Thursday, September 28, 2006

The New Frontier

Frida, the office Pomeranian is asleep on the floor. She belongs to Donna, who hired and is training me. Donna is negotiating an add in the Yellow Pages with the Bell South guy.

Today is my second day at SeaTech Electric, Inc. located on Rockland Key. They are an electrical company that does government contracts. They have business all over the Keys, the U.S, and even embassies outside the country.

I am the Assistant to the Director of Finance (Donna). She has been overwhelmed with work over the last few months and got authorization to hire an Assistant.

It's good to have an intellectual outlet finally, I've been basically on vacation for almost a month. While it's nice to have a break, I've been a little stir-crazy the last week or so.

We'll make our first venture back to the mainland this weekend to pick up the BMW and make a Costco run.

Monday, September 25, 2006

At Home in Key West

I've been home for one week as of yesterday.

We commemorated the event by spending the afternoon on Picnic Island - which is really a sand bar. The water is shallow enough to just anchor and wade around. We enjoyed a few games of frisbee (I was knocked in the head only once, remarkably) and I don't know if anyone was counting, but I should have gotten double points for landing the frisbee on the bow of a strangers boat.

Apparently we left our brains in the northwest, because even though we are now living in Florida, neither of us has purchased any sunscreen. Fortunate for us there was a mother with two children on our adventure, and she provided a menu of spf 30 and spf 50 for our enjoyment. I chose some 30, but not soon enough and am a bit pink.

Scott's furniture arrived today, moved off the truck in about 2.5 hours. I have unpacked two boxes of dishes and glassware and started the dishwasher running. I am greatly looking forward to putting clothes away in a dresser in the closet, and not just in organized piles on the master bedroom floor.

We are now one step closer to the dream - sleeping on a real bed. The bed frame arrived with everything else today, but the movers would not bring the mattress or box springs as they had mildewed in storage while in North Carolina. We will have to purchase a new mattress and box springs, along with a couch, since it's predecessor (I've always wondered if this word literally means "previously deceased"...) was also denied transit due to mold.

We have a full set of dishes, glasses, chargers, a toaster, what I think is a juicer, and some other various kitchen items. There is also a lovely set of tables that include a small dining table, a coffee table and side table.

The cats are getting used to the dog, on Thursday night Maui (the siamese) "kissed" Buster (the boxer) briefly. Progress from hissing. Chou can usually be found on top of the refrigerator, although we are doing our best to discourage this. Minx ate some of Buster's dog food yesterday, I don't know if it was because she felt she hadn't had enough cat food or if she was just trying to get Buster to notice that SHE is the alpha dog.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Road Trip: Day Seven and Eight

Sulpher LA to Key West FL

This long-push-drive-through-the-night thing is crazy. The much needed hotel room was enjoyed until right about noon on Saturday. We had slept long and hard, and once we had packed everything out, discovered that we had lost the room key while looking for my phone. About a half hour down the road I noticed the room key on the dashboard. ooops. That thing is going in the scrapbook!

We made it across Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama and rolled into Florida around 7pm central time. I sent a bunch of bulk text messages to let everyone know we had made it to the home state safely and had about another 12-15 hours to go.

Having a cat that has her own internal clock is interesting. I don't mind being reminded to feed them on time, but when she decides that everyone should be in bed, she means business! We had a full encore of the night two nights before, where she ran around the car yelling and running on the windows. Not conducive to my attempt at sleeping, which was already much hindered by the fact that my legs are a lot longer than the space I had to put them in.

Scott was getting tired, and as he was driving, I finally convinced him to pull over so we could both nap for an hour and maybe the cats would calm down as well. We were on the Florida Turnpike at this point, at about 5:45am on Sunday, so we pulled into one of the many Service Plazas, filled up with gas and tried to sleep.

Minx was not to be fooled. She knows the difference between people napping in a car in a parking lot and being AT HOME in a real bed. What had worked two nights before was not to be. I finally tuned out the meowing, but about 35 minutes into the experiment, Scott got out and walked off his frustration. I gave him a few minutes, got out and ushered him back into the car, and took over the drivers seat.

I drove for about an hour and a half and then handed the wheel back over to Scott, who was fully awake by this time.

We enjoyed the sunrise somewhere between Orlando and Miami, and I fell asleep shortly after.

I tried really hard to stay awake to enjoy the drive out over the Keys, but was feeling pretty crummy and a little nauseous, so I crashed out and Scott woke me up as we pulled onto Roosevelt Boulevard.

