Category: humor

Asked/Answered, Irritating People by Informing Them

My ole buddy Arab who learned lots with clicker and food rewards and also with classical training methods … he gets regular hand feeding now because he is nearly toothless. But he still enjoys any training session I want to offer him.

Do you ever reply to questions in Internet groups you’re in? You’re not one of those people who says stupid stuff, are you? I guess I am…

I wrote a reply to a woman who had posted a horse handling question on a Facebook group I’m in. She wrote, in response to some advice I’d offered, IN ALL CAPS! so she was yelling at me. She obviously didn’t want a stupid, behavioral, researched, positive-reinforcement kind of answer.

She believes I was off-target and didn’t understand what the problem was with this biting, kicking, angry mare. Oh yeah, that’s me.

What was I thinking? I knew I probably shouldn’t clarify when she brushed off the first person’s answer. But she was not getting it. Ugh! I have problems with leaving people in-the-dark when they are asking for some light on a solution.

Alas, elsewhere ignorance reigns. And the horse suffers – quite seriously in this case. Which is probably what spurred me on.

Should I have responded at all? Easy answer … Noooo! Do people actually honor FREE advice … mostly Noooo! Ah, they say thank you, but with no cost to them, there is also no value or commitment to the advice. Of course, this person didn’t say thanks…

The first person answering offered – how about clicker and positive rewards. I thought the questioner worried about the horse biting if she offered food rewards for behaviors. She wrote – “It bites.” So I said how to deal with resolving biting when offering treats … wrong.


I almost let it go. But then I did respond because, OK, I just didn’t want to let it go … and people who use negative reinforcement and punishment like it when it works. It’s a nice, for them, closed system – no thinking. Hence they tend to escalate their yelling or rude actions. Escalate, escalate, escalate … more, do it more, because it will work with MORE. But, what they don’t consider is it’s not good for them. It’s not good for them to be that way, it turns them bitter, shuts off their empathy and leaves them angry.

So I wrote, “You are absolutely right (I was being affirmative), the horse did need a different training approach (I was repeating her words) and that was offered by everyone who responded to your query.” (I wasn’t the only useless advice giver). And, I wished her all the best (definitely true –  plus I didn’t want her to yell at me anymore. Her negative reinforcement was working…grr).

Unwritten I wished some more stuff…

I didn’t say that her ALL CAPS shout was ironic. Although it was. It made me snort when I read it.

I didn’t chant, “Liar, liar, pants on fire!” since she had written that she used positive reinforcement. I wonder what she thought she did that the horse would think, yay, positive reward. Yay, you didn’t whip me! Yay, you quit jerking on my face! Yay, you quit bothering me by removing the pressure of your presence. Yay, you slapped me  and said **gibberish**.

(–Aside whisper– If you don’t know the difference – positive means added something the horse likes and negative means something aversive  taken away to reward behavior … the examples were negative reinforcement, the slap might be considered punishment and the gibberish, well is gibberish**horses don’t know English until taught words by connecting them with actions, but they do know threatening body language/tones)

I didn’t say, don’t take in horses to train when you know so little about — HORSES…

Or; How do I even know what the question really is when the writing is so lacking in key information…like not mentioning that she only wants new approaches in the same vein as what she has been using, just new, but the same … OK.

To be fair, horse training is mostly the use of negative reinforcement, advance/retreat, bits, whips, spurs, pressure – the good trainers are very specific and measured with its application because they don’t want to push the horse into too much fear or anger. And it works, horses remember. They are a high-fear animal and running away is their claim to fame. Beautiful runners.

Rougher trainers tend to work (find some success) with the calmer horses, because they can get away with it (they’d wreck the hot-blooded Arabs, thoroughbreds …) This horse was sent on to a rougher trainer, one who would ‘lay it down’. Euphemism – for tying up, throwing down and restraining until the horse gives up (learned helplessness, mental shut down and strong risk of physical damage).

What would you think are the chances of this ending well? And, who will be blamed? The horse.

Right …  The positives like food, eek! The anti-food line is a big, wide gap between what research says and what many horse trainers do. No, we don’t use food to train … that would be … cheating. And the horses might like it. They would come too close to us, get too enthused and we don’t know how to train them if they aren’t more afraid. We don’t know what to do when it comes to using food, except avoid or only give it once we get done training.  There is a long tradition of using the tools we use. They need to respect us (euphemism for fear).

