Durango, Colorado

Finally underway, and I made it to Durango. It took twelve hours but I’m here.

I left at 9:00 a.m. and it was still snowing in Denver. The roads were total shit. They don’t plow very well here. If figured if they can groom a ski slope they can plow a road. Nope.

And I was having some trouble with the rental car. Budget washes the cars, even in freezing weather, so when I picked it up the wipers were caked with ice and the washers were frozen. I finally got all the ice off the wipers, but couldn’t get the washers to work, and the windshield got so dirty I couldn’t see. When I couldn’t get close enough to a truck to get water splashed on the windshield, I left the highway to clean it off. So in Colorado Springs, I diverted myself to the Budget outlet at the city airport, which they are hiding far out of town so nobody will find it. Turns out you have to PULL the lever to squirt the blue liquid, not PUSH.

What a fucking idiot I am. What a waste of a college education.

The trip was much better from there, except for the passes. Passes are what connects the two sides of Colorado. They are high and narrow and, in this weather, covered in snowpack. Coming down Wolf Creek pass in the dark, I hit another snowstorm. I crawled down that mountain. Yeep, quite a novelty.

Frederick, Colorado

It snowed all day. I picked up my rental car this evening. Tomorrow morning I’m getting this trip underway come hell or high water. If I can’t cross the mountains I’ll stay the night somewhere, but my friends father who lives in western Colorado says the passes are passable.

We spent the day at a local mall. After I bought a gift for my mom we saw “The Incredibles,” a very good movie.

End of one curse, beginning of another?

This may be the end of what I like to call the “Adam effect:” I always, always have good weather (defined as weather that does not alter my plans) when I travel. Probably it has something to do with the Red Sox. I am ready to leave Denver tomorrow, and it is snowing in the Rockies (there was a rock slide along I-70 on Wednesday too). It is snowing worse in New Mexico. Not sure what to do execpt stay here another day or two. Not what I wanted to do.

This weekend’s been great though. Lot of food, loud talk, and poker with my family.

I’m ready to go

If I had been able to get out of work early today I would probably be on a plane right now. But I’m leaving early tomorrow instead. Last night I called to arrange for a cab ride to the airport. So at 5:30 this morning I was awakened with a phone call: “You’re cab is waiting outside.” Poor cabbie; the guy probably had to get up at 4:30 for nothing. I called again tonight to confirm for tomorrow. There damned well better be cab waiting for me.

Let’s get this holiday underway already. Cripes.

Thoughts on the coming holiday season

Almost Thanksgiving. Almost on vacation, too. I am making a point of not over planning this trip. In fact, the only reservations I have are for my plane and rental car. I want flexibility on this trip, which I think I can afford with two weeks of travel. I hope it doesn’t backfire on me, but I don’t see how it can because there are tons of places to camp out there. Contrast this with my five-day trips to Europe and Argentina last winter: they were masterpieces of well-timed logistical planning. They were also very hectic at times and involved sleep deprivation.

This is what I am thankful for this Thanksgiving: I am thankful that there is no Thanksgiving “season”. I am thankful that I don’t have to go gift shopping and that I won’t be getting any gifts. I am thankful that I don’t have to send cards or get cards. I am thankful that there is no Thanksgiving tree to decorate. I am thankful that there are no Thanksgiving parties I feel obligated to attend. I am thankful that the smallish burden on the Thanksgiving host never falls on a single apartment-dweller who lives far from his family.

Lest this sound too cynical, I am most thankful that this holiday is one of pure family. I have spent every single Thanksgiving with my family (for which I am thankful- not everyone is so fortunate). And I am thankful that the time I spend with them on this holiday is not tainted by the invasion of commerce and materialism that is destroying Christmas.

I still enjoy Christmas for the same reasons I enjoy Thanksgiving, but I dislike the Christmas season and am looking forward to spending a good chunk of it in the western desert.

They’d fry orange juice here if they could.

My long eight-day work week is finally over. It wasn’t too bad. I should be thankful that I am not a soldier in Iraq fighting Sunni insurgents.

I’ll be cooking some stuffed catfish I brought home this evening. There’s a Cajun butcher in town with all sorts of cool stuff. I’ll have to pick up some turtle soup (better not be sea turtles) or alligator sausages some time. I’ve never eaten a reptile before.

One of the guys at work was telling me about frying the Thanksgiving turkey. At first I thought he meant frying parts of the turkey, like legs and breasts. But he has a big vat of grease that he drops a 10- to 12-pound turkey into. He loves it, you can tell. His eyes light up when he talks about it. He says its good. I believe him- everything tastes good when you soak it in boiling fat for 40 minutes.

The solution to everything, in 300 words or less

Lorena called me yesterday, crying. We talked for about two hours. I really miss her. This is painful.

On a lighter note, I’m reading the leaflet the cute Jesus girl gave me the other day. It was printed by the simply-named Jesus Christ Baptist Church. According this leaflet, nakedness is a sin! Do they bathe? Do churchgoers endure a collective and pervasive reek every Sunday? I wonder!

But there is some interesting stuff here: good works, water baptism, speaking in tongues, joining a church, being confirmed, shouting, passing out, seeing visions, or giving to charity cannot save me from hell. All I have to do is “sincerely admit that I am a hell-bound sinner, accept the blood of Jesus Christ and be saved from today and forever more!”

It’s that easy? Can I live a lying, stealing, fornicating, philandering, dishonest, naked, homosexual performer of abortions who listens to Jimi Hendrix (a “few examples of sin”), then- out of fear of eternal torment- repent at the very end? Do you think I can time it just right?

I admit this is all very attractive in its simplicity.

