The second day of our road trip had us driving through Illinois and into Missouri. We couldn’t find a by-pass so we ended up having to drive through the middle of St. Louis, what a nightmare! Out of Missouri we were on a toll section of highway into Kansas. We skirted Kansas City, and before finding a rest stop for the night. On the third day we drove straight across the state. It was mostly pretty level but there was a very strong southerly wind that was continually trying to blow us off the road. We did have one or two minor dramas at some rest-stops, when Nutmeg demonstrated a Houdini like ability to get loose. We left Kansas into Colorado where the elevation started to change. I drove until just before Colorado Springs where we swapped, so that Dazzle could drive while I navigated. Up till that point everything had been fairly straight forward as we’d been following main highways for most of the journey. Of course, once we got into Colorado Springs we had what I think was the only wrong turning of the trip (sack the navigator!) As it happened it probably worked out better as it meant that we avoided one of the busier roads. Once through Colorado Springs we were back on familiar territory so it was a straight run to Canon city. We had a pit-stop there at 6pm to pick up a pizza before the last leg out to our land. Brian met us out at our land and we got the u-haul parked. He showed us the trailer and demonstrated how the heater worked. Of course, once he had gone we couldn’t get it started again (turned out that his demonstration used the last fart of gas that was in the cylinder! We got the dogs settled and spent the night freezing our butts off! In the days that followed we started to get things a bit more organized. We visited the campground that we had stayed in July to get reacquainted with some old friends and to get a bit more presentable after our long journey. We bought a portable generator to get power until we had mains electricity put in. Satellite TV, telephone and mains electricity were installed within about 3 weeks, all progress of a sort. On the down side, work on the Barn has been sporadic and the excavation for the house site has transpired to be a bit of a physical nightmare and potential financial disaster. Back on the plus side, we did get the dog run built, Dazzle’s therapy room set up and the weather was very good while I was there! After about three weeks it was time for me to leave and return to Europe. I had to leave a week early as I had to go to Norway for 4 days. In the six weeks up to my journey to Colorado I had been in 8 countries on 3 different continents, through 10 different airports. On my return to the boat, Colorado-Angola (8 days), I was in 6 countries on 3 continents, through 9 different airports (Not counting the fact that I was through Aberdeen 4 times and Amsterdam, Allesund, Bergen and Brussels twice each!) Norway was an interesting and informative trip, with a very large expense claim at the end! Returning to the ship should have been a bit of calm, but it wasn’t to be! The ship had developed a problem with one of it’s main azimuth thrusters almost as soon as we had left. It had to limp to Cape Town, which was the nearest dry-dock that could take it at such short notice. 10 days in dry-dock before returning to the field in Angola which was completed only a few days before we re-joined. Which meant that very little of the project had been done while we were gone and it was now almost a month behind schedule. Organization has been very poor and things were going slowly at first, however we were getting into a phase of the project that was more akin to the sort of work that we regularly do, and being repetitive, we started to get into the swing of things and began to claw back some of the lost time. One lasting legacy of the dry-dock was that we had acquired a stow-away. A young Tanzanian boy, who has tried to get into South Africa. When he was refused, he saw that the ship was registered in London and decided that that was a better option than being sent back home, and so he hid onboard. It must have been a bit of a shock for him to emerge from hiding to find himself in Angola rather than the UK! A lot of hassle and paperwork ensued culminating in him being repatriated back to Tanzania, scan reward for 10 days hiding in a rope locker and five weeks at sea. However, he did leave the boat in better physical shape, better fed and better clothed than when he was found. Meanwhile, in Colorado…. If progress on the barn had been sporadic at best while I was there is deteriorated to almost non-existent while I was back on the ship (which wasn’t a reflection on me not being there!) Not that there hasn’t been any progress, just not nearly enough considering the amount of money that has been put up and the fact that 7 weeks has elapsed and we don’t even have a roof yet. Before I left, the builder had assured me that it would be completed before the 1st of May, certainly before our stuff arrived. Well, the stuff arrived on the 15th of May, and as the barn wasn’t finished then, it had to go into storage in Denver. This was the one thing that we really wanted to avoid as a great deal of our belongings as likely to suffer with the lack of climate control n the storage facility. Relationships with the builder have deteriorated almost to the point of collapse. Whether we achieve a resolution that is favourable to us is open to debate, but I’m certain that it isn’t going to be favourable to the builder!

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