In Search of “Wendy”

Hello. It’s me!

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You travel nearly 6,000 miles following a trip where you traveled 4,000 miles (all within fifteen weeks), and you learn two things.

  1. That’s 10,000 miles.
  2. That’s exhausting!

Today, we began the transition to summer … gone are 60 degree days and grey skies and periodic showers … replaced by the blue skies and ample walking opportunities.

So Dad says “clean yourself up kid, we’re headed to town to do some chores.”

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When we got to town, a family told us that we had to look for a pup named “Wendy”. We were told that “Wendy” looked just like me.

Alright – game on!

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No sign of “Wendy” along the sidewalk.

I was easily distracted.

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But Dad was focused on our mission. So we moved forward. I asked a gaggle of ladies in the middle of a crafting project if they could help me find “Wendy”?

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No? Alright. I’ll do it myself. How about this one? Is “Wendy” in this gaggle of pups?

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The overweight pup rebuffed me with extreme prejudice, maybe because I’m packin’ an extra pound myself.

I walked up the hill, and ran into this pup … is this “Wendy”?

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I’m as inclusive as the next dog, but dude, that ain’t “Wendy”.

And then … in the distance … I see a pup who looks like me. I sprint down the street and introduce myself …

“I’m Dash”.

The pup looks at me … and says … “I’m Toby.”

Toby?

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Toby is two years old, and was shaved, and that’s the excuse I’m giving for explaining why Toby looks so fabulous and I look so much like a pup that had a bit too much ham for lunch last week.

But as much as I like Toby from Monterrey, and trust me, I like Toby, Toby was not “Wendy”. Wendy is the kind of gal I could see myself sharing spaghetti with (#angelhair).

There would be no “Wendy” sighting on this beautiful late June afternoon. I know, I know, you think “Toby” and “Wendy” sound the same. Toby’s family told me they were informed of a “Wendy” as well.

So the search continues … for the elusive “Wendy”.

But first, a nap.

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Finish Line

Hello! It’s me.

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Looking back, it’s been a great trip. But today was all about crossing the finish line.

To cross the finish line, we had to hop over the Cascades. And the beautiful thing about the Pacific Northwest (or the awful thing) is that you cannot tell the difference between June 16 and February 16.

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We hurtled through suburban Bellevue.

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And made our way to Anacortes.

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Now, you might remember what Dad ate during his trip. This little beauty comes to mind.

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But in Anacortes, meals look something like this.

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#CopperRiverSalmon.

We hopped on to the ferry to go home. I took instruction from the kind staff who guided our rig on to the ferry.

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The worker asked me to take the wheel, and steer us into the left lane on the ferry.

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It was a tight squeeze, one that requires more than just relying upon mirrors for guidance.

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Once we were securely loaded, we headed to the islands.

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After traveling 5,713 miles in 28 days … 2,500 miles out, 1,113 miles in Wisconsin, and 2,100 miles home … I hurried down the hill toward our home.

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In my next update, I will leave you with a few key thoughts about what 28 days and 5,713 miles in a tin can feel like. But for now, I need rest after crossing the finish line. So let’s have you do some work. How about leaving a comment and telling me what your favorite moment of my trip was?

The Penultimate Moment Is A Tedious One

Hello. It’s me.

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Oh, I’m fed up. Fed. Up.

Have you ever been placed on the floor of a recreational vehicle for ten straight hours? I mean, I got so sick of riding that I decided to take the wheel.

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But the clown with the mysterious hosiery and Pop Tart crumbs littering the floor demanded access to the gas pedal.

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And so we drove. On and on and on.

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I mean, sure, it’s neat that it is 41 degrees at 6,393 of elevation outside of Butte, but that only solves thirty seconds of a ten hour travel puzzle, amirite?

At lunch, Dad showed me the Tesla charging stations. As if this is some sort of tourist attraction.

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Across Montana and Idaho we thundered …

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It was when we got knee-deep into Washington State that I nearly lost my mind. Dad decided that we should stop so I could tinkle. Did he choose Mt. Rainier? Olympic National Park? The Space Needle? Nope. He chose scrub land near Moses Lake. And I made it very, very clear that I was not tolerant of this fake tourist attraction. I was outta here!

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Then Mom said something about rattlesnakes, and I decided it was safer in the rig.

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Inside the rig, I became downright belligerent. Mom tried to pass the time (visit the website if you cannot see the video via email) by making me fetch toys in a vehicle moving at 76 miles per hour.

Yes, that’s what I’ve been reduced to … playing fetch in a vehicle moving at 76 miles per hour.

And then you have Dad complaining about some rattle in the back of the rig. On and on and on. You should see the faces he makes. My goodness. Exhausting.

We finally staggered into Ellensburg, Washington. Mom and I shared a twist cone, Dad forgot about the metallic squinking rattle after enjoying a malted milkshake. The tedium of a 576 mile trek featuring countless ups and downs wiped me out.

