At the time of writing, we’re one week into our big 40 day road trip. We’re spending more that a month visiting friends and family, camping, seeing state and national parks, and road-schooling along the way. By the time we finish, we’ll have traveled through more than 20 states and will have logged over 5000 miles. We’ll have camped at least 21 nights, stayed in a cabin for five nights, and stayed with family and friends for 10+ nights.
When we have told people what we are doing, the reaction we most often get is, “Wow! You’re brave.” It is usually said with an inquisitive look on their face and we can tell they are wondering why in the world we would want to do that with six kids ages 11 and under, including a 16 month old.
And so, here is the why of our trip.
In short, we want to make memories. We’ve been in many Asian countries (Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Cambodia, Korea, India, and Malaysia) but we’ve never seen the US as a family. We wanted our children to see the majestic beauty of America with us. I wanted to be there to see the looks on their faces as they see the Badlands and Arches National Park for the first time. I want to be with them as they spot wildlife in Yellowstone and as they see the snow capped mountains of Grand Teton National Park.
But, it is more than memories. The reason that I am so invested in memory making and keeping is relationship. I believe that it is through shared memories and experiences that relationships are grown and deepened.
If it was just about the memories, the purpose would be far less meaningful. Sure, the pictures and scrapbook pages to follow would be great, but it would end there. But I am working to deepen, strengthen, and evolve our relationships. And a big trip like this gives us just the opportunity.
Of course, not all of the memories in and of themselves will be great. We know there will be conflict (how could there not be conflict when you put eight people in one Suburban and one tent?) We’ll get on each other’s nerves. We’ll get lost. We’ll have car troubles. We’ll worry about finances. We’ll be late to places. We’ll miss out on sites we wanted to see. We’ll have different priorities. We’ll deal with sickness, tiredness, hunger, and boredom.
But you know what? These negatives are part of our memories. And used in the right way, they’ll play a role in making memories and deepening our relationships.
And so, as we continue on this trip of ours and as I continue to take photos and we all continue to journal our way through our experience, we’re trying to keep the why in front of us. Making and keeping memories is awesome, but relationships are even better.