction novels. 

 

Blessings Box. Jefferson City, Missouri. September 2022. Credit: Mzuriana.
Blessings Box. Jefferson City, Missouri. September 2022. Credit: Mzuriana.

In Mobile, I attended the grand opening of a Free Little Art Gallery

 

Grand opening of Free Little Art Gallery. Mobile, Alabama. August 2022. Credit: Mzuriana.
Grand opening of Free Little Art Gallery. Mobile, Alabama. August 2022. Credit: Mzuriana.

All of these Little Things, I like them. They nurture sparks of community.

 

Monday, September 5, 2022

Missouri: A Return to Chez Katherine

 

 

At Chez Katherine. Jefferson City, Missouri. June 2020. Credit: Mzuri.
At Chez Katherine. Jefferson City, Missouri. June 2020. Credit: Mzuri.

 

I am back in Chez Katherine in Jefferson City for several months, which I introduced in January 2011

At Chez Katherine, I am in a Parisian apartment, sleeping in a bed so high I need a stool to get in, with a dainty crystal chandelier in front of the garret-like window, and a huge map of Paris on the wall. Yes, I do need to traipse down a tiny corridor and across a roomy family room to get to my private bath, but, well, it is a vacation home, n'est ce pas? One makes do. Upstairs, I enjoy coffee in one of several sink-into-comfort upholstered chairs or couch, or I may walk out to the huge screened-in deck that overlooks a secluded wooded yard; the enclosed deck is reminiscent of a mountain lodge. And did I mention the outdoor shower? The hammock? The swinging, turquoise bench under the arbor?

I no longer stay in Kate's Parisian room, having swapped it for the room with two twin beds. One bed to flop in; the other to pile stuff upon. Closer to the bathroom, too. 

Being back in an actual house with two levels and multiple rooms, I find it expedient to wear a waist pack so that I can carry my phone and a pair of glasses with me throughout. A funny adjustment to make for a small-space minimalist like me. 

I'll be here for about three months, then off to another quarter-stay in another state. TBA.

 

Friday, September 2, 2022

10 Years Ago: On the Road to Alamogordo, Day 2: I Killed a Tumbleweed

 

An ominous gathering of surly tumbleweeds near Lordsburg, New Mexico. March 2013. Credit: Mzuriana.
An ominous gathering of surly tumbleweeds near Lordsburg, New Mexico. March 2013. Credit: Mzuriana.

 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

On the Road to Alamogordo, Day 2: I Killed a Tumbleweed

Oklahoma

I left Chandler, OK, at about 9:00 a.m. I wasn't in much of a hurry. I try to remember lessons learned from Caucasus Georgia (be flexible, don't worry so much about time), though often unsuccessfully.

Note my new use of "Caucasus Georgia" instead of "Republic of Georgia," both designed to distinguish it from the state of. I didn't come up with Caucasus Georgia - a guy who wrote and edited a new guidebook on Georgia did, and I like it. I'll reserve any linky love to the book until I find out how the author(s) addressed Rustavi, or if they did at all. There are some folks who purport to know what's what in Georgia, but who have either never been to Rustavi (3rd largest city in the country) in the last five years (if ever) or who dismiss it out of hand as a has-been industrial backwater. 

Oklahoma has a pleasing terrain and once you get past Oklahoma City, you've also got the red earth to capture your eye. I'd planned to stop for lunch at Lucille's in Weatherford, a place my mother and I enjoyed on my last pass through these parts, but I missed the exit. I could have backtracked, but that isn't in my genetic make-up, so I pushed on. 

Speaking of OKC,  I saw the damnedest thing. As I drove onto a highway ramp, I saw two police cars on the right. As I turned my head to look at why they were there, I saw more LE and I saw a black, SUV-type vehicle straddling a deep, wide concrete ditch over by a fence, which was adjacent to a mall or some other sort of large building complex. And when I say straddling, I mean that the vehicle's front end was on one side of this trench and the rear end was on the other. How the hell did that happen? I imagine the cops wondered the same thing when they first arrived. 

Turned off at another Route 66 town, Clinton. All of these small towns are worthy of exploration for their Route 66 artifacts and vibe, but there's only so much time. Had a ho-hum lunch at Gayla's Cafe at the Market. Weak coffee, a real sin in my book. A good yeast roll, though.

