Wild and Woolly Wyoming

wyoming

Our introduction to Wyoming was a little rocky, so to speak. My husband lost most of a tooth and had to find a dentist. The truck was making a strange noise, so we had to find a dealer that would work on it within a couple of days. Fortunately, we were led to a fabulous dentist who I would recommend for anyone – Granite Springs Dentistry, if you ever need a dentist in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Believe it or not, the dealership we worked with for the truck (Cowboy Dodge, to be specific) had a shuttle service to anywhere we wanted to go with pick-up whenever we called asking to be picked up(!). Talk about fabulous. We spent an entire day in downtown Cheyenne, and enjoyed every minute. From museums to restaurants, to trolley tours, to horse-drawn carriage rides, Cheyenne is chock full of historical trivia and Old West memorabilia. We called to be picked up and within a half hour after our return to the dealership, the truck was ready for us to pay the bill (ouch!) and get the heck out of Dodge.

That evening, we returned to the downtown area for BBQ on the square with live music to boot, no pun intended. Bottom line, we really enjoyed our stay in Cheyenne. I have to believe we were meant to be on that square that night because an elderly gentleman sat down beside us as we listened to the music and struck up a conversation about where we were from, etc. Turns out his wife is terminally ill and he had just left their apartment several blocks away for a much needed break. He had graduated from Ohio State University many years earlier – my husband is a die-hard Ohio State fan. They must have chatted for a good hour and the man had tears in his eyes as he thanked us for our time and prayers. No matter how much we love our loved ones, it’s so much a necessity to get a small break from the intensity now and then and I’m so glad we were able to do that for this man that night.

The rest of our Wyoming stay was based in Cody, Wyoming. We parked our RV in Cody and used it as our home base for about a week while we visited Yellowstone National Park, the Grand Teton National Park, and finally, we spent a day exploring the city of Cody itself which houses Wild Bill Cody’s museum and a number of other interesting historical Old West tourist spots. The Cody museum, please note, is huge. We spent a good half day just browsing the museum itself. For an avid Old West movie buff like my husband, it was a dream come true. And a final note about Cody — they have a rodeo every night of the week! Even if you’re not really into the whole cowboy thing, this is a lot of fun, just to see how the other half lives — from bull riding to barrel racing, they have the whole kit and caboodle. My husband even got to sit on a real, live bull. Yikes!

We toured Yellowstone and returned to Cody in the evening. What an amazing place. The mountains and the canyons and the mountain ledge roads and the lakes and the waterfalls and the buffalo, oh my! Our lunch was bologna and cheese sandwiches served on our tailgate beside the Yellowstone Lake while we watched our little Yorkie-Poo pup play on the beach with the chipmunks. The Old Faithful geyser was a must-see and with it being on a pretty solid schedule for its eruptions, we felt fortunate that we only had to wait about 45 minutes. An amazing thing to watch!

When we went to the Grand Tetons, it was a little further from Cody than we had anticipated and after a day of driving, we decided to check into the Jackson Lake Lodge for the night with a direct view of the Tetons from our balcony. This was one of the best decisions we’ve made since leaving on this epic road trip. We watched a herd of elk from our balcony until dusk as the sun set. We did also splurge here on dinner in the lodge café where we were seated next to floor-to-ceiling windows, again highlighting the Teton mountains. NOTE: I had the heirloom cauliflower and it was the best thing I think I’ve ever eaten. You have to try it if you ever find yourself in the Tetons. Really!

We left Wyoming feeling a bit as though we had been blessed by the God of all things, and humbled by the joy of it all.

 

 

Letting Go

lettinggo

Okay. Granted. I’m a little uptight. I want a place for everything and everything in its place. If something’s out of its place, I’m just not happy until it’s put back. Cleanliness is next to godliness, right? I want my house to be clean and orderly, or else.

Since selling the house and moving into the world of RV’s, I don’t really see a camper as a camper. I see it as a miniature house. It’s where we live, for whatever period of time. Everything should be orderly and neat and cute!

However, the smaller space does put a very bright light on the differences between my husband and myself. Every time he moves, he moves something with him and I’m right there, putting it back. It gets a little ridiculous, I know. “Wait a minute, goddammit, my hat was just right there…?!!!” “Geez, woman, where’s the screwdriver I just had?!” “Uhhhh…I just had a toothpick..?” LOL.

