It’s been quite a week! One of adventure and tons of newly unexplored territory!
For starters, I mentioned our beloved annual gathering at Kalahari Waterpark last week. The week was a tremendous blast. Kids got to catch up with friends from all over, we had much much water-logged days and gorgeous sunshine as well. (Just too bad the outdoor park was not opened yet!) We brought a buddy along with us as well, so that added to our fun and excitement for the week. The unanticipated ‘fun’ for that week was that I got robbed on our very last day in the park there…. it was such a major bummer.
I had brought along my Ergo baby carrier with me and I always presume this is the best place to put anything at all cause most (1) don’t even know what the Ergo is when they look at it, and (2) more than likely have no idea there is even a pocket on it somewhere. WELP…. totally proven wrong this particular day. I left our stuff at a table, which consisted of a few shirts, flip flops, towels and my baby carrier. In the baby carrier I had my phone, two credit cards, my room key and my most favorite kick-ass tree of life ring. Some point between 12:45p and 2pm someone nabbed my carrier. The whole stinkin’ thing. Gone. It was right about 2-2:30pm that I noticed it gone. Sort of in shock and looking all over the place I’m thinking ‘holy crap…. someone stole it.’ And the next thing I heard was ‘cha-ching, cha-ching’ as I heard my money being drained from my credit card and checking account.
I run over to the front desk and report it stolen and they contact security. But again, as the minutes are ticking by I hear money leaving my account. I ask them to send security to my room so I can run and close my credit cards. I run up to the room contact checking first and sure enough, there is a $400.29 charge at the Best Buy down the street at 2pm. Between contacting them and the next bank (where $373.68 was charged at the same place), the security from the hotel shows up. Going through the low down they offer to call the local police. I’m all for it…. if there is anything that can be done to recover my things, I’ll do it.
She goes to escort the Deputy to our room and I handle the other credit card closing. Both banks, by the way, are super great and easy to deal with. They close immediately and no further charges are incurred. And they reverse the charges or will issue refunds. So it’s handle pretty easily. Chase offers me a new card by walking right into a branch and providing ID. So that process as pretty painless….. not nearly needed or appreciated, but easy none the less. Thankfully.
After filing the report with the Deputy he says he’s headed to Best Buy for surveillance footage at or around 2pm that day. I finally get a shower, which allows me to feel half human again and the adrenaline is able to chill a bit. I take the little kids out and about the resort peeking around for the potential of them throwing my carrier somewhere. I was kinda hoping I’d just see it in the trash along with my phone. The carrier and phone are fairly useless to someone…. likely they are just hitting it for the money, right? But no luck. Nothing found. I drum up the urge to drive down to the Best Buy as well. I feel like if I have searched around there I will have done all I can possibly do in this situation.
While down the street peeking around I realize this is kinda stupid. My stuff can be anywhere on this planet at this point in time….. So whatever urge took over at that time, I decide to park and go in and talk to the manager. The thing that really got me was how the heck this person could have done this without a PIN number or ID?! I walk in and ask for the manager. When he arrives he asks, “how may I help you today?” And I reply with, “Uhm…. I’m really not even sure. I’m just trying to grasp something here…. HOW on earth does this merchant allow someone to make purchases of this magnitude without a PIN or ID?” He instantly knew who I was. But I continued on. I explained, I can hardly purchase a burger in Chicago without one or the other…. How does this even happen? He is immediately flushed in the face and is extremely apologetic but explains that is how the merchant works and the banks allow them that option. He goes on to explain that the Deputy did indeed come into the store and they went through footage. They have footage of a young woman coming into the store, purchasing a TV and a laptop and leaving into a silver jeep that had pulled up directly in front of the store.
So… the upside… they have good footage. They believe this person(s) is(are) local and my fingers a crossed resolution comes about this situation. BUT…. at the moment what is there to do but move on with life, right?! So the very next day we drive home to Chicago. The plan was to have a night’s sleep there anyway cause are headed westward to Portland for our first time at Life is Good conference out there. The downside was that we would be delayed cause I had to replace the debit card and stolen phone. The bank was so simple to deal with, the phone… ugh… a whole other story… of which I will not bore you with the details. I’m sure anyone who has Sprint knows exactly what I may have gone through that day, and after 5 hours of dealing with Sprint in person and on the phone, I’m finally back in business. I was even able to locate a new-to-us Ergo for just $30 on FB Marketplace, just 5 minutes away from the store where I got the new phone!!! So everything aligned fairly easy…. if you subtract the hours upon hours with Sprint. So…. we high-tailed it outta Chicago later in the day that Saturday!
(Our celebratory dinner…. the “Yeah! Mama didn’t kill anyone at Sprint today! AND…. we are hittin’ the road!” dinner.)
We head north and west through Wisconsin. We had an overnight in the wee wee hours of the night just next to the the Minnesota border, spent the day in and around Minneapolis seeing the Stone Arch Bridge, Minnehaha Falls, and Indian Mounds Regional Park. It was a super fun morning before heading westward further to Fargo. We did an overnight in Fargo, ND and then headed out to Standing Rock. The kids and I wanted to see the spot where we had heard of so much going on with the water protectors. We drove out to the camp to see the bulldozers out there doing what they do. We drove just to the bitty start of the reservation and felt we wanted to go back and see the camp spot again. It was powerful…. even with it completely abandoned. We knew people who went there during the whole stand in, and we were well involved with collecting and donating. So it was a very powerful visit.
Onward… the journey and miles needed to be accomplished so we trekked onward. We next visited the Painted Canyon at Theodore Roosevelt National Park. It was stunning and beautiful and we were there right near sunset so the sun was coming down right beyond the amazing canyon peeks. We crossed the Montana border just before sunset and had an overnight in Billings, MT, and just before I spotted a 2000 lbs wild bison grazing just outside of the national park outskirts! (SO COOL!!)
It was mutually agreed upon we’d blow through one more huge leg of the trip to Spokane so that we could then enjoy a two night stay in a hotel…. no car! We were all feeling pretty fried. Fired up and excited cause we just discovered all of this new territory, but fried…. It was a lot to take on so quickly, but we also all knew that once we got the bulk of this journey down, the onward adventure would continue at a much slower pace. We have approximately 5 days in Portland and our trip southward is a no-rush adventure. We will be spending four to five weeks in Albuquerque, and a slow journey east ward from there. Eventually, later this summer we travel south and will spend most of the winter there. We are even discussing finding a place in Albuquerque to have a more permanent place, and continue to enjoy our long adventures. Lot’s to see, experience, discuss and decide.
For now, we are holed up in a Super 8, enjoying Wifi, snuggly beds, swimming pool and hot tub. We all slept till at least 10am today and it’s been just such an enjoyable day needed for all to recoop from the long-haul. These amazing kiddos accomplished NINE states in FIVE days and crossed four time zones! They rocked it and hard! Tomorrow we will enjoy much of this truly amazing scenery on our way to Portland. A mere five hour drive may be drawn out to six, seven or eight with the intentional stops to see the truly amazing parks, waterfalls, river scenes and more along the way. I love this breathtaking road and adventure!
We are excited to land at our friend’s home tomorrow! I know her from the Peace Corps and excited to catch up and visit. After two nights with her we will be at our first Life is Good conference, which we are very excited about as well! It’s going to an amazing time in Portland!!!