The thing is…I don’t actually know how to drive a truck with a 28 foot trailer on the back! Jono drove the trailer home from GJ (and the truck from Denver, too) But then again, when I took the pop-up camper on our trip in 2014, I had only done one weekend trip before that to Highline Lake in Fruita. I guess I just have the attitude that if I think I can, I think I can, I think I can…then I can!
So, Friday afternoon when I pulled out of Vail on our trip, that was the first time I had EVER driven my truck with the trailer! (I probably should have taken it out for some practice…but na) When I got on the highway, the trailer seemed a little squirrely, so I just gripped the steering wheel tighter at 10 and 2, and slowed down. (It’s perfectly ok to drive on I-70 at 55 in a 75 mph zone, right??)
My plan was to leave Vail around 2pm so that I would get to Grand Junction around 4ish. But that would be too easy. It is much better to arrive in the dark to the RV park, make super sharp corners, maneuver around a dually parked with the rear half of the truck sticking waaaay out in the middle of the “street” and hook up for the first time. Who even really needs to hook up? I think shoving the boxes aside and just crawling into bed is good enough for a first night!
We stayed at the Junction West RV park on the western end of GJ, right behind the new Luv’s truck stop and next to the FedEx sorting center. You are lulled to sleep by the sounds of cars and trucks. Even though this RV park is basically a gravel parking lot, it is actually not that bad. The location is great for our purposes which is to load up on supplies at Cabellas, Target, etc. The sites are level and the bathrooms are VERY clean. The sunsets are beautiful. And best of all, the owners/workers here are so helpful and nice. It was a great first stop on the tour.
Well, we had our first “mishap”…something was obviously very wrong with the camper because the lights would only turn on if we were plugged in. So, on Saturday, we (Jesse) hooked up the trailer and drove it over to the kind people at Pine Country Trailers (Henry Fox was my guy who sold me the camper). I was absolutely sure that there was some major electrical issue. (I’ve had plenty with the Suburban…like the time the driver’s seat got stuck/jammed all the way back away from the steering wheel and I had to drive home from Vail with a backpack behind me so I could reach the pedals!) I am so glad we didn’t call first to ask about this issue and instead moved boxes around again, pulled in the slide, unhooked from the electric and water, rehooked the camper to the truck, and drove it straight away to get serviced. Henry came out to help me personally. He opened the pass through and showed me where to flip the switch so that the camper can access the batteries when you are not plugged in. Yep, that’s right…
he flipped a switch
Electrical malfunction solved! (Yes, my face is burning red from embarrassment even right now)
On Sunday, we loaded up and headed out right on schedule. Just need to make a quick stop at Target and then Mesa Verde here we come!
I think I have watched too many of those TV shows about real estate...Million Dollar Listing, Selling New York, etc. You know when they put the property on the market and there is a bidding war in the first 24 hours, a deal is reached for over asking price, all cash, and closing is in 12 days. Yeah well, that's not exactly real life, just real good TV!
I thought I would put the house on the market as soon as school got out and be on a road trip by July. Nope. But the house did sell quickly…about three months from the day we listed until closing. Not bad.
The whole summer was spent cleaning, sorting, organizing, packing and showing the house. And then, next thing I knew, it was crunch time! About 2 weeks out from closing, everything went into overdrive! I was packing all day long! We (Jesse, Jono and I…oh, and Shane helped out when his social calendar permitted) moved every single box and piece of furniture out of that house by ourselves! Pretty proud of that!
I put almost all of it in a storage unit 10 by 20 (Wish I had a picture of it! I am an excellent packer! Seriously! I may not pack light, but I can certainly pack a lot of shit into a small space! Have you ever gone camping with me? You should. I am exactly the kind of person you want to camp with because I bring everything you might ever need…like a large and small colander, one for pasta and one to wash strawberries; a tent with net sides to hang out in to avoid bugs, and every size and thickness of ziplock that was ever made…just to name a few of the essentials. All you have to do is show up!)
