Day Four: 465 miles, 2 states, 8 hours

On the outskirts of Oklahoma City, OK, 28 September 2007, 9:29pm CDT

A long day of travel, mileage-wise, though because we're talking I-44 through Western Missouri and Northeastern Oklahoma, it was fairly smooth and fast sailing, time-wise. We're now ensconsed in an RV park west of OK City (we may or may not still be within the city limits -- someday I may get used to these western cities and where they begin and end). And the best part -- the pool is inside and still open! And they have a spa. So I finally got my swim and my soak in a hot tub. That combined with a good long night's sleep last night -- and a dinner we didn't have to cook or clean up after -- meant that tonight was nice and relaxing.

There's WiFi here, but it doesn't seem to go anywhere; I'm tired; and the Pupper needs to be emptied before bed, so I'll stop here and share the rest of our day and some observations from the road when we find WiFi that goes somewhere.

When Was the Last Time You Saw a Tractor?*

Day Three: 340 miles, 3 states, 8 hours

Somewhere SW of St. Louis, MO, 27 September 2007 5:30pm CDT

Great day; great weather; fast (and our shortest travel day) driving; and we've actually been here for over an hour. Laundry's doing, supper (spaghetti and meatballs) is in the making, and we're looking forward to a nice, relaxing evening. Unfortunately, they drained the pool yesterday, so I still haven't been able to go swimming (something I desperately would like to do because I think it would help loosen up the muscles that tighten sitting in a car for 7 hours a day. We're headed southwest, however, so at some point we're going to have to find an open pool, right?

Scenes from the road (no pictures because, well, I didn't take any):

Corn, soybeans, corn, cows, corn, fields, corn, and more corn.

Cars, cars, and more cars. Oh, and trucks, and trucks, and trucks.

Rest areas, truck stops, fast food, oh, and more corn.

In essence, we really saw nothing (nothing without words on it) that would indicate that we weren't still in the East (well, unless we were botanists, probably). But then, rounding a curve on I-55 we saw it: the first real indicator that we were far from where we'd come from; the unmistakable sight that is the gateway arch. No, we aren't in Massachusetts anymore. It was beautiful, and so was Busch Stadium.

Okay, we also saw: a tiny little house about 50 feet off the ground on a pole, looking like nothing so much as a bird house for large birds; a billboard encouraging us to "Visit Historic Downtown Greenup"; a double trailer truck belonging to a casket company; and a town called Pocahontas.

Today we did Indiana and Illinois the short way; tomorrow we do Missouri and Oklahoma the long way.

There is WiFi here, but it's $4, and we're just not that desperate to get online, so I'll post when next we find free WiFi.

* Quote courtesy of Lester Holt who asked just this question a few weeks ago on Weekend Today. Obviously, Lester's been living in the big city for too long. I would bet that the majority of the people in this country don't go more than a week without seeing a tractor. And we certainly saw plenty of them on our journey today.

Day Two: 430 miles, 3 states, 8 hours

26 September 2007 7:47pm (still EDT). Oh, and that 3 states things is a bit misleading -- we ventured less than a mile into Indiana (far enough to find what touts itself as the world's largest fireworks store -- I'm guessing fireworks are illegal in Ohio?) before getting off the highway and doubling back into Ohio.

Yes, it's much, much earlier than last night, and we've actually been here for a couple of hours. Much more casual evening, with real supper (tenderloin, roasted potatoes and green beans -- I tell you, THIS is the way to camp!) And WiFi!!!!

We made much better time today, despite the rain and a late start thanks to a cat who found a hole no one had previously known existed. The motor home gave no one any grief, the rain was not terribly heavy, no serious traffic getting around Columbus at rush hour, and yay -- a good day!

I mentioned the cat finding a hidey hold no one knew existed. I should mention that our animals are mostly behaving like troupers on the trip. Pupper may be cured of his fascination with car travel after a few boring days (he sighed a lot today -- but then again, we were driving through Ohio -- we were all prone to sighing from boredom). He sleeps or pants while we're driving and happily runs around when we stop for pee breaks. Last night he slept through the night, barely moving, so he must have been tuckered.

