Tentative Travel Plans

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ccpetersmd's picture
ccpetersmd
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Tentative Travel Plans

Admittedly, this is an odd piece to post, but I've been a member of this site for the past several years and I have yet to find another group of people as intelligent and helpful, so it seems natural to raise this issue here. Over the past year and a half, we sold our house, liquidated my private surgical practice, greatly (although not completely) eliminated much of our "waste", and are considering a dramatic change; a year or two of travel with our three sons.

I don't wish this to be perceived as a purely hedonistic adventure, as we do have concrete goals we wish to accomplish, but I must admit that part of the attraction is to merely opt-out of the status quo, at least for a while, and to seek life on our own terms. My wife and I have always been adventurous; she was a traveling nurse in Hawaii when I met her 18 years ago, married her less than six months later, and each of our three sons were born in different states (Georgia, Oklahoma and Indiana). We've been in Iowa for the past 7-1/2 years, and feel it is time for a change. Life is too short to not live it as each of us see fit.

We're not wealthy enough to simply retire (I'm now 51, and our boys are 10, 12 and 14), so I'm looking at this as something of a sabbatical. As a surgeon, I also have some opportunity of working locum tenens (surgical temp work) en route, to bring in some extra income. That said, we are hoping to travel relatively cheaply. A number of families have done the same; I've visited a number of websites recording such adventures, and my wife gave me a book this Christmas about a family that traveled the world inexpensively. At some point, we'll need to settle down again, with me resuming a surgical practice and/or my wife resuming a career in nursing; but for a while, we can coast, if the political and economic situation allows.

We home-schooled our oldest son last year and are home-schooling our youngest son this year, so we think we can handle “road-schooling” all three next year (and perhaps the next). I can handle all studies in science and most in math (I'd have to learn calculus better than I learned it in college, if it came to that, though). We have a number of good books lined up (all of us have Kindles, to limit weight), and keeping a journal would be a requirement (likely to include some weblog postings). Speaking of the boys, part of our reasoning as to “why now” has to do with their ages; they’re old enough to remember and learn from our travels, old enough to carry their own backpacks, but not so old that they don’t want to be with their parents!

I don’t see TEOTWAWKI in the next year or two, but I recognize that remains a possibility. We have liquidated many of our possessions and will continue in that process; we have no debt; and we have made what I feel are prudent investment decisions with what remains. We will store those furnishings we would like to retain during our travels. If needed, our tentative bug-out plan is to relocate, even if only temporarily, to my in-laws farm in northern Iowa.

Our goals for travel, apart from the wish to simply “make a break” and “enjoy life”, include the following:

  1. Raise our boys’ awareness about the richness of live, history and the importance of human interaction. Yes, I know this sounds cheesy, but it is what I believe. It is too easy to become inured to the realities of “normal” living, ignorant of the importance of being a sentient and intelligent being. I hope to break them from the mold of traditional “education” so that they can choose to live the life they truly desire.
  2. Explore other areas to which we might wish to ultimately relocate. This has been discussed in other threads, so we don’t need to rehash old topics. We might end up back in Iowa, but we are open to the idea of relocation. In our history of travels, we’ve never had trouble “fitting in”, so I’m not terribly concerned about that aspect.
  3. Meet others. Through this site, my time in the Army, my involvement in politics, and likeminded people I have met (or become reacquainted with) through Facebook, I know many people in the U.S. and around the globe with whom it would be wonderful to have a discussion over a cup of coffee or a round of beers. For me, this is broad expansion of the “grow your community” movement, which I think is going to be essential in the tumultuous times coming our way.

While I invite commentary on all the above, I would particularly appreciate discussion of the following questions:

  1. In your opinion, is the above course of action completely foolish? Should we instead be “digging in” for TEOTWAWKI, instead?
  2. If our plans to travel are not unreasonable, how would you proceed, especially regarding means (mode of travel, living arrangements, etc.)? We are considering various options, to include renting an RV or purchasing a used RV (this can be a big hit concerning future oil prices hikes, I realize), towing a pop-up camper, etc. (No, Dogs, we will likely not be taking the ’68 VW on such an extended tour!) If we follow through on tentative plans to visit Europe, we’ll take advantage of the abundant public transportation (EuroRail, etc.). Particularly in the U.S. and Canada, we hope to spend much of our time in national or state parks, limiting our costs somewhat, and/or looking at long-term rentals.
  3. Are there areas you think we should considering visiting, if only for educational and/or entertainment value (ignoring Walt Disney, please)?
  4. Would you be interested in meeting? This should not be construed as an invitation to host us in any way, as we’re not looking for that! But, I have gotten to know a number of people on this site through PM’s, emails, phone calls, and Facebook; and I would enjoy meeting many of you in person. If you have such an interest, send me a PM, and we’ll do our best to work you into our itinerary (which is still very much a work in progress)!
Full Moon's picture
Full Moon
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Jealous

Chris , how wonderful that you can do this with your family ! You are not committed for any length of time and you have a home base to go back to with your inlaws .   I know in towns around our area you can park for 14 days without having to move on .   I believe they might charge $5-10 a night max  to plug in and dump sites are free.

Get some Off the Beaten Path Books .   Go to the tourist building of each town .     There is just so much to see !   I know I would start out by following the route of my family tree . They  landed 5 years after the Mayflower and built the first church .. yes that is where I would start .   You might start with the part of History that intrests you most .  

