And in the end

We’ll be home tomorrow.  It’s been quite a trip.  I mentioned in the first post for this trip, that there were omens trying to warn us, from the very beginning.  I even titled a post “Go with your gut”.  But nooooooo.  We we’re too stubborn to listen to our own advise.

The trip itself served it’s purpose.  But in this case, we have to evaluate whether or not, the ends justified the means.  The Landcruiser took a major kick in the ass.  The oil leak/valve cover gasket, thermostat, ignition switch and major knocking sound deep in the block, have forced us to rent cars for the last few locations.  Then Scratchy’s passing .  Now Liberty’s  dementia progression has gotten to the point where we have a very serious (and very soon), decision to make.  I’m afraid that within the next few weeks of being at home, if we don’t see a reversal in her condition, we’re going to have to put her down.

We’ve been weighing the options and circumstances every day.  We manage her seizures, feeding, pooping, sleeping (or lack there of), her blindness and now her constant barking.  It’s no longer fair to either of us and her quality of life has tipped the scales.  I probably won’t write about it but just to give you a quick story, she picked us.

It was mid October, 2002 when Maddie had a softball game in Escondido.  We had been seriously thinking about getting a puppy at that point when Rudy and I decided to go the pound down in Mission Valley to just “look” at the puppies.  They had a litter of black lab pups and I asked the lady working there about them.  She told me they were all spoken for, but asked if I had seen the little lab-pointer mix in the bunch.  Not wanting anything but a pure lab, I told her we weren’t that interested.  She proceeded to tell me the back story about this little pup who was found abandoned in a dumpster in downtown San Diego.  Hearing that, I said OK, let’s see her.  Scrawny and cute, she got our attention immediately.  We took her into a private room and played with her for a bit.  Still unconvinced, we stood up to leave.  Just at that moment, this little girl stood right in front of the door and refused to move, blocking our exit.  She looked up at us, to say please don’t leave without me.  It was at that very moment, we knew she was ours.  Liberty was free from the pound but we we’re the one’s rescued.  She became my best hiking partner, a lover of boats and water and a 16 year bed-mate at night.  I’ve had 5 dogs in my life and known dozens, but she is hands-down, the smartest dog I’ve ever known.

The Cruiser is going into the shop as soon as we get home and I can only hope the damage is minimal.  We’ve got a ton of work to catch up on and some other, very serious decisions to make.  You see, the purpose of the trip was to find our retirement home.  Yup, we’re leaving California, eventually.

For months leading up to the trip, we’ve been researching properties in Wyoming and South Dakota.  We want some acreage with water and views, in the mountains.  At this point, we’ve fully committed to Wyoming.  There are no taxes, with the exception of a 5% sales tax on goods purchased.  We get property tax discounts because of our veteran status and the price of land is way cheaper than Cali.  Bottom line, our money will go 15% further there, than in California and (bonus), the political structure of the state suits us to a T.

We’ve chosen two properties, that we need to decide on.  Once we’ve decided and made the purchase, we’ll start building our dream ranch home.  In a couple of years, we’ll start to split our time between the two homes, establishing residency in Wyoming.  We’ll never sell the San Diego house but we may never spend more than a few months there, in the winters.  This is our ultimate adventure and we can’t wait to get started.

We have a few small trips planned this winter and I’ll drop a line again, every now and then.  Until then, thank you for tuning in and be good humans.