The cats are dealing better than we expected with the travel in the motor home. They both started out a bit nervous and whiny, but by lunch yesterday they had calmed and were sleeping under the kitchen chairs while the coach was moving. When the world stops moving around them, they're as friendly and curious and silly as they always are at home.

Interestingly, it is regal Queen B and not our nervous K-man who seems to be having the harder time. I wonder if, like many creatures who've always been secure, she doesn't quite have to tools to deal with the insecurity of her current situation. K-man, on the other hand, spent the first 15 months of his life quite insecure and may have better coping skills as a result.

In knitting news, M has finished sock #1 is and it almost ready to do the heel flap on sock #2. Circus Monkey #1 is awaiting it's appointment with Dr. Kitchener tonight. Pictures later -- I'm too tired and hungry to deal with the camera at this point.

So, things are better than yesterday and looking up for tomorrow (a short day, only 360 miles or so, which should land us somewhere the other side of St. Louis). Perhaps as we get further south, we'll find a pool that's still open and time to enjoy it.

Until we next find WiFi...

Day One: 400 miles, 4 states, 12 hours

25 September 2007 9:57pm

Well, Day One of the grand adventure was, well, adventurous. I have to believe the rest of the trip will be better or I will have a nervous breakdown right here, right now.

But first, our stuff got off yesterday without a hitch. Movers showed on time, inventoried everything and wrapped it with great care, then loaded it on a truck bound for Tucson (by way of Boston, New York, and goodness knows where else). The driver says he may be able to get our stuff there on the afternoon of the 1st (the day we were planning on pulling into Tucson mid-afternoon). This makes it even more likely that at some point in this adventure we will part ways with my parents and bolt for Tucson ourselves to meet the truck.

Today, well, today started okay, but like the first day of any long overland journey, it got off to a slow start what with having to gas up the vehicles, finish emptying the house, finish loading the vehicles and get going. We pulled out of the driveway at about 8:00am and pulled into the campsite at about 8:15pm, having driven a mere 400 miles if that gives you some idea of the day we had.

First there was the mess that is just getting out of New England via I-84. Goodness, the traffic, plus having to drive through the heart of three good-sized cities (Springfield, MA, and Hartford and Waterbury, CT). On the other hand, the relative tininess of northeastern states makes the progress seem greater than it is (we did, in fact, traverse 4 states today -- compare that with crossing just one border tomorrow).

Then the motor home decided that it really didn't think it was in shape for all the mountain climbing that was being asked of it. It hasn't been on any significant trip since it came "home" from SC in the spring, so you really can't blame it, can you? So we stopped for half an hour or so and just let it rest. It seemed to do okay after that, and it looked like despite the slow start we were going to make it to our stopping spot in time for dinner and a good rest. Well, until we hit the construction mess what should have been a mere half hour from our destination.

Stopped (and I mean stopped -- people putting their cars in park and getting out to stretch stopped) we realized at some point that the van directly behind us had apparently been rear-ended by a big rig (obviously not at high speed, since she didn't get driven into us -- thank goodness). We didn't see what happened, but it seems that we escaped at the very least a couple more hours of whatever.

Anyway, we have arrived in Woodland, PA in the dark, have eaten hot dogs for supper and really, really want to go to bed. No WiFi, so I'll post when we get somewhere that has it.

BTW, we did get to see the premiere of "Chuck" last night and we both think it's quite cute. Missed both premiere nights of "Dancing with the Stars" -- will have to catch online when we get settled.

ETA: I just heard that Tuesday was Mountain Day at MHC, what a great day to begin this next phase of our grand adventure!

Why Did the Chicken...?

One of the things I will miss about living here in farm country is the occasional unexpected appearance of chickens in the road. Yes, chickens, wandering loose, will normally avoid the road (I don't know why -- Melissa?), but once in a while a single chicken or even a small flock -- as happened today on my way home -- will decide to roam across the road. When this happens, look out.

