Back in Savannah

April 18, 2010 - One Response

Well, Friday morning Jase and I got up and hit the road home. It was nice to be on familiar ground.

The drive went smoothly, although I did have a short stop and dumped some of our stuff out into the floor of the van. AND, I nearly ran out of gas on I-16…just puttering along, not paying attention. Fortunately, we were only about 1o miles from the nearest gas station.

We got home and got ready to start unpacking and head inside to see the animules and relax in our home. Well, the ramp wouldn’t work on the van. I pushed buttons, reset computers, pushed and pulled, stomped. It just wouldn’t come out. I did the manual deploy and got Jason out, got all of our stuff inside and called the van people.

Taylor (the head mechanic with the van people) felt that the motor for the ramp had burned out and wanted us to drive to Atlanta so they could replace it. I had to stop him here and explain that not only had just driven from Atlanta, but I had been driving for 6 days and had no intentions of turning right around and heading back up there. He needed to figure something out. Anyway, we got it set up to go to Charleston to have the motor replaced.

After dealing with that, I got to come in and start looking at the MOUNTAIN of mail we had waiting for us.

It was very, very overwhelming to get back home.

Saturday, however, things started looking up. Taylor called in the morning and told me to check one thing that he had forgotten. He thought perhaps something was stuck in the van door  preventing the button that deploys the ramp from being pressed. Sure enough, there, wedged skillfully and snugly in the door was a tube of eye cream. Ooops! It had fallen in the floor and rolled into the way when I had to stop short in Atlanta traffic.

We also got to go see our friends Igor and Robyn get married yesterday. The wedding was beautiful…and so many people we know and love were there in one place. It was great to get to see everyone on such a special occasion.

All in all, it is good to be home. It is going to take a minute to get things organized again and get settled, but it will happen!

Over the last two and a half months Jason and I have had a wild ride and learned so, so much on the way! Thanks for traveling with us.

Take care of each other.

-Lyra

Day 6: Traveling Home

April 16, 2010 - One Response

Jase and I had a lovely sleep in our massive hotel room last night and got up and on the road right around 10.30am today.

Let me just tell you, not much at all happened on the road. We traveled through Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama…FINALLY we got to Georgia.

So, now we are sitting in our hotel room in Atlanta and I am thinking how close my house is.

I am worn out and a little nervous. The bed in this hotel room is quite high which makes the transfer board a problem. It would be Murphy’s Law to have the very worst things happen on the last day…heh heh. I guess we will see!

Next time I post will be from Savannah!

Take care of each other.

-Lyra

Day 5: Traveling Home

April 15, 2010 - One Response

After enjoying a little more of my Trader Joe’s purchases than I should have, Jase and I got a late start on the road today. It was nice though to sleep in and since we only had 5 hours to go, we were able to cruise along without worrying about being on the road forever.

Let me tell you something about Arkansas; people in Arkansas do not know how to use the left lane of the interstate. This makes it very difficult to use cruise control!

I also have to say that, while Arkansas is not terribly exciting and reminded Jason and I a lot of driving on I-16, there are very pretty parts to the landscape.

Also, the hotel we are staying in tonight (a Holiday Inn Express in Lonoke) is amazing! The best room by far, or should I say suite. We have a huge kitchenette, a huge living room, and a huge bedroom. If it weren’t for the fact that this hotel, a Days Inn, a gas station, a McDonalds and a locally owned pizza place make up the whole area, I would say I am not leaving this suite.

It definitely feels like we are heading east. The people are different…the landscape, everything seems to be different. It really is something else to experience the transition. I didn’t notice the difference quite as prominently going north to south, I don’t think.

So, tomorrow we are hitting the road and will either stop in Birmingham, AL or drive on to Atlanta and try to see Jason’s mom and granny before we head on down to Savannah on Friday. It is nuts that we are just two days away from home.

Take care of each other.

-Lyra

Day 4: Traveling Home

April 14, 2010 - 2 Responses

Ok, this is going to sound unappreciative, but really…today was a uneventful drive home.

Jase and I got on the road by 10am. We drove, and we drove…well, I drove and drove…Jason checked my speed and checked my speed.

I am not saying that we did not see the the most beautiful country, I really think Oklahoma is somewhere I could spend some time, but we did not stop at any massive holes in the ground or anything like that.

