A Mountain Drive

I took two of the kids for a drive through our local mountains yesterday.  It was so nice to be out of the house and experience some nature for a couple of hours. This was also the first time I had driven my new car through such twists and turns and steep inclines-I knew it would give me the opportunity to brush up on my mountain driving skills.  This car has that new fangled shifter which tilts sideways in order to allow you the lower gears.  It makes me nervous so I figured I best get used to it.

Glendora Mountain Road is off to the left of the main road that takes you up to Mt. Baldy.  Sometimes it’s closed if there has been gravel in the road or if the snow fall is too heavy.  We were in luck as the road was wide open and didn’t seem to have much traffic.

It has been several years since I’ve driven on this road and I didn’t recall it being so narrow but, if you keep your eye on the road and follow the speed limit, it’s a fun adventure with great views of the San Gabriel Valley.   There are many hairpin turns and blind turns, as well.  I was so thankful that I didn’t have anyone following me because they’d surely be frustrated at my low speeds.  I’ve been trying to determine the actual speed limit through the mountain road-it seems that it might be 40mph which, in my opinion, is far too fast with as many blind turns as we encountered.  This makes it too easy to take out a person on a bike because there isn’t even a lane divider for the majority of the road.  I erred on the side of caution (maybe too much so) and averaged about 20mph.

We all remarked about how Elijah probably wouldn’t enjoy this many turns and figured he’d comment on all the butt pucker twists throughout the 20 plus miles of mountain road.  He was alright on our trip to Big Bear, but this road was far more adventurous.  If I put more research into it, I’d like to make a day of hiking somewhere out there.  It’s important to be cautious, however, as there’s spotty to no cell service.

I enjoy my time with these kids.  They’re growing up too fast.

It took us about two hours from first heading out until we arrived home.  And we made it out alive!  I have to say, I was impressed with how well my car did on the drive, too.







Get out and explore!

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A Quick Trip

I went to Vegas with the intention of hanging out in the casino with my husband, drink free.

I arrived, stitches hot from sitting on them for the entire ride, minus one quick trip to the only working rest stop along the way.  I was sore and in need of a painkiller-it was Tuesday and I’d only just had the surgery on Friday.

We got checked in, got up to our room, Robert jumped in the shower, and as I sat on the bed looking forward to a couple of days of relaxation-my neighbor called to tell me that our oldest son left the men’s home already after staying less than 24 hrs.  That kid knows how to shit all over everything.  My relief and lightheartedness was replaced with dread.  He was supposed to be in that home for a year-they’d let him live there as long as he didn’t use drugs.  He couldn’t manage one full day.

Instead of spending time visiting with each other and having a calm two days together, we focused on the fact that he’s forced our hand.  No more coming home for showers or food, no more loading up his phone with new music or checking his social media.  And definitely no more hanging out next door in the garage where the police have been closely watching for months in order to gather enough information to raid it.

I had also planned to stay on my diet while in Vegas.

This was definitely not on my low carb diet.

At least not the hash browns and pancakes!  I tried.

That evening we stayed down in the casino until late.  We played blackjack until our luck and my wine ran out.

The next day we spent our time at the nearby outlets and walked a few laps and bickered back and forth.  The stress of having an addict for a child dominates every aspect of your life if you let it.  We’re still grappling with it-I don’t want our limited time together to be spent arguing over things of which we have no control.  It’s not our fault-we didn’t cause this.

I’ve been trying to get him on this low carb diet with me.  It’s difficult for a truck driver to follow any sort of healthy diet but he does have a refrigerator, and once he cleans out the ice cream, he’ll have room for bacon and pepperoni.  I think he thinks I’m being pushy.  I’m really not trying to be, but as (almost) every wife wants their husband to be healthy,  I do try to give gentle nudges.  He’d probably argue that they’re more like karate kicks to the groin but…I’m still me.  I’m not the nicest, I suppose.  I blame it on my humor-I have inherited too much of my dad’s sharp tongue.

We enjoyed looking at things we don’t normally.  They have a store there, Le Creuset, which happens to be an outlet, as well.  And while their entire store was 40% off,  I can’t see myself ever spending over $300 on a cast iron pot.  They were gorgeous and we had fun imagining our new kitchen full of these fancy items, and Robert loved teasing me about leaving rotten potatoes in them to sit outside until he dumped them for me (yes, I’ve done that more than I care to admit!) retching the entire time-he has a delicate stomach.

The colors were rich and I fell in love with the plum-colored collection they had.  We discussed which color pepper mill we’d want and I told him it was up to him;  I’m not the one that peppers everything.  He’ll pepper food before he even tastes it-salt, too, but mainly pepper.  He finds it strange that I don’t.  It was nice to discuss housewares and idly pass the time.  I miss him.