Our condos are just a mile or so down Roosevelt and we pulled in safely to the carport. I snoozed in the car while Scott took just the necessary items and the cats upstairs and then he came to fetch me.

I stumbled up the stairs and then he carried me over the threshold. Very sweet.

We napped for about 3 hours and then met one of Scott's coworkers for dinner at Kelly's.

Thus endeth the Vancouver, Washington to Key West, Florida saga.

Road Trip: Day Five and Six

Scottsdale AZ to Sulpher LA

My alarm went off at 6:45am so we could make it to breakfast at Dad & Heather's by 7:30am. We turned into the Thunderbird Adventist Academy campus at about 7:40am and parked in the shade (the cats we left at the motel). Heather had prepared eggs, and pancakes with strawberries or an assortment of jams. Just before we sat down to eat Dad opened the last two years worth of Christmas presents: a foot massager for Heather, Pooh and Tigger jumpers for Makayla, and a new watch for Dad, along with an M&M scrapbook.

Dad handled the requisite interrogation of Scott's worthiness while I watched and took pictures of Makayla enjoying her breakfast. Her clothes enjoyed it, too.

After breakfast we took pictures of me and my little sis and Makayla and I opened the goodie bags Dad had brought home from his trip up north on Southwest Airlines: plane shaped cookies and a set of honorary pilot's wings for each of us.

We headed back to the Motel with the intention of taking a nap before getting back on the road. When we opened the door to our room, Chou was there waiting happily to greet us, so I put food in the dishes for the cats' "second breakfast". Chou remained alone at the buffet and our concern grew as we searched the suite for Minx and Maui. Not in the closet, not in the bathroom, not in the sitting area, not in either of the windows, not behind any of the furniture, and not even meowing. When we left for breakfast we had left the "do not disturb" tag on the door to avoid an escape courtesy of Housekeeping. Scott and I went downstairs into the courtyard and I searched in the plants while Scott notified the manager of our situation. The manager informed us that there IS a way to get under the bed (the bed frame from all appearances is solid), and he would come help us look in a couple of minutes.

Back upstairs, the mattress and the box springs were dismantled to reveal two very guilty looking beasts. They were pulled out, the bed was put back together and we napped until about 1:15pm.

Loaded in and ready to go, I had found Chou and Maui and deposited them in the crate, but couldn't find Minx. We ensured that the bed hidey-hole was not accessible and finally discovered her behind the dresser.

The 101 loop south took us to 202 south and then back to 10 east. We got off on the Baseline exit and found our way to Duff's office, where Duff and Denise were waiting to visit for a little while before Denise had to go let the kids in the house after school and Duff had appointments.

We were out of Tempe by 4pm and headed east. I was driving for this leg and made it for about an hour and a half and didn't feel so hot, so Scott took over.

Just above Las Cruces, New Mexico, we pulled into a rest area to shuffle some things around, feed and water the cats, relieve ourselves, take pictures of the city lights and switch drivers. While Scott was searching for the flashlight, Minx managed a daring escape (maybe she sensed that we were near the state prison) and took off toward a small building. Scott hollered at me and took off after her. I shouted "don't chase her!" so he stopped, went back to the car to shut the door so the other two hooligans wouldn't get out, and I followed Minx around the building for two laps before Scott came back and went the other way and caught her.

I drove as far as Van Horn, Texas and we switched again so I could take out my contacts and try to sleep. I had pulled the down comforter out of the trailer and tried to fashion a bed in the back half of the car, taking care not to put my feet in the litter box. By this time Minx had decided that it was well past everyone's bedtimes (something she's always kept track of at home) and became very agitated. It was pretty hard for me to sleep on an incline that was much less than comfortable, and it didn't help that Maui wanted to snuggle, Chou kept standing on my chest to look out the window, and Minx was still yowling.

Around 6:45am (now Friday morning) we stopped to rest at a lonely gas station in the middle of nowhere. We slept for two hours after I sprayed more Feliway (a cat pheromone that has a calming effect) in the back of the car and Minx calmed down and went to sleep,

At 8:45am we got back on the road, Scott still driving, and I managed to sleep for another two and a half hours. We stopped for brunch at a McDonalds, had salad and continued on our way. Side note: my two cheeseburgers-without-the-burger had meat in them the first time around, and my Bacon-Ranch-Chicken-Salad-without-the-chicken-but-with-the-imitation-bacon-bits-that-were-NOT-imitation-bacon-bits had to be dismantled to get all the icky bacon off it.