The countryside was varying; a mixture of yellow hills dotted with short green scrub trees and lush blue-green meadows that made you want to take your shoes off and run through.

We were both mesmerized by the landscape.

We got into Oklahoma City around 5.30pm. Unfortunately, flying by the seat of our pants as we are, Jason and I didn’t check the sporting events schedule and why would we! Sport? What is that??? Apparently, whoever plays baseball in Oklahoma had a game tonight and the basket ball team in this neck of the woods has an apparently big game here on Saturday with some team out of L.A…needless to say, all of the hotel rooms downtown were booked up.

We did find a room at a fairly nice La Quinta Inn in Del City just outside of OK City. Granted, we have a view of the Super Walmart instead of the pretty rivery walk thing behind the downtown hotels, but all in all the room is clean and functional.

Jase and I hope to get on the road again by 10am, heading toward Little Rock, AR, not my favorite state in the world but I did change my mind about New Mexico…I guess we will see.

Take care of each other.

-Lyra

Day 3: Traveling Home

April 13, 2010 - Leave a Response

Last night, when putting Jase in bed, the hoyer bit the dust…kaput, gone, at least until I have the proper tools to fix it.

That being the case I had to figure out what to do. Luckily, I had the transfer board with me so, instead of using the handy-dandy pneumatic lift, I have been dragging Jason in and out of bed, by my sheer willpower, across the transfer board. It is not a very easy or pleasant thing to have to do, but I can’t even imagine the alternative so it will work in the interim. My back and knees are terribly unappreciative however.

Since today was a long get ready day,  and I was exhausted last night and slept in a bit, and the hoyer was broken, it took Jason and I a little longer to get out of the door that I wanted to. I think we were finally on the way around 10.30am.

Not too far outside of Flagstaff we started seeing signs for the “World’s Largest and Best Preserved Crater!” It took Jase a minute to get interested, but finally we turned off the road and headed down to see it.

Two things I should point out…it was $15 a person to see a huge hole in the ground and it was very, very windy up on the rim of the huge hole.

I forget the dimensions of the hole, but it is big…not as big as the Grand Canyon, but big.

It was so windy I wasn’t sure I could stand up straight. The wind even pushed Jason in his chair…that is 420lbs of weight.

Jase and I didn’t stay at the crater for very long…we saw it and hit the road. Today was a long day of driving and we didn’t have too much time to spend looking at a big hole, especially when we knew there would be other things along the way.

One thing I did get to see on the road to the crater was REAL TUMBLING TUMBLE WEEDS (and they were rolling down the open range, literally, there were signs warning of baby cows on the road!)

We did pass Winslow, AZ…but, we didn’t go stand on the corner. I was a little bummed about that but only a little.

Not only was the day of driving long, it was also physically exhausting. The interstate just past Flagstaff is surrounded by plains and the wind really does whip across them. All day I had to drive with both hands securely on the wheel, oftentimes using a good bit of force to keep the vehicle in the lane. We even passed through a few dust storms.

All in all the drive was absolutely beautiful. We saw the painted desert and the town of Holbrook, AZ. I really wanted to see the petrified forest but it was too far out of the way. I did get to see some petrified wood though. I was impressed!

Here are some of the things we saw on our journey today:

These cars were on the roadside as Jase and I headed to see the crater. They were probably two or three hundred yards back from the road and I as I walked back to see them I noticed old pull-top cans, probably beer cans, laying on the ground; the paint stripped from years of exposure. I wondered if the same had happened to the paint on the cars.

If you look hard enough you will see the teeny lizard in this pic. He is some of the only wildlife we have seen on the eastbound leg of the journey (except for some elk, deer and ravens).

Holbrook, AZ.

The wigwams are the motel rooms! I don’t think the motel operates anymore, but outside a lot of the rooms are really awesome old cars.

I have to give New Mexico props. Even though I didn’t love the south side of the state, the north is AMAZING.

A New Mexican rainbow. Shortly after I took this pic Jase and I saw a double rainbow. The end of one of them was clearly visible out in the plains. I didn’t notice anything twinkling at the bottom.

The view in my rearview.

Now Jase and I are holed up at a pretty nice Days Inn in Tucumcari, NM. We had hoped to make it to Amarillo today, but that is about two and a half hours past here and we didn’t arrive here until 8.30pm. I just don’t have that kind of driving in me. My knee still gets very angry after long stretches behind the wheel.

