Home!

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At home, enjoying a nice fire in my parent's back yard.

Our trip home went very well and very uneventful, which is a good thing when you’re traveling so much. Once we were on the road, we started getting really excited to get home. Instead of taking our time getting back, we decided to just drive hard instead. There was also a Packer game Sunday at noon… we realized that we could maybe make it back in time to watch it on a tv! Our new goal was set!

After our oil change in Portland, we got going. We drove until about 11:30 pm and slept in the car at a rest area just across the Idaho/Montana border. And darnit! We went through Coeur d’Alene, Idaho at night again. Some day I’ll see that place in the daylight. Maybe through the window of an 18-wheeler!

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Good morning!

When we woke up in the morning, we brushed our teeth and got driving right away again. We drove to Bozeman, Montana, which is one of my and Adam’s favorite cities that we’ve been to. This will have been the third time we’ve been there. We didn’t have a lot of time to visit, but we did stop in at the Soup Shack for their amazing wingies for our breakfast/lunch.

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NOM!

From there we just drove and drove. We drove through western Montana’s beautiful flat lands and enjoyed its big skies that it’s so famous for. It felt like forever, but we finally entered North Dakota, enjoyed a great sunset and changing sky all around us, then drove through past the state’s badlands. Soon we were driving in the dark. City lights were few and far between along the highway in N. Dakota, and there wasn’t very much traffic, either. I drove and Adam played DJ, selecting all kinds of fun songs to drive to. I just kept driving, kind of as a challenge… how far could I go? I ended up driving for about 11 hours. I got tired a couple of times, but Adam kept me entertained with music and conversation. A few cups of coffee helped, too.

We talked a lot about truck driving, and Adam pointed out things as we drove along – things like the legal placement of hazmat placards and where the gas tank is located on reefers (refrigerated trailers). He also picked up a trucker’s log at a gas station before we left Portland, so he had me filling that out as we went so I could get a feel for it. It was pretty fun, which I’m happy to say, since I know that might be the last time I’ll ever say it when referring to truck logs. In fact, by the end of the trip I was thinking, “this is a pain in the butt!” I hope that once I get used to it, it’ll just be second-nature and no big deal.

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My practice truck log.

We finally entered Wisconsin as the sun started to come up. We got onto Hwy. 8 and the sky turned beautiful, the trees were still showing some bright, fall colors, and there was patchy fog that added to our already great driving scenery.

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Foggy sunrise

Finally. A right turn onto Hwy. W. My butt was SO sore from sitting so long. My legs were achy, and I couldn’t stretch them enough. By the time we got to this point, about fifteen minutes from my parent’s driveway, I was sitting on one butt cheek for a minute before and alternating to the other cheek. I couldn’t wait to stand up and stretch! We were so close!

About one mile from home, I saw someone jogging down the side of the road with a dog. It was my mom with my uncle Kenny and Aunt Beth’s dog, Marley! I slowed down and rolled down the window… “Hey, need a ride?” We came up from behind her, so she didn’t see us coming. She stopped and looked at us for a second before letting out a screech and jumping up and down! It was fun to surprise her like that! She knew we were coming home, but she probably didn’t know it would be so early. We let her finish up her run and drove the rest of the way home. It was nice to walk in and give my dad a big hug. Ahhh.

I was home.

It felt good to walk into my parent’s house as though I’d never been gone. It felt normal.

Adam and I took a nap, got up and watched the Packer game, visited, stood around the fire pit for a while, ate some food, and mom made up some bloody marys for us from her homemade tomato juice. It was just a regular Sunday afternoon at the Laatsch household. I loved it.

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Packer Sunday bloody mary. And a win!

Now it’s Monday around noon. I slept in this morning, and woke up feeling like I need to find some structure to my days soon so that I can start getting some things done. I feel lazy. I don’t want to feel lazy! I dug out my Five Finger shoes yesterday, and to my surprise they still fit. Like a glove, as they should! I’m excited to start running again, and I’m already thinking about hiking and camping. Hopefully it doesn’t get too cold so that I can still do that comfortably.

A few fun realizations as we drove home:

We shouldn’t be picking up hitchhikers any more. We didn’t, by the way… but I saw a guy with an old, tattered, overstuffed backpack hitching somewhere in Montana, I think, and it crossed my mind for a second before I realized, “oh yeah… that’s probably not a hiker – we’re not along the PCT any more.”

While driving, if I see some pretty mountains or some cool clouds, I can’t stop and stare at them for as long as I want like I did when I was hiking… if I do, the car drifts to the right and hits the rumble strips. Thank goodness for rumble strips. It took me a while to get used to this one!

Miles go by a bit faster in a car. Duh, right? When I first started out driving, Adam was navigating for me. He says, “our exit is coming up in a mile and a half.” I thought right away, “okay, that’s thirty to forty minutes… wait. No it’s not, it’s more like a minute and a half!” I laughed at myself for that one.

Sigh… I suppose it’s time to switch my mind over to “other world” activities. I appreciate so much off the trail, but I will forever miss being out there with my footsteps guiding me through my days.


Today I love my mom and dad’s yard. There is something just comforting and peaceful about it.

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Jetboil dinner at a rest stop. It never gets old.

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Mom and dad's yard.

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Pretties in my mom's yard.

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Five fingers! They fit!

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Sunset on the road.

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6 thoughts on “Home!

  1. I spent 25 years trucking cross country. Usually in a Kenworth with one or two trailers. Hauled flatbed, tanker, reefer and dry box. Started in ’75. Very cool. Very few weigh stations….could run with more than one log book. No satellite tracking systems. It was great. Peace and beauty was abundant. Learn how to drive. You will love it.

    Hugs,

    Andrea

  2. Hi Robin, glad to hear you’re home ok. I knew that you must have a cool mom!

    I was thinking about you and your hike while hiking in the North Cascades around Mt Baker yesterday. Still so amazed at the snow, which is hanging in there even through these warm sunny days.

    You really gave it your all. I hope you’re ok with what you’ve accomplished!

    Randy

  3. The paper logs were nice. Used them for 11 years & then they switched me to an electronic logbook just over a year ago. Won’t let me drive hard like I used to. I hope you guys like the job. Gotta love those audiobooks to pass the time.

  4. Good luck with the truck driving post-hike phase. I am a PCT thruhiker (2004) and current trucker, and have found the profession to be a good fit for this hiker. It’s good to practice with paper logs, but more than likely you’ll drive with electronic logs. Also, if are still considering where to get CDL training, avoid company training. It’s a rip off. Go with a community college, and consider getting it funded by the state. Most state employment offices have grant programs in place for truck driver training. Fox Valley Technical College, by the way, has one of the best truck driver training programs in the nation. The skid pad they have on site looks like a heck of a lot of fun.

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