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Been lots of driving going on, little time for much else.  I’ve been tired a lot.  But tonight we’re in a hotel so I can update with pictures!

flight

I caught this guy on our last afternoon in Arizona.  Oh, how I miss Arizona now.  Since then it’s been nothing but cold!  Anyways, I believe this bird is also a flycatcher of some sort.  I will need to consult my bird book.  We did get home for a day, so I now have one of my bird guides with me.  Not that I’ve had a chance to look at it much.  It is with me, though.

big fish

We went from Arizona to Baudette, MN.  Baudette isn’t far from International Falls, which is where the coldest temps in the country are generally found.  It was -4 degrees while we were there.  They have this giant fish statue in Baudette.  Minnesotans take ice fishing very seriously – they have ice shanties that are essentially camping trailers with a hole in the floor.  They lower them onto the ice and camp out there while fishing.  I hope to go ice fishing this winter.  Ice fishing and snow mobiling – those are the things I want to try this winter.

mac

From Baudette, we went home via the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  It was my first time up there.  To get back to the Lower Peninsula, we crossed the Mackinac Bridge.  On the right is Lake Michigan, on the left Lake Huron.  I also saw Lake Superior that day, so three Great Lakes in one day.  Looking down into the straights, I could see a lot of ice.

ice

 

These are big big chunks of ice.  My eye was caught by that strip of blue running through there.  I like that color a lot.

mirror me

 

I also caught a picture of myself in the side mirror.

So, we were home for a day, then they sent us BACK to Baudette.  Brr.  The car companies do cold weather testing up there.  We delivered cars to a company that does the testing.  We picked up other cars on this trip and took them down to Ohio.  From Ohio we ran up to Rhode Island, which was my 44th state to visit.  Since it’s just us, we told them we would stay out over Christmas if they needed us to.  I brought a strand of lights and we put them in the truck window.

lights

 

They’re on the driver’s side, since most of our time is spent in the right-hand lane.  This way everyone who passed us would be able to see the lights.  They made me happy.

Christmas had us trucking through Pennsylvania and Ohio on our way to Chicago.  This morning David was playing with the dogs.  The normally over-crowded truck stop was nearly empty due to Christmas.  We were able to let the dogs off leash, as there was a fenced field.

play

 

We’re teaching Tucker a game where he runs back and forth between us.  If we can get Phoebe to go out a ways, he’ll run between the three of us.  It burns off some of his prodigious energy.  I swear that dog is all muscle.  And bone – especially in his big head.  🙂

chicago

 

The skyline of Chicago is rather pretty.  I like big city skylines, but prefer to stay on the outskirts.  David drove downtown Chicago, as it’s where he learned to drive.  He made a comment about me needing city driving experience.  I’ll get that in smaller cities, thank you.

tucker

 

Any time David leaves the truck, Tucker wants to watch.  He usually jumps into the driver’s seat immediately.  This time he just stood up at attention.  It’s not his full meerkat impression, but it’s close.

 

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I saw lovely things today during my shift.

Started in the Flint Hills of Kansas.   Wide open prairie with no signs of men except for the freeway twining through.   If you look off to the side it’s just grass forever in low rolling hills.

I saw a flock of over 1,000 Canada Geese in a pond.   They were all floating close with just a few taking off.   Then all through the day I saw skeins of geese flying.  

Every 1/2 to one mile I saw a hawk of some sort perched to the side of the road in a tree,  on a fence post, on a power line.  I drove 455 miles and that makes me think I probably saw 500 or so hawks.  Wow.

I finished up in Iowa.   David will get us to Minnesota tonight.   It was 8 degrees and snowing.

No pictures today.  Just mental ones.  

We’ve left the warm and are delivering a set of mini vans to Baudette, Minnesota for cold-weather testing.  Time to put the long johns back on!

I went out looking for the hummingbird again.  I heard them but did not see them.   I saw other flycatchers and got more pictures.   But I’m posting this from my phone and haven’t gotten the new pics off my camera.

image

So here’s a gratuitous Tucker pic.  He’s becoming such a good dog,  even if he did eat Phoebe’s dog dish today.

Driving through Oklahoma City was pretty because they had groups of trees fully outlined in colored lights.  Like 12 of them grouped together in all different colors, though each tree was one color.   I didn’t try for a picture because I didn’t have a camera ready.  Plus, Christmas light pictures from a moving truck look like this.
image

Artful but blurry. 

Time for sleep.   Good night!

It is nice.  Oh, so very nice.  74 degrees yesterday.  It is 10-17 at home.  With a foot of snow, at least.

