We three made it back to Fort Collins, CO in one piece, and sans mouse, on August 27th 2014! The five month long trek is now over. Along the way we laughed, we cried, and we pulled out our hair.
When we got back to Fort Collins we stayed the first night at our friends Holly’s and Kenny’s house. But since they have big dogs that have had some problems with aggression with small dogs we couldn’t have Hoggle in their house. So Jay spent the night in the van, while Em stayed in the house (his choice over renting a room somewhere). It was great seeing them and their two precious babies again (Ryan,- almost two, and Leylah nine months.)
After the first night, our friends Kay, Greg, and their six month old baby Miles, had space available at their house for a couple weeks and were kind enough to give us a place to stay while we were looking for housing and transitioning back into real life. So we all moved in with them for a little over two weeks, and had a great time hanging out with them and their six month old.
The first weekend we were back was the New Belgium Tour de Fat bike parade, so we got dressed up and went to that. We got to see some of our other FoCo friends, Matt, Jess and Darryl – which was great, and we also got to meet Matt’s new girlfriend Melissa. Holly also came out to join us with her two bundles of joy. Jess and Darryl were dressed up as foxes, while Matt and Melissa were the Joker and Harley Quinn. Jay and Em just wore a hodge podge of goofiness put together at Kay and Greg’s house that morning. We award Kay, Greg, and Miles with the “most subtle costume award” for their Portal costumes.
Greg and Kay were wonderful hosts to us, making us feel at home, letting us borrow their cars when needed, and really just helping us get back into the swing of things. Miles is adorable and Jay practiced his baby portrait skills while we were there. We had a get together with Holly, Kenny and their two kids – so he had a lot of opportunities for baby picture taking.
<—Em and Ryan
Leylah and Miles—–>
Jay, Greg, Kay, and Miles went for a hike to Arthur’s rock and had an outdoor photo shoot that yielded some really cute photos too.
Hoggle did pretty well with Kay and Greg’s two kitties during our stay, though there were a few minor chasing/fussing incidents. Though he seemed kind of scared of Miles, and gave him a wide berth. But he did like sleeping in Miles’s old car seat in the living room.
Thank all of you again for all your help and friendship – you are awesome!
Integrating back into life in Fort Collins has been an interesting process. We’ve only been gone for about two years, but the town has grown and changed a lot since we had moved away a couple years ago. So it simultaneously feels very familiar while also feeling very new. Traffic has gotten much worse, though there is a new public transit system in place. Rent has sky rocketed and finding a place to live proved a little challenging. But within just a few days of being back Jay posted a status update on Facebook, “I’m back in town, does anyone need a mechanical engineer?” and received a temporary contract job from a friend almost immediately. By the end of the second week, he had also had three interviews and a job offer for a full-time position. And meanwhile Em’s post-doc position in a private practice was also firmed up to begin in October. It’s not just anywhere that we could make a transition like this so quickly and smoothly! We got by, with a little help from our friends.
So a few days ago we finally bit the bullet, moved out of our rent free housing with Greg and Kay, and got ourselves a one bedroom apartment with an attached garage. We don’t have our stuff yet, only the stuff we had in the van, so the place is pretty empty and echoes loudly right now. But it seems like a nice place. It was hard to swallow how much we were going to have to pay to live here (several hundred more in rent a month than we were paying for a 3 bedroom house with a yard in Knoxville!) But, we like it here so it should be worth it (for example, the nearest grocery is a five minute bike ride away). We plan on looking into buying a house to move into when our lease is up. That should be another adventure.
Here are a couple snapshots of the new place. Doesn’t our van bed just look lovely on the bedroom floor? It is our only piece of “furniture” right now. We were listening to a comedian on the radio the other day that had a bit about how when you are poor all of your stuff gets much lower to the ground. Bed on the floor, clothes piled in the closet…we could relate, haha. It’s still a big step up from the van though! Featured in a position of honor are the toiler and shower photos, which should be considered the very best parts of any residence so far as Em is concerned.
Moving the stuff from the van into the apartment made Em feel nostalgic about the road trip. It made it really register for her that the adventure was actually over, for good. But the nostalgia was for the fun parts of the trip. All it took was for her to give herself a brief reminder of the roughing-it elements of the trip again, and the nostalgic feelings faded pretty quickly. Mostly she is happy to be back in a more comfortable and bigger space that contains a toilet.
Committing to apartments and jobs did provoke some stress and feelings of the walls closing in after being so free and unattached for awhile. And at the same time, it also felt good to be more stable and connected, and to be back in one place and building something for ourselves again. It is almost as if time stood still for us during this trip, while it’s still been ticking away for everyone else. Even though we were physically traveling all over, it’s more like we were standing still while everyone else has been moving forward with their lives. The five months feel like no time at all has passed for us. It’s hard to describe exactly, but it feels kind of like we’ve been holed up in a van for half a year living like nomads or something. Weird.
UP NEXT: Though our trip is now finished, we plan on posting at least a couple more posts with some concluding remarks on the entire experience. So stayed tuned for those over the next couple of weeks! Thanks for reading!