Day 20 – Utah, Idaho and Oregon

We’ve started retracing our steps heading back home. The plan today was to go from Snowville, Utah to Pendleton, Oregon.

It’s a 6.5 hour trip BUT…we get to cross a time zone so we gain an hour. It’s much nicer going this way because losing an hour sucks. Although honestly, by 9pm we were tired because it would have been 10pm. Or maybe it’s just exhausting navigating 4 people and their feelings and emotions inside of a truck and trailer for 3 weeks.

I was up by 7:30am and made coffee and set the trailer straight. I actually LOVE the simplicity and straightforwardness of trailer living. Everything has a place. You only have what you need. You use something, you put it back in its place so it’s easy to find when you need it next. It’s easier to do that on a small scale. I need to find a way to scale that for our house. I do have lots of things set up like that but it’s harder to stay on top of it when it’s a larger home and there are more people involved.

We got on the road just after 10am. The boys are ready to go home. They miss good internet and the comfort of their own bedrooms. First world problems.

We stopped for gas at a station in Sublett called “Middle of Nowhere” and they had a pen on the property with goats and alpacas and donkeys. They were adorable. It was a nice surprise and opportunity to stretch our legs and see cute animals.

We carried on driving through Idaho. We had the most fabulous tailwinds and just cruised our way through Idaho toward Oregon.

Between navigating Google Maps (like a boss), planning our routes, booking RV sites, writing blog posts and looking up interesting facts of information about our travels; I have also knit or crochet 5 dishcloths. I’ve even tried patterns that I’ve never made before. Crazy, right?

We’ve also listened to a variety of podcasts while on the road. From murder mysteries, to unsolved mysteries, medical mysteries, stand up comedy, talk shows and even the above one about women of the Wild West. It’s been an eclectic mix interspersed with current pop hits, country music, classic rock and our favourite, radio roulette. You just keep hitting the button until something comes on clear.

The weather has been pretty good for us but we can definitely tell that we are getting closer to the Pacific Northwest. It’s colder and wetter and there’s a whole lot more evergreens than we have seen. The skies have been cloudy and stormy looking for most of today. Still beautiful in their moody brooding way though.

Siah exclaimed, “Well, this looks familiar.” as we approached Pendleton. He didn’t mean the city but the landscape as we were passing through forests of evergreens interspersed with packs of snow on the ground. It definitely looks like home.

We pulled into the Pendleton KOA around 5:30pm and off towards the Blue Mountains a storm was looming. We even got a storm warning on the weather app. There was a gorgeous double rainbow that Jon called us outside to see.

We ordered pizza delivery to our campsite – how fun is that – and even watched a few shows that we had previously downloaded. We hunkered in expecting the storm to blow through overnight but it, thankfully, missed us.

It was a quiet night and we only have a few more days ‘till we’re home. This time has been such a gift and we have so many incredible memories that we will treasure for a lifetime. I’m so grateful that we were able to do this.

Day 19 – Utah

It wasn’t a HUGE travel day but we are tired and definitely feeling our almost 3 weeks on the road. We left Moab at 10:30am and the plan was to head towards Garland, Utah.

Look at all the smiles.

We drove North West up through Provo and Salt Lake City.

The red in the rocks are from rust and the green is created when the iron in the rock reacted differently and at a lower concentration than the iron that caused the orange. It’s all just so pretty; and so different than what we typically see in BC.

We travelled out of the desert and into snow dusted mountains. There were lots of dead zones with no coverage as we drove through Utah.

I find it absolutely fascinating how the landscape can so dramatically change as you drive within only a few hours.

We decided to not go to Garland but to head to Snowville which is only about 10 mins from the Idaho border. It’s an interesting aspect of our journey. Trying to find a location to travel to that’s not too far away but has a decent looking RV park. It’s lots to juggle especially because once you book a spot you are kind of committed and hoping that everything goes smoothly between where you are and where you’re headed. Along the way there’s gas to get, bathroom visits to be made, food to eat and sometimes a break because you’re tired and feeling way too close to a meltdown.

