Hat on Top, Coat Below


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Archive for December 28th, 2018

November Road Trip

December 28, 2018

I’ve finally gotten through all the photos I took during my travels in November and uploaded a subset of them to Flickr (yes, per my earlier entry this month, I know I’m most likely going to have to move them elsewhere, but I’m still putting off figuring that out), so I’m ready to write a few words to go with them and thus end the discomfort I’ve been feeling posting about newer things while this older thing was still hanging out there.

When Mr. K and I left our mountain on Election Day, it looked like this:

Winter is coming


The timing of the trip was determined by our wanting to vote in person in the November election. Call us superstitious, but when we’ve voted early/absentee in big elections, bad things have happened on a national level. So we left our mountain with its dusting of snow on top and went down to the ag extension office and cast our ballots. On our way out of the state, we stopped for lunch in a nearby town at a place along the lake we’d never been to before (we were the only customers on this drizzly almost winter weekday), then continued east toward Illinois. We spent our first night on the road in Montana, our second in North Dakota, and our third in Wisconsin. Yes, that’s more leisurely than our usual for this route, but we weren’t in a huge hurry, so did things like stop at IKEA and the Mall of America and take a detour to a pie shop in Wisconsin we’ve been meaning to get to.

While we were on the road, Mr. Karen discovered that a band we like, Thank You Scientist, was going to be in Madison the very night we’d be driving past that city, so we decided to stop and see the show. They were the opener of the three bands on the bill, so we could have left and made it to Joan’s house at a more reasonable hour, but we’d paid our money and figured we might as well stay for all three bands—never know when you’ll find a new favorite. The headliner, Coheed and Cambria, was a group we’d never heard but the crowd sure had. The energy during their set was impressive … it’s been years since I was at a show with a mosh pit and crowd surfing (we olds were standing well back from that).

Coheed and Cambria


We made it to Joan’s house in northern Illinois in the wee hours of the morning on Saturday, grabbed some sleep, then dove into the main purpose of our trip: sorting through all the stuff in the condo and packing up the things that Joan wanted moved and other things we thought she might want. After two days of that, we broke off to drive downstate to see if we could do the thing that other family members had tried and failed to do before: buy Joan a cemetery plot near her parents. Mr. Karen had arranged a time to meet with the head of the cemetery association several weeks ahead of time. While waiting for him to show up, I strolled around and took photos of gravestones that caught my eye, like the lamb below who has aged into a sort of goblin. When it was almost an hour past the meeting time and us unable to reach him by phone, I channeled my irritation at having driven three hours only to be stood up into internet research and got online and found his home address. On the one hand, it seemed creepy to track him down that way; on the other, we had a meeting and just giving up and driving three hours back didn’t sit right with me, either. So we went to his house … based on the reaction Mr. Karen got from his wife when she answered the door, this wasn’t the first time he’d forgotten a meeting like this. Fortunately he was home and able to come over and show us where he thought there was an available plot not too far from Joan’s parents. (A few days later, somewhat to my surprise, Mr. Karen got an emailed invoice showing the plot, so we finally managed to get that taken care of.)

Goblin lamb


After our downstate adventure, we spent the next two weeks immersed in sorting and packing. I mostly worked upstairs while Mr. Karen, with assistance from our nephew who’d been living with Joan this year, worked downstairs. I took time off for a whirlwind weekend in Michigan and two trips to the laundromat (because we’d moved the washer out to Washington on our previous trip to take things to Joan) as well as multiple trips to Home Depot for boxes and other packing supplies. We all took time off on Thanksgiving to celebrate with extended family. By the time the movers arrived on the morning of November 26th (after 11.7 inches of snow overnight), we had an impressive stack of boxes ready for them, along with many pieces of furniture. In a few hours, they’d wrapped and loaded the furniture (including the upright piano) and all the boxes and we went for a celebratory lunch at the Indian buffet.

Moving day


Mr. Karen and I loaded our truck and rented trailer with things for Joan that we didn’t want to send with the movers and things we were taking to our home in Idaho. We left the day after the movers came, stopping for pie on the way out of town. The original plan had been for our nephew to come with us, but he hadn’t wrapped up some things he needed to do, so we left him behind in a mostly-empty house. We thought it would be just a few days before he finished up and his dad flew in to drive back to Washington; as it turned out it was almost three weeks; if we’d known, we would have left him a couple plates and some silverware instead of pie tins and plastic forks.

We had a very scary incident on our drive home involving a slow car ahead of us, a fast semi truck behind us, and an icy freeway. As we were skidding across the road and toward the ditch, I had visions of flipping the truck and trailer, but I managed to save it and pull back on the shoulder. The slow car continued on, oblivious. The truck stopped. He thought he hit us, had some small scratches on his truck, but we didn’t see any big damage on our vehicle. We think this dent, seen below when we stopped at a gas station in South Dakota a ways down the road, came from the our truck flexing as we took that wild ride. We did see some dents on our back bumper, but how they could have come from this incident when we had the trailer back there, we can’t explain, so assume they were parking lot damage we just didn’t notice until we were inspecting things thoroughly. This whole thing could have been so much worse; I feel very lucky.



Fortunately, the rest of the drive was uneventful, and our mountain looked like this when we got home (well, it looked like this the next morning when it was light out; there was enough snow that we’d once again missed opening day of ski season—maybe next year we’ll make it):

View from the front deck


All the pictures I uploaded from the trip are here (I think that link will work even if we aren’t Flickr friends; let me know if that’s not the case and you want to view).


On this date in 2017: Still Flickring
2016: Gettin’ Out of Dodge
2015: Today’s Molehill
2014: Drinking Chocolate
2013: Best Laid Plans
2012: My Mother, The Flapper
2011: Sock Monkey Makes a Friend
2010: Sock Monkey Tries the Dyson Airblade
2009: Monday, Monday
2008: New Toy
2007: Possibilities
2006: A Body in Motion
2005: Winter Count—November
2004: The Quilt That Isn’t
2003: No entry
2002: No entry

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