Alluring Altus

Maybe not alluring to those who live here, or have been here, or have even heard of this place, but to the 6 of us vagabonds covering almost 2300 miles in the last 6 days…  Alluring is what it is.

The allure of stopping the madness for a week.  The allure of spending time with people we dearly love and missed for so long.  The allure of letting our kids run around and play in the sunshine.  The allure of eating regular food served at a dinner table.  The allure of eating in restaurant which has actual wait staff instead of a line with a billboard menu and a cash register.

Do not get me wrong… I LOVE the road trip life.  I love conquering the miles, pulling a heavy load, and seeing the gorgeous land of America pass me by.

But there is something that magically adds to the allure of a place like Altus when sitting in the tiny little control space of a “slow,” heavy, missile travelling for so many days.

My wife and kids have been doing so well.  They have been handling the stress of the trip so much better than I have.  My wife has staged all kinds of stuff all over the cab of the truck in order to keep the kids safe, clean, and entertained.  The older 2 actually do some of their school work while riding.  This picture shows her door.  When looking at the cab from her side, the entire truck is stashed with tools at the ready.

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The truck is still doing really well.  We are at the halfway point of the trip and I’m praying that we do not end up stranded before we get to Groton.

My little introvert really enjoys sitting next to me for the long hours, just sitting.  We talk about very little, but she enjoys it quite a bit.  She sits there and looks around and draws in her notebook.  Good Times.

I have not had much exercise for the duration of the trip, so I went for a bike ride this morning.  I have never ridden my bicycle in a flat area.  I felt so good this morning on this flat ground!  It was like I was riding lightning!!

We are staying on an Air Force base right now and there is a jogging/biking path around the flight line.  While I was riding on the far end of the base, several C 17s took off right by me.  It made me feel so fast!!  There I was, pedalling with all my  might, a steady Oklahoma wind in my face making me feel like I was doing 60, and the sound of those massive jet engines…  In my head it was all me… a little red Cannondale jet rocket screaming across a bike path on the plains!

It is good to be off the road for a little while.

Thanks for reading.

(Another picture from the Pacific Northwest… man am I going to miss that place)

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To The Springs!!

We made it to Colorado Springs without incident.  We had such a great time in the Salt Lake City area that we decided to stay until after lunch before beginning the trek east.

We pulled into “The Springs” (as the locals call it) a little after 0100.  Our hostess was more than gracious.  She stayed up until we got there just to greet us.  It really is pretty awesome having such a large number of people who love my family and I.

Truck is still doing really well.  I have been playing around with an aftermarket monitor so that I can watch different parameters in the engine and transmission as I drive.  This thing is a sheer beast.  Did almost 10 whole miles per gallon between Salt Lake City and Colorado Springs, but I managed a pretty steady 75 the entire trip!!  Not bad sir, not bad at all.

Got up this morning and had breakfast at a castle.  That is correct… a castle.  The Navigators national headquarters and conference center are in Colorado Springs.  The conference center is actually an entire estate which was established by General Palmer.  He also established several of the communities around Colorado Springs.  He built a castle for his wife tucked away behind some really pretty rocks right next door to the Garden of the Gods.

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The kids loved walking around the castle and I should have known the outcome before I asked if they wanted to eat breakfast there the next morning… obvious yes.

So we started that day later than I would have liked, but the kids did get to eat a royal breakfast.

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… and what do kids eat for a royal breakfast when they have so many choices??  You guessed it… Fruit Loops!!  Of all the options, fruit loops for the win!

Irony I guess.

It was a good time in The Springs.

Next Stop… Altus Oklahoma

Salt Lake Ci… leep

Made it!

We had a great time in Portland.  I have a couple good friends there and it was great seeing them before getting back on the road again.  I essentially got to debrief our time in Washington.  I’ll be thinking about that place for a long time.