We had discussed taking Highway 290 to bypass San Antonio, since Highway 10 takes a pretty deep turn to the south before heading back up to Houston. At the appropriate junction we headed off onto a beautiful country highway 290. I don't know if it was any faster overall, we ran into traffic in several small towns and some construction. We made it into Austin and through and then into Houston and got back on the 10.

After hour upon hour of driving and short naps, we decided to spend the night somewhere where we could all stretch out. My legs were feeling crampish and Maui was acting lethargic, not wanting to eat or drink in the car.

5 attempts at motels that apparently don't take pets, and we finally found a La Quinta in Sulpher, Louisiana. Everyone is resting and comfy and we're going to spend a relaxing evening. We only have 18 hours left to Key West of driving time

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Road Trip: Day Four

Corona CA to Scottsdale AZ

Scott and I both woke up at about 9am and went outside to grab some stuff from the trailer. Inside Audrey was making breakfast – eggs, bacon, and cinnamon bread from a farmers market near her work. We enjoyed breakfast and fresh coffee around the table with Audrey and Crit, sharing stories about funny things we had said lately and were proud of. Crit left for work, we got ready for the day and then talked with Audrey for a bit while I trimmed Maui and Chou's claws.

I had decided it would be a fabulous idea to get a baby-gate to put behind the front seats in hopes that the cats would stay in the back half of the car unless we allowed them to join us up front. From Audrey's house we stopped at WalMart to get said gate, and were on our way at about 2pm.

I was the pilot for the day, so my wonderful co-pilot attempted baby-gate installation. Success! For all of about 10 minutes and then Chou just wriggled underneath it and was in Scott's lap again.

Mapquest said that Corona to Scottsdale should take about 6 and a half hours again, but by now we had learned that we were running about an additional hour for every Mapquest 3 to 4 hours, so did not expect to arrive in Scottsdale until 10pm or even a little later.

We filled up on gas in Indio, and again in Blythe at the recommendation of my dad. Gas was $2.88 in Indio, and $3.27 in Blythe. Just past Blythe is the Arizona border and the next gas station advertised $2.43.

We saw many beautiful and interesting sites, ranging from the sunset and a first lone cactus, to an exit sign that said "State Prison next exit. Do not pick up hitchhikers."

Once in the Phoenix metro area, we took the 101 loop north and found our motel, rolling in at about 9:30pm. We had chosen this motel from the AAA "Traveling with Your Pet" handbook and had made reservations about 12 hours previous. We checked in, hauled animals, gear, and animal's gear up to the second floor, and enjoyed a two-hour Mythbusters Movie Myths episode before heading for bed.

Road Trip: Day Three

Woodside CA to Corona CA

Scott again woke up before me, at about 9am, and again let me sleep, but this time only until 10am. Gary was getting ready to go to work and Carla suggested she take us to breakfast. We took some pictures outside the house, said goodbye to Gary, and headed down the hill into the township of Woodside.

We enjoyed a meal at Buck's Restaurant, convincing our server to allow us to order breakfast even though it was one minute past the 11am cutoff time. Carla and I both had the Woodsider Omelet, with Jack cheese, mushrooms, tomatoes, artichoke hearts, and topped with avocado. Scott had a Divine Omelet, which had meat and onions. Our meals were served with grilled red potatoes.

After breakfast Carla dropped us back at the house and we decided to take a nap before heading out. We slept a little longer than planned, but were on the road by about 4pm.

Central California is a big place. Mapquest estimated our journey should take about six and a half hours, so we hoped to arrive around 11pm or 12 at the latest. We headed out with Scott driving and made our way onto I-5 South. Our plan was to take I-5 down over the grapevine into Los Angeles, but had noticed several signs for at least 100 miles notifying us that I-5 was closed at Highway 138.

Since the map and directions we were working with didn't say anything about 138, or where it is in relation to our plans, we continued on hoping that we would magically figure things out. Just south of 99 joining I-5, we stopped for a little bit of Taco Bell at a Travel America, and were informed by a helpful truck driver that 138 was totally stopped up and no one was going anywhere. We purchased a California map and after talking with a different Mr. Helpful Truck Driver, decided to go ahead on I-5 to 138, and then take 14 down in to the basin.

Once on 138 it was clear that whatever the problem had been there, it was gone now and we were nearly alone on the way over to 14. Coming down the mountain into L.A., there was a close call for everyone on the road with a large amount of scrap metal spread all over the freeway.

We finally made it back to I-5 below the wildfires that had caused the original detour, and caught 210 to 57 to 71 into Corona, with Minx asleep on the dashboard. We pulled up to Audrey & Crit's house around 1:30am. Cats and accoutrements were hauled in and everyone went to bed, Chou under the covers.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Road Trip: Day Two

Yuba City CA to Woodside CA

Scott was up by 9am and smartly let me sleep in until about 11am. While waiting for me to finish my beauty sleep, he and Carrie went to Starbucks in town.