Oregon Trail is where we are ... give a shout when you make it here.   Remember we are not fancy  but could show you around and have a good time .

FM

Check in once in here once in a while to give us an update.  

.

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Greetings Doc, I got an

Greetings Doc,

I got an email notification that you posted something so I had to log on and see what was up.

Wow, what a great thing to do with your family. I'm sure your kids will be telling their grandchildren someday about their adventure with you to see the world. I hope you guys have a safe and elightening journey.

I wouldn't give a second thought about digging in for some doom & gloom fabrication of the future. I mean, to be completely honest, we are not capable of knowing the future, though we all love to fool ourselves in this regard.  The bottom line is that life is only available in the present moment *.

And if your oldest gets moody or disinterested along the way, just remember that his biology is screaming "GIRLS!!!" 24/7 at that age.

Enjoy yourself Doc, and if you value your freedom, avoid any long term commitment to a RV.

Godspeed,

Jeff

*not my words, but I can't recall who wrote them.

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thatchmo
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CARPE VIVA!

Does that mean "seize life"?  Well, it should.   I think this is a fantastic plan Chris.  I agree with JAG, we can't know the future so enjoy the present.  Sounds like the whole family is aboard so who cares what others may think?  Sally forth into the fray!  RVs can be had for a song these days and could be a good way to start the voyage- having a bit of a "home" while you get into the vagabond gig.  All the personal connections you've made that you described will give you a bit of a "safety net" and you never know what magical places and events will transpire from making those in real time.  If you find yourself in the Sandwich Islands, look me up.  Maybe the guest quarters will be finished by then... Maybe I'll have you remove my appendix or something for some traveling money.  Though after this election cycle I may need a lobotomy....    Aloha, Steve.

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Doug
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pop ups

We had a pop-up camper for several years that was a great way to travel.  They're easy to put up and take down and there is generally enough room to stow all your camping gear while traveling.  And, you pay camping fees as opposed to hotel fees.  You can park them and still have a reasonable vehicle to drive around the area.  I suppose small travel trailers would serve the same purpose without the put-up, take-down part.

I don't know if you're nature buffs or not, but when I travel I tend to take a lot of nature guides, binoculars and good hiking clothes.  Since I started understanding ecosystems, I'm never bored whereever I am.  There are always new plants and animals to see (particularly birds) and different geomorphic features to explore.

If you're passing through western NY, give a shout.  You can park a trailer on our land and/or stay in the house, depending on the season.

There are lots of places I would recommend seeing.  We have a beautiful country and its definitely worth seeing while we still have the petrol to do it.

You and the kids will never forget it.

Doug

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Learning is Learning - doing is Learning

Well,

I don't know where to begin.

So, here I go. First, I think there is a huge "reserve" in everything about the economy so a SHTF "Max Max" scenario is highly unlikely.

To undertake an adventure such as you describe, one has to be very liquid and if TEOTWAWKI happens while you are on your sojourn... You may just be positioned the best of all of us.

That out of the way, how far do you plan on traveling? International? National? That would be the only difference in my advice. International travel is great and lessons learned can not be "untaught." With that, I mean any lesson learned, good, bad, or tragic. I hope you plan on starting with North American travel and see how it goes. Home schooling has never been my first choice because I think certain group dynamics can only be learned in the classroom. But, we are not talking about "home schooling" in the traditional sense are we. Only you know your boys. And I agree with "do-it-now" the 14 yo may already be at the tipping point.

Locum work should be plentiful for you and your wife if necessary. I have met some wonderful people doing that type of work and they were great practitioners as well.

Three "prepubescent" boys will be a hand full. Treat your wife along the way with some strictly feminine experiences. She may say that she does not need them, but I have never known a woman that has turned down a day of doing "girl things." Seriously. My wife was the first girl in her city to buck the "boys only" baseball rule and was a better fielder and base runner than her teammates. She worked on a farm through her under-grad work in animal science and became a "certified in large animal insemination." She never turns down a trip to the "day spa" to be pampered!

Have a "home-base" for things like taxes, bank accounts and the like. If Iowa makes sense because of family, then by all means that is the place to anchor the tether.

And, if you get a chance, come to North Carolina. The outer banks are unique and there is never a shortage of local amusement!

Best of Luck!

C.

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Excellent.

Remarkable.  Fantastic!

If it was me, I'd start in the Southwest where it's warmer right now.  Petrified Forest, Painted Desert, Death Valley, Joshua Tree, Canyon de Chelly, Grand Canyon, et alia.  Then on to the Redwood forests!  And camp on the Florida Panhandle near the Gulf.  Sip a beverage and stare out at a thunderstorm 10 miles offshore, watching the lightning strikes illuminate the clouds from within.  Spectacular.  And go visit DIAP and let him feed you some Thermonuclear Salsa.  And stop in and visit Ready and he'll give your kids (and you) a tutorial in biodiesel.

To answer your ???s:

1.  As long as you're this mobile and have a Plan B locale (which you do), if you're in the lower 48 you're only ~72 hours at most from your "bug out" location.  If things get hinky, no doubt you'd wander closer to Northern Iowa (i.e., take in the Great Lakes or the Upper Peninsula) so you'd really only be 10 hours or so from nominal safety.  So:  no sweat!