For God's sake, people: You can always make a strong cup of coffee weaker; you can't do a damn thing to make weak coffee stronger. If you can see through the coffee in the glass pot, it's too weak.

While on the subject of coffee, I pulled up later at a c-store for a pit stop. I like to buy something when I use the facilities, so I was searching for something not too expensive and settled for a cup of coffee. The store guy stood right by me as I asked if the coffee was very strong (having been recently disappointed by Gayla's). He said, "Pour a little in the cup and try it." (Give him 10 points for good customer service.) I did, and it was lukewarm, and very weak. I said in a neutral voice, "It's lukewarm." He said, "Add a little hot water to it," pointing to another dispenser. (Fire him.)

Texas

The I-40 West Texas Welcome Center is among the most beautiful in the country, I think. Dramatic views from the picnic shelters, elegantly designed. An informative and graceful center. Didn't have to stop there this trip, however.

In Amarillo, I veered off from I-40 to Highway 60, via which I'd pass through Hereford and then Clovis and Portales.


Somewhere on Highway 60, I saw a tumbleweed begin to cross the road and through the vagaries of wind and timing, I ran right over it. A little piece clung to my front hood latch for awhile. No immediate damage to my car's underpinnings seemed to occur, so I carried on.

The land between Hereford, TX, and Clovis, NM, is dotted with huge plants of some sort. Processing plants or factories of some kind. Definitely among these are packing plants. Beef. In one spot, I smelled something yeasty, like bread. It smelled kind of good. Later along the highway, I smelled something not-good a couple of times; I think these were beef packing plants.

A couple of times, I saw hundreds of cows in short-term feedlots, awaiting their fate.  I say feedlots because at one place, I also saw hay bales. At another, I didn't notice any hay. Maybe one place was for an upcoming auction.

I also saw a number of long trains. Several of the trains carried trailers from companies such as FedEx. Kind of funny: Transportation carrying transportation.

The view through a bug-stained window, accompanied by a sad tune from Johnny Cash:   


A roadrunner ran across the road.


Road death

On I-70 in Missouri, I see electronic MODOT signs that say "535 deaths on Missouri roads this year." (Now it's 598.) Then it says 63% of those who died were unbuckled.

So when I saw a similar Texas DOT sign on Interstate 44, you can imagine my shock at the number of fatalities: 2058.

As shocking as that is, Missouri's per capita traffic death rate is (as of the 2009 figures) two people per 100,000 more dead than Texas. 
 
Roswell, New Mexico

I stopped for the night at the Super 8 in Roswell, NM.

I had no cell phone service anywhere in town. Odd, don't you think? What are they trying to hide?



Roswell, New Mexico.

 

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

The Lost Summer of 2021: The Last Day

 

Sun setting on the last day of the Lost Summer of 2021. Mobile, Alabama. August 2021. Credit: Mzuriana.
Sun setting on the last day of the Lost Summer of 2021. Alternative title: A Dirty Window. Mobile, Alabama. August 2021. Credit: Mzuriana.

I departed the Budget Inn in Monroe, Louisiana, a little after 8:00 a.m. on this Lost Summer morning, August 31, 2021.

Below is a narrative of my experience at this motel, sent to my Houston friend: 

"Fortunately, I have a battery-operated camp lantern with me - I used it last night as a bedside light when I discovered that the can light up in the ceiling between the two beds had not been installed - so to have light, one must walk over to door to turn on or off the ceiling light.

"Fortunately, the motel owners replaced the non-functioning refrigerator in my room yesterday evening with a new one.

"Fortunately, I have an ample supply of plastic grocery bags to use for my trash collection, as there is no wastebasket in the room.

"*laughing*

"This ain't the Motel 6 in Junction here."


En route between Monroe and Mobile, I stopped at: 
  • Big Top Travel Center and Casino in Delhi, Louisiana. 
  • Mississippi Welcome Center
  • Kroger's in Clinton, Mississippi (I have a nostalgic fondness for Kroger for its connection to my childhood family and for my maternal grandmother's neighborhood Kroger ... plus its Carbmaster yogurt)
  • Circle K outside Collins, Mississippi (I like Circle K for its economically-priced fountain sodas)
  • Another Circle K, this one in Beaumont, Mississippi
  • A motel in Lucedale, Mississippi, around 2-ish in the afternoon, but was only there briefly before pressing on toward Mobile.

