“What is that feeling when you’re driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their speck dispersing? -it’s the too huge world vaulting us, and it’s goodbye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.” –Jack Kerouc, On the Road
The most common question I received since announcing our crazy plans, has been “When will you start?” While we certainly had some fun & crazy adventures this summer, we weren’t technically yet on our Year Off Adventure. First, we had to launch two college kids. As always, the transition is hard. For me, the most telling sign of a kiddo gone to college is a clean room with the bed made. It kills me every time. That said, it brings me great comfort to know they will get to share their college experience together- at least for a couple of semesters. They are amazing young adults, at a school that is right for them and I cannot wait to hear all about their experiences! Thank goodness for texting & FaceTime!
After returning from Waco, the packing & organizing focus turned to our needs. We repurposed the storage bins we had just used to move Ketrick to college & filled them with all the things we could possibly need for months away from home- a bin with beach items, one with camping gear, another with school items, one overflowing with fishing gear, and one for each of us that we filled with clothes. In addition, we packed Tom & Aidan’s large hiking backpacks so they could do some hiking & wilderness camping. No need for one for me- I prefer hotels. We added the camera bag, golf clubs, lacrosse sticks, fishing poles, fly rods, smaller overnight bags, a cooler and a snack bag. The car was full! We added a sticker map to track where we’ve been, kissed Tom good-bye & hit the road.
We made it 3.4 miles down the road before we had to pull off into a gas station. We had tried homeschooling for less than five minutes & already had technical and logistical difficulties. We sure hadn’t wandered very far & I was already wondering if this year off would work. Aidan’s makeshift desk wobbled, the science program required a glue gun to build the car needed for experiments & wouldn’t let you skip a step, and the math program wasn’t actually available offline like I had been led to believe. We made a quick list of science supplies needed for a later Wal-Mart run, tried to stabilize the “desk” and logged into the 3G iPad get the math program up & running. Twenty-five minutes later, we again tried to leave The Fort.
Our first day, we drove all the way to Salina, Kansas. We checked into our Holiday Inn Express (note- I am an admitted hotel snob. We decided to stick with a single chain to accumulate perks. The HI Express won out for consistently high ratings. I’ll keep you posted if I agree.) and ate at the Rib Crib next door. So far, it’s been Aidan’s favorite meal on the trip. Go figure. While I was waiting for the check, I sent Aidan outside with the camera because I could tell there was an amazing sunset I was missing. I’m sure Wendy’s has never had a more beautiful backdrop. Continuing the adventure, we went to Wal-Mart across the street. This just confirmed that the people you see at Wal-Mart are the same no matter which one you are in. By this time, we had a lengthy list of all the things we’d discovered we had forgotten or needed. I always say, “If you forget something, there’s always Wal-Mart.” True! We found things we didn’t even know we needed & Aidan found the perfect solution to his wobbly desk. He assured me the catfish bobber would do the trick. He channeled MacGyver & went to work on it with his Swiss Army knife, he built in Switzerland this summer, and now he has a very stable work surface!
The second most common question I am asked, is “Where will you go?” My answer is that we aren’t quite sure. That’s the beauty of a road trip. You have the flexibility to change your plans. The biggest tool to help me make those plans has been the app Roadtrippers. I can input a city & by turning on certain features, it can show me lodging, food, attractions, and points of interest (ex. Film/tv locations, spooky sites, colleges, historic, monuments, holiday lights, etc). It has been such a great tool & has enhanced the trip already. We plan to visit official Presidential Libraries and as many National Parks as we can. We will also be reading books that enhance the regional history of each part of the country and then visiting museums or sites that support that curriculum.
So here’s what Adventure Year Part 1 looks like for us. As I’ve said before, I am really only writing this blog so I don’t forget what this year shows us & teaches us- and because my mother said I should. 🙂 If you’d like to follow along, I’d love for you to follow me on Instagram or subscribe to this blog. More adventure to come as we wander and wonder…