Well, the day had finally come after nearly 6 months on the road. It was time to head home to my old dog, Zoey and my family. I checked the weather across the United States. There were no big storms brewing. Once I made the decision to leave, I put the “pedal to the metal” and made the nearly 2000 mile trip from Albuquerque to Upstate New York in 4 days! The weather was OK. I drove through some nasty rainstorms, but fortunately no snow…. until I hit New York.
The first day I headed East on Interstate 40, crossed the northern section of Texas and made it to just outside Oklahoma City. I spent the night in a Walmart parking lot.
Day two I headed northwest on Interstate 44 towards Missouri. I made it to Rolla just west of St. Louis, where I parked with some other campers at another Walmart. It was a noisy spot and I didn’t get much sleep.
This was an interesting art installation at the Missouri Welcome Center.
I picked up Interstate 70 and blew through Indiana on my way to Dayton, Ohio. I was exhausted after having little sleep the previous night. I decided to get a hotel room. I needed a good nights sleep and a shower before my last big push towards home. I slept well and got a little later start than I had planned, but I was excited to be getting closer to my final destination. In Columbus, OH I picked up Interstate 71 northeast through Cleveland to Erie, PA.
Once I hit Pennsylvania I knew I could make it home, until I got on Interstate 86 (which crosses the southern tier of New York State). It started snowing, a wet heavy snow and it was coming down hard. I white knuckled my way slowly from Jamestown to Elmira. It was by far the scariest 150 miles of my entire trip. Sylvie is not cut out for driving in those conditions, but once again she pulled through for me! We got off the interstate onto Route 14 North. I was almost home!
I made it to Watkins Glen and the snow stopped. I fueled up and headed up over the hills, 20 miles to Trumansburg. I pulled into town and burst into tears, a huge mix of emotions flooded over me. I had done it! I had completed a trip that I had planned for 2 years and now it was over….it was bittersweet, but more sweet than bitter!
I left on June 1, 2018 and returned home on November 19, 2018.
I put 17,981 miles on Sylvie
I traveled through 22 states and parts of Ontario and British Columbia, Canada
I went to 10 National Parks & 6 National Monuments,
I visited 3 aquariums, a buttetrfly garden, a couple of botanical gardens, a castle, 3 hotsprings and many museums and historical sights.
I saw many animals including: whales, bears, bison, elk, seals, sea lions, otters, eagles, and a roadrunner
Sylvie averaged about 24 miles per gallon
The most expensive gas was $5.99 a gal. in Big Sur, CA
The cheapest gas was in Joplin, MO @ $2.18 per gal.
I bought 4 new tires in Oregon, got 4 oil changes and replaced one complete headlamp assembly that shorted out.
One call to AAA to jump Sylvie’s battery after she sat parked for a week in Sedona.
The solar panels provided enough energy to run my refrigerator, CPAP & charge all my electronics for the entire trip
I reconnected with old friends from elementary school, high school & college days
I spent time with Costa Rica friends at their homes in Atlanta, ID, Bend, OR and Monterey, CA
I visited with several friends from my time in Denver in the early 1970s, and an extended visit near Seattle with my friend John from my early work years at Regional Access.
My daughter and other friends flew out to meet up and travel with me along the way.
I climbed mountains and swam in the Pacific Ocean, sailed on a half dozen ferries, went on a boatride across Jenny Lake in the Tetons, saw Orcas on a whale watch excursion in the San Juan Islands, took a gondola to the top of Crystal Mountain for lunch, stood in the headwaters of the Mississippi River and watched many beautiful sunsets all across the country.
I laughed and I cried. I was lonely at times, but I also met many wonderful people. I got frustrated and I got lost more than once. I yelled at the GPS! I often had no access to the internet for days (until I found out you can park outside most libraries and use their internet even when they are closed). Sometimes I worried about finding my next campsite, but mostly I was very happy in my nomadic life!
I loved living outside for much of the trip; in the Yellowstone campground with Jenna, on the beach or near a lake, next to a cornfield, camped in a meadow in the middle of Vancouver Island with Linda, in the Redwoods with Evelyn, or a campsite in Alamogordo, New Mexico with Beth.
I ate amazing foods- Indian curry in Niagara Falls, smoked fish in the Northwest, homemade ice cream in Idaho, my first huckleberry pancakes in Glacier National Park, oysters from the Puget Sound, fantastic sushi in San Francisco, seafood tacos on the San Clemente pier, authentic Mexican food from El Pinto in Albuquerque, or my favorite hash browns, sausage and eggs, which I often made for dinner when I was camping.
I can’t forget all the great beers I had along the way including: Black Bear Stout in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Jenny Lake Lager and Snake River Zonker Stout in Grand Teton National Park, and Kelp Stout from Tofino Brewing Company in British Columbia. Seattle friend John’s “stock beer”, Bottom Cutter IPA by Bale Breaker became a favorite while I was there! Then there was Ginger Beer! Linda and I starting trying out different ginger beers when we were in Canada. Have you tried Fever Tree? It’s very good!
The three questions I get asked most often now that I am back is: What was your favorite place? Were you ever afraid? and What is next?
I have tried to pick a favorite place, but it is way too hard. I loved everywhere I went. Every day brought new sights and experiences. I loved getting to the crest of a hill or the summit of a mountain pass or the far side of a huge switchback and seeing what lay beyond. Sometimes it was the most amazing view of the valley below, or something completely unexpected, like the seals at Shelter Cove on California’s Lost Coast, the rugged beauty of the Sawtooth Mountains, acres and acres of bright yellow Canola flowers in eastern Idaho or the huge rock haystacks along the Oregon Coast.
I loved the fertile fruit tree farms of the Columbia River Valley, the panoramic views of the Grand Tetons, the sacred Pipestone National Monument, the lighthouse on a cliff overlooking Lake Superior, the sunsets on Whidbey Island, the spectacular red rocks of Sedona or the serenity of Lake Kabetogama in Voyageurs National Park! They are all beautiful and special in their own way. There was no one “best” place.
What I realized is how extremely lucky I am to live in this beautiful diverse country, where a retired single woman can get in her van and drive across country and back by herself. Was I ever afraid? In the beginning I felt a little afraid or unsure about camping in different places, but it soon became routine. I always tried to get to my campsite long before dark, cook and eat dinner, take a drive or hike to see the sunset whenever possible and get into bed early with doors locked. I am a strong believer in trusting one’s gut. If a place or person I encountered didn’t feel right, I just moved on. I really didn’t have any serious issues. I stressed about Sylvie breaking down or not getting over the mountain pass, but my fears were unfounded and there again I became more relaxed the longer I traveled.
What is next? I have been home for a couple of months now, visiting friends and family over the holidays, working on the blog, and healing a broken bone in my foot! (the result of a tumble out of my van in Santa Fe. I did not know it was broken until I got home and had it x-rayed) It has been wonderful coming home, reconnecting with everyone, and especially seeing my grandchildren!
It is cold and snowy here in Upstate New York and as many of you know, I am no longer a big fan of winter. I am packing my bags and heading back to Costa Rica for a couple of months. I will come home when the crocus start to bloom and Spring is in the air. In the meantime, Sylvie will get a nice well deserved rest so she will be ready for whatever adventures lie ahead.
Thank you to all of my faithful “Travels with Sylvie” readers for following along on this grand adventure! Many of you I know, but some of you I have never met. I loved reading all your comments and knowing you all were out there cheering me on!
Follow your dreams!
Adrienne & Sylvie
Grand Teton National Park, July 2018