getting ready to road trip….Yay!

As soon as I got back from Arkansas & warmed up (yikes, it’s been a friggin cold winter!) I continued my long time birthday tradition of visiting Andre’s Bakery at the Kansas City Plaza for my fave tea & a napoleon.  My mother would get my birthday cakes here when she was alive & I love just taking this moment every year to enjoy this yummy treat.  I am so grateful for the Mother who raised me. 

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On any nice day & a lot that aren’t, my group of walker-friends hit the trails.  When they’re too muddy, we walk the hills on KU’s campus, other paved trails…anything to be out & walking.  These super fit women (I’m the one in the worst shape of all of us!) are always willing to say yes.  My competition is their bikes….they are big road bikers.  But putting in walking miles with them is great!  They have kept me sane during a super long freezing cold winter, they are interesting, funny, smart & chatty.  An 8 mile walk just seems like a joy with these women!  (We’re missing Kathy in this photo…she was my first friend in this group & so grateful she has introduced all the rest of us!)

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Gaslight Gardens is a tiny little bar (the outside bar is waaayy bigger than the inside one) in North Lawrence.  One day on their FB page, they posted they were making Grasshoppers.  Immediately memories filled my mind…my Mom drank those.  I’d never had one before…I thought they sounded a bit weird…mint & chocolate.  But, I wanted to try one.  The walking group had parked in the lot right across from the bar, so after 8 miles on dirt, I crossed the road & ordered my first Grasshopper.  It was really good!  Probably not enough for me to go out & buy all those liquors, but it was good enough I’d order another one sometime.  At this tiny 8 seater bar, was the owner & a BBQ contest guy & his wife.  We all started visiting with each other…the owner & I having some good friends in common & the BBQ guy telling me a whole new way to make chili.  Between the drink & the company, proceeded by a great walk, it was a delightful afternoon!  I really miss interactions like these—they are few & far between these days.

Danny & I are still trying new cocktails, but have our favorites we drink most often.  But, the new thing we’re doing, is learning about the the spirit we’re drinking…the distillery, their history, where they are, what other liquors they bottle…it’s been kind of fun as we sit & share our cocktails.

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Mardi has come & gone already.  I usually hang out with my friend Cheryl for this & St. Patricks Day.  But, she made the smart move to live in Cabo for three months this winter.  So, although it was a nice sunny day…not too cold, I missed my fun friend.  We were swapping videos all morning….me in the parade & her by the pool, walking by the marina, getting all tan & fit & not bundled up in layers of warm stuff!

But, I went to the parade anyway.  It’s such a home-grown event.  A band made of many locals & the rest of us, all dance down the sidewalks of Lawrence while they play & once in awhile, we go into some of the businesses—making it crazy for those who work there, but joyful for their customers.  Here’s some scenes from the day:

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The above beignets were delicious & some chicory coffee as well.

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The band always ends at Freestate Brewery; 1/2 way up the stairs inside.  My tradition is to bug out of the parade for the last couple of blocks (as they veer off Mass Street briefly) & make my way to the bar at FS.  I ordered up their once-a-year Hurricanes & wait for the ending of the parade & the lively songs & atmosphere that follow.  The other great thing is Maisie…she’s been bartending at FS for years & I always see her on Mardi Gras. Maisie loves to travel, & she’d just gotten back from a trip.  So, we set up for me to come back another Tuesday, during the slow part of the day, & chat (while she worked) about her latest trip.  (Which I did on the following Tuesday & it was so awesome to visit with her & talk travel!)

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Cheryl will also be missing for the upcoming St. Patricks Day Parade which is huge in Lawrence.  I’ve not figured out my costume yet, but I’ll be there…in green & ready to party!

About the only project I’ve done is this one:  I’d read about a school teacher who had her class all draw monsters.  Then she made a stuffie from each one that matched their drawing.  So, when I was in Florida last month, I asked the girls to draw a monster & name it.  It was an interesting project, & I’m not sure how well it turned out, but I’ll take them to the girls, along with their drawings, next time I’m in Florida.

Claires—The Fluftball Cutie

Emma’s named Mia

I put their names on the back.