I liked these:

After the iHop breakfast that morning hit my stomach like a ton of bricks,  I found myself hurrying to the restroom on more than one occasion and I have to ask-why can’t women manage to flush a toilet?  I don’t understand it!  Is it laziness, are they in so much of a hurry that they can’t possibly spare 30 seconds to step on a lever?  These thoughts were going through my head as I tried to maneuver myself onto the seat without letting my stitches actually touch.  That’s more difficult than it ought to be but considering the location, it’s my reality.  Forget a toilet seat cover-I tried and spent too long trying to carefully remove wet tissue from my stitches when they became wet after flushing.

I lead an interesting life.

We made our way over to In-N-Out and Robert easily talked me into trying a lettuce wrapped 4×4.  It’s four juicy beef patties with four slices of cheese wrapped in iceberg lettuce.  Of course,  we made it a combo that came with fries so it completely rendered the low carb burger useless, albeit, monstrously tasty!

I inhaled my burger and Robert kindly offered to eat my fries for me.  I declined his offer.

We drove around the area imagining living in the newly built gated communities.  I joked that we could move and not tell our oldest.

I left the next day and the trip home took an hour longer than usual because of an accident.  I played cat and mouse with a Ram for many miles because he cut me off and while his big truck has a bigger engine,  my lighter badass car can quickly overtake him.  I took every opportunity to pass him.  Jerk.  I have to find ways to keep myself entertained because the drive along the 15 freeway is ugly and I can only shift my leg around so many ways to avoid sitting on my healing leg.

The kid has court tomorrow.  We’ll see if he goes and if he does, if anything happens.  I’m doubtful on the latter.

 

A midday hike to clear my head

I’m getting increasingly stressed about the idea of my husband switching jobs-the company he is currently with is making certain changes which are not conducive to a good working environment and so he is looking at his options.  This means we will no longer have the same insurance and we’ll most likely take a financial hit.  He’s in the trucking industry and is away for long stretches of time.  While he’s been away, two of the kids have moved out, the other three are rapidly moving closer to adulthood, and his own health has declined.  I’d love to see him find employment that has him home in the evenings or at the very least, the weekends.  We all miss him and want him to be healthy and happy.

In order for him to possibly have a local job, he would most likely be forced to take a serious pay cut which would mean we would have to pick up the slack somewhere…this means me.  Somehow, I need to make some money.  I haven’t worked since 2010 when I was a home health aide.  Before that, I taught for a year at a private school, was a substitute teacher, and was in college completing my degree in English.  Honestly, I have no clue what I would even be good at, let alone where to begin my search.  I would absolutely love to work from home but is there even such a thing anymore?  I know people somehow manage to earn money off of their blogging and various other social media ventures but I’m completely out of my element in that area.  How exactly does one do that?

So here I am-what does an unemployed 42 year old mother of five kids do when faced with the challenge of finding supplemental income?

I grabbed my daughter and we went for a hike yesterday.  I needed to get some nature in my lungs, be off of my bed, outside of my house, away from the noise in my head.  I needed some pine trees, wildflowers, and bugs crawling in my socks-some sweat, slippery dirt, and climbing.  I also realized quickly just how out of shape I’d gotten.


 

About halfway up, I realized I had worn the wrong shoes.  Converse sneakers do not have the tread needed to navigate through the slippery surfaces and I easily envisioned myself landing with my feet over my head and having to be helicoptered out of there. We’d be easy to find between my heavy breathing and Hannah’s lime green socks.

We spotted several lizards that seemed to be trying to race us down the hill and only encountered a handful of people, which was very nice.  There was quite a collection of poops along the trail and I’m sure at least one was from the mountain lion the sign at the gate warned us about.

The sun felt good on my bare arms and the breeze helped relax me somewhat.  Bonding with my girl was a great escape-exactly what I needed.  She’ll be twelve in August and I relish the time we spend together while I’m still in her good favor;  before I turn into the woman that no longer knows anything.

As for extra money and me gaining employment, who knows, I don’t know what I’m qualified to do other than possibly work at Taco Bell.  What does a B.A. in English get you nowadays other than snickers and giggles from engineers?

Zombies, Beatles, and Monster Trucks

I decided I needed a break from the constant chaos in which I was living-my husband was in Las Vegas for two weeks due to his work with a show in town so it provided the perfect opportunity for an escape.  I could retreat from the madness and enjoy some one on one time with the man I rarely see, whom I love, and enjoy laughing with.  And…Vegas!

