We made it back to Chicago in time to catch the last few hours of July. After thirty eight days of driving in straight, zig-zag, curvy, and circular lines, it was finally time to rest. We did not feel as tired as you might expect. Henna was homesick toward the end and I was feeling the monotony of traveling every day (I always prefer to spend multiple days in one spot, but how many days could we really spend in Albert Lea, MN). Corey’s mantra the last few days, which I am sure has been influenced by the high humidity, has been “why do we live in Chicago?” But home is home and is made much nicer by the people we live near. This summer those neighbors have been especially awesome. The Pederson’s took over cat sitting duty when needed and also were a true friend to the felines. The Longos’ as well as neighbors Alex and Chad also assisted with the cats and kept a good eye on our house. And the Davis’ were able to keep one of two hermit crabs alive. Janice, of course, made us feel at home when we were so far from our actual home. Sam, Henna’s babysitter, expanded her job description and came to our house every day in order to feed and play with the cats. It is important to have good people in your life. It makes coming home worth it.
We also looked for changes in our neighborhood and found a few worth mentioning. The tree stump remained (the rest of the tree had crashed on my neighbors van as well as my fence), but my neighbors van had been repaired. I am also very excited to report that there is a new hot dog stand a short walk from my house. Other changes are more subtle. I feel great and have lost about seven pounds. I also feel fit (walking several miles a day will do that) and very confident. So confident, in fact, that I have worn my cowboy hat around town. Corey reports that her legs are strong and Henna is just happy to be home.
Most travel articles or travel books have a “if you go” section, usually placed at the end of the text. We have done the same, but decided to focus a little on cost. It is impossible for us to determine exactly how much our trip cost us for the simple reason that in any given five weeks we go out to restaurants, buy groceries, see movies, maybe go to a museum, etc. There are of course some specific purchases that we probably would not have made if we had stayed at home the past five weeks (whale tours are few and far between in Chicago, although the Shed would have been a lot cheaper). But here are some the costs specific to our trip:
Gas: We drove about 7500 miles and averaged close to 25 MPG (our car, a 2010 6 cylinder records this information). At $4/ gallon (I think we actually averaged less than that but it is hard to figure, especially when trying to convert liters to gallons) we spent approximately $1,260 on gas.
Hotels: We spent 7 nights at hotels. Every province and state, regardless of whether they have a sales tax or not (Oregon, Minnesota, and Montana do not) have a pretty hefty hotel tax. After that tax we spent approximately $125 a night at various hotels. This comes to $875 spent at hotels. By the way, I am much pickier and more likely to complain at hotels and this once led to a $25 discount due to a loud AC issue.
Camping: A blackjack worth of camping (21 nights). Money spent ranged from $12 to $40 (that included a reservation fee). KOAs, not surprisingly, were more expensive but also offered a lot more services; pools, showers, hot tubs (once), etc. Canadian parks were also more expensive. Total approximate cost for tent camping: $470. Of course there are also a lot of start up costs for tenting (the tent, sleeping bags, etc).
KOA Cabins: My favorite hotel alternative. You get a roof, but no linens and you have to share a bathroom with RVers, tenters, and fellow cabiners. The four nights spent at a cabin ranged from $90 (outside Victoria) to $40 (Corvalis, OR). Assume that local hotels are always twice the price of a KOA cabin. Total cost was about $270.
This is the end of our lucky 13th 2011 trip, but not an end to this blog. Over the next few days we will post some of our favorite photos from the trip. We also plan on describing some of our favorite two to three day adventures leaving from Chicago (this is meant to serve as an idea section for you at home). Next to planning our own trips, our next favorite activity is helping others do the same. On a hike this past fall we designed and envisioned a future online business in which we would do just that. Plan mini or long vacations for folks; supply them with information about traveling to places we’ve been etc. This blog was started as the beginning of that far off future endeavor. We may never get there, but it’s good to dream big. Therefore please, if you are looking for ideas or want a little guidance, ask us via the comments. You never know, this may be the start of something big.