Professional traveler sounded like something that would only appear in my dreams and maybe once I was able to finally retire in 40 years.  Wisconsin was pretty much all I had ever known, other than a few random trips to surrounding states and a couple to Arizona.  Wisconsin was all my family and most of my close friends had really ever known too.  Don’t get me wrong, Wisconsin is great, I still miss it to this day, but my soul wasn’t there.  You know what I mean?  My heart and my roots were there, but something was missing.  It was my soul.  My soul was out looking at National Geographic’s, in the clouds, looking at photos of National Parks.  Pretty much anywhere but Wisconsin.

And that feeling is where it all really started.

One day in Madison, Wisconsin I decided it was now or never.

I knew if I didn’t leave now I would find a reason to stay and eventually be stuck.  In a matter of a month I sold everything I owned, spent as much time with my friends and family as I could and then packed up my Isuzu Rodeo with the things I was going to keep and started my journey.

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cherished time

Kimball, Minnesota – Naturally my first stop had to be to spend time with my Amazing Grampa

It didn’t take much to decide that my first stop had to be to spend time with my Grampa.  It was obvious that I wasn’t going to be able to do it whenever I wanted anymore and I needed to make the most of my time with him.  My grampa and I are very close so this was a no brainer.  We spent time doing our favorites.  Watching old westerns, drinking coffee listening to AM radio in the morning and fishing.  My Grampa was a truck driver so he went through my giant atlas with me and helped me pick a way to go to see all the places I wanted to go.

Des Moines, Iowa – Not much to see here, not much to report

The first stop was Des Moines, and not because there was anything I wanted to do there, it was simply a spot to stop for rest.  The drive here was long and unfortunately very boring.  After getting out of Minnesota it was pretty much a blank canvas.  Land for as far as the eye could see.  It was actually very peaceful.  This is the point where my mom started freaking out that I was gone and was calling me every couple hours.

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kansas city

Kansas City – New sights I had never seen before-wind turbines

The drive here was also very blank until I came across the wind turbines.  They were everywhere.  I was so intrigued by them as I had never actually seen them before.  At this point the fields were also starting to have some color so it started to become very pretty

Oklahoma City – NO service, mean people and nowhere to stay?!?!?!

I rolled in to Oklahoma City around 8pm that night.  I am normally a pretty prepared, analytical, well thought out person but I could have never guessed what I was getting myself in to this time.  Coming in to Oklahoma I had NO service.  I couldn’t find out where I was going, call for help, get directions or find a hotel.  I stopped into 4-5 separate hotels to see if they had some availability.  Only 1 did and it was a smoking room.  That wasn’t going to work for me.  Finally about 10pm I found one that had an open room.  FINALLY!  Unfortunately check out was at 11am and there was no way I was going to stay in Oklahoma any longer than I needed to.  I sat by the pool a little in the morning, got my mind right again and took off.

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Amarillo, Texas – Maybe this is the place

I remember rolling in and thinking this place is truly beautiful.  The people are nice, the mountains, hills, valley, and flora were truly breathtaking.  At this point I started to think….”Maybe this is the place”.  Although I was intrigued by the beauty of the city I knew I had to continue on with my journey but I would keep this place in the back of my mind.

Albuquerque – Almost the final destination

This beautiful city wasn’t even on my radar or on my list to stop at, however, I couldn’t resist.  I rolled in to Albuquerque and was immediately intrigued.  There was so much art, color and architecture going on that I couldn’t just pass through.  I decided to get off the interstate and explore.  I rolled up to the first hotel I found and went inside to see if they had any vacancies.  To my delight they did.  After checking in I decided to explore and eat at a local place.  The people were super nice, the views were priceless and the culture drew me in.  I could totally settle here and be happy.  I struggled with this concept for 2 whole days when I decided, no, this couldn’t be the end, I had too many places I wanted to go.

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sunrise point

Flagstaff – Such beauty & MOUNTAINS

Now, I had been to Arizona a couple times, but I had always flown in.  I was always fascinated with the mountains and loved the dry heat.  I had only been in the Phoenix Metro area, never that far north.  Driving down through the mountains was an experience I will never forget.  Not only was I wide-eyed by all of the trees and mountains but I was driving a fully loaded SUV that was heavy and breaking was difficult.  I spent several minutes trying to drive, take video and pictures (I know this is frowned upon) until I realized that this was way too dangerous and it wasn’t worth the risk.  From that point on I just drove safely and soaked up the views.  Flagstaff wasn’t an official stop but was definitely worth mentioning.

Once I arrived in Phoenix to visit some friends, that was pretty much all she wrote.  This is where I decided I would set up my new life.  Truth be told, it wasn’t supposed to be the end of the trip.  I actually thought I would end up maybe in the Denver area or back in Albuquerque.

So this is the short of it on why I stayed.  My friend was taking care of my cats back in Wisconsin until I decided where it was I was going to relocate.  On July 4th he kept calling me and leaving messages.  When I checked them he was hysterical and crying out that there was blood everywhere.  I am out to dinner with some friends and have no idea what to think of the messages so I call him back right away.  Again, he is screaming and I can barely understand what he is saying.  Once I got him to calm down he explained to me that Amos (my black, snuggle buddy) had jumped off a shelf and ripped off his little toe and there was blood everywhere and it wasn’t stopping.  Well, Amos is my baby, so naturally, I said get him to the emergency vet.

So, there you have it.  The end of my trip happened right then and there.  That emergency vet bill put a halt to my traveling.  It was time to get a job, a place and start a new life.  In case you were wondering, it was worth it, and he is still my snuggle bug.

PS-The pics on this post from this trip are not very good.  Believe it or not, a Verizon rep was able to convince me to switch to a blackberry and a tablet to take pictures on my trip.  WORST IDEA EVER!