Wednesday, November 25, 2009

White Sands National Monument

1
2

We woke up Tuesday morning and headed to White Sands National Monument before heading home. It was great to see all of that nothingness. We managed to get in and out without buying any nicknacks.

We came back through the Lincoln National Forrest, where it turns out you can buy Christmas trees.

The RV was much happier losing several thousand feet of altitude over the trip home than it was climbing to New Mexico. We made it home just before 11:00 o’clock last night for a night asleep in our own bed before heading out to Angleton for Thanksgiving with many of the same people we were with in Alamogordo.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Funeral and Stress Relief

1
2

I hate it when a preacher who has never met anyone in the family and doesn’t even bother to learn how to pronounce the name of the deceased gets brought in for the service. How hard is it to remember “Dorothy?” It only gets worse when said preacher, however well intentioned, takes it upon himself to ignore the reason why he was brought in (I suppose he had some fiduciary arrangement with the funeral home) and elects to treat the mourners as a captive audience for his own brand of evangelism.

I elected not to point out that the story of Jesus and the prostitute might not have been appropriate for the situation and that it did not even become part of the written cannon until more than 600 years after Jesus was crucified. I was proud of myself for showing such restraint. The one good point was that I was too pissed to grieve at the moment.

After the graveside portion of the service concluded, we all went to the furniture store where Kay works to have a final meal together. Her boss provided lots of food and told us to use the store, which is closed on Mondays, as a house. Again, the kindness was touching.

We soon began disbursing back to the various directions from which we had descended on Alamogordo. Suna and I headed north to the Three Rivers Petroglyph Site—where ancient Jornada Mogollons scratched ritual drawings on rocks for almost 400 years. Many of the petroglyphs are truly astounding, if difficult to photograph. (The best of the pictures I took will be posted on Facebook soon.)

The solitude and quietness of the site were what I needed to heal a little bit, not to mention the mile-long hike in the mountains. But it was not enough for me to feel up to seeing a couple of Suna’s friends who live in Las Cruces. I had been looking forward to it. After all, this is the first time in more than 10 years I’ve been in New Mexico. But I was emotionally exhausted. I pulled back into the RV park after purchasing some pistachio products from a store that features the “world’s largest pistachio” and promptly fell asleep watching Monday Night Football.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Viewing

1
2

The Viewing was hard. It was the first time in several years I had seen Dot or many of the relatives there. Sadness abounded. But we each had an opportunity to say a private good-bye. I was proud that my brother held up well.

Of course, Dot’s kids—Kay, Cindy, Bobby, Jan, and Glen—were all there. My niece Gaylene drove in with her husband and mother. There were lots of great nieces, great nephews, and their kids. Dot’s former boss drove in, and Kay’s current boss, who also knew Dot, was there, too.

Cindy works at the local Best Western, and her boss comped all the rooms for the family. I thought that was a kindness above and beyond. I certainly appreciated the gesture, even though I did’t stay there.

Afterward, we gathered at the Boot Hill RV Resort where I had a space next to my nephew Chris’s bus. Chris and I went to Wally World, and he bought a bunch of stuff to serve at the wake. He broke a smoker, table, and other supplies out of his bus and set up a Wii for the kids, many of whom were too young to understand what was going on.

It sure was fun (and soothing) watching the kids run around and play while Chris grilled burgers and dogs. The adults spend time catching up on the intervening years and slowly coming to terms with mortality.

When we get settled, I’ll post a bunch of the pictures on Facebook.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Going West

Our routing to Alamogordo. More pictures of the trip are posted on Facebook Photo source: Google Maps

Suna and I finished packing the rented RV and headed out for Alamorgordo, New Mexico this morning. The GPS I picked up yesterday provided an interesting route that would take right at 11 hours, including breaks for fuel and a meal. It wasn’t the route I would have mapped, but it was the quickest, most direct one. We enjoyed the changes in scenery.

We left Austin headed north on US-183 to Texas 29. That part I would have guessed. We picked up Texas 71 and headed for San Angelo. We passed a new wind farm on the way, and Suna took some pictures of the gigantic wind mills.

The first surprise in the routing came when the GPS directed us north through Big Spring. I had expected to head west on I-20. Instead, we continued north to US-180.

The RV strained as we continued to gain altitude moving west. The scenery grew more desert-like and flatter to all appearances. Only the inability to use overdrive at more than 67 MPH told us we were climbing.

Of course, the most interesting part of the trip came after dark. That’s when we passed through the Lincoln National Forrest and over the first ridge of the Rockies. We were coming out of Cloudcroft on the final approach to Alamogordo when Suna said, “Stop. Stop. Deer in the road.” I didn’t see anything, but I took her word for it and hit the breaks. An elk was standing in the road expressing his disdain for the vehicles stopping in his behalf. The first I saw of him was the dark spot on his chest when we started moving.

We saw several more elk crossing the road before we got to the 6% grade that took us into Alamogordo. We made it into the park without further incident and set up for the night.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

RIP, Dot

Image Source:
Moon Angel

When I was little, we were so close it used to scare Mom. Like the time I was playing with my blocks and started crying for no apparent reason. Mom told me she picked me up and asked what was wrong. “My Doroth’s sad.” A couple of hours later, Dot called and said she and her husband had had a big fight and wanted to know if she could come home.

Another time I started cleaning up my toys. When Mom asked why, I told her Dorothy was coming. Since she lived out-of-state, Mom said that wasn’t likely. But she showed up for a surprise visit a couple of hours later.

As we got older, we grew apart as siblings often do. A casual search of this blog shows that this is the first time I’ve mentioned her. We didn’t stay in contact much, but we knew we could always count on each other.

Now she’s gone. I’ll miss you, Big Sister.