Here’s to New Paths and New Goals

SIX MONTHS. We’ve been living in this sticks and bricks house in Michigan for six whole months now. I would say that I could hardly believe it but it was -15 degrees last week and that was very real. Our get up and go is a get up and stay. Now we eat our avocado toast in the same place every morning. No sigh necessary, we’re enjoying the challenge.

The house I gave you a glimpse of in my last post has been an adventure in itself. It’s a sprawling ranch on a five acre tract of grass with some woods around the fringe and a piece of creek in the back.

Our neighbors to one side have a similar situation, but instead of growing grass they lease the land out for corn and alfalfa. These people are the BEST! They’ve been nothing but incredible, saving our butts more than once from the monster that is our yard.

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Ducks lay white eggs, chickens are brown

They also have a bazillion chickens and ducks and like to share their eggs. There’s no need to tell you how much better farm fresh eggs are than the Walmart ones. The chickens get Justin’s spent beer grains in return and they are thrilled. I don’t know how we always manage to hit the neighbor lottery!

I started a blog post for you after we’d been here a month, but we hadn’t done too much beyond purchasing rugs. Twelve. I bought twelve rugs. And 14 packs of hangers. You don’t give these things a second thought until you have to buy them en masse.

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When I said we were enjoying the challenge I really meant it. I have never been more busy while also not actually doing anything. There is always some task to be accomplished or corner of the property to explore with the kids. Who knew we were actually buying 5 acres of chores? A barn full of projects? A house full of rugs and hangers? And when spring hits we’ve got one epic veggie garden planned. I’ve already got little sprouts going all over the front room. Justin also ordered 10,000 bees last week, so there’s that too. If you were concerned that we would have trouble being stationary, your worries are mostly unfounded. We are not bored.

So far we’ve had a few giant deer, turkeys (and BABY turkeys!!!), groundhogs (plural), a fox, a family of WHITE skunks, great egrets, at least three kinds of hawks, coyotes, lots of different little birds, and four million squirrels.

 

There was also this crazy Wild Kingdom battle between a squirrel, a gray tailed hawk, a hero crow, and an opportunistic second greedy squirrel. The hawk tried to carry off squirrel #1, and while he was flipping said squirrel around on the ground, a rescue crow was deployed from the alfalfa field. The crow started attacking the hawk! The hawk, not to be out bullied, turned and started chasing the crow in a high-speed pursuit all around our backyard field. While the birds were zooming around, squirrel #2 ran out and helped squirrel #1 to the nearby woods so that he may get eaten another day. Then #2 ran back out into the field to eat what #1 had almost been killed over. It was a roller coaster.

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David Attenborough should have been narrating.

The kids finally got ALLLL that snow they so DESPERATELY wanted.

 

I think it’s really pretty too as long as I get to stay inside under my electric blanket.

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Now, to our current business (and the REAL reason i’m harassing you with my words):

WE HAVE SOLD THE RV.

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We went back and forth on the matter; to sell or not to sell. Ultimately we were paying – BLEEDING money – for a second home that no one was using, and also stressing out over it rotting away. It wasn’t rotting, but you know us, we’re worst case scenario people, so it may as well have been. After a few months on RV trader and about 10 failed deals, we’ve been found by a family who is ready to start their own full time adventure!!! In less than 24 hours our mobile fortress will be headed to its new home in sunny San Diego. At least our camper gets to live in California, right? Don’t mind me. I’ll just be here, with the snow…

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Just like when you sell any home, you leave a little piece of yourself behind with it. A pang of sadness can’t be avoided. We get to keep the best parts of it, though. Look at this blog! Look at all the memories! The happiness! The celebrations! The anxiety! The challenges! The GROWTH. I will never regret having it, or it having us.

So that’s that. We’re officially mid-westerners (again for half of us), embracing our newly found OPE!’s and dreams. Don’t worry about us bohemians, though. We might be sitting still for a minute, but rest assured our adventures will never stop.

Forward, Not Backward

After we’d waved goodbye to Mexico and all it’s not so subtle ways to kill you we pointed our truck at the middle of Texas and drove like the wind. This stretch was a lot of little stays in a row. We were on a mission, and you’ll see why.

Every once in a while we come across a place that we didn’t know existed and truly wished we’d have hit the first three times we wandered by. Monahan’s Sandhill State Park is on that ever-growing list. The place is just a giant pile of sand – a sand hill, if you will.

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The view from the front door.

The kids LOVED this place! Really, truly loved it with a passion. Sometimes I think their whole outlook on life it to just exist until another pile of sand shows up. We were only scheduled here for one night and strongly considered extending a few more until we found out that high winds were on the way. The park ranger said that the sky was going to be brown and our precious faces would be sandblasted. Hint taken.

On we went, puddle jumping over to Dyess Air Force Base where they fly the B-1B Lancers. One of the things I like about the Air Force bases is that everybody flies a different set of planes. There’s always something new and interesting to learn about. Fifteen minutes after parking we made Nerf friends, of course.

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After a chilly few days at Dyess we landed in a good ol’ Thousand Trails park. Days in Texoma were spent fishing! Really. They fished the pond every single day we were there. I do not have a fishing pole currently, my time is usually spent baiting hooks and changing lures so no big deal. We found our way to Lake Texoma on one of the days, which is supposedly famous for it’s striped bass.

