Auspicious Starts part 2

Well even with the rough start we were moving ahead.  The next day took us farther East. The roads through New York and Mass were fairly nice. Though, with $180 in tolls they could be better.  The countryside was quite lovely and some of the trees had held on to their leaves. Many reds and oranges. Traffic flowed well and I could set my cruise control for hours. That evening we worked our way across the Appalachian mountains. They aren’t overly high but it was a bit of a chore to get through.  

We were going to stop in Albany for the night but pushed out another 100 miles to Springfield. The sun went down early and there was a light freezing rain as we crossed another mountain pass. I was very stressed and tired from the driving but we made it fine to our hotel. Dinner was at a Mexican place next door.  The food was really poor and I lost my debt card there. Sigh.  I keep telling myself one more day!! The morning was bright and sunny, if a bit chilly. We worked our way toward, but around, Boston and North to “All Maine Points.” There was no breakfast at our hotel so we were going to stop for food when I gassed up. However that wayside had no open shops besides McDonald’s and they were cash only.  Annoyed we pushed on. The miles were quickly falling away and we arrived in Houlton at about 3pm. 

Now this weekend was my Landlords birthday so his daughters had left to go see him. So the keys were passed to one of the husbands. This particular gentleman ones a beer and wine shop. Just what I needed after 4 days in the car. Keys and beer in hand we unloaded a few things and crashed.  The next day I was able to find a cheap couch and we managed to make this a liveable place.  I am excited for this new start.  Hopefully I can get settled in well. 

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Auspicious Starts

Well its been a rough take off but things are moving. Two days before I was to move I hit a deer. Came out of a shadow and there was no stopping for the poor creature.  Damage to my truck will be expensive but it’s driveable. Then the day before I was to leave we got about 5 inches of snow.  This storm caused my mom’s flight to be canceled.  The airlines refused to give her a hotel voucher stating it was God and not them that stopped the flight. Sigh. Well my dad’s best friend lives there so he grabbed her and they had a sleepover! We will be a bit behind schedule but oh well. 

I won’t speak of the evil threes in case I jeopardize my trip. Day one made it to Madison, WI as planned. The roads in WI were rough but we were out of the snowy roads so I was happy for that.  The countryside is rather beauriful with rolling hills, farms, and pretty trees. That night we stopped and mother found the rum that was packed for her.  Needless to say there was much giggling and shenanigans. The cats were happy to be out of the car and explored and finally found time to cuddle with me.

The next day took us three more states East. Chicago area roads were worse and congested. We move into Indiana and reminisced about places we lived in so many years ago in Indiana. I started Divergent audio book to give us something to listen to. If u didn’t know Indiana is just south of Michigan then you would be surprised to drive east and have state border above you. I-90 follows the border as you cross into Ohio.  I was happy with the expensive toll roads as I could set my cruise control and just roll on by.

This evening proved to be difficult as mother was in a mood once we checked in. She couldn’t figure out the TV and became very agrresive and condsending after that.  I, in hopes to get some food, said I’d go where ever she wanted.  Well we all know she can’t make a decision and my yielding didn’t help matters.  However, the front desk told her of a place in a nearby mall. It was very good and after she wanted to try to buy some jeans.  She couldn’t find anything she liked after I already bought some stuff. This caused her to become even more put out with me. While the night descended south I tried my best to try and relax and enjoy not being in the truck.  We still have two more days to get to Maine. Hopefully it continues smoothly. 

(I know I kind of ended this post abruptly but I don’t want to focus on thw issue we all know my mother can be. 😊)

Sunday Meditations

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I fully believe in the power of positive thinking. Perhaps, somewhere deep inside all of us is a tiny connection to everyone else. So in thinking of that, I will ask for positive thoughts and prayers today. I am driving cross country to move to my new job. Most of the way is clear weather but leaving looks rough. So if you all can send me good vibes for a safe trip I would be very appreciative. Lets prove the power of positive intent!

Getting What You Want

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Well it is official, I am moving. Leaving the great frozen land of northern Minnesota and heading for the rolling hills of northern Maine. I spent so much energy trying to move and when it happened I was almost dumbfounded. It is like when you push against something and it gives way unexpectedly. You have that moment of panic before you catch your balance (or fall). I got over the momentary panic and moved into action mode. I packed stuff and sold things and prepped to go. Now I am in a holding pattern. Hurry up and wait, right?

 I will be heading East at the end of the month. My mom has offered to come with me. A offer that I am not sure I should have accepted. However, it’s a bit late to turn back now. I have planed the route and set up housing in my new place. Now it is only a matter of waiting until the end of the month. It can’t come soon enough and all the same it will come too quickly.

 

Any of you from Maine or visited? Where are the places I have to go to? Any suggestions?

