Sunday, April 27, 2008

More wandering

I didn't post about my sojourn to Salina, Kansas, mainly because there's just not much to say. I enjoyed the drive! And the topography of central Kansas reminds me a lot of the area of Texas from where my family hails (San Antonio-Austin).

Come to think of it, those places are about the same longitude.

Yesterday I took another lengthy drive, this time into the Only State In The Nation With A Unicameral Legislature. I chose to take the long way to Grand Island, taking U.S. 36 all the way past Smith Center before turning north. Why this route? Two reasons.

One, this was the only direction out of Norton to which I had not yet driven. The highways that approach town from the west, south, and north are now familiar to me. Two, there was something along this route I wanted to visit.

What was it? Click here for the answer.

After I crossed into the Cornhusker State, I noticed an increase in the vegetation and wildlife. Case in point: I was driving along at a reasonable speed and noticed something a little unusual on the right side of the highway.

A wild turkey. He (or she) didn't seem to mind me much.

Immediately afterward, I cross the Republican River and see two deer just right of the highway bridge. Unlike the gobbler, they saw me and made a run for it further down the riverbank.

No wonder so many folks around here enjoy hunting. Hope I get my chance this fall.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Filling in the gaps

Yes, I know it's been over a week since I last posted.

Update: My trip to Chandler was wonderful, albeit a bit short. Sunday morning found Geogal driving me back to the airport. Ever since Southwest Airlines developed their "board by number" regimen I have not felt the urgency to get to the airport way early in order to stake out my place in the "A" line. So I had my two favorite gals accompany me to Sky Harbor.

Pull up to the airport. No problem. After all, it's Sunday morning! Slow time for the airport.

Guess again.

I got suspicious when there seemed to be a whole lot of vehicles at the drop-off area. We finally make our way to the area where I will need to exit. I say my goodbyes, grab my bags, and ignore the long line of folks at the skycap check-in. After all, I'm handling my own bag, it's just one suitcase, no need to do this at the curb.

I head inside the terminal to the baggage check area.

And I nearly defecate a building material.

People everywhere. Southwest's baggage check line is one of the longest I've seen. While it moves along at a good pace I still end up checking my baggage after the 45 minute window before boarding has passed. I see my suitcase get tagged with a yellow "Late Check In" tag, almost as if its a modern-day scarlet letter.

OK, that's done. Wait, I still have to go through security.

I run, yes run, to my gate area, see the long line of people awaiting the indignity to fight terrorism. Heart sinks. Time is passing, and this line ain't moving too fast.

Trudge along. Where did all these people come from? Am I in some weird time warp worthy of the Sci Fi Channel, where it is now actually Monday morning?

No. I strike up a conversation with the fellow in front of me. Turns out there was a NASCAR race at Phoenix International Raceway the day before and now everyone is trying to get home, back East.

The line still isn't moving at a good clip. I am nearly in panic mode. I've never missed a plane before. Haven't even come close. Today might make up for all that. I think of the serenity prayer used by those in 12-Step groups. While I am not a recovering alcoholic or drug addict, the short discourse can be useful in almost any troublesome situation.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.

I ask God for serenity, because I sure can't control or change this predicament.

Then He shows His mercy. A Southwest agent begins heading up the edge of the velvet rope, shouting my flight number. I show him my boarding pass, he lets me out of the line and points me to a different security checkpoint.

I get through in less than three minutes.

Then I run for the gate. (All of this airport running reminds me of those old Hertz commercials featuring O.J. Simpson.)

Wait, something's odd here. The gate number written on my ticket looks nearly deserted. I check the TV screen. It's not gate C18, it's C19!!

And they are already boarding.

Thanks to my "A" pass, I get into line in front of the B's and C's. (Hey, checking in early online has its advantages.) But before I head into the jetway I have to confirm this plane is heading to Denver. It is.

I snag a window seat. Cool. My heart rate and respiration are returning to normal. And before we leave the gate, I see another load of luggage ready for loading. I spot my suitcase, replete with that danged yellow tag.

It's on the plane. Now I really rest easy.

The remainder of my day is not noteworthy for anything. I rejoice upon seeing my truck in the long-term parking lot of DIA. It starts right up.

I really breathe easy. Call Geogal to tell her everything's OK.

I'm going back to my old habit of arriving at airports WAAY early for my flight. I can always read or listen to the iPod.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Home, feeling like a visitor

Yesterday morning started out cold, windy, wet, gray, with some snow.

This morning, temps in the 60's, forecast high will be upper 80's, maybe near 90.

That's what driving 300 miles and flying for two hours will get you.

I'm back home, sort of, in Chandler today. I won't go into detail here, but feeling like a guest in one's own home is incredibly surreal. Especially when you barely recognize the place.

One thought I will share: During the slow descent into Sky Harbor yesterday evening, I looked out the window and noticed a ribbon of highway, heavily traveled (headlights are easily visible, even at an altitude of over 20,000 feet).

I immediately identify it: The Beeline Highway. State Route 87, from Mesa to Payson.

That was the first leg of a journey to Kansas. The start of that trip seemed long, long ago. In actuality, it was a little over three weeks ago.

I must be really tired. Today will be a full day, but I have hope it will be restful as well.

Sunday, April 06, 2008


Driving around this northwest Kansas town, I notice many folks choose to proclaim their allegiance to their alma mater by some matter of front yard decoration. KU, Kansas State, and Nebraska all have their following here with a numerical edge to the KSU Wildcats.

But this weekend it seems everyone here is a Jayhawk.

Go Kansas!


I posted a new photo-enhanced blog entry on my sister site. Click on "Breaking In The Truck."

I will do one more Arizona-themed posting with pics, then the blog will focus on Kansas living.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Time to make the changes

Yes, I changed the title (it's hard to comment on things Arizona when you've left the state).

Depending on when the urge hits me, I also will change the overall look of the blog. Evidently there are ways to make the thing more visually appealing. (For example, look at this one I found when I did a Web search to ensure no one else was using the Bucolic Blogger moniker.)

Everyone is asking me about adjusting to a small town, since I moved here from an urban area of over 3 million inhabitants.

The short answer is: "Mostly OK."

I'm not a sophisticated urbanite, not one who quaffs Starbucks products daily, not one who regularly attends symphonies or ballets, not one who is the first to try the latest bistro.

In other words, I am definitely not a male version of the "Sex and the City" characters.

So in that sense my arriving in this area is not jarring. In fact it seems even more fitting to listen to channel 62 on my Sirius radio (The Roadhouse). Classic country. This is one of my favorite presets on the Sirius tuner, but driving in Scottsdale and listening to Hank Williams always seemed an odd combination.

In fact, I didn't think this was possible, but I appear to be adjusting to the cold temps! I just have to remember to dress in layers and warm up my vehicle before heading out for the day. (Having a non-ending supply of coffee at work doesn't hurt either.)

One last thing of note: I have tried two different churches in the two weeks I have been here. Over this past week I had two colleagues point out they saw me at church last Sunday. Not only that, but two others recommended I try another church this coming Sunday. (Know this-- that previous sentence does not have a negative connotation despite how it's written.)

How cool is that?

I have to admit I do miss some things. I'll save that for another post. Time for chips and salsa!!