Waving is an art form

We are still here, on the island. Last night we were watching one of my all time favorite movies Stranger than Ficton, and there is a line that always hits. “You don’t understand, to you this is a story, but to me, this is my life and I want to live”. Such a great line. For the longest time, that is all that it was to me also, a great line. I can say now, the last 2 months have made that line mean so much more.

In the Midwest, smaller towns especially, people wave. Its the one hand on the steering wheel, 3 fingers lifted salute. And it is done at every car that passes by. This is how I learned to drive. I think that it was even in the Drivers-Ed course. When we moved to Arizona more than 10 years ago, we moved to an area that was on the outskirts of Phx, and newly developed. Everyone out there was new to the area. No one really talked to each other, neighbors didn’t know each other. Everyone just stayed to themselves and hid. I would try to wave to neighbors as I saw them, but most just acted like they had blinders on and ignored me. At first it was just infuriating, but as time passed it sadly became the norm. I stopped trying and just fell into line with everyone else. Then we moved again, same area but a new neighborhood. Again I would have an ill-fated attempt at training people to wave. This happened 4 more times over that 10 year stretch. When we finally bought a house I had a renewed energy to engage with people. Our little subdivision had less than 50 houses in it, so it should be easier right? Wrong. I got a handful trained over the time we lived there to wave when they drove by, but by far most just ignored me. It became a running joke in our house hold… damn non-wavers. We would laugh when we made the trips back to Kansas, as we knew the exact moment we entered the bible belt, cause people waved again.

So now, we are on an island. And guess what – it is expected that you wave! The same way that I learned to drive in high school. Moose does most of the driving when we go out, and he has picked up waving again like an old habit. Me, on the other hand, I have to learn to do it again. Every time I’m in the car with one of my small army, they have to remind me! Our conversations go something like this :

me: “How was your day?”

Youngest male: “I went out *WAVE* and played soccer, then *WAVE*, we made lunch *WAVE* WAVE*WAVE*. I talked to a *WAVE* friend from AZ.”

I am trying friends. So please. If you see me driving, know a few things. 1) I am a horrible driver anyway. 2) I love it when you wave 3)I am not stuck up, I am trying not to kill all the people in my car 4) I seriously love that you wave. 5) I’m trying, and I will get back in the hang of it.

We have been exploring the island more and more each day. We did a hike out to Turtle Head Cove. What a special place! Every turn there is a new view that is breathtaking. We make our way down to the cove, and search for seaglass and seashells. While we are fiercely hunting for the small glass shards, 1of the teenage male points out that we are not alone. In the middle of the cove, there is a pod of dolphins. They were going along side us while we walked. Even the baby was curious to see what we were doing, and jumping out of the water to see. For a bit I couldn’t help but wonder, who is watching who, and who is more entertained!

We were told about the local school, and encouraged to visit it. It is and old historic mansion that was gifted to the town. Pulling up to the circle drive and all we could see was a combination of Hogwarts & Professor Xavier’s mansion. Now, while the exterior of school is impressive on its own rights, the facility inside are truly astonishing. They have a different approach to education, smaller classes, and a genuine desire to be there.

Yes. This is THE school.

I am in love with this island of waving, friendly, social and amazing people. I have found a place that my soul is happy. Our goal has always been to establish a life, not a lifestyle. That is what brought us to Maine. The last post we left off with the question of can we live on an island. The answer is yes. People have done it for hundreds of years. How do they do it….planning, community and dedication. That sounds like a life to me. So this is where we will be. I will continue to update this blog, but now that we have established where we are going to be, it will be more about learning how to live on an island in Maine.

I understand that this is just a story for some, but for me, it is my life. And I intend to live my life the way it deserves to be lived.

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Who doesn’t love a parade

I am a HUGE fan of parades. I’m not picky as to the ‘why’ .. I’m in. Hell, you can get a group of kids riding bikes, smiling and waving and I will stop and watch them. Parade’s are important. What else can you shut down main roadways for? Well, I guess protests. Equally as important, but in my former line of work parades are more fun. (Unless your watching karma direct a smoke ball into a protester’s left nut in PHX, I’m sorry but that was funny). Anyways, All parades are great but small town ones were my favorite. Until I got to see a small island parade. The 4th of July freedom parade. There is literally 1 main road here, and they CLOSED it down hard. Coming in off the ferry, too bad. Enjoy the parade. There were little floats, kids in costumes, fire engines, tractors, kids on bikes, you name it.