True, that’s pretty much the way it rolls.

Yup, I gave her an example of how food could work to start to repair the inter-species rift, silly me. Will I do it again? Well not to her, but  …. oh heck, probably yes.




If you don’t want dementia, log in a gratitude journal

I’ve noticed that gratitude is often born out of misadventure, maybe that’s why it wards off dementia. I mean, there are choices; remember the problems and spin them into gratitude examples – ‘optimism r us’ or remember the problems, but don’t figure out any solutions – which would be the opposite of finding a reason to be grateful. A dead end. Or let someone else provide the answers and be grateful for them – which seems somewhat lazy, especially if they also do the work – maybe really smart.

I’ve met some people with dementia who are optimistic despite continually having forgotten what they were doing, but I doubt they were writing a gratitude journal.

Does it really need to be a journal? Do you have to write it? And are there actually any studies on this or does it just sound nice? Expressing gratitude is pleasing for the people around you, maybe this is just a plot to get potentially confused people to be nicer? Whatever.

Gratitude entry #1: Yesterday I dropped a used syringe out of my pocket in the horse pasture and couldn’t find it despite doing many grid search patterns over the area.

I am grateful for horses who were willingly bribed to a new grassy fenced area before stabbing themselves. I am grateful the syringe was capped so being stuck with a long pointy used rabies vaccine tip is low. I am grateful I got my additional hiking exercise in a grassy rough horse poopie area as the mosquitoes were rushing into full power. I am grateful I didn’t pick up any ticks (none that I know of) in the search process. I am grateful I didn’t write a review for the syringe seller since I now believe clear, gray and black is not the best color choice for syringes used on horses.

Gratitude entry #2: Today I hit the turquoise new post button and ended up with the message, flash program not responding continue or end program, so I hit continue, then after many seconds the page came up and I hit inspire me. I waited several minutes and nothing – I suppose this, if it worked, would be the lazy version.

Thank you for the frustration that drove new thoughts on dementia. Thank you for the opportunity to write in a gratitude journal, since I was actually intending to post in my dog blog, but this at long computer pause, came up first. Thank you for letting me wonder if computer foibles are helping to drive the explosion of dementia … wanting to go somewhere, but ending up somewhere else.

Yeah. Feel much more cognitively sound!

However, it seems that the building blocks of dementia are put in place up to 30 years or more before its onset. I doubt that backdating the gratitude journal would fool anyone.

Gratitude entry #21788: I’m 25 years old, visiting Pearl Lake. Lovely day, grateful for the blue skies, warm breezes and warm sand on the shoreline. Water’s cold yet, but looks pretty.

Yah, unlikely I would put my age into a gratitude entry. Plus dementia turns back the clock, don’t need to jump start the process.

So exercise anyone? I’ve got a syringe to find.




Saturday morning cat tricks

Every morning when I come in after my walk with the dogs, as I’m climbing the steps Smokey dashes to the bar stools and proceeds to stare at me.CattricksMar1512014 002

If he is late in his dash, or if you are in his way, he may do a cat bumper crash to get through – this is very important to him. He jumps up onto one of the stools and checks to see if you are watching.CattricksMar1512014 001

Then he proceeds to jump from one stool to the other,  expecting kitty treats for his endeavors. (FYI I just give him bits of a different kind of kitty chow as a treat, a high end ‘free sample.’ Cats have very specific nutritional needs and they really like to choose different food even if the current kibble is completely nourishing). The teal hoop is part of his repertoire.

But I’ve gotten tired of the same old trick just like he has of his regular chow, so I changed up what is getting rewarded. He complained a little and threw in a couple of leaps for free.

CattricksMar1512014 004CattricksMar1512014 005CattricksMar1512014 006Today’s trick is high five. Cats like to touch your fingertip if it’s extended (just like dogs like to touch your palm). They’ll reach with their paw or their nose.

Some cats will eat from your hand. Smokey tends to like it better if I put the treat down on the chair after he sniffs it.

We’ll work on this trick for a while, then incorporate it into the stool and hoop jumping one.

Do you have your cat do any tricks? Pre-breakfast furry entertainment, and I do mean furry, the shedding season has begun.

Gun fire a block away – it’s deer season again in Wisconsin

English: White-tailed deer
English: White-tailed deer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Orange coat, no white (check), stay in yard or go to town (check), orange vest on dog (check), and horses in close pasture (check), all for the joys of gun deer season in the country (for the next 9 days).