So maybe the lesson I’m intended to learn here is that it’s ok to just let it go. What harm is done, really, if the camper is just a camper for a day or two? Will the sky really fall if there is a Mountain Dew bottle sitting on the table for two days, nonstop? For whatever reason, this causes huge angst for me, just thinking about it. But I’m working on pushing it down. Relax, girl. Focus on the positives. It’s gonna be ok!! I’m pretty sure.

 

Colorado in Green

colorado

Colorado is amazing. There are four national parks in the state: the Great Sand Dunes National Park, the Rocky Mountains National Park, Mesa Verde National Park, and the Black Canyon in the Gunnison National Park. In addition, there’s Pike’s Peak, the Royal Gorge, and so much more.

My husband and I visited the four parks, plus Pike’s Peak, the Royal Gorge, and in addition, we signed up with the Scenic Rio Grande Railway System to ride to the top of Mount Blanca where we listened to a concert by Pure Prairie League. We were fortunate enough to be in the same railcar where the band members rode, both up and down the mountain. On the way back, they had a singalong where everyone could just informally sing along as the band members sang random songs. So much fun! Keep an eye out for the song ‘Old Friend’ by these guys. It brought tears to my eyes.

My only personal comment is that Pikes Peak is totally looney toons. The roads up that mountain are on ledges without any kind of railing or safety net at all and I really can’t believe they don’t have more accidents than they do! My husband thought it was funny. I think it’s nuts. The other parks also had a lot of ledge roads, but they had at least some small safety reflectors along the side of the road or something. Pike’s Peak had nada, not one bit of assistance. Crazy-making.

The personal lesson we learned from our Colorado journey is to just go with the flow a little more. We had our campground stays all scheduled throughout Colorado and into Wyoming, so we had to keep things moving along so we wouldn’t miss the next reservation. From here on out, I’d like to just do maybe one reservation out so we can choose to add or take away days in any particular place as we want to. Would be really nice to build in a day or two for doing absolutely nothing here and there….we’re learning and adjusting as we go!!

Colorado gets a big thumbs up from a tourism perspective. It’s an absolutely beautiful state.

 

Transitions

transitions

Transitions are not always easy.

Having held a corporate position for a number of years, I became rather used to the way things worked there. You’re given an assignment and a period of time and you’re expected to complete the work within that time. If you do well, you’re rewarded accordingly and you move on to the next assignment, building on learnings from the previous work. Over 37 years, I was rewarded with various things like promotions, raises, sports tickets, clothing and trinkets with the company logo, time off, dinner with top corporate bosses, trips, funding of a college degree, verbal accolades, money, and more.

Now that I’m retired, things are a bit different. I find that my very Type A/ISTJ personality still drives me to organize my life through the use of lists, and in that way, I still have the reward of satisfaction as each item is crossed off the list, complete. However. Nobody is handing me cash and prizes for excellent performance! I miss that.

My husband and I are identical in some ways but so very different in others. We both value our family first, we both love the outdoors, prefer the country very much over the city, we love children, we love God, we have a good work ethic, we love working a good hands-on project together, we love to boat, hike, travel. On the opposite side, I struggle. He can’t imagine ever making a list for any purpose. He prefers seeing a movie over reading the book(!). He never needs time to just be alone. He wants to do everything together. He has sports on the TV non-stop with the volume so high I seriously cannot even hear my own thoughts. Oh my word, I’m dying here! Where did this man come from? Mars, for cryin’ out loud?!

In retrospect, in our lives until now, there were always circumstances that forced us to spend time apart. My job took me on the road traveling frequently. He often had side coaching jobs in addition to his day job. It becomes apparent that we haven’t fully known each other up to this point.

Retirement happened in stages for me, bringing me to where I am today. First, I stopped working in the office fulltime and worked from home for three days a week. Then I worked from home fulltime for six months before I officially retired. My husband continued to work for the first six months after I retired, so I was still getting significant time without him.

