My need to go places and see things must be in my DNA. When I was a kid my family took off at the drop of a hat and explored the world. That’s how I saw Europe and most of this country, in a tent for weeks on end. Before I knew it I was all grown up and settled in Washington State. The itch to travel the world was put on the sidelines, and then my husband of five years, Terry, almost died in a motorcycle accident. Amazing how your priorities change when you get a second chance.
Terry recovered almost completely after a grueling year that changed us all. Part of my positive change was a convertible and the determination not to waste my life sitting on my rear end and wishing I could go places and see things. I am no stranger to topless cars and the red Mini was my third or is it fourth convertible? At any rate that shiny little car was my own second chance launching pad and every year for the past few years I have headed out to visit America, usually alone and perfectly comfortable with that.
This year was different. Tor, the baby of the family has grown up and gone. He lives in Seattle, works and goes to school there and my nest is empty for the first time since 1969. I didn’t realize how hard it would be for me to have everyone flown and in the world. My friend Pam felt the same way when her ‘baby’ headed for Reed College in Portland last year. We decided this summer we would roam the world together rediscovering the joy in being just us.
A month before the trip I made the hard decision to trade in the original Fyr Fly, my beautiful red Mini. I found a sweet silver Mini in her place, who inherited the license plates, and by default the title of Fire Fly 2. The decision made sense before a long trip because a clutch and very expensive tires were in my immediate future. I got an amazing trade in deal and the 3 year bumper to bumper warranty that makes me a Mini/BMW believer.
I began the preparations for camping in a teeny tiny vehicle when I got an itsby bitsy stove for my birthday, it’s about the size of a pack of playing cards. Then on a day trip to Edmonds, I found a perfectly adorable tiny picnic set with dishes and silverware for two, and two big quick dry towels. I rounded up the rest of our gear, in miniature, and finished up by investing in Moon Guides and maps for every state I didn’t already have in my travel stash. I love Moon Guides, they are my favorite souvenir and Road Trip Warrior book. Moon has the best tid bits and information of any travel book out there.
I was speaking at the Utah campus based student lending conference in Salt Lake so it made perfect sense to launch our trip at the end of the conference, picking Pam up Friday night at the Salt Lake City airport and heading out. That gave me a few days traveling on my own and at the conference to shake down the packing and preparations. I’m always wound up and jittery before a long driving trip for some reason. I spend time worrying and trying not to forget anything, expecting the worst and just wanting to get started. It all goes away when I get about 300 miles from home and the trip really begins.
I’m writing this after returning home and being swamped with photographs and memories. Some of the statistics: 21 days, 5165 miles, 9 states, 2 off road vehicles that really went off road. One amazing traveling companion for 14 of those days, one amazing new friend and Prairie Dog Posse member, 3 families that let us come in and use their showers and sleep in real beds—and even better– shared special parts of their world with us. One Mini Cooper convertible S model that took us everywhere we wanted to go and see and do. Two wash jobs for poor old filthy Fyr Fly along the way. More spectacular scenery than I can list and over 700 photographs of our amazing voyage—and that’s just the pictures I took! Pam and Paula took their fair share too. I’m hoping we can get them all on Flickr before we forget how fab the whole thing was.
Next: Chapter 2, Show me a SIGN and Utah’s awesome capitol building.