Family Goals Come to Life

Family Goals Come to Life

Coming home from our epic adventure last Summer, it quickly became clear that we just couldn’t get over it. I couldn’t stop thinking about how I had truly never been happier than I was on the road for those 60 days, and Justin and I so very frequently reminisced, talking about our favorite stops, retelling funny family stories from the trip, and daydreaming about our many pit stops on the road. And then two episodes with two of our kids quickly reinforced that I wasn’t the only one. The first incident happened one evening when I picked Grace up from her girl’s chorus rehearsal. She was in tears. When I probed her immediately about what was going on, she replied, “Our director was talking to us about Summer Memories, and I just kept thinking about ‘Thor’ (the nickname of our RV from last Summer), and how much I miss being on the road.”. Then, a few weeks later, one evening Brady came into our bedroom in tears. Justin and I were quick to assess the root of his obvious emotion, to which he replied that he “missed the RV.” 

During the next few months, we had some serious discussions as a family. Were we interested in committing to this kind of travel that, despite the many missteps and challenging moments, that had been so good to us the past summer, and given us so many wonderful memories? If so, what would that look like? It would take a risk, committing our time and channeling our money in that direction.  It became clear after we probed each of our children that they were committed to making that move (Quinn was admittedly ambivalent about the idea at first, but eventually gave in. He’s so emotionally tied-in to what the other kids think). It was then that we set a goal as a family to visit as many of the 62 US National Parks as possible, and we were going to buy an RV to help our family visit many of them.

I spent a few months assessing a roadmap that would get us to all 62 parks before Grace was too far into High School (after all, we aren’t oblivious to the fact that her school and social life will likely demand more and more as she gets older, though we hope that she still wants to hang out with us as much as possible). It was clear that many of the trips could be accomplished in the RV, with a few obscure and logistically-tricky parks requiring flights and other modes of travel. But, all in all, our goal was reachable, and it appeared that all six of us were more than excited about the prospect.

Justin began the “deep dive” into RV research. Many nights after I fell asleep, he stayed up into the wee hours of the morning reading, researching, looking at new and used RVs online, and doing some MAJOR due diligence. It quickly became clear that the “bunkhouse” floor plan was the best for our family, giving everyone lots of sleeping options, and providing the kind of space we knew we’d need, even with the kids getting older and bigger. After looking at some RVs in Southern California, and taking a few family trips to some RV dealers, we settled on the new member of our family, “Lin Manuel,” a Coachman Mirada Class A RV. We were thrilled.

The past few months have thrown a small wrench in some of our original travel plans. We had to cancel our Spring Break journey to some of the National Parks in the Southwest, and then eventually decided to cancel a 6-week Summer trek across the US, hitting many parks in the Midwest, East, and South. A great many of our planned stops on this trip were going to be in big cities, with a great many plans for museum visits and places with lots of people, so we decided that it wasn’t the safest route for our family right now, considering the COVID risk. 

So, we pivoted. One of the other trips I had sketched out would take us through Oregon, Montana, North Dakota, and all the way to two obscure National Parks in Michigan and Minnesota. After dialing in the itinerary and adding in a few family favorites from last Summer, including Red Lodge, Montana; Jackson Hole, Wyoming; and Sun Valley, Idaho, we had a Summer trip lined up that everyone could get behind. We’d be on the road for 33-ish days, and would be traveling in the best way possible in this new world.

We are off and running again with our traveling circus!  Come along with us!


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