I just took a look at the stats on this blog, and it appears a few people still dip in from time to time. Sorry that you haven’t found anything new. Here’s an attempt at a brief update.

We hit the road a year ago tomorrow. It’s been quite a year. Tens of thousands of miles in a big yellow truck, a new job, a new home, a building project, new friends, and a new school. Yes, after a year without school, the boys returned to classrooms, homework, tests, bag packs, and bagged lunches. In some respects, I hate it. In others, I’m glad that they are encountering new friends and new ideas.

We live in Kamloops now. It’s a good place – one where we are told any two people are generally connected by two degrees of separation. Everywhere I go, I meet people who know others I work with, or who went with me to school, or who know my family (my hometown is two hours north of here). It feels good to feel connected to a new city after months on the road, connected to each other but not to the landscapes or communities we travelled to.

We learned a lot in a year. I would say that I learned a tremendous amount about our children – about how they move through their days, how they learn, how they handle stress and change, and how incredibly funny they are. I miss them so much when I’m at work each day. I learned how lucky I am to have found someone when I was 19 who continues to be the absolute right person to keep me sane, grounded, honest… I learned how great it is to head off on a grand adventure with my best friend. And I learned that we are able to face the biggest of challenges and come out laughing on the other end. (I also learned that, as good as I think I am with directions, it’s always best to listen to Susan the GPS.)

There is a centripetal force that developed as we went through the past year. We head out into our days, yet we still wind up back at home needing each other’s company. The sweetest moment of the past week was this past Friday night, after an evening downtown drinking smoothies and exploring the library. We came home, grabbed our books, and somehow all wound up in the master bedroom, Quin in the big reading chair, Maxen on the floor with his drawings, and Mark and I on the bed with our books. As everyone fell into their own fictional worlds, I looked around, smiled, and knew that the world our family now lives in is much richer, deeper and closer than the one we left as we headed down the road September 21, 2009.

Not sure if I’ll be back on this blog for a while. In the meantime, I’ll be updating my new blog at work.

And then we stopped.

Last week, we came to the end of our “big trip.” We crossed the border from Sumas, WA into Abbotsford, BC – a much easier process than we had anticipated/dreaded and headed a kilometer (yay, metric again) up the road to meet up with my sister Lori. From there, we headed for Kamloops to check out our new home (more on that later) and then two hours up the road to the 108 Ranch, where we piled into my parents’ house and slept in “real beds” (in my case, in “my” bedroom) for the first time in quite awhile.

We had been on the road for 210 days, and our journey ended months earlier than we had planned for. We had thought we’d spend a month or so in the interior of BC helping build a family cabin and then head east across Canada, completing the last side of our square-shaped tour around North America. I planned to return to my fantastic colleagues, inspiring students, and crazy soccer teammates later in the fall…

But somewhere along the way, I applied for and was offered the most amazing position at a university close to my hometown. I left BC 24 years ago to do a quick 3-year BA in Ottawa. Love and life and family emerged in unexpected and important ways that kept Mark and me in Ottawa, but now we find our way back here. Our “big trip” adventure has ended, but a new one is following quickly on its heels.

I start work in a few weeks. Mark and the boys will be at the 108 and in Ottawa over the summer while we figure out how to get our stuff out here, ship our cars, buy a house, find schools (ick), etc. Clearly, there is still much to be updated on this blog. I have more restaurants to write about, and – more importantly – more to tell you about the ways in which our lives have been enriched by hitting the road as a family.

“I’ve been everywhere man.”- Johnny Cash

Though I’ve been keeping a pretty detailed list of all the places we’ve stayed on our trip, it doesn’t really reflect all that we’ve seen in the 35,000 kilometers we’ve driven between all of those places.

We’ve spent hours and hours looking out the windows of the truck. We’ve gazed at the astounding beauty of mountains, deserts, seashores and farmers’ fields. We’ve survived the boredom of miles upon miles of strip malls. We’ve laughed at roadsigns. (Our favourite one: “Next Exit Correctional Institute. Do Not Pick Up Hitch-hikers.”) We’ve watched planes overhead and raced trains alongside us. We’ve made up games to pass the time, read books, listened to music and talk radio, surfed the net (thanks to our Virgin Broadband2Go stick), and eaten a lot of carrot sticks.

Occasionally, I’ve had my camera at-hand and managed to snap a shot or two as we passed something interesting. Here are some of the things we’ve seen from the big yellow truck.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

For the rest of April, I’m posting about the riches that have been revealed during our trip. It all started out when we were surrounded by the glitz (and emptiness) of the Vegas strip.

Over the past seven months, we’ve been blessed with an abundance of time to really interact with our sons. I’ve written elsewhere about our joy and frustration dealing with Maxen’s questions. The more I listen to him, the more I realize how much work it is to figure out this world we live in – and how much insight a little boy can have. While his brother learns out loud, Quin is a quieter sort. He pays attention to things we don’t even realize are there. Rather than ask questions incessantly, he thinks things through, comes up with hypotheses and then checks them out –often with us being completely unaware that this process has been going on.