 

Winnipeg, Canada

I finally had a couple days off (I work 8 on 2 off/ 8 on 4 off). My schedule is horrible. No one is able to work that many days in a row and keep their sanity. I have been struggling but fighting back. I hope to get a transfer this year. Wish me luck ‘cause I am going to need it. Well anyways I had a long weekend and my roomie and I decided to visit Winnipeg, Canada.  We had been talking about it for some time and actually had days of together so we headed north. I have finally purchased my new truck and I wanted to take it to see if she was worthy of the purchase. She, Beatrice, did not disappoint. The drive was about 3 hours and I have to say there isn’t much in Canada. We drove through swampland and country side until about 40 minutes outside of Winnipeg where there was another small town. I understand that Canada’s roads are crap, I hear it all the time, but seeing is believing. They are really bad. I lost traction doing 30 on a dry road, that’s how bad. However, we carefully made it to our hotel in downtown Winnipeg. We were not able to get our keys but could park and then walk to get some food.  We chose downtown because of a place called the Forks. It is a little artisans place with a bunch of handicraft shops and ethnic food. For our breakfast we had Caribbean and maybe a few local beers. Afterward we were feed and watered we took note of the other food places we would want to eat at and wandered through the stores. Then we worked back to the hotel to get our keys and unpack a bit. Maybe a nap. The room was large and very comfortable.  On the way back to the hotel from the Forks we saw a sign for a Cirque du Solei show in the area.  Tickets were the right price and we booked for the next night. We had a few recommendations for places to eat for dinner and went out for Tapas and drinks. Food was exotic and good and a pitcher of sangria made us quiet happy.

The next day we awoke early and went to our continental breakfast. I have to say that these other guest were the most rude people ever. Cutting in front of you to grab a fork or piece of toast. There was very limited places to sit and many people, having finished their meals, were sitting reading the paper.  Super rude and inconsiderate. The food itself wasn’t anything to write home about. So we ate quick and made our way to the Winnipeg Zoo. Both of us are big zoo and aquarium fans and we stop at any that we can. This once was a little poorly designed and many of the exhibits were under construction. We still saw many animals such as, polar bears, camels, wild horses, tigers, and many smaller mammals and birds. It was a great way to spend the morning.  We returned to the room and walked around down town looking for used book stores. We found a few and wandered. We found a place that was selling shawarma meals, which is a North African dish. You must try it.  We found an Ethiopian place near there and we figured that would be perfect for dinner. Naps were in order to prepare for a long evening of entertainment and good food. This du Solei was called Kurios and was in an actual big top tent. Like the real circus are in. So cool. Our meal at the Ethiopian place ran long and we were a bit rushed to get to the show on time. We were about 3 minutes late and only missed the announcements about no cameras or recording. The next two hours went by way too fast. There was great music, outstanding acrobats, and fabulous tricks. It was beyond imagination and was the perfect way to spend a few hours. After the show and still floating on a cloud we parked at the hotel and walked to a restaurant bar that was open really late. Beers and munchies were delicious and carried us happily to bed.

The next day we needed to be back in the states to meet a friend who has a food wagon. For breakfast we went to the Forks (better than the hotels) and had good ol’ eggs and sausage, deli quiche, and porgies. All very good! We walked around the park and were trying to kill time to stop in a local brewery before we went south. Happily packed with beer and food we started back south. We stopped at the “middle of Canada” and made it in time to meet my friend to pick up some more food. All in all it was fantastic break from the dull grind of work. However, I am back to that dull grind and hoping for a break again… My mom is on her way up… gulp

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Morocco 2017: Part 3

Where does the time go?? Like, really! I have been home two weeks already. Haven’t done much in that time other than work. I was sick the last couple days but I think I have whipped it. Finally am mostly unpacked. Though I have to repack to a trip to my sisters the end of the month. 

So we left off where I was leaving the Gorge. Such lovely, peaceful country. We head back to the main highway and work our way west, toward the coast. Beautiful mountains surround the Road of 1000 Kasbahs. Our drive follows a low river.  You  see green surrounded all around by dry, craggy hills. At one place we stop at a Berber village. Here mud houses are build into the hillside with their goat and sheep herds high on the slopes. 20170414222835It was wonderful place to see this traditional village. A local even invited us in for tea. It was fantastic. You could really see how these people live and had lived for many, many years. We stop at only a few of the 1000 Kasbahs and marvel at the architecture. There are little bit of history in each of them. Low doorways give you easy access to your enemies’ necks and high stairs keep the animals on the first floor. At Ait Benhaddou, we learn that they started putting the granary at the top of the hillside fortified city (as you can see in the picture). This was to keep the crops safe from bandits. Ait Benhaddou is also known for the many movies that were filmed there such as Gladiator and Lawrence of Arabia. Many of the Middle Eastern movies have scenes from this area in Morocco. We continue to Marrakesh, the heart of Southern Morocco. We cross the 3rd highest mountain top in Africa. There was still snow on its slopes. In the lower levels of the mountain you see herds grazing and crops growing. Even here in the middle of nowhere people are making a livelihood. The colors are amazing.

