Tag Archives: Observations

The heat is on

Or it ain’t half hot Mum. Well it was, honest. Now it’s not.

Charleston at the end of April and Mrs s and I were wilting a bit by the end of the day. We’ve been exploring history on the run up the the US Civil War, which had roots way back in the US Declaration of Independence and the compromises made to bring the plantation owning slave owners in with the rest of those rascally rebels against King George. What we’ve learned is that the actual fighting was simply the hot phase of a conflict over ‘States Rights’ which had been going on for years before a shot was fired. Oh yes, and Fort Sumter is actually a lot smaller than I’d imagined. Somehow I’d expected it to be much bigger for the focus of such a momentous event. Mrs S and I have decided that in two days we’ve barely scratched the surface and are going to grace the Palmetto City with a second visit sometime.

Chattanooga was a bit of an overnighter, and we ended up giving Lookout Mountain a miss because of the weather. So we checked out Nashville for a couple of days. Sunday night we ended up downtown watching such oddities as ‘Pedal bars‘ carrying whooping groups of partiers. We, being of a more sedate years, chose to enjoy our drinks in more peaceful surroundings, and despite our obvious grey hairs, had to show ID before getting alcoholic libations. Apparently it’s state law in Tennessee.

The weather recently hasn’t been our friend, what with the odd passing thunderstorm, but we made the best of it by getting me some new cooking knives (Proper Sabatier’s) and a chef’s apron for when the cooking muse hits. Plugged some holes in our old movie collection with a Bogart compilation and some others we fancied at the moment while it bucketed down in Nashville. Picked up a couple of the more obscure CD’s we’ve had trouble sourcing in BC. Overall, despite downpours, we had a good time. The only downside was our hotel. Advertising itself as three star was a bit of an exaggeration. Two would have been more appropriate. I could go into detail, but I’ve saved that for a rather scathing comment on booking.com.

As for the political news, well there’s a fine howdy-do and no mistake. However, I made my feelings plain on this issue back February 25th based on this story. Is the big C destined to win the Democratic nomination only to get whumped in the real thing by the big T? Will this encourage voters to put their X where their heart tells them, and not where they are scared to by the lamestream? Intriguing…

Anyway, this evening finds us in St Louis on the Illinois side, plotting and planning our visit to the Cahokia Mounds and perhaps one of the local plantations, the day after to the city centre to see the big arch and perhaps visit a few museums.

Après le déluge, nous

Two weeks into our road trip and we’re out of Houston and in New Orleans. The storms have passed and the sky is as clear as if nothing has happened. Our first morning in Houston was another matter. Lightning, thunder and the car park and road outside at least two inches deep in water. All we could do was stand and watch the fireworks, mainly because I didn’t have to drive and didn’t really want to. Road trips are supposed to be fun, right? An adventure at least. So far it has been, but Houston is a business town more than anything else, and although the parks and museum districts are interesting, the rest, well, I’d give it a miss next time round.

After the morning rains passed, we took the bus into the Museum District, only to receive a friendly warning about walking around looking like Canadian tourists from the transit station security people. I can see what they mean, our end of Houston did look a bit worse for wear even after the flooding, and on the way home we had our first real stoner encounter. Talk about a zombiform human. A white guy in his 20’s, buzz cut sandy hair, hollow, hopeless eyes and a shuffling gait. He managed to sneak up close behind Mrs S, but I got her on the bus before he made contact. He was probably harmless, but my beloved certainly isn’t. I probably did him a favour by whisking her away.

New Orleans is a totally different kettle of seafood. It’s a party town, and we spent all nof today wandering around the French Quarter, finding one of the best breakfast spots in town (Camille) and inadvertently wandering into a gay bar for a beer. All of which completely failed to faze either Mrs S or myself. Maybe I’m just getting to old to worry about that shit any more.

I’ve decided I like New Orleans. It’s everything Vegas aspires to be but with attitude. Less of the glitz but more about people. The Big Easy has a history and culture which Vegas lacks, but more than that. At the grass roots it has a real beating heart made up of people. We had more small kindnesses come our way from the locals than in our entire journey so far. Nothing much. Unsolicited directions to great eating and sightseeing experiences. We got a little gentle backsass from certain locals, which we gave right back and got a laugh out of each encounter, which was fun. Even if the local accent is a bit broad, drawly and difficult to understand with all the background noise. Which made us want to return and do the place a little bit more justice than we could in our schedules forty eight hours.

