New Chapter

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Now we are back. Back from the woods. Back from the mountain. Back from the small town.

We have arrived in the big city. the flatlands, the urban surroundings, the crazy.

For a while during the summer I thought of this as the pause button. I thought of it as the boring part. The summer is the excitement, the productive part of the year,  and the winter is the lull, the bleak months of bread lines and struggle. I viewed the return to here as the inconvenient return to reality and drudgery.

That’s not how life works.

There is no pause, there are no breaks and inconvenient stops. Sure, there are seasons in life. There are periods of calm, times of chaos, bleak days and happy days. But life ticks on.

This is not a season for sitting on my haunches and being miserable. Instead, I need to see this as an opportunity to grow. I have the time and the energy to invest in so much right now, it would be foolish to let my anxiety get the best of me.

It hasn’t been three days back and we already have met a few setbacks. I need a functioning truck to make money. She needs a vehicle to get to Virginia to make money. One’s got shot brakes and the other is still full of unpacked junk. We have a lot of emotional baggage about this house. There aren’t a lot of good memories here, and walking in the door to find it still cluttered with all the trinkets and accumulated crap from all the years is a drain on the mind and spirit.

Not to mention the adjustment to the time zone difference. Two hours makes a surprising difference.

In spite of that I have been able to accomplish many things so far. I have unpacked boxes, bundled up laundry, cleaned up the mile thick layer of dust on several surfaces, mowed the front yard and start tackling the back, cleaned the fridge of six months of scary, unburied the kitchen counters, diagnosed a brake issue, and hung out with friends.

Tackling this is no easy feat.

Taking credit and feeling proud of my accomplishments is not something which comes naturally for me. I tend to downplay or just outright deny my successes. This is something I am working on. There is nothing inherently wrong with looking at something I have completed and saying “I did this well.” It is not arrogance to take pride in legitimate accomplishments, only in made up ones.

This is a new chapter in our adventure. I intend to make it a good one.

 

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Welcome to The Jungle

So I got a little lax in my travel log. After surviving Texas there was little energy for writing more. Louisiana was a bit more gracious (after the roach motel) and provided us with more po boy than we could fit in our ever growing bellies.

I will say this about Louisiana, even though 90% of my known and unknown relatives live there: they are worse drivers than Texans. I swear every one of them wanted to run into me. That would have actually worked out though, since both vehicles have been acting a bit rough. The last time we got hit we were given quite a bit of money by the insurance company to promise we wouldn’t sue, completely out of nowhere.

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Traffic brought on by roadwork or by deadly accident? I’m going with deadly accident.

Mississippi and Alabama were a blur, there really isn’t much to them way down near the Gulf.

But Florida… Oh Florida. Y u so big?

The panhandle of Florida is nothing but pines in lines and a whole bunch of nothing. It doesn’t help that we live almost as far as you can go to the other side of the state. We made it 96 miles in before passing out at a rest area for the night. I have a hard time believing it, but I slept like a rock, despite the fact that the van was like a greenhouse.

I awoke to the sound of Haitians. Haitian is a very distinct dialect of French that I only recognize because there was a Haitian church meeting next door to us for awhile. I thought “wow, you don’t hear that out west.” Then I noticed they had Colorado plates. It’s funny where you will run into people.

Once I was awoken from my deep slumber it was a mad dash across the state to get home.

When I pulled in the driveway I swear I heard “Welcome to The Jungle” starting up and a whole band of gorillas scattering out of the yard. Six months has certainly taken its toll on the yard.

The inside wasn’t much better. We left in a hurry and I forgot how bad it was. The stagnant air doesn’t help and there is a layer of dust on everything. I am not throwing my hands in the air about it though. It’s a lot of work but it’s not insurmountable.

I won’t lie. We haven’t completely emptied the cars yet. We had a few favorite places to visit first. Our Chinese buffet, Publix, and Target.all the places Alamogordo and Cloudcroft don’t offer.

Now with well fed bodies and a few local itches scratched we can face tomorrow. As of now that means a two mile run followed by trying to make the yard look less terrifying and making the truck not so scary to drive.

We’ll see if our actions will match up with our desire…

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Leaving On A…

True to what I said, we have two days left and I am finally beginning to pack.

It’s nice to have only 200 Sq ft to pack up. It means that everything will fit into just a few boxes. Of course we are not hauling a trailer back with us this time, so everything that would have traveled in it now has to fit into a minivan and the back of an SUV. Tetris anyone?

I can’t promise much in the next few days from me. I do intend on doing travel posts every night once we are on the road, so look forward to those.

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The Beautiful Life

“Expedition Happiness” Watch on Netflix. Or don’t.

