Day 275 – 5/23/21 Last day… drive home.

Today was the last day of our trip, we finally drove home! 

We had a long drive, with about 10 hours to go.  Lots of feelings and emotions about this day.  Feelings of excitement to be back and see all our friends.  Apprehension for the friends that won’t be there.  Gratefulness for having had this amazing opportunity to be together, bond, get to know each other in a deep level, and explore this beautiful country.  And feeling accomplished that we had the courage to do this, and were able to do it, and plan it right, be safe, enjoy, etc.  This experience was so amazing, and we are very grateful we had the opportunity to have done it.

As we had planned the day before, we woke up at 6am and got going quick.  I actually woke up 10 minutes before 6 as I had to use the bathroom.  Then I got everyone up and got going.  I had my coffee ready to go and just pushed the button, then filled up my to go mugs and went outside to start the process there.  Carol and the girls were getting ready inside, changing, having breakfast and getting the last few things put away.  Bella was in the truck at 6:30, and even had her seatbelt on hahahahah.  Bia was there soon after.  The girls were extremely excited to be going home.  I got the tanks drained and rinsed, then put away the stabilizers, hitched, finished disconnecting water and power, and we were ready to roll.  After Carol finished up a few things inside, we took a last picture, in front of the truck as we were ready to leave, and it was exactly 7am as we sent the picture to our family and friends, and rolled out of our spot.

Our ride was going to be easy, with pretty much I65 North most of the way, but long with about 550 miles to go.  As we left Kentucky, we still had nice views of the smaller mountain ranges and green forrest scenery, but as we moved up, it started getting flat, and by time we hit Indiana we were in flat farm land.  We made one stop after about 150 miles, and were quick to use the bathroom and continue. 

Then we stopped again around 11:30 to get Diesel and have lunch.  I pulled in to a gas station that had a truck filling area in the back, and they had 5 bays with only one truck there.  So while I filled up, Carol and the girls went in the trailer to start eating.  I ended up just staying in that spot since not a lot of trucks were coming in, so we just ate by the filling bay at the truck stop and continue on from there. 

The girls were on their electronics pretty much the entire ride.  We all did pretty well on this long trip, no one with any major pains, or fights, or complaints of any kind.  My back was a bit sore early on, but it got better later.  We ended up driving all the way from our fuel stop to home, and made it home by 4:15pm.  The weather was pretty nice all the way to southern Wisconsin, it was around 80, then as soon as we passed a spot around Kenosha, the temperature dropped instantly to 70 and it kept going down.  By time we got to Sheboygan it was 50.  It had been warm in the morning, in the high 70s, and the cold front just came quick, so many parking lots were “smoking”. 

We also hit some rain after we passed Milwaukee, which was not bad as it washed the trailer and truck a bit.  As we reached some milestones through our drive, Carol was letting our friends know where we were, so when we got home Bob and Judy were sitting right in front of our garage door, and Heather had just pulled in and was there too.  We opened all the windows and as I drove into our circle I was hitting the horn and making noise, and we were all yelling out “we are home!”. 

As I got closer, the girls asked me to just stop the truck as they wanted to run out, so I did and Carol got down too and they went towards Judy, who was coming down the driveway.  That was a nice welcome home and it felt great to have had our loved friends there.  I pulled the truck closer to the house and just parked for the time being and went down too.  We gave everyone lots of hugs and kisses, there was a lot of excitement and happiness.  We were all glad to be home, we were glad we completed our trip safely, that we had the opportunity to enjoy such a wonderful time together in so many wonderful places.  And now, we were happy to be home.  

Walking in the house was a weird feeling, like time stopped here, and we had just left a week ago.  Everything was the same, the way I expected it would be, the way we left.  Judy added a nice touch with a Welcome banner by the living room, and I got some pics of the girls by it, and a short video of them doing a happy dance.  The girls ran in and went to every room, laid in every bed, they were excited.  I still can’t shake that feeling that we just left, and were picking up exactly where we left things.

Tom and Kim came by for some time too to say hi.  They came with a drink and stayed until they were done.  It was good to see them as well.