So, now we are off to bed and tomorrow our goal is Oklahoma City. Thankfully it is a much shorter drive, about 5.5 hours.

Take care of each other.

-Lyra

Day 2: Traveling Home

April 12, 2010 - 2 Responses

Day two started out much better.

Jase and I got up and out the door at a very reasonable hour. We had a lovely bellman this morning who gave us GREAT directions to get to the nearest pharmacy where we bought massive quantities of cranberry pills to load Jason up on.

We took off on the road, got the cranberry pills then headed towards the Grand Canyon. We didn’t really know where we were heading so we just picked a town close by and set Geena for there. On our way out was a McDonalds and I was in need of a large cup of coffee. The drive thru wasn’t too backed up so we pulled in line where Jase noticed an older fella. “He’s gonna wash your windshield,” Jase observed. Sure enough, he asked if he could wash it. I didn’t have any cash, except for quarters, so I asked him what he charged. Since a donation was all he was looking for I let him get to work. I am pretty sure he was washing dirt off that windshield from about 10 states. (And, unlike the fella at the pharmacy who was just begging for cash to get gas to get his expedition home, I figured I was getting a bargain having this fella wash my window.)

I handed him the money and set off to place my order when I though, hey, perhaps this fella would like some breakfast too. He said he would like to have something and introduced himself as Steve. He asked where were from and commented that he liked Georgia peaches a lot. He had worked in Florida for a spell and had his share of peaches from the neighbor state. He also told us he is fond of Florida oranges.

We picked up the food and headed back around to give Steve his. I asked him if he minded if I took his picture. He was happy to pose for me and told Jason and I that he is a Vietnam Vet from ’66-’68. Such a nice man.

Jase and I took off for Boulder City feeling much better ourselves and our journey.

We weren’t expecting to, but we traveled over the Hoover Dam. Jase and I went there years ago with Wayne and Lori but it is still such an impressive place. They are also building a new road over the dam. That was amazing to see.

It was heart-wrenching to hear Jason say that he was glad the last time he was there he could walk around and investigate the dam, but I think he enjoyed seeing it today too.

So, we kept on driving.The wild flowers are in bloom and absolutely beautiful.

Jase and I were in awe of the landscape. It is absolutely beautiful.

We finally made it to the Canyon around 3pm. (Since Arizona doesn’t observe daylight savings time we are still 3 hours behind the East Coast.) We were ready to pay the $25 to get into the park and see the Grand Canyon and were a little surprised when the park ranger asked for Jason’s ID. Jase thought it might be because of his terrorist like facial hair, but it was actually because Jason can now get into all federal parks at no charge, thanks to his spinal cord injury. I guess another hidden perk of paralysis.We were both happy at saving a buck.

At first Jase was a little annoyed. The path we took to get to get over by the canyon is gravel and it was bumpy and hard for Jase to navigate but once we got to the canyon the path is smooth and Jase was much happier.

Words and photographs cannot describe how amazing the Grand Canyon is. I am gonna give you some of each anyway.

If you notice, there are two teenie weenie fellas down there on the jutting rock. Not long after this photo was taken, some yahoo was out on that same rock doing back flips.

Jase and I were both really surprised to see snow on the side of the canyon. Little did we realize it was only the beginning of the snow we were to see.

Flagstaff is only about an hour from the Grand Canyon. Since it was getting dark and were getting tired and still hadn’t found a hotel room, Jase and I took off. Here is some of what we encountered on our way to Flagstaff.

Sunny and 70 in Carlsbad, California yesterday…snowy and cold at 7000 ft in Flagstaff, Arizona today.

It really was amazing to see so much snow. I think Jason and I would agree that visually, today has been our favorite traveling day of the whole trip.

We are now settled in at our MUCH cleaner hotel in Flagstaff. Of course, we could still complain about accessibility and our CRAPPY dinner, but all in all, we are not in Vegas and we are going to sleep peacefully so our good morning carried through to the end of the day.

Tomorrow we have a long haul. We are hoping to make it to Amarillo, Texas before we call it a night.

Wish us luck!

Take care of each other.

