Images from the first month on the road.
June began with continued days of work on the van as our send off date moved back one day at a time. The original June 1st departure became the 2nd, which became the third, and so on, until the 6th ended up as our last day outside my parent's house at 36 Brentwood Ave, and the first day out on the road. The weekend before our ever-changing send off my family came for the afternoon to spend some together, and, as always, my niece, Parker, was the star of the show.
As June 6th came closer and closer we only had a few finishing touches to tend to before we could finally begin our route West. We needed to build a spot for our water container to sit, we wanted to add a way to hang our shoes along the door, and we needed to paint a few more trims with white; a white that has since turned a very off-white in color. At this point we had been working all day, nearly every day, for the past two months straight. As you'll see below, that kind of a schedule can get you a little loopy, and a little tired of the work itself.
But, let it be known, that no matter how many hours we put into her, how many runs to Home Depot we made (30+), and how many pieces of clothing I ruined in the process, it was worth it. And, if you could, every few days during the trip, you will hear us say out-loud "we built this."
Then, looking back, in what seemed like a blink of an eye, all the hours in the garage and working with headlamps out in the driveway, turned into a hours on Google Maps until our stop for the night in Ohio. The first day was full of jitters. Just as you may hear us say "we built this" from time to time, on that day you may have heard the occasional, hesitantly excited, "we're really doing this." And, frankly, I'm not sure many other great adventures will start off without that healthy dose of fear, excitement, and jitters.
Within a day, Freehold, New Jersey turned into Cuyahoga Valley National Park on the outskirts of Cleveland, Ohio. It was our first national park on the trip, and the environment felt a lot like home, which was a good transition for us as we got things up and running in the van and within our day to day schedule. The park was sizable for it's proximity to such a large city, and it had a wealth of history to read up on. We started the day with our first breakfast in the van, first dishwashing, a few hikes, and eventually lunch and a trip to the local farmer's market before preparing to leave town and head further towards Michigan.
We left Cuyahoga with an appreciation for the familiarity of the landscape but a yearning for the big mountains we knew were ahead in the coming months. Before those big mountains however, lay the lakes, sand dunes, and pine barrens on Michigan's upper peninsula. Then, after that, lots and lots of corn fields. First up in Michigan was a small park called South Higgins Lake State Park. The water here was pretty darn clear, but the mosquitos were formidable.