Trip of a Lifetime–um, not exactly

But at least we’ll be getting out of the house, eh?

If all goes well, we’ll be traveling part of the way with my husband on a business trip. He’s going to Denver on Nov. 30-Dec.2, and he’s going to drive. (He can’t fly because he has a deformity in his ear canals that means they don’t drain properly, and he has a doctor’s letter stating that he’ll lose part of his hearing if he flies again, and thus the company would be liable. They INSIST that he travel, so he’s going by car.) He’s authorized to rent a van. So Mama, the dog, and I are going to hitch along as far as . . . yes, halfway along . . . you’ll never guess where!

Originally, he was told to take the route through Amarillo and then up through the Raton Pass. He planned for us to stay in Colorado Springs and explore some of the fun sights while he went on to Denver. But as it turns out, Colorado Springs is even higher up than Denver at over 5100 feet above sea level. And the Raton Pass itself is at 8000 feet!

The reason this is a deal-breaker is that my mother is 82 and has COPD/asthma/a pacemaker. In Amarillo, at 3000 ft above sea level, my mother-in-law (who also had lung issues) had to put on her portable oxygen. She could do very little moving around when they went up into the mountains. The COPD advice line tells me that at 3000 ft, the oxygen available will be 80-90% of what it is here in Dallas at around 650 ft. At 5000 ft, it would be less than 50% of the oxygen that we get here. She already has problems getting short of breath and so forth, and so she can’t go there and stay comfortably. She doesn’t have a portable oxygen generator and doesn’t want to carry oxygen tanks and be scared all the time. She’s even afraid to stop in Amarillo, even though I did find a great B&B on the rim of the Palo Duro Canyon that would allow us to have our dog in the cabin and has a kitchenette AND was going to give us a rate of $110 a night, less than anywhere but a Super 8 Motel. Aaaarghh!

But just when everyone was wailing and fighting, I pointed out that the default route that Yahoo and Google Maps come up with for Dallas to Denver is not even that way in the first place. They show the route going straight up through Oklahoma City up to Salina, Kansas, and turning left. The drive is only a little longer, although quite featureless when compared to the mountain passes and the scenery. But!

Hubby says he doesn’t care about scenery. He only wants to get there and get back safely. He wants me to spell him driving for the first half of the trip and be available should he have any issues. So he says he’s fine with this.

The halfway point in the drive is Salina, Kansas, but we’ve decided to stop in (wait for it) Wichita. There’s a great all-suites hotel there that takes dogs, has cable TV, is nonsmoking, and has first-floor king suites. The cost is going to be $60 a night if I can get them to honor the offer that is on the gowichita website on the front page as a winter special! Otherwise, it’ll be $89 a night, but that’s still good. The city may not be the sexiest ever, but I think the pollution levels will be lower, and it’ll be a great experiment for finding out just how much of my mother’s lung problems are caused by the pollution and pollen here. There are some Christmas lights displays and an event at their arboretum I’d like us to see, and they have an “old town” with historic buildings, plus a River Walk. There are a couple of diners there that have been featured on the TV Food Network. It should be relaxing. I will have my laptop and wi-fi, plus my iPod and a few books I’ve been meaning to finish. I might do a geocache or two.

So! We’ll leave on the 28th and get all set up there. Then Hubby will leave for the other nine hours of his drive on the morning of the 29th. He’ll spend that night and the following two days doing meetings and meet-and-greet events with his company’s people who work in Denver, staying at their corporate hotel fave. (We pay for our own hotel and food, but his time in Denver is on the company.) Then he’ll head back to us on Dec 2 and spend a night there with us before driving back. We’d like to take a side trip on the way back to somewhere fun. No rattlesnake farms!

I’m going to have my camera and he’ll have his, so we can always document anything we find to do that is fun. Maybe the world’s largest ball of string is nearby. I could be photographed dwarfing it!

Anyone have any experience traveling or living in the Wichita area? I have friends who live in Manhattan, Kansas, but they work full-time and it looks like somewhat of a drive for us all to meet halfway. We’ll be renting the smallest car from Enterprise for our three days of abandonment, so we can get around a bit. If you live in the area, give me a holler and perhaps we can meet at the Diner.


Author: shalanna

Shalanna: rhymes with "Madonna" and "I wanna," and is not a soundalike with "Hosanna" or "Sha-Na-Na." Aging hippie with long hair, husband, elderly mother, and yappy Pomeranian. I've been writing since I could hold a crayon. I started with fiction, which Mama said was "lying." “Don’t tell stories,” she would admonish, in Southern vernacular. “That's all in your imagination!” When grownups said this, they were not approving. So, shamed, I stopped telling stories for a few years--rather, I stopped letting anyone read them. I'm married to a fellow computer nerd who doesn't really like hearing about writing, but who reads sf/fantasy and understands the creative drive. I'm actually a nonconformist/hippie still wearing bluejeans and drop earrings and the Alice-in-Wonderland hair with headbands and sandals. Favorite flavor is chocolate/orange, favorite color is either Dreamsicle orange (cantaloupe) or bubble-gum pink, favorite musical is either Bye Bye Birdie, Rocky Horror, or The Producers . . . wait, I also love The Music Man. Is this getting way too specific and irrelevant yet? Obvious why I don't sell a ton of flash fiction, isn't it? To define oneself, I always say, it is good to make a list. How about a booklist? Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird Frank and Ernestine Gilbreth, Cheaper by the Dozen C.S.Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (all the Narnia books) J.R.R.Tolkien,The Hobbit/LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy Gail Godwin, The Odd Woman F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby J. D. Salinger, Catcher in the Rye (before dismissing it, actually read it) George Orwell, 1984 Kurt Vonnegut, Cat's Cradle Donna Tartt, The Secret History Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn James Allen, As A Man Thinketh Mark Winegardner, Elvis Presley Boulevard James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times The Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum Winnie-the-Pooh/House at Pooh Corner, A. A. Milne Peter Pan, J. M. Barrie The KJV and NIV Bible (each translation has its glories)

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