Our Idea to Journey Across America Begins
Four years ago, my husband Chris and I were driving through some of the winding backroads near our home, trying to avoid the growing traffic jams that were quickly becoming an unwelcome pastime. That’s when we passed it: a 5th-wheel RV sitting for sale on the side of the road. We did a double-take.
“You know,” Chris said, “we could buy an RV and journey across America.”
“We could,” I quipped, my inner nomad bouncing gleefully.
That was it. Just the seed of an idea. But that initial conversation led us down a path that ended with a thud. We had three young children, one of whom was a toddler, so there was still a lot of crying. From the toddler, too. We had also just finished an expensive, three-year stint as full-time freelancers, so the idea of giving up my husband’s safe, bi-weekly paycheck wasn’t appealing. In fact, we were still paying off bills to the tune of $12,000 from our youngest’s arrival into the world. Yikes! Thanks, Obama. Or Bush. All I know is that insurance didn’t cover squat. And giving up medical benefits again wasn’t appealing, so the idea got pushed to the backburner.
Or so we thought.
Six months later, the same idea about a journey across America entered our conversation. Then again three months after that. Each time we talked about simplifying, throwing in the suburbia towel and taking to the open road to journey across America, we quickly became aware of just how cushy our lives had become.
Why Would We Want to Give Up Our Cushy Lives?
We were living the dream, weren’t we? My husband had risen through the publishing ranks to the position of Editor-in-Chief at an international nonprofit. I had a thriving freelance business that allowed me to take care of our three healthy, young children at home. We had a house on the south side of its mortgage and two cars—not new, but paid for nonetheless. We took occasional vacations and our children participated in sports and music programs. It was middle class America at its finest.
Of course, suburbia has its downfalls. In addition to all the blessings, we also had a good dose of the exhausting. We worked constantly. We strived to keep up with our children’s schooling, social, soccer and music schedules. We had little to no energy for friends, church or often each other. Projects remained unfinished, whether at work or at home, and we rarely rested because as soon as we finished one, we immediately had another waiting in the wings. The more successful our careers became, the more time it took to keep them going. We were making more and more money, but it was taking more and more time.
While everyone around us seemed to handle their schedules with ease, we struggled.
While everyone around us seemed to handle their schedules with ease, we struggled. We couldn’t keep up social relationships because those demanded more of our time. When we did make time for a date night—an infrequent event indeed—my husband and I wanted to focus on each other, not another couple, so double dates were out. And we couldn’t fathom participating in church activities because that would stretch us even further than we were already.
Enter the guilt. Guilt that we were letting friends down. Guilt that we were not raising our children to attend and serve in church with regularity. Guilt that we were not maximizing our talents or our professional opportunities. Guilt that our home had projects half finished, and guilt that, while our children had active social schedules, Mom and Dad were zombies.
It was a frustrating place to live.
Revisiting the Idea of Our Journey Across America
Over the next four years, the nagging thought just wouldn’t go away. We revisited the idea of simplifying, buying an RV and taking to the open road to journey across America. We fantasized about all the friends we wanted to see and the places we wanted to go—the Pacific Northwest, national parks, the Northeast and the Rocky Mountains to name a few. Then finally, we had a breakthrough.
One Sunday morning we drove to church only to find that the parking lot was packed. This may sound like a lame excuse for skipping services, but when I say packed, I mean packed. There was no room for Jesus to lay His head.
We decided to enjoy a family breakfast at a diner across the street instead. Pancakes are a good guilt-reliver. As we walked in, we noticed an “RV for sale” sign. We began joking about the possibilities of a cross-country trip again. Our kids, now older, jumped into the discussion. Over the course of that meal, we realized that we could make it happen. We had enough regular freelance clients to support our monthly expenses. We had changed our health coverage from my husband’s employer to an independent healthcare cooperative within the last year, so we weren’t reliant on our employment for coverage. Suddenly we realized it was possible.
The Adventure Begins
That day began a seven-month adventure with lots of research, dreaming and planning. We discovered that each of us wanted to simplify and journey across America for different reasons. Here are some of our favorites:
- See the United States (and possibly Canada)
- Slow down and get away from the rat race
- Introduce our children up close to this beautiful country—its sites and its history
- Explore nature
- It’s easier to hide bodies (just seeing if you’re still reading)
- Disconnect from the grips of technology
- Show our children that they don’t have to always follow the crowd (Different can be good.)
- And finally, simplify our lives.
So our journey across America has begun. We’re counting down to take off. I’m sure we’ll encounter challenges. I know every day will not be marvelous, but I’m happy I’m embarking on this journey across America with my favorite people. We’re sure to make memories.