Dad says that today is the “penultimate day” in our trip. Whatever that means. I just hope that this is the next-to-last day of cannonballing across America. I’m ready to be home. I mean, we used to have fun on this trip. Stuff like this, remember?

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I’d do just about anything to sit in a simulated wood chipper instead of bouncing along a 2,100 mile route home. Mom keeps telling me that we’ll be home tomorrow. I sure hope so. Vacations are fun when you don’t perceive a Tesla charging station to be a tourist attraction.

Oh Deer

Hello, it’s me.

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That’s the rig parked alongside a remote exit in Southern Montana.

We began the day with a casualty.

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Then things slowly began to unwind, under the guise of “Big Sky”.

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We’re cruising through Montana when Dad says … “DEER”.

Now, this deer was on a mission. It began a targeted run from the upper end of the east-bound median, pointed directly at our RV, loped down the median, and then appeared to accelerate up the median toward us.

Dad was in the left lane, headed westbound. There was a car next to him in the right lane. He had three choices.

  1. Speed Up.
  2. Maintain Speed.
  3. Slow Down.

Because the deer pointed directly at the rig, Dad elected to speed up. This turned out to be a good decision, because the deer ran smack dab into the driver’s side of the van. When 25mph meets 80mph, there are two losers and one winner.

  1. Loser = The deer, who died (we assume) due to the fact that 80mph > 25mph.
  2. Loser = The rig, which suffered damage.
  3. Winner = A to-be-determined auto body shop, who will be paid a thousand or two thousand to make the necessary repairs.

We immediately pulled on to a freeway off ramp, which was conveniently placed right next to the scene of the crime. Dad opened the door, and proclaimed “we have damage“.

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Yup, that’s deer fur above the wheel on the door covering the water faucet.

Actually, the deer hit the driver’s side door, dented the area around the water heater, abrasively scraped the vehicle up to the wheel well, then finished the job before chasing the light #restinpeace.

This is where NASCAR comes into play.

Mom says “Do you have any of that purple duct tape I bought you?” And in a rare moment of marital compliance, Dad says “YES!”.

Mom gets on the phone with Allstate.

Dad gets to work on the rig like the pit crew of a car damaged on turn two at Bristol Motor Speedway. Working furiously, Dad only lost three laps to the leader while making necessary repairs.

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Dad took me for a quick break to tinkle, and conveniently, there was a wrecker about to tow a school bus … just in case we also needed assistance, a wrecking service was at our disposal.

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Down three laps to the leader, Dad held out hope that we could make it all the way to Missoula by sunset. As Dad says, “once you get to Missoula, you are opening the door to Pacific Northwest.” Or maybe he didn’t say that, because it sounds stupid to me. Whatever. He still held out hope.

So we drove. The duct tape held! The rig appeared to drive as an aligned vehicle.

That’s about the time that the winds hit. Big-time winds. 30mph – 40mph. The rig rocked, and the rig rolled. Rocked. Rolled. Rocked. Rolled. Then, this message appeared on the dashboard.

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Visit workshop? Why, did we forget to pack a crescent wrench?

Turns out the Electronic Stability Program malfunctioned.

We had three choices.

  1. Hook up the code reader and see what the computer says.
  2. Take the rig to the closest Mercedes dealership (about 400 miles away), and hope nothing else happened.
  3. Pull into a gas station, turn the rig off, pump some gas, clean the windshield, have Mom research the issue online, and then pray that the situation self-corrects.

Dad chose option number three.

Mom offered hope with her internet research – it was just high winds causing the computer to freak out.

Option three corrected the problem.

All problems can be corrected by turning a computer off and then restarting the computer.

At this point, Mom and Dad elected to “take Missoula off the board”. They drove 20mph under the speed limit in high winds to Bozeman, paid an unGodly amount of money for a hotel room from a proprietor who took full advantage of the proximity of Yellowstone to gouge any weary traveler who maimed a deer and was asked by an automobile computer to visit a workshop.

Mom and Dad then did what any rational couple who have been married nearly thirty years and faced a fair share of external noise over said timeframe would do.

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After dinner, it was time to stroll the streets of Bozeman. I quickly identified a threat, #rustymetal.

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Mom found an establishment to soothe her savage soul.

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And the family unit adopted a motto to begin tomorrow anew.

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Chupa”cob”ra

Hello! It’s me.

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So this was an interesting day.

We began in Albert Lea, Minnesota, and immediately “thundered” across the bottom of the state.

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Before you knew it, we were in Dakota … South Dakota. An hour after arriving in Dakota … South Dakota, we checked out the greatest of all tourist attractions … the Corn Palace!

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Seconds into our visit, I actively ignored the “corny” depiction of Elvis and was on the lookout for threats. For instance, what is this threat? Is it …

  1. Real.
  2. Perceived.
  3. Rusted Metal.
  4. Chupacabra.

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Easy pickin’s, don’t you think?

But then I decided to desecrate this threat. Do you know what threat this is?

