Monday, May 18, 2015

Well, we are eight weeks or so into our newest adventure in our smallest RV ever. In just a few short weeks we will be on the road beginning a trip that we've never attempted before. We have until the end of October to gallivant as slowly or quickly across the country as we'd like. Thus far, we have 14 states on our summer itinerary. We have no intention of utilizing interstate travel if we can avoid it, and we have limited schedules in mind. Our goal this summer is first and foremost to clean out our storage unit in Utah, so that we have one less tie to tell the rest. In addition to frame up our minds and our space, we would like to also focus on building our travel network. We intend to blog more regularly ( a vow that I have broken to myself more times than I care to admit), take more pictures, and have more adventurous than we have in the recent past. If you have something you would like to see, perhaps a video tour of our new space or if you have questions that you would like answered, please let us know.

Additionally, we are thinking of changing the name of our blog. Since we no longer reside in a "tin can", we feel that perhaps the blog title is inappropriate to our current lifestyle. We have come up with a blog name that is an appropriate haplology of words that we think are well-suited to our current lifestyle. The downside to our proposed blog name is that the primary word is not a common word in popular culture. Eleutheromania is the nearly obsessive pursuit of freedom which we feel is appropriate to our current mindset. Since we are also really lovey-dovey,  our idea for our new blog name is "The Eleutheromantics". It also looks really cool because it looks like an homage to Annie Lennox.
Let us know what you think of the proposed name change, we really value your feedback, and we promise to start posting more interesting content frequently.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

My friend Eric posted this to Facebook from a Robert Kirby archive in the Salt Lake Tribune:

For the uninitiated: Robert Kirby is a columnist for the SL Tribune, a practicing Mormon, and one of the few publicly VOCAL questioners of the Mormon faith from within the church fold. There are PLENTY of detractors outside of the LDS faith, but the church is (argue if you will) notorious for shaming and excommunicating members who too often publicly display “significantly questionable faith”.
 If you make it all the way to the end of this diatribe, I have an interesting personal tidbit on why EVERYONE of EVERY BELIEF should feel free and supported to question any doctrine respectfully.   

This is an edited version of the original article: 

Here's another important gospel question for people of "only one way" faiths.

How much does your unshakable faith comfort you in moments of genuine pain and uncertainty about eternity? A lot? Some? Only a little? Not a bit?

Now the question. Is your religious faith ever a major factor in causing that pain? Is there a time when what you believe isn't a comfort and, in fact, actually makes things worse?

For example, suppose a son — let's call him Buddy — you raised to be a devout Latter-day Saint, a superstar kid through Primary, Boy Scouts, a mission, etc., suddenly announces that he's an atheist? And he's not kidding.

Not only is Buddy now an atheist, so is his new wife. Furthermore, all of your grandchildren from them will be reared as atheists.

I'm not picking on atheists here. I could have used Buddhists, Muslims, Jews, Democrats and anything else that puts a loved one crossways to your core beliefs.

I'm also not singling out sons. The person in question could be your father, your spouse, a sister, a daughter, a best friend or anyone else you hope to see in heaven when you get there.

In every other regard, Buddy is still the same kid you raised. He's happy, smart, loving and even respectful of your beliefs.

Does your faith make you feel better about him, or is your belief in your theology a constant source of worry and sorrow for you now?

Hey, Buddy's not following the plan. He's going to hell (or wherever true believers like you don't go). There, he'll either sulk forever that he's no longer welcome at eternal family reunions, or every morning his entrails will be torn out again and used to floss Satan's teeth. Anyway, it will be bad.

But let's not worry about forever. Let's stick with right now. Do you believe you're so right about Buddy's new godless situation that it detracts from a healthy and loving relationship in the here and now?

Every time you look at Buddy now does your unshakable faith automatically remind you that he's doomed, that this theological rift is so important that mostly you just feel sorry for him and sorrier for yourself?

Maybe you've decided to grudgingly accept this "lesser" Buddy for who he is now out of the goodness of your heart; that if you can't love him the way your faith mandates, you can at least tolerantly pity him in a Christ-like way.

If so, consider the very real possibility that you're an idiot. First for letting theology get in the way of love, and second for believing in a plan/god/spirit that would condemn Buddy for being a wonderful human being but unfortunately, not a believer.

This also applies to nonbelievers who so firmly suppose they're smarter than believers that they can't relate to their loved ones anymore either.

