Archive for the ‘unexpected’ Tag

The Unexpected   Leave a comment

So two blogs back, I listed the top ten favorite places or memories from the recent trip we took to California, while delivering our oldest to grad school.  I knew on this trip we would head into new territory simply because while our family enjoys camping in our pop-up in the west, we have never ventured so far before (mainly because it’s a heckuva drive and requires too much vacation time).  We have camped in Texas, New Mexico, Utah, Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming and Montana, and the states you must drive through to get to these places from our home.  But we had never continued past western Wyoming.  So when we reached Salt Lake City and went, well, beyond, I knew it would be different.

However, until you’ve been there–to Nevada–to California–you can’t know how different it will be.

Some of these differences are just wonderfully striking.  California seems to be a land of extremes, all different types of biomes and so many amazing giant plants.  Then there’s the unsurpassed Yosemite Valley.  There’s no place else like it on earth.  So all of these things were glorious.

But we had all other sorts of unexpected moments.  Those of you who are well-traveled know that on any trip, alongside the wonderful memories, the beautiful places, and the great pictures, you also experience the Other Stuff.  Stuff that is bizarre–the strange–the unusual–in short, the unexpected.

Here are the highlights.

First, it is disorienting but delightful to be able to travel from one biome into a different one when traveling up and down the Coast range in California.  You are in a golden, grassy field with the wind blowing through, and thistles, and twisted trees, and then you take a winding two-lane road sharply downhill past some vineyards, and just like that, you’re in a primeval forest of giant trees.

Food was definitely less expensive than at home–I could get, say, plums, for one-third of what I’d been paying all summer.

Also, the location of the entrance doors for grocery stores in California seemed to be a secret only locals understood.  It took me a while to figure out how to get in, since the doors I always walked up to were clearly marked “exit”.

We also had various adventures that were mostly created by the challenge of having one group of people driving two vehicles cross-country.  These included our scenic tour of the Salt Lake City airport, when our intention was just to find the last gas station before the Great Salt Flats.  The airport access and apparently the entire airport were under construction and the road followed a meandering route similar to what food experiences moving through your intestines, so it took us a while to find our way back to the interstate.  I’m sure the jet-setting departees from the airport were amused to see a golden yellow Penske truck crawling through the detours, closely followed by a dirty minivan towing an old pop-up trailer.

We also took an accidental detour into a semi-truck weigh station as we approached the agriculture check after entering California.

Then, once we got back out of the line for the weigh station, I discovered that while I was doing a great job driving the moving truck, the one thing I did not actually have with me in the truck was the key for the padlock we had put on the back compartment to secure it.  The key, which yes we needed when they asked us to open the back, was conveniently located in a very safe location: the glove box of the other vehicle.

We also had the door of the pop-up camper take a ninety degree flop to the right.  This is normal protocol and would have been ideal if we were setting up camp at the time.

Instead we were hurtling downhill from Donner Pass.  But thanks to the two-way radios, the people in the moving truck were able to alert the driver of the pop-up rig before any supplies came out to decorate the shoulder.

I did not expect to spend an evening helping my son pick baby ticks off himself in Kansas.

I did not expect to have ants invade the cooler at the RV park in Sacramento West.

Or to have a man invade the bathroom at the RV park in Sacramento West.

But he wasn’t the only man I found in women’s bathrooms.  There were routinely men in the women’s bathrooms in Hodgdon Meadow campground in Yosemite.

Perhaps this was because the men’s urinal was non-functional and full the entire time we were camping there.  This may have been caused by the sheer difficulty of bringing in plumbing supplies to a location so remote.  That was another unexpected–the sheer remoteness of the places we visited in the mountains.  I had no idea looking at a map that the roads would be so winding, the elevation changes so extreme.  There was nothing remotely resembling cell reception at either park we stayed in.  In fact, even after we drove out of the redwood valley park on our way back toward San Jose and were cruising the top edges of the ridges, where you’d think there wouldn’t be any large obstacles blocking signals from cell towers, there still was no reception.

But that was actually part of the charm of the state park we enjoyed.  Portola Redwoods State Park has not yet been discovered by the masses.  They don’t give change at the gift shop, and they don’t accept outgoing mail.  It is quiet and un-busy there.  One of the most rewarding events during our stay there was that Portola has been discovered by the masses–masses of vivid yellow banana slugs.  We got to meet them and play with them on our second day after a light rain brought them out trolling the campground for treats.  So I’d have to say another unexpected thing about California was the sheer number of luscious banana slugs.

Also, we learned that a yellow jacket is strong enough to take off with a bacon bit in her mandibles.  I did not know that.

She landed on someone’s salad plate after dinner, found an abandoned bacon bit, checked it out, grasped it firmly and then to the surprise of all managed to lift off!  Sure the flight trajectory was a bit sloppy, and she buzzed my forehead as she took off, but she left with that bacon, and came back later for more.

Our campsite in Yosemite was totally unexpected.  The ranger at the check in said he wasn’t sure how we’d park our pop-up in site thirty-three but we thought he was joking–until we got to the site.  We look at it.  Silence.  Then my husband says, “I’m sorry.  I had no idea this site was like this.”  It really wasn’t his fault that it was approximately forty feet from the road to the picnic table and bear box, and downhill steeply enough all the way that, no, you really couldn’t level an RV of any kind on the provided pad.  We had to camp parallel to the road crammed in behind a large dumpster.  The compensations were that we ended up cooking outside at the table near the bear box, since that’s where all the food was anyway, it was actually quite pleasant, and we were reminded that we could survive without using the super galley kitchen inside the pop-up.

