I’m in Missoula, MT as I write this post; it’s been a month since we left Atlanta on our adventure with our two kids (Nina & London) and our two dogs (Stella & Chai). My wife, Tovah, has been doing an amazing job writing about every segment of our trip on her blog (www.gypsyspirit.net) and I encourage you to check it out – she is a much better writer than I am!
So what can I tell you after being on the road in an RV for a month with kids and dogs? Well, for starters, I can tell you I don’t miss work at all, and in-fact, I haven’t given it much thought. To be honest, I haven’t thought about work because this trip has consumed our lives and every waking moment we have. It’s fun, but it’s hard work, especially with young kids and dogs. Driving 4 – 6 hours in an RV (that’s now 55 foot with the new Jeep we are towing, read Tovah’s post on how we ended up with a Jeep) requires a decent amount of concentration, not to mention entertaining a 3 year old and a 1 year old during the drive (Tovah has been a rockstar entertaining them while I drive). At this stage I can listen to the words of Frozen, Bolt, and Dora the Explorer and envision the movie or the scene. Once we get to a new camp site, we need to level the RV, extend the slides, hookup the RV to power, water, sewer, cable (not that we’ve been able to watch any TV), and battle trying to get a decent WiFi connection (thank god for our MiFi and Verizon LTE). I’ve also gotten pretty good at un-hooking the Jeep tow bar, moving the child seats back and forth between the RV and the Jeep, and figuring out how to use the new braking system. So yeah, how could I have time to miss work – all I do is work!
Driving days can be hard for sure, but I wouldn’t trade it in for anything because from the RV, we have an amazing view (huge glass wind shield and high up), and we’ve seen some amazing landscapes as we’ve travelled though several states. From the rolling hills of Tennessee, to the surprisingly beautiful landscape of Kansas, to the jaw dropping beauty of the rockies, and rugged wilderness of Wyoming and Montana, it’s rarely boring.
Along the way we’ve winded along breathtaking canyons, rivers and lakes with farms and ranches bordering them, we’ve seen cows, moose, elk, bison, deer, and countless of our personal favorite, horses (especially when they are running along side us). We’ve tried to use smaller roads rather than big highways, and this has worked great for us as we get to see more of the rural side of America (good and bad) and I think enriches the overall experience. Of course my trusted navigator (Tovah) has also had to check to make sure these routes don’t have any bridges under 13 foot and since towing a Jeep, our RV (named Gypsy) has found some of the country hills and winding roads a little tough. It would have probably been easier and faster on a major highway, but that’s less fun!
We haven’t stayed at any camp sites that I could drop everything to live on; this has been somewhat of a disappointment as a lot of the camp sites are glorified parking lots. Having said that, there have been a few that are off-the beaten track (typically ranches or state parks) that have been nice and I expect we’ll stay in some amazing places as we head into Glacier national park, and then into some remote areas of Alberta, BC, Washington State, and Oregon.
What has been particularly amazing on this trip is seeing my kids experience new things and grow in front of my eyes. The smile on Nina’s face (my 3½ year old daughter) as she rode a horse for the first time,
London’s excitement (my 1½ year old son) on a train through a ranch to see Bison, the kids on their first carousel ride, going to a rodeo and eating Pie with ice-cream for the first time, riding our bikes with them in the chariot behind us, finding bumps in the Jeep and hearing London’s squeals, getting sweet hugs and hearing Nina whisper each night, “I have a secret to tell you- I love you the mostest to the moon and back“, watching London learn how to climb, say new words every day, and find new ways to make my heart melt as I watch him grow…so many moments and memories to treasure.
What’s crazy is that in the last month, I’ve spent more time with my wife Tovah and the kids, than the last two years. The last two years have been crazy for me with work (lots of traveling) and an EMBA (weekend classes and studying in the evenings). I’ve also had to adjust to being around the kids 24/7 which is not the easiest sometime, especially during bath and sleep time (keep in mind we are living in 300 sqft RV). Tovah had taken on so much with the kids over the last 2 years to allow me to work and pursue my EMBA, I really don’t know how she did it. She’s also helped me ease into this, knowing I wasn’t used to being around the kids for long stretches. This trip is a crazy concentration of parenting, we both have little to no breaks, no in-laws to help (Very grateful Joel and Dee), baby sitters (except one night in Bozeman, thanks Katy Walker Osterloth), pre-school, no nights out with friends, etc. Tovah and I have always been a good team, this trip has really showed how well we can handle stress, parenting, and backing each other up instinctively. We both have our strengths and weaknesses and have found ways of complimenting each other, I forgot how naturally this is for us. That’s not to say that living in 300 sqft doesn’t have it’s challenges, we both need a little break from each other and the kids sometimes. Taking the dogs for a walk or going for a bike ride with the kids has helped the other person get a little break or a much needed shower. Tovah has and continues to be the core of our family, she is my love and my life and I’m so glad she’s my partner on this adventure.