  1. Real.
  2. Perceived.
  3. Rusted Metal.
  4. Chupa”cob”ra.

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Yes, that’s “Chupa’cob’ra”. And once you desecrate Chupacobra, you’re in for a world of hurt.

I tried to make nice with a big Chupacobra.

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I thought things were fine. I let my guard down for just a moment …

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That’s when Dad said, “I think that’s a storm off in the distance.”

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Peering through the ample array of bug smearings, I quickly deduced that this was no ordinary storm … no it wasn’t … this was the WRATH OF CHUPACOBRA!

The “wrath” enveloped our vehicle.

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There would be no escaping the WRATH OF CHUPACOBRA. Lightning, thunder, and sixty mile per hour cross-winds accompanied heavy rain. We were paying the price.

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Because I piddled on a Chupacobra, the Chupacobra mercilessly piddled on thousands of travelers in Western South Dakota.

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Our twenty minutes of terror at the hands of an angry Chupacobra finally ended, a thorough punishment for a minor desecration.

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And then, the angry Chupacobra proved benevolent … providing a peace offering … a double rainbow.

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The Chupacobra pronounced that she would never, ever, flood weary travelers again.

We finally snuck out of our rig, and surveyed the landscape.

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We ended our unending descent into stormy punishment with a custard-based treat … I got to feast on a pup-cup.

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My advice to you? Do not ever do anything to tick-off the fabled “Chupa’cob’ra”. She presents a serious threat that must be heeded, not tinkled upon.

Our day ended in Gillette, Wyoming. Yup, we left Southeast Wisconsin late Sunday afternoon, and are already in Wyoming as of Monday evening.

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Our hostess at the LaQuinta in Gillette says that Gillette is the Energy Capital of the United States. She may be right. We were full of energy after a harrowing day in the Great Plains.

 

Feeling Hot HOT HOT!!

Hello. It’s me!

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“Man, it’s a hot one,

like seven inches from the midday sun.”

At least that’s how Rob Thomas and Santana presented the situation to us at fifteen or more years ago. We experienced sweaty conditions in the Milwaukee area for three days. First, we watched my cousin play baseball. I looked all over for his appearance …

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… and then, he waltzed up to the on-deck circle.

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I don’t know what happened next … either I passed out from heat exhaustion or I got dizzy waiting for the sausage races that never happened.

Fortunately, Dad was able to hydrate.

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That was Friday. Saturday, we left Dad’s brother & family … they would have to deal with the sultry conditions on their own.

Dad and I and Mom went our separate ways on Saturday. Mom attended the “BIG SHOW” in Downtown Milwaukee.

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Air conditioning and Beads sounds like a good combination, but not quite as good as a 93 degree afternoon on the lakeshore in Milwaukee.

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I worked my way toward the Marina where, as always, I evaluated threats. None on the way to the Marina.

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A perceived threat here.

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And nothing to see here.

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From Milwaukee, we motored west toward Oconomowoc, where we attended a graduation weekend. First, we enjoyed a sunset along a lake, while Mom toured the lake in a boat.

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Then on Sunday, we enjoyed a graduation party (well, I sat in a powerless rig, but that’s another story).

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Late in the afternoon, now on the cool side of the warm front, we made the decision to head home. We made it to Albert Lea, Minnesota, named after the topographer Albert Miller Lea. Formerly a manufacturing town, Albert Lea is now host to the largest employer in the area, the Mayo Clinic (No, I don’t actually know these facts. I consulted Wikipedia (click here). What I do know is that, after crossing this country, the only growth industry my canine eyes observed was health care).

That’s what I know. We’re a handful of days away from being back in the Pacific Northwest. We left during cool conditions in mid-May. We’re enjoying the transition to summer with occasional sultry summer days in the Midwest. In my case, the trip has been exhausting, but enjoyable.

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Poof

Hello. It’s me.

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Yup, that’s me on the floor of a Super 8 Hotel, wondering what went wrong with our vacation?

In the next day or two, I will summarize the fun I’ve been having, and it is a lot of fun of course! But for now, it’s a different topic.

Imagine, if you will, that you are trying to hook up power. 15 amps should do. You connect to a post that has lights on it. When you connect, three things happen.

  1. Two of the three lights on the post burn out.
  2. A slight, disagreeable metallic smell emanates from the rig.
  3. The power cord shows power, the rig shows power, nothing in the rig powers up.

#OhOh.

We diagnosed the problem.

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Dad pulled out his multimeter. Dad called the RV dealership. And together, Dad and Dealer (aka DAD) figured out that the house-side of the transfer box was fried … voltage going in … no voltage going out.

No more electricity in the rig without a generator.

Hours later, as Mom and Dad wheeled into the Super 8, they decided that it was time to head home.

So one more afternoon of fun today, and then we head west.

Folks, there’s still a lot of adventure to be had. You don’t need electricity to have fun. Ask any person born before 1800 for examples. Mom said something about singing hymns at night. Dad asked the local Ace Hardware rep if they had any whale oil lanterns for sale. So we will be all right. You don’t need a single volt or amp or watt to power a chew toy.