Day 7 – A Bump in the Road

waterfall“Waterfall, nothing can harm me at all,
My worries seem so very small
With my waterfall.” – Jimi Hendrix, May This Be Love

Yesterday was our seventh day and we had some problems with Loretta. The steering fluid was leaking and the brakes were not responding well. After several phone calls and considering many options, we found a place to have her serviced while we would be in Evanston for Mike’s conference.

We then decided to head toward Evanston and split the seven hour drive in half. We finally got to the hotel in Tomah at about 8:45 last night. The boys were happy to watch some Cartoon Network and I was happy to have a real shower.

It wasn’t the day we had planned, but we made the best of it. Everyone managed to stay happy and it seems  the boys are learning to roll with the changes. We feel lucky that things worked out the way they did even though they didn’t go as planned. So I say, don’t sweat the small or even the medium stuff. But I don’t agree that it’s all small stuff.



Escape to Wisconsin

When I was a teenager living in Wisconsin, there was a tourism campaign called “Escape to Wisconsin.” We used to refer to it as “Escape from Wisconsin.” We found our home state boring and unglamorous. Having returned after being gone for 20 years I now see it as a fantastic escape. We are on day five and so far it has been super fun and almost perfect! (More below photos) 


    We have visited Wyalusing SP, Pattison SP and have 4 more nights Up North before we head to the “I Ruined Our Summer” conference in Evanston Illinois… which may eventually be called “I Saved Our Summer” conference because it’s where we will be in a hotel, have Loretta serviced, and just refuel and let the boys have some wifi and screen time.         It hasn’t been flawlless. The boys often fight, or get hurt and cry. But I am encouraged they have managed to genuinely enjoy the hikes, views and camping we have done and are excited about each opportunity to explore and about what comes next. 

Ready or not!


Ready or not, we leave tomorrow! I think we are as ready as we need to be (we can always pick things up along the way) and I am anxious to finally hit the road. The few trips we’ve taken in Loretta have been fun and memorable (though far from perfect–not great sleep, cold showers, etc.).

We dropped off our beloved Beagle, Charlie at Shelley’s farm a couple nights ago. It was brutal as I expected it would be.  Our youngest cried and screamed that he refused to leave with us and was going to stay with the dog. Even I teared up seeing how sad Charlie seemed when we left. But we know he’s in a great place and we couldn’t do this trip with him, so life goes on with a quiet house and a heavy heart.

This has been a long, fun journey since it began last summer and we still have yet to experience the exciting, challenging bit. So hang on, folks; it’s gonna be a wild, crazy ride!  If you want to get our updates without having to visit, you can select to “follow” us and you’ll receive an email whenever we post.

I am pretty good at keeping my expectations low, so I’m hopeful this trip will end up better than I thought it would. I look forward to planning our activities as we roll along and sharing meals with friends in beautiful places like Yellowstone and San Francisco. I’m excited to be seeing much of this country that I have never seen. And I hope some of you who have shared with me that you’ve dreamed of doing something like this will be inspired to make the leap and go for it!

Have a fantastic summer yourselves and leave some comments if you feel like it! Peace.

Observations, Questions, and Concerns

rout 66

The family had another chance to head out in our RV, Loretta, Memorial Day weekend. She will be our home and our mobile office for 10 weeks this summer. It was our final “dry run” before we hit the road in June. All in all, we had a great 3+ days and I used it as an opportunity to observe and make some notes that might be useful for this summer.


  • At least in Wisconsin, it seems drinking beer is fine any time of the day and starts for many at breakfast. We may have this luxury some days, but mostly we’ll be heading out to explore and will save the beer drinking for the evening.
  • It takes just one dog barking to set the entire park of dogs off. At least it wasn’t our dog that started it! Thankfully this summer we won’t have our dog and will generally be camping at “no dogs allowed” national parks.
  • Even when it’s raining, campers seem to do what campers do. People were swimming, kayaking, and kids were jumping on the giant bubble rain or shine. We chose to go antiquing and to see a movie (‘Tomorrowland’), but it’s nice to think rain doesn’t have to slow us down.
  • I am sure to love the convenience of the George Foreman® Indoor/Outdoor Electric BBQ Grill. Ribs, salmon, coleslaw, and potato salad make a delicious camping dinner.

Tutorial from the NeighborQuestions

  • Hot Water? We figured out a few new things about the RV, but we never did get the hot water working – cold showers are NOT fun!
  • Awning? We’re still convinced there is a better way to lower the awning, but at least we got it down and stayed dry during the downpour!
  • Brakes? I think we figured it out, but on our way out of town, the breaks started acting weird (as in sort of not working!) then suddenly after a scary jolt, went back to normal.
  • Bikes? Why is it so difficult and time consuming to get the bikes on the rack so they don’t fall off? It really does need to be done right or they will fall off as one of ours did heading out of town!


  • Our youngest son was nervous about tubing on the Sugar River and pretty much refused to go, so I missed out on it too. I know the boys won’t be willing or able to do as much as we might hope to do; this is my number one concern.
  • Another big one is any time we want to go anywhere, we will have to drive all 24 feet of Loretta. Yes, we’ll have bikes that will be useful on occasion, but any real trip will require the big bus!
  • An RV gets dirty FAST! Not just dirty, but super unorganized. It’s a far cry from a calm haven when it’s like that. We’ll need to get better about this one if we want to survive the summer intact.
  • Sleeping went relatively well, but that’s going to be an ongoing concern. Our youngest in particular seemed to get more tired with each passing day!