Anyhoo, I promised M's current projects.
Pattern: Maine and Arizona Knitted Dishcloths from Knitting Knonsense
Yarn: Peaches & Cream #4 Ecru
Needles: WEBS Hard Bamboo 9" #7

Sandra blogged about her New Jersey dishcloth, Stephanie's been collecting them on her tour, and I just HAD to see the patterns for myself. I printed the pattern for the AZ dishcloth thinking I would make one, M found found the pattern, and the rest is history. She has now made the one AZ and two Maines. There are more to come, as they will be holiday gifts. She has also gotten many of the holiday and animal and plant motifs.

This is M's first sock in progress (she's at the toe decreases as I write this). She has been saying for ages that she wishes she could knit socks, but she knows they're too hard. One day she was whining that she wanted a simple small portable project, so I handed her a 2.5mm circular needle and a ball of sock yarn (Regia Stretch Color #82) and instructed her to cast on 64 stitches. She is loving the sock, and she's now (finally!) convinced that sock knitting is not hard.

In fact, she's so enamored of socks that the only yarn we are taking with us on our upcoming cross-country road trip is sock yarn. Makes it easy -- we each only have to pack one needle, and the yarn can be tucked here and there in our luggage.

Smooch is done. Here she is blocking (I loved blocking board shots -- and I love my steamer):

and here is a very bad, very grainy, don't-ask-me-what-happened photo of her done and on:
Pattern: Smooch from Rowan All Seasons Cotton Collection
Yarn: Lang Twin Lame #159, 7 balls or so
Needles: Susan Bates Aluminum 40" #9; Lantern Moon Rosewood 10" #7
Mods: I hated this pattern when I knit the sample for the store, and I hated it when I knit this one for us. I do like the finished project, it's just that the pattern was awful, most especially when it came to the eyelets/decreases for the front neckline. So I just did it in a way that made sense for me, gave it the right shape, and put the eyelets where they belonged.

I probably won't make this one again.

And next up on the needles:
Circus Monkeys! I do love this pattern. Once again, I am doing it sans purls, and I will make the legs 7 pattern repeats rather than the 6 the pattern calls for. I call them Circus Monkeys because the yarn (Sockotta #15) is very colorful and happy and reminds me of a clown.

Red Sock #2 just needs a heel, then it'll be done and smile pretty for the camera with its mate.

I Want This!

Well, okay, if you won't let me put a link in the title... it's this that I'm talking about. And fortunately, there's enough wool in the correct weight in the stash to make a few, I'm sure.

Okay, my niece may need some Woodins, too.

So many projects... and these days all I really want to knit is socks. Well, these days all I CAN knit is socks since all the other yarn is packed. Okay, not truly inaccessible, but I'm considering it packed and therefore not available to start any new projects until we're settled in Tucson (can it really be that we leave in a week and a half?!).

The most exciting news of the week may be that I finally finished the knitting portion of our orange Smooch last night. Blocking will commence this evening with finishing and photo-ing this weekend (fingers crossed).

And this, this may make me finally break down and knit a pair of socks for my bestest bud -- who is a bit of a sock nut -- because it just seems too intriguing NOT to try. Yes, I will be buying Cat's new book, but again, not until after we're settled in Tucson (we've agreed on a moratorium on acquiring anything else that'll just have to be packed).

Remind me that later I need to share with you what M's been up to (it's soooo cool!).

Two Weeks To Go

and we're making progress.

S quit job
M quit job
Find a house
Turn on utilities
Find a mover
Final FOWL meeting
Final Council Meeting
Exit interview
Farewell luncheon
Farewell dinner
Yard sale
Final worship
Finish darn Smooch Tank
Plan road projects
Find road reading (are all the books already packed?!)
Finish other Red Sock
Dye hair
Cut hair
Dog to groomer
Car to shipper

"We'll Never Find Another Sandy"*

Or, these are a few of my favorite things. Yes, there's knitting content here, really.
My iPod shuffle, in lime green, of course. Working in a bunker in the ground with one other person who does an entirely separate job means that sometimes I need some stimulation. What I love about the shuffle is that I can load it with podcasts, audiobooks, and a whole ton of music. Set on shuffle, it just plays my music randomly; turn off the shuffle, and I can listen to pocasts and audiobooks at lunch or while doing the more mundane daily tasks. It is my best friend at work.