Because I'm reconstructing my Lost Summer a year later, I am relying on my Google Maps timeline, my phone call history, and emails that I sent that day. 

Hurricane Ida

Until I re-read an email to my Houston friend on this and the preceding days in 2021, I had completely forgotten about Hurricane Ida, and the resulting exodus of folks in its path. Which resulted in fully-occupied motels and campgrounds hither and yon in precisely the areas of my travel on this day. 

It stuns me how easily I could forget an event so enormous that it temporarily displaced thousands of people. A storm so immense in its ferocity that it was second only to Hurricane Katrina in 2005. An event so massive that my Houston friend and I referenced it in our emails for days leading up to the event because I was headed toward its outer circles. 

Can I attribute this lapse to the fact that it was just one more Very Bad Layer of Bad Stuff on an already tottering tower of Very Bad Things that have accreted atop our mental warehouse floor since November 2016? And COVID .... always COVID.

I wish I could blame the above, but I don't think that's truthful.

I think it's because when a bad thing doesn't affect us directly, it is oh, so much easier for it to slip away from our brains. Or we feel helpless to do anything about it, so although it may distress us when the news of the thing is in front of us every day, we let it drift down to our mental basement as it fades, as well, from our newsfeeds. 

I'm not happy that Hurricane Ida blew away from my brain pan in such short order. 

But getting back to the last day of my Lost Summer of 2021:

Here is what I reported to my Houston friend: 

I'm in my new apartment! There were no motel rooms in or around mobile and I asked my landlord if I could just move in early, and she said yes!

I have a beautiful sunset outside my living room / office / bedroom window!


Tuesday, August 30, 2022

The Lost Summer of 2021: August 30: The Penultimate Day

A receipt stuck into a bag stuck into a backpack told me part of the story of the lost summer's penultimate day.

Time

17:23. Also known as 5:23 p.m.

Monday, August 30, 2021.

Location

A grocery store in Monroe, Louisiana. Well north of the Boudin Curtain, sha. More like Mississippi than Louisiana.

What I bought

  • Cream cheese spread
  • Something "fresh, no sugar"
  • Some watermelon. Probably a quarter of a whole or a container of chunks.

I stayed the night at the Budget Inn in Monroe, which was my go-to lodging in the Lost Summer of 2021. I paid $70. 

I have no photographic evidence of this day, so I will insert a photo from a past life, rooted, which I'd titled: "Lost my head and it's all a blur," which seems apropos. 

Lost my head and it's all a blur. Missouri. Christmas 2007. Credit: Mzuriana.
Lost my head and it's all a blur. Missouri. Christmas 2007. Credit: Mzuriana.


I might'nt have devoted a whole post to this day, but for the damn receipt. Faded, worn, the paper softened, after sitting in that backpack for so long, my hand rubbing past it untold number of times when I rummaged through the bag for something. 


Related posts to Lost Summer of 2021 here.


Monday, August 29, 2022

The Lost Summer of 2021: Sunday, August 29: Brownfield, Texas

 

Gillham Park in Brownfield, Texas. August 2021. Credit: Mzuriana.
Gillham Park in Brownfield, Texas. August 2021. Credit: Mzuriana.

 

Given my late arrival in Brownfield, Texas, the night before, I luxuriated in my motel room until the very last minute I could on Sunday morning. I didn't leave until 11:00 a.m.

Gillham Park in Brownfield, Texas. August 2021. Credit: Mzuriana.
Gillham Park in Brownfield, Texas. August 2021. Credit: Mzuriana.

 And then I made my way to Gillham Park, where I may have had lunch with the geese alongside a pretty lake. 

I hold the same thought today that I did a year ago: "Brownfield"? I get that the name honors someone named Brownfield, but all I think of is land contaminated with toxic chemicals. Time for the town to re-brand? 

That night, I ended the day's travel in Eastland, Texas, at 8:45 or so.

My Houston friend and I conferred via email: 

Me:  "I have landed in Eastland Texas for the night. Staying at Budget Host motel.

Friend: "I can see you are slowing down to time your return to Mobile and that is great.  We've been glued to CNN and the Weather Channel. We can't believe the devastation in [Louisiana] and the worst is yet to be discovered.  ...."

Me: "Yes, that, and I also wanted to either get close to but not in Dallas, or [to get] past Dallas tonight. It's not ideal to go through Dallas on Monday instead of Sunday, but I also wanted a relaxing morning today."

