Fruit Flies, and Monkeys, and Lonely Woman, oh my! Some Traveling Tips.

“This sucks, y’all.”

My recent trip to Texas, a 2000 mile round-trip, has me thinking about space travel. Researching the various this’s and that’s of it, I found the image to the left. That monkey looks as if he knows he ain’t coming back.

Just as a reference: Space officially begins at about 62 miles above our Earth’s surface, called the Karman Line.

The first living creatures to be launched into space were fruit flies—they were sent up with some corn so they’d not be hungry—way back in 1947, aboard a V2 rocket. They went 106 miles, and the capsule was actually recovered and the fruit flies weren’t any worse for wear.

A year later came the first monkey, named Albert. But, alas poor Albert; I knew him well (not). Um.  Ugh. Yeah. They think he may have suffocated before he even left the ground. Dang. The rocket only made it up 39 miles.

Albert II, who fortunate for him had NOOOO idea what happened to the preceding Albert, was sent up in a V2 rocket, soaring to 83 miles. Though Albert was the first monkey to be successfully launched into space without meeting his fate before leaving the ground, there was a problem with his parachute on the recovery capsule as it hurtled to earth and—well, you can guess the rest if you like. RIP Albert II. RIP.

After that, other Alberts (III, IV, V) boarded their rockets, and none survived—either they died on impact or during the flight.

Apparently, it is said that all of the monkeys were anesthetized for the flight. Hmmm.

The infamous Miss Baker. “I’m claustrophobic, y’all! ungh!ungh!”

But at last! Two monkeys in 1959—Able and Miss Baker—flew to 360 miles, tucked in aboard a Jupiter rocket. Their recovery capsule landed about 1700 miles off range of where they were supposed to land at Cape Canaveral, but they were found and recovered, and perhaps became celebrities, maybe as spokesmonkeys for various products and services.

My recent travel was not so dire and dangerous, though perhaps it is in its own way—traffic, crazy drivers, high winds, bad storms, exhaustion, a hotel from hell—lawd!

There is vulnerability (at least for this lonely woman) to traveling alone. So I have some general tidbits for you, should you also travel alone, or will one day do so.

1). If you are traveling with a pet, and will be stopping for the night, you would be better off checking out hotel pet policy ahead of time. Many chains do not allow pets. Some allow them but with restrictions, or a non-refundable fee (one hotel charges $100 nonrefundable fee!). Some chains do allow pets for free—like LaQuinta. LaQuinta hotels are a crapshoot, honestly. Some of them are seriously outdated. Do your research and it’ll save you from being road-weary and searching.

Read reviews. There are always the 1-star “I HAAAAAATED IT!” reviews and the 5-Star “I LOOOOOOOVED IT!” reviews, but I like reading those 3 and 4 star reviews.

Also, maybe I’m just paranoid and weird, but the first two things I do when I stay at a hotel, any hotel, no matter how much it costs or where it is, is to check the mattress for signs of bed bugs (UGH!)—I have never had a room with those, but I check it every time (pull up the sheets and look at the mattress, particularly along the seams, for cleanliness—you can google this if you dare). Then I take Clorox wipes and wipe down the remote, the light switches, the toilet, and a few other surfaces—what? Better safe than sorry! All hotels, no matter how nice or what the cost per night, get this treatment. It’s the only way I can relax. I will also admit that in the middle of the night, I shine my phone under the covers just to make sure nothing is there. Yeah. My head is a scary place.

I seeeee youuuuu!

Also, if you have “trouble” at any hotel, report it. I stayed at a hotel with a weird wonky door that I didn’t discover until the next morning that you could see a little bit into my room! EEEEK! I was NOT HAPPY! While the staff was amazing, and the hotel clean, that hotel needed serious updating and renovating. It was unacceptable. They refunded my money. I won’t be staying there again. Research, y’all! Ahead of time!

2). Welcome Centers are becoming better and better about cleanliness, safety, and, well, welcoming! I always stop at a Welcome Center when entering a new state. There’s places to walk about, and if you have a pet, they have designated areas for the pets. There’s usually coffee, and nice greeters (during business hours mostly). Vending machines if you are interested in that. And the bathroom facilities are usually clean and safe.

3). Rest areas are a mixed bag. Some of them do a great job of keeping the area and facilities clean and safe. But, I have a rule: if I pull up to a rest area and don’t feel safe, or have one of my “wonky” feelings, I’m out of there. Always best to listen to your gut. As with Welcome Centers, rest areas are much better than they used to be, but some are still a little “shady.”