Religion (or whatever you choose to call it) isn't just divisive because we exclude and sometimes even kill one another over it. It's also great at silently torturing loving relationships to death. ~Robert Kirby~

Okay: So here is my juicy parable- It's known in Psychology as the Pot Roast Principle and the story goes something like this:

A young woman is preparing a pot roast while her friend looks on.  She cuts off both ends of the roast, prepares it and puts it in the pan.  “Why do you cut off the ends?” her friend asks.  “I don’t know”, she replies.  “My mother always did it that way and I learned how to cook it from her”.
Her friend’s question made her curious about her pot roast preparation.  During her next visit home, she asked her mother, “How do you cook a pot roast?”  Her mother proceeded to explain and added, “You cut off both ends, prepare it and put it in the pot and then in the oven”.    “Why do you cut off the ends?” the daughter asked.  Baffled, the mother offered, “That’s how my mother did it and I learned it from her!”
Her daughter’s inquiry made the mother think more about the pot roast preparation.   When she next visited her mother in the nursing home, she asked, “Mom, how do you cook a pot roast?”   The mother slowly answered, thinking between sentences.  “Well, you prepare it with spices, cut off both ends and put it in the pot”.     The mother asked, “But why do you cut off the ends?”     The grandmother’s eyes sparkled as she remembered.   “Well, the roasts were always bigger than the pot that we had back then.  I had to cut off the ends to fit it into the pot that I owned”.

If we never question doctrine, we may well find out that we've created already outdated gospel to address an ever-changing world. I know that there are those of you out there who believe that the word of the Bible is the end all, be all for time and eternity- and there are those who believe that God sent an updated version of the Bible 2.0 in the form of the LDS Scriptures.
Both of these beliefs are fine and dandy if they get you through the day- but even the Mormons believe that they can still receive 'updates', in the form of Divine Revelations, to further clarify ambiguous texts of the past as they apply to today's world.

 Frankly, the Mormons are far more forward thinking in my mind, than the religions that believe that the Bible holds every answer to every question that will ever be asked from the beginning of Humanity to present- yet still eat shellfish, wear Rayon and don't own slaves or beat their wives for back-talk. 

The Carl Sagan quote, “If it can be destroyed by the truth, it deserves to be destroyed by the truth", should absolutely hold true for any belief that a human dares to pin the entire context of his or her life upon.

Katrina and I were speaking on this subject the other day and discussing how many people (not all) spend this lifetime as holier than thou, sanctimonious assholes- in the belief that they are going to be Gods of their own worlds in the after-life (LDS belief), or sit on a golden cloud in a perpetual fit of bliss for eternity (general Christianity?.

They can be judgmental, condescending, homophobic, self-serving, misogynistic abusers of humanity and the environment, simply because they focus on an archaic text that tells them to look to the heavens and their eyes are on the spectral promise of an eternal afterlife.

But what if they're wrong? 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

American Muscle, Detroit Gold & Saying Goodbye

My family made a very difficult decision a few weeks ago to say goodbye to a long-cherished 'family member'.
Daisy has been in my family since 1965, when she was purchased new by my eldest aunt in New York in 1966. She is a 1965 Ford Galaxie 500 convertible.

 She lived in California for many years and she is the vehicle that I first saw the original Muppet Movie in at a San Diego drive-in during the summer of 1979 with my cousin Ernie Scholz- we were six years old at the time.
She came to live with my dad in Texas about a dozen years ago, as we wanted her to remain in the family.
My dad and I have worked on her carburetor, washed her, waxed her and enjoyed long drives in her. She was intended to be an early inheritance at some point, as she held many fond memories and is a gorgeous piece of industrial art.
Several months ago, my dad asked me if I was ready for my inheritance and could I make the necessary accommodations for her. We discussed options back and forth and Katrina and I decided that our present lifestyle was not the most suitable situation for maintaining a classic car and that the storage and maintenance expense would be significant and would likely require us to go back to a more traditional lifestyle that we no longer desire and possibly couldn't afford comfortably long-term.
We shared our concerns with Dad, who was very supportive and understanding and we decided to pursue other options for Daisy.

