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1700 Miles in 6 days

Last week was kind of a whirlwind trip. nayrene had invited me to a Jane's Addiction/Nine Inch Nails concert in Kansas City. So I drove down to the farm very late last Tuesday night. It was very late because when I was originally leaving to go, I happened to go down to the basement and found a juvenile opossum down there. Found is kind of a euphemism because when I opened the door and turned on the light, it was trying to climb the stairs. It was one of those ...we surprised each other... kind of moments. It sat there and hissed at me for a bit. I just stood there and blinked at it for a bit, thinking I was hallucinating maybe.

Then I called Deb saying, "Deb, there's a baby 'possum in the basement." She says, "you shitting me!" as she comes running to the basement door. I say, "Would I shit you about something like that? I'm not that creative?" She takes one look at it and it hisses at her so she declares she will not be going into the basement again while I'm gone. Good thing all the laundry was done. So for the next hour or so, I try to corral the damned little thing into a cat carrier. Baby opossums while slow and lumbering most of the time can be surprisingly quick and agile when they don't want to be forced into a cat carrier. It ran underneath the furnace and behind the dryer before finally getting itself cornered in a closet. I thought fleetingly of putting a glove on and trying to grab it but it kept biting at me. So finally I settled on putting a towel down and nudged it with a length of conduit pipe onto the towel. One there, I flipped the sides in and deposited the whole bundle in the cat carrier and then removed the towel. Little guy/girl was none too happy but at this point was pretty worn out from the chase. After I had it captured, I looked around for more of the family as they are usually born in multiples. No other babies and no mama. I'm really stumped to as to how it found it's way into the basement as we don't even have very many mice come in that way. We do have a partial dirt crawlspace but you can't see any light at all when you look in there. Best I can figure is something had found a way to burrow under the foundation on one side of the house and then this little guy got chased by a cat or something and came through that way. Still it would have had about a 6 foot drop into the basement proper. After that, I took the cat carrier and passenger out to the park across the street and coaxed him out into a grove of trees and shrubs. I lieu of finding mama it was the best I could do.

The lesson wasn't lost on me that this could be a message from the Spirits as they often send me things by putting a critter in a strange situation. And as if to make sure I got the point, a big one ambled out in front of me in Mapleton and I hit it going about 70 mph. Again, this has happened before with messengers. I bet they think twice in the Spirit World about being the messenger for me. I think it had something to do with the trip. With opening up and sharing with someone else and recovery. Nairne makes me laugh and makes me think and listens. Three things that are among the best gifts you can give someone else.

So the next day after making sure my new muffler was secure on the bottom of the car, I took off for Lawrence, KS to pick Nairne up. Through a series of unfortunate events we ended up not going to the show and decided on a more relaxing course of action. We checked into our rooms in KC and rented a limo for the night and headed to the jazz district of KC where we finally settled on The Levee where we were surprised to find the Lonnie Ray Blues Band. Surprised because I wouldn't consider a Wednesday night to be a top live music night. I gotta say they were pretty damned good. Here's a snipet:

Thursday we slept in a bit and then had a very satisfying breakfast at Crackerbarrel because 1) you can get bacon with everything, 2) It's my favorite place to eat breakfast, and 3) Nairne had never eaten there because they don't have them where she lives. Then we spent an hour or so getting turned around in the KC suburbs which is not an uncommon occurence for me. Getting lost sometimes ends with good things though and we found some cool roadside sculpture.

Once we got on the right track, we headed for Waverly, MO to go to some wineries I'd visited on previous trips. On the way, we passed a rural ruin I'd shot a couple years back. It was a very old and sprawling mansion house covered with weeds and falling apart at the seams. I was happily shocked to see the lawn had been mowed and work was being done to the house. We pulled in the driveway to take some photos just about the time the new owner showed up. His name is Homer Seton and he's completely renovating the house to restore it to it's original state. He was kind enough to give us a tour and invited us to come back anytime.

From there we were on to the Terre Beau winery which is in an old church. It was closed last time I was through so it was nice to finally get to taste their wines which were excellent by the way. Then we hit the Baltimore Bend winery in Waverly and spent an hour there eating, drinking and talking to the staff. We also bought a case of wine. I have more wine now than I know what to do with. I could start my own wine store almost.

From there, we took our time angling up through Missouri and into Iowa, headed for Dubuque where I had to work and do a photo shoot on Friday. We managed to find an abandoned church which of course we had to stop and shoot, near Bogard, MO. We got into Dubuque about Midnight and checked into our hotel downtown. The bars were open until 2 am so we walked down the street to the Silver Dollar Cantina to have a couple glasses of Hop Hound Amber and enjoy a late night open mic jam session that was pretty good.

The next day I worked at our Dubuque office. Nairne joined some colleagues of mine and me for lunch and then I had a photo shoot at a local Pizza joint that afternoon. That took a little over an hour and a couple hours later I was free again. Nairne and I headed over to Galena, IL for some shopping and dinner at the Green Street Tavern. Awesome food! Then we tripped back over the river for a concert once again at the Silver Dollar Cantina. The band was the Melismatics. Nairne and I had been downloading their videos and songs at the recommendation of my boss's secretary, Julie Griffin who knows everything about the Dubuque music scene. If you listen to any pop or alternative radio you've probably heard their song "Digging Deep" which has been featured on a lot of TV shows of late. I have to say they totally rocked. Too bad not that many people showed up but that was not a bad thing for the rest of us who did show. I took an insane amount of photos. What is insane? Try over 1200 in about 2 hours. Of that I got around 400 pretty good photos including this nice little compilation which I'll be sending to the band:

Nairne and I had a great time with Bobby the bar manager, Julie Griffin and her husband Jerome who have invited me to their house where local bands frequently play. I put the rest of the photos in a nice little SimpleViewer gallery.

