Life on the road means moving from place to place when the mood suits, the weather changes or job opportunities arise.
Auburn/Lewiston Maine (Jan-April)
We started out 2016 by flying from Tucson, Arizona to live in Auburn, Maine for 4 months and work in Lewiston, right across the river. The weather in January through April was just as you would expect; cold, icy, snowy and wintery. Twenty-foot piles of snow in every parking lot. But you can stand on your head for 18 weeks. It was a fun adventure.
Valentine’s Day was memorable, as we drove to our favorite seaside town (Camden, Maine) for a weekend trip. It just so happened that a storm dumped 14 inches of snow centered just on Camden that weekend. Snow piled up on the dormer window sills of our lovely boutique hotel. We ate a magnificent lobster tasting menu with a decadent dessert and sat by the fireplace and read books. Ahhh.
I worked at Central Maine Medical Center in the ENT department with some fine people, who made getting to know the system (including multiple electronic medical record programs) much more enjoyable. They were gracious enough to want me to stay. How nice is that?
Clay worked on investments and did day trips with the young full-time missionaries.
And he was my driver in the bitter weather for midnight on-calls to the emergency room. That meant the world to me.
Tucson, Arizona to Provo, Utah (April)
Clay left Maine 3 weeks ahead of me to pick up Zane (the motorhome) from her indoor RV daycare center. (The report is she got along well with others and learned to color inside the lines.) He checked out her systems (after a 4 month rest, sometimes RVs get persnickety) as he drove through Arizona and Utah, meandering around Sedona, Zion’s and Bryce Canyon National Parks.
Wendy finally arrived in Utah the last Saturday in April. We had lovely visits with our nieces Morgan Webb (with Dennis and little sweet Parker Eliza) and Kirsten Walton.
After one day’s rest for Wendy, it was time to get busy again.
Missionary Training Center, Provo, Utah (May)
We entered the peaceful, busy, happy place called the MTC (Missionary Training Center) on Monday, May 2– ready to start our mission.
After 10 days of training, and some fine visits by church authorities from Salt Lake City, we headed back on the road to our mission.
Wyoming Mormon Trail Mission, Devil’s Gate, Wyoming (May-October)
Knowing that your mission is in the middle of nowhere and actually experiencing it are two different things.
Even Verizon cell phones and data don’t work on the high desert surrounded by mountains on all sides. Trying to convince Verizon of such a fact is another story. So, we got a local cell phone with data and went with that.
You know you are on a Wyoming Mormon Trail Mission when….
- Morning report includes, “We found the mama cow and calf up by Devil’s Gate, but we also saw mountain lion sign. So, if you are sending visitors up into the canyon, just tell them to …. be careful.”
- There are TWO dead rattlesnakes in the mission kitchen refrigerator.
- Your husband tells you he is going out for fast food drive through (Yay!!), and comes home with roadkill (Ewww).
- A gallon of milk costs $13.50 because the nearest grocery store is 60 miles away in Casper and it takes 5 gallons of gas to get there and back.
- A hot date is a trip to the Muddy Gap gas station 4 miles away for a fountain drink, bag of chips and a hot dog off the roller grill.
- You are not able to donate blood, because it contains 25% DEET.
- The mission ‘car ‘ is a 4×4 half ton pickup truck, or a dozer, backhoe, asphalt roller, rover or honey wagon (to pump out the pit toilets at the end of trekking season).
- Duties as assigned on the mission include driving up into the Green Mountains (elevation 8800 feet) to cut 90 pine trees to make fence poles. Or asphalting the roads. Or bottle-feeding orphan calves.
- You feel the spirits of those pioneers who died there and more often than not tears choke your throat as you share their journal entries. And it is almost impossible to sing “Hallowed Ground” or “The Fire of the Covenant” all the way through for the same reasons.
- When being nearly the youngest in the group of 120 missionaries means nothing, as these Canadian, Utah, Arizona and Idaho farmers in their late 60’s, 70’s and early 80’s run circles around you each and every day. And then it’s time to square dance.
- When high school age kids come in 1856 pioneer dress to trek over hot, dusty trails to re-enact pioneer experiences. And they enjoy it as their hearts and lives are changed.
- Your nearest non-missionary neighbors are the herd of pronghorn antelope with their new babies that graze on your little patch of green lawn. The jackrabbit that greets you from under your RV. The lonely call of the coyotes in the pre-dawn hours. The tiny red foxes that skitter across the road. The mule deer herds. We won’t say any more about the gopher snakes or rattlesnakes. Or the mice invasions.
We lived in a lovely bubble of service, taking care of 17,500 trekkers and 26,000 others in the visitor’s centers, museums and 1872 era buildings and served with some of the finest missionaries on the planet. If you want an amazing working mission for 6 months in your RV, this is for you!
Sequim, Washington (Nov – Dec)
From Wyoming we headed northwest, hoping to get through the mountain passes before it snowed. Why would we go to the top left corner of the U.S. of A. for the winter? What are we thinking?
When you spend your summer and fall in the hot, bone dry, constantly windy (I did say WINDY didn’t I?), always sunny high elevations of central Wyoming, the cool, wet, cloudy days of the Northwest are welcome relief. Ahhhh.
We spend our days biking, walking on the Olympic Discovery Trail, beach-combing along the Juan de Fuca Straits, watching container ships come in from Asia, reading in the library, writing and studying all kinds of things.
Wendy attends plays, musicals and ballet while Clay doesn’t have to. Happy me, happy him.
Taking the ferry over to Victoria, Vancouver Island, Canada is a treat, as is exploring Seattle (2 hrs away) and Vancouver, BC (the major Canadian city on the mainland).
The US Power Squadron has also become a focus, as we made friends with people with boats (this place is an amazing boating area) and we will explore the world of trawlers and other types of power boats as we take courses in Marine Electronics and Marine Weather as members of the Power Squadron this winter.
The large boat shows in Seattle and Tacoma are on the calendar. Don’t know if we will ever get a boat to use up here or around the Great Loop back East, but knowledge is never wasted and we are always up for new adventures.
Still need to catch some Dungeness crab.
Around April 2017 we will probably start moseying down the coasts of Washington and Oregon on our way to Eureka, California, where Wendy has her next ENT surgeon’s assignment from June-December.
Life is never dull, as we look out our motorhome window at the snow-capped Olympic Mountains and majestic fir trees. It is wonderful.
2016 was a year full of adventure.