Each one, as a good manager of God's different gifts, must use for the good of others the special gift he has received from God. (1 Peter 4:10)

Yesterday I found myself shaking my head at the notion that July, 2015, is all but tucked away in the history books. And that got me shaking my head at myself. “Self,” I said, “you should be much more involved with making history — irreverently, joyfully, boisterously making history — than marveling at how quickly time flies when you are having fun.”

Then I remembered something I wrote awhile back about getting the word should out of my vocabulary, so I decided to just get busy doing it.

This business of the big late-summer trip has become something of a tradition. The first trip, in 2012, was an ambitious and audacious undertaking wherein I loaded myself, my little brown spotted puppy dog, and almost everything I owned — well, at least most of my clothing — into my new Chevy Equinox, dubbed Sophie; notified my family across the country that I was coming to stay; and took off for almost five weeks and 5,260 miles on the road. That’s almost a mile of miles, people! Miles squared, you might say. I had been a widow for just two months when I took off. That trip involved two journeys — one through the beautiful country we live in, the other through the twists and turns of early grieving. I survived both, and arrived home at the end marveling at the graciousness of all my family, who weren’t fazed at all by my announcement that I would be showing up to stay a few days with them. Without exception, they welcomed me and my dog, JD, cherished and comforted us, then sent us on our way with a bit more love to carry us.

If you do something twice, it’s a tradition, right? So the Journey in 2013 changed up just a little. My brother from Georgia hit the road with me, and along the way we deepened our brother-sister connection as we spent hours talking and hours being quiet together, and time sharing memories with our other brothers along the way. We played it by ear, finding a place to stay at the end of each day on the road, and I learned that sometimes journeys are better when they aren’t quite as thoroughly planned out.

By the time 2014 rolled around, I had made some pretty major lifestyle changes, and I changed up the Journey just a bit as well. This time, I was leaving from The Little House In The Woods By The Lake, so I chose a route through Michigan’s beautiful Upper Peninsula and northern Minnesota, across North Dakota and Montana down into Wyoming. New sights, new wonders; a couple of very interesting (if somewhat eerie) hotel experiences, and an altogether different experience. By this time, I had some favorite spots to visit in Wyoming, and after enjoying them, I took a day to visit Yellowstone for the first time. The only thing you want after a visit to Yellowstone is … more Yellowstone. I left Wyoming via beautiful Wind River Canyon, and began thinking about my next trip before I hit the state line.

Almost as soon as I got home from Journey 2014, more changes began to roll. I moved back to Lansing and, a few months later, sold TLHITWBTL. All the way back in January, I began thinking about what this year’s trip out west might look like, and something inspired me to ask two of my grandsons if they wanted to go along. As it developed, the trip was only going to work for the youngest grandson, so we began to plan.

I’ve named the trip “Journey 4.0” because this fourth trek really is a whole new version. As the plan has grown and changed shape over the past several months, it has become a whole different kind of adventure. What’s different with Journey 4.0?

Well, the little brown spotted puppy dog is staying in Michigan. I’ve found a wonderful home boarding placement for him. He’s stayed there three times now, and each time he has settled in better and learned more about how to be a dog. So he’s going to spend the 2 weeks at Paws A Playin.

And the biggest change: Journey 4.0 is going to be a camping and hiking adventure as well as a road trip. That completely changes the process of preparing for the trip, but change is what it’s all about, right?

The plan has evolved from “Hey, Matt, what would you think about camping some of the time on the trip?” to a plan that involves more camping than hotels. Matt has greeted the idea with great enthusiasm. We are borrowing some camping gear, and I’ve made a few judicious purchases, including a 12-volt cooler, battery pump-inflatable air mattresses, and my very own Coleman sleeping bag. We plan to eat as much non-processed, whole food as we can. We plan to do as much hiking as we can manage. We plan to find safe camping sites, and we’ll simply stay in hotels when we can’t find camping accommodations.

I’m preparing myself by working on fitness and endurance, by reducing and possibly even eliminating the need for caffeine, and by planning a route through upper Michigan again which will let us begin the adventures the very first day.

The plan for the trip is fairly loose, but it includes spending a few days in Wyoming so that we can see, and hike around, some of my favorite places there — including Devil’s Tower, which I discovered two years ago; Shell Falls, which soothes my soul; and Devil’s Kitchen and the Dinosaur Track Site which are simply amazing places. Then Yellowstone, and then back across the state of Wyoming to do at least partial justice to Wind River Canyon. Finally, we hope to head further south and west to see the Grand Canyon, and from there to drive home. All that in 16 days! The trip home may be fairly intense — 1,895 miles, 28 hours. But it’s through some areas I’ve never seen. We just need to give ourselves 4 days to make the trip back. So, as counterintuitive as it may seem, I’m going to have to sit down with a calendar and do at least some minimal scheduling.

The only rules of the road: When we spot something we want to see or do, we stop and see or do it. If that means we don’t make every spot we originally planned, all that means is that we have a start on plans for Journey 5.0!

Let this, then, be the first entry in the journal for Journey 4.0 (2015).

Comments on: "Journey 4.0: Preparations" (1)

  1. Debi bassler said:

    I am going to follow you every step of the way!1 You amaze me Ab!! love you happy trails to you and Matt


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