New Orleans is a town not afraid to have some fun at it’s own expense. To be honest, if I was ever forced to walk the streets again, I wouldn’t mind doing it there.

Howdy y’all

Yes, Texans really do say this, but it sounds quite melodious and somehow genuine when they say it, mainly because they’re pretty nice people. Until they get behind the wheel of a car, then all bets are off. I’m very glad I don’t have to commute around Houston and San Antonio for two reasons;

  1. With all the high speed lane cutting that goes on, it’s like a cross between NASCAR and Wacky races
  2. The minimalist road signage requires split second timing and the luck of being in the right lane for your turnoff.

Which at speeds over sixty to seventy plus in high density traffic can make for some quite lively driving, let me tell you. I’m no novice driver, having survived the rush hour M25 many times without a scratch, but there were quite a few brown trouser moments and missed turns requiring much back tracking, many U-turns (Which the city fathers of both San Antonio and Houston make ample provision for), and several heated arguments between driver and navigator about whose fault it was we missed our exit.

At first some of the antics of my fellow motorists left my chief circulatory organ wedged firmly between my teeth until I started picking up the various clues from other drivers and failing to let them faze me. In the end I just left two and a half car lengths between my front end and the vehicle in fronts arse and let everyone else do what the hell they pleased. With or without signalling. I could have flashed my lights and sounded my horn, but would it have made any difference? No. So we’ve learned to just give the crazy ones the road and keep our distance from everyone else. Now give me a week and I’d be carving up and swerving across three lanes just like the rest of them.

Yesterday’s little hiatus and wander round San Antonio’s river walk gave us time to catch our breath and chill out a bit after the previous days series of panic attacks on the cities maze of overpasses, underpasses and quantum shifting side roads that tend to dump the unwary precisely one block from their destination, being taken in the wrong direction by a Byzantine one way system. Fortunately, due in part to one piece of inspired guesswork on my part (“Don’t you mean jammy?” Says Mrs S), we actually found our way to where we needed to be. On this driver’s day off we’d elected to take the Transit (Bus) downtown so we could have a drink or two after visiting the famous Alamo.

The Alamo itself is an interesting place, despite a relative paucity of exhibits. All there was on display were a number of flags, a lot of display boards, a couple of antique rifles, various documents, a model of the besieged mission complex, a few scraps of fabric and leather and many notices bearing imprecations not to touch the walls. What really impressed me was the sense of tranquillity we encountered in the well-tended mission gardens. It was so peaceful that the heavy grumbling noise from a running truck engine from behind one wall took several minutes to register on our senses. A feeling I’ve only experienced in the inner sanctum of various churches and temples. That air of inner stillness which is so hard to find, except in such places of reverence and awe.

En route to Houston today we had an interesting stop at a rural service station just outside San Antonio; firstly the whole anti-smoking thing seems to have had a limited effect down here. You don’t have to select your inhalant of choice by guesswork, there are whole walls full of cigarettes, cigarillo’s and eCigs on show for everyone to see, and in the case of cigars, in a special humidor room (I estimated ten feet by ten feet) to keep the tobacco in perfect smoking condition. I was almost overcome by a sense of nostalgia. A member of the anti-smoking righteous would probably have a terminal coughing fit. Secondly there was the ammunition. Under glass of course. $6.99 for 20 rounds of NATO 5.56 or .223, hunting and full jacketed. Spare magazines and enough hunting paraphernalia to give a virulent vegan activist several heart attacks before even reaching the counter.

Anyway, we’re all safe and sound, trying to find old movies on the hotel TV in amongst dozens of TV channels dedicated to talking head political op-eds denouncing this Trump fellow as one of the many “ist’s”. They call themselves ‘news’, but that’s so far from what these broadcasts actually are. Which is regurgitated dramatised drek for the gullible. Mrs S, genius with the remote she is, has located an old James Bond classic ‘Dr No’. Which we’re currently enjoying, even though she still forbids me to do my Sean Connery impersonation. Not sure what we’re doing tomorrow, so watch this space.

Bye for now.

