How the Planning is Going- 4.15.2021

At the beginning of this year, I had decided to hang a large map of the U.S. in my office so that I could stare at it every day, reminding me of what was to come.  So that even just by glancing at it, I could make mental notes here and there of what needs to get done.  I joined several Facebook travel groups in hopes to make new friends, but more importantly, to also hear about others travel experiences.  I have screen shot so many things I want to see, that I have to take just a day to go through each one and write them down in my travel notebook.  I don’t mind keeping notes on my laptop, but there’s just something about pen and paper that makes me feel more in control. 

I have begun to buy tickets to events, and THAT is exciting to me! I have been waiting to see how everything was going to play out, and would I even be ABLE to travel because of the state of things, but it looks like I will be able too with a mask on for now. I thought planning this for the summer of 2021 was pushing it out far enough, but as we all know, it just keeps cycling right now, so I am going ahead with extreme caution.  Like last summer, I will follow the protocol I gave myself of always washing hands and sanitizing after touching everything and anything outside my space. Masking up, keeping safe distance, I hope I will be ok. ALSO getting vaccinated tomorrow, VERY happy about that!

So what am I buying tickets too? Well, I have some really odd, amazing, and fun likes in, and of, life!  I bought tickets to a Puppet Museum to see the largest display of Sesame Street items, and then booked a Paranormal tour at Waverly Hills Sanatorium in Kentucky.   I am going to go and check out the life-size “Noah’s Ark” also, and probably hit up the Kentucky Derby area too.  I LOVE me some nature so any State and National Parks I have time for, I will try and see. This summer, a heads up, SEVERAL National Parks are asking you RESERVE your day for when you are coming to see them. Also, you will need your National Parks pass AND they are charging at some an additional fee to come into the Parks.  Yes, you read that right.  I assume they are watching their numbers, but it is a pain to try and pinpoint when I will be EXACTLY where and not a “go with the flow” on this one.  Basically I will have to reserve a couple days at each to give myself a small window in case of delays. Because I am staying in Yellowstone I assume I don’t need a reservation, but I am still researching this.

By the way, this is basically what I have been doing every day…research.  It’s not only about one city, it’s many. And it’s not just the city then, it’s where to stay. Is it safe, is there food close by, gas, etc… Then how far are the places I want to see from the hotel, are the roads easy to drive or is it all mountains? Things like this I really try to prep for because the “SURPRISE” sometimes isn’t so sweet.  I mean there isn’t much I can do once going “up”, just keep my foot on the pedal and pray! I do A LOT f singing when I am nervous while driving, helps calm me down and get the anxiety out.

Last but not least, I booked my weekend for the opening of the Hot Air Balloon Festival in New Mexico!!!  I rewired some of my plans to make it fit, having to double back a bit on what I was going to be doing, but this has ALWAYS been on my bucket list. So I found a hotel a couple miles from the Festival, and booked the entire weekend in case one day has bad weather.  I am going to try for the VIP tickets when they come out because you can go to a private patio and watch them with food and drinks. Sounds like a fun way to meet people and enjoy the view, so hopefully I will be able to snag one!

I am trying to stay focused, but life has a way of sneaking up on us as we plan something else.  Bob is COMING HOME today and so I am SO happy for my Mom who is relieved and just SOUNDS so much better. They hope to head back to Green Bay in the next coming weeks, and I will be up there in June to see them again. And with life it’s one big rollercoaster ride, and as I got news Bob is out of the woods, I still have a dear friend deep in them.  So I am praying and thinking about Eric all week, and so touched that he called me on Monday to connect on what was happening with him. In fact we did have a laugh, I told him that I was having the whole family vaccinated this Friday, and he said “Why, why would you do that?” I said, “So we don’t get it.” And he started to laugh and said “Oh, wait, I thought you said you and the family were being EVACUATED” and we both laughed.  Small things, big moments. I pray he’s ok, they intubated him less than 24 hours after that call… and now we wait. Please keep him and the family in your thoughts and prayers.

So that’s been my week thus far, I keep moving forward, keep stepping out of that comfort zone, and keep hoping that life gets back to a normal we can all agree on, soon.

EXCITING ANNOUNCEMENT!!!

SOOOOOO excited to share this FINALLY!! After months of creating, planning, prepping, and trying to schedule out the best time to drop this, today just feels like a good day to do it.  So, why not? I have been encouraged to make my own merch for years now and I just didn’t “take” to it because I guess I didn’t think anyone be interested. BUT then ideas started to come, and I thought, let’s start with pins and see how they go.  I have a LIMITED amount to kick this off, and will order more if people love them. God, I hope you at least LIKE them LOL. 

