On our way down to North Carolina to pick up the bus last week, we listened to the book River of Doubt, the story of Theodore Roosevelt’s daring and treacherous and almost unbelievable adventure down an uncharted South American river. It reminded me, as we were preparing for our own (hopefully far less harrowing) adventure, of what sparked the bus dream in the first place: a book about Theodore Roosevelt.
Years ago Josh and I both read the biography of Teddy’s younger years and what shaped him to be the man he eventually became. There were features that stood out. A sickly childhood, a strong and benevolent father of stalwart character, an insatiable curiosity, and travel. The travel was different than what we experience today and decidedly more upper class, but to a young Theodore, the 6 month or year long trips to the continent and Africa impacted both his relationship with his family and his understanding of the world.
It sparked an idea, and a conversation, about what it would look like to take a year and travel with our family. We read about people who traveled the world backpacking with their kids. We toyed with the idea of somehow RV’ing across China (where there are no RV’s or campgrounds or much camping infrastructure of any kind…). We imagined a road trip across America. But all of these entailed time and income. We devised a plan for saving the money, but couldn’t get around the time factor. We were (and are) committed to a place and a work that isn’t compatible with taking off for a year.
So we let the dream drift into the background. Sort of.
And then last year we were given an unexpected sabbatical opportunity. After some thought and prayer, with our hearts racing, we decided this was it. This was our chance to take the risk and do the trip.
Our purpose for this journey is pretty simple. It centers itself around the word, behold. When I think of taking time to behold, I don’t think of working hard and laboring with my eyes scattered every which way and my heart longing for or worrying about other things. I think of stillness, of wonder, of joy and enjoyment, of appreciation and worship, of acceptance and delight. To behold during these months might look as simple as being together and with people that we are able to see here and there, and immersing ourselves in this beautiful earth.
It is not to satisfy wanderlust. If anything, the joy of coming home is just as sweet as being out on the road. And I think the whole wandering idea out there is a little overrated (and hashtagged).
It is not to sell a lifestyle of nomadic freedom or tiny house living (though I can see the appeal in those things). We need community of place and life lived together and I’m not sure a life indefinitely on the road would allow for those things. And while living more simply and with less stuff as well as fighting consumerism are all hot topics today and worth pursuing, we are certainly not trying to be influencers in these areas or trying to tell you all things that Marie Kondo hasn’t already.
It is not too build up an essential oil or any other on-the-road friendly business. But I do love the oils. And will share with you what I’m currently diffusing if you really want to know.
On Monday, when we found ourselves stranded on the side of the road, waiting for a tow truck to pick up our overheated Rusty on her maiden voyage, we were all feeling a little discouraged. Not because we didn’t think this was part of the package, but because we couldn’t help but wonder if we had gotten it all wrong. When things go awry right out of the gate, it’s hard not to doubt yourself and your decisions, no matter how clear or certain you were of the leading in that direction.
After she was fixed and ready to go and were back on the road the following day, I found myself rejoicing at every mile we passed. I was following Josh in the other vehicle and each time we passed another exit and he didn’t slow down to get off, or signal we needed to stop, I felt like crying. We were making it. What a gift.
Every mile is a gift.
It sounds silly and maybe a tad cliche, but that’s the motto we’ve taken and it has been borne of the reality of realizing not one of these miles or days is deserved or owed to us. We’re just so grateful for each minute we are out here on this beautiful journey together.
And we are grateful for you… for those that have followed along and cheered us on from the beginning or somewhere along the way. You have encouraged us, prayed for us, rejoiced with us (not always an easy thing to do) and some of you have generously supported us with checks that came at just the right time. We feel so so undeserving of that support. It’s one reason we want to share the joy in the journey.
So, goodnight from the highway in western Pennsylvania. The trees are so beautiful here.