I close my eyes and imagine myself on a sandy beach… wait, I work there.

Quiet and uneventful at work! At the end of the day, one of my colleagues found a comment in the suggestion box. Apparently this man was very agitated that we spell “johnboat” with an “h”. We had a good chuckle at the stridentness of his comment. Anyway, he’s wrong: Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, the standard of American English since like the 1840s, spells it “johnboat.”

I wish these people would turn their outrage to the gross underfunding of our agency.

A lot of little things are a big deal.

Our tiny division sometimes jokes, “God forbid any of us should ever call in sick.” Well, my coworker called in sick (she is very ill), and the rest are on vacation. We had boat tours of the marsh today, and we need two people to run the two boats. I had to split up the group and take them out separately, all before dark. One family almost walked out because they had to wait. The public thinks this stuff happens by magic. It’s a lot of work. We can’t just rev up the boat and go whenever we want. There are tides and schedules and equipment to deal with.

Ever notice the world is more complicated than most people think it is? Some people understand that, the rest probably voted for Bush. It must be nice thinking the world fits your simple little mind.

By the way, without volunteers, the national parks would grind to a screeching halt. I’m not a fan of farming out professional jobs to amateurs who work for free, but man, I don’t know what I’d do without dedicated volunteers.

It all worked out in the end today.

Maybe next year.

Work went fast today despite its uneventfulness. I have a long week this week: I still have five more days to go. I finished out my second year here last week and got a raise. The notice came today. Woo ha.

I’m thinking about cutting the Mexico portion out of my vacation. It gets too complicated with a rental car. I’d have to return my car in Tucson (more money), cross the border somehow, rent a car there, and then pick up a new rental when I come back. Probably I’ll just park in Nogales and walk across into the other Nogales.

I’ll go to Mexico next year. I like Mexico. I’m a little disappointed, but what the hell, I’ll see more of Utah and Arizona.

Blah Thursday

Work was uneventful. Spending an afternoon at our information desk is making me dread the coming winter. Thank god for volunteers.

I’m trying to plan my vacation without planning it. This is a problem. The rental car companies aren’t very breezy about when and where you return their cars. I figured with over two weeks of vacation I could just take it easy, be flexible, and get there when I get there. Crossing into Mexico opens up a whole other (almost typed “nother”) can of worms.

I craned my neck.

I got up at about 3 AM this morning to sit in a blind and count birds at a nearby refuge. It was cool, just this little chair under a camouflage canopy. As soon as the sun came up a pair of Mississippi sandhill cranes flew in and started feeding about 50 feet from me. They’re loud too.

So I put in a long day, because after that I returned to work. I made a slide presentation before the Biloxi Lions Club and got a free lunch. It was a very nice restaurant downtown, but the vegetables were all overcooked (very Southern: they don’t know vegetables, they don’t know bread).

It’s that time again: gotta start thinking about life decisions. Should I buy a house? How long before I leave Mississippi. There’s a job open in western Colorado. Very remote. Not sure I want it if I could have it.

Soon I’ll vote Republican too!

I took a nice bike ride into town to have a burger and to meet with Billie the Gregarious Realtor. She was hilarious. She likes to be a matchmaker on the side and she started asking me all these questions like “what do you do in your free time?” and “what kinds of girls do you like?” The Metternich in me wonders what her motives are. Anyway, I’m considering buying a house. Considering. A small house.

Watched “Supersize Me” on DVD. Pretty good. I wonder how much he was exaggerating his symptoms.

Had a drink and threw some darts. I’m the Ryne Duren (Ricky Vaughn to my contemporaries) of darts: I have to throw them a lot to warm up. Until then, I’m all over the place.

Telecommunications Deregulation Act of 1996

I’d like to get a copy of the Telecommunications Deregulation Act of 1996 and run it over a few times with my car. The wireless companies aren’t very competitive, and I don’t want to sign up for a two-year plan.

A successful slide presentation about the war dog training camp on Cat Island made for a pretty good day at work today. I wish I had time to do more research on it.

Have to get up early tomorrow to take the environmental educators on a marsh tour. Must beat the ebb tide.

Almost went the day without thinking about Lorena. ‘Till now. She e-mailed me a couple of times this week; something I have strongly mixed feelings about.

Cell phones don’t work in sea water!

Accompanied a group of environmental educators to Horn Island. I don’t get to go there much. It makes the island I usually work on look like Gilligan’s. Had a good time, but my cell phone took a bath in the sea. After two years, it may finally be time to get a new one.

I’m pretty disgusted by the election, but the news media is getting ridiculous. You’d think religious whackos are the only people in the country who matter or have values, and that we live in color-coded states.

What the fuck is wrong with people in this county?

The bright side: In four years we’ll be paying for this nonsense and maybe people will start coming around.

In the meantime, I can look forward to other people’s “moral values” being forced down my throat.

Got my bicycle back yesterday and rode into town today for lunch. It’s cooled off drastically. I’m supposed to accompany a group of marine educators to Horn Island tomorrow. It’s windy with rough seas expected. Might lose my overtime and a chance to visit that island.

Write in “Adam for president”

There were long lines at the polling place today. I only have to walk up the street a little to vote, and planned to go this morning before work, but the lines were too long. So I voted this evening, and the lines were still long. I was glad to see it, though I’m sure most of these people are voting for the enemy.

Ah, yes, and there was an anti-gay marriage amendment on the ballot too. All things being Mississippi, I doubt the “against” vote will exceed 10%. It’s an issue I am ambivalent about. A few months ago I emailed my friends and asked what they thought. Almost everybody who responded thought I shouldn’t be against it, and they did a fair job of getting me off the fence.