Grand vistas

If you see one sight to fill your life with awe, the Grand Canyon can do it. Well it certainly made my vertigo wake up and say; “Ey oop young Bill. This is why you never chose mountaineering as a career option.”Grand Canyon sunset 3 It really is something. Especially at sunset or dawn, which are the two times to see this gaping chasm at it’s most awesome. Well worth the one and a half hour scoot up from Flagstaff.

Incidentally, the picture above was taken just as we getting ready to leave, having used our ‘America the Beautiful‘ National Parks pass for the very first time. As entrance to the park is thirty bucks per carload, another two National Parks like this and our eighty buck pass will have paid for itself. Super.

A note about US National Parks, you can sometimes drive straight in and out without having to pay. So long as you don’t stop. Entrance fees cover parking and camping in most National Parks.

The other grand vista during our two night stay in Flagstaff was a trip to the Lowell Observatory. Yes, that Percival Lowell, the Martian Canal guy who also predicted the approximate position of ‘Planet X’ later named Pluto and stripped of it’s planetary status in 2006 by the IAU, which annoyed a lot of astronomers, some of whom have pointed out that if Pluto is not a planet, by the IAU’s rules, neither are Saturn or Earth. Which might come as a bit of a shock to all the carbon based life forms currently inhabiting our third rock from the sun.

The actual discovery was done by a Kansas farm boy working his way to getting an astronomy degree by the name of Clyde Tombaugh, who was not a proper astronomer because he hadn’t got a degree. At the time he discovered Pluto, he was the Lowell Observatories Grounds keeper and mailman. Afterwards he completed a distance learning degree. Which is one of the great things about science. It doesn’t matter what you are, if you discover something significant and enough academics pronounce your work sound and reproduceable, bingo! You just did proper science. As opposed to the kind of science where the data is warped to support a theory. Which isn’t scientific at all.

Elsewhere the lamestream news media is full of commentary from both right and left wing media pundits on why they don’t like Donald Trump. Who in turn has stated the bleedin’ obvious that the US Presidential election is rigged. Well of course it is. All you need is a working pair of Mark One eyeballs to see that simple fact for yourself. The Colorado non-primary where the Republican vote was cancelled and thirty delegates ‘awarded’ to the parties preferred candidate was one proof. Anyway, that’s all rather academic as far as I’m concerned. Just another sad indication that the globalist sponsors behind Clinton and Cruz don’t give a shit about what the average US citizen wants. It’s a closed contest, which only allows people with the ‘right’ views and supporters to get the top job.

Anyway. We’ve arrived in Albuquerque safe and sound, waiting for the hotel bar to open at five. Off to Amarillo tomorrow, thence Abilene, San Antonio and Houston to see what the Texans are really like.

TTFN

Loathing and leaving Las Vegas

Within five minutes of arrival at our Las Vegas hotel, I vouchsafed to Mrs S “I already loathe this place.” My other half was not pleased, I could see it in her face. But then that’s me. I’ve always shied away from the bright lights, preferring a more cerebral path.

Maybe I was too hot and bothered after a long day crossing the desert and having to lug thirty kilo’s of baggage almost a kilometre to our room. No trolleys, and nowhere to offload at the entrance because Mrs S refused to let me shift our car into the multi-storey car park. All those extra services are for the ‘high rollers’ who have come to burn their dollars. Sorry, but we have five more weeks of road trip and a budget to keep to.

Vegas is a real gilded sewer of a town that airs its vices openly from the big buildings, like Caesars Palace casino to the prostitutes or street level beggars. To the eye Vegas dazzles, glitzes, and sparkles, but that doesn’t change the fact that you’re still knee deep in shit. It’s literally a town full of losers where only the Casino’s win. Some come for the weekend to have a little fun, blow a few thousand dollars, catch a sexually transmitted disease in a desperate effort to forget whatever drove them here.

Then there are the others, striving to find their road to glorious unearned wealth, and the ones who didn’t know when to quit and bet even their self respect. Lost to the madness of circular reasoning, where just one last big bet or high will bring them all the glitz and riches they originally aspired to. Just one. Slaves to the myth that anyone can make it big, but blind to the truth that so few will. Forgetting the one big truth of gambling; the odds are always loaded in the houses favour. Reduced to begging for a stake, trying to scam tourists, especially Canadians, who they seem to feel are a ready mark for a halfway convincing sob story. Well, until we came along, a-totin’ our cynicism like loaded six guns thar pardner. One guy tried it with us, his big ‘tell’ being deliberately checking out our cars British Columbian numberplate before approaching us to beg a loan. I told him I’d just spent my last cash on gas. So I lied, who cares? Vegas is a place that rapidly puts a patina on the soul, a varnish of disbelief which is sometimes the only thing between the scammers and the contents of your wallet.