2.  I'd tow a pop-up, for reasons others have elucidated above.

3.  I guess I sort of already answered this.  But you should also see New England in its Fall colors!

4.  Heck yeah!  If/when you ramble through New York/New England (and your kids should really see NYC so they can tell their great-grandkids about it someday), let me know.  Like I said, come in the Fall and we'll go apple-picking!  Or -- if in the Spring -- we'll tap maple trees!

Viva -- Sager

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Estatesavr
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come visit us inland N'West

Hey Doc

we have a guest cabin along our private 1/2 mile of blue ribbon trout stream.  our farm is in middle of national forest and throwing distance to Glacier National Park.

As to travel options - we have owned and love Airstreams.  They are the most durable (90% of all of them made are still on the road) and highest resale - I wish we had never sold ours but actually sold it for more than we paid.  For a tow vehicle I'd look into a F350 crew cab diesel with 7.3L engine - those engines last forever if cared for and you can get an extended fuel tank (100 gal) for almost 2000 range.

as re pop-ups - they tend to be too cold out west (I know) as even in summer the radiant cooling can drop temps 60 degrees.  Pop ups also get 'tossed' about easily by the high winds we experience out here.  Don't get me wrong - high winds with any tow behind or in an RV is no fun - you often need to pull over or do your driving before 2 PM

my wife works at local rural hospital as a Head Nurse and our nearest neighbor is one of the ER Docs so I'm confident we could help introduce you (if wanted)  as re locum tenens

we home school our teens (2 daughters and 1 son) and would welcome other kids for special project work -- and our kids are very active in Scouts (I am Scoutmaster) so your sons would be welcome to join in on those activities

fyi, on separate forum I posted we may be inviting CM members to join us on our farm in case SHTF ... if interested follow that thread and PM me as folk with your skill sets and adventure mind would be welcome

congrats on the bold move

Jake

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ccpetersmd
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Thanks For The Comments And Suggestions; Keep Them coming!

Too much good advice to comment on every one, but rest assured that we will be considering your input as we make our plans! I'm very pleased no one has yet shot holes in our travel plans vis-a-vis a SHTF scenario. I tend to agree with Carl; there seems to be too much inertia in the system, and so many people committed to maintaining the status quo, that a sudden descent into chaos seems unlikely. We will have a "home base" for mail, etc., likely in the small town near where my in-laws live. I hadn't actually considered how advantageous the central Iowa location would be in case we did need to "bug out" quickly; so thanks for pointing that out, Sager! Full Moon, thanks for the suggestion about the Beaten Path books; we'll be sure to check those out. Steve, I don't know if we'll be heading back to Hawaii during this trip, unless we decide to go to Australia and New Zealand, but that is a distinct possibility. Doug, I like camping more than the rest of my family, but I think that will be a big part of this trip. We're definitely going to look into a pop-up camper, or at least a storage trailer, and try to spend plenty of time enjoying the great natural beauty available here in North America. JAG, you crack me up! "Girls 24/7"; we're not there yet, but I know it's coming...

We have a few constraints regarding timing in the first portion of our trip. We won't be leaving until sometime in July, after our boys have finished with baseball season. We also have to be back in Iowa in November for my in-laws fiftieth anniversary celebration. Other than that, though, our time will be limited only by us (and hopefully not economic or political chaos).

Our current plan is to spend the first part of our journey in North America. The Northeast is high on our list, to include revisiting D.C. and NYC. We have good friends in Buffalo we will see, and again do Niagara Falls. Acadia is a must, as my wife and children have never been there. We're considering traveling south along the East Coast, too; my eldest was born in Georgia, and it would be fun to show him where. That portion is less important to us right now, though. We definitely want to make a trip through the Dakotas (Mount Rushmore, the Badlands), on to Yellowstone, spend some time in the Intermountain West (my sister lives in Boise), and in the Pacific Northwest (Aaron is up there, my best friend from high school is in the Seattle area, we'd like to spend more time in British Columbia, and my eldest is currently fixated on the Oregon Ducks). I have a cousin in Northern California who is currently helping to sponsor a three weekend showing of the Crash Course, and taking the family to the Redwood National Forest is also a must. We'll also likely spend some more time visiting friends in SW Colorado, where we lived for two years, and do a bit more touring in the Southwest.

We also hope to journey overseas. Europe is certainly on the list of things to do. We'd like to get to Australia and New Zealand. My wife has a cousin living in New Zealand, and he is marrying a Kiwi next month. I have a friend in Japan that I would also like to see again, but we have some concerns regarding the situation there regarding the Fukushima disaster. I'd also like to revisit Costa Rica and Chile.

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ccpetersmd
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More...

Thanks, Jake! Glacier National Park is also on our must-visit list. We'd love to connect with you when we get there (when that will be is as yet unknown)! I do really like Airstreams; they remind me of my VW bus. It looks like they only sleep four comfortably though, right? I'll have to look into them further.

Oh, and I definitely hope to meet up with DIAP and Cat for some salsa and single-malt. Ready and I have talked about a visit, but I haven't made it down yet. I'll probably do that this spring, before our big trip. I don't know if we'll get down to Arkansas, but it would be fun to see joe2baba, also.