It’s been important for us to realize this difference between how our two children make sense of us, others, and the world around them. I can’t claim that it makes us great parents, but surely it makes us better than if we hadn’t realized this at all. In a few shorts weeks this trip will be over and our time together on a daily basis will shorten and become more complicated. My hope is that we will hold onto our sensitivity to their approaches to learning – that we’ll remain patient with Maxen’s questions and keen observers of Quin’s explorations. And that they’ll find others in their lives who honour this too.

For the rest of April, I’m posting about the riches that have been revealed during our trip. It all started out when we were surrounded by the glitz (and emptiness) of the Vegas strip.

If you were to look closely in our trailer, you would find many nooks and crannies that house bags, boxes, and tupperware containers full of something that’s been picked up off the beach. This photo documents the morning’s haul at Morro Bay earlier this week.

Maxen and I hit the jackpot. See, we’d been looking for whole sand dollars ever since we hit Myrtle Beach, SC months ago. We’ve found a bucketload of sand dollar pieces (I call them sand quarters or sand dimes) since then, but never a full one. Well, it turned out that the beach beside our campsite at Morro Bay was full of them at low tide. Along the way, we also managed to find some great sea glass (something I’m collecting this year), some tiny crabs, shells so shiny they appeared to have been varnished, and smooth stones.

Maxen’s also been collecting sand from different beaches along the way, so the trailer hides  salt shakers, herb jars, baggies and paper cones of the stuff from all over the place. We first came up with the idea at the Museum of Science in Boston where there was a simple display of collections kept by staff of the museum, including playbills, post cards, coins, matchbooks, and sand. He hasn’t been obsessive about it, but we have been able to get a dozen or so samples and pour them into a variety of containers for safe keeping until we find a permanent home for them.

The beach has been a rich classroom for us this year. We have spent hours on it with books, kites, shovels, skim boards, bikes, cameras and (almost always) sunscreen. We have watched sunrises, sunsets, storms, surfers, weight lifters, kite boarders, dogs, babies, senior citizens, runners, fishers, pelicans, plovers, sandpipers, egrets and dolphins. We have dodged seagulls, built sandcastles, dug holes, dammed streams, explored tide pools and walked for mile upon mile. And we have collected stuff that will find its way into a new home and keep reminding us about a year on lots of shores.

(There’s a great book about learning on the shore. Our copy is buried deep in a box in a Ottawa storage unit, and I am anxious to look at again. It’s called Flotsam, and if you have a kid that loves beaches or wish you were such a kid, you should check it out.)

We started last week on the desert – first in Boron with my cousins for a day of dirtbiking and visiting (more on that in an upcoming post) and then in Las Vegas. When you’ve been living a rather simple life – one in which you’ve decided to shop less, eat out less, spend less overall – Vegas is an assault to the senses and the pocketbook. In many respects, it is the antithesis to a simple life. After two and a half days of walking for miles on the Strip, poking through stores and grand lobbies, eating at buffets, seeing a show (Penn and Teller – so much fun) and always always people watching, it was time to get back on the road. We drove for 10 hours straight back out to the coast. While I sat in the passenger seat for those 10 hours, appreciating a straight boring road and uninterrupted time to read, I also reflected on the riches we had just observed and the life we’ve been living.

And what did I conclude? That we’re rich in so many, mostly small, ways. As I started to write this post, I thought I’d simply list all the things I reflected on, but this list is long and there is much to say about each item. So I’ve decided to chunk it up a bit and send out a bit of “our riches” everyday. Keep an eye out for them!

It felt like we needed to settle down – badly. Indeed, we’d driven almost every day for a couple of weeks: from Mesa to Sedona, up through Flagstaff only to descend right back down to Lake Havasu City, out to Indio and Joshua Tree, back through Quartzsite, and down to Yuma, out to San Diego, and up to the LA region. Our nerves were a bit frayed. We were weary of moving.

Two weeks in Hemet was a welcome relief. Not many people know of Hemet; many who do asked me “Isn’t that just a place where cars break down? No one actually stays there on purpose, do they?”

Well, we do. And so do my parents most winters. And so do a whole bunch of wonderful people that we met at Golden Village Palms. Hemet became a base for a couple of weeks of day trips to the coast, hikes on the Santa Rosa plateau and through Indian Canyon, golf games, biking, trips to the movie theatre, a day of fishing and a whole lot of relaxing by the pool. While we were there, Mark flew back to Ottawa for a week, so being 25 feet away from my parents’ trailer was really helpful.

The language on the RV park’s website regarding families staying there is a bit sketchy (“we are an active adult community”), but they seemed fine with our children being there to visit their grandparents. There were a number of other children doing the same thing for their spring breaks.

The park is certainly full of an older crowd than most other places we have been. That doesn’t seem to stop the fun though.  When our friend Michaela came out from LA for a night, we danced up a storm to Rockin Rhonda one night, learning the electric slide and the Cupid shuffle along the way.  The pool was a happening place most days, with water volleyball games and a singer performing at the nearby cabana over the lunch hours. The fitness centre and the sand volleyball courts were busy places most mornings, and the park is the site for a huge indoor shuffleboard centre that hosts large tournaments.

