Back in January, we attended a Fulltime Families Retreat in Southern California. One evening, we invited the Sloan family over to get to know them better. Part of our conversation included upcoming summer destinations. They planned to visit the East Coast and our plans included Alaska.
The next morning the Sloan’s informed us that their summer plans had changed during the night—they now planned to go to Alaska with us! Surprisingly, this isn’t that unusual in our lifestyle. You meet people. You like them. You travel with them. But it is funny to take myself out of the fulltime travel mindset and try to picture a scenario like this happening. You invite someone new to the area over for lunch after church. You talk about your upcoming plans for a family vacation to Florida. The following Sunday they announce surprise: they’ve booked the same flight and plan to tag along! I can’t imagine that ever happening, yet it does when you live your life on the road and get the freedom to choose your neighbors and travel companions.
Just West of Lake Ontario, our hazard lights blink-blink-blink as the freeway traffic rushes past us, sending the vehicles into small sideways rocking motions. The truck, whose engine has been whispering notions of discontent for the past few hundred miles, has acted like a toddler and erupted into a full-blown tantrum. We are perched like birds on the shoulder of the road.
If the last 10 days were a dinner, than we have been dinning at an all-you-can-eat buffet, in fast forward. Its been amazing and exhausting.
We began our journey with a brief visit with family and friends in the Coeur d’Alene area. Parking our RV in the driveway of hospitable friends, we soaked up moments and meals with many people we love but have not seen much of since our move to Kamiah a year and a half ago.
On Labor Day we set out on the open road headed east traveling through Montana. Our first official public boondocking experience left me shocked and amazed. The Cabela’s parking lot in Billings had dog kennels, horse corrals and even a dumping station (a place where we could empty our black and grey tanks)! Waking up in the same bed in a new state and realizing that this was our new life was both surreal and exciting.
After our whirlwind visit in the Black Hills, we set out once again in an easterly direction stopping briefly in Philip, South Dakota. Here Ashlyn and I dressed up in costume and our family traversed across the prairie visiting one of the last remaining sod houses in the state.
Prairie dogs peered out of their holes in the ground as the wind whipped at our dresses and bonnets. We stood amazed that settlers were able to withstand the harsh conditions of the barren land that stood before us. Between blizzards, floods, fires and pestilence, it seemed that all was against their success. Most surprising of all however was the mannequin sitting in the outhouse with his pants pulled down, he gave us a scare and a fit of giggles that we will not soon forget!
As I write this we are driving west on Hwy 90 through Montana. Brown hills poke up around me in the distance with patches of green trees and low-laying brush. Fields with freshly harvested hay show off their large round bales and a gentle breeze is coaxing the leaves lining the road into a steady wave of hello and farewell.
80 miles back Ashlyn was in need of a potty stop. In what has turned out to be the second serendipitous stop in two days (the first being a potty break yesterday right next to a Geese in Flight sculpture), we found ourselves at the entrance of Pompeys Pillar National Historic Landmark. My eyebrows raised at the words “National Historic Landmark”. We’ve driven this route approximately once a year for the past eight years and I’ve never noticed this sign nor did I have a clue what was historical about Pompeys Pillar. However, after a quick search online, I realized the significance of this location and petitioned my husband for a visit.
((Cue the angels singing their Holy songs of glory))
I married up my friends. Mr. Wonderful agreed to another detour (this would be following our before mentioned detour to see the World’s Largest Holstein Cow and our recent stop to see the World’s Largest Buffalo).
Our quick potty stop morphed into a beautiful hour of discovery. We learned about bull boats (boats made out of buffalo skins reinforced with bent sticks), saw examples of dugout canoes and for the piece de resistance: William Clarks signature carved and dated into the side of the Pompeys Pillar! This signature happens to be the last remaining physical evidence of the Corp of Discovery’s trail. Even better? Today is William Clarks birthday! I stand amazed at the perfection of this potty break and grateful for a husband who enjoys the journey just as much as the destination.