We hit the road at 0400 and pushed on to Lindon, UT.  We are staying with a friend of mine from my first duty station.  I had planned on showing up, going to sleep and hanging out a bit the next day before departing for Colorado Springs.  We ended up sitting up until 1 AM talking about our kids and looking at old souvenirs from Okinawa.

Before leaving Portland I had a weight distributing hitch and sway bar installed for the trailer.  It took a little bit of custom fabrication since my trailer is made of “I” beam instead of box beam or “c” channel.  The trailer pulls with almost no swag or sway.  Awesome!!

We averaged right at 8 MPG for the drive yesterday.  Part of me wants to blame my transmission and have it looked it, the other part wants to be proud since I am pulling such a heavy load up and down some pretty intense mountains.

Speaking of mountains…

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Jessica and the kids were asleep for the majority of the drive from Portland to Boardman.  The road we were on follows the Columbia River as it borders Washington and Oregon.  It was very quiet and peaceful while the kids slept and the sunrise painted the sky as I drove east along the river.  So amazing.

It finally started to set in that I am leaving the Pacific Northwest.  I’m really going to miss Bremerton.  I’m really going to miss the people that I got involved with while living up there.

Several friends have let us know how much they miss us and love us.  I can hear the ache deep within their hearts as they express their love for me and my family.  I identify with them completely.  I have that same ache for them and for my little corner of Washington State.

What is really cool for me is that I have felt that same kind of ache for so long for the family that developed for me in North Carolina.  For the better part of 5 years now, I have had a deep longing and a squelched affection for my family in North Carolina… as well as Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, and Tennessee.

As I drive down this road, my heart breaks for the people we are leaving while simultaneously erupting with great joy that I will finally be able to see the other side of my family again.

I am a torn man!

I do not regret having lived in Washington.  On the contrary I am so very glad that I had the opportunity.

I do not regret leaving Washington.  I am happy to have made the friends I made and have had the opportunity to leave a bit of my life behind with them.

I guess this is just one of the bags the vagabond carries.

Washington (and my people there)… I will miss you dearly.

Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, DC, and Maryland (and my people there)…  Stand by!!  I’m en route!!

To my unknown friends in Connecticut…  Brace for impact!!

(The kids wanted pictures with our crowns)

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Seattle to Portland

We made it to Portland.

We got started about 6 hours later than I planned.  We had more to load into the suburban than I had planned, but all in all, things went well.

I got almost 13mpg as an average from Seattle to Portland, but I held a solid 72 for the vast majority of the trip.  I felt so proud.  I also discovered that driving around 65 will get me right at 15mpg, so I think I’ll slow down for the rest of the journey.

The trailer pulls fine as long as there is no wind and no bumps or turns.  Add any of those things, and that trailer gets unruly quick.  I’ll be looking for a different hitch set up in the morning to see if I can negate any of that.  Might look for some airbags too.

Truck and Trailer

Stopped for a supper at a place called “The Burger Claim“.  This place is outstanding!!  They buy their meat in steak form, they grind it themselves, and they make fries from actual potatoes just like 5 Guys Burgers and Fries.  They also give a 15% military discount.  Food was outstanding.  Not only are the burgers fresh and tasty, they used shotgun shell Christmas lights in the dining area.  Tacky… Check.   ‘Murica…  Check.

Shotty Lights

If any of our Washington military friends are looking for a short little family vacation, head down to the Great Wolf Lodge.  It is an indoor water park and “The Burger Claim” is right next door.  Or if y’all are driving from Seattle to Portland or vice versa, this place is pretty much dead center.

I am really worn out.  A lot of stress from today has really taken a toll on me.  That trailer getting twitch and swimming down the road took a lot to keep in my lane.  I really hope I can figure something out before we start crossing the mountains into Utah and Colorado.  I really don’t feel like killing anybody on the road in the next few days.

Thanks for reading.  If you want to get email updates when I post something new, please submit your email address on the right.

 

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