From our perch on the Colorado high plateau we descended southward, to the small little town of Limon where we waited out a two day heat wave in a motel, with a swimming pool. Once it cooled down we broke from our usual back roads ways, jumped on the interstate and spent the next two weeks slowly working our way across Kansas, which we really liked, then down through Oklahoma, which we were less fond of, and finally to Dallas to visit family.
It was about 900 miles in all, which we spread out over two weeks. The first two weeks of September were a wet two weeks in this part of the country. I think we saw the sun maybe two days in that time, and even then, not for long. It was probably the least interesting two weeks of our trip thus far. At least for me. I was either working or driving, which quickly makes Jack a dull boy as it were. I didn’t realize just how busy I had been until I went back and looked for pictures to post and realized I only had a few.
It probably wasn’t a whole lot more exciting for Corrinne and the kids, though they did sneak off into Wichita to a children’s museum once, and the kids made some friends in our favorite weekend stopover, the small town of Ellis Kansas, where we met a lot of really nice people.
You might be wondering, why did they spend two weeks doing almost nothing, driving through the midwest?
Well, first off, I would say that until we got to Wichita, Kansas is very much the west. It looks like the west, it feels like the west. And then somewhere in there you cross that invisible line, which some say is the 100th meridian, but which I think is far too ephemeral and shifting to pin down that precisely, and the humidity is back, the undergrowth lusher, and you’re in the east again.
But, the real answer to that question requires going back to the very beginning, before we ever had the bus.
One day Corrinne came into my office at our house in Athens and said she thought we should move abroad, to Nicaragua, which we both enjoyed when we spent a couple months there. A friend of ours had moved down there recently and really liked it. At the time the girls were still babies and Elliott hadn’t been born yet. I said sure, let’s move to Nicaragua. I mean why not?
But I’ve always thought the United States, despite its many flaws, is a very beautiful place and I wanted the kids to see it before we left. So I said, okay, let’s move abroad, but first let’s get an old camper and drive around the U.S for a while so the kids can see it. My wife, as I recall, said, I don’t know about that. But I started to do some research on old trailers.
In the process I discovered the bus. Not our bus, not right away anyway, but the Travco more generally, and, well, you know how that ends. But this was just before Elliott was born, Corrinne wasn’t sold on the bus idea yet. It wasn’t until about four months later, we were down in Apalachicola, and one day Corrinne came up from the beach and said, okay, I could travel for a while. About a month later we found the bus for sale and bought it.
The rest of the story is documented here already. The point is though that, for us, traveling around the U.S. was always a temporary precursor to going abroad.
So, after over a year and half of living in the bus we decided the time had come to head abroad for a while. In those 19 months though many things have changed. We’re not going to Nicaragua, which has become decidedly unstable in recent months, but we are storing the bus for a few months and heading down the Mexico. Corrinne’s parents retired to San Miguel de Allende earlier this year and we thought we’d visit and let the presence of loved ones ease the transition a little for the kids. We are, in other words, sticking to what has always been our rough plan1.
We could have driven the bus down to Mexico, and someday we might. In fact I’d really like to do the west coast of Mexico in the bus as some point. But since our plan is to stay in one place for a while, bringing the bus didn’t make sense. My brother-in-law’s parents have some land outside Dallas that they said we could store the bus on, so we decided to leave it for a while (many thanks to Terry and Gram for taking care of our baby while we’re gone). No, we’re not done with it yet. I don’t think. Certainly no one wanted to leave it, but different places demand different travel strategies, and the bus was not the best strategy for what we want to do for the next six months. We’ll miss the bus, it still feels like our home, but now it’s time for something different.
Before we caught a flight south though we got to spend a week with family around Dallas, swimming, running some last minutes errands and somehow managing to squeak in some fishing and swimming time out at the lake.
And then, before we really knew it, we were in the air.
The idea that we have a plan is completely laughable. What we have is more like a collection of ideas that float around our heads like balloons and every now and then we grab one and float away on it for a while. These ideas are often contradictory and impossible. I think it was Eisenhower who said plans are useless, but planning is essential. ↩