Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Go West... Bella!

Time to head west! We gassed up and made it from  New Jersey to Colorado in a little under a week.   We spent 1823 miles mostly on I-70.  We even decided to suck up the $113 tolls through Pennsylvania.

Craig drove 300+ mile days, and I worked from my mobile office - the passenger side of the bus.  Every once in a while I’d go sit on the couch for a change of scenery.  Craig has a great wifi setup inside so I get pretty much uninterrupted service as we bounce  from cell tower to cell tower.   Cell service is one of our biggest expenses from the road running us almost $400 a month for our phones and Internet.  But since we work from the road,  it’s definitely a must have. We have both AT&T  and Verizon for redundancy!  I’d say we mostly use Verizon, but for those times that Verizon is not available,  the AT & T backup keeps me from getting grouchy.

In one of my online meetings last week,  my colleague commented “I don’t really know what your lifestyle looks like. It’s hard for me to imagine.”  

I responded.  “Well this week is not really that glamorous.  It’s probably pretty much like yours - long work days, except that the view from my office changes as we move from state to state.  And sometimes the roar of the engine can make it hard to hear on a video or phone meeting.

I don’t have a water cooler to go hangout at when I need a break,  and don’t have much square footage to walk about and stretch.   I’m trying to remember to drink more water and stretch a bit when we stop to fill up our 200 gallon gas tank.    Our credit card company gets a bit nervous when they see $300 charges at a gas station.   

I sometimes feel that Craig must get lonely driving when I get into my work flow.   What type of work?   As a freelance educator, it changes.   This  week I spent most of my days either
-- working with my University of Vermont students this semester on Universal Design for Learning
-- working with my Marlboro College students this semester on Maker Centered Learning
-- working with  Tarrant Institute on the EMMA project (moving conversations about #makered forward in rural  Vermont schools)
-- working on my  various Create Make Learn projects
-- and a few other freelance projects.

One of the highlights of my week was getting text messages from  the new maker space  at Burke School as they were building  wind tubes as part of  a student leadership day  that I helped design.   

It was not quite the same as being there,  but today's technology does allow me to stay engaged with the #vted community as I travel around the country looking for new ideas and inspirations to support students and teachers.  Between Google Apps,  email,  chat,  text, and video conferencing,  I hardly feel the difference in time zones.

I was a little nervous about teaching my  Innovations in Education: Maker- Centered Learning class as a Marlboro College course online, but it has actually been a blast watching the tight sense of community form between this cadre of grad students as they create, make, and learn  miles apart from each other.

Craig reminded me to look up and enjoy the view every once in a while, and pointed out when we crossed state lines or changed time zones.

I decided to take little breaks and grab some footage to the view from my office window,  through the eyes of my 3 little dashboard companions.

As it gets closer to dinner time each day, I use an App called ALL STAYS to find a place that we can park the bus for the night and get some dinner.   The first night we snuggled BELLA between two trucks at a Rest Area, then truck stops, followed by an overnight at Walmart.

Overnight Tuesday  - Rest Area in Pennsylvania

Overnight Wednesday  Truck Stop in Indiana

Overnight Thursday - Truck Stop in Missouri

Overnight Friday - Walmart in Kansas

Friday night's entertainment -  a walk around Walmart!

One the last night, we found the very tiny Shady Grove Campground in a very tiny Colorado town called Seilbert (population 216).  We took a SHORT walk through town and spotted a small grocery store,  a post office, a wellness clinic, and some grain elevators.  Oh and a phone booth;  I can’t remember the last time I saw one of those!

Our overnight at Shady Grove Campground allowed us to dump and fill our tanks  before we changed over to street camping in Colorado for the next week or so.  With our Passport America discount, this cost us a whole $15! Craig remembered staying here when he was traveling with his dad, years ago.

On the sixth day we made it to Denver

Within a few minutes we were at our destination in Broomfield Colorado for a week of street camping right in front of  Warren and Allison’s house. The last time Craig had seen his son was last year at the same time;  so  he was smiling big time when we arrived.  

The first order of business was to move the Heady Topper and Citizen Cider that we had kept cold since it had left Vermont - over two weeks ago.  
It’s not the first time our children have asked us to babysit the beer and make sure it does not go down below temperature.  Who knew Vermont beer would become such a precious commodity!

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