We met a lot of great people when we were there, and I left somewhat envious of them for having found a community in the middle of the desert – a community that they can return to each winter from their permanent homes in Alberta, BC, Washington, Wyoming… We’ve been on the road without a community for a long time now. I think we’re looking forward to finding a home soon.

Last Friday was an awfully full day for the Adam family. We woke up early in Pasadena and pulled the trailer into Hollywood to the KTLA studios where we were to be interviewed on the morning show. I must say that Mark did a super job of getting the trailer wedged into the studio lot, in spite of my snarky conclusion upon arrival that there was no possible way that it could be done. (Good thing that wasn’t caught on camera.)

I must say that I would never have agreed to doing this interview if it had been done by anyone other than my sister-friend, Michaela Pereira who I love and admire so much. As my sister Lori’s closest friend growing up, Michaela was a constant presence in our home. She still refers to my parents as “Mom” and “Sir” (even I don’t call my dad Sir!). I’ve been blessed to continue to have her friendship. We’ve laughed our way around Montreal, the 108, Ottawa’s Market and Venice Beach. It makes my heart swell every time I observe her live her rather public life with such grace, humility and authenticity.

So, how much more fun could it have been for the boys to have Tante Michaela host them at a TV show?! We were warmly welcomed by the show’s staff and given the royal tour by the gracious Caleb, a communications student who is interning at the show. I got a full-on make-up application, and we stood in the studio and watched the hosts read the news and kibitz with a leprechaun, Irish dancers and Juan Valdez. Finally, we had our interview out on the lot in front of the trailer (fake grass and trees and all). It was quite the morning. Here’s a link to a video of the interview itself.

We moved on after the interview to visit with another “old” friend and his family in Woodland Hills. Derek, Kathy, their daughters and their extended family opened their driveway and their beautiful home to us for an evening. The boys played X-Box for hours on end, Kathy’s mom made chicken paprikash, we reminisced with Derek’s mom, and we caught each other up on our lives. The perfect way to end a very full day. Thanks guys!

I hadn’t realized how much time we’d spent surrounded by the stark beauty of the desert until a couple of days ago when we drove up over the Peninsular mountain range and descended into the lush climate between it and the Pacific. Suddenly we were surrounded by green grass, bougainvillea vines, towering palms and drapes of flowers I don’t even know the name for. It was like drinking from a firehose after a long thirst. A bit too much to take in all at once.

So, over the past few days, I’ve spent some time reflecting on the previous weeks of driving through western Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. I haven’t really written about that yet because I’ve been letting it stew for a bit. I’m not so sure I could claim an enduring fondness for the desert landscapes we encountered for the past few weeks. Don’t get me wrong: we saw things that took my breath away. (The big joke among the three guys in my life is that I am continually asking them, “Guys, don’t you think this is beautiful?”) My cousin and her husband live on the side of a hill in Cottonwood, AZ in a beautiful home that looks north toward Sedona. Their view changes constantly as the sun travels across the sky and hits the hills at different angles. It mesmerized me one evening as I sat and talked with Terri.

Our time in the desert has included a day “sliding” at Whitesands, New Mexico,

and hiking with our cousins in Sedona, Arizona,

and discovering all manner of cacti.

And now, we find ourselves back on a coast. Our winter was full of sand, tumbleweed, and magnificent landforms. Spring brings us back to waves crashing on beaches, salty air, kiteboarders and surf shops. And grass. Lots and lots of grass…

I’m not certain how it is that time slips away so quickly. Someone (my mom, actually) noted in a phone conversation a while ago that she had thought I’d update my blog every day or so during this trip. I think that I had thought that too. But days move on, we watch landscapes pass by, we stop to walk through some of it, we spend hours lost in good books and Olympic coverage, we do chores. And I wait for something to hit me that I can write about.

I spent last weekend in Ottawa – a weekend full of meetings; deep, important conversations with friends; and amazing meals. I looked forward to a familiar landscape and familiar faces, for I’d missed home. I think a lot of it had to do with the televised images of Canada that had bookended our days. I’d read the Facebook updates of friends and family who were fortunate to attend events and walk around Vancouver. I watched Canadian heroes carry our flag and the torch. I watched an amazing young man and his good little brother celebrate a gold medal. And I was ready to get my “eh” on once again. The weekend did not disappoint.

We’re in Mesa, Arizona now. The Superstition Mountains hug the sky to our east. Somewhere to the west lies Phoenix, but I have to admit that I haven’t ventured there yet (on this trip anyway). I’ve been satisfied to hike up in the hills with Maxen, sit in the hot tub, read outside the trailer, watch Olympic coverage on CTV (so nice to move away from NBC for awile) and prepare food. Okay, maybe no more food preparation for awhile. I managed to slice open my ring finger on my left hand the other day. I know sport eight expensive stitches and no wedding band. In fact, said band is now much mangled and sits in a “biohazard” bag waiting to be melted back down into something resembling its previous state. (I’m sure my soccer buddies will find the absence of my wedding band brings back memories of my sorry separation from it last season!)

There is much more to tell of our travels through western Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. No that I’m back at the keyboard, I’ll be updating more frequently. Promise.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.