Saturday, January 25, 2014

the end of the Big Bend trip and the first week of classes

In the morning I got up early and packed and went for breakfast. I was restless, first to get gas, and then to get a move on, but at the gas station, the ranger told me that I should do either the Grapevine Hills or the Lost Mine trails so I calmed myself and headed back up to Lost Mine and had a wonderful hike of about an hour. Then it was time to drive and I headed for Marathon (which was much dingier and smaller than I remembered) and then on to Uvalde, where I walked around the downtown area and then went into the courthouse, a fairly unassuming place. I drove on and got to the Holiday Inn Express around two and by two thirty I had returned the equinox and then I sat down to send my outlines and rules out. I still hadn’t heard from CEA so I cancelled the Thursday classes on the 27th of March. I hope I don’t have to cancel the Wednesday class because they are already one class short because of the MLK holiday. I returned to the room for a nap and then went for a long walk on a section of the riverwalk headed toward the museums. It was very pleasant. Back in the room, I called Gyorgyi and found out she had broken her wrist on the icy stairs at her mother’s. Sean has been helping her a lot (he quit his job at the food co-op) and I’m glad of that. Gloria said that wrists can be real tricky to heal and G’s doctor already mentioned that. I know I have to be real careful living in the hollow. If I were to fall that would be a major problem. For dinner I went to Mi Tierra in the Marketplace near my hotel (and the dinner was very good) and then I went back to riverwalk for another long walk and a tiny scoop of strawberry ice cream. I also put all my outlines and rules on D2L without my page of guidelines so I was impressed with that. In the morning I struggled up at 5:30 and was ready for the cab at 6:15 and at the station by 6:30. Fortunately the train left just about on time and I was able to take a mile walk in Fort Worth and a shorter one in Dallas. I have been doing my lumosity training for almost a month (about 15 training sessions) and my scores have gone up. I started at a dismal 13th percentile and I am up to 43rd percentile, with memory my strongest feature. Speed is my worst, and the pinball prediction game is very tough for me. I wonder if it all a bit of a scam but I hope it does help. I do enjoy most of it. Now that my break is almost over, I am glad that I wrote six poems, especially the one for Kate, which I think is one of my best. Today, Saturday the 25th of January, I have fled from Radford till tomorrow and though it is not a great day down here in Charlotte, I was able to comfortably ride my bike and play 12 holes of golf. I shot very well even though I played with my heavy jacket on with the hood up. My first week of classes is over and I think it is going to be a good semester. My 203 class has only about 10 so there shouldn’t be any disruptive students sitting in the back. Both 310s are pretty full as is the 321, but I should have fewer than 70 students, which will be a real break. Gyorgyi is recovering slowly from her broken wrist and when I spoke to her on Friday to invite her to come down with me to Charlotte, she was miserable and I felt bad for her. I should see her next weekend. My printer is still not fixed but I was able to get everything I need printed at the computer center. I finally spoke to Cathy Gallo and she is doing okay but things are not the best with her health. I hope to have dinner with her soon. I haven’t heard from Amtrak but I hope they will refund most of my ticket price, at least one thousand. I have a head cold but I am getting around and I hope to go out to dinner in downtown Charlotte a little later.

Monday, January 13, 2014

the trip to big bend and 52 hours late on the train

It is Tuesday, the 7th of January and I am in the Crowne Plaza Hotel in overcast Indianapolis, which the temperature is minus 13. I am here after being stuck on the Cardinal, Amtrak’s Train 51 since Monday morning at around 5. I should be three hours toward San Antonio on the 21 but I will be spending the night here and then heading to Chicago on the 51 tomorrow at 6AM. The snow and intense cold stopped us on Monday morning and I’m not sure what will happen tomorrow or if Thursday’s 21(which I am now scheduled on) will actually run. If it doesn’t I will head back to Clifton Forge on Thursday evening and give up. I can still spend three days in Big Bend and perhaps go to Carlsbad Caverns, but one more problem and the trip won’t work. If I go back I may try to head down to Wild Dunes again for a few days since they have a sale on. I walked around Indy with my hood on and my scarf covering my face and it wasn’t too bad. I passed the War Memorial and stopped to walk through the mall nearby. The 30 hours on the train really sucked although my fellow travelers were very nice and the Amtrak staffers were very good also. I walked through the train about 50 times and walked outside about 4 miles at various points. We shall see. It is the 9th of January and I am finally on Amtrak’s 21 train on my way to San Antonio. I almost gave up and had a reservation to head back to Clifton Forge tonight in case the 21 didn’t run (as it turns out the 50 to Clifton Forge was delayed). We are about 40 minutes behind schedule which in on time for Amtrak. After the night at the Crowne Plaza in Indy, we finally made Chicago around 11 AM on Wednesday. I was first to the Passenger Services and they promised me a room (it was very fancy at the Swissotel) and some money for cabs and food but when I found out the extra money would have been 30 dollars and I would have had to wait in line for an hour and a half, I told them to forget it. I stayed around carrying the little girl I met on the train and then bought sandwiches for her parents and the young man from Canada who was really stuck. Then it was off to the Swissotel and a nap, a long bike ride, then a walk up to Michigan Avenue and the surrounding area, with lots of restaurants. I ate lunch at a Japanese Barbeque that was quite good and then headed back to the hotel. I rested my knee and then headed off for Navy Pier and got there just as the Winter Wonderland was closing up. I walked outside along the pier and it was pretty bitter with lots of ice on the water and some snow on the ground. After that I walked back to the hotel and my knee was done. I went to the Palms for a light dinner and the broccoli cheese soup was very good but the shrimp salad wasn’t much, pretty healthy though. I was really tired and I ended up falling asleep at 11 and sleeping until 6:30. I got up slowly and brought my coffee up to the fitness room where I rode the bike for 10 miles and went back to the room, did my yoga, showered, packed up, and took a cab back to Union Station, where I checked my bags and found that the train was due to leave on time. I had plenty of time so I walked away from the lake and all the way up Jefferson to Aberdeen and then back until I found a pizza place and had a fine lunch of pizza and salad. By the time I got back to Union Station, the train was already boarding (this was utterly amazing) and one of the staff led me to the train. I was exhausted from all my walking so I took a long nap and then got up to do some financial stuff, some video golf, some work on my two new poems and trying to see if I really had time to see Carlsbad Cavern (it doesn’t look too good unless I leave Big Bend real early, drive 220 miles, go on a guided tour at 1:00 and then drive a couple of hours toward San Antonio. Good to be moving. I have just finished dinner at the Chisos Lodge Restaurant and sent my poem to Kate. I think it is a good one and I hope she likes it. I did two nice hikes today, one early up the pinnacles trail toward Emory Peak. I probably did about three miles total and it was pretty steep at points. Later after lunch I drove to Rio Grande Village and washed my clothes, rode the rented bike for about an hour and then took another mile and a half hike in the Boquillas Canyon. I was pretty tired during that hike and it had a few steeper sections also. Following the drive back I collapsed in the bed and then worked on my poem for Kate. Yesterday, my first day here worked out well as I took a walk in Alpine, went for a three mile hike up Ward Spring trail in the park, drove back to Terlingua to watch the Broncos game (which they ended up making too close), rented a bike from Desert Sports and took a 40 minute ride then drove to the Chisos Lodge. I didn’t sleep very well but I worked on a poem for Kate and watched the first part of Downton Abbey, which was quite good, and read some more of the rainbow, which is pretty good.