Marrakesh is a huge city that all of a sudden pops up. We drove, for what felt like forever, then here we are! It is busy; lots of cars, horse, mules, bikes, and scooters. All moving in some coordinated rhythm that I can’t see. Our driver drops us off for the last time and we make the short walk to our Riad. A riad is like a mansion that has been turned into a hotel. The front door is flush with the alleyway and we have a bell boy who greats us at the door. We are shown to our room, which opens to an open-air square. The details and design are overwhelming as always. IMAG1281We take a guided walk through the medina and if we didn’t have this guide I know we all would be lost.  There are venders everywhere and people pushing and vying for the best view. It is a little overwhelming but the excitement of it all makes it fun. We eat in the square that night. People trying to convince you to eat at their restaurant is a little foreign from the way it is in the states. The food, as always, is fantastic. The next two days we are left on our own. I, of course, spend this time shopping and wondering around the area.   20170417155501The day before I leave, though, I wanted to spend in Essaouria. This is the coastal town about three hours west of Marrakesh. One of my fellow travel companions join me and we begin the trip that morning. Our driver was a little crazy. He was older and just not completely there. I was worried that my fellow companion, a tiny women, was going to kick him out of the vehicle and take over. However, in due time, we made it there. Essaouria is a lovely coastal town with the normal, slower, Island Time. Everything works a little slower on the coast–any coast. We walk through their medina and then out to the pier. There are battlements with canons around the docks and we are able to walk around the top of the walls. We, well she, eat seafood that I am sure was fresh caught that day. Then we stroll along the beach and put our toes in the ocean and wander until we need to meet our driver.  A great way to end a most wonderful trip.

The next morning the lovely bell boy, who I do not think sleeps, helps me to meet my driver for the airport. My flights are easy and on time. I make it into Amsterdam ready to explore but, of course, this is where my good luck starts to fail.  I get off the plane to clear customs and people are pushing and touching and way up in my bubble. It makes me anxious. If you move that extra 3 inches (into my space) you will not get through customs quicker. I make it through and then inquire with an airline agent if I can check my bag now (16 hours early) and they say I should be able to. Well, Amsterdam has a wonderful automated bag checking system. Wonderful if you are not over weight or checking in early. It took me 45 mins to find out that I couldn’t check my bag that early. So, frustrated, I go to look for my hotel ride only to not find one. So I take a taxi, the most expensive taxi ever, to my hotel. There I am told they don’t have an airport shuttle. I showed him the website that said the hotel did. “I’m Sorry,” was my reward. After I got into my room I take a moment to recollect myself then go hunt for food. Here too, there were people trying to get you to eat at their restaurant and I was to negotiate a pasta dinner with a beer. Yummy. I wander around some more and find the bus stop for my morning ride to the airport. Much more relaxed and rested I take my last flight home. It was so nice to see my kitties and sleep in my bed but I would go back in a heartbeat. Morocco was, and is, worth seeing. These people, shunned because of the world’s conflict right now, are the most kind and welcoming people you will meet. I had many offers to come back and visit their homes and be personally guided through their world. It is something I will miss. Their hospitality, I will try to copy in my own life. And one day make my way back to Morocco.

 

Morocco 2017: Part 2

The story continues with us traveling to Chefchaouen; the Blue City. It truly is the most beautiful shade of blue. To come into the city is rather uninspiring. You pass a very well preserved Roman ruin in Volubilis. 20170407165746It is fantastic to see each room still standing, plumbing that still works, and the Victory gate. You feel that you are in Northern Italy instead of Morocco. Mountains and vineyards dot the landscape. You come around a bend and there below you is Chefchaouen. It doesn’t look blue until you are in the city, from far away its white. Once you get into the city you find only the old parts are painted this blue. I am unsure as to why but I do know that blue means dead ends. We had my favorite meal here- the best food in all the trip. It might have taken a scary trip through stairs and alleyways but it was totally worth it. Leavening was sad but we were working toward what I had most looked forward to; Sahara. Traveling to Midelt really took you into the Morocco you think of. Craggy hills and barren lands filled the vista. You can tell you have left civilization behind as green started to disappear. And all of a sudden, in the horizon, red hills which turn into sand dunes. It is almost a let down. The sand dunes are magically there in the middle of nowhere. I expected a work up to the sand but nope there it is. Our  drop off point is still on rough, rocky ground. However, spend an hour on a camel and you will forget that you are walking distance from a hotel. It was amazing to ride into the sunset. The camels tied to one another made a train around dunes and valleys until we came upon our camp. It was very modern for sleeping in a tent. Before sunset we climbed the closest, largest dune. If you aren’t expecting a workout you will be horribly surprised. I nearly gave up half way up the hill. It was deceivingly hard. However, up on top you imagine you are a scout for the tribe. Sand and stars are your only company. You can hear the drums from the camp’s music. It really takes you back 1000 years to when this was a way of life. All too quickly dawn comes and we move to our next location. In M’goun Valley we stay at a Gite or family home (turned into a hotel). The family still lives there and they are very welcoming. One of the many cousins take us on a hike to the next village. We follow paths that wind between family crop fields bordering a low river. I surmise this river, the fields, and path have been here for hundreds of years. This is a livelihood that hasn’t changed just because tourist are around. People still herd their flocks and wash their clothes in the river. It became my second favorite place. (I think, Chefchaouen is my favorite)