When we last heard from “Little Things,” she was resting comfortably in Rye, New Hampshire; nestled beneath towering pines, eager to see what New England had to offer. She would wait patiently for Matt and Adria to plan some exciting excursions, but unfortunately, she would not be included in their explorations of the east coast.
“Basically, the humidity of summer seemed to suck the life out of our camper travel plans, plus we just couldn’t find RV resorts that drew us in,” Adria recalled.
“Little Things” would only hear the tales of serene sunsets viewed on the shores of grand Lake Champlain in Burlington, Vermont with Adria’s family, and the fun of making s’mores and shopping along quaint Commercial Street in seafaring Provincetown, Massachusetts on Cape Cod with Matt’s family.
In the winter, when the kids left for ski trips to Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont, the Great Western camper kept the home fires burning, waiting steadfastly for the warmer weather when she hoped to get back on the road. Although a June trip to Maryland’s Assateague Island to reunite with Adria’s family was rumored, “Little Things” had no idea that a much bigger trip would come her way in April.
The newlyweds had been struggling for months trying to decide whether they should stay in New England where family ties were strong or head back to Utah where friends and familiarity beckoned their return. In the end, they decided Utah was the right move, and “Little Things” would come along for the ride.
Once winter turned to spring, Matt and Adria began to plan their four-day trek home. Phenomenally, they were both able to secure their old jobs in Utah. With the major issue of employment solved, they reserved an ‘Airbnb’ in Salt Lake City and started to pack. By April 8, 2016 they were ready to start their journey; small U-Haul and camper in tow.
“It was super sad saying good bye to everyone, and the first few hours of the trip were basically on and off blubbering…for both me and Matt. We could barely talk to each other on the walkie talkies,” Adria sadly reminisced.
“The journey back to Utah was pretty uneventful, and actually the least favorite road trips I’ve ever taken. It was not only an emotional rollercoaster, but I was sick as well. I would compare it to going cross country on the Oregon trail in an old fashioned covered wagon,” Adria commented. Cora, however, did not seem bothered by the trip; sleeping comfortably for most of the ride.
According to Adria, the couple spent their first night at a sketchy cheap motel in Buffalo, New York. “We checked into our room, and I made the horrible mistake of looking at Google reviews of it while lying in bed,” she recalled, “Room 178 had bed bugs and fleas stay out!!!” Of course, that was the exact room they were in, so after a frantic mattress search, Adria put all of their things on the table top and cocooned herself and Cora under the covers.
The next morning snow covered the land, but poor visibility did not deter the threesome. They yawned their way through the middle states, conversing by walkie talkie, listening to audio books, and talking on the phone with family and friends.
Once in Iowa, the dry air and open cornfields gave them hope that their long journey would soon be over. “We stayed at a cute little hotel next to a farm, with a nice continental breakfast. We were on the ground floor, and the window didn’t have a screen, so in the morning I opened it and plopped Cora out to take her morning pee, and then kind of reeled her back into our room after. That was kind of funny,” Adria recalled.
They stopped quickly at the Iowa 80 Truck Stop, deemed the World’s Largest Truck Stop and ‘a place where people want to stop’. Many travelers liken it to Trucker’s Disneyland, but for the kids it was a quick break for refueling before continuing on their journey.
The next night they stayed somewhere in Nebraska. “I remember almost nothing about where we stayed, or how that was. I was just focused on getting through,” Adria said. When the three travelers pulled into a gas station in a quaint tiny town in Nebraska, they noticed an enormous cow farm across the street, and an opportunity for some fun.
“We decided to go for a walk at the farm, where we saw baby cows frolicking and heard unfamiliar, yet pleasing tweets of local birds. The warm dry air was so welcoming! I remember the sunset in Nebraska to be breathtaking as well. Very dramatic across the huge wide open plains,” Adria said wistfully.
All was going well until they arrived in Sinclair, Wyoming, where they pulled into a gas station as the rain poured down. They were eager to get back on the road with only 300 miles left; the greatly anticipated ‘homestretch’ in their grasp, until the unexpected happened.
