20 Hours in a UHaul, Ticks, Creepy Houses, and Shelter Belts

I am sitting here listening to Ryan Farish radio on Pandora, hearing the hum of the soda machine and dull roar of the new AC unit. Sometimes footsteps cross the floor above me as people work upstairs and still I am finding an eerie calm amongst the noises. I have finished cleaning of the studio wall to wall on either side. I’ve swept, dusted, mopped, and scrubbed till sweat ran down my face and neck. That got finished early and I am waiting here to do a studio tour with a dear friend that I’ve not seen eye to eye over the course of the past six or so months due to a secondhand disagreement brought on by someone playing both of us.

This studio really is my happy place. I feel like I can be whatever I want to be… Creative, loud, crazy, quiet… Whatever. It’s as calming as home here. I can look around, see what I’ve accomplished and see what I can still do. It feels good here.

Anyhoo…. About time I broke down my journey out west isn’t it? South Dakota parents are finding themselves moving back here to their home soil of Michigan, in the process looking for a place to call theirs nearby Hubby and I. Both have some varying health issues which is the driving force for the relocation, so I flew out to South Dakota to help with cleaning, packing, and driving back with the initial load.

I flew. I went on an airplane. I googled for the week leading up to my flight- how do I pack this and that, what does TSA look for, what are the TSA rules, how should I pack for a quick run through security? Everything! When I stepped off my airplane into the swirling chaos known as 9-11-2001- that was the last time I flew. Done.  End of file. Somewhere deep inside of me created this pact with myself that if I couldn’t get there by bus or car, I guess I’m just not going there because of the damaging terror I went thru that day. Like somehow- if I ever flew again that same would happen. Also, getting off that airplane was my leaving one era of flight and entering a new realm of air travel forever changed. It was the end of innocence. So honestly I had no idea how to fly again- hence Google saved my ass.

I didn’t sleep the night before in spite of taking a long walk with Mouse, drinking sleepy tea, taking anxiety meds, going to bed early… I laid there next to my snoring Hubby, staring at the ceiling begging my brain to just stop thinking. I may have dozed off for about 20 minutes just before my alarm went off at 3:45 am. I got up, dressed, did hair and make-up, woke Hubby up and off across the dark highway countryside we went to the airport. He kissed me goodbye at the curb, I chained smoked three cigarettes and went into the airport, bound for security. Off came the jewelry, the shoes, my belt. I opened up my backpack and carry on, took out all my snacks and watched my things go rolling into the scanner while myself went through the body scanner.

It all felt mechanical and scary and on the cusp of invisibly violating. Post body scan I went to retrieve my items, getting a polite smile from the TSA agent and his compliment of  “You have the most perfectly packed items we’ve seen in a very long time.” Tummy knots started unwinding as I put my things together again and headed down the line of gates. Naturally mine was at the very end. I stopped at a magazine shop, looked around, and settled on a Vogue and two new yoga magazines as well as a $8 bag of dried coconut chips (I hadn’t had breakfast, was seriously nauseous and wanted a little something to settle my stomach). Overpriced, but Hubby told me it’s the thing to do while you’re at the airport.

I checked both my bags at the luggage thingy at my gate, making sure they would fit the requirements and sat down. There- I became a cliché. Munching on coconut chips, sipping water from my plastic bottle, wearing my cowl neck long sleeve tee shirt, comfy jeans, polished black boots, reading Vogue magazine and taking notes in my photography notebook on concepts that came to me as I flipped the glossy pages… I became that upscale hipster chick. After an hour, we boarded the flight. I tucked my suitcase in the overhead compartment, slid into my window seat and cranked up the music in my headphones, trying to remind myself everything was okay and to breath. An older gentleman took his aisle seat next to me and promptly fell asleep. In fifteen minutes time we were cruising across the tarmac towards the takeoff point.

The engines spun up, rattling the entire plane into a nice vibration hum and we started moving. I think I held my breath, I think I cried a bit. I remembered to chew the gum in my mouth at least when I felt my ears register the pressure change and suddenly, the world fell away below and the plane banked hard to make the first airborne turn for air currents. I watched out the window and Grand Rapids got smaller and smaller, the rivers turning into shiny mirrors from our height, desperately trying to find landmarks I could recognize from the air. I found Grand Rapids city, followed the highway with my eyes and saw my studio’s building. Then the square plots of farm land around my house’s area. Then Lake Macatawa easing into Holland.

Then we were over water. The plane would shake and pressure would change as we hit thermals over Lake Michigan. It was then I realized the guy next to me had loose butt problems. Not in a liquid or solid form, but apparently pressure changes cause farting in sleeping older men. I pulled my cowl neck shirt up around my face and tugged the drawstrings, cursing him under my breath and trying to not catch a case of foreign dude poop lung, staring out the window and seeing a freighter below us in the big blue of Lake Michigan. I’m a boat nerd, that damn ship 18,000 feet below me settled me right down.  That or it was the anoxia from the amount of fart in the air around me. As soon as we hit our cruising height, we started our decent in to Chicago O’Hare. According to my ticket, my home for the next four hours. We landed at a gate not listed on my ticket, but only three gates away from where I was to be taking off again.

