Here we are, 6 months to the day of having only a camper to sleep in! Full disclosure, we arrived to Jesse’s parent’s lake cabin earlier this week and are now moved into the back cabin. So the lonely camper sits in the back 40, cleaned out but ready to take on another trip any time. I like the familiarity of being here, we all do, and the weather so far has been favorable.
I’d like to remind everyone that I had never been in a camper 7 months ago, so we were complete newbies at this. We spent our first night in a Walmart parking lot and on day #2 Jesse’s F150 stopped working in the middle of the interstate in Joplin, MO. None of this worried us, we made the best of hooking our camper up to the side of the Joplin Ford dealership, and the rest is history.
I honestly can’t believe we did this for 6 months. Originally we thought we’d only be on the road 2-3 months. But now that I think of that, it wouldn’t have been nearly long enough to be happy travelers! Jesse has been so close to landing a couple of great jobs, and again he’s so close to another good one. But even if he doesn’t get this one, I know another one coming will be worth the wait. Yes it’s nerve-racking not knowing where his next career will be, but man we have a good time waiting for it!
A friend recently compared our trip to settlers packing up the wagon and hitting the road in search for a better life. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend Jesse’s mid-career sabbatical . Our family has grown because of it, and we have seen amazing sights.
Total confession and in all honesty, we all had a fun and easy 6 months. We saw so many fun things, ate fun regional foods, and genuinely got along very well with each other. Every trip was a one-way trip, and the next stop was only ever 3-4 hours away. We did mountains, deserts, night driving and day driving. We stopped at almost 60 national park stops(parks, monuments, historic sites, etc…) 6 presidential libraries, about 15 air museums, all the states west of the Mississippi (except Hawaii – yes we got Alaska in!) about 7 state Capitol buildings and about 10 Diners, Dives and Drive-Ins(from the food network)
Woody finish his schooling in Moab, Utah around the end of April, and Andy finished in Poulsbo, Washington the beginning of May. I’m so very proud of them for finishing their work with high grades and just being confident learners. I can honestly say that I literally never taught them anything with their school work. I played the part of manager(momager!) and if they needed math help they contacted their dad. When we were near libraries or wifi, I would have them get schoolwork done. If we weren’t, they didn’t have to! Usually when we were at National Parks, all electronics had to be put away and eyes were focused out to the beauty of everything.
We met so may friends and family along the way. People who we may go years without seeing! Quite honestly that was my favorite part of it all. And we were greeted with open arms from everyone as well.
Couple of things I learned from the trip: be nice to those with campers in the parking lot of Walmart. Anyone is always welcomed to park their RV in front of my (future) house. You can do your laundry at my house, eat at my house and let your dog poop in my backyard. A huge thank you to all of those who let us do exactly that!
My top 5 experiences of the trip are as follows:
- Seeing the tulip field near Mt. Rainier. It was unexpected, amazing and not only did I love it, my kids and Jesse genuinely were happy for me because they knew I was in heaven. Jesse didn’t stop to turn around for much on this trip, but he wins several brownie points for this time!
- Our Alaskan cruise. To be honest, I loved the break from cooking and cleaning and planning. I loved putting makeup on again. I loved dressing up everynight with the boys and enjoyed good food and good service. And I enjoyed the shows and all the things to do on the cruise ship. Seeing Alaska was great too, but we know we didn’t see nearly enough so you bet we’ll be back someday!
- Driving border to border on the coast in Oregon. It was so cool to watch Gunner run on the beaches and see the boys pull up a trap full of crab. We stayed at state parks that looked like rainforests. We had tasty craft beer and regional ciders. Plus the goonies you know!
- Big Bend National Park in Texas. Perhaps it is my favorite because it was the first big Park we visited on this trip and the amazement of beauty was still fresh and new. But honestly, it was just so neat, so in the middle of no-where, and the rock walls were huge on the Rio Grande. Our mini-visit from there onto a row boat to cross the Rio Grande, then ride a burro into a tiny Mexican village for lunch and some Mexican candy and then back – telephoning the boarder patrol in El Paso to be let back into the country was one of the most unique things we did on the trip. Almost like it was just a dream.
- Being with my husband, kids and dog 24-7. We went to bed when we were tired and woke up when we’d had a good nights sleep. We saw all the sights together. We had all these experiences together. The boys didn’t ask for much and went along with the flow for everything. They never complained about the traveling time between stops. We played board games and card games. We hiked together and watched Wheel of Fortune together. We shared our meals with each other when we went out to eat. We told really funny inside jokes and we always laughed over funny things Gunner would do. When Gunner got sick (which he did a couple of times) we had the serious talk that this might be “his time” but we always helped nurse him back to health. Everyone needs a Gunner in their life.
I certainly hope Jesse gets a job soon, but if the time just isn’t right this time around, I’ve got a couple east coast road trips in mind for the fall – haha! (MT)