Archive for ‘Road Trip!’

October 5, 2015

118 Days and Counting

by Janie Jones

I had a lovely weekend.

Leif “kidnapped” me on Friday night.  We went to the farm, where I could sleep in my real bed, albeit one covered in dog hair.  I woke up Saturday to a pack of slobbery dog kisses.  We had fried potatoes, farm fresh eggs and sausages for breakfast.  We packed a picnic and drove up the shore of Big Lake so we could admire the fall colors and the clear blue waves.  The afternoon was spent sitting on the beach.  It was around 50 F, and the day started sunny, but by the time we made the 2+ hour drive to our favorite spot some clouds had rolled in.  Between the lower temp, the clouds and a very, very brisk wind we saw few other beachcombers.  But we didn’t mind, we’d bundled up appropriately.

The dogs frolicked.  We cooked soup on the camp stove and watched the dogs dodge six foot waves.  We made hot cocoa and snuggled under a wool blanket until the dogs started shivering, because, really dog mom, why should we sit still under a warm blanket when there is so much glorious beach romping fun to be had?

At last we decided to pack up before it got dark and made our way home.  We were all tired, but it had been a wonderful day.  Somehow, I managed not to take a single photo, but you all can imagine how lovely it was, can’t you?

*Sigh*  Unfortunately, not every day can be a day at the beach.  It’s back to class.

Only 118 more days of class and I’m done spending my weekends studying.  Then perhaps I can enjoy more beach time….

September 4, 2015

The gamble

by Janie Jones

The house that I am renting a room in in Big City sits in a very non-homogenized neighborhood. It has a lot of wooded lots, no sidewalks and a lot of non-uniformity between it’s level of posh-ness.  Some people have shacks with little more than gravel drives while others have huge privately wooded lots and fancy houses and paved driveways.  It is definitely an area which used to be rural and grew up very eclectically, probably over a very long time, on a long street that connects two major thoroughfares.

Despite being a rather busy street, or perhaps because if it, it has very few other “connections” to the rest of the roads in town.  Normally to get to school I just turn left out of the driveway and zip down the street and make three turns and in less than 10 minutes I’m at one of the Stickittoyou U parking lots.  If I want to shop or visit friends I just turn right from the driveway and in 10 minutes or less I’m most of the other places I want to be, so the location is pretty convenient.  I also like it a lot because , even though it is smack dab in the middle of everywhere I want to be, it doesn’t feel downtown city like; there are no bus lines and no businesses anywhere near my place, so there is a much lower number of random people wandering about that don’t belong.

As I believe it is an old neighborhood which used to be unincorporated, the road itself is not in super great condition and, following the major flood from a few years ago, many of the drainage culverts and sewer pipes apparently needed fixing as well as the road itself.  So, starting early in August, Big City began road work on my street.

At first they placed big blinking “road closed to thru traffic” signs and some barricades on both major ends of the street as well as at the few connecting side streets but only totally blocked of the “right” end of the street by taking a huge hole of pavement out.  But that wasn’t so bad because there were a few side streets you could turn off on before the big hole in the road and detour around it.  However, yesterday they tore a big hole in the “left” end.  That’s the end I need to go down to get to school.

Now, it happens that there is only one other way to get out ‘to the left’ from my place to Stickittoyou U and it takes you through a very convoluted series of residential streets and adds, I kid you not, about 10 minutes to my drive depending on whether you make a couple of lights.  You can access this other route from three side streets off my own street, some are a little less twisty than others, but all of them must be turned on fairly well in advance of where I need to make my first turn off my own street.  Or I can go the other long way and go ‘to the right’ which also adds about 10 minutes to my drive.

Are you still with me?

So I tell you all these things so you will appreciate this.

I came home mid afternoon on Wednesday and turned onto my street from ‘the left,’ weaving around the “road closed to thru traffic” sign and barricades as usual.  But then, yesterday, at 6:45am I left for school.  It was very, very foggy and hard to see far in the dim morning light, especially the grey road, other cars, and street signs.  I get almost to my turn and see the traffic light is green through the fog, but I also see other lights on construction trucks.  I am trying to figure out what is going on in the fog, and preparing to weave around the blockades to make my turn when, HOLY CRAP!  THERE IS NOW A HUGE HOLE IN THE STREET!

Thankfully, I had slowed way down to turn, so I was able to stop before being close enough for the hole to eat my car, with me in it.  But then I sat there a few moments stunned, as a herd of construction trucks moved around me, wondering what the heck I was supposed to do.  I could possibly turn around, but now there were trucks and workers all over behind me.  Where had they come from?

