Observations from the Midwest

I’m currently on I 90 heading west in Minnesota. Some random observations from the first few days on the road;

1. Pennsylvania sucks. Their exits are not easy on easy off. I wound up having to backtrack 3 miles out of my way in order to turn around on the freeway.

2. Indiana is under construction. Yes the entire state.


3. Midwest thunderstorms are nothing to be messed with. I thought trying to drive through a blinding snowstorm was bad. Blizzards have nothing on the downpour I experienced in Iowa.

4. I have seen lots and lots of cornfields but not a lot of other crops. This makes me really concerned about stability of farming in our country.

5. You can tell where all the houses have been in Minnesota. There are these little rings of trees in the middle of fields. Makes you wonder what brought people out here and who they were.

6. When the speed limit is 70 the speed limit is 70. I’ve set the cruise and I’ve seen more people get pulled over after they’ve blown past me. To that I say ha ha.

7. Lots of windmill farms.


8. My copilot is not such a good copilot.


9. The SPOT was the best purchase I’ve made. Second to SiriusXM.

10. This country is absolutely beautiful.


Eight hours

Eight hours stand between me and this insane plan of mine. My desk has been packed up for days. The good news is that time at work seems to distract me from all of the self-doubt I have. Can I do this? Should I be doing this? Will I be safe doing this? The bad news is that it doesn’t keep the OCD list building at bay. I can’t tell you the number of meetings I’ve sat in recently that has resulted in more to do items for my home life than it did for my work life.

I know that what I’m about to undertake is nuts. Nearly 7,000 miles, 18 states, 3 time zones, and more Public Lands than I can name in one sitting. I also know; however, that the images and video from this trip are going to make my Dad unbelievably happy. That is what matters. That is what counts.

So….8 hours. I can do this. Right?

Mama you’d better not leave me

Perry, my 4.5 year old English Springer Spaniel, is not dumb.  He knows what

Springer Spaniel toy

Don’t forget Dough, Mama

it means when luggage comes out, or worse, my “big” bag comes out.  It means that I’m leaving him for a period of time.  Now, don’t get me wrong the boy is not ‘abandoned’.  I have the absolute best dog/house sitter anyone could ask for.  “Uncle Greg” spoils Perry almost, if not more, than I do.  I get someone that I trust to stay at the house, Perry get someone to spoil him and Uncle Greg gets some peace and quiet.  It’s a win all the way around.

That said, he’s also gotten accustomed to this whole “we go camping” thing.  He knows when he sees the tent, sleeping bag, etc get pulled together that means that we are going some place amazing.  I can only imagine what is going through his little puppy brain right now as I have both piles of clothes for the big bag AND the magical box are both out occupying the same space.  I hate to tell him that those things are not mutually exclusive.

I do know, that he has decided that he is not about to stay home.  He’s been “helping” me pull stuff together by dropping a tennis ball into each pile.  I also have found “Doug” the dragon hidden amongst the stuff I have put into the dining room.  Apparently, in his mind Doug is not getting left behind either.  He doesn’t know what’s going on, but he does know this, he is not about to be left behind.

Springer Spaniel Sleeping

My fearless copilot

Dad knows best


You may be asking yourself what the heck is a ‘collywabble’.  Welcome to theDad knows best world of my Dad’s vocabulary.  My Dad has this wonderful ability to take words and make them mean something completely different.  For example ‘to scrounge’.  If you look up scrounge in the dictionary it means “to borrow (a small amount or item) with no intention of repaying or returning it.” In Dad language it means to be awake and in bed, but not getting up.  This leads me back to ‘collywabble’. 

I wrote to Dad this week telling him out anxious I was about this trip. How I’ve got a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach about it.  My Dad’s reply;  “so maybe you need to listen to your tummy, then sit and think of all the things aout the trip, maybe a trip in shorter places, or maybe you just have the collywabbles because you have never done this sort of thing before,any way think about it ,, and then do what ever;you come up with,meanoldad” 

As utilized in this sentence a collywabble encompasses all of the anxiety, nervousness, and outright terror I am developing out this trip.  Maybe it’s because I’ve never taken this much time off.  Maybe it’s because I’m going alone.  Maybe it’s because I am doing something completely out of my normal every day routine.  Who knows.  What I do know is that Dad is trying to get me to assess myself. Also implied in this email is a swift kick in the ass and being told to stop allowing the anxiety to take over.  Dad’s are good at that sort of thing.

Regardless, I’m going.  I’ve started pulling together all of the stuff I’m going to Camping Necessitiesneed for the trip.   My kitchen and dining room look like a bomb has gone in them.  I’m trying to make myself as organized as I can so that I don’t loose my mind with the chaos.  Granted, I’ll pack it all and then unpack it all and repack it all just to deal with my anxiety, but I do that before every trip not just this trip, so at least there is that for comfort.  As my dear sweet Amy R. pointed out to me; “you aren’t going to a third world country or out to sea, there are stores out there.”  Touche.  I am so accustomed to needing tomore camping stuff be a turtle and carry everything I would need.  I just keep repeating to myself, “they have stores, they have stores, they have stores.”

With my departure date coming so quickly I know that I’m going to be overtaken by the collywabbles.  .  His swift kick in the ass is exactly what I needed to attempt to control my anxiety.  I just keep remembering that I am not doing this trip for me.  I am doing this trip for him, and that means that I need to get my shit together.  Easier said than done.  If anyone needs me I’ll be making yet another check list to ensure I am not forgetting anything!

