Today we hit the road for three weeks. In a way this trip will be the centerpiece of our summer of travel and define this period in our lives. It somehow feels important to have something big that we can put a pin in. “The summer after Norah died we did this thing”. It has given us something to look forward to and plan for during a time when it is all too easy to live in the past.
For years we dreamed of taking a road trip with the girls and visiting some National Parks. I have great memories of my own family when I was growing up taking several road trips across the country to visit family in Oregon and stopping along the way to see some of the iconic sights “out west”. A few years after Peggy and I were married we took 6 weeks to tour the country in our Subaru wagon, tent camping in campgrounds and visiting friends and family along the way. We have always wanted our girls to experience some of the sites we had visited and, with Norah approaching middle school years, it seemed like maybe the window was closing on the time when the girls would be excited about long hours in a car with parents. Norah loved nature and was always soaking up new facts about amazing places and animals. We are now embarking on a trip that she would have loved. And hated. She had little patience for being uncomfortable. There will be many times on the trip when we will say “Norah would have loved this” or “Can you imagine how Norah would have complained about this?”
In order to follow along with the Steel Wheels, we bought another camper. Yes, we are now a 2 camper family. I know, it’s ridiculous. But we couldn’t take along our old 27 ft trailer in and out of big cities and all the way to Montana, and we didn’t want to stay in hotels every night. So we found a used truck camper that we could slide into the bed of our 2000 F-250. We drove up to PA to buy it from a retired couple who were upgrading, and we knew it was well loved and cared for when he kept shaking his head saying, “I should have given it one more wax for you.” It took me 5 hours to buy the thing because he had to show me every little part.
We’ve started calling it our gypsy wagon, and we’re excited about the adventures we will have. This trip will have 3 phases. Week one: we gig our way out to Montana with the Steel Wheels, a show every night for the first few nights, ending with a festival in White Sulphur Springs. Week two: we get a week of free travel through the Rockies, making our way down to Southern Colorado and another festival. Week three: we hightail it home for the end of summer and school!
We are taking along little reminders of Norah. A dashboard hula girl to remind us of her love for all things warm and sunny and her desire to someday travel to Hawaii. Her favorite animal carved into a new bed rail using walnut lumber from our little 2 acre wood.