Sunday, July 24, 2011

THE Trip, The End is Near, The VERY Wordy Retrospective

Copyright 2011, CABS for Reflections From the Fence

Yes, 'THE Trip' is almost over, as Man and I are within 120 miles of our stick built home in SE Michigan.

However, I have LOTS of 'THE Trip' posts to write, TONS more photos to share with you my patient and indulgent readers.  So, posts will be appearing as fast as I can write and post them, for some time to come.  Hope you will stick around to finish 'THE Trip' with me.  Still to come, Moab, Arches and Canyonland and more.  Bryce, Zion, Capital Reef and more.  A couple of day trips from Salt Lake City.  Yellowstone, Custer South Dakota and more.  Oh, and more flora and fauna to come on the other blog as well, there is this fish I caught jumping in Yellowstone and the bear and - - - 

Sadly, the heat wave cooked our visits to Nebraska, Iowa and points east on our way back to SE Michigan.  We have long bucket lists of things we would have loved to see in all those places, and just could not do.

We have put about 14,500 miles on Big Butt between departure and arrival back at the stick built.  Big Butt performed quite well considering the gas engine, and the fact that Tana is not a light weight type of gal.  Which means, I have Tana loaded to the tilt and the tilt weighs a lot!  We spent about $1,300.00 on repairs on Big Butt.  Man had to fight with mechanics and oil change businesses several times cause they just cannot seem to understand that Big Butt needs 6.5 quarts of oil on a change, and they put in 7 or more and then we fight to get the excess out.   The last time they did not even tighten the oil filter correctly and we were L*U*C*K*Y, as we did NOT blow Big Butt's engine when he blew almost a quart of oil out in about 5 miles.  Man has been angst filled for days over that one.  Of course, this all happened on one of those days that the heat factor ranged from about 105 to 120.  If we had been towing, and blown the engine, we could have died on the side of the road in that heat.  If that sounds hysterical, it is not meant to, it is reality, this has been killer heat.

In case you did not realize it, I have a page with maps of our trip, here, there are 38 maps in total, including a couple of day trips we made.  The maps begin about 100 miles from our stick built home and will end about 120 miles from our home on the way back.  The last map will get us to Elkhart Indiana, where we are as I write this post.

I have changed the format of Reflections several times during this 8 month (plus a few days) journey, I currently have only one post showing at a time, hoping that will help load these graphic heavy posts I am writing just a bit faster.  I added a weather widget to the right hand column to let you know where we were and what the weather was supposed to be. I will probably discontinue the Weather widget in the next few days.

We left home with 3 fur kids, we return with 2. 

We left home with no plans of where we would go or when, except for one, the Rally in Quartzsite.  All other plans were, as we have said several, no, many times, written in dust.  It is a fun way to live, and can also be a bit disconcerning.  I still have a bit of a need to know I have a place to park Tana each night, even if I call a campground only a few hours in advance of our arrival.  Even though we boondocked for 15 nights in the desert with our MOC friends at Quartzsite, we have not done any boondocking since.  We have not stayed over night in a Walleyworld or Flying J.   Its been campgrounds ever since "Q".

We have made lots of changes in other parts of our lives as well.  I have a new small digital hard drive for daily, or almost daily backups of files changed on the computer.  We purchased a Xoom and 2.5 months later it went back to Costco because it started having issues and because Motorola did not deliver on promises for extra storage and such.  Home came an Acer Iconia.  It has the extra storage.  The Android tablets seem to use the same software and the upgrades are having issues.  I love the tablet, but, am still a tad bit agitated with Android.  I have not downloaded some of the apps I had on the Xoom, or want because, we have been on the run, busy busy busy, and because I am still not sure we will be keeping the Acer either.  Android -- get your act together!  We have a new GPS unit as well, and I gotta say, it is mucho easier to use than our old Garmin dinosaur.  We love the new GPS, Jack.  But, Jack, baby, some of the routing you do is so seriously suspect.  Jury is out on keeping you around in our lives Jack. 

