There are many ways for something to end. There’s can be a big finale, a long-and-sorrowful farewell, or possibly a satisfied exit — you get the idea. Anytime an end visits our lives, there’s a variety of emotions associated with it.
After almost five weeks on the road, our Geowoodstock to TBEX expedition was at an end. With many ups-and-downs throughout our journey, it was time for us to find our way back to Georgia and in this case, that end was signified by a whimper… it was time to limp home in both the figurative and literal senses.
The extra days we spent at Great Sand Dunes due to the “toe situation” meant we couldn’t be as leisurely about our return as I’d originally planned. There would be no getting to know the great states of Kansas and Missouri better like I’d thought. We still had to manage geocaches under the No-State-Left-Behind policy but we were facing a blitz. A cross-country blitz.
…the most painful camp break in my extensive camping history, both physically and emotionally. There was the obvious physical pain, a throbbing-aching-highly-insulted broken toe. Breaking down the tent and packing a lot of gear into a little car proved oh-so-painful. Fred and George were absolute troopers and helped tremendously but when it comes times to cram all that gear into the roof box, that’s on me and it usually involves climbing on top of the car. You can imagine the difficulty under the circumstances.
We managed of course but it was not the funnest of times. I’ve been to Great Sand Dunes a fair amount but this departure was harder than any. This is one of my most treasured places and I was left with an unrequited longing for an incomplete journey. So I left feeling grateful for having been able to visit but feeling like a piece was missing.
Easing on down the road…
So we limped out of Great Sand Dunes, car packed full and not quite ready for the journey to be over. We took it slow at first, stalling our time in Colorado with lots of geocaching. After a bit though we abandoned even those thoughts as even just getting out car became laborious. Temperatures kept rising, and rising, …and rising. As we approached Kansas, Blubaru’s thermometer reached a soul-sucking 110 degrees. I kid you not. At those temperatures, curiosity about the melting point of rubber tires on scorching asphalt starts to dominate your thought-process.
You can get a good feel for our state of mind by the fact that I took all of three pictures of the journey home. Between the throbbing foot, insane temperatures, road fatigue, and need to be back in Georgia, something had to give. And so we oozed our way through Kansas, only able to focus on the task at hand, getting home. Our slow-travel mindset was long gone but we were at least successful in the No-State-Left-Behind project.
The final plodding, limping, arduous leg…
After an overnight in Topeka, far short of where I’d hoped to have reached that day, we powered on. But getting from Topeka to Atlanta was a tall order. Initially I thought we’d have to do one more hotel night given the distance left. Final decision time was upon us as we entered Tennessee though… press through until the wee hours of the morning or stop with only a couple hundred miles to go?
Another night in a hotel sounded miserable and my calculations of time left vs. my remaining driving alertness potential left me on the keep driving side of the equation. And so we drove… and drove… and drove until we capped off nearly 1,000 miles and something like 19 hours, having added some extra time with an epically wrong turn somewhere near Paducah and my insistence that we stop for decent sit-down meals…
I wish I had the presence of mind to track of things how much coffee I drank, how many podcasts we listened to, or how many times we ran through our entire Weird Al music catalog. It would be funny to know now but at the time all my energy was going into driving.
I do know that we covered 18 states, 1 Canadian Province (barely), and about 6,500 miles overall but more importantly, we saw some amazing things. Fred and George are really starting to undertand how big our country is and how different the people and places can be. They’re attaching real understanding and connection to historical places because they’ve been to them. They’re understanding
Stick a fork in the expedition…
So there you have it, Camp Granola’s five-week expedition from Geowoodstock to TBEX. For a full recap (I know how painfully long it has taken for me to post all this…) here’s the laundry list of posts:
- Mega-Hot at Geowoodstock
- Into the Land of Leopold
- In and Out of the Land of Leopold
- Discovering Medora
- In the Land of St. Teddy
- A Tour of American Icons
- South Dakota’s Gem: Custer State Park (Part 1)
- South Dakota’s Gem: Custer State park (Part 2)
- Camp Granola Takes on Colorado
- Whirlwind in Keystone
- TBEX to Dunes
- Colorado’s Phenomenal Dunes
- Zapata Falls and a Tale of Toe Woe
Stay tuned for news about our next big adventure!