Alright, I’m not really a Vegas type person-I don’t enjoy boisterous crowds, random people yanking me over to their kiosks and slathering bee sludge on my face to “help reduce wrinkles,” or intoxicated individuals arguing with police about how they are not actually drunk. No, I much prefer quiet places with the least amount of interaction with strangers as possible-this is why we usually stay at a casino in Jean, Nevada.  It mostly hosts an older crowd who are fairly sedate, a few buses of Asian tourists, and a truck driver here and there.  We liked it much better before it was bought by another company who removed the buffet and replaced it with a Denny’s…I’m not sure whose bright idea that was.

We looked into some shows that sounded interesting and the first one we chose was Zombie Burlesque.  What a cute show, I thoroughly enjoyed it!  The performers were quite talented and the theater was small enough to make it possible for everyone to have a great view.  I would have enjoyed it even more if I wasn’t tense due to the fact that there is audience participation.  You see, I’m an observer, not a participator;  I would have been mortified had I been pulled out of the audience to go on stage.  But I did laugh and enjoy myself-thank you, Zombies!


We drove around the strip and the surrounding areas and I was able to see what they don’t advertise about Las Vegas;  the homeless population.  People pushing their belongings in shopping carts,  sleeping on the sidewalks or in parking lots,  talking to themselves as they cross the street.

Zak Bagans of Ghost Adventures has a museum in Vegas and we were hoping to check it out but, unfortunately, it hasn’t opened yet.  I was looking forward to seeing his creepy collection of haunted artifacts! Maybe next time.


Robert is a huge Beatles fan so after a little nudging from him I relented and agreed to watch Beatleshow Orchestra.  I was impressed by their musical talent and their costumes, as was the young boy who sat next to me.  During each song he yelled, “Beatles, WooWoo!”  After the show, the man who played John Lennon saw the young boy and said, “There’s my favorite fan!” and motioned for him to come over and stand with the guys so his mother could take a picture.  I doubt that boy will ever forget it.


Our final show of my stay in Las Vegas was the Monster Jam Finals.  I’d never been to any sort of car or truck show so I was interested.  Sam Boyd Stadium was packed with fans who each had their favorite Monster Truck.  Little kids had their pictures taken next to as many vehicles on display as possible.  It was quite the family affair.

I ended up with a lot more pictures of the Monster Trucks than I had anticipated-I enjoyed watching them flip their trucks as the crowd went crazy and you can certainly tell that quite a bit of practice goes into performing these tricks.

 

It was quite a show!

 

I was able to stay with Robert and visit for about a week and we both needed the down time.  It was nice to relax and spend time together in person since the majority of our communication is via text or phone calls.  That gets very old.

Little did I know just how much I’d need this break until I got home and the shit really hit the fan.

Stay tuned.

The art of traveling solo and being a scaredy-cat

I love traveling on my own-with my husband available via text so that I can seek advice or share a meltdown when the mood strikes.

As a child, my family and I would take summer vacations through various parts of the U.S. At the time, my parents were both teachers so that meant summers were wide open.  We’d pack up the car (eventually upgrading to a van whose seat would transform into a bed with the push of a button) and hit the road for two incredibly long weeks.  While the trips themselves should have been fun, my dad’s grouchy demeanor invariably ruined any pleasure I might have derived from being away from home.  To this day, my mom insists I slept for the entire length of our vacations-though slightly exaggerated, she’s correct.  What is there to do cooped up with your bratty younger brother on the road for a ten-hour driving span?  I would read my books until I became car sick and then go to sleep.  They would wake me up to stand outside next to every new state sign we encountered.  I can’t find one picture where I’m smiling next to a Welcome to New Mexico, or any other state sign, for that matter…Torture, I tell you.

As an adult, I’m free to travel however I like;  I can sleep the entire flight if I so choose.

I fly standby, a courtesy extended to my from the wife of guy with whom my husband went to high school.  When I fly through her airline, I present myself as her guest (though I do purchase tickets) and must behave and dress appropriately.  This isn’t a stretch.  I’m very appreciative of her as this allows me travel opportunities I wouldn’t otherwise have due to money constraints.

Generally, my flights are quite early, with my arrival at the airport usually one and a half hours prior to boarding. My trip to Great Lakes had me at the airport at 5:20.  I haven’t had any issues with TSA being backlogged this early in the morning and I’m always sure to read the guidelines before packing to ensure I’m aware of any changes.  Aside from an occasional grumpy agent, I’ve never had any problems.  I do feel a bit exposed when going through the scanner (I don’t know if we have upgraded to the naked scanners yet *gasp*) and sometimes I’m pulled aside so they can ask me if I have any implanted devices…strange, because I don’t and I often wonder what in the world they could possibly see on my hip or knee that makes them believe I might have a screw or something in there.  I’m not the bionic woman and all my parts are the same I’ve had since birth, but I digress.  In summary, treat the TSA agents respectfully and pack your bags according to guidelines and you should be fine.