This week, Daisy joined the extensive Gullo Ford Family Museum collection, where she will be on display for the enjoyment of many for decades to come. If you ever have a chance to visit the collection, please say hello to her from us. It's not often that a family heirloom finds its way to a museum in your lifetime.
As sad as it is to see Daisy go, we know she is well cared for and loved.
'Hippie Van' now takes the lead as the patriarchal vehicle in the Holt family as he enters his fortieth year and possibly the half-a-million mile mark one day soon. He has not been driven much in the last fifteen years and his newly rebuilt engine and transmission should help to change that very soon.

In the meantime, I am keeping up the family tradition with Molly (Jeep), as she prepares to celebrate her 25th year this July. My dad and I drove to my hometown of Cocoa Beach, Florida on July 14th, 1990 to pick her up. I was seventeen.

I am reminded in writing this that many of my fondest memories with my dad revolve around these and other vehicles. His passion for collecting and maintaining his very own 'pieces of industrial art' have always been a part of our relationship, and washing the cars every Saturday was a childhood ritual that I will never forget. He taught me how to change my own oil and tires, lube a chassis and gap a spark plug.
 He knows the answer to any and every mechanical question there is to ask about any internal combustion or nuclear powered engine ever manufactured.  He can look at four square inches of a fender, bumper or tail fin and tell you the year make and model of any car built after 1950. He owns every issue of Car and Driver and Motor Trend since 1969. He has one hobby and one passion and he’s dedicated a lifetime to honing his expertise because he is simply overcome with curiosity about all things automotive.
We bought my first car before I was even old enough for a driving permit- a neglected '78 T-bird that had sat for years in a field in Virginia. We spent two years rebuilding the engine (using the onion skin manual that my dad ordered from Ford for $100) and polishing off the oxidation until she shone. I owned that T-bird for fourteen years and more than 260,000 miles. She drove from Texas to Alabama, Oklahoma, all over Florida and the southeast, and she towed my worldly possessions from Alabama to Utah as I fled an abusive relationship and a case of bronchitis so severe that my dad ended up driving me from Houston to Salt Lake City at a moment’s notice while I slept fitfully and heavily medicated most of the way.

My own Detroit fascination is homage to him and a continuing tribute to the amazing man who has skillfully shaped and continues to influence my life today. 

Friday, May 2, 2014

One More Reason That My Wife Is Totally Awesome

This morning before work, I was goofing around on the computer and trying to clean out my email and FB notifications. I subscribe to several deal sites like Brad's Deals and Living Social, and I saw an intriguing ad for a waterproof wireless shower speaker with a really funny video ad.

Basically, this dorky guy is trying to be studly and sexy in the video (and he knows that he isn't), and is talking about how many and heavy metal this speaker is... Cut to a silhouette of him laying in the tub with candles and bubbles listening to "On the Wings of Love" while turning on the water with his big toe. It was fairly amusing.

Anyway, Katrina is flitting around making our breakfast shakes and lemon tea and isn't really paying attention to me. About 20 minutes later, while I am washing dishes, I start belting out a comedically off-key rendition of 'On the Wings of Love', to which Katrina stops short and gives me this really odd look.

"What's wrong?" I say, genuinely concerned that she, after all these years, suddenly thinks this is my real singing voice.

"That's SO weird. I was JUST thinking that song in my head." She sort of tilts her head speculatively.

"What are you thinking?" I ask.

"Well, I knew that is was just a matter of time before I developed super powers", she replies with a straight face, "I just sort of hoped that it would be either magic or the ability to fly, but I guess mind control is pretty good, too."

 She laughs and then says, "Please tell me that we recently heard that song before I think that we're now sharing one brain or something..."

And THAT is one of the many reasons that my wife is freaking awesome. Super powers- her totally rational explanation for the not-easily-explainable. That, or a Vulcan mind meld...

God, I love this girl!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Space Between

I have not updated in months, because it was just too difficult to follow the timeline that I was trying to maintain, but I am overflowing with thought and I need to share!!! So here's my latest (totally random) blog:

I am sitting at a picnic table in front of my RV, less than ten feet from a roaring campfire, in an insanely popular and lovely state park- and I’m pensive.
We have new neighbors this evening- from Pennsylvania- and they've commented, as have many others, how young we are compared to other hosts they've encountered. A common conversation thread includes:
·         You must love it- no responsibilities, fun all the time, just playing.
·         You must travel all over. I’ll bet you’re never in the same place for any length of time.
And most commonly (and obviously),
·         How?
We've been full-timing for a year-and-a-half, and traveling for about 7 of those months, and as I ‘settle’ into the ‘reality’ of living this way, I have begun to develop an awareness of the uniqueness of our particular circumstance.

