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Two hours ago, five weary travelers (four human and one canine) entered the city limits of Edmonton, Alberta, after a nine-day road trip. Nine days of laughter, of music, of occasional friction, of teamwork… of lots and lots of driving.

After nine days – over 5,000 kilometers and 60 hours – of travel through two provinces and five states, dispersed amongst sight-seeing and shopping and eating and picture-taking, I can honestly say that relationships were formed and strengthened over this trip. Dreams were born, there were some disappointments, but overall we all still wanted to be in each other’s company when it was all over.

It wasn’t all smooth sailing, and if I could I might have changed some things. And yet, it’s in those moments that I realize that any changes would’ve made it a diferent trip entirely – with different frictions, problems and priorities. I loved this trip the way it was; it provided me a much-needed perspective I doubt I could’ve had any other way.

So many people made this trip possible. A friend lent us a tent for the journey, others watched our home while we were away. Friends and family offered traveling tips and advice (none of whom said the words “Are you NUTS!?” – for which I am grateful), while others gave me practical birthday gifts that I could use on the road (even down to marking shampoo bottles). Employers provided time off of work, friends and strangers on the road opened their facilities, their guidance, and their hospitality to us.

And I can’t say enough about my traveling companions. I couldn’t have done this trip without you. and – as Ben said earlier tonight – I can’t imagine doing this trip with anyone but you.

Over the next couple of weeks, I will be posting my own experiences on this Epic Road Trip of Awesome. Come along with me; it’s gonna be a wild ride.