My kingdom awaits…

Finally, the sun is up. I imagined it would feel like a boat ride, or being rocked to sleep but it was, in fact, more like hitching a ride on a lopsided tumbleweed. As if the bouncing and shaking weren’t enough of a distraction, there was a full moon and I hadn’t hung the curtains. It was sort of like sleeping outside that way, albeit cozy and warm in my own blankets, with my kids snuggled in beside me like my very own personal teddy bears.

And so it began, this road trip I’ve been dreaming of for so long. Let me back up just a little and say that it actually started last year when we bought the motorhome. Rather, my husband bought it to appease my gypsy nature. Over the past year, we’ve mapped and remapped, plotted and planned and decided and redecided and in the end, we really didn’t care where our first stop was. In fact, at one point, we just said “let’s just drive down to the coast of Oregon and park for 3 months.” I’m glad we dreamed bigger again after that, it hasn’t been easy

Except, it has. I mean… here we are. Unstoppable.

We’re oficially in Montana as I write this, just outside of Missoula. We were all excited about Missoula because the kids have been performing in plays with the Missoula Children’s Theatre since I was pregnant with Maddy in 2003. They travel around in little red pickup trucks, stopping at schools, theatres, community centers and libraries. The two MCT reps audition kids on a Friday, casting 40 or 50 for each performance and over the course of one week, they teach the kids every song in the musical. They bring sets and costumes and by the end of the week they put on a musical on stage, some are fairy tales, some are adapted from classical children’s literature. All are adorable, with catchy music and a ton of fun memories for the kids who perform.

We’re in the mountains now, but I remember very clearly an Amtrak ride in 1998, from Iowa to Seattle; I’d heard Montana being called “Big Sky country” before, but it wasn’t until that Amtrak ride that I understood why. I’m hoping the large window of the motorhome is as much of a theatre as the train car was. That sky is something I’ve wanted to share with my husband ever since I saw it first. I remember feeling as if maybe I was way too excited about it when I got off the train and kept telling him “Oh man, that sky was just…. Babe you should have seen the sky…. I mean, they call it Big Sky Country for a reason, right… that sky was just amazing.” Like I said, we’re in the mountains now, but I’m sure the subject will come up. I’ll try to let him say it first. I hope the kids notice, too.

So I think I mentioned before that I had a million lists and sticky notes, right? It was a lie. Really, I keep things in my head. The lists and sticky notes were figurative speech. I see them in my mind but I didn’t really write anything down. Except, I kept telling myself not to forget the iron. The one time I did sit down to mke a list, the only things on it were an iron, dish towels and hula hoops. Last time I ironed anything was in 2008, I think. I ironed the little girls’ party dresses when we visited my Dad for his wife’s birthday. (Step mom sounds so impersonal.. Dad’s wife sounds.. distant. Mom discounts my own mother…. Second mom, maybe? We just call her Vicki and to add a little extra love, the kids call my Dad “Papa Vicki”)

Still, I reminded myself a hundred times to bring that iron. In fact, I even have a blog post in draft called “Dont forget the iron.” As we were doing our final packout, a friend of my husband says “Did you bring the iron?” And I laughed like crazy and had to tell him the story of the blog-post-in-draft, because it was just too much of a coincidence. Well, here we are hundreds of miles from home and wouldn’t you know it, I forgot the iron. And I’m not the slightest bit concerned about it. If we’re wrinkly, we now have a legitimate reason. We’re camping, after all.

We’ve been watching America: The Story of Us (I got it for free from the History Channel) and I keep feeling like a bit of a pioneer. I have a tendency to overpack and we have limited space, so I wanted to be sure I didn’t bring too much. The families who migrated to the western US had to leave things on the side of the trail in order to relieve their oxen. In another documentary, it broke my heart to see beautiful antique furniture (no doubt brought over from Europe, heirlooms maybe), cast aside along the edges of the trail. I wonder if the women wept. I imagine pioneer men promising to build a new hutch and pioneer women allowing themselves to be comforted by that pomise, knowing full well that their husbands weren’t artisans of craftsmen and that they’d be busy building lincoln-log cabins and rustic furniture first. Traveling makes me imagine, I guess. The journey that took them six months is taking us just a few days.

It’s been an adventure so far, and this is just the beginning. Whenever Brandon gets too tired to drive, the kids and I will do laundry and explore for a little while. I don’t know where we’ll be, I don’t know what time it will be, but (dare I say it?) BRING IT ON. (The fun, that is)

And, incidentally, donations or something. This is costing a fortune. Click the “donate” button below to get to my paypal and I’ll owe you a favor (backlinks, anyone? Make me an offer I can’t refuse)

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