Equi in Style: Not just for riding any more

EIS National HarborAnswer these questions.  Do you love the outdoors?  Do you want to not look like a snake handbag by the end of the summer?  If you answered yes to both of those questions, boy oh boy, do I have a product for you.  Equi in Style shirts.  Don’t be fooled by the name, these shirts aren’t just for equestrians, but any outdoor enthusiast that wants SPF protection as well as cooling in their clothing.

I first purchased these shirts when I was riding.  However, these shirts soon became the summer staple in my wardrobe. When I went on a week long trail trip in the Grand Tetons I came home with hands that were several shades darker than the rest of me.  Why? Because that is where the shirt ended!

DjiboutiI even traveled to Africa (Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya) and wore these shirts throughout the 10 day trip.  At 100+ degrees people were looking at me like I was nuts wearing long sleeves, but I wasn’t even breaking a sweat. They rinsed out in the sinks and never once stunk.

These shirts have been riding, paddling, hiking, and camping.  You can bet your sweet behind that these are going with me on my Grand Adventure.  (I cannot confirm or deny if I just ordered one of their limited edition ones….)

Granted, their name says Equi in Style, but they should change their name to just “Outdoors In Style” because they handle anything that I seem to throw at them.

Shakedown and a kayak

Wet dog in a subaruAh, yes, new gear.  After the last trip I determined that some changes needed to be made in order for Perry and I to be more successful on our Grand Adventure.  I decided to do one more shakedown cruise with the new gear to determine if I worked all of the kinks out or not.  Surprise, I didn’t.  In the meantime though, I learned that our new REI Passage 2 tent is water tight!

Friday it poured.  Not sprinkled, not rained, no sky-opening-monkies-gorillas-cats-dogs kind of poured.  I waited until there was a slight break in the weather and then threw up the tent quickly.  As soon as the rain fly went on, WHAM, the sky opened up again.  Well, this was going to be a true test; were we going to drown in the middle of the night or not.  (Spoiler alert, we didn’t.)  I folded the back seat down in the Subaru just in case the thunder and lightening got too bad so weDog on therm-a-rest could find some sort of refuge.  Luckily, even through the lightening/thunder storm we were snug as bugs in a rug.  Well, except that Perry decided that he wanted the 4″ Neoair versus the 1/2″ old school Therm-a-rest.  Other than that the night was perfect.

Saturday was a perfect day.  Not too hot, not too cold, but the best part was picking up my kayak! We were suppose to pick it up on Friday, but with the weather I figured it was best to wait.  After we picked up our boat we took it out for a spin in on one of the ponds at the local National Wildlife Refuge.  This way we were in a quiet, protected location, so if Perry decided to jump or flip the boat I wouldn’t be Kayakingcompletely hosed.

Sunday we headed home with the kayak on the roof, wet gear, and a boat load of lessons.  First, I really have to organize myself (and Perry) much better.  Second, I am definitely going to have to change Perry’s leash. The leash we have gets gunked up with sand and dirt.  That’s just not going to work.  Third, I am really going to have to better plan my meals.  Now that I am having to eat gluten free it is really impacting what I can and cannot take with me to eat.  This means better planning and preparation.  Finally, I’m going to have to better scope out what I am actually going to use versus what I pack.  There is no point in wasting food or space for gear I don’t need. Does this mean I won’t learn more lessons on the road?  Heck no.  I will probably get a third of my way through the trip and wonder why the heck I brought half of the things I did.  At least, though, I’m working out some of the kinks before we leave.  We are down to 10 days before we leave.  What are the chances that I will actually get my act together before we go.  Slim to none?  Yeah, that’s my bet too.





Three Weeks; let the anxiety begin

Somehwere in KansasThree weeks from today I’ll start off on my Grand Adventure. In the mean time, I’ve got one more shakedown cruise, a ton of research, and of course packing to do. Oh, and this thing called a job.  I’m getting nervous, excited, and anxious all rolled into one.  The closer I get the more I feel like I’m going to throw up from nerves.

It’s funny the reaction people have when I tell them that I’m taking a month off. It’s somewhere between shock (you have that much leave?!), jealousy (I wish I could go…), and pride (good for you! I didn’t know people in DC did that). What people don’t realize is that doing this is completely nerve racking for me.

I am not what one would consider a free spirit.  If you are familiar with Myers-Briggs I am about as hard of a “J” as you can get.  My Dad tells this story of when I was around 3 he caught me sitting on the porch steps on Easter Sunday.  He asked me what I was doing.  I told him I was waiting for them to finish getting ready.  Yeah, you could say that I’ve always been a planner.  So, doing a trip like this, far from my comfort zone is something that elicits anxiety.

I’m desperately trying to not get too far down into the weeds because if I plan to drive X number of miles on a given day by golly that is how far I am driving.  It’s just how I roll.  So instead of planning like that, I’m trying to tack it back a couple of notches.  In full disclosure, I’m failing miserably, but I’m trying.   My plan is this, take as many pictures as I can so that my superhero can see all of the things that he has wanted to see in his life.  Because, let’s face it; I’m a Daddy’s girl and the whole reason I’m doing this trip is for him.

My Superhero, My Dad