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A Life Update

Maddie Schipper

It has been a while since I've written anything for the blog. I believe that it's time to change that.

The pandemic and lockdown have been rough. When the lockdown started in early 2020, I thought, "this is what I have been preparing for my entire life." And at first, it wasn't bad. Not much changed. I hadn't been going out to restaurants or bars, and I didn't spend lots of time with a friend group. So that was business as usual. But as the days turned into weeks, it became harder to ignore the overwhelming feeling of isolation. Sure, I had Sterling, but the complete lack of human interaction began wearing on me. As the summer drew closer, I hoped that some of the restrictions would start to loosen.

In June, I left on a road trip to Boston. I had scheduled surgery at Boston Medical Center before the pandemic. I had planned on spending the spring in the North East, so Boston was the best choice. As the pandemic hit, surgery was rescheduled for July.  I considered canceling, but I had already spent money and time jumping through insurance hoops to get the surgery approved. So I hooked up the trailer and headed East.

I spent a few weeks in Ohio before heading to Massachusetts. I got to meet a long-time "online" friend in person. Explore some beautiful hills, and spend some time along the coast of Lake Erie.

The surgery went well, and I spent a couple weeks recovering before heading to Amish country in Pennsylvania. It was beautiful with the rolling hills and green foliage. I was still recovering, and Sterling enjoyed longs walks with his new friend I found on Rover. After Pennsylvania, we packed up and headed to Virginia for a week. Just two days into my stay in Northern Virginia, I was pulled away from work by a loud banging on my door. I answered, and a lovely neighbor informed me the trailer was on fire!

Fortunately, the damage was minimal, but with insurance only covering a max of $700 in hotels and expenses, I decided to drive home to Oklahoma while the trailer was being repaired. The 1100 mile drive was much quicker without having the camper trailer in tow. Two weeks later, Dad and I drove back to VA to hook up the trailer and bring it back to Oklahoma.  I canceled my stay in hill country Texas to spend some more time near my parents. Sterling loves walks with "pop-pop," and who am I to deprive my baby of those.

In late September, we headed West. A week soaking up the Arizona dry desert sun did us some good after spending so much time in the midwest's humidity. We spent the week on the banks of the Verde River. That weekend we headed up to Las Vegas. Sin City was a good stop. The campground was in the city and allowed me to soak up some solid WiFi and spend time exploring Vegas outside the strip. It was regularly over 100 degrees, but dry and our spot had an excellent shade tree. It was a good three weeks.

After we had our fill of debauchery in Vegas, it was time to spend time near the Southern California coast.   San Diego still feels like home to me. It was where I made my first natural home outside my parents. So spending any time there is always excellent. We parked up in the mountains East of the city. While it took some time to get into town, the park was terrific, the WiFi was solid, and the weather was beautiful. Sterling received his first taste of ocean water. He was disappointed. And got chased by the waves on their way up the beach. I got to spend some social distanced time with friends I hadn't seen in a long time and catch up on each other's lives.

After our stay down South was over, we headed North to Sacramento for a quick week-long stopover. That week I had a couple days off, so we went to explore Lake Tahoe. Unfortunately, the lake was completely covered in fog as a storm had rolled in. Donner Pass was getting hammered with snow. So a quick drive to Reno, and I was one set of snow chains richer and a ridiculous amount of money poorer. But we made it back home that night and could start our journey to Bend, Oregon, the following day.

I set out that Saturday morning worried about the road conditions in Northern California. The experience from the night before was not pleasant, and all I could think was trying to negotiate a mountain pass covered in snow with 8,500lbs of trailer behind me. Fortunately, while it did drizzle most of the drive, the temps stayed above freezing, and we made it to Bend without any significant issues.

The campground was about 20 minutes outside of Bend. While there was no snow in Bend, it consistently snowed the first two weeks. Bend also doesn't have a CVS. And I did not plan ahead for this. So on a chilly Friday evening, Sterling and I braved the mountains to get to the closest CVS about 3 hours away in Eugene. Meds acquired, the rest of our stay was uneventful.

After Bend, we were off to the Oregon coast. The campground I had picked initially was having WiFi issues and practically zero cell reception. Because I need a solid internet connection to work, an audible was called. We headed a bit further north to Seaside, a campground we had previously stayed at. The week in Seaside flew by aided by the drive-up fish and chips place Grizzly Tuna (highly recommended if you're in the area).

After the week on the coast, we headed north into one of my favorite states, Washington. We spent a week at another repeat campground where I could have the local Ram dealership perform the truck's 100,000-mile service. The following weekend we headed North yet again to park just outside Seattle in Monroe. Similar to the previous week, this was a campground I had stayed at before. The plan was to spend Christmas and New Years' here before deciding what to do next. A couple days after Christmas, I decided to use the rest of my break to head back to Oklahoma.

I got settled back in Stillwater and prepared to hunker down for the remainder of the winter. The second week into February, the temperatures dropped like a rock, and we were snowed and iced in.

A couple days into the ice and snow, I slipped on said ice and broke my ankle. A metal rod, 6 screws, and two surgeries later, my ankle is healing well. I've been stuck in my parents' guest room, unable to put any weight on my right leg. Fortunately, they have been fantastic and are taking excellent care of me. The trailer is buttoned up in Stillwater, waiting for Sterling and me to return.

There were many other smaller adventures that I'm planning to write about here, so stay tuned for those.