Leg 2 – South and West and All Over

Mid-December, we left the sun and sand to see family for the holidays, to meet a brand-new baby (Wren!), and, importantly, to get Eleanor’s (gd) braces off. A wire had slipped early in the trip which turned Brooke and me into orthodontists. Dr. Brooke used a pair of tiny pink tweezers to yank and reposition the wire. I used a needle nose pliers and Eleanor’s eyes grew two sizes larger when she saw those coming.

We plan on opening a very niche orthodontia practice, accepting patients starting June.

A week after getting back to the midwest, I got a call from Terry Frazer, an older and larger man (his description) who pre-sold us our trailer in September (all trailers were on back-order because of COVID). I picked up the phone and Terry told me he’s retiring. That he’s closing the books and I’ll need to pick up the trailer by noon on Monday. This was Saturday, and the first I had heard from Terry since putting down a deposit three months earlier. I woke up at 5:00 am on Monday, drove to Iowa, and hauled back our camper, a rolling ‘rona avoiding machine we’ve named Phoebe.

To go west, to get to California, we needed a Phoebe. The distance is too great to do day trips and we want to spend weekends visiting parks along the way.

Just over a week ago, we hooked Phoebe up to The Beast (our absurdly large SUV) and drove Phoebe and the Beast south. Five hours of Illinois farmland, one gigantic cross that looked a little too much like a scene from the Handmaid’s Tale, a few more hours of farmland in Missouri, and we pulled into the Memphis KOA (technically Arkansas). There was a folder with our name on it directing us to lot 24. We leveled the trailer, hooked up the electricity, warmed up some frozen soup, slept pretty good and kind of felt like real campers.

Our first major stop is Austin, TX. We’re driving south to avoid wintery weather in the Rockies. But then it snowed in Texas. Wet, heavy snow. People pulled off to the side of the highway to make snowmen, throw snowballs, and slide down off-ramps. Since they don’t have salt trucks the streets were slushy and slippery and the Texans drove fast. I drove slow, leaning forward slightly as we hauled Phoebe up an on-ramp that was so tall it touched the sky (everything is bigger).

As if 2020 wasn’t good enough, the Texas snow was a reminder to always to expect the unexpected. As well as…

pulling into a dark driveway that was unexpectedly steep getting Phoebe stuck, very very stuck. Find 2X4s and plywood and make a ramp bridging the driveway into the street – stuck. Sammy the neighbor comes out of his house to help me back out – stuck. Brooke, who had been out walking with the girls around the neighborhood walked saw our trailer blocking the street and for a second (or longer) thought about turning around – stuck.

The trailer’s in the street (thank goodness for flexible parking rules!), and we’re nearing the end of our time in Austin. Brooke and I hope to write more on this leg of the journey – thoughts on travel during COVID, more details on things we’ve done, the food we’ve eaten, places we’ve gone. And, if you’re interested in knowing where we’re heading next, we’ve started mapping things out.

Austin -> Big Bend National Park (3 nights) -> Las Cruces, NM (10 days) -> Tucson, AZ (for just a night) -> Oceanside, CA (5 weeks) -> Unknown!

If you have recommendations for things to see, food to eat, driveways to get stuck in, please let us know!

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