For now, our You Tube is more of a home video and keepsake for us. We want to share with our family and friends and we look forward to watching these years from now! Enjoy
We've been on the road for nearly a week. Mammoth was our first stop and it was great. About 6 months ago when we were mapping our adventure, we had wanted to go up the CA coast to get to Oregon by July when we have a family reunion. This proved difficult, as everyone tends to swarm to California in the summer and the beach camping locations booked quick. For most of our trip, we will wing it as move along, but for the summer, I wanted to get locations booked so we didn't have scramble and fight for a spot in a town we wanted to be in. Since the beach locations booked up ASAP and were not completely ready to wing it, we opted to stay inland and head north to Oregon. So, Mammoth seemed like a great first stop. Little did we know there was an offroad MotoX race and the campground would be packed with the bros from So Cal. Don't get me wrong, we were once desert people. Dirtbikes and quads were our thing. Yet, we've found ourselves over the last few years liking the woods and beach a little more than the desert. With kids not too interested in dirt bikes, we sold them. So, here we were in Mammoth, surrounded by bikes reving up, country music blaring and golf carts swarming the campground. We headed out more often, in search of hikes and adventures and were pleased to find so much.
Our first stop was to Convict Lake. We hiked a good 45 minutes which was a great first hike for the boys. We take hikes easy for now, as our middle kiddo has KT syndrome and we are unsure of how far his endurance will take him before he is done. Once the kids saw others fishing, they were ready to cast their lines into the water, so we headed back to grab our fishing poles and attempt to catch some fish. We are amateurs at best. I killed it as a kid with a fishing pole, baiting the hook, grabbing the fish and using pliers to get the hook out, tossing it back into the lake. I had awesome adventurous Aunts who taught me everything. Yet it's been years since I grabbed a pole and fished. Something to do with screaming, high demand toddlers and kids yelling "Mom!" all of the time. So, we spent some time casting and breaking lines, losing bait and getting tangled in line and then watching Bryce almost take a hook to the face. It was a little too forced and chaotic. Plus, middle of the day heat kept the fish in the deeper parts of the lake, no where near the shore. So we enjoyed the scenery and headed back. On our drive, we took side roads and checked out the streams, hot springs and stunning views. We so badly want to force the boys to appreciate the views and stunning mountains, yet kids are kids and they look, act amazed, shrug and ask if they can go swim the second we get back to the campground. I hope one day they look back and realize the beauty they have seen with their little eyes. We found trailers boondocking, which was fantastic and sometime we plan to do sooner than later.
Around the 3rd day in, the kids began to explore more around the campground and enjoy the other kids who were there for the weekend. Every kid Jake met was his friend and Bryce found kids to play basketball and ride bikes with, until some older kids turned into little a-holes and teased Bryce, who then had his little heart broken. He will learn, some kids just suck and he better not be one of those kids. The boys did enjoy swimming, basketball, Bryce liked riding his bike around the campground and they even found a pretty sweet treehouse up the hill.
On Saturday we went to Bodie. This cool ghost town was awesome to explore with the boys. We took Kona, our two year old golden, along for the trip. Our older pup Hana is more apt to chill in the peace and quite of the trailer. She's our 11 year old old lady. The boys enjoyed Bodie and running around to each building. We'd check the number out front of each place, look it up on the self guided map and learn all about that spot. What was once there and who used it. Some were bars, or saloons, hotels and shops, homes and fire stations. Bodie was a mining town in the 1800's and was once 10x bigger than what we walked through. It was hard to believe men on horseback roamed through the town. It was a super neat experience and I recommend it to anyone, especially with kiddos. Bring water, as it is a good walk and warm in the summer. The Park Rangers were all very knowledgable and answered any and all questions. They all seem to really love their job.
On Father's Day, we left that day completely open to Travis and whatever he wanted to do. We gifted him Lonesome Dove, the novel. As a kid, he was obsessed with the tv series. Travis says, "Everything you need to know about life, you can learn from Lonesome Dove." He's enjoyed diving into the book. He woke up at 4:30am and headed out for some landscape pictures. We were going to get the boys up early and fish, but before Travis came back to the trailer, he casted out for a while and nothing was biting. There was a good breeze on the lake that morning so maybe that could have been why. We ventured out and explored. We took the scenic drive around June Lake and our minds were blown with the waterfall pouring down the mountain. It's great to see California out of the drought. Back at home in Southern California, there's not much evidence of that. Heading North, the amount of water everywhere is mind-blowing. It's almost as if the melting snow and water doesn't know where to do. Rivers are rushing and water is spilling down from rocks everywhere. It was beautiful. We stopped and took a quick walk up a hill, got back in and headed to Mono Lake. The clouds were insane and thunder was booming. You could see showers all around us. It was great. We explored Mono Lake, their museum and welcome center and took some fun pictures. On our drive home, we hit crazy weather, hail and steam coming off the road. It was eerie and exciting.
