Monday, May 26, 2008

Return trip

I'm back in Kansas now. Currently I am in a blissful state of relaxation. The trip is over. I have more time to myself when I'm not working (a mixed blessing). I'm getting my body clock readjusted to Central Time (versus Pacific).

I hear the birds outside and I have some Seattle's Best brewing in the Krups. Life is OK right now.

The plane ride back to Denver was pleasant. Not too full, just about right. The way a Sunday morning flight should be. Not like this. I got to the airport much earlier this time, got the bag checked and cleared security in under 10 minutes.

The rest of the time I spent browsing the Internet and sipping a Starbucks. (About as close to an urbanite as I will be.)

Flight is smooth, nary a bump. Get off plane, call wife, stop at Seattle's Best for another refreshing dose of hot bean juice. Walk casually over to the baggage claim, my suitcase is already on the carousel. Retrieve it, walk out to the curb, and the shuttle bus arrives almost as if on cue.

Does it get any more effortless than that?


Walking through the Denver airport I begin thinking about one of the many transitions taking place currently. For the past nine years, Sky Harbor has been our jumping-off point and arrival destination for numerous trips (even more for Geogal since she does travel occasionally for her work). Sojourns to Texas, Hawaii, Oregon, Alaska, Illinois, Georgia, Louisiana, and yes, Colorado.

Time to say goodbye to PHX. I have a feeling that Denver International will be the airport of choice for the most part, unless we are flying east. Then we might opt for Kansas City.

Now we will have to be concerned with snow and ice. It's easy to forget just how spoiled one can be after living in the Arizona desert for so long.


I tend to have a stiff neck once I get off a plane.

I can't help it. I have such an interest in geography that it's nearly impossible for me to fly and not look out the window constantly to orient myself. Of course, if it's nighttime, if there are heavy clouds, or if we are over water than that's a different story. But for the most part my air travel happens in the southwest. Just yesterday I could pick out the San Francisco Peaks, Winslow, Shiprock, Farmington, Durango, and the distant skyscrapers of downtown Denver
--then I knew we were getting close. Until we turn due north and stay in that direction for some time. (At one point I thought we would be landing in Cheyenne--then the plane turned 180 degrees and I knew we were approaching DIA from the north.)

That is one thing I always will enjoy about air travel. Seeing God's creation from 38,000 feet is sometimes a vista of true beauty. Particularly when one flies over the Rockies and the snow-covered terrain looks so unspoiled.

Sometimes it's almost a shame to be back on the ground and in freeway traffic.

Saturday, May 24, 2008


Took the keys off my keychain.

Packing, getting ready to catch the plane in the morning.

One last opportunity to catch some Arizona rays with Geogal. Sit by pool, sit in spa. Return home feeling slightly warm.

This morning, Geogal is quiet, moody. I ask what is wrong. Her answer: "I just want this house empty and the check in my hand."

Ah, moving.

I'm headed back to Kansas. But Geogal and little Geoana don't come with me. Not this time.

But soon....

Already getting the new owner's mail in the box. That's a good sign things are moving forward, according to our agent.

I'll be heading back to my lonely (when I'm not at work) state, but this time I see the light at the end of the tunnel.

June 17. Got a countdown going.

But for tonight I spend my last night in this house. Tomorrow I leave it forever.

Goodbye, land of the Sonoran Desert, hello High Plains.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

A Happy Wait

Here I am at DIA, killing some time before the flight.

Scratch that, I'm not killing time, I'm just making some 21st Century use of it.

The last time I was here I had difficulty getting onto the airport's free wifi. (Difficulty? I couldn't get on at all!)

No problem this time. I wonder if they were just having some technical problems some weeks ago. Anyhoo, being able to be online and listen to my iTunes makes the wait go smooth. Plus, I have a book at the ready for when I board the jet. (I don't listen to the iPod in the air anymore. Not until I invest in some noise-cancelling headphones.)

My five-hour-300-mile drive this morning wasn't bad. Sure beats the last time where I was battling gale-force wind and frigid temps, all while trying not to stare at the snowdrifts on the side of the interstate. And trying to put the sight of an 18-wheeler on its side near Goodland out of my mind.

I started early. Really early. Dark early. Didn't encounter any other vehicles for the first hour or so (save for one big rig). In that part of Kansas I learned that if one drives at an early hour, beware of deer. I saw several, fortunately none of them decided to run out in front of me.

I also learned other things on this venture. Colby is a good place to eat breakfast. A few weeks can make a real difference in the weather (see two paragraphs above). Coffee is still my best friend in the morning. And it's easy to dissociate on the stretch of I-70 between Burlington and Limon. Link

No kidding. I was rather out of it. Maybe my lack of sleep catching up with me. Nappy time! No! No! Not behind the wheel! Save it for later, Geoguy, when you're buckled into your Southwest Airlines seat. Maybe the drone of the engines will put me out.

Obviously I kept my state of alertness at the normal level. However that truck stop coffee, courtesy of the Flying J in Limon helped restore my mood and energy.

That's all for now. Time to wrap this up and surf some other sites. Next post will be from sunny Arizona.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


I'm eating in a local restaurant this evening. I look out the window, and holy moley!

I see green. Lots of it.

(Not that kind of green.)

This is the part of town close to Prairie Dog Creek. Last time I was over here the trees were bare and gray. Not now. Spring is doing its thing.

As a former desert dweller the greenery is still a novelty to me. Never mind, I'm getting the camera. Now I'll stop the narrative and just let the pictures do the telling.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Igniting an ancient desire

I won't make any argument about the effect of environment and culture on a person.