While city folks cheer on the onslaught of north traveling deer hunters (read those dumb guys with money to spend who become rugged outdoorsmen for a weekend), those of us non or ex-hunters who live in the pseudo-wilds are less enthused. Basically we suffer house-arrest or chance becoming a statistic.

Our error is in not profiting from the ‘Hunting Heritage’ (hear this in a God-like echoing surround sound voice). This year new hunters can get a license to shoot at deer for a mere $5  or even I could be included since it’s been more than 10 years since I had a license – all to support the ‘Hunting Heritage,’ but of course you still need orange clothes, a gun, ammunition, a place to stay, food, booze, a place to hunt, a tree stand, some buddies who know how to hunt, unscent or doe-scent, shooting practice, trail camera(s) and on and on.

A veritable bonanza of tourism just to get rid of an over population of white-tailed deer (26 – 45 deer per sq mile), which would otherwise be smashed on car hoods, eaten by wolves or coyotes or bears, parked in yards eating apples and fields eating corn and denuding all the lower tree growth in local forests. How many deer do you think it might be reasonable to have in a sq mile?

So far this year’s hunt started with a pre-dumping of snow and a first morning of minus 7 degrees. Pretty cold for not used to being outside all that much city-dwelling hunters, who don’t actually need a deer for food for the winter.

;Original title: "Hunting Deer." A d...
;Original title: “Hunting Deer.” A deer hunt near Deadwood in winter ’87 and ’88. Two miners McMillan and Hubbard got their game Two hunters around camp fire; one cooking, other holding carrying a dead deer over his shoulder. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If I were hunting, I would have slept in, had flavored hot chocolate and maple-syrup blueberry pancakes for breakfast and maybe gone out for noon time deer stalk. Noon is when other early morning hunters head in (frozen) and so deer might be moving then. Stayed out for a couple hours of reclining in multi-layered comfort in the sun (out of the breeze) and then get back inside for evening hot meal (chili) and heated alcoholic beverages…maybe a board game or movie.

Since I’m not hunting I did sleep in, skipped the risk of sitting or standing in the random firing range, or falling out of a tree-stand and just enjoy the pancakes, hot apple crisp and we didn’t have chili, we’ve got a pot of turkey vegetable soup, yum.

This season is the latest Wisconsin gun deer season can run so the deer are already out of rut (think testosterone induced stupidity making them not notice orange people with guns). And its really cold, there’s a windchill. And mostly the trend has been hunters spending less and less time hunting. The DNR was forecasting a good hunt based on number of deer, but our ‘Hunting Heritage’ might not be strong enough.

Probably have to throw some more hunting discounts at it and maybe another grant for training and open any area that’s not open for hunting yet (cities and suburbs). Yes I think everyone should enjoy the chance of being mistaken for a deer.

English: A neighborhood in Golden Valley, Minn...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Have horse will travel – what have you done lately?

Hornets, blown out tires, random farmer pit crew-like help, is this trip ‘doomed?’  Reggie swims most of a river trip, alcohol laden friend with expansive ideas on the amount of time available in the day and really sore muscles. Memorable, oh yeah!

Hay snack before ride.
Cola has a hay snack before being tacked up for the ride.

There was a gigantic paper wasp nest in the tack-room of the horse trailer under a patriotic red/white and blue saddle blanket. It took several dark flash-lit nights of Raid spraying expeditions – light, hold breath, spray-ay-ay-ay, then visit in the morning light to still see flying stingers, try again to quell the poor sleeping wasps living there. But one nest gone and thinking I’m home free and really ready for travel; not so fast pilgrim, another medium-sized one tucked in between the ceiling supports. Can’t load, fly spray, vaccination, stinger hating Cola into wasp hell, so I sprayed it down, swept it out and moved the trailer hoping that the ones out in the world wouldn’t find us again.

Tire check – 60 psi, 58 psi, 55 psi and 4 psi – what? One of the four tires on the old Featherlite horse trailer was reading less than 5 psi, not good on a 65 psi tire. Air it up and spray with Windex (the Greek, and maybe Italian answer to all things) showed a fizzling sidewall leak, ugh, not repairable. So with a call in to the Schierl tire place in town and a promise they would mount a new tire when I got there, off we went. Morgan horse loaded, Jack Russell terrier crated, sky is blue, air is warm, and myself packed and kind of ready to go on a 3-day riding, boating and partying weekend (OK so I don’t party that much, I don’t drink that much, haven’t been riding much this summer, I’m a married woman, but this is a single, partying girlfriend from teenage days which means reverting to old behaviors, kind of, and I’ve missed out on horse camping weekends this summer – it’s time and I’m committed).

