Sunday, June 29, 2008

Back to normality?

So the real world resumes. Family is all together now. In another state. But at least we have most of our modern-world conveniences up and working now.

Made the first family-centric shopping trip to Nebraska yesterday. We also went to the Archway (why weren't museums ever that interesting when I was a child?) and had an excellent BBQ lunch.

Little Geoana has already made two friends, already been to one birthday party, and insists we take her to the swimming pool everyday. And Geogal is adjusting to being a stay-at-home mom and caucusing with others of the same ilk.

The other evening I cut the grass, then joined another family we have come to know (they live just up the street) for what I thought would be a short walk. Turned out to be a lengthy visit with another family who was in the process of shooting off fireworks (here, you can start buying them seven days before the Fourth). Just casual conversation, letting the kids have some fun outdoors while the grown-ups chatted. It was just me doing the parenting that evening as Geogal was at a scrapbooking but-really-it's-women-exchanging-gossip-and-stories-about-their-husbands party.

Grownups lighting fireworks. Kids chasing fireflies. Small town fun. But I've restrained myself up until now to keep from using the "A" word to describe this place. (Americana)


Here are some final photos from the moving drive. Colorado is as scenic as ever.

An interesting and trivial note about the trip. The final day, driving from Frisco, Colorado to Kansas, we went on I-70 into Denver, passing through the Eisenhower Tunnel. Located at just over 11,000 feet above sea level, this is the highest point along the Interstate Highway system. As the Geofamily has also driven from Arizona to San Diego along I-8, we hit the opposite in elevation--the lowest point along the Interstate system, some 70 feet below sea level (near El Centro, California).

All in all, I'm glad the trip is over with. Traveling is fun and given the right conditions it is a real joy. But having (rather, choosing) to relocate and work out the logistics of moving a family and its possessions hundreds of miles is very taxing.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

This one is called: "Crossing the Desert"

Fans of The Simpsons will recognize today's title. Hint: The episode where this line appears is "Homer The Great."

Yesterday's drive was enjoyable. Enjoyable in the sense that I got to see parts of Arizona and New Mexico where I have never been. Plus the entire Geofamily got to add Utah to the list of states where we have been. And I'm not talking about just standing in the right place at the four Corners Monument, either. We drove through Monument Valley, perhaps the scenic high point of yesterday. I can't say much for the remainder of southeast Utah, but I can understand why famed director John Ford was so enamored with the orange-hued landscape with rock outcroppings that easily dwarf anything man-made.

Last night's meal was simple. I finally achieved a goal for this trek to Kansas, eat at Blake's Lotaburger. I was unable to do so on the first moving trip, with Geodad, as Raton, New Mexico did not have a Blake's. Yet I knew there would be at least one in Farmington. Not only that, but it was located literally next door to our hotel. Green chile. With bite. (I just made every member of the orignial Geofamily salivate.)

Enjoy the pictures and I hope to blog again tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Putting the pieces together

The flight was fine. I landed, and this time Geogal and little Geoana were able to meet me right outside the gate area (third time's the charm!).

We headed for Anthem, which is slightly to the north of the greater Phoenix area. This will allow us to get a jump on our road trip this morning, without having to battle the rush hour traffic.

So what's happening? Finally, the Geofamily is a single unit again. All three of us are heading to Kansas. Together. We start the sojourn today by driving through Northern Arizona, across Monument Valley and the Navajo Nation. Tomorrow will feature the Rocky Mountains. Then we will go through the Denver area, pick up my truck from the DIA long-term parking lot, and caravan to the Sunflower State.

All this, and I get to be back at work next Monday! But who cares? I'm so excited to be back with my loved ones that the associated stressors over the past several weeks no longer matter.

And who knows? Maybe just maybe I'll share some pictures in the blog postings to come.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Finally, a free moment

Again I am waiting in the Denver airport, but this time the wait is shorter than usual.

After the obligatory five-hour drive from Northwest Kansas, I opted for a sit-down meal in the nicest restaurant in the concourse containing Southwest Airlines. So, time I would normally spend sitting at the gate and reading (or being online) I used to refuel. After going through security I wondered why I felt so exhausted and out-of-it.

Think, Geoguy. It's been a long time since you've eaten, plus you're dehydrated from the drive. The low blood sugar combined with fatigue and "get everything in order before I leave town" mode does not a good combination make.

So, a prime rib sandwich (I was intending to have a steak, but not at those prices--we're talking Ruth's Chris territory with regard to the numbers), and some iced tea means I'm a little more myself now.

Just in time to sit in the plane and relax as much as that environment allows.

Why this trip? I cannot recall if I've blogged about the reason, but I will elaborate in the next post. It won't be long before the plane is ready to board.

More later.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

I can't be too busy to...

...stop and enjoy a sunset. A Kansas sunset.

I was washing dishes a couple of evenings ago and happened to look up. "How nice," I thought to myself.

After a couple of beats my good sense got the better of me. Get the camera, get the shot. Share it with the readers here.

The dishes could wait.


Why, oh why, must I continue to be tempted with the iPhone?

I decided some weeks ago that when my current phone dies, I would simply have to go to the local Alltel store and pick out one of their phones. I really want the iPhone, but not as long as AT&T is the sole service provider. Besides, you can't beat Alltel's coverage out here.