Mammoth overall was great, despite not having much luck fishing. I think we would have tried fishing more if we were on a quick trip and heading home, yet the fact that we have so much adventure ahead of us doesn't make us feel rushed. We were ready to leave Mammoth by Monday and move on to the next spot, so timing was perfect.
It's hard to believe we are not just on a vacation and heading home soon. I'm not sure when that feeling goes away. Our tiny home is proving comfortable and quaint. We are in love. There have been high and low emotions as we all adjust to this new lifestyle, yet we are still enjoying each others company. So far, so good!
We actually did it. Seriously, we did it. I still cannot believe it. I need to keep saying it to actually believe that we did it. We left my parents house at 530am this morning. 3 1/2 hours past the 2am departure Travis had wanted, but it was perfect. Sun was rising as we headed out. We hit a little traffic but for the most part, it was a smooth ride. Stopped in who knows where for breakfast and made it to Mammoth at 2pm. Just in time for check in at the campground. We ended up in more of a parking lot type campground at Mammoth RV Park. Sorta a bummer, but we made due and know we won't be at the campsite much. There is a great walking trail next to our site that takes you under the highway and over to the visitors center. As we were walking, we were in complete awe. We couldn't believe we were actually here. We did it.
I am feeling an entire range of emotion. I have a but of a weird calm within me. I think that may be because Im going on about 8 hours sleep from the past 3 nights. I also feel like we are just on vacation. A quick weekend getaway. Similar to last summer when we did 3 weeks away in the trailer. Maybe this doesn't feel like home yet and that why. I'm still rearranging everything in the cabinets and finding spots for things that still don't have places. I also know I could get rid of more, but I'm also sick of downsizing. I hit a wall when it came to selling or donating things. So, for now, I'll find places for it, eventually. I also have feelings of complete shock and WTF moments. The reality of this all is too much.
Today we set up our home. (I'd typically say we set up the trailer and campsite, but this is home.) While we were driving in, Trenton saw a boy with a cowboy hat and just about lost his s*&^. He needed one and he needed one now. He has birthday cash so we headed into town to see what we could find with no luck. After coming back, we had dinner and settled in for the evening. Usually when we camp, we make sure we outside, all of the time. No kids allowed in the trailer, go play outside. This time around, Travis and I have this understanding that this is our home. We should be able to lounge around inside, play and be comfortable. So we didn't push outside play on the boys too much.
Tomorrow, we head out for a hike. A little adventure. We keep looking at each other, reminding each other we don't have to go back any time soon. We don't leave Monday and head home. We leave Monday and head to the next location. And so on and so forth. I think the concept of this being a permanent lifestyle has not quite hit us. Attempting to wrap our minds around what we've done is overwhelming and exciting all at the same time.
We've already had our fair share of ups and downs. Which have really been minimal so far, knock on wood, and I'm grateful for that, but it hasn't all been a piece of cake. The tension is high at times as we find a new routine. The boys are learning their new roles within the family and that's work in itself too. Bryce has been great helping Travis outside, setting up the trailer and putting things away. Trenton is their little shadow who needs to try it all too. Those three together are great. Inside, I give Jake super important, busy jobs that no one else could really do as good as he can. Get my drift? So far, it works.
I want to thank our support system who got us here. My parents were incredible. They let us take over their home for more than a month. They smiled and laughed every time our kids did something ridiculous and we were beyond frustrated. They fed us, put kids to bed, gave us nights out and never complained, even though I probably did 100 loads of laundry. Travis parents were equally amazing. For the last year, we have used their property and building on their property to do our renovations. We've trashed their yard, cleaned it up, made noise, brought kids and put our storage unit on their property as well. We are so lucky and so blessed, which made it so hard to leave. Our friends, you are all the very best. We love you so and will be back, someday.
So, I must sleep. I am enjoying this slower pace. We did it.