Then as I was fixing to back up, a guy came over and moved some equipment so I could get on the shoulder between the curb and a big pile of the material they pulled out of the big freaking hole and he waved me through to make my turn.

I tell you I felt kinda stupid, but those crews, man, they move freaky fast.  Kudos to you for efficiency.  Dudes.  You are amazing.  I definitely applaud your speed and skill at moving massive amounts of earth and rebuilding in a matter of a few hours.  But.  It is a pickle for me, and all the other people living on the street and having to use it every day, never knowing what the situation will be.  What route should I use today?  Will I be able to get through?  Things change quickly from day to day even from one hour to the next.  It often happens I leave and they are tearing up a hole, but a few hours later it’s filled in and that section of road is drive-able again.  Which is what happened with the big freaking hole that almost ate me in the fog yesterday.  When I drove home expecting to have to take the long convoluted detour from ‘the left’ end the hole was already filled in.  Scary, amazing, wonderful and frustrating.

It kinda blows me away that the city and construction company aren’t in better communication with the residents on the street.  I mean, not knowing where a new hole in the road is going to pop up could be dangerous.  Especially on a low visibility day.  And you would think they wouldn’t want you in their way either.  Is it that expensive/time consuming/or otherwise difficult to put up one of those big signs that blinks messages and say :

Attention local traffic: new work ahead, no outlet to Main Street today, detour around.

Is it too hard to change the signs as work progress advances?

So now I am wondering, what will I encounter.  Will I be able to go the normal route this morning?  Should I chance it?  Or should I double my commute time and go an alternate route?

It’s a gamble.

July 17, 2015

Vacation Photos!

by Janie Jones

My vacation was lovely, but not nearly long enough.  Hence the eternal question:  How is it that 10 days of school and work feel like an eternity but 10 days of vacation goes by in the blink of an eye?

I spent some of those 10 days shopping, some sleeping, some flea marketing, one celebrating Christmas in July, and a few touristing.

My favorite day was the day Leif took me up the shore.  We had absolutely perfect weather for a rambling drive along the coast/shore, some excellent dining and a little cliff climbing and beach combing.

North shore vacation 2015 008

Wild flowers growing out of the cliff rock

North shore vacation 2015 009

Janie the Mermaid

North shore vacation 2015 033

Black sand beach, rocky islands off shore

North shore vacation 2015 036

Vera on the beach

North shore vacation 2015 027

Vera and Rupert play water fetch with some random kids and black labs

Best day I’ve had in months.  Maybe years.  I absolutely love beach combing on the big lake.

You know, one of the great things about living in Big City now is that the big lake is practically in my back yard.  The bummer is school and work keep me so busy I almost never get to enjoy it.

I need to start taking more vacations.


July 21, 2013

Still thinking of sweet little Primo

by Janie Jones

For anyone here who doesn’t read Rachel Lucas’s blog, Rachel and Primo are safely back in the US after their long plane flight from Italy.  Me, and probably half the blogoshpere, had been wishing them well and thinking of them muchly these last couple of days.

This morning I tuned in to see if there was word and I was so relieved to see a groggy looking picture of sweet Primo that declared he was home.

Funny how much you can worry about a dear little dog and a woman you only know by a blog.  But if it seems strange to anyone here I’m blogging about someone else’s blog and life, I beg you to forgive me.  If you spend anytime reading about Rachel and her pupkiss, I’m sure you’d understand why I’m infatuated with that little dog and concerned for him and his dog mom who was so worried about his trip to the states.

Thank you Universe for seeing them safely back to the states.

July 20, 2013

The comforts of home, or how to pass a lovely afternoon in Chicagoland Janie-Style

by Janie Jones

I meant to post this post last weekend, but on account of the internet cable being struck by lightning and having no access to my blog for TWO WHOLE DAYS it got forgotten about.  Until now.

Just like Fiona, I find there’s no balm for the soul like a trip to the bookstore.  So, while the spud was celebrating her dad’s wedding last Saturday, I decided to get out of my hotel room and drive just 10 miles to the nearest Barnes & Noble bookstore.  I love Barnes & Noble.  I could spend hours, days, weeks in that store and not get bored.  Oh, and as I bonus, they have a Starbucks.  I don’t drink coffee, but they do make a good Raspberry Italian Soda, with cream, of course, and the sell some amazing desserts.  My favorite is the chocolate cheesecake.  Oh! Oh!  And, additional bonus, I had a coupon for 15% of my purchase on top of my membership card discount!  Oh, yeah baby.

