One Down, ??? To Go

31 May

Well, it’s been an interesting month. We’ve moved more than halfway across the country and have camped in three time zones.  We’ve had to bug out of camp twice, once for weather and once for insanity.

I’ve started to make a blog post four times since writing about our Pagosa Springs experience.  It’s been a struggle – not the typical one for me.  In the past, it was a simpler struggle. Well, “simpler” in that it was pretty straightforward – it simply dealt with overcoming inertia.  It was a matter of breaking through anxiety that’s historically welled up from inside whenever I had a commitment.  This time, it was a variety of things ranging from bad computer habits to sickness to struggling with what I was trying to share.  So today I decided to put it all behind, get the post “out of the way”, so to speak and move forward fresh. One thing to note before providing a recap for everyone … and it’s somewhat important. At least to me.

Today is May 31st.  One year ago today, with the car loaded to the gills and Frank in firm control of the Garmin, the two of us took off on our little journey.  We started our second year on the road this morning.  I can’t say that I didn’t expect to make it a year. I had no expectations.  Despite that, I never though I’d be as content as I feel right now. So that’s a good thing.

The title of this post alludes to the fact that I simply have no idea how much longer we’re going to be on the road.  When we started out, I would tell people it was a three year camping trip, if only to avoid explanations that might arise from saying, “I don’t know what we’re doing!”  At a minimum, I expect to be on the road for at least another three years from now … that’s based solely on the fact that next year, the third year of our adventure, we’re only going to have made it as far as the Great Lakes region.  There’s still half the country left for us to visit.  If I keep feeling like I do now, I may never come off the road!  We’ll just have to see.

I posted the news on Facebook.  Terry, a new-found friend from the Teardrop Campers Group added a reply that I’d like to share:

You’ve done something few people ever achieve. You climbed out of a deep dark place and begin living again. God bless you… and safe travels.

Quite honestly, I don’t know how many people have been able to do that.  I know some who have, whether it’s overcoming the death of a spouse, or illness, or a bad marriage, or long term unemployment.  I can’t speak for how they did it. What feels weird though is that I never felt the climb!  It wasn’t like when you’re traveling, you know?  You have a map and you can measure how far you’ve gone and how much further you have to go.

There wasn’t this feeling of, “Okay, so last week, I was at ‘x’ place and today I’m at ‘y’.”  I knew I was doing better when I put the “Trust that everything will work out again, ” sign on the dashboard and was able to refer to it more easily over time.  But I saw that as a way of coping.  A way to deal with shit.  And that’s different than sitting in my camp chair at the Last Resort in Pagosa Springs, sipping on coffee, and suddenly realizing that you’ve reached a certain level of peace!  It was like, “Whoa! Where did that come from???”

If you’ve been following the blog because you’ve been working on your own “pit”, I hope you can find some comfort and encouragement in this.  You might not necessarily see the progress you’re making. Hell, you may even fight it, afraid to acknowledge any progress for fear that it’s going to be followed up with the “drop of the other shoe”.    Just accept from someone else that you might be closer to the surface than you realize.  :o)

Thank you, Terry for your kind words.  I do feel like I’m living again.  It’s not the life I expected, that’s for sure.  But I’m enjoying my morning coffee with a smile these days.

Okay, so on with the recap. I’m going to do this with bullets, some with observations or thoughts, others that are simply to capture time and movement.