So, I like to think of myself as a minimalist…but I got that self-awarded badge ripped away one Sunday.  There’s a wonderful women’s organization in Lawrence called, 100 Good Women.  They do alot for the Lawrence Community.  Each year they have three sales…one is accessories, one is clothing & the last is books.  I’ve only been to the clothing one a few times & it’s great.  The very BEST thing about these sales, other than the money they raise funds all their awesome projects?  Everything is just $1.  I’ve gotten some great, high quality & fun   clothes in the past.  But, I’d never gone to the accessory sale before.  

Some of you know, I’ve gotten into the study of Horology…the study of watches.  I had a few of my own, & I’ve really loved learning more about watches.  But, there’s nothing in me that wants to own a $5,000 or $30,000 watch.  But for a dollar?  I went a little nuts.  In my defense, I bagged up 40 pieces of jewelry to donate—which is the other cool thing about this sale.  Women bring stuff when they arrive, it gets put out throughout the day while everyone shops,  So, you can go re-visit tables all afternoon.  Funny that while I was going through my jewelry to donate, I came across two old watches buried in some old jewelry.

At the sale, I’d picked up a total of 13 watches, but eventually, went & sat down & checked each one out & got the number down to 6.  I wasn’t looking for anything expensive, I just wanted unusual or functional.  Of course, while I only spent $6 for the watches (& I also bought a warm hat & a sarong), none of them had working batteries.

I felt fortunate that Danny was eager to help me figure this all out.  He has a watch battery changing kit, so we spent a couple of hours, figuring out what batteries each watch needed & one needed a new band.  As of this writing , they all work great, with the exception of one of the old one’s I’d found.  It’s now gone to tick no more.

One of my favorites though?  Even though I’ll probably only wear this one a couple of times a year is the brown Winnie the Pooh watch (top row, second from the left).  It has Pooh in the center & tiny little bees are the hands…flying around the watch.  A tradition the girls & I have, is that each morning one of them gets to pick out the earrings & watch I’ll wear that day.  I can’t wait for Emma to see this one…it even has little bees engraved on the band.

But of course, then how was I going to store/display them?  I was out of room where my previous watches lived.  I tried a couple of different things & of course I didn’t want to spend any money.  I found an old painting I’d done years ago, stored away in my craft closet, added some nails right through the canvas, hung it on my bathroom wall behind my door…& Voila!.  Just as with my earrings, I enjoy choosing a different watch to wear each day.  

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Of course, winter time always finds me reading alot.  Especially with so much cold weather this year, it’s great to snuggle up with a book.  I’ve set a bigger reading goal for myself this year…120 books.  Somedays, though, it’s kind of hard when Sammy’s favorite place to sit is on top of my book in my lap.  

I’m already feeling so guilty for leaving her this spring & summer.  I’m a bit worried about her….I’m really good at worrying.  Bob, our boy cat, won’t miss me at all.  But Sammy will.  Danny is a much better cat Dad than I am a cat Mom, but she loves me in spite of that.  So, I let her sit on my book whenever she feels like it.

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Danny has decided to keep working this year….sadly, not going to retire yet.  I’d hoped he’d be with me on most of my upcoming adventures, but it’s not going to happen in 2023.  We’re no closer to figuring out our next chapter with him retired, selling the house & moving, & all the other gazillion questions that come up when you make huge life changes.  Of course, me being the irresponsible one in the relationship, I keep saying we’re not going to have all the answers up front.  But, we’d both probably be homeless or possibly dead, if I’d made all the decisions in the past.  But, I’m ready for him to start living a little, laughing more, getting rested, giving his body a break & hitting the road with me!

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But, it’s that time of year…Trip planning!  While alot of my friends that travel are great about making all their reservations & precise plans, I’m not.  I just hate being tied into an exact timeline.  Of course, this comes back to bite me in the butt when I don’t have a place to camp or I arrive at some places when they’re closed or always at low tide for coastal blow holes…you get the picture.  But, that’s the way I travel.  Plan A always turns into something “else"…sometimes better, always different & once in awhile, one of those “take deep breaths” moments.  But, it’s all an adventure, right?