As the couple headed away from the gas station to the highway ramp, Adria took the second positon, following behind Matt’s truck and the camper. Without warning, she watched in horror as the camper’s left wheel suddenly came off. Realizing what was happening, Matt managed to quickly pull off to the side, camper scraping its way to safety. “I remember feeling my heart sink; I was so scared at that moment,” Adria said still shaken.
Matt and Adria knew the trip would test “Little Things,” and they had even contemplated selling the ’77 Great Western camper before they left for Utah. They had enjoyed their time with it, but knew between its age and them starting on a new path in life, it was probably time to give it a new home.
“I wasn’t mad or sad about the camper really…just extremely surprised, and also grateful it happened where and how it did. Had we been going 70 miles per hour who knows what could have happened. I am just so glad that Matt’s guardian angel was watching over him,” Adria said thankfully.
With few options, they made the executive decision to have the camper taken away to a junk yard. “It was kind of sad gathering all of our things out of the camper, and saying good bye to it, but it was all we could do,” Adria recalled. Dare we assume, “Little Things” was sad as well.
Besides losing the camper, the kids had no way to bring their bicycles back to Utah, as the camper was housing them. “We gave them to the woman who ran the small café’ at the gas station. Her elation and excitement made it almost worth the loss. She said a similar thing happened to her years prior when she moved from Idaho to Wyoming. I suppose karma kicked in for her – at least she got some free bikes that day,” Adria said; optimistic as ever.
After this shocking and strange experience, Matt and Adria shared a well-deserved hug, and collectively said, “Let’s get the hell out of here!” They pressed on through the pouring rain and fog of Wyoming, with Salt Lake City firmly in their sights.
As the pair passed through Park City, Utah, they could almost taste the salt of the great lake! It was a beautiful, warm sunny evening around 7 p.m. when they made their final descent into town.
“I flashed back to my first journey into Salt Lake at this point. As we came down Parleys Canyon into SLC on I80 West, and ventured around the bend, our first view of the vast and sparkling Salt Lake Valley met us as the sun was setting. I cannot describe the crazy feelings I had, and I know Matt had them too. I broke down seeing the valley; happy, sad, and full of excitement – all of my feelings summed up in one poignant moment.”
As Adria’s eyes welled up with tears, Cora looked at her with what could only be translated as concern; confirming that dogs really can understand our feelings.
Before arriving at the ‘Airbnb’, Matt and Adria felt the need to commemorate the moment with a hug, so they pulled off the highway and into their favorite green space – Sugarhouse Park, where they hugged, danced, and treated Cora to a game of fetch on her favorite hill.
“What a fun moment; it felt like our little family made it back to where we were supposed to be…it felt right to be there,” Adria said fulfilled.
Completing what they considered a total mulligan; moving back to Utah and recouping their old jobs, the couple felt at home again. “It feels like I’ve come back to my normal life, friends, and job. It’s like a once in a life time opportunity for me and Matt to take a year away and return to the life we know so well,” Adria said gratefully.
The trip cross country was not exactly what Matt and Adria had expected; when is life ever that predictable! You have to make the most of your experiences, take the bad with the good, and be thankful for the time spent – whether it be with family or friends, in a new home or job, in familiar or unchartered country, or within the protective walls of a small white and green-striped metal camper called “Little Things.”
Wherever she may be now, the kids enjoyed their time with their ’77 Great Western camper. And although her time with them came to a sudden and abrupt end, somehow they hoped she found new life with a family who loved her as much as they did. As for me and my husband, we miss the kids, but their happiness trumps our sadness. As for “Little Things,” all we have left are some photos and a patch of dirt where she once rested her wheels.
With a fresh start in front of them, the three transplant ‘Utahans’ settled back into their lives. Within two months they found their first home, complete with a fenced in backyard for Cora and a view of stately Mt. Olympus.
Matt, Adria, and Cora are busy now working, playing, and living each day to the fullest! They’re still as adventurous as ever; who knows, maybe “Little Things” will be reincarnated and the three will be back on the road exploring and experiencing the natural world once again. Until then, RIP “Little Things,” it was a fun ride!