Adventure Possible: A dad explains why he's taking his family on a year-long trip across the U.S.
Posted June 22, 2016
Editor's Note: Mark Kelley of Raleigh, who is on a year-long trip around the United States with his wife and kids, shares these thoughts from the road. You can read more on his site Adventure Possible.
In February, my wife, two small children and I moved out of our 2,800 square feet home in North Hills and into a vintage 21’ Airstream travel trailer to tour U.S. state and national parks for a year.
Before embarking on our year of family adventure, I had many concerns.
I had concerns about quitting my job, giving up my income, renting our home, and whether or not I was irreparably harming my career by taking a year sabbatical. However, my desire as a father to be closer and more engaged with my young children overcame all of my concerns.
We’ve been on the road for about four months, exploring Florida, the Southwest, and now the Rockies. While not all days are rosy, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed spending every day with my children in the outdoors.
I wake an hour early each morning with my almost two-year old son. We quietly read books, play blocks, or watch a short cartoon on my phone while my wife and daughter sleep another hour in the Airstream.
On nicer mornings, we sometimes ride my bike through the park to watch the sunrise and search for wildlife. If we’re camping close to a town, we’ll return to the Airstream with coffee and donuts.
During the day, my son often rides in a carrier on my back while we hike through a park. I show him the animals, birds, and sights along the trail. I beam with pride when I hear him excitedly call out a deer, a raven, or a waterfall that he spots as we hike.
My four-year old daughter grows smarter and stronger each day in the outdoors. She hikes alongside us on the trails, scrambling over boulders and crossing mountain streams. Her confidence swells when she climbs to a mountain peak.
She also has a sharp eye for wildlife, and I’m amazed when she recognizes a bald eagle flying overhead or keeps binoculars trained on a bear in a meadow.
At night, I read my son books, sing him songs, and put him to bed. While he falls asleep, I’ll quietly play a board game with my daughter or talk about her favorite things from the day.
Now when I consider my earlier concerns, the costs of the trip, the salary forgone, the career setbacks that I may suffer, they seem insignificant compared to the priceless gains already realized from time with my children.
I spend everyday with my young daughter and son, helping them become strong, compassionate people, loving siblings, and responsible outdoorspeople.
Mark is the Raleigh father of two on a year-long trip around the country. Keep up with the family's story on Adventure Possible.