Head out for the highway

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Yes, Monday finds me back at my same gray walled office. Back to work, slogging through emails and working up my expense report.

All in all, the trip to Florida was a good one.

I’m glad to be home. It was a long haul on Saturday, hopping a couple planes and ultimately arriving almost two hours later than I was supposed to. But I made it and a really cute boy was waiting for me when I came down the stairs to baggage claim.

I didn’t sleep well on the trip, so was glad to sleep in my own little bed, and sleep I did. Woke up Sunday morning MUCH refreshed. The Good Man fussed over me and that helped get me right, too.

Back to “regular” work today. While making the drive in this morning, I was thinking about what made the Florida trip fun, and I hit on a thought.

I got to drive.

Now, don’t gave me that doggy head tilt look. Let me explain.

“Back in the day” living in New Mexico, one of my best stress relievers was to get in the car and drive. Not always with a destination, sometimes just driving, watching the white lines roll by.

Since I went to school in Las Cruces and my folks lived in Carlsbad, I had a LOT of hours in the middle of NOWHERE, hum of the tires as my companion.

I got a LOT of good thinking done during those drives.

Meditation. That’s really what it is.

Well now living here in a densely populated area, just getting in the car and going isn’t all that meditative. With all the traffic, it is stress inducing.

When I lived in Albuquerque, I could drive for a half hour in pretty much any direction and be OUT of the city, humming along at 75 mph, and letting the stress float away.

Here, I can drive a half hour and be ever more mired in humanity.

So I enjoyed the fact that, last week, I got some road time. The ride on I-4W to Clearwater Beach took about two and a half hours all in. It was a little densely populated around Tampa Bay and that stressed me, but had moments of a peaceful ride. It got really good when I got off I-4 and into the small roads winding through Clearwater and over all the causeways.

The trip to Cocoa Beach was only about an hour and was PERFECT for highway meditation. (see, I still can find NOTHING wrong with Cocoa Beach). SR-528E is pretty rural, away from people, not heavily trafficked on a weekday. The tolls do take a bit away from that trip, but even they are manageable. You get a rhythm of hitting the various toll plazas and you know they’ll be there (kind of like having to stop at a Border Patrol station…so it’s all good).

And during those two drives a lot of thinking got done. Some useful (i.e. where should I emphasize success criteria for my team this year), some not (i.e. why do so called “80’s” radio stations only play the cheesy “hits” like “Jump” (both Van Halen and Pointer sisters), and not the deeper cuts from bands like Depeche Mode or The Cure?).

Getting all that thinking done is healing. I find I’m in a better mood today than when I left. Like I’ve grown from my journey.

I sure wish I could more easily hit the open road from where I live to think things out.

Oh well, just another reason to miss my fair New Mexico.

There is nothing wrong with Cocoa Beach

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If you’ve known me for a while, you’ve heard me say this phrase.

A lot.

If you are new to the obsessive compulsive wonders that are Karen, then let me explain.

About ten years ago, I was sent to Orlando on business. I worked for Lockheed back then and we were sent out to have a love fest with the Orlando folks. We were all supposed to be getting along like one big happy corporate family, but we weren’t. The Lockheed and Martin merger was…tricky, to say the least.

So on that last trip, me a timid little New Mexico girl, I had some spare time on my hands and I quaveringly looked at the Florida map and planned a drive. An easy drive out of Orlando. About an hour all on one road. Albeit a toll road, which added to the stress.

So I went to Cocoa Beach. Yes, it’s all very I Dream of Jeannie, but it had a familiar ring and it was coastal.

While there, I stumbled onto something great. Well, first I went to Ron Jon Surf Shop. As a NM girl, surfing isn’t exactly something I know much about. But one day at work I’d found a coffee mug that looked cool and it was from Ron Jon in Cocoa Beach. So I was happy to explore this strange place.

I was stunned by how utterly cool the store was. I timidly tried on bathing suits (two piece, ooh la la) from their endless racks of suits. I ended up boldly purchasing an orange two piece, put it on, then sashayed down the block from the shop and out onto the beach.

It. Was. Awesome. As soon as I got over my timidity, that is. That was the first two piece I’d ever owned. I felt…naked.

Soon enough I was splashing in the warm Atlantic and having one hell of a good time. The people were nice. The people watching was fun and that was one of those days that lives in my memory. A happy place, if you will.

And upon my return, I told anyone who would listen: “There is *nothing* wrong with Cocoa Beach. It is perfect!”

So here I am, once again sent on business to Orlando. And today I got a chance to go once more eastbound on SR-528. I was no less nervous this time, but more prepared. I had a film canister full of quarters for the toll-booths and I knew where I was going. I drove a little more confidently as I have ten extra years of livin’ to go along for the ride.

Upon rolling into Cocoa Beach, I was disappointed. It’s grown a LOT in ten years. What I liked about it back then was that there wasn’t much to the town. Mostly locals and a few tourists. This time there are A LOT of tourists and stores everywhere. The upside, they built a parking structure. Parking was a bear last time.