They still throw candy. The drivers slow down for kids catching candy! Everyone on the island lines up on both sides of the road offering enthusiastic cheers and waves. All the kiddos shared candy with each other. It was peaceful and wonderful.

After the parade as we were heading to our car, we noticed no one left. All of the community was still out standing in the roadway talking to each other.

Actually hanging out with each other. No one was in a hurry to get anywhere. There was no rush to reopen the roads, the cars parked there were empty anyway. We decided to walk to the park with the kids. As we made our way through, strangers made eye contact, said hello, and introduced theirselves. That night we were welcomed at a local club for a BBQ, introduced to a bunch of people, and told where to go to see the mainland fireworks from the island. True insider secrets. The island will do their show the following night, there is enough celebration for 2 days. Throughout the days, we felt welcome. I couldn’t help but feel like I belonged here. In this community. This is what I was longing for.

That was not the plan; focus squirrel. We have made a list of new houses to tour, and set the date with the realtor. Turns out, we still hadnt quite learned our lesson about realty photography skills. Moose and I both had what we thought would be ringers on this new list, and 1 wildcard.

We started with the wildcard to get it out of the way. Super cute barn shaped house out on a peninsula. And that might be all the positives. There was an incredibly steep drop off that made up the acres included. It was like they set the house, and took a 90degree angle down and called it good. The impressive part, someone still dumped trash, boats, car parts, and what I think was a picnic table on that incline. It was a scene from Alice in Wonderland. Physics obviously do not apply in Maine. Moose tells me the incline isn’t that bad, but when my youngest is at the top of the property and can appear to base jump to me, I beg to differ. Not Dane friendly, not going to happen.

House 2. Squirrel’s pick for the day. Should be an awe inspiring Cape cod, with ample room for all. Including an art gallery barn off to the side. Farfinugien. (Notice the refrain of cuss words). All the photos that had been shared showed the house in its heyday. That was at least 5 years ago. It was glorious (in photos). What we saw can only be described as heart wrenching. It was explained the owner passed, and the house was left to heirs. Everything of the former owner remained. EVERYTHING. furniture, trash, tools, photos, food in the kitchen, clothes in the closets, even paintings still on display in the gallery. An entire persons life work was for sale to the highest bidder. As sad as it was, I could see the potential. I loved the art in the house. It needed a new roof. The gallery needed extensive work as the roof was failing there also. The sheds would need to be cleared out and torn down. All in all, it was actually do able at the right price. Condenter 2 has entered the race. Then we find out it, this too is a bank owned home but with 2 mortgages, and a bank that has not returned offers for full asking price. Well, damn.

Now on to Moose’s pick. Number 3 of the day. Now this one has an immediate red flag… the property line ends at the HUGE electrical power station. There is about 3 acres separating the house from the station. Looking at the pictures I can hear the HUM of the transformers. And yet, I have to admit, it looks nice. *I hate real estate photographers*. We get out to the property and notice the ‘siding’ (I think it was roofing shingles) is a little worse for wear, with some pieces missing, and holes in other pieces. All fixable. We are met by the current resident and realise we are early. Owner is pleasant and tell us he will leave in just a minute. As we tour the outside property we notice the “pond” might actually be the leach pad for the septic. Gross. Moose points out that the traffic noise totally blocks out the hum from the transformers. Always with the optimism. Looking at the house, the setup is interesting. It’s a rectangle. The house is 1 room deep, and you have to walk a straight line through each room to get to the next. This includes the bathroom, and the downstairs bedrooms. Quite unique. My favorite part was the flooring. It reminded me of waves of the ocean. Each step varies. The warping ran the entire length of the house, but it was not uniform. Kitchen; long steady waves. Dinning room; choppy waters. Bedroom; imagine a baby giraffe taking his first steps. There is a second story, with multiple stairwells. But again, you have to pass through rooms to get to the next. I realized there are 0 windows upstairs. Increases the creepy level. I was about to decend the steep narrow staircase when I had deja-vu. FUNHOUSE! The house reminded me of the small carnival “fun houses”. All that was missing was a clown and a creepy porcelain doll plotting to kill me (it was there somewhere).

We make it through the tour, and have our family meeting. Imagine my surprise when ALL the kids liked house 3. Thats when I decided we didnt live in a democracy. Moose has conceded defeat. He knows that house will not work for us. The hospital bills alone from our super graceful children tripping on the floors would finance the space program.

Since we are on the mainland, that means a grocery trip and stocking up on supplies.

