Saturday, July 17, 2010

Day One.............Out of the Driveway and Onto the Highway

This was a day of grueling work.  Randy had to finish a job he was working on, and I was trying frantically to clean the house.  I have this "thing," that I DON'T WANT TO COME HOME TO A MESSY HOUSE!  When I return, whenever that will be, I want to walk into a house that feels the same as the best  hotel I have stayed in on this trip!  I want clean, crisp sheets on the bed, vaccum marks on the carpet, plants that scream, "Welcome home!!! We need a drink!"  when I come into each room, and lights that are still turned off and on by timers so I don't even have to THINK about that.

I found spider egg sacks that are now great-grandparents, in the lower level of my house.  One throw rug begged me to throw it out. There was dust under my mother's mother's chest of horrors that might have belonged to my mother's mother.  I was "cleaning with a purpose," since we anticipate some family company on our return.........and I mean "on our return." That day.  I even made the bed for the company before we left. (I am really good under pressure.)

It was not until 3:17 PM that we got into the car. There was only one trip back into the house (which entailed unlocking the deadbolt only once, and opening the garage door only once) which was pretty good.   I quickly remembered something else, back in the car, but I would NOT admit that a second trip back inside the house was needed.  I won't even tell you what I left behind.  One trip back is pretty good. Two would have qualified me for "dementia." (The D word, as we call it.)

Before we started the car, I announced boldly to Randy, "OK. We are NOT going to argue or bicker on this trip. If we are even tempted to snarl, we will say out loud, "This is not important enough to argue about!" and then you can just say , "Kim, you are right, " and we can go on!"  Randy didn't think this was as funny as I did, but we got out of the driveway laughing, at any rate.

We didn't drive very far before the Wanderlust hit.  Randy said, about 40 miles from home, "Have you ever seen the FALLS in Newton Falls?"

"No," I answered, "but you did drive me through Newton Falls once."

"Do you WANT to see the falls in Newton Falls?" he asked.

"Not particularly, but if you do, then let's go see them, since that's what this is all plans, no expectations."

So we got off of 76E and headed north to Newton Falls, Ohio, a lovely little town with the most enormous hanging baskets of petunias on their street lights that I've ever seen.  The town is full of benches that are dedicated to the  memory of their deceased citizens.  We encountered nice people.

We found a sign directing us to "The Covered Bridge," and not having expected one, we followed the signs to the "oldest covered bridge in the state of Ohio which is still in operation."  It is also the only covered bridge with a pedestrian walkway built onto the side of it. We drove over it, then walked on the pedestrian walk, which crossed the Mahoning River. (This is the infamous river that caught fire back in the 70's, but we didn't even see smoke today.) (Darn!)

"The Falls" was a block or so away, and we walked down to see them, although I believed it was more of a dam than a "falls," but we are not going to argue about that.  We were there long enough to watch a fisherman lose his hook to a snag at the bottom of the river OR the largest fish alive in the Mahoning River. Take your pick.

Since we were there, I asked to find the cemetery, as one of my students from my years at Tod Children's Hospital, in Youngstown,  had been from Newton Falls, and I hoped to "visit" her place on this planet. We trudged through the Newton Falls Cemetery for almost an hour to no avail, looking for Melinda's grave. I knew, somehow, that there would be a Mickey Mouse on her grave or marker, but we did not find Melinda OR Mickey today. They are not there.

We had asked "Thelma," (our trusty GPS unit) how to get to Lily Dale, New York. Lilydale, Lily Dale.......we have seen it spelled both ways, and Thelma seemed to find it, and we headed north and east.  Erie, Pennsylvania, presented challenges with some kind of "Roar on the Shore" event and heavy traffic, but we went on past.  We did wonder what "Roar on the Shore" is all about. I envisioned folks standing on the shores of Presque Isle, roaring like lions, but I pretty much am sure that something else goes on there.

Not terribly long after our departure from home, we started looking for lodging.  Due to the "Roaring"and the other events that we found were happening on the coast of Lake Erie, we realized that either every hotel was booked solid, or the going rate was nearly $190  for a basic room.  We kept on driving.  I did encounter one nearly hysterical woman, when we stopped for gas, who couldn't find a room for the night..........and she was ahead of us, also going east. I controlled the urge to race her out of the gas station and get ahead of her on the freeway, but only because I was not the one driving at that point!

We investigated a number of hotels and motels, and almost got over the threshold of a very unpainted and scary bed and breakfast.........but visions of Psycho prevailed, and we looked at each other and ran back to the car.  One "hotel" HAD no hotel:  It had 7 bikers propped on the front porch, beers in hand, raging tattoos, and  amazing hair colors.  We peeked inside the "hotel" to find the saloon, which resembled a place in which John Wayne has beaten up half a town of ne're-do-wells.  We could not see through the smoke.  However, one girl on the porch, the one with bright yellow hair and black leather clothes, was really nice when I asked her where the hotel was. She pointed down the street to the previously-mentioned bed and breakfast.

We are currently on the 5th floor of a wonderful Clarion Hotel in downtown Jamestown, New York. We've had a carry-out pizza for a late dinner, watched "Medium" on TV, and collapsed. Randy is asleep while Jay Leno does his thing, and I do mine.

 I have asked Randy several times this afternoon, "Are you relaxing yet?"

I think that when he made the choice to turn off to see the falls in Newton Falls, and we did, that he let go and relaxed.  It is nice not to have any agenda, to just make a choice or two as we go along, with no real expectations.  We expect Serendipity.