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)

Tomorrow is the day! The 2015 “Road and Camping Trip Extraordinaire” goes live Wednesday morning at 7 a.m.!

My travel companion this year is my youngest grandson, Matt. I am putting him in charge of tent-pitching and music, as well as locating the next campground.

For the record, I haven’t slept in a tent in something like 24 years. The last time was on a trip to the Leelanau Peninsula with a friend from work, back in 1990 or 1991. Two memories of that trip really stand out: Getting sold a bundle of very green firewood by the young son of the campground’s owner (what an entrepreneur!) and getting my feet drenched when my tentmate spilled her beer late in the evening. All in all, though, I loved the whole experience and enjoyed the trip immensely.

So, Tom and I never went camping. He said he had his fill of it when he was in the Army in the 1950s, and I respected that. As I never spent time in the military, I had no way of knowing what his experience had been. I just had to take his word for it that he had no wish to go camping.

And here I am in 2015, ready to take on the adventure once again. Thank goodness for online lists; I think we are fairly well-prepared. Today is given over to final preparations, packing the car, and getting JD, the little brown spotted puppy dog, to his home-away-from home at Paws A Playin in Grand Ledge.

For his first 10 years, JD was never boarded. We did not like the notion of leaving him “alone” at a kennel with cyclone fences and concrete floors and dogs and people he didn’t know. But a commitment to taking JD along sometimes limited where I could travel and what I could do when I got there, so when a friend opened this dog-boarding business in her home, I was ready to try it. First, JD stayed over a couple of long weekends while I traveled to Chicago for celebrations with some old school friends. Then he stayed for five days while my brother and sister-in-law and I traveled to Niagara Falls; that time, when I took him over there, he couldn’t wait to get outside with the other dogs and start the butt-sniffing process. He didn’t even know when I left!

It’s good for my soul to know that JD is part of the family when he goes there, and I really enjoy the daily Facebook posts on the Paws A Playin page, where Jamie puts perfectly captioned pictures of her guests and her own pets. Thanks to her, I really have no concerns about leaving my little buddy for 2 weeks. I’ll miss him, but I’ll know he is having his own vacation.

Search Paws A Playin on Facebook if you’d like to follow JD’s summer vacation as well as following me on Journey 4.0!

Today’s going to be busy. Sophie needs a wash-and-vacuum. I still have a few borrowed items to pick up, and then I need to get some basic groceries. I need to get the 12-volt/AC cooler going so it is ready for the trip. I think I had better pack some clothes, too! Traveling out West at this time of year requires a double wardrobe. We will see some days with highs in the 60s and lows in the 30s; we will also see some days in the 90s in the high desert of Wyoming, but it looks like the warmest nights will be in the mid-50s. So, shorts and tank tops, jeans and sweatshirts, a mid-weight jacket — all necessary, along with good socks, hiking shoes, and ordinary shoes. We will load up gear later in the afternoon, and hit the road around 7 a.m. tomorrow.

Journey 4.0. I look back on the traveling I’ve done in the past three years, and I marvel at the great memories. My laptop is full of wonderful pictures from all of the trips. What began as therapy with that first trip in September, 2012, has evolved into an annual tradition, seeing favorite sights and adding new experiences, and visiting with some of my favorite people along the way.

The only thing I regret, just a little, is how cautious I feel I need to be along the way. It’s a simple fact that a woman traveling alone is vulnerable. I have to think twice about engaging people  — strangers — in conversation. Exchanging a few casual words is one thing, but I feel a need to be very careful how much information I give out. The very thing that has made these trips interesting — that I am quite the intrepid solo adventurer — makes me just a bit more vulnerable. When I went on Journey 2013, one of my brothers traveled with me, and I felt less vulnerable. Likewise, having my big strong grandson with me this year will help me feel safer. And always, always, I am reminded to pray for safety and protection. St. Christopher is quite familiar with my wanderings, and I’m pretty sure I have one of the busiest guardian angels apart from those who take care of our police and military personnel!

Now it’s time to get busy — to get this show on the road! Let the adventures begin!

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