We are still contemplating our options when we load onto the ferry. The ride is peaceful, and calming. All the stress from house hunting fades the further we get. We can see the island approaching. My home is welcoming us back. This is where I am really happy. But… it’s not feasible to live on an island with 4 kids. Work? School? Would we get fed up with each other and have a Shining reenactment? It’s just not possible.

Or….. Is it?

House Hunters

We have been on island for a few days, get an offer on the AZ house and now it is time to find our new home. House shopping is not for the weak. Moose and I have had our plan for a while now. Buy a house with some land in Maine, get goats and chickens, and live. We have been stalking houses with the help of a local realtor, and got an idea of what is in our budget before we left AZ. There are a couple strong possibilites. We had even kicked around the possibility getting into a contract site unseen. Luckily our realtor wasnt a fan of the idea. He was really looking out for us.

Now that we are here, it’s time to see these houses we have been day dreaming about in person. We are looking on the mainland, so we have to time the ferry and since we are going as few times as possible, we also need a grocery store run. We pick out our top 3 houses to start with. We start with our #1 pick. Older home needing repair, huge barn and multiple acres, right in our budget. We were fully aware the house needed work. What we didnt know is that it appears a family of raccoons, their cousins, and all extended friends have been squatting in the residence for many years. Was it do able? Yessssssss?…. but the barn was falling down. There was a tombstone of an infant from the 1800s that was hidden in the corner. The opposite corner seemed to defy physics, and appeared to be levitating. There was severe lack of structural integrity. It might have been better to level the whole thing and start over. It was a little heartbreaking. But we have other options! Onward! Driving on down the list, youngest male informs us he found a tick. We get it kicked out of the car, only to find more, and more and more. The house apparently had more than raccoons.

House 2. I cant even describe the majestic artistry this photographer has. He is skilled. In photos, it looked like a well loved and worn farm house, with a funky layout, but it has a few acres. Potentional at its finest. When we arrive – its directly on a busy main road with all the acres along the roadside. Currently not ideal for our plan, much less kids and Danes. When the front door wont open without brute force we should have just walked away. But curiosity got the best of us. We noticed there were extension cords run EVERYWHERE. Cautiously we step over them, and the house isn’t that bad. Cute kitchen. Needs paint, electrical. All do able. Then there is another door that wont open. I summon my inner Andre the Giant and get it open. Talk about immediate regret. There had been a fire sometime in the last 100 years, and then possibly a flood. Instead of repairing the damaged rooms, or even tearing them down, they semmingly just closed the door. There was a tree growing through the bedroom floor and arching out a window. It gave a new meaning to the term “skylights”. I close the door the best I can, and head to the second story. Now I have seen a lot of wierd, but I had never seen a fully plumbed toilet in the middle of a hallway. I have now. There was no door, just the commode. But they installed a TP holder to the wall, right above the magazines and reading material! More extension cords to all the rooms, and again a door that will not open. My math tells me that should be the top of the burned out room, and I gave up opening it. This house is an immediate pass.

House number 3. Not too shabby! By far our favorite of the horror show we have seen. Newer build with 0 character (which at this point is a selling point). It has a barn with stalls attached to the house, no major damage and a basement. This is the only contender we have on the list. Down side, flooring all needs pulled and redone, bank owned short sale, and it is a little over budget. Oh. More ticks. Fantastic. Still, we keep it on the list.

Feeling slightly defeated, we part ways with the realtor and head to next adventure. First mainland shopping since we landed. I have always wondered about people that have 2 carts going through the stores. I wanted to know about their life, and what is going on in their home that requires 10 boxes of pop tarts. There was never a situation I could think of that seemed reasonable. Ha. Now I know. We were determined to get enough supplies to last 2 weeks on the island. 4 teenagers, Danes, and everything else we have… this adds up pretty quick. The receipt looked like an Olympic twirling ribbon. Youngest female is prancing through the parking lot with her ribbon (she had a great qualifying routine down). Now to load the spoils into the car and head back to the ferry. We have gotten amazingly good at Tetrus over the past bit, and our skills show.

We get back to the island, find the community event for the evening, and decide to start the list over. We need to regroup.

Troll roads and Ferry Tales

Waking up in New York makes someone think 1 specific thing. How can I get out of here. Well, for me at least. It was a hard night sleeping, worrying about what the morning would bring. We have A PLAN. Time to get to work. Part 1 – Secure the slide so that it doesn’t move while on the highway. Part 2 – Learn the toll roads, and have cash ready, without knowing how much each toll will be, or the frequency of tolls. Part 3 – Find Tim Hortons Coffee. Part 4 – and the most important part of the plan… Timing. We now have a deadline.