So, I started early this year & began with the new gear I needed.  I didn’t need much this year…a new headlamp (I bought a hybrid lamp that is USB powered, but also uses batteries.  I want batteries if I go backpacking.).  A new battery for camper….my old one lasted six years, but it was time to get her charging powers back up to awesome!  The last thing I bought, was a biggie for me. And one, I’ve almost bought a few times before & I’m still skeptical about it.  I did alot of research on a big power bank & chose the Bluetti EB3A.  A 10# machine that takes up a chunk of space in my floorboard, but that should keep all my stuff powered up.  I don’t use solar….it just doesn’t work with how I travel, so mine will mostly be charged while I”m driving, using the cigarette lighter.  I’ve already had a couple of glitches with the Bluetti Customer Service, which has made me growl a few times (my main method of displaying I’m super frustrated), but the unit seems to work fine.  I’m trying to figure out exactly where it will live in Camper.  I certainly hope it’s worth it.

Besides new gear, there are always the mundane things like trying to get meds for a super long road trip; my backwards county doesn’t allow me to pay my car tags any sooner than May 1 & I have to jump through a couple of hoops just to do that.  I have one shot for Danny to bring my license plate sticker to me, when we meet up in Florida in June. So, I’m trying to get all my ducks in a row before I leave…if not ducks….pills & car stickers.

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Plan A will be my longest trip ever…we’ll see how it all ends up.  And, it looks like it’s a bit of a segmented trip for various reasons.  That’s not my usual way of travel, so I’m bringing my extra-flexibility along with me.  But, I couldn’t be more stoked for this road trip.  

One very, very big change has already occurred.  I’m super bummed that the Canada part of my trip is no longer in the plan…it’s just not going to work this year, at this point.  When Id added that into the original plan, Id thought Danny would be with be.  So, with that part of the trip being nixed this year (because of a timing issue), maybe hell get to go with me next year after all?

And while, I won’t see my cats for months, I will be meeting up with Danny three times this summer…more than in years past, so I’m grateful for that!  Very, very grateful!  

Because of all the moving parts to this trip (& I dont mean the 4Runner), I have found myself with several different packing lists & six different travel segments.Oh boy!  In some moments it seems overwhelming, but then I feel so grateful I get to go & tell myself over & over not to overthink this….not to overthink this…not to overthink this….…not to overthink this….

Before I take off on my spring/summer road trip, Danny & I are leaving together in a couple of weeks to fly out to see the boys in California & are so excited!  So, I have a packlist for that trip, which turns out is very, very short.  We got the low price tickets (not in any way were they cheap—flying to Arcata is super expensive! but these are wonderful gifts from the boys for our birthdays this year!). But this “level” of ticket,  doesn't allow us to bring a bag for the over head bin…just an under the seat bag.  I have done this before & don’t have any problem fitting a weeks clothes into a small backpack….but Danny is not a minimal packer & likes to change clothes every day & has way higher hygiene standards than I do.  He will be challenged with this trip!  But we’re so stoked to see the boys & Leia & Jordan…I can’t wait!

Then, just two days after were back, I take off for a very different kind of adventure for me (which is why I’ve been busy getting ready!).  I’m helping someone else try to achieve their goal & project, & I’m excited for that!

This road trip feels very different for me, but I’m ready for changes at this age (hopefully all good changes, right?)  So, my normally tidy house has exploded with gear!  I have everything that will go up into the Thule (my road box) in one corner, my filled dry-food bag, a too big array of everything I charge before I leave on a trip, my backpack for California, a duffle for clothes my first segment (because I will be parking my 4Runner & leaving her for a couple of weeks—YIKES!), gifts for the girls for two other segments….it’s such a well organized mess.  Camper is about as packed up as she can be & we’re both nearly ready to go. .

Lets get these adventures started!

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(You can follow along on my Instagram page (@vik.hill), where I post more frequently than here.  The website is more detailed, but doesn’t get updated as often.  Let me hear from you!  I love, love, love to follow other travelers journeys, see their photos, & hear about their trips too.)   Wweroiweuprou                                                                                                                                                 © Vicki Hill 2024