And, if all these new techy toys to love (?) and learn (I am not a fan of learning curves, sighhhh), are not enough, I also have a new computer.  The Baby HP was acting up something awful, while I was in Salt Lake City doing my dream month of research.  Man tried hard to keep the Baby going.  I took of hundreds, maybe thousands, of photos off the Baby's hard drive.  We defragged, got new malware software when we found the AVG pay version was letting all kinds of nasties in, we changed a lot of stuff on the Baby, but, it would still shut down and/or stop functioning on the Internet with no warning.  Man and I cobbled my family history data base onto his computer and I took it to the library for several days while he spent ALL day working on the Baby.  So, I had to learn a new operating system and new software (RM4) on the fly while I researched.  Patched up a bit, I took the Baby HP to the library again, only to come back to Tana one day and found that Man had purchased me a new Toshiba lap top.  Now, we had to load software, upgrade software, move data bases, and move 250 gigs of photos and other documents from hard drives and the Baby over to the Toshiba.  All the while I was still researching daily at the mecca library.  Since SLC we have been running hard and well, there are still files MIA and please, don't ask me about OneNote.  We have that so fouled up, it will take HOURS to fix and get running right.  I miss my OneNote - - bad!  I also grieve, just a little for the Baby HP, it was my dream computer, and I had a strong emotional attachment to it.  Man says he is going to buy the Baby a new hard drive, and fix it up for me.  The Baby may return - - 

Then there are my email accounts, they are a huge mess, I have tried to keep up, really I have.  But, they have all blossomed, expanded, exploded.  They were never small or skinny, but, now, UGHHH.  I won't say I will fix it, but, if possible, I will try.  LOL

When we get to the stick built, I am not sure our new(er) Verizon wannabe air card will work, I may not be able to get online to post blogs, read the social network sites or read my email.  Of course, I still have that smart phone that posts black photos over at FaceBook all by itself.  Ya, I will be able to read the email at least!  LOL

Re-entry will call for a lot of cleaning of Tana, you don't even want to know bout Tana's carpets, ewwww.  The house still has a room full of things from Man's mother that need to be addressed.  There is this bbq grill in the hall way of the house, and Man tells me it cannot go outside till we clean and paint the deck surface.  If I have any plants left in my flower beds, I am guessing that they will be of the weed variety.  At least the 3 acres of grass have been kept cut.  We have no insurance on the cars, don't know if they will start, don't know if the lawnmowers will start.  The central air in the house better work or I swear, someone (Man) will be taking me camping!   LOL

All in all, it has been quite the experience, this trip of ours.  Spend 8 plus months with your significant other and  fur kids in less than 400 square feet - - some days were, well, stressful and angst filled.  But, we have survived!  We have traveled in  9 states we had never visited/rved in before, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Utah, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota,  and Nebraska.  I have not counted the National  Parks, Monuments or Memorials we have visited.  We have been overwhelmed by what we have seen, humbled, laughed, cried, hiked, enjoyed and been totally amazed.  Oh, and for someone who loves to talk, I have run out of descriptive terms that fit all this wonder.  I have overused words such as stunning, amazing, huge, and others.  I have taken close to 23,000 photos since mid November last year.  Yea, you read that right.  Scary, isn't it?

We met blogging friends, we met family and cousins along the way, we met up with MOC friends several times, we went to the "Q" Rally and the Central Plains Rally in Nebraska.  We have met the most incredible and interesting people along the way, from the USA and from Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, England and probably some countries I have forgotten.   We have shared hikes with visitors from abroad.  Let me tell you, the National Parks in the western USA are very popular vacation destinations for people that live all over the world.  It's like a little United Nations, listen closely, you shall hear so many languages, and they all sound in awe of what they are seeing too!  Mother Nature talks all languages equally.

I know at times my reactions and reports probably have sounded, well, a bit childish.  I have felt like a child, with eyes wide open, discovering fresh and new sights daily.  