The tire place was quick and with $100 less in my small brown leather purse we headed south with one new tire and three older ones.  I watch in my mirror for any tire weirdness, wobble, loss of rubber; which I don’t want to see, but did see 40 minutes, only 30 miles later. I just missed being able to turn off on a cross roads on hwy 29. There was heavy, speeding traffic as I got out to look at the hissing, disassembling tire. I’ve got about 75 feet to back up the trailer to get back to the crossroads, a little scary with the zoom of semis and cars whizzing past us. I don’t know, is this maneuver even legal?

Did it, only scrunching into one of those reflector posts slightly (the post was undamaged, my trailer fender and little fender light was crunched – oh well, I’ll need to replace the light and I pulled the bent edge of the fender back into place). Drive forward and back the trailer around that seemingly useless metal post and up into the intersection – yah, did it. Then across the 4-lane highway to a pretty white-painted farm.

ReggieAugsept2013 004
Reggie in his blue superdog cape.

Nice, friendly woman at the farm (if I was a hobo in the old days I’d put up a smiling cat sign by her drive) she used to have horses and was wistful about not having any now. She called her husband, he was at another farm up the road. He came in his green John Deer gator and had everything he needed except Raid – and I had that ready. He was fast, obviously had changed a lot of tires. I was impressed. Reggie and I played fetch, the nice farm-wife wished her daughter was there to see the cute terrier play, the pit-crew-farmer came to a stop when behind the spare there was wasps – Raid, sorry little striped stingers. Thank you. All I can say is thank you, that was sooo nice.

So now I don’t have a spare, two new tires on and two older ones. Keep going? Yeah sure, a little adversity – I’m still committed, but now I was running up against a time crunch for the first trail ride planned. Phaugh!, they’re always late, I’ll be able to make it.

And it was true, they were not even done unloading their horses when I drove in. I drive for three hours with delays, multiple emergency kind of delays and they drive for 15 minutes and we get there at the same time. I figured I had time to let Reggie do some fetching and Cola do some hay eating before I needed to saddle up, and it was true I had entered the time warp where everything runs slower and together, but many things have to be skipped.

We set off on our trail ride, along hwy 21. Eeoww, along hwy 21 there was some highway trash, a dead deer, a dead dog – one of the women riders thought she’d seen an advertisement looking for a lost husky – bummer, maybe we’d found him. OK, so this is a different kind of trail ride than I’m used to, so deal. Cola got real calm about semis swooshing by, that’s a good thing maybe.

We get to our destination, a person’s house, a very nice house. I turned Cola loose with the other horses we rode with and there was some horse posturing, horse exclamations timed with front leg fake strikes, but everything was good – the mares thought he was hot stuff. He thought he was hot stuff. It worked for them.

We had salty snacks (I mostly avoid salt) and alcohol (I don’t drink if I’m riding), the discussion swirled around alcohol induced verbal and judgement errors – many, and dismay over gay male beauty being a waste (I didn’t understand that reasoning although I’ve heard it before from other women).  The little dogs of the household milled about and barked often (Reggie would have fit in if he was there) – I had iced water, lots of it, it got dark, I did say dark – then we trail rode back along hwy 21 against the headlights.

Hmmm, good for one time and we didn’t get smashed on the road and turned into large road-kill. Cola was rather upset (just this side of a horse melt-down, I guess his day was too emergency filled) about two-thirds of the way back, we were walking too slowly, so I let him up front to stride out (burn up some stress) – still at a walk, and he was happy again and I breathed a sigh of relief. It’s always good to skip the I can’t see anything, road-side equine bolt.

Then it was time to figure out where Cola would stay for the night. My girlfriend thought he could stay in one of her pastures. I was thinking his trailer, as it was dark and I didn’t want to put him in a new pasture when he didn’t know where the fencing was with the chance of him going through it and injuring himself and needing to be found and vetted. We went to her place, she had wire fencing, no white tape, perfect for putting a real good injury on a horse that didn’t know where the fence was when other horses who lived there started chasing him. I said nope, he could just stay in the trailer. She said there was a round pen available which gave him more room and was still safe at a friend’s place, the same one we had ridden out of. It was only after I had him set and was ready to leave that I found out that barn had break-ins. Well Cola isn’t all that friendly to strangers and I hadn’t left a halter on him so I thought he’d be safe, please.

