Freedom On The Road

Maiden Voyage

When we were first gifted a travel trailer from my folks last winter I was full of mixed feelings: this could be fun, but when would we use it, it’s nice, but how are we all going to sleep well in it – I’m not sleeping well as it is with a new baby, and even if I like it, it looks awful taking over my driveway!  My parents recently retired and had decided to winter in the Florida Keys.  I think gifting us the trailer was their way of making sure they would get us down there for a visit since our family of six was a bit much for their two bedroom, Key West condo.  So, in August we found an opening at Sunshine Key for 16 days.  A campground I had spent many winters at as a young girl.  Since before I could remember my parents would pack up my dad’s Ford pick-up truck and drive down to the Keys the day after Christmas and not return until spring!  We first started out camping in an army green tent built for two and then when I was about 5 and my sister came along, we graduated to a wilderness travel trailer , white with green stripes on the front end, with rust orange cushions, a small bath, kitchen and dining area and a couch that converted into a bed.  The tent was now our guest quarters and when you have a campsite in the Florida Keys for 3 months, it’s amazing how many family and friends crawl out of the woodwork to visit!  But the visitors, the campers and my family helped create some of my best and most memorable childhood memories.  My dad would take off three full months from his landscaping business and spend it with us as a family.  We’d spend the day fishing on our wooden turquoise boat traveling to different mangrove islands in search of the best catch, best beach and best place to swim.  We’d snorkel and find lobsters, we’d look for hermit crabs, we’d go to the flea market, we’d go down to the marina and see the big catch- once it was a shark as big as a fishing boat!  I loved to play bingo and have ice cream sundaes on Sundays at the camp Rec. hall.  I felt so grown up riding my bike to the camp general store and buying a strawberry vanilla lollipop with my own money.  What kid wouldn’t love it.  There’s nothing like camping and there’s nothing better than a campground at night, all the twinkly lights and everyone sitting outside.  I loved it.  I loved exploring the campground and visiting all my new grandparents in their campers!  My favorite was a retired couple from Michigan who camped next door to us whom I called “neighbor” and “other neighbor.”  I made good friends, not just my retired friends, but kids, whose parents were on a similar adventure.  I even got to sleepover in my friends airstream trailer.  I was only in kindergarten, but was completely aware of the hubbub about airstreams.  I didn’t know why they were so special, I kind of thought they looked like a submarine.  Here and there my mom put me in school as I got older and I couldn’t miss as much school back home, but most of the time I just did worksheets my teacher sent from my NJ school and that was more than enough to get by.  What I was learning on a daily basis camping far outshined anything I would be exploring sitting in a classroom looking at a book!  I was learning about life, about having an appreciation for and the preciousness of the environment (the Keys has the third largest coral reef and numerous endangered species), I was learning how to catch my own dinner and how to cook it up, I was learning geography, history and above all social skills!  When I think back to how much I learned in those three months every year, it far surpassed the other school months combined! But, beyond that, I felt the closeness of family.  It is such a precious experience that is hard to put into words. And even with all of this behind me, for some strange reason, I was afraid and anxious to put my 4 kids in the car and go on an adventure of our own.  For some reason I was letting the trailer represent stress and unease. I had so much stress over the thought of getting everything together, of the days in the car together, keeping up with school work, being a passenger while my husband drove for days!  I had become so content with the way things were, I couldn’t really see out of the box.  Little did I know, Mike was feeling stressed too about the drive down from New England to Florida, about knowing enough about the trailer to do what was needed, about having all of us in the car with him for 4 days!  The stress was giving him stomach problems and me break downs!
Yet, before we knew it, ready or not, the day came when we had to get on the road.   And I guess something magical happened that morning, probably a feeling that only those who have embarked out on a new adventure could know, it’s this rush of adrenaline that moves you forward into the unknown with a confidence that almost feels foolish, but there’s this reassurance because you can tell you all share in this feeling together.  And with that, all of us piled into our Ford pick-up, trailer in tow and we rolled out of our driveway and onto the route of adventure, the route of freedom – you wouldn’t know we were still on our street, yet it was suddenly liberating! The trailer no longer represented stress or frustration, it represented freedom and was our new home. This is how our journey began. This is how we rediscovered our family, our passions, our country, our visions, our love and our lives.  This is how we rediscovered our route. We invite you to be a part of our route and hope it helps inspire you to discover yours.  You don’t have to hit the road in your travel camper to start on a new journey or have a new vision or live in a better way, it helps and we encourage it, but it is not the be all to discovering your route – all you need is courage, determination, the right tools and an openness to change.  Join us and Be the Route!

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