We pack our things back into Bantha after spending two weeks in the Outer Banks and Cape Hatteras National Seashore. It was lovely being out there and spending time with our families. But it's time to start our journey home. Of course, we sorta are home. Bantha is a home. But it's time to visit our house in Colorado. We wave goodbye to our rental and start driving. It feels natural to be back on the road again, nestled into the truck with our tiny house and gear. We're still 3000+ miles from our home in Colorado. But it feels like this is the turning point in our trip when we start the long circuitous journey home. It's hard to describe the feeling, but it feels like the beginning of a transition.
We drive 7 hours to Asheville, NC to visit my aunt Linda and uncle Stephen. After our long drive, we stop at Hillman Brewing on the outskirts of Asheville for beers and food before heading to Pisgah Campground high in the Blueridge Mountains. We depart Hillman in the dying light of the day, leaving Asheville behind as we turn onto the Blueridge Parkway. We leave traces of civilization behind as we are enveloped by the forest and climb the mountains. We drive through some foggy patches before being completely enveloped in the clouds and misty rain just before Mt. Pisgah and our campground for the night. How characteristic of these Smoky Mountains as they're known. We settle into a cozy campsite hardly able to see the sparse gathering of neighboring campers through the foggy mist. We snuggle into our tiny home, appreciating warm blankets and tea to cut through the chill and dampness.
Over the next few days, we spend time with Linda and Stephen, sharing each others' company over conversations, meals, and walks. We explore the philosophy of being over tea and treats at the Dobra Tea House and hiking through the woods at The North Carolina Arboretum. Val and also have a bit of time to explore Asheville on our own too. We eat a decedent burger at Baby Bull and have funky delicious tacos at White Duck Taco Shop. And of course lots of beers at the many local breweries. I enjoy our spacious visits with Linda and Stephen, often happening over many days. And it's also a homecoming for me, visiting the Smoky Mountains where I first fell in love with nature and hiking. And then again, it's time to continue onward.
We drive another 7 hours to Washington, DC, where we lived for almost 10 years. And where many of our friends still live. We visit one of my oldest friends Jim along with his wife Lindsay and daughter Lia. We stay in their new house and spend time catching up over meals and hiking along the Billy Goat Trail. It's lovely dropping back into an old friendship that instantly reignites. And then again, it's time to continue onward.
State College is next, only a 3-hour drive. We visit Val's parents Bob and Linda and her sister Jenn along with her husband Brian and twins Owen and Rosie. We're here to visit them and also attend a Penn State football game. It's the first game of the season and an opportunity to visit our Penn State tailgating family. I grew up going to Penn State football games with my dad and mom. Both my dad Jack and aunt Linda are Penn State graduates. And my aunt Stephanne worked there for many years. My grandparents (my dad's parents) lived about an hour away in Ramey, PA. We'd visit my grandparents along with going to Penn State games almost every weekend in the fall. Over time, my parent's tailgating friends also became friends with Val and me.
We arrive at the stadium in the early morning. We set up the tailgate and bring our classic dish of Lebanon Bologna rollups, which is basically Seltzer's Smoked Lebanon Bologna rollup up with a filling of cream cheese and chopped green olives with pimento. It sounds weird but tastes delicious. It's a 70s thing. Of course, Don and Donna are already there. And everyone else including Marv and Marlyn, Bob and Mary, Mark, etc arrive shortly thereafter. It's a great day for a football game, with partial sun and not too hot or cold. Penn State wins the game against Ohio University. We enjoy a bit more tailgating after the game and hanging out with Val's family for another day. And then again it's time to continue onward.
We head West, towards our home in Colorado. We're really heading home now. We've spent 3 months on the road and are looking forward to the simple things like sleeping in our own bed. We drive and drive and drive, stopping briefly at Lou Malnati's outside of Chicago for a delicious Caesar salad and deep-dish pizza. There are lots of leftovers which we take with us to enjoy when we arrive home. We arrive at a state park campground just after sunset and settle in for the night and wake up early to start driving again.
We drive and drive and drive again, with a tentative goal of camping near Ogallala, Nebraska a few hours from our house. But it's going to be in the 90s in Ogallala and we're ready to be home so we push on. The sun begins to set as we enter Colorado, the light fading to dusk and then blackness as we drive along I-70. We don't see the mountains arising on the horizon due to the blackness but we start o see lights and eventually Denver.
And then we're home. After 3 months and 12,365 miles, we're home. It feels bittersweet. It feels good to be at our house but it's also a bit disconcerting. Over the next few days, I marvel at the spaciousness of our 2,000 sq/ft house. It's so big. There are so many things. What do we need all these things for? But it's great to be home. Great to be in a familiar and safe space to recharge for a bit.
And I'm excited to see what I find with a bit more time. After all, an adventure isn't just in the moment of experiencing but also in the next moments as it unfolds into subtle changes and influences the flow of what's next. As Belinda Kirk says in her book Adventure Revolution, "Adventure offers two types of joy – the retrospective joy of type-two fun, which comes from the deep sense of purposeful achievement of having ‘made it through’, and the pure immersed-in-the-moment joy of type-one fun, which comes from deeply engaging in the activity and finding a sense of freedom and flow."
See you out there,