I am happy to say that this post will actually contain some of the content I had hoped to discuss when I first began my trip; gluten free/dairy free across America. But first, I just have to use this space as a rant so bare with me while I get this out. You see, sitting in my motel room in Salt Lake City yesterday morning brought the full realization that this is as far as I will get across America. Utah. I was driven here with my car in tow to get a proper diagnosis and repair quote for it after I broke down in Wyoming. You can read about that right here: http://wp.me/4cJfr
I learned that the repairs to my car, which basically would be a new engine, will cost more than the value of the car. A previous repair job to fix a thermostat and radiator hose issue that I received a couple months back in my home town was not done properly and is believed to be the crux of the problem. It was exacerbated by outside temperatures and not allowing the car to rest for long enough periods during steep uphill climbs when it would begin to overheat. It was so dang hot with very few safe and shady places to pull over. It was such a dilemma that as I look back, I don’t know that I would have done anything different. But, you know I had a lot of “shoulda, woulda, coulda” thoughts. It would have eventually broken down regardless of how many times I stopped and cooled it. A loose fitting hose was causing it to overheat.
Let me just say, I sold a pretty sweet Toyota Corolla so I could buy this vehicle. I wanted a bigger car. I missed my truck for its size and capabilities. I wanted space on my road trip for supplies and sleeping. I bought this car specifically with my trip in mind. I have had it for four months. Yes, that’s it. Four months. Now, those of you who know me closely, you know the bad car karma that has followed me all of my adult driving life. I had a reprieve for a good long time, owning one vehicle for seven years. That Toyota and I could have probably had a good long ride together, too. It was just too small for me and hurt my back getting in and out. I really wanted a road trip vehicle with a strong engine. I thought I had it. It was fabulous in so many ways and for the one night I did actually sleep in it, it was about as perfect as I could have wanted.
So, as you can imagine, I have had quite a range of emotions over this entire ordeal. Since last Thursday evening I have been without my car and have been stuck in areas that leave much to be desired, in my opinion. My savings are quickly dwindling because instead of camping along the way I am now staying in motels as I have no other options. I have been in Salt Lake since Friday when I learned my car is not worth fixing.
The entire weekend was filled with multiple conversations to car dealerships, car shopping and re-thinking the idea of fixing my vehicle. I was unsuccessful with anything having to do with a vehicle. In between doing this, I spent a lot of time walking in circles, getting lost, sitting on street corners so confused about where I was or how to get where I wanted to be. Why was it that each time I asked someone for directions they weren’t from here? Just my luck, right? It was so damn hot and I had reached my capacity to deal with anything remotely difficult so I gave up being confused on the streets and spent the rest of my Saturday in my motel room wasting away another day. Hey, I am grateful for my studio style motel room that is quite spacious with a couch and chair so it seems more home like. At least I didn’t feel claustrophobic.
As frustrating, exhausting and overwhelming as all this was, I knew that I would be here through Monday so I did the best attitude adjusting I could to accept my situation, and I just have to say, that was not an easy task! I used my Saturday motel time to try and find the positive things about where I am. I read up in visitor’s guides about all the places I could get to by public transit which is just a two (metropolitan, so more like four!) blocks walk. I studied maps, something that does not come easy for me. I tried to understand the city grid which uses the Temple Square as its focal point where all directions begin. I wrote down directions of places to see, location of the grocery store, times of trax arrivals (public transit), addresses of all locations I wanted to visit. I had a plan and on Sunday morning I was ready to have a good day. I wanted to try and have at least one decent day in all this mess. What I didn’t realize is this city pretty much shuts down on Sundays. So my plans were shot since nothing was open. Seriously? Who closes a park on Sundays? This city does! Even though I am not a fan of shopping malls and avoid them as much as possible, I was willing to wander one on Sunday. Yet, even the mall was closed. Really?? Because it’s Sunday? That doesn’t even make sense to me. It was nearly 100 degrees that day and this heat is so dry with no wind. 100 degrees in Salt Lake is not like 100 degrees in Portland. I was absolutely done. Did I mention it was HOT?! I was done wandering the streets crying because I was lost and so confused about where to go, I was done trying to find something….anything to do that would make this stay better. I completely gave up. I worked so hard to come up with a plan, I struggled to find any sort of good in this, I wanted to have some kind of fun. Nope. Wasn’t happening. Sunday was another wasted day in my motel room. That day, I just slept. Seriously, I just laid on the bed or on the couch feeling sorry for myself. Did I say I was grateful for a king size bed with lots of fluffy pillows? Yes, well it helped me to completely check out of that day. I could no longer cope.