Deadlines haven’t been a big thing on this journey so far, we were still winging a lot of it while waiting for the AZ house to sell.  The breaking of the R-Pod changed everything. While we know where we are going, the complicated part is that it is an island in Maine, and the ferry stops at 5pm. If we miss this ferry today then we have to find a campground and try again tomorrow. We officially don’t want to do that.

Slide is secured, dogs are secured, Squirell is still needing to be caffinatined (holding out for Tim’s) and we are leaving the campground. So far so good. We are making decent time and then the dreaded construction starts. The Express turnpike is a parking lot. We roll down the windows and let Mosely hang his head out. This is my favorite game when we are in traffic! Everyone has a reaction to him. There was a motorcycle rider that even slowed down to pet him as he creeped by. *if you are reading this and your one of the people that took photos, please tag us in them! I didnt get any*. Good laughs aside, our great progress has been knee capped like an Olympic skater. We desperately need to make up the time lost.

Traffic finally picks up speed and before too long we are at a new state sign.  I wasnt ready. I didnt even get the photo from the windshield.  I learned that Massachusetts is sneaky with their turnpike. There is no booth. There is just a ton of photo radar and a couple signs that say dont stress it, we will bill you. Moose keeps telling me another toll coming up, but I haven’t caught on yet. About 25 tolls later (at 2.50 each), I finally read the sign all way through… Good luck Mass, I’m not at that address anymore.  As fast as got into Mass we got into New Hampshire. 

Zooming on through

New Hampshire is pretty, but we didnt see a lot of it. 13 minutes. That’s all we were there. And then, THE BRIDGE!

We have a moat to cross to get home.
In the middle of the bridge.

About this time I have Moose telling me that the traffic doesnt stop on the interstate, and I better not EVEN think about it. I claimed the radio was staticky, made it across the bridge and slammed on my brakes. 1:07pm. We are home.

There was SOO much traffic. I’m sorry, not sorry.
Even the sign welcomed us

Moose knew it how important how the photo is, and joined me after all. Even though this is the only state line family pic east of Kansas, it’s the most important. As great as a feeling it was to finally be in the state, we still have to be at a ferry before 5pm. That is less than 4 hours to make a 3 hour drive. For most travelers that is plenty of time. For my family, that means we need gas, and the countless restroom breaks. I’m overly nervous about this timing.

I made moose pull out into the 70mph traffic first (that’s when I realized why he didnt want to stop). He was super graceful and made it look easy. I however looked, well, like a squirrel in traffic. There is likely a couple of people that now have a horrible view of drivers from Arizona. Ya, sorry about that. Fun fact. There is 0 Tim Hortons on the turnpike we were on. The weight of having sand run out of the hourglass, lack of food/caffeine, Molly and youngest female constantly reminding me that we are running out of time, and the constant pee breaks; I’m starting to have serious anxiety issues. One Moose might even call me snippy. But, we continue through small towns on winding roads that end up riding the coast all the way up to the ferry landing.

View from the ferry landing

We make it to the landing at 4:30. We are trying to follow signs that might as well have been written in French, and finally decide we have it kinda right. Time for tickets. Moose goes in and out comes a guy with a large stick. They have to measure everything, and we are charged by the foot for the trailer. I know that it is a necessary evil, but the ticket prices are ridiculous!  You are charged per person, and per car, and then per foot on the trailer. It was quite the sticker shock. Bright side, we made the ferry line. We even have a little bit of time to spare. The kids hit the beach and are GONE!

We see the ferry pulling in and make a dash back to the cars. Have I mentioned I’ve never driven on a ferry before? I have no idea what I’m doing. So I check with Moose. Guess what, he hasnt ever done it either. Fortunately there is a friendly looking woman standing by her car. I pop out and let her know I have no idea what I’m doing. She was (is) the sweetest lady ever. She tells me everything to do, what the different hand signs mean and everything. She even goes as far as to have the attendants park her near us so she can continue talking to us. We get to hear all about the island we are heading to. She tells us the market closes at 530. We haven’t had a chance to buy food or anything for dinner. The plan now is to get off the ferry and follow her to the market. She is going to run in and hold the door, cause they can’t close if they can’t lock the door. This is totally my type of plan.

