The Return: The Plan

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Wednesday, I begin to make the long drive back to Massachusetts to end the long stay on the West Coast.  Whether or not I am going to look back fondly or negatively to this long term assignment is still to be decided, mostly because I am not exactly sure I have figured out what I am leaving or just as much what I am returning too.  At this point, that doesn’t matter …

What does matter is that I need to finalize my plan to get back across the country, and of course – blogging about it will force the issue.

So here is the framework of the return plan.  Like my drive out, it will be broken into two weekends – it’s just that this time they will be two LONG weekends.  I need to be in Wichita, KS Monday & Tuesday July 6 & 7; and need to be up in New Hampshire (with clean clothes and a rested puppy dog) by Monday July 13th.  Beyond that, I need to make sure I am always heading in the direction of Dorchester, whatever that means.

The first leg will be five days zig zagging across the Southwest arriving in Wichita the afternoon of July 5th; each day with between 7 and 10 hours of driving.  It starts with:

– July 1, Anaheim, CA to Flagstaff, AZ.  7-1/2 hrs – 475 miles.  A departure day, meant to just get miles behind me.  In order to keep this lively and off the direct route, I likely will be heading through the Palm Desert and Palm Springs on the way to Arizona (versus a Barstow route, a more indirectly direct route out of the LA Area).

July 2, Flagstaff, AZ to Tropic, UT.  8-1/2 hours – 460 miles.  This is some big day for what I will see — Grand Canyon is the first on my list, and maybe the biggest thing in North America I haven’t visited yet that I want to.  Just a lookie loo then onward through the Vermilion Cliffs NM, a long detour through Zion NP, and then up to Bryce Canyon NP where we are staying up in the mountains in Tropic, UT.

July 3, Tropic, UT to Farmington, NM. 8 hours – 425 miles. This may be the trouble part of the trip, either where I bite off more than I can chew or make sure more than what I can chew has been bitten off.  This starts with a Northeast route up through the Grand Staircase NM, the Capital Reef NP, before cutting Southeast down to the Four Corners and Ending in New Mexico.

July 4, Farmington, NM to Denver, CO 9 hours – 480 miles.  Heading due north out of Farmington, this is a Rocky Mountain Holiday route, through Durango, Telluride, Grand Junction, Rifle (that is a throwback place for me), Veil, Eisenhower Tunnel, then down the Front Range to spend the night in the mile high city.

July 5, Denver, CO to Wichita, KS 7-1/2 hours (depending on who you ask) – 530 miles.  The long run across the flatness of flat.

Then comes two days in Wichita to recharge followed by the run east.  The details of this leg are still to be set (I have to find dog friendly hotels); but the current plan is a 4 day run:

– Wichita to Peducha, KY (or somewhere in that distance range) through the Ozarks and southern Missouri

Peducha, KY to the Appalachians around Gatlinberg, TN then up the range to Roanoke, VA

– Roanoke to Possibly Northern Virginia but somewhere along the western side of the Appalachians

– Hard run up through PA, NY, CT, to Dorchester

Hopefully, this trip home will be much more scenic, adventurous, and enjoyable.  We will see of course.

The Place with My Big TV

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I am not sure what I expected when I entered my Dorchester home, but this wasn’t it.  I guess I haven’t been too silent about the unsteady ground I seem to be in recently from not really identifying where I am from.  The running joke for me is when asked where I am from, I would say “I don’t know”.  Maybe I assumed when I got back to the condo some feeling of finding a ‘firm ground’ would come.

After leaving the pup at a pet spa Saturday morning, I hoped on a five-hour direct flight to Boston Logan.  It landed around 11pm local time, which meant by the time I got my luggage and a rental car I wouldn’t be pulling up to my place until near 12:30.  Some of what I saw pulling up was what I expected, easier driving and more logical parking since the roads were clear of the snow that was such the habit for my time there.  I parked as close as I could have hoped for a Saturday night in Dorchester.  Quick drag of the bags up the flight of stairs, a long fumble to find the right key to open the doors, and I was in.

I wondered how many smoke detectors would be beeping, or if some amount of food left in the fridge had decided to turn into a zombie, or maybe a squatter would have taken over.  Instead there were no smells, no beeps, no new house guests.  The clocks showed evidence the power went out at one point, and a couple of red bell peppers had turned liquid – but everything was in working order, even the quirky washing machine that went immediately to work when I got in the door.