After passing through security and gathering my belongings, as well as putting my shoes back on, I recheck my boarding pass to make sure I’m heading in the right direction.  I proceed to the counter where I check in so that they know I’m flying standby.  I do believe this next part is very important:  be very polite, smile at the attendant, and thank them for helping you.  It will behoove you to make eye contact with them as well, letting them know that you are paying attention to names being called and that you do really want this flight!  You are at their mercy-if you are behaving rudely and talking loudly on your cell phone, don’t expect any favors.  You might just be sitting for the next couple of flights waiting for one to become available.

Flying to Chicago O’Hare was easy-I caught the first flight after checking my bag due to a full flight, and I was on my way.  I sat in between a man and a woman who seemed to know each other, as they chit chatted a couple of times before take off.  I asked them if they would like to sit next to each other but they declined saying that they chose the seating this way because they argue.  Interesting.  He slept most of the way while she watched a reality show about certain housewives.  That was great until she started crying and wiping her dripping nose on the inside of her t-shirt.  I can understand the seating arrangements now.

While the flight to Chicago was mostly uneventful, trying to maneuver myself out of the airport was another story.  O’Hare is massive, if you’ve never been. There were signs directing me to areas in which I’m unfamiliar so just about none of it made sense except for Baggage Claim. I picked up my carry-on without any problems, thankfully.  My next mission was to find where I was supposed to go in order to get an Uber to my hotel.  Not so easy for me and this is when my freak out occurred via text with my husband. It didn’t help that I didn’t know what level I was on-I swear there were no signs that I saw to indicate that to me.  I started getting overwhelmed and decided it was best if I found an outlet somewhere that I could charge my phone and gather my wits.  I think I sat on the floor by the elevator for about thirty minutes before I calmed myself down enough (and got enough iPhone juice) to brave the crowds to find where I needed to be.

I went downstairs and saw a sign that said you can catch your Uber on the upper level.  I then went back upstairs and saw the same sign. Where the hell is the upper level?? I asked one of the gentlemen working for an airline who was standing around, seemingly waiting for me to ask him a question. I asked him nicely where the upper level is so that I can grab an Uber.  He looked irritated by the mere question and responded, “I don’t even know where you’re trying to go!”  I’m not sure what difference that would have made so I told him the signs all say to go to the upper level (there were several upper levels) but I was confused about where to go.  Frustration!  He told me that no, I in fact, needed the lower level to get what I was looking for and after I decided he was a jerk, I also decided that he didn’t know what he was talking about.  I stood looking at the map of this huge airport while on the verge of tears because I was never going to find an Uber, I was never going to get to the hotel, and I was going to turn into Tom Hanks and live in the airport forever!  As I was about to give up all hope and cry, I saw a TSA agent walking towards the door and I asked her where to go in order to get the heck out of here and she said, “Right outside this door.”  Thank God.  I walked a little ways and saw signs directing people where to wait for an Uber or Lyft and let out a big sigh.  Finally.  And you can bet I was cursing that other jerky guy under my breath as I made my way over to the pick-up area.

I used the Uber app to request a driver-this was my first time using it on my own so I didn’t really know what I was doing.  Before I left home, I was sure to put my credit card info on file so that I didn’t have to mess with it later.  You never know what kind of cell service you’ll have at any given moment while traveling so don’t count on being able to download anything.  Do it when you have wi-fi.

I waited for my ride-he was quick, and I was thankful.  We had about a forty-five minute drive so we had a nice conversation where he told me about his grandkids and various other tidbits about his life.  I enjoy times like these;  I can relax a little and learn some interesting facts about others.  It reminds me that people can be delightful.

He dropped me off at my hotel, safe and sound, and I was beyond relieved.  It had been a long day, I didn’t know what to expect in Chicago other than what I’d heard in the news, and I just wanted to lounge on my bed and watch some crappy tv for a bit.

I decided that before I got too comfortable, however,  I should find somewhere to get dinner.  I went to the front desk and asked the attendant if she knew of a liquor store nearby. Let’s be real, I cared about having a drink more than food and besides, liquor stores have chips and I’d be happy with that.  She directed me to the Subway next door which also had a gas station convenience store next to that.  Woohoo!  Back to my room I went carrying a foot-long steak and cheese sub and a bag with two Lime-A-Rita’s.