So, one of the nice things about our company is that they put us up in hotels when there’s nothing for us to do.   Yesterday we got David a new laptop so he could play his favorite game (Skyrim) on it.  I use mine for photo editing and surfing, along with blogging.  The game will probably work on my computer as well, but it was time he had his own.  We also got a Chromecast, but aren’t able to use it here as the remote won’t let us change the input on the tv so I haven’t been able to set it up.  I plan on a cheap universal remote to add to my bag, so this won’t happen again.  Most hotels come with flat-screen tvs now, along with free wifi.  So I can set it up so I can watch netflix in our room.  That is the plan.

Last night I went out in search of birds to photograph, as I hadn’t played with my new telephoto lens much, and I had heard hummingbirds.  Hummers in December!  bliss!

First, I had to play tug-o-war with Tucker.  He was bored.  I wanted to try taking a picture of it.  It worked.

tucker tug

 

Then I went out birding.  It was the lovely golden hour of light, and it was nice to be outside.

I saw this guy first.  I believe it to be a flycatcher of some sort, based on it’s behavior.  Unfortunately, I do not have a bird book with me!  I do have my birding app (iBird) but it has not been helpful at this point.

wee bird

 

After I’d been waiting a bit, I found my hummingbird!

hummer2

 

Flowers in December!  More bliss.  Female hummer, so I’m not sure what exactly she is at this point.  More research to do.  As I’m in Arizona, I can’t just assume it’s one of the three I know.  After checking, I think she may be a Blue-Throated hummer.  I may have to go see if I can find her again and get closer pics.

She perched up high in a tree and let me get rather close.  So I have this pretty shot:

hummer

 

I had to circle around so she wasn’t backlit and I could get the iridescence of her feathers.   Then, because she stayed put and I could see the moon, I framed this:

hummer moon

 

Well, the last few days have been interesting.  Friday, we headed out.  We had to leave early, and I reminded David that it *always* takes us an hour to get going.  Always.  Without fail.  Usually, he forgets that and gets flustered.  This time he remembered, and it took a bit longer because we forgot dog stuff.  Like collars and food bowls.  Oops!  On the trip home, I went to get out of the car to help and stepped right on ice.  I don’t think I’ve ever fallen so quickly!  Boom!  Flat on my back.  I think I spent the rest of the day in shock (and pain…sigh).

So, we got our load, which David Tetrisized within an inch of his life.  No one thought it was possible to get two sedans and two big pick-ups in our trailer, but he did it!  And we got started.  We got as far as Indianapolis Friday night.  I was asleep early, recovering from my fall, so didn’t notice the weather.  Saturday I started the day driving and along about the middle of Illinois noticed that ALL the trees were coated in ice.  Fortunately, they have good road service in Illinois, so the roads were relatively dry.  There were some places of hardpack snow, but mostly dry and clear. This was my first winter driving in the big truck.   I saw at least three dozen cars in the median and in ditches, and six big rigs.  Travel slowed to a stop at one point while all the Lookie Lous slowed down to see the first two big rigs, which had gone into the median together.  I only took this picture because I was stopped.

two trucks

 

icy trees

It was icy for over 100 miles.  Pretty, but crazy.  We got into Missouri and I was done for the day, just a few miles short of the 400 miles I was aiming for.  The truck stop was frozen, encased in 1/2″ of ice, and the fuel pumps weren’t working.  Other drivers told David the road (I55) was closed just 5 miles down.

ice truck

 

ice bud

So, we took the fabled “Back Way” and headed off through the country.  The roads were like washboards of ice.  Traffic was practically non-existent, and David swears he can drive forever on ice as long as there are no other people to worry about.  It still took us 8 hours to get 300 miles, and we stopped in Arkansas for the night.   According to the weather folks, this is what the storm looked like…

650x366_12061420_hd33

 

Where the word “worst” is – that was our path.  We got off I55 and angled down to Little Rock.  Icky icky icky.  And I’m glad I slept, sorta, through it.

 

 

 

 

1deer

This was the morning view in Arkansas.  I’m pretty sure there were eight of them.  I’m saying there were eight.  So there.  🙂

deer2

 

I caught them leaving, as well.  There was one little buck trying to head butt all the others.  He reminded me of Tucker.  The roads were dry and clear and the temp just at 32.  We didn’t know what exactly to expect, though, so David drove.

knitting

 

I knit (Madeline Tosh Sock in Robin’s Nest, if you’re interested, and I’m knitting this).  And took lots of pictures that didn’t turn out really great because it was so very overcast all day long.

