Friday, August 8, 2014

Wrapping up the Road Trip

A lot has happened since I last wrote a blog.  We packed closets full of clothes into plastic garbage bags, as they squish well.  We threw out more "stuff."  How is it that in order to get down to less than 400 square feet, we had gotten rid of so much, only to acquire a ton of more "stuff" in the last 7.5 months?  We did a lot of packing, and finally, we got everything in our camper packed into our truck.

For a packing break, we ate at a restaurant that our neighbor campers recommended.  The Black Hills Burger and Bun Company was rated the best hamburger joint in the U.S.  We figured since we were traveling the U.S., we should have the U.S.'s best hamburger.  They were seriously good!

Another evening, we visited Custer State Park.  This was an interesting state park, and it had the Needles Highway.  This is a famous highway that is so mountainous and twisty that the speed limit is 5 MPH, and that's not because of undue caution.  The roads were really that crazy!  Parts of the Needles Highway were twisty roads that had been blasted into cliffs, with only inches of tunnel on each side of our super large truck.  I took no pictures, as I was too busy watching Char not accidentally run into the wall of the mountain.  He did great, though.  Custer State Park is really something to see.

While at Custer, one of our favorite things was watching the wild buffalo and the wild burros.  The burros came up to our car and rubbed their faces on the side view mirrors.  They were so pretty and fun to watch!

And then we were packed and ready to leave.


The man who was buying our camper showed up and hauled away our Sandpiper.  I had thought I'd be quite sentimental about this, but as I watched the fifth wheel being towed away, my main thought was, "I'm so glad WE don't have to try to get gas while pulling that thing anymore!"  This ended our 7.5 month campground experience.  It was amazing, and it will take quite awhile for my brain to process all I learned while traveling the U.S. with my family.  I'm so thankful we had this experience!!

On our way back to Ohio, we made our annual stop at "Lisa's Lake."  My sister-in-law's parents are fantastically awesome for always welcoming our family at their place on their lake in Indiana.  We had a great reunion with cousins, grandparents, and aunts and uncles.

Char continued to work from home as he has done for the last months, in the same room with a ton of people, wearing headphones to drown out the noise.

E and Miss I started out the week scared of a lot.  We got them on the jet ski, and by the end of the week, E was driving it, and Miss I was no longer screaming.  I think a theme of this trip, in general, has been to do things that make us afraid.  Life is a lot richer when you stop being afraid.

B perfected his knee-boarding skills.

Y learned how to paddle a kayak by himself.

The reunion with everyone was so fun!!  The matching cousins had a blast as usual, the kids got to get back to doing crafts with Grandma, and we all got to congratulate Aunt Cher, Uncle Gun and K on their upcoming twins.  Yay!  We also got to see my cousin, Rachel, and her new husband, Cord, who were home from Kuwait.  It was so great to catch up with her, and I can't believe I forgot to take pictures.  Insert a mental picture of them here!  After that, we had a reunion with more friends.  I have tons of pictures of the kids skiing, kneeboarding, kayaking, and swimming, but here's a picture of the three wild moms.  :)

Fun times!  And then we left Indiana.  As we passed the "Welcome to Ohio" sign, we couldn't help but think that the Utter traveling adventure had officially ended.  I'm so glad I have plenty more time with my family, and plenty of time with friends back in Ohio, and the adventure of life will continue wherever God leads.  I don't know the future, but because of this trip, I don't mind not knowing anymore.

There are lifestyle choices I want to remember from this trip.  One of my new traveling friends sent me a blog post from Ann Voskamp with a few quotes I just loved:
"Time can change a lot of things, but not the most important things."
"What if every comfort zone - is just a death trap?"
We need to do more than just exist, and that's what I want to remember as we begin to live life again in an ordinary environment.  Don't be afraid.  Live the way God leads.  Live.  Don't exist.  And living that way, the Utter Adventure will continue.

Many blessings to you, in the adventure of your life.  Thanks for reading our blog.  Love from the Utter family.