Saturday, June 07, 2008

Saturday musings and a restaurant review

I decided to go to McCook, Nebraska today, as I needed to do a little shopping (both food and non-food items) and McCook is the largest retail center in the area. Plus, I didn't feel like driving for most of the day today. Kearney (also in Nebraska) is usually the shopping city of choice, and visited Hays, Kansas a week ago today. (Hays sure did remind me a lot of Seguin, Texas, my mother's hometown. Just why I did I do not know. Maybe some other family members will visit there and let me know if I'm correct or way off base.) But for today McCook will do. Also, I wanted to lunch at a specific eating establishment in that town, Taste of Texas BBQ.

Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows my affinity for slow smoked meat. I noticed Taste of Texas on a previous visit to McCook and a name like that just invites me in. I remember thinking: "Taste of Texas? Hah! I'll be the judge of that."

Today was judging day. Let me say TOT passed with flying colors. I ordered the two-meat BBQ plate. I chose beef and pork, with sides of cole slaw and fried okra. The meat is served largely dry, just a small dollop of sauce over the topmost meat portions. Which is OK with me, I prefer dry BBQ, as it's too easy to disguise poor quality cooking by drenching it in strong-flavored sauce. The pork was outstanding, with a wonderful smoky flavor and it obviously was rubbed with the right combination of spices. The beef, however, left something to be desired. First, it didn't taste smoky and second, it took a knife to cut. Call me a purist or call me a jerk with a blog, but I think BBQ beef should fall apart. Don't take this to mean the beef was of poor quality (it wasn't) or that I would tell you to avoid it should you visit. I've had better BBQ beef, but what I ate today would certainly satisfy a BBQ craving.

For the sides, the fried okra was served hot (out of the fryer hot) coated with a flavorful batter. If they use this same mixture for their chicken-fried steak, well then I just might have to forgo BBQ altogether on a return visit. The slaw also had merit--it was vinegar-based, tangy but not overpowering. Actually had a somewhat sweet flavor.

I'll be going back.

Truth be told, visiting BBQ joints has become something of a Saturday tradition for me. It started with a trip to Salina, Kansas, about two months ago. I did lunch at the Hickory Hut, which I would recommend. Seven days ago I went to Bar-Q-Cutie in Hays. I saw their ad in the local phone book. I didn't realize it was a chain till I got there. It was good, but something about the place just seemed artificial. Almost as if they are the McDonalds of BBQ in their part of the country.

Driving places, eating BBQ. Rough job, but someone has to do it.

Speaking of BBQ places, I talked to the moving van driver a couple of days ago. He lives in Overland Park, Kansas (which is part of the Kansas City metro area). I mentioned how I heard KC has a BBQ place on every corner. The driver said yes, and he hadn't been to one that was bad yet.

I've got to visit that city! Perhaps it's a good thing I don't live there. I'd balloon up like Diamond Jim Brady.

Other things. I did watch the Belmont Stakes this afternoon (or evening, to be more accurate). My mind's ear coined a new term. I'll share it here:

"Big Brown pulled a New England Patriots."

Heavily favored, dominating all the others leading up to the Big One, but can't close the deal at the end.

Do you think Hillary Clinton is the angriest person on the planet right now?


Back to my activities of the day. I drove the usual way to McCook (U.S. 36 to Oberlin, then head north on U.S. 83). On the way back, however, I chose a different route. I took highways 6 and 34 (one road, dually signed) to Arapahoe, then south to Norton. Why? Because the drive between Norton and Oberlin is about the most dull, straight, and boredom-inducing stretch of road in the area. My return route was much more interesting, following the Republican River valley, tree-studded with plenty of variety in the topography.

Not only that, but I had the leftover BBQ in a container on the passenger floor. Gave a nice aroma to accompany the trip home.

The rest of the story

I didn't expect the mover to arrive that early. But, hey. It's better than sitting around the house wondering where they are and when will they get here.

Overall, the unloading wasn't too tough. The mover and a couple of local helpers did the bulk of the work (and I was guilt free, as Geogal and I were paying nicely for this service). Yet later that day, as I was back in the office, I felt unusually fatigued. Almost as if I had done the physical labor myself. I had forgotten how emotionally and mentally draining a move is, even the positive part of the move.

However there is still the therapeutic effect of having one's belongings in a new place. Still doesn't feel quite like home yet. And it may not ever feel that way. This is a rental. Once Geogal gets here, then we will start seriously considering what and where we will purchase. Then, the feeling of home should take over.

But don't take the above paragraphs as a sign that I am down, or in a melancholy mood. I enjoy the freedom of truly running my own household again. Yesterday morning I boiled water in a teakettle on the gas range, rather than stick a container of water into a microwave (gotta have the hot water for oatmeal, don't you know!). And just a few minutes ago I cooked up some scrambled eggs. Delicious!

And just wait until I get a propane cylinder for the 3-burner Char-Broil beauty that now sits outside the back door. I have missed grilling so much you just wouldn't believe it.

So this weekend will involve a lot of unpacking and organizing. Pain before pleasure!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Changes and adjustment continue

My faithful readers are no doubt fuming over the lack of a post for over a week and a half. But again, remember I have a somewhat hectic life away from this computer keyboard. And that life is even more stressful this week. Ironically, it's the week I've been waiting for for a while now. I'm moving out of my temporary quarters and into a rental house. Finally, space! The luxury of going from room to room. The use of a full kitchen. And the list goes on.

Who am I kidding? I'll be taking these things for granted within a week.

Last night I experienced the sleep of the Unfamiliar Setting. You know the one. Your first night in a new place, unsure of the quality of repose you will experience in the coming hours. Will there be noise? Or any other out-of-the-ordinary things?

Sorry, have to pause this writing. Moving van is here. I'll pick this up later.