The deep rumbling, sharp cracking of thunder and bright flash of lightening have Teddy bolting upright in bed. It’s his first real midwestern thunderstorm since he was just a baby. And it’s our most recent one in the RV.
Rain and hail pound down on the roof, bouncing water through the ceiling vents and causing us to rush around in the dark closing windows.
It was our last night in North Dakota, just hours from us leaving for Minnesota. We made it through the storm and to our site just across the Minnesota border at Buffalo River State Park.
After taking the dogs for a walk around a boring grassy field, we came back to the RV to spend the evening. We’d planned to spend three nights at the state park before heading to the Wandering Dolphin’s longer-term resting spot. After pulling off 25 ticks from the dogs and ourselves, we vowed not to leave Erv for the rest of our trip.
And we held to that, playing games, reading and watching movies for two days.
We had a brief tornado scare where we considered running — there had been a confirmed tornado sighting 40 miles west of us, and radar showed it heading directly toward us. The radio warned that, “Mobile homes will be damaged or destroyed.” Eek!
But we decided to stay and ride out the storm. And it’s a good thing we did because we didn’t get hit with a single drop of rain. The storm swooped south of us, missing us completely.
Sitting in the RV, we talked about the last four and a half weeks of our lives — our favorite places, our least favorite places, where we’d visit again, what we missed (California’s weather and lack of bugs), and what we should do next.
Overall, our trip has been amazing. It’s had its challenges, for sure, but nothing we couldn’t handle.
We’ve seen rivers and oceans, lakes and streams, and ponds. We’ve rested; we’ve rushed; we’ve eaten good food and bad; we’ve had our fair share of beer.
We’ve seen wildlife of all kinds, from hawks and eagles to much more. I saw my first rattlesnake during this trip.
And my first elk.
We’ve seen mule deer, black-tailed deer, white-tailed deer, elk, and antelope.
And most recently, a little fawn.
And it’s mother.
Yesterday, we made it back to our hometown in Minnesota. We stopped to visit my parents, parking along the back street by their house before venturing through the backyard and into the house. It was so amazing to see them and hard to realize that this was more than just a visit — we’ll be hanging around here for a while. We wanted to tell them everything but realized that it didn’t all have to happen right away.
After our visit with them, we drove Erv to its resting spot at Andy’s dad’s house.
After a pro parking job by Andy, we set about leveling the RV in its new spot.
We ended up putting wood under the jacks to protect the driveway from our massive weight (nearly 20,000 pounds) and to stabilize us since we were up in the air a bit.
With our new height off the ground, we tried to find an easy method to add stairs so that we could get inside without jumping. A set of old dock stairs served as the perfect solution.
Once we were all situated, we took stock of our new surroundings. Tucked in the trees with a view of the surrounding greenery.
And just steps away from the lake.
After being away for two and a half years, it was both strange and wonderful to return. We’d both visited, but we hadn’t come together. Being able to sit with our parents together is wonderful. And having Erv back means that our home is with us, too.
We plan to be here for an extended stay — to visit with friends and family and take care of some things in our home state. But we know we won’t stay forever.
I slept soundly last night, lulled by the feeling of safety that being home brings. Minnesota will always feel like home, but we both know that it isn’t our final resting place.
We don’t know what the future holds for the Wandering Dolphin, but we know that the adventure isn’t over.