The day of departure dawned red and skunky.
We were due for a major winter storm that day, and Loki had just gotten skunked the night before. The old saying “red sky in morning, sailor’s warning” has a lot of truth to it – the sunrise was vividly red and pink.
Our last remaining belongings were stacked in separate piles around the house: items going in the storage unit, items being mailed or returned to the library, items being given to people we would see, and items being packed somewhere in the camper or truck at the last minute.
As soon as they were loaded up, we pulled out of the driveway and said goodbye to the little cottage in the hay fields that we’ve rented for the past 5 years.
Home is behind,J.R.R. Tolkien
The world ahead,
And there are many paths to tread.
Our first stop was brunch with nearby family, followed by a trip to the storage unit, and then dinner with friends about an hour south. By the time we finished brunch, the storm had begun, dinner was postponed, and George thought that he would like to adjust the height of the bicycle carrier before heading out on the road. His cousin invited us to hunker down at his house until the weather improved.
The two of them worked on the bicycle carrier, needing to get different parts more than once to get it set up the way that would work the best for us. I took the opportunity to give Loki another bath and to wash everything that had skunk smell on it, with positive results. Meanwhile, the snow fell and winter settled in around us.
We stayed an extra night before the storm ended. We were excited to get on our way, but winter wasn’t quite ready to let us go. Just south of George’s cousin’s house, the temperatures had been warm enough for freezing rain to coat everything and cause widespread tree and power line damage. Roads were closed, traffic lights were dark, and everywhere trees heavy with ice were bent low over the roads – possibly too low for our 11’8” height clearance. We maneuvered as safely as possible through these obstacles, got stuck on ice and slush in George’s parents’ driveway, and after getting unstuck and bidding family farewell, ultimately pointed south.
We spent the next day and a half visiting with friends and making final preparations. (Going to a candy shop counts as preparation, right?) I was especially thankful to be able to use a ladder, brushes, and a scraper to clean remaining ice and snow off the camper before heading out. It seemed fitting to remove the signs of winter that had been trying so hard to keep us from leaving.
And then, after months of packing and goodbyes, we pulled out of our friend’s driveway and made our way west toward the Delaware River to see where the road will take us.
Goodbye for now, New Jersey. When we do come back, we’ll certainly have a tale or two to tell.