Week two amongst the suburbanites: I've probably spent more time in this house this last week than I did in my house in Eugene for the last three months. Yesterday we had Eugene-like monsoon rains. I would have dared to venture into it had I not picked up a cold late last week.
It seems I always get the cold when I visit my parents. I don't quite get it. I can ride through Eugene's downpours, work at a mall, and hang out with all sorts of sick friends and not get sick. I enter my mother's climate-controlled home, spend three days doing nothing more strenuous than playing with her cats and being continuously fed, and wham! sniffles and coughing. It doesn't make sense.
Nonetheless, I'm on my second box of Kleenex Brand Tissue and I've spent $30 at Raley's on supplements. The cold hasn't knocked me out, just made my face sloppy.
So I stayed in yesterday during the torrents (I'm told Eugene saw plenty of snow) and was here when the doorbell rang. I found a forlorn cardboard box standing out there in the downpour. I wrestled the poor thing inside (we're talking larger than a breadbox here) and nearly swooned when I saw whom it was from.
Just to back up a bit, when I announced that I was heading to Iowa, many of my friends helped fulfill my request for Iowa gear. But get a load of this.
The box was from Allison in Anchorage. Ah, Anchorage, where it's almost as cold as Iowa. Yes, not quite. The box contained no less than a fleece vest, three fleece jackets, several thermal shirts, five or six pairs of socks, a headband, a hat, and a thick fleece coat with a removable waterproof shell/coat. Ooohh. Thanks, Allison! What a friend. Now I feel ready.
Not to leave everyone else out, let's take a moment to review the donations to Steve's personal campaign: from Luna, weatherproof glove covers and a down jacket. From Jesse: water-resistant boots. From Linda: five, no wait, six sweaters. From Hanna: double-layered fleece hat, fleece scarf and a big time duffel bag (in Dean campaign colors). From my dad: two pairs of thick jeans and a hat. From Adam and Miranda: an Eagle Creek toiletry bag. From Wade and Holly: gobs of socks. From Nicka and family: gobs of socks.
Okay, folks, I'm set. You oughta should see what I look like when I'm wearing all this stuff. Thank you all very much.
Back to our story. So I've been waiting for news on the Sacramento car pool to Iowa. The trouble with e-mail is that if they don't answer it at all, you don't know if they're ignoring you or if you're just throwing paper balls into the wastebasket, so to speak. But slowly it became known to me that I would need to start looking for other options. I admit to slowness. My first week here really was full of family time, I honestly didn't have a good chunk of time to sit and surf Dean sites until Sunday.
They tell you that Dean is "internet-savvy" and that's true to a point, but for this user, the point falls short. The ride board software was clearly a rush job and is missing some important features, like giving us the opportunity to request rides. Hmmm.
On Sunday, I peppered many of the groups that are signed up at iowa.deanforamerica.com with a request for rides or information thereof. Over the next day or two, I received several responses, mostly from people who have airplaned out there already. Some of them pointed me to the not-quite-there ride board. Some mentioned low fares from San Francisco, which turned out to be some weird pointless Web site deals. And some mentioned a "train."
For the first few e-mails, I wasn't sure if this "train" was an actual locomotive thing or just a caravan of wagons headed across them thar hills. But it turned out to be an Amtrak train leaving on the 13th costing only $110. I sent some e-mail to the organizers of this group, with no reply.
While I was slowly getting chalant, Mom was getting downright antsy. She handed me her credit card and told me to book one of the $700 flights from Sacramento. Determined I could find something more satisfactory (pricewise), I started giving the train a good solid thinkabout.
The problem with the mysterious Dean train is that it wouldn't be getting to Iowa until the 15th, leaving only three days to work before the caucus. Surfing amtrak.com, I looked into trains leaving this week and next. Fare-wise, I wasn't doing so well until I tried Tuesday. $212 round-trip to Iowa. Within seconds, I had signed up, using my own credit card.
So folks, here's the deal. I'm leaving Sacramento on Amtrak train 6 on Tuesday January 6 at 11:32 in the morning. I'll be getting into Osceola, Iowa (some twenty-five miles from Des Moines) on Thursday at 8 in the morning.
This afternoon I roamed freely over the suburban landscape of Rancho Cordova. It's amazing how anti-pedestrian a town can be. Sunrise Boulevard has got to be the worst of the worst. It's ten lanes of traffic, and where it meets Coloma Road, it's close to a forty-lane intersection. The stoplight there is more like a floodgate than a traffic tool; it switches and then there's four minutes of a torrential rush of shiny metal boxes.
The best was the intersection near my bank. To cross from one side of Sunrise to the other, they wanted me to first cross the tributary, then cross Sunrise, then cross the tributary again. That would've taken about ten minutes. I was contemplating hitching a ride across the intersection, but the drivers were looking pretty freaked out to see a human outside of a truck or car. So I crossed my fingers and just ran for it.