  • As mentioned, we went back to the Last Resort for a few days after staying with my friend Keith.  We were in pretty much the exact same site where we spent two months last summer. The first morning there, I was sitting outside the Nutshell and noticed that the imprint of our tent was still visible on the ground.  The grass that was killed from having our tent on it for so long was growing back, but it was decidly different than the area around it. I figured it was going to take at least until the end of the summer before that imprint was erased. Maybe it would take until next spring.  It got me thinking about the imprint that past “stuff” has made on my psyche.  Maybe you can still see the imprint of years of pain and sadness, but it’s going away.  Hell, the imprint may still be there five years from now, but it won’t be as noticable.  I took comfort in that.
  • The drive up to Colorado Springs was pretty cool.  I was worried about how the car wold do, hauling the Nutshell over Wolf Creek Pass.  It did fine once I accepted that my last name wasn’t “Andretti” and that 35 mph was more than adequate to get us over the summit.  From there, we went the back way, up through the central Colorado valley instead of taking the interstate.  The scenery was spectacular.  Here’s a short video I took at about the halfway point.  It doesn’t fully capture the beauty of what we were looking at.
  • We had a wonderful time visiting with another old friend – Warren, a classmate from Dallas.  I’ve mentioned Warren and his wife, Dinah before. They came for a couple of visits when I was in Colorado last summer.  We spent quite a bit of time together during the week I was there.  They had me over for dinner one evening … we met for lunch at a cute little place in old Colorado city another day … and then another evening, they came out to our campsite to see the Nutshell firsthand.  I’m not going to share much about our visits – we touched on some things that have happened in my life that I’ve consciously decided not to share here.  Suffice it to say that the time spent together meant a great deal to me.  Thank you, Warren and Dinah, not just for opening up your home to me, but for helping me gain new perspectives on things.
  • Frank and I had to bug out a day early.  When we arrived for breakfast, Warren said, “Have you seen the weather report?”  You had to know that given our track record, we weren’t finished with snow.  We were planning on leaving for Denver the next day, but those plans were nixed.  After a wonderful breakfast … exceeding only by the quality of the company and conversation … we headed back to camp, got the Nutshell packed, and headed straight east towards our next reservation in Fort Wayne, IN.
  • We had a little time to kill between when we left Colorado and when our reservation started in Fort Wayne. Using Passport America, I found a tiny, TINY little campground in eastern Illinois, just outside of Decatur.  It was only $13 a night.  I used the time to reorganize the Nutshell, do some spring cleaning and get prepared for the summer.  As an aside, I am SO grateful the Nutshell came with two doors. Had I bought it new, I would not have paid for the second door, which is offered as an option.  As it turns out, I don’t know how we would have been able to manage without it!  We’ve been in almost a dozen campsites since getting it – some are laid out so that the best door to use is the port one; other times, it’s been starboard.  Here are a couple of shots to give you an idea of how we’ve set up:

Using the starboard door at the Garden of the Gods Campground, Colorado Springs, CO


Using the port door at Tom and Carol’s RV Park, somewhere in East Jabib, IL

I’ve figured out how to tie the canopy down so that I don’t have to worry too much about wind or rain.  I’ll explain that in our next post.  I just realized that it’s almost 8pm and I haven’t even started the charcoal for dinner.  I’ll take this up in the morning … it’ll get me going in the right direction on this blog.  If I can get myself squared away, I’d like to move to much more frequent – but shorter – blog posts.  Once I catch you all up to where we are right now, I’ll move in that direction.


Posted by on May 31, 2016 in Travels


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6 responses to “One Down, ??? To Go

  1. bettyboop101853

    May 31, 2016 at 8:27 pm

    Didcyou get my message on FB. About this being yourc1 year anniversary! And How Far You Have Come With Making This Wonderful Life Choicce!
    All My Love to You and Frank.


    • ustabe

      May 31, 2016 at 11:11 pm

      I didn’t see anything from you, my dear. Sorry.


      • bettyboop101853

        June 1, 2016 at 7:42 am

        It was in acshared memory… MaynevI jeed to go hack and put your name in it so you can see it… Love ya!


  2. jeanie maginness

    June 1, 2016 at 7:40 am

    Happy Anniversary ( to a new beginning) Jeff and Frankster….May you continue to amaze yourself ❤


  3. Theresa

    June 1, 2016 at 10:45 pm

    Happy One Year of getting out on the road and out of your funk! I am enjoying your blog very much. I started to get worried when you hadn’t posted since the beginning of May and then I thought… ‘Well… maybe he’s just out there having such a nice time there hasn’t been time to write.’ Glad to see that things are going well for you and yes, your stories shared have been a help along the way. Looking forward to hearing more about the adventures of Frank and Jeff! I hope you’re still planning on coming to Connecticut to join us Tearjerkers for our big annual gathering in August. I’m really hoping to meet you two in person.
    All the best and safe travels.
    (Social director-Tearjerkers – Great North Woods Chapter)


    • ustabe

      June 2, 2016 at 5:58 am

      Hi, Theresa. Yes, we too are very much looking forward to meeting you and everyone else at Ross Hill. See you soon. :o)



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