Has anyone seen the movie "RV" with Robin Williams and Jeff Daniels? My brother-in-law loaned us that movie a couple of weeks ago after hearing about our plans. It's a very funny movie, and I love the Flxible Clipper that Jeff Daniels' fictional family used! It looks like a giant VW bus; full of character...

ao's picture
ao
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great idea

Chris,

I think that's a fantastic idea.  Your boys will never forget it and neither will you and your wife.  It'll provide memories that nothing and no one can ever take away from you.  Trips that we took with our kids cross country and on the West Coast and on the East Coast are some of my fondest memories. 

My personal approach would be to skip the RV and perhaps, even the pop-up trailer.  To me, an RV is too big to comfortably and nimbly negotiate many interesting areas of our country, from narrow winding roads along 3000 ft. drop-offs to offroad areas to the congestion of DC, NYC, and Boston traffic and tight parking spaces.  I still can't forget the horrified look on this elderly couples' faces on Needles Highway in Custer State Park, South Dakota when they realized their RV wouldn't fit through a very narrow tunnel cut through the rock.  There wasn't enough room to turn around, and they would probably have to back that rig downhill for miles to get off that road ... and evening was approaching.  When I told the rangers about it, they gave me this look like, "Oh joy, another couple of morons who can't read signs that we have to baby sit for and yeah, we'll get around to it in a few hours when we're good and done with what we're doing here.".  I would get something like a full size van instead.  The driving dynamics are better, gas mileage is better, you don't have to worry about overhead clearance, you don't have to worry about towing something, parking is easier, it's easier to keep up with traffic, merging is easier, etc.  Get a good quality tent, good ground cloth, good quality sleeping pads or cots, one of those well designed camp stove set-ups such as from Cabela's, and you'll be fine.  We used an all-wheel drive Chevy Astro van with two kids.  We strapped some extra gear on top and no one bothered with it.  But with the length of time that you're planning on doing it and with 3 kids, I'd go full size van or maybe an extended full size version.  

I did a similar type sabbatical back in 1986 (pre-kids) and I honestly think it saved my life in terms of stress reduction and re-prioritizing my life.  I used a Eureka Timberline tent (simple design, easy to put up, wind resistant, sheds water well, and easy to get replacement parts for if you should lose or break a part).  I got so good at putting it up that I could do it easily in just a couple of minutes.  The last place that I camped, a woman observing me remarked, "I've never seen anyone put up a tent that fast in my life."  I replied, "I've had a lot of practice."

I probably wouldn't plan on more than a year.  Your boys are getting to an age where their social circumstances are important and some roots would be nice for them.

We have a tremendous amount going on here in the next year so I don't know if I'd be a good host but if you're in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, drop an e-mail and I can let you know all the sights to see.  IMHO, this is one of the nicest areas in the country in the summer with endless recreational opportunities.  Winter is a big tourist time too but unless you are very hard core, you don't want to camp here with a family then.

I think your decision is wise.  Good luck and enjoy!

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Congrats!

Chris,

Some of my best memories as a child are the long road trips we used to take as a family, camping across the American west.  I really wish I was in a place where I could do something like that with my wife and sons but I am still very much a member of the rat race.  It would be such a life changing experience that I am very jealous. 

If you make it out my way be sure to let me know so we can get the families together.  Good luck!

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Travel Plans

Chris,

I think this is a great idea, for a number of reasons, and as we've discussed, I (and my extended family up here) would be thrilled to have you all out for a visit. If we time this right, we might be able to hunt with Ready in the fall, and get you and the boys on the river out here for spring Salmon season on the Columbia. There's also a number of historic points throughout the Columbia River Gorge, as well as the Condon Fossil beds, and a variety of historical museums.

Also, my apologies for being out of touch - but this is the first morning this week that I woke up to electricity, and I've been in negotiations for a home nearby that is going to put me closer to my academic pursuits and some close friends. Got a nice backyard, too, so brew and grilling are certainly in the cards.

Send me a PM here or on Facebook when you're thinking about motating out, and we'll tighten up some time frames!
Cheers!

Aaron

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places to see

I'm glad to see you have your priorities straight.  Baseball always came first for us.

I'm also glad to hear Glacier NP is on your must do list, I was going to recommend.  Thing is, get there in July or August.  And when you do, hike the 'Garden Wall' for a while.  It follows the divide and is one of the most spectacular places I know of in the US.  While you're in the NW, check out the Cascades and Olympic peninsula also.

I hope you make time for Cape Cod while you're in the east.  The National Seashore is wonderful.  I know a good campground near P'town if you're interested.

I differ somewhat with ao.  We tented for a lot of years and I backpacked long before I had a family.  A lot of things can and do go wrong in tents, and most of them have happened to me.  The move up to a pop-up was a pure luxury move, particularly with kids. 

Keep us posted on your progress.

Doug

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go farther

Be cognizant of potential disasters by virtue of the perspectives gleaned here but don't count on them!  My dad was sure of catastrophy in the 70s but by this latest crisis had worried less and enjoyed day to day life with more of a detached, curious view of macro deteriation.

You've got a way better back up situation Iowa (I enjoyed study days in Iowa City) than most people so take advantage.....go farther.  After some domestic excursions getting adjusted to life in motion find a foreign land of some interest that may be less likely to be accessible should TSHTF and explore.  Learn a new language, culture and lifestyle and maybe stay a while someplace, working and logging some local school time to really see how other lives are lived.  These are lessons that cannot be learned otherwise or elsewhere and are uniquely available within your current possibilities.

Enjoy your adventures and good luck!