The next morning was kind of brutal as we had to be up around 6 am. let me just say that Hop Hound Amber is not kind to your head when you have to get up that early. We had to be on the road and down to Bowen, IL where I was to be cooking for my Mom's family reunion at noon. I finally felt human about 30 minutes before we got there almost exactly at noon. It only really take about 3 hours but we stopped for gas and in Monmouth to see the exhibit with my photos.

The cooking and the reunion went well. That night Nairne and I hooked up with my friends Rob and Toni to go on a road trip. We ended up at down on the Illinois River at The Approach in Meredosia for some great catfish and seafood. Then later we found out way back to Rushville where we ended up at Chaser's for the band Seven D2. I have to say I've seen then do a better job elsewhere. But as Chaser's has turned into a real dive, they probably played to their potential for that place.

When we got back to the farm, we just stood around in the barnyard for awhile watching the stats and the fireflies, the latter being something Nairne doesn't get to see in Oregon. Sunday Johnny came over and he, dad and I worked on the 55 Ford Tractor which seems to be living up to its acronym of Found On Road Dead. Then Nairne and I took off in the truck for a fun drive down backroads to eventually end up at the Spirit Knob winery where we bought a couple glasses of wine and at out on the deck eating some really nice Havarti, crackers and sipping wine. We got back to the house in the evening and made dinner for my folks. Chicken breasts baked in wine, Italian dressing and lemon juice, corn on the cob, sauteed asparagus and sliced tomatoes and some May wine from Galena we'd picked up two days before.

Monday I had a Photo shoot at Wildlife Prairie State Park near Hanna City, IL so I took Nairne to the Peoria Airport where she rented a car to head back to KC and fly home. We said our sad goodbyes and then we were off in opposite directions. The shoot went very well. I think the badgers and the bison were my best shots but the Sand Hill cranes and the elk were not too bad at all.

I really need to go back and re-shoot the bears and the predator canines and felines as they were being elusive because of the heat. I got back to Joliet around 6 pm, sunburned and pretty worn out and just vegged out for the rest of the night. What a trip.




( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 4th, 2009 07:45 pm (UTC)
I'm loling about the Spirits thinking twice about visiting you. If a 3rd possum shows up hopefully it won't have to be caught and released or run over to make its purpose known.
Jun. 4th, 2009 07:54 pm (UTC)
hey always seem to think I need more than one notification. I don't always act on them right away but I don't usually ignore them.

Jun. 4th, 2009 11:50 pm (UTC)
I know. Usually those lessons we aren't paying attention to are the ones we need to learn the most.
Jun. 5th, 2009 05:09 pm (UTC)
I'm curious, what's the message?
Jun. 5th, 2009 08:59 pm (UTC)
That it's time to start recovering from a whole series of crap I've been through. That it's OK for me to look out for myself for awhile.

Jun. 4th, 2009 10:31 pm (UTC)
Wonderful wildlife shots!

I hope that young possum finds its family.
Jun. 4th, 2009 10:51 pm (UTC)
I do too but as we know the odds are against it. If it was down there without them I think they were probably dead already. A mama opossum can be pretty fierce.

Jun. 5th, 2009 02:02 am (UTC)
Agreed on the bit about Cracker Barrel. We don't have that in Canada so I only ever experience it when I'm out on the road in the U.S.

In the glove box, we actually have one of those maps they give out which lists all the locations in the country..... very handy. :)
Jun. 5th, 2009 12:21 pm (UTC)
I tend to stop at the same ones when I travel to the east coast so they become landmarks on my route. I even know the staff by name in some of them.

Jun. 5th, 2009 07:12 pm (UTC)
l would like to HAVE one of those maps!
Jun. 5th, 2009 09:12 pm (UTC)
I think you can get it from Crackerbarrel.com

Jun. 5th, 2009 09:26 pm (UTC)
Alas, you can't. They have a web guide to each state, but no printable things. Their advisory: "There are no Cracker Barrel Old Country Stores in the state of Oregon at this time, but we are growing fast! Cracker Barrel always chooses new locations that are easy to get to from the interstate highway system, and since there are interstates in Oregon, it's possible that a Cracker Barrel will open up here." Since there are interstates! :-)
Jun. 5th, 2009 06:36 am (UTC)
An epic post for an epic long weekend. I love the photos of the state park animals - definitely nice to see a badger that ISN'T road kill.
Jun. 5th, 2009 06:37 am (UTC)
Whoops, forgot to log in! That's me up there.
Jun. 5th, 2009 12:20 pm (UTC)
We hardly ever see them anyway, roadkill or not. At least not above Southern illinois. There was one on my farm a few years ago that chased people out of the woods but that was it.

Jun. 5th, 2009 02:31 pm (UTC)
Next time you're in the KC area, be sure to visit Weston, MO. In addition to being a pretty cool old river town and the starting point for the Pony Express, there's a nifty little winery there. I don't remember the name of it, but it, too, is in an old church. The wines are okay, but they also make several varieties of mead - including an absolutely fabulous sparkling mead.

Thanks for the badger pic; I'm pretty fond of Badger.
Jun. 5th, 2009 08:58 pm (UTC)
I seem to recall your fondness for Badger. Someplace that makes mead is worth a trip all on its own. Thanks!

Jun. 8th, 2009 12:20 am (UTC)
We have Cracker Barrel's and lots of oppossums here too. I see the critters all the time. Not in my basement though..knock on wood..
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )