And We’re Off! by Amanda

On Tuesday, June 26th, after what proved to be an eleven day delay, we finally were able to head out on our journey. Our truck was finally fixed, the Airstream repairs were made, and we felt as ready as we ever would to get this show on the road. After an emotional roller coaster of delays, cancellations and re-working of plans, I thought I would feel excitement or relief to drive off into the sunset. Instead I felt nervous and anxious that something else would go wrong!! I felt a little bit of disbelief that the moment had come.

After spending much of that Tuesday finishing up projects on the Airstream and truck, we left Justin’s cousin’s home around 4:30pm, heading west to Iowa. The kids were anxious and a bit upset with us, after being ignored much of the day while we got the final things together. My request for a family picture was quickly denied and there was a bit of raised voices as we pulled out of the driveway. Things were quickly turned around by a dinner stop at Culver’s about an hour into our drive. A good burger and cheese curds can make anyone feel better!

We left fairly packed, with the truck bed filled with bikes and a grill, a kayak strapped to the roof of the truck, and pulling our twenty-five foot Airstream. Once we got on the highway and the truck exceeded forty miles an hour, the wind started whipping under the kayak, making such a loud noise it was difficult to even hear ourselves talk! So we had to pull off at the next exit and shift the kayak, finding that the further up the kayak sat on the truck roof, the less noise it created. We felt a victory was won!!!

We rolled into Des Moines, Iowa around eleven-thirty at night, and headed straight to the State Capital to get our picture in front of the Capital building. Since it was so late at night, no one was around, so it was easy to pull the Airstream right in front of the building for what proved to be a really cool photo op! The Capital building is extremely impressive, with one large dome in the center and four smaller domes on the four corners of the building. It has an almost Moroccan or Indian feel to it, as the dome and smaller minarets are very intricately carved in an eclectic style. The building was much more impressive than we thought and we were sad that we would be unable to tour the inside.

We stopped about an hour west of Des Moines to sleep for the night, pulling over into a rest area to sleep for a few hours. This was our first time sleeping on the side of the road, and we found a very crowded rest area with a large amount of trucks and other RVers settled in for the night. Justin slept in the truck and I slept in the Airstream with the kids. Having no clue what to expect, or if what we were doing was even legal, we were both a bit nervous and didn’t really sleep much, getting up around 6am to get back on the road.
We entered Nebraska around 8am and I have to admit, Nebraska feels like it goes on forever. We did stop around 8:30am to get a photo in front of the Nebraska State Capital building in Lincoln. The building is a tall skyscraper, with an impressive statue of Abraham Lincoln in the front and a bit of an Art Deco style to it. We didn’t linger long in Lincoln, though it did look like a quaint little town, as we wanted to be able to reach Colorado by late afternoon.

I drove the last three hours of the trip, driving us into Colorado and to our final destination of Golden, Colorado, right outside Denver. It was a real treat to drive the Airstream though Denver rush hour traffic, and I was very proud of myself, even though I was very nervous the entire time.

When we arrived in Golden, it was 100 degrees outside and the elevation really hit me hard. I quickly got a splitting headache and Justin and the kids set up camp while I rested. An aspirin, an hour’s nap and some dinner made me feel a lot better, but it did take me a full day to get acclimated to the elevation, which I didn’t expect.

So, we arrived in Colorado almost two weeks later than expected, missing out on seeing Kansas City and Rocky Mountain National Park in Estes Park. But in the grand scheme of things, a two week delay in order to ensure our safety and comfort is well worth it. And we’ve decided we will shorten our time in Yellowstone by a few days in order to add Rocky Mountain National Park back into the itinerary.

As I said in previous blog posts, this trip is all about being safe and flexible. But it felt good to reach our first destination, having everything go according to our new plan. I think it gave us the confidence we needed in these early stages as we get used to everything. So in the end I did not get my “we’re off” family photo, but I am going to be flexible and learn to accept that, because I know if the course of this journey we will be taking a lot of amazing family photos during the many adventures ahead of us. What we look like at the beginning of this journey is not half as important as how we’ll look at the end!!
So, it’s time to explore Colorado, where we will be spending the next month. It’s time to settle into our new home, explore the wilderness (thanks for the idea Tabatha!), and be brave tackling things we’ve never done before. The journey has begun, and we are ready!!!!!

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