I went to Ron Jon again. And once again, I shopped for swimming suits. Yes, two pieces, but the more modest tankini’s this time. They still have endless racks of really cool suits. And I still had great success there, purchasing not one but two. Yay!

I didn’t put one on, tho, it was actually not all that warm today (low sixties with a cool wind). But I still hauled my cookies down the block and out onto the beach.

And as this photo will show, I found everything to be juuuuuuust fine:

Yes, those are my toes in the foreground. And that is the Atlantic ocean in the background.

It’s still warm. Or at least one hell of a lot warmer (and calmer) than the Pacific. I picked at shells on the beach, not taking any, just looking. The Pacific is so rough no shell makes it to the shore intact.

Once again, I found NOTHING wrong with Cocoa Beach. It is a little slice of heaven.

Except for this Portuguese little fella. A Man O’ War they call it.

And these two yahoolios.

Think the friend will pee on the guy who will soon have stinging hands? (as they say uric acid will help the burn…I don’t know if that’s actually true……)

But even with stinging fish and brainiacs on Spring Break, it was still a perfect day.

Tomorrow, it’s game face. Start at 7:00 and sit all day in a hotel conference room. But that’s ok…when the attention span wanders, I’ll go again to my happy place. This time I have photos!

Notes from an Eastbound plane

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Flying makes me thoughtful. Herewith, my thoughts from some seven hours in the air in which I also lost three time zones.

Oddly, today, this is a New Mexico blog written by a Californian visiting Florida.

GeoGRAPHIC!

Thoughts from the skies:

1) Noise cancelling headphones. Da bomb. How did I ever live without them? Best Christmas gift evar!

2) Traveling to warm vacation spots while Spring Break is in swing means you will be required to endure obnoxious teenagers. A LOT of obnoxious teenagers.

3) Exit row window seat. Yes. Leg room. View. Ability to move. Middle seat empty…even better.

4) Southwest’s new boarding process? May as well go back to plastic numbers because that’s basically what it is again. 1-30, 31-60, 61-90, blah, blah, blah…been there, done that. Only this time with letters!

5) Breakfast at home…always a good idea. Even more so when flying for the WHOLE day. Even if it is just tomato soup, it’s a good idea.

6) Comfy pants = happy traveler. The ones that are like two sizes too big and I just don’t care.

7) Pocket full of tissues is a good thing. Especially in allergy season. Those little square napkins that come with your drink don’t cut it. It was a last minute thought but proved to be the best decision all day.

8) Who is Southwest kidding with these “100 calorie” snack packs. Give me eight! I don’t care, I’m HUNGRY! Turns out tomato soup wasn’t enough to last all day. It got me to…oh, San Antonio then I wanted some real eats.

9) Why don’t you get the whole can of soda on the plane anymore?

And finally…

10) Just so you know…Ethel Merman has been reincarnated as a toddler. Yes, a solid hour of singing with the pitch and tone of a three year old and the gusto of Ethel herself. At one point the child hit a “Laaaaaaaaaa” and held it there. Which brings us back to #1.

Noise cancelling headphones. *Highly* recommended.

East bound and down…

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…loaded up and truckin’

Yes, I just quoted the theme from “Smokey and the Bandit” and I’m not sorry.

Ok, maybe a little sorry. But I’d do it again.

I’m in kind-of-panicked but mostly excited mode because I have some travel coming up next week.

In the many long years I’ve worked at The Company, I’ve only traveled a scant three times. This will be my fourth trip on the company dime.

I get to go to Northern Florida. For a conference.

There’s not a lot going on in the Northern half of Florida. But that’s ok. I got that “anywhere but here” thing going. I haven’t traveled in a REALLY long time and I’m anxious to get going. I do love to go places.

There are some downsides.

1) It’s Florida. And still Spring Break season. I may have to pimp slap some drunk college kids. I’ll do it too.

2) I’m not going for fun. I’m going to work. True, a conference isn’t exactly *work*, but it involves sitting indoors, eating conference chicken and being over air conditioned to within an inch of my life.

3) It is one long ass plane ride to get from the left coast to the right one. Yeah, shaddup all you “oh, but to fly to Australia is WAY longer” or whatever. I’m just saying… Mama gets restless on a plane. Five hours plus three time zones is just long enough to piss me off, not long enough to get anywhere really good…like London or something.

4) Disney. God I hate Disney. And there is little else to do BUT freakin’ Disney where I’m going. Gaaaaah! I Googled “fun non-Disney things to do” and found…well, not much.

Oh well. It’s a trip. That I’m not paying for. It will be warm. I won’t have to sit at my desk. And the Atlantic is warm.

So there you have it.

I keep thinking “oh, I should pack goggles” then remind myself “WORK! This is work!”

I am taking the camera tho…I’ll share any interesting shots. (nod to Avelino on this)

Getcher Motor Runnin’….

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The Good Man and I are off on a road trip. A little hooky from work today and Monday and Mama Karen’s ALL happy about it.

Catch you on the other side.

Happy (safe!) Weekend!

Go NY Giants! :)