While the trip was filled with incredible experiences, it has never been more exhilarating to cross the Salt Flats and pass the copper pit on the way home.
We have reflected a great deal on why anyone, and us in particular, would want to relegate themselves to an old van with two kids for a month. Several of the benefits were anticipated, but others were an unexpected treat.
Beyond the awesomeness that is a home on wheels and the memories, the theme of all of the resourcefulness, creativity, humor, and teamwork that emerged was resilience.
Folks these days are big, puffy marshmallows. We live in an air conditioned, memory foam world. We complain about parking 100 feet further from the door to the Cheesecake Factory or forgetting to spend that free $5 coupon from Kohl’s before it expired (I say “we” because I have personally complained about these silly things).
But life is still pretty gritty, especially when you grow up and leave the confines of your parents’ best attempt at bubble wrap. A lot of adults nowadays are a little too squishy to handle risk or carve their own path in life for fear of judgment from the Jones’s.
While we didn’t plan this trip to beef up our kids, it was the first and most impactful lesson we watched play out for both ourselves and the tots.
Not only were we stuck with one another 24/7, we lacked all of the comforts of home. No heat. No AC. No toilet. No bedroom doors. No dishwasher or laundry machine.
There were days when sweat dripped down the backs of our knees and my son would pass out for a heat nap, leaving a giant wet mark on the pillow and waking up with wild hair. The next day it could be freezing, with temperatures dipping to 37 degrees at night when we were in Yellowstone and all of us huddled together.
Boondocking in the cities was also particularly stressful, with several nights of scoping out creepy highway pull-offs late in the night.
It was pretty incredible how quickly the kids adapted to the new environment and stopped complaining. It took us a bit longer. We gained an appreciation of the luxuries back home and learned to make do, focusing on what we had instead. A pretty critical life skill from where I sit.
Home felt a little foreign after so long, but the kids have quickly strewn their belongings around to cheer the place up. It’s good to be back (especially after a 30-minute hot shower).