Kevin

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ao
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30 reasons not to own real estate

Aaron Moyer wrote:

Also, my apologies for being out of touch - but this is the first morning this week that I woke up to electricity, and I've been in negotiations for a home nearby that is going to put me closer to my academic pursuits and some close friends. Got a nice backyard, too, so brew and grilling are certainly in the cards.

Aaron,

Think over the real estate issue very carefully.

http://dont-tread-on.me/?p=12613

ao's picture
ao
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tent tales

Doug wrote:

I differ somewhat with ao.  We tented for a lot of years and I backpacked long before I had a family.  A lot of things can and do go wrong in tents, and most of them have happened to me.  The move up to a pop-up was a pure luxury move, particularly with kids. 

OK Doug, you stirred my curiousity.  I tented all over the country and in Canada and other than a windstorm bending tent poles and a minor flooding situation, that was about it.  What'd you have happen? 

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Doug
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Gee, where shall I

Gee, where shall I start.

There was the time a couple friends and I pitched our tent on a nice sandy spot and woke up at about 3AM in a thunderstorm and discovered that our tent site turned into a stream during heavy rains.  When you're backpacking or tenting in campsites, once your gear gets wet, there's nothing to do about it but lug it out.

Then, there was the time my family and I camped in a state park next to my wife'ssister's family.  As I tend to do, I took off on a three day hike in the mountains alone.  The first night out I camped in a lean-to and woke up to another storm.  I was lucky to be in the lean-to because tree branches were falling all around.  Back at the state park site, my wife and kids and the in-laws all huddled up in their tent.  Our tent pulled up stakes and blew away.  Sandy soil.

This one didn't happen to me, but did to some friends.  They were camped in a state campground when a 'microburst storm' came through.  Again, trees fell all around,  A tree fell right next to their tent and the father was quick thinking enough to get his family out of the tent and took shelter under the tree that just fell.  Four people died in tents in that storm and the largest intact stretch of original growth forest in the northeast looked like giant pick-up-sticks.

And, just generally, sleeping on the ground tends to be damp and lumpy.  I much prefer having a roof over my head, a table to sit at, electric lights and real mattresses to sleep on.  Plus, pop-ups have the built in conveniences of stoves, refrigerators and heaters.  If its raining you can sit inside and have room enough for everyone to be comfortable rather than sitting cross legged in tents that barely, if its big enough, have room to stand up.  I've had more of those experiences than I care to think about.

I guess I'm getting old and crotchety, but I Iike conveniences and comfort.  I'm pretty much done roughing it.

Doug

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ao
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Doug wrote: Gee, where shall

Doug wrote:

Gee, where shall I start.

There was the time a couple friends and I pitched our tent on a nice sandy spot and woke up at about 3AM in a thunderstorm and discovered that our tent site turned into a stream during heavy rains.  When you're backpacking or tenting in campsites, once your gear gets wet, there's nothing to do about it but lug it out.

Then, there was the time my family and I camped in a state park next to my wife'ssister's family.  As I tend to do, I took off on a three day hike in the mountains alone.  The first night out I camped in a lean-to and woke up to another storm.  I was lucky to be in the lean-to because tree branches were falling all around.  Back at the state park site, my wife and kids and the in-laws all huddled up in their tent.  Our tent pulled up stakes and blew away.  Sandy soil.

This one didn't happen to me, but did to some friends.  They were camped in a state campground when a 'microburst storm' came through.  Again, trees fell all around,  A tree fell right next to their tent and the father was quick thinking enough to get his family out of the tent and took shelter under the tree that just fell.  Four people died in tents in that storm and the largest intact stretch of original growth forest in the northeast looked like giant pick-up-sticks.

And, just generally, sleeping on the ground tends to be damp and lumpy.  I much prefer having a roof over my head, a table to sit at, electric lights and real mattresses to sleep on.  Plus, pop-ups have the built in conveniences of stoves, refrigerators and heaters.  If its raining you can sit inside and have room enough for everyone to be comfortable rather than sitting cross legged in tents that barely, if its big enough, have room to stand up.  I've had more of those experiences than I care to think about.

I guess I'm getting old and crotchety, but I Iike conveniences and comfort.  I'm pretty much done roughing it.

Doug

Yep, windstorms and rain/flooding seem to be the major hassles.  That's one of the reasons I recommended an extended full size van to Chris.  It'd be cramped sleeping but with the back row of seats taken out, you'd still have enough room inside in nasty weather.  I remember camping in Samuel P. Taylor Park in California and not being allowed to camp anyplace but under those big, tall redwoods.  I kept thinking that if one of those big branches way up there broke off and fell, it'd all be over.  But then again, most trees would take out a pop-up as well.  I hear you though about the comforts.    

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Travlin
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Tips

Chris

You are truly living a dream to do this. This will be life altering for all of you. Do it right to make it good. Here are my tips from a lot of experience with extended road trips.

This will NOT be a short vacationThis will be a way of life. You will be living on the road every day for months on end as a family of five in constantly changing environments. Out west in August temperatures go down to freezing in the mountains and dessert. The burden of keeping feed, warm, clean, and everything else will be much higher, and even if everyone pitches in, the bulk of it will fall on your wife. It is critical to keep that burden tolerable or this wonderful experience can go sour fast. You won’t always have a camp ground handy without overly restrictive planning. You have to be able to live on the road.

