On May 20, we returned from the Amazon. On May 22, left South America. Team 1 (Ryan & Mark + dogs) flew to Los Angeles where the blue van was sitting in a container inn the Port of Los Angeles. Team 2 (Michelle, Jack, Jennah, Mac, Annabelle and Sylvia) flew to Dallas. Team 2 had tickets all the way back to Fairbanks but we didn’t want to fly directly home. The flight was a non-stop out of Dallas to Anchorage so Team 2 decided to get off the plane in Dallas and wait for Team 1 to come pick them up.
However it was Memorial Day Weekend and the van was flagged for an xray ($208) followed by a contraband exam ($800) and that took over a week. So Team 1 got a hotel that allowed dogs and Team 2 got a lovely hotel suite that turned out to be in the middle of a huge Texas field, miles and miles from anything. Team 1 was stressed out and busy, at customs, at the port, filling out paperwork, looking for new campers. Team 2 was slowly transitioning to the USA via cable TV.
Much time was spent searching for the right camper all over the western United States.
Its 1500 miles from LAX to Dallas and that is 150 gallons of gas which is about $600 one way. So in sheer boredom, Team 2 decided to fly to Vegas and meet Team 1 – which cost less than driving. Team 2 departed Dallas on May 29 and flew to Vegas with reservations at Circus Circus. Much, much, much more fun than a field in Dallas. We spent four days watching trapeze artists, tigers, dancing fountains, floating canals in Venice, visiting the Eiffel Tower, New York and Egyptian pyramids. It was a good time, even if the temperature outside was 105.
Team 1 picked up the van. It cost us $1253, most of which was paying the United States to search our car. We had to pay $50 for the open bottle of Chilean pisco in my tub (not even Peruvian Pisco) and they confiscated it. However, they left the fabulous pink potatoes and the weird corn we brought home for Frank and three bottles of meh Chilean wine.
Team 1 then drove to a home and purchased a *new* camper that was exactly the same as the old camper except it was 2 years newer and had not been driven 59,000+ miles over the Andes five times and hadn’t crossed the Caribbean on a boat. It is the same but different which gives it a dream feeling.
Team 1 arrived in Vegas at 11:59pm on Michelle’s birthday, May 31. We had a happy reunion! Team 1 had a spot in a camper park at Sam’s Town and Team 2 checked out the next morning. We spent another 2 days in Vegas, getting the camper squared away.
We left Los Vegas on June 3 and headed to Carson City. We were trying to drive out of the extreme heat. It was 107 the day we left Vegas and the Blue Van has no air conditioning.