Trucks rumble past, their trailers bumping on the rough road surface. A forklift keeps going in front of me, back and forth to service bays. Ironically, Jackson Brown belts out Running on Empty on the radio. I just try to keep breathing, slow inhales and exhales to calm myself as well as our 65 lb. Yellow Lab, Luna, who has decided to become a lap dog, propping half of her load on me, panting away. Brad is outside with the technician, who skillfully manages to pump nearly 70 pounds of air pressure into the driver’s side drive axle tires.
Kind of important to have enough air in your tires.
So begins our first road trip, or rather, return to the road trip, in a motorhome. Our journey really didn’t start with the dishwasher that didn’t run properly (I know, I know, a dishwasher, really???) overnight, or the toilet that refused to flush, the car that didn’t want to engage in neutral to tow properly, the under-inflated tires, or even, to add insult to injury, the door that took some creative manipulation of the hinge to get it to close.
Our journey began over twenty years ago, when after experiencing the death of our oldest daughter, Claire, my husband Brad, and I decided to up the ante in our quest to get our kids to all 50 states. We bought our first motorhome. And we completed our mission.
Memories of those trips often pop up in my brain feed, but even more so since contemplating getting back on the road. I’ll never forget all the purple, Claire’s favorite color, we witnessed on our maiden voyage in 2003, as we traveled to Yellowstone, the Tetons, and Glacier National Park. Those three weeks together as a family, just three years out from when we last said goodbye to Claire, set us on a path of truly living, not merely surviving.
I read Undaunted Courage by Stephen E. Ambrose on our travels, our trip often a reflection of the text. I remember a reference to uncharted territory in the book, which I shared with Brad and the kids. Later that evening, while Ian was walking our dog, Ginger, I got a little nervous about how long young Ian was gone. I used the walkie talkies that came with the unit and radioed him, “Where are you? Are you okay?” His response, “We’re in uncharted territory.”
We’ll also never forget our daughter Kyle looking out on the rolling hills of Kansas, dark shadows cast on the green forests. She couldn’t figure out that the shadows were from the clouds. She was also very concerned about where the cows slept at night, bless her heart.
That motorhome continued to serve us well through road trips, college tailgate parties, and a few empty nest adventures, up until our last to Northern Michigan just months before Ginger’s journey was over.
So here we are, back on the road again, setting out to explore areas of this country we missed the first time around, creating new memories, all the while looking back on those from the past.
I feel incredibly blessed to have these experiences with Brad, in a beautiful, new-to-us motorhome. I hope you enjoy experiencing our trials, tribulations, and new, fantastic memories right along with us. Perhaps in some small way, during a time we could all use a little inspiration, my stories from the road will offer a bit to you.