That’s what I call the perfect ending to a day of traveling.

subwaysandwich

Let’s recap the fine art of flying solo on standby:

  • Get to the airport at least an hour prior to boarding, if not more, to get through security.
  • Do not forget your items on the conveyor belt.
  • Check in at the counter to ensure they are aware you are flying standby.
  • Be courteous; smile, answer politely.
  • Don’t be a jerk and talk on your cell phone while waiting. No one wants to hear you.
  • Make eye contact (but don’t stare like you’re a creeper) occasionally while waiting.
  • If they tell you your bag will need to be checked, be agreeable.  It’ll be there when you arrive.
  • Take your keys out of your checked bag before hand it over, as well as your cell phone. Trust me.
  • Don’t talk while the flight attendants are giving flight instructions; don’t be rude.
  • Remember your manners when the attendants pass out drinks.
  • Do not get drunk on a plane. Sorry, Dierks.
  • Politely excuse yourself if you need to get by the person seated next to you in order to find the restroom.
  • Avoid snoring if you fall asleep. For the love of God, please.
  • After exiting the plane, get your checked baggage.
  • Look for signs directing you to your desired location.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask someone who works at the airport if you have any questions.
  • Wait for your ride in the designated areas to avoid getting yelled at.
  • Remember to be polite.
  • If you enjoyed your ride and get to your desired area without bodily injury, leave good feedback.
  • Above all else, enjoy yourself and be safe.

packingchicago

 

 

Would you, could you, live on a boat?

I read a short article this morning about a couple that quit their jobs, sold their belongings, and bought a boat upon which to live.  The idea intrigues me.

So I started thinking more about the idea of cutting out some of life’s clutter-no house payment (I don’t own a house so that’s one less worry), no car payments (well, we only have a motorcycle payment), no utilities…the list goes on, of course, but you get the idea. You live on your boat, your only mode of transportation unless you take a taxi, subway, or train while you’re docked and really just…live.

But as I put more thought into the notion, I start feeling a little claustrophobic.  That’s a lot of ocean out there.  What does one do on a boat all day, every day?  I’d bring a good selection of books that I’ve had sitting around that I’ve started but not finished:

  •  The Space Trilogy  C.S. Lewis (I started this on a plane to Connecticut-Excellent!)
  • Very Bad Men and The Last Dead Girl  Harry Dolan (I read his first book, Bad Things Happen, in about a week.  I enjoy his style;  he avoids purple prose which I detest-I skip right over that, and he’s an excellent writer)
  • The last four Sookie Stackhouse novels  Charlaine Harris (I started Dead in the Family right before my dad died so I took a hiatus from the series.  I devoured the first nine books so I’m sure I would do the same with the ones I have left)
  • The Dark Tower series Stephen King (I don’t know how many times I’ve started and stopped The Gunslinger. If I lived on a boat, I could finish these)

That’s just a little glimpse into my world of reading but what would I do after I finished all of my books-aside from buying more?  What do I do with no internet?  No, perish the though, I can’t do it!  Living simply is one thing, but living on a boat out in the middle of a bunch of blue is just not for me.  I could lounge around on deck during the day and perfect my tan having absolutely zero tan lines and have Robert do all the work involved with sailing.  Of course, I could also swim in all of those beautifully clear waters that we don’t have off the west coast. Oh, but there’s that issue of hungry sharks and stinging jellyfish to contend with. I’m a pretty good swimmer but not good enough to out swim a shark that thinks I’m the proper size for a midday snack. No thanks.

And I know myself pretty well.  I’d be bored!

I have a better idea.  Since I’m a landlubber anyway, I think it would be a better fit for me to live in a truck.  You know, of the big rig variety.

I’ve had a little taste of life in a big rig.  I’ve traveled with Robert for two weeks at a time here and there and for the most part, I enjoyed it.  The quarters are more cramped than on a boat, I imagine, but it’s totally doable. Robert does it all the time.

I enjoy spending time with my husband and having the opportunity to have uninterrupted conversations.  We have talk for hours and hours as we roll down the highways from state to state.  Unlike being out on the water in the middle of nowhere, I know that we can stop when needed and get out to stretch. Living on a boat sounds less and less appealing as I dissect the idea and compare it to living in a truck. While there would be no nude tanning, there would also be the absence of sharks and jellyfish!  Bonus!

I can’t recall the first trip I took with Robert but I do remember winter 2014 when I flew out to Hartford, Connecticut to stay with him for a week (which turned into two weeks due to blizzard conditions).  This was the longest I had spent in the air and I was able to read all of Brave New World.  No, I didn’t read it in high school like everybody else.

