Karen's Page

Welcome to Karen's Page, a web page intended to keep Karen's family and friends informed about her cancer. Karen, age 40, has a rare form of cancer called Pseudomyxoma Peritonei. She and her husband Tom have 2 children ages 4 and 7.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Travel talk, part Un.

Chemo 7 is behind us and oh my, we are in the home stretch.

Hey everybody! I am still alive and kicking and just glad to be here. We have been a busy crowd over the last few weeks, and I am glad of it. Life is back into full swing with baseball, traveling, chemo, cracked heads, broken wrists, giant allergic reactions, running away dogs, and other such fun.

Let’s talk about the travel first, shall we? As you know, we launched the SANT (See America NOW Tour) a couple weeks back with the trip to the Grand Canyon. I am glad to report that no matter what I write here tonight, it won’t be enough. So whatever you get out of my ramblings, multiply it by two and that might be about right.

First of, and miracle occurred on Tuesday the 11th. We had planned to leave early on the 12th to arrive in Williams that evening, but as things came together we were packed, fueled, and ready to go by mid afternoon on the 11th. I mean we were READY TO ROLL. This is unheard of.

Karen was feeling well and had done a great job doing the grocery shopping so all that left me to do was pack the trailer, hook it up, get the truck ready, do the bikes, get the cameras . . . well it was a few things. Anyway, we decided to hitch up Barnaby and head for lovely Needles, California that afternoon and break up the trip. So we did. We drove out across the high desert on a road that I have never driven, state route 177. This is a road frequented by river rats and having known a few of them, I understand it. They play in the heat all weekend and then drive back to the valley on this road but I tell you they could almost sleep on it. I have not, in all of my experience (even in Montana and Wyoming) been on such long stretches of truly straight road in my life. One stretch was over 50 (that’s 5 – 0) miles long!!!! You just point the truck and off it goes. I think I felt it try to wander around just out of sheer boredom. Look at your atlas!

Anyway, we stayed at a KOA in Needles that night and the next morning headed west on I-40 (that’s The 40 for you west coasters) and drove. I loved it! I had forgotten the beautiful mesas that are along that drive as you change altitude, and the winding roads that climb up and up until you are at 6100 feet at Williams. It was tremendous, and I was really pleased with the whole thing. What more could I want? Karen dozing next to me, in carp-sleep, the kids in the back not touching each other, the Airstream gliding along behind me while I burned massive amounts of fossil fuels! What a country!!!!

We a thing by the side of the road that someone built in a giant ball sitting up on a pillar. This thing was a good 6 stories high, and open in places to allow a view of the . . . nothingness . . . around it. And then – I love this part – they have built little UFOs and scattered them around the property. They put windows in them, and seats, and even marked them ‘UFOs”. It is wonderful, and a true roadside attraction. As we came upon them, I quickly took the next exit to double back and visit, my mind a raging torrent of ideas about some goofball that built himself a roadside oddity and a souveneir shop that sold two headed alien dolls or goats with no heads from a close encounter. Shoot, as I wheel down the frontage road towards those glistening pieces of Americana I practically had my money out to pay the admission fee, whatever it was. This was a piece of craftsmanship that I could appreciate. I was really pumped up, and I was not the only one; there were some other RVs and a car or two who had felt the same pull and heard the five-note tone on the radio that drew them in.

I think Tucker and Hudson were a little concerned about old dad at that moment.

Then, as I backed the trailer off of the road up onto a dirt path, I saw the dreaded: NO TRESPASSING. It’s someone’s home, and I ain’t on the guest list.

And I tell you, it’s not some low rent junk collector either. There was a Jaguar and a nice pickup truck in the carport, so the owners were in there, they just weren’t talking.

We settled for some pictures and went on our way, but I was pretty pumped. I love that stuff.

We made it to Williams late afternoon and checked in the all-new Grand Canyon Railway RV park. And when they say new, they mean that it is barely finished. Now, it’s a nice place and paved everywhere with new buildings, shade structures and the like, but it is about as warm a place as a parking lot. Each site is anchored by a mighty tree that stands about four feet tall and has a trunk the thickness of a #2 pencil. That’s your shade right there.

But we had full use of the hotel, and were within throwing distance of the tracks and the train station. Williams is a cute town, built along old Route 66 and full of the classic American things that you expect to see: Safeway, Motel 6, toy stores, Indian art stores, etc along with lots of diners and ’66 themed eateries. It’s on the upswing, and most of it is due to the railway.

We had arrived. The boys took off on their bikes, and Karen and I settled in. Tomorrow was train day, and we were excited! We walked down to the station and got our tickets and passes for the train ride and bus tour, and visited the set of the cowboy shoot out, and checked out the hotel lobby and some neat memorabilia that they have on display. At 6:15 the first train of the day returned from the canyon rim so the boys and I walked over to see it. Hudson was beside himself, mainly because it was a classic 1950’s diesel engine restored to perfection and looked a lot like his favorite train at home. The noises left him a bit spooked but who could blame him? It’s a big hunk of machinery, and we were standing next to it and touching it. The low rumble of the engines at idle was very powerful and he was really excited.

Then it was back to Barnaby, into the shower and off to bed for the big day to follow.

And that’s it for tonight. This weekend, we will visit the canyon and all of its bugs, and talk about falling off the edge.

It could happen . . . . . .

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