Sometimes when I read blogs or watch documentaries all I can think is “How do these hipsters make it look so easy?”

I don’t know what kind of world these people live in, they are always young, always attractive, frequently childless, and always seem to have an endless stream of money. They seem more like fictional characters than real people. You have to wonder what they do for a living, are they ever stressed? Do they get bored? Do they fight? Where is the ugly in their life?

Sure, sometimes the bus breaks down, the visa gets denied, or the cake in the oven falls. But these people always seem to handle it with a smile. Or at the very least they look gorgeous while crying.

Well, that ain’t my life.

I get sick. Nothing productive happens for days at a stretch. My kids make giant messes, animals get into my trash, my trailer sometimes smells like something died in it.

People thrive on positive. We love comedy and run from tragedy. We live vicariously through these adventurers and beautiful hipsters. We don’t like our conventional lives, so we read about theirs and forget our problems for a bit.

But who’s to say your conventional life is ugly? Who’s to say you aren’t living a beautiful life, even if it isn’t quite the adventure these people seem to have? Life is a gift, even with its warts and wrinkles. Life is beautiful even with the sickness and the smells.

You don’t have to read blogs or watch fru-fru documentaries (both of which I do. Too much.) to enjoy a beautiful life. All you have to do is start enjoying yours.

Settling

Third time is the charm, right?

This is the third season we have done the “pull a trailer across the country and live in it for half the year” routine. One would think that this would mean a smooth move in.

Despite having quite a bit less stuff crammed in this year, we seem to have finally sorted out what comes and what stays (except cups. Completely forgot those.), settling in is not without its struggles. This trailer was not designed to be lived in, so storage for things like pots and pans, or for seven people’s worth of food is almost non-existent. Perhaps by the end of this season I will have my pantry sorted out.

And an odd thing happens every year. Those little people who didn’t take up much space take up more space. It seems the reduction in stuff has been offset by an increase in flesh. And noise.

If all of that wasn’t challenging enough, let’s add 9,000 ft to the equation. Last week at this time we were sitting at a 18 foot elevation, you could practically swim in the air. Up here just getting out of bed can make you breathe heavy. I know I’m not that old! This means headaches and irritability and the need for a nap halfway through the day. And that’s just the adults.

Shortness of breath is a terrible thing for anxiety by the way. It’s like a panic attack without the panic. Which in turn leads to a panic attack. That was fun.

The kids seem fine. They love it here, especially the snow, which for Florida kids is a complete novelty. Even in the cold, they spend most of the time outside, building forts and climbing things. This is great for us, because they sleep. Oh man, do they sleep out here.

If you ever want your kids to sleep, send them outside.

And take away their internet. You will notice a slow down in my posts these next few weeks. This is due to super spotty phone service on this side of the mountain. This is bad. And good. Bad for blogging, good for forcing one’s self to make the most of life. Especially kids. They could spend entire days sucked into a screen if you let them.

Which means they don’t sleep. And sleep is good…

Not That Sacramento

We made it!!

Not much of an exciting last day. The roof stayed on, after I applied nine more strips to it.

Overkill? I think not.

There honestly isn’t much to say except that it is great to be back in familiar territory, even if I’m in a new position…

Tomorrow (today I suppose) is unpacking and repacking day. Let’s see if we forgot anything 🙂

Texas. Just Texas

Houston

Texas is huge. Too huge. If Texas wasn’t so huge we’d be in New Mexico by now.

I kid. But only slightly. Seriously, why is this state so large?

Day four began with an exorbitant expense. Roof repair tape is not cheap at the only open place in town (no one buys rvs on weekends?).

I patched the roof, got the horde rounded up and fed, cleaned up some of the accumulated trash out of the vehicles, and hit the road around noon.

The roof patch worked for about… 20 miles. Thanks to the blazing hot sun the goo of the tape just kinda melted and the tape began to slide. So much for having a “wide temperature range”. Grr.

I added a few more layers of tape and we proceeded with caution.

Then the license plate began to slip. I swear, everything melts in Texas! Now our plate is tied to the ladder of the trailer with a zip tie and a couple of pieces of clothesline. We look classy.

Texas is not only huge, it’s also humid. And with no ac, it is a sweaty drive. I hung out in a gas station just to soak up the air. A sunset and the cooling of the air it brings has never been more welcome.

Also Houston. Lol no, it’s not THAT big.

We made it to Junction, a town with no phone service. That might be the only notable thing about Junction. The roof needed a bit more rubber cement and a push on the tape. I think it will hold up. I hope.

It’s day five. Lord willing, this is the last day of driving. By tonight our smelly, dirty, bloodshot-eyed, little wagon train should be in New Mexico!