– 22 May –
So we have reached the last segment of our journey, but perhaps not the very last chapter of our blog… we shall have to see about that. It is certainly a chapter that has been very, very late in arriving, without a doubt!
We began these ten days of farewells and “hey, that-was-our-lasts” by parting with our home, Sundance, which was dropped off at an RV dealer on our way north to Lake George. There was a massive feeling of melancholy for all of us as we left the RV behind. Sundance had been our home for the past ten months and we had taken him around all four corners of the continental USA, travelling over 17,000 miles with him in tow. So naturally we had an affection for him that went beyond just the steel, fibreglass and wood that he was made out of. To us, that RV was also made of memories.
Mixed with that melancholy was a real feeling of achievement. When our adventure began both Emma and I were honest enough with ourselves to admit that the trip wouldn’t be all open roads and happy times. We knew that there was every likelihood that at some point on our journey we would come unstuck. How? We couldn’t say but were able imagine many possible scenarios. We could crash on the highway, or back the rig into a tree. We could pull into a gas station and not be able to get out again. The RV could be broken into. Something could fail in some irreparable way, either through bad luck or our own error. We came very close to that one, actually, when the suspension spring broke and began rubbing on the propane line. All of these thoughts were very much on our mind as we drove those final 35 miles. In short, we felt a rather immodestly triumphant “We did it!” in our hearts…
Farewell Sundance, we shall miss you!
The next stop was at a Friendly’s restaurant – now Katie’s favourite place in the world to eat – to have a nice lunch with our friend Joan. As usual we stuffed ourselves silly but still had food to take home – and room for a giant sundae for dessert… somehow. Yet another goodbye, and we turned our well-packed truck northward through the rain.
And so we returned to the Red House at Lake George, and reacquainted ourselves with Dee, Jim and their cat Dickens. For all of us (maybe not the cat) it felt almost as though the preceding year had not happened, it had gone so fast. We certainly did have a lot more “stuff” with us this time around, however!
That week was spent doing the last things we had to do or wanted to do before leaving the country. Our remaining possessions were sold, passed on or thrown away, leaving us with only six full suitcases (half again what we started out with) and four heavily-laden carry-on bags. We continued to catch up with friends and family – calling in to visit with my father’s cousin Ted and his wife Carolyn, and returning to the Jewells’ house to meet Charlotte, the latest addition to their family. Pam’s a grandmother again!
There was also some unfinished business for us in the great outdoors of upstate New York. We enjoyed our time being back at the lake with walks in the woods, fireside chats with our hosts and the highlight: letting Jim take us out for a ride on his boat. Jim and Dee had even laid on another big pile of firewood for us to haul and stack! Heaven.
There were also mountains to climb. On Sunday Katie, Jess and I went for a hike up Buck Mountain, which overlooks Lake George. Buck is a 2,000ft mountain with a three-mile trail leading to the top, and the trailhead is only a mile or so from Jim and Dee’s house, so it was an ideal hike for us to take. We didn’t have time to do it last year so it has been at the top of my list of must-dos for our return. Unfortunately Em could not join us; her foot was suffering after all of the walking that we had done recently, which had aggravated an ongoing tendon problem. So it was just me and the girls.
It was a splendid day for it, and a splendid hike. I shall miss these forests and trails, deeply. I think (hope?) that the girls will too.
Two days later Katie and I squeezed in the last hike of the Big Adventure. We wanted it to be a special one, so I found a trail deep in the Adirondacks that would take us five miles up amongst the High Peaks to Avalanche Lake. The best part was the circuit of the lake, where the trail scrambles over boulders and fallen trees, and at times is even suspended out over the lake itself on wooden boards! I have harped on about hike after hike that we have taken over the past year, so I will spare you the details. Instead, here is the story in photographs…
Thursday was a day that I had not been looking forward to… the day we had to give up Butch, my beloved Ford F-250 truck. He was returned to the place that we had bought him, where Austin the Fabulous Manager was going to sell him on our behalf. I can’t say enough good things about Austin and how well has has taken care of us at both ends of our journey. He handled of all the details of truck registration last year – not easy when you don’t live permanently in the country – and now he was going to sell the truck for us commission-free. He had even attempted to find a new home for Sundance, though to no avail.
His original recommendation that we buy an F-250 was perfect as well. Butch has been the ideal steed for us – he had the power to get Sundance up and down the Appalachians, Rockies and Sierras, there was lots of room inside – we had six of us in there, many times – and a gas engine that was both fuel-efficient (relatively speaking!) and quiet enough not to become annoying on all those long journeys. I will especially miss the driving position – I love towering several feet above most of the rest of the traffic! We found that driving a truck that big was useful when we were in national parks, as it gave us a great viewing platform for wildlife and to see all the splendour around us. Being big was also useful when you wanted to bully your way out of a tight corner. In short;
I love my truck!
So what else could we fit into that week? …how about another theme park? This time it was The Great Escape, just down the road from us in Lake George. We really couldn’t avoid going, because it was so close and because our Six Flags Annual Membership got us in there for free. Our day out therefore cost us nothing but the price of our lunch! Arriving midweek to avoid the crowds – apart from the many school-groups out for a fun field trip – let us ride pretty much everything we wanted to with no lines. Brave Jessica was able to use the opportunity to steel herself for her first ride on an upside-down roller-coaster* – and for her second, third and fourth in quick succession after that!
* Technically, her first was in Florida when she rode the Rock-n-Roller coaster, but apparently that didn’t count because it was in the dark so she couldn’t tell!
In amongst all of those fun activities we did of course manage to get our possessions sorted, packed and weighed, ready for the trip back to Britain. Then, the first day of June arrived all too soon. We loaded the rental car with our bags that morning, bid a fond, fond farewell to our indescribably welcoming hosts Dee and Jim, and set off for New York City, JFK Airport, and home……..