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After 12 years in Colorado, the time has come for a change. The only problem is...I don't know where I want to live! Come with me (virtually, of course) across the country as I travel along all the rural roads, small towns, coastal regions, scrub-filled deserts, and damp, dark forests in Anywhere Else, America in search of a new home.

Overpacking, Justified

My beat up but much loved and very ugly compact SUV has 75.6 cubic feet of cargo space behind the front seats. Counting the front passenger seat and floor space, a bit more. Counting my ancient dog and his staircase and other necessities, a bit less. I use it all when I travel between states. The front passenger seat is so piled up with items that the car ding ding dings incessantly if I don't buckle the seatbelt.

dog inside overpacked vehicle
I've traveled enough to know how frustrating it is to find yourself on the road really needing an object or article of clothing you have back at home in a closet. I detest having to buy something I already own. And since I'm not limited to two fifty-pound checked bags on my current travels, I packed everything I possibly could. I am prepared for any weather, any circumstance, and any opportunity this adventure presents, even if I'm on the road for the next three years. I don't need anything. That hasn't stopped me from buying a few things (my tsundoku problem is well known) but I've gotten rid of things (and lost a few things) as well, so it evens out. Mostly. 

Much of my outdoor stuff, however, has gone unused so far. I did use my snowpants and snowboots in around the holidays in West Virginia. But I never went camping in January in Louisiana like I planned to because, even though I had a fair number of days in the 60s, the nights were all down in the 30s, much colder than I expected. And I've been dragging around my snowshoes this whole time too, seemingly for no reason. 

They always end up being the last thing to go in my vehicle after the rest of the tetris-ing is over, and I can never find a good place them. They were starting to annoy me. 

Then, it snowed. Hot Springs, Arkansas, a town that gets under 2 inches of snow annually in an average year got far, far more than that in the four-day span from February 14 - February 17.

It began on Saturday the 13th with some ice, which no one knew what to do with. People don't have rock salt or sand on hand, so all they could do on the top of the Hot Springs Mountain Tower was put a sign up warning people that the entire floor was an ice rink.
outdoor deck of an observation tower

On Sunday, there was snow. And snow and snow and snow. Everything was shut down: postal services and package delivery, grocery stores, restaurants, garbage collection, and the entire airport in Little Rock for two days. Cars were stranded along roads and in the middle of roads. Plowing was almost non-existent, with major highways eventually getting one to one-and-a-half wavy lanes semi-cleared. People like me who know how to drive in the snow and dared venture out looking for signs of life found none.

dog in the snow

And so, in the midst of the second big dump on Wednesday, I snowshoed! I put on all my winter gear and slogged up the West Mountain on MSRs, potentially the only person to ever do so. I passed a few people slogging through the snow with their pets, and all were amazed at the sight of snowshoes and even snowpants. No one here owns winter gear of any kind. 

Having most of the road to myself, I decided to try running a bit. Snowshoe racing is a thing! I managed no more than a handful of 20 second "sprints" on the uphill. On the flats, I could jog for over a minute. I finally hit a good jogging stride downhill, until I got "attacked" by a puppy. I was playing with the little guy and having fun and still jogging while the pup ran circles around me and at me and jump on me. When the owner appeared around a corner, he actually seemed to think I was scared and trying to run away from the dog. He begged me to stop running so I didn't fall down and get hurt. Only when I got a little closer did he see the contraptions on my feet. I jogged past with a smile on my face, calling out, I'm doing this on purpose! I'm sure he had fun telling that story to his family.

woman standing in snow by mountain road sign




front door of house and dog in snow

My road was finally plowed (for the one and only time) on Thursday evening, but people still didn't dare drive around town over the layer of ice, and most restaurants remained closed through the weekend. This was fine by me as I was able to hop in my SUV and use my winter driving skills to head out to a normally crowded state park and have a peaceful hike, followed up by a visit to one of the famous Hot Springs bathhouses...which was necessary since the town lost water Friday night from everyone running their taps so the pipes wouldn't freeze. It took over a week for water to come back consistently, full strength, and without having to run it for a minute first to get all the brown gunk out.
 
dog on a snowy trial in forest

historic bathouse building in winter

Will I leave my snowshoes in Boulder when I swing by at the end of next month as we head into summer? Not on your life.






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