Most of our friends and family are ‘stick and brickers’- that is, the majority of their lives are lived in a perma-structure of stick and brick creation. Some of them may be weekend campers or RVers, but their modular existence is in the nature of recreation, so when they are in their RV’s or tents, they are usually pursuing other entertainments or activities and are using the modular structure as a ‘hotel room’ to further enjoy their outdoor activities.
Some of our family and friends (Katrina’s parents and our camp hosting friends from Croft) are ‘full-timer lites’- when they RV, it’s often for months or seasons at a time, but they still have S&B homes and in the cases of all of our Croft friends, at least one spouse still works at a job that he/she must physically show up for most weekdays. These folks understand our hopes and dreams, because many of them share a similar vision, but they still have the ties that anchor them to ‘respectable’ society. In other words, most people don’t view them as fringe-ists or as completely unhinged- just slightly eccentric.
Lastly, there are the other full-timers that we know- The first group of folks are our friends from Salt Lake in the “RV Pit”, who are mostly just young families and folks our age struggling to live in an economically challenging situation and trying valiantly to get back into ‘respectable’ living.
The second group of full-timers are the retired camp hosts that we meet at the parks where we volunteer. Almost without exception (a widow, widower and single older lady not yet retired) all of the hosts are retired couples with big rigs and guaranteed income just looking to travel and stretch their accommodations dollar as far as it will go.  They are the appropriate age and demographic  to make vagabonding socially acceptable.
Enter the Brolts (my amusing haplology of our last names- kind of like Brangelina, but classier). We don’t smoothly fit into the niches of polite society- we aren't retired in our big rig, we don’t have a ‘settled’ place to return to (an ideal that my mother frets herself into foaming fits over- repeat five times fast)  and we’re not transitioning between the two.
We’re a bit of a conundrum. This entire issue really lies with me- someone from one side (an S&Ber, for example) will make a comment- perhaps about how lucky we are to be on a lark and just enjoying no responsibility- and it will irk me no end.
Do you really think that I have no responsibilities whatsoever?
How do you think I support myself and my wife, pay my bills and put food on the table?
Feed my cats?
Buy gas?
Repair Justin the Behemoth Beaver?
Buy awesome shit that I can’t live without?

So I sit in front of a campfire and ponder my life. I think about an internet meme that I once saw that depicted a vignette about Lesbians. I’ll include it below because it succinctly illustrates my next point (please don’t be offended at the slightly risqué- ness of it- I didn't create it)

So, off-color though it may be, the above is a good generalization of my current challenge. S&Bers think that we’re just hanging around the campfire all of the time, doing nothing; and the retired folk/Lites, wonder why we’re always inside on the computer working instead of out by the campfire like them.

It’s like we’re in RV purgatory…

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

New Year 2014!

Well, I swore that I would be more diligent in keeping up with this blog, but that resolution has yet to  be fulfilled. Perhaps the blush of a new year filled with hope and new opportunities will hold me to some of my literary promises.

As for this story, let's pick up where we left off several months ago.
Polk County Courthouse