After a crazy week of moving, I jumped right into a crazier week of road trip prep! We closed on Monday, Oct. 3rd (which means we got the $$$ that afternoon). Tuesday afternoon, Summer, Jono and I drove to Longmont to check out trucks. (I started out wanting a Toyota…who doesn’t want a Toyota truck!?! But the Tundra doesn’t have the towing capacity needed for my camper. Then I thought about a Ram, but they seemed a bit pricey. So I went for a Ford.) Unfortunately, we went all that way and weren’t able to strike a deal. Better to walk away than get the wrong truck/price. Wednesday, Jono, Jesse and I drove to GJ to pick up the camper. (I had already put a deposit on it about a month ago. I chose Creekside model 23dbs by Outdoors RV. You can check out the floor plan online.) On the way to get the camper, we checked out trucks in Glenwood, Rifle (crap) and GJ, but no luck. I was looking for a Ford F150 6-cylinder twin turbo ecoboost (yeah, like I even know what all that means…all I know is that it can safely tow my camper) I also wanted a crew cab and not a black interior…black dog/black interior no go. And could it have less than 35,000 miles, good tires, no older than 2013, and a decent price??? I mean, that’s not that much to ask for, is it? I guess so, cause no ones got one.
Thursday, I got up and looked online in Denver again for trucks for a few hours. I had narrowed down a few places that might be possibilities but nothing for sure. Then, at 4pm, I got back online to call a few of the places and I saw this truck that wasn’t there before (cue sound effect…heavenly intervention/destiny). I called and the salesman hadn’t seen it before. He went out to the lot and called me back about 10 minutes later. “This is it! Exactly what you’re looking for!” Um, yeah, we’ve all heard that one before. I told him to go ahead and hide the keys and we would be right down (right is relative…we would be there in 2 hours)
9:30pm Thursday night…Jono, Summer and I were driving my new 2014 white Ford F150 6 cylinder twin turbo with ecoboost, 36,000 miles, tan leather interior, running boards and nice, big towing mirrors home to Vail!
The next day, I loaded up the camper…first real nice like and then just literally shoving cardboard boxes inside…and by 5pm, we were off!
The last five years or so have been hard. I think, maybe, I had it too good before, but you don’t know that until it gets really hard. No one goes through this life without hurdles and I guess it was just my time for them.
The turning point was when I broke my leg. It wasn’t the typical “break your leg, walk on crutches and six weeks later you are healed” thing. It was extremely painful and debilitating. I wasn’t able to care for myself or anyone else in the family for a while, and that was a new thing for me. Though I was very lucky to have such awesome friends and family support me!
For about a year and a half after the break, I thought I would be permanently disabled. Then, thanks to Dr. Hackett and Dr. Kim, I got a new knee and a new chance! I still walk with a slight limp, I can’t run, my knee swells pretty easily…but I feel like I can do almost anything I want to and I am so grateful for my knee replacement!
The other thing that broke during that time was my marriage. It was so very painful (still is), but it is better now. I don’t cringe as much when I say I am divorced, not as much. I don’t wake up every morning and burst into tears, or go to bed crying myself to sleep…only once in a while. I was married for 19+ years, with him for 24 years…my entire adult life until that point. It takes time, a lot of time, but it does get better.
There is a lot of stress and uncertainty after divorce. It was not only hard on me, but so tough on my kids and that guilt is almost unbearable. People say that kids are resilient, but I think that is a load of crap. Kids are vulnerable and impressionable, and I am responsible for mine. Each of my kids has dealt with the divorce in their own troubled way.
As if all that isn’t enough, finances started to get tight, really tight. It was time for this stay-at-home mom to not stay-at-home so much anymore. Time to make some bacon. (Ha! I don’t think any teacher feels like they are making much bacon!). I put myself out there, starting interviewing for teaching jobs, and got rejected. I was actually partly relieved because none of the jobs I interviewed for were just right. And then, it happened! I got my dream job! At the time, I didn’t know it was my dream job, but it was! I didn’t know I wanted to teach math, but I love math! I didn’t know I wanted to teach middle-school…who is crazy enough to like middle-school? Um, me, that’s who. It was the hardest and best year all rolled into one!
