Monthly Archives: November 2012

Days 35-77: Epilogue

OK, so we’ve been a bit remiss in wrapping up this trip blog.  I’m sure no one even remembers at this point that we were gone.  (We sometimes can barely remember ourselves.)  But I’m up to the final page in my online scrapbook, which has been so easy to put together thanks to this blog, so that has forced us to finally wrap this thing up.
The final 2.5 hours of our trip, home from western Massachusetts, proved uneventful.  We were all pretty excited as we got close to home, especially the kids.  (“Look, it’s Home Depot!  OUR Home Depot!”)  Though Zoe and Nadia were not in fact excited enough to make it all the way to our actual house.  They’d gotten a better offer for a pool party at their friends’ house, so they elected to get dropped off there on our way back.  
Bob, Lanie, and I were pleased to find that nothing had burned down or fallen over in our absence.  The garden was wildly overgrown but we managed to find some vegetables lurking in the underbrush.  Fang, our cat, was extremely happy to see us once he had expressed his initial displeasure with our being gone so long.  (At 17 years old, Fang has abandoned the wilder tendencies of his youth and pretty much likes to spend all his time sleeping in one of our laps.)
Check out the size of the white carrot in
Lanie’s left hand!
I rejoiced in my brilliant decision to hire someone to clean our house a few days before we got back.  (It took her twice as long as she had estimated based on the size of the house.  She said, “Things were really dusty!  I’m sure it was because you were away.”  Because we were away — yes, let’s go with that.)  Cleaning the car was bad enough — we couldn’t have coped with the house too.
We didn’t really get to ease back into normal life slowly, since school (which included new middle school for Zoe and the start of kindergarten for Lanie) began five days after our return.  Though I had expected that life on the road, camping without creature comforts, would be stressful at times, we actually found it to be a refreshing break.  We may have had to walk across a campground to get water, but what did it matter?  We were in no rush.  No one had to be anywhere at any particular time.  We may have had to cook on a picnic table with minimal equipment and only basic ingredients, but that sure simplified the process of choosing and preparing meals.  (The contrast between this and our normal existence became painfully obvious very quickly after returning home.)
From Bob:
Last week, I finally vacuumed out the car. 
We’ve been home from our trip for a month and a half, and not only have I not sat down to write a final blog posting, I’ve only just finished emptying the Getaway Van. 
This is sad, I know; however, we’ve really been enjoying having faucets of hot and cold water close at hand.  And sleeping quarters that we don’t have to roll up.  And it’s been so long since we’ve had just peanuts for lunch.   
Welcome back, says the rut.  I knew I’d see you again.
No, not really. I wouldn’t say we’re in a rut.  Life has taken off in different directions, with middle school and another round of kindergarten and two kids taking violin now.  Cross country has just ended.  Swimming is in full swing, and so is gymnastics.  
Our first course on our
first night home
The garden was overgrown when we got back, but we got that under control and we were getting cucumbers and tomatoes until last week. There were good crops of leeks and tomatillos, but only a pint-sized butternut squash.
Fang has forgiven us – his hunger strike over, he’s started to put some weight back on.   We still have the “Welcome Back, Pavliks” sign in the entryway.  Many thanks to the Zamanskys.
Everything is ok.
Apparently the main thing Lanie missed
was her jewelry.
So, with so much else under control, I revisited the van and its sediment.  In crevices I found almonds, likely distributed when the bag was dropped on day two as we left Niagara Falls.  There were lots of crayons and granola bar wrappers.  I found a ticket stub from our Chicago river cruise and a few unused post cards from Howe Caverns.  There was also a wooden nickel from our Mammoth Cave tour. I found map of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone that (I hope) we paid 50 cents to take with us.  I did not see, but it was probably there, way down deep, lots of red Arches sand.   There probably is still more stuff in there – I eventually turned the job over to the eminently helpful, but not always thorough Lanie.  We may have an almond tree growing behind the middle row in a year or two.
Despite my fears, the van has not fallen apart.  I took her to the garage a week after we returned and we didn’t need new brakes at all, and the tires were good enough to carry us until winter (I just got them changed this week, because winter may be closer than we know – but the brakes are still good).  All it took in August was an oil change to turn off the “Maintenance Required” light, and we were all set to roll on.   All credit to Toyota engineering.  Here are some details from our trip, as preserved in our trip journal:
o   Total mileage covered:  7,042
o   Gallons of gas purchased: 277.941*
o   Average price per gallon: $3.64  (trip low:  $3.38 Wyethville, VA; trip high:  $3.89 in Yellowstone)
o   Total paid in gas: $1,011.70*
o   Average gas mileage: 25.336*
* We left Durham with a full tank of gas and returned with one a few gallons shy of full.  I never registered the next fill up in the trip journal.  If you want the precise numbers, you would have to factor this in.  Also, I am suspicious of the gas mileage numbers, as the van is only rated for 19 city / 23 highway, and I considered it pretty weighed down.  I may have failed to register a fill up or two along the way, although a quick analysis shows that we got really great mileage (like 26+ mpg) in Yellowstone and Utah.  Is mileage usually better at higher elevations?
This is Fang showing his opinion of us leaving him for 5 weeks.
He got over it though.
This should answer a few of the most popular questions that remain about our trip.  Luckily we blogged well – completely and with good detail.  This has helped Jen as she has pieced together a book of our adventures, with text and plenty of pictures.  Look for it on a coffee table in our house sometime soon.  Judging by what I’ve seen of it so far, it will be stunning to see.
Once that’s finished…well, there may be another adventure on the horizon for Jen to get her traveling hands dirty.  I won’t say too much, except that we may be leaving the Getaway Van behind this time. 
Thank you for reading.  See you soon.  Arrivederci.  

Dinner on the porch!  One thing we did miss.  And our friend Leah too.