Let me start by saying, parent getaways are amazing and you should all do it. Don't get me wrong, I love, adore and totally miss my kids. But people, talk about relaxation at its finest. We had only decided a few weeks ago that we should take a few nights off to ourselves before moving into the trailer. A few adult nights without yelling at children, attempting to make them eat their dinner, which by the way consists of everything they like, yet today they don't. We needed a few day to unwind before we live in a 300sqft trailer with 3 little boys, 2 dogs and each other. I checked out Airbnb and wa-lah, found a casita in Palm Springs, booked it and we are beyond relaxed. This quaint little casita is perfect. It has a pool outside and the owners are at work all day. I thought it would be strange lounging in someone else backyard, but it was so private and so peaceful, it couldn't have been better. We snacked, laid by the pool, drank a little, ran some last minute errands and enjoyed having conversations without being interrupted 100x. We will cherish these moments. Not kidding, lol.
So, now we head home and load up the trailer with the final items. We will be heading to Lake Skinner to camp until Tuesday, when we head to Mammoth, our first real stop. We have a few loads of laundry to do, which I greatly thank my parents for being so accommodating and letting us use their washer and dryer every day. I sure will miss that. I'll also miss long hot showers. I think those are the two things I am aware of that will change the most. Convenient laundry and long hot showers. Believe me, I've been saving up my quarters for this trip, although I'm sure they won't last long. Ready to feel like I'm back in college.
Last night at dinner, I asked Travis what he was most nervous about. He said, "Feeling like its a vacation all of the time and getting lazy." I agree. When we camp, we let things get dirty, we don't worry about laundry or a routine or eating all that well. We bum it and enjoy it because we know in a few days we will be heading back to the chaos of life. This time, we are not heading back, and I don't think the reality of that has set in yet. I think we both feel like we are going back, yet we don't have a home to go back to. We are in our home. This is it.
The adventure we have talked about and planned for over a year is happening. I remember after we had talked about it for several weeks between the two of us, before we told our families, Travis said, "If we say it out loud, start telling people, we have to do it. There is no turning back." I remember telling my mom. She shook her head and smiled and said, "Well honey, that sounds like a good idea." Her complete "mom attempt" to be supportive and realistic all at the same time. I tried to tell her it wasn't an idea. This is what we were doing. Well we did it. Today. We move into our trailer today. Although we are in town until Tuesday, camping locally, today is the first of so many days. We are nervous and excited. Are we ready? I sure hope so. I'm not sure this is something you can ever be ready for.
It's done, it's done, it's done! I don't think Travis has ever been more excited to finish a project. This trailer renovation has been an 8 month project. Its been a lobor of love. Our intention when we bought the trailer last November was to renovate it. We wanted to make it feel like a home, not a trailer. While going through the renovation, it was all about maximizing the space we had. Every corner had to be useable and practical. I think we achieved that. We are so in love with our tiny home. So, here it is! The before and afters. Enjoy!
Did you know there is such thing as un-schooling? YES, UN-SCHOOLING. Sounds ridiculous right? Just the word sounds crazy. Wouldn't unschooling mean that you don't go to school? Not quite. Unschool means you don't force school on anyone, you let school come to them. According to a great article written by Earl Stevens, "A large component of unschooling is grounded in doing real things, not because we hope they will be good for us, but because they are intrinsically fascinating." Since we will ultimately be living on the road, with new and exciting things at our fingertips each and every day, the ability to un-school is at our doorstep. Of course, why wouldn't we?! In 2007, I graduated from CSUSB with a major in Liberal Studies, I was going to teach. I wanted to be in a classroom. I know the curriculum, I love writing lesson plans, I love teaching and watching little minds learn. I was in and out of the classroom for several years as a substitute teacher. Becoming a full-time teacher has yet to fall in the cards for me. So the idea of just un-schooling, blows my mind. There are standards for each grade and core subjects that each child just master for their grade level. How could un-schooling ever really work? My kids would be bored, they wouldn't be self motivated, I'd just fear they were missing out on long division and proper sentence structure and the definition of an idiom. Wouldn't they need a weekly spelling test? How would they keep up? And when we come back to school, how do they prove they have mastered the 2nd and 4th grades to move on with their friends? (That is if we return when we say we will). So, un-schooling just doesn't sound like the best option for us, unless it is. Is it? People, this is where my mind is tonight at 10:13pm, while my husband and 3 boys are snoring upstairs.
So homeschooling seems like the best option. Yet, there is one holdup. Each student needs to meet with their assigned homeschool instructor every 21 days. (This is what is required via the program attached to my kids charter school). Nope, can't do that. And since FaceTime or Skype isn't an option either, there goes this homeschool program.