After a depressingly fishless hour or so, Wesson set his fishing pole down in defeat. I picked it up, dipped the line in next to the dock, and almost immediately pulled out a bluegill!

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We called it a team effort. *wink*

While we were here in Texoma Justin discovered a coolant leak!!! Extra !!! for good measure because if you remembered our last Spring in Oklahoma when our coolant/emissions system exploded you’d be extra !!! about it too. Thankfully this go ’round we have that extended warranty. A hundred bucks and a day later the local Ford dealership had a new radiator installed and we were back in business! Amazing! Buy the extended warranty, people. Just do it.

Our week was up, and we’d had our fill of sitting for the moment. Barksdale Air Force Base was calling our names. Barksdale is home to the B-52 Stratofortress, which is exactly as big as it sounds. These are bombers, so Barksdale is also home to a mile of munitions depots. I’m not sure why, but I always feel secure withing the confines of a military base – even though in reality it’s basically sleeping in a giant target.

They also have the Barksdale Global Power Museum. The planes line the street next to the air strip and there’s a building chock full of paraphernalia to gawk at.

They had a make your own WWII poster station:

And don’t forget Rowland the Riveter:

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He’s the best! ❤

Sticking with the pattern we made another hop, skip, jump to Little Rock Air Force Base. The Air Force runs a program called Frequent Camper that starts with five free nights of camping, and when we stay with them we are earning more free nights, basically. Look into it if you have base access, it’s a really good deal.

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Lake by the campground

Little Rock has the C-130’s and they buzzed right over the campground when they took off. If you haven’t seen a C-130, click the link and think BIG. You know what else was right over the campground? The speaker for the base. Reville at 0630, retreat and the National Anthem at 1630, and taps at 2200, all at maximum decibel. Two nights was enough.

Rolling out of the base we stopped to get milk and water at the exchange gas station and scored the deal of the century:

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Seven cents a bag for Cadbury Mini Eggs?!? The clerk was horrified when I retrieved an entire box of them but dutifully sold them to me with a judgy look on her face. Listen, you can’t sell the best candy on earth for seven cents without expecting someone to buy mass quantities. Can you imagine? “Oh, yes, I’ll take ONE.” PPTTHH!

The next hop got us all the way into Tennessee! Montgomery Bell State Park is just outside of Nashville. It’s another one of those beautiful little hidden gems. A bubbling creek and tall, waving trees. The very first people we met at this campground were from the tiny town of Dearborn Heights, Michigan! That’s where I grew up! It’s was so weird, but pleasant. Everyone we met here was pleasant, even the dogs.

Traveling further we made our way to and through Kentucky, and into Indiana where we spent one unremarkable night on a joint reserve military base which also housed a level one prison. No thanks!

UGH! FINALLY! We were in MICHIGAN! We spent a week visiting with family while staying at the best little campground in the Grand Rapids area: Steamboat Park! We stayed there last year and the owner had to forklift our camper back onto the truck, if you remember. In spite of that, he was happy to let us into the campground a week before they officially opened for the season. The river was a little flooded.

Supposedly the water was about three feet deep in the campground at the high point. I’m glad we missed it.

We ended up sharing our campsite with one of the residents:

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His name is Hogwarts.

After a week we moved to East Michigan and parked in the driveway at our legal residence, aka my parents house. Here, we’ve been schooling, unicycling, visiting the library, etc.

Oh, and looking for a house.

We have collectively decided that life on the road must come to a pause. Not an end, just a pause. The kids desperately want to see their grandparents more often, along with aunts, uncles, and cousins too. Wesson has it in his head that he needs snow this winter and it MUST be Michigan snow, although he’s never experienced a winter here so he may change his mind. This whole thing, this whole life, is about giving them new experiences, and this is all new for them. If we’re talking honestly, I’m in need of a break too. And Justin… he’d probably keep traveling forever, but he loves us (of course) and has realized that we all need to stop for a minute.

The tentative plan is to travel next summer into the northern snowy states and national parks that one cannot traverse with confidence in the winter. The camper will be sold this fall, and a new, smaller version will be procured in the spring. It’s a much better idea than trying to store it properly for the winter, and we can downsize just a bit if we aren’t using it as our primary residence. We can go camping actual!

Just a few days ago after a month of looking and being discouraged we found the house that has every single thing we scrawled onto our wish list. Seriously! All of them! It’s the unicorn we’ve been hoping to find. It’s in the city, it has acreage, it has a pole barn, it’s a ranch with a basement, it doesn’t have two regular bedrooms and one oddly tiny bedroom like every other damn house we’ve seen…

And it’s unique like us. 🙂

The wonderful people who currently own it have accepted our offer! Pending that the appraisal and inspection don’t come up with anything significant this week we’ll close next month and be in it by mid-July. Until then, we’ll be exploring like always. We’re hoping to get an in-state jaunt in before moving day, and the North American Unicycling Competition and Convention is coming up in July. We’ve got lots to keep us busy.

This is not an end to our journey, only a new set of experiences. By the time winter is over I’m sure we’ll be restless again and ready to wiggle, only this time we’ll have a home base to come back to.

Maybe you can come visit us this time! Five acres can hold a lot of campers…