I guess I should have expected something groovy and relaxed, since we were on the beach in California, but I was not quite ready to see a naked old man dive into the freezing surf at Point Reyes.

However, as I say, this is California.

One of the last unexpected things actually happened at home.  Our pop-up has an awning we use sometimes and like most such awnings, it stores rolled up, attached to the length of the pop-up by adhesive.  When you’re driving at highway speed and it’s an unusually windy day, you will see the awning bag flop up and down when looking in the rear view mirror.  It did that all the way across Kansas (because why would it be windy in Kansas?) and I remember thinking “of course this awning is designed to handle the stress of being blown like that.”

We were unloading the supplies the day after we got back.  After taking a short break, I went back out for the remainders, to discover the entire awning lying peacefully on the doorstep of the camper.  After thousands and thousands of miles on the road during which it could have given way to bludgeon the vehicle behind us, instead it waited until we were at home to drop to the ground.

Now that’s unexpected.

 

 

 

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Posted October 24, 2017 by swanatbagend in humor, travel journal

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What I Didn’t Expect   Leave a comment

There’s always something I didn’t expect that throws me off balance, but this time is worse than usual.

I started the GAPS introduction diet November 12th and have now been on it for almost 6 weeks.  It took a few months for the pieces to come together in my mind to convince me I needed to do this diet, and then it took me another several months to get all my menu plans in order and my basic items purchased and prepared.

So I knew just based on how long it took me to get ready that it was a complicated diet, and in fact, I should probably call it a lifestyle change.  It’s not like reading about it over and over left me in the dark as to all the things I would be preparing.

But it’s one thing to carefully plan for a big change, another to live it.

And as often happens, when I set out to do a good thing, I always underestimate how much time it is going to take to accomplish the work.  It reminds me of when I joined the ICAN board in 2003.  Somehow I thought that I would magically be able to do a job the previous volunteer said took twenty hours a week in less time than that.

Nope, not going to happen.

And it didn’t this time either.

So, when I cook meat and vegetable meals from scratch, and make broth every other day, and make my own yogurt, sour cream, whey and ghee…that’s going to take time.  I haven’t even done my own fermented vegetables yet, been buying those.  Then, I’m still managing the food and shopping for everyone.  The rest of the family, mainly the kids, are preparing their own main dish, vegetable and salad many nights, and nobody has said one complaining word about the amount of dishes that this plan has created.  And it has created a veritable mountain of dirty dishes.  So it is wonderful they are just doing them.

But, the reality is, I’m still the mastermind behind what is to be served and what their options are to choose from.  I’m still the one figuring this out, stocking the fridge and the pantry, and being on hand to give advice if needed.

Some nights I combine us all, if we are just having meat, and vegetables as sides, and that helps.  But more nights than not, five or six items get prepared, creating all the dishes.

And while I estimated in a previous blog that cooking, shopping and food prep took me about twenty hours a week, my current total is 27 to 30 hours a week.  So I’ve added seven more hours, about an hour per day, to planning and cooking, in a schedule that already felt tight.  I was definitely not expecting that to happen, as I already cooked mostly from scratch and did not think this would be that much different.

It’s odd.  I’m feeling some guilt and shame for not being able to manage this better.  I’m asking myself where I could cut unnecessary activities or events, or if I could do some component of my day faster, or if I could delegate more to the rest of the family.  They already do most of the cleaning, laundry, dishes, and now a lot of the cooking.  I’m moving as fast as someone with chronic problems can move.  I can’t think of anything.  This diet protocol just takes time.

So I find myself wishing that somehow amidst all the reading I did, that someone had warned me how stressed I would get doing this diet.  I don’t think I saw that anywhere.  I am stressed right now, and I know that is not supposed to be the outcome of a truly healthy diet, that comes with detox baths every night.  The outcome is supposed to be improvement.

I’m not there yet.

 

Posted December 23, 2016 by swanatbagend in diet

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Plans   Leave a comment

So it’s been a while since I blogged.

In fact I’m not even sure how long it’s been.

Picture the graphic that’s been shared on Facebook.  I posted it on my page about a month ago.  Two pieces of graph paper side by side: the left one has a sharp, smooth, beautifully straight vector heading upward at 45 degrees.  The right image is of a line which loops all over the graph paper, completely out of control.

Captions?  Left side reads, “What I planned.” Right side reads, “What actually happened.”

Truer vectors were never drawn.

I usually make the mistake of thinking June will be less busy because school is out (it never is), but this year several additional variables got thrown in the works, primarily an ill-formed foray into the world of hormone replacement therapy.  The theory was it would help me sleep better if I took estrogen.

It didn’t turn out that way.  Instead I’ve spent over two months working my way back from relentless palpitations that lasted all night long (thankfully it wasn’t every night and is now much better), being completely off thyroid medication (which I actually do need) for four weeks,  and starting a different thyroid medication (which I am still in the process of ramping up).  Well, it was my idea, and worth trying.  Still, it’s a classic example of the graph which I shared.

Expect the unexpected is a word to the wise.  I try not to, and I guess I believe that if I assume it hard enough, things will be predictable and comfortable.

Never.

Posted June 28, 2015 by swanatbagend in reality

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