4). Have water handy for you and for your pet. I used to limit my water intake so I’d not have to stop so often, but now I realize that part of the joy of the trip is stopping and stretching my legs, taking in some scenery. And keeping yourself hydrated and your body stretched out will keep you awake and aware and feeling better.

5). Don’t consume sugary snacks and drinks! Same goes for high “bad” carbohydrate foods, like a lot of fast foods. Eating sugary/high carb foods will make you feel sluggish and sleepy. Higher protein snacks/food is a better choice.

And, concerning No’s 4 & 5 – if you are traveling alone, you MUST be alert! There is no one to switch off so you can rest/nap, unless you pull over to nap, and I will never do this. So consider what you take with you and where you stop to eat as an important part of your travel. Continue reading

Alone is not a dirty word, y’all. Be a Rogue Planet – why not?

Where have I been? Why, I’ve been here, there, and yonder! I’ve been working on my new novel. I’ve been editing other writers’ books and novels. I’ve been working on Edge of Arlington website. I was asked to be a regular contributor to Writer Unboxed (poor thangs – they don’t know what they did – I’m hillbilly’ing up they’s space; I’m dirty-footing up they’s respectable blog. Dang!). It’s an honor to write for such a prestigious group and I am grateful. My latest is: Grocery Store Glory (& Angst), (and earlier: A Writer’s Tombstone, Giving Up & Giving In, and as an earlier guest: The Isolated Author).

As well, from November through January, Lil Bear and I traveled by plane to Oregon and stayed 6 whole weeks! Wow! And from there we flew to Arlington, Texas, where we visited a bit, before I rented a Nissan Rogue and drove back to my mountains. It was so danged good to be home but I’m glad I traveled through the holidays instead of . . . being *gasp* ALONE FOR THE HOLIDAYS! That’s not my emphasis, since it wouldn’t have bothered me to be alone for the holidays. I do have friends. I do get out. I’m not completely reclusive. *laugh*

It looked just like this! Snazzy!

How appropriate that I rented a Nissan Rogue—for that’s often how I feel. As if I am a Rogue Planet, spiraled out and beyond away from the Mother Star of its birth, away from other planets, away from the security of that comforting planetary orbit. Wandering through space and time—that word again: Alone.

From Phenomena A SCIENCE SALON: “Rogue planets are homeless worlds. They have neither sunrises nor sunsets, because unlike the planets we’re more familiar with, these lonely worlds aren’t tethered to a star. Instead, they travel in solitary arcs around the Milky Way’s core. Earlier this week, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, introduced many of its viewers to the concept of these lonely planets. ‘The galaxy has billions of them, adrift in perpetual night. They’re orphans, cast away from their mother stars during the chaotic birth of their native solar systems,’ Neil DeGrasse Tyson says, as a planet emerges from the darkness. ‘Rogue planets are molten at the core, but frozen at the surface. There may be oceans of liquid water in the zone between those extremes. Who knows what might be swimming there?’”

photo credit: NASA-JPL-caltech-R.Hurt

How bleak and sad that sounds. Yet, yes, who knows what might be swimming in there? And until there is someone who wants to find out what is swimming inside of me, who sees my inner self and not just “this body” and who is not afraid of the challenge of someone who is “like me” (for I will never be boring), who can see that I am molten at my core but may sometimes seem to be frozen at the surface, who is kind and trustworthy, a grownup and not a little boy, but please believe me when I say: not perfect for I don’t trust perfection (in looks or manner/personality)—then I prefer to be Alone. Not only prefer it, but desire it, want it, embrace it. It suits me. For even if I find that person or that person finds me, I am not so sure I want to give up my freedom. Perhaps they will feel the same way: yay!

Scientists have discovered many of these rogue planets—some as big as Jupiter. Wandering through space, seemingly lost and without anchor. But who is to say those planets aren’t happy drifting languidly through space? Going where they want when they want. Doing what they want when they want. Continue reading

Introduction to the Galaxy

imagesThe Milky Way Galaxy. Home. It’s not very big, as galaxies go. Though, progress intrudes as it often does—the Milky Way is moving towards the Andromeda Galaxy at seventy miles per second, and what was One will become a bigger messier Two that becomes a strange unknown One. Much as we humans do—we hurtle towards one another knowing the collision will be beautiful and fiery, and end in our spiritual or romantic or sexual (or all three) deaths. Perhaps before that happens, the sun will have already swollen to a red giant and, well, we won’t survive that either. We have no choice in the matter—death comes, so we must do the living, hurtling towards what we think will make our lives more exciting, bigger, better, sexier. Often, if we are careless, hurtling towards hurt—hurt(ling).

