Personal journal of a Christian woman
took longer than I thought it would...
Published on December 31, 2003 By wvjcgirl In Blogging


My name is Ann, and I am a 36 year old woman with 2 kids. When I was young I decided that I wanted to drive across the country in a van, and see the United States of America in a summer. Although I eventually did fulfill this dream, it didn't happen quite the way that I thought it would...

I grew up in the very Northwest corner of the United States about 20 minutes by car to the Canadian border. The drive along the coast near my house was so breathtaking that it made the list of the Top Ten Most Beautiful Coastal Drives every year.

A thriving college community known for it's art galleries and antique stores, as well as a busy seaport and border traffic, there were always new people and exciting cultural events taking place.

At the age of 18, I decided to see the world, and packed up my little red sports car and headed up the rocky beaches of the Pacific Northwest coast with plans to drive to the other side of the United States, and plant my feet on the sandy beaches of the East coast.

To finance my plan, I settled near Eugene, Oregon to work at a nearby ski resort as a children's ski instructor. My fun was short lived however, as a tragic car accident left me in a wheel chair and back in my home town. A swift recovery of six weeks had me on crutches and on a greyhound bus back to the mountain, where I sold ski lift tickets in a cozy heated ticket booth for the rest of the season. When the season ended, and the financial setback of the accident still loomed over me, I found a job at another resort near the foot of Mt. Bachelor in Bend, Oregon. I worked in a ski shop selling skiis, snowboards, mountain bikes, tennis raquets, and various other outdoor equipment.

The insurance settlement crawled along and the seasons with it.

Family difficulties pulled me back to my home town, though, and at the age of 21 I returned home to the Northwest corner of the US.

The dream of traveling to the East Coast would have to be postponed indefinitely.

Life passed by...but the desire to travel across the country lingered and tugged at me. In the summer of 93, divorced and the mother of a 4 year old daughter, I packed the two of us up and set off to teach windsurfing at the Hood River Gorge in Hood River, Oregon. I took my Kona mountain bike and Burley trailer and rode my bike everywhere that summer as I didn't bring a car. We stayed at a campground there in a large tent for four months, and spent our days at the river and our nights at the camp.
My daughter was usually the only child at the camp, and amused herself by playing with the surfers dogs. When summer was over we returned home and settled back into our life, my daughter in preschool-and me working at a snowboard and mountain bike shop.

It wasn't until the summer of 96 that I decided it was time to make the US cross country trek for real, and I purchased an old Dodge van that friends helped me convert into a camper. We packed up only the things that we would need, such as our matching mother daughter mountain bikes, and my daughter's cat Simba,and headed down the Washington State coastline. We stayed in a youth hostel along the border of Washington and Oregon and said our goodbyes to our home state as we crossed the bridge. We headed over to Hood River where we stayed a few days and visited old friends and our favorite cafe; The Purple Rock. We continued our journey East through Idaho and stayed a few nights in Arches National Park near Moab, Utah. My daughter and I took down our mountain bikes to ride the famous red rocks.

Simba escaped out of the van and took off into the brush. It took nearly an hour to get him back in the van, and it was at this point that my little girl decided that she wasn't having fun anymore,

and so we put our bikes back on the rack, and went and had lunch at a little cafe.

We traveled down into Arizona where we stopped at the infamous four corners, so we could say we did. Then we drove to Durango, Colorado to stay for a few weeks in the National forest. There were many places in the mountains where travelers could camp for up to two weeks, and sometimes longer...if not caught! The river and bike trails were amazing, and we met some great friends. I became somewhat distracted there, and soon it was September and I was enrolling my daughter in school.

We rented a room in a big house with five other room mates as the rent there was so expensive.

Our window overlooked the Colorado Rockies and the Aspen trees looked like silver streaks against the firey autumn leaves. The beauty of the land and the friendships that we made kept us in Durango until the summer of 99, when once again we packed the van and headed back on the road to complete our trip to the east coast.

We had to rearrange the van somewhat to fit in another seat to hold our new addition to the family, my one year old son.

As the three of us headed down the road, we said goodbye to new friends and memories, and looked at the openess ahead of us. We traveled through Kansas, Missouri, Kentucky, Virginia, and then curved upwards to the edge of West Virginia. It was dark and rainy.

It was at this point that the van had a little trouble, and began sputtering and coughing. Also, it was getting dark, and the rain was getting heavier. Soon, the winds picked up and the rain became so heavy that I couldn't see. We pulled over into the Walmart parking lot and waited out the storm.

We all fell asleep, except Simba the cat, who was very disturbed by the pounding of the rain against the metal roof.

Soon the sun was filling the van with the light of the morning.

It was Sunday morning and we were in Beckley, West Virginia. We attended a church service that I found in a phone book, and after the service we were offered a place to stay until the van could be repaired. Several weeks later, I decided to stay in Beckley for a season, and so we did. About a year later we moved about an hour east, and settled into a small community known for its art galleries and historical significance.

It is now 2004 and I am 36, my daughter is 14, and my son is 5. We actually did make it to the east coast last fall. We traveled up to New England and we all got to put our feet into the sand of the New Hampshire seashore.

It was my son's first visit ever to the ocean. The children went swimming in the cold ocean water until the sunset and their lips turned blue.

I have learned that dreams don't always turn out the way that we think that they will, but in my case, they turned out better than I could have ever imagined!
Also, they often take a different route than we originally mapped out!

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