Eleven p.m. and settling in at my friend’s house, with Reggie walked, run, barely exercised – this is a Jack Russell, Benedryl’d -he’s got allergies this month, pottied and then crated next to the bed … tomorrow’s schedule included a morning trail ride, afternoon river kayak trip and evening dress-up dinner. Could we do it? My thought was, it was unlikely. Sleep, hmm, the bed was comfortable, but no I didn’t sleep much – first night in a new place, oh well and Reggie needed some extra night-time walks.

What do you eat at a girlfriend’s house where there is only chips, salsa, candy and beer. She obviously eats out. No fruit, no other vegetables, no breakfast stuff, but there was toast and butter and jelly and water. So next time I will bring my own food. I stopped at Kwik Trip for coffee and bananas, it was already after 9 a.m. The packed day was starting late.

I petitioned for horse schooling instead of trying to trail ride (because trail riding on the Bannerman trail out of Redgranite would take at least 3 hours and we were supposed to be north of Wautoma with kayaks at 1 p.m. – before which I needed to haul Cola back to the place with the round pen and leave the horse trailer there, the kayaks needed to be loaded and we would need to change clothes and hopefully have some lunch).

Schooling we did and my friend got focused on teaching her horse to load in her trailer and load in her trailer and load in her trailer with my help and my help…. It took pretty long. My efforts to prompt an early ending on a good note were ignored. I abandoned the trailering project and went to ride circles and squares with gait changes and starts and stops and lateral movements, because I needed to school Cola after that rather crazy hwy 21 trail ride.

Time to get going, time to get going – it’s 12:30 we’ve got to get going, ah, we can catch up to the other kayakers as they sit on sand bars and drink. Lunch? ah, nope. Oh, OK, I forgot, foodless time warp.

The Mequon River is a brown trout stream, cold, medium fast, clean, clear, sandy bottomed and Reggie wanted to swim it, not ride in the kayak. So he swam and kept up with the kayak and I paced myself next to him so if he got in trouble I could help him out of it. The banks weren’t always easy to get up on for a short dog, I swooped him up to give him a hand and warm him up as he shivered – cold water, warm sun, lovely day with a wet, anaerobic-stinky muddy, bouncy and determined to get back in the water 18 pound, well muscled dog on my lap. I lassoed him in the lime green Emotion kayak with his leash wrapped around my pale mud gritty leg, put a red, soggy PFD under him and clenched him between my dog-toenail-scratched knees until he quit shivering and relaxed. He still ended up swimming for a couple of hours, he was the entertainment and I was his keeper. It kept me occupied and grinning ‘cuz, you guessed, I wasn’t drinking or smoking. Smoking while kayaking, who knew? I guess it goes with drinking on sandbars.

The put in and take out were only about 2-miles of roadway apart, but about 4 hours of river-time. Did you say 5:30 p.m. dinner reservation? We put the boats in at 1:30 ish. Relax, time is flexible and it wasn’t really my deadline.

It was beautiful and everybody else was drinking (this is Wisconsin, the home of beer, and mixed drinks in plastic jugs) and there was no way we’d be done in time to do the dinner at the restaurant at 5:30. And I was starving, but who cares, it was beautiful and fun and beautiful.

We got to the take-out spot by the bridge at after 5:30 – surprise, the time warp doesn’t really extend to all areas. The sun was warm, the mud at the edge was particularly black and slimy and looked ever-so contrasty against Reggie’s otherwise white coat. Need to wash the dog off thoroughly, but not in this spot of muck.

It took a surprisingly long time for the rest of the party to catch up, and then to figure out how to get the put-in point vehicles. I was quietly amused, I had gone to the other side of the bridge where the bank was rocky and the bottom sandy to wash Reggie up, come back to the bridge top and realized he still had a muck area that  needed to be washed off, down to the river again. That didn’t matter, the others weren’t moving. They still didn’t seem to know who was riding with whom to go get their cars.

Finally people got into cars and seemed to know where they were going 20 non-time warp minutes later. But what about the dinner reservations? and the people expecting us? Too bad, it wasn’t happening. The decision, just go the quarter-mile into Dakota and eat at the bar there. Voila, problem solved, kinda. So how much did they drink on the river? A lot.