I am married... I am in Des Moines in September with my new wife, which sounds lovely, and is for the most part, except for the weather. My God, it's hot! And muggy- let's certainly not forget the muggy. And I am in jeans and a button-down and suede (good choice, Jenn) shoes.
We are trudging back to Justin Beaver after filing our papers and we are now coming down from our adrenal overload of the past two hours and are starting to feel the effects of a 'three hours of sleep in the jungle' kind of night.  The sky is threatening and there is nowhere to sleep or have a (much needed) shower in Des Moines, so we are heading out in hopes of a breeze or a truck stop, anything but the oppressive monotonous stillness of the weather in the city.
Wedding Ring
We drive towards Missouri, trying to eat up some miles en route to our first destination of Asheville, NC. Initially, we had hoped to honeymoon in Memphis or Nashville, or someplace romantic- and not boondocking in front of my mom's house- but with all that has happened on this trip, we feel that a 'bat out of hell' approach is best in this instance.  We travel a few hours, through torrential rains that are not cooling or refreshing, at all, and I am tired and hot and sticky and grumpy and hungry... We stop in a small town in Missouri that we later find out is named Holt (kismet!!!), and we stop at the first place that we find open that isn't fast food. The New China Buffet with over 100 items turns out to be the nastiest Chinese restaurant in the free world. We eat and laugh because, of course our wedding meal would be awful! It's just the universe's way... But we're happy despite the food and fatigue and we decide to see if Holt, MO has a place for the Holt's for tonight. Twenty years notwithstanding, a hot shower and air conditioning would make an excellent wedding night gift. We find a motel that is only slightly questionable and back the Beaver into the spot right in front of our room. We feed kitties, grab what we need and tun the AC on high and the shower on hot... and then bathed and cleaned and fed, we sleep.  Blissful dreamless sleep until the crack of thunder (apparently under the bed) makes us both jump to our feet. It is pouring  down rain outside and the RV windows are open for the cats. I put on my shorts and run barefoot to the RV to close all of the windows while thunder and lightening and the heavens erupt. I am soaked through when I return to the room and collapse back into bed after a quick wardrobe change. Our hotel is built into the side of a hill and our room is right at the juncture, so once the thunder stops it's pealing, we sleep through the rest of the night. We find out the next morning that we have slept through an F2 tornado. All is fine with Justin Beaver but the cats are pissed! We pack up under sunny skies but watch the ominous blackness to the East (of course,  the direction that we are heading). We hit plenty of rain  but no significant weather or issues until we reach Cape Girardeau, MO, where I discover while fueling, a gasket seal is blown on my rear tandem wheel hub. Not taking chances, I locate a diesel repair shop and $135 later, I have a silicone repair that took about thirty minutes and will hopefully hold for awhile.
We make it to just East of St. Louis before nightfall and spend a noisy night in a Hampton Inn parking lot right next to the freeway. Up and early the next morning, we finish the rest of the trip without incident. Two days later, we pull into my mom's drive, where we will spend the next ten days working until it's time to leave for (finally) Myrtle Beach.
Finally legal!
While in Asheville, I have dinner with my aunts and cousins, who share with us wonderful wedding presents and we also drive to Spartanburg, SC to see my cousin, Jimmy and his wife, Patricia, and to see Croft State Park, which is our next assignment after MBSP. Patricia also made us an unexpected surprise of a wedding cake, which was so kind and thoughtful (and not to mention delicious!). What a wonderful gift to celebrate with our family on so many occasions.

We weren't originally thrilled about our scheduled time at Croft State Park because it isn't a well represented park. I chose it mainly because of it's proximity to my mother, it's lack of snow, and a YouTube video on trail biking that I found. Once we arrived, however, my attitude completely changed. Ranger Dave took us all on a hike down to the river and the mountain bike bridge, and he also took us to the lake and up a closed pass in the park. We had a great time and were really looking forward to our next assignment after MB. as a fotnote, I am actually writing this update from Croft, having been here for a little over a months now. 
After ten days spent with family and friends, we were ready to hit the beach!!!

Stay tuned for our further adventures in Myrtle Beach!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Sunny and 75... Happy Honeymoon!

Yes, it is November and I have not posted a word since August and most of you know why, but I am finally ready to write again and I think I can tell our story to date, albeit without as much detail as some may like. The past 3 1/2 months have been a study in every possible human emotion: Excitement, anticipation, utter fear, loss, hopelessness, dread, sadness, joy, comfort, hope, release, rebirth, wonderment.
In every life a little rain must fall and sometimes the rain falls too heavily on parched ground and triggers a flash flood.
Our story is one of loss, but loss is a broadly defined concept. I once thought that losing all of my possessions would be an awful tragedy from which I would never recover, but I would gladly give away everything that I ever have or ever will own to be where I am at this very moment.