Once I awoke, I made my way into the kitchen to find that Grandpa Lysinger had already been giving Scott the Spanish Inquisition (except I think Scott may have expected it a little bit) which I'm pretty sure he passed, considering that when we left, Grandpa told me that I'd "better hold on to this one". Smart Grandpa.

We prepared ourselves for the day and then went out for lunch with Dixie and Grandpa to a great chinese place in town, enjoyed crispy tofu, egg fu yung, vegetable chow mein and vegetable fried rice. Very tasty.

After lunch we decided to let the cats stretch their legs a bit since they had slept in the car (IN THE SHADE WITH WINDOWS DOWN, DON'T FREAK OUT). We put them each in a harness and on a leash, which lasted for several hours with Chou and Maui, and about 10 minutes with Minx. At the earliest opportunity she crawled under the Uhaul and wriggled out of the harness. That is when I told her that if she wouldn't wear the harness, she goes in the crate. She doesn't seem to object to the crate too much.

When the yard boy was ready to mow the front lawn we retired to the back porch, where Maui and Minx chilled in the crate in the shade and Chou got out of his harness and roamed free for an hour or so. He investigated both ends of the porch but pretty much just laid happily on the cool concrete.

Carrie arrived home from school around 5:15, I opened my birthday cards and presents, and we got on the road after taking the obligatory group pictures.

We traveled west on 99 to I-5 and then took 80 into and through San Fransisco. We paid $5 to go over the bay bridge (great nightime pics) and then hit 101 towards San Jose.

We arrived at Gary & Carla Cumpston's house around 9:45pm and got the cats settled into our room. We took a tour of the home, which has recently been totally overhauled and remodled from pseudo-internment-camp to a lovely quintessential California hills home. There is even a beautiful view of the valley.

Once Gary arrived from the airport, we sat down to a great meal outside by candlelight of salsa/sour cream pasta and awesome salad.

Hit the hay around 11:30pm and called it a night. Until there was meowing and running on the windows courtesy of Minx, but she chilled out around 1am.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Road Trip: Day One

Vancouver WA to Yuba City CA

We finally left Vancouver with Scott driving around 4pm on Sunday (10th) and our first stop was on the side of SR 500 to make sure that Scott's wallet was indeed in his backpack and not on the bakers rack at home. After the successful discovery of the wallet IN the backpack, we continued on to I-5 and into Portland, where we stopped at a gas station off Broadway to fill up on gas and meet Bob and Chelsea to say goodbye (and collect a swimsuit I had left at Bob's).

Rush hour traffic in the south end of Portland was avoided for the most part, and we made it to Riddle by about 8pm. We stopped for a fill up (courtesy of the $100 Chevron card given by my co-workers) and a snack at McDonalds, and continued on into California with me driving.

Traveling with three cats has been easier than expected, once they realized the door to the crate was open, Chou came right out and after checking out the entire car, decided my lap was the best place to be. Maui came out and also decided my lap was the place to be (thankfully Scott was still driving). Once Minx came out, she decided the best spot for her was on the floor on the drivers side under Scott's legs. So far she has not gotten under the pedals, but we plan to discourage this as her main hang-out.

Going through the Siskyous our attention was drawn to a truck in the fast lane which notified us with useful hand gestures that the door on the Uhaul was open. Thankfully nothing had come out, we secured the padlock and carried on.

I got tired and needed to take out my contacts, so we took advantage of another Chevron to fill up again and switch drivers.

Also about this time we kicked all the cats into the back where Chou made himself comfy in the front of the crate, Maui huddled up in the back of the crate, and Minx had the whole kitty bed to herself.

Scott was good for another couple hours and then I took over so he could nap for about an hour.

The final switch was around 2:15am and at 2:34am we missed the exit to take Highway 20 towards Yuba City. Thankfully there is another exit not far down the road and our turnaround only took a couple of minutes.

We rolled into Yuba City at about 3:45 in the morning. We greeted Carrie and Dixie briefly, parked the car where it would be in the shade all morning, and opened the windows.

We enjoyed the best night of sleep either of us have had in several weeks, thanks to a feather bed on top of the air mattress.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

To Me...

It's been my 30th birthday for about 45 minutes. My kitties are snuggled nearby and I made some progress packing tonight.

Suddenly I am stressing about my decision. Not questioning it, but still a bit scared.