-Lyra

Day 1: Traveling Home

April 12, 2010 - Leave a Response

So, after having some microbrews on Friday night, Saturday morning was a little tough but we got up and got moving on time. I started getting Jase ready at 8am. Between packing and getting him ready we didn’t leave Carlsbad until noon.

I was doing really well, really excited about coming home. I went to the front desk to ask them to mail one box of medical supplies back to Savannah for us (we just didn’t have room in the van) and the desk clerk said “awwww, you guys are leaving today?” That did me in. I just started boo hooing. I had to excuse myself.

Loading the van was not very fun. Somehow, even though it didn’t seem like we acquired that much more stuff, nothing fit back in a bag, box or the van as well as it did going out to California. But, I managed and we set off on our journey East.

I loved being on the road again. I love to drive. I absolutely love it and I love my peeps on the East Coast so, even though I was really sad to leave Carlsbad and Project Walk and my new peeps, I was so ready to be on my way. Jase, perhaps not quite as ready, but he had a good time on the road too.

We did do a little detour onto Route 66. It seemed like a shame to be so close without seeing it. You know what, it looks very much like a road.

Jase and I did get our kicks. He nearly puked when I had him try coconut water and I tasted salted plums for the first time which caused this reaction:

We kept going on to Las Vegas, our destination for last night. Jase was responsible for booking the hotel, let me inform you of that right off the bat, heh heh, and apparently a few weeks ago I said I wanted to gamble if we went to vegas, although I find gambling as boring as watching paint dry. Anyway, Jason very sweetly found us a hotel with a casino so I could gamble. He also got us something in the older part of town. Last time we were in Vegas we both loved the old part and the hotels are cheaper. It seemed like a no brainer.

Let me just say…between horribly unhelpful desk clerks, nearly losing an iPhone, bending the wheel on the hoyer so now it is a PAIN to use even if the bed does have a frame and not the box, the peeling wallpaper, stained carpet, sheets that might have smelled like sour laundry or stale cigarettes and a shower so gross I wore my flip flops (that was before I knew the water was going to back up over my feet), well, the hotel STUNK! Hee hee. In hindsight, it is laughable. At the time I was thoroughly unamused.

We have also been dealing with a UTI with Jase, so between all of the aforementioned junk and the health stuff, Jase was also thoroughly unamused. Couple that with Jase having to dodge drunks who didn’t want to get out of his way and were more than happy to run all over him, Vegas was not the most fun place on the planet for us.

I do have to say that the folks at Tony Roma’s took good care of us, but we couldn’t wait to hit the road and get on our way. It wasn’t hard, since the guidos next door kept us up until the crack of dawn. Finally I just got up and got us on the road.

Jase and I both were pretty glad day one was over.

Take care of each other.

-Lyra

Day 40: Project Walk

April 12, 2010 - Leave a Response

Our last day of Project Walk…it was really sad, like the last day of camp.

We actually had an early morning on Friday; 10am-12pm. Both hours, Jase worked with Sachi as his trainer. Jason and Sachi (and I) have gotten to be really close over the last 8 weeks. When Sachi finished working Jason out he gave him the biggest, biggest hug ever. Saying goodbye to everyone was tough. Even though social media will keep us all in touch, it isn’t like seeing someone every day. We kind of lingered on our way out…and driving out of the parking lot, Jase commented that it would be our last time driving over the hated speed bump.

We were scheduled to meet up with some Project Walk staff at a little brew pub in Carlsbad at 5.30pm, so Jase and I had a few hours to kill. Jase hung out and relaxed a bit while I enjoyed my pool for the last time. It was a compounding feeling of sadness. Every time we did something for the last time, Trader Joes, Rubios, the pool, the speed bump, we got a little sadder and a little sadder.

Joel, my food challenge buddy, met us at the hotel and we all rode over to the brew pub together which was great because he got to be my designated driver and get Jason and I home safely.

It was so great to hang out with everyone outside of the gym, but it was sad. Luckily, the microbrew helped stave off the tears.They did not help us have an excellent morning however…heh heh.

cotd…

Day 39: Project Walk

April 9, 2010 - Leave a Response

Well, I did it today. All day long, heck…all week long, I thought Jase had to be at the gym today at 4pm. Well, I was wrong. Jase was supposed to be there at 12pm. What time did Jase get out of bed? Noon. Needless to say, we did not make it to that session at the gym, but the folks there were nice enough to work us in at 4pm. Ooops.

