Update 19: July 9, 2007

Scorecard: 434 days; 37,894 miles (Car: 17,857, RV: 20,037); 39 states; 46 National Parks; 18,453 photos.
End of the Road

It's over. After fifteen months on the road, it's finally over. We thought it would be sad to be leaving the road. It probably is, but we've been too busy with selling the RV, looking for jobs, and buying a house that we haven't had time to reflect on the end of the trip. No doubt when we're finally in our new home, and we have all of our stuff moved from Phoenix, and we finally feel like we're settled down, we will feel the loss of this incredible way of life.

The past couple of months have been hectic. Once we saw that the end was near and we decided on a place to call home, we were ready to be off the road. Twelve months on the road was just about right. Fifteen months really was about three months too long. It's not fair to Justin and Zane to keep traveling. They need a break. We all do.

After our last update from Durango, we traveled back to Phoenix, where we put the RV on consignment at a Tucson dealership, and bought a Jeep. Then we drove up to Durango to drop off the car and have Susan do some things related to getting her Colorado teaching certification. We left the car in storage in Durango, and drove to Rocky Mountain National Park--our last national park--for a few days. We considered that the official end of the road trip.

The road trip was over, but our travels weren't. After RMNP, we headed up to Oregon for a week to visit my family, then it was back to Durango, where we're awaiting the closing on the house on July 13th. After we close, we'll drive back to Phoenix, load up a rental truck and trailer, and drive back to Durango one last time. We plan to stay put for awhile.

We got word that the RV sold the other day, so that's one less thing to worry about. We have a book proposal written, and we're working on some sample chapters. We have a bunch of queries out to agents, and we're hoping someone will like our idea enough to give us a shot. We think we have a very unique story to tell; one that's unlike any other we know of.

Our journey has given us a lifetime of memories. In fact, we saw so much, it might take us a lifetime to sort through all of it and truly appreciate everything we've experienced. We've grown in ways we never would have in our old lives in Phoenix. For me personally, I broke out of my regimented ways (somewhat), and I've relaxed a little. Until recently, of course; now I find myself feeling the stresses of everyday, "normal" life returning. I hope that goes away once we're in our new home.

For those of you who have followed our updates during the trip, and especially for those who have commented on our updates and let us know you were actually reading them: thank you. We've enjoyed sharing our journey with all of you, and we hope you've enjoyed it, too.
Rocky Mountain National Park: June 27-29, 2007 (Location 87 on the Map)

With nothing left to do but wait for the house to close (nothing, except the minor issue of continuing to search for jobs), we left Durango and headed to Estes Park. It was a strange feeling not to be in the RV for our last national park, but staying in a hotel isn't exactly the worst thing in the world.

On our first morning, I went outside to start loading things into the Jeep for a trip into Rocky Mountain National Park. I noticed a pool of fluid on the ground under the Jeep. It wasn't there the night before. Being the least mechanically-inclined person in the family, I popped the hood as if I was actually going to find the source of the leak. To my surprise, I did; it looked like a radiator hose needed to be replaced. No big deal. You buy a used vehicle, you have to expect a few little things might be amiss. We loaded up the kids and headed to breakfast, one of the few times on the road that we went to a restaurant for breakfast. As soon as I started the Jeep, I noticed the engine light didn't go off. Great; that could mean any of a number of things, from minor to serious. Just what we needed right now was to get stuck here with mechanical problems. We went to breakfast, where I spent the time looking in the phone book for a place to take the Jeep. After returning Susan and the boys to the hotel instead of heading to the park as planned, I went out in search of a mechanic. Fearing the worst, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the radiator hose was not leaking (nothing was), and the engine light problem was fixed with 50-cents worth of sealant tape. While the Jeep was there, I had the mechanic spend an hour looking it over to give me an assessment. His verdict: it was in great shape.

With the highest average elevation of any of the national parks, much of the park above the 11,000 tree line, and the highest continuous paved highway in America, this park boasts some of the most incredible mountain views we saw on the trip. Since we left our hiking gear in the car back in Durango, we spent our time enjoying the views from the roads and overlooks throughout the park, with an occasional short hike that Justin could handle on his own. This was a great departure from how we had originally envisioned our time at our last national park. We thought we'd be here for at least a week, hiking every day and getting away from the crowds. Fortunately, Rocky Mountain National Park will make a good weekend trip once we're living in Durango, so we'll return to hike some of the park's 350 miles of trails.

In addition to a couple of short nature hikes, Justin got a chance to run around outside, climb on some rocks with me, play in a snowfield, and build a little snowman. As testament to the power of the sun at higher elevations, the snowman promptly softened and toppled over; but not before we snapped a picture of Justin beside it.

For photos from Rocky Mountain National Park, Click Here

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