K and I left Salt Lake City on Friday, August 13th, 2013, to start our new adventure. After spending the night with a longtime friend in Rock Springs, we set off to make it to Sidney,NE that day. The winds were very strong in Wyoming and we felt a bit of sway, even though everything had been meticulously re-packed and our equalizer hitch was secure. We made it through rain and wind to Laramie and started up the last big mountain before exiting Wyoming and heading out to the plains of Nebraska. At the top of the pass, an 18 wheeler flew past us as we crested the hill, and a 45+ mile an hour wind gust hit us on the trailer tail and set the trailer rocking. Although we were still cresting the hill at around 50 mph, I applied the trailer brakes to eliminate the rocking and nothing happened, except that the rocking now started pulling the van around the road. K said that all would be ok and I told her that it wasn't; we were going to roll and to hold on... I aimed for the wide median and prayed that no one was behind us. K kept repeating that we would be okay. I braced my arms on the steering wheel and did the best I could while the wheels were touching the earth. Once we started rolling, I looked over at the center of my whole world, in case it was my last moment on this earth. She was holding the panic bar with her right hand and reaching for me with her left. Her eyes were closed tightly against the inevitable... I prayed to God to please keep us safe and in that moment, I knew that I would survive. I don't know how, but I knew that I would be okay. I concentrated on watching K and praying for her safety.
We rolled two and a half times and slid  deeply into the soft earth about 25 feet on the passenger side, before finally coming to a rest in a shower of dirt, glass and assorted debris.
I shrieked K's name and swallowed my heart when she answered, I'm okay... but you have to get out first since you're on top."
In a panic to get us out of there quickly (too many car chase movies with dripping gasoline and explosions running through my mind), I release my seat belt and am reminded of the inconvenient laws of gravity as I land solidly on top of my beloved K. "Ouch". Ever the calm one in crisis. I am trying to stand up on the broken glass of the side window without stepping on her or jostling her too much, in case she's injured. I am missing my right shoe and glass is cutting into my bare foot. I have also lost my glasses. K tells me to calm down and relax, we are going to be fine- nothing is going to blow up. I manage to maneuver to the backseat and stand up where the rear driver side window used to be. The two people who are running towards us start screaming at me and asking if I am alone. I tell them that my partner is also in the car and to please help get her out. Two people lift me down to the ground after I climb up on the rear seat.
As they start to extricate K, I look around and see a pile of rubble where my home and life used to be.
Everything I own is rubble and in my mind, my cats are all dead, but I turn and see K being helped to the ground and it it the happiest moment of my life and, despite the fear and shock and sadness of what just happened, I will never, ever forget the feeling of that moment as long as I live.  She touches the ground and we run to each other and hold on for dear life.
More people stop and the police arrive. Somebody has found Scooby and caught him while he was running away. Someone else saw Neighbor run off. We piece together a crate and put Scooby inside. Digging in the rubble, we find Kit and Norm holed up together next to a trailer wheel covered in a pile a debris.  Miraculously, everyone survived this devastating crash, I still don't know how it's possible. Sadly though, after three days of searching in our rented U-haul filled less than a third full of our remaining belongings, we left Wyoming without finding our precious friend. My only condolence is that he is the most likely of all of our cats to survive on his own until rescued. We called both the Laramie and Cheyenne shelters almost daily for five weeks and emailed them both photos and descriptions of Neighbor, in case he was found. In the end, at least we all survived for a chance at another day.
So, bruised and beaten, we drive back to Salt Lake two days before our 20th anniversary, which also happens to be our scheduled wedding day.  Three kitties strapped into two rickety crates between us, we drive our rented u haul to K's parent's house, where we spend the next month licking our wounds and reclaiming our lives.
We were able to find another RV, this time a Class C motorhome, that we liked and was within our modest price range and we made all of the selfsame preparations from before and then we hit the road before either of us could lose our nerve and chicken out.