I wandered around this massive swirl of humanity filled airport, seeing people running for their gates, hearing children screaming, people speaking numerous languages. I found a Starbucks. I needed it. I got a way too expensive sammich, a huge green tea smoothie drink, and found a table bar filled with charging plugs for pretty much anything electronic known to man and had lunch, but technically breakfast- at 8:30 in the morning. Well, Chicago time at least 8:30. My body was saying 9:30. After lunch and allowing my phone to charge up for a while I set about wandering the airport some more and found a gourmet chocolate shop. Then the sleepies hit. No sleep the night before compiled with coming down off my nerves and a delicious turkey sammich with brie and muenster cheese and smeared with ligonberry jam… I found my way back to my gate, curled up on the floor there with my luggage and took an hour long nap.

Waking up slightly refreshed I proceeded to board the pack of bubblegum with wings aka my really, REALLY small plane bound for Sioux Falls, South Dakota. It was bumpy. It was hot. We were packed in there like sardines in a can without elbow room. And every time we hit a pocket of rough air, the air vents got turned off and the temp rockets well past 90 degrees. Let me tell ya, nothing make you more sky pukey then turbulence in a 90 degree airplane. Happy to be one solid ground, once I got to Sioux Falls, Seester picked me up and took me shopping for clothes since I didn’t really pack any to thwart any bumps in the road traveling. She took me back to her place in Brookings, as she had a work meeting to go to before taking me out to Mom and Dad’s place. My niece and I got into the spare car and whizzed into Brookings to finish up a little shopping. She took me to a super cool second hand shop named Trendz where I loaded up on clothing and a super cool travel bag covered in rainbow sugar skulls. Little didn’t I know how great a deal I got till the week after when Seester saw the brand name on the bag and almost died when I told her I picked it up for $25. Guess it’s a bag that costs well over $500 er something… Go Me!!

We had dinner in Brookings before the car ride out to mom and dad’s which is near a little town called Madison and an even littler town called Salem, SD. I got all settled in there and crashed for the night. It was a super busy week filled with packing boxes, getting more boxes, cleaning this, moving that, suffering my first real slap of summer to the face (92-95 degrees by noon with little to no breeze and high drought conditions). Mom did take me out for a drive Wednesday night around “the corners” which is when I got most of my pictures out there taken.


I really couldn't ask for better centering of these if I had tried...

Random road traveler Mom and I found

Creepy Deserted Houses
There are so so many of these house, most of them abandoned during the Dust Bowl in the 30's where people packed what they could carry and left all else behind them... It was at this first house I was initiated into the world of huge ticks. Of course I was trampling through grass past my girly bumps while taking these pictures. I said quote, "Mom, what the hell is that, get it off me!" when I found my first tick. She picked off another eight I didn't see crawling up my back.

This second house I had to jog a quarter of a mile along the field line to get to as the driveway we took lead us to the cattle paddock. The amount of furniture left in this house, combined with the spooky pink glow from an upstairs room and the left to rot grand piano in it's side gave me that spooky, something happened here and it wasn't good vibe.

Shelter Belts... 
The one thing I picked up on quickly was where there are trees- there's a homestead. Be it abandoned or occupied. These tree lines are called shelter belts. They are rows of tress planted so that there is a buffer from winter winds blowing in across the fields to keep the homes protected and less wind beaten.

Home Life...
Pictures from around mom and dad's house, featuring the asshole chickens that were always up to no good.

 See- their eating the insulation from around the chest freezer when they thought no one was looking. Assholes. Mom called to say they were attacking her after we left. So it's my assumption that by now they are occupying space in that very same chest freezer.

South Dakota Sunset, Moonrise, & Moonset...

This last picture makes me think of Lion King.... 
"Pppeeeeennnsyyyllvvaanniiiaaa and a pizzaaaa kkkaaabbbaaabbbboooobbb...."

 Gorgeous full moon rising amongst cotton candy colored clouds....
I was awake, at 5:15 this morning- the day we ended up leaving South Dakota... I would have forgone these shots for a little more sleep had I known I wasn't going to be going to bed until 1:30 the following morning.... 

Friday we emptied the house and filled mom and dad’s truck and travel trailer, the 26 foot u-haul truck and its 12 foot trailer. By 4pm we were watching the weather forecast get worse and worse and figured that the best time to leave was Friday evening hoping to “get into the trees” in Iowa before the real winds started. Seester and Dad loaded up into the truck, since Seester was the only one of us that could drive stick (call-sign Eeyore), my niece Hannah and I rode second in line in the U-haul and attached trailer (call-sign Mother Goose and Turdlette), and Pastor (Seester’s husband) followed behind in the car loaded with the other kids (call-sign Tigger) and away we went east.