After landing in Hartford, I had to take my first taxi ride.  The airport had a window at the bottom of the stairs that would set me up with one.  Thank goodness, too, because this was all foreign to me. I arrived at the hotel safe and sound where Robert was able to meet me outside and pay the driver.  Scary thoughts kept creeping in my head.  What happens if he isn’t outside when we arrive-I have NO money to pay this guy.  He’s going to yell at me. That was a really long flight and I can’t take the yelling.  I’ll be stranded in Connecticut forever!

Sometimes my imagination gets away from me.

Anyhow, what I’m trying to tell you is that I made it-the girl who used to be afraid to fly and do things alone, like getting a taxi.

We had some down time before we needed to hit the road and drive so we were able to take a tour of Mark Twain’s house.  Gorgeous! I was so impressed but also a bit disappointed that we weren’t allowed to take pictures inside.  Honestly, I probably remember it a little better since I wasn’t distracted with a camera or phone.  I was able to take my time and sort of sink my teeth into all of the little details.  Mark Twain was one interesting character, I must say.Mark Twain house

Robert Mark Twain

After getting a coffee from the Dunkin’ Donuts down the street, it was time to head back to the hotel. Just an observation-California has a Starbucks on almost every street corner but on the East Coast, you’ll find Dunkin’ Donuts instead.  Honestly, I much prefer their coffee over Starbucks, anyway.  Not that my opinion matters…

The next day, we were able to watch the Nuclear Cowboyz-amazing stunt performers!  Robert was driving their equipment to and fro which made it possible for us to be dazzled by their performance.

nuclear cowboyz

After enjoying such a great show, I was thirsty, of course, so we found a restaurant that had delicious libations. A Jayne Mansfield, for example.

courtney bar

I may have had two of those…that night is a little fuzzy.

After a good night’s sleep, it was time for us to head out and do some driving.  I say ‘us’ like I’m actually participating in said activity.  No, in fact, I do not know how to drive one of those behemoth trucks, nor do I care to learn.  While not nearly as scary as the sharks and jellyfish I would most certainly encounter while living on a boat, I have a healthy fear of giant vehicles.  They could squish me like a bug without even trying.

Did I mention the cramped quarters there are inside a truck?

little truck spot

Here I am, sitting on the floor.  There’s no seat!  Thankfully, this was a loaner truck just to do some business in town.  I look thrilled, right? Actually, I found it quite humorous.

Greenwich was just lovely, all frozen and sleepy like.

Greenwich, ct

1538937_10151919159117634_1540333536_nRobert took care of business so we were able to get back into his regular sized truck where I actually had a seat and there were beds in the back. Much more comfortable.  If you drive for any distance in a truck, you’ll notice that after, say, two cups of coffee, a familiar urge will come over you when you’re in the middle of New Jersey, and after your husband says “No, there aren’t any truck stops around,” you have to get creative. Let me tell you what to do:

  • Save your Big Gulp cups!
  • Grab extra napkins at all the places you eat
  • Practice your balance before you go on a road trip

I’ll explain.  The Big Gulp cups (or any large-sized soft drink cup, for that matter) are your porta potties.  You will need the napkins for obvious reasons.  Hopefully you have good balance already because you will inevitably need your porta potty while the truck is in motion. Yes, if you are a woman, you will be relieving yourself standing up, into a soft drink cup, while the truck is swaying side to side down the road.  You’ll also want to close the curtain to retain a little bit of modesty. Have those napkins handy, girls, because you don’t want to have to reach and then drop your cup on the floor.  I imagine your husband would not be thrilled with you.

Now, if you’re like me, you say “Here you go” as you hand your giant cup full of pee to your husband to put in the cup holder while you get everything zipped up. If you’re especially fond of him, you’ll remind him in about an hour not to drink out of that cup. Did I mention that living in a truck (or boat) and sharing tight quarters will help you get to know your spouse?  

Really well.

What could be better than sharing all sorts of wonder with your love?graffiti

Ha! No, really, there are plenty of pretty spots in New Jersey, I just notice the not so pretty sometimes.

Can you sail your boat through here?

overpass

We encountered some extreme weather which you would definitely find while traveling by boat. But while things may have gotten a bit hairy a time or two, I never had to worry about drowning or all of my books getting wet.

Unlike living on a boat, fishing is not mandatory living in a truck.  Most of our meals were truck stop fare.  If you were underweight before starting your new life aboard a moving house, you wouldn’t be for long.  I would start getting cranky because I couldn’t just eat when I wanted to, so at meal time, I’d go a little overboard.

