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Another postcard, with photos this time

I’m back in a place with secure internet access, so I thought I’d share a few thoughts about and photos of recent events. My first major Porsche Club event without Kurt brought me some wonderful moments (so good to see old friends again) and some awful ones (the final words at the closing banquet when I suddenly realized that an entire PCA Escape had come and gone and Kurt wasn’t there, not once, not at all). I remember having similar flashes of shock after my mom died 18 years ago from the same horrible disease… time simply stopped for her, but for me it was a day, a week, a month, and finally years when events continued to happen without her.

Now I am here at “Kurt’s Folly,” the condo that he wanted so badly, that I named. He accepted the name good-naturedly, the same way he went along with all my little foibles.

This is a very sad and lonely place. Maybe it will feel less lonely when I return for a longer period with my three cats. I am really missing my cats tonight.

But enough of this sadness. I promised a postcard with photos!

Here is my car at the Hackberry General Store, bascially a Route 66 museum where people take lots of photos and sometimes buy things (I didn’t):

The first thing I did the morning after I arrived was go for a run. I did indeed feel the 6900-foot altitude; I only managed 2 miles, and I was nearly two minutes per mile off my usual sea-level pace.

Then I spent an hour doing a quarter-assed car wash before the “fun car show.” I only did a quarter-assed job because I knew it was going to rain later. Here it is ready to go:

Here is my car in a prime location at the car show (first time ever “off road”):

Here are a bunch of cars including mine in the background… in the rain:

That was the end of the rain for the week. Early Friday morning I joined about 30 other Porsche drivers for a tour to the Grand Canyon. I haven’t been there since I was very young. The crowds at the prime tourist spots distressed me so I walked 2+ miles on a trail along the rim and enjoyed nearly the same views with fewer people and no guard rail. I kept thinking that Kurt (with his great fear of heights) would have been screaming at me to get back from the cliff, but I really enjoyed it. Yes, those rocks in the foreground of this photo are right at the edge:

The trip back was wild and wooly. As people had scattered to various places, the pack diminished to about half its initial size. I started near the back and then watched the 3-4 cars behind me disappear as we drove briskly. I decided to just go with the flow — even knowing that being in a large yellow vehicle at the back, I’d be the one that the highway patrol would stop. Fortunately I saw no highway patrol cars, but I did see some extended triple-digit speedometer readings. It was fun, but not something I plan to do again any time soon.

Friday night I went out to dinner downtown with a bunch of friends old and new, and kept another promise to Kurt by raising my glass and toasting his memory.

On Saturday my friend Colleen drove up from Las Vegas with her husband. Colleen has a keen interest in and considerable knowledge of southwest native American archeology. We went to Wupatki National Monument, which was stunningly beautiful and almost completely tourist-free. We visited several sites within the park, and she pointed out subtleties of architectural and cultural significance that I would otherwise have missed. As impressive as the ruins were, what really amazed me were the brief but frequent moments of utter silence… no human voices, no cars or airplanes, not even a breath of wind. Just silence. If I believed in magic, I’d say it was a magical place. There is a sense of timelessness here that makes 3 1/2 months, or even 18 years, seem like a mere moment.

Here are a few photos that attempt to capture the solitary grandeur of this place:


Saturday night was the closing banquet, at which I sported a new turquoise-and-black poncho (soon to be seen at a Port Angeles “art walk” night) and my lovely blue Vibram Five Fingers shoes. Even though my car didn’t win one of the people’s choice awards, I did fine until collapsing into the aforementioned puddle of tears at the end.

Sunday morning, while others were packing up and heading out early, I went for another run. Still slow, but I did 4 miles at 20 seconds per mile faster than my Thursday pace, and finished feeling reasonably strong. I guess I acclimated somewhat to the altitude. I came back, showered, packed, ate breakfast, and didn’t leave town until 11:00. Six and a half hours and 400+ miles later, I arrived here at Kurt’s Folly.

So here I am, for a few days before I resume my traveling adventures. It’s stifling hot in this desert. I woke up with a headache and didn’t get much done today, but I’m hoping to recover enough overnight so I can go out at the crack of dawn and run for a few miles. One foot in front of the other.