A smaller RV on a van chassis would fit your needs well. Don’t go big. You can rent them. Add bicycles or a dirt bike for running errands or touring. The RV drives well enough and gives you comfortable shelter, cooking etc.. In a pinch, you can stay in a truck stop, trailer park, motel parking lot, or Wal-Mart (they encourage this). You also have walls and a locked door at night. You don’t have to pack and unpack gear. You always have a kitchen and fridge handy to reduce the costs of meals, and shelter to eat them. KOA is good for showers and laundry. You are home wherever you are, and that gives you great flexibility and peace of mind so you can enjoy the sights.

A pop-up tent trailer would be a minimum, but it would get old fast in your situation. It has a much higher burden for daily chores, especially cooking, and only enough storage for essentials. No kitchen when it’s down. Wind can shred them quickly and high winds are common out west.

Tents – I second what Doug said about sitting around when it rains and dealing with wet gear. You can’t just drive away to better weather. Unpacking and packing all the related gear adds up. You are more limited in where you stay, cooking and clean up are much harder, and need to be done before dark, which limits your options. Bears are a factor in camping some places, particularly out west.  You always need to keep food segregated and sealed.  A determined bear can come into any vehicle, but most won't try if you are careful.  In a tent you feel helpless. 

The West is the best.  Seldom rains, not humid, mosquitoes are rare, spectacular scenery, exotic landscapes, micro environments that change quickly with elevation. For scale and variety it can’t be beat.

Parks – See every national park and national monument you can. The “monuments” are equivalent, but were created by presidents instead of Congress. Not mentioned so far are Dinosaur, Arches, and Mesa Verde with the cliff dwellings. You would love them.  National forests, and reserves (Bureau of Land Management) can also be spectacular and very peaceful, with lovely simple campgrounds, and without the crowds. The mountain parks get a lot of snow so they don’t open until about May and I think they close about October.

Route – Starting in July means you should get far north first, head west, hit the coast by fall, work south from there but avoid staying in mountains. Follow the Mexican border east during winter. Don’t rush it or plan it to death. You will learn about lovely places by talking to other travelers. Take your time and stay loose.

Travlin

PS -- By all means take a tent so the boys can "camp out" and you and your wife can have some "quality time".  Ground jacks at the corners of the RV are reccomended. 

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nickbert
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take the opportunity!

Chris,

If both you and your wife can handle living out of a suitcase for extended periods, then I say go for it!  My family's experience thus far in doing something somewhat similar has been generally positive... but let's face it, it is easier for some people than others.  I've been semi-nomadic for much of my adult life so the traveling lifestyle fits me well.  My wife enjoys traveling as well, but she has a harder time living out of a suitcase for more than a month at a time (which I completely understand).  But there are workarounds.

As to questions:

1) Foolish?  Hell to the no.  A hard transition or collapse is always possible but by no means certain, and even if it does occur there is a certain advantage to being "flexible" in your living arrangements and lifestyle.  It's hard to say whether the situation will better favor "hunkering down" or "flexibility", but I suspect each will be workable.

2) If you're talking about traveling through North America, I'd say given the size of your family the best bet is either buying a used RV and living out of that, or spending several weeks in each place where you either stay with family/friends or stay in vacation rentals in the off-season.  Tent camping is a lot easier as a couple than as a family, at least on a very long term basis.  As much as I hate the way RV's or trailers eat up gas (and as much as I despise being stuck behind them in traffic ), I think the RV or trailer is a slightly better option than motels or renting places to stay.  Inexpensive places to stay are not always easy to find, and an RV or trailer offers a certain anchor or sense of stability that many people need.  Having a constant and familiar place when everything else changes and not constantly packing/unpacking may go a long way. 

3) Depending how events play out in the world, I'd say maybe you should try traveling overseas first.  International travel is very likely to be much less affordable (and possibly more problematic) in future years, so depending on the resources you have available now might be a better time than later.  It's also hard to say whether a US passport will be as much of an advantage in future years as it is now, and with so many countries you can travel to without a visa at present, that might be something to consider too.

4) Doubt you'd be going as far or as remote as Mongolia, but in the event you head that way you are more than welcome to look us up!  PM me if that's a location that interests you.  I haven't done it yet, but one can travel the rails from Russia through Mongolia and down into China.

And just on a side note, I threw out a question to Dr. M on what kind of plans and preps he finds prudent when he's on his frequent travel engagements on the "Your Chance to Interview Chris" thread.  Hopefully he has some helpful tips for some of us heavy travelers

- Nick

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ccpetersmd
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Posts: 799
Wow, Again, Lot's of Great Suggestions!

I just had my wife read this entire (so far) thread. She's as impressed as I with the breadth of responses. Julie, meet the CM community; CM community, meet Julie...

AO, I'm increasingly disinclined toward the full-size RV, partly for the reason you cited. By "full size van", do you mean a traditional minivan or a converted van such as the Mercedez-Benz Sprinter, Ford Transit/Econoline, etc.? UP Michigan is likely on our list; I'll be sure to send you a PM if we decide to head your way. No need to host, but we'd love the opportunity to meet!

Goes211, the Eastern seaboard is as yet very much up in the air, but I think there is a fairly good chance we'll make it down there. If so, you know I'll give you a call!