Take me, for example. For years I joked about how I could never hunt. Not that I had any "sissy-man" objection to killing animals. Rather, it was me making fun of my inherited tremors which result in my hands shaking almost constantly. Made exponentially worse by my caffeine intake at any given time. Taking the humor to its logical conclusion I always would comment about my clumsy nature combined with being unable to hold anything steady meant I should never even get near a firearm.

But wait. Now I'm in northwest Kansas, noted for its abundance of pheasant.

And Geodad already has said I am welcome to have his shotgun.

Do I see myself decked out in camouflage this fall?

Most likely yes.

What's fueling this desire to aim birdshot in the direction of fowl is not only the effect of encountering numerous guys (and no doubt some women, too) who hunt the birds but also having no family life at present. This leaves me no real social options during the evenings, so I've been watching the idiot box. Although I cannot stand just about all of the major network programming I do have some cable channels from which to choose. The Outdoor Channel offers a huge selection of hunting programs.

Jeff Foxworthy has a routine about watching fishing shows. Hunting shows are almost as mesmerizing.

Of course, one thing I learn from these shows is that to be a hunter one must have a lot of patience. Given my restless and borderline-hyperactive nature I'll have a tough time waiting, but I think the outdoors experience might just make up for the lengthy inaction.

We'll see. Come fall I might just have a post about bagging a pheasant. I hear they are good eatin'.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Over the Sunday morning coffee

For the past few weeks I've been jotting down different things regarding my transition to small-town life.

And it's small-town life in a small town that a colleague of mine described as "five hours from anywhere."

Since I arrived here in late March, the most-often question I am asked by the folks from Arizona way is: "How is life in that little town?" Often followed by: "How's the weather?" (Answer--right now it is at the freezing mark, with a wind chill of 24 degrees. But the sky is beautiful clear, and it's supposed to hit the mid-70s today.)

I decided now is as good a time as any to provide the answer. I got up early this a.m., did some laundry, and am now enjoying a cup of coffee while a turkey hunting show is on the Versus channel. (I'll blog more about this subject in a different entry.)

My adjustment to this way of life continues to develop. From area-wide power outages that are caused by raccoons (according to the local paper) to church bells that toll hymns at a certain time of day, going from an urban area to a town of 3,000 is, in a word, interesting.

There is a lot of check-writing here. Geogal and I moved away from using the checkbook save for mailing off bill payments several years ago. Folks around here even write checks at restaurants. As for us, we will stick to cash and the debit card.

TV weather forecasters in Kansas use the term "east (or west) of the turnpike." Regarding severe weather so far I've drawn the long straw, as the eastern part of the state seems to have more alerts, warnings, and get-to-shelter admonishments. Some of the locals also tell me that the eastern half of Kansas tends to have more tornadoes then these parts. However the possibility of twisters still is evident. Just about all houses have basements and I already have been through my first tornado watch. (Turns out the thing hit about 35 miles south of here.)

Relaxing and reading the newspaper? Forget it. Remember when I wondered about which papers may circulate out here? Turns out none of those do. The daily periodical most available is the Salina Journal, which is not anywhere close to a thick or loaded paper. The only big-city one around here is the Omaha World-Herald, which varies in its availability (sometimes those vending machines are stocked, sometimes they're not). Speaking of which, these two only come in the racks that require change, so if all you have is the green currency you won't have newsprint on your fingers.

There are no "Ron Paul for President" signs around here. They were friggin' near ubiquitous in the Phoenix area.

You wave at people when you drive. Doesn't matter if you know them or not. And since I drive a pickup, if I encounter a truck with a male behind the wheel, that's an automatic two or three-finger wave.

On the highways, Kansas drivers tend to wave back more than the folks in Nebraska or Colorado.

That's all for now. To sum it up, I want to buy the Little Big Town song "Boondocks" from iTunes. Once you hear the lyrics, you'll understand the culture here just a little better.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Freezing and sweating

Question: When you are looking at your local area radar map on The Weather Channel site, how do you react when you see a large area in blue, and blue is not on their color key?

That actually happened yesterday afternoon. It wasn't far from quitting time and unpleasant meteorological conditions abounded outside. I checked the Weather Channel's site to glance at the local conditions. Let's see, according to the color key shades of green indicate rain, pink to red is any mixture of rain, sleet, and snow (translation: ice), and snow is represented by gray scales.

Just to our west, and headed in the direction of Norton, was a large area!

Did this signify the Apocalypse?

Turns out no, it in fact was snow. Apparently the nerds manning TWC's Net deal neglected to update that particular map. This was confirmed by a later check of the radar, with blue clearly explained.

Oh well. Still makes for a humorous blog entry. Not too much else was funny about last night. I saw plenty of the white stuff falling from the sky yesterday evening, but it was a wet and quick-moving weather system, so there was no snow accumulation. No snow-covered truck picture this time. However, the weather service still felt it necessary to issue a snow and blowing snow advisory. And the wind WAS wicked. I think the wind chill temp was down in the 20s. (I can still hear my colleagues saying: "Welcome to Kansas, Geoguy!" while they grin.)

At least I wasn't driving to the Denver airport.


I'm taking care of myself. I just joined a (pause), a......hmmmm.

How do you describe it? It's not a full-fledged gym, not really a health club. Just a small business where I can utilize their exercise machines, free weights, etc.

The small-town version of a fitness club.

And don't misunderstand me. I'm glad it's here. Both Geogal and I were aware of the lack of a YMCA in a town this size. But at least there's someplace to work out.

And since I returned to a regular exercise regimen, my mind and body are thanking me.

Slowly, I am creeping back to normality after a major life upheaval.