No, it's not a Pandora. We did a lot of research before buying this, perhaps more than either of us did for our current cars ("It's nice; I liked the last one I owned; I'll take it -- do you have it in silver?"). And our research showed us that there are a lot of Troll beads which we really liked, and, while Pandora beads fit on Troll bracelets, the opposite is not the case.

So, it's a silver Troll bracelet with a fish clasp, and just two beads to start (but, there's a wishlist). I think of it as my "thank you for moving to Tucson" gift. Faith, hope, and love for the elements which support the adventure we've embarked upon, and a cactus (that should be obvious).

And now for some knitting content:
Actually, it's only the first of the Red Sox -- the other is still just a ribbed band.

Pattern: My own, perhaps I'll write it up
Yarn: Cascade Fixation, 2 balls 3678 and 1 ball 8176
Needle: Addi Turbo 32" #4, magic loop style

I love the Red Sox, and I am so excited about this sock. And they will work great for Christmas, too.

* [Second title explanation in a row.] This is a direct quote from a member of the Advisory Group which oversees the Depository where I work. He is also a member of the search committee charged with finding my replacement and the person who will train my replacement. He made this comment to the chair of the search committee (who is also my boss) while they were going over resumes.

One of my very favoritest things right now is this job, and the appreciation which this comment shows for me and my efforts here. This is so very, very gratifying after what seems like ages (it was really less than 2 1/2 years) of working for people who, well, let's just say they most decidedly DIDN'T appreciate me. I have loved my time here, and it pains me to leave, though I am excited about the adventure ahead. I tell myself every day how lucky I was to find this job and these people to wash the bad taste away after my previous experience and remind me that working outside the home can be a very good thing.

They Think so Small, They Use Small Words

[Which reminds me that one of the (many) moments that told me M was the one for me was the day she called and told me that she hadn't been able to email that day because she was dealing with a recalcitrant computer.]

BTW -- there ain't no knitting content here, so if you're seeking, move along for today.
It occurs to me that an explanation might be in order for a recent post title. While I have always believed Peter Gabriel's song to be satirical if not completely self mocking, I have to say that lately I've been seeing some truth in it as well. [Forgive me, while packing I discovered the CDs of cheesy 80s music which belong to my college class -- which must be sent off to Susan before we move so that they may be available for next year's 20th (gasp!) reunion festivities -- and I loaded them onto my iPod.]

After a few years of living in and confronting (on so many fronts) the establishment of a small, small town, I have realized that there are small town people, and then there are the rest of us. It was not my intention to dis' this small town where I live or the people who love it. It is a perfectly nice place ... if you like small towns ... and were born and raised here ... and desire nothing more than to maintain the status quo (or, better yet, turn back the clock 50 years) ... and you never, ever, not even in the private recesses of your own thoughts, refer to taking the husks off corn as shucking (don't ask). I did not say I was too GOOD for this small town, only that I'm too big for it.

I grew up in New England (though, admittedly in a NOT small town), and I have always had a romantic attraction to what Bill Bryson (if you haven't, you should) called the "white-steepled beauty" if its small towns. I just haven't always had a practical affinity for them.

So for now, bring on the city (though not the "big, big city") and its transplants who don't have 250 years of family history struggling against any change, good or bad. Bring on a highly educated, highly curious, highly motivated population of people who have chosen to leave behind all that history and live in a harsh climate amongst the beasts and the cacti.

Most of all, just get me out of this small, small town.

First Monkeys

I know they're the first because I absolutely love the pattern.

Pattern: Monkey by Cookie A. from Knitty
Yarn: One of Gail's first attempts at striping sock yarn, gifted months ago (color fairly true in the photo above)
Needle: Inox 40" circular #1 (2.5mm), magic loop style
Mods: Didn't purl in the lace pattern (as a combination knitter, I can be averse to purling in the round); slip-stitch heel; and I'm sure there are other differences, because I admit to ignoring the pattern after I had memorized the lace pattern (after 2 repeats on the first sock). In the future, I would not do the twisted rib -- it's a little tight going over my foot. Maybe a regular 1x1 rib, or a 3x1 even. We'll see.