Aaron, is Ready coming your way in the fall? I think it is now more likely that we'll be up your way next spring. Salmon on the Columbia sounds delicious! Congratulations on getting back to relative civilization, and thanks for your service, my friend! Are you back in CONUS, or still overseas?

Doug, I think we'll head east during the first part of our trip, and west next spring/summer. We did Provincetown a few years back; interesting place, and good alternative education for the boys. We had a fabulous time; wonderful scenery, great seafood, etc. We'll likely do Cape Cod again, so please let me know about your recommendation!

Doug and AO, I very much appreciated your discussion regarding the pros and cons of tent camping versus pop-ups, etc. We're still weighing those options, and enjoy every insight and experience!

Kevin (russiaways), we have lived in the Iowa City area for the past nearly 8 years; small world! We do hope to spend some time overseas and absorb some "foreign" culture; that'll probably have to wait for a year, though.

Travlin, it sounds like you are suggesting something similar to AO, a "full size van", or something larger? We'll certainly take along our tents, even if we also opt for a pop-up. I do like the idea of having at least a remedial kitchen within a solid structure. We've done Mesa Verde and Arches, but would like to revisit them. Thanks for the "quality time" reference! My wife and I were both thinking about that...

Nickbert, we've been back and forth regarding the overseas versus continental travel first, and will likely continue that debate. There are certainly very good arguments to be made in favor of Europe first, but as I think it is unlikely that we'll relocate to Europe, although South America or New Zealand is a possibility, I suspect we'll decide to do North America first. Mongolia, China and Russia are not likely at this time, although I'd definitely like to visit. If that changes, you can be certain that we'll contact you!

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ao
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 4 2009
Posts: 2220
good advice Travlin

ccpetersmd wrote:

AO, I'm increasingly disinclined toward the full-size RV, partly for the reason you cited. By "full size van", do you mean a traditional minivan or a converted van such as the Mercedez-Benz Sprinter, Ford Transit/Econoline, etc.? UP Michigan is likely on our list; I'll be sure to send you a PM if we decide to head your way. No need to host, but we'd love the opportunity to meet!

Travlin, it sounds like you are suggesting something similar to AO, a "full size van", or something larger? We'll certainly take along our tents, even if we also opt for a pop-up. I do like the idea of having at least a remedial kitchen within a solid structure. We've done Mesa Verde and Arches, but would like to revisit them. Thanks for the "quality time" reference! My wife and I were both thinking about that...

Chris,

I really like Travlin's advice which is sound.  I was thinking of a full size van, probably extended and possibly with a raised roof but definitely not a mini-van for your length of time on the road.  Travlin's comments got me thinking that my advice may have been too Spartan and I think something along these lines are probably what he had in mind.

http://www.roadtrek.com/default.aspx

In fact, I'm starting to think this may not be a bad way for my wife and I to tour the US and Canada once our kids are out of the house which is coming up in just a couple of years.:-)

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bluestone
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Posts: 263
 Chris I exchanged a few

Chris

I exchanged a few emails with you in the past.  Im the urologist in Saratoga Springs NY.  We're located just south of the Adirondack state park and about 25 miles west of the state of Vermont.  Plenty of small organic farms and horse farms around here.  There is even a vascular surgeon here who raises cattle (organic).  So I believe there would be plenty of opportunity for your boys to gain some life and work experience here... and Im sure the general surgeons here would love to have someone here to share some on call duties with them.

Best of luck

Brian

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ccpetersmd
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Posts: 799
More...

AO, thanks for the follow up! The Roadtrek, based upon a GM platform, looks very similar to the Mercedes-Benz and Ford platforms, which we have been looking at. The M-B Sprinter runs upward of $90K, which is quite steep, but the Ford and GM platforms are significantly cheaper. We'll keep looking into those, as they are quite attractive!

Brian, also thanks for the follow up! I recall our conversations, but I must have deleted them from my mailbox (I'll blame the kids). We'll definitely be in NY at some point, likely sometime late this summer or early fall. I'd love to get together; as our plans firm up, I'll send you a PM with contact information! 

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Travlin
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Joined: Apr 15 2010
Posts: 1322
A little bigger

Ao’s suggestion is my ideal for a tidy couple. With three rambunctious boys I’d want to go bigger with something more like this size for example. http://www.trucktrend.com/features/travel/163_0910_born_free_20_foot_mini_motorhome/index.html I don’t see seats for the boys while driving, and I’m sure there are better lay-outs, but this size is very drivable and gives good shelter for inclimate conditions. There are also small pop-up trailers with hard sides to consider if you are comfortable pulling one. You can unhitch and have your vehicle free for touring

It won’t always be warm and dry. You have to plan for rain, and cold, so you need to be able to sit inside. Remember this is not a short trip. You will all live in this every day for an extended period. You need a sheltered place to sit, and do lessons, and fix a quick meal. Also when the buffalo herd surrounds you before breakfast. (They were just grazing very slowly through the campground.)

You can do it in a smaller vehicle if you are Spartan, disciplined, and have the experience to know that it works for you. Lacking that you are taking a gamble, especially on the burden on Julie. This needs to be enjoyable for everyone. I have always been a Spartan traveler myself. But an extended tour with a family is not like camping for a week in one place. You are going to move many times.