The bar we went to is a Wisconsin old-time bar with fish on Friday. It used to have a dance hall upstairs and downstairs it had been a store and a bar. The upstairs dance hall was closed after one of the drunken patrons fell down the stairs to his death. It was deemed the second floor’s dance hall’s fault.

One of my high school friends who was on the river trip bought several plates of fish, yeah bar food! I had a couple of rum and cokes on an empty stomach, whoa, needed food, any food, even deep-fried food. I checked on Reggie several times – untethered in a spanking new truck, but he wasn’t excavating anything. Reggie spent about an hour looking out the window of the shiny white pickup at the bar doorway, then he sacked out, since we were still inside, and slept. Slept deeply as only a tired Jack Russell who has conquered a river can.

My inebriated girl friend’s petitioning of the 6’8″ manager (I’m guessing on the height, but he was a skyscraper) to let him come into the bar was not successful, the dog needed the sleep anyway. The  river trippers were still amazed at his antics in the river, swimming, stick searching, root pulling. At the start, and many times after that during the trip people would tell me, “He’s stuck, he’s stuck!” with serious concern in their voices and I would have to tell them that he was hanging on – yes, I know his head is underwater, he’s bubbling. He actually did a flip when a root he was pulling on let loose suddenly – I missed it, but the story was told several times in amazement … that’s what he did in the sandbar pauses, root pulling and searching for stuff to pull up from the bottom. Very busy little guy – good fodder for bar talk.

It got stupid – as sitting in a bar will. There were negotiations on the price of bar T-shirts and a historic bar button-down shirt, minor food throwing – where in a piece of buttered rye bread was stuck to the recently painted white wall and unwanted fish got transferred to someone elses plate, threats of paddling with a wooden paddle that had hearts cut into it and long deliberations on what the inscription on it should be, and the historic shirt became unflattering head-gear (move over lampshade).

When I realized early on that I was buzzed, I stopped drinking, but the rest of the river crew didn’t and the eve went on. Talking to drunk people, they don’t remember anything, it’s repetition and laughs. I was obviously going to be the designated driver.

“Why do you have the keys to my truck?” was the question.

“Cuz it’s best that I drive.”

“OK, I still don’t know why, but that’s OK”

It was a very new white truck with some cool improvements – I’m still driving a ’96 4Runner, so I’m not up to date. I drove and listened to, not my favorite, Barry Manilow for the sixth cycle of the CD and sang along – why not? Reggie slept on.

I drove to the place where Cola was in the round pen to add hay and water, my friend just kept texting, turning the overhead light on so it was difficult to see and making apologetic calls about missing the planned dinner (it would have been better if she didn’t, but oh well). And wondering why we were taking the long route home – the horse, remember my horse?

Night 2, I slept well after a little while. Had to take a shower to get the mud and some pine sap off my feet. My girl friend was asleep immediately, no surprise there. Reggie was ready to continue to sack out also, good dog.

Woke up on another gorgeous day, heavy dew on the grass, crows making noise, but I had bananas and some yogurt from Quik Trip. Yeah, food for breakfast! But sore, scratched and bruised, sure I want to go riding for several hours this morning, just let me put on some padded pants (hey I’ve got them and they work, thank goodness). No hangover on my head, so sorry about yours. Ha ha, OK, not so sorry.

Bannerman trail is flat wide, grassy, lined with trees, lined with poison ivy in places – so take care on potty breaks, a nice trail. We have to ride through Redgranite, past the quarry, to get on it and Redgranite has a rule that horseback riders must wear reflective gear – got it.  A couple of hours of riding was enough, my friend declared that her horse was too stupid to learn more stuff. OK. Day 3, last day, did I say sore muscles, time to make the long uneventful drive back home. Uneventful.

Do you do crazy trips? Have old friends taken a different life path that you can visit sometimes?

Road trip thru 7 states! I’m back.

English: The busiest thoroughfare in Chicago.
Chicago. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I still feel the road, instead of jet lagged I’m car lagged. Even though I only got realigned by one hour of Eastern time zone by spending eight days there, my body’s confused today.  Rise and shine, it’s 5:30 am. Coming off of 24-hours of driving is like caffeinated partying too much, with odd aches and headache.

