Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Good, the Bad, and the Family - Erich

Two days ago, I got a new nephew. A baby boy was born to my wife's brother and his wife, and in a couple of weeks I will get to meet the adorable new member of my family. This pushes the nephew to niece ratio even further, now sitting at five to one. We knew it was going to be a boy, so that was hardly unexpected.

What is unexpected? What do you expect from family? What is reasonable and what is not? Currently, we are road tripping around the USA to see our family before we leave the country for two years. It's a lot of driving as everyone is super spread out. And yet I think it is a reasonable expectation that we make this effort before going away.

But again, what is a reasonable expectation? This was driven home to me when one member of the family asked "Well, what do you expect us to do if you get killed in a bombing?"

What?! Why would you go there? I recognize that many people think the world is a big scary place and that the USA is the only safe haven, but #1, they are wrong and #2, that is rude. I know there are bombings in cities around the globe. But having been in NYC during its terrible day, I guess I am of the opinion that there is nowhere that is completely sheltered from that. And we can't fear the world.

Our family has been great: opening their homes to us while we visit and giving up time and food for us. But there is a shadowy side to family too: Picking fights or picking up old fights.

Maybe it is all about expectations. What do I expect from them? Support? Housing? Unconditional love? What do they expect from me and my wife and my children? Hopefully the chance to get to know each other, to learn about each others' lives, to celebrate happy events like the birth of a nephew, and to feel a bit of sadness about our departure from each others' lives for a couple of years.

And as for what to do if I get killed in a bombing? Well, I don't expect that to happen, but if it should, I expect intelligence in taking care of whatever must be taken care of.

And perhaps I'm asking too much, but really what I expect is that no one asks me questions like that.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

This Good-Bad Trip - Carver

This trip around the U.S. is good and bad, based on how I like it.
It is hard to see people and then immediately leave them. That is the bad part.
The good part is that we are having fun. We went to Mesa Verde yesterday. It was not as I expected. We didn't get to go in the buildings in the cave. I helped milk a cow and had tons of grapes that I picked off the vine. I watched my cousin who I just met, terrorize chickens. We ran across a cattle grate many times. Who knew that was so fun? I climbed through big plants and a barbed wire fence to see the Animas River which is no longer yellow. I have done many fun things in Aztec.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Our Route - Carver

I wrote this one and the last entry in the car as we were going to Amarillo. My Mom pointed out that since I have been doing lots of planning for the route around the U.S, I should write one about our route. I finished writing the last entry about 20 minutes before I wrote this. By the way it was hard to write this in past tense when it was about what I was currently experiencing. We just left Athens, TX. This is the current route though it might change some.

In Aztec, NM we will arrive Sunday, the twenty-third. We will leave on either Wednesday or Thursday and arrive Thursday night in Golden, CO. We leave Monday morning and go to West Des Moines, Iowa. We will stay there until Saturday and arrive in Minneapolis that same day. We leave Minneapolis on Monday and go to La Crosse, WI. We will leave Wednesday morning to go to Appleton, WI. We will go to Midland, MI from Appleton on Friday. We will leave Sunday morning and arrive in Atlanta on Monday. We will get to Pensacola on Wednesday and get to Orlando on Friday. From Orlando we will go to Boynton Beach, FL on Tuesday where we will fly out on Sunday, the twenty-seventh.

Exploration in Texas - Syarra

Although I am sad to leave my childhood home, I am excited for the adventure ahead.
Currently in the nine days since we left home, we have seen family and had fun in Fredericksburg, Dallas, and Athens, TX.
In Fredericksburg, we explored town, tried new foods like German style pancakes, and we had fun.
In Dallas, we went to a science museum with six floors. We only had time for three. One floor was about birds, one was like a biology lesson, and the other had exhibits on evolution and universe.
In Athens, we went to a fish center. Here, we fed the fish and then went fishing. I never caught a fish, but I had fun trying.
We are on our way to Aztec, NM now.

