Frost Leaves Me Cold

Frost in Athens OH 10-25-2013When I walked out of my room at the motel where I’m staying in Athens, Ohio, I had an unpleasant surprise: my car was encased in a solid sheet of ice.

What is on the back of my van?

I spotted the housekeeper who throws me new towels every morning coming across the parking lot. She’s a friendly sort.

Leading her around to the back of my van, I asked, “What do you see on the back of the car?”

She looked at the car, then at me, and shot me a confused look.

This is against the law

Frost in Athens OH 10-25-2013“That’s a Florida license tag on this vehicle,” I clarified. “Don’t you folks in Ohio know that it’s against the law for a Florida vehicle to be covered in ice?”

She laughed, but it was a nervous kind of laugh.

I wonder if I’ll have new housekeeper in the morning?

Since I didn’t have Friend Jan along to scrape the ice off the windows, I just let the engine run for about 10 minutes, then scraped the ice off the mirrors with a credit card.


Gateway Arch and Goodbye

Gateway Arch 01-30-2013Friend Jan and I had planned to visit St. Louis’ Gateway Arch Tuesday, but the torrential rains kept us from our goal. We got to the site too close to her departure time for her to see the movie on the building of the structure, one of my favorites, but she did get to walk around it taking photos.

You have to lick the arch

Jan Norris at Gateway ArchI tried to convince her that it was tradition that newcomers to the arch had to lick it. Daughter-in-Law Sarah must have warned her about that gambit, because she got close enough to tease the arch, but not close enough to give it a healthy lick.

Turned down tram ride

Jan Norris at Gateway ArchI think she was ready to take the 4-minute tram ride to the top of the arch despite all the horror stories about claustrophobia and getting stuck. Ready, that is, until she got into a mock-up and realized that she’d be sharing that small space with four other riders.

I got the feeling her togetherness quota had already been exceeded on this trip.

Time to wave goodbye

Jan Norris at St. Louis AirportEleven days, 2,422 miles and nine states after we started our trek, it was time to put her on a plane back to sunny Florida. She made her escape just in time. Shortly before I dropped her off, I noticed some white pellets on my blue jacket that weren’t dandruff. The wind picked up and the white stuff kept coming down harder. It wasn’t sticking yet, but there was enough of it to blow around in the roadway.

I met with some folks about a possible St. Louis photo exhibit, then went to dinner with Friend Shari. When we got out of the restaurant, the stuff was still coming down and I had ice on the windshield. That’s when I decided to stay at Brother Mark’s house one more night rather than chance finding a slick spot on the way back to Cape.

Is this going to work out?

To be honest, before we left Florida, I wasn’t sure how this pairing was going to work out. Sure, we had worked and biked with each other for years, but being trapped in a car with someone for days is another thing. That’s why Wife Lila flies back home and I drive.

After it was all over, Jan and I are still speaking each other. She and Mother bonded. (I’d wake up in the morning hearing they chattering away in the kitchen like magpies.) I even noticed a few times when Jan said, “The next time I come back….”

Photo Gallery of the Last Day

Here are some pictures of Jan’s last day in Missouri and the Gateway Arch. Click on any photo to make it larger, then click on the left or right side of the image to move through the gallery.


Home, Home Again

Cape bridge full moon 01-25-2013When we were getting close to Cape, I told Friend Jan, “The Cape bridge is really pretty at night. You might want to be ready to shoot a photo when we get closer.”

She started waving her cellphone around, making little squeals of what I hope were pleasure.

I had already called Mother to tell her we were about home and asking her if she wanted us to pick up anything from Hamburger Express. She did.

I had just made the right turn at River Campus to go work my way down William when Jan hollered “STOP!! Turn around! Look at the moon!”

She used up a whole day’s worth of exclamation points in 12 seconds.

So, minutes after entering Missouri, we were exiting Missouri, to go back into Illinois to go back to Missouri. You can see how this has been a long trip.

