The other day I was doing a little family research and found an interesting piece of lore that reveals a family habit of extreme road-tripping. I already knew that my grandfather took an around-the-world trip after finishing junior college in the mid-1920’s. He traveled on steamships from California to Japan, through “the Orient”, to India, through the Middle East, Mediterranean, Europe and arriving back in the United States in New York City. I did NOT know that in 1929 he and his mother also took an 8,000 cross-country road trip—a feat that made the local newspaper. If only Grandpa had a blog.
92 years later, this leaves me inspired.
2020 was the pits and 2021 didn’t exactly start out smelling like a peach. Now it’s April and in many—most—places, the pandemic still rages. But there’s some hope out there, and for us, it’s time to put a bookend on the pandemic. Monica and I are both vaccinated, our bubble is expanding and it’s about to get a lot bigger.
In a few days we’ll pack up and hit the road for what might be our biggest summer yet. Homeschooling this year has allowed us to travel freely. Now is the time to take advantage of the “freedom” of never having a waking moment without the kids.
What can you expect this summer?
- This blog is not live. If you want to get a better sense of where we are, follow us on Instagram.
- Don’t expect a comprehensive rundown of everything we do over the summer. I’m trying to focus on our travels as they relate to unique aspects of road life, my medical condition, and Monica’s running accomplishments. I want to make you laugh, motivate you to get out and see the country, and raise awareness for Vascular Ehlers-Danlos.
- We don’t know where we’re going! Originally, we planned a tour of the American West, with Monica chasing marathons. One marathon got cancelled and then she ran a 9 minute P.R. at the Tomoka Marathon in Florida, and our zeal to drive 10,000 miles waned. So now we’re planning on “winging it” from Florida to Maine. I currently have 15 tabs open on my browser trying to figure out where we want to go.
In case you’re just getting acquainted with us, here’s a quick rundown:
This will be our fourth summer on the road. In 2018 we loaded up an amazing 2002 Dodge Ram Van for a 9,000 mile trip from Charleston, to the Smokies, to Yosemite, Seattle, Yellowstone, and a million other stops in between and back. In 2019, we (regretfully) sold the Dodge, for a wonderfully weird VW Eurovan Westfalia camper van. That year we stayed east of the Mississippi, exploring the Carolinas, Virginia, losing our path in Shenandoah, and steeping ourselves in some major Civil War sites. The 2020 pandemic put us in the mood for our own restroom and full kitchen, so we took the leap to an RV (best decision ever). We got as far north as Cape Cod and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and learned that RV life is a breeze compared to pitching tents and living out of crates and bins.
The evolution of family road tripping.
Our Thor Freedom Elite 23H is our happy place. St. Petersburg is still the best place to live, and we love our nearly 100 year old house. But everyone in the family finds contentment in the RV. I get to drive a big Ford Engine and tinker with gadgets and fix things when they break (and—perhaps more importantly—act like a hero). Monica doesn’t have to make excuses for sitting in bed and reading all evening. The kids have their little nooks for gaming, reading and art, and new places to explore every few days. And we all get to take amazing hikes, see gorgeous sites and find the overlooked jewels of our country. In the RV, we’re all relaxed and tensions are low… most of the time.
We’ve been everywhere, man. Or roughly 17 places in the song.
I’m keenly aware and grateful that my family has been spared from the most major and minor aspects of the pandemic. I am looking forward to breaking the monotony of being home day-in-day-out with the kids. And I think they need a change of scenery. Homeschooling has been rewarding, but Monica and I know the limits of our capabilities and patience. I’ll close this post with a quote that I found from the late historian, John Hope Franklin (who I was with the first time I met Monica on the streets of St. Pete):
“We must go beyond textbooks, go out into the bypaths and untrodden depths of the wilderness and travel and explore and tell the world the glories of our journey.”
See you on the road!
“Don’t make me turn this van around” is written by Jonathan Kile, and approved by Monica Kile. Jon’s 2014 thriller, The Grandfather Clock, is available free for Kindle on Amazon.com and other eReaders at Smashwords. After series of major medical issues, Jon was diagnosed with a serious genetic condition called Vascular Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. With life completely altered, they developed a road-trip habit. Reach Jon at email@example.com. Monica is a non-profit consultant, grant writer, marathoner, baker, tour guide, and prolific bath taker. Also, don’t forget to follow our Instagram feed for stuff that doesn’t make the blog.