A Travellerspoint blog

Travel Blog Continued At Different Address

We are finishing our Trip Across the USA in Our Aluminum Box on Wheels. The new travel blog can be found at http://jengelman2.travellerspoint.com/

Posted by jengelman 20:30 Comments (2)

Some Reflections on Our Trip Across North America

Thursday, September 14, 2007

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It's been several weeks since we returned home from our trip across North America. I decided to wait a few weeks to write this last entry -- I needed some time to reflect about everything we did and saw on the trip.

The first few days of being home were like a big whirlwind, with so many things to do. After being away for so long, neither of our cars would start (mice had built a nest under the hood of our Mustang and my Focus wagon's battery was completely dead), our pickup truck was past due on its inspection, my driver’s license had expired, and our biggest problem: we couldn't remember where things were in our kitchen :-) I couldn't even remember where I kept my coffee mugs, and I love my coffee!

But on a more serious note, I was overcome with many emotions when we returned home. I was incredibly happy to be home—I had been homesick the last month or so of the trip. I had a wave of sadness/grief return when something in the house reminded me of my brother’s sudden death at the beginning of our trip. I was stressed out about our truck's brake controller switch which was malfunctioning the last several days of the trip and caused a random dinging during our drive through the torrential rains. I was excited that we had actually gone on the trip that we had talked about for years, but I was also depressed because the trip was over. In other words I was somewhat of an emotional mess when we got home. And I'm not sure what I would have written if my final blog entry would have been written immediately after our return. I wanted my reflections to be about the whole trip, and not about the last week of the trip with its’ many days of long drives.

So, as everybody has asked me, "How was your trip?"

We saw so much incredible scenery, especially in Alaska! It was great having almost two weeks in Los Angeles with our daughter! Mardi Gras in New Orleans was fantastic! Big Bend National Park was fantastic! Disney World is always fantastic! Yosemite Valley -- incredible! Lots of major and minor league baseball games for my husband! So much wildlife--especially all of the bald eages and grizzlies that we saw in Alaska! We not only enjoyed the places we visited but learned so many things -- a wonderful learning experience for the three of us, not only Joe.

Plus we met so many interesting and wonderful people on the trip. A few of the most memorable people: the 50+ year-old woman who had recently retired and has adult children & an 11-year-old just like me, the gentlemen who was traveling to Dawson City to spread his parents’ ashes near the gold mine they used to own (and was having a good time fishing along the way), Pete and Jean (who were also taking their RV off and & on the Alaska ferry) with their wonderful sense of humor at the end of the trip when I needed to laugh, the woman who had lost two of her young children in the past 18 months by sudden deaths and was returning home after some needed time away from home—she reminded me how thankful I should be for my healthy children, and lastly the gentlemen from Fairbanks who argued with me that they get as much daylight in Fairbanks during the winter as we get in Pennsylvania (I asked other Alaskans about this and they saiy ‘no way’ do they get as much daylight in the winter).

As far as our favorite places: I actually was interviewed by Eric of Travelerspoint about the trip, so rather than repeat our favorite places, here is the link to the interview:

http://blog.travellerspoint.com/127/

In many ways we had the trip we dreamed of! But...

I was homesick. I missed my family and friends. I learned that interesting places, beautiful scenery, friendly acquaintances, and new "things" are great, but eventually all I really wanted was to be home. I'm sure part of the reason for the homesickness was due to the grieving process over my brother's death--we probably should have waited a month to let me grieve at home and be ready to move on. For whatever reason I think 7 months away from home at this point in my life was too long. In theory a year-long trip across the U.S. sounded wonderful, but in practice it was too long. Well, ‘too long’ for me – my husband, who retired two weeks before the trip, never got homesick: he associates being home with working and he had no desire to return to the 9-5 grind (which was actually closer to a 7-6 grind for him). We had contemplated traveling through November, but cut our trip short when Joe and I decided we needed to be home for awhile.

That being said, we're already talking about what we should do for our next RV trip :-)

Posted by jengelman 08:05 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel Comments (1)

Shanksville PA - Our Last Stop of the Trip

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

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Very dreary this morning with lots of fog, but the rain has finally slowed down.
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We're very close to Shanksville, the site of the Flight 93 (September 11, 2001) National Historic Park, so we decide to stop and see what's there.

They have a small temporary building where a National Park volunteer is stationed to answer questions and explain the memorial. The final memorial was originally planned to be finished by the 10th anniversary of 9-11, but construction has not been started and it's doubtful that it will be completed in the next 4 years.
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We look at the many things that visitors have left in memory of the Flight 93 passengers, and then talk to the volunteer for a few minutes. Interesting stop, and the dreary weather seems appropriate for this somber place.
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I think the memorial is also supposed to honor the passengers' bravery, and many of the momentos that have been left here by visitors reflect the appreciation for the passengers' bravery in preventing the plane's destruction of our Capitol or White House; but it's a final resting place for the crew and passengers of that flight, so a sad place.