I should tell all of you that until that point- the largest thing I have ever driven is a Type-3 ambulance. The big boxy ones that max out in length in the ball park of 12 feet. The U-hauls box was 26 feet long. Add the eight feet for the engine and cab…. Then add the four feet of hitch between her back bumper and the trailer, and THEN add the 12 foot long trailer…. Damn… that’s a lot of math…. I was damn near the length of a semi when all was hooked up and running. There was a learning curve to it that I didn’t fully grasp until about an hour into the drive. We stopped for fuel, snacks, Monster and varoom we headed for Minnesota. Hannah wanted to take pictures so I talked her though how to use my big camera and she had a ball taking pictures through the windows. Especially when she broke out the stuffed unicorn she had in her travel bag.
Also- I’ve been known for my colorful language and had her about peeing herself more than a dozen times with the stuff flying out of my mouth from time to time. “What the hell is this backwoods, goat rodeo buuuullllssshhhiiiiittttt?” in reference to a tractor blocking traffic. “Stupid little glitter crusted fartwaffle!!” a painfully pinkish color Prius that cut us off in Minnesota. She actually started keeping a journal of everything I was saying. She also kept a running tally of how many country and church-type radio stations we scrolled through on the radio. It was at one point I glowed with pride as we came into yet another construction zone well into Minnesota that she peeled off a statement… A little set up- Mother Goose and Turdlette (the trailer) were squirrely at best in construction zones what with rough pavement and tight space in the lane with the damn barrels. And my biggest fear was “dusting” one of those barrels when the trailer went nuts behind me. So-as we came up to another zone, Hannah yelled out gleefully “Come on Turdlette, time to shine!!” We both fell into a maniacal fit of laughter, as we were both jacked up on caffeine and road crazies being it was close to 11pm and I’d been up since 5:30am- driving an unfamiliar behemoth since 6pm. We stopped driving around 1:30 Saturday morning and grabbed a room in Clear Lake, Iowa. Hannah thought it was hilarious when I told her what Iowa stood for- Idiots Out Wandering Around. It’s odd how everything is funny at 1:30 in the morning.

We all slept for a few hours but were up and at it again by 6:30am. We fueled up and hit the highway again. That’s when the winds set it. 35-45mph straight out of the Southwest. While my badly overweight truck didn’t move much- Turdlette did. The wind would smack it hard on the butt and send it shaking and barking at the hitch. At which point I would feel the kicking on the hitch and yell out- “Dammit Turdlette- stop kicking the back of the seat!!” or “Sit down and shut up, Turdlette! Follow your mother like a good little shit!” It got bad enough that we would peel off the highway and take a ten minute break from fighting the wind- stretching, doing a little yoga, just to give our aching shoulder’s a rest from bracing against the steering wheels.

At some point in middle of nowhere Iowa- we came upon another construction zone. But this one had warning signs- “Vehicles 10’ in width or wider, take left hand lane.” When it came time for the lane split Eeyore stayed true. I figured, okay- we must not apply. Wrong. Well, sort of. As we approached the bridge that was squeezed down, it was at that point in time I started having an anxiety attack given what I was looking at. Hannah and I sat bolt straight in our seats, she was watching her mirrors to make sure we stayed okay on space, same for me but with the added terror of watching Eeyore go thru first. They had five inches on either side of their trailer between barriers. I slammed on the brakes and dropped down to about 25 mph. We were substantially wider than them. As we crossed- I could tell by my mirrors I had two inches, if that between our tires and the barriers. We crossed that bridge in utter silence and by the end of it I was in hyperventilating panic attack. Hannah then said… “Uh… There’s another one…” We barely made it through before I was calling Seester… “The next time there’s an option for fatties to take the other lane- We. Take. It.” Her reply, “I didn’t know that was an option! That got skinny back there!!” Forehead meet steering wheel.

That's the Mississippi river we're driving over...

 This is some quarry outside of Joliet, IL that the highway simply fell away and we were driving over it...

 This is Lilly.... She's kinda goofy.... She was first officer of Mother Goose from Bringham, MI to home.
 U-Haul Life.... Snacks, water, cowboy hats, bug gut smeared windshield, and highway...
By the time we reached Joliet, Illinois I was in full on- dammit I wanna go home mode. We skirted Chicago and into Gary, Indiana we went, in rush hour traffic no less. It was stressful and Hannah learned another barrage of fantastic words a 14 year old girl shouldn’t know. We crossed the state line into Michigan and stopped for fuel and dinner in Bringham. Then Lilly, my other niece joined us in the cockpit of Mother Goose. As we passed South Haven, I eased Mother Goose to the front of the line and away we went. Goofy on caffeine, having a front seat dance party to keep us all awake- I took the lead into the final stretch towards home. We pulled into the back yard at my house and parked my poor tired Uhaul truck whom at that point ceased it’s desire to shift itself. So my training of driving ambulances with bad transmissions came into play as I was manually shifting an automatic transmission to get her home to my house.

Twilight when we parked the everything and I opened a beer probably exactly two minutes after unlocking the back door of the house.

There ya have it! My South Dakota and back travels... Last week was filled with too many people in my tiny little house, five minute showers, a can and a half of coffee, house hunting, property tours, and me being the cool aunt for having art nights and showing the kids my studio....

Thanks for looking!!! Have a great evening!!!


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