Now what I didnt count on, was my new best friend drives like a bat out of hell. Moose is behind me telling me to go faster, but the roads are winding and new and I drive slow. We make it to the market, and notice a sign about live music and pizza tonight at the community center. That sounds amazing. Just what we need. So we make our way to where we are staying, take in the view, shed a couple tears about actually making it, and head out to the community center. I cant tell you all the great things about our first night on the island. Everyone was more than welcoming, and so friendly. We learned about the local school, the markets and got an idea on how things worked on the island. The sense of community, and a friendly welcoming community at that, is beyond explanation.

Hanging out at community event

I can tell, I am home.

If you can make it here….

After waking up in New York, and taking all the well wishes our comrades offered, we are heading out to touch Lake Erie and get on the road. Home is getting closer, and I am ready to be there.

Mosely at Lake Erie.

After a frantic google search trying to find my new bestie – Tim Hortons, I settle for gas station coffee. Moose and I come out to this.

Now it’s a horse trailer.

Stella and Marley decided they needed to see more of the marina we parked by. I am still suspicious of the adorable small child laughing, and missing a large part of her muffin. I think she fed the convicts. Well, if that’s they only thing that breaks, we are in good shape right… yaaaaa, cause that’s what’s make this blog interesting.

Fine. It’s fine.

We do our best getting them to stop pretending they are in a horse trailer, and get started through New York. Now the teenagers have a friend that had previously moved back to New York a few years ago. We reach out, and make a plan to meet for lunch. We get going on toll roads, find Tim Hortons, and are making great time. Now as we pull into the town we are meeting in, it is clear these roads were designed a LONG while ago, and have not been widened since horse and buggy times. There was a stop light that had 5 lanes of traffic feeding into it, 1 way traffic, lights that all changed at the same time, and what seemed like a demolition derby course in the middle. I am still not sure how I managed to make it through in 1 piece. There might have been a couple ‘hopped’ curbs, some cussing, and a pedestrian that will likely look twice for the rest of his life, but we make it and I have my first (and last) charbroiled hot dog. It is definitely an acquired taste.

Yay friends! Even bigger yay for friends with backyards!

As we are talking, their friend offers to let us take the Danes to his moms house so they can stretch their legs too. This is a huge blessing as all the rest areas are very crowded, and it is not as easy to let the danes do their business without having everyone ask if they can pet them. The yard is fantastic, and as soon as we get into the back yard, everyone dropped the leashes and let them RUN. The ground was just damp enough that the danes paw prints looked like mountain lions had came into the back yard and wrestled WWE style. As I am admiring a little water feature in the middle of the yard, SPLASH. Marley ends up over her head in a Koi pond. It used to be a swimming pool that was converted. We decide it is time to head out before the rest of the dogs figure out they can swim too. It is always odd for me to apologize for traumatized fish, and surprisingly, this wasn’t the first time I’ve had to do it.

We are now racing the sun, trying to get as close to Maine as we can before loosing sunlight. Tomorrow should be the big day of crossing that state line. The roads in New York are horrible. In my opinion, it is giving Indiana a run for its money. Everyone swerves to miss pot holes, and when Moose does it, it looks like the R-Pod is dancing down the interstate. With the sun fading fast, we decide to camp at Shodack Island State park for the night. I would like to say that getting there was half the fun, but it was more tight traffic, sudden exits, and white knuckle driving. I will be surprised if I still have a steering wheel after this trip.

Pulling into the park however was breath taking. It is an island on the Hudson River. Beautiful views, and a very well maintained campground. As we are registering our cars, the question of pets comes up. Now, I had called and confirmed earlier in the day that YES they allowed pets, and great danes were fine. NOTHING else was said to me about it. Kathy does advise us to hurry up, as there were only a couple spots left. Thanks Kathy. She might have forgot to tell me a few details, and exaggerated the “couple spots”. Most of the park was empty. Now the person in the window is NOT Kathy. Imagine Mooses surprise when he is asked about pets – Yes. How many – 6. “ohhhhh no. we only allow 2 smallish dogs per site”. Wait… What?!? Nononononono. I called! …. now Kathys counterpart is pretty chill, and asks innocently enough “well, are they small dogs?Maybe as long as no one complains, we can see what happens”. Moose now has a dilemma. He has a moral compass that doesn’t allow him to lie, but it is too late to find another location for the night. This man never once breaks eye contact with not-Kathy and says “ya, we have a yorkie”. Never offers anymore info, and is not questioned further. At this time I am thankful the broken camper window is on the other side of the ranger station, and climb back into my car. When we reach our campsite Moose tells me, that if we are questioned about the dogs, they now identify as Yorkies. As I am trying to keep a straight face, Baby Elliott with his impeccable timing, BARKS. He didn’t get the memo. We stand guard to make sure no one is going to evict us, and move the cars to look like a compound the FBI would want to raid. If no one sees them, no one will complain. That’s our motto.

