Handling my hinges

I had a day off from driving around. After wonderfully quiet morning, I took a walk to the nearest park, half a mile away. The mistletoe was going like gangbusters:

It was shocking to realize how much the tendons in front of my hips had shortened. I had to use a bit of the washing-machine action through the hips, to get a stride more than a couple feet long.

That’s way too hard on the cartilage, so once the washing machine warmed me up enough to stretch without injury, I stretched enough to let me take a tolerable stride without grinding my knees.

There’s only so much my tendons will release, in one careful stretching period. There’s quite a bit of work ahead of me.

I really haven’t been taking position seriously enough: spending so much time driving is not just hard on the torso (which I have managed with better success) but it’s hard on everywhere you bend, especially when your body sucks at bouncing back.

Short tendons in the front of the hip pull your lower back out of alignment, dragging on the front of the spine. This is terrible, as anybody who has ever had the least little bit of low-back trouble can tell you.

The way CRPS makes your tissues less resilient means that a few good stretches will not do what they used to do, back in my 20s and 30s, when 10 min. of dedicated work would put me right back in trim. Like most athletic young adults, I had no idea how good I had it… 🙂

Taking care of my hinges now has to be part of my daily routine. Especially since the driving isn’t over yet. Stretching five or six times a day, like I do my neck, which I’m still losing ground on; walking absolutely every day, or at least six days out of seven. At least it will buy me time, until I come up with something more definitive.

I fight hard to keep CRPS out of my legs in terms of circulation and sensation. Not interested in losing them to any kind of laziness!

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The Car Quest: the Grail is ours

My sweetie is between homes (long story) and, thanks to a few runarounds from shops that should know better,  between cars. That’s one reason he was free to come out and  help me drive across. We had a wonderful time and got our communication styles well in train, so it was a useful trip in many ways. But, on our return to Central California, it was time to face the more humdrum realities.

The first item on JC’s agenda was sorting out transport. First we had to decide whether it was sending good money after bad to continue trying to resurrect his old one (and here, as an honest reporter, I have to put in a very good word for Thurston Toyota‘s Service Dept, managed by Rod, who pulled strings and called in favors and pulled off some minor miracles to help us out).

In the end, he had to pull the plug on his faithful steed. He decided to go straight for his dream car: a VW Passat wagon, V6 with heated seats and leather interior, mileage under 100k, ~10 years old or less … for around $4k.

You realize that doesn’t exist, right?

After a particularly slimy salesman, many hours of driving, and sniffing out a lot of dead ends …

Incidentally, if you find yourself in Stockton and you’re hungry, consider hitting the Creamery at 5756 Pacific Ave #3. There was some confusion about my order, and it didn’t help that I had mentioned gluten allergy but not made a loud, firm pronouncement. The waitress was absolutely angelic, sweetly insisting on taking everything back and bringing something that I could eat, and would want to; and the kitchen turned my revised order around in record time. I expected a Chili’s type of meal — decent but unremarkable — but it was better than the price led me to expect. If I’m ever stuck in Stockton again, I’ll remember it.

Where was I? Oh right, used car salesmen and dead ends…

I called a number in a town I’d never heard of and found myself talking to a sweet young man who was describing JC’s dream car — and wishing he could make it better.

For real.

And then he knocked 15% off the asking price just because he was sooo glad to talk to a nice person after a busy morning of Craigslist trolls.

So 6 hours away from home (but 3 from where we were in Sacramento), we found his dream car, with a lovely young family of the warm and hard-working kind that you can’t help but be glad to give your money to.

We made it back to Clear Lake with breaks at the loveliest places JC has sussed out over the years. He gently scolds me for being too trusting and keeps an eye on the sketchier characters at the gas stations and — I just noticed this — slides up to me when he thinks they’re looking too hard. I’ve never been with someone so protective and mindful. 

JC says it takes the two of our screwy brains to make one, and then we come out pretty good.

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Made it!

Sacramento. In exactly the same number of pieces as we started out in.

I’ve learned a lot on this trip about travelling with CRPS. I have a lot to digest — and a great deal of paperwork to complete for the larger project. 

The next few days, we’re going to spend taking care of JC’s concerns for a change.

Then there’s a historically corrupt holiday which is widely celebrated (including by me) as an excuse to spend quality time with family of the heart.

Then we shall see what my brain makes of all this, after a chance to mull and recuperate.

Meanwhile, I’ve gotten used to blogging more often. There’s something to be said for it.

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False economy

I grew up in the desert… but I didn’t do much driving at the time. If I have an excuse (doubtful) then that’s it.

We were about to blow out of Laughlin, Nevada and passed a Chevron charging $3.75/gal. After a week of gas costing less than $3.50, and knowing for a fact that it was $3.25 across the river, I vetoed JC’s suggestion to tank up before leaving town.

He was thinking about the desert ahead of us; I was thinking about the gas prices behind us.

Our hope of finding gas on the way out of town didn’t pan out. We weren’t worried.

50 miles later, we realized we should have been, and wondered if we might be SOL. I swear I felt my late Dad’s gaze on me with that unmistakeable look telling me I reallly do know better.

JC called out, “Come on, Raven, help us out, brother!”

A mile or two later, an arrangement of plywood (which I’d mistaken for another ruin) caught his eye. He spotted it as a gas station. At that point I was glad to pay $4.98/gal.

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Arizona plus one

After a delicious dish of huevos rancheros at Virgie’s, we made it from Gallup, NM to Laughlin, NV in one day, even with a couple of memorable stops…

At the petrified forest in the Painted Desert:

Where JC exchanged formalities with a handsome raven (video coming soon)…

At the Indian Art Center in Winslow, Arizona:

And a brief off-road trip into the woods.