My Once-Green Room - Carver

I still remember how sad I was when we left. I wish we weren't going on this trip. I liked the house and I didn't want to leave. I remember when my Dad closed that one door and when he did, we couldn't get in ever again.

And I liked my room. My once-green room. I was sad when it was painted. And I was sadder when I had to leave it. It was maybe my favorite thing. Maybe it wasn't but it was something I really liked.

I don't know how I will handle leaving a house every 2 months. I might not get attached to the houses in the same way.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

On the road - Carver

We are now on the road and I find it hard to have no house. In about a month, we will be living in Cape Town. But for now it is challenging. The last days of driving were hard days. We left later than we had intended and arrived in Salem, Virginia late that night. The next day was a hard day and we got to Little Rock. Then we got to Harper, Texas at about 11:00 that night. We went to Austin yesterday and went to a botanical garden and then a natural pool. The pool was incredibly slippery but it was fun, however the water was 68 degrees. We are still planning the trip around the U.S.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Final Week at Home - Alrica


For months, I have thought a lot about how to travel slowly and live slowly but the past week or so has been more of a sprint. With a revised close date on the house of Aug. 14, 2015 and hopefully final doctor’s appointments on the 11th and 12th, we had this theory that we would leave Lancaster after the Aug. 12 doctor’s appointment. That meant completely emptying and cleaning the house. My sister came up to help us for a few days with a final garage sale and to sort and organize everything that was left.

Furniture and big things were mostly sold on Craigslist or at consignment shops but a lot was given away. I hate to throw away perfectly good things so we put a lot of thought into who could use our stuff. Lots of food went to the LCCC Food Pantry, unused toiletries and random things went to Clare House – a shelter for homeless families, craft items to Lancaster ReUse, Building Supplies to Habitat for Humanity ReStore, and then there were the 18 trips to Goodwill! We also rented a 4’x6’ storage space to keep things with sentimental value or high worth, low footprint.

With my inability to drive, and our annual inspection date creeping closer, we had made the decision to sell our older car and clear space in the garage. While we knew that there would be a million things to do, we hadn’t quite realized how long all of those million things would take when most of the burden would fall on Erich. He had to do any heavy lifting, driving, climbing of stairs, and still help handle my daily needs as getting in and out of bed even still requires assistance.

When not actively working, there was also the business side of things that I could do. Things like scheduling utility shut off, change of address forms, research into trip plans . . . all leading up to the doctor’s appointments that would decide our immediate plans. The big one finally arrived on Aug. 11. Meeting with my orthopedic surgeon was everything we could have hoped for. The pathology report showed the removed cancer to be a grade 2 chondrosarcoma with clear margins. The doctor was very pleased with my healing and gave us a very manageable follow-up plan that didn’t require returning to Lancaster. Our meeting with the vascular surgeon the following day sealed the deal as he signed off on my care. This left us with just the final work of emptying the house and saying goodbye to friends.

Most of the stuff left was all the little stuff, but then there was the mattress. Sleeping without one wasn’t an option for me so we had negotiated with someone to purchase it on the day we were leaving. Then he cancelled. This left us in a very stressful situation as we couldn’t just leave it there. I posted it on Craigslist for $10 and the phone started ringing. The first person said he could be there in 15 minutes. When thirty had passed, I called to reach a voicemail that hadn’t been set up. So I moved on to the next person who wouldn’t be able to be there for several hours. The third person likewise didn’t show so onto the 4th person. Another no show and feeling desperate so I reposted it under free items and another round of phone calls ensued. This is one of those things that I think we will look back on and laugh. Who knew it would be this hard to give away a queen bed? Finally, someone picked it up, the last few trips were made, and it was time to go.

Leaving Lancaster is definitely bittersweet. So much excitement about being on the road and starting the journey, but we are leaving really good friends and great memories behind. They will all be missed. 

Leaving a day and a half later than hoped means for longer driving days but on our second day on the road, a call from our realtor let us know that we are officially homeless! Somehow for me, it makes it all so much more real.