That’s not suppose to look like that. At all.

We get their tents put up, start unloading the cars, and Moose tells me that the slide on the camper is acting weird. It doesn’t want to work at all. While myself, oldest male and Moose start working on the slide, our fears are confirmed. It is flat out broke. It has came completely off the track. Now it will no longer slide out on its own power, and worse, it will not lock in place when brought in. Moose is trying to get a fix for the slide, and I send the kiddos down to play at the park. It is not looking good. Upon removal of the front cabinet under the sink, we can see that one of the tracks has completely separated from the frame, and punched through the lower part of the slide. Now, remember, the 200lb yorkies are still in their gazebo, and being watched by the oldest male. Moose is under the R-pod, covered in sweat and touching base with his inner sailor, I walk to the park to get the littles. That is when it happens. The Great Yorkie escape of 2019. Sure enough, Stella led them out like a teenager sneaking out of the house after curfew. Have you ever tried to catch a dane, while not drawing attention to yourself or dog, while pretending they are overweight yorkies? It is not a task for the faint of heart. We only lucked out since it was right after “quite time” started, and the other few campers had already gone inside for the night.

By this time, I am done. Fork in me, done. I am trying to figure out how to move all the danes into the cars for the remainder of the trip, and push the R-pod into the river Captain Sully style. I forget that I am fortunately married to the best Moose ever. He has A PLAN. It involves car jacks, ratchet straps and prayer. Hell, we have done more with less, and it is actually a really solid plan. Last part of the plan… Make it to Maine tomorrow. No excuses. We all agree to THE PLAN, and head to bed.

Top of slide. Yep. That’s a car jack locked in place.

As I am laying there thinking about this leg of the adventure, it dawns on me… New York is officially my ‘New Mexico’ of the east. We knew that eventfully there would be a state to take the title… Might as well be a “New” state. hahahahahaha. see what I did there. 🙂

Don’t Blink, you’ll miss the sign

The coolest thing about waking up in Indianapolis, was the fact that we were officially waking up East of the Mississippi River. This will start the jaunt of our journey to states that none of us has been too before.

Family photo friendly. For possums maybe.

As we get back on the road, we are pleasantly surprised, no gloomy rain clouds chasing us. Things are looking up. I have the Middle male riding with me, and he has picked a great radio station, checked the mirrors and even made sure that Moose was leading us out of Indiana. It seemed that we had just started on the roadway and all of a sudden, OHIO! Now, while I would like to blame the interstate system for the failure of getting the photo here…. it is really Ohio’s fault. Who puts the Welcome sign on the top of a bridge? I always thought that Ohio was a tiny little state, and it wouldn’t take very long to get through it. Sadly, while it is tiny, it is also pretty boring. I am pretty sure that we hit a time loop worm hole that caused it to see like forever till the next sign. The problem with the hypnotizing time loop….it causes that next sign to sneak up on ya and you don’t have time to pull over with out causing a multi-car pile up. The middle male seemed to appreciate my dedication for living.

Welcome to Pennsylvania. Now this is something that I have a hard time explaining. There was something about crossing this line. It really affected me. The air seemed different. The roads were different. The scenery changed. The feeling in my chest was like a butterfly was at a rave. This is what I considered New England. That was the line. right there. I might have cried, I might not have. I did scream into the radio and possibly scared Moose into thinking I was having a heart attack. As fast as we entered PA, there was the New York sign. Now coming from Arizona, I am used to it taking a few hours to get out of a county….much less an entire state. After getting separated a couple times due to Tim Hortons coffee, I was no longer allowed to follow along behind. If you have never had Tim Hortons, I highly suggest it. It is like freedom in a cup! Again, the Welcome to New York sign snuck up on me, and we chose life over Moose running us over.

