Searching for America at a crawl |

Searching for America at a crawl

Andrew Gmerek

I need a good slog through a mire. I need a sole-splitting, soul-crunching, mud-covering, knuckle-bloodying, curse-causing trek. I need to get “out there”. I need an adventure, which, if you know me, is nothing new.

My adventure addiction usually surfaces at about this time every year. The minute spring bursts from the warming earth, my feet start whispering to my head that it’s time to move.

This year, however, my old travel addiction has been both piqued and squelched by the actions of my sister and brother-in-law, who have learned the painful lesson that a vacation and an adventure are two totally different things.

My sister Emily and her husband, Rob, once were successful people working in the entertainment industry in California. They had a nice apartment in Venice Beach, a great group of friends who were artists, actors and musicians, and a life that everyone envied. That was until they decided to hit the road and find America.

About a month ago, they went simultaneously insane, and since no one was around to stop them, they bought a 30-year-old, 23-foot motor home, sold most of their worldly possessions and prepared for the adventure of a lifetime. They hope to spend a year on the road, filming their adventures and selling footage to a new cable channel. Their first stop was to be here in Colorado, but their adventure, like many adventures, began early and unexpectedly.

Even before they left Venice Beach, they managed to fender-bend the pick-up they were bringing to Colorado for storage. That set them back a day.

At this point, I might have taken the accident as something like an omen of doom and bagged the entire idea, but if Emily and Rob are anything, they are tenacious.

Once they finally started rolling, however, they realized their first grave mistake. Instead of renting a storage unit in California, they decided to haul their stuff to Colorado in a trailer behind the motor home. And this probably would have been fine if, by some chance, they didn’t need to cross the Rocky Mountains. Getting to Colorado, however, includes climbing some massive mountain passes, and well, the motor home, excellent in the flatlands, fought to achieve 30 mph on the hills.

When you throw in the fuel leak, which occurred when the motor home was pointing uphill, one nervous breakdown at a rest stop and time wasted when the clutch burned out on the pickup just as they were entering Grand Junction, the first leg of their trip truly was an adventure in every sense of the word.

During their ordeal, we received hourly cell phone calls informing us of their progress or lack thereof, and in the end, their arrival was anticlimactic at best.

I believe the best way to tell the difference between an adventure and a vacation is if, in the end, you have a great story to tell.

In two-days time, my sister and her husband will be back out there looking for America. They’ve repacked, reloaded, repaired and reacquired their sanity, and they already have some great stories to tell their friends and possibly their grandchildren.

We’ve even helped them on their way with a CARE package filled with pork rinds, a National Enquirer, beef jerky, Tuna Helper and other products perfect for motor home travel.

Even with all the jokes and abuse they’ve suffered at our hands, I have a sneaking suspicion my sister and brother-in-law are excited. When I look into their eyes, they have a certain sparkle that only comes with living “out there,” and the freedom it brings.

Lucky little $#%#.

Andrew Gmerek is a weekly columnist for the Summit Daily News.

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