Ok – I know, I know…it’s been a long time since I posted. But, in my defense, I have been trying to get photos on Facebook and Instagram more regularly and I hope that people have enjoyed seeing them.
I figure that by now, some of you might be wondering about how this whole crazy adventure is going. You’ve seen the photos with everyone’s smiling faces and you’ve seen all the places we’ve visited, but maybe you’re wondering about what’s actually going well and what’s driving us crazy.
Well, we’ve done a little bit of thinking about that…after we got back from our first trip through the Northeast, we had a family meeting during which we took some time to reflect and we came up with some things we hoped to improve on for our next big trip through the South. We are now partway through that southern trip and I’ve done some more thinking on this topic and I’ve made a list of my list HIGHS and LOWS from our trip so far (in no particular order)…
10 LOWS. These are the things we are working on…some will improve naturally, some we’ll figure out better ways to handle, and some maybe we’ll just have to learn to live with.
- Can you say ‘tiny bathroom?’ There are four of us using one bathroom the size of a postage stamp. Not to mention that the walls are super thin. In an effort to be chivalrous (or maybe just to get some quiet time), Rob often uses the bathrooms at the RV parks. Showers need to be quick so we don’t run out of hot water but that’s not a big deal since water pressure is low and the shower is about a 1/4 of a postage stamp in size. But, I say to myself on a good day, I should just be grateful that we have a full bathroom in our RV.
- Missing friends. This is a tough one for all of us and, of course, the boys do really miss seeing their friends every day in school. Traveling to a new place every week makes it less likely that they will make new friends on the road but, on the upside, I think they are getting even closer as brothers and I love that! (though this is not to say that they don’t push each others’ buttons)
- Which brings me to…Pushing buttons. Though I have to admit this has been better than I imagined it would be, listening to the frequent exclaims from two boys who do love each other deeply but have trouble walking by the other without an annoying touch or comment (which of course seems outrageous to the victim, who will of course become the perpetrator in the next ten minutes) can get a bit tiresome. I think my next tactic for dealing with this will be to just feign deafness. We’ll see how that goes.
- Every day is different and we’re in a new place all the time. While this in itself is not a negative, and in fact, is actually a very cool thing, the constant planning and decision making can be a bit daunting and tiring at times.
- Where’s all that free time? I think we envisioned more “free” time — more time for family games, for unscheduled exploring, etc. We’ve done some but there has been so much we want to see at all of our stops (and we also have to fit in reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic when we’re not sightseeing) that suddenly the time seems to just disappear.
- How’s everybody feeling today? No one is happy all the time — it’s a given. Sometimes we are frustrated or tired or angry or just a bit grouchy and since we spend pretty much all of our time together, there isn’t much escape from people’s moods. We’re learning to try to give people some space when they need it.
- Limited space and privacy. We’re a family of four (including one teen and one pre-teen) living in 35 feet (10 meters) every day — as you can imagine, that doesn’t leave us with personal space.
- We’ve tightened the purse strings. We need to be very careful with our money this year. That’s not to say that we weren’t before but with no income for a year and expenses every day, it’s hard not to have that thought in the front of your mind all the time.
- Where’s our comfy L-shaped couch? Yes, it’s a good-sized RV, and yes, the bedroom layouts are great, but the space in which we gather to watch a movie together? Not so much. One person gets to be comfortable, the other three try to make do on the floor, in the booth where we eat, or try to convince the comfortable person to move and let them in (and you can imagine how well that works :))
- Yes, there will be “schoolwork” to do this year, and yes, we do have to go to that Visitor’s Center. Sometimes I feel like a broken record saying the same thing over and over again when faced with the boys’ complaints. But I get it. What 13 and 10 year old boys would not be a little disappointed to realize that their parents have taken them out of traditional school for a year and have not planned the trip around the locations of all the great theme parks in the country? However, the boys are coming around to the fact that there will be work to do this year and some places to visit that Rob and I deem important enough to see even though they are not on their ‘got-to-see-it’ list.
Top 10 Good Things about our trip so far – these are the things that bring a smile to my day and put a spring in my step and make me happy that we’ve taken on this adventure (despite 1-10 above)…
- Never-ending Autumn. I didn’t really foresee that we would get to have such a long fall season and this has been a nice bonus. To see the beautiful reds and yellows and oranges dotting the scenery and to be outside on a crisp day and hear the sound of the leaves crunching beneath our feet is so enjoyable. One other thing we have appreciated is the brilliant blue sky of an autumn day. Blue skies are something we do not take for granted anymore and we have not been disappointed.
- Family and Friends. One of our reasons for taking this gap year was to see more of the people we care about in the US and we all agreed that this is one of our favorite things so far. We’ve been able to spend more time with family and see friends along the way and we have more of that to look forward in future stops.
- We love to laugh. As you saw above, there are some tough aspects to being together all day, every day…but one of the big upsides: we’ve shared a lot of laughs together these last few months and who doesn’t love to laugh?! Seriously, these three guys can crack me up!
- Sleep, beautiful, sleep. I love getting my sleep and so being able to wake up most mornings without an alarm going off at 5:30 still feels like pure luxury and I am lovin’ it!
- Ah, the simple life. I joked to a colleague last year that I could go for a long time wearing the same sweatpants and sweatshirt and not be bothered at all. While I admit I did pack more than one outfit for this trip, we are all living with less and there is some freedom in that. I do miss some the decor of our house — beautiful pieces that remind me of the amazing places we’ve traveled to — and I miss having more books around, but other than that, it’s really not so bad.
- Cleaning is a snap! Cleaning up 35 feet of living space is quick and easy, leaving more time for other stuff, so that’s a bonus. We’ve found that we absolutely have to have a place for everything and the boys are getting better at putting things in their place so that’s good, too.
- Less stress. During this ‘gap’ year, we are getting a break from the typical stresses of our jobs and school. That’s not to say that there aren’t any stressful moments but they are different ones than the usual and by taking a break from the usual, we are thinking and living outside our typical box and that’s a nice change.
- No homework. Our evenings do not involve homework, which leaves us with more relaxed family time in the evenings. I think we all like this change and wish we could keep it for a long while.
- 10-4, good buddy. Rob is doing a great job with the driving. We were both nervous about what actually driving a big rig like this would be like and, although it is more tiring for him than regular driving, he is getting us from place to place safely and he is shouldering all the driving, which I really appreciate. (now if he and our GPS just agreed on things, it would be perfection! :))
- Becoming history buffs. I’m amazed at all that we’ve already been able to see and do and there’s so much more to come. History has not typically been a big love of mine but I find that I am really enjoying this aspect of our trip and, from what I’ve observed, the boys are enjoying and getting a lot out of it too. Between visiting the actual sights we’ve read about, talking with people who are passionate about history, watching movies (some docos and some not), and reading historical fiction, we are immersed in it and it’s been fun.
And that’s it folks…the ups and downs of the Gold Family Roadtrip so far. Anything else you’re interested in knowing? I’m looking for new ideas for blog posts!