“You’re not a mini-van kinda guy”

The final leg of our US-based adventure is underway which involves a lot of driving again. Susanne and I decided to go out for dinner at Little on Mountain for out last night in Fort Collins. This was good because the day did not go by without some adventure…of course. Our friend Bill in New Mexico was buying the truck, so we were going to first drive to Placitas and drop off the truck, pick up a rental car, and then continue on our way. I had made a reservation at the Albuquerque airport for a car. Thankfully, I double-checked the reservation a week before and realized they were going to charge me $0.35 per mile! Yikes! No thank you.

I did managed to find a car at Enterprise in Fort Collins that seemed like it would work. Whew. It would require that each of us drive a car from Fort Collins to Bill’s house, but that was way mo’ better than $0.35 per mile! We showed up at the rental car place around noon and Heather, the woman working the counter, smiled at us and said “boy, do I have a surprise for you!” Rut Roh. We did not need any surprises. She was excited to inform us that we had been upgraded to a Mustang since they didn’t have the car we had ordered. Susanne quickly pointed out that there was no possible way to get all of our stuff and Sadie in that tiny little thing. Heather then informed us that pets weren’t allowed in rentals cars in Colorado. Ack!

Not my idea of sexy

We hemmed and hawed and pleaded. Finally Heather suggested that she could get us a mini-van and would we be ok with that. This resulted in a big yes from both of us. It needed to be washed and cleaned, so I had Susanne head back while I waited. They did a quick clean on the inside and left the 1000 bugs stuck to the windshield.

Heather came back in and said she had put it into the “roll and go” mode because as she put it, “You don’t strike me as a mini-van kind of guy.” The “roll and go mode” is when you put all the seats flat and the back becomes big flat storage space. I took the “not being a mini-van guy” as a compliment. She told me to make sure I cleaned out all the dog hair or they would charge me in LA. Whew. Thank you, Heather. I gave her a good review on Yelp to return the favor.

On the morning of the 1st, we got up and headed out early since we had a long day of driving ahead of us. We got to Bill’s house around 1:30 pm and dropped off the truck and other things of various and somewhat dubious value for him. It was very tempting to just clean out Bill’s wine cellar and claim it wasn’t us, but the thought of adding more stuff to our already big pile of stuff was not enticing.

It was the end of an era. We said our goodbyes to Lewis and Clark. They had taken us on many thousands of miles of adventure.

We took Sadie for a quick walk and headed out to our resting spot for the night in Grants, New Mexico. I realized after leaving Bill’s place that I had left RoboDoug in the truck. I guess he will now get to retire in New Mexico. From what we can see, he and Bill are going to get along great… even if the wine supply was going to get depleted more quickly.

Robo Doug’s new retirement home

After a stunning stay at the Best Western in Grants, and much as we would have loved to spend more time in that lovely spot, we got up early and headed to Flagstaff to sort out the stuff and try to get our load to NZ down to a tolerable level. We stopped at Campbell Mesa and took all of us for a walk around our favorite hike, Anasazi Loop. Sadie was happy. Roger was happy. Susanne was happy. Being cooped up in a sexy mini-van for two days was not all that exciting to say the least.

It took a while to sort the stuff, but not nearly as long as we thought. We finished up around noon. We were supposed to stay in Flag that night and then drive 11.5 hrs to Aptos the next day. I thought about it and then suggested to Susanne that we abandon the hotel in Flag and keep driving for some more hours to Barstow so we didn’t have such a sufferfest of a drive to Aptos. She agreed and we headed out. I found a dog friendly hotel and booked it.

Now, in theory, this blog is a travel blog so I should at least take a minute to espouse the virtues of Barstow for those of you unfortunate enough to have never vacationed there. As nice as Grants was, Barstow is a whole nother level of nice.

Welcome to Barstow!

It is home to a intersection of train lines, freeways, military bases, meth suppliers, gun stores, liquor stores, porn shops and people that have probably been wanted by the police since 1975 ….to name just a few of the highlights. Our hotel was pretty much a dump, but it had a couch in the “suite” so Sadie thought it was great. We survived and were happy to not be faced with a 12 hour drive the next day.

We drove to Aptos so we could spend some more time with Jason and Cynthia before heading south to Santa Barbara. We were there by ourselves the first night as both Jason and Cynthia had the dreaded four letter word “work.”

We were becoming increasingly paranoid about getting COVID since we had to pass a PCR before getting on the plane. Further, both my sister and Frank had come down with COVID. So we all agreed to test ourselves before getting together. We were negative. YEAH!!!!!

We spent some nice days in Aptos walking on the beach, hanging out and having great conversation. We will miss Jason and Cynthia badly, but I know for sure they will come and visit us. I also got to see my old high school buddy Donn for a day. It was great catching up.

It has struck me that a lot of the people that I have been seeing lately, I might not see again at all or anytime soon. That reality hit me pretty hard, but I guess that has always been the case. But when you move to another country, especially one that’s all the way on the other side of the world, that reality becomes blatantly clear. I guess it highlights how you have to appreciate everyone in that moment for who they are and what they have brought to your life.

The gang
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