A postcard from the road

I had a goosebumps moment today. Literally at the very moment that I exited I-40 to join old Route 66 at Kingman, AZ, my iPod chose (out of 1206 randomly-ordered songs) to play the Rolling Stones’ version of “Route 66.” I was stunned. It was the nearest thing I’ve had to a  message from Kurt that things are going to be OK.

I’d already taken back roads for part of the way, and my Porsche loved the “dippy dippy roads,” as we called them when we were kids. I stopped at a couple of historic Route 66 sites and took photos, but I don’t have the technology to post them right now.

After I returned to the interstate at Seligman, my car and I sailed through torrential downpours when I could barely see the road, and then over a 7,335 foot summit. With all the ups, downs and turns I still managed over 25 mpg. I love my Cayenne Hybrid!

Now I can look out my hotel window and see my car nestled in amongst lots of other Porsches… and most people won’t arrive until tomorrow. I’ve already seen old friends and made new ones, and I’m looking forward to more of that.

Oh, and going running! I did 3 miles this morning in a hot, uncharacteristically steamy desert and did fine, so now tomorrow I’ll find out how I do at 6900 feet. There is a two-mile loop trail within the hotel grounds that is going to take priority over washing the bugs off my car. The only question is how many times I’ll do the loop before I go make my car all beautiful for the “fun” car show. I suspect that “fun car show” may be strikingly similar in execution to the “fun run” with a world record-holder that I passed on last night. This is the Porsche Club, after all.

Powerful places and odd events

As some of you may know, my dissertation dealt with the lived experience of being in a place. I have always been a deeply “platial” person, in the sense that I get attached to places and attach meanings to places in a very conscious way. Over the past couple of days I have had the opportunity to experience a series of roads — which one might normally think of as neutral conduits that serve merely to take us from one place to another — as powerful, evocative places in their own right. I now know that certain road signs have the ability to reduce me to a blithering idiot right in the moment of barreling down the highway at high speed, simply because they refer to places that were special to Kurt and me and to which we repeatedly returned.

Thinking about this, I realized that over the past three months I have begun to acclimate to the idea of Port Angeles without Kurt. I have nearly nine years worth of experience of Port Angeles with Kurt, and now I am beginning to create new layers of experience of Port Angeles after Kurt. But while traveling, I have been hit with an ongoing series of shocks, and it’s as if I have to keep getting used to the idea that he’s not here with me, over and over again. It’s like the inverse of that cliche zen phrase: not “wherever you go, there you are,” but “wherever I go, you’re still not there.”

I had time this morning and took the opportunity to stop and take a few photos of my car in a place that is highly evocative not only for Kurt and me, but for many people. The Porsche people reading this will know exactly where I took this photo and why it’s such a powerful place. Following it is another photo that I took in that same spot nearly 20 years ago, this one showing a borrowed Porsche that was the beginning of a lasting friendship with the person who loaned us that car. It looks like the tree is a little bigger now.

Tonight I’m in a place with almost too many layers of meaning to bear, but it’s oddly different than I’ve ever seen it before. Over the past couple of days there have been a series of thunderstorms here where it “never” rains, complete with lightning-caused palm tree fires early this morning. This afternoon I stood outside in the rain listening to the thunder echoing around the valley.

I went to a promotional event for the half marathon that I’m running on New Year’s Eve, which by amazing coincidence just happened to be scheduled for tonight, here. Josh Cox was there as the celebrity atraction. I had no clue who he was but now Google has informed me that earlier this year he set the US record for 50k (31.1 miles) and was just 8 seconds off the world record for that distance. He expects to break that world record within the next year. We were all invited to go out for a “fun run” with Josh, but I was too tired to even think about running. I read later that he led people on a 5k run at a “fun, easy” 8 minute pace. I’m slow and happy — that fun run would have been impossible for me! I did take advantage of the 20% off store promotion and picked up my next pair of running shoes at a good price.

I then went on to have dinner at one of Kurt’s and my favorite restaurants on earth, and I managed to enjoy my food and eat most of it even through my tears. This place has a loyal local demographic that Kurt and I didn’t fit, but we loved it for the food and the memories of our special occasions that he and I celebrated there. I had gotten used to walking in and being one of the few females in the place, so it was a minimally-threatening place to be a female by myself… but it was still very tough to be there.

Tomorrow I’ll be off again on further adventures, but I’ll return later to spend more time here — and I’ll run a half marathon not far from here on New Years Eve. Slowly and happily.