Going the distance

On this, our first full day back in The Ozarks, we’re doing very little of consequence. We’ve earned the privilege of major decompression, so we’re treating ourselves to a letdown — and I mean that in the most positive sense.

In that spirit, this post will be simple and relatively brief.

After we settled yesterday afternoon I couldn’t help but wonder how far we’d traveled over the last 73 days. I found some surprising answers in the records we keep.

The outbound leg, from launch in northern Arkansas to terminus west of Glacier Park, occupied 11 travel days and covered 1,920 miles, an average of 175 miles each day Ernie’s wheels rolled. We made that run over the span of 42 days.

Our return was a bit shorter, owing to a different route exiting Montana — it took us ten travel days to rack up 1,893 miles, averaging a slightly more ambitious 189 miles per day. That was accomplished in a window of 27 days.

We drove our toad a bunch, too, of course. Mercy’s odometer shows that we logged 1,656 miles while Ernie was parked.

Adding it all up, then, between August 1st and October 12th we covered 5,469 miles. I don’t know if that seems like a lot to you, but it feels like a lot to us.

“No wonder we’re tired,” Deb said on hearing the total.

It’s the equivalent of driving from Second Chance Ranch (in Ohio) to Los Angeles, then to New York City, then back to Second Chance Ranch — not that we’re the least bit interested in visiting California or New York, but it sure does put the number in perspective.

Here’s more perspective. Our odyssey began on May 1st, 165 days ago. Add our nine-day “shakedown cruise” to Tennessee in the spring, plus the ground we’ve covered riding with family and friends, and our mileage totals over 11,000.

That’s like making a complete four-corners circuit of the continental U.S. — Madawaska, Maine; Key West, Florida; San Ysidro, California; Neah Bay, Washington; and back to Madawaska, staying on this side of the border — with about 800 miles to spare. Think about that.

And we’ve done it all while making indelible memories and running our pace. Perfect days and maddening weather. All kinds of terrain and all manner of roads. Dozens of set-up/tear-down cycles, and yes, hundreds of waste-water dumps. Stopovers ranging from grubby parking lots to woodsy glades.

A refrigerator fire. Dead batteries. A very sick dog.

Not everything goes as planned or turns out the way we think it will — in fact, almost nothing has. We adjust and press on, managing to make new discoveries with every mile, finding reward in each moment.

And we’re exhausted. That’s why, like Dipstick (pictured), we’re chillin’ for a while.

Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.

#WiseUp #LibertyOrDeath