Road Trip

There’s something to be said for seeing the country the old fashioned way.  I’ve been in the mood to take a road trip for quite some time and was fortunate enough to both get some time off to do so, and to have a friend willing to give me a destination point. There’s a connected-ness that happens when you put wheels on the road.  Very distinct, and much much different from air travel.  I’m always a little off balance when I arrive in a city by air ; and that’s not just due to my inner ear pressure being scrambled.  Travel by car allows me to experience the places I travel through directly; and allow my mind and body to acclimate.

Let me talk for a minute about the interstate highways.  Arguably, one of the most significant achievements of the Eisenhower Administration.

Dwight D. Eisenhower photo portrait.

Dwight D. Eisenhower photo portrait. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He signed the Federal-Aid Highway Act on June 29, 1956.   American lives have not been the same since.  At this point our future as the United States was about to become a reality. (Coincidentally for you trivia buffs – Marilyn Monroe married Arthur Miller in White Plains, New York on that very evening)   There’s not an item you have that has not traveled on an interstate highway to get to you – thanks to the truck drivers of America.

As a child of the 60’s and 70’s I can’t remember a time when one was not able to travel on the interstate. My mom can tell you stories of literally all day drives to get from southwestern MA to upstate Vermont taking what we now call “the back roads” all the way. You can still take back roads anywhere but with the interstate, why bother? You can get there much quicker on the highway.  That said, there’s something very pleasurable to me in driving myself somewhere; and experiencing the sights, sounds and smells of each region.  My car wheels roll and hum on the roadway; the tires softly thudding at predictable intervals as they cross the thin lines dividing each section of pavement.  My navigator and sidekick for this adventure – my fourteen year old daughter.  Our destination:  The Blue Ridge Mountains and the Shenandoah Valley – Virginia.

Our GPS guided path took us south through Connecticut and into New York City on the I-95. A hot concrete and chrome fast/slow crush – smelling of exhaust fumes and faintly, low tide.  The City Proper – hazily visible to our left under thundery skies.  The Freedom Tower a beautiful soft focus exclamation point on the mid-afternoon skyline. Next, the crowded hustle and bustle of Newark NJ and the Garden State Parkway.  Everything’s close together and moving fast.

Things slow down and spread out as we reach Pennsylvania on I-78.  Farm country, the Lehigh Valley. Rolling hills divided by neat white fences that  enclose single and twin siloed red barns. Barns with stone foundations that seem to come straight up from the ground itself.  White farmhouses with wraparound porches. Everything neat – spic and span; as the saying goes. The first haying has come and gone, the second, now rolled up and drying on the fields. Horses and cows graze contentedly in green gold pastures.  Closer to the road, fence lines are covered with fuzzy, dusty pink flowers,

Some of those dusty pink fuzzy flowers along the roadside.

Some of those dusty pink fuzzy flowers along the roadside.

wild roses, and creeping vines.  Thunderstorms are coming in from west to east and it rains on us sporadically. It also creates splendid cloudscapes as the afternoon sun  lowers behind them.  We stop for a break, and I’m struck  by how similar things are on and around the interstate.  Mile-high signs announcing food, fuel, and lodging. Restaurant and Hotel chains providing the same services all up and down the road.  There’s a standard level of service on the interstate; which gives the traveler a sense of stability as they go along their merry ways.

We resume after refueling ourselves – and the car, and as we leave Pennsylvania behind crossing the Delaware and the Mighty Susquehanna, I am suddenly aware of a difference in the air quality. It’s become softer.  The thunderstorms have now tracked well to our east, but continue to provide a spectacular sky show to my left – as the late afternoon sun turns the line of massive thunderhead tops berry-pink with alpen-glow; with bruised purple foundations underneath. A dramatic, stunning backdrop for the farms dotting the low hills.  On I-81 now, we arrive in Virginia where the air seems even softer and smells sweeter.  I later discover that the scent is a luscious, heavenly combination of honeysuckle and sweet pea.  The Blue Ridge Mountains live up to their name as the sun sets behind the last ridge in Virginia in a purple, gold, and peach blaze of glory. Getting off the highway, we now take the back road directly to my friend’s house. On the way, a white tailed deer is grazing by the side of the road. We slow down to take a look and startle her into bounding off – back into the woods.  It was a nice “a-ha” moment to appreciate.

After arriving at  TL’s house, we settle in and relax, chatting up a storm with her and her son Ceej.  Getting to know the rest of the family – the cats: Miss Katie Scarlett, Paul Newman, Jack Sparrow, and Gandalf. And the dogs: Ruby Thewes and Miss Daisy. (TL has an affinity for literary characters). Mayhem and I felt welcome and at home; bonding with the entire cast of characters instantly.   I  doubt TL and I stopped talking the whole time we visited.  It was great fun.  Next post will be about our profoundly affecting trip to the Civil War Battlefield of New Market  – with pictures – and then later, our trip home.

