We spent the week of January 15 at Thousand Trails Orlando attending the annual Families On The Road (FOTR) rally. It’s an event designed to bring together other “unconventional” families living the nomadic lifestyle to share their journeys and make new friends. There were about 15 families encompassing about 100+ people and we had a memorable time meeting folks from all walks of life.
We are certain we have made lifetime friends with many of these people and I feel our lives are richer having spent time with all of them. Kylee made new friends (Ella and Rosalie) and Lisa and I have connected with a couple of families that plan to travel a bit together to continue sharing our stories, laughter, pain, food, love and adventure. It has been so enriching and joyous to connect with such genuine people…something our family has been hungry for ever since our exodus from the institutional church in 2008.
Here are some highlights of the people we met on our journey:
- Rita and Pete: Our rally organizers, this family has been on the road for 4 years with their kids and are passionate about bringing together families on the road.
- Jon and Jema: Originally from Minnesota, they have been on the road for a little over a year now as they work, roadschool their 4 children, and work on a art project inspired by their son Ethan‘s love of butterflies.
- Pieter and Clementine: Originally from Holland, they travel with their 2 kids. Pieter is my hero because he has rigged his unit with a real pellet stove! Clementine gave birth to Lewis on Thanksgiving Day on the floor of their RV…by choice!
- Bonnie and Murray: Canucks, but we love ’em anyway! They come to the warmer states to escape the Canadian winters. Bonnie served as fashionista extraordinaire when the girls went clothes shopping while Murray taught the kids valuable martial arts techniques.
- Wendy and Matt: Traveling with their 3 kids they just finished a year on the road in a rented motorhome. Matt flies all over the country working on various business projects and meets up again with the family wherever they happen to be. Rumor has it they are now buying a Mobile Suites to travel indefinitely…or was it a catamaran to sail the seven seas 😉
- Phil and Lisa: They too are snowbirds, traveling from Michigan when the frost hits. Their daughter Ella and Kylee played for hours on end.
- Angela and Clint: Founders of Eco Womb. They drive a motorhome powered by “Peace, Love, and Veggie Grease”. That’s their bus in the picture. It was really informative to learn how they live a sustainable life on the road.
- Kimber: A single mom and country star traveling with her 2 daughters, Kimber provided live entertainment for us. She had a #1 country song hit the Australian charts for 3 weeks in a row!
So, as you can see, we got to hang out with some pretty cool cats. We can’t wait to stay on the road with them all! The rally was only a 4 day event. We enjoyed each other so much that only today, 3 weeks later, did we part ways…with plans to meet up again in 2-3 weeks.
This. Is. Why. We. Are. On. The. Road. The People. The Adventure. The Stretching.
Next we are heading to Ft Desoto Park near Seminole FL to do some kayaking and visit with Lisa’s parents who have a winter place down here.
Every great story involves a quest. In J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins ran from the door at a quarter till eleven without even so much as a pocket handkerchief and launched on an adventure that would change his life forever. Alice stepped through the looking glass into Wonderland; Lucy, Edmund, Susan, and Peter stumbled through the wardrobe into Narnia. Abraham left his country, his people, and his father’s household to follow the most outlandish sort of promise from a God he’d only just met, and he never came back. Jacob and his sons went to Egypt for some groceries and four hundred years later the Israel nation pulled up stakes and headed for home. Peter, Andrew, James, and John all turned on a dime one day to follow the Master, their fishing nets heaped in wet piles behind them. The Sacred Romance involves for every soul a journey of heroic proportions. And while it may require for some a change of geography, for every soul it means a journey of the heart. The choice before us now is to journey or to homestead, to live like Abraham, the friend of God, or like Robinson Crusoe, the lost soul cobbling together some sort of existence with whatever he can salvage from the wreckage of the world. Crusoe was no pilgrim; he was a survivor, hunkered down for the duration. He lived in a very, very small world where he was the lead character and all else found its focus in him. Of course, to be fair, Crusoe was stranded on an island with little hope of rescue. We have been rescued, but still the choice is ours to stay in our small stories, clutching our household gods and false lovers, or to run in search of life. (The Sacred Romance , 143-44) John Eldredge
It’s interesting that this Daily Reading from one of my favorite writers, John Eldredge, was sent to me this week while I am in the planning stages of full-time RVing. You see, this is a dilemma that has been haunting me for months…to Journey or to Homestead? Lately, I have felt the need (perhaps from watching too many Glenn Beck shows this past year) to move away from high population areas, buy lots of land, and become homesteaders, like Robinson Crusoe, securing my family’s survival. I have been reading about self-sustaining things like bread-making, canning, and off-the-grid-living in general. I am a avid follower of politics and given our current state of affairs I feel that there is reason to fear the possibility of a collapse of the American system including everything we have come to rely on from energy delivery to food supplies to the value of the dollar. There has been this tug-of-war going on between my heart (journeying) and my brain (homesteading). My brain says to follow the logical conclusions of my fears and hunker down for difficult times. My heart says to trust God and follow my dreams. But, when you are a husband and father your personal dreams tend to get overshadowed by things like security, as they should. Or should they?
What would I be teaching my daughter by living and planning our lives around fear? I believe in living in reality, but not at the expense of our hearts. As long as my wife is on board with the full-timing dream (and she emphatically is), then we will go in that direction, throwing caution to God. I will be wise and plan properly, but not obsessively.
I believe I have the heart of an adventurer for a reason: I was made in God’s image. His image is one of adventure, wildness, and strength…not complacency, fear, or passiveness. Society has convinced too many men that their work is done once they have built their family fortress. This has cost us dearly as men. Our hearts have been destroyed by trading them in for security. I refuse to live like that. I want to take the journey, wife and daughter in arms, and see what God has in store for us as we trust Him for our security.
Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.
Henry David Thoreau