Summaries of Days 2 & 3 – Setback, Disaster, & Recovery

The past 48 hours have been insane. Where do I begin,except at the beginning?

For the record, my route the past two days has been: Sioux Falls, Welcome, Rochester, Winona, La Crosse, Green Bay, La Crosse, Winona, Rochester.

Stipulations and Orders

Once I retired and left Green Bay, I really didn’t want any surprises waiting for me. That’s why I spent the past 15 months meticulously planning the details of my retirement. Among them were stipulations for the substitution of counsel – what I and my successor needed to file to formally get the court to recognize him (rather than me) as the attorney-of-record in all of my former cases.

I specifically reached out to both the chief judge of the bankruptcy court and the Chapter 13 Trustee for pre-approval of the stipulation language. Only to find out yesterday morning that the judges were now refusing to sign said pre-approved orders because they didn’t like the language.

It irks me, because I want the peace of mind of having this monkey off my back. But on the other hand – I’m gone. I’m not coming back. So they need to get this straightened out because I already did the work on my end. This backtracking is bullshit.

Air Conditioning Woes

As I explained at the end of Day #1, I realized that continuing this trip without functional A/C wasn’t going to work. Yesterday morning, I called up a local auto shop in Sioux Falls to inquire about the service. They told me they could help me, but not until 1pm. So Remy and I had to burn up as much of the morning as we could at a dog park waiting for 1pm to roll around. When it finally did, the mechanic told me he couldn’t do the repair because my system was too old. He referred me to an A/C specialist down the road.

About 3 hours and $500 later, I had cold air flowing through the van.

For five minutes.

We headed out toward the Badlands, but didn’t even make it out of Sioux Falls before the air turned warm again.  I was obviously pissed about the money spent on the A/C repairs for only five minutes’ worth of cold air. But I did not return to the second auto shop. Instead, I took it as a sign (along with all of the other minor issues I wasn’t liking about the van) and decided to turn back to Green Bay to swap the van for the truck.


I obviously was not thrilled that the van only made it two days into a six month journey. I spent money buying the van, retrofitting the van, and repairing the van.  That was a lot of money down the drain for such short use.

But I did plan for this possibility. Using my truck as a backup was something I was ready for. Frankly, I was glad that I could get the van back to Green Bay on its own power. Had it broken down out in California, it would have been a much more difficult, complicated, and expensive contingency to execute. In other words, it could have been worse.

Then It Got Worse

DisasterEn route to Green Bay, I was on I-90 eastbound, just past Welcome, MN. All of a sudden, I notice that was losing speed. I pumped on the accelerator, but the van did not respond. I pulled over, shut the van off and tried to restart it. That’s when I figured out the engine had died.

Disaster & Recovery

Swapping out the truck for the van was a difficult thing to orchestrate. A tow truck dragged us to a hotel in Rochester, where I unloaded most of the contents of the van. Then I went to the airport to pick up a rental car. Came back to the hotel to load up as many things as would fit in the car that would not fit in the truck.

Got in to Green Bay early this morning where I picked up a friend to help me juggle two vehicles. We took the rental car to the storage unit, pulled out the truck, emptied the truck of all the stuff I had packed into it from home, then emptied the rental car of the stuff that I had in the van but would not fit in the truck. We took the two vehicles back to the airport to drop off the rental car, then I took my friend back home and continued back to Rochester where I am now.

P.S. Special thanks to Borntrager Auto Body & Towing – this guy went above and beyond my expectations and did more to help me than I could have asked for. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a proper link for his website, so this little plug on my website will be the best I can do for the moment to say “thanks”. Also, thanks to Dan and Gwen for their hospitality and assistance in getting me back on the road.

There are a few silver linings. The truck is reliable, has functioning A/C, a readable dash, cruise control, and more. I know the truck, I’m familiar with it, comfortable with it, and more confident driving with it. And since I had to pay for the hotel room anyway to hold my gear, Remy and I are getting a night on a proper bed and I’m getting a couple showers out of this, too.

Concerns About the Future

I wanted life experiences and I wanted adversity – and I got them. I wasn’t expecting to be hit so hard so early in the trip. Being homeless and jobless was alleviated by looking at the van as my new home. Now I don’t have the van. Should anything – god forbid – happen to the truck, then I’m really screwed. I’ll have nothing left.

I considered abandoning the trip altogether. It’s tempting in light of everything I’ve gone through in the past two days. Anything else major happens, I just might. But for now, I intend to push on and overcome the adversity. After all, that was the point of this trip, wasn’t it?

I also considered leaving Remy with someone while I finish the trip, my main concern being keeping her healthy in this ungodly heat. I’m not sure if I would be more responsible by continuing to care for her on my own, or by wisely leaving her behind. But at the end of the day, I can’t bring myself to burden someone with that responsibility. So she stays with me for the time being.

Finally, I thought about postponing this trip two months so that I could get some cooler weather. But that would mean missing the solar eclipse, plus I’m not convinced that 2 months would make much difference. I’ve been to South Dakota in September last year – it was still hot. And it takes forever for the desert southwest to cool off. Then there’s the hassle of finding somewhere to crash for two months.

The Truck, Shorter Trip, Haunt Season, and Coyote Gulch

The only drawback to the truck, really, is space. There’s a lot less room in the cab – both for me to sleep, for Remy to move around, and to store our gear. We’re going to have to make some sacrifices and it’s going to be uncomfortable. Tomorrow morning’s challenge is to get the rest of the stuff in the hotel room into the truck.  It won’t be easy.

In all likelihood, the consequence of losing the van will be that I no longer make an effort to drag this trip out six months. I’ll probably be shooting for something closer to three months. The upside to that is that I would be back “home” in time for haunt season.

This would also buy me more time to plan a Europe trip for departure next April. The Europe trip is the other trip I’ve got planned that would take more than two to four weeks to complete.  I don’t want to go through the hassle of finding a job only to quit it and go to Europe. Might as well get Europe out of the way ASAP after this trip is over.

The downside to the shorter trip is that I may not be able to hike Coyote Gulch. It was always going to be a hazardous trip for me. Even moreso if I attempt it before late September. The only way I can see getting there that late now is if I make a detour at about Flagstaff Arizona during the final phase of my trip while traveling up Route 66 back to Wisconsin.

Kyle (the Corpse) & Sioux Falls

Kyle, the CorpseOne good thing did happen yesterday. The second mechanic I saw yesterday – told me that he thought the corpse in my van was real. Not sure how he accounted for the lack of rotting corpse smell, or why he didn’t call the cops if he thought it was real. But I’ll take the compliment – it’s the highest I could ever hope to be paid.

Yesterday was the first time I spent inside Sioux Falls, rather than outside of it or driving past it. Sioux Falls earned a place in my heart last year because it was essentially my first stop as a nomad. I am also aware that Sioux Falls has friendlier laws more accommodating to nomads.

But after visiting the city, my love affair is over. It’s a flat and dull place, and the residents lean a little too far red for my tastes. Sioux Falls had been one location I considered relocating to after this trip is over. I’m still willing to entertain a few spots in Montana, and of course long-term, I’d still like to ex-patriate. But if I don’t return to Green Bay, it has occurred to me that I might find sustainable work as a haunter in Madison. Plus, I loved Madison and wanted to move there before becoming an attorney. Obviously just preliminary, rambling thoughts right now. But I’ll need to make decisions sooner than I planned.

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