Jase has been doing really great with his core. He has been able to lower himself back gradually, instead of just flopping back, which means he is getting control of his back extensors and abs. He also did shoulder work today and was able to get a much greater range of motion that when he first started at the gym.

After the gym, Jase and I headed home to hang out for a bit while Sachi was running some errands then we met him out for some sushi. It was really lovely.

We drove home on the 5. It was kind of sad to think that the next time I drive on the 5 I will be driving out of town…kind of sad, but I am ready to be home.

Take care of each other.

-Lyra

Day 38: Project Walk

April 8, 2010 - Leave a Response

This morning was a typical morning for Jason and I. Jase slept in late and while he was sleeping, I worked, caught up on some personal reading, and worked out. Fortunately, I was able to do the work and the reading outside under the warm and beautiful California sun (which is also good because I don’t disturb Jason’s sleep.)

When Jase finally got up, I ran out to get us some lunch and pick up some cash so I could leave Carmen a tip for all of the hard work she has done for us over the last 8 weeks. Jase and I are both pretty sad because Carmen is leaving to go home to Tijuana for a few days and will not be here on Saturday.  I ran into her when I was leaving to take Jase to the gym and she gave me a big hug and wished Jase and I all the best. I am going to miss Carmen…for sure!

For lunch I picked up some greek food from a little deli literally right around the corner from the hotel. Thankfully I didn’t do this weeks ago because it is very close, very cheap and very good. I would be the size of a greek house, if only I’d known.

Since I hadn’t had time to shower before going to the gym, I took Jase there and dropped him off so I could run home, make some changes to the blog for work and shower. Not only did it give me a moment to myself, but it gave Jason some dude time too.

Our friend Geoff came to visit from LA today and was scheduled to arrive around 4pm, but luckily traffic was not bad at all and he made the trip much faster than he expected. As soon as I was done with my stuff I ran over to meet him at the Star Bucks and head on over to the gym to see Jase.

Since we have been doing 2 hour days for the last week and half, Jase was done at 4pm. We loaded up the van and the three of us headed down to BevMo! to pick up some brews. BevMo! is an amazing beverage warehouse and we all picked out a microbrew to try, headed back to the hotel and started discussing what we might have for dinner. After much visiting and discussion, we finally decided on Hodads (an Ocean Beach burger joint that Guy Fieri claims has the best bacon cheeseburger around).

The three of us loaded up again and headed to Ocean Beach to see what all the fuss is about. Well, there was a street fair going on. Let me tell you, dirty hippies abounded. It was really cool though. Stalls of food, flowers, organic produce, chocolate…all kinds of wares, lined the street. There were people everywhere (including said dirty hippies, playing instruments, all with dogs). It was really cool to see.

(OK, the pics are crappy today…but meh.)

We went on down to Hodads but there was a pretty long line out the door, so we got our food to go and took it on down to the ocean front to eat. Um, the burgers are absolutely MASSIVE. It was hilarious to try to eat it, but eat them we did. Even Jason managed the gigantic thing, probably better than I did!

Jason and Geoff looking very debonair.

The exterior. Inside was a lot of wood with license plates nailed up everywhere. There were booths and a long picnic type table down the middle of the room. They were playing cool music and all the staff were tatted, trendy folks who were friendly enough but not overly thrilled with the tourists. All in all a pretty cool place.

This doesn’t really do the burger justice, but it has amazing bacon (the secret is boiling then grilling the bacon before putting it on the burger), cheese, the patty and TONS of fixin’s. I really couldn’t fit it in my mouth…and that is saying something.

A half order of onion rings.

It was getting pretty cold and Ocean Beach is about a 30 minute drive from home, so pretty soon after we ate we loaded up and came home. We got to visit with Geoff for a little while longer then he had to jet to make the long drive back to LA. It was really great to see him, especially more on his stomping ground since we usually see him on the east coast. We also got to see some new pictures of Haggis the Scottish Fold who is absolutely ADORABLE!

All in all, it was a busy, productive day. Tomorrow I will start doing laundry and getting some stuff packed in preparation for the departure on Saturday. It is truly hard to believe the day is almost here!

Take care of each other.

-Lyra