Monday, April 19, 2010

November until now (Part 3)

As I was leaving Arkansas I started listening to the audio book "Under the Dome" by Stephen King. I downloaded this book because a friend of mine couldn't put it down when she was reading it so I figured it would be good road trip material. Little did I know that later on I was going to wish I'd have downloaded something a little less Stephen King'ish, like maybe The Little Mermaid or something.

The scenery that I enjoyed in Arkansas soon turned into flat farmland as soon as I got into Missouri. I drove north to Kansas City turned left and drove ten hours straight west (only turning to get off the freeway for fuel and a Subway sandwich) then turned north and drove two and a half more hours past Denver and into Cheyenne. I arrived at my favorite Mother-In-Law's house at about 10:30 Saturday night and was quite ready for a shower and a little sleep. I have a problem with falling asleep right away after driving long distances because I'm usually too wound up and need to relax a little so my brain can stop before I fall asleep. I was watching Olympic figure skating when I got a text from my friend Dale Berg. He told me that our ConocoPhillips Alaska President Jim Bowles had died that day in an avalanche while snowmachining in the Chugach Mountains south of Anchorage. I didn't personally know him but have been in a few meetings with him and do know he was a genuinely good guy. It's such a shame to lose a guy with such a positive outlook and impact on our company, the city of Anchorage, and the state of Alaska. I think what bothered me most is that he died doing something I do every chance I get, riding in the mountains. He had all the same safety gear that I carry but ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time. To hear or read about people you don't know dying in avalanches one thing but to have someone that has a direct impact on your life die doing the same exact thing you do really makes you think about things. I think I fell asleep sometime after 3am.

The next morning I had coffee with Jane (my favorite Mother-In-Law) and then went over to see Sandi's Grandpa Jim's new living arrangements. Since we were there in January he moved from his house of thirty plus years into an apartment in a senior living complex. It isn't assisted living so he still has his independence but has his meals prepared for him and gets to eat and socialize with other people. It is a new building and is a very nice setup. It has a sidewalk all the way around the grounds so he can walk his dog everyday and still not have to get too far from home. I went over there and we had breakfast and then afterwards we went to church and listened to the Valentines Day sermon. Afterwards we went back to his place and watched some more of the Olympics before having lunch. After lunch I got out my list of things I needed for the rest of my trip and we went out to do a little shopping. We were in Lowes for about half an hour or so getting things like a hydraulic jack, tow straps, shovel, etc. and I think Jim had enough of wandering through crowded box stores. I'd already driven almost twenty hours but still hadn't had time to organize the truck yet so I dropped Jim off at home and went back to Jane's to try and get my things organized. A few hours later (and a touch more organized) I went back over to Jim's for dinner and to visit for a few more hours before I had to go and get some sleep. After dinner we watched some more of the Olympics and visited. I left Jim's a little earlier than I wanted but I was planning to leave Cheyenne at 3:30 am and still had things I needed to do.

Jane moved into her new house right about the time Sandi and I met in '96, and since that time she has had a pile of boxes, a 100+ year old wooden trunk, and a medium sized scale in her garage that belong to Sandi. I can't say too much because I still have a bunch of stuff at my parents and they live just over the hill! I got the boxes loaded in the truck and with the help of Jane's friend Larry Brinlee (famous photographer) we got the trunk loaded without a scratch and wrapped in a tarp. I might have been able to do it myself but the leather straps for handles disintegrated years ago. After the truck was loaded I ate pizza with Larry and Jane and we watched some figure skating. My alarm went off at about 3:15am and I think I pulled out of the driveway at about 3:35 or so. I'd topped off the fuel the night before so Stephen King and I headed straight out of town and due west for Boise.

The weeks prior to leaving for the trip I had planned to get into Boise around noon on Monday so I was trying to stick with it. Since it was dark out still I got to try my new driving lights for the first time and once I adjusted them down so they pointed at the road and not up in the trees they worked great. I ran into a little snow on the road in the western corner of the state by Evanston but it turned into rain once I dropped down into Utah. I was so caught up in my audio book that bad roads were nothing compared to what was happening to all of those poor people trapped under the dome. I arrived the trailer sales in Boise at about 2:00 pm Monday afternoon (two hours later than I'd planned) where I looked the trailer over, gave them the check , and had a new brake controller put in the truck. Before I made a final offer on the trailer my friend Tatum who I work with stopped in and looked at the trailer for me and said it was ok so I wasn't walking into it blindly. I had planned to pick up the trailer and stay the night at Tatum and her husband Brian's new house north of Boise. Luckily I asked her if I could get the trailer up their driveway and she said no because of the mud . I left the trailer at the dealers until morning and met Tatum and Brian at a nice little restaurant close to their place for dinner. We headed to their house after dinner and after the first of about ten switchbacks I was really glad that I left the trailer at the dealer. After getting the tour of their beautiful new custom house I saw the guest room and thought maybe I should stay a week or so at least. Their guest room and bathroom was nicer than most four star hotels out there. Had I known what was in store for me over the next few days I'd have stayed longer for sure.

On Tuesday morning I left Brian and Tatum's at about 8:30 am then picked up the trailer and Stephen King and I headed for Washington. By the time I made it to Boise I had been listening to "Under the Dome" for over twenty two hours since leaving Arkansas. There are about thirty two and a half hours total of audio book so I was pretty into the story at this point. I stopped at a rest stop about two hours north of Boise to use the restroom and make sure the trailer was all OK but just before I stopped the audio book was describing some issues the main character had been having dealing with PTSD after a tour in Iraq. When I went into the restroom there were speakers inside tuned to a public radio station and while I was in there I heard a commercial about helping people deal with PTSD after getting out of the military. As I was washing my hands I had to look around and make sure there were actually speakers and I wasn't just hearing voices in my head. It was all a little erie when I thought about it but I just wrote it off to being a weird coincidence. So after a brief stretch of the legs, Stephen and I were on the road again.

It didn't look nearly this long in the pictures...

My four star hotel in Boise

Their view from the back deck!

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