The western third of the state was wonderfully hilly, and at the end of the day, we both had a lot more energy. There’s something to be said for being on terrain that you’re used to.

Blogger ate the prior draft of this entry, which is too bad, but I’m not up to reconstructing it. I’m overdue for my Epsom bath… Here in Laughlin, NV, over one state away from where we woke up this morning:

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New Mexico’s beautiful names

Cimarron, Eagle Nest, Angel Fire, Taos, Chimayo, Santa Fe, Bernalillo, and the mouth-tickling Albuquerque… BEST names of any state yet.

JC checked all the vehicle fluids at the start of the day and is doing my laundry at the end of it.  He shares all costs with me. He keeps an eye on my stuff, likes my car and watches my back. And he actually enjoys driving.

I’m not sure I should get used to this, but I’m certainly grateful to have him around. Plus he’s good company.

It’s been another bad day for autonomia and pain (not helped by a 2am to 4am bout of cortisol-induced insomnia), but my left leg isn’t bad and these beds aren’t bad either, so I’m dosing up on tulsi tea to get through the night and inviting a better physical state tomorrow.

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Colorado Springs and the Paleolithic Point

Being part of an interracial couple can be unnerving at times. Last night, we walked into a steakhouse; I sailed in first, as JC had held the door for me like a gentleman. I was confronted by a very long table of very white faces, many of them bearded, all of them looking directly at us.

All of them. Directly. At us.

Not one fork moved.

I fiddled with my jacket zipper for a moment, dithering in the doorway, decidedly nonplussed.

JC took a look around, stepped around me, and sailed in as if he had just bought the place. He twinkled at the waitress, said something jovial to one of the guys at the endless table, chose a booth, and we had a wonderful meal.

He told me later that he cased the men over my shoulder and saw that the biggest of them was very much out of shape. With nothing to worry about, he defaults to playfulness and easy-going charm, which has the effect of drawing any remaining fangs.

I’m learning a lot from this guy.

Today

We noodled around Colorado Springs for a while. We were trying to find a museum which, he was told 20 years ago, would host an extraordinarily valuable archaeological find that he had made.

The museum had moved, with a great website but no address; and according to the website it had shifted its focus to post-World War I, while his find was Paleolithic.

We drove all over Fort Carson looking for the museum, called quite a few different phones with no clue, no answer, or an answering machine, and spoke to any number of very sweet people who had absolutely no idea that anything like a museum ever existed there… a museum that had been built less than 2 years ago — if it exists at all. I’m beginning to think the Mountain Post Historical Whatever exists only in print.

Sigh…

I have a couple of numbers to call, and if those don’t work out, I already have a plan C in place, which involves digging up the now-retired archaeologists in charge of the original excavation. Since his find saved their funding (and at least one doctoral thesis) after four fruitless years, I’m pretty sure somebody will remember.

I have a feeling there’s an interesting story that took place in the 20 years since that item was brought back to the light of day. It was very important to someone very important in his field, but it’s not important to the landlords who ostensibly own the right to it… And, at a market value of ~$10,000 at the time of its finding, that’s not a trivial issue.

It’s not unusual for great finds, like great works of art, to lie moldering in a museum basement because the present curator’s vision doesn’t include them. Even great curators have limits to their vision, and any curator who doesn’t dig Paleolithic craft is somewhat wanting, in my view.

But then, I am a bit of a throwback.

Speaking of being a throwback

We saw the Manitou cave dwellings. We were headed for the Manitou Springs, but I put the wrong thing into the Garmin. I first read about New World cave dwellers when I was five or six, and actually climbing around inside those wonderfully convoluted dwellings was a dream of 40 years’ standing. It was a totally unlooked-for gift.

JC kept saying, “there’s more…” And led me to further outdoor displays… the first floor of the gift shop… the second floor of the gift shop… the museum, with some stunning examples of work… and of course the bathrooms, which he knows I have to get to regularly.

We stopped in Trinidad for the night. The weather has been so odd – and so fraught – that the direct route over the Rockies, via Denver, was a little unnerving to me. Our route will bring us past more painted rock, and even some stunning canyon land. There’ll be a little bit of nostalgia for both of us, and there’s nothing to brighten a trip like telling each other stories.

Logistics

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about how to conduct long trips. I’m checking some ideas against JC’s horse sense, and will refine them further with my CRPS: Art & Spirit core group.

And then we’ll deal with the reality of funding.

This trip has been immensely valuable from the standpoint of researching how to make this kind of traveling feasible. The answers look nothing like anything I’d envisioned at the beginning, so this was an extremely useful endeavor.

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I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore

We made spanking time:  crossed all of Kansas, made it to Limon, Colorado (and the best ribeye in I can remember), and got our first glimpse of vertical: Pike’s Peak at long range.

View CRPS – Art & Spirit: renew, refine, research, revise in a larger map
Kansas was unbelievably flat. Not quite as flat as a billiard table, because those are too small to really convey the right impression.  Every now and then, there was a bit of texture — a teeny dell, a couple yards deep; a bit of watering hole; something. I’d stare at it in relief.

Then the landscape went back to flat. Really damn flat. I mean, flat, flat, flat, flat, flat.

Flatter.

The conservatism that’s such a feature of the Midwest makes some sense when you see it. The whole place is so flat (especially Kansas!) that there’s no privacy. You have to plant dozens of trees around your house before you can have any hope of discretion.

With such a constant sense of exposure, doesn’t it make sense that people would edit their own behavior before it can be edited for them? We all behave more carefully when we feel we’re being watched. Around here, it’s hard not to watch anything that isn’t …. flat.

Tomorrow, my sweetie assures me, there will be terrain. Lots of it.

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