Unfortunately it took me just over an hour to drive to the store.  About 45 minutes of that hour was spent wandering over a 2 square mile area.  Who would have thought you could pack so many shopping malls in one tiny location?!?  Part of my problem was Mapquest had botched the directions, part was the address given on the internet was not the specific address the store actually used or was facing, and the other part was I was never probably more than one block away from the actual directions, but because it was in a mall and there was no big marquee listing the stores in said mall I couldn’t see it from the intersection the Mapquest directions told me to go to because it was on the opposite side of the mall.  Furthermore, the street Mapquest told me it would be located on was actually the shopping mall access driveway which was unmarked.

But a bibliophile with a coupon is not easily deterred.  So, I found it at last, and felt like once again I was in a civilized world.  I wandered about collecting potential treasure tomes until my arms could hold no more, wandered off to the cafe, got my beverage and cake, and sat and read.  And read.  And read.

A bibliophile cannot live on books alone, alas, and so finally my stomach reminded me that cheesecake was not a sufficient dinner.  So, I picked out three books to actually purchase:  The Last Light of the Sun, by Guy Gavriel Kay, The Shadow of Night, book two of the All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness, and The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense by Suzette Haden Elgin (I’m not very sure about that last book, I flipped through a large part of it at the cafe, but with my discounts it was less than $3 so I figured it would be worth having around).  I managed to leave behind 4 other contenders for purchase.  A Janie in a bookstore with a coupon must be very disciplined if she wants to have gas money to drive back home to the Great White North.  And, have money for dinner.  In my wandering to find the bookstore I found a Panera.  I used to really love Panera.  They make some awesome Greek salad, and a Asiago Roast Beef sandwich that is to die for.  So, I grabbed one of each to go and only got lost twice on my way back to the hotel, where I cranked the AC up to arctic, because it was bloody hot in Chicagoland, and read until I went cross-eyed.

It was glorious.  Apart from getting lost, it was actually a pretty wonderful afternoon.

July 19, 2013

Well wishes

by Janie Jones

I am a dog person.  Other animals are fine, but I am always a sucker for a dog.

And, while I always wish the best for good people,  today I’m particularly wishing the best for a very stressed out dog-mom and a very special doggins.

Rachel Lucas and her dog, Primo, are flying back home to the USA tomorrow (or possibly today depending on the time difference) all the way from Italy.

May you both have the least stressful flight possible.

Rupert and I will be thinking of you.

July 18, 2013

Sprechen Sie Deutsch? No, apenas hablan el español.

by Janie Jones

So I had a strange dream last night.

Leif and I had apparently traveled to Germany and we were driving somewhere around Germany after Sarsm picked us up at the airport.

Now, I barely know Sarsm, but I really enjoy her blog.  I know nothing about Germany, and I haven’t had anything to do with it in my life recently.  So why I was dreaming about flying there and riding around in Sarsm’s car I have no idea.  But that’s not the strangest part of this dream.

From the front passenger seat Leif is attempting to engage Sarsm in conversation.  But all in Spanish.  Leif knows a smattering of German, perhaps slightly more Spanish, but is not fluent in either.  So why I was dreaming this part either I have no clue.

So naturally, because I’m all totally like Spanish-is-almost-a-native-tongue kinda gal (BTW, I have this bridge for sale),  from the back seat I start telling Leif that Sarsm doesn’t even speak Spanish, all in Spanish.  Of course I have no idea if she really does or not.  Perhaps in real life she’d be chattering away merrily in Spanish with us.

But, obviously in my dream Sarsm can only reply in English, “Hey, guys, I don’t speak Spanish!  Don’t you speak English? Oder sprechen Sie Deutsch?”

Then we gave up talking and the dream moved on as we toured the ocean beach (I have no idea if there’s an airport near the ocean or if Sarsm is located anywhere near either) and walked along a boardwalk where waves were crashing up over the docks and the walkways and there were cute little shops until we finally stopped with a tour group to eat (I don’t know if any such place exists, even if there is an airport near the ocean and Sarsm could get us there, much less where we picked up the tour group either).  Some of us ladies however needed to use the restroom and we had to go on this long convoluted path to find the bathrooms but had trouble because none of us spoke any German.  Apparently I can dream in fluent Spanish, but German is right out.  Geesh, where’s Bing Translator when you need it?