I’m starting to see why Robert says I’m expensive to take on the road.

food

Did I mention extreme weather?  Now, this may be the norm for you where you live, but Southern California winters are very mild.  We rarely get rain and this past December there were days when I was wearing tank tops and flip-flops.  You can see where this might be out of the ordinary for me.

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There was a wee bit of snow in Pennsylvania…

The first time I had snow in my hair in probably 25 years.

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robert ice

Pennsylvania was just about frozen solid that trip.

pennsylvania

If you were on a boat, you wouldn’t be sailing along that frozen mess!

I’d say Robert drives an average of ten or so hours per day.  He has an app on his phone that he uses to find nearby truck stops and other places that we might be able to stop for the night.  Like boats, you can’t just stop anywhere you please-trucks aren’t allowed in all places as there are weight and height restrictions.  If you’re lucky, the truck stop will have wifi that you can purchase for $20 per day.  Otherwise, you won’t be watching that new episode of Orange is the New Black.

I truly enjoyed my two weeks on the road with Robert-it gave me a glimpse of what it’s like for him on a day-to-day basis, although it’s much lonelier out there for him as I’m not there to entertain him.  Like, when I pout because I didn’t get coffee first thing in the morning or because it has been four days since my last shower and I’m reminding him of that every ten minutes.

He misses out.

So, when I think to myself about selling everything and living a life of travel, I think about living in a truck rather than on a boat.  I think I would become a crazier version of myself if all I had was water to look at for hours on end, day after day.  I enjoy being able to walk on a surface that won’t make me seasick and not having to worry about being eaten by a great white.  It’s the simple things in life, right?

Like a porta potty…Oh look, here’s one now!

coffee potty

And then there was that time I did Roller Derby…

I was approaching my fortieth birthday when it occurred to me that I should do something badass.  I wasn’t going to go buy a sports car or anything crazy like that-but after going to watch the local roller derby team practice for an evening, that seemed to hold just the proper amount of tough girl I was looking for.  Camaraderie, cute socks, and little shorts combined with roller skates seemed like the perfect mix for me.  Why not?  Life is too short to not give it a whirl.

After talking it over with Robert, who was in full support, I decided to contact the team and see what I needed to do to get involved.  Just because I hadn’t been on skates in, oh, 30 years, was no reason to be nervous, right?  I got in touch with the captain and she encouraged me to come to the next practice and they would have loaner gear waiting for me so that I’d be able to try it out.  I was excited, to say the least!

I got myself psyched up and actually managed to make it to the next practice.  There’s quite a lot of safety equipment involved in roller derby-helmet, wrist guards, elbow pads, knee pads, skates…now that I’m actually considering the equipment, it’s not really all that much.  After being shown what goes where and how to put it on correctly, I was all set!  Ready, set, roll!

Alright, it wasn’t that easy.

I think I spent almost an hour holding onto the fence surrounding the rink (which was also used by roller hockey guys) just going around in an endless circle.  The fear of falling is something to behold.  Having your body supported by wheels that may or may not go in the direction you intend is just not normal-I felt like a baby giraffe, to say the least.

After getting warmed up Ha! I joined a small group of other derby noobs and we went over the basics of skating.  How to stop, how to start, how to fall.

How to fall.

Yes, one does a lot of falling in roller derby.

2 hours  and countless sore muscles later, practice was over. I was able to hobble over to my truck and drive directly to Walgreens to purchase some Epsom salt in hopes of soaking in a hot tub with a giant glass of wine to relieve some pain. It did help a little but I think the wine and Advil did the bulk of the work.

I was so excited at the prospect of becoming a derby girl who, after many encouraging words from Robert,  ran out and bought all my gear the next day.  I wasn’t too keen on having a white helmet, I’ll tell you, but I’m too impatient to wait for something to be ordered and I had practice the next day so I wanted to be prepared. I have a rather small head so finding the proper size is more challenging than I would have thought.  My brain is plenty big, it’s just compact.

Next practice, I was all geared up-skates laced, all my pads on, mouth guard, helmet.  I stood up off of the bench upon which I was seated and promptly fell on my ass.  Not a graceful fall, not just lightly, No, this baby giraffe fell with a giant thud, all spindly and no sign of femininity at all.

That stung.  I narrowly missed hitting the back of my neck on the metal bench as I went down and all of my weight landed on my left butt cheek.  I got myself up, looked around to see if anyone was laughing (no one was) and made myself go out onto the rink.  That wasn’t exactly the best start but, as I said, there is a lot of falling in roller derby, I was just ahead of the game.