In truth, you get used to things when you live somewhere for a while – even if it is a hotel.  I’m not saying the change of sheets or clean towels.  It starts with the sounds.  A two-story hotel made in the 90s sound proofed much better than a three-story 115 year old Victorian.  Every step taken by my upstairs neighbors boomed in my place making me remember how often the Auggie would freak out about it.  Wood floors on me feet was a relief from the carpet I got so used to.  And I won’t lie to you … I missed my TV.  60″ crystal clear HD beauty giving me a definition and picture quality I couldn’t really appreciate until I went without it for so long.

It was much of the way I left it,thought.  Which is to say, in rough shape.  Most of the unpacked boxes still filled my home office, the dining room was still nothing but a folding table and a printer.  I started to pick up papers and old mail to throw away wondering why I didn’t clear it up before – but I took a look at some of it and thought I might want to keep it.  The furniture I need to build for the home office, it still was in its boxes blocking the front room.  As I wandered around the place,though, it felt a little bit foreign.  Like I was staying at someone else’s place.  I knew where everything was, but it was still a house that didn’t seem mine.  Yet it also seemed like it wasn’t a house someone had lived in either.  Which I guess is true too.

By the morning and a couple hours after, I was re-packed for a work week in New Hampshire, just a couple hours up the road from Boston.  No food in the house, no desire to add things to the fridge, by noon I was clearly clearly hungry – but the burden of finding a place with respectful parking on a Sunday afternoon drew a blank.  So I just wrapped up at the place, packed up the rental and tried to find lunch.  I went downtown, near where I lived when I first came to Boston and again was strained by the lack of parking and lack of inspiration.  But down here, there were memories – places I went when I had the time, stores, shops, pubs.  There were places I wanted to visit, tours I wanted to take.  I started to head out of town and passed through parts of Medford where I saw some of the old New Englandy parts of town.  The radio played sports talking Red Socks and Patriots.  I saw all these things that I remember

I remembered the optimism.  The feeling I had when I came to town excited on the possibilities.  The ideas I was going to come up with to make a life here.

I drove on, to the Lakes Region of New Hampshire.  Five days here.  Which is the first of at least four weeks I will spend up here this summer — four if things go well, eight if it doesn’t.  And if it does, those other weeks will be spent somewhere else.

It’s supposed to get better.

But maybe it will be cool to keep coming home to that TV.

So It Ends (Or is Ending … Or Will Be Ended … Or Something)

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It’s been a while since I blogged, the result of a long long run of tough days and night in a job that is hardly blog worthy.  But to be honest, you faithful Bear Feeders can feel calmed by the fact that really nothing has changed much in the last few weeks.  Where the story left off — I was on a long term assignment in California to support a plant short of people; driving no less with Auggie the Doggie crop dusting the back seat across country.  As I write you today, that assignment is still ongoing and still loooooong term.

As of tomorrow, it isn’t.

While the plant in Los Angeles I am at is still in a hiring process for the open positions, we cleared some hurdles that would have drained the resources and the need for me to stay physically at the plant is now getting outweighed by other priorities.  Another way of looking at it is – there is a bigger fire somewhere else.

So if you are expecting me to say that:
Tomorrow, I am heading back to Boston by hopping in a car with the pup and hitting the road..

I would say you are close …

Tomorrow, I am heading back to Boston by hopping in a … plane … so I can spend a week in not-Boston (aka New Hampshire) then hop on a plane and come back to Los Angeles.  And the pup is staying here.

So the thing is, a fire sometimes can’t wait for the little things like … until I actually get back into town.  That’s why I need to fly out and fly back.

If you are expecting me to say that:
When I get back, I am heading back to Boston by hopping in a car and hitting the road.

Again … close.

When I get back, I am heading back by hopping in a car and hitting the road — just not directly to Boston.  I have to spend a few days in Wichita.  So Kansas first, then Boston.

… Kinda …

I made every effort to get to LA as quick as possible … but part of the deal making I did when I came out here was that I didn’t want that same effort going back.  I need to finalize my plans but currently, I am planing to take four days over the July 4th weekend to make it to Wichita; then over another four days make it to Boston.  Rather than taking the most direct route … and most boring route … like I did coming out here, I intend to take my time, take the road less traveled, and see the things in this country that I like to see.

But that is still a couple weeks away, and a few more blog posts for me to put off and forget to post.