But wait! They offer virtual school? Online schooling for kids? Yes! I currently have the boys signed up for this program. I don't know much about it and Im hoping after spring break, I'll learn more. Only downside, internet won't always be an option for us. If this program requires internet at all times, we may be SOL. Which than means, I have to do some major research on homeschooling, unschooling and road schooling. Yes, ROAD SCHOOLING.
So, if anyone has any advice to throw my way, I'm ready and willing to take it! I am a worrier and a researcher and I always want to get it right the first time because I am terrified of failure. There you have it.
On that note, I'm off to search out my bedtime essential oils and read myself to sleep.
We've been planning this trip for 9 months now. 9 months of prep work. 9 months of day dreaming, minimalizing, renovating, 9 months seems like a good amount of time. Holy crap, it's gotten real really quick folks, let me tell you. We are officially out of this place we've called home in 26 days. We've had our enormous yard sale, which was a huge success, we moved a ton of things to storage and Travis is near complete with the trailer renovation. It's gotten real.
It's funny because in the early stages of sharing this adventure with our family and friends, telling them our plans and dreams, we were the ones convincing them as to why we were doing this. We reassured them that we would be gone only for 1 year and we convinced them we would survive for 1 year. We shared with them were we wanted to go and why, how the kids would adjust and how this would all around be healthier for our family. We have now completely switched roles. Our family and friends are excitedly asking us when we launch, what's our first stop and if we are beyond excited. Our answers are less enthusiastic each time. We are nervous, wondering if we have made the right choice and questioning our every move. Should we have waited longer? Should we have not sold all of that? Should we maybe keep this and should we be moving out of our comfort zone? Is homeschool the best option for our kids? Is it the best option for me and my sanity? Questioning it all. Every move we make. We are all on the edge right now. Our home is a mess, we eat our way too often, things that need to be stored but we may still need are piled up or strewn across the floor. Another 18 days is what I keep telling myself. Enjoy it, breathe it in because this is the home where we became a family. This is our home.
When we watch other peoples adventures on social media, we are reminded as to why we are doing this. When each person we come across who hear about our plans say, "I wish I would have done that", we know we are doing the right thing. We ARE excited to get out. We are hoping it bring us all together. Slowing down.
So, as the trailer renovations continue, I cannot wait to get before and after shots together. Travis is working on clutter closets for the boys bunk beds. Each will have a space to store their stuff as well as a desk to go with it. He is building a hamper in the bathroom, as the toilets obnoxiously sits far away from the wall, leaving a huge empty space between the toilet and wall. He's built a laundry box to fill that space and will add shelves above it. It's all about the storage space people. Next project would be a small closet up front for us along with book shelves. Reading on this adventure is one of my many goals. After we put our mattress inside on our bed, he will then build the wall, operating the living space from our bedroom. It will also be the spot he hangs the TV.
So, after typing that, Im once again excited for this adventure.
We have lots more to do and will continue to share it all on our instagram @ourlivelytribe.
After talking with Travis last night, I am so relieved that I am not the only one here freaking out a little. Okay, maybe a lot. Reality is setting in. We have 1 month before we move out of our home. Our home we have been in for exactly 4 years on our move out date. As small and as much work as this house needs, we've made it our home. Its cozy and perfect. Last night I realized we would no longer have a "home". A place to come back to. Space from one another when needed. The more I type this, the more freaked out I get. I love camping. One of the best parts about it is coming home and taking a long hot shower afterwards. Not going to happen this time around. My hope is that this doesn't feel like camping. Hence the reason we completely renovated the trailer. We want it to feel like a home. We want it to feel like our space. It will function exactly the way we need it to. I hope.
While talking to Travis, his biggest fear is the adjustment period. Our entire routine is about to change. No more school days and attempting to rush out the door. A majority of us in this household are not morning people. Do we have a set wake up time? Do we have a set bedtime? Or do we just casually go with the flow? We've always had pretty set routine for the boys sake. Now to just chuck that out the window and chill...hmmm...
The little things will change. Shower times for the boys, our dinner and bedtime routine, school work, our work, all of it. We will be adjusting to one another adjustments. Believe me, I know this will not just be a walk in the park. I am aware that as a family of 5 and 2 large dogs, we will need all of the patience we can get.
What I've heard is it takes about 3 months. 3 months of questioning it all, wondering what the hell we've done and if we've made the biggest mistake ever.
