Wednesday, December 12, 2012

"Home" Again

At least I came in behind the storm: 16-18" just a few miles from home.

Saturday morning I left bright and early. Lots of miles to go (740 that day) and losing an hour with the time zone change. I kept an internet eye on the weather before leaving, so I knew about the storm. But I also knew that I wasn't expecting any precip until nearly home. The only thing the weather people lied about was the temperatures. Those dropped much faster then predicted, spurred by a brisk northwest wind from the time I poked my head out in Amarillo Sunday morning.

Koda quickly learned to take his potty breaks in a hurry, still sporting his Arizona hot-weather haircut.

Arizona scenery was both familiar and not. I expected snow on top of the San Francisco Peaks in December, but found only a trace via the rear-view mirror as I headed east away from the mountain. The air was much cleaner once I left The Valley, enabling me to actually appreciate mountains more distant than those visible in Phoenix. The other unexpected note was high gas prices in Flagstaff. The local news had announced gas prices were lowest and highest for AZ in Flagstaff and Tucson, respectively.  They got it backwards. I probably could have waited to fill but there's a whole lot of nothing along the road and I didn't want to take any risks.

On the other hand, prices only got better as I traveled, until hitting Minnesota where they rose again. The low was $2.959, which of course was spotted 5 miles after taking advantage of what seemed like a great deal at $3.079. C'est la vie.

I made notes of where the likely trading posts were for checking out Navaho pottery on the spring return trip by mileage number of the exit: 341, 257, etc. for Arizona, and for my favorite spots in Oklahoma for other pottery, 108 and 81. 108 in New Mexico for Acoma. I'm hoping to come back through with a budget. If not, I can at least scope them out for later.

Wildlife was scarce, aside from a few roadkills. In Arizona I had been treated to lots of birds, rabbits, and even an early morning coyote hauling a rabbit back to it's den. Now the only birds were hawks perched along the road and a single flock of wild turkeys somewhere in the blur of northern Oklahoma/southern Kansas. By the time I hit Missouri there were a few late flocks of Canada Geese, fleeing the weather I presumed. I think they were smarter than I.

Bethany, MO had a nice Super 8 I'd stayed in before, though I passed on their free breakfast, being all carbs. At least they were welcoming to dogs, and I secured a room right next to the exit for dogwalking purposes. Both nights I parked under major lights at the motels, and the fully loaded car was not disturbed. I was not going to completely empty out the car and refill it, and had packed even valuables in old cardboard boxes with anything resembling junk on top. That included a couple ratty blankets (one for the dog), my two-wheeler with bungie cords in lieu of a back, a milk crate with dog supplies, a partial pack of toilet paper, a taped Milk Bones box. The second evening I removed the bottles of water and bags of fresh-picked AZ oranges to make sure they didn't freeze. Even my laptop had been packed up and was inaccessible, so no cares about dealing with a new wi-fi system each night. Heck, I didn't even turn on the TV in either room. The second night offered a recliner so I tucked in with a paperback until my eyelids turned to sandpaper.

The first snow appeared on the north side of Des Moines, just a dusting on the ground, over in about 20 miles. Another appeared later. By the Minnesota border, the snow was solid, with chopped corn stalks and tall grasses breaking the white. Roads were dry until the rest area at Dundas, where sidewalks were a bit icy and Koda had trouble finding a likely spot since he couldn't get near any trees or posts. Roads turned to packed snow/ice just as I hit the metro proper, and finally driving slowed under the posted speeds.

I made it into the area in plenty of time to hit HQ on my way through, chat with dispatchers, and deal with paperwork for starting work here again. Everybody even got to meet Koda, since I didn't trust the car to keep him warm enough while I was inside. I'm all set to start working.

I'm just not working.

It's pretty much the same story it was for starting in Phoenix. There is a single person in Dallas who is responsible for entering drivers in the system so that they can receive runs via the computers. She has no back-up. She wasn't in Monday. She wasn't in yesterday. We don't know about today yet. There are three drivers up here waiting to get on the road, and slow as driving is right now, we are badly needed. Dallas doesn't care.

Yesterday I caught up on missed TV shows recorded on the DVR. I also unpacked, mostly, though the floor in my bedroom is being resurfaced with laminate instead of carpet, and I can't really move back in. I'm sleeping in Steve's bed. My stuff in piled in the living room, where the resemblance to how it looked before we loaded the moving truck in uncanny. Also discouraging. And stressful. Not what I need right now, if ever. The stacks of mail have been gone through, 99% for the recycle pile. The X-mas letter has been typed up, and will be printed once I head out for proper paper.

I headed to WalMart Monday night to pick up perishables, having brought a box of staples back with me, intending to also get Xmas letter paper. The only available shopping scooter had only 2 bars of power left, with 6 being a full charge, so I only got the real necessities. Paper wasn't one of them.

I'm waiting. Out the windows some icicles hang from the roof, the cranberries and Nanking cherries are bowed from the weight of the snow, and everything else waits too. News reports say roads are beginning to improve, and temperatures a hair above freezing for a couple hours are expected to help. They wait for next Saturday's storm to decide whether it will head south or hit here again.

Everything waits.

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