What are we up to? Well, the short answer is that our family is embarking on a sabbatical trip around North America, beginning mid-September 2009. I’m on sabbatical from my position as an Instructor at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario. As I began to think about the reading and professional development I wish to do this year, I realized that the former needn’t take place anywhere in the vicinity of snowbanks or ice storms, and the latter could best be accomplished by visiting people who were doing interesting things at colleges and universities around the continent.

The longer answer comes out best as a series of responses to the most common questions we’ve been asked as we prepare for our journey.

Where are we going and how are we travelling? We’re going to drive a truck and trailer around North America – clockwise, beginning in Ottawa and heading first to Atlantic Canada before we meander along the east coast of the US, arriving in Florida in early December to meet up with my in-laws for a couple of weeks. From there, we’ll head west for a few months, turn right when we hit the Pacific, head north for a few months, turn right when we hit BC, and then work our way back to Ottawa.

Are we homeschooling? Um, not exactly. In fact, our plan is to unschool or deschool for the year. The slogan for the trip is “No teaching. Lots of learning.” Our sons will be exposed to a lot of interesting people, places and books along the way – we look forward to learning along with them as they decide what most engages them. They, too, will be keeping a blog and emailing with friends and family. The goal is that they will engage in authentic tasks this year – no photocopied worksheets or standardized tests.

What else are we up to? Well, there sure are a lot of things that we are interested in – good food, local eating, service learning, non-compulsory schooling, sustainable building practices, fitness … We hope to learn more about all of these things as we move around both countries.

Why sell our house and put everything in storage? Mark and I have had a mortgage since our mid-twenties. Certainly, we could have rented the house and covered our expenses, but only barely. The house is big, the property requires all kinds of maintenance. We recognized the possibilities that open up when you don’t have to cordon off mental energy to think about repairs, renovation projects, and possible natural disasters. Additionally, we have always talked about designing and building our own home. It just seemed that it would be much easier to open up our brains to thinking that through if we weren’t tied to a house already. So, we’ve sold our house and placed most of our material things in storage lockers in Ottawa. No bills for cable, internet, natural gas, hydro, taxes, etc. for a whole year. I love it already.

So, those are our plans in a nutshell. Read along (check out Mark’s blog too) and let us know if you have great ideas for what we can do along the way…