To say that the trip went smoothly would be a bold faced LIE... As before, the fates seemed to conspire against us:  another accident in the same pass (sadly- this one was fatal) closed the road that we were so dreading to drive for several hours, putting J's frazzled nerves on sizzle.. The fateful pass was traversed without incident but J noticed a 'sponginess' to the tires on the downhill pass. Since the flooding in Colorado closed the southern freeway from Cheyenne, the rains had started flooding the river banks as we crossed them so we stopped at a discount tire center that graciously consented to stay open until we arrived. In the pouring rain, we were informed that all 6 of the drive tires that had been inspected three times before we left from SLC (once by K's dad and the other two times by various shops) were from 1990 and 1999 and must be changed before we drove another mile, because they were starting to separate. The guy didn't even care if we went to Sears instead, we MUST get new tires immediately. Since it was also 6:15 on Saturday, no one could even order tires until Monday morning. We were allowed to park in their lot and they even left us the water hose to await Monday's tire truck.
We settle in for an uneventful weekend without power, so we entertain ourselves with candles and glow sticks until it is time for bed. The rains have been pretty steady and we fall asleep with the pitter patter of raindrops on the metal roof- one of my favorite sounds acquired over the last year. Around three am, I awake to a torrential downpour, and not just on the roof.
Every window and skylight vent is pouring rainwater into the RV- it is running down the walls, the bed is soaked, as is the couch and large puddles are starting to form in the center of the carpet under each vent. We grab beach towels, pot and large bowls in an attempt to staunch the flow. The storm continues to rage  outside and I sit down one one of the two relatively dry chairs and start to weep. I am overwhelmed and it's just too much to bear anymore...
We gave up everything tangible for this trip- our home of sixteen years, all of our major possessions, our car, scooter,etc. We nearly died and lost what little possessions remained, including a beloved companion; we missed our wedding day and we've experienced nothing but trouble with this new RV, despite having it meticulously checked out prior to departure. Now we are stuck in Cheyenne with no friends, family or even a dry place to sleep.  It seems that the fates would rather I die than marry or see my family ever again. I feel like a failure for being unable to provide K with with even the tiniest bit of warmth, safety and comfort and I say as much to her. Bleakness pulls me down into a pit of despair from which I fear I will never again emerge, and I sob helplessly. K sits beside me quietly, stroking my hair and face but saying nothing for ten minutes, as my breakdown runs its course.
Spent and exhausted, I finally calm, but inside my head a thousand questions are spinning, unanswered. K finally speaks, "Even if we are homeless and sleeping in a box, it's okay with me as long as we're together. We'll get through this even though it sucks. It simply can't stay this bad for much longer. Things have to start going better at some point. Nobody on earth makes it to our age with this kind of bad luck. Regardless of how bad it feels right now, we aren't doomed! Besides, I would rather be soaking wet and cold WITH you then warm and dry WITHOUT you."
She then suggests that we look for a bank building with one of those portcullis type drive thrus. Maybe we can find one tall enough to park under. I am looking out the window towards the strip mall behind us and I see the Lowe's back there- Don't they have a huge lumber loading area with that kind of awning? We pull up the steps and I hop behind the wheel and we take off like a shot. Sure enough, there's a huge, covered pass through. It's now six am and we pull up, shut down and crawl into our few dry blankets for a couple of winks.
Someone knocks on the door at 830 and I get up to meet the sweetest, young lesbian that they sent to check on us. I explain our situation and that my wife  and I just need a few more hours of sleep before we come inside and spends loads of money to fix our problems. She laughs and assures me that there should be no problems with us staying where we are since it's Sunday and raining and unlikely to be busy. I catch another two hours and get up to assess the situation. We pull out the bedroom window first, figuring if we only get one done, it should be the one that will keep us dry while we sleep. My casual "loads of money" remark proved to be prophetic- elastomeric caulk is $11 per tube and we used eight tubes for the windows alone. For the roof vents, we ended up buying a similar polymer waterproof expanding spray and used that in conjunction with the caulk.
Each window had to be removed and all of the original putty sealant scraped off before being cleaned, caulked and reset. Each window took approximately one hour and the entire roof took about ninety minutes. Although the caulk is waterproof and can be applied wet, the instructions said to give it as long as possible to cure before subjecting the project to the elements- at least three hours was recommended. Since rain was still falling steadily, we milked the portcullis until the last possible minute. our friendly lesbian had gone home a few hours before and her replacement was less than thrilled to have us parked under his awning, despite the $250 we spent in his store. He finally chased us off despite our please to allow us to stay long enough for the caulk to cure. Luckily though, the repair held in the rain.We drove to a nearby truck stop for  a meal (not having eaten anything in more than thirteen hours), a hot shower (blessed be!) and a laundromat for our soaking bedding, towels and clothes.
Fed, clean and dry but exhausted, we headed back to the tire center  around 9pm to await Monday morning.

