Roadschooling is proving to be a mix of highs and lows for Jason and I as parents/teachers. Some days, the kiddos are up early ready to get their math lessons done before breakfast (and sometimes before mom even gets up!). Some days however, are filled with opposition, tears and drama, which are not easy to deal with, even with parent help, encouraging words, and patience (which does have a limit!). We have had more than a few instances of “let’s put it away, get some fresh air, and work on it this afternoon.” This is usually met with grumbles, and yes sometimes more tears, but usually gives the kiddos (and us too) a much-needed break.
We are fortunate to have this time to focus on the academic needs of JUST 2 tweenagers. Our teacher to student ratio is the best it can possibly be. As parents and teachers, sometimes we struggle to balance out what they should be working on academically with work, traveling days and opportunities we can’t pass up (usually sightseeing, hands-on learning, hiking, etc.). We do our best though, and mostly feel like what we are bringing to their education while on this journey is grade-appropriate, individualized to the best of our ability, and will help them grow into more compassionate and understanding people.
It may seem odd, but thinking about visiting the Salt Flats was an early inspiration for this trip. Places such as the Grand Canyon seem, well… grand enough to spend a week or two of your limited vacation seeing. But the Salt Flats? Someplace I’ve always wanted to visit, but yet not high enough on the list to burn vacation and travel expenses on.
Since our adventure found us in Utah a second time, a stop at the Bonneville Salt Flats was in the cards. It was a couple hour drive from Salt Lake City, but the stop here would fall in line with moving into Nevada to visit Great Basin National Park afterwards. We missed stopping here en route to Colorado in September, and we weren’t about to let that happen yet again! 🙂
It’s been another little bit since we’ve last posted. Funny how time flies, even when you’re purposefully trying to slow things down!
I’m happy to report that despite this lapse in time away from our blogging, we’ve been quite busy exploring some truly GREAT parts of our nation’s scenic West.
After our Vermont/New York/Ohio adventures, we made the decision to head through the Heartland, towards Yellowstone once again. Why visit someplace we’ve already been? Well…so many reasons really. The fact that we have a close friend, who happens to be a Park Ranger in Yellowstone is a big part of wanting to return. Also, our family has roots here, and fond memories of past vacations makes us want to return and relive those with our children. I think yet another reason we return to the West so often, and especially Wyoming, is simply the lure of the mountain scenery, cooler temperatures, and truly magnificent opportunities for outside recreation and learning.
So full disclosure here…some of us (not naming names) were none too excited about visiting some of the interior states of our nation. The prospect of high heat and humidity, miles of flat terrain, and little familiar to us had most of our family ready to just drive through, spending our “required” one night in each state and calling it good. Even some reviews on our fulltime families forums said to just “skip” Iowa, Nebraska, and Oklahoma. This however, was not in the spirit of really experiencing each state. After all, it’s the journey, not the destination, right?!
One year ago today we left West Michigan for the road. It doesn’t seem like it. In some ways it seems like yesterday, and in other ways it seems like forever ago.
We’ve been to 28 states covering over 22,000 miles. We have seen both the start and end of the Mississippi river, crossed the continental divide going both West and then East, witnessed the tallest and largest trees on earth, slept on mountain peaks, stepped on the lowest place in North America, walked in rain forests and deserts, explored caves, kayaked a bit of the border between the US and Mexico, and stood in awe at the edge of the Grand Canyon.
On our route back West, we contemplated another farm stay (after our great experience at Spencer Farm, we were ready for another WOOFing assignment!). A WWOOFing farm in Ohio contacted us wondering if we would like to stay and work for week or two. During early summer, they are prepping and packing for their newly formed CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), so it is one of their busiest seasons of the year. This farm just so happened to be on our route, and we decided to stay for a week and a half and help the owner and farm manager, who owned a lot of land, and needed help tending to it at this time. I made a video about Christopher Springs during the time we stayed which is featured down below.
We’re realizing on our travels (and with life in general) that Plan A doesn’t always make sense and that it’s okay to go with Plan B or C. Sometimes, changes in plans lead to equally good (if not better) experiences and this is something we’re trying to embrace more and pass on to the kiddos as well.
When the farm in Vermont invited us for a WOOF farm stay, the first thing they said was “we’d love to have you, but not sure if you can get up our drive”. We had several email exchanges and a phone conversation discussing the driveway. They posted a video of a log truck navigating the corners and even went as far to build a 40′ mock-up of our RV with proper axle location and height of the rear bumper. He towed the simulated “beast” with his solar powered golf cart and reported back was that everything looked good.
Us Michiganders usually underestimate just how steep, curvy, and hilly other parts of the country can be. Likewise, most folks underestimate just how big and heavy “The Beast” is. Looking at this photo below (along with many others he sent) the corner looks perfectly navigable. Or so we thought….
As mentioned on our last post, we begrudgingly left our friends on Spencer Farm. In all honesty, we deliberated a LOT on where to go and what to do. Our Alaska trip was cancelled and due to COVID, many of the things we set out to do aren’t really options these days with the lack of open museums, visitor centers, ranger-led programs, and more.
We asked ourselves if it would be worth it to keep traveling at this time or should we throw in the towel and buy land and/or a house somewhere again? If we did this, our full-time travels would be finished as returning to a home would mean full-time jobs for us and school again for our quickly maturing tweens. Jason and I grappled with these questions quite a bit during our stay on Spencer Farm. The COVID-19 pandemic, as much as it messes up our travel plans, actually gave us the answer. Due to the economic situation we don’t currently have a job to return to, and the only reason we really wanted the kids back in school was for socializing and extracurricular activities (both of which have been cancelled indefinitely). So we figured we’d give the COVID-19 road-trip a try!