Although we are freaking out, the excitement of it all does outweigh that. The adventure, the unknown the plans and ideas, the people and places we will visit, the opportunity to see and go anywhere and the amount of learning the boys are going to be able to do outside of a classroom and in the world. This is why we are doing this. We are confident in our decision, but a little freaked out.
Escaping the day to day, that's exactly what I feel like we are doing. Sometimes I feel guilty, as if we are running away. I've struggled with this idea for a while now. I feel guilty leaving our family and our friends, setting out on a "vacation" with no end. When we tell people what we are doing, their first reaction is, "wow, how are you going to do this?". Within minutes their reaction then turns into, "I wish I could do that." which then reminds we that we can do it, so we need to.
This idea would not have sat well with me 6 years ago. When I was married to Steven, I was so set in the idea of settling down, buying a home, raising our kids, soccer games on the weekends, running them around from school to sports to dr visits and squeezing in any me time where I could find fit. Chaos and the life I was taught was the "American Dream." This was the life we were all raised to believe was the right way to do it. Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with this. It's great if that all seems to work out for you. I started that life. I bought the house, settled down, starting raising my two kids with my then husband, only to have it all ripped out from under my feet. Losing my husband was a stark reminder that I am not in control. From that day forward, I was never settled. In comes Travis and we find our home together, we start to raise the boys and add another, and I still, in my heart was not settled in the day to day. There is so much living to do and I felt like we were stressed, tired and watching it all go by.
When this idea popped up, Travis and his adventurous heart ran with it, and so began our plans of hitting the road and experiencing a new day to day, everyday. We are lucky to completely be on the same page, we are lucky to have jobs that give us the ability to live this lifestyle. We are lucky. We don't take that for granted.
What I hope to gain from this, I hope that as a family, we rely more on one another. We focus more on one another. As a mom, I find my mind is constantly thinking about the next month ahead and each and every thing happening each and every day. Trying to keep our schedule on track between doctor appointments, school activities, sports, more doctor appointments, birthday parties, work, work and more work. I don't feel focused on what is important, those three little man cubs waking up each morning in my home, in need of my full attention. My husband, who is constantly on the go, making ends meet and keeping me sane.
What are we giving up? The ability to have our family and friends a quick drive away. We are leaving the comfort of our neighborhood and our routine. We are going to miss events and celebrations and for that, we are sad. Grandparents have played such an important role in our kids lives and they have kept us sane. From a quick phone call and drop off, we get a date night here and there. We will miss that. Yet, I remind myself that so many people don't have that luxury because work has taken them further from their parents and families. We are giving up all of our stuff and I couldnt be more excited about it. The weight of a garage packed with crap we don't touch, closets filled with toys that never get touched, too many clothes that I hope to fit into agin, crap, crap and more crap. Selling it all. The desks, the dressers, the dining table and chairs and shelves that all hold things we hang on to because we can. Not because we need it. I cant wait to rid of that weight.
Maybe it takes a loss or a life experience to come to this way of living. Maybe it takes an adventurous heart and mind actually do it. Maybe it just takes an idea. Whatever it is, we are doing it. Call it escaping, call it running away, call it whatever, but we are doing it.
I am also aware that this lifestyle will not be perfect. I've heard there is an adjustment period like no other. I love camping, but I always love coming back home and taking a long hot shower. 300sq ft of living space with 4 boys and two dogs, lord help me. But the pros outweigh the cons. We will need a whole lot of patience.
We will be back, we will visit often. We do still have a blossoming photography business and we will be back often. Yet in between, we will be nomads, adventurous and a family living each day differently, together on the road.
If you're just hitting up our blog for the first time, it probably means you got our Christmas Card! HEY! I wanted to explain our blog a little and share a little bit more about our adventure we are about to embark on. I've blogged off and on for several years. If you click here, you can get access to my others blog pages. I've combined all of our info here, in this one spot to share with the world. As I'm sure you know, we've got a lot happening, all of the time. Between raising 3 boys, navigating through widowhood, dealing with grief, Jakes KT Syndrome and all the other business, we have decided to hit the road, full time, living in our 30ft travel trailer we are in the process of renovating. Yep, I'm pretty much that crazy. So, on this blog, I share it all. Or shall I say, we share it all. We also podcast every Wednesday. We share our story not just so our family and friends can follow our adventures, but to give others hope. From those deep dark places, we have been, and come out of. So, as we embark on this next chapter of our lives, we hope you enjoy reading all about it, seeing pictures we share and listening along to our podcast.
We hope you all have a very very Merry Christmas!