The tire truck won't arrive from Denver until sometime Monday afternoon, so we ask to plug in so that I can work uninterrupted while we await the tire truck. The truck arrives early afternoon and they begin installing the tires while we work inside. $1200 later, the new tires are installed by four pm and we get on the road but the rig still doesn't feel right. The slightest breeze makes it sway precariously , even though we are crawling along the interstate at fifty miles per hour,  are not pulling anything and no longer have any possessions to cause excessive weight on the vehicle. We creep slowly across Eastern Wyoming and Nebraska until we get almost to Lincoln two days later and I decide that I can't go any further until I figure out if something else is wrong (Please note that we spent $2000 between two different repair shops in SL to make sure this beast was road worthy- shocks, battery, alignment, carb, ball joints, everything). We found a local tire shop that checked our steering (very tight, especially for the age of the vehicle - 33 years) and then informed us that the valve stem on the interior tire has been ripped off and there has been no air in that tire since we pulled out of Cheyenne two days ago, hence the swaying from one tire carrying too much weight on one side. Fortunately, the tire is sound after being pressure tested -the valve stem is replaced and we are once again on our way.
Now, everything feels just as it should, although I still drive no more than fifty-five at any given point, still overly sensitized by fear and superstition.
We begin to feel that fate is somehow keeping us from getting married, as we still planned to do at the halfway point of this trip. We missed our appointment for our wedding and had been calling the judge for the last month and had never been able to leave him a message since his voicemail was always full. We knew that our marriage license was waiting, but we didn't know if there would be anyone in Iowa available to marry us once we arrived. With the way the trip was going, we didn't even know if we would ever actually make it to Iowa, much less to our ultimate destination. We slowly and fearfully crept our way across the plains in the ever present high winds that had plagued us since we left Utah.  The winds died as we entered the Des Moines city limits and not a single gust was felt or the next two days  in the city. Not taking any chances, we found what we thought was the courthouse and prepared to spend the night in the parking lot. Not a breeze fluttered as we opened every window in the 87 degree balmy evening. a steamy (and not in the good, naughty way), fitful evening followed and we awoke early; sandy-eyed and grumpy from the heat and lack of sleep.  Today was Thursday, September 19th, 2013- exactly one month after our 20th anniversary, and also the last day of the week that weddings are performed. If we did not find a judge or minister today, we would either make the decision to continue on- unmarried, or arrange to stay somewhere until Monday. I needed to plug in soon, as my laptop battery was running low for work. Additionally, the judges would only perform ceremonies from 8am-930am and from 3-4pm, so we had a very small window of actual time to make this happen. We washed and dressed and went into the courthouse at five after eight, only to find out that we were not at the courthouse, but three blocks away at the same address South instead of North.
Into the RV we go, sweaty palms and nerves frayed. "Where the hell is it? I hate this stupid GPS, this bitch is trying to kill us, I swear she is!"
We find the hall of records and (miraculously) a parking spot for our 26 foot beast (side note- our RV is a 1980 Dodge Beaver that we wittily named Justin- get it? Justin Beaver...), run up to the third floor, pick up our license, get directions to the actual courthouse another five blocks away, and run back out to Justin. K tries the judge one last time,  and (Kismet!) he answers!!!!!! Yes, he got our message about the accident and ,yes, he remembers us and ,yes, he is currently in his chambers and ,yes, he will be happy to marry us if we hurry over there right now!!!!
You know those high-speed chases where the awesome car jumps over some ridiculous hill in San Francisco somewhere, making the jump with flying sparks? Yeah, those guys don't know shit about stunt driving. Try that crap in a 26 foot, three ton, 33 year old  RV sometime. K is in the back with our wedding clothes and accessories while I Evil Knievel the crap out the speed bumps. Again with the miracle spot, we run to the courthouse, up the (non-air-conditioned) stairs and into the blessedly cool sanctum of Judge Baxter's courtroom like two sweaty, pudgy dervishes. We sit down breathlessly and wait... and wait... aaaand wait....
We can hear him in his chambers on the phone (not surprising since he hasn't cleared his Voice Mail for the last month) and we take the time to arrange our wedding attire and cool off. We both still entertain nightmares of him coming out and telling us that he doesn't have time or we are somehow otherwise out of luck, but he doesn't; we stand before him and two (randomly selected from the hallway) witnesses and we get married... 
Married. Actual, real- life grown up, not pretend, make-believe married. Not domestic partnered. Not civil unioned. MARRIED. MARRIED. MARRIED....
I am hot and tired, I have a scratch on my forehead from the damn cat jumping on the bed last night. I am hungry and kind of homeless and I really need a shower. But I just married K. She is my wife and I am hers. I am humming, "Sadie, Sadie... married lady.." from Funny Girl.
I am legally married to the only person that I've ever actually wanted to be married to. I am in awe. I am at peace. I don't really know how to explain it, but I want everyone in the world to feel the way I feel at the moment, at least once in their lifetime.
I'm no longer hot or tired or hungry. I am floating on wings back to the hall of records to file our legal  forms and get our marriage certificate, which is pretty, in pink and blue.

Of course the story isn't over, but this seems like a good stopping place for now. We will bring you all up to speed in small bites over the next few weeks. Thanks for your patience  and blessings and well-wishes!!!