Day started off with ice

Jan Norris scrapes ice off car in Louisville Ky 01-25-2013

We spent too much time sightseeing on Thursday (pictures to come) to make it all the way from Athens, Ohio, to Cape in one shot, so we stopped on the west side of Louisville. The weather report didn’t look good, so I wanted to be on the west side of town so we wouldn’t hit morning rush hour and snow at the same time.

When I went to load the car, my head and feet almost swapped places. The whole parking lot was a shiny sheet of ice. I’ve never seen an ice sheen that perfectly smooth. The whole car was coated, too. It was time to give Jan a new experience: ice removal.

I handed her a can of spray deicer and a scraper and told her to have at it.

She handled that spray can like a well-trained riot cop with Mace.

“You need a smaller car”

Jan Norris scrapes ice off car in Louisville Ky 01-25-2013When it came time for the scraping, she said, “You need a smaller car. I can’t reach all the way to the middle.”

“No, I need a taller passenger.”

That’s when I came clean: “The deicer speeds the process up, but the car’s defroster would have had the windshield warm enough for the wipers to slide the ice off,” I explained.

I should have waited until she put the can of deicer down before I broke that news.

Snow is Like Cold Sand

Jan Norris Athens breakfast 01-23-2013I didn’t get a lot of sleep last night. After doing a dry run at the Athens County Historical Society and Museum, I decided to rework my presentation to include more photos taken in Athens County.

I was feeling a bit sleepy (make that REALLY sleepy) around 2 a.m., so I thought I set the alarm on my cellphone for a 20-minute nap. I set it all right, but failed to hit the DONE button. I woke up  with a start at 4 a.m., saw the time, saw the phone alarm, then decided I was still too tired to do anything. I set the alarm for 7:30 and hit SAVE and DONE.

After getting the show put together, Friend Jan Norris and I headed downtown for breakfast. Excellent food. Jan had eggs, two sausage patties, hashbrowns, toast and an order of pancakes (which she pronounced the best she had ever eaten). “I heard that you’re supposed to eat lots of carbs when it’s cold,” she justified.

Presentation went well

I had a good audience for my photos of Southern Ohio and the years of protests at Ohio University. There’s a good chance that I’ll be working with the group for quite awhile. (You can click on the photos to make them larger, by the way.)

An icicle!

Jan Norris Athens OH sports icicle 01-23-2013_0667Jan was excited to see an icicle hanging above us. I tried to explain how guys at Scott Quadrangle, the dorm I lived in, would suspend a thin wire out a second or third floor window, then drip water down it. Layers and layers of ice would build up until the ice spear would be 20 or 30 feet long and a foot or more thick at the top.

The university, not looking forward to writing a “Dear Mom and Dad, Your child took part in an innovative experiment to determine just how long an icicle can grow before breaking off, ” letter, put an end to the practice.

Starting to find the style

Jan Norris Athens OH 01-23-2013_0671She was looking a little less like a rainbow-covered Michelin Man today. [Wife Lila suggests that I clarify that the Michelin Man look is from all of the layers of clothing, not the natural Jan. Of course, Wife Lila hasn’t seen the size of those breakfasts….]

She got cold AND snow

Athens snow 1-23-2013Jan went roaming around town while I was wrapping up at the museum. She came back to say that it was snowing. Indeed, it WAS. A fine dusting of dry snow that didn’t look like it was going to amount to much.

We made arrangements to meet OU friends Terry and Lyntha Eiler for dinner, then drove around to find the apartments Wife Lila and I lived in when we were newlyweds. We found one for sure, and maybe a second one. It looked “almost” right, but I couldn’t be positive. By this time, the ground was turning white and some of the intersections were getting slippery.

We had a great dinner (sure wish I had left off the onions), then walked outside to see the sidewalks covered and quite a bit on the roads where the cars hadn’t worn it off. On the way back to the motel, we passed a car that had slipped off onto the median.

We head toward Cape Thursday if we don’t see bad weather rushing at us. I told her she’ll have a chance to scrape ice off the windshield in the morning. I mean, after all, she wants the WHOLE cold weather experience, right?