Carl (aka: Dad):
It’s hard to figure out who to start introducing first, so I’ll start with me, if for no other reason than I beat Mary to the keyboard! I wasn’t born “Carl”, but, it suits me, so I wear it. Brian, the name I was born with, fits my personality less and less each year, so I’m trying to just let it fall by the wayside.
I was raised on accident by criminals, rather than wolves. Wolves may have been better, since they have a sense of societal etiquette. I was raised without developing that, and I’ve spent my life figuring out how to get along without it. If it weren’t for Mary, I could easily be the old, bearded man living alone in the mountains without running water for his whole life. But she makes sure that I get out into the sunlight every once in a while, even if she has to use violence to make me cooperate.
I’ve always loved travelling and exploring. I remember spelunking in the storm drains by my childhood house; squeezing through the bars that someone else had spread, and creeping through the water and the trash and rotting leaves that collected, pretending to be Indiana Jones, discovering passages that no one has seen in thousands of years. And, later; getting in my car and following every random turn I could find, just to find out what was in the countryside that surrounded my city, driving for hours each night and finding my way back.
Being an explorer let me be comfortable with not being a social creature. It was me, my vehicle, and the radio. Every once in a while, I’d have to stop and pick up a map, but I made it a point to throw them away as soon as I knew where I was again. I’m looking forward to re-kindling some of those feelings while we’re travelling.
I think that as a result of being socially inept, I’ve developed a desire to be able to take care of my own equipment. I love taking things apart. I’m not always so good at putting them back together, but I’m not entirely terrible at it either. I spent a few years turning wrenches for my food. For the later part of my teenage years, I was surrounded by gear heads, and fix-it-guys. I know a little about a lot of things, but probably just enough to get me into trouble – not really enough to be able to finish the job by myself. I don’t think I’m quite up to Robert Heinlein’s standard. I can’t conn a ship. Or butcher a hog, write a sonnet, or program a computer. I probably could if I put my mind to it, I suppose. But, I think Robert forgot some things. I can re-build an engine. I can hang drywall. I can comfort a child. I can stop a fight. (I can start one too.) I can park a trailer, and I can wire a house.
There’s never really been a time when I haven’t wanted to travel. That’s manifested (in hindsight) in the jobs I’ve worked since I was old enough to make my own decisions. I spent nine years in the Navy as an electronics technician. The travel was nice, but I had a lot of problems because I have a rebellious side, and I had problems dealing with authority. After the Navy, I found myself taking jobs that required me to travel a lot. Now I work in the gas and oil industry and ALL of my time at work is spent travelling. In the Navy, I visited a lot of ports in the Western Pacific. I thought when I got out that would be the end of my travelling abroad, but I’ve had the chance to go to Africa twice, and with the work that we do worldwide, there really is no limit to the places I’ll be able to go.
There is a part of me that really regrets not being able to share those trips with my family, so when Mary brought up the idea of getting a travel trailer and seeing the country, I jumped on it.
Growing up was rough for me. I hear a lot about people saying that everyone comes from dysfunctional families, but I’ve never known anyone, except me, my brother and two sisters, who’s dealt with anything as rough as the things that our family went through. There are a few schools of thought about dwelling on bad experiences. I used to think that I should wipe it from memory, but as I grow older, I realize that trying to do that is ridiculous. My whole life has shaped me, for better or worse. To try to forget those lessons is not only un-realistic, if it were possible, it would change what my morals are today.
So, now that I have children of my own, I want to provide them with every possible opportunity. While Mary and I are going to enjoy travelling, I’m more excited about the experiences and stories that my kids will take from this. I want to make our travels something that they can look back at fondly, and proudly.
I like the idea of not having to raise my voice to talk to anyone. From the farthest points in our trailer, I don’t have to raise my voice at all to be heard, or carry on a conversation. I’m looking forward to living a more relaxed lifestyle, and even as we’re just starting out, we’re finding it IS more relaxed. The people we’re meeting move through life at a different pace. We’ve taken a step out of the rat race. Now we’re some of those “flower smellers” you always hear about. And I’m loving it.
I love stopping and smelling the flowers.
Mary (aka: Mom)
I guess it’s my turn….but it’s hard to figure out where to start. The beginning would be a smart answer, but who really wants to go back that far?! I think I’ll start with when I came to love to travel. Simply put, I didn’t. Carl remarked on how our personal history shapes who we are today. Well, I think the fact that my parents divorced when I was young, and I moved frequently between them, created what would turn out to be my own personal itch. Yeah ~ I called it an itch. That’s what it is. I would be somewhere for a while, get the itch, and make a move. However, when you’re under 18 the only place to move is wherever your parents are. So that’s what I did. A lot. After that I tried college. I made a mess of that and ended up joining the Navy. That’s where life got exciting! While I was stationed in San Diego, not only did I meet my best friend, I began life as a mom and met the man whom I proudly call my husband. This all happened over a 3 year period and there were lots of moves during that time as well. And then when Grace was 3 we moved, yet again, and added to our brood in the process A few moves, one disastrous hurricane, and a career change later, we landed in Colorado. That lasted for about 3 years and then, with 3 kids this time, we moved to North Carolina. (did anyone catch that all of my children are born in different states?)
Now I have to pause here and say that I am directionally challenged. Raleigh proved to be a hardship for me because of that flaw of mine. In California and Mississippi I had the ocean to orient myself. In Colorado there were those pretty snow capped hills to help me. Do you know what’s in Raleigh? Buildings. Street signs. Grass. Nothing to help me figure out how the heck to get anywhere….so hubby bought me a GPS. I love that man!
In NC, after about 3 years (the magic number just in case you need another one for your lottery ticket!) we decided we either needed to buy or move. The kids and I love Raleigh. We made some amazing lifetime friends and really considered the area to be ”home”. But that feeling didn’t make the itch go away. Some internet surfing brought up the idea of travelling in a camper….God had put some camping kinda people in our lives….and the rest is history.
During all of these moves, the new places, people and experiences, we have lived multiple lifetimes. There have been ups, downs, in-betweens and some two-step shuffles – sometimes all at once. But during it all, I’ve come to realize that there isn’t a thing I would change or alter about my life. Each and every decision, every opportunity taken or lost, and every move I’ve made has brought me to this moment, right here, right now. And I wouldn’t trade this moment for anything in the world. I think my life up to this point has been preparing me for exactly this. Looking at where I have been, where my husband has been, the decisions we have made and dreams of where we are going simply makes my belief in God’s plan all the stronger. I know that HE had his hand in all of this from the very beginning.
I love what our family has become. The memory quote for the girls a few weeks back was: “The highest reward for doing your duty is not what you get, but what you become.”
I think by trying to improve my relationship with God, by trying to be the best parent I can be, and by trying to appreciate all that the Lord has put here for me to enjoy has made me, and my family, become better. Better at appreciating, better at giving, and just generally better at living.
And I’ve come to realize that living with less stuff means that I can focus on appreciating the important things.
Like the flowers….