Like I said, I really love this pattern. Perhaps in future I will even make some with the intended purl stitches, but I do like the gentle texture obtained by leaving them out.
These socks are destined likely as a Christmas gift for my sister-in-law. A similar fate awaits most of the socks I will knit from our stash of wool sock yarns over the next few months. I suspect we will have little need for wool socks in Tucson, at least until we start realizing that it does get cold there in the winter (they tell us this usually takes 3 years).

Next up on the needles:

Red Sox! I've wanted to make myself a pair for a while, and I finally just bought the yarn. Trust me, the color in this photo is just all wrong. That really is red and white.

I'm kinda making the pattern up as I go along, but it's pretty basic. The yarn is Cascade Fixation; I cast on 60 stitches, knit 10 rows of corrugated ribbing (as my niece, I apparently love the Red Sox more than I hate corrugated ribbing), then a 4x2 rib for the leg and foot (Fixation and stockinette, not the best of friends); toe will be white, as will the afterthought heel. I have already done all of the corrugated ribbing and have the start of the second sock waiting on stitch holders -- it is a trick to keep the hatred of the ribbing from causing second sock syndrome.

And one more project that I hope to have done before we leave. I/we need to turn a whole lot of this:

"pies", each containing something a little less than a full ball of each of four different colors of Plymouth Encore -- into this:

usable balls of yarn.

What? Well, the pies are from back when WEBS used to sample yarns featured in their catalogs. This is one of the methods used to make than sampling a little easier. Why? M and I do a lot of charity knitting (what a former co-worker used to refer to in a tone usually reserved for those drowning kittens as "knitting things for poor children"). The separated colors are destined to be scarves, hats, mittens, etc. Okay, except perhaps for one of the greys, which is likely to become one of these.

Parade of Socks

Here are the promised socks:

Pattern: Cascade Yarns Two-Toed Sock
Yarn: Cascade Fixation # oh, I don't know -- me and ball bands, you know -- but it was 2 of the variegated and one of the purple
Needles: Addi Turbo 40" #4, magic loop style

These socks were my gift to myself after finishing (and watching her fall in love with) M's pink ones. I love them as much as M loves hers. Very soft and comfy.

Pattern: Basic 72-stitch top-down sock with 1x1 ribbed band and 3x1 rib on the leg and instep
Yarn: Plymouth Sockotta #367, one ball
Needles: Inox 40" circular #0 (2.0mm), magic loop style

Sockotta is easy to work with, and I love the colors of this sock (it goes beautifully with my pink All Stars, too), but now that I've felt the TOFUtsies, it's hard to go back to "cotton" sock yarn with that wool bite. They'll be nice for cooler weather in Tucson, though. In fact, these socks are my time measurement: they were knit on our first trip to Tucson, one on the way out, the other on the way back.

Pattern: Same generic pattern as the Sockotta sock above, though done over 64 stitches rather than 72
Yarn: Here we go again, it's Regia Multiringel in some colorway that Webs no longer has on closeout
Needles: Inox 40" circular #1 (2.5mm), magic loop style

What is there to say? Like the yarn, like the colors, though I'm not sure what the colors will go with. Guess that's not important with hand-knit socks, if they stand out all the better.

Pattern: Basically, it's the heel and foot of a basic 64-stitch sock with 3/4" of ribbing at the top
Yarn: Regia Stretch Crazy Color #115, one ball
Needles: Inox 40" circular #1 (2.5mm), magic loop style

Told you I'd been busy knitting socks. I don't know why, but that's about all I've felt like knitting lately. Guess it's that portability, simplicity, undemanding nature of socks. With life as uncertain, upheaved, and crazy as it is right now, I don't need big projects that demand a lot of attention.

I have almost finished my first pair of Monkeys. Just one pattern repeat and the toe to go on the second, then will photo and post.

I'm Too Big for this Small Town

[There's knitting content here for those who persevere.]

I've moved before. I've moved many times before. Both U-Haul-wise and hire-the-mover-wise (never yet been fortunate enough for one of those hire-the-mover-to-do-the-packing-too moves). But I have realized recently that I have never really MOVED. That is, moving across the country isn't anything like moving across the state.