That evening Mrs S and I took a wander out for beer and a sandwich. Just to see the lights in the evening and wonder at what all the fuss was about. Over the famous strip there are four magnificently built bridges with escalators up and down either side. Which is where I took this shot from. Las Vegas Flamingo So, camera in hand, bags zippered firmly shut, credit cards in anti-rfid wallets, we took a wander up the escalators Mrs S hanging onto me because she didn’t want to touch anything. Why? Beautiful though these bridges look, they need a serious daily power wash down with some weapons grade antiseptic. In short, they stink. They reek of the hopeless and homeless. Of the drunken antics of visitors who can’t be bothered with what the North Americans tweely refer to as a ‘rest room’. Of dropped garbage and non-existent personal hygiene. Escalator rails, sticky to the touch made me wish I was wearing surgical gloves.

Fortunately the first place we stopped for a beer offered us some gel hand wash before we sat down. At a second bar we stopped to eat and listen to a bearded guy playing his keyboard in the street and belting out numbers like Marc Cohn’s ‘Walking in Memphis‘. I threw a few bucks his way and we sat outside listening. Which eased my heat and glitz abraded soul, and with the help of a beer and sandwich saw us back to our hotel room for a nights repose only disturbed by the loud party four doors down and their subsequent eviction by security around 1 AM. Fortunately even that didn’t bother us much. These Vegas hotels have good soundproofing. Well they’d have to, wouldn’t they?

I think Vegas was on our bucket list because it’s one of those places you really have to see for yourself. Some people might call it home, but for me, the best thing about it was the I-40 Eastbound past the Boulder (Hoover) dam (which you can’t see from the main highway, you have to go to the visitor centre), to Flagstaff, Arizona (Despite the often lumpy road surface).

Which is where we are now, checking out the Grand Canyon and Lowell Observatory. But that’s something for tomorrow’s post.

Just deserts

I’m late posting this, as the Interweb access in our Vegas hotel was decidedly ropey. Anyway, on the days I’m writing about, we crossed out of California into Nevada through the Mojave Desert and Death Valley. What can I say? Mile after mile after mile of complete bugger all apart from painted mountains, sagebrush and Joshua Trees every fifty metres or so. Then we ran out of road. Literally. On the run up from Ridgecrest, some bugger had scraped up the road surface and left about four or five miles of gravel. It certainly caught us off guard, but to safeguard our paintwork we took to the sand on the side of the road. For around five miles. Then the asphalt was back through the wasteland, and it is a wasteland. It’s like the surface of Mars with sagebrush.
End of the road in Death Valley Seriously, this is what Highway 178 looks like at the moment for around four miles. The main road up from Ridgecrest literally disappears. Gone. Vanished. Like one of the Las Vegas big magic acts had been practising making things vanish before your very eyes.

Once we had doglegged off the 178 onto the 190, when we came to the park entrance proper at Stovepipe Wells, a huge convoy of over twenty asphalt carrying trucks were resurfacing miles of highway 190, and I mean miles. After that some stunning geology and incredible vistas with valleys you could drop the entire inside of the M25 into with room to spare. Temperatures in the mid-30’s Celsius. Near-endless roads. Rocks and brush, Canyons, dry washes as wide as the Thames. Salt pans the size of cities. Oh yes, and the Area 51 diner which has had a bit of a makeover since it got a mention in the movie “Paul“. Then more Buttes, Gulches and Arroyo’s, not to mention the occasional canyon on our way South and East into Lost Wages.

Which is another story altogether.

A grand day out

I don’t want to upset anyone. Well, yes I do, I just love annoying knuckledragging totalitarians with all the intellect of crushed cockroaches, but not today. Apart from to say we breakfasted in the elegant saloon of a restored 1800’s paddle steamer, rode the rails in a restored 1950’s first class rail carriage and generally had an affable time wandering around Sacramento’s Old town. Hell, the sun even came out this afternoon as the promise of rain receded. We’ve had a very nice day, and are now playing catch up with work related tasks.
A heavenly stairway
That’s it. I wish I had some tale of scurrilous sarcasm or pertinent put down to relate, but no, ’tis not to be. Well apart from noting (Yet again) that the Republican Party establishment is so dead set on losing the next US Presidential election, it’s been reduced to cancelling votes which might go the way of the people’s choice. Maybe they’re taking the same dollar as that backing the next Democrat (Cough, cough, Hilary Clinton) candidate? Sorry chaps, the Presidency (as usual) will go to the biggest vote of all; Wall Street.

