I have much to say.
First, we heard from the Coast Guard. They have granted Jake’s separation request. The last few days have been a flurry of activity. Imagine me on the computer googling for 16 hours a day… that’s what I mean by flurry of activity. I’ve been trying to figure out what our life will look like for the next six months before Jake starts his next job. I have an entire notebook full of possible scenarios. I’ve been paralyzed trying to figure it all out. Does that happen to you when you get overwhelmed? The details are endless. They include moving our household goods back to our home of record (Alaska), doing it ourselves to pocket the extra cash and making it happen before we start the next part of our journey. In addition, I’m trying to figure out how to stretch our meager savings for the next six months.
How are we going to make this all work? What are we going to do? Those are the questions that have been swirling for the last four months. We could stay in Alaska. We have a house up there that we could live in while we wait for Jake’s job to pan out. But honestly, I don’t want to winter in Alaska. We’ve been in Florida a year and I’ve just begun to thaw out. Our elaborate Europe plans went out the window when we realized we had to make our cash stretch for six months. We don’t have that kind of savings. Biking from Canada to Mexico – well, that’s still on my list. But it doesn’t fit in this time frame right now.
Yesterday I was telling Jake that I wanted whatever we do to be Epic! I know that word is overused. I understand. I don’t mean just an adventure. We’ve had lots of adventures. TONS of them. We’ve driven from Alaska to Texas – with a nursing two month old. Then to Arkansas, and on to Albuquerque. Eventually we drove back to Alaska – with a nursing 5 month old – and we drove two cars – in the winter – when it was 40* below. A few years later we drove from Oklahoma to North Pole, Alaska with a travel trailer and a suburban. (That was an awesome adventure!) After a while we moved to Kodiak, Alaska. Then we drove from Kodiak to Clearwater, Florida.
The kids travel, we travel, we have adventures. I love those.
But I want EPIC!!
Defined by Webster’s as: extending beyond the usual or ordinary especially in size or scope.
For us, it will have to be more than just a road trip. Biking across the country is Epic! Living in Europe is Epic! So if we don’t do that, what will we do?
This was the conversation Jake and I were having yesterday. He tried to console me by explaining that our life was Epic! We live our lives beyond the usual or ordinary. I suppose he has a point. We do have a pretty great gig.
But if we have been given this gift of time – what are we going to do with it? I don’t want to pitter it away. Six months together as a family with no obligations is stuff legends are made of! This has possibilities.
Today planning reached a feverish pitch and I broke down. Tears. Despair. I just want ONE good plan. One that feels good and right and that I can stick to! The current plan had us selling our vehicles and buying an obscenely big truck and gaudy brand new travel trailer to call home for the next six months. Ugh. Don’t get me wrong, it could be fun. It just wasn’t sparking any sort of excitement. It felt a bit like – been there, done that. In 2006 actually.
So then I turned to the idea of tent camping. We could tent camp for six months… couldn’t we? It certainly met the budget requirements. We already have everything we need – we’re a Boy Scout family after all. Jake was resistant to the idea. He explained he thought we needed some sort of structure – and a tent didn’t qualify. Though he supposed it could be passed off as Epic! With the added bonus of sending us to the crazy farm after 180 days of sleeping in a tent. We’d also be broke from renting hotel rooms – which I think was Jake’s main concern.
Jake called me on his way home. I was out of sorts and a bit ornery. We talked for a few minutes and our conversation ended. Minutes later he called back. “We need simple.” he stated. “Everything we’ve been talking about is too complicated.” He then told me that he thought we should buy a school bus, take out the seats, throw in some mattresses and head out and see the world.
He chuckled while he said it, but he was serious. As he spoke, thunder boomed overhead. (Literally – we were having a storm.) And then something clicked inside of me. It seriously fit right into place. Yes, I said cautiously – but the idea had already taken root in my mind. YES! That would be… perfect! (You thought I was going to say Epic! Didn’t you?)
Within the next 30 minutes I had craigslisted (that’s a verb – right?) used school busses, pinned dozens of pins on converting school busses to a home on wheels, researched how-to videos on the subject, and fallen head over heels in love with the idea.
I’ll say this for him – Jake is a dang good idea guy. When I’m in need of a good idea, he delivers. But our poor kids. While we were discussing this tonight, Sam asked, “Are we really going to do this? Or are we just talking about it?” We answered that we were just talking about it. He smiled, shrugged, and wandered off. Josh perched himself on the couch and watched over my shoulder while I perused Pinterest. He wants to spray paint flames on the size of the bus and hang hammocks from the ceiling.
I have something different in mind. Something quaint and adorable and picture worthy. The ideas are percolating and it’s exciting. Perhaps tomorrow we’ll find something to replace this totally rad idea. I hope not, because I really like this one. And I think we can make it work.
When it is finished, I want to travel and take pictures and teach people how to use their cameras to take pictures of their own little moments they never want to forget. I want to homeschool out of bus with a little bookshelf filled with all our favorite books. And I want to take our piano along. The piano I’m going to paint blue. I want to park next to a lake and listen to rain fall outside while we play charades. I want to spend this time as a family, building confidences and instilling vision. These days won’t last forever. I want to make them count.
And if we swing by your town on our adventure, can I interest you in a photo session of your family? Because that would be totally rad.