First off, we've got not only the two of us and all our earthly possessions to move: we've got two kitties, one doggie, and two cars. While this experience has helped me understand why people leave pets (especially cats) at shelters when they make long distance moves, I could never do that (WE could never do that). But how to get two cats, neither of whom is fond of the car 2200 miles?

Flying is out as the K-Man is too big to comfortably spend 7 hours or more in an airline-approved carry-on, Pupper is way too big to carry on, and I ain't shipping anyone cargo. Driving could prove to be a nightmare scenario for all involved, but especially the cats who'd have to spend many hours a day for 6 days in their crates.

Enter my parents and this beautiful beast known as a 38-foot motor home. They've got friends in Albuquerque who've been after them to visit for years; the Balloon Festival begins on October 6; and the cats are more likely to take the trip in stride if they take it in style.

Have I mentioned that I love my parents? And that I owe my father big time for this one. Six days in a motor home with 2 cats, a dog, and three women could try the patience of anyone. Fortunately, my father is one of the most patient people I know.

So, we leave in caravan: my parents, M, and the cats in the RV; with me following behind in M's car with Pupper. My car will be shipped. M and I will trade off driving her car with the dog, and we'll all meet up for lunch and to sleep for the night.

And where are we going when we get there? I'm happy to announce that we have signed the lease (finally!) on a great house. We and our stuff have a destination. Hooray! And just one thing to share about that:

I knew when I saw these circus tent stripes on the wall of one of the guest rooms (probably the one that'll be my workroom) that this was the house for me.

Okay, some knitting content:

Pattern: Tidal Wave Socks from Southwest Trading
Yarn: TOFUtsies #726, one ball
Needles: Inox 40" circular #1 (2.5mm), magic loop style

I LOVE this yarn; I LOVE this pattern. For a yarn that is 50% wool, it is not at all itchy on the foot, and it is a dream to knit. I'd heard people rave that they loved the yarn, and I'd heard people rave that they hated it. It definitely has no "give", and you have to be careful with your tension, but I found it comfortable, soft, and quite fast to work.

We bought just a few more balls of TOFUtsies on a recent trip to Webs to spend the last of our credits and gift certificates before the move. Our aim on the trip was to stock up on non-wool sock yarns, and we succeeded:

Let's see: Cascade Fixation in 3678 and 8176 for a pair of Red Sox; Cascade Fixation in 9936 because it went with one of the day's color themes; Online Supersocke #1001 (I know, wool, but it fit the OTHER color theme); Filatura di Crosa Maxime Print #5047 (again, wool, but the color, you know); and TOFUtsies #784, 725, and 790. Sock Yarn Doesn't Count (and with M learning to knit socks, there are now two of us to keep supplied)!

What I may love most about the Tidal Wave socks is just how perfectly they go with my pink All Stars:

Chaos, You Have Met Your Match

So, to defeat the forces of chaos (or kaos, to extend the "Get Smart" metaphor), I must take this:
boxes full of books stacked in the tunnel, and turn it into this:
nice and neatly organized and findable materials (which are sent here because few people are looking for them, but that's beside the point, the point is that we can find them -- and that they're stored in the most space-saving way possible).

To get the loaded trays of books (some of which weigh 75 pounds) to their final resting place (M does insist on calling this place the book cemetery), I have to take them on this long journey:
Whenever I take a full cart of trays off to be shelved, I am put in mind of the final scene of "Raiders of the Lost Ark" where the carton containing the ark is being wheeled off into some warehouse deep below the capital (at least that's where I always pictured it being).

And yes, those shelves you see in the distance are over 10 feet tall. And many of the trays weigh over 50 pounds. And yes, I have grown muscles in places I didn't know girls could have muscles since I started working here. And I have been happier working here than I have been at work in a long time.

Okay, lest you think the work is all heavy lifting and ladder-climbing, there's a whole lot of magic with the computer between the chaos and the order (the important part that makes the books findable in the end). It is particular and picky, and while basically easy for anyone with any tech services experience, it is complex at the same time.

Believe me, I just had to write the manual for it so that my replacement can be trained by someone who's never done the job after I leave. [The wheels of academe, they do grind painfully slowly, especially in the summer -- two month's notice was not enough to have my replacement here before I leave.]

Next up -- finished socks. I promise!