We were a few hours late for our delivery, which wasn’t bad considering the ice storm. The other driver going to the same place with 4 big pick-ups took another route and got shut down and didn’t deliver til the next day.  Evidently they are still cleaning up the havoc caused by the storm in dispatch today.    We had another delivery to make, so we did the team driving thing.  I started off from Comfort, TX, and drove a few hours while David caught some sleep.  He took over and drove til 4 a.m. local time (about 6 hours), and I got up in Las Cruces, NM, and took over.  This was my first time driving at night.  I do fine in the wee hours after some sleep, but those later night hours are rough.

az am

This is somewhere in New Mexico.  The light’s just lovely there as the sun comes up.

arizona

 

Arizona, later in the day.  We reached our second delivery, still a few hours late, but there.  Now we’re holed up in a hotel for a couple days, which is fine by me.  That was a pretty exhausting run.  And this time I brought my bathing suit!

Here are a couple pictures where I’m trying to get some Christmas spirit in the truck.

truck lights

 

I brought a string of lights.  Lights always make me feel Christmas-y.

cmas tucker

 

I also have this wee Santa hat with me.  Tucker still likes hanging out in laps.

And because I have Tucker, I must put Phoebe on the blog.

phoebe

 

The lighting back in the bunk is nice and dramatic when the sun’s out full.  It comes in just one patch, leaving everything else relatively dark.  So I take advantage of it from time to time.  I’ve been enjoying my new camera.

This is the first picture I took of us in the snow yesterday.

outtake 2 blog

 

Nice enough, except for Mr. Solemn there.  It is a holiday picture, after all.  The second one he looks just the same, so when I hurried back for the third (I was using the self-timer – this one gives me 10 seconds) I told him he could smile.  He said something like, “I could.”  So I told him he was going to have to kiss me.  He started making “mwah” noises, then the camera clicked.

outtake 1 blog

 

This lightened him up sufficiently for the pic we both like (though we both like this one, too).

Mission accomplished!

image

I wanted a snowy picture for friends.  The first two he’s standing there all stoic.  Third one I made him kiss me and that broke the ice.  This one we both like.  

Hello again, my long-neglected blog.  I have decided I miss the daily photos and stories.  I’m over on Instagram (@gemmy1) but it turns out that the writing is just as important to me.  For some reason, this format works for me to keep track of things.  I thought I was done with it, but it turns out I’m not.  So I’m coming back.

To help me with this, there is a new camera in my life.  A Canon Rebel T3i, purchased for an early Christmas gift on Black Friday from the comfort of my chair on my phone.  🙂  We didn’t leave the house Friday, though we did make a purchase.

Yesterday I wrapped some gifts.  I want to get them out early.  I think I missed Christmas last year for many people, as I was in a pretty low place.  I’m in a much better place now – it’s bright and cheerful and I like it ever so much.  So this year I’m getting an early start and getting things mailed.

dec 1 wrap

I do want to learn the technical aspects of my new DSLR.  So far I like it a lot on auto.  My old DSLR (a very old Sony) and I never quite saw eye-to-eye, but the Canon and I see things just about the same way.  In some ways it’s even better because it pulls in light better than I may see it.  So I foresee a happy future with it.  Ever since this summer’s unfortunate kayak tip where I had both my phone and my camera with me and both got wet, I’ve been pretty camera unhappy.  I replaced my go-to Sony Cybershot with the latest model, only to find something changed with it.  It didn’t see the same way I did, the way the previous models had.  My phone does see the way I do, so it’s what I’ve been going to.

dec 2 hobie 2

Hobie gets shorted a lot in the photo department.  He’s hard to get a good photo of due to his runny eyes (a symptom of the kitty herpes he has).  So I worked with it – him on the table, me sitting in front of him taking pictures – and ended up with a couple I liked.  Above is one – I love his whiskers.  And this is another – he looks like a happy Buddha to me here.

dec 2 hobie

Things that have changed since I was last here:

1.  I’m no longer a secretary/office manager.  I’m now a truck driver.  It feels pretty bad ass.  🙂

2.  Sadie is no longer with us.  I still miss her following me around, keeping an eye on me.  I felt safe with her around.  Tucker and Phoebe are great at notifying us of potential trouble (or imaginary trouble) but Sadie would’ve taken care of any trouble.   We buried her out back by the Art Chalet, in the field where I plan to eventually build a walking labyrinth.  She will be at the heart of it.

3.  In my capacity as truck driver, I’m team driving with David, so I’m no longer alone for weeks at a time.  I think it helps with the being in a good place.  We have an “us” again, and I love it.  Our first trip out felt like a honeymoon.  🙂

4.  The camera situation.

5.  My mental well-being (this being the biggest change, and the best).

So, expect to see me here more regularly.  I’ll be trying for the daily picture/post, but it may take me a little to get in the swing of it.  It’s been awhile.