To end this particular post, I thought I would leave you with a list of my favorite “Road/Road Trip” movies.  What are some of yours? And, do you have a favorite recollection of a road trip you might like to share?

  • Duel (1971)
  • Easy Rider (1969)
  • Electra Glide in Blue (1973)
  • To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything. Julie Newmar (1995)
  • The Gumball Rally (1976)
  • Thelma and Louise (1991)
  • Psycho (1961)
  • It Happened One Night (1934)
  • The Wild One (1954)
  • The Long, Long Trailer (1954)
  • Smokey and The Bandit (1977)
  • Speed (1994)
  • From Dusk to Dawn (1996)

Selena’s Peonies

These were Selena Jacques Lahue (my Great- Grandmother)’s peonies.  My Grandpa dug them up and brought them to his front garden when she passed away, and my mother brought them to her backyard when Grandpa left us. Peonies also happen to be my sister Susan’s  favorite flower.  I went over to my Mom’s this morning and together we managed to get these photographs. Mom held up the blooms with a stick since they are so darn top- heavy.  It was great to share this time with her, and listen to a couple of the family stories while I snapped away.  I’m normally not a fan of white flowers per se, but these have a spattering of red to boost the visual interest; kind of like an artist lined the center whorls with crimson.  Nature, gotta love her  -even when she’s off her HRT. 😉IMG_8551 watermarked IMG_8566 watermarked IMG_8570 watermarked IMG_8558 watermarkedI hope you enjoy these!  Thanks for stopping by.

 

…And Whiskers on Kittens….

IMG_8391 watermarkedIMG_8383 watermarkedIMG_8403 watermarkedThese are a few of my Favorite Things….

I got absolutely drenched getting these shots, but what FUN!  I hope you all like the photographs as much as I liked the process of taking them.

And the Rain Rain Rain Came Down Down Down

Finally. It’s been ages since Mother Nature’s had a drink around here. Not that the lawns are turning brown already or anything – but the brush fire danger is high. In fact, we had some IDIOT flick a cig out his or her window between exits 4 and 3 westbound on the Pike and voila – brush fire extraordinaire!  The day started off overcast, then cleared up with sunny skies. Late this afternoon it got that dark charcoal look. Downpour imminent.  No thunderboomer though. Just a cataclysmic waterfall from the sky – and right when I was leaving work for the day. I had to crank up the defogger to the max, as well as peg out the windshield wipers.

Didja ever notice that the road gets kind of greasy during the first rain after a long dry spell?  Believe me, I could see miniature rainbows in the runoff on the pavement. Not that it slowed me down any on the Mass Pike.  😉  Speed Demon – that’s me.  AKA Masshole Driver.  Muahahahaha!  Despite the flood I drove faster than I probably needed to. Strangely I don’t usually listen to music on the way to and from work. I’m too busy inside my head figuring out my day, and on the way back – my evening.

Anyhoo-I decided to be a good wife and pick up The Viking at work. Normally he rides his mountain bike back and forth every day (its a 2 mile trip one way). We’ve downsized to one car for the two of us and so far its working out OK. Those days where its bad weather I always try to make sure I offer to bring him to work or pick him up. 9/10 times he’s already got a ride – but I always offer.  I have the (much) longer commute so kind of got the vehicle privileges by default.  I had texted him as I left work, but he was unable to respond, nor did he pick up when  I called so I just figured to swing by on the way home. Good thing I did. The downpour followed me from Chicopee. And The Viking was glad to see me!   I made sure to park right next to the bike.

He got the bike loaded and we  took off towards home. Traffic wasn’t too bad – considering.  Clay Hill was awash with runoff and there was minor flooding at the bottom at the corner of Notre Dame by Mestek. The rain lasted till about an hour after we got home, and has subsided for the moment. Its still overcast, but” pink and grey” -ly so. The light is ethereal right now, and the grass has a neon green glow to it.  The mockingbird is kicking up a fuss down the street and the air smells of petrichor.  That wonderful, strangely melancholic, fresh after the rain smell that means green; and growing.

I’m thinking Mayhem will have a  date with the lawnmower this weekend, as she wants to earn some spending money for Anime Boston at the end of the month. Chaos’ cat – Guy Walworth aka Sir aka Sir Guy  – is hanging out with me in the porch window. So far, I have no allergic or asthmatic complaints – and I fully own up to the fact that I am a complete SAP and can’t say no when an animal needs rescuing. (Long story – but suffice to say that I do not recommend getting a pet with one’s boyfriend – pets are for long term, live together, stable relationships)  Anyway,  I’m hoping we get some more of the wet stuff tonight. The sound of rain on my roof will be lovely as I drift off to la-la land. But, I hope it clears up in time for the weekend.  I want to get out and about with my camera.