Along our journey we have had a number of mentors, mostly our MOC Rving friends.  Ask about routes, about campgrounds, about things to do and see and they respond immediately with sound advice.  To them go HUGE thank yous.  They are great travel guides.  They made our trip so much easier.  Have no idea what we would have done with out them.  THANK YOU, ALL OF YOU!!  And, as always, family and friends have welcomed us into their homes, to share a bit, enjoy a meal together, tell stories and lies and renew and enjoy our relationships, often with little or no warning we are gonna drop by their city and homes.  THANK YOU, ALL OF YOU!!

We are limping home, tired from the heat. Tana has some repairs to be done, and there is that carpet cleaning I mentioned before. Big Butt could stand a bath too.  Man has been mumbling about this new telie he is putting in Tana and he needs some new wireless headphones, a total necessity for living with each other in less than 400 square feet.   I am behind on so many of my research and volunteer projects, I probably will never catch up, but, I'll give it a shot.  The list goes on and on, however I refuse to write a to do list, I will get done what I can, and the rest can wait, maybe my heirs will get the unfinished projects to call their own.   LOL

It has been a unbelievable 8 months in our lives.  'THE Trip' has been more than we had dared to dream.  Thanks for coming along with us, thanks for all the comments on the blog, thanks for being our friends.

And, now, back to trip reports, and MORE photos than you should be expected to look at!  LOL



IrishEyesJG said...

Dear Carol,

WOW, 14,500 miles, 9 states, 8 months, 23,000 photographs, while living in less than 400 square feet!!! My hat is off to you my friend. Thank you so much for taking us along the way with you and Man, (and for continuing to do so once you are safely back at home). Such an extraordinary adventure. You should have had your own reality show. "Carol and Man, THE Trip".

Cheers to both of you as you travel safely home,

Brenda Leyndyke said...

Welcome back to steamy Michigan. Thank you for allowing us to live vicariously through your travels. It sounds like you had a very successful trip.

Dorene from Ohio said...

It has been great fun to hear about your many, many adventures! I wish I had half as much as energy as you! :)

Becky said...

Ah, back to the mundane, the routine. I've enjoyed following along with you and Man and the Yorkies even as I've been on my own trip! It was great fun meeting up with you in SLC - something I won't soon forget. This country of ours is truly an amazing place. So much more to see... I'm sure your traveling days aren't over yet and you'll be back on the road one day soon. Will you heading south for the winter when that time comes? Looking forward to reading the "rest of the story" and, of course, seeing your pictures!

my Heritage Happens said...

I can't believe it has been 8 months already, really??? Wow, but you have covered a lot of territory for sure. A wonderful adventure, nice you could do this. I look forward to more stories and pictures when you get settled. Thank you for sharing it all with us! Welcome home to you!

Barbara Poole said...

Welcome back to reality. It has been a fun journey for me, lots of new things to see, and some to revisit from my past trips. I think your two statistics were the biggest surprise...14,500 miles and 23,000 photos. Your SLC visit was fun to read abt. and the shared days with Becky. So glad you made it home safely.

Debbie Blanton McCoy said...

It's been an incredible journey. Thanks for taking us along, and thank you for making time to meet me as you passed through our area!

Susan (Nolichucky Roots) said...

Bravo! It has been a full trip - all the ups and downs of real life combined with the spectacular sights and experiences. I suspect you'll be digesting it for at least another 8 months, playing moments over, playing with your photographs, laughing with your intrepid Man over a memory. I am so pleased for you both - and delighted to have met you on your way.

Greta Koehl said...

Thank you for sharing this experience of a lifetime with us. I though I had had enough of deserts from the time when my Dad used to drag us all over 100-degree-plus territory for almost every vacation - until I saw your pictures. You and Susan have inspired me to have much more ambitious travel plans. And good luck with getting things back in shape at the stick built!

Linda McCauley said...

I've enjoyed your trip, especially the photos, very much.