We Don’t Know What We are Doing.

Something is wrong. I pull a 42 foot trailer behind my truck. The only thing I had to do to drive it on the road was buy it. No licenses, no training, just hook it up and go. In a world full of regulations and laws, how has this happened? How is this acceptable? I’m not complaining as I feel there is already too many laws but it seems crazy that I can drive our fifth wheel without any classes.

I’m going to be painfully honest with you. As embarrassing as it is to admit, I am full of fear when I think about navigating into campgrounds and parking lots. I wake up at night in cold sweats dreaming that I drove down an unknown road without a place to turn around, trapped forever. A few times in traffic, although I appear calm on the outside, on the inside I want to curl up in the fetal position and sob. In the video below, Marisa describes an incident we had towards the beginning of our trip (2 weeks ago) when we were leaving and abandoned Lowe’s parking lot.

Where Should We Go Next?

I have given some of the pros and cons to two potential destinations below. Please read through them and then vote on the poll to decide where we should go next.

Lewis and Clark Caverns and Virginia City, Montana

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Pros

  • Michael is the only person that has been to these two locations
  • Children have loved other caves we have visited
  • More opportunities to say the word “spelunking”
  • We can pan for gold in Virginia City so Marisa can finally get a gold tooth for her grill
  • Cheaper camp sites

Cons

  • More Caves = More Guano
  • The crushing, breathtaking feeling that comes when you think about all of the earth above you while in a subterranean cavern
  • We have heard that all the women have to wear petticoats in Virginia City and we don’t have room for them in the RV

Yellowstone Park and Jackson Hole Wyoming

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Pros

  • Liquid Hot Magma
  • If West Yellowstone explodes while we are in it we won’t have to try to survive the subsequent nuclear winter
  • More of a worldwide destination
  • Awesome wildlife
  • Rotten egg smell from the sulfur covers up the stench when we run out of water in the RV

Cons

  • We have all been to both places several times
  • When Michael sees Old Faithful he has an inexplicable urge to jump in it to see if it is hot as claimed
  • More expensive campsites
  • More alien abductions per capita in Wyoming than Montana (please don’t ask me for a source for this fact)

When the Cows Come Home

Have you ever looked a cow in the eye? They seem to be filled with a strange intelligence. I feel like they know something I don’t know. It’s almost like they think that I am the one behind a fence and they are free. I know my friend Nathan and his dad Ron (dairy farmer) would disagree about the Bovine I.Q., but cows have always seemed suspicious to me. I was a little worried when a herd of them started following me while I was walking my dogs the other morning. Sorry about the video quality, I need a new phone.

Please comment if you feel the same about cows as I do. I want to know that I am not alone.

Perspective Shift

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By Jim Harrison

The moon comes up.
The moon goes down.
This is to inform you
that I didn’t die young.
Age swept past me
but I caught up.
Spring has begun here and each day
brings new birds up from Mexico.
Yesterday I got a call from the outside
world but I said no in thunder.
I was a dog on a short chain
and now there’s no chain.

Source: Poetry (September 2008).

I used to have this poem up on my wall at work. It has been one of my favorites over the last few years. It’s funny how perspective changes. It used to gently tug at my heart and make me wonder if age had swept past me. It gave me a melancholy feeling.  Now, at this point in my life, I feel like I have caught up. It is now a poem that brings me joy as I think of my current circumstances. Now there’s no chain. It’s very interesting how perspective changes in life.