Just inside New York, we are hunting for the Lake Erie KOA. My middle male should be a soundtrack producer. As we are driving through a Norman Rockwell painting, taking it all in, he finds a 1940’s radio station. It really helped set the mood. So there I am, window rolled down, taking in all the views, and Moose informs me I missed the KOA. Now this sign was no less than 50 feet tall, lit up with LED lights, and might have had a cannon shooting off fireworks. I think I was looking at a little squirrel off the other side of the road. I dunno. Maybe the sign needed more lights. After I get turned around, again, we arrive. Now, I can not say enough great things about this place. Everyone that worked there was amazingly friendly and helpful. They were excited to have the dogs there, and thankful they were well behaved. We start getting set up, and place an order for pizza from the front office. While we are getting set up, word spreads like a wild fire that we have the most amazing dogs ever, and we start getting visitors. Everyone wanted to come and get hugged by the danes, and paid the Chauncey tax of feeding her fishy crackers. The youngest female became quite the hostess, and short of lining people up down the road, was very happy to talk to people other than her brothers. As people start to leave, out of nowhere, there comes a guy flying toward us on a hoverboard! And he IS CARRYING PIZZA! That’s right. Our pizza was delivered via hoverboard. McFly was super nice and extremely talented. He even went as far to tell us where we could access the lake with the danes, and fields that we could run them in if we wanted.

Best. Campground. Ever.

The next morning as were loading up, a stranger came up to the camp, and asked “Hey are you the ones moving to Maine?”. Well, yes, as a matter of fact we are. He told us that he heard our story from another camper, and as a resident of Maine wanted to tell us; “Welcome”. We aren’t even in Maine yet, and already we are welcomed. It was a great feeling.

Time to get back on the road…

The Butterfly Effect

Welcome back. We are waking up in Binder Park and the infamous gloomy clouds of doom appear right on cue. Moose decides that we can stay ahead of the storm, but we have to leave RIGHT NOW. That was the quickest that we ever loaded up camp to date. We no sooner get on the road (and Squirrel gets turned around the right direction), and sploosh. It was like an infinite water balloon nailed us. There was no escaping it. We continued on to St. Louis to try to see the Arch. That state should just be named Misery. There was nothing but torrential rain through most of it. My steering wheel now has even deeper imprints of my hands. I’m calling it custom. We also almost lost Molly (GPS). By lost, I mean I almost flung her electronic emo ass out the window. She does this great thing that if she feels like she is being ignored, or forced to recalculate too many times, she just flat out stops talking. Like a teenager giving you the silent treatment. She is lucky she was still connected to the power supply. Mix that with trying to teach the youngest male how to read a map, and me leading the chaos caravan. When there are forks in the road, squirrel gets a little distracted. This all equals to a very loud radio transmission from Moose…. “east, Easttttt, hey…. EEEEAAAAAASSSSSSTTTTTTTTT…. wrong east squirrel.” Moose is going gray, but its looking distinguished, not Doc Brown style. Long story short. There might have been something impressive in St. Louis, but we never got to see it. The only thing I saw was the need for better drainage on the interstate systems.

You know it’s been raining for a while when this passes you.

I also have a new found hatred for interstates. They are killing a crucial part of the American road trip. We are finally getting out of Missouri, and I can see the state line coming up. There is NO WHERE to stop to get the family photo of the Welcome to Illinois sign! That was depressing. I vow to make it up at the next state. We stop for an extended lunch and suddenly, the rain stops. This is the first time that we have seen sunshine in a bit. So we decide to take the dogs out, and give them an extended break also. Keep in mind how you dress when you take long road trips… are you in good sneakers, well rested, and ready to wrestle a 200 lb baby bull through soaking wet grass? yaaaaa. neither was the youngest male.

Blissfully unaware. And warned about no hands leash usage.

We have almost a full rest area to ourselves, and get the leashes all clipped on. The Danes were MORE than ready to get out of the cars and camper. Youngest Male gets Mosely, the eldest Dane. Now, Mosely is usually well behaved, listens well, and adjusts his pulling to who is walking him. But…. Mosely had never seen a butterfly before. All of a sudden we witnessed him sailing down a small hill, youngest male is being flown like a kite! When we all finally caught up with Fernaden the Bull, the male was laying facedown in a puddle of water. For a second, I thought we lost him. He hoped up, yelled an obscenity that should have made me blush, and threw the leash at Mosely… who was sitting there, staring at the damn butterfly. Its always funny to witness the exact moment the Danes realize they messed up. As the male is walking away, pride bruised but mostly uninjured, Mosely keeps trying to herd him back to the butterfly. I could tell that he was thinking, “hey, ya, I know I messed up back there, but if you would just see this thing you would totally understand”… In his defense, it was a pretty butterfly.

Aftermath.

