Wow how has it been 6 months already? Today marks our 180 day consecutively on the road! Woo hoo! The time has absolutely flown by since we started our journey back in January. It feels like a lifetime ago, but yet the time has just flown by! We've certainly got many mixed emotions now that we're on our way back home to Burlington, Ontario. We've been spending a lot of time reflecting on what we've experienced during our time away, what our life is like now and what it will be like when we come back to our home town in 4 short weeks. We're on the last leg of our journey and quite frankly we're really thinking hard about whether we can and should continue this type of lifestyle or whether we should go to our old life in the burbs. There are so many pros to this type of lifestyle that it really is hard to go back to our old life now. Once you get a taste of this sort of freedom you wonder what you've been doing all these years? That said, there certainly are some cons to this lifestyle which can be quite challenging to overcome albeit we have met numerous families that have done it and never looked back! From our perspective there are three main obstacles that we struggle with for this lifestyle; 1) How to earn a decent income while living remotely? 2) Being away from our friends and family and 3) Whether we have the discipline to keep up homeschooling as the kids get older? To be honest, the last two are easier to solve than the first one LOL.
But this blog post was not intended to dwell on the obstacles to this lifestyle, rather I wanted to dedicate this post to all the amazing things we achieved while on our amazing RV journey! It really was enlightening when Wendy and I pulled this list together and I hope it'll serve as our own motivation to go do it again OR find a way to make this lifestyle permanent!
Wendy's health (and mine) has dramatically improved:
Wendy's health has almost returned to normal despite some pretty rough autoimmune issues that came to a head mid last year. We almost didn't do this trip as a result of it, but in my opinion, this journey is one of the main reasons she's back to good health! Clean eating, exercise and no stress certainly can change your life around in a hurry. Not to mention the amazing people at The Living Proof functional medical office that helped properly diagnose and treat Wendy! Thank you! As a result of Wendy's dietary changes, I too have managed to drop about 30+ pounds. Of course the lack of stress, regular exercise and general happiness with this life has certainly helped as well!
Being one with nature
Our days typically consist of at least 2 miles of hiking/exploring, sightseeing, swimming and/or biking. The kids still give us a hard time when we start the hikes, but within about 15min they get preoccupied with the wonderful scenery and nature that surrounds them. Sticks, bugs, rocks and dirt is all in abundance which is all our kids need to find some fun. Our hikes often get interrupted by beautiful waterfalls, mountains, lakes, rivers, impromptu swimming stops, wildlife and the odd boulder to climb! (see my previous rock climbing adventure from Arizona)
Kids have grown socially & academically
We normally dedicate a few hours each day homeschooling in both French and English with the kids in order to keep up their academics. They've become accustomed to doing this without having rigid schedules and routines and without the morning rush that we're so used to when we're back home in the burbs. Shyla has grown a fondness of 'homeschooling' which is nice, while Lennon still needs a nudge or two to get his done. Not surprisingly, a lot of their learning has actually come from the amazing places we've visited. National and provincial parks, monuments, city excursions, museums etc. have provided great learning experiences for them on wildlife, nature, history and geography among other things. The change in georgraphy alone has given the kids an appreciation for the different types of people, culture, climates, wildlife and weather that exists across the US and Canada from East to West and North to South. Its also hard to measure how much they've grown socially, but this area too has been a huge step change for them. In each new location we go to, our kids now go up to other kids to introduce themselves, build little friendships and simply play together. Back home, our kids tended to be quite shy and kept close to their primary circle of friends rarely venturing outside of them to meet new kids. Check this off as a plus for us!
This one caught me by surprise a bit because I thought our marriage was already pretty strong. But its tough to measure how much closer Wendy and I are with one another now and our communication is much better than it was. I guess a 31ft x 8ft space will do that to you! LOL. IN all seriousness, previously, our communication with one another was drowned out by the hustle and bustle of the daily grind. We couldn't find time to listen to each others day as we were both so busy with work, watching the kids, taking them to school, all their kids activities, family errands, obligatory gatherings etc. Since we've been on the road, we are truly spending every minute together, collectively watching and playing with the kids, enjoying each others company with little to no distractions. If there's one thing we miss though, its our adult evenings out every once in awhile. If we do this longer term we'll need to figure out a way to squeeze some of those in!
