Life On the Road, Kage

When I told my friends and family, they thought we were crazy.  They told us our kids would suffer, that it wasn’t a good idea.  But we did it anyway. And it turned out to be among the best 2 years of my life.

When COVID restrictions first began in our town, back in March of 2020, my husband Jason and I were living in a tiny 850 sq ft apartment in Portland, Oregon, with our two kids.  Evelyn, my daughter (aged 6) had just started Kindergarten that previous fall, and Atlas, then 3, had just started pre-school.  It was the first time we’d had them out of the house regularly for me to work full-time… and then everything closed.  Parks, playgrounds, public spaces – no more play dates, no safe space to spend our time, to exercise, to adventure.  We hung on for a little bit, made it work with a COVID bubble of friends with kids… and then, for the 10 year anniversary of our marriage, we rented an RV for a long weekend adventure outside and distanced.  It changed everything.

What’s the craziest thing you can think of doing right now

In the RV, driving between climbing areas and other kinds of adventures that weekend, we got a glimpse of another life, one just at our fingertips.  We parked in national forests to sleep, we cooked dinner on the side of the road when we got hungry, we climbed and napped and basked in the May sunshine in eastern Oregon.  And when we got home after only 4 days away, we immediately started planning the next adventure.  “What’s the craziest thing you can think of doing right now?” Jason asked me.  The craziest?  To pack up our apartment right then, and never come back. So we wouldn’t do that, of course we couldn’t do that, we’d find something just slightly less crazy.  A middle ground. This time, a month in Wyoming.

We’d only been ensconced in our Lander, Wyoming rental for about a week when, on the way to the climbing area one morning, Jason told me, “I’m not going back to Portland unless you make me.”  As I was motivated to stay married to this man, another path was necessary.  So we extended the trip – moving to central Utah to climb in Maple Canyon.  It was a magical place, with acres for the children to roam, wild and free. And we did one other thing – we bought round trip plane tickets back to Portland.  And booked a moving company.

And so the craziest thing we could think of came true

And so the craziest thing we could think of came true – we spent a week gathering what we’d need for life on the road, and then we walked away.  Without us, the movers packed our apartment up (with the help of my amazing sister) and put all our things into a storage unit.  We flew back to Utah, and bought a rocket box to fit on top of our Subaru Outback. Everything we needed was in our car with us.  We negotiated monthly rates at short term rentals across the United States, chasing good weather for climbing at our favorite destinations, taking side quests to visit National Parks and friends and family.  Evelyn continued school online – this time taking class from Mesa Verde, from the New River Gorge, from a pile of rocks in St. George, Utah. We were dirty, sunburned, and climbing more than we’d climbed in the last 10 years put together. It was exactly what we’d dreamed of. 

We gathered friends along the way, friends that became family, for short visits during their vacation time, or for longer periods – working remotely at the kitchen table right alongside Jason and I. We were spending more time with our children than we had at any other time.  They had many different adults now, to ask questions of, to invent games with. They explored each climbing area with their kid eyes, learning about rock formations and the history of ancient peoples. We didn’t know how long it would last – but we were determined to make the most of it. We’d return to Portland for the holidays – for my birthday in July, for Christmas.  We traded out small items from our storage unit – toys that we’d acquired that were too big for the car, grabbing clothes in the next sizes up as the kids kept growing, leaving behind camping gear we weren’t using.

We crisscrossed the west more times than I can count.

We drove across the country multiple times, in those 2 years. We crisscrossed the west more times than I can count. We dialed down our road trip systems – 2 hours in the car was nothing to us, anymore. We visited friends we hadn’t seen in a decade.  We made new friends, so many new friends in so many places. We traveled as a caravan, people coming and going at different times, to different places. We developed our own secret road trip team language.  And eventually, after 2 full years of nomadic living, after teaching our kids to answer the question “where do you live?” with “The Road!” – we ended our mobile adventure in New Castle, CO, 25 minutes from one of our favorite climbing areas in the country.

There are a million more stories to tell, a million pictures to share. But as a summary, if I learned even one thing during those two years (and I promise you I learned far, far more than just one thing), it was this: find that crazy idea, that one you think might not be possible.  Don’t let anyone else tell you how it’ll turn out.  And then, one baby step at a time, make it happen.  You’ll be so very glad you did.

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