We are coming off a huge high after spending time in the midwest. When we first got serious about taking this trip, we excitedly spoke about seeing family and friends we hadn't seen in awhile, about making it a goal to reconnect with family and friends who were once part of our everyday lives. And, boy, were we ever surprised by the amount of you that offered up a driveway or home to sleep in. Leaving our home, friends, and neighborhood in Durango was difficult. But having welcoming hugs and familiar faces greet us along the way has been so refreshing and made the transition to life on the road much easier. We are humbled and grateful for the generosity that you all have shown us.
We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for keeping us in your lives. Thank you for the company, conversations, cold beer, hot showers, laundry machines, comfy beds, and food around a dinner table (you know, real food and not something from the "french fry store" aka McDonald's). Thank you for watching our boys while we snuck out for a run or a quick date night. Thank you for water balloon fights and pools on a hot midwest day. Thank you for the free entertainment that an entire street filled with dump trucks, dirt, and diggers provided. Thank you for cousins who are helpful and fun and make my boys giggle. Thank you for allowing us to raid your kid toys - especially those of you who had the electric four wheelers and tractors. Reid and Bennett are ruined for life (and the joke is on us)! Thank you for taking us to your city's highlights. Thank you for the popsicles, ice cream, the M&Ms, and the pool-filled days spent with aunts, uncles, grandpa and grandmas. Thank you for the BBQs (and re-introducing us to the walking taco which happens to be a really easy Spud meal). Thank you for the additional giant dump truck that we now need to tetris into our Spud - you know who you are! But most of all, thank you for love. We felt the love from you all, and we don't know how we can ever top the warm hospitality you gave us. Just know you will always have a place to stay in Durango, Colorado (unless you happen to be there in the next year. In which case you would have to stay with our tenants). To those of you we did not get to see, I apologize. I always wish we could squeeze in every single person but alas, the time was too short. Seems it always happens that way. Also, to the friends and family we will be seeing in the next chapter of our journey: we can't wait!!!!
So without further ado, below is a photo collage of some of the amazing family and friends we saw during the Midwest portion of our trip (and we'll include eastern Wyoming too. It's flat and in the middle of the west. Close enough, right?).
States traversed: 6
# of family and friends we saw: 67
# of days spent in the midwest: 33
Name of Reid's first boogeyman: "Snow-my". As in "Don't turn off the lights because the Snow-my is in here".
Total number of days on the road: 42
Next stop: Grand Teton National Park!
Columbus, Ohio - The Bravard Family
Last encounter: Dec 2016
Relationship: Chip's sister and bro-in-law
Mirror Lake, Michigan - The Keller Family
Saginaw, Michigan - The Long Family
Last encounter: June 2014
Relationship: Toby was Chip's colleague in residency in Grand Junction, Colorado
Pictured Rocks / Marquette, MI - The Armour Family
Last encounter: 10 years ago?!
Relationship: Chip's med school roommate / Grew up in Sandusky together
Eau Claire, Wisconsin - The Kuehn Family
Last encounter: Besides Liz visiting Colorado in February, 3+ years
Relationship: Lindsay's college roommate
Minnesota - The Himlie / Dunagan Families
Last encounter: 1 year
Relationship: Lindsay's family
Belle Fourche, South Dakota - The Storm Family
Last encounter: 29 years????
Relationship: Lindsay's aunt and cousins
Glendo State Park, WYOMING - The Fontenot Family
Last encounter: March 2017 (or as a whole family, 1 year)
Relationship: Chip and I met these two in New Zealand (Dorito aisle at the groc store)
When it comes down to it, the best thing about "vanlife" or roadtripping
isn't the van or the road, at all. Thank you again, everyone,
for helping transform our trip into something far better than mere "sightseeing".
- Lindsay, Chip, Reid, and Bennett