We made it to The Hitching Post in Snowville, Utah sometime after 6pm. I’ve got to give a huge shout out to Jonathan for his graciousness with my navigating skills. I can organize and plan like a Fortune 500’s top Administrator but Google maps confounds me. We have needed to reroute more times than I can count because I struggle to read the map and follow Google’s directions. Trying to find The Hitching Post in Snowville was no exception. But in my defence, we have gotten to travel some of the cutest and bumpy back roads as we circle around and we would never have had that opportunity without my exceptional navigation skills.

So I’d like to think it’s a win for all and really what’s a few extra moments when you get to see the sights that hide off the main roads.

We pulled into the bustling RV park. If you look really hard, you can find our rig in the photo.

There was the cutest diner back on the Main Street and it has real food. So we went there for dinner.

If you get a chance, you should ask my boys about these cute little houses that the owner’s son makes. They were surprising and so adorable.

We enjoyed our food and then headed back to the quiet campsite. We are not too far away from home now. It’s only going to be a few more days and I’m feeling all the feels. I have loved this trip and I’m ready and not ready to go home. We have learned a lot and if we have another opportunity to do a road trip, I would jump at the chance. It’s definitely a core memory!

Day 13 – Texas

We had the most incredible thunderstorm roll through last night between 1am and 4am. So much rain and thunder and lightening; and our trailer weathered it like a champ.

Gorgeous white sandy beaches

We spent the day traveling from Bay St Louis, Mississippi to Austin, Texas where we were headed to see family. It was a mostly uneventful 12 hour day of travel.

As we left Mississippi and headed into Louisana the sun came out and the sky started to clear.

There was a wind blowing from the north and we were heading west. The cross winds made for a wheel griping ride for Jon. The trailer really wobbles in the wind and there was a tremendous amount of road work which meant that they had the road shifted over into the shoulder which mean there was little to no shoulder to handle the trailer wobble.

I find the forest to be so interesting in the south. It’s all the same height and when the highway goes up high over low lands or rivers you can see the tops of the tress and it looks like an ocean of green puffy clouds extending forever. As you get into Texas, the entire height of the forest shrinks by a few feet.

We stopped in Lake Charles, Louisana for lunch, a bathroom break and gas. We stopped at Wendy’s which was next to this crazy building that was mostly boarded up. Apparently it used to be the IRS and FBI but they’ve relocated. No idea what happened here but it’s crazy looking. The blue panels are glass the but brown panels are all boarded up wood.

I don’t know what I was expecting Texas to look like but it’s a lot greener, at least the parts that we’ve seen so far. I understand that it will change as we travel further west.

There are miles of these fields filled with colourful flowers that just look so beautiful. And I’m not the only one who thinks so as there were tons of families and photographers out taking photos in the flowering fields.

We stopped in Brenham and got chicken fingers and fries from Jack in the Box and we can finally check that restaurant off our list.

As we drove into Austin, the sun was setting and it was so incredible beautiful. The photo doesn’t even begin to do it justice.

Our first stop was to see Tyrone – one of Jon’s cousins. We’ve met Tyrone before when we came and stayed with us in Abbotsford. I can see Josiah, in Tyrone’s look and it’s always fun to see family resemblance. We also met Tyrone’s oldest daughter, Alishah. We chatted and hugged and our visit was way to brief. It’s been an incredible experience for the boys to meet family from Jon’s side of the family. My family is mostly all near by in Canada and we are close but Jon’s family, on both sides, are spread all over the world so this is a truly special experience.

We hugged and said good bye and headed out to Jon’s other cousin’s place where we are going to park for the next day or two.

We arrived in the dark and got about parking the trailer. We received such a warm welcome from family that we’ve (Patti and the boys) never met and Jon hasn’t seen in 40 years. We sat and chatted until midnight. The boys were so happy and comfortable talking with the extended family and it was just incredible to see.

I feel like a broken record but there are so many soul warming moments. Our hearts just feel so full! We are so very thankful for this incredible experience to see the States and visit family.

Day 10 -Part 2 – Arkansas to Mississippi

The trip between Arkansas and Bay St. Louis, Mississippi is about 7 hours of driving – which for us is about 9 hours of travel. We wanted to arrive late afternoon which is why we were trying to leave early.

The day was grey and we were expecting to drive through some rain at some point. We’ve been fortunate to have mostly gorgeous weather. Driving through Arkansas looked a lot like this……pretty green, some trees, lots of land.