I drove I-90 almost the whole trip starting on May 8 traveling south in Wisconsin – toll road from Illinois to Massachusetts and back, driving matching the other traffic, the roar of the wind, the trucks, the radio trying to out shout the trucks. I can still feel the thump, thump of the wheels hitting the seams in the highway. My ears aren’t used to quiet, they feel like I was at a rock concert.triptoMasswithObe2013 002

This was a get there as fast as possible, a couple brief family visits in Omro, Wis., “hi, can I sleep here?” and Wadsworth, Ill., “hi, how’s everything, time to leave,” and Cambridge, Mass., “great photos of your Spain trip, wow, I wish I could stay and see the beach front property, let’s eat!” otherwise no sight-seeing along the way, then do the same on the return without the family stops. The purpose of the trip was the time in the middle in Northampton, Mass., visiting my daughter and getting her set up with the puppy guard dog I brought her – not the journey. Although on the journey I listened to books on tape to occupy my mind with vampire fiction, humorous relationship fiction, a couple of classics I dismissed before the first CD was over, beyond the mindlessness of continual driving.

There are no toll roads in Wisconsin. Illinois has toll roads and the system there is mostly yucky and awful; pay, get going briefly zooming in a pack of cars through underpasses and overpasses, slow down and pay, get going briefly until oops someone 4-miles ahead had an accident and now creep along at stop-start turtle’s pace for….and the lanes closed for construction make narrow passages threatening orange, smashed cones and fines for speeding, speeding, everyone’s speeding.  The minimum fine for speeding in a road work zone is $350 and so what. They like to threaten ya in Chicago. The information signs advertise how many deaths have happened so far this year, 348 on the way out and 352 on the way back. Oh ya hey, I wasn’t one of them.

In Chicago on the Dan Ryan Expressway I was in the far left lane, getting ready for a I’m not sure, but it’s coming up left going exit when a cop car zoomed up on my tail. Hung there for a little while, flashed and whooped momentarily, I’m thinking oh, oh why is he doing that? So I moved out of the lane to the open lane to the right and ended up in the process missing my exit. He just zoomed on by going ? 80?. I had to loop back to re-catch the exit, I looped — oops not quite, looped again, eek need to go further back, looped again – ya got it. By the time I re-found my way I was wishing for automatic video…I wanted someone else to see what he was doing – really what was he doing?

Indiana next has rough roads and looks like rough life cities and $4.11 per gallon gas, hmm when here in northern Wisconsin we’re paying #3.89. In Indiana the signs were inaccurate and so when 2 miles were up and I took the exit, it was not the right one. I drove around in some pretty countryside, under the toll road – well that’s it but no way to get on, then in Gary for a while, thought about just driving Hwy 20 east, but then I did find a way back on the I-90.

Ohio has good, smooth toll road, easy to get on, easy to get off, 70 mph limit, with nice and clean wayside rest areas and I stayed overnight at a lovely, apple blossomed, lilac blooming small hotel next to a beautiful treed walking area. Friendly people, flat farmed countryside, I think $11.50 for the toll road ride.

Then Pennsylvania, but only briefly –  I was passed and flipped off for only going 5-miles over the 65 mph limit – not fast enough, it made me laugh. Oh the ridiculousness of illegal but ‘righteous’ anger.

New York state toll roads, zooming through beautiful tree covered hills. I picked up a toll pass at one side of the state and paid $12 for the ride at the other, seemed very efficient. The clothing and the people changed, more hats and hiking apparel on older more fit looking women travelers.

Next Massachusetts, my destination state. The hills were steeper, the road more winding but very beautiful, I picked up my pass and when I got off the toll, the toll booth keeper took it and said thank you, no charge.

Reverse; Massachusetts toll road across the state, no charge – it wasn’t a fluke! Or maybe I’m special.

If I were to do it again I’d get an Epass. In Ohio I saw that they were cheaper and faster than paying cash – who knew? Well I knew they were faster because I wouldn’t have to stop, just slow down. And they work in all states except Illinois, there it’s Ipass.  And I’d pack more cold drinking water, somehow paying $1.69 for 20 oz. seemed very wrong and if only there was a way to avoid Chicago…

List of toll roads in the United States
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The worst speeding? Just outside of Boston on a road marked 40 mph all the traffic was going 70, this was matched in Chicago. Just think of the fines if blocks of traffic were pulled over and ticketed :), wow! But really, it would be unfair, as trying to go the speed limit could get you killed, run down, mowed over…thump, thump, thump and then the sign would have 353 written in lights.