The Grand Adventure

29,726 miles. We’ve told many people how ordinary the trip seemed in the midst of it. Daily life was still daily life. Parenting was still hard. Marriage was still hard. Exercise and eating healthy were still hard. We had grand visions that the trip would somehow transform our lives. Turns out “the grass isn’t always greener” is a cliche for a reason!

The whole experience of our past year seems surreal now that we’re settled back into stationary life. Like many memories, the challenging times seem to fade as other memories sweeten with age. We experienced so many sacred moments connecting with friend and family, watching our kids explore the world, and simply being in awe of creation. A grand adventure indeed.

Anyway, enough sentimental drivel. It’s time for the raw data. Here’s one final infographic to capture the details of our travels.

An Ode to the US Government

There are a lot of reasons to be cynical about the US government right now (and we’re definitely cynical about it!) This post is not about that. Our travels across the country have given us a greater appreciation for many of the things the government is doing right. Here’s a list of the some government institutions we now love even more.

The Road and Highway System

We’ve been able to travel almost 30,000 miles in 9 months to some incredible places. It literally would not have been possible without the roads and highways. Thanks to all of the construction workers, civil engineers, and city planners than work hard to make sure we can all get around.

The National Park Service

Human beings don’t have a great history of thinking long-term about the environment. The National Park System is not one of those instances. The foresight of people like John Muir, Theodore Roosevelt, Marjory Stoneman Douglass, and so many others is something we can still learn from today. We have so many awe-inspiring places in this country with countless people working hard to “preserve and protect” the natural wonders of this world. Visiting the National Parks with children has given us an even greater appreciation for these parks – the Junior Ranger programs, visitor centers, and ranger classes have taught our entire family so much about the natural world and the importance of preserving it for generations to come.

State, County, and Army Corps of Engineers Parks

There are lots of awesome government-run campgrounds all across the country (plus tons of public land with free dispersed camping). We’ve been especially pleased with the affordability of the Army Corps of Engineers parks. While not quite as “glamorous” as the National Parks, these parks provide great opportunities to get outside and enjoy nature, have a barbecue with family or friends, or spend an evening camping under the stars.

The Affordable Care Act

We were a bit nervous about health insurance when we decided to quit our jobs and travel the country. It turns out the ACA is amazing! We were able to get quality, affordable health insurance in a process that’s way more convenient and easy to understand than it used to be. (Although our great experience with the ER in Canada reminded us that the US still has a long ways to go!)

The United States Postal Service

Did you know you can receive an email every day with scanned images of the pieces of mail that will be coming that day? We didn’t! Kimberlee’s mother has been kind enough to check our mail for us while on the road, and this feature has been great for helping us keep an eye out for important pieces of mail. Not to mention that there’s a post office practically everywhere that makes it easy and affordable to send and receive mail.

Public Libraries
In addition to checking out ebooks and audiobooks with the click of a button, libraries have also been a great place to do some work while on the road (free wifi!) Every time we’ve been amazed at how many people are using the libraries – they’ve been packed! Of course we’ve seen lots of people checking out books, but we’ve also seen students studying or working on group projects, people of all ages using the computers (including using them to look for and apply to jobs), and some incredible librarians who seem like they’re working multiple jobs at once as teacher, researcher, social worker, IT support person, customer service rep, oh and librarian as well.

Our country still has a long ways to go to achieve the ideals upon which it was founded. However, these institutions give us hope, help temper our cynicism a bit, make us glad to pay taxes, and motivate us as we strive to form a more perfect union.

February, March, and April on the Road

Wow. It’s hard to believe we’ve now been on the road for a little over 6 months! Here’s a few numbers and a bunch of photos to capture some of our adventures from the past 3 months.

The Numbers

  • 8,913 miles traveled
  • 13 National parks/monuments visited
  • 25 friends/family members seen
  • 3 oil changes and 1 new transmission

The Photos

February began with a quick trip into Mexico – the pastries were a big hit!

Checking out the sights at Big Bend National Park.

These two did an awesome job on a 4-mile hike with a significant incline! (Perhaps bribed by candy every 5 minutes…)

Working on their Junior Ranger books at Carlsbad Caverns National Park.

Hiking at Guadalupe Mountains National Park.

Quintin turned 5 in February! He wanted a robot cake!

We also surprised him with a Lightning McQueen piñata we picked up while in Mexico (and had to hide in the truck for 2 weeks)

Hot springs!

Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument

Sledding down the dunes at White Sands National Monument.

What happens when it gets too cold to camp? HOTEL TIME!

Salvation Mountain – what a crazy, incredible, WEIRD work of art!

“East Jesus” – it’s like a Mad Max film crossed with an art gallery.

What happens when all of the campgrounds are full at Joshua Tree National Park? You get to camp here.

Climbing around on the rocks at Joshua Tree National Park.

Taking the Junior Ranger oath.

Death Valley National Park.

Sequoia National Park.

We’ve visited LOTS of children’s museums on the trip. Somehow a pit of sand is always more interesting than any of the fancy exhibits.

San Diego Zoo.

Easter Sunday at one of the many churches we’ve been visiting along the journey. The child-to-egg ratio here was Quintin and Eliza approved.

Nemo and Dory.


This is what 3 days at Disneyland did to these two.

After Southern California, we started making our way up the coast. We camped not too far from this spot!

Pinnacles National Park – working on another Junior Ranger book.

An elephant seal rookery. SO MANY SEALS!

Hiking to a waterfall at Limekiln State Park along the Big Sur coastline in California. Beautiful place.