~Michael~

The Old Men and the RV

Our first day on the road we stayed in our neighborhood until 4 pm until we decided we finally needed to head out and get a taste of the open road, the wind beneath our wings, and the terror of pulling a semi rig sized monstrosity behind us. After getting up the courage, we decided to go camping at Jordanelle, by Heber City Utah.  We are friends with the Boynton family who already lives in their RV full time (there are other crazy people besides us) and that’s where they were staying. We drove to the campground without incident, other than the fact that my Fitbit shut down because it was sensing too many heartbeats per minute. The poor thing couldn’t keep up with the racing cardiac muscle nestled within my heaving chest

Once we arrived we realized we didn’t have levels for our tires, or really even know how to unhook and set up camp. I youtubed a video on how to drive a fifth wheel, but forgot to watch one on how to park a fifth wheel. It was hard to get our rig into the camp spot. There was a lot of reversing and going back and forth trying to park it correctly. There were two nice retired gentleman that were kind enough to help me, and even lend me some levelers to put under my tires. I don’t know what I would have done without them. Thy were so kind and understanding. I believe that they were an answer to our prayers. When I told

Dam that kept the water in the reservoir from rushing over us.
Dam that kept the water in the reservoir from rushing over us.

them this was it was my first night on a year-long trip with my family they acted shocked, and I think I saw a bit of pity in their eyes. It seemed that they looked away before their gaze gave away too much of what they knew lay ahead.

We stayed at Jordanelle for 2 nights and spent most of the time organizing the RV, doing maintenance, and lying in the fetal position because we knew that we were going to have to move the fifth wheel again in the near future. It didn’t help my anxiety when Mason pointed out the dam on the other side of the campground holding back an unimaginable amount of water from rushing over us. The last night there, as I fell asleep, I couldn’t help but wonder if I would rather have the dam break, ending our lives quickly, or drive again the next day putting my precious family in the hands of a man (me) that has no experience living on the road.

~Michael~

Life of Luxury

We have survived so far! There have been many interesting situations over the last week, one of which includes us being super low on water by Sunday morning.  Luckily, Michael remembered back to his days of living in the Dominican Republic (LDS mission) when he learned how to shower with a bucket. He couldn’t have imagined back when he was a young 19 year old that he would one day have to teach this skill to his wife and children.

Launch

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We are exhausted and still haven’t had a chance to relax yet as we are doing errands and organizing the 5th wheel but we wanted to update everyone on what’s going on in our life. Mainly, we want you to know we are still alive.

It’s hard going off the grid. The last few months we have looked at every single possession and item in our house and decided if they are garbage, good will, or storage. We rented a 10×10 storage unit for things we couldn’t get rid of like food storage, photos, old hard drives, and Legos.  Our Legos happen to be one of our prized possessions. It’s harder emotionally than one would think to pare down your possessions. It’s also hard physically to transport everything you own to storage, good will, or the dump. It’s especially hard when you drop the piano you sold to your neighbors on your ankle while moving it the week before launch. Don’t worry about me, I’m OK.

Friday, our friends Jason and Sally did a going away party for us in our neighborhood. We were able to see a lot of our close friends. We love our neighbors and friends. We will miss them dearly as we travel. Some people have asked, if we love it so much where we live, then why are we leaving. The best answer I have is that we are following what we believe we have been inspired to do. It is hard to leave the comfort of where we live and a good job but it is also good to do hard things in life. I have a feeling that doing hard things is going to become a common theme for us on this adventure.

After staying up until 2 AM on Friday getting our house ready for our renters, we hooked up our truck to the motor home for the first time. We were too busy to take the 5th wheel on any practice runs and we didn’t get a truck with the hitch on it until 2 days before launch. I will post a clip of our first hookup in the near future. Let’s just say that I was so nervous about hooking the truck up, that I left it in drive when I got out to check if I was lined up correctly. FYI, when you leave trucks in drive, and then hop out of them, they tend to drive off by themselves. I had to chase the truck down and jump in. This led to a large decline in the confidence I had that we will survive this trip.

We took the fifth wheel to a nearby church in order to practice driving it around. I felt like something was sketchy with the wheels on the trailer so I took it back through our neighborhood to have our friend Rich look at it. He verified that we there was nothing wrong and that I was paranoid. Paranoia might end up being another common theme for our trip. Within 2 hours of leaving our home we were back in the neighborhood and we had some errands to run. We were so tired from the week of preparing to go that we left our fifth wheel there and swam at our neighbors Jason and Sally’s until 4. More on our first camp experience tomorrow.