28 March, 2009

A Quick Visit to Texas

Here they are in the backseat...

Visited my folks in Texas today. Woke up at 3 am, woke up Maricel, took Ruby (per previous blog, we were relinquishing her to my awesome folks) and off we go the day after a huge spring storm closed many school districts in our state.

We leave so early, I had to take a nap or run the risk of falling asleep at the wheel. That's not going to happen, got some precious cargo today kids. So we crash out in Pueblo.

My biggest concern was this high mountain pass called Raton pass which is named after the border town of NM. This is notoriously nasty after any snow storm. Deservedly today was no exception. I'm surprised they didn't shut it down. People were slip sliding all the place. I would've taken a picture of it but I needed both hands on the wheel to stay on the ice covering the pass. It was crazy. I kept in 4wd and went at chill speed. Needless to say some people didn't and they found themselves either off in a ditch or high curbed in the median. Crazy tykes.

Our usual route is to take NM highway 64/87 through the Mt Capulin volcano stretch of prime ranch land(s) towards Clayton, NM. As were making good time a State Patroler said this stretch of highway is closed to 2-3" of ice blanketing a good part of the highway and will plan to reopen around noon. we get there around 8:30 a.m. I was thinking, this is some bullshit after risking life and limb going up Raton and waking up early this morning to sit for four-ish hours? I don't think so Dudly Dooright. I call my father in-law Bob for a detour. He says continue south on I-25 to a town called Springer, NM. NM dept. of transportation didn't list this as closed to due weather but it said it had icy patches; and he continued if you stay on this it'll dump you onto Clayton, NM and onto Texas where their roads were open.

Sho nuff it worked but I didn't go very fast because it was pretty icy. A route that takes normally 2H took about 3 going a max of 55 mph. Oh well, it did get me to Clatyon and onto Texas. Speaking of which, this part of Texas is considered to be the panhandle. The part where Texas gets the brunt of the cold fronts. Took some interesting pictures here. Cows on the highway...

...slush and ice covering the highway...

...and some abandoned vehicles.

Nutty. I'm grateful that my brother in-law Scotty helped me do the brakes a week before the trip. I was foolish for neglecting my brakes for that long...

There was a rest stop outside Quanah, TX with some interesting signage...

...needless to say Maricel didn't want to play. Go figure.

When I finally arrive it's absolutely great seeing my folks. My Dad was in the hospital for surgery and seeing him in the hospital was great. It made the nerve-wracking drive feel like a Sunday drive. He was in such great spirits and recovering so well, I was just grateful for modern technology. It was late when we got in Saturday so we were pretty wiped out after seeing him and Maricel and I crashed.

Sunday, my Dad was released after the CAT scan revealed nothing. Before that though we visited him in the morning with some Starbucks and I put some new tunes on his iPod as he-we-waited for the Dr.'s decision to release him. Sunday dinner was great! We had some take-out from a Vietnamese restaurant and drank some tasty Belgium beer called St. Bernardus.

Nothing like eating a nice dinner and drinking quality beer with the family! It's like icing on the cake really. Here Maricel and I were hanging out with my folks talking as if we were all living under the same roof as if my Dad never had surgery. Nothing like getting reacquainted with your folks face-to-face. Yeah the phone's great but nothing substitutes conversations over a sit down dinner. Since we were technically on vacation I told Maricel that I wouldn't bust her chops too bad if she wanted to stay up late, watch those silly cartoons, and that the junk food ban would be temporarily lifted as well. My Mom was exponentially gracious when we were there. I can't repeat enough how grateful I was just being there and seeing my Dad recover so well and just hanging out with both my parents was almost surreal. I help my folks running some some errands and help my Dad's computer be less cluttered with junk files (it runs soooo slow). He bought an external HD and I put his pictures (he has a digital SLR and each picture's like 4 megabytes) and other files that occupy major bits of memory on it. It seems to run quicker. I also brought my external HD and I put all the songs from my iTunes library onto his library that I thought he and Mom would like (Dwight Yoakam, Hank Williams Sr., Stravinsky...etc.).

The flipside to all this was leaving Ruby behind the next day. It was difficult to drive away seeing a dog we raised as an altricial puppy, dependent on us for its well-being and it's disposition now as a large, adult, gentle soul (except towards Addie). I tried not to cry in front of her but as we got further down the alley Maricel and I lost it quietly for a rather long time. Earlier that day my Mom bought her a teddy-dog and I put Ruby's original collar and her dog tag on the teddy-dog. On the way out of town, whenever the teddy-dog was moved her dog-tag clinked. Every time it clinked we thought Ruby was in the back seat of my truck like old times. I called my folks after we get a hotel room and Dad's out back with Ruby to make her go potty before sleep. He said whenever a car went by in the alley Ruby gets excited thinking it's me and Maricel returning to get her. AAAhhhhhh! That of course gently breaks my heart hearing that. Ruby now gets a family that's devoted to one dog--her--and retired as well so that she doesn't go for long blocks of time with absentee owners (like us). My Dad loves her and Ruby I know, over time, will grow to love my Mom and Dad back. I just wonder if she feels betrayed by us not coming back to get her. We feel awful about that and we'll never forget her. I talk about Ruby to see if it would be therapeutic to talk about it but instead Maricel asks me to talk about something else. I can respect that. The car gets quiet for a while because I don't believe in small talk and our minds are just in disbelief of Ruby's situation.

As a coping mechanism, since we're so in tuned with the dog tag clink and it gets our minds thinking of Ruby again, I come up with this: everytime we hear the clink, it's because Ruby and Maricel and me are all thinking of each other at the same time. We like this. It makes us feel better rather than sad.

It was a very emotional, grateful, humbling, and appreciative 2.5 days being with my folks and travelling and hanging out with my eldest daughter. What a weekend...

I need to start racing my bike again weather permitting to get my mind distracted. It's been snowing like a muthuh up here every weekend.

Wednesday, Melissa and I are hanging it out with my brother Neil in San Diego. That'll be cool.

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