No matter, the next leg of our epic road trip awaits. Onwards and up, upwards, into the mountains.

Due South

Due SouthI’ve spent most of my day today driving south to Sacramento from mid-Oregon. By my reckoning that’s a shade over 822 Miles in two days. Not bad considering. I could have done it all in one hop if I was on my own and feeling masochistic, but frankly me dears, nowadays I’ve gotten used to being comfortable. I’ve served my time, and if I had to do it all again, frankly I’d have given the job to somebody as gullible as I once was.

One of the things I will say for our southern cousins, they’re far more switched on as drivers.  They pay attention and move over sharpish if you’re closing on their tailgates a little on the quick side.  I had nothing to grumble about.  Apart from the Satnav going AWOL just as we hit the city limits and the minor drama that unfolded.  Yes, and rogue Wi-Fi connections that just wouldn’t.  Connect that is.  It all got fixed, and our secure VPN’s are doing their thing the way they should.  So everything is kind of under control, as much as it ever is.

What else?  Oh yes, it’s raining.  In Sacramento, California of all places.  And if you’d been paying attention to your geography teacher (Or Albert Hammond, see below), you would be aware that it very rarely rains in Southern California.  Even the desert areas look quite green.

Off to the Napa valley tomorrow to taste some wine and enjoy all the other stuff out there.

TTFN

Not a complete cock-up

Exam day.  Have come out of it feeling that I could probably have done a little better, but I reckon that I came out with a solid B+ at the very worst.  But then I’m a realist at heart.  It will be a very kind marker who gives me an A.  Did better than the last exam on my course, which came out as a solid B+, and so as long as I keep this up I’ll end up with a sound Canadian professional qualification and a good transcript to back it up.

No, seriously, it’s not all chaos.  I can cope with that.  What always hits me is the sense of numbness.  I’ve never been one for celebrations, as I’ve always found them premature.  I rarely celebrate my own triumphs or victories, and the most fate gets out of me is a grim smile of satisfaction on a job well done.  The whole whooping, singing and dancing that some folk go in for strikes me as somehow undignified.  I’ll gladly cheer on other people, but never myself.  Funny that.  Mainly because I know that there’s always something unforeseen.  A minor detail that sends everything tits up.  So I’ve been preparing for everything I can.

Tonight I pack.  Downtown tomorrow for a haircut and last minute fit of the vapours.  Thursday we’re off south of the border at sparrow fart.  Extra time has been factored in for heavy traffic and Victoria’s notoriously erratic downtown pedestrian population.  Although at the time we’re on the road, all the extra crusties kipping out back of the courthouse will still be snuggled in their sleeping bags.  So that’s at least one road hazard I won’t have to deal with on the way to the Coho ferry.

As a sidenote; temporary habitation was offered to the homeless on an “Until you get back on your feet” basis, but then some dingbat protester group from Vancouver pitched in, demanding ‘homes’ or nothing.  Like the rest of us don’t pay rent or mortgages, why should a bunch of freeloaders from the East get houses while the rest of us struggle?  I remain cynical.  No doubt by mid-May most of them will be off to Tofino to pollute the beaches and leach off the surfer population, as usual.  It really pisses me off when people have taxpayer dollar thrown at them, then whine about not getting soft toilet paper in their five star hotel.  Despite not doing anything to merit it.  Having sampled the dubious delights of sleeping rough when times were really bad I’m not totally unsympathetic.  However, I was never homeless for more than three days, and never, ever went into publicly owned or provided accommodation.  The thought never even occurred to me.

