Summer RV trip: final week

We continued our push toward home on Monday, stopping along the way at the RCMP Heritage Centre in Regina, Saskatchewan where Canada’s Mounted Police are trained (proudly called “Depot”). We were lucky enough to arrive in time to catch the Sargent Major’s Parade:

We strolled through the museum and learned about the history of the “Mounties”…

…and took a grounds tour to see what life is like for a new recruit. American media tends to unfairly lampoon the Canadian mounty, but we found these men and women to be hard core law enforcers.

Early Tuesday morning, we crossed back into the USA (North Dakota, specifically):

We camped Tuesday night at Pinehurst Campground, an unexpectedly lovely little place just outside of Jamestown, North Dakota:

I’ve learned to like the convenience and non-expense of Walmart parking lots, but this serene setting was a welcomed change of pace and still a great deal at $10/night:

There was a surprising lack of mosquitos, so we took the opportunity to burn up some firewood we had been hauling around. We hardly ever bother with campfires, but this was another nice change of pace:

I don’t know how we got started on this, but Em, Nat and I stayed up late Tuesday night experimenting with flashlights and long camera exposures:

On Wednesday, Emily got to meet up with an Instagram friend and fellow aviation aficionado at the Mall of America near Minneapolis, MN:

By Thursday we had reached our last stop: the EAA AirVenture event in Oshkosh, WI:

It rained like crazy as soon as we got there:

Friday was a mix of rain and sun, but by Saturday morning it was totally clear. This photo shows just a small, small section of the densely packed fields of RVs and tents that makeup the landscape of this event:

It was a perfect day for the AirVenture Runway 5k that Carrie, Em and I ran. (They did great; Amy trained them well!)

It was sort of the same content (not a bad thing) as when we were here two years ago. Lots of people and planes…

…Emily getting lots of encouragement:

…schmoozing with pilots (in this case, a Thunderbird):

…and overall getting a fresh dose of inspiration for one day taking to the skies herself:

Saturday afternoon was, as expected, a cool air show of historical and military aircraft:

…and that night was the best fireworks we had seen since the last time we were here; everyone’s favorite part of Oshkosh.  As usual, they ended the show by igniting gun powder and jet fuel on the runway to create the aptly-named “wall of fire.” This is, of course, awesome.

It’s always a mixed bag of emotions seeing this sign:

Great to see my mom again, though:

After a quick round of hellos and hugs, we got to work unpacking. Traveling in an RV is like nothing else, but unpacking after a trip is like moving out of any other home.

And now she sits in a downtown vacant lot that Amy found on Craig’s List. It’s sad the way one moment this thing is the center of our family life — the very vessel that holds us together — and a moment later is an empty shell, discarded and unused. I suppose I would do well to have a less anthropomorphic view of RVs, but still, it feels like we’re abandoning a member of the family:

Having safely returned, I feel an immense sense of satisfaction from traveling to beautiful Alaska and back in seven weeks, and with very little trouble. The girls are busy prepping for the first day of school. Emily and Natalie start tomorrow and Carrie starts high school (!) later this week, so there is also some satisfaction knowing that we maximized every last day of summer break. It was wonderful.

I’ll post a final blog later this week once we’ve tallied up total miles and costs.

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