This is the beginning of the...
Trip Start Jun 02, 2011
70Trip End Sep 25, 2011
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Our trip will be divided into two phases. Phase 1 will cover the Northern US states and Canada, will commence on June 2, 2011, last 114 days, and cover 10,650 miles. After returning to West Chester for the winter holiday, Phase 2 will commence. The second phase will cover the Southern US states and Mexico, will last 143 days, and cover an estimated 13,000 miles.
The trip will include 5 participants: I, Mike, am the self-appointed Captain. I will be accompanied full time by 3 co-captains: Madison (10), Katelyn (9), and Emma (8). Our part-time General, Xiu, will fly in to join us for the highlights. What does this mean? Well, Xiu will opt out of our journey through Nebraska!
This trip will have us on the road for nearly 10 months. We are leaving as Madison completes 5th grade, Katelyn 4th, and Emma 3d. The girls will skip the 2011-12 school year, which we justify because they are all one grade ahead of where they would naturally fall based on their ages. When we return after our trip, they will re-enter school where they left off in the 6th, 5th, and 4th grades respectively. While they are not in the classroom, they will spend the year experiencing first hand what they currently read in books and study on maps, and keep a daily travel log that tracks the journey and their perspectives and observations. We will use this blog to captures some of these observations and to share thoughts, pictures, and videos with friends and family. Our hope and goal is that this becomes a 2-way communication as we work our way around the country.
Our travel will take place in a 31 foot Class C RV. Our original thought was to rent an RV, however we quickly realized that with the days and mileage we were planning, this was not very effective. Our thinking then migrated in the direction of purchasing a towable trailer and a truck, however in our research we concluded that unhooking and setting up a trailer every night while traveling with 3 girls would be a challenge. We then ruled out a Class A (bus) RV because the configuration generally provides less sleeping space and seemed more geared toward a 'couple' rather than a family. Finally, we concluded that a Class C RV is our best option because it is still small enough to be driven almost everywhere we want to go, and the overhang above the driving cab provides a 'fort-like' sleeping space that can accommodate 2 or 3 of the girls nightly. Since we were new to the world of RVing, we were reluctant to go out and spend $100K on a new 31 foot RV. So what did we do? We approached it like any great American family and turned to eBay! Yes, we purchased a 2005 Class C RV with 16,000 miles for a fraction of the cost of a similar new RV, and plan to sell it in the same manner when our adventures are complete.
After our purchase in August 2010, we wanted to experience some trial weekends to get comfortable with our new 'home', We first completed a local weekend camping trip in the fall, and then completed a very travel intensive trip from PA to Key West, FL over the 2010 Christmas Break. Aside from a 70mph encounter with a giant heron on the Florida Turnpike (a story for another forum), everything is proceeding according to plan!
What we have outlined in this blog is a moderately detailed agenda which we plan to use as a guide. It actually took many more hours than I initially thought to prepare, and balancing the level of detail with flexibility remains a great challenge. However, in order to gain access to the best campgrounds in the best National Parks over the busy summer travel season, we have no choice but to make reservations in the early spring. We have a strong feel for where we want to go, but also realize that events both within and outside of our control may require us to modify these plans. While we will remain flexible with the details, we are intent on achieving our goal of sleeping in every state and personally experiencing all of the locations on our 'top-20' list.
Okay...that is the background. Let the journey begin!