There will probably be a big RV show in Des Moines very soon where you can see 100 RVs side by side indoors. All five of you can get inside them and picture how it works for you. Think about clothes, gear, making and un-making beds, setting up the table, cooking, washing, traffic flow, and all the actions you have to do everyday to maintain your household. The simpler and easier the better. These are very personal choices so there is no “right” answer. I’m sure you’ll find what works for you. Just give it lots of thought before you decide.

Travlin 

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ccpetersmd
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Joined: Oct 12 2008
Posts: 799
RV Show!

Travelin, that's a great idea! I did a quick search, and it turns out we missed one in Cedar Falls just this past weekend, but there are several more coming up in the coming months. Taking the whole family to explore options and discuss day-to-day activities and chores is fabulous idea; we'll definitely do that!

We do hope to stay in some rentals along the way, whether vacation homes/condos or cabins that are available in some parks. Accordingly, a smaller RV would probably work fine for us. I was happy to hear that my wife mentioned it first, but a good portion of the burden during our trip will fall on me; we're quite good a sharing duties around the house, and I suspect that'll continue on the road.

Poet's picture
Poet
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Joined: Jan 21 2009
Posts: 1836
I'd Definitely Do It, Chris!

Wow, sounds like you're gonna have a GREAT adventure! The boys will be talking about this for years, and will carry the memories for the rest of their lives!

If I were in your position, I would definitely do this with my family. This is NOT FOOLISH! If you are concerned about TEOTWAWKI, there's no better time than the present, if you are concerned about a possible collapse in the future. After it occurs, if it occurs, a trip like yours would be a lot less fun and likely not feasible. Besides: It doesn't matter where you and your family might be if TEOTWAWKI occurs. A surgeon and a nurse will always be needed.

I know others have mentioned renting an RV or purchasing a used one. I don't suggest renting from a commercial outfit, because it can be prohibitive. Obviously buying used is generally preferred, but you might also consider BORROWING - or offering to make the monthly payments on one while you use it - from a family that may not have plans to use theirs for a year or two. You would want to stipulate in the contract what to do about insurance, breakdowns, wear-and-tear, or accidents, of course. I agree with the others that driving a larger-sized RV makes more sense than a pop-up camper.

You may also consider rail for part of your trip: Trans-Canada or across America.

I echo the others in suggesting a visit to Glacier National Park. You'll get to see buffalo and mountain goats up close and in person. I highly suggest California's Pacific Coast Highway a few weeks after the spring rains to catch the wildflowers, cattle grazing by the ocean, elephant seals, California missions, Monterey Bay Aquarium, San Francisco itself - between Santa Barbara and Fort Bragg, whether north or south. Definitely see the redwoods (I was married inside a redwood tree in Humboldt Redwoods State Park). I don't suggest Los Angeles unless you want to see what an urban concrete flatland is like. Summer in Alaska and British Columbia (I've been in BC in the winter, not worth it), winter in the Southwest (Saguaro National Monument, Arches National Park) and Florida (I've been in Florida in late fall, and the Everglades, fan boats, and alligators were awesome).

I live in Southern California. I don't know if it's really worth visiting where I live, but if you want to meet up at the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Wild Animal Park - one of the best zoos in the country - let me know. We have annual passes.

Poet

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Lakhota
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Posts: 44
Pejuta Wica Sa Peters

Hau kola Doctor Christopher, if I may be so bold as to suggest, consider visiting the home of my ancestors, the Black Hills. A journey of learning and discovery is a wonderful thing. That journey shared cannot be valued.

ccpetersmd's picture
ccpetersmd
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Joined: Oct 12 2008
Posts: 799
More Good Ideas!

Poet, we have considered rail, but after an experience last year, we're dubious. Last summer, we had Amtrak tickets purchased for a trip to Colorado and back. The day before our planned travel, Amtrak canceled the route for several days, so we loaded up in the minivan and took off. It's still a good option, and depending upon the route, can be reasonably reliable, but there's always a chance things might go awry. Also, we'll be traveling with our two dogs, which is doable via rail, but somewhat cumbersome. We are expecting to travel the 101, likely as far as San Francisco; I doubt we'll get further south, but you never know! We'll likely do a travel blog, which I will link to on this site, and if it looks like we end up heading down to San Diego, we'd love to meet you! The zoo there is awesome!

Lakhota, the Black Hills are definitely on our list! Are there any particular things we should do or see that would be especially valuable from the standpoint of better understanding America's original culture and inhabitants?

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Wendy S. Delmater
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 13 2009
Posts: 1398
well, this is great

I've been following the advice and want to chime in on my agreement - go for it. If you happen to pass through the Columbia SC area in between VA and GA my Brian and I would love to show you some southern hospitality. Columbia is the Hamptons of the Carolinas: art galleries, theater, museuns, a world-class zoo and botanical garden, restaurants, cultural events and lots of history (I sometime shop at a Publix that is inside what used ot the the Confederate Mint). There are good places to hike, fish, camp, or just set a spell like in the old days. There are also several very good., large hospitals you could work as a medical "temp" at if you wanted to.

A quick note on Airstreams - my girlfriend Catherine and her husband, son and two HUGE English mastiffs took a several-month long trip in one. She's a science writer and could work from the road. They had to spend quite a bit of time and money refurbishing it but she live-blogged the experience and says the Airstream was wonderful to travel in. It's just sitting in their driveway, all fixed up like new and ready to go.. Hmmm maybe you could rent from her or buy it? PM me if you want me to check with her!

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