We get loaded up, and find the nearest truck stop to get cleaned up, and get back on the road. That’s when it hits… that whole storm just soaked our planned campground, and they just closed it due to flooding. With the stressful driving, the paragliding, and general feeling of mutiny if we didn’t find a dry location, Moose starts calling around to see if there is a hotel that will accept this circus. Not surprisingly, there are places that don’t accept pets, or over a certain size. Even more surprisingly, there are places that DON’T HAVE A PET POLICY. They welcome all types. While I am trying to teach the Danes how to wear raincoats and walk on their hindlegs, Moose actually does the impossible. Affordable, pet friendly, and can sleep 6 humans. I can count 3 big red flags…but I am getting desperate. La Quinta. Indianapolis, east side. He tells me the good news, and I clarify, you told them what we have right… he confidently tells me “hey if they will accept a bobcat, they won’t have an issue with us”. I really wish I would have heard that conversation in person. I still don’t know how he knows you can take a bobcat there.

Back on the road, and again, another welcome to sign that we couldn’t not pull over for. Stupid interstates. We get through Indianapolis like we are trying to qualify for the 500. This is for 2 reasons… 1- we wanted to make sure that we got there at a decent time, 2 – have you ever tried to drive through there? There are pot holes that are deeper than a Volvo. The concrete barriers are all colored with a distinctive story of the latest fatality accident. Getting through fast maximizes our survivability rating. All the way through, to the east side. A rougher looking neighborhood, and the La Quinta is in a Home Depo parking lot. Not near the Home Depot, but quite literally in the parking lot. Oh well. Moose gets us checked in and we find out we have an apartment suite, on the top floor. We have to strategize how to get the Danes to the top floor, with out interruption and with out Mosely seeing the ducks in the pond. We deduce that 1 or 2 at a time is best, and yes, we are taking the elevator. Drawing straws, Moose gets Sox and is going first. Middle Male is taking Stella up with them. After making their way through a group of residents that were convinced they NEEDED a dane too, the duo is met with an unfamiliar foe… the automatic door. They make it to the first set of doors -whoosh- they open, and Sox wants NOTHING to do with this dark magic hootenanny. Stella, already a little timid, follows Sox lead and firmly says no. Moose is able to coax them through the door, but Sox decides that he is going to HOP. Now hopping Great Danes are a different circus entirely. Everyone in the lobby has stopped mid sentence, and are just taking in the show. With everyone lined up like the Pope is walking through, they make a break for the elevator. Yay, more weird doors. They are prepping to take the hopping danes in, when all of a sudden the doors open, and a wiener dog explodes out like he owns the place. Now, his breed might have been wiener, but that was no hot dog… Think overly cooked bratwurst that has been soaking in beer for a while. He looked like was going to burst at the seams. There was a collective gasp from everyone in the tri-county area as the bratwurst slides under Sox’ and freezes. This poor dog was looking straight up the snout of the biggest creature ever. Sox is hanging his head, just looking at him like “hey little fella, whatcha doing”. Stella is terrified of the elevator bratwurst. She tiptoes around him, and gets into the elevator with everyone. That’s when she must have realized that the door was disappearing, and that is the only way to get out, cause she tried. Oh bless her heart she tried. Every time she touched the door while it was closing, it would reopen. Finally they have them all in, and heading to the top floor. As soon as the door opens, they bolt. No one liked the elevator, moving floor and disappearing doors. Marley, Mosely and the yorkie make through the crowd, with out an incident, and Moose comes down and I get the signal that it is my turn. 1 left, Baby Elliot. He was remarkably cool about everything. As we are standing in the lobby, there was a collective hush again as we entered, and finally the clerk asks, “is there a dog show in town or something? There are a lot of big dogs here tonight”… I smile and wait for the door to the elevator to open, as it is closing I announce proudly – No show, they are all mine. Baby Elliott didn’t miss a beat, he walked in calmly and acted like he knew the routine. He was a little uneasy about the elevator, but he never once freaked out.

If I fits, I sits.

Now keeping everyone in the room was a totally different story. This room, well there certainly was a reason it was affordable. You could see daylight through the door. There was 0 insulation, and we might have heard a murder. Trying to get into the room was a challenge even with out having the Danes wanting to clear the hallway. There was once that they took advantage of the door and BOLTED. That had to sound like we had a herd of elephants to the lower floors. I felt bad for a minute. Then exhaustion took over, and I couldn’t do anything but laugh. Everyone was making the best of the situation.

No one trusts doors anymore.

The next morning was interesting. The lobby is where the breakfast nook is. Trying to convince the Danes that they did not need a muffin for the road was more trouble than it was worth. Especially when a smallish child was the offeror of said muffin. She kept laughing, and telling her dad that she was feeding the ponies. I didn’t have the heart to tell her different. We finally get everyone loaded up, and back on the road.

I’m guessing someone is rethinking their pet policy right about now”.