Anyway, that’s pretty academic.  Like the course I’ve just finished.  The car is ready.  I’ve made sure we’ve even got one of those emergency tyre repair thingies that will seal and re-inflate your tyre if you’re stuck in the middle of nowhere and out of cell phone range.  Handy if you’ve already used the spare.  Add to that a modestly well equipped first aid kit of my own construction, not one of store bought things full of stuff you’ll never need, and after packing we’re good to go.  What else?  Oh yes, a (very) rough map of our route.US Road Trip Map.jpg

First we’re heading down to Cali-forn-i-a to see the big trees and drink the wine, then cutting across via Vegas, Flagstaff, then down into Texas and across to Florida and back.  I’m verily skittish with anticipation.  All we have to do is follow the flags.  Or the Satnav.  Or the proper map we have in the car.  I hope.  Should be fun.

TTFN

Bill

 

I close my eyes

Successful day today.   I’m ahead of the game this morning, both in work and study.  So, it being a bright beautiful British Columbian day, Mrs S and I went out to sort out some last few details before we pootle off on our grand six week trans-american adventure in just over one weeks time.  We’re erring on the side of caution on our trip back across the Rocky Mountains and opting for the southerly route via I-70 via Colorado Springs and Grand Junction to miss the snows, then picking up the road north to Salt Lake City and Yellowstone Park.  We hope not to become asphyxiated by either the Sulphur or Carbon Dioxide emanations of the big caldera, or the Marijuana fumes while we’re passing through Colorado.  We’ve even set time aside so I can pay a flying visit to the Bonneville salt flats.  If they’ve dried out enough to drive on by mid May.

While Mrs S was shopping for last minute springtime clothes, I eschewed the normal respite of the Husband chair and sat outside in the main mall to enjoy the sunlight.  I put on my shades, closed my eyes, kicked back and let my other senses take over.  Why?  Let me explain.   When I was very small, I had a morbid fear of going blind.  No idea why, I just did.  Small children left to their own devices for too long often develop eccentric world views and I had a fairly solitary early childhood.  So in order to prepare for what I mistakenly thought was inevitable, I used to close my eyes and tried to use my hearing, smell and touch instead of visible light to fix my position in the world.  To train myself for the worst, if it happened.  Nothing serious, just trying to work out where I was, and what all the various noises and smells around me meant.  How the sound echoes off bare walls and in heavily furnished rooms.  Trying to use my ears and touch alone to echo-locate myself in the confines of my room.  Developing my sensitivity to sense the kiss of air on the back of my neck as someone passes close behind me, the sound of their footsteps dopplering from right to left, the scent of their body, perfumed or not if they come close enough.  Sensing the very electricity of their motion through the world, from the sparkling erratic uncertainty of small children, the fizzing of their older peers, crackling discharge anxieties of the born worriers with their erratic shallow breathing.  The soft grunts of an extremely overweight person as they make their heavy footway along the tiled mall.

As a boy I used to cheat, slightly opening my eyes so I had a visual memory to associate with the sensations surrounding me.  Now I don’t have to unless the smell is so obscure or the sound unfamiliar it falls outside my aural lexicon.

When you close your eyes the world of the other senses opens like a flower, swamping everything that sight normally blinds you to.  What is that approaching grumbling noise?  An Earthquake?  A massive truck?  Or more prosaically a deliveryman’s steel wheeled sack truck on concrete?   As he passes, a waft of Pepperoni, dough and cheese tells he just had pizza for lunch.  The “Yeah?”, “Right.”, and “Mm-hm”, “Well he like er..” and “She like er….” of multiple random cell phone conversations within earshot.  The meaningless squealing of teenage girls as they navigate their developing social vortices.  Does anyone really listen to themselves?  Or is that not the point?

Then the distinctively fleshy, slightly foetid, hormone heavy smell of a pregnant woman insinuates itself into my educated nostrils.  I can hear her behind me, the mildly waddling, shuffling gait, hesitantly stopping in front of the women’s clothing shop behind me, presumably looking enviously at all the elegant clothes she aspires to get back into when her child has come into the world.  I don’t know, there are things sound and smell alone cannot tell you, but the scent of a woman in late pregnancy is quite distinctive.

All the time the sheer background whispering roar of humanity and muted traffic noise passes by a single seated figure wearing sunglasses, head tilted slightly back, small smile ghosting across his face, precisely in the moment.  Privately wondering at the magic of it all and quietly praying that no-one interrupts his solitary enjoyment.

Then at the edge of hearing, a set of familiar footsteps that I know like my own heartbeat. Behind my shades, my eyes open and smile broadens.  “Hello love.  Got what you needed?”  Time to move on.  The rest of the day beckons.