I chit chatted with some of the girls and they were very encouraging. Just keep practicing and you’ll get better.  If you’re not falling, you’re not trying hard enough.

I made it through the practice with a very sore rump which I iced once I made it home.  Almost the entirety of my cheek was turning all shades of purple and it hurt to sit on it…Oh, the price we’ll pay to attain badassery.

Over the course of the next few weeks, I developed a love for knee-high socks.  Aside from the obvious cute factor, they served a purpose; the taller the sock, the more protection you would have on your bare legs since, unlike hockey, roller derby uses the least amount of clothing and padding as possible.

I looked in stores and those types weren’t the easiest to find.  There were a few in Hot Topic and Spencer’s, but I wanted variety.  After asking around at practice, I was told about Sock Dreams-an online superstore specializing in wondrous socks galore!  O, delight! I spent at least an hour perusing their website when I finally settled on about 4 pairs of socks suitable for a potential derby queen.


    

As you can see from the above picture, there is a lot of skin to scrape if you don’t wear tall socks.

A few words about duct tape:

It becomes a necessity it roller derby.  You need to keep the front part of your skates taped because through the course of a practice, you will find the leather (or synthetic, whichever the case may be) becoming worn from rough use.  When you fall to your knee or knees, you use the top of your skate to stop which rubs along the skating platform which, in our case, was a treated concrete.  If you don’t protect it with a few layers of duct tape, you will quickly ruin the boot of your skates.  Duct tape, like socks, also becomes part of the fashion.  There are many cute designs and patterns to choose from and a derby girl usually has a few different rolls to choose from.

Along with practices thrice weekly, there were also various meetings to attend as well as social gatherings and fundraising projects.  It quickly became all-consuming and I found I had time for little else.  I was just a wee bit obsessed.

Through the course of the practice filled summer, I gained about 15 pounds of muscle.  I didn’t realize it at first until I noticed that my jeans wouldn’t fit up over the bubble butt I had developed.  Ohhhh, I didn’t like that! I liked developing muscle but I definitely did not like seeing the scale go up.  It takes a lot of muscle to keep weary legs going for 2 hours of grueling practice in 100 degree heat but it wreaked havoc on my brain. Muscle is good. Gaining weight is bad.  Being strong is good.  Jeans not fitting is bad.  I didn’t deal with it as well as I should have and constantly complained about it to Robert who was always reassuring and encouraging me to continue. No, I wasn’t a tub of lard.  Keep skating.

He puts up with a lot, thankfully!

The summer went progressed;  I built a small wardrobe of long socks, glittery booty shorts, and rolls and rolls of duct tape…I also developed some friendships and an appreciation for group sports.  These were some dedicated and hard-working derby girls that put in many hours each week honing their skills. It’s hard to keep pushing through after falling countless times but they would just get up and get back at it.

It was finally time in the season where there was a bout to attend.  A “bout” is a roller derby game where two teams compete against each other in an allotted amount of time and the team with the highest score wins.  I was nowhere near close to being able to skate in a bout-definitely didn’t have the skills down, didn’t know the rules, so many rules!! But, I got to do the next best thing which was to show up and support the girls that were going to be competing.  I helped out at the door by having the spectators sign release waivers.  Yes, roller derby is a contact sport and it is not unheard of to have girls go flying into the sidelines and wipe out a row of people.  Nobody wants to get sued, so waivers are a must. I had to explain this to several people when they asked why they would need to sign anything.  Ever watch the movie Whip it? Then you know what I’m talking about-it’s pretty rough.bout 3

derby bout1

group derby

bout4

I continued with roller derby until about November when, at practice, I took a fall.  Now, I had become fairly accustomed to falling quite a bit, and while not fun, I knew it was inevitable.  But this time, as I landed on my derriere then somehow flipped forward and slid across the cement boob first, I realized that maybe this just wasn’t for me.  I had also managed to hit my head, which had begun throbbing fairly quickly so I sat myself on the bench for the rest of the practice.  Even though we wear helmets, a good thump still bounces the ‘ol noggin a bit.

I decided I’d take a break and as the holidays were rapidly approaching, I could use the down time.  It was also a break my almost 40-year-old body needed-I needed to spend some time visiting my chiropractor so that he might relieve some of the pain I had developed in my hip since that last fall.

All in all, I would do roller derby again;  it was an experience of a lifetime!  I also learned some new things:

1.  You don’t have to prove anything to anybody but yourself

2. I’m not a complete wimp; I should have already known this as I’ve birthed five big babies without an epidural

3. My husband is my biggest fan

4.  Turning 40 is pretty badass in itself

Thank you, Prison City Derby Dames!

sporty