An Adventure in U-turns

#Why adventure in u-turns?

Why you ask?  Because it’s a bucket list item; probably the first item on the list of “to do’s” post retirement.

Dale retired July 19, 2007 from the California Highway Patrol.  He was content in all of his 28 years with the patrol to remain a state traffic officer, and that was okay with me.  Happy husband, happy home . . .

On June 20th, we left our Meadow Valley, CA, home after 17 years for Montana.  Two days later with one dog and two cats, we arrived in Lakeside, MT, the small town where my Mom and Dad and my two brothers and their families live.  Lakeside is a lake side community on Flathead lake, the largest natural fresh water lake west of the Mississippi River.

One of our first post retirement items was to travel across the USA in our 9 1/2 ft. cab over camper, including a pop-out dinette.  For me, this camper is my “little house” with all the luxuries of home.  A comfortable queen bed, plenty of storage, an air conditioner and heater, a nice sized refrigerator, stove top and oven and a micro wave.   We have a small “bathroom” with a shower but we choose to stay at campgrounds offering showers so we can keep our little bathroom “dry”.

In October 2007, we bought a one acre lot to build our first and only house; March 2008 we broke ground and the building began.  We were looking forward to helping out with our new home in giving ourselves up to “sweat labor”.  We looked forward to helping with the building of our home, moving in to our home in the fall and the next summer, our cross country camping trip.

But . . .

Something else got in the way of our sweat labor plans, moving in plans and camping plans – in April 2008 I was diagnosed with cancer.  So everything came to a screeching halt.  We couldn’t invest ourselves in the building of our home and everything else was postponed —

During my treatment our house was built by a wonderful general contractor, Ben, and the supervised daily by my dad.  On a break from my chemotherapy in October 2008, we came home to Montana to move into our new home.  In November 2008 after undergoing an aggressive chemotherapy and stem cell transplant, I was declared cancer free!  The following summer was a time of landscaping and well, in July I broke my leg.  I fell off of a ladder while picking cherries from one of our three cherry trees.  So this new development set us back again and we were not able to cross off our first bucket list item, camping across the country.

Time passed (meaning three years) and in February 2013 I proposed to Dale a cross country camping trip in September.  I told him I wanted to visit my cousin Anne in Michigan, drop south into Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Alabama, turn west along the Gulf coast through Mississippi and Louisiana; travel north to Missouri to see Dale’s cousin Sheri and her husband Ray.   Then adventure through Colorado to visit my aunt and uncle and home.

Dale agreed, however, with one stipulation, we don’t have any plans and we can make as many u-turns as we want in order to go back to something we passed by like an antique store, a local museum, something funky (for him) and something quaint (for me).

I agreed to his request even though this goes against my ordered nature.  I like to know where I am going and that I do indeed have a reservation for the night – somewhere; this will test that ordered nature of mine.  But as we plan our general direction of travel and Dale is pouring over the internet researching maps and national and state parks, I am not so overwhelmed any more but becoming quite excited . . . !

At this time, our “general” travel plans are to first visit a big sporting good store my hiking gal pals told me about, Shields in Great Falls.  From there we plan to travel to Coal Banks Landing outside of Ft. Benton, MT.  Then we travel on to Mt. Rushmore in SD and the Badlands.  We’ll start our northbound stretch through MN to MI.  After visiting Mackinaw Island, we drop into Midland to visit my cousin Anne and her husband, John.

Then from there this is what we know but with our trip being unplanned, we aren’t sure . . . IN, KY, TN (Nashville), GA, SC, GA (Savannah) and south to Jacksonville, FL to visit our dear friends, Steve and Ellen Manchester in their new city and home.  I hope to celebrate my 55th birthday with Ellen!


After FL, west through AL, MS, LA visiting the Gulf coast communities (and eat a lot of fresh seafood).  We start our northward journey into AR.  AR is a state that Dale told me years ago he wanted to visit; he heard that AR has great state parks and a state park in which we can dig for diamonds!  Our next stop is MO to visit with Sheri and Ray, Dale’s cousin and her husband.  Then I guess we’ll have to drive through KS to CO.  Hopefully, we’ll visit our niece and her newlywed husband, Kelly and Ruben, in CO and from there, drive to my Aunt Linda and Uncle Dick’s lovely home in Louisville.  From CO?  To home!  Our great state, the state of Montana, the Treasure state.

So these are our “unplanned” plans for our bucket list camping trip.  We plan on leaving September 16th and return sometime the last week of October – hmm, yes, that is about 6 weeks of adventuring in u-turns.

Do you want to follow along on this no plan journey of ours?   On the side bar to the right —> is a place you can sign up to receive an email every time I post an account of our daily traveling events (and about our u-turns, too!).


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