These winter months that have been so brutal with cold and snow (even in Tucson where we spent last winter in balmy, sunshiney weather!) in most of the other states, we have created safe haven in the sun in Orlando, Florida. Chris’ grandparents winter down here as well and we found a great KOA (Fort Summit) just down the road from them. We were eager to spend more time with them this year, having fond memories of early 2011 that we spent here with them) and help out as much as possible given that their 8th decade of life is slowing them down a bit.
Our time with them is priceless and the kids squeal when we can add their Great Grammy and Great Grampa to our adventures. We’ve even had the pleasure of spending an afternoon with Chris’ Great Great Aunt Lucy, now 97, who was the most gracious hostess and regaled us with stories of her extensive camping and travel adventures “many years ago” with her late husband, Don. I took notes on routes and campgrounds about which she still recalls every detail. She and her son (a former school teacher) could not express enough times how excited, pleased, and proud they are that we have chosen this way of life and how wonderful they feel it is for our children. We happen to agree but it’s always good to hear.
When we started on the road 2 1/2 years ago, we thought mostly about places we wanted to visit. It became clear to us all early on that this travel life has been made rich and soulful mostly by the people we visit and meet along the way. The faces, as we travel, can change quite frequently but almost all are friendly, inviting, and interesting. I joke that my 20 minute morning dog walk can take an hour if I don’t get up early enough. Travelers are a friendly bunch.
But there is a part of us all that needs consistency and support… understanding and unconditional acceptance. This life is not always easy with new rig issues popping up, questions on travel logistics, not having families right nearby who understand what it means to live this way first hand. I tire sometimes of being “the RVing family.” It’s not who we are. Living a traveling life does not define us. It is so interesting to most people, though, that it can be the only thing I talk about in conversation as the curious questions just keep rolling. I overheard Sadie at a public playground one day with a peer. “Where do you live?” said the girl. “Let’s not get into it. Let’s just go play,” Sadie said. When asked about it later, Sadie expressed that she knows that kids find her living in a motorhome so fantastic and interesting that she ends up answering all kinds of questions and misses out on playtime.
We get support from our families and friends who, after 2 1/2 years no longer think we’re crazy or have resigned themselves to it. This year, though, we’ve added a new family to our lives- the Fulltime Family. Shortly after we went on the road, still fresh with questions and looking to find our traveling groove, I became aware of a website then a Facebook group founded by and for Fulltime Families. I referenced the site and lurked on the group for a long while. It was a place where I could go to search questions but also to be comforted that, although I couldn’t see them next door, there were many other families out there, new and veterans of all ages and with all aged children, living and loving a traveling life.
Did I mention I lurked? Then I started to ask questions and even answer some on the Facebook group. People responded inviting more virtual engagement. I began to know names and think of Jennifer, hoping she got that job at Disney, or whether Kimberly’s engine trouble was diagnosed. What are the great places to stay? What should we see for cheap or free? What do we do about the moisture on the windows? Anything you can think of, and most you can’t (unless you live in 300 square feet with several children and pets), can be answered there.
Over the last couple of years, we’ve met up with a family or two (like the Lundy 5) from the group as we passed each other in our journeys. This year we find ourselves once again in the hotspot (literally and figuratively) for Fulltime Families in the winter months- central Florida. While we missed this year’s winter rally, we are having a positively wonderful time here with regular pool parties, potlucks, and field trips with other traveling families- making new and lasting friendships on each and every outing. On a moms’ afternoon out to IKEA, I was so moved by how personal it felt for me to be shopping for home items with other people who understood all too well the dilemmas of organization of a small family space- that moves. Speaking of IKEA, we did a whole living/dining area makeover and someone I had never even met in the Fulltime Families group offered up their family’s truck for us to pick up our furniture. Now that’s family.
photo credit:: Stephanie Clarke
So I’d like you to meet my Fulltime Family. We are not the same. In fact, we are more different than most neighbors in traditional neighborhoods. We come from all over the United States and even some other countries! We have different backgrounds, jobs, hobbies, interests, children who range in age from gestating to 20- something and beyond. But we share a common passion- a similarity in lifestyle that transpired in a different way for every family that creates and fosters a bond, an understanding, empowerment, vulnerability, and a wealth of knowledge.