At the second gas stop, we found Snowballs. Siah’s been wanting to try them. The package had 2, so each boy got one to try.

And then Siah got to eat both of them because they were NOT Judah’s fav.

We crossed into Mississippi just before noon and the rain started. We passed a sign for the Petrified Forrest and Jon shared a story about how he had petrified wood as a child and we made the decision to stop and check out the gift shop. We weren’t gonna do the trail because it was raining but we could stop and maybe find a souvenir.

We parked and ran through the rain to the gift shop. It was filled with Rocks and Gems and was such a fun place to check out. Jon got a piece of petrified wood which was a fun memory. It’s really cool looking.

The petrified wood is really cool and I can only imagine how interesting the trail must be.

I love the Color’s of the different rocks and gems. They are just so vibrant and beautiful.

As we travelled further down into Mississippi we passed through a rain storm and it was a downpour. Like big fat soaking wet rain drops that drench you.

About an hour from Bay St Louis the sky started clearing and it was stunning. We were pretty excited to be getting closer.

We pulled into Buccaneer Bay State Park around 6pm and found our RV pad. It was right across the street from the beach.

By 6:20pm the boys were in swim suits and down on the beach.

It’s been surprising how few of the sites that we’ve stayed at have had a fire pit. This one does and so we made a fire. Unfortunately, we forgot our marshmallow roasting sticks at Xani’s so the kids foraged for a dead branch to use.

Jude’s stick was ready to use but Siah brought back a dead small-ish tree and then spent an hour whittling the trunk down to a size that could hold a marshmallow. FYI, this park has no wifi and it was awful that I didn’t realize it when I booked it. I’m the worst mother for making them do things like having creative fun.

We eventually doused the fire and crawled into bed. Tomorrow is supposed to be gorgeous, sunny and 24 degrees. I can’t wait.

Day 5 – Kansas

We pulled into the Fort Collins KOA super late BUT….we specifically choose to stay at an RV park with SHOWERS. It was necessary, needed and just plain wanted.

We woke up and all ran through the showers and it was like we had a new lease on life.

My “Hi, I’m still alive!” photo that I sent my sisters on Saturday morning.

We definitely started the day later than normal and we are not typically a 6am family.

We hit the road around 11am and the plan was to have a short driving day because the previous day was so long.

Jon has done all the driving and I have been navigating; finding the best route, and where to stop for gas or food, and booking sites to stay at.

I’d say that have the better end of the deal as it seems exhausting to be carrying the weight of the trailer – ha ha ha! But seriously, ensuring the safety of the truck and trailer – and us – seems like a big thing to be shouldering.

Colorado into Kansas was a lot of flat, rolling land. We’ve had a lot of cloud coverage with moments of sunny breaks; but it was incredible when the temps jumped and it was all of the sudden warm.

It was windy; but hot and windy and felt incredible. It’s amazing that we could go from hot and sunny to cloudy so fast.

I had initially thought that we’d stay at one campground but it was only 3 hours away and I figured we could easy do 4 hours. As I tried to find a campground that wasn’t outrageously priced, it became apparent that our options were 3 or 5 hours. I chose the 5 hour option and as a bonus we went through a time zone.

So our short day ended up feeling like a sort of long day as we pulled into the campground in Kansas around 7:30pm. We set up the trailer and quickly made dinner.

After dinner, Jon and I played a quick game of crib while the boys zoned on their devices.

He won but didn’t skunk me. Phew!

The air was warm and breezy and it was a welcome change after how cold it had been. We had the windows open on both sides of the trailer and didn’t even need to turn on the heater.

My boys are weird and sleep with a bottom sheet and a comforter. I am glad that we brought our feather duvet. Our bed – aside from the “spectacular” mattress is like a fluffy cloud. Climbing into it at night is heavenly. It’s surprising how exhausting long travel is. It’s not like we are doing anything physical. Just sitting on our butts all day but we pull into a campground and just want to go to bed. I wish I had the energy to draw or read or something but I don’t.

For Day 6 – Easter Sunday – we plan to get up early and book it the remainder of the way to Arkansas. It will be another big day of driving but then we will stay for a couple of days and that will be lovely.