I was so thankful for Monday to arrive. The city was open again, public transit had a more consistent schedule and I was determined to get the heck out of here by days end. I got up and out very early before the heat arrived. I actually did not get lost. After 3 days of trying I finally got it. It starts with turning left once out of the motel. I am horribly direction challenged and those who know me well will understand the hilarity of that phrase. I was able to get things I needed, I was clear headed and could focus on my surroundings and felt very accomplished by the time I returned to my motel and still had the entire day ahead of me to find a solution that would get me out of here. Do I even need to say what happened with the remainder of the day? No, it was much like the rest and here I sit on Tuesday morning; still in Salt Lake.
After an entire day that ended up like all the others since I’ve been here, I was back in tears and beginning to think I would need to find a job here or something because I would be stuck here forever. I found too many challenges in most of my ideas and really just couldn’t think about what I should do. I can’t really explain what happens when I get overwhelmed these days, but I blame it on grief. Usually, I can get through rough spots and come up with a practical solution. I am very practical minded and don’t often let emotions rule my thoughts or behavior. I am a thinker, an observer and a problem solver. However, it has been a different experience since my mom has died. When I get overwhelmed all sense goes out the window. I can’t think practically, in fact, I can hardly think at all. It’s like I just shut down and have tunnel vision. So, when what seemed like my only options for leaving this state had been exhausted I truly did not know what I would do. I was imagining all kinds of scenarios, none of which were good or even realistic. So when I received a suggestion to rent a car and just come home, I thought why the hell didn’t I think of that?! There is even a car rental place directly across from where I am staying. I look at the damn building each time I walk out the motel door. The thought of renting a car never came to me. See? Tunnel vision. I called my son and he helped me to make a reservation. Yes, I am completely capable of doing this on my own in any other circumstance. Yesterday, I was very thankful for the help and I really did need it. Later today I will be picking up the rental car, going to the service center to retrieve my belongings from my broken down car and be on my way home. This trip across the country ends here. So many things about this are horribly disappointing, but my biggest disappointment is not getting to visit my son who lives in North Carolina. He worked really hard to finagle time off from his job so he could spend time with me. The last time we saw each other was during my mom’s illness and death. I wanted to spend happy time with him. This makes me really sad.
Today, this nightmare finally ends. I can only hope (beg the Universe!) that my trip home will be smooth and no more problems will occur because I have had plenty of them all ready, thank you very much. I am so excited to leave and get back on the road. I am also so depressed and feel completely defeated. I can definitely put this experience in the never want to do this again category. I have found very little to enjoy about this trip, however I did find a little gluten free here in this horrid city (Sorry to any Salt Lake natives! How do you live here?). At least I got to eat my kind of food for the most part. Oh, and for anyone who ever again says I pack too much food for trips, I will have you know it was the best thing about this trip. I have eaten the way I want, lacking in some fresh produce at times, but I have had my kind of food for this entire trip because I pack a lot of food!
I found this store that is similar to a store in my home town and while minimal, I did find organic and gluten/dairy free products. Most people I have talked with here look at me like I am from another planet when I mention gluten free. One wonderful motel desk clerk knows his gluten free places and happily shared a great Chinese restaurant that had options for me. I did order from there and it was quite delicious. Quite by accident, I learned of a gluten free bakery that is close to me. I would like to think I’ll stop by there today, but I’ll see how my morning goes.
So, if you have read this far, thank you for sticking with me. This is probably the longest blog I have written. Here’s a look at what I have been eating, what I purchased and what little bit of the city I have seen. I plan on taking those two plastic containers you see in the picture that are filled mostly with a mix of greens and dividing them up evenly between the containers, adding some other veggies and some deli meat chunks for salad meals. I was pretty impressed with myself for even coming up with this solution to decent meals. I take delight in the little things. It’s all I’ve got right now.