Only 45 Minutes From Home

Our first adventure with our “new home” happened earlier than we anticipated.  Our little family was in the process of bringing our truck and camper to our sticks and bricks home when we had an unexpected major issue with our truck.  We were only 45 minutes from home, traveling down the highway pulling a 40-foot-long camper and lost almost all of the pulling power of our truck.  We were able to limp the truck and trailer off of the highway and into a Walmart parking lot.  Thankfully our issue happened right near an exit with a Walmart right around the corner.  Of course, this event had to happen on a Sunday evening when nothing relating to diesel repair was open.  We were able to drop the camper in the Walmart parking lot and drive the truck over to an auto parts shop. While we were there, we diagnosed that the truck needed to be seen by an expert asap and there was no way we could pull the camper.  Now what?

Well, we couldn’t leave the trailer parked in the Walmart parking lot with no one with it, so we made the decision to sleep in the trailer overnight.  Thankfully we have an onboard generator that can power the camper and allow us to have electricity and heat.  But, since the trailer is still winterized, we did not have any running water or a bathroom.  We also had an empty RV. We did not have any bedding or pillows as we had not outfitted the camper at all yet.  So, we took advantage of our proximity to Walmart and outfitted ourselves to make it through the night.

Walmart Breakdown

Once we had enough supplies to get us through the night and the morning, we headed out to dinner.  We ordered drinks to drown our sorrows or celebrate our first adventure, depends on the perspective.  The kids had kiddie cocktails and the adults enjoyed an adult beverage.  After dinner, we settled in for the night and watched a DVD from the Walmart Redbox.  I anticipated having a few issues getting the kids to sleep but they were surprisingly fine.  They had a great time looking out of their windows and falling asleep watching and listening to the semi-trucks parked all around us.  All was going well until about 2 a.m. when our generator ran out of propane.  We checked the tanks when we got there but were unable to tell how much was in them.  So, our proximity to Walmart again came in handy in allowing us to get a new propane tank.  Unfortunately, after we hooked that back up our generator decided to not work as it should.  It would run for about 30 minutes and then shut off.  Since it was about 25 degrees outside, we definitely needed electricity and had to continue to turn the generator on again frequently throughout the early morning hours.  Thankfully, the kids woke up in the morning oblivious to our issues, but the adults didn’t get much sleep after the initial propane run.

Once we were up and going in the morning, we found a shop about 20 minutes away that was able to look at our truck. Sadly, we discovered that our emissions filter was 100% clogged and needed to be replaced.  This is a VERY expensive fix, but something had to be done to resolve our problem.  We found a shop that thankfully was able to get our truck in to get worked on that evening.  Prior to dropping the truck off for repairs, we very carefully towed our trailer into a nearby parking lot that we received permission to use for the night.  Next, we dropped off the truck at the shop. We then borrowed a car from family to get home. Even though our time without was short, indoor plumbing and a hot shower are wonderful things.

Our savior of a mechanic was able to get our truck done by the next afternoon. By that evening we had our truck and camper moved to its resting place for the next month, near our sticks and bricks home.

It was a whirlwind of unexpected and stressful moments, but we are thankful for the timing.  We broke down in a safe place and close to our family that who were able to help us out.  We didn’t officially move into the camper, so we had another home to go to.  It was a good opportunity for us to reaffirm that we have the right mindset to take on this adventure and whatever may happen in the future.

The kids and the dog were great throughout the whole time and they just went with the flow. Fred woke up during one of the generator shut downs and told us, while he was half awake, “I could get used to living like this.” I think we all passed this test and are looking forward to the next adventure.

shelby-camper.jpg

You’re Doing What?!?

In the past, I have mentioned how our family has become desensitized to our sometimes out of the box ideas or very last-minute travel plans to random places.  Well…we really tested them with our new plan.  There has been this idea floating around in my husband’s head for several years now.  He has proposed it a few times to me and I have shot it down for various reasons.  This fall I was watching a YouTube episode while working out and it caused me to think about his idea again.  I thought about it for a bit, saw the potential, got excited and this time I proposed the idea:

Let’s sell our house, move into an RV and travel the country!

He was very surprised to hear this idea coming from me.  We talked about it for a while and realized that it really was something that we were interested in doing and the timing for us was perfect.  A few of the things bouncing around in our heads were:

  • The home and neighborhood that we live in are very nice, but we knew it was not the forever home for us.
  • The local housing market is definitely a seller’s market.  Now would be a good time to take advantage of that and cash out to help make this all work out.
  • We started homeschooling this year and all really enjoy it.  It should be an easy transition to take it on the road.
  • With my husband working as an airline pilot, we have some flexibility with where we can live.  We currently do not live in his base city so he commutes right now.  This involves him riding on an airline flight to his base, it is a common practice and allows a lot of freedom.  Since he is commuting already, life really wouldn’t be much different.  All we would need for him to be able to get to work is to be near an airport with airline services.