Bob had some beers for us, so as we finished our first beer, I had Carol help me properly park the trailer so we could unhitch.  Heather had just left. We leveled the trailer, unhitched, connected to power and went to the house.  I checked out the house then, and it felt good to be home, have all this room.  I had not seen the radon mitigation system that was installed early on in the trip, so I checked that out too.  As I walked around, I realized we left some big messes in a few rooms, like the office, the bedroom downstairs, etc that will take us a bit of time to organize.  We will also have the trailer to empty and clean up, the garage, the basement.  There’s a good amount of work ahead of us for the next few days.

As we settled in, Judy had some gifts for us from missed birthdays and such, so we went in the messy office and sat down and opened gifts.  That was cool.  Then we went to their house to get some dinner.  Bob had smoked fish.  We stayed there for some time, shared some stories about the trip, talked and caught up a little.  It felt nice to be back, to be home.  Then it was time to go home, get the girls ready for bed so they can sleep and have a good day of school tomorrow.  The girls enjoyed their showers and got ready for bed.  Carol and I started putting things away, then as we put the girls to bed we also got ready.  I was the last to shower, and I took my time in there, enjoying the big shower head we have that “rains” on you, it was nice, it was roomy and it was relaxing.  Great way to end a long day of driving and coming back home.

And that was our last day of this amazing journey, we conquered many challenges, we saw amazing places, we built family bonds and learned a lot about each other and ourselves, we will cherish every moment of this trip, and will never forget it.  There is a piece of me that already says “I want more”….

Trip Stats:

  • 9 months, more exactly 275 days.
  • 17 states with overnight stays, 21 including drive through states. We stayed in 75+ cities, and visited over 100 cities.
  • 25,461 miles (almost 41.000 kms).
  • 45+ National Parks and monuments.
  • I think we had 4 rainy days only, when we were stuck in the RV.
  • 1000+ cans of beer, judging by the count (751) the girls did on the tabs we collected starting in month 3.
  • 60,000+ pictures and videos between Carol and I.

Index of Parks, date ordered.  We did many things in between, visited many small towns, big famous cities, did cave tours, hikes, climbs, beach days, etc. but here are the main National or State Parks:

Mount Rushmore – 9/3/20 – and

Crazy Horse Memorial – 9/3/20 –

Custer State Park – 9/3/20 – and and

Badlands National Park – 9/8/20 – 

Devil’s Tower National Monument – 9/9/20 – 

Keyhole State Park – 9/9/20 – 

Windcave National Park – 9/10/20 – 

Pictograph State Park – 9/14/20 – 

Little Bighorn Battlefield – 9/15/20 – 

Yellowstone National Park – 9/18/20 – and  and  and 

Grand Teton National Park – 9/20/20 –

Glacier National Park – 10/1/20 – and  and 

Ringing Rocks State Park – 10/6/20 – 

Craters of the Moon National Monument – 10/10/20 – 

Crater Lake National Park – 10/17/20 – 

Oregon Sand Dunes – 10/22/20 – 

Cape Arago Parks – 10/23/20 – 

Jedediah Smith Redwoods Park – 11/2/20 – 

Table Bluff County Park – 11/9/20 – 

Avenue of the Giants – 11/14/20 – 

Lake Tahoe – 11/21/20 – 

Marshall Field Discovery State Historic Park – 11/22/20 – 

Big Sur – 12/11/20 – 

Pinnacles National Park – 12/12/20 – 

Yosemite National Park – 12/14/20 –  and  and 

Sequoia National Park – 12/23/20 – and  and  and 

Kings Canyon National Park – 12/27/20 –

Joshua Tree National Park – 1/18/21 – 

Death Valley National Park – 1/21/21 – and  and 

Hoover Dam – 1/28/21 – 

Valley of Fire State Park – 1/30/21 – 

Picacho State Park – 2/7/21 –

Lost Dutchmen State Park – 2/8/21 –

Saguaro National Park – 2/11/21 –

Sabino Canyon – 2/12/21 – and 

White Sands National Park – 2/16/21 – 

Carlsbad Caverns National Park – 2/19/21 – 

Big Bend National Park – 2/22/21 – and 

Chalmette Battlefield and National Cemetery – 3/12/21 – 

Fort Pickens – 3/15/21 – 

Castillo de San Marcos National Monument – 3/18/21 –

Everglades National Park – 4/13/21 –

John Pennekamp State Park – 4/14/21 –

Dry Tortugas National Park – 4/17/21 –

Blue Springs State Park – 5/6/21 –

Great Smoky Mountains National Park – 5/15/21 – and  and  and C

Mammoth Cave National Park – 5/21/21 –

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