Road Trip to Toledo

Wednesday, Dec. 24. Today was a busy day packing and getting the house ready for my trip. It was nice to be able to spend my time this way today. Tomorrow morning I set out, bright and early; check back for updates tomorrow evening, assuming I can get online then!

Thursday, Dec. 25. This was quite a strange day. A surprising number of people were driving on the highways, especially during the day. I would have thought most would be home with their families. More restaurants and convenience stores were open than I've remembered from previous years. Is Christmas losing its power to keep people at home?

It was a long drive (nearly 12 hours), made longer by a goof: I accidentally went back toward Boston 30 miles, thereby losing an hour and 60 miles of driving time. Big Oops. Never done anything like that before.

The drive was also made more exciting by periodic snow squalls. It was just rain in the Boston area, but ironically, the further south and west I drove, the worse the weather got. It didn't help that I left the house only at 10:30 am.

In late New York State on Route 84, the weather got beautiful: clear and crisp and bright. I was looking for a good "photo op" for today, and shortly after thinking that, came suddenly upon the overlook of the Delaware River Valley, almost at the border of Pennsylvania, pictured in the photos. It was breathtaking. I love seeing a view of storms at a distance. It's very rare to have this kind of panoramic view in the Northeast, but it was commonplace when I lived in Colorado. I miss it.

This view was more ominous than I realized, though. Soon after traveling through this gorgeous weather, I was in blinding snow conditions with the snow accumulating on the roads very rapidly. The wind was blowing, too.

Photos from Delaware Valley overlook. The dark fuzzy patches in the sky beneath the clouds are storms in progress.

Outlook photo 1

Outlook photo 2

Outlook photo 3

Outlook photo 4

It went on and off like this throughout the evening, and I was driving fine, but I received a shock in mid-PA when coming upon a very bad accident with a car that had skidded. So many firemen and other emergency workers were there I could only think there had to have been at least one fatality. This caused me to slow down and be even more cautious.

I continued to drive (with trepidation) through light and heavy snow throughout the evening, wanting to leave only around 100 miles for tomorrow morning. Given the conditions, though, it was necessary to quit just after entering Ohio, at around 10 pm.

Now I sit in an EconoLodge in the Youngstown area of Ohio, 170 miles from Toledo. It's clean but definitely Economy! That leaves about three hours of driving tomorrow before I show up at Tink's house. Oh well! Nighty-night. Check back tomorrow for more!

Postscript: At almost midnight, I found out there's no way I can upload this tonight because the phone line here is just terrible, full of static. I'll do it when possible tomorrow. Oh well!

Friday, Dec. 26. No photos today; I hope to have some tomorrow.

This was a great day. I spent the morning driving three hours from Youngstown to Tink's house. (Note to anyone considering staying in an inexpensive motel: Check that the bed has a blanket first. I was surprised to find this was not considered a necessary part of my hotel rental fee at the EconoLodge where I stayed; you just get a sheet and a bedspread. First time in hundreds of motels and hotels I've seen this!)

During the drive, the landscape was very grey and brown and flat, with many houses constructed in 1950s "little boxes on the hillside" style. It reminded me of what it was like to live in the midwest, and caused me to contemplate the contrast with the kind of defiance that Bostonians seem to carry. "I'll stop for that red light if I feel like it!" etc. (I'm not generalizing about Midwestern people, just about what I felt from the landscape and architecture, which reminded me a bit of my own feelings from this area when I lived there. I am, however, generalizing about a trait I find in many Boston-area residents.)

Tink and furry/feathered family greeted me very warmly and, in the doggie's case, excitedly. They are all very funny. The house is great and has great potential for when it's renovated. Her lampwork studio is amazing, very comfortable to work in, with all the best equipment for making beads.

It was odd - while learning to make the beads, it felt like I had done something very like this before. To be honest, though, there is nothing in my experience quite like this. I've worked with molten metal, pottery, yarn, beads, string, paint, and Sculpey, but nothing behaves quite like glass. I can't account for the feeling, just that I know what to do, more or less, when I hold the mandrel in my hand. Tink has exclaimed over my "natural" ability to progress with the glass, and I'm a bit dumbfounded about it. I just feel very quiet and focused while doing it. Tomorrow the beads emerge from the kiln, and I'll try to photograph and post my first three.

In any case, if anyone is considering going somewhere to learn from an expert, Tink is the one!

A nice bonus is that my best friend growing up, Laurie, who lives in Detroit (about an hour away), drove down to have dinner with me. We haven't seen each other in person for at least four years, so it was very nice. And she even got carded for her drink! I'm not saying how old I am, but she's the same age, and it's well past the time we should be getting carded!

Good night for now.

Saturday, Dec. 27. I have pictures today! It was lots of fun in my last couple of hours in Tink's studio. We took the beads out of the kiln -- check out my first two beads!

I learned to use silver wire today, and how to mix colors, and Tink showed me how to pull a goldstone stringer. (Wow, all this new vocabulary!) It was also a lot of fun watching Tink work. I learned a lot that way.

Tink just gave me the hollow bead with a bead-inside-a-bead she made yesterday! It's so cool. Maybe someday I'll grow up to be like her.

Anyway, I have a long drive to Tennessee, so I'll wind up this log for now. Enjoy the pics!

Working at the torch

Susan working at the torch

Working at the torch 2

A better look at the studio; Susan starting her last bead at Tink's

First bead

My first bead, yellow with green dots; pretty good, eh?

Second bead

I love this, my second bead, an organic with silver leaf and lovely colors.

Copyright © 2003 Susan Midlarsky