Oh but do not fret, for the aforementioned collision is millions of years away. Or, as in the case of Human Endeavors, it has already occurred and there is quite the mess to clean up and the resurrecting of Life not as it became known, but as it will become. Advice will be given freely: Think Positive! There are people who have it much worse! You can do it! It’s not so bad is it? Buck up and stop whining!

084Looking out of the spaceship window, there is a vastness of sky interspersed with Stuff. Though one would think traveling into space would be a silent and black existence, it is not. It only seems that way for the Lonely Woman when eyes turn too far inward; but yet, even then, the brain is as the galaxy is—full of gas, dust, black hole, planets, moons, and stars, never still, ever-changing. In the midst of it all, one cannot see to think clearly with the dust and gas so thick, yet there are wonders there, beauties, discoveries. There is also the Hidden inside the black hole that one does not want to be too close to. Why, you may ask?

The massive black hole is a greedy dark mouth that devours all the beauty and wonder and light. But yet, you wonder, inside the blackness, where no one can see, the wonders and beauty are still there, are they not? Still, you know the danger of Black Hole. No one really understands it, and that makes it bigger and badder. It is ravenous, dark, moving, surreal, dangerous, scary. Even before you enter the Event Horizon and are sucked in, you are drawn to it, drawn to it, drawn to it, drawn to that strange awful blackness.

In this galaxy, there are over 200 billion stars, maybe up to 400 billion, and that makes up only part of the home of the Earth home. Back on earth, there are about 7.5 billion people—the world could possibly support 9 or 10 billion. (Go to this World Population Calculator and see how the number changes yet stays the same as it calculates births and deaths.) And yet, for the Lonely Woman, there is One. And the inside of the spaceship has a silence so loud it bangs upon the eardrums a tune that says: Alone Alone Alone Alone Alone Alone Alone, to the tune of the heartbeat. Turn your head this way and that, and find the spot that turns off the sound, brief respite you’ll cover up with alcohol, silly inane tv shows, work, or long walks in the atrium side of your ship.

The thing about being alone is people are afraid of the vastness of it, or ashamed of it, or think that it means they are somehow Not Quite Right. But often, the Lonely choose it. Because they must. One must learn to be alone before one can learn to be, well, not alone. So while it is a choice, it also has its challenges.

Earth is noisy, and Lonely Woman recoils, retreats to the safety of the ship. Yet in space, it is not as silent as one would imagine. Though sound is not as it is on Earth. Sound in space is eerie—it is the sound of loneliness, beautiful but frightening—it is a sound that both entices and repels. You want to listen, yet you want to run away from it. (Visit this website called “Can You Actually” that has YouTube videos of the sounds of planets, including Earth.)

download (1)Turning from the window, thoughts turn to the basics: how to navigate a busy galaxy when it is but you at the helm of your spaceship? And that is what this journey will be. Effectively, or sometimes ineffectively, navigating the galaxy as One, which includes that of Home Earth. What will you eat for One? How will you repair the spaceship as One? Where are safe places to go, as One? What to do when no one has your back but you? What if you are sick? What if . . . what if . . . what if? How to . . . how to . . . how to? Why, how, when, where? Thus, yes, the name: The Lonely Woman’s Guide to the Galaxy.

I hope to help. Or at least commiserate when I cannot help. And, perhaps you out there will offer your own solutions and ideas for how you navigate the Galaxy—not just as one, but as one of the billions of shining stars out there in this Milky Way Galaxy.

And today, to speed us off on our journey, as promised, I have a give-away. While I won’t always do it this way, and it will not always be a book from me, or a book by someone else, for I would grow bored with that, I do not want to seem as if I’m ‘trolling for comments,’ which I am not; so, that written, today, since it’s the first day of our journey, I will offer a Kindle copy of one of my books to the first three commenters (your choice of books, and to do with as you will – give away or keep). If you comment and do not wish for a copy, it won’t hurt my feelings, just say so. Lonely Woman does not get her panties in a twist about such.

I hope you will join in. How ironic that this blog could very well be the loneliest of places, as well? Ha! I can navigate around that, too. Yes.