Friend: "I see the power just went off in New Orleans.  I'd urge you to be careful about driving into a disaster area before you can assess the situation.  Spending a few days in a budget motel on the fringes may be money well spent."

Me: "I agree completely. My plan is to approach Mobile from the north, coming through Vicksburg, Jackson, and Hattiesburg. For tomorrow night I'm considering Monroe, Louisiana."


Sunday, August 28, 2022

The Lost Summer of 2021: Saturday, August 28

I departed Las Cruces around 8:30 a.m. 

Headed east on Highway 70.  

San Agustin Pass

Stopped at San Augustin Pass, with its turnout, where I'd turned in so often in past crossings. 

Irony observed:

San Agustin Pass, New Mexico. Mattresses abandoned. August 2021. Credit: Mzuriana.
San Agustin Pass, New Mexico. Mattresses abandoned. August 2021. Credit: Mzuriana.

The missile and the so-lovely Organ Mountains: 

San Agustin Pass, New Mexico. August 2021. Credit: Mzuriana.
San Agustin Pass, New Mexico. August 2021. Credit: Mzuriana.

San Agustin Pass, New Mexico. August 2021. Credit: Mzuriana.
San Agustin Pass, New Mexico. August 2021. Credit: Mzuriana.

San Agustin Pass, New Mexico. August 2021. Credit: Mzuriana.
San Agustin Pass, New Mexico. August 2021. Credit: Mzuriana.


White Sands National Monument

Stopped at White Sands National Monument. I had a mission: To buy a piece of jewelry in the gift store. 

Mission accomplished: 

Lapiz pendant from White Sands National Monument, New Mexico. August 2021. Credit: Mzuriana.
Lapiz pendant from White Sands National Monument, New Mexico. August 2021. Credit: Mzuriana.


Tularosa

Upon arriving at Alamogordo, I hung a left, where Highways 70 and 54 run together for awhile. I stopped in Tularosa at Del Sol Tularosa Southwest. Mission: Buy a pendant there. I bought two: 

Pendants bought in Tularosa, New Mexico. August 2021. Credit: Mzuriana.
Pendants bought in Tularosa, New Mexico. August 2021. Credit: Mzuriana.

I had bought a spectacular piece there some years ago. At least I'm pretty confident it was there.

Comet moon pueblo pendant by "RV". New Mexico.
Comet moon pueblo pendant by "RV". New Mexico.


Not long after Tularosa, I hung a right onto where Highway 70 splits from 54 and moves into the mountains. Ruidoso was next on my list. 

Before Ruidoso, I swung by the Inn of the Mountain Gods in Mescalero. Just for some beauty.

The grand entrance art installation of the Ga'an Crown Dancers is magnificent. 

 

Gaan Crown Dancers art installation, Inn of the Mountain Gods, Mescalero, New Mexico. August 2021. Credit: Mzuriana.
Ga'an Crown Dancers art installation, Inn of the Mountain Gods, Mescalero, New Mexico. August 2021. Credit: Mzuriana.

Ga'an Crown Dancers art installation, Inn of the Mountain Gods, Mescalero, New Mexico. August 2021. Credit: Mzuriana.
Ga'an Crown Dancers art installation, Inn of the Mountain Gods, Mescalero, New Mexico. August 2021. Credit: Mzuriana.

Ga'an Crown Dancers art installation, Inn of the Mountain Gods, Mescalero, New Mexico. August 2021. Credit: Mzuriana.
Ga'an Crown Dancers art installation, Inn of the Mountain Gods, Mescalero, New Mexico. August 2021. Credit: Mzuriana.


Ruidoso

Traffic congestion. Creeping along roadway.

Oh right, this is why I don't position myself in a tourist town. 

Mission 1: See about buying another pendant. FAIL. Too difficult to find parking.

Mission 2: See if Ruidoso might be a future temporary residence. SUCCESS. Struck Ruidoso off my list. Not only because of the seasonal congestion, but because rents are probably high, as property owners more likely to earn more from tourists than long-term renters. So long-term rent likely to be higher than I could afford. 


Where I landed for the night

I powered through the rest of New Mexico (with a quick dip into Allison Canyon), through Plains, Texas, and slid into a Budget Inn around 11:30 p.m. in Brownfield, Texas.

A long day.