We had decided that when we both retired, we wanted to sell our home, pay off the bills, and travel for a few years. So. That meant first moving from a 2200 square foot house to a 33-foot travel trailer with a storage locker in the background. We still had two TV’s and all was good. Second, we left our trailer behind for traveling the country in a 16-foot small camper….pulling it behind our Dodge 1500 Ram Club Cab pick-em-up truck. For the love of God. What were we thinking? This man is in my face 24/7 and I have lost my mind.

To some extent, I’m kidding but the rant helped. He and I have had multiple discussions recently about how needing time alone does not mean that I no longer love him. He seems to be having trouble with the concept. I imagine we will grow into a routine shortly that works for both of us. Hopefully soon. Before one or the other of us suffers serious injury. I am really kidding. Our retirement experience so far has been filled with adventure far outweighing the negatives. But keep us in your prayers, people, please! And thank you.

In the meantime, could I please just run to the store BY MYSELF?! Without hurting anyone’s feelings?

The Texas Panhandle

panhandle

The Wild, Wild, West is alive and well in the Texas panhandle! As we pass through this area, I’m immediately reminded of the romantic novels I read as a teenager. Zane Grey http://www.online-literature.com/zane-grey/ up front and center. This is the West where those books were set and I can’t help but love it here. Is there still a handsome cowboy waiting for me to arrive?

For our first trip with our new little travel trailer, now known as ‘Baby,’ we chose the Oasis RV Park in Amarillo, TX as our landing pad for four nights https://www.myrvoasis.com. With the exception of the bedroom itself, of course, this place rivals any nice hotel chain as far as amenities are concerned. We have a beautiful pool and spa area, we have a workout room, we have a laundry service, restroom and shower facilities that are sparkling clean, a clubhouse with a pool table, a small grocery/supplies store, and an onsite pizza shop where we can order fresh, homemade pizzas any hour of the day or night.

Friends from home pointed us in the direction of the Texas Outdoor Musical in Canyon, TX, as something that would be a worthwhile activity while we’re here http://www.texas-show.com/. This was an amazing experience, even in the mid-summer heat. There was enough space in the amphitheater to get up and move around a bit when things got stuffy. Generally, though, the temperature wasn’t too bad down at the bottom of the Palo Duro Canyon. The play was acted out outdoors, and represented the story of a young couple back in the old pioneer days just getting together, an ex-madame getting together with a ‘good’ man, and an older couple that was originally against the railroad coming through Texas and how those three couples’ lives touched and changed over time. Fascinating. There were a lot of sound effects up and down the canyon walls as the play progressed, and things ended with fireworks emphasizing the greatness of the state of Texas and its history. I agree. This was well worth our time and I would recommend it for anyone. We even signed up for a BBQ dinner while we were there which was excellent.

Another attraction in this area is the Cadillac Ranch, or the Cadillac Graveyard http://www.legendsofamerica.com/tx-cadillacranch.html. This is pretty weird from my point of view, but the back story is available online if you’re interested. We can say we were there, for whatever that’s worth.

One afternoon, we went to Amarillo’s Hollywood 16 Cinema and saw Bad Moms, starring Mila Kunis. Very funny movie and just gave us something easy and stress-free to think about for a couple of hours. We then walked through the local Target store and Gander Mountain, picking up just a few necessities.

The rest of our time here was spent walking the RV park, which is beautiful, including a nice dog run for our Kensie pup, and in the pool and hot tub. I repeat, in the pool and hot tub. What’s not to like so far?! We could get used to this, yes?

Next stop, coming up.

 

Un-Tethered

untethered

Forty years ago, I could never have imagined being where I am today. All I knew was a life where every adult gets a job and goes to work every day. What else is there, after all?

Today, I’m so very grateful to say that it is truly possible to invest a few saved dollars in such a way, over a number of years, that does allow one to not always be forced to have a job and go to work.

While I’m still struggling a bit with the immediate slow-down, I’m amazed to be so very fortunate. I very much hope to be able to experience and enjoy this slowed pace for as long as it takes for the wind to point me in the direction my life is intended to take for the rest of my life.

My husband and I have no jobs, we have no house to be maintained, we have no substantial ‘bills’ to speak of. We are touring the U.S. in a small travel trailer with no definitive stop in sight.

However did we get so lucky? We are truly un-tethered, feeling our way, led by the love of God and the universe in which we live. Keep us in your prayers and you will be in ours as well.