Memories and experiences
In 6 short months, we've traveled to 12 US states, 2 Canadian provinces and drove over 6000 miles (and we're still not done) and not surprisingly we have made some incredible memories. Whether it be tobogganing down the brilliant white sand dunes in New Mexico, trying to wrap our arms around the biggest Redwood trees in the world in California, canoeing in crystal blue glacial lakes in Alberta, driving dune buggies in Oregon, taking in the sights of San Francisco, hiking Cathedral Rock in Sedona or standing atop the Grand Canyon, we have had some pretty awesome life-changing experiences.
No schedules and the ability to design each day
This was one major thing we were looking forward to on this trip...the lack of a fixed schedule! While we tried to live up to this, we realized pretty quick that if you want to see some of the most amazing sights (Jasper, Banff, Yellowstone, Glacier Park etc.) you really need to schedule them well in advance. So apart from scheduling our general path of our road trip we have been very flexible along this journey. If we don't enjoy a particular park or location we move! If we find out about some other awesome places we really need to check out we change our plans! We absolutely love this sort of flexibility. Each day is a new day with new adventures. No pre-determined schedules for kids' programs, appointments, errands etc. and it has been AMAZING!
Living in the moment
Our lives before starting this trip was a good one. We had a beautiful house, great friends, great neighbours, stable job, spent time with the family and just got on with life. Yet despite all these things, we would still ask ourselves "Is this it in life?". "Is this as happy as we can be?". "Is there anything that can make us happier?". When we asked ourselves these questions we often dreamed of traveling and spending time with our family in various places around the world. We would often say, "I can't wait to do an awesome RV road trip some time". This (and so many other experiences we had on our bucket list) were things that we were looking forward to accomplishing in our retirement. Nobody does these things before then? Or so we thought. The problem for us was that Wendy and I both are people who live in the moment. We weren't living in the moment which was why we were constantly asking ourselves these types of questions. I didn't realize this until we spent time reflecting on our journey this past week. I can honestly say that there hasn't been even one day this entire trip where I've asked myself "is this it in life?" or "is this as happy as we can be?". The reason is because we are both so unbelievably happy living in the moment each and every day. Not wishing about the things we want to do one day but rather getting out there and DOING THEM!
Meeting other traveling families
We have met so many amazing and interesting people while we've been traveling. More than that, we've met numerous families that share the same beliefs and passions in life as we do which is just incredible. At the very least its nice to know we're not the only crazy ones out there LOL. A few of the families we clicked with so much that we just had to find ways to meet up with again. Coincidentally, we have managed to connect with multiple times throughout our journey as our routes criss-cross across the US and Canada. There's the Stuckey family from Arkansas/New Jersey whom we met up with in northern California, again in Washington and then once again at Glacier National Park, Montana. Such a great family to hang with and our kids loved playing with theirs which was so much fun! We also met a lovely family from Texas area while we were in Florida (The Zimmerman's) whom we connected with again in Clearwater, British Columbia as they were on their way to Alaska and we were heading to Jasper. Another family we bonded with while in Florida was originally from Martha's Vineyard. Our families gelled so well we stayed in touch and reconnected in Tucson, Arizona to share road trip stories while the kids played together. These were some of the more memorable families we met, but to be honest we have met some fun and amazing people in virtually every place we went. Its been so much fun meeting and getting to know others on similar journeys!
Best sleeps ever!
I don't know if its the fresh clean air from being in the wilderness, the lack of stress, lack of schedules, VOCs from our trailer OR all of the above, but we have been getting the BEST sleeps of our lives while on this trip!
Despite some of these amazing accomplishments/achievements above, we are still finding it difficult to make this a full time lifestyle for us (for now). If we can figure out a way to overcome some of our obstacles we mentioned then I think you'll find us out on the road again traveling in no time! For now though, we'll be heading back to our home in Ontario in 4 weeks time and I think we're feeling a little bitter-sweet at the moment. On the one hand, it'll be amazing to see our friends and family again after our time away (we really do miss everyone so much) AND on the other hand, we'll be moving away from a lifestyle that has changed us so profoundly for the better in just 6 short months. Now that we've had a taste of what life REALLY has to offer us I can assure you it won't be too long before we're back out living it up every single moment we can! Life is short go RV'ing :)