It was interesting observing things over these few days and wondering what life will be like living similarly for 70 days. I think we’ll need to make some changes, mostly keeping things better organized…oh and figuring out the hot water…but I’m feeling optimistic that we will survive this summer and be pros at many things at the end. I’m looking forward to our tour from Wisconsin to San Francisco and to sharing it with anyone who cares to follow!

On sabbatical (in 45 days)!

shoes on the beach

While the trip hasn’t yet started, I’m declaring myself ready for “sabbatical!”  It’s now only 45 days until we leave and yes, we have lots to do before then. I have an important project to wrap up, Mike has finals to give and grade, and the boys have soccer and school… and of course, there’s the infamous Zinn Cinco de Mayo party! That will be the last “big” (but fun) commitment before we leave.

While Mike will have some work to do over the summer including some consulting, for the $200/hr he will be earning, I’m pretty sure I can manage some serious hours behind the wheel! This girl is ready for anything, but let’s be clear, as awesome as this summer trip sounds, I’m not delusional. We will likely hit rock bottom somewhere along the way. Maybe more than once!

We have plans for a 3 day trip with good friends over Memorial Day and can only hope that goes well to help us set the stage for a summer of good times. Either way, it’s too late to back out. We will have some big BuMpS as we get rolling – like when we say goodbye to Charlie (our beloved Beagle) and the friends we won’t see all summer…and instead say hello limited cell/internet, limited electricity, long drives and unfamiliar places.

But I say: BRING IT ON! But be very ready to get an earful and an eyeful. I will likely be the first to “go bust” and plan to share bits of the family’s “rock bottom” with you. We are all human, but life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all!

In between space redux

Loretta HatThe Meet Me Halfway book tour has begun and now that it’s launched, it has a life of its own that requires less from me. The tour kicked off at A Room of One’s Own in Madison which was followed by a cake and champagne celebration in Loretta (dubbed “the bookmobile” for the night). Jennifer has done an incredible job with the first few readings and print and radio interviews. She and her partner, Keren, seem to be handling the road well while making the most of the tour (see blog about visit to Ferguson). I look forward to fading into the background and following their journey for the next few weeks (and reconnecting late summer to plan phase II of the tour!).

My volunteer commitment at Madison Museum of Contemporary Art for the Hair Affair fundraiser is also coming to an end. Hair Affair is a fashion show with high-flying hair sculptures worn by models that very carefully descend the museum’s stunning glass staircase. This over-the-top event requires lots of volunteers working for almost 5 months to pull it off. It too was a fun ride that will culminate in Thursday evening’s celebration of Cirque des Cheveux.  I’m not done volunteering at MMoCA, but dressing up, wearing a wig and greeting donors will be an appropriate way to close this chapter.

I am grateful I was able to time this all so perfectly. Gradually now, I return to focusing on our summer plans and preparing for some spring camping with friends. It seems strange to consciously “stop working,” but I know it would be hard to work on the road and I’m pretty sure I’ll get the hang of hanging, The only work I’ll be doing is blogging about our adventures and sharing the highlights for those who love to travel or find entertainment in our trials and tribulations.

I now find myself returning to the “in between space.” The space after you’ve committed, but before you’ve begun. This is a place I love that allows me to be free to plan and dream our summer road trip. I look forward to slowing down and enjoying the “in between space” before the “next thing” begins – hitting the road in Loretta June 13th.

photo: My Loretta driving hat purchased on trip to Bahamas

Life is for living

Ellis in LorettaThe summer is feeling so close now that we have Loretta home. With a little jump, she started right up and we took her on the road for our first camping trip of 2015. We never did figure out how to get the awning down, but everything else was smooth sailing. We did one night in Black River State Forest which was incredible. There was no one there and the boys had so much fun collecting things and  having the whole family play Ghost in the Graveyard. Unfortunately, my neon orange sweatshirt (a last minute purchase as I forgot to bring a jacket), made it a bit hard for me to hide!


At the last minute, I suggested a second night. Everyone agreed, but we wanted to get closer to home. A two hour drive to get home for work and school was probably not a good idea. So we moved to Governor Dodge State Park and again, there was no one there. We had the place to ourselves. After a good dinner at Barn 23 (we didn’t have lunch so it was really good), Mike made an amazing fire and the boys ran around doing what they do. That night there were thunder showers which was pretty exciting as the rain is super loud on the RV and the thunder is right there! The dog was whining and kept waking us up, but we had no idea why. I let him out twice but he never went. Finally we figured out he was THIRSTY! He hadn’t had his water bowl at the ready like at home and after helping himself to Ellis’ left over burger he was crazy thirsty. Once we took care of that, he was quiet, but I have no idea what time that was and feel like I didn’t sleep at all!

We drove Ellis straight to school in Loretta (he slept on the bed about half the drive home). They were dirty as can be when we sent them off to school, but it was a perfect weekend that we didn’t want to see end. Life is for living and sometimes you just gotta do it!