The Last Leg + the Journey Home

IMG_1032IMG_1025Day 46.

Miles Driven: 611

Montana looked like cowboy country. Fields of grass and grain mixed with cow, horse, and bison ranches. The farmland and big sky were beautiful. Montana became Idaho and the grain fields continued. We drove through the cute lake-side city of Coeur d’Alene and turned south towards Lewiston to see another of mom’s old friends from her days at Mattel, Elaine. Lewiston sits on the Idaho state line with WaIMG_1033shington. Just across the boarder is Clarkston. Get it? Lewis and Clark. We had to come down a very long and steep grade from the high prairie bluffs into the lower oasis where Lewiston and Clarkston are situated. I think we passed seven runaway truck ramps!

Elaine was very kind to let us stay with her on our journey. And as always, I really enjoy hearing the stories of when my mom was my age.

IMG_1042IMG_1037Day 47.

Miles Driven: 401

We had a lovely breakfast at Elaine’s favorite diner joint, Waffles and More. We crossed the Snake River into Washington for a bit before driving into Oregon. East Oregon was covered in dry farmland. But the second we hit the Cascade Mountains and crossed into the Columbia River Gorge at The Dalles Dam, the pine trees began to sprout up and we saw signs for waterfalls. The river was busy with sail boats and parasails.

IMG_1049We passed through our future home, Portland, and made our way to my Uncle Martin and Aunt MaryEllen’s home in Salem (our home base while we find a place to rent in Portland). We also made perfect time to see my Uncle Rupert and Aunt Diane, who were visiting from the east coast, for one more day before they flew back.

Total Miles: 10,510

The End. (but not really)

The saga continues…

We spent the next two weeks staying with my generous family, checking Craigslist every morning, and driving back and forth to Portland in search of a place to live. This was much more difficult than I expected and finding our new home to rent almost seems like fate when I look back. Any perspective house did not meet all of our criteria (ie. Allows cats, has washer and dryer hook ups) and then rented before we really had time to think and follow up. While looking at one house that was not quite right, the landlord’s wife gave us a flyer for her home that she also was renting and we had not seen the ad for. After taking a look and liking the location and layout and checking off all of our needs, we applied. And waited. And somehow, we got the very cute, blue, 1915 bungalow. Move in date set for September 1st.

After signing the lease, we had just over two weeks to kill before moving in. We drove down to Stockton to visit our good friends Katie, Andy and Heidi, then over to San Francisco to attend o10635895_10204511769101206_6743707697810196240_nur friend Beth’s wedding and explore the city a little. Then back to my hometown to prepare for the move. Our dear friend Luanne was also so generous to host us while we booked the rental truck and began the packing process. It was good to see our friends and church family again before heading off.

The drive back to Portland took two days and involved mom driving our 16ft truck with one car towed and me following in the other car with the two cats. Packing and the entire drive went mostly smooth. We are back at Uncle Martin’s for one more night. Tomorrow is move in day!!!

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IMG_1050What a blessing these last three months have been. We were given such a great opportunity to make a change in our lives and try something new. The road trip was eye opening to the diversity in landscape, people, food and culture that spans our country. America is so beautiful as it changes from coast to coast. Rolling hills, valleys, deserts, red rocks, rocky mountains, farmland, bayous, forests, fields and prairie. All of these landscapes offer something unique to our country. Everyone needs to experience America at some point in their lives by visiting the national parks and learning about its history. Plus, the whole trip was just plain, old fun!

And let me just say, thank you SO much to our friends and family who hosted us along the way. Thank you for feeding us, giving us a place to sleep, and letting us do laundry. We love you all so much. And please know that you always welcome in our home too.

Here is to a new adventure!

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The Grand Totals:

31 States + 1 territory

12,406 miles driven (CA and back again)

# of bug bites: countless

cheapest gas: $3.19 in Alabama

most expensive gas: $4.29 in California

favorite place: you can never pick just one spot in America the Beautiful

Upstate New York

IMG_0876IMG_0883Day 35.

Miles Driven: 302

We left Philly early to make the final push up the east coast. My Uncle Peter and Aunt Lois live in upstate New York and my Uncle Rupert and Aunt Diane would be meeting us there for lunch. Our lovely GPS got us there safely while taking us on every toll road. Being from California, toll roads are a very rare sight for us and we were quite surprised when we had to shell out $16.00 on the New Jersey Turnpike. Oh well, but we did get to see a great view of New York City from across the Hudson River. I was amazed by how tall the new World Trade Center towers are.

IMG_0884We all were at Uncle Peter’s by noon and enjoyed BBQ pork, rice, and bean salad. Yum! I love it when my mom and her siblings get together. They are so funny to listen to as they trade stories of the past. Uncle Peter and Uncle Rupert were excited to see our car-RV sleeping arrangements and gave us ideas for fixing the leaky car and the vibration while braking.

We had a huge thunder storm tonight. Lots of thunder and lightning and the lights went out for a while. We all spent the evening play cards by candlelight.

Day 36.

Uncle Peter had to leave for work very early while we took the morning easy. We were able to meet up with him in the afternoon near the town of New Paltz. We wanted to visit the Historic Huguenot Street.

The Huguenots, a group of French Protestants trying to escape religious persecution in Catholic France, had established this beautiful town and historic street. They first left France for Germany and then settled in, what was, America’s Dutch Colony. They became a very eclectic town filled with people from several different cultures. The tour was very interesting and brought us through their worship building and several original homes. Many homes were built in the 1680s and have recently been restored by their decedents. Two of the homes even had characters acting like people from that era and interpreting the current political climate. A very nice tour.

Day 37.

Miles Driven: 239

We packed in the morning and spent some time at the car mechanic. Turned out, our rotors warped at some point, causing the car to vibrate when we braked. All fixed now! We drove an hour to Uncle Peter’s work where he is the supervisor of the wood shop at a construction company. He does custom cabinetry and other wood details for new construction and historic restoration jobs. He can do some amazing work. It was fun to peek into his workshop and see what he can do. Currently, his company is working at Vassar Collage and restoring a beautiful ceiling with lots of crumbling plaster work. He was able to salvage a few florets, make a mold of brushed on silicon and create exact copies. He also made us a new cheese board and showed us how to use all the machines. Watching him reminded me of how skilled my grandpa was and his work restoring the churches in Germany after WWII. Uncle Peter must have inherited that talent from Opa.

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IMG_0892We had a long drive ahead of us. We had no idea that Pennsylvania was so wide or so hilly or so green! Having never been here before we imagined it as flat farmland. We had dinner in Scranton (where the show The Office takes place) and found a KOA campground along the way.

Total Miles: 6,425