Home is less than 3 hours from the memorial, so we arrive home in early afternoon. The house is still there :-)

I've been very homesick the last month or so, so it feels wonderful to be home. After living in the trailer the last 7 months, my house feels like a mansion. I look around the kitchen and almost cry because it feels so good to be home. I'm sure in a few weeks I'll feel like traveling again, but right now I am SO GLAD TO BE HOME!
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Posted by jengelman 07:25 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Rain, Rain, and More Rain

Saturday, August 18 through Monday, August 20, 2007

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A Rainy Drive Across Iowa and Illinois
Saturday, August 18, 2007

It is pouring down rain when we pack up in Iowa at the dragstrip campground. Jere is soaked and cold. It is not only raining, but it is cold. Today's scenery is more fields of corn and soybeans. Lunch at roadside rest again today, but it's cold so hot soup in the trailer.

We cross the Mississippi River today and then we stop at Joliette, Illinois, near Chicago for the night. The rain finally stops, so after dinner Joe and Jere play basketball while I watch TV and update my journal.

Note: No pictures today--too much rain.

A Rainy Drive across Indiana
Sunday, August 19, 2007

It rains all day, sometimes heavy. They had 2 inches of rain in Toledo today with high of 62 degrees. So another cold and rainy day.

We had hoped to stop in at the RV Hall of Fame Museum today in Elkhart, Indiana, but it is closed Sundays. Half of the RVs built in the U.S. are manufactured near Elkhart, Indiana. We pass several of the manufacturing plants today, but it's raining too hard to even take pictures of the plants or the museum.

We stop at the Milan RV Park near Toledo, Ohio and are stuck inside the trailer, listening to the rain for the evening.

Yet Another Rainy Day: through Ohio
Monday, August 20, 2007

It pours down rain all day! Toledo had 2-5 inches already in the last 24 hours and they are predicting another 2-5 inches today! Luckily we didn't unhook the trailer last night, so Jere doesn't need to hook up the trailer in the pouring down rain.

The drive today is not enjoyable -- it pours for the entire drive through Ohio and then into Pennsylvania. I don't even try to take a picture of the Welcome to Pennsylvania sign. We see lots of fender benders but thankfully no serious accidents. Our trailer brake alarm keeps randomly 'dinging' throughout the day, so by the time we get to the campground in Rockwood, Pennsylvania, I'm frazzled and glad to stop. I take a hot shower and then we're stuck in the trailer again tonight listening to the rain hit the trailer.

They are forecasting for more rain tonight and tomorrow. So it looks like we'll end our 200+ day trip across the United States with several days of cold and wet weather. I feel like the dreary weather at the end of our trip means something, but I'm not sure what. Some kind of sign? But sign of what???

The good thing with the crummy weather is that we'll get home a day earlier than planned. Due to the rain we made very few stops. Boring, long days of driving to end our trip :-(

Posted by jengelman 15:36 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel Comments (1)

“Is This Heaven?” Field of Dreams, Dyersville, Iowa

Friday, August 17, 2007

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We leave Minneapolis and head to Iowa. Our first stop in Iowa is the Welcome Center. Since Iowa is filled with farms, the visitor center looks like a barn.
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Again today we pass lots and lots of farms. With lots and lots of corn and soybeans.
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We stop at a campground at a dragstrip near Dyersville, Iowa.
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We have driven out of our way today so Jere can visit the location where the movie, Field of Dreams, was filmed. To the non-baseball fanatic (that would be me), it's a baseball field in the middle of some cornfields and no big deal. BUT to baseball fans who love baseball, the field seems to represent everything that is good about baseball. So we quickly set up camp and drive over to the Field of Dreams movie site.
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There are about a dozen cars there with others visiting the Field of Dreams. It's free to come here to see the movie location, read the signs and play ball on the field.
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The family that owns the farm has a souvenir stand where they sell souvenirs and use the profits to pay for the upkeep of the field. Interestingly, the family does not own the left field and part of the center field of the playing field. So a group of investors has purchased this part of the field and has set up a competing souvenir stand by the left field, calling it "Left and Center Field of Dreams". Very odd.

Anyway, we buy a few souvenirs, including a bumper sticker with one of my favorite lines from the movie, "Is this heaven?". Joe has started a bumper sticker collection over our kitchen table and sofa in the trailer.

We read the boards about making the movie and then get on with the serious business of going on the field. First we go check out the cornfield and take the requisite pictures of walking out of the cornfield (just like the 'ghost' baseball players do in the movie).
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Then we take turns tossing the baseball to each other in the outfield.
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We sit on the bleachers for awhile watching a group play baseball. We had hoped to have a little batting practice ourselves, but it gets late and the field closes to the public at 6pm. Jere and Joe go to the outfield for some batting practice, but Joe smacks the first ball almost to the cornfield and they concede there's not enough room for Joe to hit. They'll have batting practice in the field next to the dragstrip at the campground instead.

Posted by jengelman 15:15 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel Comments (1)

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