Sunday, November 8, 2009

After California

What happened, you may wonder, to the Pearl Family Odyssey? After California the writing dropped off. Where did the Pearl family disappear to?

As the weeks went on, the journey became less an experience of travel and exploration and more about a search for our next home town. Never having done such a thing before, and having few references for how such an endeavor is carried out, the journey became very personal. As much as I wanted to keep up with the blogging, my attention naturally pointed inward and toward taking care of my family. Life is still tender and many enormous changes are underway, but I feel like writing again, so we'll see how I do with that as we get ready to head west very soon. Ah, but I am getting ahead of myself....let me do my best to fill you in on our time between California in August and what is now November in Massachusetts before I say more about what's next.

Let's see:

Here is where we went after California: up the coast of Oregon, back to Portland, back up to Seattle, back down to Portland, down to Eugene, across the middle of Oregon from Eugene all the way to Idaho, across Idaho, down from the middle of the northern part of Utah, passing through Salt Lake City, to Moab, Utah. Then we stayed in Boulder, Colorado for a few days. Then we drove from Boulder to Omaha, Nebraska. Then from Omaha through Iowa to just outside of Chicago. Then from the Chicago area back to Oberlin, Ohio. Then from Oberlin to Geneva, New York. Then a brief stop in Ithaca, New York and back to the home of our dear friends in western Massachusetts. All of that happened in about three weeks.

Here are some of the highlights from the journey above:
  • Florence, Oregon: We met some truly inspiring relatives we hadn't known existed before our trip. Bernie is a first cousin of Joshua's mother. He and his wife, Lucille, have been married almost 60 years and are still clearly in love. He spends most of his time painting lovely watercolor paintings. Lucille, who couldn't be more than 4 feet 8 inches tall, is full of energy and takes spin classes at the gym three times a week. They drive a Prius and wear Keen sandals and have an RV. They have traveled all over the US in their RV over decades, starting in the sixties! These two people, at 83 and 80 years old have more spunk, energy and life force than many people I know who are much younger than they are. Spending time with them helped us feel like we were on the right track, and that we are not the only artistic travelers in the family at large.
  • From Eugene to Bend, Oregon: The drive across Oregon was stunningly beautiful. We drove through a gorgeous forested area called Makenzie Pass. The van was sequestered by endless groves of pointy trees as we drove along a winding road that suprisingly took us to a gigantic black volanic crater in what felt like the middle of nowhere. When we stopped the van to take a look around, there was metallic black rock as far as we could see. The rock clinked when pieces of it rubbed against itself. The rocks must have been millions of years old. We had no idea it was there. What an amazing treat that was!
  • Paradise in Mountain Home, Idaho: After a particularly rough day emotionally, and a bit of fighting between Joshua and me, we ended up in the Idaho version of the middle of nowhere at a campground overlooking giant sand dunes. Tumbleweeds rolled by our feet (I had never seen a real tumbleweed before) and led us to the cabin in paradise. Our lovely little 8 by 10 foot cabin had five spots to sleep, a table and chairs, a porch with a swinging bench, electricity, air conditioning, and wifi! All of this fabulous luxury all to ourselves as well. All other campers were at another campground two minutes away. We had a space of 30 or more campsites all to ourselves, as well as the huge shower house and bathrooms with nice flushing toilets. Never ever would I have expected to find such a perfect place given where we were and how we felt. Our family has Joshua's persistence to thank for that wonderful surprise. I would have not had the fortitude to continue on to the second campground.
  • The Craphole Campground: Okay, that wasn't the offical title of the place, but it should have been. This campground in northern Utah was advertised as having special medicinal hot springs. The hot springs were there, but they were yucky. We didn't even consider paying the extra fee to immerse oursevles in the brown smelly pools. Instead we spent our time coping with the smell of goose poop everywhere and braving the "bathrooms" which were actually port-o-pottys. Eli had a stuffy nose that night too, which kept him (and us) awake much of the night, and if it wasn't that making sleep difficult, it was the very loud trains passing by all night, or the gunshots we heard nearby.
  • Moab, Utah (Arches National Park): Moab is like being on another planet. Huge red rock mountains are everywhere in sight and everything is beautiful. It was Labor Day weekend when we were there, foolishly hoping to stay inside Arches National Park. Apparently in order to do that you had to wait in line starting at 7am. By 6pm when we arrived, every space was full. That led to a mad rush to one of the several campsites just outside the park right along the bank of the Colorado River. We got the last available space to be found anywhere around! We set up the tent in a frenzy, in a bit of rain, before the sun went down, with several Pearls starting to get sick. It was the one place we stayed without running water so we had to bring it in from town. Our stay there was two days long. We were exhausted from moving around so much and from so much emotional stretching for the six or seven weeks leading up to that point. I will post some pictures from this truly jaw dropping place. It really must be seen to be believed.
  • Boulder, Colorado: The drive from Moab to Boulder was GORGEOUS. In Boulder we had several visits with more lovely lovely friends. I got sick for just a day. We checked out Boulder as one of the last possible places we were thinking of living. After Boulder we planned to make our final decision of where to live. Visiting with our friends nourished us deeply. We caught up after many years absence and we were introduced to pita pizzas, a very easy and handy meal to make for a hungry crowd.
  • Boulder to Omaha, Nebraska: This was one of the longest drives we did. It took about seven hours. We landed in a strange hotel. Nebraska was a long stretch of flat land that stayed the same throughout the entire drive. In a rest stop somewhere in the middle a large man wearing a cowboy hat and cowboy boots saw our Massachusetts license plate. He said, "Looks like you folks are a long way from home." I told him yes, we were. So then he said, "Welcome to America!"
  • Iowa: We passed through Iowa on our way to the Chicago area. I love Iowa. I remembered loving it on our trip 20 years ago. The green rolling hills have a lovely and friendly energy to them. Some day I would like to see Iowa beyond the highway.
  • Oberlin, Ohio and Geneva, New York: More visits with excellent friends. Geneva is right on the Finger Lakes in upstate New York. Joshua spent an entire day right on the lake. All these years of living in New York and we never explored the northern and western part of this large state. We enjoyed getting a broader view of New York as the last part of our journey back east.
  • Ithaca, New York: I had always heard very nice things about Ithaca and had a long standing interest in visiting. We went to the famous Moosewood Restaurant for our closing ritual and a very nice meal. We took some time with the kids as we ate delicious soups and salads and a very tasty chocolate cake, and talked about what the trip meant to us all, and what we learned and what was hard and what was fun. It was a lovely ending to that part of our travels, even though Eli didn't like the food and got his own pizza afterward and promptly threw up soon after eating it.
So there you have the Cliff notes version of the last three weeks of our odyssey. I will try to dig up some key pictures for you for my next entry.

It's nice to be back blogging again!
Wishing you well........Cora

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