I have designed FOUR acrylic pins, along with my Design Team, and came up with the first four that truly represent my brand, my mission, and just me.   Pin cards included and designed to fit the pin- I may love them even more!!

For those who have been with me since 2009, the original logo designed by my oldest daughter, Kyra, is the luggage pin.

Second pin is the current logo, the white baseball cap that I will be wearing most of next year, and have been wearing this past year.

Third pin is a nod to my 80s, and Gen X roots, THE MIXED TAPE!!!  It says “Road Trip Playlist” on it with my logo VERY small on it as well.  The pin card for this makes me soooo happy!!

Fourth, and final pin, goes a long with my mission…. Spreading Kindness. I will be selling this batch and then ordering a bunch more for the road. These are GREAT for spreading the word, and of course, KINDNESS! Because good golly, this World needs more!!! 

Pins cost just $5 each and $5 to ship. If you buy more than one, I will combine shipping. DOMESTIC ONLY please. ZELLE only unless you contact me for a different payment option. Email me at relocatedtourist@yahoo.com with your order, LIMITED TIME AND AMOUNT, so let me know ASAP! PLEASE Do not pay until I confirm your order. I hope you love them as much as I have enjoyed creating them!

Hitting Life’s Reset Button

I think it was a Staple’s commercial where there was a big, red button you could press to reset something, and I always thought “Wow, how handy that would be.” How many times we all find ourselves going down one path, nothing seemingly wrong, and then BAM, you are turned, twisted, and left on something you don’t even recognize. That’s how I equate the last several weeks of my life, and it’s taking me a bit to travel back to my original road. Patience, not my strong point, hope it’s yours.

I am coming to the 7 week countdown soon here and I am SOOOOOO not prepared yet.  If anything of my impromptu trip to Texas taught me is that I have so much to get ready for and so much that I cannot possibly plan, but just let happen.  A quick update on Bob- he is doing well and he going into a Rehab center for a short period of time to just help move recovery a long a bit quicker.  Mom is well and enjoying the space and quiet between me leaving and him coming home- it will be a lot for her to deal with so I told her to rest up and to enjoy the peace for a little while before the harder stuff comes down the pipeline. They will have a nurse come by the home as well, if needed, and I made sure to set them up with as much as possible before I left.  We all watch our parents get older, as we get older ourselves, and it’s an interesting chapter to say the least. It’s hard, it’s just hard. Let’s hold onto them as long as we can.

So after two days of driving there, and two days of driving back, I did come across some firsts. I now know that I CAN conquer bridges from a traveler’s nightmare….I 10 has TWO GIGANTIC bridges that when you come around a corner and see them, you have no choice but to go up.  I literally prayed and sang all the way up one, trying to distract my brain from the “flight or fight” method because this sucker was STEEP!  You know the kind that you are almost positive that you are never going to stop going up, and that you wonder what fresh hell is waiting there once you get to the top?  OH and then one had traffic so thick that we all were braking on the way up- nothing like feeling like I could fall backwards at ANY point.  Yes, I will be avoiding these on my road trip, thanks waiter, check please!

I got to visit my first “Buccees” which is a gas station on crack of any of you wondering. It’s like if Target and Wawa had a baby, and then Kwik Trip, 7/11 and so on came to party as well, making this giant Beaver baby that is Buccees. To tell you how large this place was, my gas pump was #222. Seriously. They have them lining one whole side of the building, in layers!!  So the one in TX was smaller I guess, and it was manageable. I went in, checked it out, grabbed a chicken sandwich and a soda, and headed out. The one on the Alabama, FL Panhandle State line was something out of nightmares.  It was ike a Black Friday sale met the busiest Disney day you can think of- I didn’t know if I could or should enjoy looking around with so many people shoved into one building.  Half with masks, half without (even though CLEARLY marked that you must wear one inside).  Grabbed a sandwich, a drink, some hot sauce for Kyra, and bolted.  Not today Satan, not today.

If anything, it was a good dry run on driving long periods of time again. Honestly, this is what I will be trying to avoid on the trip. I want to only drive a couple hours in between destinations so that I may enjoy the excitement of that day and not get bogged down with all the driving.  It’s odd how driving makes us so tired when we are literally just sitting with our foot on the gas, but I guess the inactivity is what does it.  Day two this time I wound up driving for 15 hours due to Easter weekend traffic being horrific on the way into Florida on 75. Pretty sure I was delirious by the time I walked into the house- but oh so grateful to make it home safe and be with my family for Easter.