We tend to jump into things head first and then figure out things as we go.  We knew that this was a drastic life change and needed to be done slowly for both kids and adults.  By slowly transitioning into this mindset and change, we gave ourselves the opportunity to really make sure that this was something we wanted to do.  Therefore, we made this decision last fall and have been working towards the point we are at right now.

We have gone back and forth and back and forth again about what kind of RV we wanted to have.  After lots of research, talking with others, touring units and working out a budget, we decided to go with a fifth wheel trailer and truck.  We have now purchased a camper and truck and will be bringing them home soon to start getting it ready to live in.  We went a bit bigger than we initially planned to. But, in the end, we decided it was going to be our home and we would enjoy a few house-like comforts.  We ended up getting a model with a bunkhouse in the rear portion to allow the kids to have their own space with room for all of their stuff.

Truck and Camper

Speaking of stuff, we really had a lot of it!  I have been slowly whittling down the amount we have.  Once we made this decision, the “stuff” in our home was looked at differently and we realized that we didn’t need a lot of it.  There were so many things that we had kept because we might use it again or because we have so much space in our house to fill.  Going from 2,800 sq. feet to about 300 sq. feet will be a big change.  We are putting things in a storage unit, but I’ve been trying really hard to let go of things that do not have a specific purpose.

The last step to make this process happen was to sell our house.  We finished all of the projects that we had kept putting off and listed the house this past week.  Due to the craziness of the housing market in our area, we were able to sell our home in four days!

The puzzle pieces are all clicking into place and we will be setting off on our adventure very soon.  When explaining our plan to others, we typically get asked where are we going to go?  Well, our first stop will be in Northern Wisconsin for the summer to help my family with their own major housing change.  They will be moving out of a home that they have been in for 30+ years and be building a new home.  We will be there to help with the transition and construction.  This will allow us time to adjust to camper life before setting off around the country.  I have a feeling we may overpack the camper initially.  After this summer…we are not exactly sure.  We have narrowed it down to south/southeast.  We will see where life takes us and figure it out as we go.

Don’t Be Afraid to Choose Adventure is our family motto and we will definitely be going on an adventure.  Even the cat and the dog will be joining us on this adventure.  We have had many discussions about should we or shouldn’t we do this.  In the end, we keep coming to the conclusion – Why Not?  Life is about the risks you take and the memories you make.  We are going to make some memories exploring and seeking out some of the amazing things our country has to offer.  If you have any recommendations for our future journey, feel free to throw your ideas in the comment section below!

Grand Plans & Schedules

Going into the adventure of homeschooling, I had many of ideas for how it would be.  My main objective was and is to travel often, experience different parts of the country and world and have us all learn some things along the way.  We have been very fortunate to take several trips this year.  Regrettably, the majority of these trips have been quite short; lasting only a day or two.  While I am thankful to have had these opportunities, these short trips have made it difficult to do any actual educating while we are in a new location.

I am someone that likes to have a schedule of what is happening and when.  So, of course, starting out the school year I had a plan.  We would do school in the morning and then the rest of the day we would finish what wasn’t accomplished in the morning or we were free to do whatever else.  That plan worked for a few weeks.  Soon we started to really embrace homeschooling.  I went into this thinking I needed to structure our “classroom time” like a normal public school.  We began our day out with together doing a daily planner, then Red and Fred did their individual work at the same time as I went back and forth between them teaching and helping as needed.  We found out that working like that did not work well for us.  Red & Fred are much more productive and there is less resistance, tears and arguing when they do their school work separately.  I am able to devote myself to each child during each of their school time.  Removing the distraction of having the other child nearby, has made a big difference for us.  By having peace and quiet and me all to themselves, our classroom time has become much more relaxed and constructive.

In addition to switching up how we lay out our school day, we have also changed when we do school.  I have learned to become more laid back (which is a bit difficult to do).  My kids are typically ready to do school after lunch.  They seem to have the best attitudes at that time.  But, some days are different and we end up doing some school in the morning or at night.   We try and let them determine when the best time is to complete their schoolwork.  This self-coordinating promotes a sense of responsibility and accountability.  Sometimes they do not complete their work because they didn’t want to at the time, or they didn’t factor in enough time to complete the task.  When they return to their schoolwork the next day they realize it hasn’t gone away just because they didn’t do it.  The work will always be there waiting for them later, so they might as well get it done when it is assigned.   They also love to surprise me by sneaking into the classroom and doing what they can in their workbooks without me.  This is a wonderful surprise and I love when they take the initiative to do what they know needs to get done for that day.  I’m not going to lie; this surprise is sometimes followed by a request to do something fun that they know is not possible without getting their school work done first.  As parents, we have tried to teach our kids that before asking to do something, it is important to look at the big picture and see what needs to be accomplished before something else is possible.  It can be as simple as helping to clean up from dinner before we can play a game or doing school before going to play with friends.  There are many “life” skills that children need to learn before becoming adults.  We hope to really be able to build up those skills in all of the time that we get to spend together.

***Stay tuned for our next blog post that is going to introduce our new adventure.  It is going to allow us to spend much more time exploring and educating in different locations!