I also strangely feel the need to find our old VHS copy of “Winnie the Pooh and The Blustery Day”  The kids used to love watching that.  Mayhem’s favorite toy when she was very little was “Heppa”.  It was a Puff-a-Lump that she renamed after the song  “Heffalumps and Woozles”  I’m very confu-zzled…. ;).   Anyway, it still smells awesome outside, and I am so grateful to be able  to smell it. (normally I have no sense of smell due to chronic sinus problems). I’m enjoying my second glass of moscato white wine, and trying to decide what to have for dinner.  Here’s hoping for a pleasantly relaxing evening – listening to the rain on the roof.   Hugs to all.

Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day

Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree

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Heres the song reference, a little before my time but good music NEVER goes out of style,  does it?

The air smells divine this evening.  Yes, I can actually smell the apple blossoms this year – albeit faintly.  Its FINALLY May in New England.  Wedding Season.   I should head up to Stanley Park soon as things should be in  full flower up there by now.  But my side yard beckoned this afternoon.  I like the play of light and shadow on the leaves and blossoms.  There was quite a breeze but the blossoms held on strong.  Its sure been a lovely day today.  We could use some rain – which I understand is finally in the forecast this week thankfully.  Not much else to say.  I’m gonna let the pictures do the talking.  I hope you all  like them!  HUGS!

Afternoon Meanderings

IMG_7940 copy2 watermarkedEarly Spring Water Meadow along Rte 23  Blandford, MA

IMG_7953 copywatermarkedView from the Blandford Country Club. North Street Blandford MA  Looking down into Springfield….

IMG_7983 watermarkedSpring Stream. Algerie Road, North Blandford MA

IMG_8093watermarked IMG_8098 copywatermarkedStone Walls along the Roadway near Long Pond Conservation Area.  Algerie Road North Blandford MA

IMG_8028 watermarkedIMG_8040 watermarkedCanadian Goose in its element, and Remnants of a Beaver Dam, Long Pond Conservation Area.  Algerie Road North Blandford, MA

And last but by no means least, my traveling companion and chauffeur for the afternoon – The Viking – patiently waiting pondside while I trekked in and got pictures. And no, I didn’t fall in, or get muddy!

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It was really wonderful to meander those back roads today. I grew up there and nostalgia waxed large as I noted how much had changed – and how much had stayed the same.  The afternoon light is becoming more and more spring-like even though there’s still plenty of snow on the ground up in the hills.  The sounds of water cascading over the rocky stream beds, the wind rushing through the pines and dry reed beds, the honking chatter of the geese and ducks – all made for a peaceful backdrop to my self-imposed photo assignment.  Hell, I’ll call it what it was -THERAPY.    I came home with numb fingers and ears, but quite contented. Best of all, I got to spend the afternoon with my guy!

 

Emerging

Spring has been slow in arriving to New England this year. It’s been a long, cold,and damp March. But the last few days have given me hope. Bluebird Skies, Birdsong, Brisk Breezes. Yesterday I really felt like we were starting to emerge from winter. We opened the windows and let the fresh air blow through the house. Outside, I noted my day lilies are starting to peek up above ground; and the daffodils have started sending their shoots up for their April debut.

We opened up all the windows again this morning; and The Viking and I (who are child-free today) took our canine kids on a long walk. The wind was cold, but the sunshine felt so good on our faces. We walked on the dike along the Westfield River. There have been a lot of changes over the winter. Smaller islands, new channels. We saw Canadian geese and Mallard ducks on the water for the first time. The Viking informs me that a Bald Eagle has been spotted on the river recently – but we didn’t see it this time out. Liberty the Red-Tailed Hawk is still hanging around, but we didn’t see her either. I must remember to bring my DSLR camera on these meanderings!

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Sophie and Chewy had a marvelous time exploring along the walkway. Lots of new scents to investigate, and we noted glimpses of fresh green popping up here and there beneath the dry browns and beiges of the winter that doesn’t want to relinquish its grip on us entirely. In addition to the waterfowl, we also saw some cardinals, a few chickadees and a finch (I think it was a finch, anyway). Off in the distance we heard a woodpecker; who was busily looking for his lunch. We also saw quite a few robins. Does anyone remember that song “when the red red robin comes bob-bob-bobbin along”? I can’t get it out of my head now – hahaha!

Now I’m not a big fan of March. Its brown, dreary, drab, muddy, dirty and cold. But I do love seeing all that give way to the green and glorious spring. Especially after the beating we took from Old Man Winter this year. But we are slowly and surely emerging into the warmth of April. I could see it on the faces of the folks we passed on our travels today. Smiling, heads up, and facing into the wind (not hunkered down against it). The Viking didn’t even bring a coat – which he regretted before too long -this is New England after all… 😉

The sun seems to linger in the sky today. The neighborhood kids are out on their bikes. Their happy voices carry on the breeze thats vigorously moving my curtains. The mockingbird in the pine tree is chattering away and sounding like a cat at the moment. Two tired puppies are sprawled, snoring, at my feet. It feels good to emerge today. “Live, Love, Laugh, and Be Happy”. Time for a glass of wine.