In an odd way, these reset moments help me process and cooperate with life’s messes a bit better each and every time they come along. It’s in the learning of how to cope with my emotions, how to spring into action when someone needs me, and more importantly, sidelining my life for a small sliver of time so that my heart and head are available to help someone else.  It brought me much joy to hug my Mom, be there for her before and after, but more importantly, to SHOW her “You matter, I am here. You are not alone.”  May we ALL have persons who will drop everything and show up for us, and may we all be that to someone in our lives.  You may never know the impact your life may have on someone, but let’s try to make it a positive one. Perfection? Heck no. Kindness, compassion, empathy, being present? Hell yes. So as I hit the reset button, again, I wish you all a go on yours, may it be a fruitful and positive one!

I Booked Yellowstone!!!

In between taking care of things here, I have tried to work on my trip as much as I can.  I have found that I get this second wind lately and I just run with it, booking right and left.  So yesterday I was doing my research on Yellowstone and wanted to see what I could find for August and maybe find something open.  All the hotels in the area are fully booked, so next was staying either inside the Park and camp or outside the Park and camp at like a KOA Campground. 

I found a site that I could book for 4 straight nights in the Mammoth area, so I am super excited that I got that end because it is where I intended on coming back through after Idaho and the Ghost Towns of Montana.  Not knowing ANYTHING about Yellowstone, I just winged it on what campsite looked best and found a nice one that looks onto one of the Mountain sides.  I had to book on the National Parks website, another first for me, by making an account and then paying for the site IN FULL online.  They do list what the site has, what the amenities are there, etc.. so it was pretty easy to use except modifying the dates.  I screwed up the month, so I had to remove the wrong reservation and replace it with the correct dates which then gave me different site choices.  Doing this for the first time is incredibly scary because I don’t know the Park at all.  I just knew this was the Wyoming end I wanted to come in on, and I figured that I could enjoy 4 days in this area, and then maybe find a site at the bottom for a day or two there. 

I highly recommend joining camp groups and National Park groups/pages for insider information, as I am learning a lot.  I plan on tenting it, but honestly I will probably sleep in my car during the night, and during the day take a nap in my tent and relax there after hiking and such.  I have watched every episode of “Survivor” and owned my own Campground, you’d think I would be more prepared for this. BUT its been over 20 years since I had my Campground, and have camped little since then. SO this will be a learning experience. I am getting a tent that is the EASIEST to put up and take down.  I don’t want to get frustrated with that and ruin the entire experience.  I will also keep food ONLY in my car, not in my tent, as this is bear country and while I would like not be “Datelined,” I would also not like to be mauled by a bear. 

Just need to figure out the campfire situation and how to bathe.  No showers there, just flushable toilets, which is still better than the pit toilets. As a kid I used to have nightmares of what spiders were going to crawl up in there while I was on them….or falling down the toilet into the yuck. I know, give me a break, I was a kid. LOL  I am a bit concerned about that 3 a.m., middle of the night pit stop I may need….hmm. 

I am SUPER excited to be able to explore a National Park in this capacity and detail this time around, and not just a drive through. I don’t mind driving them, but hopefully I will be able to do a hike or two. SAFELY. Yes, need bear spray, human spray, spray spray. I have a list going that I will get before I hit the road in June, and then pick up groceries and bottled water in Idaho before heading in.  I am only there 4 nights, so hopefully I see as much as I can, but short enough that if I am miserable and not feeling it, I won’t have to endure it too long. LOL  

It was only $25 a day to camp inside the Park, and I did have to pay it in full.  They don’t have many campgrounds open this year, so I just went with the one that was open.  I figure I will bring everything in I need, drive the loops to see “Old Faithful” and other sites on my end. Then maybe book another site on the opposite end I will be heading out on, or just see things as I head out of there.  They were filling up incredibly fast, I had no idea the cutthroat world of camping and how people sit and wait for people’s campsites before they even left.  I guess I will see firsthand how this will all work. OH you also get a discount if you have a National Parks pass, I didn’t plan on buying mine until my first Park, so I wasn’t able to benefit this time around.

I am nervous and excited, and I think it will be a true test of my patience and learning to be with myself without many distractions. I CANNOT WAIT to show y’all how I do and how I am doing- pending ANY cell phone reception. My campground says they have it, so I am hoping I have it for when I chill at night and I can check in with people. Other than that, I plan on a campfire and then movie time with a DVD on my laptop- charging in my car during the day.

If you have any suggestions, please comment on FB, on the blog, or PM me. I would love to know your tips and experiences in Yellowstone and what trails I should take, what places to check out, and what you dealt with.  Thank you for any and all help!