And then…my contract was not renewed. I was devastated. Am I a horrible teacher? No. I was an almost 50 year-old rookie teacher that needed time to find her stride, which I did. I LOVE teaching! I am PASSIONATE about teaching! And I can’t wait to teach again! I also LOVE Stone Creek Charter School and more than anything else…I LOVE the kids there!
But for now, it was not meant to be…
The final piece as to why now was the house. It was time to sell. It was actually time to sell a long time ago, but I wasn’t ready then. Now, I was as ready as I would ever be to sell the only house I have ever owned. Jono and I built the house and raised three kids there and created a lot of memories. It was really hard letting it go, but selling has allowed me to go on this amazing journey!
And so there I was…no job, no house, and pretty burnt out.
What was the universe trying to tell me? Is there fate? Or just bad things happen to everyone and there is no reason behind it?
I don’t know for sure, but I do find it interesting that for more than a year now, I have been reading about/following several families/couples that travel full-time in an RV or even just a VW van. Twenty years ago, I didn’t even like VW vans! And who the heck chooses to live in one??? I even said to my sister in June, “I have no idea why I am so fascinated with these people living in vans…I would never want to do that!” Ha!
Some of my favorites are:
Anyway, whether there is some element of destiny or just seizing the opportunity before me...here I am...living in a camper trailer for the next 9 months or so...ready to explore and recharge and connect...Happy trails!
(P.S. I really like ... and I don't always use commas correctly and I promise to post pictures next time)
I think I inherited my itch to travel from my mom. She has been all over the world, and when I was younger, she took my sister and I to some pretty cool places. She is also the one who introduced me to the love of snow skiing. Growing up in Florida, this was a somewhat unusual hobby. I have been so fortunate to have skied in Germany, Austria, Argentina, and all over Colorado. It's all her fault that I ended up living in the mountains of Colorado for the past 22+ years!
Besides just ski trips, we also did a few driving road trips, one in particular to California. We visited dude ranches and rode horses, went to San Francisco and rode the street cars, and went to Lake Tahoe and rode bikes. We visited the Redwood forest, hiked in the wilderness, went river rafting, and went to the movies (with my dad who never goes to the movies!) Great family memories!
In early 2014, my friend, Holly, posted pictures of her family visiting the Redwoods and that brought me back to when I went there with my mom as a teenager. Around that time, I also discovered Kirsten Dirksen on YouTube and FairCompanies.com. I was especially inspired by their movie “Summer of Love”, a documentary of their summer spent traveling with three young kids in a VW van while they went different places to interview people living in Tiny Houses and other small spaces. The videography of the the landscape made me really want to go explore Oregon and Northern California with my kids. I had spent almost every vacation for the previous 6 years either going to San Clemente (don’t get me wrong the beach is awesome) or visiting family in Florida (I love doing that as well), but wanted something different. I wanted to branch out and explore new territory with my favorite people, my kids.
So in February of 2014, I started to plan out a summer road trip with our pop-up camper. I had only done one other solo/not married trip with the camper to a lake about 3 hours from home (Highline Lake in Loma, CO...love that place!) So summer of 2014, all three kids and I (no dogs) went from Edwards, CO to Bend, Oregon to Portland, down the coast to Yachats, then to Jeddidiah Smith Redwoods, Mendicino, San Francisco, Lake Tahoe and home. (The pop-up was really hard…it took a lot of time and effort to set up and break down camp. Sometimes we stayed in hotels just to avoid dealing with the pop-up. I knew then that when I did another camping road trip, I would want a hard-sided camper)
After about a month on the road, we headed home but I wanted to stay on that trip longer! I think that is probably part of the reason for doing this adventure…I finished that trip wanting more! I wonder if I will finish this being glad that it is done, or still wanting more? We shall see...