We left Cody late last week and had a very long drive across country to Tennessee.
It's really all a blur of heat and sun and highways and gas stations and Motel 6's, but thankfully two loaded down trucks, one loaded down 16 foot trailer, two tired people and one very well traveled dog pulled in to the driveway of a TN friend who I used to work with way back when and another life time ago.
The journey took longer than expected.
We ended up spending an extra and unplanned day stranded in Wyoming.
LC and I had traded my two-wheel drive blue Silverado for an F250 460 4x4.
LC got the red beast and I inherited the green 4x4 GMC.
And with his new truck, and with test drives both on the highway and off-road for weeks before leaving, and with a thorough inspection, we both expected and hoped to have no problems heading back to Tennessee.
We were only 3 or 4 hours into the drive before we both realized that unexpectedly the F250 was having trouble climbing hills.
With LC in front and me pulling up the rear we soon found ourselves working the four way flashes and nervously climbing hills at 42 miles per hour.
My Mountain Boy kept telling me that a 460 should be able to pull the load.
But it obviously could not and neither one of us knew why.
We were loaded down, but with everything we have accumulated and then lost and then accumulated and then lost again over the past 19 months our load was nowhere near what many other couples own.
Why was our truck having so much trouble?
We limped into Wheatland Wyoming (about one hour from Cheyenne and then the Nebraska border) wondering what was wrong and how much it was going to cost to fix.
We were not even out of Wyoming yet and already wary about what we would run into.
First thing in the morning at the start of Labor Day weekend we pulled into a Ford dealership.
Surprisingly (or maybe not so surprisingly) it was quiet and they changed out a very dirty oil filter that was supposed to have been replaced during an oil change in Cody but apparently was not.
$70 and 90 minutes later we were on the highway hoping to make up for lost time.
Within 15 minutes LC was doing 40 mph on the hills and called me to say that he could not accelerate.
We pulled off the highway intending to reluctantly and with a great deal of resignation limp back to Wheatland again.
As we pulled onto the off ramp I saw a puff of black smoke coming from his truck.
At that point I guessed blown engine. ..LC thought perhaps a blown clutch.
Regardless, I was convinced that I had torn up something expensive in his truck all because I insisted on hauling untold hundreds (maybe thousands - I have no idea) of pounds of stoneware crocks all over the damned country.
We limped back to Wheatland and the first guy we ran into at the Ford dealership told us that they were booked for mechanical work until the following Wednesday.
They were indeed booked, but after realizing that we were travelers on the way from Cody to Tennessee they worked on our truck in between other jobs they were doing.
They also worked overtime at the end of the day until our truck was fixed.
It wasn't my crocks. It thankfully was not the engine or the clutch either.
It was the catalytic converter.
They took it off, we did not have a muffler on the truck, they pieced some pipe together that they picked up at parts stores in town for us just so they could get us back on the road.
It took all day and when it was all said and done we were almost $500 poorer and had to spend one extra night in Wyoming.
But we had no more mechanical issues with either truck coming across country, he climbed the hills at 70 miles per hour, and LC's truck is now pretty loud.
When he told me it would be loud I asked him "manly loud or code violation loud?"
The jury is still out on which one of those two it actually is, but it got us across country and we can deal with the noise later...........
While we were driving east across the United States my youngest son was at the same time driving west across parts of Canada.
He called me while I was dodging idiots in St Louis, I told him I would call him back later, and I have not been able to get in touch with him since.
I know he made it safely to Winnipeg Manitoba.
That is all I know..................
We hit only dry and sunny weather until just north of Nashville, at which time we were slammed with heavy rain and high winds and an overwhelming amount of traffic on the road.
I immediately remembered how much I hated driving in Nashville.
Actually how much I hated almost everything about Nashville.
We missed the 100 degree temperatures by only a few days and for that I am very grateful.
For the first couple of days we were here it was cloudy, rainy and cool.
A far cry from the dry, hot, dusty weather we had lived with in Cody for the past many months.
With continuous heavy rain both LC and I were concerned about the ground at the cabin we were planning on renting for the month.
Our trucks were heavy, our trailer was heavy, the ground was saturated.
And so we pulled into my friend's house in town and stayed there for the night.
Exhausted by that point we decided to check out the cabin the following day.
Mostly we just needed to sleep.
I do not have Internet at the cabin but will try and blog regularly at the library until we move back into our house at the end of the month.
The house we actually own.
The house that is now occupied by two adults who may or may not be lawfully employed but regardless who are definitely dead-beats not paying rent.
More on that another time.
So much has happened.
The past week is like a blur. The past 19 months are like a blur. And I am shell shocked yet again.
Random pictures taken over the past week...............
A quick shot of the mountains on the morning that we left Cody Wyoming............
I thought that the fire that began as a result of a lightning strike on BLM land out in Clark had been controlled, but on the morning we left Cody we stopped briefly to take this picture of a helicopter with water bucket.
Choppers had been flying back and forth almost non-stop for days trying to get the fire under control...............
Map of the area taken at a gas station in Greybull............
A pull off just beyond Greybull............
LC under the hood with one of the mechanics looking on, during our second trip to the Ford dealership that morning in Wheatland.
At this point we were disappointed to not already be beyond Cheyenne, disgusted that our first trip to the dealership had not solved the problem, and concerned about what we had blown under the hood and how much it was going to cost.
We did not leave the dealership until 6:30 that evening...............
And my sweet dog patiently sitting in the shade the entire day...............
Sunset in Nebraska.
By this point my stomach was dropping and so was my heart.
So many mixed feelings about returning to Tennessee.
Still so much hurt and anger and disappointment involved with Juneau.
And standing looking at a very beautiful sunset in the background, with the Arby's restaurant in the foreground.
Highway noises. Traffic. Fast food.
Returning to civilization.
Too much noise, too many lights, too many people moving quickly, just too...........much.
I was in shock and slightly disoriented...................
LC's truck and trailer parked in the parking lot between the Motel 6 and a sex shop.
We walked into the sex shop and the girl behind the counter was from Powell Wyoming...............
I took very few pictures coming across country.
I just wanted the trucks to be OK, I was worried about my youngest son and eager to see my oldest son, and overwhelmed with everything around me.
I just wanted to get there.
These next few weeks of blog posts especially will be filled with pictures of places that LC and I know so well.
The past few days have so far been filled with brief visits to old local stomping grounds - visits to the property manager to get money and keys and copies of eviction notices - to the house to see if all looks well from the outside (it does) - to our neighbors to retrieve items they never paid us for and to learn more about our tenants - to other places where we need to tie things up and begin to get ourselves situated again.
Back in Tennessee again.
The day after we arrived we took a drive and stopped for only a short time at Tims Ford Lake:
Tims is my second favorite place to kayak, mountain bike and trail run.
I used to live very close to Tims Ford and every year they have a six mile trail run that I sometimes ran and sometimes volunteered at.
They have a new out and back mountain bike trail that I rode only a few times (including the one time that LC came out to ride it with me. He took a hard fall on a downhill and busted his shoulder badly enough to be off the bike for months).
I biked it a few times but love another place so much that it was never any contest.
But standing at the edge of the water the other day was overwhelming.
There are so many.............trees. Trees everywhere. Green everywhere. And (as is typical for this part of the country) once the kids go back to school the beaches and lakes become empty even if the temperature is still 90 degrees.
Tims Ford Lake was indeed empty the other day with the exception of one lone boater.
I stood looking at the calm water and the hard wood trees and the green fields and the unsettled sky.
It was foreign and familiar all at the same time.
It was beautiful and I needed beautiful.
It was quiet and I needed quiet.