I wrote this at the half-way point of our proposed one-year trip
Last fall when planning this adventure I posted the following, so I thought it would make a good outline to hang some thoughts on. I said we wanted this trip to be:
- ...not a field trip, but we want to be educated.
- ...not a business trip, but we need to work.
- ...not a family reunion, but we want to visit friends and family.
- ...not a vacation, but we want to be re-created.
- ...not a mission trip, but we want to be missional.
So, how are we doing?
...not a field trip, but we want to be educated
MsBoyink is typically the one planning out the homeschooling curriculum for the kids so she will have her own thoughts, but here are mine.
While this past 6 months has been radically different from a family-learning perspective I can only see it being a change for the better.
We are all better at US geography - simply by driving through the states.
We are all better at history - by having visited significant places like Gettysburg (which truth be told, either MsBoyink or I would have had trouble locating before this adventure).
We are all better at asking questions about our surroundings that lead us on research sprees - usually just basic questions like “Why is Phoenix called Phoenix? Did it burn at one point?” “What kind of bird is that?” “How old do you think those cacti are?” “What makes that rock face look green”?
More practically we’ve learned how to live on the road, how to setup and tear down camp, how to chose campgrounds, how to evaluate shower & bathroom facilities, and how to reach out to find local people to meet with.
When I read back through this blog and realize where we’ve been and what we’ve done I can’t help but be amazed at the learning and doing we’ve packed into six months.
My grade: A-
...not a business trip, but we need to work.
And work we have. I’ve been on conference calls while sitting in rest areas. I’ve made client calls from the front seat of the truck sitting in library parking lots. I’ve taught classes in cities like Richmond, VA and Atlanta, GA and now Phoenix, AZ. I’ve worked on client websites while sitting in a camp chair, glancing up at mountains and watching wildlife.
Sound great? Usually it is. But not always.
There are times when the rest of the family is off doing something fun while I have to stay behind and crank out work. As I write this they are at their first-ever Renaissance Fair while I’m in the trailer in the campground alone with my laptop.
I keep reminding myself that this is no different than when we were back in our stick-house, with me working in the view-less basement and the family coming and going.
Now I often have great views and scenic areas to explore on breaks or after the work day is in.
As we’ve moved further west and gotten into different time zones my body clock hasn’t changed, so I find myself getting up at 5-6:00 AM and getting an early start on the day. This helps me feel OK about stopping in the early afternoon and enjoying the area I’m in. I like to think I can also get some work time in after supper but by that point in the day I’m mentally done so it doesn’t happen much.
I wasn’t able to get a dedicated office space in our trailer, so most work hours are spent either in local libraries (free wifi, power, and comfy seating with no expectations of having to purchase something) or just sitting in the Ikea chairs we bought for the trailer.
I have found that re-arranging the chairs such that I’m pointed into a corner with my back to the rest of the trailer has helped me tune out the day-to-day stuff that often pulls me away from work. I still pine for a true room to myself - so if we ever decide to do this fulltime that will be something to think about when looking at other RV’s.
My grade: A-
...not a family reunion, but we want to visit friends and family.
We’ve done quite well here. We visited my parents in Mission, TX - our mobility even more important now that theirs is more limited with my mom’s breast cancer treatments. I’ve been able to visit people from both the EarlyCJ5.com forum (where I’ve been a moderator for years) and the ExpressionEngine worlds. We visited my Aunt in Green Valley, AZ. MsBoyink and the Kids have scheduled meetups with local homeschoolers. We’ve met other Families on the Road. We’ve a meetup tomorrow with some other nomadic sorts as well.
It works better to be intentional about it. The vast majority of these meetups have happened because we’ve posted our location somewhere on the internet and asked if anyone was around and willing to meet.
It’s amazed us how curious people are to hear more about what we are doing. While - like most - we enjoy talking about ourselves it’s sometimes been hard to flip the conversation around and find out more about the people we’re meeting. It’s another thing we’re learning to be intentional about.
My grade: B+
...not a vacation, but we want to be re-created.
This certainly hasn’t been a vacation, and that’s really hard for others to understand.
We’re programmed to equate travel with vacation or retirement.
Everywhere we go we get recommendations for things we should see or do in that area, and when we research them we find entrance fees of $50 - $80 for our family. We can’t afford that on a regular basis so try to find cheaper or free things to do instead. Museums, aquariums, and zoos are all great but we have them back home so we don’t feel bad skipping those if they’re too expensive.
I feel that I’m being re-created.
Sure, there are major chunks of who I am that are unchanged (for better or worse), but my days are more energized, filled with more wonder, more exploring, more adapting to new environments, and - yes -more appreciation for the ultimate Creator behind all of the beauty we’ve seen.
My thoughts of the future are quite different, now considering some alternatives that aren’t just more or less getting old doing the same general thing. I’m not sure I can go back to life as we knew it.
My grade: B
...not a mission trip, but we want to be missional.
This is the one I struggle with most. Before leaving I had visions of finding places to volunteer as a family - possibly homeless shelters or soup kitchens.
This is hard to research and coordinate when you are moving every 3-4 days on average. We’ve even struggled to just attend church regularly (not that I believe that’s a terribly important goal in and of itself). But I’m starting to think I was thinking too big here and had my expectations set too high.
Maybe being missional isn’t about days spent in service but rather looking for missional moments like:
- Offering the leftovers of our lunch to a homeless man on a bike
- Giving a quart of oil to a stranded motorist at a rest stop
- Giving a jumpstart to a woman outside of our RV park
- Giving extra fruit and a candy bar to a man with a “traveling and hungry” sign by the highway.
- Helping to push a truck that ran out of gas in traffic into a gas station
We’ve done all of these, however I struggle to even list them here because there’s a part of me that thinks these sorts of missional moments should just be done because they are the right thing to do and not promoted to the world via this blog or our trip-related social media accounts.
I guess the list is mostly for me, to remember, to feel like we’ve had some success here, and to again just be more intentional about looking for and being prepared for these moments when they do come along. I wanted this trip to be more than what we do and what we see, and also be who we helped.
My grade: B-
All in all? Not bad.
Pretty good, actually. Definite moments of greatness. And not-so greatness. I don’t mind the tougher times because I know those will be fodder for the stories we tell about this trip for years to come (funny how that works). The trip has definitely been well worth the preparations, sacrifices, and costs.
By golly - I think we’re having an adventure!